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!
Prefects lead in Sustainability Efforts
Many boarding schools give students the opportunity to forward sustainability measures in their respective communities. Deerfield Academy and Phillips Exeter call these students Environmental Proctors. Choate has C-Proctors. Northfield Mount Hermon has Ecoleaders. At Berkshire, we give the responsibility to our most important student leaders: the prefects. In order to measure how well our prefects are forwarding sustainability in their dorms, the sustainability class came up with a rubric to evaluate their performance. The rubric includes energy use, recycling, communication, and conservation behaviors. For example, head dorm parents provide us with input regarding how well the prefects raise sustainability awareness. We also look for the percentage decrease of electricity and oil use compared to previous years. We even look at the level of cleanliness of recycling bins and the actual volume of material being recycled.
The sustainability class used the rubric to evaluate prefect performance in the months before March break. After tabulating the results, MacMillan prefects Breana Wilson '11 and Juna Lee '11 earned the highest score of 3.5 out of 5.0 points. “As prefects of MacMillan dorm, Juna and I thought it was our responsibility to implement the basics of being sustainable to our fellow students,” said Wilson. Alex Arjoon '11, the creator of the unique grading system, congratulated all the prefects and added, “I made this system so it would encourage students to be more sustainable, but at the same time teach them the importance of their responsibility to the environment and community.”
In the end, we hope that the prefect’s efforts in forwarding sustainability will leave a lasting impression on student behavior, encouraging them to lower their environmental impact.
-- Hank Hoover '12