The work of an applied mathematician is by nature related to other disciplines, whether they be economics, biology, chemistry, physics, business or finance. The model we’re creating this summer to describe chlorophyll concentration and population growth requires lots of understanding of mathematics, biology, and computer science. Since I haven’t taken a biology class since high school, this has been an interesting learning experience. This project has taught me the skill of using what basic knowledge I have of biology and then slowly learn the most efficient way of learning the new material. This has required learning to read research papers in a field I’m not an expert in and talking to others who have more knowledge to help put the puzzle pieces together. Another skill I have learned is being better at stepping back from all the details and really understanding how these 3 disciplines intersect to solve one problem.
This week I also got to spend one day with the economists and saw how they are using math in their model. To create a pricing model, they’re running a bunch of regressions using different variables to see how much a clean lake is worth. They’re using more advanced statistics and statistical programming than us but the critical thinking skills are still the same. The combined knowledge of our two projects could tell you how much a clean lake is worth and given the biological conditions of the lake, if a bloom will occur. People can use this information to make intelligent decisions about buying houses near these lakes and see if the increased price of the house is worth the risk of a potential bloom.