Department of Mathematical Sciences

Mathematical Biology

Mathematical biology is concerned with the quantitative modelling of biological processes, at scales from individual cells up to entire ecosystems comprising populations of many different species.

Biological systems are formidably complex. They operate on multiple scales, from the molecule up to the ecosystem, and they are inhomogeneous at each level.  For example, many strains of a typical contagious disease arise through mutation and circulate simultaneously, infecting a population composed of individuals of different ages and immune histories moving in space and interacting through chance encounters and a changing social network.

It has long been recognised that the analysis and computational solution of simple homogeneous deterministic mathematical models at a single level often helps develop insight into a biological system. However, in modern mathematical biology it is considered increasingly important to take account of the complexity of the system, exploiting its structure to allow progress in understanding its behaviour. Mathematical biologists must therefore be excellent mathematical modellers; they must have a deep understanding of the biological system, gained from the literature and through close collaboration with biologists; they must also keep abreast of developments in diverse areas of mathematics that may allow them to analyse ever more complex models as effectively as possible.

Mathematical biology at Bath is a truly interdisciplinary subject. The mathematical biologists in the department are actively engaged in research with colleagues from various other disciplines in the university, and beyond. Within the university a close relationship between the disciplines is maintained by the Centre for Mathematical Biology (CMB), a group of mathematicians, biologists and other scientists with interests in the mathematical modelling and analysis of biological systems, who maintain close collaboration and hold frequent meetings.

Research in mathematical biology at Bath is mainly focused on the following three themes:

  • Ecology
  • Epidemiology
  • Evolution

Although these themes naturally deal with whole organisms, there are also interests at the molecular and cellular levels. The CMB webpages contain further research information.

The mathematical biologists in the department have expertise in dynamical systems of various kinds and make use of a wide range of mathematical techniques in their research. Consequently, they have interests in common with the departmental research groups in: