UMW Student’s Research is “Eye-Opening” Experience

Shirin Afsous (right) is assisting Leila Asadi with human rights research

For Shirin Afsous, the problem of sex trafficking in the Middle East hits home. The senior philosophy and English double-major at the University of Mary Washington was born in Iran and grew up making occasional visits to the country with her family. When Afsous learned that human rights activist Leila Asadi wanted help with research on gender and sexuality issues, Afsous jumped at the opportunity. Asadi is visiting professor at UMW this semester, where she’s continuing the research she began in the Middle East. Although hundreds of UMW students study abroad every year, undergraduate research like Afsous’ work with Asadi provides a way for students to make global connections without ever leaving the Fredericksburg campus. In Iran and other Middle Eastern countries, Afsous explained, research has shown that, in some cases, girls as young as 12 years old are engaged in prostitution rings. Some girls may see it as their only way out of poverty. Asadi, herself, fled Iran … [Read more...]

UMW Student Interns Assist Fredericksburg With Housing Report

Brianna Gavigan and Brian Auricchio are interns with the City of Fredericksburg

University of Mary Washington seniors Brianna Gavigan and Brian Auricchio are burning up the phone lines in an effort to shed light on housing practices. As interns with the City of Fredericksburg, they’re calling hundreds of residents to make sure housing opportunities here are fair, regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender/sex, familial status or disability. The effort is instrumental to a report the city must submit to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As part of the process, Gavigan and Auricchio must survey five percent of the Fredericksburg population, either in-person or over the phone. They also hope that two upcoming public forums will help them fulfill their requirements. Fredericksburg is required to submit the report every five years in order to receive federal community development block grants.  In the past, the city used outside research consultants to handle the survey and report. “It is critical that the report be … [Read more...]

Students From Across Disciplines Represent UMW Nationally

Ethan Bottone_featured

University of Mary Washington student Ethan Bottone earned national distinction as a member of a regional team placing second in the Association of American Geographers World Geography Bowl last month in New York City. Perhaps more impressive, he helped claim that win as a sophomore in a competition dominated by graduate students. The Southeastern Division of the Association of American Geographers team—made up of mostly graduate students—missed first place by a mere 20 points. In November, Bottone secured a spot on the team after placing third overall in the regional bowl. “Competing against grad students was really nerve-racking at first, because I was just sitting there thinking, ‘Wow, some of these people have been in college since I started high school',” Bottone said.  “But after answering a few questions, I just felt settled down and ready to play, like there wasn't any gap between our educations.” The geography department isn’t the only opportunity for UMW students … [Read more...]

Historic Preservation Students Blend Humanities and Sciences

NS Mt Vernon 9

When Audra Medve first visited Mount Vernon as a child, she was struck by the timelessness of George Washington’s home, so much so that she returned dozens of times. She never could have imagined she would be an intern at the estate decades later as a senior in the historic preservation program at the university named for Washington’s mother. Medve enrolled at the University of Mary Washington after the Navy transferred her husband to the Washington, D.C. area in 2008. “There are very few undergraduate degrees in historic preservation available in the United States, and when I decided to return to school I realized I lived within 30 miles of a truly wonderful program,” Medve said. Medve’s internship is one of a dozen this spring through UMW’s historic preservation department, regarded as among the best in the nation. Each year, internships range from local preservation organizations like the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation and the Fredericksburg Area Museum, to … [Read more...]

UMW Political Science Students Collaborate on Book Project

(From left) Ian Huff, Assistant Professor of Political Science Chad Murphy, Chris Blough and Eric Stortz in Monroe Hall

As a political science and pre-law philosophy double major, Michael Behrens figured he would spend much of his senior year writing extensive research papers. He never expected to collaborate with his professor on writing a book. Behrens and three fellow seniors -- Chris Blough, Ian Huff and Eric Stortz -- have teamed up with Assistant Professor of Political Science Chad Murphy to research and write chapters for a book on presidential rhetoric. The project is one of more than dozen research initiatives in the university’s innovative undergraduate research program. This semester’s undergraduate projects delve into such issues as women in Islam; statistical consulting for after-school programs; stress, guilt and eating; the effects of Atrazine in zebra fish; and the effects of exercise and estrogen on mouse hearts. Still Behrens isn’t surprised to be part of such a challenging project at UMW. “That’s just the environment that the school’s attitude cultivates,” he said. “If … [Read more...]

Geography Students Spend Winter Break in Cambodia

Cambodia 2012_rice field

While winter break sent scores of college students scrambling for the comforts of home, UMW geography major Brian Brown spent his winter break out of the country for the very first time.  He was one of seven UMW seniors in Cambodia as part of a three-and-a-half week study abroad program with Associate Professor of Geography Donald Rallis and Assistant Dean of Academic Services Amber Huffman, who is a geography graduate of UMW. The students chronicled their journeys through blog posts and social media, like Brown’s description of his arrival in the country: A pop sounded from the rear of the car.  The driver slowly pulled off the dusty and dark avenue to assess the situation.  A haze hung in the air, tinted blue by a sign for a cheap hotel.  The back tire was flat.  I waited, watching motorcycles drift by at a carefree pace, while my first Cambodian acquaintance worked to get us back on the road. The winter break program, offered for the first time at Mary Washington, is one of … [Read more...]