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National Science Foundation

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Abstract Text:
The continent of Africa faces numerous socio-economic and public health challenges, including newly emerging or rapidly changing diseases; quickly changing ecological systems resulting from climate change; exploitation of natural resources; the need or desire to conserve disappearing ecosystems and wildlife; the challenge of resource management in the context of limited resources; changing agricultural practices and their impact on human health; and the effect of health events and changing climate and ecology on social structures, economic systems, and political stability. Research and training in biomathematics can lead to substantial inroads in addressing these challenges. Addressing them is of importance not only to Africa but also to the rest of the world, including the US. The problems of Africa present particularly exciting and complex challenges for mathematical scientists, ranging from issues of mathematical modeling to issues of data analysis and interpretation. To allow US scientists to best help tackle these challenges, which range from issues of mathematical modeling to issues of data analysis and interpretation, partnerships are needed between US and African mathematical scientists so that US scientists can get first-hand understanding of the problems of Africa and the data they need for their models. Many of these challenges fall at the interface between the mathematical and biological sciences. Dealing with these challenges requires a large number of researchers working on and trained in biomathematics and prepared to deal with specific biomath challenges arising from problems of Africa. Thus, it is important to enhance development of biomathematics and to train US mathematical scientists to work in biomathematics and in international venues with international collaborations.

The project features three US-Africa research workshops in Africa, focusing on challenges arising from Africa whose solution requires serious mathematical components: (1) conservation biology and creation of ecological reserves and related issues of risk of extinction and risk of invasive species; (2) economic aspects of epidemiology; and (3) the use of genetics to control diseases of humans and crops. The first two workshops will be preceded by an Advanced Study Institute (ASI), aimed at preparing graduate students to participate in the workshop, in follow-up research projects, and in long-term international collaborations. Small research projects catalyzed by the ASIs and workshops will involve US and African participants. Because successful model development should never be divorced from data but sometimes is, a biomath modeling clinic with a data analysis emphasis is planned.

Because it is important to train some African students in more depth than is possible in the planned ASIs, the project will host African graduate students for year-long visits, in the process exposing US graduate student and postdoctoral biomathematicians to the problems of Africa in a longer, more extended mode than is possible with a two-week activity. African faculty will also come as visitors to engage in joint research projects. Materials arising from the ASIs and workshops will be widely disseminated through books, articles, websites, CDs, and reports, so others can copy these activities. Project results will be used in a separately-funded program that brings current research into the undergraduate classroom. International partnerships with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), the South African Centre of Excellence for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (SACEMA), the African Mathematical Institutes Network (AMI-Net), the African Mathematics Millennium Science Initiative (AMMSI), and the Canadian Network of Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems (MITACS) will enhance the program.

This project is co-funded by the NSF Office of International Science and Engineering, and the Office of Multidisciplinary Activities.
Project Terms:
Address; Africa; African; Agriculture; Biological Sciences; Biology; biomathematics; Books; climate change; Clinic; Collaborations; Complex; Data; Data Analyses; Development; Disease; disorder control; Divorce; Ecology; Economics; Ecosystem; Educational workshop; Engineering; epidemiological model; Epidemiology; Event; Extinction (Psychology); Face; Faculty; falls; follow-up; Funding; Genetic; graduate student; Hand; Health; Human; human disease; Information Technology; Institutes; International; Joints; Lead; mathematical model; Mathematics; model development; Modeling; multidisciplinary; Natural Resources; Participant; Political Systems; Process; programs; Reporting; Research; Research Personnel; Research Project Grants; Research Training; Resources; Rest; Risk; Science; Scientist; social; socioeconomics; Solutions; Structure; Students; System; Training; Visit; web site; Work


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State Code:  NJ
District:  06
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Fiscal Year: 2008
Award Notice Date: 03-Sep-2008
DUNS Number: 001912864
Project Start Date: 15-Sep-2008
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CFDA Code: 47.049
Project End Date: 31-Aug-2011
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National Science Foundation
Project Funding Information for 2008:
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2008 NSF

National Science Foundation




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