Visiting Lecturer Program:
Bringing under-represented groups into the Mathematical Biosciences

The Purpose of the Program

The Mathematical Biosciences Institute developed the Visiting Lecturer Program in 2009. The program sponsors visits of mathematical biologists to institutions that have large numbers of undergraduate students who are members of groups that are under-represented in the mathematical sciences community. The purpose is to encourage members of these groups to go to graduate school and to develop careers in the mathematical biosciences. In addition to delivering a lecture on mathematical biology that is accessible to an undergraduate audience, the lecturers will meet with individual students and with groups of interested faculty and students to further this purpose. The phrase under-represented group is understood to mean African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and women. It is an important goal of the National Science Foundation to increase the participation of these groups in the sciences, so as to increase the strength of the American scientific workforce.


Visiting Lecturers

Janet Best
Janet Best
Mathematics, The Ohio State University

Janet Best is Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the Ohio State University and Long-term Visitor at the (more...)

Janet Best is Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the Ohio State University and Long-term Visitor at the Mathematical Biosciences Institute. She received an A.B. in Mathematics from Princeton and a Ph.D. in Mathematics in 2004 from Cornell. She is the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and is a Sloan Foundation Research Fellow. Her research is in dynamical systems, probability theory and stochastic processes on random graphs, and in applications of mathematics to neurobiology and the functioning of brain systems. She is particularly interested in changes in neural function accompanying changes in the health or shape of neurons and in their connections - such as occur normally in development or pathologically in disease progression. She also studies the relationship between the metabolism of neurons and the electrophysiology of neuronal networks in dopamine and serotonin neurons in an effort to understand, for instance, the dynamics of Parkinson's disease and the actions of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

 

Professor Best will lecture on the dynamics of sleep-wake cycles. To sleep "like a baby" means to sleep peacefully and soundly. Yet parents often observe that their infant's sleep has frequent interruptions and perhaps a shorter sleep-wake cycle; statistical analysis confirms that infant sleep and adult sleep have different dynamical structures. Perhaps it is the prevalence of chronic sleep disorders that has adults looking back wistfully at sleeping babies. Compounding the difficulty of managing a sleep disorder is the news that disruptions in normal sleep-wake activity have been associated with many long-term health consequences. Professor Best will discuss what is known about the biological basis of sleep including controversies in the field. She then will show how mathematical models, both deterministic and stochastic, help us to understand sleep-wake rhythms from newborns to adults while also yielding insights into some sleep disorders.

Emery Brown
Emery Brown
Computational Neuroscience, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Emery N. Brown is the Warren M. Zapol Professor of Anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts (more...)

Emery N. Brown is the Warren M. Zapol Professor of Anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, and Professor of Computational Neuroscience and Health Sciences and Technology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Brown is an anesthesiologist-statistician whose experimental research uses functional imaging to study in humans how anesthetic drugs act in the brain to create the state of general anesthesia. In his statistical research he develops signal processing algorithms to characterize how ensembles of neurons represent and transmit information in the patterns of their joint spiking activity. He is a member of the Board of Mathematical Sciences and its Applications of the National Research Council and a member of the Board of Trustees for the International Anesthesia Research Society. Professor Brown's honors include being a member of the Association of University Anesthesiologists, a Fellow of the American Institute of Biomedical Engineering, the American Statistical Association, the AAAS, the IEEE, a member of the Institute of Medicine and a 2007 recipient of an NIH Director's Pioneer Award.

Professor Brown will lecture on his development of point process methods to study how large groups of neurons in the brain represent and transmit information. In particular, he will describe how he has used these algorithms to analyze how rats maintain an internal representation of their position as they move freely about an open environment. The results show that it is actually possible to literally read a rat's mind. Professor Brown will also lecture on how anesthetic drugs act in the brain to create the state of general anesthesia. In this lecture, he will present recent results from his studies of humans using simultaneous functional magnetic resonance imaging and electroencephalography to study how activity changes in the brain with induction and recovery of consciousness under general anesthesia.

Erika  Camacho
Erika Camacho
Mathematical and Natural Sciences Division, Arizona State University

Erika Tatiana Camacho is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics of the Division of Mathematical and Natural (more...)

Erika Tatiana Camacho is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics of the Division of Mathematical and Natural Sciences in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, based at ASUs West

campus. After earning her Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics in 2003 from Cornell University, she spent a year as a postdoctoral research associate at Los AlamosNational Laboratorys Center for Nonlinear Studies. While her graduate training was in dynamical systems and mathematical physiology, her research interests have expanded to other problems at the interface of mathematical applications to biology and sociology. She has done extensive work on the mathematical modeling of the eye, including investigating the dynamics of corneal growth brought about by the suppression of melatonin and of photoreceptor interactions due to direct connections facilitated in part by the Rod-derived Cone Viability Factor (RdCVF). She has recently begun examining biological and social networks. As a result of the recent genome-wide analysis of gene expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, she is collaborating on a problem with an experimental geneticist to understand how the corresponding network changes and evolves due to exposure to high extracellular levels of Ca2+ or other hyperosmotic shocks such as Na+ or Mg2+.

 

Professor Camacho will lecture on a mathematical model for photoreceptor interactions. The interactions between rods and cones in the retina have been the focus of innumerable experimental and theoretical biological studies in previous decades, yet the understanding of these interactions is still incomplete. This knowledge is crucial for counteracting the events that lead to certain degenerative diseases, in particular those associated with photoreceptor cell death (e.g., retinitis pigmentosa). Professor Camacho will present and analyze mathematical equations that model a system of photoreceptors and incorporate a direct rod-cone interaction. She will show the mathematical necessity of this direct interaction for survival of both. In addition she will demonstrate that the system can exhibit stable oscillations, which corresponds to the rhythmic shedding of the photoreceptors.

Carlos Castillo-Chavez
Carlos Castillo-Chavez
MCMSC, Arizona State University

Carlos Castillo-Chavez is a Regents and a Joaquin Bustoz Jr. Professor at Arizona State University. Carlos (more...)

Carlos Castillo-Chavez is a Regents and a Joaquin Bustoz Jr. Professor at Arizona State University. Carlos Castillo-Chavez' research program is carried out at the interface of the mathematical and natural and social sciences and puts emphasis on (i) the role of dynamic social landscapes on disease dispersal; (ii) the role of behavior on disease evolution, (iii) the role of behavior, environmental and social structures on the dynamics of addiction, (iv) the identification of mechanisms that facilitate the spread of diseases across multiple levels of organization. Specifically, in collaboration with various researchers, Castillo-Chavez has been involved in the study of the role of cross-immunity on the evolution and dynamics of influenza; the impact of behavioral changes, epidemiological factors, behavior and social networks on HIV and Tuberculosis dynamics; the role of epidemiological factors, vaccination, public transportation and social structure on the transmission dynamics of tuberculosis dynamics and its control; the impact of life-history vector dynamics on dengue epidemics (Mexico and Peru); the identification of time response scales and their importance in the control of foot and mouth disease outbreaks (Uruguay); the study of role of population structure and control (vaccination, isolation, quarantine and others) on the transmission dynamics of rotavirus, pneumonia and rubella; and the study of the impact of increasing levels of pathogens' resistance to antimicrobials generated by nosocomial infections.

 

The lecture by Professor Castillo-Chavez will describe how mathematics is used to understand several of the topics outlined above.

Ricardo Cortez
Ricardo Cortez
Mathematics Department, Tulane University

Ricardo Cortez is the Pendergraft William Larkin Duren Professor in the Mathematics Department and (more...)

Ricardo Cortez is the Pendergraft William Larkin Duren Professor in the Mathematics Department and Director of the Center for Computational Science at Tulane University in New Orleans. His training is in mechanical engineering (BS) and applied mathematics. His research is mainly in computational fluid dynamics and numerical analysis. His current research interests are in developing and analyzing computational methods for the simulation of biological flows. Of particular interest are collaborative investigations of flows generated by swimming microorganisms, cilia, and other compliant, flexible boundaries in a fluid with an emphasis on accurate simulations around the boundaries.

 

Professor Cortez will lecture on "Computational Models of Flows Generated by Biological Microstructures." Many different types of microorganisms, such as bacteria, generate interesting fluid flow around them as they move their flagella in helical or undulatory ways. As measuring devices become more accurate in the laboratories, researchers are able to observe intricate flows generated by either single or multiple organisms. New flow patterns have been observed when organisms are near a flat surface like the bottom plate of the microscope. Computational models of these flows provide additional insight into how these flows arise, what they might look like in the space between organisms, and the role they might play in the overall motion of swarms of organisms. Similar techniques are also applied to the motion of cilia or passive organism appendages. The lecture will explain the models that are used in the simulations and the ways in which computations and experiments work together to address questions of interest to biologists and physicists.

Isabel Darcy
Isabel Darcy
Department of Mathematics, University of Iowa

Isabel Darcy received her Ph.D. in mathematics from Florida State University. She is currently an (more...)

Isabel Darcy received her Ph.D. in mathematics from Florida State University. She is currently an associate professor of mathematics at the University of Iowa. She studies applications of knot theory to biology. As a graduate student, she spent a few months in biology labs gaining hands-on experience at bench work. She believes she created knotted DNA, but she cannot prove it. Fortunately many of her biology collaborators can identify the knotted DNA they create, providing her with valuable data which she uses to analyze protein-DNA interactions.

 

Professor Darcy will lecture on "Knotted Life." Just like local knots can occur in long extension cords, such knots can also appear in DNA. DNA can be either linear or circular. Some proteins will cut DNA and change the DNA configuration before resealing the DNA. Thus, if the DNA is circular, the DNA can become knotted. Protein-DNA complexes were first mathematically modeled using tangles in Ernst and Sumners paper, "A calculus for rational tangles: applications to DNA recombination" (Math Proc Camb Phil Soc, 1990). A tangle consists of arcs properly embedded in a 3-dimensional ball. In order to model protein-bound DNA, the protein is modeled by the 3D ball while the segments of DNA bound by the protein can be thought of as arcs embedded within the protein ball. This is a very simple model of protein-DNA binding, but from this simple model, much information can be gained. The main idea is that when modeling protein-DNA reactions, one would like to know how to draw the DNA. For example, are there any crossings trapped by the protein complex? How do the DNA strands exit the complex? Is there significant bending? Tangle analysis cannot determine the exact geometry of the protein-bound DNA, but it can determine the overall entanglement of this DNA, after which other techniques may be used to more precisely determine the geometry. KnotPlot, developed by Rob Scharein, is an interactive 3D program for visualizing and manipulating knots. A subroutine for solving tangle equations which has been added to KnotPlot will be demonstrated.

Lisette de Pillis
Lisette de Pillis
Mathematics, Harvey Mudd College

Lisette de Pillis holds the Norman F. Sprague Chair of Life Sciences and is a Professor of Mathematics at (more...)

Lisette de Pillis holds the Norman F. Sprague Chair of Life Sciences and is a Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College. She is also co-Director of the HMC Center for Quantitative Life Sciences, and is the Director of the HMC Global Clinic Program. Her training at UCLA was in computational fluid dynamics and numerical linear algebra. Her research interests have moved from fluid dynamics and parallel computing to mathematical biology and cancer immunology. She collaborates with medical doctors and other mathematicians to develop models of cancer, treatments, and the activity of the immune system. She applies mathematical optimal control techniques to help determine improved treatment protocols for patients. Although cancer immunology is her main area of research, she has also been active in the development of models of HIV and T-cell dynamics. Professor de Pillis's multidisciplinary accomplishments were recognized by the Argonne National Laboratory with the Maria Goeppert-Mayer Distinguished Scholar award.

 

Professor de Pillis will speak on the development and analysis of mathematical models of cancer and immunotherapy treatments. Immunotherapy, a treatment approach that enhances the body's natural ability to fight cancers, is becoming increasingly prevalent in many multi-stage treatment programs that also include chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. The critical importance of the immune system in combating cancer has been verified both clinically and through mathematical models. Professor de Pillis will discuss the biological and mathematical sides of the question of how cancer grows, how the cancer interacts with the immune system, and treatment strategies that combine conventional chemotherapy approaches with those that harness the power of the immune system.

Lisa Fauci
Lisa Fauci
Department of Mathematics, Tulane University

Lisa Fauci is the Nola Lee Haynes Pendergraft Professor of Mathematics at Tulane University in New (more...)

Lisa Fauci is the Nola Lee Haynes Pendergraft Professor of Mathematics at Tulane University in New Orleans. She was educated in the New York City public school system, received her B.S. at Pace University, and later her Ph.D. in Mathematics at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University in 1986. Her research lies at the interface of mathematics, scientific computing and biology. Her main interest is in using computational methods to investigate fluid flows in biological systems. For instance, she has studied the mechanics of sperm motility, mucus transport by cilia in the lungs, and the effects of embedded polymers on transport of fluids through flexible tubes.

 

Professor Fauci will lecture on the "Biofluiddynamics of Reproduction". The biofluiddynamics of reproduction provide wonderful examples of fluid-structure interactions. Peristaltic pumping by wave-like musculuar contractions is a fundamental mechanism for ovum transport in the oviduct and uterus. In a physiological setting, however, the fluid will not be simple like water, but may contain complex microstructures. Mammalian spermatozoa encounter such complex fluid environments as they make their way through the female reproductive tract. The beat form realized by the flagellum varies tremendously along this journey. We will discuss how mathematical models, along with computational simulation, may be used to gain insight into these complex systems.

Marty Golubitsky
Marty Golubitsky
Mathematical Biosciences Institute, The Ohio State University

Marty Golubitsky is a Professor of Mathematics at Ohio State University and the Director of MBI. Dr. (more...)

Marty Golubitsky is a Professor of Mathematics at Ohio State University and the Director of MBI. Dr. Golubitsky works in the fields of nonlinear dynamics and bifurcation theory studying the role of symmetry in the formation of patterns in physical systems and the role of network architecture in the dynamics of coupled systems. His recent research focuses on some mathematical aspects of neuroscience applications in animal gaits, the visual cortex, and the auditory system. He has co-authored four graduate texts, one undergraduate text, and two nontechnical trade books (Fearful Symmetry: Is God a Geometer with Ian Stewart and Symmetry in Chaos with Michael Field).

 

Professor Golubitsky will lecture on "Patterns Patterns Everywhere." Regular patterns appear all around us: from vast geological formations to the ripples in a vibrating coffee cup, from the gaits of trotting horses to tongues of flames, and even in visual hallucinations. The mathematical notion of symmetry is a key to understanding how and why these patterns form. In this lecture Professor Golubitsky will show some of these fascinating patterns and discuss how they can be explained by a mathematical analysis using symmetries. In particular, he will illustrate this use of symmetry by applying it to the gaits of horses and other four-legged animals.

Christine Heitsch
Christine Heitsch
Mathematics, Georgia Institute of Technology

Christine Heitsch is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She (more...)

Christine Heitsch is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She graduated with a Ph.D. in Mathematics from UC Berkeley after enjoying four years in the Champaign-Urbana cornfields as a UIUC undergraduate. In retrospect, it seems significant that she was a biology major for her first two years of college, but finished with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. Her research synthesizes these interdisciplinary interests by focusing on questions at the emerging interface between discrete mathematics and molecular biology. Her work addresses patterns in strings, structural characteristics of trees, and the combinatorics of RNA folding.

 

Professor Heitsch will lecture on "Strings, Trees, and RNA Folding." Understanding the folding of RNA sequences into molecular structures is one of the fundamental challenges in molecular biology. In this talk, we focus on understanding how an RNA viral genome can fold into the dodecahedral cage known from crystallographic studies. Using strings and trees as a combinatorial model of RNA folding, we give mathematical results which yield insight into RNA structure formation and suggest new directions in viral capsid assembly. We also illustrate how the interaction between discrete mathematics and molecular biology motivates new combinatorial theorems as well as advancing biomedical applications.

Fern Hunt
Fern Hunt
Mathematical and Computational Sciences Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Fern Hunt is a mathematician at the National Institute of Standards and Technology -- a federal government (more...)

Fern Hunt is a mathematician at the National Institute of Standards and Technology -- a federal government laboratory that conducts research in information technology, biotechnology and properties of materials. Dr. Hunt's chief research interests are probability and dynamical systems and the application of these fields. Dr. Hunt has published papers in population genetics, mathematical biology, bioinformatcs and dynamical systems as well as papers resulting from collaborations with other NIST scientists.

 

Fern Hunt will talk about recent work on a mathematical model of TCP, a widely used internet protocol for congestion control. Since the work of Frank P. Kelly, the internet modeling community has recognized that many currently used protocols can be represented as algorithms for solving a maximization problem. The function to be maximized, called the utility function, has been identified for TCP protocols. This allows us to characterize existing protocols and to propose new ones in the framework of the analysis of an optimization algorithm. She will discuss a scheme for allocating traffic among several possible routes that join a given source and destination location in the network. This treatment permits exploration of the relationship between the stability of operation and the topology of the network.

Trachette Jackson
Trachette Jackson
Department of Mathematics, University of Michigan

Trachette Jackson received her Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics in 1998 from the University of Washington and (more...)

Trachette Jackson received her Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics in 1998 from the University of Washington and she is currently a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Michigan. Her research is focused on understanding the strongly linked, multiple scale processes that drive the advancement of cancer using mathematical models. Such models have the potential to facilitate a deeper understanding of the mechanisms associated with tumor initiation and progression and can also be used to develop and test novel therapeutic approaches designed to attack growing tumors at various stages of development.

 

Professor Jackson will lecture on "Mathematical Models of Endothelial Cell-Targeted Anti-Cancer Therapies." Recently much attention has been focused on developing anti-cancer agents that stop tumors from making new blood vessels. A critical challenge of experimental therapeutics for cancer is to decide which of these drugs are the best candidates for clinical trials. Professor Jackson will demonstrate how mathematical modeling can be of help in this regard. By quantifying how cells interpret coupled signals from a variety of stimuli and connecting these molecular processes to the temporal changes in tumor cell and microvessel density, she will show that mathematical approaches can help to determine which anti-cancer agents have the most potential for therapeutic benefit for a given tumor profile.

James Keener
James Keener
Mathematics, University of Utah

Jim Keener is a Distinguished (more...)

Jim Keener is a Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at the University of Utah. He was trained in applied mathematics at Caltech. Early in his career he worked on problems of chemical and biological dynamics with emphasis on spatial and temporal patterns in excitable media. He devoted substantial attention to the cardiac electrical conduction system, studying the dynamics of cardiac arrhythmias. As time went on, his interests broadened to include the dynamics of cellular and systems physiological processes, and these interests are reflected in the book Mathematical Physiology, coauthored with James Sneyd. Lately he is working to understand a ranging variety of physiological processes including calcium handling by cardiac cells, the construction of flagellar rotary motors, and formation of biogels.

Prof. Keener will lecture on aspects of cardiac dynamics. He will give an overview of how mathematical modeling can give insight into the behavior of the cardiac conduction system, its normal and abnormal function. In particular he will describe how reentrant arrhythmias are initiated and how they are maintained in time, asking, but not completely answering, what might be done to prevent either of these from occurring.

Nancy Kopell
Nancy Kopell
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Boston University

Nancy Kopell is a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor at Boston University. She was trained (more...)

Nancy Kopell is a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor at Boston University. She was trained in dynamical systems, and has a home in the BU Math Dept. She has worked in the past on the geometry of singularly perturbed systems, on self-organization in chemical systems and other applied math topics. For the last couple of decades she has been mainly interested in neuroscience, and she collaborates widely. Her current interests focus on rapid (1 Hz to 300 Hz) rhythms in the nervous system; the questions concern the physiological bases of the many rhythms in the brain, and how the brain uses these for cognition. She is also working on dynamical problems involving pathological rhythm in Parkinson's Disease and schizophrenia. She has recently organized the Cognitive Rhythms Collaborative, a group of Boston Area scientists interested in all aspects of brain rhythms, from genes to behavior to disease.

 

Professor Kopell will lecture on some aspects of rhythms in the nervous system. Possible topics include gamma rhythms and schizophrenia, how different rhythms are associated with different ways of creating and manipulating cell assemblies (sets of transiently synchronous neurons), and interaction of rhythms in the nervous system. The relevant mathematics is dynamical systems.

Reinhard Laubenbacher
Reinhard Laubenbacher
Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Dr. Laubenbacher received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Northwestern University in 1985. He has been a (more...)

Dr. Laubenbacher received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Northwestern University in 1985. He has been a Professor at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute and a Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Virginia Tech since 2001. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Cancer Biology at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem (NC) and Affiliate Faculty in the Virginia Tech Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. Prior to these appointments Dr. Laubenbacher was Professor of Mathematics at New Mexico State University. He has served as Visiting Faculty at Los Alamos National Laboratories, was a member of the Mathematical Science Research Institute at Berkeley in 1998, and was a Visiting Associate Professor at Cornell University in 1990 and 1993. Current interests in Dr. Laubenbacher's research group include the development of mathematical algorithms and their application to problems in systems biology, in particular the modeling and simulation of molecular networks. An application area of particular interest is cancer systems biology, especially the role of iron metabolism in breast cancer. For more information see his research group's website http://admg.vbi.vt.edu/

1. Cancer systems biology: Our understanding of cancer has been aided by a network centric view. The fundamental relevance of systems biology to the understanding and treatment of cancer is the insight that genes and proteins do not act in isolation, but rather as nodes in complex interactive networks that include multiple feedback mechanisms and redundancies. The design of effective drugs to battle cancer will depend on the understanding of these networks and of the specific network alterations present in an individual tumor. And an understanding of characteristic changes in metabolic networks can lead to new prognostic and diagnostic methods. The complexity of these dynamic networks makes it difficult or impossible to study them without the aid of computer models based on mathematical analysis. This talk will discuss systems biology and mathematical models as an approach to cancer biology by way of two case studies.

2. Algebraic models in systems biology: The long-term goal of molecular systems biology is to understand how the physiology of organisms arises through the dynamic interaction of the molecular constituents of life. Understanding the molecular networks formed in this way is an essential step toward solving many central problems related to human health, sustainable energy, a sustainable food supply, and a healthy environment. Mathematical and statistical models of the networks involved are an essential enabling technology for reaching this goal. This talk will provide some examples of the role mathematics plays in systems biology and will discuss some recent applications of algebraic geometry to this field. No background in mathematical biology is required, and the talk will be accessible to undergraduates and students and faculty from the life sciences.

Jonathan Mattingly
Jonathan Mattingly
Department of Mathematics, Duke University

Jonathan Mattingly is associate professor of mathematics and statistics at Duke University. He works (more...)

Jonathan Mattingly is associate professor of mathematics and statistics at Duke University. He works primarily in stochastic dynamics, stochastic modeling, and stochastic analysis. He is interested in both specific models and more general questions of pure stochastic analysis motivated by applied questions. The central mathematical issue is how to discover, characterize, and prove the qualitative behavior of classes of stochastic dynamical systems. In the biological context, he has worked on a number of problems related to stochastic fluctuations in biochemical networks. He is currently studying large chemical networks using ideas from averaging to obtain effective reduced dynamics. He is also interested in the qualitative behavior of specific small dimensional networks of biological importance. He works on numerical issues in simulating stochastic differential equations, both long time simulations, higher order methods, and adaptive methods. Recently, he has also started working on modeling flu evolution and transition.

We will lecture on the long time behavior of Markov processes starting from simple Markov chain examples and moving to more complicated examples. He will give an introduction to basic ergodic theory and discuss topics such as meta-stability, quasi-invariant measures, and the rate of convergence to equilibrium. Examples will be drawn from physical and biological systems.

Asamoah Nkwanta
Asamoah Nkwanta
Department of Mathematics, Morgan State University

Asamoah Nkwanta is an Associate Professor of Mathematics in the Department of Mathematics at Morgan State (more...)

Asamoah Nkwanta is an Associate Professor of Mathematics in the Department of Mathematics at Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland. He has been working on RNA sequence problems since 1996. His main interest is using combinatorial methods to design RNA sequences for secondary structure prediction. His RNA prediction research focuses on certain lattice (or random) walks that are used in a way to code strands of RNA that would be essential for the identification of specific viral RNA molecules. He is currently working on a lattice walk model for RNA sequence prediction with applications to RNA sequences related to HIV, malaria and yellow fever. Further interests of his are in analyzing simple sequence repeat patterns in DNA sequences, as well as evaluating RNA folding rates.

 

Professor Nkwanta will lecture on RNA combinatorics and secondary structure prediction. He will explain how discrete mathematical biology concepts can be used to help predict more stable RNA secondary structure sequences and share information about RNA sequences associated with HIV, yellow fever, and malaria. He will also lecture on a probabilistic method to analyze repeat patterns in DNA sequences, metrics for analyzing RNA folding rates, the combinatorics of the RNA numbers, RNA Riordan arrays, and RNA base-point mutations.

Michael  Reed
Michael Reed
Mathematics, Duke University

Michael Reed is a Professor of Mathematics at Duke University. He was trained as an analyst but began (more...)

Michael Reed is a Professor of Mathematics at Duke University. He was trained as an analyst but began working on problems in biology in the 1980s. His main interest is using mathematical methods to understand human physiology. He has studied the transport of materials inside cells, the properties of the auditory system, the production of luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone by the pituitary gland, and more recently how cell metabolism, both normal and pathological, is involved in neurdogenerative diseases (like Parkinson's disease) and neuropsychiatric disorders.

 

Professor Reed will lecture on "Mathematics, Cell Metabolism, and Public Health." We have 50 years of data relating diet to cancer, to heart disease, and to other human health problems. These are statistical correlations and typically the correlations are small. Between the dietary input (vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates) and the disease outcomes are the cells of the human body. Until we understand how diet changes the metabolic processes inside of cells we will not be able to design successful prevention strategies or successful therapies in the case of disease. Unfortunately these metabolic processes are very complicated and biological experimentation is very difficult. Professor Reed will explain how mathematics can be used to understand cellular processes and give valuable information about public health issues such as birth defects, colon cancer, and diabetes.

Miranda Teboh-Ewungkem
Miranda Teboh-Ewungkem
Department of Mathematics, Lafayette College

Miranda I. Teboh-Ewungkem is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. She (more...)

Miranda I. Teboh-Ewungkem is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. She earned a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics (May, 2003) and an M.S. in Statistics (January 2003) from Lehigh University and also has an M.S. in Mathematics (July 1998) from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Her Ph.D. dissertation was in Mathematical Biology and she has been working predominantly on problems relating Mathematics and Biology since then. Her main interests include using Mathematics to understand the dynamics of infectious diseases, particularly malaria, to understand transport across capillaries into tissues, and most recently to study inflammatory skin diseases. She has studied the transport of oxygen and substrates across tissues in skeletal muscles, the role of gametocytes in malaria dynamics, the within-vector dynamics of plasmodium falciparum, the impact of incomplete fertilization on the optimal sex ratio of plasmodium falciparum gametocytes, and most recently was one of the developers of a preliminary model of skin dendritic cell trafficking and induction of T cell immunity, a first step towards understanding inflammatory skin diseases.

 

Professor Teboh-Ewungkem will lecture on "Mathematics, Malaria and Control: What role can people and the local communities play?" As the fight against malaria continues, it is increasingly evident that many complementary control measures will have to be implemented to achieve a lastingly effective control scheme. Some of these measures will depend on the development and production of effective anti-malaria drugs and vaccines. Others will depend on individuals and local communities; individuals must begin immediate drug intervention when infected and complete the entire drug treatment regime and communities must facilitate this sort of behavior. In addition, poverty and the resulting lack of control of drug access has lead to local corner stores and pharmacies prescribing and selling some outdated drugs that are no longer the WHO recommended standards, complicating effective drug intervention schemes. The dynamics of control are complex and so far, we have been looking primarily at individual facets of the control story. Only when all these different facets are integrated effectively will they lead to efficient disease control and possible disease eradication. In this lecture, Professor Teboh-Ewungkem will explain how mathematics can be used to understand malaria and link that understanding to control aspects from the elimination of breeding sites, prevention of the parasite development, protection via the use of safe anti-mosquito bed nets, and the importance of seeking immediate intervention and completing anti-malaria treatment when infected. She will also discuss some potential anti-malarial vaccines.

Talitha Washington
Talitha Washington
Mathematics, Howard University

Talitha Washington is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Howard University. She earned a Bachelor of (more...)

Talitha Washington is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Howard University. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Spelman College in 1996, and a Doctorate in mathematics in 2001 from the University of Connecticut. Dr. Washington was a VIGRE postdoctoral fellow at Duke University from 2001 through 2003. Her work there included using differential equations to model luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion in response to long term exposure to gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH). She proposed a model which involves key processes including desensitization of calcium channels, internalization of the dimerized receptors and recycling of some of the internalized receptors, and an increase in Gq concentration near the plasma membrane in response to receptor dimerization.

 

Dr. Washington will lecture on "A Non-Standard Finite Difference Scheme for a Mathematical Model of Respiratory Virus Transmission". She will discuss her recent work with Ron Mickens of Clark Atlanta University. This involves constructing a Non-Standard Finite Difference (NSFD) scheme for an SIR mathematical model of respiratory virus transmission. She will provide a discretization of the model's equations that is fully in compliance with the NSFD methodology as formulated by Mickens.

Abdul-Aziz Yakubu
Abdul-Aziz Yakubu
Mathematics Department, Howard University

Abdul-Aziz Yakubu is a Professor of Mathematics at Howard University where he currently serves as chair of (more...)

Abdul-Aziz Yakubu is a Professor of Mathematics at Howard University where he currently serves as chair of the mathematics department. Yakubu is trained as an applied mathematician and has worked on mathematical biology problems since the 1990s. His research investigations focus on nonlinear systems that arise in the diverse fields of ecology, epidemiology and demography. Several of Yakubu's research projects focus on population and disease dynamics. Specifically, these include studies of the dynamics of species interactions (such as competition, predator-prey, food chain, etc.) in constant and periodic environments. He has done additional research on the impact of subpopulation linkages on the stability and resilience of exploited fisheries. More recently, Yakubu has expanded his research to include how various intermittent preventative treatments affect the incidence of clinical malaria in Africa.

 

Yakubu will lecture on The Impact of Periodic Proportional Harvesting Policies on Total Allowable Catch (TAC)-Regulated Fishery Systems. Fishery systems throughout the world are in crisis and his lecture will compare the effects of periodic fishing (pulse fishing) on TAC stock dynamics with those of constant fishing strategies. Yakubu will show that periodic harvesting strategies can effectively stabilize complex dynamics caused by overcompensation. Under specific conditions related to the Allee effect, he will show that both strategies can to lead to a sudden collapse of TAC regulated fisheries. To demonstrate this in real fishery systems, Yakubu will apply the mathematical model framework to Gulf of Alaska Pacific halibut data from the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) annual reports and Georges Bank Atlantic cod data from the North East Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) Reference Document 08-15. Finally, he will use the mathematical model to show that TAC is an effective policy for preventing the collapse of halibut. However, of note is that the model predicts that cod is endangered. Furthermore, he will demonstrate that the likelihood of the collapse of both halibut and cod increase with increased weather variability. The mathematical model framework could be useful for future investigations on the sustainability of other exploited fishery systems.