COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES Department of Mathematics and Statistics
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Mathematics Colloquium: Mathematical and Computational Challenges Arising From the Study of Neuron Production


4:10 p.m. Shock Physics Building, Room 201

Hugh MacMillan

Abstract: A noisy confluence of genetic, cellular, and environmental factors gives rise to a heterogeneous population of neurons during cerebral cortical development. In this talk I will begin by introducing a few interesting unanswered questions concerning the underlying biology of neuron production. Then I will describe how these specific biological questions motivate a diverse set of mathematical and computational challenges, some new and some long-standing. Briefly, these challenges derive from the need for accurate and scalable methods to: (i) simulate gene-regulatory and protein-interaction networks; (ii) simulate multi-type branching processes driven by these networks; (iii) account for spatial variation in cellular microenvironments; and (iv) quantify inherent uncertainties via high-dimensional integration. While I will present some preliminary results of numerical studies, most of the talk will focus methodological means of coming to terms with the complexity of biological organization. As such, my aim is to convey to mathematicians, and students of mathematics, how modern cellular biology promises to be a very rich resource of problems for the foreseeable future. (The speaker is a candidate for Applied Math or Statistics On WSU-Vancouver Campus)