A Report on the SMB Annual Meeting,

Toronto, Ontario, Canada, July 13-17, 1998

by Meghan A. Burke

The Society for Mathematical Biology held its Annual Meeting July 13-17, 1998, at the University of Toronto campus, in conjunction with the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Annual Meeting. The weather in Toronto was just beautiful the entire week -- sunny and 80 degrees. And the Blue Jays beat the New York Yankees during our presence!

The plenary sessions, given by Richard Karp (speaking on discrete mathematics as a tool for molecular biology), Jurg Ott (statistics of genetic mapping) and G. M. Crippen (a mixed integer program for models of drug receptor sites) impressed large numbers of applied mathematicians in the round Convocation Hall at the center of campus.

There were also a wide variety of Minisymposia, ranging in topic from Fisheries (organized by Ransom Myers) to DNA Computing (organized by Lila Kari). Minisymposium attendees were treated to examples of theoretical population biology talks (or in James Sneyd's case, VIDEOS!) organized by Denise Kirschner (but chaired ably in her absence by Leon Glass). Other minisymposia included Time Delays in Physiological and Neural Systems (organized by Jacques Belair), Unstable Periodic Orbits in Biology (Daniel T. Kaplan), and Mathematical Modeling in Physiology (Jonathan Bell and E. Bruce Pitman).

Several of the Minisymposia addressed practical aspects of the Mathematical Biologists' world. John Jungck organized a lively session on Interactive Mathematical Biology's Role in Curriculum Reform -- complete with an interactive exercise for the audience care of Jim Cornette. (An aside for those who participated-- we had left one slice out of the sum. In the end, we got the volume of the potato SPOT ON!) In addition, Leon Glass organized a session on Employment Opportunities for Applied Mathematicians in Biotechnology where a packed house heard about the variety of environments where one can use mathematics in biotechnology . Jamie Cuticchia, Frank Tobin, Jeffrey Sachs, and Thomas Paterson also shared insights into their current research problems.

Two contributed presentation sessions also discussed some interesting current work. The highly-awaited poster session was another place for presenters to show their latest and greatest results, and there they had the advantage of very fine refreshments to add to the festive atmosphere. The poster session followed the annual business meeting where we heard about all the exciting developments of the society. These developments can generally be found at the SMB website

A related minisymposium was also held in conjunction with the SIAM Annual Meeting: a Mathematical Biology session sponsored by the Association for Women in Mathematics. This was just one of four minisymposia and a poster session associated with the AWM Workshop. The workshop, held every year in conjunction with the SIAM Annual Meeting in summer and the Joint Mathematics Meetings in winter, sponsors women postdocs (within 5 years of finishing a Ph.D.) and graduate students to attend the meetings and to present their research. In addition to being a terrific experience of presenting to an interested audience, the workshop provided an opportunity to meet and be mentored by more senior mathematicians. One of the minisymposia, which drew a standing-room-only crowd, was even on the topic of Career Planning and Career Experiences. The value of this experience cannot be overstated, and interested women are urged to apply for next year's workshop. Application deadline is early, January 3, 1999, as next year's SIAM Annual Meeting is early, in May in ATLANTA! Check the new AWM website.

And next year's Society for Mathematical Biology meeting will be June 29-July 3, 1999, in AMSTERDAM, in conjunction with the 4th European Society for Mathematical and Theoretical Biology meeting. Hope to see you there for another inspiring meeting!

(See also in this issue "A Report of Some Session at the Annual Meeting" by Raymond Mejia)

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