Where physics and maths meet biology

Equations on a blackboard


Research challenges at the physics-maths-biology interface

There are exciting opportunities at all levels for students with a strong maths and/or physics background to conduct research in biology and make an important contribution**.

Today, research in quantitative biology – from genetics to global change biology – is a cross-disciplinary activity that calls upon, and thrives on, a wide range of knowledge and skills, with mathematics and physics playing a fundamental role.

The power of mathematical argument and modelling has vastly increased our ability to analyse complex biological systems and their interaction with the environment. And the interaction between physicists and biologists is revealing new connections between subjects which previously appeared unrelated (e.g. statistical mechanics and ecology).

In return, biological research offers students some of the most challenging problems in applied mathematics and physics – from optimisation to predicting the behaviour of non-equilibrium systems.

Opportunities in our lab include

  • Global change biology – modelling leaf, plant and ecosystem responses to environmental change
  • Plants, climate and entropy production – exploring the thermodynamics of non-equilibrium systems using energy and mass balance models of plants and climate
  • Entropy and biodiversity – information theory and statistical mechanics meet genetics and ecology

Please feel free to contact our lab directly to discuss these and other opportunities in more detail.

**Two ANU undergraduate PhB students who completed Advanced Studies Courses in our lab, Emma Thomas (2009) and Kathryn Parker (2011), contributed as co-authors to peer-reviewed papers in the scientific journals Molecular Ecology and Tree Physiology.

Updated:  18 August 2019/Responsible Officer:  Director RSB/Page Contact:  Webmaster RSB