Mathematical models can explain observations and offer mechanistic insight pertaining to
complex phenomena. This course will provide a model-based introduction to biological physics.
Topics that commonly arise in modeling biological phenomena include non-linear dynamics and
stochastic processes. Students will acquire an introductory level familiarity with topics, as well
as with fundamental concepts in biology. Specific topics will be introduced through relevant
models of biological phenomenon and the students will learn to analyze such models and
assess their performance and predictive power under various conditions. Examples may widely
vary in scale, ranging from populations to cells and molecules.
We will address a wide variety of questions and subjects such as:
1. How is translation error rate so low?
2. Are genetically identical populations identical? How do cells resist noise?
3. Can rod cells count photons?
4. How does a bug find food?
5. How big can a bacterium get?
6. Is there such a thing as too good (a predator)?
7. How much regulation goes into cell differentiation?
8. Does hardware need to be replaced perfectly for conservation of function?
9. Information seeking behavior
10. How do flocking birds turn in unison?