Mathematical Biology at Dundee
The University of Dundee has a long history of mathematical biology, going back to Professor Sir D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Chair of Natural History, 1884-1917. In his famous book On Growth and Form (where he applied geometric principles to morphological problems) Thompson declares:
"Cell and tissue, shell and bone, leaf and flower, are so many portions of matter, and it is in obedience to the laws of physics that their particles have been moved, molded and conformed. They are no exceptions to the rule that God always geometrizes. Their problems of form are in the first instance mathematical problems, their problems of growth are essentially physical problems, and the morphologist is, ipso facto, a student of physical science."
Current mathematical biology research in Dundee continues in the spirit of D'Arcy Thompson with the application of modern applied mathematics and computational modelling to a range of biological processes involving many different but inter-connected phenomena that occur at different spatial and temporal scales. Specific areas of application are to cancer growth and treatment, ecological models, fungal growth and biofilms. The overall common theme of all the mathematical biology research may be termed"multi-scale mathematical modelling" or, from a biological perspective, "quantitative systems biology" or"quantitative integrative biology".
The Mathematical Biology Research Group currently consists of Professor Mark Chaplain, Dr. Fordyce Davidson and Dr. Paul Macklin along with post-doctoral research assistants and PhD students. Professor Ping Lin provides expertise in the area of computational numerical analysis. The group will shortly be augmented by the arrival of a new Chair in Mathematical Biology (a joint Mathematics/Life Sciences appointment).
As a result, the students will benefit directly not only from the scientific expertise of the above internationally recognized researchers, but also through a wide-range of research activities such as journal clubs and research seminars.
Aims of the programme
1. To provide a Masters-level postgraduate education in the knowledge, skills and understanding of mathematical biology.
2. To enhance analytical and critical abilities and competence in the application of mathematical modeling techniques to problems in biomedicine.
This one year course involves taking four taught modules in semester 1 (September-December), followed by a further 4 taught modules in semester 2 (January-May), and undertaking a project over the Summer (May-August).
A typical selection of taught modules would be:
Statistics & Stochastic Models
Mathematical Ecology & Epidemiology
Personal Transferable Skills
Finally, all students will undertake a Personal Research Project under the supervision of a member of staff in the Mathematical Biology Research Group.
Methods of Teaching
The programme will involve a variety of teaching formats including lectures, tutorials, seminars, journal clubs, case studies, coursework, and an individual research project.
Taught sessions will be supported by individual reading and study.
Students will be guided to prepare their research project plan and to develop skills and competence in research including project management, critical thinking and problem solving, project reporting and presentation.
The Biomedical Sciences are now recognizing the need for quantitative, predictive approaches to their traditional qualitative subject areas. Healthcare and Biotechnology are still fast-growing industries in UK, Europe and Worldwide. New start-up companies and large-scale government investment are also opening up employment prospects in emerging economies such as Singapore, China and India.
Students graduating from this programme would be very well placed to take advantage of these global opportunities.