Topics in Interdisciplinary Biology and Biological Science (TiBBs)

Fall 2012

Mondays, 3 to 5:30 P.M., 1424 Castetter Hall

This semester TiBBs consists of 3 units, all with a modeling theme. Each unit will emphasize how computational models facilitate productive interdisciplinary collaborations, and lead to new approaches and understanding in biology.

UNIT 1: Agent Based Modeling in Netlogo
Dr. Kenneth Letendre
August 20 – September 24
In this section, students will be introduced to programming in Netlogo, an easy to learn language designed for modeling complex systems. Kenneth will show how agent based
modeling has been used to understand complex systems—systems in which the interactions of simple agents results in complex emergent phenomena—and how models generate insights into biology that would be difficult or impossible in field or laboratory studies. Students will learn how to develop simple Netlogo models by building upon an existing model of ants foraging for seeds. Students will work in interdisciplinary pairs to build a model, and they will present their projects to the class on September 24.

UNIT 2: Biomedical Modeling
Dr. Melanie Moses, with contributions from Computer Science and Pathology
October 1 to October 29
Students will learn how different modeling platforms and approaches have been used to answer practical biomedical problems. This unit will include several case studies of
successful biomedical modeling by interdisciplinary teams that include a computer scientist and faculty from the SpatioTemporal Modeling Center in the UNM Medical
school. Discussions will focus on what kinds of biomedical questions are amenable to modeling, what is required for successful interdisciplinary collaboration, and how tight
integration between modelers and laboratory scientists leads to new insights into biomedical problems.

UNIT 3: Modeling the Mind
Dr. Melanie Moses
October 29 – November 26
In this unit, students will explore approaches to modeling the human mind and brain, and how the mind operates by building mental models of the world. Students will be
introduced to the philosophy of mind, the gap between models of the brain and understanding the mind, and how mental models of the world emerge in the mind. Dr.
Tom Claudel will lead a discussion on computational approaches to understanding consciousness.


On December 3, students will present final projects (completed in pairs, and including a
modeling component) based on themes in Unit 2 or 3.