Biomath 2017 School for Young Scientists

The school comprises plenary lectures and sessions for contributed talks. The lectures at the school are of more introductory nature giving foundations and insight into the respective topic rather then focusing on new results and are presented by some of the keynote speakers of the conference. A central event for the school is the Hot Topics Workshop. Several scholars act as moderators, presenting "hot areas" and related open problems. All PhD students and young scientists participating in the conference are considered members of the school. Their presentations (oral or posters) will be assessed by a jury. The overall topic of the Biomath 2017 School for Young Scientists is Dynamical Systems in Savanna Modeling.

Dedicated SYS Lectures

26 June 2017, 08:00 – 08:55
Laura A. Miller and Nicholas A. Battista, Fluid-Structure-Interaction Problems in Biology and Associated Immersed Boundary Software
The natural world is replete with countless interesting examples of different types of fluid- structure interactions such as: pumping of blood by the heart; swimming in fluid from the scale of micro-organisms to very large animals; flying on scales from tiny insects to large birds; flapping of fins, valves, cilia, flagella, or leaves; filtering by brushes or membranes; or drag reduction through texture or changes in shape. Efforts to understand the dynamics of these types of problems through mathematical analysis, laboratory experiments, and numerical modeling is a rapidly expanding area in mathematical biology. The above examples vary over a large range of spatial and temporal scales and involve many different types of fluid-structure geometry. Quite often, direct measurement of the biological flows is not practical or possible and laboratory experiments can provide only limited data, hence numerical simulations become the best means toward gaining detailed insight into the detailed dynamics of the fluid-structure system.
Since their invention in the 1970s, immersed boundary methods have been applied to a wide range of such fluid-structure interaction problems across the life sciences. We present both the mathematical framework behind this method as well as an easy to use immersed boundary software package in MATLAB that can be used for teaching purposes, research, and recreation, with the capability for easy addition of new fiber-structure models. The package itself, IB2d, contains many examples that illustrate the current depth of the open-source package, whose continual updates are found at

26 June 2017, 17:30 – 18:25
Pierre Couteron, Using image texture features to characterize and interpret vegetation patterns in natural landscapes
Zenithal views of the earth surface have been used for decades to characterize vegetation and landscapes. The increasing availability of images of very high spatial resolution (i.e. pixel sizes less than 2-5 m) opens new prospect to overcome the limitations so far encountered. Image textural features are particularly appealing to address a variety of questions pertaining to patterns and scales in landscapes. They also are relevant to assess how plausible predictions of spatially-explicit dynamical models may be or to infer models parameters from emerging patterns (inverse problem). In this lecture I will provide a brief account on the diversity and uses of space-borne sensors. And I will emphasize the potential of texture features extracted from the two-dimensional Fourier periodogram for relating real-world images to model outcomes, with illustrations from African forest and savanna environments.

27 June 2017, 18:00 – 18:55
Hal Smith, Competitive and Cooperative Systems in Biology: a brief tour
Abstract. Dynamical systems arising in the biological sciences are typically described by systems of differential equations (or difference equations), one equation for each of a set of variables each of whose rate of change typically depends on the values of other variables. It is often the case that there are well-defined ``feedback relations'' among the variables. For example, in a mathematical model of an infectious disease with state variables including the number of susceptible individuals and the number of infected and infectious individuals, an increase in the number of infectious individuals leads to an increase in the RATE at which susceptible individuals contract the disease and are thereby removed from the susceptible sub-population. Such feedback relations among variables are common in the biological sciences and as a result mathematicians seek to identify how these influence the long term dynamics of the system. This has lead to the theory of competitive and cooperative (a.k.a. ``monotone'') dynamical systems which has had a big impact especially in applications to the biological sciences. In my talk, I will review this theory with many examples.

Certificates for successful completion of the School for Young Scientist (SYS) are issued to participants who have made a presentation (talk or poster) and attended all conference activities including the dedicated SYS lectures and the Hot Topics workshop. PhD students are further expected to have taken part in the PhD Presentations Competition.

Articles related to the organisation of the School for Young Scientists:

Biomathematical Conferences and Schools for Young Scientists at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

Integrating learning and research at the "Biomath" conference series

More about the SYS organization:

The plenary and keynote lecturers are asked to present their lectures in a suitable form for the broad audience and the SYS participants are asked to attend these lectures and are encouraged to ask questions. Also, the presentations by the SYS participants are assessed both by their peers and a jury amongst the keynote lecturers and some of the established scholars and are awarded respectively. Accordingly, the members of the jury are asked to listen to students presentations. In addition, several of the established scholars known to have PhD students are asked to present "hot topics & open problems" and act as moderators of the discussions during this presentation. In this way the School for young scientists is fully integrated with the conference in the sense that both young scientists and many of the established scholars participate in the learning process. At an earliest occation the participating young scientists are gathered at a meeting and are instructed about the specific arrangement of the conference.

The integration of the SYS and the scientific conference enables certain benefits such as:
-- the distance between established lecturers and students diminishes or even vanishes;
-- students actively participate in the presentations as posing questions after lectures give them more scores; there is little possibility for the students to "sleep" during lectures (as may happen with traditional tutorial courses);
-- established scholars have the opportunity to know good students and students have the opportunity to make contacts with prestigeuos professors;
--during the open tasks sessions students learn about important biomathematical problems;
-- students recieve useful practical information related to their career;
-- time is saved: usually at least half a day is spend on tutorial lectures, that time is now saved.