BMCI '05: Guest Speaker Abstracts

Gary Benson, Bioinformatics, Computer Science, and Biology, Boston University

Title: Building DNA models with K'NEX

Simple and informative models of DNA can be built with K'NEX brand constructors, found at most toy stores. These models, which take only a few minutes to build, illustrate many important physical properties of DNA including the major and minor grooves, antiparallel strands, right-handed and left-handed helices, supercoiling, replication, etc. By building and manipulating the models, students (and teachers) can gain an intuitive sense of the physical properties of DNA which are essential to many cellular processes. Instructions for building the models and illustrations of various properties of DNA will be presented. A small set of KNEX pieces will be given to each participant.

Steve Billups, University of Colorado

Title: Analyzing Phylogenetic Tree Algorithms

Phylogenetic trees are a graphical representation of the evolutionary relationship between a collection genes or species. Much research has been devoted toward developing algorithms for inferring phylogenetic trees from genetic sequences. In this talk, we discuss how to compare algorithms, based on the quality of trees they produce, and the efficiency of the algorithms.

Nina Fefferman, Tufts University / DIMACS, Rutgers University

Title: The mathematics of a collective mind: an example from the sociobiology of honey bee colonies

Social Insects are the mathematicians of the natural world. These little guys use math to solve incredibly complex problems in elegant and surprising ways and provide truly beautiful examples of the meeting of mathematics and biology. During this session we will take a look at a number of the different ways that bees use mathematics to manage essential tasks from basic foraging to colony reproduction, and at the different ways that biologists have been using math to understand what they're up to - all in ways that can easily be taken back to a high school classroom!

Joe Rosenstein, DIMACS / CMSCE, Rutgers University

Title: The Rush to Calculus

We have speeded up the math curriculum so that an increasing number of students are taking calculus in high school. The presenter will report on the patterns of course-taking that emerge from his recent study of high school and college transcripts of Rutgers College students, and will reveal the percentage of students who continue their high school math acceleration in their first year at Rutgers.

Document last modified on July 13, 2005.