Mathematical Biology

** New enrollments for this concentration are on pause for the 2023-24 academic year. **

Overview of the Concentration

Advances in the mathematical sciences — mathematics, statistics, and computer science — have brought new perspectives to biological research. By answering questions that cannot be addressed using other means, the mathematical sciences can provide indispensable tools for biological research. The result is the interdisciplinary field of mathematical biology, which involves developing analytical and computational predictive models of biological systems.

The concentration at St. Olaf is intended to train students in mathematical biology, allowing them to understand the development and applications of quantitative approaches to biological problems and how these handshake with experimental design. With the large number of subfields in mathematical biology today, the concentration allows students to pursue a path that best suits their interest (e.g., mathematical modeling, bioinformatics).

Students completing the concentration will be equipped with the skills necessary to enter the fast-growing field of mathematical biology or pursue graduate work in this area, other areas of applied mathematics, and especially in biological fields for which modeling or bioinformatics skills are expected. 

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Concentration

Students will:

  1. describe the range of biological questions dependent on or enhanced by mathematical approaches.

  2. translate biological problems into mathematical models using appropriate mathematical, statistical, and computational tools.

  3. validate mathematical models using appropriate biological experimentation and data analysis.

  4. practice communication skills across the two disciplines.