Danielle Shiley works with Dr. Roland Minton of the Mathematics Department on mathematical models of the spread of AIDS in populations. This work is part of a larger project of revising the various calculus books that Dr. Minton has co-authored with Dr. Robert Smith, with a focus on developing exciting new applications of calculus.
Danielle is an economics major from New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. She started her work in the URAP program at the same time as her first calculus class at Roanoke College. As a new student of calculus and a non-mathematics major, Danielle has provided valuable feedback on the wording of examples and exercises in current editions of the calculus book. Dr. Minton has benefitted from the project. "It has been great to have an intelligent, enthusiastic student to work with. Danielle has been a wonderful sounding board for ideas on how to improve the book." She is on watch for calculus problems that show up in her other classes, such as economics and biology. Finding these connections brings calculus alive for Danielle and for future users of the calculus books.
At the beginning of her project, Danielle worked numerous challenging problems in the first two chapters of the calculus book. Her study of AIDS models is an extension of two exercises that Danielle found particularly interesting. The challenge of writing solutions with mathematical precision was more difficult than actually solving the problems. Danielle says, "This project has been a great introduction into research in general. Whether the subject is calculus or biology or economics, you have to be exact in listing your assumptions and how these assumptions relate to your conclusion."
Working on a calculus book is not an obvious choice for someone who plans to attend medical school, but it works for Danielle. She says, "The extra work of my project has actually helped my regular class work because at any time I can get extra help from my mentor. In addition, the work I am doing for the project works hand-in-hand with the material I am learning in my calculus class."
Danielle is very active on campus, participating in Leadership Roanoke, Student Wellness Action Team, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and other groups. "Involvement in my project has increased my sense of involvement with Roanoke College because I have gained confidence and gotten to know many new students and professors."
She has the following advice for high school students thinking about attending Roanoke College. "I encourage high school students to seriously consider doing a URAP project. I have learned so much about myself by doing do. I would highly recommend students to pick a project they are interested in even if it doesn't coincide with their major. "