Virtual Experience Designer

Virtual reality (VR) blocks a person’s experience of the real physical world around them. Imagine wearing a blindfold that also covers your ears and treats you to sights, sounds, and experiences created by technicians, designers, software, and hardware. Virtual Experience Designer Matt Brennan, whose degrees are in informatics and architecture, recreates works of art and buildings. He travels to places like Rome and Paris to photograph museum pieces, churches, and town halls and then creates VR adventures that allow other people to see the art he photographed in three dimensions, as though they’re standing next to it and walking around… Learn more

Matthew Brennan

Virtual Experience Designer Cyberpunk writers imagine a future in which advanced computer technology falls into the wrong hands. Neuromancer, by William Gibson, was one of the first cyberpunk novels. Virtual Experience Designer Matthew Brennan, who also calls himself a human-computer interaction designer, calls Neuromancer “one of my favorite sci-fi books.”  In another of Brennan’s favorite reads — Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson — Hiro Protagonist enters the Metaverse, a virtual reality he helped create. Protagonist battles an evil-doer named Raven and snow crash, a computer virus. In 2016, when a company called Oculus began selling what they called Rift, the… Learn more

William C. Johnson

Analytical Chemist If you drink juice, water, or milk from a box, you probably take it for granted that the paperboard that the carton is made of won’t let the liquid it contains leak out. And when you reach for a paper cup filled with hot cocoa, coffee, or tea, you certainly don’t want those beverages to soak through the paper and burn you or stain your clothes.  There are precise chemical recipes used to treat different types of paper used to make juice boxes, coffee cups, and other useful paper products. These innovative chemical formulas are discovered by analytical… Learn more

Tamara Skeeter

Skate-boarding in Golconda Skate Park might have been on the dangerous side, were it not for the work of Civil Engineer Tamara Skeeter and her colleagues.  Read to the end to find out why! Did you learn about the Pythagorean theorem in geometry class? And have you wondered whether it would be useful to you beyond the right triangles in the math worksheets you completed? “I use it all the time” says Skeeter, who takes the designs for roads, sidewalks, ramps, bridges, and walls and figures out what measurements and materials make each structure work well for the people using… Learn more

New York City Public High School Students Visit M4S Scientists at University of Virginia

Did your math teachers take you on field trips? “Math is how we engage with the world,” Mechanical Engineer Bevin Etienne recently told a group of high schoolers visiting the University of Virginia. So one might think that math field trips — explorations of the world, led by math teachers — might be a common practice.  Yet they are rare. A director of Urban Academy Laboratory High School, a public school in New York City, invited Math4Science Founder Justine Henning to create a semester-long M4S course for their students.  “What’s Data About,” the course Henning came up with is a… Learn more

Amanda Kyle Gibson

BiologistEvolutionary Biologist Once upon a time, there was a banana named Big Mike (Gros Michel was its French name). Popular with people who eat fruit and with farmers who made a living off of providing that fruit to them, Big Mike was planted over and over. This particular banana tree was cloned — farmers grew genetically identical versions of it on many Latin American plantations, a practice known as monoculture. Alas, along came a dastardly fungus: the disease known as Fusarium wilt. It destroyed Big Mike, who had next-to-no protection from disease. And with all that cloning, if Fusarium wilt… Learn more

Jill Venton

Analytical Chemist / Neurochemist / Chemist Have you worked with fruit flies in science class or spotted these very small insects flying around ripe bananas or other fruit? Imagine the size of a fruit fly’s brain. How would you measure something that small? And how might experimenting with the chemicals in brains that small help human beings work towards understanding and one day finding a cure for diseases like Parkinson’s? A nanometer (nm) is a tiny piece of a meter.  (Spread your arms wide and look at the distance between your left and right hands. That’s about a meter or,… Learn more

Neurochemist

An animal’s nervous system uses chemicals called neurotransmitters to communicate all sorts of information. How hot, cold, or sharp is that thing you’re touching and what should you do about that? What parts of your body hurt at any given time? How do you feel about that thing your friend just said? Your brain and spinal cord and the nerves running between them and the rest of your body help you answer questions like these.   Neurochemist Jill Venton, an Analytical Chemist, studies neurotransmitters like dopamine.  When do our brains create more dopamine? How can we measure the chemicals present in… Learn more

Analytical Chemist

What’s that made of???  You might wonder this about a delicious (or disgusting) food you’re eating, the materials toys, buildings, or machines are made of, or parts of plants or animals. Analytical chemists help find precise, molecular answers to that question. They use cool tools and what they know about chemistry to figure out exactly what things are made of. Analytical Chemist Jill Venton, a neuroscientist, studies the chemicals at work in our brains. She and her team of scientists also create tiny structures to help them measure the neurotransmitters in animals’ brains. Chemist William C. Johnson creates paper capable… Learn more

Global Change Ecologist

Sea levels are rising and droughts, fires, and major storms are having effects around the globe. With changes in Earth’s climate and biodiversity (the different species of plants, animals, and other forms of life) affecting human safety, many ecologists and other scientists, computer technologists and engineers are working hard.  Their collaborative efforts use information from the present and even distant past to create and update computer models that predict future change. Global Change Ecologist Xi Yang uses drones and other high-tech tools to gather information about trees and their survival rates under different conditions. Earth System and Computer Scientist Charles… Learn more