New Biomathematics Major to Give Students Analytical Tools that Support Life Sciences Research

Wednesday, September 09, 2015
Biomathematics professors in a laboratory.

Blending Math & Science: Mathematics professors (from left) Dave Goulet, Allen Holder, and Yoshi Shibberu have worked with faculty colleagues in science and computer science to develop the new biomathematics major.

An increasing number of problems in the biological sciences are being solved using sophisticated mathematical and computational tools. Rose-Hulman has added an academic major in biomathematics to give students the analytical tools necessary to use applied math in support of the life sciences.

The biomathematics major blends applied mathematics, the fundamentals of biology, and computational analysis. Students will also be introduced to the fields of computational biology, mathematical biology, bioinformatics, systems biology, and biostatistics.

Understanding complex biological systems requires not just sophisticated data analysis, but also a strong background in theoretical and applied mathematics, according to Dave Goulet, assistant professor of mathematics.

"The biomathematics major at Rose-Hulman is designed to help students analyze the physical world through mathematics and computer science in ways that will advance human understanding and the wellbeing of our world," he said.

Mathematics Professor Allen Holder points out that while the major is primarily designed for students wishing to pursue a post-graduate degree in the mathematical biosciences, the study of biomathematics is growing, and there is the potential for graduates to go directly into industry as mathematicians, theoretically interested biologists, human geneticists, pharmaceutical researchers, or as other health professionals.

"Our biomathematics majors will be well prepared for post-graduate study or a rewarding career in the quantitative life sciences," Holder said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2010 and 2020, the employment rate for biomathematics majors will rise by 17 percent, which is one of the largest employment increases in the field of applied research. The average starting salary for biomathematicians in 2014 was $72,892. The largest employers of biomathematics majors are federal government laboratories, research hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and product development companies.

As with all Rose-Hulman majors, biomathematics students will be liberally educated through the study of the humanities and social sciences, according to Goulet. Students will also be encouraged to participate in external and internal research programs, internships, and/or co-ops.