2021 Summer Newsletter

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 Alys Clark (University of Auckland).
  1. News – updates from: 
  2. People – Interviews with Dr. Mark Alber, University of California Riverside, the lead organizer for the 2021 annual meeting, and Dr. Alys Clark, University of Auckland, the newest member of SMB newsletter editorial board.
  3. Editorial – A commentary by Dr. Reginald L. McGee II titled “Now Loading SMB2021…”. 
  4. Featured Figures – Highlighting the research by Dr. Ielyaas Cloete, University of Auckland, and colleagues; and the most downloaded paper in Bulletin of Math Biology, May 2021 issue by Dr. Thomas Woolley, Cardiff 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 September 2021, so if you would like to contribute, please send an email to the editors by the end of August 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!

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


News Section

By Dr. Alys Clark

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

Education subgroup

On April 1–2, 2021, the education subgroup ran a satellite SMB workshop focusing on educational aspects and REU (research experience for undergraduates). The first day covered topics such as interdisciplinary teaching, modelling without prerequisites, integrating the community and the challenges of teaching and gender transitioning. The second day was devoted to an interactive panel on the REU programs in applied mathematics and the biologicals sciences. 


Mathematical  Oncology subgroup

Mohit Kumar Jolly and Heiko Enderling, as co-chairs of the Mathematical Oncology subgroup, recently organized/co-edited two special issues – one for Journal of Clinical Medicine (MDPI) and the other one for Computational and Systems Oncology (Wiley), the URLs for which are given below. The latter special issue is still ongoing and is expected to have a total of 10 articles in next 2-3 months as ongoing peer review is completed.




Population Dynamics, Ecology & Evolution subgroup

  • The Population Dynamics, Ecology and Evolution subgroup has a new website:  smbpdee.github.io
    If you have ideas for content you would like to see appear on the site please contact the subgroup at:  smbPopEcolEvol@gmail.com
  • A call for submissions is open to a special issue of the journal Mathematical Biosciences and Engineering:  The issue theme is “Mathematical ecology of populations and ecosystems” edited by Glenn Ledder and Christina Cobbold, deadlines for submission 31 Dec 2021 .  More details on how to submit www.aimspress.com/mbe/article/5817/special-articles
  • Workshop Modelling diffusive systems: Theory and biological applications, 6th-9th September



Royal Society Publishing


Royal Society Publishing has recently published a special issue of Interface Focus entitled Interdisciplinary approaches to dynamics in biology organized by Rubén Pérez-Carrasco and Berta Verd and the articles can be accessed directly at royalsocietypublishing.org/toc/rsfs/2021/11/3 There is also a blog post at royalsociety.org/blog/2021/04/interdisciplinary-dynamics-biology/


A special issue of Philosophical Transactions B

Royal Society Publishing has recently published a special issue of Philosophical Transactions B entitled Modelling that shaped the early COVID-19 pandemic response in the UK compiled and edited by Ellen Brooks-Pollock, Leon Danon, Thibaut Jombart and Lorenzo Pellis and the articles are FREELY available online at www.bit.ly/PTB1829 

Purchase the print issue at the reduced price of £35 by contacting Debbie.vaughan@royalsociety.org 





Upcoming Conference

SMB2021 will be held June 13-17 2021, in virtual form. 

Find out more about SMB2021:

SMB2021 Highlights:

  • 2360 registered participants
  • 11 Plenary Lectures
  • Speakers from 47 Countries 
  • 15 different tracks
  • 188 Sessions of Mini-Symposia Presentations with 752 talks,
  • 72 Sessions of Contributed Presentations with 276 talks,
  • 24 Sessions of Posters with 205 posters

SMB2021 Special Events:

  • Pre-Conference Program on June 13
  • Public Lecture on Mathematical Biology and Translational Science
  • Early Career Workshop
  • Panel Discussion focused on Development of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (schedule.smb2021.org/DEI/)
  • Special Sessions and Panel Discussions on Non-academic Careers and Mathematical Biology
  • Career Fair: Large number of Industrial Sponsors to meet with during the career fair and one-on-one in their assigned Sococo booths

List of Sponsors:

  • Springer/Nature
  • Elsevier  
  • Wiley
  • 10xGenomics
  • Amgen
  • Merck
  • Pfizer
  • AppliedBiomath
  • DILIsym
  • PG-value 
  • Takeda
  • International Society of Pharmacometrics (ISoP)
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • UCR Center for Quantitative Modeling in Biology
  • UCR Research and Economic Development Office
  • UCR Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Office
  • UCR College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences


Allows attendees to:

  • Participate in poster sessions
  • Participate in networking events,
  • Access industry sponsors and their activities,
  • Socialize with collaborators and other participants in real time,
  • And more! More information can be found here: www.sococo.com/why-sococo/



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People Section

By Dr. Ruth Bowness








Interview with Dr. Mark Alber is a Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at University of California, Riverside and lead organizer of the SMB 2021 annual meeting.







Interview with Dr. Alys Clark, University of Auckland, an Associate Professor in the Auckland Bioengineering Institute and and the newest member of SMB newsletter editorial board.




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Editorial Section

By Dr. Reginald L. McGee II 

Now Loading SMB2021…

SMB2021 is virtually upon us and it’s going, going, back, back, to Cali, Cali — specifically, the host of this year’s meeting is the University of California, Riverside along with many other California institutions.

To promote greater geographic inclusion and participation, SMB2021 is running 24 hours a day with the schedule divided into three large time zones: Americas (North/South), Europe/Africa, and Asia/Oceania. Scan the impressively organized and color-coded conference schedule and you will find the always-informative and uplifting pre-conference mentoring workshop, 11 plenary lectures, special sessions on ”Mathematical Biology in Industry” and “Mathematics in Medicine”, and more!

The annual meeting also continues important discussions that began at the pre-conference workshops held in March and April on “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” (DEI) and “Education and Research Experiences for Undergraduates,” respectively. Videos and references from these workshops are now hosted online:

Videos & References from the DEI Workshop

Videos & References from the Education & REUs Workshop

The Education subgroup continues conversations from the April workshop through its four minisymposia, plus contributed talks and posters. All SMB subgroups are represented at the meeting as well, you can find navigate the schedule through any one of 13 subgroup topics. Day 1 of the meeting also features a panel discussion titled “A Conversation with Leaders in Building Equity and Inclusivity within Mathematical Biology.” It is exciting to see these important conversations prioritized within the Society.

SMB2021 will utilize the online platform Sococo again, which I personally found conducive for networking last year. There should be ample opportunities for connection and collaboration at the meeting, a recent tweet from the SMB2021 twitter account stated that, as of June 1st, there were 2300 registered participants and speakers from 47 countries. Lastly, speaking of tweets, make sure to warm up your thumbs and use the #smb2021 hashtag to compete for this year’s Best Tweeter award.

See you in Sococo!

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Featured Figures

By Dr. Fiona R Macfarlane

Early Career Feature
A recent paper by Ielyaas Cloete (University of Auckland), Juliana C. Correa-Velloso (New Jersey Medical School Rutgers), Paula J. Bartlett (New Jersey Medical School Rutgers), Vivien Kirk (University of Auckland), Andrew P. Thomas (New Jersey Medical School Rutgers) and James Sneyd (University of Auckland) entitled “A Tale of two receptors” investigates the mechanisms underlying calcium signals in response to activation of the purinergic receptors in hepatocytes.
Recent experimental evidence shows that activation of distinct purinergic receptors in hepatocytes results in qualitatively diverse calcium oscillations. Using a mathematical model, the authors show how multiple PLC and PKC feedback mechanisms coordinate to regulate the calcium response in hepatocytes. Furthermore, utilising the model, the authors suggest the activity and intensity of the PLC and PKC feedback mechanisms necessary to explain the qualitatively diverse calcium oscillations in response to purinergic receptor activation. To read more about this exciting work, please see the link:




Experimental data shows how ADP, which activates the P2Y1 purinergic receptor, generates narrow-spike calcium oscillations, UTP which activates the P2Y2 and P2Y4 purinergic receptors, generates broad-spike oscillations, while ATP, which activates all purinergic receptors, generates a complex calcium trace consisting of both narrow and broad-spike oscillations. The mathematical model suggests how PLC and PKC feedback mechanisms coordinate to generate diverse calcium oscillations in response to distinct purinergic receptors.




Most Downloaded Paper in Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, May 2021 Issue

A recent paper authored by Dr. Thomas E. Woolley (Cardiff University), Dr. Andrew L. Krause (University of Oxford) and Prof. Eamonn A. Gaffney (University of Oxford), entitled “Bespoke Turing systems” has become the most downloaded paper in the May 2021 issue of the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, the article is also included as part of a collection on “Celebrating J.D. Murray’s contributions to Mathematical Biology”.


Imaging pipeline from an initial photograph of J.D. Murray to a final Turing pattern with a complex heterogeneity. In terms of the Turing pattern in the concentration of v, this provides regions of spots in the black regions, stripes in the white region and inverse spots and stripes in the grey region. The authors present a framework to design systems that exhibit Turing instabilities within the parameter region associated with the reaction kinetics in which patterning is requires, while allowing for the selection of desired patterning features.


The authors describe how to build a system of two populations governed by polynomial morphogen kinetics such that the patterning parameter domain, morphogen phases, and even type of resulting pattern can all be determined. As a further example, they consider a heterogeneous spatial domain to be a photograph of James D Murray and demonstrate that spots, labyrinthine, and inverse spot/labyrinthine patterns can all exist together in the same simulation, with boundaries between regions conforming to the underlying heterogeneity. To read more about this exciting work, please see the link:




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