Breaking New Ground

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Heading into her senior year, University of Mary Washington classics major Ana Tkabladze had already experienced four archeological digs, including in Spain, Portugal and the Republic of Georgia. But her fieldwork this summer will be hard to top, even for the most seasoned archaeologist. As an intern working with an international team of scientists, Tkabladze witnessed a groundbreaking discovery that may rewrite evolutionary history. “I was at a field school in Dmanisi, Georgia,” said Tkabladze, who has concentration in classical archeology. “It’s a paleolithic site that proves that the first humans out of Africa settled into Georgia.” The discovery of a 1.8 million-year-old hominid skull at the site made international news, including in The New York Times. When Tkabladze was on-site from July to August, researchers were analyzing the skeletal remains. “When my field school started last summer, I was aware that the fifth skull was uncovered on the site and I knew it was … [Read more...]

Digital Native

Caitlin Murphy '12 works at PBS in Washington, D.C.

Caitlin Murphy ’12 knew she was prepared for a job that combined her history and digital studies degrees and thought a position at PBS would be the perfect fit. Not long after she submitted her application, Murphy got a call from the internationally renowned public broadcasting network. They had reviewed her resume and delved into her online portfolio, which she developed while a student at the University of Mary Washington, and it wasn’t long before she had the job. “When I applied for the position, they said my online portfolio was one of the main reasons they had contacted me,” Murphy said. “It really helped me get a foot in the door. I don’t think I would have gotten called if I hadn’t had the portfolio I did.” Murphy is a program associate at the PBS headquarters just outside Washington, D.C. She screens upcoming programs, like “Masterpiece Theatre” or “Foyle’s War,” to make sure they meet PBS’ standards. The position requires an eye for detail and the ability to … [Read more...]

Research Rocks

(from left): David Phillips '14, Carter Moore '14, and Chiara Tornabene '14 are working on research projects with Professor Neil Tibert (standing, left) and Professor Jodie Hayob.
Photo by Kimmie Barkley '14

Faculty and students at the University of Mary Washington are breaking ground, literally, at historically significant geological sites. This past July, Associate Professor of Geology Neil Tibert and Professor of Geology Jodie Hayob ventured with students to the Atlantic Canadian province of Nova Scotia for data collection and study on two different research projects. Tibert’s work focuses on sedimentary rocks that contain microfossils providing insight into the evolution of coastal and lake ecosystems of eastern North America, while Hayob is studying volcanic rocks that formed when the Atlantic Ocean was rifting open. “The world changed significantly at this time,” Tibert said. Tibert has roots in Nova Scotia dating back to childhood. He completed undergraduate and graduate programs at Dalhousie University in Halifax, in pursuit of research that two of his students are now tracking two decades later. Senior geology and classics major and Italian international student … [Read more...]

Taking Flight at UMW

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Call Glen Ackermann the consummate adventurer. Whether he’s competing in obstacle races or flying half-way around the world, Ackermann lives daringly. His latest venture: seeking a master of business administration at the University of Mary Washington. “I wanted to keep my mind fresh and active and an MBA is a great thing to have,” said 54-year-old Ackermann, who began taking classes last semester. During the day, the retired Navy pilot works as a program executive for Northrup Grumman where he travels to Japan every six weeks to meet with potential clients. When he’s not in Japan, he manages a team in the United States in offices from New York to D.C. This year alone, he has racked up 150,716 miles with United Airlines and that doesn’t include his regular flights to New York. There is never a typical day for Ackermann, and he likes it that way as evidenced in his choice of extra-curricular activities. He enjoys competing in Spartan races, eight-mile obstacle course … [Read more...]

Learning to Walk

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Melissa Peters and Jenniffer Powers were tired, hungry, and mentally exhausted after a day of walking more than a dozen miles in an unfamiliar terrain. When they arrived at the town they thought would be their resting place for the night, they were told all of the rooms in the village were full. They would have to press on until they reached the next town. The students, both seniors at the University of Mary Washington, were in the midst of a 500-mile walk in Spain known as the Camino de Santiago. Often a religious pilgrimage, the walk draws thousands of tourists from around the world each year. For Peters and Powers, the Camino, as it is often called, was a journey of faith and an exercise in simplicity. “Your faith is strengthened every day because you realize everything is out of your control,” Peters, a psychology major, said. “You have the backpack on your back and the boots on your feet.” It took the pair 34 days to walk the Camino this summer, carrying all of their … [Read more...]

Speaking Intensive

Professor Anand Rao teaches courses in small group communication, visual rhetoric and social media.

Anand Rao came to the University of Mary Washington more than a decade ago with one goal in mind: to teach students to communicate effectively. “Strong communication skills are essential to succeed in every area of life,” said Rao, associate professor of communication and director of the Speaking Intensive Program. In his role with the Speaking Intensive Program, Rao has influenced most every UMW student, since undergraduates are required to take at least two speaking intensive courses to graduate. “The purpose of the speaking intensive requirement is to help students find ways to express themselves and build relationships,” said Rao. The ability to communicate well is crucial not just for excelling in classes, but for relationships and the work place, he said. Speaking Intensive courses are offered in nearly every major, from math to historic preservation. Students learn how to become proficient in speaking skills that are specific to their individual majors. Within … [Read more...]

Mindful Lessons

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When Zakaria Kronemer strolls down campus walk at the University of Mary Washington, he isn’t thinking about his upcoming exam or the conversation he just had. Instead, he focuses on his feet as each step pounds the brick walkway. He feels the air touching his hand as the wind blows and concentrates on his muscles as they work to move his legs. Kronemer lives in the moment. It’s a lesson that he learned this summer as one of 40 students from around the world studying the Buddhist practices of meditation and T’ai Chi in the mountains of eastern China at the Shengshou Temple. After returning to UMW this semester, the junior philosophy major’s outlook on life has changed. Most significantly, he’s adjusted his outlook on the everyday mundane tasks. “Everything in the monastic life is a contemplative process,” said Kronemer, who traveled to China after receiving a scholarship from the Woodenfish Project aimed at educating emerging scholars on Chinese Buddhism. “That’s something … [Read more...]

A Focus on Goals

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For University of Mary Washington senior David Heller, playing a sport seems to be in his genes. In fact, Heller jokes that he started playing soccer, “probably right about when I could start walking.” His mother starred in volleyball and his father played football, basketball and ran track. Adding to the athleticism, his brother currently plays lacrosse and his sister plays field hockey. Beginning young in his family of athletes helped secure him a frequent starting defensive position as a UMW freshman.  Last spring, as a junior, he earned the Male Scholar Athlete of the Year award, a title traditionally reserved for a senior. Heller was only the second junior to receive the award since its establishment at UMW in 1990. The scholar athlete award recognizes the varsity upperclassmen that excel academically and athletically. To earn the award, student athletes must keep at least a 3.3 cumulative grade point average and contribute greatly to the success of their team, … [Read more...]

Educating Innovators

Professor Teresa Coffman uses new technologies to teach her education graduate students.

Don’t walk into Teresa Coffman’s classroom and expect to see a typical lecture. “I flip my classroom,” said Coffman. “I want my students to read and explain and think about the information. I like to hear what they have to say and how we can make it better.” An associate professor at the University of Mary Washington’s College of Education, Coffman pioneers innovative education in the classroom to inspire future teachers. “Technology is a tool that can create an environment that really gets students thinking effectively,” said Coffman. “It provides a vast amount of new sources and possibilities.” Coffman’s graduate courses focus on critical and creative thinking for real-world applications. “I want my students to think about ways that they can engage their students in new ways of thinking,” said Coffman. “You can’t just sit in front of a computer and expect learning to occur.” She requires blogs in all her classes, where students reflect and post assignments to … [Read more...]

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...]