Combine Math and Biology in Barbados
Sophomores Yang Li and Diana Jaunzeikare (pictured,
standing fourth and fifth from the left) joined others
at the BioMathamatics conference in Barbados.
Although the Island of Barbados is known for its white
sand beaches, two Smith College sophomores will remember
it for a different reason: The opportunity to dive into the
subject of BioMathematics with experts in the field.
The pair of sophomores spent the early days of January on
the island that is situated just east of the Caribbean Sea,
presenting their research within the rapidly expanding multidisciplinary
field that uses mathematical tools to model problems in biology.
Amherst resident Yang
Li ’11 and classmate Diana Jaunzeikare ’11,
of Latvia, participated in the conference, which was held
at the Bellairs Research Institute of McGill University,
and organized by Ileana Streinu, professor of computer science
Li and Jaunzeikare presented
their work examining how proteins perform their function
as building blocks of life, said Streinu.
“Their superb performance is strongly motivated by
the novelty of the field and by the opportunities of getting
involved in real research projects that captured their imagination,” said
Streinu. “At Smith, first and second-year students
get a direct involvement in research projects.”
Streinu began organizing the conferences eight years ago
in order to gather together the relatively small group of
experts in the new field. The challenge of the study often
includes developing new mathematical tools to tackle the
biological conundrums, according to Streinu.
“Here, the mathematicians
develop formalisms and algorithms and prove theorems about
them, and eventually all returns to the original biological
Li, daughter of Jin Ling Li
and Zhi Qing Chu, graduated from Amherst Regional High School,
and Jaunzeikare, daughter of Aigars and Lilita Jaunzeikare,
from Riga State Gymnasium.