The National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS)
Lead Institution: The University of Tennessee
Investigators: Louis Gross, Colleen Jonsson
The National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), located at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, fosters cross-disciplinary approaches in mathematics and biology to address fundamental and applied biological questions. Its mission is twofold: 1) to address key biological questions by facilitating the assembly and productive collaboration of interdisciplinary teams; and 2) to foster development of the critical and essential human capacity to deal with the complexities of the multi-scale systems that characterize modern biology.
The nature of the questions addressed by NIMBioS spans all of biology, impacting both basic and applied science. These impacts range from specific models and applications (physiological integration, disease projection, reserve design) to fundamental questions about human origins, biosphere functioning, and the emergence of biological patterns at diverse scales. NIMBioS is a primary location for the analysis of numerous fundamental questions that are relevant to a variety of public policy concerns, from the impacts of biofuel development, to the challenges of invasions of non-native species, to the dynamics of disease spread in natural populations of plants and animals.
The NIMBioS evaluation is a comprehensive systems-based approach to understanding the processes and outcomes of the center. The approach incorporates new research methods, such as bibliometrics, network analysis, and mapping of scientific output. In addition, NIMBioS conducts evaluation case studies that examine more closely the changes in participants as a result of their participation in NIMBioS events. One such longitudinal study of 46 participants of completed Working Groups recently found that during the years in which faculty are affiliated with NIMBioS, they are more likely to collaborate with colleagues and with other institutions, and more likely to form international collaborations. Another study of the annual Summer Research Experiences program showed participant gains in knowledge about the research process.