Computational Biology Seminar Series for Undergraduates

Sponsored by the Department of Biological Sciences and the Center for Computation & Technology

Computational Thinking in Biology: The Power and the Peril


Four years after the missed deadline of Biology2010, it can be said that we still are not training American biology students with quantitative skills at even close to a rate to sustain, let alone advance, American biology. Among the expected innovations that are still being hoped for stands computational biology that incorporates numerical, system, and agent models. Examples will be shown across many topics in biology from cellular to organ to organism and population to show how interactive, dynamic, and visual models in biology could advance our understanding of the living world.


Dr. Robert M. Panoff is founder and Executive Director of Shodor, a non-profit education and research corporation in Durham, NC, dedicated to reform and improvement of mathematics and science education through appropriate computational and communication technologies. As PI on several National Science Foundation (NSF) and US Department of Education grants that explore interactions between technology and education, he develops interactive simulation modules that combine standards, curriculum, supercomputing resources and desktop computers. In recognition of Dr. Panoff's efforts in college faculty enhancement and curriculum development, Shodor was named as a NSF Foundation Partner for the revitalization of undergraduate education. In 1998, Shodor established the Shodor Computational Science Institute, which was expanded with NSF funding in 2001 to become the National Computational Science Institute (NCSI). Shodor’s Computational Science Education Reference Desk (CSERD) serves more than 4 million webviews per month as a Pathway portal of the National Science Digital Library. Dr. Panoff consults at several national laboratories and is a frequent presenter at NSF workshops on visualization, supercomputing, and networking. Dr. Panoff received his M.A. and Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Washington University in St. Louis, with both pre- and postdoctoral work at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University. Dr. Panoff received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Wofford College in 2005 in recognition of his leadership in computational science education; he has been selected as for the 2014 SIGCSE Outstanding Contribution to Computer Science Education Award.

Dr. Robert M. Panoff

Shodor Educational Foundation

President and Executive Director