Hanna Mitchell


Hanna is a sophomore applied mathematics major from Vienna, Va., Although, she is a second year in college, this is only her first year at Radford University. Financial barriers lead her to choose Radford, but she quickly fell in love with the small community and limitless opportunities.

Hanna chose mathematics, after getting to college and being encouraged by a business calculus professor to peruse math as a major. She says “I went from hating mathematics because I didn’t understand it to loving it because it was a challenge and logical.” 

Shortly after being accepted into Radford University, Hanna was selected to be a Next-Gen Scholar. This helped her find her fit in the College of Science Technology as she worked to complete the graduated requirements as a scholar, like being the Vice President of the Math Club.

As for after college, Hanna is unsure of her plans. Right now, she is working on pre-medical school requirements in addition to her major as she has desires to be a doctor. In whatever she does as a career Hanna wants to be in a position to help others directly.

Hanna was motived to do research abroad after visiting South Africa in June of 2014. In Peru, Hanna is excited to use her mathematical knowledge and apply it to real world and significant work while expanding her knowledge of biology. She says, “Peru is a place I would have never dreamed of going, but not I can’t stop thinking about what it’s going to be like.”

Hanna's Project:

The Peruvian Amazon has not been studied quite as much as the rainforests of its neighboring country, Brazil.  With the increasing reduction in rainforests every year it is hard to save what we do not know about. Fungus is a kingdom of life which is not regularly studied in depth, making identification of species difficult because of the lack of complete and centralized information available. Fungal decomposers are important to the health of the ecosystem, and understanding their phylogeny provides toward understanding their role. In addition, faster identification will allow for endangered or unknown species to be studied, because the vast amount of time will not have to be spent on determining the actual species name. To solve this problem, there should be centralized information which allows researchers to easily identify the species of fungus they seek to gain information on. By creating software to categorized groups of fungi using multiple variables, we hope to solve this problem. Phylogenetic categorization based on categorical distribution will allow for quick and easy identification of fungal species. The unknown fungal species will be studied in the Peruvian Amazon and compared to known fungal species that are used as parameters in the program, in order to find the closest species or genus.