Bi-Monthly News from NIMBioS
September-October 2016
New Institute Established at NIMBioS
A new national institute has been established at NIMBioS to provide independent evaluations of research and education programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.  The National Institute for STEM Evaluation and Research (NISER) will provide evaluation services to academia, government and the nonprofit sector and will also generate new knowledge about the ways in which integrated STEM programs function successfully. Begun as a pilot program in 2015, NISER has since grown to collaborate with more than 30 departments in 14 higher education institutions in the United States on the submission of more than 50 grant proposals. The Institute is currently collaborating on nine proposals that have secured nearly $6.8 million in funding. Read more.
Undergraduate Opportunity
Virtual Meet-Up for Students
Join two inspiring mathematicians—Mariel Vazquez, 2016 Blackwell-Tapia Award Winning Mathematician from the University of California-Davis, and Jose Perea of Michigan State University, to learn about the fascinating field of and careers in topology, the mathematical study of properties preserved through deformations, twistings, and stretching objects. "Mathematics: It’s Knot What You Think!" will be streamed live from 5:30-7 p.m. EDT, Thursday, October 27. The event is part of the Blackwell-Tapia Conference hosted by NIMBioS. For full details and how to connect, click here
Research & Training Opportunity
NIMBioS and NISER are co-hosting an NSF INCLUDES Conference on Multi-Scale Evaluation in STEM Education. The conference and associated events, including a webinar and tutorial, in February 2017 will enhance participants' abilities to develop an evaluation plan that meets the needs of an INCLUDES Alliance Project. Participants will include individuals involved in current INCLUDES projects, those considering collaborating in such projects and STEM educators considering inclusion of formal evaluation in their projects. Application deadline: November 21. For more details and the online application, click here.
Postdoctoral Opportunity
Computational Systems Biology Fellowship
NIMBioS is currently accepting applications for postdoctoral scholarship in computational biology with an interest in using systems approaches to solve problems in cell biology, cancer biology, immunology or developmental biology. An applicant may propose to use modeling, simulation, or analysis to produce useful biological information and concepts that current theories cannot provide. The proposed study should address biological problems involving complexity and dynamics of networks at molecular and/or cellular levels. Application deadline: December 17. For full details and the online application, click here.
New Software
Students Dig for Fossils
A new computer simulation game developed by undergraduate students at NIMBioS' Summer Research Experience program is now available online. Primarily aimed for students in grades 6-8,  Fossil Finder!  teaches the fundamentals of scientific notation, exponents as well as the concepts of geological time scales and the increasing complexity of life over time. Players travel in a mining elevator at a fossil excavation site to collect fossils from different geologic periods. While they race against the clock to dig through rock and find fossils, they must convert whole number years to scientific notation and vice versa in order to move their mining elevator between corresponding rock layers. Read more.
Postdoctoral Spotlight
Validating Evaluation Tools
NISER postdoc Robin T. Taylor is helping to develop and validate a diagnostic tool called the Quantitative Biology Concept Inventory (QBCI). The QBCI aims to identify misconceptions of calculus concepts for undergraduate students enrolled in life science courses and to evaluate mathematical comprehension of students in the life sciences when learning mathematical concepts in a biological context. In this Q&A, Taylor explains what she likes best about program evaluation and research and describes the challenges of validating measurement tools in data collection.
Graduate Success
Text Publication and More
Congratulations to former NIMBioS graduate research assistant Austin Milt whose dissertation research recently appeared in a new major text for conservation planning. Conservation Planning: Informed Decisions for a Healthier Planet by Craig R. Groves and Edward T. Game focuses on methods, tools, approaches and case studies in nature conservation and is aimed toward practitioners, students, or researchers of conservation, natural resource management, or landscape planning and architecture. Milt’s model, a decision support tool called Bungee — Balancing Unconventional Natural Gas Extraction and the Environment — is included. Read more.
Working Group Report
Special Issue on Play
Research on what motivates play in mammals, both human and non-human, has been published in a special issue of the journal Behaviour. The nine papers in the special issue are products of the NIMBioS Working Group on Play, Evolution and SocialityUntil the Working Group was established, the field lacked mathematical and computational approaches for understanding how play evolves. Using mathematical tools, the group aimed to uncover factors predicting the dynamics, occurrence and trajectory of play in the animal kingdom, as well as explore the ecological, psychological and life history factors that facilitate and maintain play. Read more.
Requests for Support
March 1 is the next deadline for submitting requests for new scientific and educational activities at NIMBioS, including Working Groups and  Investigative Workshops . For information on what NIMBioS funds and does not fund as well as application requirements, click here .
Recent NIMBioS Publications
Breeschoten T, Doorenweerd C, Tarasov S. Vogler AP. Phylogenetics and biogeography of the dung beetle genus Onthophagus inferred from mitochondrial genomes

Hoban S, et al.  Finding the genomic basis of local adaptation: Pitfalls, practical solutions, and  future directions. The American Naturalist.  doi/pdfplus/10.1086/688018

Hellweger FL et al. Advancing microbial sciences by individual-based modeling. Nature Reviews Microbiology. doi:10.1038/nrmicro.2016.62

Nicol S. et al. A management-oriented framework for selecting metrics used to assess habit- and path-specific quality in spatially structured populations.Ecological Indicators

Forbes VE, Galic N. Next-generation ecological risk assessment: Predicting risk from molecular initiation to ecosystem service delivery. Environmental International.

Results produced from NIMBioS research activities are important in measuring our success. 
•  Report your publications  and other products resulting from NIMBioS activities. 
How to Acknowledge NIMBioS
NIMBioS is sponsored by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.