Story by Kaitlyn Sewell '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.