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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

A Helping Hand

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A golf cart pulled up to the front of Randolph Hall, loaded down with the makings of a college bedroom and a new life at the University of Mary Washington. Within seconds, volunteers, including senior Paige Gaddy, swarmed the vehicle, snapped up boxes, welcomed the new students, and quickly put anxious parents at ease. “It was nice to see the smiles on the faces of incoming students and their parents as they were surprised that they were receiving so much help,” Gaddy said. “Not only is it a positive experience for incoming freshmen and their parents, but also the move-in crew. I was surprised at how much volunteering for move-in got me excited and ready for the year to begin.” She was on the other side of the equation just a year ago. She transferred to UMW in 2012 after receiving an associate’s degree from Tidewater Community College. Gaddy was one of 150 upperclassmen who woke up early on Friday to move their newest classmates, both transfers and first-time freshmen, … [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...]