Main Course

main-course

In a medium-sized Combs Hall classroom, combine one cool professor, a dozen sharp summer-school students and a dash of inspiration. Blend well. That’s the recipe for UMW Professor of English Colin Rafferty’s seminar, Let’s Eat: Writing About Food. Designed to whet appetites for wielding together words, the tantalizing course takes a novel approach to two topics we often take for granted. When it comes to food – and writing – we devour the finished product with little thought of the tedious decision-making that went into them. Students analyzed the rhetoric of cooking shows, read works by famed food authors and – perhaps everyone’s favorite – wrote odes to beloved dishes, paired with samples to share. The communal essence of mealtime fosters an atmosphere of creativity and collaboration. “By bringing food into the classroom as a subject, we engage the critical thinking skills,” said Rafferty, who’s taught the five-week writing-intensive course since arriving at UMW in 2008. … [Read more...]

Scanning Through History

Joe Romero_HP

It’s the ultimate combination of old and new. Decked out in full body armor as a gladiator from the ancient Roman Empire, Senior Harry Rol clamps on his helmet and steps onto a 3-D printing scanner in the University of Mary Washington’s 21st century classroom known as the ThinkLab. “You really look the part,” said Associate Professor of Classics Joe Romero, as Rol strikes a pose, knees bent with shield and sword at the ready. Rol, a classics and computer science major, is one of 10 students in UMW’s inaugural course known simply as 3-D Pompeii. The class combines the study of ancient history with cutting edge 3-D printing technology. Students design their own historically accurate replicas and print three- dimensional miniature models. As a final project, the class will create and print a 3-D version of the ancient city of Pompeii before it was buried in volcanic ash in 79 A.D. The unique classroom brings together students from the varied disciplines of computer … [Read more...]

A Palate for Poverty

Jeff Paddock, Two Dollar Challenge 2015

The human body can go three weeks without food – a fact that most people hope to never test. Yet University of Mary Washington senior Jeffrey Paddock is certainly on his way. No stranger to hunger, the international affairs and philosophy major has joined the Two Dollar Challenge at UMW all four years of his college duration. He’s even lived on two dollars a day for a full month while studying abroad in Peru. And this April, Paddock has added a four-day fast as part of his last challenge at UMW. The Two Dollar Challenge is a five-day program, founded in 2006 at UMW, that challenges college and high school students across the United States to live on just two dollars a day—as nearly half the world’s population does—in an effort to raise awareness of global poverty. Participants buy food, hygiene products and other necessities from two dollars each day while following other rules designed to simulate obstacles faced by people living in poverty. Paddock first learned about … [Read more...]

Open-Door Policy

AnaChichester_HP

The door in Ana Chichester’s Combs Hall office is always open. In fact, her University of Mary Washington students know better than anyone that the professor of Modern Languages and Literatures is always willing and able to help with questions and concerns. “Ana always pushed me to work hard and not settle,” said Chareese Ross, a 2006 graduate who works in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education. “She did not have low expectations for any student and she wanted her students to succeed at the highest level possible. That was such an important lesson to learn.” Whether it’s a question about a recent major declaration or advice on which classes to take, Chichester offers a listening ear and will help find a solution. “The students, hands down, are what energize me the most,” said Chichester, who also is director of the Bachelor of Liberal Studies program. The Cuban native, who moved to the U.S. at the age of 16, always knew she … [Read more...]

Taking on Twitter

Photographer

Is it a human or a Twitter bot? Researchers from the University of Mary Washington and the Naval Surface Warfare Center want to know for sure. UMW computer science majors Bryan Holster and Chris Zimmerman, under the guidance of Professor Stephen Davies, have teamed with scientists at the center’s Dahlgren division to get to the bottom of this sometimes perplexing social media mystery. The partnership is one of several ongoing collaborations between the University and the Naval Surface Warfare Center. For novices to the Twitter sphere, a Twitter bot is an automated software program that posts content or tweets to the online social network Twitter. For instance, the bot @everyword spent seven years tweeting every word in the English language, while @EnjoyTheFilm posts spoilers in response to the tweets of unsuspecting movie-goers. Since the fall, Holster and Zimmerman have collected an innumerable number of tweets using a Web application that they built. Then they developed a … [Read more...]

World Ready

Sequoi_HP

Sequoi Phipps has been fascinated by cultures since she can remember. Born into a colorful Caribbean family, she’s intrigued by traditions around the globe. She got hooked on geography when she took a world regions course her freshman year at the University of Mary Washington. From her laptop screen on the Fredericksburg campus, she traveled online with UMW Professor Donald Rallis as he hop-scotched from one exotic site to another, visiting places such as Istanbul, Rwanda, Johannesburg, Malaysia, Cambodia and China. “We didn’t just look at geography and the architecture and the people,” she said. “We looked at the culture and how people interacted with other cultures. Dr. Rallis made you think from so many angles.” Now a junior geography major, she has found her niche in urban planning. From Spanish style architecture on the West Coast to Victorian-style downtown buildings, she is amazed by the influence a nationality can have on the design of a city. “I am interested … [Read more...]

Standing Up Against Sexism

ChrisK_HPimage

Ask Chris Kilmartin what his ideal stage would be, and he may divulge a secret wish to appear on “The Daily Show” trading barbs with political funny guy Jon Stewart. Still, Kilmartin, a part-time stand-up comedian and full-time University of Mary Washington psychology professor, says he is just as happy making an impact in the classroom and on the national stage—shattering stereotypes about gender psychology and bringing attention to the serious issue of sexual violence. A 20-year-plus UMW veteran, he’s the author of “The Masculine Self,” and co-author of “The Pain Behind the Mask: Overcoming Masculine Depression,” which have been translated for overseas markets. And he’s touring the country with his revived solo show, “Crimes Against Nature,” a humorous, compelling and personal look at the pressures, absurdities and contradictions of masculinity.   Kilmartin has made a career of navigating difficult topics in a way that makes the taboo approachable and opens … [Read more...]

Munching the Numbers

Photographer

Debra Schleef’s students got a sweet assignment this fall. And, if you don’t think learning about univariate statistics sounds sweet, think again. Chocolate changes everything. “I’m pumped to get started on this,” said senior sociology major Lauren Boyle, who tore into a bag of M&M’s in a late-morning lab in Monroe 114. Each October Schleef, professor of sociology, turns her Quantitative Research Methods and Analysis course into the tastier “Candy Lab.” M&M’s add color to the curriculum and whet students’ appetites for concepts, like random probability sampling, that might otherwise seem tedious. Working in pairs, Boyle and her classmates ripped open bags of the button-shaped morsels and set aside 50 pieces. Schleef let them slurp up the extras – with one caveat. “Randomly eat them,” she said. “Don’t eat only one color, or you’ll ruin the results.” They counted the green, red, yellow, brown, orange, and blue M&M’s in their bags, while Schleef drew … [Read more...]

The Color of Science

Isabell_HP_update

Isabelle Malouf was so into science she wore it to prom. The gown that she made with organza and sequins had a bubble-type skirt that resembled a bacteriophage. A dress and a virus, it was part of the Daring Night Attire – or DNA – collection she created for a high school design class. “It was fun taking something like that and making it pretty,” said Malouf, a University of Mary Washington senior. “A lot of molecular biology stuff is gorgeous.” These days, rather than fashion, she channels her passion for science into zebrafish. Through them, she’s studying an herbicide that’s been linked to cancer. Her research, along with her hair color – she changes it weekly –make Malouf a standout on campus. And, as a face in UMW’s new branded photos, she hopes to make science seem more accessible, especially for women. “Girls aren’t expected to be good at science,” said Malouf, a biology major with a chemistry minor. Growing up in Boston, she learned to expect the unexpected, … [Read more...]

Exploring Education

Environmental science student Katy Chase works with Professor George Meadows to create several portable environmental education kits. Photo by Bob Martin.

Katy Chase has bug viewers, digital microscopes, binoculars and GPS navigation systems at her disposal when she shares her knowledge about environmental science with the community. Using two recently purchased environmental science kits, Chase is one of 15 University of Mary Washington students teaching local families at the England Run Library as part of a partnership with UMW. She aims to ignite in them a similar passion and appreciation for science that she holds dear. “In schools teachers might be a little afraid of science and kids aren’t always exposed to different tools and materials related to the sciences. They learn a lot from textbooks,” said the environmental science and Master of Science in elementary education student. She’s already spread her love for science to Brazil, where as an intern, she taught environmental science in public schools. After she graduates, Chase plans to continue in the classroom, either home or abroad. Using the kits, Chase creates … [Read more...]