The Honors Community
- Richmond, Va.
- Public relations with minors in math and chemistry
James Denison used his statistics and mathematical knowledge to tackle a real-world problem: finding a more efficient way to respond and dispatch fire trucks during emergencies in Hanover County, Va.
“It was definitely rewarding to be able to realize that research and more abstract things, like stats and statistical equations, can be used to help save lives,” the Virginia Commonwealth University junior said. “It was nice to see the practical end of the hours we put into the lab.”
Through the Honors Summer Undergraduate Research Program, Denison worked for two summers with Laura McLay, Ph.D., professor in the VCU Department of Statistical Sciences and Operations Research.
“We were taking a mathematical, abstract model and applying it to a real-life problem,” Denison said. “We used this model to determine a better way to use the limited resources available and maximize the number of people who were treated.”
HSURP gives students an opportunity to work one-on-one with a faculty mentor and participate in professional development throughout the summer, as well as engage in specific research projects.
“HSURP is a way to acclimate students, like me, who may not know about research and what that entails and expose them to doing it,” Denison said.
Not only was Denison introduced to research through HSURP but he also realized the benefits of its process.
“Research is not as much a start or finish but the process is just as important,” he said. “Obviously, you want results but what you learn along the way is often essential.”
Denison remains active in The Honors College through the HSURP project and the opportunities the VCU program provides undergraduate students. As a commuter student his first year, he considered The Honors College his home away from home.
“They do a good job of letting us live our life outside of The Honors College, while still being a safe haven and protective support environment,” he said.
“It was definitely rewarding to be able to realize that research and more abstract things, like stats and statistical equations, can be used to help save lives.”