Good afternoon, John et al. I appreciate your question and reflection on the value of calculus to biology students. In the end, I think mathematics courses taken by biology majors lack application and relevance to most areas of biology, but the information and perspective offered from mathematics education (statistics, calculus, and differential equations would be my recommendations) is critically important in biology and becoming more so in my experience. I came across this BBC story the other day and think people might enjoy it, as it is relevant to this discussion ( http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-37630414).
But here's my perspective... I have felt for years that my background in mathematics and modeling from undergraduate were important to my work as an ecosystem ecologist, but I doubted the utility of mathematics to your average undergraduate biology major. That is until I began advising an applied math and biology double major and saw how she can envision processes as models and mathematical expressions that can be relatively simple to program in R or Python. After recently attending the NIMBioS Undergraduate Research Conference at the Interface of Mathematics and Biology with her, I am more convinced than ever of the importance of calculus and statistics for all biology majors, whether students intend to study ecology or medicine or any other aspect of biology. Most of the presentations at the conference, all by undergraduates, were about medical situations (epidemiology, disease spreading in organisms, wound healing, molecular cascades and regulation, genomics, etc.), but a good deal were about ecology (quantitative food webs, disturbance ecology, metabolism). In general, most of them were using large data sets, which is the future of biology in so many areas. As an anecdote to support this, my department's faculty now includes scholars learning to handle and analyze incredibly large datasets in their research on transcriptomics, molecular evolution and systematics, and ecological monitoring. Not every field of biology intersects as much with mathematics and computer science, but I feel that reducing or eliminating mathematics education, especially calculus, from biology majors would be a mistake and a step in the wrong direction given the direction biology and science in general is going toward using mathematics, modeling, and computer science to explore and understand biology. My $0.02... Matt On Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 1:20 PM, John Anderson <jander...@coa.edu> wrote: > I am fascinated by this discussion and would love to hear more points of > view. As far as carrie's excellent post, I guess I am not sure why one > would expect a Calculus course to do her 6 points any more than many other > classes? I was required to take two terms of calculus as an undergrad > Zoology major back when there were such majors, plus a year of physics. We > had to take a year of physical Chemistry before we could take Biology, and > then could only enroll in Biology if we simultaneously took Organic Chem. > It always seemed to me that a LOT of these classes were more about getting > rid of people than educating them. Weirdly, stats was NOT required. In > all the years since I have used calculus (briefly) in a course on > theoretical population biology, I use Chemistry primarily when i teach > physiology, but professionally I use Stats all the time. Talking with > colleagues, this pattern seems by no means unique. Thoughts? > > On Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 11:04 AM, Joseph Russell < > josephdrussel...@gmail.com> wrote: > >> I agree with Carrie here! When I was a Marine Biology undergrad at >> Stockton University in NJ, we were required to take two semesters of >> physics. However, the physics I and II courses that we took were not the >> same as would have been taken by a physics major. Our Physics courses were >> titled "physics for life sciences" which narrowed down the concepts to >> those that applied to people in the life sciences field. I believe the >> calculus courses that we were required to take were standard calculus, but >> I could see something like this working as well, where the calculus courses >> would not be like a calculus course taken by a math major, but rather, the >> curriculum would be designed so that the concepts and learning objectives >> would suit the field of study. Carrie has provided an excellent list below >> with the 6 points of valuable competencies for prospective biologists. >> >> *Joseph Russell, MNR* >> >> *Wildlife Management and Recreational Planning Research Fellow* >> >> Stockton University >> >> Galloway, NJ 08205 >> >> (609) 287-0596 >> >> joseph.russ...@stockton.edu >> >> *www.stockton.edu <http://www.stockton.edu/>* >> >> Sent from my iPhone >> >> On Oct 18, 2016, at 10:18 AM, Carrie Eaton <cea...@unity.edu> wrote: >> >> Hi all, >> >> I responded with a few details already to Howard. But I’ll just >> generally say that if you are thinking about curricular redesign, I’d like >> to suggest backward design based on concepts and competencies that >> employers need and which have been well identified by many national level >> reports. For example, Vision and Change. Vision and Change identifies 6 >> vital competencies for all biology students: >> >> 1. ABILITY TO APPLY THE PROCESS OF SCIENCE >> >> 2. ABILITY TO USE QUANTITATIVE REASONING >> >> 3. ABILITY TO USE MODELING AND SIMULATION >> >> 4. ABILITY TO TAP INTO THE INTERDISCIPLINARY NATURE OF SCIENCE >> >> 5. ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE AND COLLABORATE WITH OTHER DISCIPLINES >> >> 6. ABILITY TO UNDERSTAND THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SCIENCE AND >> SOCIETY >> >> >> >> Well-designed Calculus courses can help you reach many of these goals. >> More traditional courses in calculus may not meet these goals. I encourage >> you to consider if you advocate (as you do below) for its exclusion, that >> you consider alternatives to help students meet these same competencies or >> consider reaching out to your colleagues in mathematics (which I know well) >> to brainstorm how to better meet the needs of your department. >> >> >> >> Carrie >> >> >> >> *From:* Ecological Society of America: grants, jobs, news [ >> mailto:ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU <ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU>] *On Behalf >> Of *Neufeld, Howard S. >> *Sent:* Monday, October 17, 2016 8:09 PM >> *To:* ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU >> *Subject:* [ECOLOG-L] Should Calculus Be Required of All Ecology/Biology >> Majors? >> >> >> >> Dear All - >> >> >> >> I am participating in a study here at Appalachian State University about >> whether we should restructure the mathematics and statistics requirements >> for our biology/ecology majors. For example, should we require all majors >> to take an entire semester of calculus? >> >> >> >> I have written an explanation of why we are looking into this, and you >> can read the essay by going to this link on Google Drive: >> >> https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0BxpSVO5IUz-EMGdwU1lD >> NjhSRFE?usp=sharing >> <https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fdrive.google.com%2Fdrive%2Ffolders%2F0BxpSVO5IUz-EMGdwU1lDNjhSRFE%3Fusp%3Dsharing&data=01%7C01%7Cceaton%40UNITY.EDU%7C456a9cd7a652468872f308d3f7097b83%7Ca5df695b72854f398c84d1c50676d682%7C1&sdata=2mAiVUB0M6YbaNE1aAJgYOx9WYBpHNr2JDGibd3pLoM%3D&reserved=0> >> >> >> >> I would welcome comments from those interested in this subject, which >> would help us out here at Appalachian State in our discussions of this >> important subject. >> >> >> >> Thanks! >> >> Howie Neufeld >> >> -- >> >> Dr. Howard S. Neufeld, Professor >> >> Director, Southern Appalachian Environmental Research and Education Center >> (SAEREC) >> >> Chair, Appalachian Interdisciplinary Atmospheric Research Group (AppalAIR) >> >> >> >> Mailing Address: >> >> Department of Biology >> >> 572 Rivers St. >> >> Appalachian State University >> >> Boone, NC 28608 >> >> Tel: 828-262-2683; Fax 828-262-2127 >> >> >> >> Websites: >> >> Academic: http://biology.appstate.edu/faculty-staff/104 >> <https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fbiology.appstate.edu%2Ffaculty-staff%2F104&data=01%7C01%7Cceaton%40UNITY.EDU%7C456a9cd7a652468872f308d3f7097b83%7Ca5df695b72854f398c84d1c50676d682%7C1&sdata=RWMTyWJBUOKoocq0DBChu9WVGSS0os%2BkgMedyp%2BpuTU%3D&reserved=0> >> >> Personal: http://www.appstate.edu/~neufeldhs/index.html >> <https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http:%2F%2Fwww.appstate.edu%2F~neufeldhs%2Findex.html&data=01%7C01%7Cceaton%40UNITY.EDU%7C456a9cd7a652468872f308d3f7097b83%7Ca5df695b72854f398c84d1c50676d682%7C1&sdata=9VBX90HqWyCtYMY9K%2Bs2XcwPS1EE9pTumQYhUjEhbr8%3D&reserved=0> >> >> SAEREC: http://saerec.appstate.edu >> <https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fsaerec.appstate.edu&data=01%7C01%7Cceaton%40UNITY.EDU%7C456a9cd7a652468872f308d3f7097b83%7Ca5df695b72854f398c84d1c50676d682%7C1&sdata=GeP3Lm4JmJH49rGjmcyyu9RW00FJXbHH1e%2BZqnaAWvA%3D&reserved=0> >> >> AppalAIR: http://appalair.appstate.edu >> <https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fappalair.appstate.edu&data=01%7C01%7Cceaton%40UNITY.EDU%7C456a9cd7a652468872f308d3f7097b83%7Ca5df695b72854f398c84d1c50676d682%7C1&sdata=pfCLgJQPqc4kTCoFLsSh1%2BGTl8FyZdWrhFkSsgA2a3U%3D&reserved=0> >> >> Fall Colors: >> >> Academic: http://biology.appstate.edu/fall-colors >> <https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fbiology.appstate.edu%2Ffall-colors&data=01%7C01%7Cceaton%40UNITY.EDU%7C456a9cd7a652468872f308d3f7097b83%7Ca5df695b72854f398c84d1c50676d682%7C1&sdata=LLhD7R%2F0vnSKnv0WV7qCmAgu4KCw411MMfhoxHGk0ys%3D&reserved=0> >> >> Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FallColorGuy >> <https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FFallColorGuy&data=01%7C01%7Cceaton%40UNITY.EDU%7C456a9cd7a652468872f308d3f7097b83%7Ca5df695b72854f398c84d1c50676d682%7C1&sdata=XGU2qZJr0hGZASjIPMco0l%2FsZcomP%2FpJPS7pHKj9jxI%3D&reserved=0> >> >> > > > -- > John Anderson > W.H. Drury Professor of Ecology/Natural History > College of the Atlantic > 105 Eden St > Bar Harbor > ME 04609 > -- Matthew E. McTammany, Ph.D. Associate professor, Biology & Environmental Studies Associate chair, Biology Department Coordinator, Master of Science in Biology Program Bucknell University Department of Biology Lewisburg, PA 17837 570-577-3975