What can I do with mathematics?

Cell functions are depicted as complex wiring diagrams of circuits translated into equations that are often solved numerically.

Unlocking the Cell

The processes that cells perform are as wondrous as their individual mechanisms are mysterious. Molecular biologists and mathematicians are using models to begin to understand operations such as cellular division, movement, and communication (both within the cell and between cells).The analysis of cells requires many diverse branches of mathematics since descriptions of cellular activity involve a combination of continuous models based on differential equations and discrete models using subjects such as graph theory.

It may be surprising, but cell functions are depicted with complex wiring diagrams of circuits with signaling pathways, gates, switches, and feedback loops. Researchers translate the diagrams into equations, which are often solved numerically. Solving the equations is only part of a process in which solutions are analyzed, models are refined, and equations are reformulated and re-solved.This may be repeated many times.The aim of this process is an accurate representation of cell behavior, which may allow drugs and treatments to be designed in the same precise way that electronic circuits are today.

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Computational Cell Biology, Christopher P. Fall,
Eric S. Marland, John M.Wagner, and John J.Tyson, Editors.

Article © AMS Mathematical Moments program

New: Edgewood College Undergraduate Math Journal

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While the main motivation to choose math as a major should stem from a combination of keen interest and high ability in math, students are naturally concerned about the opportunities available to a mathematics major or a mathematics teaching major after graduation. At this time, the math major appears to be in a better position than many other majors for employment in business, industry, government agencies, and teaching. The prospects are also good for well-qualified students to obtain support for graduate studies in either mathematics or mathematics education. Also a major in mathematics is excellent preparation for further study in many other fields.

In order to help you clarify your thoughts on what you want to get out of your collegiate experience as a math major, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Why do I like mathematics? What is it about math that attracts me to majoring in mathematics?
  • What type of mathematics do I like? Do I like the computational aspect? The rigor and logic? The problem solving experience? The theoretical aspect? Which content areas interest me?
  • What do I want to do for a career? Do I want to teach, or do I want pursue other avenues? If you want to teach, then:
    • what age group(s) do you want to teach? PreK, 1-6, 6-9, 9-12, college?
    • do you want to teach just mathematics, or do you want to have the flexibility to teach other fields as well?
  • If you are not interested in a career in teaching, then: are you interested in a career in business, industry, government, nonprofits, other alternatives?
  • How much education do I want to complete? Bachelors, Masters, or Ph.D.? Do I want to enter the work force right after graduation with the option to pursue graduate work later?
  • What do I need to do in order to further my career prospects?
  • What should I be doing academically to further my goals? Should I pick up a minor in another area? Should I try to double major?
  • What extracurriculars should I become involved in to further my goals? For example, should I get involved with the math club? Should I participate in the MCM Modeling Competition?
  • What types of work experience should I try to get to further my goals? Should I consider volunteer work experiences such as tutoring? Should I consider internships?
  • What organizations should I become involved in? What conferences or meetings might it be helpful to attend?


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