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NIMBioS Tutorial

Graph Theory and Biological Networks

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Topic: Graph Theory and Biological Networks Tutorial

Meeting dates: August 16-18, 2010

Location: NIMBioS at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tutorial Leaders: Margaret Cozzens (Center for Discrete Mathematics & Theoretical Computer Science, Rutgers Univ.); Jo Ellis-Monaghan (Dept. of Mathematics, Saint Michael's College): Gregg Hartvigsen (Dept. of Biology, SUNY Geneseo); John Jungck (Dept. of Biology, Beloit College)

Objectives: This tutorial invited biologists, mathematicians and computer scientists to learn more about graph theory. Biologists learned how graph theory can inform their understanding of many common biological patterns that are in and of themselves graphs: pedigrees, fate maps, phylogenetic trees, metabolic pathways, food webs, epidemiological networks, interactomes, etc. as well as how graph theory can be used to design experiments, analyze images, and model complex interactions. Mathematicians and computer scientists learned how graph theoretical concepts such as interval graphs, planar graphs, trees, networks, Delaunay triangulations, Gabriel graphs, minimal spanning trees, etc. have widespread utility in understanding biological phenomena ranging from molecular to cellular to population levels with ecological and medical applications.

The workshop was led by two mathematicians and two biologists who have a long history of seamlessly borrowing from one another’s disciplines. Participants applied what they learned in lectures to actual data in a computer laboratory context by using open source, open access tools and databases.

Evaluation Report (PDF)



Cho E. Submitted (2017). A New Formula for the Volume of a Simplex. International Electronic Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics.

Viswanathan R, Liang S, Yang Y, Jungck JR. 2016. Biographer: Visualization of Graph Theoretical Patterns, Measurements, and Analysis in Mathematical Biology. In Rubem P Mondaini, Editor. BIOMAT 2015. World Scientific: Singapore, pp. 118-140. [Online]

Ghosh-Dastidar U. In revision (2015). Modeling the effect of vaccines on cholera transmission. Journal of Biological Systems.

Ghosh-Dastidar U, Fiorini E, Lora SM. 2014. Connectance, robustness, and the Hudson River food web. BAASANA International conference Proceedings.​

Hartvigsen G. 2011. Using R to build and assess network models in biology. Mathematical Modelling of Natural Phenomena, 6(6): 61-75. [Online]

Ellis-Monoghan J, Pangborn G. 2011. Using DNA self-assembly design strategies to motivate graph theory concepts. Mathematical Modelling of Natural Phenomenon, 6(6): 96-107. [Online]

Meetings, Workshops, and Symposiums

Schwab C. 2010 November. Connecting the threads: Network theory for living systems, Focal Symposium, Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (KLI), and the Dept. of Theoretical Biology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Ellis-Monaghan J, Pangborn G. 2011 July 15-16. Discrete Mathematics Day Conference, Saint Michael's College, Colchester, VT.

A goal of NIMBioS is to enhance the cadre of researchers capable of interdisciplinary efforts across mathematics and biology. As part of this goal, NIMBioS is committed to promoting diversity in all its activities. Diversity is considered in all its aspects, social and scientific, including gender, ethnicity, scientific field, career stage, geography and type of home institution. Questions regarding diversity issues should be directed to You can read more about our Diversity Plan on our NIMBioS Policies web page. The NIMBioS building is fully handicapped accessible.

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From 2008 until early 2021, NIMBioS was supported by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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