Biological Theory Alliance People

BioTa logoPatrick Alford (Biomedical Engineering, CSE): My group aims to understand how cells adapt to changes in their mechanical environment using a hybrid experimental and theoretical approach. We are currently focusing on vascular maladaptation in aneurysm-genesis and blast-induced neurotrauma.

Victor Barocas (Biomedical Engineering, CSE): Our group is focused on bridging scale between the cell/molecule and the tissue in biomechanical problems. Work includes the development of theoretical models of tissue modification, with particularly emphasis on emergent behaviors from the collective behavior of fibers within a network.

Nicole Basta (Epidemiology and Community Health, SPH): As an infectious disease epidemiologist, I combine theoretical and empirical approaches to better understand infectious disease dynamics, to evaluate disease prevention and control strategies such as vaccination, and to inform public health policy.

Yaniv Brandvain (Plant Biology, CBS): I develop theory to understand how evolution will unfold, and to infer the evolutionary history of diverged and hybridizing species from whole genome data. My work touches on speciation, genetic conflicts, plant mating system evolution, and biogeography.

Jeannine Cavender-Bares (Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, CBS): I use simple ecological models in teaching Ecology and in some of my recent papers to provide a conceptual basis for empirical work looking at life history trade-offs or ecosystem service trade-offs. You can see our recent special feature in Ecology and Society on Ecosystem service trade-offs across global contexts and scales.

Yosef Cohen (Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation Biology, CFANS): My main interest is in evolutionary distributions, meaning using Partial Differential Equation to model the dynamics of the distribution of phenotype in an evolving population.

Meggan Craft (Veterinary Population Medicine, CVM): I am an infectious disease ecologist; the broad aim of my research program is to understand infectious disease dynamics in animal and human populations. I test hypotheses regarding disease spread and consequent control through parameterizing theoretical disease models with empirical data.

R. Ford Denison (Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, CBS): I am interested in theoretical work that helps me design and interpret experiments on the evolution of cooperation and aging and their applications to agriculture and human health.

Audrey DorĂ©lien (Humphrey School of Public Affairs): As a demographer I am interested in the influence of human population dynamics on the dynamics of close contact infectious diseases. In the past I have analyzed the effect of seasonal fluctuations in birth rates on the dynamics of diseases such as measles. I am currently interested in measuring social contact patterns over time (decades and seasons) and across regions in the United States.

John Fieberg (Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, CFANS) – I am interested in developing robust ways to think about and analyze ‘messy’ data common to ecology and conservation sciences. Biological theory may motivate targets of inference, and it often plays a key role in determining appropriate models and methods.

Jasmine Foo (Mathematics, CSE): My research involves the formulation and analysis of mathematical theories of evolution. I am particularly interested in evolutionary models of cancer, which can be described as a rapidly evolving, heterogeneous population of cells within the body.

Valery Forbes (Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, CBS): I use ecological models to understand and predict how the effects of chemical stressors at the organism level (i.e., on survival, reproduction, growth, and behavior) are linked to impacts at higher levels of biological organization (i.e., populations, communities, and ecosystem service delivery).

Emma Goldberg (Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, CBS): I work with models of the evolution and ecology of species' geographic distributions and plant mating systems.

William Harcombe (Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, CBS): My lab works on understanding the processes that drive microbial community dynamics. We are specifically interested in modeling the connection between intracellular metabolic networks and eco-evolutionary dynamics.

Forest Isbell (Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, CBS): I test and develop ecological theory at the intersection of community and ecosystem ecology. Long-term experiments at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve provide a rigorous platform for testing theory.

Kevin Leder (Industrial and Systems Engineering, CSE): I develop and study mathematical models for the response of tumor cells to radiation and chemotherapy. These models are then used to construct optimal therapy delivery schedules.

Alan Love (Philosophy, CLA): My research focuses on conceptual and theoretical issues in developmental and evolutionary biology, including the structure of evolutionary theory, the nature of theory in developmental biology, and the use of multiple models in explaining biological phenomena, especially the intersection between physical and genetic models.

Duane Nykamp (Mathematics, CSE): My research focuses on developing mathematical analyses of networks of neurons and using the resulting tools to probe the function of networks in the brain.

Hans Othmer (Mathematics, CSE): My research involves development and analysis of mathematical models in two major areas -- cell motility and pattern formation in development. Incidental to that research, we have developed new mathematical methods for modeling chemotaxis and for understanding stochastic reaction-diffusion systems.

Claudia Neuhauser (Research Computing, OVPR; Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, CBS; Computer Science and Engineering, CSE): I am a mathematical biologist interested in developing statistical and computational tools to analyze biological data and studying mathematical models of biological systems to understand mechanisms and predict model behavior. Applications range across cancer biology, immunology, ecology, and evolution.

Ioulia Rouzina (Molecular Biology Biophysics and Biochemistry, CBS & Institute for Molecular Virology): I am theoretical molecular biophysicist working on retroviruses and physic of protein/nucleic acid interactions. My major theoretical contributions are related to electrostatic effects in nucleic acid/protein interactions and force-induced structural transition in nucleic acids.

Allison Shaw (Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, CBS): I develop theory for the evolutionary ecology of movement, which spans taxonomic groups and ecosystem types.

Ruth Shaw (Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, CBS): My research primarily employs experimental quantitative genetic approaches to address questions about ongoing evolution in wild plant populations. In conjunction with these studies, I participate in developing statistical methods that support the empirical work and collaborated with colleagues to approach related research questions via analytical theory and genetically explicit computer simulations.

Alena Talkachova (Elena G. Tolkacheva, Biomedical Engineering, CSE): I am interested in understanding mechanisms of complex cardiac rhythms leading to ventricular fibrillation and sudden cardiac death. I use mathematical models and develop theoretical concepts aiming to predict transition from normal to abnormal rhythms of the heart, and to control such transition.

Michael Travisano (Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, CBS): I develop and test theory on the evolution and ecology of biological complexity, using mathematical and microbial models.

Paul Venturelli (Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, CFANS): I’m interested in life history theory and life history trade-offs in the context of temperature and human disturbance (e.g., climate change, habitat alteration, exploitation). My research looks at how these interactions shape fish population dynamics and inform management or conservation.

Michael Wilson (Anthropology, CLA & Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, CBS): I'm particularly interested in how mathematical models and agent based computer simulations can help in understanding the evolution of behavior and ecology, especially in relation to territorial behavior, intergroup aggression and warfare.

If you would like to be added to this list, send your details and a description of how you interact with theory in biology to: biota@umn.edu