Ruth Bowness (University of Bath), Reginald L. McGee II (College of the Holy Cross), Fiona Macfarlane (University of St Andrews), Jacob Scott (Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic), and Navideh Noori (Institute for Disease Modeling).
  1. News – updates from: 
  2. People – Interviews with Prof. Leah Edelstein-Keshet, University of British Columbia in the Department of Mathematics, and recipient of the 2021 Arthur T. Winfree Prize for her outstanding contributions to many areas of biology, and Dr. Fiona R Macfarlane, University of St Andrews and guest editor of SMB newsletter.
  3. Editorial – A commentary by Dr. Reginald L. McGee II and Dr. Jacob Scott titled “New Year, New Normals?”. 
  4. Featured Figures – Highlighting the research by Dr. Adrianne Jenner, Queensland University of Technology, and colleagues; and the most accessed paper in Bulletin of Math Biology, March 2021 issue by Dr. Maria-Veronica Ciocanel, Duke University, and colleagues.

To see the articles in this issue, click the links at the above items.


Contributing content

Issues of the newsletter are released four times per year in March, June, September and December. The newsletter serves the SMB community with news and updates, so please share it with your colleagues and contribute content to future issues.

We welcome your submissions to expand the content of the newsletter.  The next issue will be released in June 2021, so if you would like to contribute, please send an email to the editors by the end of April 2021 to discuss how your content can be included. This could include summaries of relevant conferences that you have attended, suggestions for interviews, professional development opportunities etc. Please note that job advertisements should be sent to the SMB digest rather than to the newsletter.

If you have any suggestions on how to improve the newsletter and would like to become more involved and/or contribute, please contact us at any time. We appreciate and welcome feedback and ideas from the community. The primary contact editor is Reginald.

We hope you enjoy this issue of the newsletter!

Ruth, Jacob, Reginald, Fiona and Navideh
Editors, SMB Newsletter


News Section

By Dr. Fiona R Macfarlane

In this issue of the News section, we highlight the updates from SMB Subgroups, SMB Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee, Royal Society Publishing, Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, and upcoming conferences. Read on below.



SMB Subgroups Update


Mathematical  Oncology Subgroup

  • New Subgroup Structure: After an initiation meeting on January 27, 2021, the newly formed subgroup committees are pursuing their respective tasks and will convene on a quarterly basis to discuss updates and take joint decisions.
    • Subgroup Co-chairs. Mohit Kumar Jolly & Heiko Enderling
    • SEC-SMB Newsletter Content Team. Marc Ryser; Chengyue Wu; Maxi Strobl
    • SEC-SMB Submission Review Organizing Team. Kasia Rejniak; Paul Macklin; Widodo Samyono; David Hormuth; Vikram Adhikarla 
    • SEC-SMB Poster/Talks Judging Organizing Team. Harsh Jain; Paul Macklin; Chengyue Wu; David Hormuth; Maxi Strobl; Vikram Adhikarla
  • Quantitative Systems Pharmacology Symposium (July 27-28, virtual): Hosted by the University of Buffalo. There will be a number of specific applications to oncology. For details see:
  • Workshop on Computational Modelling of Cancer Biology and Treatments (July 29-21, virtual): Hosted by the Centre de Recherches Mathématiques (CRM) in Montréal.  For details see here: 


Mathematical  Epidemiology and Mathematical Education

On Feb 7–8, 2021, the Mathematical Epidemiology and Mathematics Education subgroups held a joint meeting. This is the first SMB subgroup meeting of its kind, and it was a great success. Almost 300 people signed up (across the globe!!) for this short workshop that included two keynote talks, from Professor Alun Lloyd (NC State) and Dr Rachel Slayton (US CDC), two discussion panels on math education and jobs outside of academia, a range of talks from researchers at various career stages, and a workshop on how to write an academic paper. The Math Epi and Math Ed subgroups look forward to more regular subgroup meetings with other subgroups in future, to celebrate research and education in the Society for Mathematical Biology.



Cell and Developmental Biology subgroup

  • The CDEV subgroup will feature one blog post each month on our website at Check out our January feature.
  • Renske Vrooman (Origins Center) provides an overview of CDEV programming at eSMB2020, and our February feature – an interview with Adriana Dawes (The Ohio State University) about her research and career path. We look forward to featuring other research groups in our community as well as early-career researchers.
  • The CDEV subgroup is advertising for and encouraging members of our community to attend a discussion group started by Maria Abou Chakra (University of Toronto) on Modelling Cell Development and Regeneration. See for the discussion group schedule.



Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Update

By Dr. Stacey Finley

An important charge for the DEI committee is to ensure SMB operates in a manner that supports and promotes members regardless of race, color, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, national origin, age, and disability.
The committee has begun a focused and intentional effort to celebrate diversity and emphasize the important work of SMB members. We need your help to achieve this goal! 

We invite you to submit your name, or the name of SMB colleagues, to highlight for various features on diversity plan to occur throughout the year. The committee can compose the tweet to highlight your research, papers, and awards. Simply provide information via this form: SMB Feature Nomination Form, and the DEI Committee will do the rest! We will follow up to gain your approval for the featured content. 

We are currently celebrating Women’s History Month, and we invite you to retweet and amplify SMB’s Twitter posts for greater visibility. See some of our renowned SMB colleagues here
We welcome your input and feedback so that we can make this an effective means of promoting diversity within SMB. Please email DEI Committee co-chair, Stacey Finley  with suggestions.


Royal Society Publishing


Introducing Royal Society Read & Publish

If you are from an institution signed up to a Royal Society Read & Publish agreement, all fees are automatically covered by your library when you choose to publish an open access paper in a Royal Society journal. See if you are eligible here:



A special issue of Philosophical Transactions A

Royal Society Publishing has recently published a special issue of Philosophical Transactions A entitled Uncertainty quantification in cardiac and cardiovascular modelling and simulation compiled and edited by Gary R Mirams, Steven A Niederer and Richard H Clayton and the articles can be accessed directly at Purchase the print issue at the reduced price of £35 by contacting 




Participate in the Royal Society’s celebrated Summer Science Exhibition
The Summer Science Exhibition is the Royal Society’s flagship public engagement event which takes place every July at the Royal Society’s prestigious premises in central London. Showcasing cutting edge science, it reaches an audience of 13,000 people including 2,500 school children and attracts significant media attention. The Royal Society will shortly be accepting proposals for participation in the 2022 Summer Science Exhibition from UK-based researchers. If you think your team have cutting edge research that you would like to share with the public and want to know more, sign up for our mailing list to be notified when the call for proposals opens




Bulletin of Mathematical Biology


By Editors-in-Chief, Prof. Reinhard Laubenbacher and Prof. Alan Hastings

We are extremely excited to announce that the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology recently published a landmark collection of articles on mathematical biology education, edited by John Jungck, Raina Robeva, and Lou Gross. It is intended to provide a state-of-the-art overview of the field, as well as a template for publications in the field. The Bulletin is a natural place to publish such work, as it reaches a broad community of educators in the field. We are committed to a special effort to feature educational work in our pages. The collection of articles is described by the editors here:


Upcoming Conferences


Ecology & Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) meeting, 2021

The EEID 2020 was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the meeting has been rescheduled to 14-17 June 2021. The meeting will be entirely virtual. Follow the twitter account, @eeid2021 and the meeting event website for the updates.

MIDAS Network Virtual Annual Meeting, 2021

The 2021 MIDAS annual meeting will be virtual.  The meeting is planned for the week of May 10-13, 2021.  Registration and call for abstract submissions are now open.  Visit the MIDAS meeting event page for updates. 


SMB Diversity Workshop, 2021

The virtual workshop on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will be held on March 26, 2021. The goal of this workshop is to collaborate towards building a welcoming and inclusive environment within the Society for Mathematical Biology (SMB) and scientific community more broadly. For more details and to register, visit the event website


SMB Education & REU Workshop, 2021

The virtual workshop on Education and Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) will be held April 1-2, 2021. The goal of this workshop is to explore links between education, diversity and to discuss research opportunities for students. For more details and to register, visit the event website


Stochastic Models and Experiments in Ecology and Biology meeting, 2021

The conference will be held online or, if possible, in dual format at the European Center of Living Technology in the Palace “Ca’ Bottacin” of the University of Venice, on the 22nd-25th  June 2021. Registration (deadline 6th April) and abstract submission (deadline 1st April) are now open, full details can be found on the event website




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People Section

By Dr. Navideh Noori








Interview with Prof. Leah Edelstein-Keshet, University of British Columbia in the Department of Mathematics, and recipient of the 2021 Arthur T. Winfree Prize for her outstanding contributions to many areas of biology







Interview with Dr. Fiona R Macfarlane, University of St Andrews in the School of Mathematics and Statistics and guest editor of SMB newsletter








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Editorial Section

By Dr. Reginald L. McGee II and Dr. Jacob Scott

New Year, New Normals?


Looking backward

As many still await vaccination, now could be a good time to return to the Summer 2020 newsletter for helpful practices on navigating the pandemic in our personal and professional lives. In the editorial for that issue, Dr. Ruth Bowness shared articles and tips on working from home, general productivity, self-care, and tips specific to those with caring responsibilities.


The professional impacts of the past year remain hard to quantify, and for those with approaching reappointment and/or promotion reviews there may be an imminent need to make decisions on whether to count the 2019-2020 academic year towards those reviews. These decisions are further complicated by the uncertainties of when we will return to “normal” (resume travel, be able run labs at full capacity, teach in person, etc), and if and how evaluation guidelines will evolve. Additionally, there are potential financial implications with delaying promotion evaluations.


There aren’t any clear answers right now, but it’s important to acknowledge all of the current challenges and to support one another. Remember that the SMB Community Forum  ( is a way to connect with others, exchange ideas on self-care and work-life balance, navigating current challenges, and share experiences and resources. Please see for a ‘how to’ video if you are not familiar with the forum. You can e-mail Ruth Baker if you have any problems registering.



Looking forward

In the Winter 2020 newsletter, a graphic was featured from the “Most Downloaded Paper” in the September 2020 issue of the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology (BMB). Starting in this issue, that initiative will be expanded into a new section called “Featured Figures” where a graphic will be featured from an early career researcher from the Society along with a graphic from a recent issue of BMB. This new section will offer a new avenue for showcasing the exciting work happening in the Society!


The 2021 Society for Mathematical Biology Virtual Annual Meeting ( is rapidly approaching and there are many exciting aspects. One of the meeting’s focuses will be Promotion of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion and the increased accessibility can already be seen in the details of the meeting structure. First, there is a great outreach opportunity as High School & Undergraduate Students will be afforded free Zoom access to the meeting. Additionally, there is greater geographic accommodation for speakers and participants this year as the meeting is moving to a 24 hour format. Hope your circadian rhythms are ready for an around the clock math biology cycle!





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Featured Figures

By Dr. Fiona R Macfarlane and Dr. Reginald L. McGee II

Early Career Feature

A recent paper by Dr. Adrianne Jenner (Queensland University of Technology); Miss Sofia Alfonso, and Dr. Morgan Craig (Universite de Montreal); Dr. Rosemary Aogo, Dr. Amanda Smith, and Dr. Amber Smith (University of Tennessee); Miss Vivienne Crowe (Concordia); Dr. Penelope Morel (University of Pittsburgh); and Dr. Courtney Davis (Pepperdine University) entitled “COVID-19 virtual patient cohort reveals immune mechanisms driving disease outcome” looked at improving the understanding of the diversity of immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 using a mechanistic mathematical model.

In this work, the authors explored the features that predispose an individual to severe COVID-19 through a virtual (in silico) patient simulation. Each virtual patient had a unique set of parameters drawn from distributions inspired by hospitalised patient responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Simulating each individual patients’ immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection indicated that interleukin (IL)-6 concentration and interferon (IFN) timing were major predicators of disease severity. Analysing the cohort characteristics revealed that COVID-19 severity was dictated by the rate of monocyte-to-macrophage differentiation. To read more about this exciting work, please see the link:



Virtual cohort simulation recapitulates the variation in COVID-19 inflammation and helps reveal underlying characteristics that determine COVID-19 disease severity. Infecting virtual patients with SARS-CoV-2 resulted in varying immune responses (mild disease Ψ < 2.5 to  severe disease Ψ > 3.5) with strong correlations to IL-6 and IFN dynamics. Form this, a strong correlation between disease severity and the differentiation rate of monocytes to macrophages (PMΦ,I) was discovered.




Most Accessed Paper in Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, March 2021 Issue

A recent paper authored by Dr. Maria-Veronica Ciocanel (Duke University), Miss Riley Juenemann (Tulane University), Dr. Adriana T. Dawes (The Ohio State University) and Dr. Scott A. McKinley (Tulane University), entitled “Topological Data Analysis Approaches to Uncovering the Timing of Ring Structure Onset in Filamentous Networks” has become the most accessed paper in the March 2021 issue of the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology.


Analysis of simulations with small motor binding rate: (Left) Distribution of actin filaments, myosin motors, and cross-linkers at the final simulation time; (Right) Visualization of ring emergence as time-dependent persistence of the significant path corresponding to a 1-dimensional hole.


In this work, the authors consider the emergence of ring-like actin filament structures in cell cytoskeleton organization. Building upon existing methods, the authors develop a topological data analysis (TDA) method to sample along the actin filaments and analyze the topological structure of the resulting point cloud at each time. This method can be used to determine whether these ring-like structures emerge and the timing of their formation. Their analysis highlights that this technique can distinguish between the actin cytoskeleton organization resulting from distinct motor protein binding parameters. To read more about this exciting work, please see the link.



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