The Centre was very active with educational projects.  Two major projects are a new International Graduate Training Centre in Mathematical Biology, and an Undergraduate Workshop in Mathematical Biology.

PIMS International Graduate Training Centre in Mathematical Biology (IGTC):

This is a major new initiative backed by the Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences, the key new project under their NSERC renewal. It involves student fellowships in mathematical biology (up to $20K per student per annum), as well as summer courses, annual research summits and student exchanges. Not all students in the program receive fellowships.  Some are simply enrolled in the program and participate in the educational aspects. 2007-8 was a “startup” year, and the University of Alberta program has already grown from six students to nine. 

The current annual budget (2008-9 fiscal year) is approximately $300K. The Province of BC has provided additional support for the IGTC, and an application to Alberta is underway. This initiative primarily involves Alberta and UBC, but also includes other PIMS Universities.

Lewis is the Program Director of the IGTC; Caroline Bampfylde (Centre postdoc) and Gustavo Carrero (Athabasca University) were Educational Coordinators in 2007-8. Details of the program can be found at

Current Alberta IGTC students cover a wide spectrum of mathematical biology areas, ranging from mathematical physiology to the environment modelling:

  • Andria Dawson: Forest age structure models
  • Jiafen Gong: Cancer radiation modelling
  • Justin Marleau: Ecosystem dynamics
  • Jonathan Martin: Dynamics of forest fires
  • Hannah McKenzie: Models for sustainable rivers
  • Diana White: Adipose tissue dynamics

PIMS Sixth Annual Undergraduate Workshop – Mathematics of Biological Systems: 

From May 6-16, 2008, the Centre hosted 15 participants, including two international, ten Canadian and three American students.  Participants were introduced to various techniques of mathematical modeling of biological systems through lectures and exercise sessions that the students integrated into an open-ended research project.

While PIMS provides funding for this event, general administration takes place at the Centre and PIMS financial reimbursements are organized by the PIMS on-site office.  This year’s workshop organizer was Gerda de Vries.  The primary instructors were Gustavo Carrero, Athabasca University, Gerda de Vries, Mark Lewis and Frank Hilker, University of Alberta.  The special guest speaker was Lou Gross, University of Tennessee.  Postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduate summer students associated with the Centre provided invaluable assistance with the program.

The success of the 2008 Summer Workshop was confirmed by the very positive comments that 12 of the 15 participants provided in our post-workshop questionnaire.  Sample comments include:

I learned a lot about how to model different biological systems. It seemed like a lot of what I have learned in class was consolidated and applied, which was excellent. It was also great meeting other students at my level interested in mathematics.

I have a better sense of how math can be used to investigate biological questions. In particular, I am aware of some general tools/methods and am in a position to explore them more fully on my own.  I also have a better idea of the kinds of projects I would like to work on.

Absolutely outstanding! The professors were some of the best I’ve ever had the privilege to be taught by.

Forest Fire Meeting (Winter 2008):

As a result of the sabbatical visit of Anne Bourlioux, University of Montreal, Hillen organized a weekly meeting to discuss the modeling of forest fires.  The meeting became a lively discussion ground for students, postdocs, faculty, and representatives from the Alberta government and industry.

Mathematical Physiology (Fall 2007):

Hillen and de Vries hosted a regular seminar meeting at the Centre to discuss CMB students’ work in progress, to meet with visitors and to read important journal papers.

New Undergraduate Course in Mathematical Biology, MATH 371:

Hillen taught this new course in Winter 2008.

Lewis Research Group:

Lewis, with students and postdocs under his supervision, held a weekly lab meeting to discuss their research and to touch base on Centre activities. Visitors to the Centre were invited to participate in lab meetings held during the time of their visit.