Mathematical Biology at the University of Utah

Research Experience for Undergraduates

Mathematical Biology 2008-2009

The Mathematical Biology program at the University of Utah will be conducting a mathematical biology research project for undergraduates during the academic year.

We are looking for 1-2 math majors and 1-2 biology majors who are interested in working together in an interdisciplinary group.

Program Details

Evolution of Vertebrate Respiration


Efficient respiration is essential for active animals, and species have evolved many ways to optimize gas exchange in the lungs. One feature that distinguishes mammalian respiration from all other vertebrate systems is the lack of nuclei in mammalian red blood cells. Why have mammalian red blood cells evolved this way?

Does the lack of nuclei make respiration more efficient? How might the mammalian lung differ if mammals had nuclei in their red blood cells? This REU will examine structure-function relationships of the mammalian lung. REU students will learn respiratory physiology and will develop mathematical models to examine and compare gas exchange strategies in mammals and other vertebrates. The results of this research will hopefully shed light on functional constraints that may have been key factors in the evolution of the mammalian lung.

If you are interested in studying a fascinating biological system and learning how mathematics can be used to further biological understanding, this REU is for you!

Applicants must be US Citizens, Nationals, or Permanent Residents.

Participants will be paid for their research.

To apply, submit the application form and one letter of recommendation to Kathleen Moore (LCB 214) by September 5, 2008.

A completed application will consist of:

  • Application Form
  • Letter of Recommendation (Have either a mathematics or biology faculty member who is familiar with your work write a letter on your behalf. Please have the faculty member send the letter directly to Kathleen Moore. Emailing the letter is fine (

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