Renee Dale, PhD

I am a NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Danforth Plant Science Center. I graduated from my PhD in December 2019, and graduated my MS in Statistics in May 2021 (thanks to some pandemic delays).

My research focuses on understanding the relationship between variability and plasticity in plants, and developmental decision-making. At the cellular and sub-cellular level, components like genes and proteins form behavioral and dynamical networks that produce emergent properties at higher levels of scale (phenotypes). We can understand what processes are plastic or inflexible by observing behaviors and phenotypes under different conditions, such as drought and during development. This work builds off my PhD research, which focused on cellular processes and enzyme kinetics. I use mathematical modeling, probabilistic, and data-science techniques. (For some background on modeling techniques in plant biology, check out this review.)

As a PhD student, I focused on modeling processes in cell biology using ordinary differential equations (ODEs). My dissertation work looks at the utility of mathematical modeling in biology:

  • enhancing the interpretation of data given the underlying mechanism
  • putting many pieces together to understand their function in system dynamics
  • teaching math modeling to students to improve their confidence and autonomy
  • characterizing best-practices in interdisciplinary collaboration and communication

I am also interested in STEM education. I am particularly interested in making mathematical biology more accessible to experimentalists and the general public alike.

Check out my blog, education resources, and simulations!

I’m also spearheading two mathematical biology communitiy intiatives: Modeling and Beyond, a community for early-career modelers (including people interested in modeling!); and InitMathBio, a collaborative incubator webtool and forum that connects modelers and experimentalsts (still preparing for the formal launch, but feel free to get a jumpstart!)