Our group is funded through the NRF South African Research Chair in Mathematical and Theoretical Physical Biosciences, working on the interface between mathematics and biology. Biological processes and structures are highly complex and adaptive. Using the current mathematical instrument of Newtonian mechanics tends to be a cumbersome way to describe the biological complexity. In order to quantify emergent biological patterns and to investigate their hidden mechanisms, we need to rely on the simplicity of mathematical language. We have focused on developing novel and applying available methods in mathematics, statistics and theoretical physics for unlocking the mechanisms behind realistic biological patterns, especially on how patterns related to the heterogeneity of species distributions and their genetic structures, the hierarchy of biological networks and the size of adaptive traits. We have collaborated with biologists on an international level on various theoretical and applied models of living systems. Through ongoing research, it has become clear that there is currently a drive in the biosciences to develop new mathematical and statistical approaches that are suitable for analysing and forecasting complex living systems.
We currently have two academic staff and five postdoctoral fellows, together with more than ten postgraduate students, actively working on a variety of projects that are designed for developing novel methods in mathematics, statistics and theoretical physics for unlocking the processes and mechanisms behind real emergent patterns in biology. Find out more at http://math.sun.ac.za/hui.