Biocalculus: Designing Calculus Courses for Life Science Majors

A 2008 MAA PREP Workshop


Timothy Comar, Benedictine University, (630) 829-6555

Mike Martin, Johnson County Community College

Dates: June 1, 2008 - June 7, 2008

Location: Benedictine University, 5700 College RD, Lisle, IL 60532

Workshop Description | Workshop Location and Accommodations

Travel to Benedictine University | Registration | Schedule

Workshop Description

Reports including BIO 2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists (National Research Council, 2003) and Math and BIO 2010 (L. A. Steen, ed., MAA, 2005) emphasize that aspects of bio­logical research are becoming more quantitative and that there is a need to introduce future life science researchers to a greater array of mathematical and computational techniques and more sophisticated mathematical reasoning. Biocalculus (calculus for the life sciences) courses can provide an effective way to introduce lower-level undergraduates majoring in the life sciences to significant applications of mathematics to biology. This workshop is designed to help mathemati­cians at both four-year and two-year institutions design and implement biocalculus courses and integrate biological applications into existing calculus courses. Presenters include both mathematicians and biologists who have experience teaching, designing, and support­ing biocalculus courses. Participants will participate in a variety of lectures, discussions, and hands-on computer laboratory activities. Participants will be introduced to different biocalculus course structures and the issues related to implementing such courses. Participants will explore sample course projects using a variety of computational platforms. Participants will also learn ways to develop collaborations with biologists to best integrate mathematics and biology into their calculus courses. Upon conclusion of this workshop, the participants will be able to create or modify biocalculus courses, create or adapt computer laboratory projects for use in their calculus courses, and utilize available resources for integrating biological content into calculus courses. No previous experience with biology or biomathematics is required. This workshop is endorsed by the MAA Special Interest Group on Mathematical and Computational Biology (BIO SIGMAA).

The Society for Mathematical Biology will provide a lim­ited amount of travel support for participants in need.

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Workshop Location and Accommodations

Benedictine University is located in the western suburbs of Chicago. The workshop activities will take place in the Birck Hall of Science on the campus of Benedictine University. We will have use of a computer laboratory classroom and an adjoining lecture room. Participants will stay in on-campus housing in the Founders Woods Apartments. Meals will take place in the Krasa Center Dining Commons in the Krasa Center, which is located next to Founders Woods.

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Travel to Benedictine University

Benedictine University is about 30 minutes from both O'Hare and Midway airports. Transportation details to and from the airports will be provided closer to the workshop date when the participant list is finalized. Participants should plan on arriving at the Benedictine University campus by 4p.m. on Sunday, June 1, 2008 and should plan to depart on Saturday, June 7, 2008. Further details about travel to Benedictine University can be found at

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Registration is now open on the MAA's PREP Website. The registration fee is $325 by April 20, 2008 and $450 thereafter. (SO REGISTER NOW!) Registration fees include housing and meals from dinner on June 1,2008 through lunch on June 8, 2008.

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Tentative Schedule of Topics and Activities by Day

Sunday, 6/1 | Monday, 6/2 | Tuesday, 6/3 | Wednesday, 6/4 | Thursday, 6/5 | Friday, 6/6 | Saturday, 6/7

Sunday, June 1

Arrival by

Opening Banquet, 6p.m.

Introduction: Why Biocalculus?

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Monday, June 2

Syllabi for Biocalculus I

Getting Started

Difference Equation in Biocalculus

Computer Activities (Biocalculus I focus)

Current Research: Statistical Applications

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Tuesday, June 3

Syllabi for Biocalculus II

Computer Activities (Biocalculus II focus)

Biocalculus in Two Year Institutions

Communicating with Biologists

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Wednesday, June 4

Computer Activity

Supplementing Traditional Calculus Courses with Biology

Free Afternoon and Evening!

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Thursday, June 5

Current Research: Medical Applications

Participant Work and Exploration Time/Additional Activities

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Friday, June 6

Participant Work and Exploration Time/Additional Activities

Participant Reports

Closing Banquet

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Saturday, June 7


Breakfast and Lunch will be served on campus

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