NSF HBCU-UP Bioinformatics and Biomathematics Project 2013-2016

Fisk University’s NSF HBCU-UP Bioinformatics and Biomathematics Project aims to develop undergraduate bioinformatics and biomathematics tracks to enhance undergraduate STEM education, research and future careers at the interface of mathematics, biology and computer science at Fisk University. Three new interdisciplinary courses, Biomathematics I (Biocalculus), Biomathematics II and Bioinformatics will be developed.

Summer Research Opportunities:

  • 6-8 students are selected each summer.
  • 8 weeks program
  • Perform research in bioinformatics or biomathematics
  • Qualification:  
    • Students must have good GPA (3.0 is desired).
    • Rising sophomore, Junior or senior.
    • Have taken or are taking CSCI 110, BIOL101 or MATH 120.  
    • Students who have taken or are taking Bioinformatics, Biomathematics I or Biomathematics II are desired.
    • Research stipend $4000/student/summer
    • Students will get support for participation in academic conferences.
    • Application Deadline: January 31. Check http://cold.fisk.edu/bioinfo/application.php for details.

Project Team

Dr. Sanjukta Hota (PI)
Associate Professor of Mathematics

Dr. Lei Qian (Co-PI)
Associate Professor of Computer Science

Dr. Brian Nelms (Co-PI)
Assistant Professor of Biology

New Courses

Bioinformatics I (Biocalculus I)

Biomathematics I serves as an alternative, equivalent option for Calculus I. In this course calculus concepts are introduced in a biological context. It covers topics from Calculus I with a focus on the application to biological phenomena, including dynamical systems in biology; limits and infinite sums; differential calculus; optimization; polynomial approximation; computational methods; integration; fundamental theorem of calculus and applications of integration.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Math 110 Precalculus.

Biomathematics II

Biomathematics II is an interdisciplinary course at the interface of mathematics, biology and computer science. In this course students will utilize mathematical theory while working on addressing biological problems, thus coming to understand the interplay between mathematical theory and practice. The topics of Biomathematics II will focus on developing mathematical models with the goal of building upon intuitive understanding using mathematical approaches. Students will use computer technology to merge data from their lab bench experiments with mathematical models to determine how various changes impacted an overall organism and its functions.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Math 120-Calculus I or Math 121 Biomathematics I is required.


Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field in the interface between the biological and computational sciences. The course familiarizes students with data structure and architectural strategies for retrieving, organizing, analyzing and storing biological data with available computational tools. Students will also be introduced to strategies for exploring not only particular content in already established biological databases, but also how algorithms are developed to identify patterns of data distribution, and examine possible relationships among data. Students will gain practical skills in using bioinformatics tools and programming in a scripting language.

Prerequisite:  Successful completion of Math 110 Precalculus is required, but there are no other strict computer science or biology prerequisites for this course.  However, completion of BIOL101 and 102 are desired for better grasp and understanding of the baseline content and the context for the bioinformatics tools and their use.