Upcoming Colloquia

All seminars will be held in the MBI Lecture Hall - Jennings Hall, Room 355 - unless otherwise noted.

November 24, 2014 3:00 - 3:50PM

In a Wall Street Journal article published in 2013, E. O. Wilson attempted to make the case that biologists don't really need to learn any mathematics -- whenever they run into difficulty with numerical issues they can find a technician (aka mathematician) to help them out of their difficulty. He formalizes this in Wilson's Principle No. 1: "It is far easier for scientists to acquire needed collaboration from mathematicians and statisticians than it is for mathematicians and statisticians to find scientists able to make use of their equations." This reflects a complete misunderstanding of the role of mathematics in all sciences throughout history. To Wilson mathematics is mere number crunching, but as Galileo said long ago, The laws of Nature are written in the language of mathematics... the symbols are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without whose help it is impossible to comprehend a single word. Mathematics has moved beyond the geometry-based model of Galileo's time, and in a rebuttal to Wilson, E. Frenkel has pointed out the role of mathematics in synthesizing the general principles in science. In this talk we will take this a step further and show how mathematics has been used to make new and experimentally-verified discoveries and how mathematics is essential for understanding a problem that has puzzled experimentalists for decades -- that of how organisms can scale in size. Mathematical analysis alone cannot "solve" these problems since the validation lies at the molecular level, but conversely, a growing number of questions in biology cannot be solved without mathematical analysis and modeling. We will highlight a few instances where modeling has been used to push experiments forward and highlight problems in biology that cannot be adequately addressed without mathematical modeling.

December 01, 2014 3:00 - 3:50PM
Host: Andrej Rotter

We synthesize findings from neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral biology to show that some key features of cognition in the neuron-based brains of vertebrates are also present in the insect-based swarm of honey bees. We present our ideas in the context of the cognitive task of nest-site selection by honey bee swarms. After reviewing the mechanisms of distributed evidence gathering and processing that are the basis of decision-making in bee swarms, we point out numerous similarities in the functional organization of vertebrate brains and honey bee swarms. These include the existence of interconnected subunits, parallel processing of information, a spatially distributed memory, layered processing of information, lateral inhibition, and mechanisms of focusing attention on critical stimuli. We also review the performance of simulated swarms in standard psychological tests of decision making: tests of discrimination ability and assessments of distractor effects.

TBD
January 26, 2015 3:00 - 3:50PM
Host: Soledad Fernandez

Abstract not submitted.

TBD
February 23, 2015 3:00 - 3:50PM
Host: TBD

Abstract not submitted.

TBD
March 02, 2015 3:00 - 3:50PM
Host: TBD

Abstract not submitted.

TBD
March 09, 2015 3:00 - 3:50PM
Host: TBD

Abstract not submitted.

TBD
April 06, 2015 3:00 - 3:50PM
Host: TBD

Abstract not submitted.

TBD
April 20, 2015 3:00 - 3:50PM
Host: TBD

Abstract not submitted.