Event Details

Talk at NCSA Cyberenvironments and Technologies Group
Host:
University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign
Sponsor:
National Center for Supercomputing Applications
Location:
Urbana, IL
Date(s):
October 30, 2007
Abstract/Description:
The 21st century has been identified as the age of biology. Mathematics has played exceptionally important roles throughout the history of biology. In the last century, at least five Nobel Prizes in Physiology and Medicine involved direct contributions from mathematics. These mathematical contributions include: (1) reworking complete trees of life with sequence alignment and phylogenetic tree algorithms as well as the assembly of huge genomes such as we saw in the release of the human genome, (2) invention of three dimensional imaging that has transformed medical diagnosis through computer assisted tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, (3) development of spatially explicit epidemiological models of the spread of bacterial and viral infections, etc. Cyberinfrastructure has provided the tools for handling terabytes of data, massive real-time data-acquisition, multi-scale and multidimensional visualization, data mining and pattern recognition, and nonlinear modeling of these data. Nonetheless, most STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education has only introduced students to small, "toy" data sets, univariate descriptive statistics, two-dimensional visualization (scatter plots, histograms, pie charts), and primarily linear modeling, More science students take Calculus than any other single constituency. Computer science is seldom a requirement in most scientific disciplines. Too frequently, textbook authors have unappreciated mathematics and computer science in science curricula because they assume that science students have an inadequate mathematics and computer science preparation. This practice: (1) deskills many science students, (2) is inconsistent with our requirements, (3) misrepresents contemporary scientific research, and, (4) underprepares students to read many articles or to contribute to many areas of science. However, the recent calculus, computer science, and science education reform movements have empowered students to actively investigate the behavior of complex mathematical and computational models. A brief description of BioQUEST and several other STEM discipline curriculum reform initiatives' (Project CALC: Calculus - A Laboratory Course; Workshop Physics; Computational Science Across the Curriculum, and ChemConnections) instantiations utilized over the past 21 years will be presented in order to: first, draw attention to a variety of mathematical and computational models that have been intrinsic to significant discoveries in science; second, to illustrate that the tools are currently available for engaging students in active investigation of scientific phenomena and the development of systematic strategies for scientific problem solving; and, third, to discuss how they relate to such calls as Science 2020, the National Science Board's 2020 Vision, and the NRC Bio 2010 report.
BioQUEST Staff Attending:
John Jungck

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