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Equity in biomathematics focus of international conference – News … – Illinois State University News

Biomathematics is a newer field. At the interface of biology, mathematics, and computer science, biomathematics has had a champion with Illinois State University since its earliest days.
Even though the field is new, biomathematics faces the same obstacles to equity as any other STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field.
“Science thrives when no one is silenced,” said Professor Olcay Akman, head of the global Intercollegiate Biomathematics Alliance (IBA), which resides at Illinois State’s Center for Collaborative Studies in Mathematical Biology. “Equity in STEM means working to overcome the conscious and unconscious bias that many scientists from underrepresented backgrounds, ethnicities, and genders face.”
If we are missing, or misinterpreting, data we are not seeing the whole picture.
IBA hosts the International Symposium on Biomathematics and Ecology Education and Research (BEER), an annual gathering of researchers, educators, and students that provides scholars the chance to expand the boundaries in biomathematics. The 2022 symposium, hosted at Illinois State in November, looked to the theme of equity.
Under the title “Addressing Challenges in Access, Diversity, and Equity at the Applied Mathematics Interface (ACADEMI) – Cross-Institutional Research in Health and Data Science,” sessions at the symposium explored areas such as developing training sessions to address bias in health- and science-related data, and promoting and supporting women in mathematics and statistics.
“Data is key to understanding how events like epidemics spread,” said Akman, who is editor-in-chief of the publication Letters in Biomathematics, which took the lead on publishing studies on the coronavirus in its early days. “If we are missing, or misinterpreting, data we are not seeing the whole picture.”
Symposium organizers aimed to forge networks and collaborations between biomathematicians that spanned generations, genders, and backgrounds. “The goal was to create a foundation for future collaborations that begin with equity,” said Akman.
For additional information about BEER, contact Akman at (309) 438-7980 or