Intercom Online......October 22, 1998

Penn State Erie creates
Center for Mathematical Biology

The interplay between mathematics and biology has provided the groundwork for numerous research projects at Penn State Erie, and has brought the two disciplines together to create the Center for Mathematical Biology.

Formally announced this fall by the School of Science, the center serves to encourage, coordinate, support and publicize collaborative research between mathematicians and biologists.

Initially the center's work will advance understanding of medical science related to diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Penn State Erie biologists involved in the center are Paul E. Barney, Pamela S. Botts and Michael Campbell. Mathematicians include Richard Bertram, J. Carl Panetta, Joseph E. Paullet, who serves as director of the center, and Joseph P. Previte. Ronald McCarty, lecturer in computer science, also is part of the collaboration.

Bertram, Paullet, and Panetta each pursue research projects related to mathematical modeling of biological activity.

Bertram works in development and analysis of mathematical models of pancreatic Beta-cell electrical activity, which controls release of insulin in the body.

Paullet's research studies patterns in biological and chemical systems, in particular spiral wave patterns of muscular contraction in the heart that precede heart attacks.

Panetta's research is in mathematical modeling of cancer cells and chemotherapeutic treatment. Previte, also a professor of mathematics, works with Bertram on his research and conducts his own inquiry into mathematical systems that can be used to model plant growth.

Biologist Campbell works with Panetta, overseeing the growth and treatment of the cancer cells used for data collection by Panetta. Botts, whose research interest is aquatic ecology, unravels the factors that influence the distribution and abundance of organisms in time and space.

As part of the center, Barney and McCarty will work with bioinformatics, which is the use of computers and internationally available DNA databases for the analysis of DNA.

The center also will play a role in curriculum development in the School of Science including implementation of calculus courses geared specifically for biology majors and development of a mathematical biology course at the senior level.

Members of the center also conduct a colloquium that gives students an introduction to the methods of research in mathematical biology.

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