MAN OF THE YEAR Mark EmbreeBy Sally Harris
Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 28 - April 18, 1996
Man of the Year at Virginia Tech. Outstanding Student in the College of Arts and Sciences. These two new awards are added to an already incredible year for Virginia Tech senior Mark Embree.
Embree already has won the most prestigious honor a graduating senior can receive-the Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, an award based not just on academic excellence, but on a combination of scholarship, versatility, leadership, social concern, and integrity. He has earned numerous previous scholarships, including the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.
Pursuing majors in both mathematics and computer science, Embree does research in two specific areas of numerical analysis: numerical linear algebra and numerical ordinary differential equations.
A practical application of his education began at the end of his first year of college when a member of the W.J. Schafer Associates team in Arlington encouraged him to refine a satellite flight-prediction program and use it to analyze the upcoming Clementine lunar mission. During the mission, he was able to visit the satellite's ground station in Alexandria and watch as lunar images were down-linked in real time. "Science's pioneering significance became clearer to me in this mission-control room," he wrote.
Between studies, Embree also has served as a student researcher in the Mathematics and Orbit Dynamics Section of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington and as a teaching assistant with the Department of Computer Science.
Embree draws inspiration from sources as diverse as his parents' encouragement of his interest in Civil War history (he has a minor in history), Botswana author Bessie Head's vision for the community (discovered as he pursued a minor in English), and his church's call to service.
Embree has long been involved in community and has taken leadership roles in various organizations. The University Honors Associates, of which he was president, gave him an opportunity to initiate and lead service projects.
"I believe service is an essential component of my life," Embree said. "Regardless of academic pursuits, without service I could not be complete."
He served as coordinator for the Honors Volunteer Tutoring Program, developed software for the Virginia Tech Outreach Program for Schools (VTOPS), assisted with a High Performance Scientific Computing interdisciplinary honors colloquium, served as a teaching assistant for an honors freshman seminar on Conflict and Consensus in Society, is a full member of the Youth Apostles Institute, and was a staff member for the Silhouette literary magazine.
At Oxford, Embree will study numerical linear algebra and differential equations for a career in research science, particularly scientific computing. "That's an area where work in computer science can have an immediate impact on the world-better aircraft, design of new materials-the ability to affect people daily."