WOEPPEL, JAMES J.^{1} and DAVID WINSHIP TAYLOR^{2}.* ^{1}Department of Mathematics, Indiana University Southeast, 4201 Grant Line Rd., New Albany, IN 47150; ^{2}Department of Biology, Indiana University Southeast, 4201 Grant Line Rd., New Albany, IN 47150. - __Increasing biology undergraduates' mathematical proficiency through math/biology course using of the computer program MATLAB.__

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