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Undergraduate Research Opportunity in the Mathematical Ecology

Biological research is increasingly being driven by the need for a mathematical underpinning. In ecology, many questions involve study over large spatial and/or temporal scale, which can be challenging for financial and logistical reasons.

Mathematical and computational models provide a powerful complement to empirical approaches and can both increase understanding of complex ecological phenomena and inform decision-making.

The objectives of the current project are to introduce undergraduate students to a simple mathematical model dealing with classical ecological topics related to species interactions, and to implement this model using the multi-agent programmable modeling freeware package, NetLogo. The candidate will first analyze a simple model of species interaction, with the aim of understanding the mathematical formalism explaining basic biological processes (such as predation, competition, etc.). Then, she/he will represent this model in a simple computational language, looking at the sensitivity analysis and trying to understand the importance of different parameters on the dynamics. Any further extensions of the model will be discussed and the candidate will try to implement it in NetLogo.

This is a volunteer opportunity, with the undergraduate research expected to work less than 6 hours per week. The ideal candidate will show a strong interest on theoretical ecology. No programming skills are required.

For more information, contact Chiara Accolla at


October, 2017