I will establish the Quantitative Biology Research Community at Brandeis University which will consist of undergraduate researchers who, while majoring in different fields of science, will conduct collaborative research on specific biological problems, and function as a single interdisciplinary research group. A key goal of the QBReC program will be maintaining student interest in all the sciences and mathematics despite the grind of large lecture courses they are all subjected to in the first two years, and the specialization that ensues in the later years. Another key goal will be to generate excitement for scientific inquiry in emerging fields of physical and systems biology that combine ideas and methods from diverse sciences. The QBReC program will consist of a lab and lecture course in the first year that introduce students to science in an integrated fashion, combining physics, chemistry, and biology as well as mathematics to describe fundamental problems posed by living systems. In later years students will engage in collaborative research that transcends the boundaries between the science departments at Brandeis.
The QBReC program will serve as a recruiting tool for new science talent that is desperately needed to tackle the many outstanding problems in biology that require the concerted effort of researchers from various disciplines working in teams. Another important aspect of the proposed program is that it will engage graduate students and postdocs from the physical and the life sciences. These senior members of QBReC will help develop and teach the laboratory course which all QBReC students will take in their first year, and serve as their mentors in research. I will give priority to those graduate students and postdocs who are planning on pursuing an academic career at a four-year college. The goal is to give them practical preparation for teaching interdisciplinary courses and supervise interdisciplinary teams of student-researchers at whatever college they end up.