SMB 2019

3 minute read


I recently attended the annual running of the Society for Mathematical Biology conference, SMB2019. This years edition was held on the campus of the Université de Montréal from 22nd-26th July.

The theme for the conference was "From genome to biome.". The full programme (with abstracts) may be viewed here.

My own contribution in the meeting was a poster on "Modelling seasonal influenza in England: Approaches to capture immunity propagation".

SMB2019 poster
Our work on modelling seasonal influenza in England displayed in poster form!

Mentoring programme

A strength of the SMB annual meeting is the provision of a mentorship programme, where junior scientists can request to be matched with a senior scientist. I enrolled onto the mentoring programme as both a mentor and a mentee. Overall, I found the programme rewarding and would encourage others to be involved in mentoring schemes when offered at scientific meetings!

To flesh out the details on what the mentorship scheme entails, an outline is given in the mentorship pages of the SMB website:

"Junior scientists can request to be matched with a senior scientist. Junior scientists include students (both undergraduate and graduate), postdoctoral fellows, research assistants, newly appointed faculty members, etc. Senior scientists include postdoctoral fellows, research assistants, faculty members, etc. Because of the overlap in our definitions of junior and senior scientists, some individuals may sign up both as a mentee and a mentor."

Throughout the duration of the conference, the membership program encourages the following types of interactions:

  • mentors introduce mentees to their colleagues to help the mentee establish a professional network;
  • mentors and mentees spend a lunch or dinner together discussing the mentees’ educational and/or career objectives;
  • mentors share their career experience with their mentees;
  • mentors attend the (poster or lecture) presentation of the mentee and provide constructive feedback;
  • mentors spend some time explaining how conference presentations relate to each other, or how they fit into "the bigger picture".

Additionally, the mentor and mentee research interests can reside in different disciplines, with the participants common interest in the interface of mathematics and biology being the driving factor for fruitful and mutually beneficial interactions.

My mentee was Kaitlyn Johnson, a third year PhD candidate in a Biomedical Engineering PhD program at The Center for Computational Oncology, University of Texas at Austin.

Kaitlyn’s work involves integrating experimental data into mathematical models of tumour growth and drug resistance. She is a member of the Brock Lab, a lab investigating the role of heterogeneity in cell state transitions, cancer progression, and therapeutic responses.

During the conference, Kaitlyn presented both a poster and a talk on "An integrated approach to calibrate and validate mathematical models of therapy-induced resistance from in vitro drug response data in cancer".

SMB & ESMTB joint meeting 2020

Looking ahead, the next SMB annual meeting will be a joint meeting with the European Society of Mathematical and Theoretical Biology (ESMTB); the venue for the joint meeting is Heidelberg, Germany, taking place from 31st August-4th September 2020.