REU Site: The Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute

Project: Research project

Project Details


Project Summary The Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute (MTBI) is an eight-week multi-summer research experience for undergraduates (REU) in mathematical biology hosted by Arizona State University (ASU). MTBI recruits heavily from U.S. underrepresented minorities (URM), women, and those individuals with limited STEM and research opportunities in their home institutions. The MTBI faculty has extensive experience mentoring students, helping them develop research projects, and in guiding these research projects. The overall two goals of MTBI are 1) to develop and nurture individuals who will impact the culture and diversity of the U.S. mathematical sciences while strengthening their communities and 2) to increase their success rate as they journey through their baccalaureate programs to successful Ph.D. scholars working in academia or industry. MTBI objectives support these goals: to recruit primarily but not exclusively targeted individuals; to provide an intensive and in-depth research experience in the mathematical sciences; to familiarize students with computational tools and software essential for research in mathematical biology; to foster a collaborative learning environment and strong bond among all participants; and to track students for six years after completion of their MTBI experience. Intellectual Merit The academic content of MTBI is on dynamical systems (broadly interpreted to include continuous and discrete deterministic and stochastic systems) and modeling applied to biology. The first part of the program is comprised of morning lectures given by the MTBI faculty that introduce the students to core mathematical topics in the context of biological applications, afternoon computer laboratories on some of the current mathematical/computational software packages, and nightly homework. During the second part of MTBI, the students work on self-selected projects with their research group under the guidance of an MTBI faculty. The results of the research are presented to the ASU community in a colloquium and each group submits a manuscript. Students and faculty are encouraged to continue their work during the year and submit their research papers to professional journals. Students are also encouraged to present their work at additional conferences throughout the year. Broader Impact The February issues of the AMS Notices, 1997-2010, show that of the 8,658 Ph.D.s awarded to U.S. citizens/permanent residents only 6.4% (555) went to U.S. URMs, a population set to make up 31.9% of the U.S. population by 2025. The need for sustained and focused efforts to tap into this currently littleused resource is critical. Further, since women were awarded 30.4% of the Ph.D.s, there is a lot of room for improvement. From 2005-2011, MTBI alums earned 54 of the Ph.D.s awarded to URMs; 37 women, out of its 69 US Ph.D.s. The data show that MTBIs focus on individuals lacking STEM research opportunities at their institutions is having a significant impact in diversifying the mathematical sciences. With quality mentoring and research, MTBI will continue to bring about change at the national level and truly impact the diversity of the mathematical sciences.
Effective start/end date5/1/1310/31/18


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $649,095.00

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