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A Lego League First Harvey Mudd student organization FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) hosted the Nov. 23 Lego League Challenge, marking the first time the regional qualifying competition has been held on a college campus. More than 230 elementary and middle-school students from throughout Southern California participated in the event, which challenged student teams to build and program robots to tackle a variety of missions. “The tasks represented actions related to disasters. For example, you would try to group families together, give people water and remove precariously perched branches from above power lines,” says Sean Messenger ’15, who served as the site host and coordinator for the event. He’s pictured in the referee shirt with Kaitlyn Dwelle ’15, left, and Erika Dyson, Iris and Howard Critchell Assistant Professor of Religious Studies. “The kids came up with so many unique and innovative ideas,” says Messenger.

Research Kudos

Awards recognize undergraduate research THE ABILITY TO PURSUE RESEARCH with faculty members or participate in a Clinic—is a hallmark of a Harvey Mudd education. These collaborative efforts reap rewards well beyond the classroom and laboratory, as evidenced by the national recognition received by Harvey Mudd students.

Goldwater Honors A trio of Harvey Mudd students received honorable mentions for the 2014 Goldwater Scholarship, the most prestigious national award for undergraduate researchers (sophomores and juniors) in science, mathematics and engineering. The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. Kaitlyn Dwelle ’15 is a chemistry

major who developed new polymer membranes for gas separation. She conducted theoretical and computational work in the molecular diffusion laboratory under the supervision of Nancy Lape, associate professor of engineering, performing molecular dynamics simulations to model the diffusion of gas through different types of membranes. “I’m constantly amazed at the amount of support Harvey Mudd gives its students for undergraduate research,” says Dwelle. “I’m happy to see my own work, as well as that of my peers, recognized on a national level.”

Shannon Wetzler ’16 is a joint major

in biology and chemistry. She’s captain of the DUCK! Improv Team, a singer in the McAlister Church Choir and a mentor tutor for Homework Hotline, a free over-the-phone tutoring service. Wetzler worked with David Vosburg, associate professor of chemistry, using biomimicry to optimize a 20-step synthesis of an antifungal agent, ultimately simplifying the process down to a fourstep green synthesis. “The research experience was amazing,” says Wetzler. “I really enjoyed the opportunity to think outside of the box and try to solve problems while researching.” Wetzler hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in biophysics or biochemistry, specifically working on making more accurate biosensors. Fellow sophomore Rowan Zellers is a joint major in computer science and mathematics with an interest in machine learning—the study of how computers digest the patterns that underlie massive data sets. Zellers applied machine learning to a computational biology problem in order to see how transcription factors bind to DNA in fruit flies (Drosophila), with the hopes of better understanding embryonic cell development in Drosophila and, eventually, humans. Zellers is currently studying abroad in Budapest, Hungary, with the Aquincum Institute of Technology program, organized by professors Ran Libeskind-Hadas, R. Michael Shanahan Professor of Computer Science, and Michael Orrison, Avery Professor of Mathematics. “This allows me to take

courses that relate to machine learning, as well as some other fun ones,” says Zellers, adding that studying abroad also provides a unique opportunity to explore another culture and language.

Awards for Computing Research For their exemplary work and exceptional potential in computer science, three seniors received honorable mentions in the Computing Research Association’s Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Awards 2013 competition. Jane Hoffswell ’14 helped to create a web-based visualizer that graphically displays the structure of a software program's execution. Miranda Parker ’14 investigated how college students learn and understand big-O analysis, a theoretical tool computer scientists use to estimate how fast code will run. John Sarracino ’14 was recognized

for his work on two projects involving static analysis of computer programs. The first explores whether a technique called “type refinement” could improve the precision of static analyses for JavaScript without impacting performance. For the second project, Sarracino developed syntax, semantics and an interpreter for a new computer language that performs static analysis on digital circuits.



Harvey Mudd College Magazine spring 2014  

Our alumni are world changers. Meet three who are impacting finance, design and medicine. Armed with strong technical experience and trainin...

Harvey Mudd College Magazine spring 2014  

Our alumni are world changers. Meet three who are impacting finance, design and medicine. Armed with strong technical experience and trainin...