Report on the Knoxville Conference and Meeting of SMB
submitted by Lou Gross
Over 170 researchers gathered in Knoxville from July 12-16, 2002 for a stimulating conference dealing with many aspects of mathematical biology. Along with numerous contributed talks and posters, the conference included several special mini-symposia organized on particular themes. These included: Cancer Modeling (organized by Robert Gatenby), Computational Biofluid Dynamics (organized by Eunok Jung), Education (organized by John Jungck), Evolutionary Theory (organized by Warren Ewens and Sergey Gavrilets), Infectious Diseases and the Evolution of Drug Resistance (organized by Sally Blower), and Structured Population and Community Modeling and Ecotoxicology in Honor of Tom Hallam's 65th Birthday (organized by Linda Allen).
Six plenary speakers provided surveys of recent research in a variety of areas of current emphasis in mathematical biology. The plenary speakers and their talk titles were:
The speaker at the closing banquet was Avner Friedman, who provided an overview of the objectives planned for the new NSF-funded Mathematical Biosciences Institute. Together there were over 100 talks presented in addition to 20 posters. Abstracts of all presentations are available on line through the web site
The Conference received generous financial support from the National Science Foundation and GlaxoSmithKline. These funds allowed the Conference to provide partial financial assistance for attendance to over 40 students and post-doctoral researchers. SMB provided funds to support additional students and non-US attendees through the Landahl and Busenberg Endowment Funds and through World Outreach Committee funds. CPS Innovations sponsored a lunch on career opportunities oriented towards younger researchers that featured talks by Frank Tobin (GlaxoSmithKline), Maurizio Conti (CPS Innovations) and Gene Bruce (NSF). For the first time, a pre-conference short course was held, An Introduction to the Mathematics of Biological Complexity, funded by the National Institutes of Health. This short course, with presentations and computer-based workshop sessions led by Holly Gaff, Louis Gross, Suzanne Lenhart and Jason Wolf, was oriented towards biologists without strong quantitative training.
In addition to a performance of Scottish and Appalachian fiddle music presented by Betsy Hooper (who was joined by a few attendees, notably Steve Ellner on accordion), many Conference attendees took advantage of the opportunity to visit the Museum of Appalachia, or hear a concert by old-time musician Howard Amstrong in conjunction with the premier of a documentary that was broadcast on PBS ("Sweet Old Song") the following week. As a special treat, the University of Tennessee Departments of Mathematics and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology hosted a reception in honor of Tom Hallam's 65th birthday, which was attended by many of Tom's colleagues, friends and students.
The organizing committee for the conference was Louis Gross (Chair), Sergey Gavrilets, Eunok Jung, Suzanne Lenhart, Vladimir Protopopescu and Ed Uberbacher. The committee thanks all who attended for their contribution and appreciates the superb support provided by the University of Tennessee Conference Center, particularly the Conference Coordinator, Barry Neal.