Mathematical Biology Seminar

David Temme
Department of Biology, University of Utah

Why I can't explain biology without mathematics

Wednesday, March 23, 2016, at 3:05pm
LCB 215

From my outside perspective, the existence of mathematically-inclined biologists (or biologically-inclined mathematicians) is a good thing! It is clear that many biological dynamics involve interactions too complex to readily (or intuitively) keep track of without the aid of mathematical models.

My focus, however, is somewhat different. My underlying goal has been to try to build a conceptual framework that unifies all of biology, and then keep building from there. In turn, I have used this framework to construct various biology courses, each of which strives to build story in a way that fully exposes the underlying concepts, and where all the pieces fit together in a way that continually builds upon itself. In the process, I have long realized that certain ideas, absolutely essential to understanding the workings of life, are mathematical in nature. And for over 20 years I have taught Principles of Biology in a way that pushes those ideas to the forefront. It is a completely unique approach that I know has helped a lot of students think more clearly about biology. On the other hand, I have no idea how mathematically-inclined biologists (or biologically-inclined mathematicians) would respond to my approach. I would like to find out!