Michael Vella selected for summer research experience at national institute

Author: Catherine Crawley, NIMBioS

Michael Vella

Michael Vella, a rising applied and computational mathematics and statistics major, has been selected for a highly competitive Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The 2013 NIMBioS REU program runs for eight weeks, from June 10 – Aug. 2, and includes 19 undergraduates from universities across the United States. Participants live on campus and work in teams with NIMBioS postdoctoral researchers and UTK faculty on research at the interface of mathematics and biology. The research projects for the 2013 program are mathematical modeling of fetal electrocardiograms; modeling animal disease from coronavirus; automatic detection of rare birds from audio recording; modeling the environmental transmission of E-coli in cattle; modeling protein translation and genome evolution; and modeling animal social network dynamics.

Vella’s project will focus on the environmental transmission of Escherichia coli transmission in cattle. Under the guidance of his mentors, Cristina Lanzas, D.V.M., Ph.D., and Shi Chen, Ph.D., Vella will use animal movement datasets, data on pathogen survival in the environment, and mathematical models to study the spread of the zoonotic environmental-transmitted pathogen, Shiga-toxigenic E. coli, in beef cattle populations.

NIMBioS is a National Science Foundation-sponsored initiative to foster interdisciplinary research at the interface between mathematical and biological sciences. Additional NIMBioS sponsors include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.