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!
On Tuesday night, February 1, three poets – Taalam Acey, Michael Cirelli, and Lisa Starr – will join the ranks of the Center for Writing’s Visiting Writers Program and perform their work for Berkshire students and faculty. The reading is at 7 pm in Allen Theater, following a day of workshops with students.
Taalam Acey is an independent artist whose work has been featured frequently on TV One and was selected as the original "number one thing you need to know about" on BET's countdown show, "The 5ive." Over the years, BET has featured and aired roughly a half dozen segments featuring him and his work. The Newark, NJ native’s poetry has appeared in Essence Magazine, and he was honored to be a guest of Congresswoman Maxine Waters for the Congressional Black Caucus' 2007 & 2008 "Young Gifted and Black" panels. He has recorded more than a dozen CDs and authored four books. Additionally, films that include his work have garnered an Audience Award (2002) and a Special Jury Prize (2006) at the Sundance Film Festival. He was featured in an acclaimed Radio-One London slam poetry documentary, and Marc Smith, the founder of slam poetry, used Acey's work in his definitive book on Slam.
Michael Cirelli brings together the worlds of hip-hop and academia through his unabashed love for the word. Equally inspired by music, he says that,“[w]riting based on music has almost become a compulsion of mine…I could take a song…and spend hours trying to dissect each line, each metaphor, each double and triple entendre. The stuff of good hip-hop puts language in a rocket ship!” Cirelli embraces and also questions the lifestyle, imagery and issues of hip-hop culture and explores the idea of race and privilege. Cirelli says, “I work with teens on a daily basis, so poetry is about so many things. For them (and me), it can be about saving lives.” He is the Executive Director of Urban Word NYC, a grassroots non-profit organization that provides free, safe, uncensored and ongoing writing and performance opportunities for New York City teens. Through this work, Cirelli has also developed a teaching curriculum using hip-hop, called Hip Hop Poetry and the Classics. Cirelli has been a National Poetry Slam individual finalist and, during his time on the West Coast, the only person to make all three Bay area slam teams in the same year, winning the finals in both San Francisco and Berkeley.
Twice a recipient of the Rhode Island Fellowship for Poetry, Lisa Silverberg Starr has created a poetry "pen pal" system in Rhode Island that partners students with elderly citizens in communities around the state. She also has created "poetry circles" in hospitals, shelters for people experiencing homelessness, state prisons, and agencies serving children with disabilities. She describes her work this way: “I have always been drawn to and compelled by language, and poetry in particular. When I am teaching, shaping, and sharing it, I feel like I am doing my part to make this world a better place.”
In 2009, she brought together more than a dozen state Poets Laureate for "Poetry for Hope," an event that included poetry readings, workshops, and public forums in venues around Rhode Island. Starr also founded and is the director of the Block Island Poetry Project, which is described as a way for Starr "to combine her seemingly disparate vocations as poet and innkeeper with her love for the land and devotion to building community." Poetry is, simply, a necessary part of her exuberant life. In her words, “writing for me is the very act of turning the ordinary details into extraordinary moments. . . I believe that every poem, and every poet, deserves a place at the table. . .” Starr has published three poetry collections: Mad With Yellow (2008), This Place Here (2001), and Days of Dogs and Driftwood (1993). Her work is featured in The Writers' Circle 2010 Anthology.