Advanced Math/Science Research Update
by Dr. April Burch, Director of the AMSR program
January 15, 2013
Since our last update, Berkshire School hosted student researchers from Belmont Hill, and all-boys prep school outside of Boston, for a 1-day mini-symposium on Student Biomedical Research. The goal was to foster collaboration, communication and community outreach with our students. AMSR students Liza Bernstein '13, Sissi Wang '13, Lars Robinson '13, Elsie Guevara '13, Ernest Yue '13, and Nate MacKenzie '14, gave short talks about their work in the new Bellas/Dixon Math and Science lecture hall. The talks were followed up by break-out sessions where Belmont Hill students described their research projects and students discussed commonalities between the projects and future goals.
The second semester of AMSR started with some terrific news. The AMSR program was awarded a grant from The Chinchester Dupont Foundation for the purchase of an EVOS fluorescence microscope. This piece of equipment will expand the types of experiments and analyses that can be done by AMSR students this and future years. The microscope should arrive shortly, and Dr. Burch has invited everyone to stop in for a look next time they are on campus.
One new, exciting project that is underway in the winter season of AMSR in the afternoons is being spearheaded by Elif Kesaf '14. Elif is from Turkey and seeks to identify novel viruses of non-pathogenic strains of Legionella bacterium from travertines in Pamukkale. In collaboration with Dr. Sunny Shin at the Perlman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, she will be working to isolate viruses of this bacterium with the hope of identifying new agents to combat Legionnaires' disease caused by a pathogenic form of Legionella.
Look for more news from Dr. Burch in the next issue!
Advanced Math/Science Research class seniors Andrew Walther and Long Tran visited Belmont Hill School in
Boston on December 3rd to present their research results to an
appreciative audience of Belmont Hill students. Jared Courtney, who
assisted with the Berkshire research course last year, is teaching at
Belmont Hill and hopes to start a research course there beginning this
summer. Kurt Schleunes,
Director of the Berkshire AMSR program, said, “Long and Andrew did an
outstanding job with their presentations and got the Belmont Hill
students really excited about having this type of opportunity at their
school. Both Andrew and Long entered the INTEL Science Talent Search Contest this year so it was a chance for the Belmont students to see high school science research projects at the highest level.”
Mr. Courtney echoed this praise. “Both I and the Belmont Hill community were extremely impressed with Andrew's and Long's ability to explain their highly technical research in such a digestible way. Their enthusiasm inspired the AP Biology and AP Chemistry students to realize that their classroom knowledge could take them so far in the research community. The tremendously meaningful experience that the AMSR program provides at Berkshire is so incredible that it immediately drew in a room full of 75 high school students. I hope that our school's close proximity to excellent research facilities will allow us to begin a program similar to the high-caliber one at Berkshire.”
Andrew and Long were also able to take in some of the sights of Boston and to attend a performance of the Blue Man Group. “The trip to Boston was a great experience and a nice balance of work hard, play hard," said Andrew. "Preparation for the PowerPoint presentation was intense but seeing the Blue Man Group helped me to quickly recover.” Long added, “The trip was definitely one of the most memorable experiences I have had in high school. I really enjoyed presenting my research project to the students at Belmont Hill School and was amazed by their hospitality. Also, I loved Boston's seafood, whose tastiness can hardly be described in words."
The Berkshire AMSR program is modeled after the Marlborough School Science Research program in Los Angeles which was created by Dr. Arleen Forsheit. “I think it is just great that what Dr. Forsheit started has now continued on to two other high schools," commented Mr. Schleunes. Dr. Forsheit’s program was featured in the New York Times; click here to read the article.
For more information about the Advanced Math/Science Research class at Berkshire, click here.