Applications of Calculus in Medicine and Biology (Math 4)

Mathematical Biology (Math 27)
Spring 2015

Instructor: Professor Dorothy Wallace

Have you ever wondered why medical schools require calculus? Or why biology has recently been described as “the most mathematical science”? Math 4/27 will show how real researchers in medicine and biology use mathematical models to predict change and design strategies for controlling epidemics, administering drugs, managing ecosystems, and other applications. Using basic calculus and a free application, The Big Green Ordinary Differential Equation Machine, you can study a multitude of real situations. Math 4 uses a text book developed especially for this course, Situated Complexity, by yours truly, available at Wheelock Books. Math 27 uses a classic text by Murray, mostly as a resource for project ideas. If you look at my webpage you will find numerous published research articles with student coauthors. Many began in this class.

Math 4 is for students with one semester of calculus at least. See the Biology Department web site for how this course fits into prerequisites for the Biology major. The goal of Math 4 is to enable students to read critically and think about the research literature in medical and biological modeling with differential equations.

Math 27 is for students with more mathematical background. Math 22 or the equivalent is a required prerequisite for Math 27. The goal of Math 27 is to enable students to conduct their own independent research projects in mathematical biology after completing the course, if they so desire. This course prepares you to do more research in a senior thesis, Presidential Scholar, Neukom intern or for course credit via Math 87. Math 27 students are encouraged to become familiar with Matlab, although our simpler software will suffice.

Both courses meet in the same room at the same time. The difference is that in Math 4 we will prepare to read the research literature, finally doing so around week 5 or 6. In Math 27 we will be reading the research literature from the start of the course.

Grading: In both courses the grades will be based on 3 papers, weighted equally. Sometimes you will invent your own research topic and sometimes you will build on work done by others (such as prior research done in this course or found in the literature).

Attendance: This quarter we meet MWF 10-11:50 and occasionally during the x-hour. We spend class time on many examples and case studies not included in the text. Attendance is required, as I have difficulty teaching you when you are not there. Do not schedule other activities during x hour.

Text: Math 4 is using the latest version of Situated Complexity available at Wheelock Books. Math 27 is using Mathematical Biology by Murray. It is mostly used as a reference text, but you should own it because it is a classic. Math 27 students are also invited to get a copy of the Math 4 text, extras will be available.

Office hours: Wallace's office: Kemeny 204. Office hours: MW 8-10 and by appointment. These are shared with Math 10, but when we are close to paper deadlines there will be extra office hours just for this class.

Honor principle: All authors must contribute substantially to any paper with their names on it. All sources must be appropriately cited. Any suspicion of plagiarism will be forwarded to the COS.

Religious observance: Some students may wish to take part in religious observances that occur during this academic term. If you have a religious observance that conflicts with your participation in the course, please meet with me before the end of the second week of the term to discuss appropriate accommodations.

Students with disabilities enrolled in this course and who may need disability-related classroom accommodations are encouraged to make an appointment to see your instructor before the end of the second week of the term. All discussions will remain confidential, although the Student Accessibility Services office may be consulted to discuss appropriate implementation of any accommodation requested. As a first step, if students have questions about whether they qualify to receive accommodations, they should contact the Student Accessibility Service office.