Penn Math Penn Math  

Biological Mathematics Concentration in the Mathematics Major

In addition to the standard Math Major we also have a Math Major program with concentration in Biological Mathematics.

Mathematical Biology is an area that is growing in importance. Many universities are establishing institutes and centers in this area, and are encouraging the development of courses in it. The Biological Mathematics concentration is intended to train Mathematics majors in key areas of biology, as well as in the core of discrete and continuous mathematics.

Mathematical models have been used in Biology for many decades, since the first simplistic models of population growth were devised by Malthus and others. Recently however, because of developments in our understanding of Biology at the molecular level, developments in discrete and continuous pure mathematics, and the development of computing, the complexity and diversity of mathematical models applied in the life sciences has increased tremendously.

For example, the need to solve problems associated with the assimilation, storage, retrieval and ultimate analysis of data areising from the Human Genome Project and similar projects, that is massive data sets containing long DNA sequences involves the use of complex existing computational methods directed specifically towards biological questions.

A second broad area of biology in which computational methods have for some time been used is in evolution and ecology. Many evolutionary processes when viewed from the genetic point of view involve equations of great complexity. Both mathematical and computational expertise are necessary in quantitative biology.

There are four different majors which combine biology with math or computer science:

  1. The biological mathematics concentration in the mathematics major
  2. The mathematical biology concentration in the biology major
  3. The computational biology concentration in the biology major
  4. The computational biology concentration in the computer science major
Only option 1 above is described below. For information about the other possibilities, please consult the Biology Department.

The Biological Mathematics concentration in the Mathematics major consists of the following courses:

Mathematics (10 CU)

  1. Math104; Math 114, or Math 116; Math 240
  2. Math 360 (or 508), 361 (or 509), 370 (or 502), 371 (or 503),
  3. Math 320, Stat 431
  4. One of the following: Math 241, 420, 425 or 480 (480 only if life-science related as determined by the Mathematics Undergraduate Chair)

Biology (8.5 CU)

Track 1: two of the following: and three of the following
Other Science (1.5 c.u.):
Track 2 two of the following:
and two following:
Other Science (1.5 c.u.): Making a total of 8.5 c.u. for the Biology side of the concentration.

The contact person for these concentrations is the Undergraduate Chair of the Mathematics Department. A student intending to undertake this concentration must meet with the Math Undergraduate Chair for approval of course choices.