2021 Winter Newsletter

Ruth Bowness (University of Bath), Alys Clark (University of Auckland), Fiona Macfarlane (University of St Andrews), and Reginald L. McGee II (College of the Holy Cross).
  1. News – updates from: 
  2. Editorial – A commentary by Dr. Fiona Macfarlane titled “Is science accessible?”. 
  3. Featured Figures – Highlighting the most downloaded paper in Bulletin of Math Biology, September 2021 issue by Prof. Frithjof Lutscher, University of Ottawa, 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 Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. 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 April 2022, so if you would like to contribute, please send an email to the editors by the end of March 2022 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 editors can be reached at newsletter@smb.org.

We hope you enjoy this issue of the newsletter!

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


News Section

By Dr. Reginald L. McGee II

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.



Upcoming Presidential Office Hours

Heiko Enderling will continue to host Presidential Office Hours on the first Tuesday of each month (March 1st, April 1st, May 3rd, June 7th) at 4pm. The Office Hours zoom link is:



Meeting ID: 990 8577 9843

Passcode: SMB

SMB Subgroups Update

Mathematical Epidemiology and Immunology subgroups

The SMB Joint Mathematical Epidemiology and Mathematical Immunology Mid-Year Mini Virtual Conference will be held on February 27-28, 2022. The conference theme is  “Epidemiology meets Immunology and Vice Versa – Linking Math Epidemiology to Math Immunology.” More info can be found on the conference website.


Methods for Mathematical Modeling subgroup

The SMB subgroup on methods for mathematical modeling is guest editing a special issue in the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology on “Data-driven Methods for Biological Modeling.” More information about the issue and how to submit are available at the following link: link.springer.com/collections/caifbebiec. You may also contact smbmethodsgroup@gmail.com with any questions you may have about the issue.


Mathematical Oncology subgroup

  • Follow us on Twitter!

The Mathematical Oncology Subgroup now has its own twitter handle @SMBMathOnco. Follow us at  twitter.com/SMBMathOnco

  • Check out our new webpage!

The shiny new MathOnco webpage has been re-designed and now not only features a beautiful blackboard themed design but also integrates the blog, newsletter, and job and conference listings. If you’d like to leave us feedback, fill out our survey.

  • Call for Community Input: Fields Thematic Program in Mathematical Oncology (July-December 2024)

Thomas Hillen and colleagues are planning to host a Thematic Program on Mathematical Oncology at the Fields Institute in Toronto, including a series of workshops, conferences, long-and short-term visitors, and postdocs for July-December 2024. To evaluate interest of the community they ask for feedback by filling in this form.



Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Update

The DEI Committee, co-chaired by Dr. Zhilan Feng and Dr. Stacey Finley, works to develop, implement, and oversee programs that help SMB support and promote all members regardless of their identities, affiliations, or status. Throughout the first year of the Committee’s existence, we highlighted the many facets of diversity by featuring SMB members in Twitter posts. The Committee also worked with the 2021 SMB Annual Meeting Organizing Committee to facilitate DEI-focused events at the virtual meeting. 

We are continuing to work towards proposing actions and strategies to enhance a culture of diversity and inclusion within the SMB. In the short-term, we are preparing to submit multiple minisymposium proposals with a DEI focus for the 2022 SMB Annual Meeting. In the long-term, we aim to follow the successful initiatives pursed by other organizations (ICSB and SIAM) in evaluating the demographics of awards and keynote speakers and making recommendations to the BOD for strategies to increase diversity. Such efforts are important for continued success and growth of our society. 

We welcome all members who are interested in supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion to join the committee! Email membership@smb.org if you are interested in joining! Please include “DEI Committee” in email subject line.


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Royal Society Publishing


​​Royal Society Publishing has recently published several special issues of Philosophical Transactions A of interest to SMB members:

Advanced computation in cardiovascular physiology: new challenges and opportunities compiled and edited by Gaetano Valenza, Luca Faes, Nicola Toschi and Riccardo Barbieri and the articles can be accessed directly at www.bit.ly/TransA-2212 

Data science approaches to infectious disease surveillance compiled and edited by Qingpeng Zhang and the articles can be accessed directly at bit.ly/TransA2214


Recent progress and open frontiers in Turing’s theory of morphogenesis compiled and edited by Andrew L Krause, Eamonn A Gaffney, Philip K Maini and Václav Klika and the articles can be accessed directly at www.bit.ly/TransA-2213

Purchase the print issues at the reduced price of £35 per issue by contacting Lucy.White@royalsociety.org

We are also looking for new theme issues and that if you are interested in submitting, please visit the website royalsocietypublishing.org/rsta/guest-editors or contact the Editorial Office for more information – philtransa@royalsociety.org 





Bulletin of Mathematical Biology


​​Check out the latest journal stats for the Bulletin of
Mathematical Biology – Latest Impact Factor of 2.082 and
notable increase on Article Downloads!
















Editorial Section

By Dr. Fiona Macfarlane

Is science accessible?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared back in March 2020, there has been a global interest in scientific research of how COVID-19 spreads and ways that we can prevent this.

This has shone a spotlight on the benefits of mathematical modelling of diseases, however with this increased public interest there has been a rise in miscommunication of science. Along with the pandemic, the WHO declared a worldwide ‘Infodemic’, a spread of misinformation across the world, where this misinformation is potentially leading to increased illness, hospitalisations and even deaths. In the media and on social media a proportion of this misinformation comes from the misinterpretation or a lack of understanding of scientific research. With the increase in open access articles and preprints related to COVID-19 along with the rise in online recorded seminars, science has become more available to the public, however even if this information is available, is it accessible? Perhaps as researchers, not only in COVID-19 research but all areas of mathematical biology, we should consider how our work is communicated to the general public and other scientists.

Often when the topic of outreach or science communication is raised we can often think that it is not our responsibility, or that we don’t have time to participate. However, outreach has many different forms, from simply sharing your science on social media to providing online resources or giving accessible research talks to different groups. Communicating science is beneficial, not only to those we are communicating with, but to us as researchers as well. Engaging with other groups can result in a fresh perspective on our work, questions that we may not have considered and a deeper understanding of the impact that our work can have. The Society for Mathematical Biology has outreach grants available to facilitate and support mathematical biology-based events and activities for public audiences. You can find more information on this on the webpage: www.smb.org/education-and-outreach-grants/.

Communicating our science effectively to other researchers is equally important as communicating science to the general public. A recent news piece in Nature Index (www.natureindex.com/news-blog/science-research-papers-getting-harder-to-read-acronyms-jargon) suggests that scientific papers are becoming harder to understand, even by scientists. As highlighted by Heiko Enderling in the latest SMB President’s newsletter `Maybe the time has come for us to re-evaluate the language we use to communicate our work to non-mathematicians, and if we must develop sets of rigorous standards. If we ask ten different mathematical biologists to define what it means to calibrate or validate a model, we likely get ten different answers. We must increase our efforts towards reproducibility of our works, and we must develop data sharing standards that are common in many other quantitative fields. I hope that we can come together as a community to advance such ambitious goals.’

The rising interest, and perhaps scepticism, in the scientific method by the general public over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic provides us an opportunity to reflect on the ways in which our research is accessed and who it is accessed by.

Some useful articles and resources on the spread of misinformation and how we can combat this include the following:

  1. Besançon, L., Peiffer-Smadja, N., Segalas, C., Jiang, H., Masuzzo, P., Smout, C., Billy, E., Deforet, M. and Leyrat, C., 2021. Open science saves lives: lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. BMC Medical Research Methodology21(1), pp.1-18.
  2. Brown, N., Thompson, P. and Leigh, J.S., 2018. Making academia more accessible. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice6(2).
  3. Islam, M.S., Sarkar, T., Khan, S.H., Kamal, A.H.M., Hasan, S.M., Kabir, A., Yeasmin, D., Islam, M.A., Chowdhury, K.I.A., Anwar, K.S. and Chughtai, A.A., 2020. COVID-19–related infodemic and its impact on public health: A global social media analysis. The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene103(4), p.1621
  4. Loomba, S., de Figueiredo, A., Piatek, S.J., de Graaf, K. and Larson, H.J., 2021. Measuring the impact of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on vaccination intent in the UK and USA. Nature human behaviour5(3), pp.337-348.
  5. Pennycook, G., Epstein, Z., Mosleh, M., Arechar, A.A., Eckles, D. and Rand, D.G., 2021. Shifting attention to accuracy can reduce misinformation online. Nature592(7855), pp.590-595.
  6. Saltelli, A., Bammer, G., Bruno, I., Charters, E., Di Fiore, M., Didier, E., Espeland, W.N., Kay, J., Piano, S.L., Mayo, D. and Pielke Jr, R., 2020. Five ways to ensure that models serve society: a manifesto.
  7. West, J.D. and Bergstrom, C.T., 2020. Calling Bullshit: The Art of Scepticism in a Data-Driven World. Penguin UK.
  8. West, J.D. and Bergstrom, C.T., 2021. Misinformation in and about science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences118(15).

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Featured Figures

By Dr. Ruth Bowness


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

A recent paper authored by Donald L. DeAngelis (University of Miami), Daniel Franco, (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)), Alan Hastings (University of California), Frank M. Hilker (Osnabrück University), Suzanne Lenhart (University of Tennessee), Frithjof Lutscher (University of Ottawa), Natalia Petrovskaya, (University of Birmingham), Sergei Petrovskii (University of Leicester) and Rebecca C. Tyson (University of British Columbia-Okanagan) has become the most downloaded paper in the September 2021 Issue of the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology. The paper is entitled “Towards Building a Sustainable Future: Positioning Ecological Modelling for Impact in Ecosystems Management”.

The paper explores why only a small part of ecological modeling research is used in decision-making processes and, more importantly, what can be done to change this state of affairs. The authors analysed several “success stories”, evaluating them against several possible key ingredients that might characterise research with impact outside of academia. We find that the metrics used in academia are generally not indicative of decision-making impact, and that an appreciation of the larger context in which research is used can be very helpful. We offer several insights that we hope will help future researchers have the real-world impact to which they aspire. In particular, communication with stakeholders is often crucial for scientific research to affect decision-making. The figure illustrates the connections between three information streams that feed into policy making.




 To read more about this exciting work, please see the link:




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