Math. Model. Nat. Phenom.
Volume 6, Number 6, 2011Biomathematics Education
|Page(s)||278 - 294|
|Published online||05 October 2011|
Using normal mode analysis in teaching mathematical modeling to biology students
University of Chicago, BSCD, 924 E 57th St, Chicago, IL
Linear oscillators are used for modeling a diverse array of natural systems, for instance acoustics, materials science, and chemical spectroscopy. In this paper I describe simple models of structural interactions in biological molecules, known as elastic network models, as a useful topic for undergraduate biology instruction in mathematical modeling. These models use coupled linear oscillators to model the fluctuations of molecular structures around the equilibrium state. I present many learning activities associated with building and understanding these models, ranging from analytical to computational. I provide a number of web resources where students can obtain structural data, perform calculations, and suggest research directions for independent projects.
Mathematics Subject Classification: 92B01
Key words: mathematical modeling / elastic network models / normal mode analysis / curriculum development
© EDP Sciences, 2011
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