University of North Carolina at Charlotte
This award establishes a Center to foster research and education at the interface of the mathematical and biological sciences. The goals of the Center are to address fundamental and applied biological questions while advancing the mathematical sciences, and to foster the development of transdisciplinary researchers. An interdisciplinary perspective, linking biology to the physical and social sciences, is needed to advance modern biology along a broad array of challenging problems while providing avenues for fundamental advances in mathematics. The Center will develop a series of small working groups focused on topics that will benefit from interdisciplinary efforts through an open call to the entire community so as to make the center truly a national community resource. These efforts have the potential to transform the way that mathematicians and biologists collaborate, a cultural change that will spur significant progress in both disciplines and at their interface. Over the past century biology has changed from mostly describing the patterns of the living world to determining how these patterns arose, what processes affect them and how we might effectively modify and manage them. In collaboration with government and industry partners, the Center will provide scientific insights into problems such as the control of invasive species, limiting impacts of infectious diseases, and suggesting new methods for drug design. Thus the Center will produce new knowledge that will help to shape national policy. Educational initiatives at all levels, from K-12 students to post-doctoral scholars, will illustrate the connections of mathematics to all areas of biology and will train a new generation of mathematical biologists. These efforts will be guided by the need to broaden participation by groups under-represented in the biological and mathematical sciences. The Center will develop a strong public outreach effort through a significant partnership and research collaboration with the National Park Service targeting visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.