BIOL398-01/S11:Class Journal Week 14

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Reflect back on your learning for this project and for the entire semester and answer the following:

  1. What is the value of combining biological and mathematical approaches to scientific questions?
  2. Looking back on your reflections on the Janovy and Steward readings from the Week 1 Class Journal, do you have any further insights to share? Have your answers changed to those original reflection questions? Why or why not?

Class Responses

Sarah Carratt's Journal Entry

  1. Combining biological and mathematical approaches to scientific questions allows for both qualitative and quantitative solutions. I think that this interdisciplinary approach to scientific questions is effective because it encourages inquiry from more perspectives and multi-faceted problems can be conquered.
  2. Looking back at the first journal entry, my answers are much the same. I still do not believe that I am a mathematician but I do call myself a biologist. While I am not sure where the line should be drawn, there is a certain amount of proficiency needed in a field before these titles can be used. Also, I think these titles require a level of confidence and self awareness. You can't be either without acknowledging it yourself. I understand that the authors wish their readers could see the interconnectedness of disciplines, and to this extent they succeed. On the other hand, it is too much to say that everyone can be a mathematician or biologist, and this course has only enforced this belief in my mind. My constant struggle to keep up with the true mathematicians showed me that while I should try to incorporate math into my studies and research, it is not my specialty.

Sarah Carratt 12:30, 25 April 2011 (EDT)

Carmen E. Castaneda's Journal Entry

1.What is the value of combining biological and mathematical approaches to scientific questions? 2.Looking back on your reflections on the Janovy and Steward readings from the Week 1 Class Journal, do you have any further insights to share? Have your answers changed to those original reflection questions? Why or why not?

  1. The value in combining biological and mathematical approaches to scientific questions is that we are able to not only obatin qualitive data but are allowed to quantify this data. In doing so we are able to make prediction about the way the species being stufying might act or we start to develop hypothesis we can try to prove or disprove with further research.
  2. Looking back on my reflections from week 1, I think I have gained a better insight at how we can apply math and biology as a combined tactic in today's world to arrive at new discoveries and further explain certain things. I'm still finding the connection but now I am more aware of this. Especially like how we can model an experiement mathematically to predict outcomes and behaviors. I think my answers have changed towards being more open to the biologist inside me because little did I know I had that in me. In addtion I am more able to embrace the math knowledge I've learned and apply it to the real world. This I found the most rewarding because it was interesting to see my skills being put to the test and how I had to use my problem solving abilities to arrive at solutions.

--Carmen E. Castaneda 02:37, 26 April 2011 (EDT)

James C. Clements' Journal Entry

  1. Combining biological and mathematical approaches to scientific questions allows for a more complete understanding of biological systems and problems. Without math, biology can only be observed in terms of qualitative assessment; whereas with it, the same problems can be better understood and analyzed through quantitative comparison.
  2. I still feel similarly about the Janovy and Stewart readings from the beginning of the semester. Perhaps I now consider myself a student of both the realms of biology and that of mathematics, but I don't see myself as a full fledged biologist or mathematician. Both fields have a similar focus on understanding concepts and phenomena; I feel like my focus is on problem solving (of course, problems must first be understood before solving...). One insight that I've picked up from the course, however is that the massive amount of statistics required to do modern biological experiments makes a solid understanding of certain areas of mathematics a prerequisite to being active in the field. In that case, every biologist must also be a mathematician to some degree.

James C. Clements 23:23, 25 April 2011 (EDT)

Nicholas A. Rohacz's Journal Entry

  1. While Biology alone can analyze what is going on in an organisms cells and determine what is being changed or how it is being changed, it cannot put a quantitative amount onto how much the cell is changing and therefore cannot determine which part of the pathway is most significant. This is were mathematics comes in, by comparing certain cell pathways to models, we can determine exactly how the model changes over time with respect to the many parameters that are necessary to figure out such information.
  2. Looking back on my week 1 journal entry, my thought processes as a biologist or mathematician have not changed a great deal. However, I do have a better insight into how a mathematician is able to work in any field because I have gotten hands on experience dealing with a non mathematic field, in this case biology, using mathematics to determine changing concentrations and how significant transcription factors are in affecting other genes during certain stresses, just by doing the many models we have gone over in class. And while I still do not consider myself a true mathematician or biologist, I do believe that I have taken steps towards this goal, and a great deal of progress has been made in the shared fields of biomathematics.

Nicholas A. Rohacz 02:23, 26 April 2011 (EDT)

Alondra Vega's Journal Entry

  1. I think that it is important to combine mathematical and biological approaches to answer scientific questions because it is a different method that opens door to answer questions that would not have been answered before. For example, using mathematics future predictions can be made and a trend can be followed. This helps look at questions that were unthinkable before, such as how does the cell behave. I feel that the way that we are looking at cold shock is one of the best ways. We can confirm with mathematics what is seen in the lab. Combining two subjects also gives these questions different perspectives. A mathematician and biologist may end up with the same answer to a question, but will have different evidence and it will give more validity to the experiment.
  2. I'm not sure if my opinions have changed. I feel that anyone who is able to practice mathematics and enjoy the beauty of mathematics and how it brings things together is more than capable in being a mathematician. Some people say that a person who uses math equations is not a mathematician and I agree, what makes this person a mathematician is the fact that they are able to see the art of the numbers come together and why it works. I feel the same way I felt towards biology as I did after the reading. A person who is able to be fascinated about the puzzle of life and is willing to try to discover it is a biologist. Working on this project has shown me that I act both as a mathematician and as a biologist. we are trying to discover what happens in a small place in the cell, the smallest unit of life, which is pretty exciting. Using math to do this will bring all the pieces together. The best part will be when a final conclusion is made with both biology and math because that is when the puzzle will be complete. Having a passion for what you do and for what you study makes you whatever it is you are dedicated in. Just because you are good at something does not mean that is what you are. It is the passion and drive that keeps you in the field.

Alondra Vega 22:56, 24 April 2011 (EDT)