Stephen Davies, associate professor in computer science and UMW alumna Morgan Brown (computer science, mathematics) have had their research paper “Toward an agent-based simulation of the factors impacting diversity within a college student body” accepted to the 47th Winter Simulation Conference, the premier academic forum for simulation research in the world. The paper describes an agent-based computational simulation that models college students and their social interactions, with particular focus on interracial friendships and the factors that contribute to racial segregation. The ultimate goals of the project are to better understand the dynamics of campus segregation, and to determine the efficacy of possible institutional policies that a university might implement that would encourage racial integration. Such policies, if successful, could decrease the well-documented effect of social alienation that minority students often perceive, and which can impact their academic success.
This paper is a milestone in a project that originated with a 2013-14 UMW faculty research grant and which has involved contributions from three computer science honors students, Leah Cox and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and several other UMW staff members who contributed domain knowledge about various aspects of campus life.