After a well attended symposium on "Interactive Mathematical Biology's Role in Curriculum Reform" at the annual meeting in Toronto last July, the Officers approved the membership of the Education Committee: Evans Afenya, Elmhurst College; Meghan Burke, Kennesaw State University; Rick Cooper, Trinity University; Lourdes Esteva, UNAM - National University of Mexico; Lou Gross, University of Tennessee - Knoxville; James W. Haefner, Utah State University; Claudia Neuhauser, University of Minnesota; Anita Salem, Rockhurst College; Jorge X. Velasco Hern-E1ndez, UAM-Iztapalapa, Mexico, and myself. We ten members eagerly look forward to hearing suggestions from you about what we can do to improve the state of mathematical biology education.
Each of these members has an active interest in mathematical biology education beyond their classroom. As noted in Mathematical Biology Newsletter 11 (1): 4 (Winter 1998), Lou Gross provided leadership with two NSF grants which brought biologists and mathematicians together to discuss education in a pair of workshops and has developed web pages on mathematical biology education Several other members have also been externally funded for educational initiatives: Anita Salem leads a team project on "Interdisciplinary Student Projects for Calculus." Their first three biological modules are: "Arterial Pressure," "A Model for Weak Selection of Alleles," and "AIDS". Jim Haefner's grant provides for developing biology laboratory exercises that directly use calculus; his first project analyzes foraging behavior with the Holling disk equation. Meghan Burke and Sean Ellermeyer have just been funded for a project entitled: Mathematical Modules in Biology and Chemistry Rick Cooper collaborates with biologist Bob Blystone on their grant: "Synergistic Learning in Biology and Statistics" (SLIBS) Their web site illustrates projects on "Osmosis and the Marvelous Egg" and "Candle in a Box: Creating a model through which students can explore experimental design." Our HHMI funded project, the BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium , has just published The BioQUEST Library V (Academic Press) which includes an interactive (Maple) biocalculus module by Joe Mahaffy at San Diego State and BENZER, our module on interval graphs for genetic mapping and food web data analysis.
Claudia Neuhauser is developing a calculus book which instantiates every concept with a thorough series of biological problems. She tested the first three hundred plus pages this Fall term. Jorge X. Velasco Hern-E1ndez led a conference: Investigacion y Docencia en Matematicas y Biologia (Research and Teaching in Mathematics and Biology) last Spring that brought many Mexican educators in mathematics and biology together with a series of American educators and researchers in a mutually illuminating dialogue. Lourdes Esteva organized much of the International Year of Mathematical Biology in Mexico and saw to it that education was an important part of these celebrations.
Other funded projects in mathematical biology education include collaboration between Ed Grossman in Mathematics and Jane Gallagher in Biology at the City College of New York. They have developed a series of Excel macros for students in their coupled courses in "Ecology and Evolution" and Mathematics 209 which introduces students to deterministic modeling (spreadsheets and differential equations) and modeling with uncertainty (heavy on probability and statistics). The Long Island Consortium for Interconnected Learning, led by Alan Tucker at SUNY Stony Brook, has involved biologists at neighboring colleges to develop courses that make more extensive usage of mathematics. Some representative materials are: "Applications of Simulated Physiology Experiments to General Biology Labs" at SUNY Farmingdale and "Simple Dynamic and Interactive Mathematical Modules of Biological Systems" at CW Post - Long Island University. At the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign, Jerry Uhl in Mathematics and Sandy Lazarowitz in Biology (who recently moved to Cornell University) developed BioCalc with a HHMI grant, which is a lectureless lab based course that extensively uses Mathematica. They have significantly improved the success of their biology students in calculus and subsequent mathematical courses. Angela Shiflet is organizing a combined computer science- biology major at Wofford College. Matt Miller at the University of South Carolina has collaborated with a colleague in developing Maple models in ecology. With the variation in approaches in the above funded projects, there should soon be a large diversity of quality materials from which educators can adopt and adapt to their students and contexts.
I have been asked to organize a session for the joint European Society for Mathematical and Theoretical Biology (ESMTB)/SMB meeting in Amsterdam next June 29 - Jul 3rd: "Education in Mathematical Biology" Lou Gross has agreed to Chair the symposium. The abstract follows: "We invite speakers to continue the dialogue between biologists and mathematicians about educating students in Mathematical Biology. In previous educational symposia, we have heard about: mathematicians doing biological experiments in calculus classes, biologists doing calculus in biology labs, development of computer software for biology students to develop better analytical skills and modeling experience, use of packages like Mathematica and Maple in mathematics classes to analyze biological data or to develop theoretical models of biological phenomena, and synergisms of statisticians and biologists doing team teaching of mathematics and biology together. We welcome other curriculum innovators as well as past participants to share their experiences in this growing educational endeavor. " Since submitting this abstract, Lou has suggested that one topic that we should address is the educational requirements for the hot area of bioinformatics.
The SMB Educational Committee would appreciate receiving more responses to the questionnaire published in Mathematical Biology Newsletter 11 (1): 5 (Winter 1998) on issues you want addressed in mathematical biology education. Ramit Mehr at Princeton has shared materials on the AWIS Mentoring Project where "Women Mentor Women" with the hope that this is one of the activities that we will undertake. If you are a senior colleague, would you be willing to mentor a graduate student or post-doc at our annual meeting and then serve as a contact? Finally, Lee Segel, Editor of the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, has invited educational manuscripts. Please help us identify high quality work appropriate for the journal as well as criteria for relevant editorial policy.