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Carla Dee Moravitz

By Matthew Winston

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 27 - April 6, 1995

Carla Dee Moravitz is the first undergraduate to speak at Virginia Tech's Professional Presentation at Physics Seminar. She is a member of nine honor societies, holding the office of president in one of them. She has taken part in a variety of public-service projects like the Earthquake Relief Fund and SHARE Virginia food. She is the concertmaster of the New River Valley Symphony Orchestra and a member of several other area orchestras. Moravitz also is a dietary aide in a Northern Virginia retirement home.

Moravitz, however, describes herself as being shy and reserved, despite the number and diverse range of activities in which she has taken part during her four years at Virginia Tech. It is easy to understand why Moravitz was chosen as Virginia Tech's 1995 Woman of the Year. Her long list of achievements illustrates how she has managed to bring together two things in life which she loves the most--a fascination with mathematics and a passion for music.

Moravitz has been playing the piano since she was three years old, and the violin since she was six.

Somewhere between her first piano lesson and her freshman year at Virginia Tech, she read Chaos: Making A New Science by James Gleick, a book about breaking down in layman's terms the theories of order and disorder into complex mathematical formulas. This book inspired her to pursue a major in mathematics. "Math is everywhere," Moravitz says. "That book helped me to understand that everything in this universe can be broken down into mathematical formulas. A complete understanding of math helps to understand any phenomenon in the universe--even music." Moravitz brings these two seemingly diametrically opposed concepts of math and music together in her Honor's thesis work. Her undergraduate research, "Dynamical Systems in Music," uses computer technology to analyze musical compositions by applying the chaos theory and eventually breaking down music into a set of mathematical equations.

She is comparing these equations across composers, styles, and periods. "During my third year at Virginia Tech, I took Microcomputer Applications in Music," explained Moravitz. "I've been able to apply a lot of what I learned in that class to my research." Moravitz is a nominee for both the Rhodes Scholarship and Marshall Scholarship, a recipient of the Mathematics Hatcher Scholarship, and a member of several honor societies, including Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa. Also, under Moravitz's leadership, the Golden Key Honor Society chapter at Virginia Tech was recognized as the best chapter at the national conference last year. Moravitz plans to pursue a Ph.D. in applied mathematics and to remain in an academic research environment, teaching numerical analysis and programing.