Dr. Gary G. Sackett Awards
After a B.S. and M.S. in Mathematics at MSU in the early 1960s, Dr. Sackett completed
a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics at the University of Southern California. He held
positions at the University of New Mexico and Idaho State University mathematics departments
and the Idaho National Laboratory before turning to the law. He is now a semi-retired
lawyer in Salt Lake City, with a continuing interest in supporting applied mathematics
students at his alma mater.
Thanks to the generosity of Dr. Sackett, the Department of Mathematical Sciences is able to provide support for students pursuing a PhD degree with a research program in Applied Mathematics. The Gary G. Sackett Scholarships for Academic Excellence in Applied Mathematics were established in 2014, and they are awarded to graduate students pursuing a PhD in mathematics with the research component in the area of Applied Mathematics. The Gary G. Sackett Travel Awards in Applied Mathematics support graduate students in Applied Mathematics by providing travel funds for those who aim to disseminate the results of their dissertation research to their academic peers at national conferences. The travel awards may also support graduate student travel to special summer workshops and institutes that help provide short-term intensive training in the foundational concepts of their research topic from leading experts in their respective fields. Information about the various scholarship recipients is given below.
Chris’ dissertation involves developing statistical methodology to construct clinical endpoints with increased sensitivity to detect slight changes in disease severity in longitudinal data, motivated by collaboration with Dr. Mark Greenwood from Montana State University and Dr. Bibiana Bielekova at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, who are interested in creating a better clinical endpoint for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients. The development of a better outcome scale for patients with MS is important because testing efficacy of treatments in progressive MS using the current scale utilized by the FDA (Expanded Disability Status Scale, EDSS) requires hundreds of patients being followed for 2-3 years, creating a bottleneck for testing efficacy of progressive MS drugs. Through the Gary G. Sackett Fellowship, Chris finalized a dissertation proposal, which he defended and passed on September 18th, 2017.
Currently, Anthony is researching pairwise particle interactions. More specifically, interactions that result in spherical self-assembly. Examples of which include bacterial colonies, micelles, vesicles, viral capsids and patchy particles. Recent work by James von Brecht and David Uminsky (2016) investigated the role anisotropy, or directional dependence, plays in these interactions. Anthony's research is a continuation of von Brecht's and Uminsky's results and an exploration of patterned equilibrium states.
The summer fellowship allowed Tan opportunity to prepare his research to present at the Joint Statistical Meeting 2017 in Baltimore, MD. The fellowship also allowed for his continued work on his PhD dissertation, which consists of creating new methodology in researching constrained monothetic clustering.
Chris used the Gary G. Sackett Travel Grant to attend the Joint Statistical Meetings in Baltimore, MD from July 29th through August 3rd, 2017. This is the largest annual gathering of statisticians and data scientists in North America. Chris presented his research on methodological developments in clinical endpoint construction and attended many presentations on statistical learning methods for analyzing high-dimensional gene expression data. He also met with researchers developing similar methodology and with collaborators at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Robin's research interests lie within the field of Topological Data Analysis - understanding the geometric and topological properties of data sets. With the help of the Gary G. Sackett Travel Grant, she was able to attend the Spring School and Conference in Applied and Computational Algebraic Topology at the Hausdorff Institute for Mathematics (HIM) in Bonn, Germany. During that two week period, Robin was able to meet experts within the field, meet other graduate students from the US and Europe, and gain exposure to several different subfields within Applied Algebraic Topology.
Danielle is working with Dr. Tomas Gedeon and Dr. Stephanie McCalla on a DNA engineering project to understand and enhance a novel DNA test for malaria and other conditions that create unique, identifiable microRNA biomarkers. To put this project in context and learn more about the diversity of systems and synthetic biology topics, Danielle attended a week long summer school in Cambridge, England. Along with presenting her own work, she spent a week immersed with graduate researchers from around the world, learning about the questions synthetic and systems biology topics are being used to address, from the micro field of DNA engineering to macro issues of climate change and environmental clean up. Exploring the exciting issues of these dynamic fields encouraged Danielle to explore how mathematical modeling methods can strengthen the reach of the innovative ideas.
Tan attended the Joint Statistical Meeting 2017 in Baltimore, MD this past summer. The meeting was the largest gathering of statisticians in the world. Tan attended various talks on diverse topics, as well as met many scholarls having similar research interests. Tan's original research on constrained monothetic clustering was presented orally and in a poster session, which generated valuable ideas for his future research.
In his research, Dan has developed a novel visco-elastic fluid flow model which captures the flow of a viscous fluid flowing over a visco-elastic fluid. The purpose of the model is to describe the resulting elastic stress in the visco-elastic fluid. The motivation is to better understand and analyze the common growth of bacterial colonies inside of industrial pipes, catheters etc. He is working under the direction of Dr. Tianyu Zhang.
Nate's research examines mathematical models of biofilm growth and movement mechanisms. Biofilms are attached microbial communities made up of many different components, and they are found throughout nature as well as in industrial and medical settings. Understanding how these biofilms spread is important in helping the prevention and treatment of diseases and to prevent contamination. Under the direction of Dr. Tianyu Zhang, he studies a model that is designed to model the mixing and separating that occurs within a biofilm. The starting point was the Flory- Huggins free energy density and the Cahn-Hilliard Equation. The model balances the energy terms describing the mixing of molecules, the interaction between molecules, and an energy due to sharp changes in composition. Nate's work also introduces a new term into the energy model that allows the components of the biofilm to move around within the biofilm. This term addresses the movement energy and gives preference to certain locations within the domain for where the biofilm should be in order to minimize the energy. In some cases it acts as an attachment term giving preference to the entire biofilm being at the bottom of the domain - simulating a biofilm attached to a wall or bottom of a stream. Numerical implementations in one and two space dimensions using a finite difference method in C++ are used to explore various aspects of the model.
Chris will use the money provided through Gary Sackett to attend the University of Washington Summer Institute in Statistics for Big Data. The Institute consists of 5 two-and-a-half-day short courses (modules) covering various aspects of the collection, preprocessing, analysis, and interpretation of biomedical big data. This is a subject area that combines many aspects of statistical learning, computer science, and applied mathematics. Each of the five modules are taught by 2 instructors who are leading experts in their respective fields, both at UW and from around the country. Attending will benefit his research involving high-dimensional data analysis with his adviser Dr. Mark Greenwood as well as their long term collaboration with researchers at the National Institutes of Health working involving the analysis of CSF proteins in Multiple Sclerosis patients.
Eric used the money provided to attend the Second Chicago Summer School in Geometry and Topology at the University of Chicago. The emphasis of this year's summer school was on algebraic topology, a current area of research and interest for Eric. The summer school consisted of 4 lectures a day, followed by problem sessions in the evenings to enhance comprehension. Eric currently has research projects in topological data analysis and topological methods in the study of dynamical systems.
Diana attended the Séminaire de Mathématiques Supérieures in Biological Dynamics, June 2016 at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. This summer intensive included lectures and group work on methods for modeling reaction kinetics, molecular networks, pattern formation, epidemics, and populations. Diana is currently studying population dynamics of microbial consortia and the conditions under which cooperative behavior and specialization emerge.
2014-2015 Scholarship Recipients
Tamra's research focuses on constructing stochastic models describing transcription of DNA by RNA polymerases while incorporating new breakthroughs found in single-molecule experiments. One of the results of these experiments is that the torsional forces applied to a DNA strand by an RNA polymerase during transcription can be measured and connected with transcriptional velocity. In a paper published in Science in 2013, experimentalists were able to measure the torque and its relationship to both transcriptional pausing and velocity. Using these results to incorporate torque into a basic stochastic model, her numerical simulation results agree well with transcription times observed experimentally and reported within the literature. After finishing her PhD in May of 2016, Tamra joined Los Alamos National Laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow.
Ben's research is highly interdisciplinary, and his dissertation work involved two projects developing and parameterizing two flow channel models in collaboration with experimenters in the department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences as well as MSU’s Center for Biofilm Engineering (CBE). The first model, which used data Ben and others collected at Mushroom Spring in Yellowstone National Park, estimated erosion and adhesion rates of cells settling in the flow of one of the spring's effluent channels. The second model, a work in collaboration with the CBE, used a Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method to estimate parameters in a biomineralization application.
Dan's research area is applied mathematics with an emphasis in computational fluid dynamics and a specific application to the viscoelastic flow of a biofilm. Working under the direction of Dr. Tianyu Zhang, he is using a novel model to capture viscoelastic biofilm behavior for the purpose of predicting mechanical stresses on the inside of a biofilm. Should such stresses exceed a biofilm dependent attachment threshold, detachment can be predicted. Subsequently, scouring information could be generated to facilitate biofilm volume reductions along the inside of a contaminated pipe.
Ryan plans to enter the medical field combining his interests in mathematical biology and immunology. His research includes several projects studying diverse biological systems with a variety of mathematical and statistics tools. In particular, these projects include exploring the role of cytokines in immune response regulation, looking at hepatocyte lineages and regeneration from stem cells, understanding the kinetics of co-encapsulated enzymes, and analyzing the CRISPR adaptive immune system in bacteria. As a part of these projects, Ryan has participated in a variety of collaborations with biochemist, biologist, and immunologist, even starting a collaboration with a friend and colleague studying biochemistry at the University of Indiana. This collaboration has lead to a publication exploring the function of enzymes when they are confined in viral cages both individually and in tandem (forming a molecular pathway).
Danielle attended the Atlantic Association for Research in the Mathematical Sciences and Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences Summer School in Differential Equations and Numerical Analysis at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Of the four courses offered, she took courses on waves and patterns in nonlinear systems and numerical analysis of singularly perturbed problems with a group of 40 other students.
Tamra presented her research on Torque on Transcription at the XIII International Conference on Systems Biology in Zurich, Switzerland. Her presentation was titled “You Spin Me Round: A Mathematical Discussion of Torque on Transcription.” She was also invited to be the session chair for the conference. Tamra’s research focuses on modeling stochastically the transcription of DNA by RNA polymerases while incorporating new breakthroughs found in single-molecule experiments.
Diana attended the Joint 2015 CAMBAM-MBI-NIMBioS Summer School at Mcgill University in Montreal, Canada, and had the opportunity to work with a small group using XXPAUT to investigate and present the bifurcation diagram of the Hodgkin-Huxley equations.
Diana’s current research is with Dr. Tomas Gedeon and a group from the Chemical and Biological Engineering department to model microbiome communities. In her research, the metabolic pathways of E. Coli bacteria are modeled using a deterministic model and reaction kinetics. They are then looked at in the context of bacterial communities where the modeled bacteria adapt to being able to work together to maximize the growth of the community. Many of the computational and mathematical tools discussed during the summer school have been helpful in the development and analysis of this model.
Michael attended Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia to take a course in Reaction-Diffusion Systems to help better understand his research on improving mathematical models of biofilm growth, as well as the numerical simulations of these models.