This proposal establishes the Four College Biomathematics Consortium: a collaboration among four undergraduate institutions (Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, Amherst College, and Hampshire College) with a long tradition of excellence and a commitment to research-centered education. Two of these institutions are women?s colleges. All four have a demonstrated commitment to expanding opportunities for women, underrepresented groups and first-generation students in scientific fields.
The Consortium will help train the next generation of biomathematicians. A two-year research-intensive program will be developed, building on a strong existing infrastructure for cross-campus collaborations, in which student teams move through a series of curricular offerings and mentored research opportunities. The emphasis throughout is on: a) a succession of developmentally appropriate courses and research opportunities; b) a team-centered approach that unites student teams and mentoring teams in several multi-year research collaborations; and c) the creation of a multi-layered cohort of biomathematics students at various stages of training. Led by mentoring teams composed of both life scientists and mathematicians, the students will explore problems at all scales of biological organization, ranging from the intricacies of protein folding to the complexities of water and material flows in forest ecosystems. These projects share a unifying theme,the consideration of potential and realized shape spaces, and emphasize geometric approaches to the exploration of biological problems.
The program advances the national STEM agenda by training 50 undergraduates in biomathematics and by generating online pedagogical materials (curricula, exercises and training modules) that can be exploited by the broader community. The program will also serve as a potential exportable model for multi-institutional collaboration in the training of undergraduates in biomathematics and other emerging scientific fields.