The Office of Student Research is proud to feature Jessica Donahue in this week’s “Scholar Story”.

Jessica Donahue is a junior at Longwood University and is majoring in mathematics. In the summer of 2020, Jessica participated in Longwood’s PRISM STEM summer research program and she has continued working on her research project during the 2020-2021 academic year. Her research focuses on determining the optimal placement of five points on a unit sphere so that the surface area of the convex hull of the points is maximized. She says that “participating in independent research helped improve my confidence in expressing my own thoughts within my field.”

Jessica decided to become involved in research because “growing up, teachers and other education workers, such as counselors, often did not have any other experience in the mathematics field besides school. Thus, when it came time for me to decide on my future, I was left in the dark and unaware of what else was possible for those with math degrees. Because of this, I decided I wanted to be able to share with my future students what else was possible in the field besides simply teaching, Thus, when Dr. Hoehner had expressed interest in researching a problem to do with geometric probability, I decided to go through with the independent research as it would allow me to have a unique experience to share with my future students.”

One of Jessica’s favorite parts of doing research was presenting her research at conferences. Jessica had the opportunity to present her research at the Undergraduate Mathematics Symposium (UMS) and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference of Undergraduate Scholarship (MARCUS). After presenting at these conferences, Jessica also had her paper published in the January 2021 issue of Acta Crystallographica Section A (Volume 77, Part 1).  

The most important skill Jessica learned during the research experience was “perseverance. Several different times during the two semesters that we did research, I would find myself stuck on a problem and having to force myself to keep trying different approaches until I was able to achieve the desired outcome. I now find myself implementing this same mentality in other classes as I move into the hard classes within my degree and it has really helped me to excel in my studies.”

Congratulations to Jessica on her successful research!




If you would like to have your research featured in a “Scholar Story”, or if you would like to learn more about getting involved in research at Longwood University, please visit Longwood’s Office of Student Research website

or contact Amorette Barber, Director of the Office of Student Research ( or