Science Undergraduate Students Compete at FURC 2021

March 2021


Daniela Nikolova, Ph.D., a senior instructor in mathematics, and her team of students and alumni competed for the second consecutive year, presenting their research at the Florida Undergraduate Research Conference 2021 (FURC 2021). This year, the team shared their work on the "Symmetric Structures of Viruses."

Nikolova states, "The interesting thing is that the thematic is the same: the Symmetric Structure of Viruses, but the presenters are different from last year, because I enlarged my team with new students from math, computer science, and biochemistry, and new students presented the research. It is an ongoing study that started in December 2019, even before we heard about COVID. Our team comprises 10 students at the moment and one alumni.”

The abstract of the poster reads:

“Symmetric structures and beautiful and powerful mathematical tools that are prevalent in many fields, including virology. Through our previous research project, “The Mathematics and Art Connection,” we have witnessed the usefulness of group theory as it relates to symmetry through our investigation of 2D 17-Wallpaper Groups and the 3D 230-Crystallographic Space Groups. In the field of virology, some viral capsid shells - the protein shell that encapsulates a virus - follow an icosahedral arrangement, which sheds light on virus structure. Through this project, we explore symmetric structures in order to model viruses and aid in the development of better drugs and treatments.”

The team was recently selected to present at the 8th Annual Life Sciences South Florida STEM Undergraduate Research Symposium in April, which will showcase the scientific work of South Florida’s undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) students.