The increasing power and sophistication of laboratory computers
over the past 15-20 years has placed many scientific disciplines in a
position to incorporate formal mathematical analyses and computer modeling
techniques into their methodologies. At the same time, there has been a
growing interest among mathematicians, physicists, computer scientists, and
engineers in the complex systems and databases of the life sciences. The
resulting natural alliance of biologists with mathematicians, physicists,
computer scientists, and engineers has led to the emergence of the rapidly
growing and highly interdisciplinary field of Quantitative Biology (see
Selected References, below). The importance of this new field is underscored
by several new initiatives from federal funding agencies that support
interdisciplinary, quantitative research in areas such as neurobiology,
bioinformatics/functional genomics, animal behavior, ecology, and
In recognition of these developments, Ohio University has
established the Quantitative Biology Institute (QBI) in December, 2000.
The mission of the Quantitative Biology Institute is to
stimulate and focus interdisciplinary research and training efforts in
Quantitative Biology at Ohio University.
Our goals are to: 1) catalyze basic and applied research collaborations
between life scientists and researchers in the more quantitative fields of
Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science and Engineering, 2) enhance
undergraduate education and research opportunities in Quantitative Biology,
3) provide graduate education and career preparation in Quantitative Biology
and 4) increase awareness and understanding of Quantitative Biology in the
The Quantitative Biology Institute provides a rich environment
for interdisciplinary research collaborations. An important component of the
research mission of the Institute is to catalyze research collaborations
between biologists and researchers in the traditionally more quantitative
fields of Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science, and Engineering. Each of
these individual disciplines has its own distinct intellectual history,
culture, and methods of identifying and solving problems of interest.
Successful collaboration between these disciplines will require individuals
to learn not only new methods, but also new ways of thinking about
traditional subjects. These changes can only come about through extensive
interactions designed to foster an interdisciplinary perspective. The
Institute provides a venue for these interdisciplinary interactions at Ohio University
through a variety of formal and informal interactions.
A key component of the research mission is the extension of our
interdisciplinary collaborations into the areas of graduate and undergraduate
education. This integration of research and education not only provides
unique training opportunities for students, but also fits the agendas of a
number of funding agencies that view training of graduate and undergraduate
students as an extension of their research mission.
The Quantitative Biology Institute provides unique
opportunities for interdisciplinary graduate undergraduate education.
Students with undergraduate degrees in physics, mathematics or engineering
who want to pursue graduate studies in biology often lack the biological
background to be considered for admission by ordinary Biology departments.
Students with traditional Biology degrees who want to formally pursue more
quantitative interests in mathematics, physics, computer science, or
engineering face similar problems.
The Quantitative Biology Institute provides such students an
academic program that allows them to develop the necessary interdisciplinary
expertise. Students have the option of entering the Graduate programs of
individual participating departments, or entering the Individual Interdisciplinary
Program (IIP) at either the master's or doctoral level. Students admitted
into the IIP are able to tailor their course of study to suit their
The Institute oversees undergraduate preparation in
Quantitative Biology. Students at this level have the option of pursuing
double majors, for example in Biology and Physics or Computer Science, or
developing an individualized 4-year program through one of two mechanisms.
Honors Tutorial College offers a highly flexible alternative to the
standard curriculum by replacing lectures with one-on-one tutorials in the
students major. This program is available for students majoring in Biological
Sciences, Computer Science, Engineering Physics, Mathematics, or Physics.
In addition, University College
offers a Bachelor of Specialized Studies program that allows students to
combine elements of available curricula to create a unique and individualized
program of study.
All students being trained in Quantitative Biology at Ohio
University will receive significant amounts of hands-on research experience
as part of their education.
Institute faculty hold academic appointments in participating
departments: Biological Sciences, Mathematics, and Physics and Astronomy.
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