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Natural Science and Mathematics Blog

Date: Nov 1, 2013

This past summer, Amy Strosser, worked on two mathematical research projects in graph theory at Rochester Institute of Technology. A group of students, along with Amy, analyzed data that was recorded from the MRI's of football player's brains. They used graph theory metrics to determine whether the communication between brain regions had changed from preseason to postseason. They concluded that the number of hits a player took affected the communication connectivity of the player's brain. Amy and her partner worked on a second project, in which they discovered an algorithm called Walk Modularity that can detect communities within graphs. A community is a set of vertices that is well-connected by edges within a graph.

Throughout the semester, the School of Natural Science and Mathematics hosts speakers to present their research or provide an informative lecture on their field of study. These speakers are recommended by the current faculty or are alumni who come back and share their experiences after the Mount. Nicole Calabro C’11, presented in September to a group of students and faculty about her research surrounding an experimental biomaterial that could help heal wounds faster. She graduated from the Mount with a Biology degree and is currently pursuing a PhD at Yale School of Medicine.

During the summer of 2012 at St. Mary's College of Maryland, Michelle Rose C'15 and a group of three other undergraduate students researched existing work on dominating sets to create their own algorithm to find minimally double dominating sets. The algorithms were created to handle different types of graphs and to be self-stabilizing, in order to reduce the need for external interference. To make the idea of double dominating sets more applicable to the modern world, the group decided to tie their research to the zombie apocalypse. Zombies and national guard squadrons correspond to nodes out of and in the set, respectively. Therefore, in the event of a zombie apocalypse, the algorithm can be applied to the intersections of streets in order to determine where to place squadrons to contain the zombie mobs and how to use them most efficiently.

Students and faculty enjoyed a fascinating presentation on the evening of October 17, 2013 about how the faith of several famous scientists, like Copernicus and Einstein, may have shaped their scientific thinking. The speaker, Dr. Steven Gimbel, Chair of the Philosophy Department at Gettysburg College, pointed out that scientists are people too and their religious upbringing and education can influence the way they view the world. This event was sponsored by the George Henry Miles Honor Society and the Meredith Science and Culture lecture series, in honor of Dr. William "Bill" Meredith, Professor Emeritus of Biology. Bill and his wife, Betty, were in attendance.

Four letters are generating a lot of excitement in the Science Department. Those letters are GC and IR and to chemists they mean Gas Chromatograph and Infra-Red Spectrophotometer. These are the latest acquisitions to the Chemistry program thanks to a $39,000 award from the Marion I. & Henry J. Knott Foundation to Chemistry professor Chris Bradley. The instruments will be used by students in courses like Organic Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Forensic Chemistry and Biochemistry. The GC separates and identifies gaseous compounds within a gas mixture. The IR is used to figure out the architecture of an unknown molecule.

The Knott Foundation, located in Baltimore, is a Catholic family foundation committed to honoring our founders' legacy of generosity to strengthen our community. We are very grateful to the Knott family for their continued generosity to the Mount.

Thanks to the generosity of several donors, four students had the unparalleled opportunity to conduct original, professional-level research under the mentorship of Science Department faculty. The students were the recipients of Summer Research Internship Program (SRIP) awards in the form of stipends that allowed them to dedicate their summer to research rather than a mundane summer job. The awards were made possible by donations to the Dean's Fund for Excellence. Faculty were able to advance their research and students gained valuable training and experience that will help them get into medical school and graduate school or land a job after graduation. We are very grateful to all those who support the Dean's Fund for Excellence.

Dr. staiger and student

Dahyana Arias and Dr. Jen Staiger, Biology
Examining the molecular mediators of HMGB1 signaling in rat glioma cells

Dr. Bradley and Jordan DeSilva

Jordan DeSilva and Dr. Chris Bradley, Chemistry
Synthesis of a Super Bulky N-Heterocyclic Carbene and Its Reactivity with Transitional Metals

Dr. McCauslin and student

Brad Shenberger and Dr. Christine McCauslin, Biology
Transcriptional regulation in response to ischemic shock and inflammation

Dr. Dye and student

Jessica Boegner and Dr. Katy Dye, Biology
Induction of the unfolded protein response by Ebolavirus - a qPCR array investigation

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