Dr. Brian Yurk

Professor of Mathematics
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Brian Yurk has been teaching in the Department of Mathematics at Hope since 2009. He teaches a variety of courses, including courses in the Calculus sequence and applied mathematics courses like Mathematical Biology and Numerical Analysis.

Dr. Yurk is the advisor of Hope College’s chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon, the national mathematics honor society.

His research is focused on applying mathematics to solve problems in ecology and geology. Undergraduate students in his research group approach problems using a variety of techniques, including field work, analysis of remotely sensed data (satellite and drone imagery), and mathematical and statistical modeling.

Dr. Yurk’s field areas include the cloud forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica, where he works with K. Greg Murray of Hope’s Department of Biology, and the sand dune complexes located along the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan. Dr. Yurk is part of the Hope College Dune Group, which includes several members of the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences.

Areas of Expertise

  • Mathematical biology
  • Applied mathematics
  • Mathematical geology


  • Ph.D., mathematics, Utah State University, 2009
  • B.S., mathematics and geology, Hope College, 2003

Grants, Honors and Awards

  • “Identifying Landslides and Canopy Gaps in the Cloud Forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica, Using High-Resolution Multispectral Satellite Imagery,” Michigan Space Grant, 2019
  • Lord Robert May Prize for best paper published in the Journal of Biological Dynamics in 2017 and 2018 (with co-author Christina Cobbold)
  • “Homogenization Techniques in Ecological and Epidemiological Models,” American Institute of Mathematics SQuaREs Program grant, 2016–18

Selected Publications and Presentations

  • “Mapping Dune Vegetation Using Drones, Ground Photography, and Machine Learning,” presentation with Jackson Krebsbach ’22 at Joint Mathematics Meetings, 2020
  • “Identifying Canopy Gaps in the Monteverde, Costa Rica Cloud Forest Using Very High Resolution Satellite Imagery and Ground-Based Measurements,” presentation at Geological Society of American annual meeting, 2019
  • “Homogenization Techniques for Population Dynamics in Strongly Heterogeneous Landscapes” (with C. Cobbold), Journal of Biological Dynamics, 2018
  • “Homogenization Analysis of Invasion Dynamics in Heterogeneous Landscapes with Differential Bias and Motility,” Journal of Mathematical Biology, 2017
  • “Homogenization of a Directed Dispersal Model for Animal Movement in a Heterogeneous Environment,” Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, 2016
  • “The Role of Extratropical Cyclones in Shaping Dunes along Southern and Southeastern Lake Michigan” (with E. Hansen et al.), Special Paper of the Geological Society of America, 2014

Outside the College

Dr. Yurk enjoys spending time with his family and their two border collies, especially engaging in outdoor activities. His favorite activities are trail running, mountain biking and canoeing, and he loves spending time in the sand dunes, especially during wind storms.

Profile photo of Dr. Brian Yurk
Dr. Brian Yurk

Phone Number616.395.7526

VanderWerf Hall - Room 215 27 Graves Place Holland, MI 49423-3617
A map showing the location for Dr. Brian Yurk VanderWerf Hall - Room 215 27 Graves Place Holland MI 49423-3617