Research


Major Multidisciplinary Research Collaborations listed in the CMB 2008-2009 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. 

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 Hillen, Lewis and de Vries; trainees include MSc student, Rita Wong, and PhD Candidates Marie Auger-Methe, Raluca Eftimie (now a postdoc at McMaster) 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 and Andrew Derocher (both with Biological Sciences).

Publications & Affiliated Researchers


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, visiting student, Meike Wittmann, graduate student Harshana Rajankaruna, postdoc Jim Muirhead, and research associate Alex Potapov are Centre personnel involved in network research. Lewis directs the local research.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers


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, including Kevin Painter, Edinburgh, and Zhian Wang and Peter Hinow, postdocs with AMI Minnesota. 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), and Katarina Wolf (Wuerzburg). This research is supported through Hillen's NSERC grant.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers


Dynamics of Insect Populations (DIP):
Mathematical modeling to investigate dynamics of insect populations includes modeling dynamics of forest catepillars and analysis of two-cycle dynamics in the Rocky Mountain Apollo butterfly under climate change. Researchers include graduate student Jeanette Wheeler, former postdocs Caroline Bampfylde (now a Research Scientist with Alberta Environment) and Christina Cobbold (now a faculty member at Glasgow), Jens Roland (Biological Sciences), and Mark Lewis.  This research is supported through AIF and NSERC.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers


Dynamics of Body Composition (DBC):
This project is led by de Vries, in collaboration with Kevin Hall (National Institutes of Health), Drs. Scott Lear and Dan Holmes (St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver), former MSc student Diana White, and undergraduate student William Davis. 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.  This research will allow predictions about rates of gain or loss of the hazardous visceral fat compartment, which may then be used to direct dietary and weight-loss therapy.  A manuscript is being prepared for submission during Fall, 2009.  The project is funded through NSERC and a MITACS Internship for Diana White.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers


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), MSc student Vishaal Rajani and undergraduate student, William Davis. 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).

Publications & Affiliated Researchers


Forest
fire modeling (FFM): As a result of a PIMS Industrial Problem Solving Workshop in 2006, a collaboration between the Centre for Mathematical Biology (Hillen) 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 2008 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).

Publications & Affiliated Researchers


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.  Former postdocs Frank Hilker (now a faculty member at Bath) and Tomas de Camino-Beck (now a faculty member at Costa Rica), Research Associate Marjorie Wonham (now an independent researcher in BC), Lewis, and many external collaborators worked on this research.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers


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, postdoc Yu Jin, former postdocs Bill Nelson (now a faculty member at Queens) and Frank Hilker (now a faculty member at Bath), and faculty members Ed McCauley (Calgary), Frithjof Lutscher (Ottawa), and Peter Steffler (UA Engineering) with funding from AIF fellowships. Funding from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development grant involves additional researchers at Alberta and at Alberta Fish and Wildlife. In addition, we receive major funding from the new Alberta Ingenuity Water Centre as part of a large inter-university collaborative group (Ed McCauley PI) and funding through a AIF Fellowship.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

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 undergraduate students Andrew Hanson and Cole Zmurchok. 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.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

Invasive Species Modeling (ISM):
A six-year collaborative research project on bioeconomic models for invasive species that finished July 1, 2008, although some results are still being written up and reviewed for publication.  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. 

As well as research papers, an edited volume has been published from this work.  Researchers included Lewis, graduate student Chris Jerde (now a postdoc at Notre Dame), research associate Alex Potapov, former postdocs Tomas de Camino Beck (now a faculty member at Costa Rica), Jung Min Lee (now a postdoc in Kyushu, Japan), Marty Krkosek (now an NSERC postdoc at Washington), and Caroline Bampfylde (now a Research Scientist with Alberta Environment).

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

Mountain Pine Beetle Modeling (MPB):  A three-year collaborative project with members from Renewable Resources (A. Hundsdorfer and C. Xu, 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. Some of the papers from this research are now appearing.

This work led to a new collaboration between Lewis and Canadian Forest Service scientist Barry Cooke and Research Associate Mario Pineda Krch 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).

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

Myosin regulation and oocyte cellularization in the gonad of the nematode worm C. elegans (MRO):  During oocyte development, a ring channel is held open, allowing free movement of components the oocytes will require to support early development after fertilization. Dawes, in collaboration with David Pilgrim (UofA, Biological Sciences) and Torah Kachur (UofA Biological Sciences and Grant MacEwan), has used experimental and theoretical approaches to suggest that two different myosins (nmy-1 and nmy-2) act antagonistically to modulate the opening of the ring channel. This project is in its infancy and we are planning to study the cellularization of oocytes in more detail. This project is funded by a NSERC Discovery Grant to A. Dawes, and a CIHR Operating Grant to D. Pilgrim.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

Modelling Primary Succession on Mount St. Helens (MSH): Since the eruption of Mount St. Helens in May 1980, researchers have been monitoring the progression of primary succession on its slopes. Many mechanisms have been proposed to explain how primary succession unfolds, though few have been explored in mechanistic models. Working with MSc student, Justin Marleau, John Bishop of Washington State U and Bill Fagan of the U of Maryland, models have been developed to test the importance of these mechanisms on Mount St Helens. Insights gleaned from these models could one day be applied to restore ecosystems damaged by mining and natural disasters.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

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

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

Polar Bear Reproductive Dynamics Under Sex-selective Harvest and Climate Change (PBR):
A collaborative research venture involving scientists Prof. Andy Derocher, Biological Sciences, graduate student Peter Molnar (now a postdoc with Lewis), and Lewis.  There are two projects: mathematical models to predict the effects of a sex-selective harvest on polar bear population dynamics, and Mathematical models to predict the effects of climatic warming on the reproduction and body condition of polar bears.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers


Maintenance of Par protein domains in early embryos of the nematode worm C. Elegans (PPD)
:  
A. Dawes worked on this project as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington in 2007, and she continues to collaborate with Ed Munro (University of Washington). Par proteins establish distinct domains in C. elegans embryos shortly after fertilization, although the mechanism by which they establish and maintain those domains is currently unknown. By developing a mathematical model of Par protein dynamics in conjunction with experimental work on C. elegans, a model was proposed and tested to better understand the underlying polarization mechanism. Funded by NIH and NIGMS (US) and an NSERC Discovery Grant.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers


Mathematical Models of Radiotherapy in Cancer Research (RCR)
:
de Vries and Hillen collaborate with Matthew Parliament, 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.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers


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 (now at Washington State), 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. A new subproject, involving graduate student, Jaime Ashander, investigates the evolutionary dynamics of sea lice under pesticide control.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers


Structure and organization of polarized epithelial cells (SPE)
Most multicellular organisms are constructed with polarized epithelial cell sheets. The individual cells in this sheet display unusual structures composed of polymerized actin and tubulin filaments which are mutually regulated by adhesion complexes. Dawes, de Vries, and graduate student Diana White aim to use systems of differential equations to better understand the origins and dynamics of these structures, and ultimately how they interact with each other to maintain polarization and proper functioning of the epithelial cell sheet. The project is funded by an NSERC Discovery Grant.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

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