An effort at UNC is involved in understanding key mechanisms in the lung related to defense against pathogens. In diseases ranging from Cystic Fibrosis to asthma, these mechanisms are highly compromised, requiring therapeutic strategies that one would like to be able to quantify or even predict in some way. The Virtual Lung Project has focused on one principal component of lung defense: "the mucus escalator" as it is called in physiology texts. My goal in this lecture, with apologies to Tina Turner, is to give a longwinded answer to "what's math got to do with it?", and at the same time to convey how this collaboration is influencing the applied mathematics experience at UNC.