Bridging the Gap Between Mathematical Biology and Undergraduate Education Using Applicable Natural Resource Modeling
Keywords:endangered species, invasive carp, invasive species, mathematical biology education, Myotis bats, Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)
Mathematical biology is a wide field of study with many venues that undergraduate students can access through research. However, the topics of study for these students can be overwhelming, and many topics of study yield either only trivial results or abstract outcomes that are nonintuitive and difficult to understand. We have used natural resource modeling, and more specifically, a partnership between academic researchers and federal scientists, as a bridge between undergraduate research and mathematical biology. Our collaboration is an interdisciplinary team that combines biology, mathematics, and statistics professors with government research scientists. As a team, we have mentored students through opportunities such as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates and other projects. In this article, we provide an overview of how we develop questions for undergraduates and outline two case studies, both of which resulted in peer reviewed journal articles. Last, we describe how we also transfer the results from these undergraduate projects to resource managers so the results may be applied to real world problems.