February 23, 2016 at 11:22 am

Young Seeks Undergraduate Apprentice for Work on Dynamics of Biological Systems

Dr. Todd Young, Professor of Mathematics, is seeking an undergraduate research apprentice for a project on “Dynamics of Biological Systems.”

Currently enrolled Ohio University undergraduates from all colleges are invited to apply for the Research Apprenticeship Program. Administered by the Honors Tutorial College and sponsored by several other units across campus, the program enables students to build skills in research and creative activity by supporting faculty projects. Selected students are paid $10 an hour and agree to work during the time period specified in the description.

This apprenticeship is for 10 hours a week for academic year 2016-17.

How to Apply

Applications are due by March 18, 2016. To apply for apprenticeship(s), a student must e-mail Dr. Todd Young. Contact information is listed in the apprenticeship description. The email should explain the student’s qualifications and interest in the project (no more than three paragraphs) and have an attached resume. It is strongly recommended that students meet with an adviser in the Career and Leadership Development Center in Baker Center 533 to help them compose their letter and resume before applying. Late applications will not be accepted. Notification will occur by April 15, 2016. For more information about the application process, contact Laura Schaeffer, Director of Honors Enrichment Programs at or 593-2725. Students may apply for as many apprenticeships as they wish.

Project Description

The student will take part in interdisciplinary research group that includes modeling, computer simulation and analysis of models as part of an established research group studying dynamics of biological systems. The group has ongoing research projects in cellular biology, development, mathematical epidemiology, including the study of control strategies for preventing Chagas disease, dynamics of biological networks, pulmonary immunity and medical applications.

The student will work with a smaller group (of 3-4 that includes graduate students) on a specific project, but also interact with the larger group about all projects. The smaller group and project will be chosen to fit the skills and interests of the student and to maximize the benefits to the student. The responsibilities during the first semester will focus on programming and modeling of a specific biological process, while mathematical analysis and reporting of results will be emphasized during the second semester. Integration into all aspects of the project will occur throughout.

Student Contribution to Project

One important objective is that student will help the mathematicians in the group understand biological details of the project and incorporate those into the modeling, simulation and analysis. The student may also contribute by helping to write and run simulation programs. More generally, we hope that the student will contribute fully as a team member to the overall success of the project.

For example, one project involves the study of cell cycle coordination among nuclei in early Drosophila embryos. The project is at the point of considering simulations of models of multiple nuclei mutually coupled through a common cytoplasm. A student with strong programming skills in this project might initially contribute primarily to the task of programming the model and running large-scale simulations to determine sensitivity of the system to various parameters. The results of these simulations would then be discussed and used refine the model and produce hypotheses about the underlying biological processes in the embryo. A student whose strengths are in the biological sciences might initially be charged with reading relevant literature on cellular processes driving early divisions of the embryo and help the group to ensure that the models accurately reflect those processes and help the group select the most relevant simulations to pursue.

Desired Qualifications for Apprentice

The candidate should have finished at least some coursework in both mathematics and the biological sciences and should be highly motivated to pursue interdisciplinary research. Mathematical coursework should be at the level of MATH 2301 Calculus I or higher. Some computer programming skills, especially Matlab, would be helpful.

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