SAFE Grant Student Spotlight: Grace Rogers, Mathematical Sciences

SAFE Grant Student Spotlight: Grace Rogers, Mathematical Sciences

Grace Rogers is a senior from Durham, N.C.

Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) fund recipient

Project: “Automatic Identification of Landslides”

With SAFE grant funding support, Rogers flew to Denver, C.O., to attend the Joint Mathematics Meeting to present her research on Automatic Identification of Landslides. She was not only able to present her research but also afforded the opportunity to listen to other research presentations from individuals across the United States. She left the meeting with a deeper understanding of her intellectual abilities and work ethic.

“My favorite part of the mathematics meeting was the showcase of mathematical art. They had digital art pieces that were crafted from mathematical equations. The showcase also included three dimensional art pieces that were crafted from geometric patterns,” said Rogers.

Research that Rogers presented entailed examining the differences between landslide and non-landslide areas in Virginia. She conducted research at James Madison University through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program with a group of three other students from across the United States. The REU program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation. 

Their project is the first step in creating an automated tool that could identify areas that are unsafe for infrastructure development due to landslide history or mark areas that could be candidates for landslide insurance.

Dr. Celestine Woodruff ’05 ’07, assistant professor of mathematics and statistics at James Madison University, overlooked Rogers’ research. 

“I really enjoyed working with Grace. She meshed well with the rest of the group, always stepped up to take on responsibilities and never let the fear of being wrong prevent her from putting forth ideas or trying something new,” said Woodruff.

At the beginning of the research project, the group toured an old landslide site guided by a geohazards specialist and her team. “Doing so helped to inform our understanding of the scale of the debris that was transported during the landslide and to really get us thinking about what factors might be important for identification,” said Woodruff.

Rogers added, “I would like to thank the Department of Mathematical Sciences and all of my previous professors for fostering an environment of growth that led me to believe in myself and my knowledge.”


About The SAFE Fund
Initially endowed by Hughlene and Bill Frank, the College of Arts and Sciences Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) Fund provides resources that can be used to support undergraduate, graduate and faculty experiences. The SAFE Fund provides funding for college priorities and opportunities that arise throughout the year. These unrestricted funds support student and faculty travel, publication support for faculty and student research opportunities. Learn more at:

About the Department of Mathematical Sciences
The Department of Mathematical Sciences offers undergraduate degrees in actuarial science and mathematics, with concentrations in business, computation, life sciences, physical sciences, secondary teaching and statistics, plus a general, self-designed concentration. The department also offers the Master of Arts in mathematics, with concentrations in college teaching and secondary teaching. Learn more at

Compiled and written by Sophia Woodall
September 7, 2021

Grace Rogers, senior, SAFE fund recipient. Photo submitted.
Published: Sep 3, 2021 1:20pm