Research


Major Multidisciplinary Research Collaborations listed in the CMB 2007-2008 Annual Report
Ongoing and new collaborative major multidisciplinary projects are listed based upon the Centre's Annual Report, dated July 1 to June 30 each year.  New projects include the Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network (NSERC Network grant), Forest fire modelling (MITACS project), Dynamics of body composition (MITACS internship), and Instream flow needs (AB Sustainable Resource Development).

Mathematical Models of Radiotherapy in Cancer Research (RCR)
 In 2003, de Vries and Hillen started collaboration with Matthew Parliament and Marco Carlone, Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton, to study optimization of radiation treatment of cancer. The research is supported individually through NSERC projects. Currently, PhD Candidate Jiafen Gong is working in this area.

Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network (CAISN)
 This Canada-wide network of researchers studies spread and control of aquatic invaders.  It involves interactions between academics and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and is funded by an NSERC Network grant.  Lewis, Lele, graduate student Harshana Rajankaruna, postdoc Jim Muirhead, and research associate Alex Potapov are Centre personnel involved in network research. Lewis directs the local research.

Cell Movement (CM)
The mathematical modelling of cell movement on petri dishes and in tissues is a major focus of Hillen's research. Qualitative properties of chemotaxis models have been analysed through international collaborations (Kevin Painter, Edinburgh) and in collaboration with a PhD student (Zhian Wang, finished 2007). A new theory for cell movement in tissues has been developed, and we are currently discussing application to brain tumor invasion in collaboration with the Brain Tumor Modelling Group in the Department of Computing Science, led by Russ Greiner. Additional researchers include Arnauld Chauvier (Dresden), Luigi Preziosi (Torino), Christian Schmeiser (Vienna), Peter Hinow (Minnesota) and Katarina Wolf (Wuerzburg). This research is supported through Hillen's NSERC grant.

Forest Fire Modeling (FFM)
As a result of a PIMS Industrial Problem Solving Workshop in 2006, a collaboration between the Centre for Mathematical Biology and the Alberta Government (Cordy Tymstra, Alberta Branch of Sustainable Resources and Development) has developed to study models for the prediction of forest fire growth. This research was supported in 2007 through a MITACS Industrial Internship for MSc student Jonathan Martin. The project was supported as a MITACS Seed Project from May 2007 until March 2008, and since April 2008, it has continued as a MITACS full project.  PIMS-MITACS Industrial funding has been awarded to Postdoc Petro Babak. Additional researchers include Rob Bryce (Programmer), Chris Bose (Victoria), John Braun (Western Ontario), Dave Martell (Toronto) and Anne Bourlioux (Montreal).  Further collaborations have been established with the Geomatics for Informed Decisions Network  (GEOIDE).

Invasive Species Modeling (ISM)
A six-year collaborative research project on bioeconomic models for invasive species that finished July 1, 2008.  The project involved over a dozen researchers (biologists, economists and mathematicians), primarily at Notre Dame University, Wyoming University, University of Windsor, and the University of Alberta.  It was funded by the US National Science Foundation and by an NSERC Collaborative Research Opportunity Grant.  An edited volume is appearing from this work, as well as research papers.  Researchers included Lewis, research associate Alex Potapov, graduate students Tomas de Camino Beck (now a postdoc at Penn State), Chris Jerde (now a postdoc at Notre Dame), Jung Min Lee (now a postdoc in Kyushu, Japan), Marty Krkosek (now an NSERC postdoc at the University of Washington), and postdoc Caroline Bampfylde (now a Research Scientist with Alberta Environment).

Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB)
A three-year collaborative project with members from Renewable Resources (led by Fangliang He), Canadian Forest Service and Math/Stat Sciences (led by Lewis) was funded by the NRCan Mountain Pine Beetle Initiative, and finished in March 2007.  The group developed a new computational and statistical predictive model for the spread of MPB, as well as many other quantitative models and publications. This work led to a new collaboration between Lewis and Canadian Forest Service scientist Barry Cooke as part of the Alberta MPB Genomics TRIA project.  Other UA faculty involved in the project include Subash Lele (Math & Stat Sci), David Coltman, Janice Cooke and Felix Sperling (Biological Sciences). Lewis and Cooke have funding for a new postdoc/Research Associate under this project.  (Further information regarding the Research Associate, hired Oct 2008, will be in next year’s report.)

Parasitic Sea Lice in Salmon (SLS)
This work involves researchers from Alberta, Victoria,  Salmon Coast Research Station, University of Hawaii and others.  Researchers from Alberta include graduate student Marty Krkosek, Lewis and Subhash Lele, as well as field assistants.  The research appeared in a high profile paper in Science that highlighted the effect of disease on salmon population dynamics. Here, the ability to analyze the system using mathematical and statistical models has been key in the ability to understand complex dynamics. The Alberta portion of the research is funded through NSERC, the Pacific Salmon Forum, the MITACS National Centre of Excellence in conjunction with nonacademic participants (NGO and industry partners), and a MITACS Accelerate Internship.

Polar Bears (PBR)
A collaborative research venture involving polar scientists (Prof.
Andrew Derocher, Biological Sciences, Gregory Thiemann, York University, and Dr. Martyn Obbard, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources), postdoc Péter Molnár, graduate student Marie Auger-Methe, and Lewis.

There are three projects: 1) Mathematical models to predict the effects of a sex-selective harvest on polar bear reproduction and population dynamics; 2) Mathematical models to predict climate warming impacts on polar bear body condition, reproduction and survival; and 3) State-space models to understand polar bear behaviour in relation to sea ice and their prey.

Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Cellular Proteins (DCP)
This project aims to provide theoretical support for the quantitative interpretation of data obtained from experiments that are designed to probe the spatio-temporal dynamics of biomolecules such as proteins in living cells.  The team working on this project is multidisciplinary and consists of de Vries, Chris Cairo (Chemistry), Gustavo Carrero (Athabasca), Michael Hendzel (Cross Cancer Institute), and undergraduate student Vishaal Rajani. During the past year, collaborative connections have been made to the research group of colleague Dan Coombs, Department of Mathematics, University of British Columbia.  Funding comes from an NSERC USRA (Rajani), NSERC Discovery Grants (Cairo, de Vries), and Athabasca University (Carrero). Rajani continues as a new MSc student in Fall 2008.

Architecture of the Cell Nucleus (ACN)
A continuing project led by de Vries, in collaboration with Gustavo Carrero (Athabasca) and Michael Hendzel (Cross Cancer Institute). The Department of Mathematical & Statistical Sciences is developing mathematical models to address questions regarding the formation, maintenance, and disappearance of intranuclear compartments. This research provides insights into the dynamic nature of nuclear architecture and, ultimately, nuclear function.  The project is funded by an NSERC Discovery Grant (de Vries).

Dynamics of Body Composition (DBC)
A new project led by de Vries, in collaboration with Kevin Hall (National Institutes of Health), Drs. Scott Lear and Dan Holmes (St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver), and MSc student Diana White.  We are analyzing a large database of body composition data, segregated by gender and ethnicity, and updating mathematical models to take this data into account.  Our research is relevant for the management of obesity.  The project is funded through NSERC and a MITACS Internship for Diana White.

Instream Flow Needs: A Mechanistic Model-based Approach (IFN)
This project focuses on impacts of changing water flow on the biological interactions in Alberta rivers. It is a collaborative venture involving researchers at the Centre: Lewis, graduate student Hannah McKenzie, visiting students Michael Sieber and Nils Kehrein (Osnabrueck, Germany), postdocs Bill Nelson (now a faculty member at Queens) and Frank Hilker (now faculty at Bath), Ed McCauley, Calgary, and Frithjof Lutscher, Ottawa, with funding from AIF fellowships. Funding from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development grant involves additional researchers at Alberta and at Alberta Fish and Wildlife. This year we also received additional major funding from the new Alberta Ingenuity Water Centre as part of a large inter-university collaborative group (Ed McCauley PI).

Development of Instructional Modules in Mathematical
Biology (IMMB)

This project fits under the auspices of the CRYSTAL-Alberta program, and involves a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the Faculty of Science (de Vries), the Faculty of Education (Steve Norris), a mathematics teacher (John Macnab, Jasper Place High School), a scientific writer (Marjorie Wonham), and a student (Andrew Hanson). We are developing a collection of interactive web-based instructional models in the area of mathematical biology, with the goal of conveying how mathematical techniques and mathematical thinking contribute to contemporary scientific research in the biological and life sciences. Our audience is primarily senior high school students and beginning undergraduate students.

Animal Movement Modelling (AMM)
This work models animal movement, using mechanistically detailed processes describing how animals respond to environmental, resource and conspecific cues.  There are a variety of subprojects, ranging from wolf movement in the Alberta foothills, to more abstract models for swarming and group formation. The research is funded by NSERC and PIMS.  Centre faculty includes Lewis and de Vries; trainees include PhD Candidates Raluca Eftimie and Hannah McKenzie, postdoc Frederic Hamelin (now a faculty member in Rennes, France) and former postdoc Frithjof Lutscher (now a faculty member at Ottawa).  Other participants include Evelyn Merrill (Biological Sciences).

Infectious Disease Modelling (IDM)
This work models the dynamics of infectious diseases in wildlife and human populations.  Diseases include West Nile virus, Feline Immunodifficiency virus, and tuberculosis.  Postdoc Frank Hilker, Research Associate Marjorie Wonham, Lewis, and many external collaborators worked on this research.

Other (OTH)
Other projects include modelling species diversity, chaotic dynamical systems in biology, and the theory of differential games in biology.

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