Nina Zubrilina

Hertz Fellow: Nina Zubrilina

Stanford University

Area of Study


Fellowship Years

2019 - present

A senior studying mathematics at Stanford University, Nina was born in the United States but grew up in Moscow, Russia, where she attended the math magnet school, Moscow State School #57.

From squeezing spheres into ever-shrinking volumes of space to analyzing the structure of the tree-like diagrams that help scientists understand the evolutionary relationship of plant and animal species, Nina’s research ferrets out the relationship between classes of objects and phenomena that might otherwise remain opaque. Nina uses mathematics to deepen our biological understanding of the tree of life — science’s depiction of how life on Earth grows, branches, and blossoms. In summer 2018, she wrote an original paper on sphere packing while interning at Microsoft Research. This geometrical problem has intrigued mathematicians since at least the early seventeenth century and is closely connected with error-correcting codes and signal transmission, from cellphones to deep space communication.

Nina’s awards include the Goldwater Scholarship, which supports undergraduates who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, or engineering. She also received an honorable mention for the Alice T. Schafer Mathematics Prize.

Nina composes and performs music, reads, lifts weights, and teaches mathematics at Euler Circle for advanced high school students in the San Francisco Bay Area, and sings in the a cappella group, Stanford Everyday People.