Katherine Sweebe » Fall 2016 URS Student Profiles – NMSU

Katherine Sweebe

Major: Mathematics Mentor: Dr. Jianjun Paul Tian, Associate ProfessorMathematical Sciences at New Mexico State University
Home Phone: URS Fall 2016
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Biographical Info

Personal Statement

I currently attend New Mexico State University and am majoring in Mathematics.  During my first two years of schooling, I studied Fine Arts.  I developed a love for mathematics by studying renaissance artists and architects.  After a few degree changes, I found myself finally majoring in and conducting research in a field I love.  I currently am studying the dynamics of microglial cell populations in a normal brain.  My research is being conducted under Dr. JianJun Tian.

My current research applies mathematical modeling to biological processes.  Microglial cells are the primary immune defense of the central nervous system.  Microglia were long thought to be passive cells but current research shows that microglia are much more active than we once thought.  A glioma is a type of tumor that starts in the central nervous system that arises from glial cells.  Immune responses to glioma have dual functions, dependent upon the type of activation that microglia undergo.  One of the responses fights tumor growth while the other appears to aid tumor growth.  Understanding the function and dynamics of microglia aids in gaining a greater understanding of the seemingly paradoxical immune responses to glioma.



Microglia are the primary response of the central nervous system (CNS).  The impermeability of the blood brain barrier requires the central nervous system to have resident immune cells.  These immune cells are known as microglia.  The dynamics of microglial cell populations in a normal brain can aid in the further understanding of these enigmatic cells.  Resting microglia scan the CNS until a perturbation is found, whence they activate.  This activation can be beneficial or harmful.  Through further understanding of the dynamics of microglial cell populations in a normal brain, we can gain further insight to what might be happening within the microenvironment of a glioma.  Microglial cell populations in a normal brain are thought to be maintained through self-renewal and natural death.  A number of various factors, such as cytokines or the condition of the blood brain barrier, affect the rate at which microglial cell populations proliferate.  We propose that microglial cell populations in a normal brain are logistic.  We aim to be able to model our hypothesis and to be able to use our model to determine cell populations per capita and the state of homeostasis.