2016 Kollett Award Winners

Lithia Helmreich ’16 (left) and Grace Ulinsky ’17 (right) win the Math and Computer Science Kollett Award.

Lithia Helmreich ’16 is a classic scholar of the liberal arts and sciences.(Yes, she is one of Faculty Emeritus Paul Helmreich’s granddaughters at Wheaton). In addition to her exceptional work in her computer science major courses and many mathematics courses, Lithia worked with the Lexomic Research Group in the summer of 2014. Her three contributions were significant. First, she met with English Professor Mike Drout who had designed a way to visualize “rolling window frequencies” of character usage through texts (in this case, the variations in use of the Old English characters thorn(þ) and eth(ð) in Beowulf and other Anglo-Saxon texts). Lithia learned a new web-based graphics package (D3.js for Data-Driven Documents) and implemented a wonderful “Rolling Window” tool to add to our Lexos tool set. Lithia’s final contribution to our interdisciplinary research group is perhaps most significant and represents what is often called a “soft skill.” Three weeks into the project, my software lead left for another internship and Lithia soon emerged, without prompting, as the new lead. Most important was the way she encouraged and motivated two other programmers in the group. Lithia was the first student in computer science to be accepted to and attend the AIT-Budapest program in the Spring of 2015. In short, Lithia Helmreich is the kind of student that Fred Kollett loved and nurtured.

Grace Ulinski ’17 is an exceptional student in Computer Science. Not only does she excel in computer science coursework, but she is a double-major in mathematics, at which she is also quite adept. She brings these two skills together on a regular basis, creating not only correct but also efficient solutions to complex programming problems. Grace worked on a project with Professor Mike Gousie and two other students in the summer of 2015. She almost single handedly wrote the complex code necessary to produce a dynamic web-based visualization of 94 years’ worth of movie data. This interdisciplinary project is used by Sociology Professor John Grady to explore relationships among the top ten movie stars in each year of the 94 years. John has already used this tool to great effect and reported his results at an international conference. Grace has applied those skills learned in the summer to this semester’s Senior Seminar, which involves creating another visualization, this time to show Wheaton’s campus energy usage. Besides her exemplary class work, Grace finds time to be the president of the Computer Science House, and has organized monthly events under that guise, while also playing on the hockey club team.