Mathematical Biology at Dundee

Mathematical Biology at Dundee has a long and distinguished history. In 1884 Professor D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson was appointed as Professor of Biology and remained in Dundee for 33 years until 1917 when he moved to St. Andrews. D'Arcy Thompson, author of "Growth and Form", was perhaps the first mathematical biologist. A conference to mark the 50th anniversary of his death in 1998 is being held in Dundee

Moving to the present day, the Mathematical Biology and Applied Analysis group at the Department of Mathematics, Dundee University, is directed by Dr. MAJ Chaplain and Dr. PD Smith. The research in this group focuses on the spatio-temporal dynamics of nonlinear, heterogeneous biological systems. This is an exciting area of modern applied mathematics offering many fascinating and challenging problems both mathematically and biologically. Work is currently being undertaken in modelling problems in developmental biology (cell movement via chemotaxis, haptotaxis, nonlinear diffusion), morphogenesis, plant cell wall growth and expansion, the theory of pain, solid tumour growth and development, angiogenesis (formation of capillary networks), tumour invasion and metastasis, host-parasitoid interactions, wound healing and transport in soil environments. The models normally consist of nonlinear systems of difference equations, ordinary differential equations or partial differential equations. A blend of analytical (stability analyses, bifurcation theory, nonlinear analysis) and numerical techniques (finite difference/element approximations) is used in addition to mathematical modelling skills. Close collaboration with biological colleagues is pursued and encouraged and links are already set up with the departments of Anatomy and Physiology (cell movement, Dyctiostelium discoideum), Biology (ecology, predator-prey models, host-parasitoid models, plant cell growth and morphogenesis), Pathology (cancer modelling), Biochemistry (p53 tumour-suppressor gene modelling) and Dental Surgery & Periodontolgy (endothelial cell movement, fibroblast movement, angiogenesis). The Mathematics Department also runs an MSc course in Mathematical Biology.

The Centre for Nonlinear Systems in Biology, established in 1991, is active in promoting joint research between the Mathematics Department, the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI) and Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BioSS). The aims of the Centre are to pursue interdisciplinary research programmes involving novel mathematical and statistical techniques in support of biological research.

Mathematical Biology at SCRI is undertaken in the Unit of Integrative Bioscience, lead by Dr JW Crawford, heading a team comprising Drs IM Young, G. Squire, B. Marshall, K. Ritz, J. Liu, B. Griffiths. Mathematical modelling is currently being done in areas such as nonlinear diffusion and transport processes in soil and other porous media, complex biochemical systems, geneflow in agricultural and semi-natural systems: competition, invasions and succession, role of variation in functional trait in the stability of species-rich vegetation, quantifying the relation between physical structure and biological function, application of fractal geometry to soil structure and its relation to transport processes, fungal morphogenesis in nutritionally heterogeneous environments, origin and characterisation of stability in nonlinear systems subject to noise.

Mathematical Biology research at BioSS is led by Dr. J. McNicol and work is currently being undertaken in the areas of image analysis, environmental modelling, epidemiology, molecular biology and genetics, crop systems, food and nutrition.

Further information on mathematical biology research at Dundee is available from the respective web sites:

or contact

Dr. Mark A.J. Chaplain

Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

University of Dundee

Dundee DD1 4HN



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tel: +44 1382 345369

FAX: +44 1382 345516