Although various levels of mathematics are required of undergraduate biology majors, usually through calculus, students seem to rarely realize the importance of math for addressing biological problems. We, a mathematician and a botanist, developed a course, with NSF funding, for second year majors. The required prerequisite courses were introductory biology and college algebra. The purpose of the course was to introduce the students to a broad spectrum of mathematical concepts that have application to biological problems. Our goals were to 1) have students begin building a background of advanced mathematical concepts; 2) develop students' application skills so they can use these concepts; 3) increase the students' abilities to solve biological problems with mathematics and mathematical computer programs; 4) improve the students' understanding of the limits of biological and mathematical models and 5) develop the students' appreciation of the importance of mathematics. The units in the course had the same structure: 1) introduction to the biological topic; 2) presentation of a problem; 3) group work to create a heuristic solution of the problem; 4) introduction of the mathematical concepts applicable to the topic; 5) solution of problem using the mathematical concepts through MATLAB; and 6) introduction of similar problems to be solved by the students. The use of examples, problem solving and take-home exam projects reinforced the use of the mathematical concepts. Assessment of the course revealed that students thought that they had a better understanding of the advance mathematical concepts they were introduced, were able functionally solve problems by using MATLAB, and had a strong appreciation for the advantages and disadvantages of models, than through traditional math courses.

Key words: biology, mathematics, MATLAB, problem solving, teaching, undergraduate