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Applied Mathematics-Biology

The Applied Math - Biology concentration recognizes that mathematics is essential to address many modern biological problems in the post genomic era. Specifically, high throughput technologies have rendered vast new biological data sets that require novel analytical skills for the most basic analyses. These technologies are spawning a new "data-driven" paradigm in the biological sciences and the fields of bioinformatics and systems biology. The foundations of these new fields are inherently mathematical, with a focus on probability, statistical inference, and systems dynamics. These mathematical methods apply very broadly in many biological fields including some like population growth, spread of disease, that predate the genomics revolution. Nevertheless, the application of these methods in areas of biology from molecular genetics to evolutionary biology has grown very rapidly in with the availability of vast amounts of genomic sequence data. Required coursework in this program aims at ensuring expertise in mathematical and statistical sciences, and their application in biology. The students will focus in particular areas of biology. The program culminates in a senior capstone experience that pairs student and faculty in creative research collaborations. 

Standard program for the Sc.B. degree

Required coursework in this program aims at ensuring expertise in mathematical and statistical sciences, and their application in biology. The students will focus in particular areas of biology. The program culminates in a senior capstone experience that pairs student and faculty in creative research collaborations. Applied Math – Biology concentrators are prepared for careers in medicine, public health, industry and academic research.

Required Courses:

Students are required to take all of the following courses.

MATH 0090Introductory Calculus, Part I1
MATH 0100Introductory Calculus, Part II1
or MATH 0170 Advanced Placement Calculus
MATH 0180Intermediate Calculus (or equivalent placement)1
MATH 0520Linear Algebra1
or MATH 0540 Honors Linear Algebra
CHEM 0330Equilibrium, Rate, and Structure 11
PHYS 0030Basic Physics1
or PHYS 0050 Foundations of Mechanics
Select one of the following sequences:2
Applied Ordinary Differential Equations
and Applied Partial Differential Equations I
Methods of Applied Mathematics I, II
and Methods of Applied Mathematics I, II
APMA 1650Statistical Inference I1
or APMA 1655 Statistical Inference I
APMA 1070Quantitative Models of Biological Systems1
APMA 1080Inference in Genomics and Molecular Biology1
BIOL 0200The Foundation of Living Systems (or equivalent)1
Additional Courses
In addition to required courses listed above, students must take the following:
Two additional courses in Applied Math or Biology. At least one of these must be a directed research course, e.g. a senior seminar or independent study in Applied Math or a directed research/independent study in Biology. For example: 12
A course from the APMA 1930 series
A course from the APMA 1940 series
Independent Study
Directed Research/Independent Study
Directed Research/Independent Study
Four classes in the biological sciences agreed upon by the student and advisor. These four courses should form a cohesive grouping ina specific area of emphasis, at least two of which should be at the 1000-level. Some example groupings are below: 4
Areas of Emphasis and Suggested Courses:
Some areas of possible emphasis for focusing of elective courses are listed below. Given the large number of course offerings in the biosciences and neuroscience, students are free to explore classes in these areas that are not listed below. However, all classes must be approved by the concentration advisor.
Introductory Biochemistry
Advanced Biochemistry
Organic Chemistry
Chemical Biology
Biotechnology and Physiology
Principles of Physiology
Cell Physiology and Biophysics
and/or appropriate bioengineering courses, such as:
Polymer Science for Biomaterials
Tissue Engineering
Stem Cell Engineering
Synthetic Biological Systems
Ecology, Evolution, and Genetics
Invertebrate Zoology
and Evolutionary Biology
Principles of Ecology
and The Evolution of Plant Diversity
Experimental Design in Ecology
Population Genetics
Human Population Genomics
Molecular Genetics
Mathematical Methods in the Brain Sciences
Neurosciences courses: See
Cell Physiology and Biophysics
Topics in Signal Transduction
Synaptic Transmission and Plasticity
Total Credits18

Students whose independent study is expected to be in an experimental field are strongly encouraged to take APMA 1660, which covers experimental design and the analysis of variance (ANOVA), a method commonly used in the analysis of experimental data.


Requirements and Process: Honors in the Applied Math-Biology concentration is based primarily upon an in-depth, original research project carried out under the guidance of a Brown (and usually Applied Math or BioMed) affiliated faculty advisor.  Projects must be conducted for no less than two full semesters, and student smust register for credit for the project via APMA 1970 or BIOL 1950/BIOL 1960 or similar independent study courses.  The project culminates in the writing of a thesis which is reviewed by the thesis advisor and a second reader.  It is essential that the student have one advisor from the biological sciences and one in Applied Mathematics.  The thesis work must be presented in the form of an oral presentation (arranged with the primary thesis advisor) or posted at the annual Undergraduate Research Day in either Applied Mathematics or Biology.  For information on registering for BIOL 1950/BIOL 1960, please see

Excellence in grades within the concentration as well as a satisfactory evaluation by the advsors are also required for Honors.  The student's grades must place them within the upper 20% of their cohort, in accordance with the university policy on honors.  Honors recipients typically maintain a Grade Point Average of 3.4 or higher in the concentration.  However, in the case of outstanding independent research as demonstrated in the thesis and supported by the Thesis Committee, candidates with a GPA between 3.0 an 3.4 will be considered and are encouraged to apply.

The deadline for applying to graduate with honors in the concentration are the same as those of the biology concentrations.  However, students in the joint concentration must inform the undergraduate chair in Applied Mathematics of their intention to apply for honors by these dates.