Summer provides a much needed change of pace for many UMW students and faculty. For 37 students and their 18 faculty mentors, Summer 2022 meant working together on research and creative projects.
This was the 23rd year of our University of Mary Washington Summer Science Institute (SSI), a program where students work on guided research with a faculty mentor. They live on campus for ten weeks (May-July) working in the lab and in the field. SSI ends with a day-long symposium with both oral and poster presentations of the student projects, and awards for the best presentation and poster. This past summer 19 students in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Mathematics, and Physics conducted research on diverse topics such as studying herbivorous insects on campus, the social and environmental impacts of heat in Fredericksburg, solar-powered charging stations, and fighting anti-biotic resistance with Phage therapy. This year’s winners of a John C. and Jerri Barden Perkins ’61 College of Arts and Sciences Student Research scholarship were Ava Spencer ( “Comparing Social and Environmental Vulnerability Indexes to Summer Heat in Fredericksburg, Virginia” with Dr. Pam Grothe, Earth and Environmental Science) and Kevin Leong (“Solar-Powered Phone Charging Stations for the Homeless” with Dr. Desmond Villalba, Physics). Read more about the 2022 SSI on the UMW Voice.
Building on the success of SSI, the UMW College of Arts and Sciences offered a similar experience for students of non-science disciplines, with a new five-week UMW Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Summer Institute (AHSSSI). This inaugural year brought together 16 students to work with faculty on five projects from the fields of theatre, linguistics, psychology, sociology and political science on topics that included table-top puppetry, mindfulness and memory, world writing systems, community gardens and women in Virginia politics. While their topics and methods of investigation differed from the SSI students, AHSSSI students also lived and worked on campus. AHSSSI and SSI students got together during their programs to socialize and learn from each other about what research means across the disciplines. Student work in the AHSSSI also culminated in a symposium and celebration of the student work, which you can read more about on the UMW Voice.
The College of Arts and Sciences also funded several students to conduct or present their research off campus this past summer. Classical Archeology major Jessica Thorne, mentored by Dr. Liane Houghtalin, received a CAS Summer Research grant to support her summer work in an archaeological field school held at an ancient Roman villa near the modern town of Rapoltu Mare, Romania, where she conducted both field and laboratory work, learning about excavation techniques, skills, tools, analysis, identification, and production of drawings. Jessica explained the impact of her work:
Being able to participate in this excavation was a very important step in my academic and professional career. In addition to laying down the groundwork of techniques and skills that I will need in field and lab work, it allowed me to get close to a Roman site, cementing my desire to work in that field of study. It also introduced me to a part of the world I had not really considered before but by which I am now very intrigued, due to its beauty and history. Going forward, I hope to share my experiences digging in Romania with my fellow Mary Washington students this fall at a departmental presentation open to all, and I hope to write my senior thesis in the spring on the history, culture, and environmental impact of one of the Roman sites that I visited.