February 1, 2015

Analyzing Antarctica

UMW alum researches cosmic rays.

Taking on Twitter

Is it a human or a Twitter bot?

Researchers from the University of Mary Washington and the Naval Surface Warfare Center want to know for sure.

UMW computer science majors Bryan Holster and Chris Zimmerman, under the guidance of Professor Stephen Davies, have teamed with scientists at the center’s Dahlgren division to get to the bottom of this sometimes perplexing social media mystery. The partnership is one of several ongoing collaborations between the University and the Naval Surface Warfare Center.

Taking on Twitter

UMW students team with Dahlgren scientists to conduct research.

Konieczny Publishes in Linear Algebra and Its Applications

Janusz Konieczny, professor of mathematics, co-authored a research article, The largest subsemilattices of the endomorphism monoid of an independence algebra, published in the journal Linear Algebra and Its Applications.

Student Abstract Accepted for Pi Mu Epsilon National Council

Senior mathematics student Kimberly Hildebrand’s abstract titled Using Independent Bernoulli Random Variables to Model Gender Hiring Practices has been accepted for presentation at the 2014 National Pi Mu Epsilon Conference from August 6 to 8 in Portland, Ore.

Here is the abstract:

Gender bias is a problem in the workforce at large. In order for society to progress it is important that hiring practices do not use gender as a competitive factor. Hiring practices based on gender can be represented statistically using Bernoulli Random Variables and the Beta and Binomial Distributions. Using the moment generating function (MGF) of the Bernoulli and Binomial Distributions, it is possible to calculate the expected value (mean) and variance for the number of women hires for n positions. The probability generating function (PGF) of a sample size n can be used to find the probability of hiring a specific number of women (X). A computer program was used to run trials to simulate different male/female distributions using recent data on the proportion of women earning a PhD in a variety of disciplines. The simulations were used to represent hiring results for seven faculty positions. Situations where the female proportion is centered at 0.3, 0.5, and 0.7 were studied. Trials that included random proportions of women for each position were run as well. Results revealed that it is actually unusual for employers to hire one or fewer women for seven positions, which could provide evidence of gender bias.

UMW Showcases STEM Activities

Small drones buzzed overhead as more than 600 people viewed the latest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the Anderson Center at the University of Mary Washington on March 29 during the third annual  STEM Summit 16.

Click to view slideshow.

Showcasing the achievements of the region’s students, educators and businesses, the event featured more than 50 booths, including the UMW departments of biology, chemistry, computer science, earth and environmental science, geography, mathematics, physics and the admissions office. Germanna Community College, the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren and a variety of regional schools also showcased 3-D printers, experiments and robotics among other STEM-related technologies.

Missy Cummings, director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab and associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Duke University, delivered the keynote address. One of the U.S. Navy’s first female fighter pilots, Cummings discussed drone technologies and human-machine collaboration.

The Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual event is sponsored by Central Rappahannock Regional Library (FredTech) and Lockheed Martin.

A few steps away in the Goolrick pool, five local school teams – from elementary to high school – competed in the regional SeaPerch competition. The SeaPerch program, funded by the Office of Naval Research, is an innovative underwater robotics program that equips teachers and students with the resources they need to build an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV).

Teams guided their remote-controlled submersibles through a series of tasks, including navigating an underwater obstacle course and retrieving weights. Teams also presented to a panel of judges about the overall projects. Two teams, both from the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity Dahlgren School, won the competition and will go on to a national SeaPerch competition in Mississippi.

A different buzz could be heard further down Campus Walk during the 8th Annual UMW High School Calculus Tournament. Six local high school teams, consisting of 23 students, competed in a jeopardy-style competition and used individual buzzers to signal the correct answers.

The Paul VI High School team from Fairfax took home the championship title with team members Christina Wulff, Stephanie Ibanez and Stephanie Keener. The Mountain View High School team from Stafford finished second. Thomas Sheehan, also from Paul VI High School, earned the top individual score of the tournament. More than $600 in prizes were awarded to the student winners as well as the schools represented by the top two teams. The event was sponsored by Dynovis.

Janusz Konieczny Publishes in Asian-European Journal of Mathematics

Janusz Konieczny, professor of mathematics, published a research article, Automorphism groups of endomorphism monoids of free G_sets, in the Asian-European Journal of Mathematics.

Janusz Konieczny Publishes in the Journal of Algebra

Janusz Konieczny, professor of mathematics, co-authored a research article, Conjugation in semigroups, which was published in the Journal of Algebra.

Janusz Konieczny Leads Seminar at VCU

Janusz Konieczny, professor of mathematics, gave an invited talk, “The Commuting Graph of the Symmetric Inverse Semigroup,” at the Analysis, Logic and Physics Seminar at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Keith Mellinger Publishes Research Article

Keith Mellinger, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Mathematics, recently saw his co-authored research article Embedding cycles in finite planes published in the Electronic Journal of Combinatorics.  The article addresses graph cycles in planes, a topic that has been connected to certain soft-decision decoding algorithms for error-correcting codes.