Q & A With Chemist Charlie Sharpless

Charlie Sharpless (center) mentors July Laszakovits ’16, who studies degradation of pharmaceutical compounds in streams, and Orlando Stewart Jr. ’15, who studies how sunlight breaks down oil from a 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Photo by Norm Shafer

  Who: Charlie Sharpless, associate professor of chemistry At UMW since: 2004 Academic specialties: environmental photochemistry; mentoring students in research projects What is environmental photochemistry? It’s the chemistry that happens when sunlight is absorbed by compounds at the earth’s surface. These reactions happen in air and water, but since I’m a water chemist, I’m interested in what’s going on in lakes, rivers, and coastal marine systems. What my students and I focus on is the way sunlight alters the oxygen chemistry in water and the effect that can have on contaminants. Normally oxygen isn’t very reactive but some of the natural organic matter – the brown stuff in water left over from plant and algae degradation – will transfer energy from the sunlight to the oxygen, and all of a sudden you get new kinds of oxygen chemistry that weren’t there before. Can you give an example? One of the projects we’re working on is how photochemistry affects the … [Read more...]

A Step Ahead

Center Merges Teaching, Learning, and Technology

The Information and Technology Convergence Center’s media wall serves as a gallery for students’ digital work.  Photos by Norm Shafer

Even before he taught his first class in the new Information and Technology Convergence Center, Jeff McClurken ’94 could see that the building was fulfilling one of its main missions – bringing students and faculty together in a technology-rich, collaborative space. The Convergence Center had been open to students for only a few hours on the first day of classes. But they had already sought out spots in study niches throughout the four-story building. They nestled into comfortable chairs and couches, plugging laptops and tablets into power outlets built right into the furniture. Some tapped keyboards in solitude, while others shared screens and conversation. As an “academic commons,” with access to state-of-the-art technology and a fully powered and networked design that encourages creativity and idea-sharing, the Convergence Center was well on its way. Several years in the making, the center places UMW in the national forefront in using technology to advance learning and … [Read more...]

Erchull Honored With APA Award

Mindy Erchull

The American Psychological Association has recognized Mindy Erchull, associate professor of psychology, as an emerging leader. The APA’s Committee on Women in Psychology honored Erchull with its Psychology Leadership Award for her scholarship, undergraduate mentoring, and service to the psychology profession, and for her promise of an influential career. Erchull was named an association fellow in 2013 and has presented research on gender issues and feminism at numerous conventions. Her research includes objectification and sexualization of women; feminism and feminist identity; psychological aspects of reproductive health; and attitudes about menstruation. … [Read more...]

Book by UMW Faculty

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Balancing the Big Stuff: Finding Happiness in Work, Family, and Life Miriam Liss, professor of psychology, and Holly Schiffrin, associate professor of psychology The authors “have penned the definitive book on work-life balance − an elegant blend of engaging stories, illuminating examples, and cutting-edge empirical evidence,” wrote Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The Myths of Happiness and The How of Happiness. – Rowman & Littlefield, August 2014 … [Read more...]

Former Eagle Finds Niche Promoting NFL Jaguars

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It’s easy to imagine Tad Dickman ’12 in his dorm room after a long day of classes and basketball practice as a University of Mary Washington undergrad, fighting exhaustion to finish a term paper and wondering: When am I ever going to do this in the “real world”? Now, those term papers must seem like tapping a text message compared to the 150-page dossier Dickman compiles weekly as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ public relations coordinator. Just two years after earning a degree in business administration, Dickman finds himself feeding football fans’ - and the media’s - insatiable appetite for information. A four-year starter on the Eagles’ basketball team, Dickman knew he wanted to pursue a career in athletics. Interning abroad after his junior year, he fell in love with PR while working in Sydney for Australia’s National Basketball League. After graduation, he interned with Major League Soccer’s D.C. United before getting an internship with the National Football League's New York … [Read more...]