Title Talk: The people that paved the way for biological insight through mathematics



Modern biology is a highly interdisciplinary science. Whilst it is obvious how overlap between subjects like chemistry and biology is naturally achieved (biochemistry), it is not immediately obvious to many how mathematics and biology overlap. Biology for centuries amounted to making observations, forming hypotheses and then testing these hypotheses experimentally. Mathematical rigour and exactness was seen in the post-renaissance academic environment as applicable in science only to the robust laws of physics, a view that is still held by some mathematicians and biologists to this day. Some mathematical pioneers were able to see past the restrictive view of mathematics as a `tool of the physical sciences’ and developed mathematics to address biological questions. In the process, they unlocked for civilization not only some elegant mathematics that can be seen in nature but also mathematical ideas which can be used to save lives.  Modern quantitative techniques in biology would not be possible without these forward thinking mathematicians. As we move towards the future and strive for more personalised medicine and high-throughput experimental technology, mathematics will only become more and more important in the biological research landscape.  In this talk, I hope to inspire you by introducing you to some of the people behind the most important mathematical ideas in biology. We will explore their lives, their contributions to the biological and mathematical sciences, and the modern fruits of their ideas.

Mark Flegg


Dr Mark Flegg, MAXIMA, Monash University

Dr Mark Flegg completed a PhD in mathematical modelling of aerosol physics with a particular focus on particle interactions in 2010 at Queensland University of Technology. After a short postdoctoral position in the field of modelling medical physics and clinical diagnostic mechanisms, Dr Flegg underwent a postdoctoral position at the Oxford Centre for Collaborative Applied Mathematics (OCCAM) at the University of Oxford, UK. Dr Flegg has returned to Australia as a Lecturer in the newly formed Monash Academy for Cross and Interdisciplinary Mathematical Applications (MAXIMA).

His research interests in applied mathematics are varied and include: Mathematical Biology, Cell biology, Stochastic processes, particle motion and simulation, modelling of clinical ultrasound in bone, developmental biology, cancer biology.

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