Breaking Bad: Fragmentation of Bacterial Flocs

Start: 11/07/2012 - 4:15pm
End  : 11/07/2012 - 5:15pm


Erin Byrne, Harvey Mudd College


The presence of bacteria in the bloodstream, or bacteremia, can have serious conse- quences. The im-mune response to bacteremia frequently causes sepsis, the tenth most common cause of death in the United States. Treatment can be complicated by the tendency of the bacteria to be found in aggregate form (called ”flocs”), surrounded by a protective film that interferes with the host defense strategies.
How can mathematics help guide the treatment of this deadly condition? Since the body handles single bacteria and bacterial flocs differently, understanding the distribution of floc sizes in bacterial colonies is vital. In this talk, we’ll discuss how we can model the evolution of bacterial floc popu- lations using partial differential equations. Floc fragmentation is an integral part of the model, so we’ll look specifically at how flocs break up in flow - with some surprising results!

Millikan 134, Pomona College

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