May 18, 2024

Mathematics Faculty Participate in Joint Mathematics Meetings

Eight members of the Department of Mathematics presented at the annual Joint Mathematics Meetings in Atlanta in January.  The JMM is the largest mathematics conference in the country, with registrations this year exceeding 6,000 participants.  Highlights of the meeting include:

  • Randall Helmstutler, chair and associate professor, presented the talk “Generalized dihedral groups in non-commutative cryptographic protocols,” based on research conducted with former student Chris Lloyd. Dr. Helmstutler also participated in a day-long workshop for mathematics department chairs.
  • Professor Debra Hydorn presented the talk “Small Teaching” in the MAA session on discrete mathematics in the undergraduate curriculum. Dr. Hydorn also exhibited two pieces in the Mathematical Art Exhibition and participated in several committee meetings.
  • Associate professor Leo Lee gave the presentation “DDM for SPDE” in the AMS contributed paper session on numerical analysis and computer science.
  • Professor Larry Lehman gave two talks on his research in number theory, “A Continued Fraction Algorithm for Quadratic Numbers, Forms, and  Ideals” and “A Formula for the Number of Solutions of an Arbitrary Quadratic Congruence.”
  • Lecturer Jennifer Magee presented the talk “Cryptology for first-year students” in the MAA session on cryptology for undergraduates, providing an overview of the department’s unique FSEM course in the field.
  • Professor Keith Mellinger delivered “The ingredients for a successful liberal arts course in quantitative reasoning,” a talk addressing the department’s innovative approach to a recently developed course offering, Math 120: Quantitative Reasoning for the Sciences.
  • Professor Marie Sheckels presented “Enhancing Quantitative Reasoning and Skills through Exploring Scientific Applications” in the session Innovative Strategies to Inspire and Prepare Potential STEM Majors.
  • Professor Suzanne Sumner gave the talk “Environmental Applications: Introduction to Mathematical Modeling” in the session Meaningful Modeling in the First Two Years of College.

Hydorn Attends CUR Annual Business Meeting

To begin her three year term as a Council on Undergraduate Research Councilor for the Mathematics and Computer Science Division, Debra Hydorn, professor of Mathematics, attended the recent CUR Annual Business Meeting at the University of Southern Florida.  At this meeting, Councilors worked within their disciplinary groups and also within Committees and Task Forces to define and organize CUR activities.  Special sessions were also held to address CUR’s Strategic Plan initiatives on assessing undergraduate research, enhancing faculty engagement with CUR, and raising CUR’s profile.  Information about CUR can be found at

Hydorn Elected Councilor for CUR

Debra Hydorn, professor of mathematics, was recently elected to a three-year term as Councilor for the Mathematics & Computer Science division of the Council on Undergraduate Research. Councilors are the governing body of CUR and set policy and develop programs for the organization.

McCall, Hydorn and Clayton Receive Grant

Dr. Venitta McCall, professor of the College of Education, Dr. Debra Hydorn, professor of mathematics and Dr. Courtney Clayton, assistant professor of the College of Education have received a $35,600 grant from the Virginia Department of Education. The purpose of the grant is to train 30 teachers from critical teacher shortage areas in Spotsylvania County, Stafford County and Fredericskburg City to become Clinical Faculty members for the College of Education.

Selected teachers will be trained in effective mentoring practices, in best practices for instructing English Language Learners and in using learning analytics – the appropriate collection, use and analysis of data to facilitate instructional improvement. Research has shown that having highly skilled Clinical Faculty is a key component in enhancing teacher retention.

Hydorn completes ONR Summer Faculty Research Program

Debra Hydorn, professor of mathematics, participated in a 10-week research project at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division.  She investigated the use of the R BACCO package to implement the Bayesian Calibration of Computer Code Output.  The research was conducted on the Dahlgren base between June 1 and August 7, 2015.

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.

Hydorn to Serve as Leadership Mentor

Debra Hydorn, Professor of Mathematics, was selected to serve as a leadership mentor at the AAC&U/Project Kaleidoscope Summer Leadership Institute. As a mentor she will help participating science faculty develop their leadership plans for projects aimed at transforming undergraduate STEM education. The institute will take place at Pendle Hill, a  conference center near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 18-23. To learn more about this and other institutes offered by AAC&U see

Professors Elected Co-Chairs of AAC&U PKAL D.C. Regional Network

Suzanne Sumner

Suzanne Sumner

Debra Hydorn

Debra Hydorn

Professors Debra Hydorn and Suzanne Sumner (mathematics) were elected co-chairs of the new  D.C. regional network of the American Association’s Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL). Hydorn and Sumner are both members of PKAL’s Faculty for the 21st Century (F21) Network. The goals for the network are to continue the work of PKAL toward improving STEM education for all students and providing faculty development and leadership opportunities for STEM educators.  The D.C. regional network is planning on holding two meetings each year. The first meeting is planned for Fall 2104 in the D.C. area. The second meeting will be held at JMU in the spring of 2015.

UMW Students and Faculty Collaborate with Dahlgren Researchers

Eight University of Mary Washington students have received hands-on guidance this semester from mentors at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Dahlgren. The students shared the results of their undergraduate research projects during poster presentations on Wednesday, April 30 at UMW’s Dahlgren campus. UMW professors Debra Hydorn, Melody Denhere and Stephen Davies collaborated with the students and mentors on four projects:
  • Statistical modeling and analysis of counts in time – using social network data, students Kim Hildebrand and Candice Benshaw analyzed the number of Twitter messages sent within a county in the U.S. during a given hour.
  • Simulation of a social network graph – students Cody Reibsome and Benjamin Blalock established a model of the collection of individuals that a member follows and the collection of individuals who are followers on Twitter.
  • String edit distance for micro-blogging text – in order to follow trends on Twitter there is a need to be able to account for misspellings. Students Jonathan Blauvelt and Anthony Bell used a distance measure to determine the similarity of tweets.
  • Citation prediction and analysis – students William Etcho and Josiah Neuberger explored methodologies for predicting the number of citations a paper or patent receives or for identifying emerging technologies.
For more information about the projects, contact Hydorn at