positions at Idaho State University and Los Alamos National Laboratory. He received a Ph.D. in probability and statistics from Michigan State University in 1969.
James H. White
Professor, Department of Mathematics
University of California
Los Angeles, California
Professor White's work involves the study of the geometric properties of curves and surfaces in three-space. It was in his thesis that he gave the first complete mathematical proof (outlined in the first part of Chapter 6 in this volume) that the linking number of the backbone strands of a closed circular DNA is equal to the twist of one of the backbone strands about the axis plus the writhing number of the axis. Because of this work, he was contacted in 1977 by Francis Crick at the Salk Institute to explain how the supercoiling of the axis of a DNA affected its topology. The answer to Crick's question is included in the second part of Chapter 6, having evolved over the years not only to applications to DNA but also to DNA-protein interactions.
Professor White has been involved with mathematical applications to DNA for almost 18 years, assisting molecular biologists in many laboratories throughout the United States and Europe, including William Bauer at SUNY, Stony Brook and Nicholas Cozzarelli at the University of California, Berkeley. These collaborations have led to the development of the surface linking theory outlined in Chapter 6 and the applications of knot polynomial theory to recombination.
Professor White is a founding member of the Program in Mathematics and Molecular Biology, a National Science Foundation project that has been established to further the advancement of the mathematical sciences in the field of molecular biology. As a member of this group, he has written many articles and has organized several conferences on the applications of geometry and topology to DNA and protein work. He is at the forefront of those encouraging young researchers to work in this new interdisciplinary field. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1968 in the field of differential geometry.