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Doing the math: Speaker tracks how animals, humans use their space

by Judy Hughes, communications and marketing last modified Mar 05, 2014 04:01 PM

How can math help scientists understand how wolves and coyotes protect their territories – and even how urban gangs defend their turf? A March 20 speaker at the University of Louisville will explain how the studies of math and biology intersect in the formation of spatial patterns.

University of Alberta professor Mark Lewis will discuss "Using Mathematics to Understand Territories" at 6 p.m. in Room 101, Strickler Hall. His free, public talk is the annual Bullitt lecture sponsored by the UofL mathematics department. The Bullitt family endowed the general-interest lecture series to honor former U.S. Solicitor General William Marshall Bullitt's interest in mathematics.

Lewis will talk about how biologically based rules can be put into mathematical models to predict spatial patterns that occur in nature and how the work is supported by radio tracking of animals. He also will discuss how game theory is applied to wolf packs and how a version of the model has been applied to the study of conflict among urban gangs.

Lewis is senior Canada research chair in mathematical biology and a professor in both mathematical and statistical sciences and biological sciences at Alberta. Focusing on spatial ecology, his research group applies mathematical modeling to biological problems such as predicting the population spread of invasive species and modeling territorial patterns of wolves.

The chief editor of the Journal of Mathematical Biology, Lewis is former president of the Society for Mathematical Biology. Lewis earned a Canada Council for the Arts’ Killam research fellowship for 2012-2014. The prize-winning scientist has taught at the universities of Washington and Utah, published six books and had multiple research grants.

For more information, contact Thomas Riedel at 502-852-6826 or Thomas.Riedel@louisville.edu or check www.math.louisville.edu/Bullitt.

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