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Mathematical Systems Biology

(For 2016–2017 academic year)

T. McCay (Chair of the Department of Biology)
A. Robertson (Chair of the Department of Mathematics) 

Mathematical systems biology describes a field of inquiry in which mathematical and computational methods are used to examine complex, large scale interactions between components of biological systems and to predict how these interactions influence the properties of those systems. The systems examined may range in scale from molecular through cellular and tissue levels to the scale of organisms and entire ecosystems. The unifying feature of this field is quantitative description of interactions between components of biological systems.

The interface between mathematics and biology is one of the most rapidly expanding areas of research in the sciences. The technological development of methods for generating large amounts of biological data — including genome sequence information, total protein analysis, metabolic information, etc. — demands the development of mathematical and computational methods for analyzing these data and for developing predictive models that use such large data sets. The multidisciplinary field of systems biology requires an understanding of both mathematical and biological concepts, insights into interesting questions in biology, and comprehension of the mathematical methods that can be used to address many of those questions. The mathematical systems biology minor provides students with the coursework in mathematics and biology required to begin to gain insights and experience in this important new field.

Minor Program

The program's course requirements are described below (six courses).
  1. MATH 113, Calculus III
  2. MATH 214, Linear Algebra
  3. BIOL 181, Ecology, Evolution, and Diversity (formerly BIOL 211) or BIOL 182, Molecules, Cells, and Genes (formerly BIOL 212)
  4. MATH 315, Mathematical Biology or MATH/BIOL 302, Systems Biology
  5. One additional biology course from the following:
    1. BIOL 181, Ecology, Evolution, and Diversity (formerly BIOL 211)
      BIOL 182, Molecules, Cells, and Genes (formerly BIOL 212)
      BIOL 316, Bioinformatics (formerly BIOL 225)
      BIOL 320, Biostatistics (formerly BIOL 220)]
      Any 300- or 400-level BIOL elective course
  6. One additional mathematics course from the following:
    1. MATH 308, Differential Equations
      MATH 310, Combinatorial Problem Solving
      MATH 311, Partial Differential Equations
      MATH 312, Math Modeling: Social Sciences
      MATH 315, Mathematical Biology
      MATH 316, Probability
      MATH 317, Mathematical Statistics
      MATH 329, Numerical Analysis
      MATH/BIOL 302, Systems Biology
      MATH/PHYS 458, Real-time Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos

Students declaring a minor in mathematical systems biology select an adviser from either the mathematics or biology department. Those students minoring in mathematical systems biology who have declared a major in either biology or mathematics are required to choose a minor adviser from the department in which they are not majoring. The chair of the minor adviser’s department approves and signs the mathematical systems biology minor declaration form. As with any minor at Colgate, no more than two of the courses applied to the minor may also be used for a major.