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Getting Involed in BioMath

I am a student and am interested in mathematical biology, what background does strongly support me to join the group in the near future?  What classes should I take to be a math biologist?  What type of preparation do I need to have to feel like a contributor to math-bio research?

Phew! One at a time!  All kinds of math are useful, but to get started you generally need to have a full year of calculus, multivariable calculus, differential equations and linear algebra.  Quite a lot of biomath gets done with just these fundamentals and clever modeling. Beyond that, depending on your interests, you may wish to study probability, graph theory, partial differential equations, dynamical systems, statistics, and of course general applied math techniques (perturbation techniques, dimensional analysis). More importantly, you should probably learn to program a computer (MATLAB is particularly useful) and you may wish to figure out how to use  a symbolic manipulator (e.g. Maple or Mathematica). But, jumping off from DE and linear algebra, most of our students learn as they go, just ask them!

If I am an undergraduate how do I get involved in research?

It's easy - the place to start is talking to one of your professors and showing interest in what they do.  If you are interested in mathematical biology research in particular you should contact one of our BioMath facultyJim Powell, Luis Gordillo or Brynja Kohler.  We always have some research projects suitable for students who have done well in their calculus-and-beyond math classes!

What can I do to "hit the ground running" when I arrive?

The first and best thing you can do is to contact one of our biomath faculty before you get here and talk to them about your interests.  Don't be a stranger!   Working with students is the best part of our job! There are often basic, accessible papers that you can start reading to get a sense of what research involves.   Computational skills are very important, so if you have never used MATLAB you might want to familiarize yourself with the software.

What opportunities are available for getting involved (e.g. student groups) in the department or around campus?

We have a weekly 'lab' meeting in which we discuss professional development, learn new skills, test out new teaching strategies, read and discuss papers, and help one another with presentations, posters and papers. The applied grad students have also started a SIAM (Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics) Student Chapter, which you may find interesting.   For more information contact Audrey Addison ( or Matt Lewis (, the student leaders.