Interdisciplinary Textbooks: Some Examples

  • Berg, H.C., 1993. Random Walks in Biology. Princeton University Press. Written to sharpen the intuition of biologists about the statistics of molecules. The book focuses on diffusion. Topics range from the one-dimensional random walk to the motile behavior of bacteria .
  • Cavalli-Sforza, L.L., 2000. Genes, Peoples, and Languages. North Point Press. A view of the last hundred thousand years of human evolution based on combining information from three disciplines—genetics, archaeology, and linguistics.
  • Denny, M.W., 1993. Air and Water: The Biology and Physics of Life's Media. Princeton University Press. Presentation of the basic principles of physics as they apply to air and water, followed by many interesting biological illustrations (e.g., Why are eggs so fragile?).
  • Edelstein-Keshet, L., 1988. Mathematical Models in Biology. Birkhauser. Summary of modern mathematical methods currently used in modeling, and examples of applications of mathematics to real-life problems.
  • Hoppensteadt, F.C. and Peskin, C.S., 1992. Mathematics in Medicine and the Life Sciences. Springer. Presentation of topics drawn mainly from population biology (e.g., demographics, population biology, epidemics) and physiology (e.g., blood flow, gas exchange, renal countercurrent mechanism, biological clocks and neural control) that have benefited from mathematical modeling and analysis.
  • Howard, J., 2001. Mechanics of Motor Proteins and the Cytoskeleton. Sinauer. Presentation of physical principles (mechanical, thermal, and chemical forces) underlying biomolecular mechanics, followed by a detailed exposition of the structure, mechanics, and force-generation mechanisms of the cytoskeleton and motor proteins.
  • Murray, J.D., 1993. Mathematical Biology (2nd ed.). Springer. Presentation of mathematical models that provide insight into biological processes. Topics include population biology, biological oscillators and switches, pattern formation, biological waves, and infectious disease dynamics.
  • Taubes, C.H., 2001. Modeling Differential Equations in Biology. Prentice Hall. Based on a differential equation course at Harvard designed for life science students who have had only the basics of calculus. In each chapter, mathematical principles pertinent to a biological problem are developed and applied. Each chapter also contains several biological research articles illustrating the power of differential equations and analysis in gaining a deeper understanding of biological questions. These papers deal with topics such as Scope of the AIDS Epidemic in the United States, Experimentally Induced Transitions in the Dynamic Behavior of Insect Populations, and Thresholds in Development.
  • Vogel, S., 1998. Cats' Paws and Catapults: Mechanical Worlds of Nature and People. Norton. An introduction to biomechanics. Compares nature's solutions with those arising from human technology.

From: 3, Instructional Materials and Approaches for Interdisciplinary Teaching

Cover of Bio2010
Bio2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists.
National Research Council (US) Committee on Undergraduate Biology Education to Prepare Research Scientists for the 21st Century.
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2003.
Copyright © 2003, National Academy of Sciences.

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