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Student wins 'women in computing' award

By Linnae Stole '10
March 5, 2010

Defying the stereotype that the fields of math and computer science are heavily male-dominated, Emily Jones ’11 recently saw success while competing at the Regional Celebration of Women in Computing (or “MinneWIC”). Jones’s research won the undergraduate best poster prize -- a trip to the Grace Murray Hopper Women in Computing conference in Atlanta next fall.

Emily Jones's research has focused on a new method for saving image files.

Jones, a math and computer science double major, presented a poster based on research conducted in Assistant Professor of Computer Science Olaf Hall-Holt’s Interim course. During the class, Jones's team worked on a new type of image compression that would allow for image storage in a format other than the traditional .jpg, .gif, and .tif.

Jones's research, alongside Robert Pieh '12 and Bjorn Wastvedt '12, incorporated the use of a program developed by Hall-Holt. As opposed to the .jpg file format that separates the image into large squares and pixelates the image, the .hsf compression by Jones's team separates the image into segments of varying shapes that better fit the image.

This segmentation produces a large number of polygons that are then compressed into the .hsf file. The method is notable for the way the polygons more effectively deal with geometric shapes in an image, such as buildings.

“Math was always an interest of mine growing up,” Jones says. “I love the multitude of different applications that mathematics has in the world, and the kid in me loves all the fun math tricks you learn along the way as well.” After college she hopes to teach middle school or high school mathematics, though she now says that going into computer science is not out of the question.

She offers this advice to women interested in pursuing careers in math and computer science fields: “Go for it. Don't let the abundance of men scare you away; they are great to work with and will respect you if you show that you really care about the subject.”

Contact David Gonnerman at 507-786-3315 or