Mathematical Biology Unit (Robert Sinclair)

Unit outline

Robert Sinclair

Mathematical Biology Unit

Associate Professor Robert Sinclair

sinclair at




Biology will inspire and motivate new mathematics in the years to come, much as physics has done for many centuries. In other words, there is mathematical gold to be found in biology. How can we find it? There is no simple way to do this, so, like anyone else who wants to find gold, we must dig for it.

For that reason, the primary activity of our unit is to work with biologists on actual biological projects. This interdisciplinary, collaborative aspect of our work is essential to ensure that, as mathematicians, we do not become isolated and our work irrelevant. There is however a deeper reason for choosing to study biological systems before we can see the mathematical goal. This reason is evolution. Life itself has evolved in very specific ways over immense periods of time, continuously solving problems. Life itself is, therefore, a complex solution to a complex problem. Life itself contains an enormous richness of inter-relationships and structures. Thus, mathematics is already there, but it is not necessarily in that language of mathematics which we humans have created.

The long-term goal is therefore to find not only new mathematical structures, but also to enrich mathematical language to be able to express what nature has already found.