Lydia Bilinsky joins Mathbio Program

Lydia Bilinsky

Lydia Bilinsky joins the Duke University Department of Mathematics as a Visiting Assistant Professor after completing her Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics at Arizona State University's School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. Her primary research interests are mathematical biology and mathematical physiology.

Prior to attending ASU, Lydia received a B.S. in physics and a B.A. in mathematics from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, where she was introduced to the field of mathematical biology by Drs. Trachette Jackson and Patrick Nelson. Lydia carried out her graduate work at ASU under advisor Dr. Steven Baer. Her dissertation work dealt with a topic in mathematical neuroscience, the response of a model of a spiny dendrite to a very slowly rising injected current ramp. She found, using analytic and numerical techniques, that such a ramp can provoke oscillations in spines that are distal from the site of current injection. Dendritic spines have been implicated in memory, and it is possible that this effect is exploited in the brain.

Lydia is interested in devising mathematical and computational models of cellular metabolism. The cell is host to an immense number of biochemical reactions, and no useful model can feature all of them. The task is to identify those reactions which are immediately relevant to the phenomenon we seek to explain, and to model them quantitatively in detail that is sufficient for our purposes. Lydia is currently working on a minimal model of glutathione metabolism in the liver. Glutathione is a major antioxidant and is required by the liver to process toxins such as NAPQI, a byproduct of acetaminophen. Insights gained from this minimal model will be used to modify a more detailed extant model of acetaminophen metabolism due to her mentor Dr. Michael Reed, his collaborator Dr. Fred Nijhout, and others. The goal is to determine recommendations for treatment protocols for patients presenting to the emergency room with acetaminophen poisoning, the leading cause of acute liver failure.

Lydia taught Math 212, Multivariable Calculus, in the Fall 2013 term and will be teaching Math 356, Elementary Differential Equations, in the Spring 2014 term. She is very happy to have joined the mathematical biology team at Duke University.