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Building Mathematical Models and Biological Insight in an Introductory Biology Course

A. E. Weisstein (2011)

Mathematical Modelling of Natural Phenomena

A growing body of literature testifies to the importance of quantitative reasoning skills in the 21st-century biology curriculum, and to the learning benefits associated with active pedagogies. The process of modeling a biological system provides an approach that integrates mathematical skills and higher-order thinking with existing course content knowledge. We describe a general strategy for teaching model-building in an introductory biology course,...

Drugs in the Classroom: Using Pharmacokinetics to Introduce Biomathematical Modeling

G. A. Koch-Noble (2011)

Mathematical Modelling of Natural Phenomena

Pharmacokinetics is an excellent way to introduce biomathematical modeling at the sophomore level. Students have the opportunity to develop a mathematical model of a biological phenomenon to which they all can relate. Exploring pharmacokinetics takes students through the necessary stages of mathematical modeling: determining the goals of the model, deciphering between the biological aspects to include in the model, defining the assumptions of the model, and finally, building, analyzing, using, and...

Integrating Photosynthesis, Respiration, Biomass Partitioning, and Plant Growth: Developing a Microsoft Excel®-based Simulation Model of Wisconsin Fast Plant (Brassica rapa, Brassicaceae) Growth with Undergraduate Students

Y. L. Grossman, A. B. Berdanier, M. L. Custic, L. R. Feeley, S. F. Peake, A. J. Saenz, K. S. Sitton (2011)

Mathematical Modelling of Natural Phenomena

This paper demonstrates the development of a simple model of carbon flow during plant growth. The model was developed by six undergraduate students and their instructor as a project in a plant ecophysiology course. The paper describes the structure of the model including the equations that were used to implement it in Excel®, the plant growth experiments that were conducted to obtain information for parameterizing and testing the model, model performance, student responses to the modeling project,...

Mathematical Biology Education: Modeling Makes Meaning

J. R. Jungck (2011)

Mathematical Modelling of Natural Phenomena

This special issue of Mathematical Modelling of Natural Phenomena on biomathematics education shares the work of fifteen groups at as many different institutions that have developed beautiful biological applications of mathematics that are different in three ways from much of what is currently available. First, many of these selections utilize current research in biomathematics rather than the well-known textbook examples that are at least a half-century old. Second, the selections focus on modules...

The p and the Peas: An Intuitive Modeling Approach to Hypothesis Testing

C. Neuhauser, E. Stanley (2011)

Mathematical Modelling of Natural Phenomena

We propose a novel approach to introducing hypothesis testing into the biology curriculum. Instead of telling students the hypothesis and what kind of data to collect followed by a rigid recipe of testing the hypothesis with a given test statistic, we ask students to develop a hypothesis and a mathematical model that describes the null hypothesis. Simulation of the model under the null hypothesis allows students to compare their experimental data...

Using DNA Self-assembly Design Strategies to Motivate Graph Theory Concepts

J. Ellis-Monaghan, G. Pangborn (2011)

Mathematical Modelling of Natural Phenomena

A number of exciting new laboratory techniques have been developed using the Watson-Crick complementarity properties of DNA strands to achieve the self-assembly of graphical complexes. For all of these methods, an essential step in building the self-assembling nanostructure is designing the component molecular building blocks. These design strategy problems fall naturally into the realm of graph theory. We describe graph theoretical formalism for various construction methods, and then suggest several...

Using normal mode analysis in teaching mathematical modeling to biology students

D. A. Kondrashov (2011)

Mathematical Modelling of Natural Phenomena

Linear oscillators are used for modeling a diverse array of natural systems, for instance acoustics, materials science, and chemical spectroscopy. In this paper I describe simple models of structural interactions in biological molecules, known as elastic network models, as a useful topic for undergraduate biology instruction in mathematical modeling. These models use coupled linear oscillators to model the fluctuations of molecular structures around the equilibrium state. I present many learning...

Using R to Build and Assess Network Models in Biology

G. Hartvigsen (2011)

Mathematical Modelling of Natural Phenomena

In this paper we build and analyze networks using the statistical and programming environment R and the igraph package. We investigate random, small-world, and scale-free networks and test a standard problem of connectivity on a random graph. We then develop a method to study how vaccination can alter the structure of a disease transmission network. We also discuss a variety of other uses for networks in biology.

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