If You Build It They Will Come: A Biomathematical Approach to Restoration

Simpson Colloquium SC 101- If You Build It They Will Come: A Biomathematical Approach to Restoration

For 200 years, humans have destroyed, altered, or manipulated our natural habitat. In Iowa, 99.9% of prairie habitat has been altered from its original state to make way for farming and urban development. Restoration is the process of helping to heal those habitats. In the words of biodiversity expert E. O. Wilson, “Here is the means to end the great extinction spasm. The next century will…be the era of restoration in ecology.” We will take an interdisciplinary approach to restoration using biomathematics. We will learn about restoration methods for habitats, from wetlands to prairies to savannahs. We will focus on local restorations: visiting sites, collecting and analyzing samples, and using statistical models to evaluate restoration success. No background in biology or mathematics will be assumed in the class.

Meet Your ProfessorHeidi-Berger3-296x167

Heidi Berger, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Mathematics

I completed my B.A. at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA with majors in mathematics and physics and a minor in English. I have also been fascinated by the interface between mathematics and science. In high school and college, I worked in my father’s lab analyzing the structure of glass. I love seeing how mathematics can be used to describe the patterns found in nature.

My curiosity in mathematics and its applications led me to complete a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I started at Simpson College in 2008 and I maintain my interests in mathematics as applied to science. In the past six years, I have worked with Dr. Meyer on four different undergraduate research projects dealing with insect population models and prairie restoration. I think this is a gorgeous field and I’m very excited to introduce you to it this fall in our SC 101 course.

When I am not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my husband Howard and son Max. We especially like cooking, watching movies, reading books, and traveling. My goal is to visit all 50 states and all 7 continents.

Meet Your ProfessorClint-Meyer

Clint Meyer, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biology

I started out in life as a farm kid in Nebraska. I think many hours spent outdoors, learning about plants and pests, upland game birds, fish, and all kinds of things either from my parents and grandparents, or by mucking through the “crick” on a summer day, helped me to start being interested in how the world works. However, the more I learned the more I realized how much more I had to learn. So, after several changes in my college major, I realized the best way, at least for me, to do this was to become a biology major. I consider myself an ecologist, which means I study the way living organisms interact with each other and the non-living parts of the world, like soil and water. It turns out I still have a lot to learn about all of these things, and it’s exciting to know that I will never run out of things to learn, but I will keep trying. In my courses, I like to see students thinking about biology in ways they might not have thought about before, and to see where they fit in the scheme of things. Humans are animals after all, so we are all part of global ecology, regardless of upbringings, college majors, or careers.

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my wife and playing music, gardening, watching movies and hanging out with our dog Daisy. My professional focus is on plants and insects. My most recent research has centered around the response of plants and insects to restoration of endangered habitats such as wetlands and prairies. I was initially intrigued by plants and bugs because they have the highest diversity of any other group (except maybe bacteria). No matter what your personal favorite aspect of the natural world, plants and insects are important in some critical ways. Also, these are two of the most important groups that humans depend on for food, medicine, recreation, and a whole lot more.

Meet Your SC LeaderScreen Shot 2014-03-05 at 10.09.25 AM

Erin Boggess

Hi guys!

My name is Erin Boggess, and I will be your SC Leader for A Biomathmatical Approach to Restoration, taught by Heidi Berger and Clint Meyer. I was raised in Urbandale, Iowa along with my younger brother and 2 dogs. I went to Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines, Iowa and was involved with cross country, track, tutoring, student ambassadors, and National Honors society. I will be a sophomore at Simpson in the fall and am currently studying math, biology, and chemistry. In the past year at Simpson, I ran cross country and track, competed in the Math Modeling Competition, did some cool undergraduate research projects, got involved with religious life, joined the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma, and made a ton of new friends! In my free time, I love to read, run, nap, and listen to music, especially ‘90s music because it’s the best. My favorite place to eat is Tropical Sno, and my favorite food is any kind of potatoes. I am a math and science geek and really love the departments here at Simpson. Simpson is such a great college, and I cannot wait for you all to be a part of it next year! Feel free to Facebook friend me or email me (erin.boggess@my.simpson.edu) if you have questions or just want to introduce yourself. See you all soon!

Meet Your Writing FellowAlec McIntosh

Alec McIntosh

Hey everybody!

My name is Alec McIntosh. I will be a sophomore for the 2014-2015 school year as well as the writing fellow for “A Biomathematical Approach to Restoration” with Heidi Berger and Clint Meyer. I am a Forensic Science and Mathematics major and I plan to go to medical school after Simpson to pursue being a medical examiner.

When not on campus, I reside in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where I graduated valedictorian of my 300+ high school class. I am just as involved here at Simpson in regards to academics and leadership as I was in high school.

I would like to consider myself an honest and outgoing person. I enjoy learning and I will do some unusual things when it comes to academics like buying my own temperature probe for no particular reason or asking for a touch screen calculator for Christmas. I like to read classic literature during my spare time. My favorite works are by a genius named Ernest Hemingway. I also enjoy watching movies. I look forward to meeting you all and making your transition to college life as smooth as possible.

If you have any questions about me, the SC class, or Simpson in general, DON’T HESITATE to look me up on Facebook and ask! I look forward to getting to know all of you and meeting you in August.


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