Second Messenger Control Systems is a course in practical
mathematical modeling of biological systems. I have taught this
course or one like it for 20 years. Students have always come to
this course with widely differing backgrounds and experiences.
Some have great depth in their mathematical or engineering
training; others are already deeply involved in a particular
research project in experimental biology. Judging from the
comments of former students, the course is surprisingly
successful at accomodating the needs of both beginners and
experienced biologists. In part this is because the course is a
project course in which each of you will, at your own pace,
construct a dynamic model of a cellular system that is of
interest to you.
My secret to keeping your interest is simple.
You choose your own project, and you work on it every moment you
can spare for a full semester. If you choose a system that
interests you, the more you explore it, the more interesting it
gets. We are scheduled to spend 2 hours each week in
lecture/discussion and 2 hours each week at the computers. If you
will devote from 4 to 8 out-of-class hours a week to this course,
there is an excellent chance that you will discover something
about your biological system that no one has ever known before.
In other words, I'm asking you to make the transition from
learning what has been learned by others to learning something
new for yourself. My predictions are based on years of experience
with students who had backgrounds like yours. I am confident that
if you make time for this course, you will succeed in finding, as
Jacob Bronowski said, "...a secret of nature open in the
palm of your hand".