Science & Technology

Associate Professor of Chemistry Doug Young involves students such as John Halonski M.S. '18 (front) and Chris Travis '19

Doug Young works in an area where the worlds of chemistry, biology and engineering meet, focusing on a class of molecules known as “unnatural amino acids.”

John Swaddle holding a bird
Acoustic Lighthouse

John Swaddle believes he can save a lot of birds just by getting them to look up. One reason that birds fly into buildings is that they’re not looking where they’re going. They really can’t, because they’re not built that way.

Why is there anything?

The scope of the LBNF-DUNE project approaches the preposterous. A thousand or so scientists, representing more than 160 institutions in 30 nations, are working on an apparatus that will shoot a beam of mysterious, identity-shifting particles 800 miles through solid earth in hopes of getting a better handle on some of the most puzzling questions of science.

Andreas Stathopoulos
Contemplating exascale

Andreas Stathopoulos is part of a collaboration that aspires to simulate the building blocks of matter on some of the biggest computers ever made.

The brown recluse spider spins a web that is much stronger than steel for its thickness and weight
It’s in the loops

An international collaboration between William & Mary scientists and colleagues at the University of Oxford has discovered that the brown recluse makes extra-tough silk by spinning loops into each strand.

Rowan Lockwood
‘Big, honkin’ grandma oysters’

Rowan Lockwood is extracting pearls of data from long-dead oysters. She has strung those data pearls together to craft a set of suggestions for the re-oystering of today's Chesapeake Bay.

Alexander Williams ’17 works with psychologist Chris Conway on a study of how people develop fears of things that haven’t harmed them yet.
Vicarious fear learning

Chris Conway recalls a moment in his childhood in which he was chased by a neighbor’s aggressive dog. The experience didn’t scar Conway, but it did leave a lasting impression on someone else — his brother, who saw everything from afar.

Chemist Robert Orwoll (left) raps his knuckles on a sample regolith-polymer brick
Bricks on Mars

Moses and Aaron, the Old Testament tells us, had to make bricks without straw before their people could leave Egypt and begin the journey to the Promised Land. Bob and Dick have to figure out how to make bricks from regolith before their people can leave Earth and begin colonizing Mars.

Ornithologist Dan Cristol
A surge of neurotoxin is no help

Migration is hard on a songbird. It has a commute of thousands of miles — north or south, depending on the season — a journey that often includes a nonstop flight over the Gulf of Mexico or even along nearly the entire coastline of North and South America.

Bryan Watts uses a caliber to take several measurements of an eaglet as Bart Paxton helps to steady the bird.
Leaving the nest

Shane Lawler was taking care of business in a loblolly pine, 90 feet above Gospel Spreading Farm, unfazed by the agitated bald eagles spiraling around his head. "All right!" he yelled to Bryan Watts, waiting at the base of the tree. "I've got one bird in a bag."

More Science & Technology Stories