Byline: Dianna Padilla, State University of New York at Stony Brook Billie J. Swalla, University of Washington Brian Tsukimura, California State University at Fresno

Newswise — Why can some animals respond to climate change, while others cannot? How do animals develop properly when conditions change? How do animals respond quickly or build new neural pathways but maintain past abilities and function? These questions have perplexed biologists for decades. The challenge in addressing these questions is that biological systems are complex, and they operate at many different spatial scales and time scales simultaneously. Thus, the conventional tools of biologists limit the advances that can be made. New approaches are needed to make progress in answering these important questions for animal biology.

What new insights might be gleaned when engineers and mathematicians work with biologists to answer these fundamental questions? A special symposium at the 2014 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology annual conference brings together biologists, mathematicians and engineers, who will investigate the potential and power of a new, quantitative organismal systems biology to address these questions.

Speakers include a mix of biologists from different fields, including physiology, neural biology, development, genetics, functional morphology, and ecological and evolutionary biology. They join with mathematicians and engineers and will present work that illustrates the potential power of cross-disciplinary approaches for answering these complex questions. The speakers will also explore how organismal biology can be used to help solve questions that have daunted mathematicians and engineers. Talks will include a wide range of questions from locomotion, physiology, development, networks, and ecology, from the level of genomics to whole organism responses to change. Talks in this symposium will illustrate the power of engineering and quantitative approaches to address and test complex questions, and lead us to a new organismal systems biology.

The symposium will be held Sunday, January 5. Ten speakers will present examples of research and modeling that illustrates how new approaches can help us investigate important questions about complex biological systems, as well as the big questions that remain to be tackled. Immediately following the symposium, complementary posters will be presented. On Monday, January 6 there will be a session of additional complementary papers.

This is an exciting time for organismal biology, and approaching complex systems in new ways. Come and see what all the excitement is about! For further information, please contact: Dianna K. Padilla [email protected] Billie Swalla [email protected] Brian Tsukimura [email protected]


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2014 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology annual conference