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Mathematical Modeling for Biology Students

New Textbook from Alumnus Dmitry Kondrashov ’92 Introduces Today’s Biology Students to Mathematical Modeling

Dmitry Kondrashov (entering class of ‘92, BA ‘96), Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago, recently published the textbook Quantifying Life: A Symbiosis of Computation, Mathematics, and Biology (The University of Chicago Press, 2016). 

Quantifying Life: A Symbiosis of Computation, Mathematics, and BiologyWritten for an interdisciplinary course taught at the University of Chicago, the text quickly introduces biology majors to advanced techniques in mathematics and statistics that are relevant for modeling and data analysis in biological research. As a lecturer in the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division at the University of Chicago, Dmitry saw the need for Quantifying Life while teaching an introductory course he developed in quantitative modeling for biology.

In Quantifying Life’s preface, he explains that “biology is changing at a break-neck pace and is becoming ever more reliant on complex computational tools and quantitative models, while curriculum for biology majors has been stuck in the pre-genomics era . . . I realized that computation is the most useful, as well as the most challenging, skill needed for a quantitative understanding of modern biology.” 

Many influences in his life led to the book, from University of Chicago’s visionary Master of Biological Sciences Collegiate Division Jose Quintans to the teachers and mentors he learned from throughout his life. Simon’s Rock professors Bill Dunbar and the late Eileen Handelman are among the teachers Dmitry gratefully credits with making the book possible. 

“Dmitry was one of the first students I met at Simon’s Rock, when I came to campus as a job applicant. After I started teaching here, I got to know him better. He was easily delighted by new mathematical ideas, and more generally, he found delight in many aspects of life,” Bill remembers. “I’m thrilled that he has applied his talents in a way which is both innovative and which meets a real need in the education of biology majors—namely, the ability to create useful mathematical models for biological systems."

Dmitry holds a PhD in Applied Mathematician with a minor in Biochemistry. He believes coding and mathematical skills are essential for young biologists. 

Excerpts from Reviews

“Taking a rare modeling approach, Kondrashov covers all of the mathematics and computation that biology students need . . . ” Sarah Hews, Hampshire College

“Very exciting, especially for life science students and those who teach biology. There is a growing need for more quantitative understanding among life scientists, and the concepts and tools provided in Quantifying Life are exactly the types of tools the field needs. . . .” Hannah Callender, University of Portland

For more information and the full reviews, visit The University of Chicago Press Books.