Math-Science Effort Earns Biology Professor Trip to Australia
JMU's emphasis on integrating mathematics with biology has attracted the attention of an international audience. Dr. Kyle Seifert, associate professor of biology, will get to address that audience in December when he travels to Sydney, Australia to deliver a keynote address during a Quantitative Skills in Science Symposium.
Seifert said he will likely be asked to lead a workshop or two during the symposium that will be held Dec. 10 and 11.
The symposium is being hosted by the Quantitative Skills in Science Project, based at Queensland University in Sydney. According to the project website, "Recent research suggests that the level of quantitative skills (QS) in science need to be significantly improved. As a starting point, the QS in Science project will collaborate with Australian and international universities, looking for science programs that produce better skilled science graduates."
Seifert said the opportunity to speak at the symposium arose after a chance meeting with a member of the QS in Science Project at another conference about a year and a half ago. The Australian group was intrigued by JMU's math/science partnerships and visited JMU in fall 2011 to conduct interviews and learn more about the development of quantitative skills in the biology major. They subsequently used the information about the major as a case study as a part of their bigger QS project.
Seifert said JMU has made good progress over the past six or seven years integrating biology and mathematics through an undergraduate research program that requires biology majors to team with mathematics majors on research projects.
"We as biologists realize the importance of math, which is why we have it built into the curriculum and I know we would love to be able to develop more of those skills as the students go through the biology major," Seifert said.To read about more academic accomplishments, check the scholarly news section of Madison Scholar, the online journal of scholarly work at JMU.