Marc Mangel


I am Distinguished Professor of Mathematical Biology Emeritus in the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of California Santa Cruz, Professor of Biology Emeritus in the Theoretical Ecology Group (Visit the TEG) at the University of Bergen, Norway and Affiliate Research Professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma. In my first job out of graduate school, I worked for the Operations Evaluation Group (OEG) of the Center for Naval Analyses doing operations research for the Navy. I moved to UC Davis in 1980 with the intention of doing OEG-style work, but with applications to fisheries and agriculture, and to UC Santa Cruz in 1996. I retired from formal teaching and administrative work in 2013 but continued an active research program with extramural grant support through 2022 and continue to do research. I am broadly interested in using mathematical methods to solve problems that arise in biology (especially ecology, evolution, and behavior) and work in what Donald Stokes called, in a wonderful book of the same name, Pasteur's Quadrant of use-inspired research, where a search for fundamental understanding is motivated by an important applied problem

Current Research Projects

I have two current research projects.

The Organism in Its World - Decision Making Bridging Ecology and Subjective Cognition : It is my opinion that state dependent life history theory as implemented by stochastic dynamic programming (and illustrated in my books and papers) will remain a very powerful tool for understanding the behavior of organisms in their worlds. At the same time, it is not likely that organisms do stochastic dynamic programming in their brains, and for many years I have collaborated with colleagues at the University of Bergen to seek alternative methods with higher fidelity to nature for modeling how organims make decisions. Some of the papers on this topic are

2003 Giske, J., Mangel, M., Jakobsen, P., Huse, G., Wilcox, C. and E. Strand. Explicit trade-off rules in proximate adaptive agents. Evolutionary Ecology Reseach 5:835-865.

2013 Giske, J., Eliassen, S., Fiksen, O., Jakobsen, P.J., Aksnes, D.L., Jorgensen, C., and M. Mangel. Effects of the emotion system on adaptive behavior. The American Naturalist 182:689-703

2014 Giske,J., Eliassen, S., Fiksen,O., Jakobsen, P.J., Aksnes,D.L., Mangel, M. and C. Jorgensen The emotion system promotes diversity and evolvability. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281 20141096

and (which is the best introduction to our work)

2019 Budaev, S., Jorgensen, C., Mangel, M., Eliassen, S., and J. Giske. Decision-making from the animal perspective: Bridging ecology and subjective cognition. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. May 2019, Volume 7, Article 164. There are many other papers on this topic on which I am not a co-author; they can be found at the (web site of the Theoretical Ecology Group in Bergen ). I am currently working on a new version of the models with the goal of simplifying the computational methods in order to make them more generally accessible and applying the approach to a wider variety of organisms (including plants) to help people see the broad sweep of these ideas. This work started in summer 2022, so stay tuned for results.

Population Biology and Cybersecurity : Since July 2018, I have been working with colleagues at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory with the intention of using models from population biology to inform various aspects of cyber-security. Since June 2020, like many of my colleagues, I have also been helping colleagues at APL think about testing for covid-19, both at APL and in Howard County, MD (where APL is located) more generally. Our cyber work is slowly appearing. The first paper is

2021 Mangel, M. and J. McEver. Modeling coupled nonlinear multilayered dynamics: Cyber attack and disruption of an electric grid. Complexity Research Article Modeling Coupled Nonlinear Multilayered Dynamics: Cyber Attack and Disruption of an Electric Grid and two of our coronavirus reports are

2021 Brown, A. and M. Mangel. Operational Analysis for Coronavirus Testing. Recommendations for Practice. Report, National Security Analysis Division, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

2021 Mangel, M. and A. Brown. Operational Analysis for Coronavirus Testsing. Report, National Security Analysis Division, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory with a third currently in review.

My Approach to Mathematical Biology

I use mathematical models, experiments, and field observations to understand organisms and how interact with each other and the rest of the environment. I have worked on a variety of systems, including insect parasitoids, tephritid fruit flies, marine mammals, southern ocean krill, steelhead trout, Pacific rockfish, and planaria. You can find out more details about what I have done by looking at my publications page.