Mathematical Biology Education

Mathematical Biology Education

Organised By

John Jungck


A differential equation model to compare smallpox containment strategies

Meghan Burke,
Kennesaw State University, USA

Smallpox is the only disease eradicated from human infection through public health interventions. Unfortunately, it is again a concern with the looming threat of bioterrorism. It is essential to have a plan for dealing with an outbreak in a mostly susceptible population; however, containing a new outbreak with an old vaccine is not a simple problem. Using differential equations, we model various plans for preparing for and dealing with a potential attack. We evaluate the use of vaccination and quarantine and we consider the current issues associated with the use of vaccine.

Uncertainty, relativity and spatially-explicit ecological models: Aiding
public policy

Louis Gross,
University of Tennesse, USA

Coauthor(s): Jane Comiskey, Mark Palmer

Computational ecology offers opportunities to develop spatially-explicit models at a variety of levels of complexity to inform public policy on matters such as regional water management, reserve design, harvesting, biocontrol, and monitoring schemes. Such models (which may be discrete or continuous dynamical systems, individual-based, or mixtures of these) can produce enormous amounts of spatio-temporal data, and typically include uncertainty in inputs, model structure, and parameterization. Given these uncertainties, how can we best utilize models to inform public policy, while acknowledging the limitations of the endeavor? we argue for a relative assessment protocol in which model outputs for alternative input or control scenarios are compared to a base plan. In this way, different stakeholders can then use their own criteria to rank the alternatives, across different spatial regions, time frames or organisms of concern. For much of the last decade, the ATLSS (Across Trophic Level System Simulation) project has been developing and applying a set of models designed to aid in restoration planning for South Florida. Developed in close collaboration with many field researchers with long experience in the Everglades, ATLSS has been extensively applied throughout the planning process and used in the evaluation of the biotic impacts of alternative hydrologic scenarios. ATLSS provides spatially-explicit assessments of the relative impacts on a variety of species. A relative assessment approach provides a means to directly evaluate how rankings are affected by uncertainties. By assuming different input weather conditions or alternative model parameterizations and making multiple model runs, we can provide guidance on the stability of rankings to uncertainties. Our results indicate that the spatial scale at which averaging is assumed affects the stability of the rankings.


Biomathematics at the Two-Year College

Mike Martin
JCCC & University of Kansas, USA

As mathematics plays an increasingly important role in undergraduate biology education, interdisciplinary approaches are emerging even at two-year colleges. This presentation will survey some of the different approaches being taken at two-year colleges, articulation issues with four-year schools, and demands made by industry. Topics will range from complimentary topics in traditional mathematics courses to specialized calculus and computational biology courses for the life sciences to mathematical content issues for biotechnology programs. In addition, a suite of biomathematics programs utilizing webMathematica will be prominently demonstrated and made available to anyone using a contemporary web browser.