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Students who intend to work at the math/biology interface must not only acquire skills from both disciplines, but also develop an intuition for how this knowledge can be applied across disciplinary boundaries. Developing this fluency begins at the K-12 level, when students learn to formulate questions in mathematical terms and use mathematics as a language to reason about the world. It can then continue into their college education, when young scholars must learn increasingly sophisticated techniques that do not fall neatly into disciplinary silos. Structural inequities create disadvantages that impact students, teachers and schools, ultimately reducing the wealth of creativity in the scientific workforce. The NITMB is uniquely positioned to address these needs and has a set of programs to tackle the challenges.

Quantitative Biology Summer Undergraduate Research Program

This program gives undergraduate students majoring in biology engineering, mathematics, statistics, physics, and related fields the opportunity to participate in hands-on laboratory or computational research that applies mathematical concepts and methodology to

understanding mechanisms in biology. This is supported by

Northwestern Quantitative Biology REU (NSF DMS-2150134), and

National Institute for Theory and Mathematics in Biology.

NITMB appointments focus on recruitment of students from minority-serving institutions, primarily-undergraduate institutions, and community colleges. Students work closely with faculty mentors to develop and apply cutting-edge mathematical and computational models to address problems in biology. Weekly workshops cover scientific writing and presentations, interdisciplinary communication, computer programming, applying to graduate schools and fellowships, and career opportunities. 

Participants receive a taxable stipend of approximately $4,500,

and are provided housing and a meal plan.


q-Bio Summer School (qBSS)

The internationally-recognized q-Bio (Quantitative Biology) Summer School is a two-week school for quantitative modeling of living systems. First launched in 2007 under the auspices of Los Alamos National Laboratory, the highly-successful qBSS has taught ~400 students. Each summer 35-40 postdocs and graduate students will attend qBSS at the NITMB. There, they experience 25 contact hours with invited speakers, 30 hours of hands-on workshops and demonstrations, and 20+ hours of project work.


Research Experience for Teachers (RET)

Each summer, teachers from the Chicago Public Schools will spend time at NITMB doing research and creating hands-on math-biology curricular modules from scientific knowledge and technological developments. Northwestern’s Office of Community Education Partnerships and University of Chicago’s Urban Education Initiative support the program by distributing modules to teachers.


Open Source Course Materials

We support NITMB faculty to develop open-source instructional modules for adoption elsewhere, especially at primarily undergraduate institutions, and online courses to reach students around the world. NITMB courses will bridge the conceptual gaps between mathematics and biology for students and postdocs, with guidance from Prof. Lois Trautvetter, Director of Higher Education Administration and Policy at Northwestern University.

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