Ecological risk assessment (ERA) is an area of national and international concern, and is increasingly being driven by the need for a mathematical underpinning that addresses relevant biological complexities at numerous scales.
A major challenge in assessing the impacts of toxic chemicals on ecological systems is the development of predictive linkages between chemically-caused alterations at molecular and biochemical levels of organization and adverse outcomes on ecological systems.
In April, the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) will host an Investigative Workshop on “Predictive Models for ERA.” The workshop will bring together a multidisciplinary group of molecular and cell biologists, physiologists, ecologists, mathematicians, computational biologists, and statisticians to explore the challenges and opportunities for developing and implementing models that are specifically designed to mechanistically link between levels of biological organization in a way that can inform ecological risk assessment and ultimately environmental policy and management. The focus will be on predictive systems models in which properties at higher levels of organization emerge from the dynamics of processes occurring at lower levels of organization.
Specific goals are to (1) identify advantages and limitations of various predictive systems models to connect chemically caused changes in organismic and suborganismic processes with outcomes at higher levels of organization that are relevant for environmental management; (2) identify the criteria that models of this kind have to fulfill in order to be useful for informing ecological risk assessment and management; and (3) propose a series of recommendations for further action.
Co-organizing the workshop are Valery Forbes, professor and director of the School of Biological Sciences at University of Nebraska, Lincoln and Richard Rebarber, professor of mathematics, also at UNL.
If you have an interest in these topics, the workshop is still accepting applications. The application deadline is Jan. 20, 2014. Individuals with a strong interest in the topic, including post-docs and graduate students, are encouraged to apply. Click here for more information and on-line registration.
NIMBioS Investigative Workshops focus on broad topics or a set of related topics, summarizing/synthesizing the state of the art and identifying future directions. Organizers and key invited researchers make up approximately one half the 30-40 participants in a workshop, and the remaining 15-20 participants are filled through open application from the scientific community. If needed, NIMBioS can provide support (travel, meals, lodging) for Workshop attendees.