PhD mathematician Adriana Dawes (right) is an associate professor who splits her time between the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Molecular Genetics, where she operates a laboratory. Dawes’ research focus is on mathematical modeling of cell form and function, understanding how cells utilize biochemical, mechanical and geometric information to make decisions.
In 2016, Dawes was awarded the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant to study stochastic and deterministic mathematical models for the dynamics of particular cell features, actin structures, and their role in cell regulation. As part of the "education and outreach" component of her CAREER award, Dawes proposed to organize an undergraduate course in mathematical modeling, which would prepare students to compete in COMAP’s international Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM).
Maria-Veronica Ciocanel (left) received her PhD in applied mathematics at Brown University in 2017, after which she came to Ohio State as a postdoctoral researcher at the Mathematical Biosciences Institute. While a graduate student at Brown, Ciocanel started a program to prepare students for the MCM by running a local version with the same structure as the international competition, but with problems made up by Ciocanel and her colleagues and judged by a local panel. The best prepared students then went on to the international competition. Eager to try it at Ohio State, Ciocanel persuaded the student Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) chapter to run a local version last autumn. Then, she and Dawes combined forces to teach the undergraduate course to a group of students who went on to the international competition (and did quite well in it).
This year, Ciocanel has been awarded a Presidential Postdoctoral Scholars Program (PPSP) fellowship, in the inaugural class at Ohio State. Together with Dawes, her PPSP faculty mentor, she will develop agent-based models and data analysis measures for actin organization in cells. Ciocanel and Dawes have repeated the local math-modeling competition, and will teach the modeling course in the spring 2019 semester and sponsor teams for the mathematical competition.