Mathematics Faculty: Leif Zinn-Brooks

Leif Zinn-Brooks, PhD, specializes in mathematical biology. Zinn-Brooks’ PhD thesis focused on modeling the development of the lateral line (a sensory system akin to the human auditory system) in zebrafish. The lateral line is established in a zebrafish embryo when a collective of cells migrates from head to tail, depositing smaller cell clusters along its journey. These clusters later become the sensory organs that make up the lateral line. During a postdoc at UCLA, he worked on modeling circadian rhythms in multinucleate cells, motivated by the fungus Neurospora crassa, which is able to maintain a robust circadian rhythm across many nuclei at very low mRNA transcription levels. He also worked with an undergraduate student on simulating rolling paths of ball-rolling dung beetles.

Zinn-Brooks particularly enjoys teaching mathematical modeling courses, where he introduces students to the myriad of ways that mathematics can be used to study biological problems. He was the recipient of a UCLA departmental teaching award for the 2019-20 academic year. Recently, at Harvey Mudd and Claremont McKenna College, Zinn-Brooks has started teaching Intro to Statistics courses. For the last two summers, he has been developing a new statistics course: Data, Probability and Statistics for Engineers (MATH56). This course will begin to be taught this fall.

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