The Institute for Theoretical and Mathematical Ecology (ITME)
represents the combined efforts of a group of faculty from two schools:
the College of Arts and Sciences (Departments of Mathematics, Biology,
and Computer Science) and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and
The Institute will operate under the joint auspices of the two schools,
but welcomes, encourages, and solicits participation by faculty from
other units of the University.
Ecology is one of a number of areas of scientific inquiry that are
being profoundly influenced by advances in quantitative knowledge, both
analytic and computational. Indeed, mathematical biology at large is
now recognized by the National Science Foundation as a separate program
within the Division of Mathematical Sciences of the Directorate for
Mathematical and Physical Sciences.
A joint initiative with the National Institutes of Health for Research
in Mathematical Biology is the Division's largest current fiscal
commitment. Ecology draws on a range of scientific disciplines,
representing the essential duality of its aims and methods. In part, it
has a goal of understanding population dynamics and community structure
for various assemblages of organisms across a range of temporal,
spatial and organizational scales which makes complete reliance on
controlled laboratory experiments impossible and necessitates the use
of quantitative models.
It also aims to provide predictions about quantitative outcomes in
various particular situations, so as both to inform human knowledge and
inquiry and to address the balance between maintaining biodiversity and
advancing human development in a manner that is sustainable. Frequently
such inquiries may concern the very survival of some species. As a
result, Ecology cannot depend solely on empirical studies, but must
represent an interplay between field work and data collection and
analytic and computational modeling. It is promoting this interplay
that is the raison d'etre for the Institute. This proposal has emerged
organically from the joint research and academic efforts of the primary
faculty over the past ten to fifteen years.
Giving these efforts a formal structure from which to operate and
synergize is an idea whose time has come. Indeed, it is a cross
disciplinary effort in a national and international growth area that is
eminently fundable from a variety of sources.