Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Mathematical Biology Seminar


Our goal is to create a sense of community that engages both faculty and students interested in questions at the interface between mathematics and biology. To facilitate community interaction, each seminar will be preceded by a brief introductory tea and snacks will be served at BioMath Hour which follows the seminar, providing an informal academic setting for collaborative discussions.

Travel between the colleges can be reimbursed (per vehicle) at standard mileage rates. Directions to each of the colleges are available on the links page.

Friday December 7, at Bates College
Rick Thompson, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Bowdoin College
The Neurochemical Building Blocks of Social Behavior
Tea: 3:45, Carnegie 204
Talk: 4:10pm Carnegie 204 at Bates
Dinner after the talk.

Abstract: Steroid hormones and neuropeptides play important roles in the regulation of social behavior. This talk will focus on the mechanisms through which one steroid hormone, testosterone, and two related neuropeptides, vasotocin and vasopressin, affect social behavior in vertebrates. Data from experiments in goldfish, roughskin newts and humans will be used to build an argument for how conserved peptide circuits mediating simple social approach behaviors may have led to the evolution of more complex peptide regulatory mechanisms, and to show that steroid hormones can also participate in the rapid regulation of social behaviors through non-genomic membrane mechanisms that could involve interactions with peptide receptors. Some discussion of how these mechanisms may relate to human mental disorders will also be included.



Monday, September 17, 2007 at Colby College
Dr. Meredith Greer, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Bates CollegeDr. Meredith Greer, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Bates College
Building Math Models for Biology
Refreshments 3:30pm, Mudd 412A
Talk 4:00-5:00, Diamond 141
Please join us for dinner following the talk.

This talk leads off the CBB Bio/Math Seminar Series, scheduled for Fall 2007 (and possibly into the Winter) and funded by the CBB Mellon Collaborative Grant. To get us started, I would like to provide an overview of several types of models that can be used to represent populations, with specific models as examples. These include one model that seeks to better understand synchronized emergence in 13-year and 17-year cicadas, and another model that shows the dynamics of a disease epidemic moving through a population. We use these specific models to discuss more generally the creation of a mathematical model. The discussion ranges from deriving needed assumptions to the theory used in matching mathematical expressions with observed biological behaviors.

Thursday, September 20, 2007 at Bowdoin College
Nicholas J. GotelliDr. Nick Gotelli, Professor of Biology, University of Vermont
Nick Gotelli will be giving two talks at Bowdoin. The first is in the Biology Department Seminar, the second is in Mathematical Biology Seminar:

Biology Department Seminar
The Ecological Impacts of Nitrogen Deposition: Insights from the Carnivorous Pitcher Plant Sarracenia purpurea
4:00 - 5:00pm, Druckenmiller 20
5:00 - 6:00pm, BioMath hour and reception, Searles 214

BioMath Seminar
Community Assembly: From Small To Large Spatial Scales
6:00-7:00pm, Searles 315

This talk covers two facets of my recent research on pitcher plants and the biogeography of South American birds. It should be appropriate for upper division undergraduates and for an ecology audience


Friday, September 28, at Colby College
Rebecca Sommer, Associate Professor of Biology, Bates College
Developmental Cardiovascular Toxicity of Arsenic Plus a few Words on the Beginnings of One Collaborative Bio-Math Project at Bates College.
Olin 1 from 1-2pm

The talk will have two parts. The first part will discuss the cardiovascular toxicity of arsenic, an on-going research project in my laboratory. Arsenic is a naturally occurring groundwater contaminant found at levels higher than the United States Environmental Protection Agency limit of 10 parts per billion in more than 30% of the private wells in Maine. Throughout the world, epidemiological studies have associated arsenic exposure with cardiovascular disease. Our study sought to determine whether prenatal arsenic exposure could adversely impact the adult cardiovascular system. Gestational arsenic exposure decreased coronary artery density, induced coronary fibrosis, and may have altered the electrical activity of the heart in a mouse model system. The second part of the talk will introduce the beginnings of a joint effort between Mathematics Professor Jayawant and I to introduce Bates students to the ground breaking work of Dr. Leonard Adleman, the first person to use molecular computation when he solved a directed Hamiltonian path problem using standard molecular biology techniques (Science, vol. 266, Nov. 11, 1994).

Monday, October 15, at Bates College
Pauline van den Driessche, Professor of Mathematics, University of Victoria
Modeling the Spread of West Nile Virus
Refreshments at 3:45pm in Carnegie 110
Talk at 4:10pm in Carnegie 204
Dinner after, location TBA

Abstract: West Nile virus was detected in New York State in 1999, and has spread rapidly across the continent causing bird, horse and human mortality. The aim of this lecture is to model this spread. Biological assumptions are summarized and lead to the development of a reaction-diffusion model for the spatial spread of West Nile virus with cross infection between birds and mosquitoes. For a simplified model, the existence of traveling waves is proved and the spatial spread of infection is calculated. Related models for West Nile virus spread are briefly discussed.

Thursday, November 8th, at Bowdoin College
Liam O'Brien, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Colby College
The Ins and Outs of Diagnostic and Screening Tests
Tea: 3:45pm
Talk: 4:00 - 5:00pm, Druckenmiller 20
BioMath Hour: 5:00-6:00pm

Wednesday, November 28, at Bowdoin College
Mary Lou Zeeman, R. Wells Johnson Professor of Mathematics, Bowdoin College
Mathematical Modeling in Biology: What Is It? And How Is It Useful?
Bowdoin Featured Events: Mary Lou Zeeman to Discuss Mathematical Modeling in Biology

Bowdoin College

Bowdoin College web site:

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