Lab experience gives ASU students new perspective on math

July 9, 2009

By Flinn Foundation

Lab experience gives ASU students new perspective on math

The scientists in the Laboratory for Algae Research and Biotechnology (LARB), directed by Qiang Hu and Milton Sommerfeld, at Arizona State University Polytechnic are doing more than research on algae for use in biofuels, food supplements, and water and air remediation.

The lab provides training for graduate and undergraduate students from throughout ASU’s many disciplines. Most recently, students are participating in an experiment as part of professor Abdessamad Tridane’s math class.

The experiment is affiliated with and supported by a long-term Interdisciplinary Training for Undergraduates in Biological and Mathematical Sciences (UBM) program, funded by the National Science Foundation and directed since 2003 by professor Yang Kuang in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

UBM is the first major undergraduate research training program launched by NSF. It enhances undergraduate education and training and better prepares undergraduate biology or mathematics students to pursue graduate study and careers in fields that integrate the mathematical and biological sciences. ASU’s UBM research projects have included modeling of ecological and evolutionary processes through the new lens of stoichiometric constraints, malaria disease dynamics, prostate cancer treatment and yeast genome.

The experiment at the LARB, which was started in 2007 by former UBM student Aaron Packer, has students developing a model to quantify how nitrogen availability affects algal growth and lipid biosynthesis in photobioreactors, which will help to maximize total lipid (oil) yield.

“Understanding this is important for producing microalgal biomass as feedstock for biodiesel/biofuels as efficiently as possible,” says Tridane.

To read the full article: Lab experience gives ASU students new perspective on math