Research


Major Multidisciplinary Research Collaborations 2009-2010

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 state space models for wolf movement in the Alberta foothills to tracking polar bear movement over ice sheets, to more abstract models for swarming and group formation.  Centre faculty includes Hillen, Lewis and de Vries; trainees include MSc student, Rita Wong, and PhD Candidates Marie Auger-Methe, Ulrike Schlaegel, 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). An article has been published in the Journal of Mathematical Biology. The research is funded by NSERC and PIMS.

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 (now a postdoc at Maryland), and research associate Alex Potapov are Centre personnel involved in network research. Lewis directs the local research.  This year’s publications include two articles in Resource and Energy Economics and Theoretical Ecology, and a book chapter in Bioinvasions and Globalization.  This network finishes in February 2011. A new network, CAISN II, has been funded by NSERC and partners at an amount of $6,560,000 for the period April 2011 to March 2016.   Lewis and Wang are co-PIs on this grant.

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 being analysed through international collaborations, including Kevin Painter, Edinburgh, and Zhian Wang and Peter Hinow, postdocs with AMI Minnesota. Cell movement in network tissues is currently been studied in collaboration with a visiting faculty member from Mexico, Juan Carlos Chimal Eguia.  Additional researchers include Arnauld Chauvier (Dresden), Luigi Preziosi (Torino), Christian Schmeiser (Vienna), and Katarina Wolf (Wuerzburg). An article has been published in Discrete and Continuous Dynamic Systems. This research is supported through Hillen's NSERC grant.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

 

Contractile Forces Mediated by the Non-muscle Myosin Family of Proteins (CFMP):
Many cells require members of the non-muscle myosin (NMY) family to mediate contractile activity involved in activities such as cell migration and membrane closure. Led by Dawes, this project studies membrane closure in the germline cells of the nematode worm C. elegans using theoretical and experimental techniques. The antagonistic forces exerted by different NMY proteins are essential for proper cell maturation. We are extending this work to look at NMY function in other cell types. The project is joint with Prof. David Pilgrim (Biological Sciences) and graduate student Torah Kachur (now a professor at Grant MacEwan University). A paper has been published in Theoretical Ecology.  This project is funded by NSERC Discovery Grants to Dawes and Pilgrim.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

 

Coral Reef Preservation and Restoration (CRPR):
Discussing preservation and restoration of natural coral reefs using a group of newly developed refuge-dependent models. This work involves Wang, Abhinav Singh (UK), Wendy Morrison and Howie Weiss (Atlanta, Georgia).

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

 

Development of Instructional Modules in Mathematical Biology (IMMB)
This project fits under the auspices of the CRYSTAL-Alberta program and involves de Vries,  a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the Faculty of Science, Steve Norris (Education), mathematics teacher John Macnab (Jasper Place High School), a scientific writer Marjorie Wonham (now a faculty member at Quest), PhD Candidate Andria Dawson, and undergraduate students Cole Zmurchok, Michael Chi and David Galavan. 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.  Manuscripts have been submitted to the International Journal of Science Education and to the Alberta Science Education Journal.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

 

Dynamics of Body Composition (DBC):
This project is led by de Vries, in collaboration with Kevin Hall (National Institutes of Health), Scott Lear and Dan Holmes (St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver), PhD 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, 2010, to the journal Obesity.  The project is funded through NSERC and a MITACS Internship for Diana White.

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 (now a PhD student at MIT), 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.  This year, a new offshoot of the research was a two-year international working group funded at the US National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBios).

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

 

Evolution of Cell Size and Body Size (ECB):
This work, led by Wang, has two subprojects: evolution of cell sizes of phytoplankton and zooplankton with random or growth-dependent mutations and evolution of body size phenotypes of lemmings. Graduate student, Silogini Thanarajah is researching this project. The project is funded by NSERC.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

 

Ecological Stoichiometry (ES):
Ecological stoichiometry is the study of the balance of energy and nutrient elements in ecological systems. Stoichiometric theory provides an important lens to understand and model ecological interactions with successful applications in plant-herbivore interactions and competition for multiple nutrients. There are a variety of subprojects, ranging from mechanistically modeling limiting factors - light and phosphorus - in algae-daphnia microcosm experiments, and stoichiometric control of invasive daphnia species in aquatic ecosystems, to modeling nutrient limitations on lemming population cycles in terrestrial ecosystems. Stoichiometric modeling is a major focus of Wang’s research. Subprojects are in progress through international collaborations, including Yang Kuang and James Elser (Tempe, Arizona), Irakli Loladze (Israel), Xiong Li (Beijing, China), Charles Price (Australia), and graduate student Silogini Thanarajah. Papers have been published in FEMS Microbiology Ecology, and Discrete and Continuous Dynamical Systems (DCDS-B).  The research is funded by NSERC.

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. Two papers have been published: one in the SIAM Journal of Applied Mathematics and a second in CAMQ Canadian Applied Mathematical Quarterly.  This research was supported in 2008 through a MITACS Industrial Internship for PhD 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.  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).  PIMS-MITACS Industrial funding has been awarded to postdoc Petro Babak.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

 

Habitat Destruction (HD):
Wang collaborates with Fangliang He (Renewable Resources) and graduate student Xihui Lin (Eric) to study the number and the rank of species extinction after habitat destruction. This project is funded by NSERC.

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 a faculty member at Quest University), Lewis and many external collaborators worked on this research. Modeling infectious disease transmission led by Wang includes three subprojects: modeling indirectly transmitted infectious diseases such as cholera (in collaboration with Richard Joh, Joshua Weitz and Howie Weiss in Atlanta and graduate student William Davis), devising a new algorithm to recover the time-dependent transmission rate from epidemiological data via an inverse method (in collaboration with Howie Weiss in Atlanta and Mark Pollicott in UK), abstract modeling of infectious disease transmission with waning immunity (in collaboration with graduate student, Nicholas Piazza). Three papers have been published: in Ecological Modelling, the American Journal of Veterinary Research, and the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, and two articles were published in Mathematical Biology.  This work is funded by NSERC and U of Alberta Startup Funds.

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 (UCalifornia Santa Barbara), Frithjof Lutscher (Ottawa), and Peter Steffler (Engineering) with funding from AIF fellowships. This year, a paper was been published in the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology.  Funding from an 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).

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

 

Maintenance of Par Protein Domains in Early Embryos of the Nematode Worm C. Elegans (PPD)
Dawes worked on this project as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington in 2007, and she continues to collaborate with Ed Munro (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. Dawes is working on extensions of this model, investigating mechanisms for symmetry breaking, in collaboration with Prof. Martin Srayko (Biological Sciences) and graduate student Eva Gusnowksi. Funded by NIH and NIGMS (US) and an NSERC Discovery Grant.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

 

Mathematical Models for Industrial-scale Composting (MMIC):
Led by de Vries, this work is in collaboration with Daryl McCartney (Civil & Environmental Engineering) and graduate student Anastasia Lukyanova and investigates mathematical models for industrial-scale composting processes.  The research is exploring opportunities to validate the models with researchers at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre of Excellence.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

 

Mathematical Models of Radiotherapy in Cancer Research (RCR):  Hillen leads this study of optimization of radiation treatment of cancer. Collaboration includes de Vries, Matthew Parliament (Cross Cancer Institute), PhD candidate Jiafen Gong and undergraduate student Chris Findlay.  A paper has been published in Acta Oncologica. The research is supported individually through NSERC projects.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

 

Microbiology (MB):
Modeling bacterial population dynamics, behaviors and functioning is a major focus of Wang’s research. Subprojects include bacterial colony and community formation, bacterial competition and coexistence, bacteria-driven organic matter decomposition and nutrient regeneration. These subprojects are part of international collaborations that include Hal Smith, Yang Kuang and James Elser (Tempe, Arizona), Lin Jiang and Joshua Weitz and Howie Weiss (Atlanta, Georgia), Mark Pollicott (UK), and graduate students Silogini Thanarajah and William Davis. An article has been published in FEMS Microbiology Ecology.  The research is funded by NSERC.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

 

Modelling of Cell Morphology (MCM):
This project, led by Dawes, with graduate student Alison Muscat, is investigating the use of simulation techniques to model cell shape changes. The research is particularly interested in the use of level set methods to track the boundary of a moving cell and is currently attempting to use the method to study cell blebbing, where cells extend small rounded protrusions prior to division, to better understand how these protrusions are formed and regulated. Once the technique is established for blebbing cells, the investigation will extend to study many other cell types that take on a variety of shapes in response to environmental cues.

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 (now a PhD student at McGill), John Bishop (Washington State U) and Bill Fagan (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.  One article has been published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology.

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) with  postdoctoral fellow Bill Nelson (now a faculty member at Queens) 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. Papers from this research are now appearing in the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, Ecology Letters, and Theoretical Population Biology. 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 (Alberta) and graduate student Torah Kachur (now faculty at Grant MacEwan University), 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 there are plans to study the cellularization of oocytes in more detail. It is funded by a NSERC Discovery Grant to A. Dawes, and a CIHR Operating Grant to D. Pilgrim.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

 

Other (OTH):
Other projects include modelling species diversity, chaotic dynamical systems in biology, and the theory of differential games in biology.  One article is in press, another has been published in The American Naturalist, and a third in Theoretical Ecology.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

 

Polar Bear Reproductive Dynamics Under Sex-selective Harvest and Climate Change (PBR):
This collaborative research involves scientists Andrew Derocher, (Biological Sciences), postdoc Peter Molnar (now a postdoc at Princeton), Lewis and graduate student Marie Auger-Methe.  There are three projects: mathematical models to predict the effects of a sex-selective harvest on polar bear population dynamics, mathematical models to predict the effects of climatic warming on the reproduction and body condition of polar bears, and impact of ice movement on polar bear foraging and fitness. A paper has been published in Biological Conservation.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

 

Population Cycles (PC):
This project focuses on impacts of physiological or behavioral parameters and environmental factors on small mammal population fluctuations. This is a collaborative research involving Wang, Olivier Gilg (France), and John Nagy (Scottsdale, Arizona). The research is funded by NSERC and U of Alberta Startup Funds.  A paper has been published in Mathematical Sciences.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

 

Risk Assessment of Oil Sands Related Contaminants to Aquatic Biodiversity (RAOSC):
The main goal of this project is to assess the effects of environmental contaminants on the aquatic ecosystems and what risks are posed to individuals and populations of a variety of species within the oil sands area of northeast Alberta. This collaborative research involves graduate student Nicholas Piazza, former postdoc Caroline Bampfylde (Alberta Environment), Wang, and Lewis. This project is funded by Alberta Environment (Government of Alberta),  New MITACS funding will begin in Fall 2010.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

 

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 Lewis and Subhash Lele (Math & Stat Sciences), as well as former graduate student Marty Krkosek (now a faculty member at Otago, NZ).  Here, the ability to analyze the system using mathematical and statistical models has been key in the ability to understand complex dynamics. A project, involving graduate student Jaime Ashander (now a PhD student at Davis) investigated the evolutionary dynamics of sea lice under pesticide control.  A new graduate student, Stephanie Peacock, will undertake adaptive management analysis of the use of pesticides on sea lice control and conservation of wild salmon.  An article has been published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.  Funding for the study comes from the International Graduate Training Centre (IGTC) and MITACS.

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 students Vishaal Rajani (now a Phd student in Physiology) and Harun Kalayci and undergraduate student, William Davis. This group has collaborative connections to the research group led by Dan Coombs (UBC).  Funding comes from an NSERC USRA (Rajani), NSERC Discovery Grants (Cairo, de Vries), and Athabasca University (Carrero). A manuscript has been submitted to Biophysical Journal.

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

 

Theory of Delay Differential Equations (TDDE):
This work focuses on developing new mathematical theorems for delay differential equations with applications in biological models. This is a joint research withWang, Edoardo Beretta (Italy), Michael Li (Math), Yang Kuang (Tempe, Arizona), and a graduate student, Xihui Lin. An article has been published in Mathematical Biosciences.  The work is funded by U of Alberta Startup Funds and NSERC.

Publications & Affiliated Researchers

 

 

 

Research

2008-2009

2007-2008


Research by
Core Faculty

Gerda de Vries

Mark Lewis

Thomas Hillen

Hao Wang

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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