OPEN FOR DISCOVERY The John Brooks Williams Natural Sciences Center–South brings together technology and student research. By Hannah Hepfer | Photos by Jessica Attie ’04 and John Linden Math major Alexa Ortiz ’15 pushes against the heavy glass doors as she enters John Brooks Williams Natural Sciences Center–South. She swipes her student ID to enter the third-floor Computational Math Research Lab. The white board has remnants of last night’s study session, and an ongoing chess game sits in the corner. Ortiz is in the room almost daily to work on her research project — exploring the use of binary partitions. Her research is a three-semester-long process that will culminate in her presentation at Senior Seminar in May. She’s got a ways to go between now and then, so she logs on to one of the two computational computers and starts running a complex calculation. The computers are designed to process high levels of data and can conduct computations in about a third of the time as her own laptop. She checks her phone for the time. Soon, she’ll meet with her advisor, Associate Professor of Mathematics Edward Early, in his nearby office to go over her progress. Around the corner in the Math Tutoring Lab, fellow Math major Dani Pedroza ’13 helps students use Maple software to complete laboratory assignments. Down the hall, Associate Professor of Mathematics David Naples greets students who are about to start their final in the physics lab, where they’ll rotate through eight experiments followed by a short calculation. Downstairs, Computer Science major Kirby Powell ’14 enters the Mabee Foundation Advanced Computing Lab, which is equipped with 36 computer workstations, where he’ll finish up homework before class. Since the center opened in September, it’s established itself as a hub for student exploration and collaboration. The building is rich with research opportunities related to such areas as software engineering, computer technology, environmental science and forensics, but students of all majors benefit from the technology and shared spaces inside. In this photo essay, see how thoughtful architectural design merges with science to create an atmosphere of discovery and interaction.
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