Navigating the Past

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On clear sunny days last semester Fariss Hodder rode her forest green, off-roading bike from the University of Mary Washington to downtown Fredericksburg. The senior, with a Trimble Juno GPS always handy, set off on a special mission – searching for commemorative markers of the city’s storied past. This trek to local historic sites became routine for Hodder over the past year as she worked with Geography Professor Stephen Hanna. Together, the two created a geographical information systems (GIS) database designed to measure how and where slavery and emancipation was represented on 224 markers that Fariss mapped in the city’s historic district and on the Fredericksburg campus. “It was like a little discovery mission every time . . . It’s incredible the amount of history you can learn just by walking downtown.” said Hodder, who photographed each marker, collected data on the date each marker was installed, who installed it and the historical topics it represented. The venture … [Read more...]

Mathematical Predictions

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What if there was a better way to track and predict the spread of worldwide epidemics like H1N1 flu and HIV before they happened? At the University of Mary Washington, Casey Howren ‘14 answered this question when she developed a computer program that uses mathematical formulas to predict the progress of global epidemics. Meeting on a daily basis with her mentor, Mathematics Professor Leo Lee, to help guide her research, the mathematics and sociology double major looked at the current ways that the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization track epidemics, and she realized that she could improve the process. Right now, those organizations track epidemics as they are happening. They follow how quickly epidemics spread in real time and then predict how they will continue in the future. Howren’s algorithm-based computer program takes this process a step further by predicting how an epidemic will spread from the first infected person before it ever happens. In … [Read more...]

Birds-Eye View

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A group of University of Mary Washington students gasp as they spy two bald eagles flying from their large nest over the winding Rappahannock River and into the surrounding woods. “Those are immature bald eagles,” says one student who notices that these eagles have not yet developed the iconic white feathers on their heads. That won’t happen until they are at least 4 years old, adds another student. … [Read more...]

Flipping the Classroom

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At first glance, Jon Meister ’13 looks like a teacher from another time with his handlebar mustache, black satin vest, and thick-framed glasses, but his teaching style – honed at the University of Mary Washington – is anything but old fashioned. For his final research project, Meister explored one of the latest trends in education, a flipped classroom. At its most basic level, a flipped classroom is where students learn a lesson at home via video and then come to class to work on homework. It’s a move away from the traditional classroom where a teacher gives a lecture and then students work on homework problems on their own time. In his final semester at UMW, Meister was a student teacher at his alma mater, Norview High School in Norfolk, Va. He worked with 18 seventh-grade students to flip the way that they learn algebra and geometry. Meister recorded YouTube math lessons that the students watched outside of class time, and then the students worked in the classroom on … [Read more...]

Going Places

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When Sridhivya Kumar first moved to the United States, she hesitated to order from an American coffee shop, dined mostly on native Indian food and felt uncertain of how to manage public transportation. Today nearly three years later, Sri, as her colleagues know her, laughs at her early insecurities. She confidently orders her regular Caramel Macchiato coffee and dines at her favorite burrito restaurant. She’s even shed public transportation for a driver’s license that enables her to drive to the University of Mary Washington Stafford campus for night classes to earn a master's degree in Management Information Systems. “I love information systems,” said Kumar, who earned a bachelor’s in commerce from Madras University in India. “I get to talk to people in real-time technology who operate software, know how to build things, exchange ideas, approach problems.” Kumar was born in Tiruppur, India, before moving to Northern Virginia. She was drawn to UMW’s Master of Science in … [Read more...]

Cultivating Careers

Becca Bice '13 will intern at National Geographic

When Becca Bice ’13 told her father that she’d earned a nationally competitive internship with National Geographic in the nation’s capital, he was excited and maybe a little jealous. “My dad loves National Geographic. He has had a subscription to the magazine since he was 7 or 8 years old,” said Bice, a geography and English literature double major. She will begin her internship the week after she graduates from the University of Mary Washington in May. At National Geographic, Bice will help promote educational activities through social media. She will write blog entries and conduct research while working with National Geographic staff and the public. She also hopes to make connections and to narrow her career options. “I’m excited to talk to people who have actually pursued geography and have an idea of what I can do with it,” said Bice, who currently is a student aide in the Center for International Education and a Washington Guide giving biweekly tours of campus to … [Read more...]