ANALYZE THIS: UMW Offers Undergrads an Array of Research Opportunities

Whether examining the concept of Egyptian monasticism or the correlation between stress and overeating, UMW students stand a chance of making some riveting revelations. That’s thanks to the University’s innovative undergraduate research program, which included more than a dozen initiatives this semester, and to its professors, who are committed to fostering opportunities for cutting-edge exploration. During the 2010-2011 academic year, 166 students in 15 academic departments from art and art history to geography and psychology received awards to pursue an abundance of projects.

 Formula for success

Associate Professor of Mathematics Randall Helmstutler and Claire Gianelle ’14 string equations across a whiteboard in Trinkle Hall. The two, Helmstutler as adviser and Gianelle as student researcher, began work on their project, “Line Integral Arguments for Pick’s Theorem,” last fall. They aim to connect multivariable calculus to the famous geometrical formula put forth by Austrian mathematician Georg Alexander Pick. The study is part of a UMW undergraduate student research program, URES 197, which offers all UMW students guided research experience while they work in apprenticeship-type roles on faculty members’ scholarly projects.

Presidential performance review

Photos by Norm Shafer

 From left, Ian Huff ’12, Assistant Professor of Political Science Chad Murphy, Chris Blough ’12, and Eric Stortz ’12 gather in Monroe Hall to discuss President Barack Obama’s January State of the Union address. The students, along with Michael Behrens ’12 (not pictured), are part of an independent study group helping Murphy with a research project called “Presidential Persuasion and the Bully Pulpit.” The study, spawned by an award-winning thesis written by Annie Morris ’11, examines the power of nationally televised U.S. presidential addresses to affect congressional behavior. Students write first drafts of various chapters, which Murphy hopes to revise and compile into a published academic book. Of the project, Stortz said, “I think it shows that Professor Murphy has a lot of faith in Mary Washington students.”