Serving Dishes
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Group Meal
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Cake Plate
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Berry Bowls
York, Berry bowls
Chocolate Dishes
York, Chocolate dishes
Cookie Jar
York, cookie jar
Cupcake Stands
Hood College Ceramics

Lisa York, an adjunct instructor and kiln technician at Hood College, completed a ceramic arts residency in Berlin, Germany at Zentrum für Keramik during the summer.

The residency culminated in the “Küchen” exhibit, which included works by all of the artists in the residency. They displayed their functional ceramic works, which served as vessels to serve food.

York completed her residency with studio mates Helen Otterson and Eric Thornton, with whom she had worked at the International Ceramics Studio in Kecskemét, Hungary.

“As artists working at different colleges, facing similar challenges associated with teaching, maintaining studios and collegiate service, our residency in Germany allowed us the time and space to explore new materials and building techniques,” York said. “Surrounded by inspiration visually and culturally enabled us to connect our mutual love of art, desserts and travel.”

While in Berlin, York and the other artists visited several art museums, bakeries, chocolatiers and open-air food markets. They had an open dialogue about how to make stronger artistic connections between food and the vessels on which they were being served.

York earned her master’s certificate in ceramic arts at Hood. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and internationally in Canada, Russia, Hungary and China. Her ceramic pieces are currently included in the Plain Arts Museum collection in Fargo, North Dakota. She has completed residencies at the Sanbao Ceramic Art Institute in Jingdezhen, China, and the International Ceramics Studio in Kecskemet, Hungary. Additionally, she has worked with international ceramic co-ops in Tanzania and Guatemala.

Works from the “Küchen” will be traveling to Hood for the “Decadence of Display: Ceramics for Dessert” exhibit, which will also include works from invited artists. The exhibit opens Jan. 26 and will run until Feb. 20 in the Whitaker Gallery.

ABET Accreditation

Hood College Receives ABET Accreditation for Computer Science

Hood College’s Bachelor of Science program in computer science has received ABET accreditation, demonstrating its commitment to providing students quality education.

ABET accreditation is a voluntary peer-review process requiring programs to undergo comprehensive, periodic evaluations. The evaluations focus on program curriculum, faculty, facilities and institutional support and are conducted by teams of professionals from industry, academia and government with expertise in the ABET disciplines.

“The faculty in the department feel that the accreditation reaffirmed our belief that the programs we deliver are high-quality programs,” said Xinlian Liu, Ph.D., co-chair of the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology. “The accreditation also serves to position our students well in the job market and for acceptance into graduate programs in computer science.”

One of the key elements of ABET accreditation is the requirement that programs continuously assess and improve program quality. As part of this continuous improvement process, programs set specific, measurable goals for their students and graduates, assess their success at reaching those goals and improve their programs based on the results of their assessments.

“For more than two decades, our undergraduate computer science program has produced outstanding technical professionals and leaders in the field of computing,” said John Boon, co-chair of the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology. “Accreditation of our computer science degree by ABET is a substantial achievement for the department. Accreditation assures students that our degree meets internationally recognized quality standards for computer science education. The accreditation also assures employers that Hood’s computer science graduates have the educational background they need to enter the computing profession.”

This is the College’s initial accreditation by the Computing Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (CAC ABET), the global accreditor of college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology. Hood’s next comprehensive review will be during the 2021-22 academic year.

Hood’s computer science department offers a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science; minors in computer science and web development; master’s degrees in computer science, information technology and management of information technology; and a certificate in cybersecurity. For more information on Hood’s computer science program, visit cs.hood.edu.

Rachel Mankowitz
Rachel M in lab
Ian Sellers
Ian S. in lab
Jose Sanchez
Jose S in lab

Hood College students and faculty have been assisting in a process to create renewable biofuels by converting energy beet polymers into ethanol for jet fuel.

The energy beet to bio-jet fuel project aims to create a new industry of advanced renewable transportation fuels. The manufacturing of biofuels will lower the dependence on oil and lower the carbon footprint of the transportation industry.

This is a multi-college and multi-company project. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), Purdue University, Atlantic Biomass, Advanced Biofuels USA, Plant Sensory Systems and Vertimass all have critical parts.

The project involves growing energy beets and converting the cell wall structural biomass into simple sugars that can then be converted into ethanol, and in turn, jet fuel.

In order to efficiently create biofuels through this process, Plant Sensory Systems—a company in Baltimore that engineers plants to meet market needs—is developing non-food, low-nutrient input energy beets. These energy beets will grow in a wider range of climates than is traditional for sugar beets and will grow with more biomass than sugar beets. UMES is growing the energy beets in test plots. Beets were chosen largely because of their significantly higher yield compared to other crops.

“The ultimate goal is to have a crop that is low-maintenance, low-cost to produce, and high in biofuel/bioproduct sugars,” said Bob Kozak, president of Atlantic Biomass, a Frederick company that works to create a sustainable source of sugars for biofuels.

After the energy beets are grown, Hood College professor Craig Laufer leads a team to assist Atlantic Biomass with converting the beets into usable simple sugars. They have created enzymes and a unique process that breaks down the entire biomass of the energy beets, including biomass ignored during conventional sugar production, without costly pretreatments.

Purdue University, in conjunction with a U.S. Department of Agriculture lab in Illionis, is developing and testing bacteria that convert all the sugars into ethanol. Finally, Vertimass, a biofuels company in Massachusetts, converts the ethanol into jet fuel.

The USDA recently awarded a $16,893 grant to Advanced Biofuels USA to complete a feasibility study for the commercialization of the whole project. Advanced Biofuels is a nonprofit located in Frederick that was established to promote the understanding, development and use of advanced biofuels in the U.S. and around the world. The feasibility study will strive to determine if the UMES pilot crop of energy beets and commercial simulation processing show a high enough yield for commercialization.

“We are pleased that the Maryland USDA Rural Development Office sees the value of a feasibility study,” said Joanne Ivancic, executive director of Advanced Biofuels. “We expect this will be useful to everyone along the value chain from landowners and farmers to banks and financers, from experts in the sciences to experts in transportation and distribution. We are pleased to put to work Advanced Biofuels USA’s years of experience in this unique field.”

A number of Laufer’s graduate and undergraduate students have also been involved with work related to this project.

“Our long-standing collaboration with Atlantic Biomass has provided opportunities for dozens of undergraduate and graduate students to apply what they learned in classes such as microbiology, genetics, cell biology and biochemistry to the real-world problem of making biofuels,” Laufer said. “It has brought external funding for equipment and supplies as well as stipends for Hood students. Working on these projects has provided the experience and training to help propel many Hood graduates into exciting careers in research and onto post-graduate training in medical and doctoral programs.”

Hood became involved because of Laufer’s expertise and the availability of the College’s modern instrumentation for molecular genetics and biochemistry research. Hood also uses its high-pressure liquid chromatography equipment to analyze how the enzymes perform. All of this gives students real-world experience in a classroom setting.

Currently, Rachel Mankowitz and Ian Sellers are working on the project for their Departmental Honors papers. Mankowitz is using a technique to engineer more active enzymes, which is the first step in the process of biomass digestion. The more active the enzymes, the fewer of them are necessary, and the lower the cost. Sellers is investigating the community structure of soil bacteria growing on pectin as a sole carbon source. His research may help to find synergies between the various enzymes that break down this polymer and aid in putting together cocktails of enzymes for the energy beet digestion.

Over the summer, Elizabeth Slick worked on cloning novel pectin methylesterase genes, which are being used by Mankowitz.

Kendra Laster is using the research as an independent study for her capstone experience. She is characterizing the activities of strains that students in microbiology isolated and identified in class. This could help to find novel enzymes to add to those that can digest the energy beet pulp.

Jose Sanchez, a graduate student, is developing a temperature tunable carbohydrate binding domain that would aid the recycling of the enzymes used in the energy beet’s pulp digestion as a part of his thesis research. Through the recycling of the enzymes, the cost of the process could be significantly reduced.

Other recent graduates who participated in this research include Mariam Ashraf, Lauren Brand, Jonathan Bullard-Sisken, Alessandra Emini, Ian McDonald, Ammarah Spall and Britni Uhlig.

MJ Swicegood

Alumna Helped Manufacture Cancer-Fighting Drug

MJ Swicegood, a 2013 Hood graduate and current Hood MBA student, is working at Leidos BioMedical in a pilot vaccine facility where she works with topical vaccines including Zika, HIV and the flu.

She previously worked at MedImmune where she helped develop the cancer-fighting drug, Keytruda, which is credited with helping former President Jimmy Carter.

Swicegood graduated with a biology degree and a minor in business administration. After graduation, she worked at MedImmune in the buffer and media department before transitioning to the cell culture department in biologics manufacturing where she stayed for two years and during which time she worked on Keytruda. Her current focus is in cell culture and fermentation with Leidos BioMedical.

“What I do is basically like zoology on a very small scale,” Swicegood said. “I care for cultured and mutated mammalian and bacterial cells that are programmed to act like factories; they create medicines, plasmids or therapies.”

During the manufacturing of Keytruda, Swicegood was a trained cell culturist who worked the night shift, as the drug required 24/7 cell maintenance, running multiple batches at a time. Keytruda, also known as Pembrolizumab, helps remove from T cells the blinders that prevent them from locating and destroying the cancer cells. It allows the T cells to locate and attack the cancer cells.

“It was a huge undertaking and awesome team effort, and I am so proud to have been part of it,” she said. “We began working on large-scale manufacturing of Keytruda in 2014, and it was a huge part of our team’s effort for over a year.”

Swicegood worked with her team to culture and grow the cells that are immortal, meaning they will grow until they are the size of their containers. The cells start in very small containers and grow into larger ones, eventually ending up in bioreactors. They are fed media (liquid cell food) as well as sugars and salts accordingly.

After Swicegood and her team grew the cells, another team purified the medicine through various stages of chromatography. The drug was introduced publically last year with President Jimmy Carter’s cancer therapy, and Swicegood’s team is thrilled to see what it will do for immunotherapy in the future.

In June, Merck, the company that makes Keytruda commercially, reported that clinical trials of the drug have shown a 56 percent positive rate, which is outstanding according to Swicegood. They are looking to reach it into use for a variety of cancers.

While at Hood, Swicegood focused primarily on ecology, and she credits the cell biology class with Professor Ricky Hirschhorn as an essential piece of her work today. She has used her skills from that class to monitor cells using devices that count the cells daily, sometimes even hourly, to look for various chemicals present to determine their health.

“It’s challenging to monitor such a large volume of such small creatures,” she said. “Because it is impossible to watch all of them at once, you have to use your knowledge of their biology to see what they are producing.”

Supercomputer

Computer Science Internship Involves Work With Supercomputer

Thomas Corcoran, a senior computer science major at Hood College, is completing a yearlong internship with the Blue Waters Student Internship Program (BWSIP) as well as the National Cancer Institute at Fort Detrick.

Corcoran, along with approximately 30 other student interns, traveled to the University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign (UIUC) in June, where they spent two weeks training at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). There, Corcoran learned the principles of parallel programming, scientific computing and management of big data.

“UIUC is also home to the Blue Waters supercomputer, for which the internship is named,” Corcoran explained. “We toured the supercomputer, which was astonishingly cool.”

The interns were allotted time on the machine to conduct their private research. The nature of Corcoran’s research was to apply machine-learning techniques to the detection of important features like cancer in biomedical images.

His work caught the interest of the National Cancer Institute at Fort Detrick, where he worked full time over the summer and continues to work part time along with his continued internship at UIUC.

In addition to learning and being able to apply his studies at Fort Detrick, Corcoran was able to work with Yanling Liu, Ph.D., of NCI, tackling the scourge of cancer, which Corcoran said was an “illuminating and rewarding experience.”

Corcoran credits his mentor, Xinlian Liu, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science at Hood and chair of the computer science department, and George Dimitoglou, associate professor of computer science at Hood, with helping him obtain the internship. Both professors played a role in Corcoran’s application process and taught him about conducting independent research.

“My experience with [the NCI and UIUC] has been fantastic,” Corcoran said. “The instruction I was given [at UIUC] was in-depth, challenging and has been proven to be highly useful. I am incredibly grateful to them and their support, trust and encouragement.”

In June 2017, at the end of his studies, Corcoran will be publishing a paper, which will be a culmination of his work at the Blue Waters internship program.

To learn more about the Blue Waters internship program visit https://bluewaters.ncsa.illinois.edu/internships.

Pictured above: the Blue Waters supercomputer

Miranda Darby

Bioinformatics Program Director Named

The Hood College bioinformatics master’s program is pleased to introduce a new program director who has more than a decade of experience in conducting research, teaching and directing educational programs.

Miranda Darby, Ph.D., is an expert in molecular biology and computing. She comes to Hood after working since September 2012 as a postdoctoral fellow in the Stanley Division of Developmental Neurovirology in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where she developed and implemented bioinformatics tools to study the genome. Prior to that, she completed thesis research at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, examining the mechanisms that regulate gene transcription.

“I am excited to establish the new bioinformatics program at Hood because I want to inspire Hood students to flourish in this rapidly evolving field,” Darby said. “I arrived at the beautiful campus and met smart, curious, passionate faculty members who are dedicated to providing the best opportunities for their students to thrive. I am eager to work with my new colleagues and to find opportunities for those who are interested in contributing their expertise to the bioinformatics program.”

Bioinformatics is the interface between computer science and biology. It is the application of the principals of computer science to the collection, classification, storage and analysis of biological and biochemical data. The recent boom in bioinformatics centers on the analysis and interpretation of molecular genetics and genomics data that is generated by next-generation, whole genome sequencing.

With the demand for knowledge and expertise in the field by regional employers including the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, the Frederick Cancer Research Center at Fort Detrick and others, students can find themselves with multiple job opportunities after finishing the program. Darby is focused on helping her students achieve success in the industry and in their lives.

“I knew I belonged at Hood when I read Hood’s mission statement, which describes my own goals: ‘to empower students to use their hearts, minds and hands to meet … challenges and lead purposeful lives …’”

Also, having completed her undergraduate studies at Carleton College in Minnesota, she understands the value of the liberal arts education that Hood provides.

“I think that a liberal arts education is the best possible foundation for future study in the sciences because liberal arts students are exposed to a wide variety of ideas concerning a full range of topics,” Darby said. “This prepares students to think outside of the confines of a specialized field and gives them a fresh perspective on the range of possibilities available to them.”

Alex Jarnot
Reem Zeitoon
Reem Zeitoon
Rob Sargsyan
Rob Sargsyan 2

Several Hood College students presented their research in chemistry and biology at the UMBC Undergraduate Research Symposium in October.

These students included Alex Jarnot, Reem Zeitoon, Rob Sargsyan, Elizabeth Slick, Kaitlin Recabo, Angela Mansfield, Sarah Meyer, Kenny Garced-Valle and Zachary Peck. The research projects were all funded by NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF) or Hood’s Summer Research Institute (SRI). The SRI projects were funded by the Hodson Trust.

Jarnot’s research involved trying to understand the atmosphere inside of Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park in California. His work was through his internship with NASA’s Student Airborne Research Program and funded by NASA and the National Suborbital Education and Research Center (NSERC).

“We sampled the air inside the cave and found that the concentrations of several trace gases in the air were extremely low compared to the outside air,” he said. “I am working to try to determine what could be causing this decrease in trace gas concentration.”

His presentation included a poster on his research from the summer that displayed the data that was examined and some possible causes of the low concentrations.

Zietoon spent her SRI-funded summer trying to express and purify a protein called Myxoma virus leukemia associated protein so later they would be able to study its structure. This specific protein contains a zinc-finger motif, which involves a zinc ion complexed with several parts of the protein. These motifs are usually involved in binding DNA or RNA in the cell. She worked with her mentor, Dana Lawrence, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry.

Lawrence also worked with Sargsyan during his SRI project, which studied the solubility of a zinc-finger antiviral protein cloned with and without solubility tags. This particular protein has antiviral activity and therefore provides the host organism with resistance to viral infection. According to Sargsyan, the experiment was intended to find a method that would extract and isolate the protein. Sargsyan presented the data and results, then how they relate to a bigger picture.

As an SRI project, Slick and Recabo worked with Susan Ensel, Ph.D., Whitaker professor of chemistry, to find inhibitors for the botulinum neurotoxin, the toxin responsible for botulism and the most toxic naturally occurring substance known to humankind. Slick and Recabo synthesized and isolated several compounds that were designed as inhibitors of the neurotoxin. During the UMBC symposium, the senior chemistry and biochemistry majors presented their research on six such inhibitors that will contribute to the body of knowledge necessary to ultimately develop a drug to combat botulism.

Mansfield and Meyer won first place for their poster presentation on expanding student access to instrumentation through incorporation of portable infrared spectroscopy into the curriculum. Their research used a hands-on approach to scientific education and research and discussed how to make equipment more accessible to more students. This work is funded by a NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education grant and was conducted with Kevin Bennett, Ph.D., professor of chemistry, and Christopher Stromberg, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry.

Oney P. Smith, Ph.D., professor of biology, mentored Garced-Valle and Peck on separate SRI projects.

Garced-Valle investigated the gene expression of heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) found in the sea anemone, Aiptasia pallida, when they experience environmental stress, specifically elevated temperatures. Hood maintains these animals under laboratory conditions. The research found that there was a 60-fold increase in the HSP70 gene expression when the anemone was subjected to the higher temperature.

“Overall, the knowledge I gained was very beneficial to future lab experiences, including my current independent study,” Graced-Valle said. “In addition, the experience has made me more interested in laboratory-type jobs.”

Peck worked this summer to isolate, clone and sequence a DNA fragment found in red-eye fruit flies to help identify its location in the Drosophila genome. His work included computer-assisted searching of the database for the fly genome, which indicates the 1,800 base pair fragment is a part of the DNA found on several fly chromosomes. The information found will be used in an introductory cell biology and genetics course at Hood to improve a lab activity on Drosophila genetics.

“This past summer taught me what it was like to perform research and work in a lab environment, as well as how to present my findings,” Peck said. “It was an experience like none other and one that I will most definitely want to repeat.”

Simulation Editor

CS Internship Leads to Learning New Software and Computer Languages

John Pigott, a senior computer science and mathematics major, interned over the summer at the Advanced Biomedical Computing Center (ABCC), which is part of the National Cancer Institute at Fort Detrick.

He got a hands-on feel for working in an office environment with professionals, where he learned multiple computer languages that he later used to create a simple simulation of a blood vessel.

“It was a great experience for me because it allowed me to learn and work with the Unity3D Game Engine,” Pigott said. “This is a piece of software I had learned about and was interested in learning, but had never had the opportunity.”

The Unity3D Game Engine is a cross-platform game engine that is typically used to develop video games for websites, consoles or mobile devices.

In addition to the Unity3D Game Engine, Pigott had the chance to work with Blender and MeshLab softwares, which were required in able for him to complete his project.

Both Blender and MeshLab are computer softwares that allow users to develop 3D models, and both are commonly used for video game purposes.

“The computer science knowledge that I gained at Hood was most helpful during my internship,” stated Pigott. “One particular example coming in handy was the technique of Karnaugh maps, which I learned in my digital logic class where we learned how to simplify circuits to save space on a circuit board.”

Karnaugh maps provide a pictorial method of grouping expressions with common factors, which eliminates unwanted variables.

While he was learning the languages at the ABCC, the theories and principles he had learned at Hood allowed him to understand the languages necessary for the completion of his project.

At the end of his internship and project, Pigott completed a 30-minute presentation to some of the doctors at the ABCC explaining his project, the challenges he faced, the technologies he used, how the project was beneficial and what he was learning.

Photo: Pigott’s blood vessel simulation running in the Unity3D Game Engine editor.

Paige Rawl

Paige Rawl Visits for the First-Year Read

Paige Rawl, an author who has documented her struggle to find acceptance after being born HIV positive, visited Hood College in October as part of the school’s First Year Read program.

Rawl is co-author of “Positive: A Memoir,” this year’s First-Year Read, a required reading chosen for first-year students. Sophomore Abbey McAlister nominated “Positive” for the First-Year Read last year, so she had the pleasure of introducing Rawl to Hood. McAlister said she believed the book would be beneficial for first-year students because it had helped her in times of transition.

The book follows Rawl’s struggle with bullies in middle school because of her HIV status. The bullying got so bad she left for homeschooling, a hard decision for the extroverted teen. When leaving, her principal said, “I wish you could go to this school, but I can’t protect you.”

During that time, she realized her passion for educating people on HIV and AIDS and advocating against bullying in schools. Not long after, she transferred to a high school with a zero-tolerance bullying policy. She spent her first year keeping her HIV secret. However, after developing strong relationships with students and staff, she talked to the principal and began sharing her story with her school.

She went on to Ball State University but took some time off after “Positive” was published to promote the book. She originally intended to study molecular biology for HIV research, but she plans to switch to business and entrepreneurship to help her build her foundation, Paige Power. The foundation will allow her to educate low-income schools on HIV and anti-bullying advocacy.

At Hood, Rawl began her discussion by explaining the basics of HIV and AIDS. She explained how every strand is different, how one can contract the disease, and how she copes with having the disease.

She shared statistics about bullying, including that 64 percent of bullying incidents go without being reported, and she spoke about students getting bullied even at home through cyber bullying.

She gave students a piece of advice surrounding bullying: “Think about what you say before you say it, think about what you do before you do it.”

She also urged parents to be involved and take their children’s reports of bullying seriously.

After reading from her book, Rawl took questions from the audience and held a book signing.

Video Interview with Paige Rawl

Sonia Kovalevsky Day

Hood Hosts 13th Annual SK Math Day

Students and teachers from nine area high schools attended Hood College’s 13th annual Sonia Kovalevsky Math Day for high school girls Oct. 11.

The event honors Sonia Kovalevsky, the first woman to earn a doctorate in mathematics. The event has been held at colleges and universities all around the country for approximately two decades.

SK Day was organized by the Hood College Department of Mathematics and generously supported by the continued funding from PNC Bank and Frederick County Public Schools. Visiting students met with Hood faculty and students for a day of mathematics workshops and to hear from a panel of women who use math everyday in their careers.

“We are so pleased to be continuing our relationship with both PNC Bank and FCPS in planning this event,” said Jill Tysse, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics. “PNC Bank has supported SK Math Day for the past four events, and FCPS has enthusiastically supported the event from the beginning.”

Hood 1989 graduate Stacey Collins was there to represent PNC Bank. Hood alumni Casey Rogers ’97, from Middletown High School; Darrin Drum, M.S.’13, from Walkersville High School; and Scott Trexler, M.S.’13, from Frederick High School, all attended this year’s event with their students.

The day started off with a welcome from President Andrea Chapdelaine, Ph.D.

“Although we have made great progress, the gender gap in mathematics remains,” she said. “Sonia Kovalevsky’s persistence in studying math despite significant barriers and lack of support is an inspiration to all female students interested in mathematics and related professions. I am proud that Hood, along with PNC Bank and FCPS, is able to share Sonia’s story with these high school students and provide them an opportunity to learn more about mathematics.”

Over the course of the day, the students attended several mathematics workshops led by Hood faculty. Gwyn Whieldon, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics, ran a workshop called “Mathe-magic!” where she showed students how to use the mathematics of permutations, modular arithmetic and other algebraic topics to perform tricks involving numbers, coins, cards and more.

Sara Malec, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics, led an “Anamorphic Art” workshop that showed students the math behind different kinds of anamorphosis—an artistic technique used to produce art that must be viewed from a specific angle to be seen.

Taking a break from workshops, during lunch, the high school students heard Hood seniors Sarah Hood and Karina Stetsyuk present a talk on the life of Sonia Kovalevsky.

Following lunch, there was a career panel during which students had the opportunity to hear from women who use mathematics in their careers. Hood 2015 graduate Megan Mercer, a software engineer from iNovex Information Systems; Heather King, a statistician with the United States Census Bureau; and Amanda Forster, a materials research engineer with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, all explained how they use math daily in their work.