Elizabeth M. von Briesen
I am an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Elon University. I joined this department in the fall of 2020 after completing my PhD at UNC Charlotte. I graduated with a BS in Physics from the University of Virginia in 1994, and went on from there to have a large family while working part-time teaching and consulting in IT. For much of my life I have enjoyed the study and application of science and technology. At the same time, I have spent many years informally researching and examining issues of social justice. I hope to apply my computing skills in a way that will have a broad social impact within disadvantaged and persecuted communities.
The study of complexity is enriching both professionally and personally. My observations of the connectedness of the world around me, and the dynamics associated with those connections, are a constant source of joy. I find inspiration, beauty and meaning within the systems I observe, from the smallest to the largest.
I am interested in the study of complex adaptive systems through the use of computer modeling. My dissertation research was specifically directed toward agent based modeling of civil conflict potentially leading to genocide. More recently, I have worked with students on agent-based models of home gardening to address food insecurity, housing insecurity in immigrant populations, and the micro-level evolution of music.
As a person who loves writing in all its complexity and difficulty, I am motivated to help undergraduates in computer science better appreciate the importance of writing and communication in the field. Additionally, I am researching and implementing best practices for inclusive teaching in computer science through adaptation of course materials, increasing engagement during class time, and adjustment of grading policies and rubrics.
Interacting with students is the most meaningful part of my daily work as a professor. My favorite moments are sharing in learning and laughing with students inside and outside the classroom. I am working informally to create a fun and welcoming environment within the department by adding a sticker bowl (very popular with students!!!), as well as space for creating art and playing a turn-by-turn game of chess. I believe that good mentoring stems from being genuine with students, sharing in the ups and downs of life, and in the joy of simple things.