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sheep graze in pasture
Discovery of ancient sheep DNA revises origin story for purported Viking colony

The Faroe Islands, an archipelago between Norway and Iceland, were once believed to have been settled by Viking explorers in the mid-9th century CE. Thanks to new analysis of ancient sheep DNA, the remote, North Atlantic islands are now shown to have been inhabited by British Isle shepherds centuries before the Vikings arrived.

Illustration of an atom
In ‘Nature’: The need to update neutrino models

Neutrinos may be the key to finally solving a mystery of the origins of our matter-dominated universe, and preparations for two major, billion-dollar experiments are underway to reveal the particles’ secrets.

A striped bass under water
VIMS dead-zone report card reflects extended season

The annual report of “dead-zone” conditions in the Chesapeake Bay from William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science indicates the overall severity of hypoxia was slightly higher than usual during 2021, due largely to the relatively early onset and late termination of low-oxygen waters.

A logo that reads "iGEM"
W&M team returns from iGEM competition bearing honors

William & Mary’s undergraduate iGEM team won a Gold Medal and was nominated for a major award at the iGEM Giant Jamboree, the annual conference and award ceremony of the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation.

Jason Chen and Francis Tanglao Aguas
W&M professors hone mixed-reality training to promote diverse hiring

Jason Chen, associate professor of education at William & Mary, is working with Professor of Theatre and Asian & Pacific Islander American Studies Francis Tanglao Aguas are using a grant from the National Science Foundation to create a professional development curriculum.

Portrait photograph of Daniel Kovner
DOE supports Ph.D. student Kovner’s continued QCD studies at JLab

Daniel Kovner, a doctoral student in the Department of Physics at William & Mary, will continue his investigation of quantum chromodynamics as one of 65 graduate students supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program.

A krill
Cloud shadows cue mini-migrations

A new study shows that some zooplankton also swim up and down repeatedly within this daytime sanctuary, responding to cloud shadows so subtle they escape the notice of shipboard oceanographers.

Plastic bottles float among reeds in a marsh
VIMS partners with JASON Learning for Beyond the Plastic Bottle Challenge

William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science has partnered with JASON Learning for the Beyond the Plastic Bottle Challenge, an educational activity in which teams of students create a sustainable plan that reduces the debris associated with one source of microplastic pollution in their community.

A person in a scuba suit under water
CERF honors Orth with Lifetime Achievement Award

The Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation has chosen emeritus professor Robert “JJ” Orth of William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science as a joint recipient of its 2021 Odum Award for Lifetime Achievement, along with Ken Heck of the University of South Alabama’s Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

Map display from new online tool's dashboard
New online tool helps better serve environmental justice

The Elizabeth River Project (ERP) has teamed with researchers from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and William & Mary to build an online mapping tool that can help the non-profit and other community partners better incorporate environmental justice issues into planning and restoration efforts.

A group of masked students standing outside
W&M partners with CDC on mask usage study, results show campus is masking up

New data collected by student researchers show that 97% of William & Mary’s campus community is wearing masks in public spaces. The university is one of roughly 60 institutions partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct an eight-week mask observation study as part of the CDC’s Mask Adherence Surveillance at Colleges and Universities Project (MASCUP).

Map of W&M campus with various locations highlighted
Mapping campus love stories

As fellows at W&M’s Center for Geospatial Analysis, Kira Holmes ’17 and Colleen Truskey ’17 showed the power of maps.

Portrait photograph of Olivia Ding
Olivia Ding ’21 awarded Thomas Jefferson Prize in Natural Philosophy

Olivia Ding is the 2021 recipient of William & Mary’s Thomas Jefferson Prize in Natural Philosophy. The honor is endowed by the trustees of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation to recognize excellence in the sciences and mathematics in an undergraduate student.

truck in flooded street
U.S. sea-level report cards: 2020 again trends toward acceleration

The annual update of their sea level “report cards” by researchers at William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science adds further evidence of an accelerating rate of sea-level rise at nearly all tidal stations along the U.S. coastline.

interior of swem library
Virginia libraries negotiate new contract with Elsevier

Six members of the Virginia Research Libraries (VRL) recently completed contract negotiations with Elsevier, the largest publisher of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) scholarly journals.

Melissa Moore portrait photograph
W&M alumna leads groundbreaking research platform at Moderna

Melissa J. Moore ’84 is the chief scientific officer of platform research at Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc.. She is a key part of the biotech company’s effort to produce 200 million COVID-19 vaccines for the U.S. government to distribute to Americans across the country.

red-cockaded woodpecker
Once in imminent danger, rare woodpecker reaches milestone in its recovery

The Piney Grove Preserve has shifted from receiving red-cockaded woodpeckers from other populations to donating woodpeckers. The movement marks a milestone in the recovery of the species and is a testament to the valuable work of W&M’s Center for Conservation Biology.

Wenliang “Bill” Li
Physics postdoc wins JLab prize to further ‘backwards’ research

A postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Physics at William & Mary, Wenliang “Bill” Li is studying proton structure — just like many people who conduct their nuclear physics research at Jefferson Lab. But he’s studying a new aspect of it: the backward perspective.

Illustration of researcher pulling back wall made from data
AidData sheds light on Chinese foreign aid

AidData, a research lab based at William & Mary’s Global Research Institute (GRI), has been building a new dataset that sheds light on China’s vast portfolio of grant- and loan-financed projects around the globe.

An instrument takes reading from a pan of stir fry
Quarantine and the chemistry of the great indoors

As COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders upended life as we know it, W&M chemist Rachel O’Brien turned her kitchen into a makeshift laboratory. She and her lab students literally cooked up experiments in their homes by measuring aerosols released during cooking.

Shannon White
Creativity, serendipity enhance CGA's pivot to online classes

Faculty with William & Mary’s Center for Geospatial Analysis instill graduate and undergraduate students with the skills and understanding to use mapping and visualization techniques in projects ranging from art history to field biology.

Heather Kenny places a band on a bluebird
In a quiet world, research on noise and nesting bluebirds

Heather Kenny, a biology master’s student at William & Mary, has spent the past two years studying the parenting behavior of bluebirds. Specifically, she is working to understand how human-made noise influences nesting and productivity.

Portrait photograph of Eden Maness in the lab wearing a lab coat
Finding a possible new way to treat schizophrenia

For her research into the underlying neurobiology of attentional processing in the context of schizophrenia drug discovery, Eden Maness is the recipient of the William & Mary Graduate Studies Advisory Board Award for Excellence in Scholarship in the Natural and Computational Sciences.

A great blue heron stands near a pond
Social distancing in birds

One of many things that the COVID-19 pandemic will be remembered for is the introduction of the term “social distancing” to the global lexicon. For bird behaviorists, the term and its variants have been in use for over a century.

Cellular image of circles and swirls
Immune-system cells of fish are ingesting plastic…and then dying

The research lab of Patty Zwollo, an immunologist and professor of biology at William & Mary, has discovered that just as whales swallow plastic thinking it’s food, some cellular components of the immune system in fish “swallow” bits of microplastic that they mistake for invading pathogens.

Maria J. Donoghue Velleca
Maria Donoghue Velleca selected as William & Mary dean of Arts & Sciences

Maria Donoghue Velleca, an accomplished scholar and award-winning educator who served as senior associate dean for faculty affairs and strategic planning at Georgetown University’s College of Arts & Sciences, has been selected as William & Mary’s dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, President Katherine A. Rowe announced today.

A series of planting pots containing Mars-like soil
How scientifically accurate is 'The Martian'? Ask W&M’s budding astrobotanists

Jon Kay, a visiting assistant professor of geology at William & Mary, is using the hypothetical situation Matt Damon’s character finds himself in — being stranded on Mars and forced to grow his own food — as a real research question for students in his new COLL 150 class Science and Science Fiction.

Plastic debris on a remote Gulf of Alaska beach
'Grand Challenge' review stresses global impact of microplastics

Professor Rob Hale of William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science is lead author of a new “Grand Challenges” paper commissioned to mark the 100th anniversary of the American Geophysical Union, the world’s largest association of Earth and space scientists with more than 60,000 members in 137 countries.

A MERS coronavirus shows its namesake crown-like structure under the microscope.
A coronavirus Q&A with a virologist

Kurt Williamson is a virologist, an associate professor in William & Mary’s Department of Biology who specializes in the study of viruses. He offers some scientific context for the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

A diver writes on a notebook underwater above a field of seagrass
Research reveals unique reproductive trait for seagrass

A joint Australian-U.S. team reveals that one group of seagrasses, Australian species of the genus Posidonia, has evolved yet another remarkable adaptation for ocean survival: a winged seed whose shape harnesses the force of underwater currents to hold it on the seafloor for rooting.

A truck drives through flooding on a roadway
Sea-level report cards: 2019 data adds to trend in acceleration

The annual update of their sea level “report cards” by researchers at William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science adds evidence of an accelerating rate of sea-level rise at nearly all tidal stations along the U.S. coastline.

Molly Mitchell
VIMS scientist wins national Early Career Leadership Award

Molly Mitchell of William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science has earned an Early Career Leadership Award from the US CLIVAR Program for her efforts to develop and share sea-level forecasts and other planning tools with coastal risk managers and emergency responders in Virginia and the mid-Atlantic region.

Rain clouds gather over a body of water
VIMS dead-zone report card reflects improving Chesapeake Bay water quality

An annual model-based report on “dead-zone” conditions in the Chesapeake Bay during 2019 indicates that the total volume of low-oxygen, “hypoxic” water was on the high end of the normal range for 1985 to 2018, a finding that scientists actually consider relatively good news.

A person immerses his hands in a large, blue water tank
Study shows invasive blue catfish can tolerate high salinities

A new study by researchers at William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science warns that blue catfish — an invasive species in several Chesapeake Bay tributaries — tolerate salinities higher than most freshwater fishes.

A car drives through water on a roadway
King tide provides royal value

The third annual “Catch the King” event — when trained volunteers hit the shores of Hampton Roads to map the reach of the year’s highest astronomical tide — took place Sunday morning, and though the tide’s reach may not have been quite as “majestic” as in recent years, the data it offered to citizen scientists were still just as golden.

A sand dune on a beach
VIMS earns grant to improve coastal resilience by studying dunes

A team co-led by Associate Professor Christopher Hein of William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science has won a three-year, $687,850 federal grant to study how natural and constructed dunes respond when impacted by coastal storms and rising seas.

Photograph of the preamble to the U.S. Constitution
Why is impeachment in the Constitution?

With impeachment in the news, W&M News sat down with historian Karin Wulf to discuss the origin of the impeachment process outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

A person stands on a boat that's beached
VIMS contributes to major oil-spill drill on Eastern Shore

The drill — part of the National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program, or PREP — was based on a scenario in which a container ship moving north 20 miles off Virginia’s seaside Eastern Shore strikes an unknown object and discharges 2,500 barrels of heavy fuel oil.

Rosalyn Hargraves
ACE fellow joins W&M President’s Office

Rosalyn Hargraves, associate vice president for assessment and transformation in the Division for Inclusive Excellence at Virginia Commonwealth University, will spend the 2019-20 academic year at William & Mary as an American Council on Education Fellow.

Oysters on a cutting board with a knife
Consortium earns funding to enhance oyster breeding

A consortium of 14 shellfish geneticists from 12 East Coast universities and government agencies has won a five-year, $4.4 million grant funded by NOAA Fisheries through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to develop new tools to accelerate and localize selective breeding in support of oyster aquaculture.

Peggy Agouris
Get to know Provost Peggy Agouris

Peggy Agouris became William & Mary’s sixth provost on July 1. W&M News checked in with the Athens, Greece, native to get her thoughts on everything from first impressions to goals for the year.

William & Mary Ph.D. student Shuangli Du and staff scientist Dr. Doug Beringer working in front of computers inside William & Mary’s Ultracold AMO Physics Laboratory.
Using ultracold atoms to find WMDs

Seth Aubin, associate professor of physics at William & Mary, recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to develop a new type of instrument capable of detecting hidden infrastructure for weapons of mass destruction.

Four members of the WetCAT team accept the Governor’s Award
VIMS teams win suite of Governor's Technology Awards

Two research teams from William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science received 2019 Governor’s Technology Awards for developing online tools that allow users to track water levels in real time throughout Hampton Roads and to assess the health of the Commonwealth’s coastal wetlands.

Chanté Lively examines a muddy tidal flat
REU program celebrates 30th anniversary at VIMS

Undergraduates from across the nation spent 10 weeks in the field and laboratory this summer during the 30th annual “Research Experiences for Undergraduates” program at William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Professor Iris Anderson stands in front of a body of water and smiles at the camera
W&M professor earns Odum Award for Lifetime Achievement

Professor Iris Anderson of William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science has been honored by the world’s leading coastal research society for her sustained accomplishments and important contributions to human understanding of estuaries and coastal ecosystems.

William & Mary student Laura Anderson is seen working in the Anatomy Lab, instructing a fellow student about the structures within an actual human bone.
A human approach to human anatomy

William & Mary's Human Anatomy Lab is a class that for over 50 years has allowed undergraduate students to gain an understanding of anatomy using actual human cadavers.

A photo from June of 2018 shows the Newton Trees growing outside Small Hall doing well, even producing apples.
Sad news: The Newton Trees are gone

William & Mary’s Isaac Newton apple trees no longer stand outside Small Hall. The trees likely succumbed to a bacterial disease known as fire blight.

Luke Schwenke '19
W&M senior pens winning essay about cybersecurity in the age of 'Internet of Things'

Luke Schwenke ’19, a Data Science major from Warren, Virginia, earned first place in the Intermediaries & Reinsurance Underwriters Association’s 2018 Scholars Program Essay Contest. His winning essay earned him a $10,000 top prize from the IRUA and publication in the most recent edition of their quarterly journal for insurance industry professionals, the Journal of Reinsurance.

VIMS researchers honored with 2018 Cozzarelli Prize

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has bestowed a 2018 Cozzarelli Prize on a paper authored by a multi-disciplinary research team led by Jonathan Lefcheck of William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Grace Solini and Hana Warner
Two W&M juniors awarded Goldwater Scholarship

William & Mary’s legacy of success with the Goldwater Scholarship Program continues in 2019 as two students have been named to the exclusive list of undergraduate scholars. Hana Warner ’20 and Grace Solini ‘20 are among just 496 undergraduate students nationwide to be named Goldwater Scholars in 2019.

Study shows continuing impacts of Deepwater Horizon oil spill

A long-term study suggests the oil from the Deepwater Horizon is still affecting the salt marshes of the Gulf Coast and reveals the key role that marsh grasses play in the overall recovery of these important coastal wetlands.

Study confirms and ranks nursery value of coastal habitats

A comprehensive analysis of more than 11,000 previous coastal-habitat measurements suggests that mangroves and seagrasses provide the greatest value as “nurseries” for young fishes and invertebrates, providing key guidance for managers of threatened marine resources.

VIMS updates Chesapeake Bay coastal inventory

Researchers at William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science have just finished the latest iteration of a suite of online maps that can display the condition of the Chesapeake Bay shoreline along its entire length.

What the devil? Raft goes empty in annual debate

Students, faculty and staff, and members of the community flooded the Chesapeake rooms in the Sadler Center on March 14 to watch the annual Raft Debate in which three professors, deserted on an imaginary island, represented their disciplines in an battle for a single spot on an imaginary raft.

GMOs not main culprit in monarch butterfly decline

Jack Boyle, a post-doctorate Mellon Fellow at W&M, is lead author on a paper that shows GMOs are not the main culprit for the decline of the monarch butterfly, a finding that goes against claims made by scientists and activists for decades.

Krill range shrinks poleward with ocean warming

A new study based on careful analysis of 90 years of scientific catch data from the South Atlantic Ocean shows that the geographic distribution of Antarctic krill has contracted nearly 300 miles southward in concert with ocean warming, raising concerns for international fisheries managers.

John Swaddle
Bird danger

Bird-human actions can end in tragedy — for bird as well as human. John Swaddle believes technology and a solid understanding of bird behavior can make those tragedies less frequent.

Cheryl Dickter EEG Lab
What’s in a name?

Behind a gray door in the basement of William & Mary’s Integrated Science Center is a narrow hallway that leads to three identical rooms. Each room is furnished with a desk, a chair and a computer monitor.

Denys Poshyvanyk
Quest for the Grail

Imagine the 30,557 words of Shakespeare’s Hamlet being written simultaneously by tens of thousands of people. To maintain the elegance of the prose, there is a necessary interplay between words.

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.”

David De La Mater checks the growth of his “guys,” milkweed plants from throughout the East transplanted to the William & Mary greenhouse
The food of monarchs

Monarch butterflies must grow where they're planted (or, rather, laid) but David De La Mater says if he were a monarch caterpillar with a choice, he’d pick a nice stand of milkweed in New England.

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.

Anna Klompen ’17 balances an adult flatworm on her finger
So cute!

Anna Klompen is known in certain circles as Flatworm Mom. Karina Brocco French is developing her own alternate maternal identity: Cannibal Mom.

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.

head of a black rail bird
A ‘feathered mouse’

The eastern black rail is small, secretive, mysterious and in trouble. It’s a sparrow-sized marsh bird. It hardly ever flies, and gets around by creeping through dense wetland vegetation.

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."

Dara Kharabi ’17 demonstrates his hack
At tribeHacks '16

Some visitors to tribeHacks stepped out of Small Hall onto the William & Mary campus on Sunday to enjoy a bit of sun before the presentations got under way. They saw four students, carrying a pair of quadcopters, making their way toward the door.

Inspired by fish

What if we could design industrial filters that just don’t clog? William & Mary ichthyologist Laurie Sanderson has a patent pending on a new type of filter that is designed to be clogless, or at least clog-resistant.


Computer developers work like runners in a race. One foot — software — has to keep pace with the advancement of the other foot — hardware. (And vice versa, of course).

An image from the SXS Project depicts the collision of two black holes
Black holes collide

William & Mary’s physics community squeezed into a single room the morning of Feb. 11 to hear the announcement, a group of just-from-class undergraduates finding room on the floor and in odd corners.

Sara Schad ’16, Cyril Anyetei-Anum ’16, Chancellor Professor of Biology Lizabeth Allison and M.S. student Dylan Zhang
Downtown Cell City?

Think of a cell as a city, a metropolis both constructed of and populated by proteins.

Members of the William & Mary team celebrate their win on the stage of the iGEM Grand Jamboree.
Natural masters of synthetic biology

An interdisciplinary team of William & Mary students have brought home one of the biggest prizes in synthetic biology, an honor that has been called the World Cup of Science.

The red region is an area of ionized hydrogen where stars are forming and the blue region is a cloud of dust particles that reflect the light from nearby stars.
Horror. Beauty. Science.

Jacob Gunnarson’s first reaction upon being handed the keys to the observatory was one of moderate horror.

A tight bond

Alkaloids are members of a vast family of molecules that are chemically organic and also occur in nature. All forms of life have evolved ways to produce these useful chemicals.

Haitao Xu reports for work on the Alibaba corporate campus in Hangzhou, China.
A digital detective

Online ratings and reviews are a helpful, if imperfect, guide for potential customers.

Faraz Rahman (left) and Jasmin Green, known collectively as “Jafar” look over the open water of Lake Matoaka with Kurt.
Going viral

Lake Matoaka has a thriving and diverse population of viruses living in its waters. And that’s good.

Larry Leemis
Big love for big data

If there is a fire hydrant in front of your home, premiums on your homeowner’s insurance will be lower than the same home without a fire hydrant in its proximity.

Comfort food

Psychologists have traditionally looked to the mind to help people living with mental health issues. But a recent study led by William & Mary researchers shows that the stomach may also play a key role.

Mathew Wawersik
One of a thousand

You have to look pretty closely to find Matthew Wawersik's name on this paper. The list of authors and their affiliations goes on for most of four pages.

Ellison Orcutt inspects an Ipswich sparrow held by CCB biologist Fletcher Smith
A day of Ipswiching

The subdued color palette of this habitat is reminiscent of west Texas.

Catherine Wise ’15 discusses progress on her nickel catalyst with Assistant Professor of Chemistry William McNamara
Taking a leaf from nature

William & Mary chemist William McNamara is taking a “bio-inspired” approach to the world’s energy crisis by turning to nature’s very own chemical power plant: photosynthesis.

Mary Seward, a graduate student in biology
High anxiety

A team of biologists at William & Mary has begun a long-term experiment to determine what is behind the degradation of the College Woods ecosystem.

Sonic Nets

Scarecrows have never worked, and history shows that advancements in technology haven’t worked much better when it comes to shooing birds away from ripening crops.

Gunter Lüpke (left) and Wei Zhang
It’s a small world

The surface of a metal seems smooth, but a closer look—much closer, at the atomic level—will show that the same surface resembles the surface of a beehive.

Le Mangeur de Bleuets

Over the songs of Swainson’s thrush and white-throated sparrows come the soothing calls of approaching whimbrels. Soon 24 birds in formation appear over the tree line and begin a wide circle over the blueberry field.

Rebooting algae

William & Mary scientists are rebooting their algae biofuel initiative, aiming to build on opportunities brought about by new processes, new funding and newly patented apparatus.

Apps in the Cloud

Mike Panciera had already helped a blind man navigate the perilous fantasy worlds of video games. It made sense that the next step would be to design a mobile app to help the blind find their way through the interiors of real buildings.

The missing birds

Mercury takes a toll on the population of songbirds, even at sublethal doses.

At TribeHacks

H. Wade Minter, the chief technology officer at a company that provides web and mobile services to five million users, stood in Swem Library, looked out upon the frantic final minutes of William & Mary’s first 24-hour hackathon and talked about the influence of the liberal arts on computer science.

Ubiquitous, yet elusive

Neutrinos are interesting to physicists for some of the same reasons that pottery shards are interesting to archaeologists.

Center for Conservation Biology scientists use a variety of  indicators, including size and markings, to determine the age of eagle nestling. This chick is eight weeks old.
More eagles, more questions

The Center for Conservation Biology has begun its 2014 flights to survey nesting bald eagles and Mitchell Byrd is once again in the co-pilot seat.

Shorebird central

It is dawn near the mouth of the Pacora River in Panama and the shorebirds are beginning to break from their night roost on an offshore bar. They move out over the water in dozens of flocks, merging and splitting, folding and undulating, to make abstract sculptures between water and sky.

Ellen Stofan
It takes a field geologist

Listening to Ellen Stofan talk to a room full of geologists is like being in on a brainstorming session for a new science fiction movie.

A great blue mystery

In February, the great blue herons of the Chesapeake Bay region will begin their nest building or repair chores and their mating rituals—perhaps in a tree they’ve been sharing with bald eagles.

John Leckey
Finessing the weak force

The weak force is, for laymen, the least known of the quartet of interactions that run the universe as we know it.

Geology major Kat Turk ’16 and William & Mary paleontologist Rowan Lockwood
Un-beached whale

Cornwallis sank as he died, making a couple of revolutions on his way down, finally ending belly up and flippers akimbo, making a sort of “whale angel” on the ocean bottom.

hardware and software available at Swem Library’s Kyle Collaboration Lab to W&M faculty to enhance their instructional capability
Looking past the MOOC

Hype surrounding massive online courses known as MOOCs has consumed much of the e-learning conversation in higher education over the past several years.

Kaitlyn Dorst
Early starters

Local students are cropping up in William & Mary labs, performing research even before they’ve finished high school.

Math major Robert Torrence shows off his digital “New York Times” version of the classic Lights Out puzzle.
A bigger, harder ‘Lights Out’

William & Mary math student Robert Torrence is shedding some light on a decades-old game that continues to puzzle thousands each year.

Tired of being a host

Early one morning in December, Jon Allen had decided that enough was enough.

John Delos
Breathing more easily

The premature baby’s life is well monitored, but precarious. Among the dangers that preemies face are episodes of central apnea.

The turtles in the Dell

It was probably the worst day of the summer to trap turtles. The weather was good and the season was right. But Randy Chambers’ Wetland Ecosystems class just happened to pick Sept. 4 for their turtle trapping.

A summer of sequencing

It was the summer that the freshmen ruled the sequencer. Technically, they finished their freshman year and therefore did their summer work as rising sophomores. But never mind quibbles.

Lynsey LeMay checks the program agenda between presentations

Dozens of geoscience instructors across the nation gathered at William & Mary this summer to discuss ways to enhance student success in earth-science programs at America’s two-year colleges.

a bald eagle feeding her young in a nest within Charles City County
Comeback central for eagles

There are more bald eagles than ever nesting along the James River—and it’s likely that the population is getting close to the saturation point.

Mouse and tether

The average American spends about seven hours a day looking at an electronic screen. With this much of a role in our daily lives, our electronic devices must be updated frequently with the newest technology to reflect usage patterns and make the user’s experience more efficient and safe.

Joanna Weeks ’13 drags a canvas flag over the forest floor
Yes, we have more ticks...

Collecting tick specimens is easy—you drag a white piece of canvas over the right piece of ground, then turn it over. Voila—ticks!

Hans Christian von Baeyer
Diagnosing Schrödinger’s Cat

Hans von Baeyer says that we all can stop worrying about Schrödinger’s Cat. Science’s most famous imaginary feline may indeed be dead—or perhaps it’s alive. But it is certainly not both.

Invertebrate love

Spring is in full bloom in William & Mary’s biology labs, with more than 350 undergraduate students spawning marine invertebrates.

A sample of bacteriophage peptides are loaded into a mass spectrometer for analysis
Turning the phage

It was a hard act to follow. What could possibly be a follow-up to a group of freshmen discovering a new form of life and finding new genes in its genome?

Marc Sher
A nightmare scenario

It turns out that the Higgs boson looks exactly like Marc Sher always said it would, and now he’s a little bummed.

Physicist Joshua Erlich
Dark chocolate secrets

Many physicists believe that dark matter comprises most of the stuff of the universe, but Erlich can’t prove that dark matter even exists. Dark chocolate is another matter.

Bob Vold at the new Thomas Harriott Observatory atop Small Hall
Opening the shutter

The transit of Venus is, at best, a twice-in-a-lifetime event. Transits come in pairs, eight years apart, and these pairs come more than 100 years apart.

Allison Oldham ’13
Adding up CSUMS

For the past five summers, while other students were hitting the beach, William & Mary math majors had been hitting the books and the labs to conduct computational mathematics research.

Erica Lawler holds a saw-whet owl just before release
A night out

Erica Lawler says that they look like little ice cream cones, but Lawler is in fact referencing the upside down northern saw-whet owl that she was able observe after an opportunity she took to spend a night out in the field with them.

The female incubates while her mate guards the nest.
Reality show

The nest sits nearly a hundred feet up in a lone loblolly pine in Richmond, where a pair of eagles makes their home along the fall line of Virginia’s longest river. An interesting story unfolds as the eagles star in their own reality show.

Yulin Ge inspects one of the vintage scientific texts from Swem Library’s Special Collections Research Center
Meeting Isaac Newton

It wouldn’t look out of place in a library at Hogwarts, and indeed Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica is a work of an age in which alchemy and modern science were just beginning to diverge.

Sabine's gull flies over its reflection on water
Rare bird alert

Now’s the time for birders who want to add to their life lists, says Dan Cristol, an ornithologist at William & Mary.

Daniel Schwab ’12 conducts research on marine mud snails on the Maine coast.
A rising tide

The William & Mary chapter of the Marine Science Society is only a year old, but has already been honored with the Outstanding Student Section Award from the Marine Technology Society for 2012.

Closer to a solution

Saskia Mordijck believes that safer, more economical fusion-generated electricity is achievable, but more work—and funding—are necessary to make it a reality.

Blue crab
Nailing a crab-killer

Jeff Shields and colleagues at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science have succeeded in their 15-year effort to unravel the life history of Hematodinium.

Forested wetlands
Guarding the Bay's headwaters

Every day throughout the Chesapeake Bay’s 64,000-square-mile watershed, city and county officials make land-use decisions—approval of a new subdivision, siting of a retention pond, preservation of a green space—that ultimately impact the Bay.

Center for Conservation Biology researcher Fletcher Smith lowers his mosquito net for a quick picture with Akpik..
That’s just how whimbrels roll

Catching whimbrels on their breeding grounds in the Arctic Circle is quite different from trapping those same birds in their mid-migration staging areas on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Plugging the last leaks

A pipeline with a leak isn’t very efficient—much of whatever is supposed to be transported will be lost along the way. That’s exactly what’s happening to women as they pursue careers in science.

From the dock to your fork

Local seafood once provided a major economic and cultural link between the Chesapeake Bay and the people in its watershed. Today—with a few exceptions—the crabs, oysters and fish on your plate are more likely to come from the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean or the Far East.

AidData partners with climate change center to launch foreign-aid mapping tool

AidData, in partnership with the Strauss Center’s Climate Change and African Political Stability program (CCAPS), has launched an online data portal that enables researchers and policymakers to visualize data on climate change vulnerability, conflict, and aid, and to analyze how these issues intersect in Africa.

Heather Macdonald is a finalist for Robert Foster Cherry Award

"Why do we study geosciences?” Heather Macdonald asked her audience at the Robert Foster Cherry Lecture. She then ran down a list of timely geoscience topics, including hurricanes, earthquakes, climate change, volcanoes and petroleum and other natural resources.

W&M School of Education
The Tidewater Team

The Tidewater Team is helping fourth- and fifth-grade students get their hands dirty—creating mini-ecosystems, fictional animals, volcanoes and ice cream makers.

Bob Vold looks for a break in the clouds from the shutter of the Thomas Herriott Observatory to view the transit of Venus
Waiting for the sun

Cheerful optimism dueled with philosophical resignation atop Small Hall as moving clouds alternately obscured and revealed the setting sun.

Almost as good as an outcrop

Heather Macdonald has always been eager to get her new geosciences students out of the classroom and into the field—especially if there is a handy outcrop.

Hands-on activity is a hallmark of the STEM Education Alliance summer academies.
STEM Education Alliance

“Three, two, one …” A rocket made out of a two-liter bottle shoots into the blue sky, a line of white smoke trailing behind.

Post-doctoral chemist Jaeton Glover (center) displays samples of polymers reinforced with graphene oxide.
Lighter, stronger, better

A group of researchers at the College of William & Mary have made important advances in technology combining polymers—the material of the present—with graphene—the material of the future.

ARES will parachute down to above the surface of Mars
Airplane over the Red Planet

William & Mary might become the base for a mission to Mars. The mission is called ARES—the Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Surveyor. Joel Levine explains that the idea is to send an airplane to Mars.

Noyce Scholar Robin Shaulis ’11  (front) demonstrates seine-hauling technique to students at a GEAR-UP academy at VIMS.
Noyce Scholars

America needs more good, seasoned K-12 STEM teachers—a set of professionals who not only understand science and math, but who also know how to make other people understand science and math.

Lasers and candy and bosons, oh my!

Joshua Erlich was not teaching a cooking class when he talked about fat content, taste and mouth feel to an audience of several dozen members of the Williamsburg community one bright Saturday morning.

Architectural rendering of Phase 3 of William & Mary's Integrated Science Center
Phase 3

Members of the Committee on Buildings and Grounds of William & Mary’s Board of Visitors were treated to an advance look at the Machine for Science and other features of Phase 3 of the College’s Integrated Science Center.

student at the 2011 VISTA summer science camp
VISTA of the Commonwealth

Virginia’s beaches are in trouble. Swimmers are getting sick. The water looks ugly. The governor’s scientists have no idea what’s wrong. Then the governor hears about a two-week convention of young scientists—very young scientists—at William & Mary’s School of Education. He issues a desperate plea for help.

VIMS grad student Samuel Lake shows off his game with Kristin Kelley
PERFECT combination

Theresa Davenport was having some trouble with a football player. Davenport was explaining to a biology class at Grafton High School about some of the problems that can stem from seawater that is low in oxygen.

Diving into Colonial history

A partnership between the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the Watermen’s Museum in historic Yorktown is giving students at three local schools an opportunity to dive into Colonial history—literally.

W&M School of Education
Launching Camp Launch

While William & Mary’s students are away from campus in summer, a new—and considerably younger—set of students will take their place in the dorms and in the classrooms, learning about science and cutting-edge technology.

Emil Davis, biology teacher at Bruton High School, gets his students Kai Brown (front) and Brittany Cordero started on a gel electrophoresis experiment as William & Mary biologist Margaret Saha looks on.
Summer updates

Every summer since 1999, a number of high school biology teachers gather in the labs and classrooms of William & Mary’s Integrated Science Center to work with and discuss the latest advances in research with the College’s biologists.

Rocking the geologists

The William & Mary Department of Geology has acquired a world-class mineral collection that geologists say will be a valuable resource in the department for many years.

Changing flavors

An international team of physicists has reported the first set of observations detailing important behavior of neutrino oscillation, an accomplishment that is a necessary step to additional experiments intended to answer fundamental questions about the makeup of the universe.

All about the algorithms

Sometimes the guys on Team Gold say “worlds.” Other times, they say “finals.” Both terms refer to the World Finals of the Association for Computing Machinery’s International Collegiate Programming Contest (ACM-ICPC) to be held in May in Warsaw, Poland.

Calling citizen ornithologists

Do you have an osprey nest in your neighborhood? If so, the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) wants to hear from you—on a regular basis.

Intracellular traffic control

William & Mary molecular biologist Lizabeth Allison has received a grant of more than $1 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

From music to dark matter

Ari Cukierman enrolled as a freshman at William & Mary intending to major in music and philosophy. He'll graduate near the top of his class of 2012 as a physics-math double major, with at least one important peer-reviewed paper to his credit.

Geology at the half-century mark

William & Mary’s Department of Geology is celebrating its 50th birthday—not even a tick of the clock in terms of the age of the earth.

Almost like magic

All actions in nature can be expressed numerically. That’s biomathematics in a very, very small nutshell. Kiah Hardcastle has her own way to describe the concept.

Kirk Havens of VIMS appointed vice chair of Chesapeake panel

The Chesapeake Bay Program’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) has appointed Kirk Havens of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, to serve as the committee’s vice chair and chair-elect.

No longer too small

Small Hall is no longer too small. “We were just bursting at the seams in terms of space,” said David Armstrong, Chancellor Professor of Physics and department chair.

Lisa Landino
Warrior against Alzheimer’s

Lisa Landino studies the chemistry behind what she calls “the big three” neurodegenerative diseases: Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.

Headed for dark matter

Reinard Primulando, a Ph.D. student in the William & Mary Department of Physics, is a recipient of a Fermilab Fellowship in Theoretical Physics.

Next stop: oblivion

Sometimes you want to prevent extinction. In other cases, you want to hurry extinction along.

Seth Aubin
Cold & Ultracold

A collection of atoms in the basement of Small Hall is a million times colder than outer space. It's one of the coldest spots in the universe, but it's not cold enough. Yet.

A closer look

Matthew Wawersik spends a lot of time looking at fruit flies. His lab uses these little bugs as a model to study germ line stem cell development.

The chicks go wild

Virginia’s breeding population of red-cockaded woodpeckers reached a new high this year, with nine breeding pairs documented in late May.

On the map

David Soller ’76 is the keeper of what is possibly the world’s largest digital glove compartment.

A better & bigger Small Hall

“The building itself is always part of a physics experiment” says Keith Griffioen, professor and chair of the physics department. And in recent years, he added, Small Hall often was an unwanted part.

Teaching through research win

William & Mary’s first freshman phage lab has demonstrated what possibly is the straightest learning curve known to science: zero to co-authorship in a peer-reviewed journal in under three years.

Where the boys aren’t

A paper published in the prestigious online journal Nature Communications reveals the molecular biology behind a certain worm’s ability to break—or at least ignore—the laws of Mendelian genetics.

Early starter

When Mohima Sanyal '14 would drop a transgenic mouse into the lab’s Y-shaped maze, she had a pretty good idea of how the mouse would react.

Dreyfus Scholar

William & Mary’s Elizabeth Harbron is one of six U.S. chemists to be named Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholars.

To harness the wild algae

At first glance, algae seem like ideal candidates for biofuel. After all, each algal organism has at its center a dab of energy-rich oils and sugars. If you get enough algae, you can extract the oil—or ferment the sugar into alcohol—and use it to put a sizeable dent in the world’s thousand barrel per second petroleum consumption.

International honors

Two William & Mary scientists working in the laboratory of R. A. Lukaszew recently were recognized at the 57th International Symposium of the American Vacuum Society.

Got it on eBay…

…and our transmission electron microscope is running just fine, thanks

Hawk in the house!

The saga of William & Mary's family of Cooper's hawks continues.

Back to the farm

Diners in Williamsburg-area eateries late this summer may be tasting the results of a William & Mary sustainable agriculture internship.

Leaving the Nest

One of the Sunken Garden's Cooper's hawks is out of the nest.

Ghost(pot) busters!

Out-of-work commercial watermen pulled up more than 9,000 derelict so-called "ghost pots" from the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries this winter.

MENU 2010
Mediating mesons

Nuclear physicists gather here to sort out the strong force.

A double mystery

Rusty blackbirds are threatened across their range--except on the William & Mary campus.

W&M receives $1.2 million for young scientists

The College of William and Mary has been awarded $1.2 million in funding by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), part of a nationwide program to help universities strengthen undergraduate and precollege science education.

Big river, big study

Steinberg-led VIMS team to join Amazon River research project by David Malmquist

Bright Idea
A Bright Idea

Your first fuel cell-powered car just moved a little closer.

'On the Cutting Edge'

Science honors Macdonald and colleagues for professional-development resources.

Full Circle

Hope, a whimbrel fitted with a transmitter last year, has returned to the Eastern Shore. She's the first whimbrel the Center for Conservation Biology has tracked on the migratory "full circle."

ChAP scientists comment on benefits of algal biofuel

A letter from several participants in the Chesapeake Algae Program is printed in the leading journal "Science." The writers point out several environmental benefits of using algae as biofuel feedstock.

In praise of post-docs

William & Mary's interdisciplinary environmental program is expanding, thanks to a new post-doctoral fellowship program.

Traffic Control

Lizabeth Allison studies nuclear transport, but her work has nothing to do with nuclear energy.

Never trust a whimbrel

These shifty, stilt-legged shorebirds continue to surprise even seasoned scientists.

Legislators learn about Chesapeake Bay issues at VIMS

Members of the Virginia House of Delegates' Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resource Committee visited the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in August to talk with researchers about issues facing the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.

ChAP: Biofuel from aquatic algae

A number of researchers converge on a way to take algae and make it into fuel on an industrial scale.

A brisk morning's walk through ISC 2

Rogers Hall has been renovated and is now part of the Integrated Science Center. The labs are working, even as unpacking continues.

Every breath you take

New research reveals a new paradigm for the neural origins of the rhythm of respiration.

Basement to ceiling

Seniors in the geology department do a whirlwind tour from the bottom of a slate quarry to the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Google Earth now displays marine 'dead zones'

The newest version of Google Earth contains data on marine "dead zones" contributed by Professor Robert Diaz of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary.

2 alumni win Darwin-Wallace Medals

The Linnean Society of London has awarded Darwin-Wallace medals every half-century since 1908. The most recent class includes H. Allen Orr ’82, ’85 and Mohamed Noor ’92.

VIMS dedicates Andrews Hall, Seawater Research Lab

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science dedicated two new research buildings-Andrews Hall and the Seawater Research Laboratory-in an April 16 ceremony that highlighted the many contributions made to VIMS and the College of William and Mary by the late Senator Hunter B. Andrews and his wife Cynthia.

SCORS: The scientific approach to solar energy on campus

The idea is to harness the sun to generate electricity, but first the people in SCORS had to know which photovoltaic technology is best to use. And to determine that, they first needed to know more about the weather.

Tracking the elusive ghost particle

You can't feel them, but neutrinos are passing through your body in large numbers. They have no charge and very low mass, but their scientific value is priceless.

Integrating Sciences

ISC 1 is open and producing science. ISC 2 is under construction. Just wait until we build ISC 3.

The Eagle Trappers

Aberdeen Proving Ground, up at the head of the Chesapeake Bay, is a busy place.

Mercury: It's not just in fish anymore

Songbirds feeding near the contaminated South River are showing high levels of mercury, even though they aren't eating food from the river itself.

Kinesiology students win research fellowships

Two William and Mary kinesiology students will be performing laboratory research as undergraduate fellows of the American Physiological Society during the summer of 2008.

Oceanographer named 'Outstanding Faculty'

Carl Friedrichs, an oceanographer at the School of Marine Science/Virginia Institute of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary, has received the Commonwealth's highest honor for professors.

College participates in HHMI initiative

This fall, a group of freshmen will begin their first year participating in a long-term biology research project, part of an initiative to reform science education by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

A birdhouse for the Chancellor

It's probably the world's only birdhouse with the scales of justice on one side and the William and Mary cipher on the other.

Musick honored for lifetime opus

Jack Musick of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science has been awarded the Commonwealth's Lifetime Achievement in Science award for his work on the ecology and conservation of marine fishes and sea turtles.

VIMS scientists to study blue-crab disease

Jeffrey Shields of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science received a five-year, $2.4-million federal grant to study how fishing pressure and declines in water quality affect the emergence and spread of a blue crab disease in the seaside bays of Virginia's Eastern Shore.

Are we losing terrapins to crab pots?

Megan Rook, a graduate student in William and Mary's Department of Biology, has received $20,000 in funding to allow her to continue her studies of diamondback terrapins.

Beginnings: From the fryer into the van

In a corner of the Keck Environmental Field Laboratory sit an old water heater, a plastic holding tank and a few pumps, set up in a purple-painted particleboard frame with the air of an eighth grade science project.

Changing your spots

Optical illusions can be deceiving, but are we just fooling ourselves?

ISC update: Looking forward to spring break

We've passed the halfway point in the three-year construction process of Phase I and II of William and Mary's Integrated Science Center and progress is on track to meet the first important deadline - spring break.