Debra Knisley's Home Webpage


Professor of Mathematics
Director of the Institute for Quantitative Biology
Gilbreath Hall Room 307B
423) 439-6975

Director of  the Institute for Quantitative Biology:

Building upon a rich history of collaboration between the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and the Department of Biological Sciences, the Institute promotes interdisciplinary research and instruction at the interface of computational and life sciences. Our membership spans six colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business and Technology, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health.


Professor of Mathematics:

The Department of Mathematics and Statistics offers a rich environment for student learning. Students frequently conduct joint research  projects with the faculty, travel to professional meetings where they present their findings and participate in other activities outside the classroom. The Department offers both a B.S. and M.S. in Mathematics which prepares them for a wide range of career choices.


My Research

My research is in the field of Computational Biology. In my research, I use networks (graph-theoretic models) to model biomolecular structures such as RNA, DNA and proteins. Using these models, we attempt to quantify the structural, biophysical and biochemical properties so that we may apply machine learning techniques to reveal their features. This helps us to identify the roles these molecules play within the biological systems in which they occur.  Membrane proteins are a class of proteins that are becoming of increasing importance. We are studying the structure, function and dynamics of the cystic fibrosis conductance regulator protein, an ATP Binding Cassette Membrane Protein.

Professional Service

Elected to the Board of Directors for the MidSouth Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Society- An affiliate of the International Society for Computational Biology (2012-2015) MCBIOS

Co-Chair of the Organizing Committee for the 25th Annual Cumberland Conference on Combinatorics, Graph Theory and Computing  to be held May 10-12, 2012 Cumberland25


 Former Students

SUMMA: Strengthening Underrepresented Minorities in Mathematical Achievement:  ETSU SUMMA 2008:  Discrete Mathematical Models in Molecular Biology: Solutions for the future ETSU SUMMA 2007: Biomolecular Graphs ETSU SUMMA 2005: Graphs with applications in biology and computer science ETSU SUMMA 2004: Graph-theoretic analysis of RNA



B.S. (1976) Tennessee Technological University
M.S. (1979) Tennessee Technological University
Ph.D. (1989) University of Memphis

Recent (selected) Publications:

Institutes: Mathematics-

Institutes: Computational Biology-

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