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An Introduction to Quantitative Modeling
Students assume the roles of CDC researchers who must determine how to most effectively stop an impending Zombie apocalypse. The story line leads students through the process of developing a mathematical model of a Zombie outbreak, which they then use to evaluate different "management" strategies to ensure human survival. Students are introduced to a flow diagram, learn how to derive equations from a flow diagram, and evaluate predictions of the model. Comparisons to the spread of invasive species, infectious disease outbreaks, and predator-prey relationships help the students to see how important biological processes can be modeled quantitatively. Since the focal species (zombies) is fictitious, this case is an ideal way to introduce students to the process of mathematical modeling without worrying about the system-specific details of any particular organism. Originally designed for a second year introductory ecology course, this case is also appropriate for an epidemiology course, advanced population ecology courses, applied ecology courses, and quantitative biology/mathematical biology courses.
|Keywords:||Mathematical modeling; invasive species; disease modeling; quantitative modeling; predator-prey; population ecology|
|Topical Area:||Scientific method|
|Educational Level:||Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division|
|Type/Method:||Analysis (Issues), Discussion, Interrupted, Role-Play|
|Subject Headings:||Biology (General) Ecology Environmental Science Epidemiology Mathematics Medicine (General) Science (General)|
|Copyright:||Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.|
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