April 24, 2014

***Re-scheduled to Fall 2013
Date to be announced shortly***

Half-day Symposium on Mathematical Biology in the Undergraduate Curriculum

Fields Institute
222 College St. Toronto

An image of replication of DNA by the enzyme DNA polymerase.
"Biology will be the great mathematical frontier of the twenty-first century."
-Ian Stewart, The Mathematics of Life, Basic Books, New York, 2011.


The symposium will consider the potential role of mathematics in the undergraduate curriculum of life science students. Two lectures will be given that explore the relationship between mathematics and biology in education, followed by a panel discussion addressing the significance of mathematics to biology.

1:30-2:30 James Stewart
Biocalculus: The First-year Course in Calculus for the Life Sciences

Abstract: In the past 10 or 15 years, many mathematics departments in North America have started setting up calculus courses designed specifically for students in the life sciences. What should be the nature of this course? Should it be like the traditional science and engineering calculus course but with applications to physics replaced with applications to biology? Or should it be an introduction to mathematical biology? Should it be a course in modeling? Or should it have more traditional structure? These and other questions will be discussed.
2:30-3:30 Troy Day
Integrating biology and mathematics in undergraduate education

Abstract: Most students pursuing an undergraduate degree in the life sciences are required to take very few courses in mathematics. A typical degree program might require only introductory calculus and/or introductory statistics. Is this sufficient for a modern education in biology? And if not, what other mathematics should be taught? Likewise, many students in mathematics get no exposure to biology. Would they benefit from such exposure? And if so, how should this be accomplished? I will discuss these and other aspects of integrating biology and mathematics.

Panel discussion: Mathematics in biology: how much is too much?
Is mathematics necessary in the undergraduate curriculum for life science students? If so, how much? Likewise, would students in mathematics benefit from increased exposure to ideas and problems from the life sciences?

Panelists: James Stewart, Troy Day, Jane Heffernan, TBA2, TBA3