Bulletin of Mathematical Biology
In addition to the memorization, algorithmic skills and vocabulary which are the default focus in many mathematics classrooms, professional mathematicians are expected to creatively apply known techniques, construct new mathematical approaches and communicate with and about mathematics. We propose that students can learn these professional, higher-level skills through Laboratory Experiences in Mathematical Biology which put students in the role of mathematics researcher creating mathematics to describe and understand biological data. Here we introduce a laboratory experience centered on yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) growing in a small capped flask with a jar to collect carbon dioxide created during yeast growth and respiration. The lab requires no specialized equipment and can easily be run in the context of a college math class. Students collect data and develop mathematical models to explain the data. To help place instructors in the role of mentor/collaborator (as opposed to jury/judge), we facilitate the lab using model competition judged via Bayesian Information Criterion. This article includes details about the class activity conducted, student examples and pedagogical strategies for success.
Lewis, Matthew and Powell, James A., "Yeast for Mathematicians - A Ferment of Discovery" (2016). Mathematics and Statistics Faculty Publications. Paper 204.