-story by Kaitlyn Sewell '15
Victoria Zimbro '15
Randolph-Macon College student Victoria Zimbro ’15 is taking a
new angle in her approach toward mathematics with
her SURF project, Matrix Decompositions for Partitioned Orthogonal Matrices.
SURF offers students the unique opportunity to conduct 10 weeks of full-time, original
research during the summer months, under the guidance of a faculty mentor.
Zimbro’s research is a continuation of previous work she has done for the Mathematics
Department and in her Honors classes.
“My goal for this project is to break 3-dimensional space into three lines, represented
by a partitioned 3-by-3 matrix,” Zimbro says. “After analyzing this 3-by-3 case,
I intend to extend the analysis to higher dimensions.”
Zimbro’s SURF mentor, Mathematics Professor
Brian Sutton, speaks highly of Zimbro’s inquisitiveness.
“The matrices that Victoria is investigating represent rotations and reflections
of space,” he explains. “I don’t even know exactly what a solution for the equations
would look like. I am eager to learn from her. She is exploring approaches that
no one has explored before, as far as we are aware.”
Zimbro presented her findings to the Mathematical Association of America’s MathFest,
which took place August 1-3 in Hartford, Connecticut. In addition, she has developed
her own computer program using software called Matlab and is currently testing her
hypothesis through several equations.
Outside of the Lab
Zimbro is the vice president of R-MC’s Honors Program and president of Pi Mu Epsilon,
a math honors society. In 2012, she won the Moore-Peace Prize for an Outstanding
Junior Mathematics Major. Zimbro is also a member of the Choral Scholars Program
and the MANNA band at Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church.
“Being in the choir has given me a chance to relax from everyday stressful situations,”
Zimbro shares. “The family-and-friends atmosphere during rehearsals is inspiring.”
A new member of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed
service fraternity on campus, Zimbro enjoys fellowship service. She has engaged
in many service projects with the fraternity, including making cards for military
personnel and members of a senior-living community.
Zimbro’s future plans include a January Term (J-term)
study-abroad class in England with
Mathematics Professor Adrian Rice. Her post-R-MC plans include graduate
school. She is considering careers in undergraduate teaching or the federal government.
“I’m the first in my family to go to college,” Zimbro shares. “I am grateful for
the opportunities R-MC has provided.”
The SURF program was established in 1995 through a generous gift made by Ben ’64
and Peggy Schapiro. The Schapiros continue to support this program, which promotes
scholarly undergraduate research by R-MC students in all disciplines.