Prominent disease modeller appointed head of UBC Mathematics

UBC Buchanan Courtyard. Photo: UBC.

UBC mathematical biologist Dr. Dan Coombs, whose research focuses on viral disease dynamics and the dynamics of immune receptors on cell surfaces, has been appointed head of the UBC Department of Mathematics.

His term began January 1, 2021.

“UBC's mathematical research is highly ranked, not only nationally, but internationally as well, and I look forward to working with Dan to build on that strength within the department,” said Dean of Science Dr. Meigan Aronson in making the appointment.

“I’d also like to pass on my sincere thanks to Philip Loewen for his leadership of the department over the past years. I’ve appreciated his constructive approach, his incisive analyses, and his unwavering support of the department.”

Over the past year, Dr. Coombs and his team has been supporting the province’s efforts to understand and model the spread of Novel Coronavirus. Dr. Coombs has been a frequent media commentator on the pandemic and has been part of an expert team proving advice to Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, Dr. Mona Nemer.

Along with co-workers, he also recently helped develop innovative single particle tracking algorithms that have enabled improved and insightful interpretation of experimental data from cell biology.

Dr. Coombs obtained his PhD in 2001 from the University of Arizona, went on to hold a postdoctoral position at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and joined UBC in 2003. He’s a member of UBC’s Mathematical Biology Group and Institute of Applied Mathematics.

The UBC Mathematics head search committee consisted of Ailana Fraser, Eric Cytrynbaum, Liam Watson, Fok-Shuen Leung, Marlene Tecson-Golfinopoulos, Thomas Hughes, Cindy Tan, Vanessa Auld, and Meigan Aronson.

Chris Balma
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