Grad’s Autism Research Gets Attention

Physics graduate Shannon Brindle ’21 devoted her undergraduate research to developing an imaging analysis technique for faster diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. And Physics, an online magazine from the American Physical Society, took notice.  She and Clark Saben ’24 worked with Rasha Makkia, UMW visiting assistant professor of physics. Brindle aspires to develop a “computational technique that can simultaneously extract multiple structures from 3D magnetic resonance imaging brain scans, something not possible with other methods,” the magazine reported after Brindle presented her findings at the March meeting of the American Physical Society.  If successful, Brindle’s image analysis technique could allow clinicians to start therapies more quickly than is currently possible.  As an undergraduate, Brindle didn’t have access to unlimited scans, so she tested her method on images of three 8-year-old boys, two diagnosed with autism and one not. While it’s too early to say if her … [Read more...]

Trio’s cold brew has a hot kick

A former physics major, a biochemistry student, and a chemistry professor are teaming up to brew the world’s spiciest beer. Ray Parrish ’91, co-owner of Maltese Brewing Company, was obsessed with the Guinness Book of World Records as a kid, so he decided to look up the world record for spiciest beer. When he found none, he contacted Guinness about establishing one.  Parrish asked UMW for help and connected with Sarah Smith ’12, UMW visiting assistant professor of chemistry. Smith thought biochemistry student Valerie Ebenki ’22 might be willing to join in the pursuit of record-breaking beer. The UMW-centric trio set out to determine the heat content of Maltese’s Signal One 2.0, a pineapple IPA infused with 500 Carolina Reaper chilies, the world’s hottest pepper.  Smith and Ebenki are using the Scoville heat index, which calculates chili spiciness, to determine the concentration of heat-making chemicals in the brew. They’re working in the Jepson Science Center labs, Ebenki said, using … [Read more...]

Eagles Tennis Teams Excel All Season

It was a great spring for Eagles tennis, with the women’s team winning the Coast to Coast (C2C) Athletic Conference tournament held May 6-8, 2021, and both men’s and women’s teams ranking in the Top 20 all season long.  The C2C is the successor to the Capital Athletic Conference, in which Mary Washington had competed since 1989. The name change became official in late 2020.  With the Eagles women’s C2C win, they advanced to the NCAA Division III tournament for the 22nd straight season. They advanced to the quarterfinals but did not continue to the semifinals.  Individually, women’s standouts Abby Moghtader ’23 and Claire Coleman ’22 received NCAA tournament singles bids, and Moghtader and Lauren Quinn ’22 were to compete in doubles. The NCAA singles and doubles tournaments were to be held after press time.  Moghtader also was named the C2C women’s tennis athlete of the year; head coach Todd Helbling took top coaching honors.  Eagles men also scorched through their regular tennis … [Read more...]

’04 Grad Shows Broad Knowledge in Exciting Jeopardy! Appearance

Jeopardy! watchers may have noticed Erin J. Merrill ’04 blazing through the categories during the April 5 episode of the game show. Merrill beat fellow contestants to the buzzer with correct responses about knives (oyster, Bowie, Ginsu), French phrases, geographic locations, and more. In the clever category of “Before and BAFTA” – looking for a mashup of a pop culture staple and the name of a BAFTA-awarded movie – Merrill deduced that a comic strip about a red-haired adoptee plus a movie starring Diane Keaton was Little Orphan Annie Hall. And she netted a Daily Double by figuring out that a TV show about zombies plus a film starring Robin Williams as a teacher was The Walking Dead Poets Society. Merrill had an easy rapport with fellow contestants and the show’s guest host, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. She racked up 14 correct responses and missed just one, but didn’t dislodge the episode’s returning champion. Merrill, who lives in Woodbridge, Virginia, … [Read more...]

“Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff”

Matt Paxton ’97 is still helping people sort treasures from trash. The second season of his TV show Legacy List With Matt Paxton is online now and on many PBS stations. In it, he helps families, especially older people, prioritize as they unclutter and pack for smaller houses. Well known from his time on A&E’s Hoarders, Paxton has been in the profession for more than 20 years, and he’s seen it all – from 300 cats to a Picasso in the attic. The business administration grad was featured in The Washington Post and The New York Times last winter, and he appeared earlier on Jimmy Kimmel Live. In April, he lent his knowledge to fellow alumni during a Zoom presentation. He discussed his career and his time at Mary Washington, and he shared wisdom about getting organized. … [Read more...]

Grad Weaves Stories of City Business Owners

Lily Eghtessad ’20 is helping Fredericksburg celebrate its diverse businesses through her work on the FXBG Diverse City project. The historic preservation graduate is a tourism associate at the Fredericksburg Department of Economic Development and Tourism, which along with the Economic Development Authority sponsored the program that highlights small-business owners. From February through June, FXBG Diverse City posted stories and videos on its website, Facebook, and Instagram. February, Black History Month, featured a barber, a popcorn specialty store, and a design and marketing firm. Women’s History Month in March meant a focus on women-owned businesses such as a gluten-free bakery, a yoga studio, and a coffee roaster. The project continues with a highlight video at the end of each month through June, with LGBTQIA-owned businesses. With support from city staffers, Eghtessad developed the look, feel, and operation of FXBG Diverse City, according to The Free … [Read more...]

Schoeb Joins Nokia Leadership Team

In April, Melissa E. Schoeb ’90 became Nokia’s chief corporate affairs officer and a member of its leadership team. She oversees communications, government relations, brand, and sustainability. The international relations and Spanish graduate joined Nokia from Occidental, one of the world’s largest independent oil and gas companies, where she was vice president of corporate affairs. Schoeb serves on the UMW College of Business Executive Advisory Board. She is based in Espoo, Finland, and reports to Nokia’s president and CEO. … [Read more...]

Welch Helps Bring Jobs to Virginia

The Virginia Economic Developers Association presented Meghan Hobbs Welch ’13 its inaugural Rising Star Award in December. She was recognized as senior business manager for business investment of the Richmond-based Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), which she joined in May 2018. She manages projects that cultivate job growth in the commonwealth. Her leadership has contributed to more than $1 billion in capital investment and nearly 3,000 new jobs with salaries well above the state’s prevailing wage. Welch earned a degree in political science and international affairs at UMW and is pursuing an MBA from the College of William & Mary. She was one of 17 accepted into the College Leaders Program at the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia. … [Read more...]

Bienvenue Directs Oak Ridge Institute

Joan M. Bienvenue, MBA ’13, has been named executive director of the Oak Ridge Institute at the University of Tennessee. The institute was established last year to align Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the university in support of research and talent development. At the institute, Bienvenue will focus on graduate research in emerging fields and lead recruitment of faculty, staff, and students. Before joining Oak Ridge in March 2021, Bienvenue was senior executive director of the University of Virginia Applied Research Institute. Besides her Mary Washington MBA, Bienvenue holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Virginia, a master’s of forensic science from the University of New Haven, and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Rivier University. … [Read more...]

Gardner Heads Texas Museum

Courtney Elliott Gardner ’89 is the new director of the Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts in Spring, Texas. She had been the executive director of the Peninsula Fine Arts Center in Newport News, Virginia, since 2011. It closed at the end of 2020, according to the Daily Press. Gardner has received numerous awards including “Top Forty Under Forty” from Inside Business Hampton Roads, the Paul Harris Fellow Award from the Rotary Club of Newport News, and the YWCA Women of Distinction Award. According to a press release from the Pearl Fincher Museum, Gardner is known for her leadership skills in increasing an organization’s visibility; fundraising and financial management; and overseeing exhibits, educational activities, and programs that offer broad appeal to the community. … [Read more...]