Vowel shift
Cheatgrass spread model
Rocky Mountain National Park


My research typically involves a lead role in collaborations that span multiple fields of science and mathematics, and have included teams of up to twelve researchers. Much of my work is computational in nature and implemented in Python with various efficiency tweaks (parallel processing, GPU computation, C libraries) as needed. Some examples of my code can be found on my Github page.

Currently, my work focuses on epidemic modeling of opioid addiction, wind- and water-based movement of organisms under various behavioral regimes, pattern formation in locust swarms, and the cultural dynamics of bird song. I advise two graduate students in mathematics, with one former graduate student starting a tenure-track position in the Fall of 2020.

Past research projects include aerial dispersal of seeds and parasitoid wasps over multiple scales. In the latter case, having formulated a new mathematical model for wasp spread, I developed CUDA powered software in Python that provides meter-scale resolution results over an area nearly 20 km^2 in size. Bayesian inference is used to fit the parameters to field data.

I have also worked on the development of a savanna model that explores how savanna ecosystems are dependent upon various climatic variables and fire disturbance. Using a mathematically transparent model for water resource availability and stand structure, we demonstrated how seasonal rainfall distribution, and esp. seasonal drought, can act as the primary determinant for stand structure through soil water dynamics, with frequent fire disturbance able to reduce population from a climatically stable state.


Dr. Tricia Phillips: (Birmingham-Southern College, 2020) Tricia received her PhD from the mathematical biology program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2020. For her dissertation, she built and analyzed models of opioid and heroin addiction and a discrete-time model of population structure in non-lethal harvest scenarios. Both projects were highly data-driven and involved a significant computational aspects.

Leigh Pearcy: Leigh is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is currently exploring the effect of stratification in susceptibility with regard to opioid and heroin addiction, and is interested in the analysis and implications of relaxing the well-mixing assumption with regard to contact-based routes of addiction.

David Elzinga: David is a mathematical biology graduate student who is conducting research on bee colony dynamics in the presence of pesticides and other stressors and biotic modeling of species spatial distributions in the context of niche modeling. He has also published papers on the sylvatic plague in prairie dog towns (Natural Resource Modeling, 2020) and vaccination strategies to control white-nose syndrome in bat colonies (Ecological Modelling, 2019), and completed an internship at Liberty Mutual working in the area of machine learning (2021).

Kimberlyn Eversman: Kimberlyn is conducting research on the interface of dynamical systems and fluid dynamics using computational approaches including Planktos and IB2d. She is currently studying models of small organism movement toward targets in the context of fluid flow.


Owen Queen: Owen is mathematics and computer science major studying agent-based models of opioid and heroin addiction on social networks. He uses a combination of mathematical modeling, Python- and NetLogo-based computation, and statistical analysis carried out in R to conduct his research. Owen Queen is a 2021 Goldwater Scholar and is interested in going to graduate school in bioinformatics.


Vincent Jodoin: (Farragut High School, 2021) A mathematics major, Vinny helped formulate and implement a novel agent-based model for opioid and heroin addiction which acts on social networks in NetLogo. He is interested in teaching and also plans to attend graduate school in mathematics.

Ao Zeng: (Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science Masters Program, 2017) Majoring in mathematics and computer science, Ao implemented novel network formation algorithms in Python. His focus is on efficient routines and data structures within a scalable, object-oriented framework for model testing.

James Zak: (KPMG, Strategic Profitability Insights group, 2018) Majoring in mathematics and mathematical decision sciences, James successfully defended his honors thesis with highest honors. His focus is on the mathematical analysis of random networks and how they compare to real networks in technological and social contexts.

Leigh Pearcy: (University of Tennessee, Knoxville Mathematics PhD Program, 2018) Majoring in mathematics and a participant in the UNC BEST program, Leigh helped create and analyze mathematical models for the opiod and heroin epidemic based on epidemiological principles and CDC data.


Selected Journal Publications

Phillips, Lenhart, Strickland (2021)

    A data-driven mathematical model of the heroin and fentanyl epidemic in Tennessee. Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, 83(97).

Senter, Douglas, Strickland, Thomas, Talkington, Miller, Battista (2020)

    A semi-automated finite difference mesh creation method for use with immersed boundary software including IB2d and IBAMRBioinspiration & Biomimetics, 16, 016008.

Bernoff, Culshaw-Maurer, Everett, Hohn, Strickland, Weinburd (2020)

    Agent-based and continuous models of hopper bands for the Australian plague locust: How resource consumption can mediate pulse formation and geometryPLOS Computational Biology, 16(5), e1007820.

Ozalp, Miller, Dombrowski, Braye, Dix, Pongracz, Howell, Klotsa, Pasour, Strickland (2020)

    Experiments and agent based models of zooplankton movement within complex flow environmentsBiomimetics, 5(1), 2.

Battista, Pearcy, Strickland (2019)

    Modeling the opioid epidemic. Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, 81(7), 2258-2289. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Bulletin of Mathematical Biology. The final authenticated version is available online at

Some press:

Battista, Strickland, Barrett, Miller (2018)

    IB2d Reloaded: an updated Python and MATLAB implementation of the immersed boundary method. Mathematical Methods in the Applied Sciences, 41(18), 8455-8480.

Strickland, Kristensen, Miller (2017)

    Inferring stratified parasitoid dispersal mechanisms and parameters from coarse data using mathematical and Bayesian methodsRoyal Society Interface, 14, 20170005. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of the article published in Royal Society Interface. The final version is available online at

Anonymous reviewer: "...the methodology is excellent and the study serves as an exemplar of the use of Bayesian methods to estimate parameters in a mechanistic mathematical model and is applicable to modelling in any field, not just dispersal."

Anonymous reviewer: "I think the paper will be interesting and useful to a broad audience of scientists across an array of fields, and fits perfectly with the aims and scope of Journal of Royal Society Interface."

Strickland, Miller, Santhanakrishnan, Hamlet, Battista, Pasour (2017)

    Three-dimensional low Reynolds number flows near biological filtering and protective layersFluids, 2(62).

Battista, Strickland, Miller (2017)

    IB2d: An easy to use immersed boundary method in 2D, with multiple options for fiber-structure models with possible porosity, advection-diffusion, and/or artificial forcingBioinspiration & Biomimetics, 12(3).

Strickland, Liedloff, Cook, Dangelmayr, Shipman (2016)

    The role of fire and water in driving tree dynamics in Australian savannasJournal of Ecology, 104(3), 828-840.

Strickland, Dangelmayr, Shipman, Kumar, Stohlgren (2015)

    Network spread of invasive species and infectious diseasesEcological Modelling, 309-310, 1-9.

Strickland, Dangelmayr, Shipman (2014)

    Modeling the presence probability of invasive plant species with nonlocal dispersalJournal of Mathematical Biology 69(2), 297-294

Shipman, Faria, Strickland (2013)

    Towards a continuous population model for natural language vowel shiftJournal of Theoretical Biology, 332, 123, 135

Upcoming Publications

Strickland, Battista, Miller

    Planktos: An agent-based modeling framework for computational fluid dynamics. In preparation.

Queen, Jodoin, Pearcy, Strickland

    Agent-based dynamics of a SPAHR opioid model on social network structures. In preparation.

Pearcy, Lenhart, Strickland

    TBD. In preparation.

Phillips, Strickland, Lenhart

    Lethal and nonlethal harvest of African Mahogany in Benin. In preparation.


Society for Mathematical Biology Annual Meeting 2019: Montreal, Canada

Modeling Movement and Persistence of Small Organisms in Flow

SIAM Conference on Mathematics of Planet Earth 2018

Modelling the opioid epidemic


NIMBioS, Mathematical Biology Seminar 2017

Watch online! Modelling invasion at multiple scales

BIOMATH 2017: Kruger National Park, South Africa

Modelling the spread of parasitoid wasps from point release

Research Links

Laura Miller, Ph.D. Lab Website (Math Physiology Lab at UNC)

Nick Battista, Ph.D. (Mathematical biologist specializing in

    computational fluid dynamics. Maintains IB2d.)

Patrick Shipman, Ph.D. (Mathematical biologist specializing in pattern


NIMBioS (National Institute for Mathematical and Biological


Leigh (undegraduate math major) and Nick (graduate student in Laura Miller's lab) writing down a model for heroin and opioid addiction.