Fellow Profile: Rebecca Stockbridge
- G-TEAMS Cohort: 2012-13
- Graduate Program: Applied Mathematics
- Teacher Partners: Margaret Wilch
- School: Tucson High Magnet School
- Grade level: 11-12
- Topics: Biology & Research Methods
"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein
Broadly speaking, Rebecca is interested in developing methods for decision-making under uncertainty. Her research focuses on stochastic programming, which combines ideas from the fields of optimization, probability, and statistics to model situations that involve unknown quantities. Examples of stochastic optimization models include portfolio optimization, where the goal is to create a portfolio of stocks and bonds that provides a minimum return with high probability, despite not knowing the specific behavior of the stock market, and power generation, where the schedule of power provided is determined under uncertain demand and electrical line capabilities.
Rebecca has been working with high school biology teacher Margaret Wilch at Tucson High Magnet School. Together, they have been focusing on introducing data analysis techniques and mathematical modeling into Honors Biology, and supporting student scientific research projects into Honors Research Methods. Rebecca and Margaret have introduced the new activity "Evaluating Science in the Media" into the Honors Biology classroom. Each week, students read and analyze a science article from the popular press, focusing primarily on the presentation and clarity of the content. As well as leading this activity, Rebecca assists small groups and individuals in Honors Biology. She also works one-on-one with Research Methods students to help them progress on their research projects and develop scientific writing and presenting skills.
Not having a formal background in biology, I have really enjoyed the opportunity to engage students in mathematical thinking in the context of science. I have been surprised and pleased to discover just how important logical, step-by-step thinking is for learning and understanding biology successfully.
Working with the Honors Research Methods students has taught me a great deal about being flexible and quick on my feet to meet students' needs. I need to be one step ahead of the students to anticipate future questions and directions, despite potentially having little expertise in their chosen area of research. Since my dissertation research is very focused in a particular area of mathematics, I am really enjoying learning more about topics in all areas of science.
- Evaluating Science in the Media