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!
Supplementing our work with Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, fifth formers in Mr. Miller's Advanced English V class studied excerpts from Thoreau’s Walden. Using Thoreau’s ruminations on society and nature, the class was able to look at Jay Gatsby’s character and the novel as a whole through a more defined lens. Ultimately, it was our goal to decide whether or not Jay Gatsby did in fact turn out alright at the end: is Jay Gatsby a victim of the foul dust that followed in the wake of his dreams? Or, is Jay Gatsby a morally bankrupt character? We also looked to make sense of Fitzgerald’s “machine in the garden” motif and the connection between societies' morals and the natural environment.
Two students from Advanced English V, Meagan McKenna and Jack Lewers, were the first to take advantage of the opportunity, albeit for only one night each, to live like Henry David Thoreau did during his two-year stint at Walden Pond. The overnight consisted of arriving at our Thoreau Cabin in the evening alone and void of any electronic devices and then joining the class for breakfast the following morning. A simple lantern, the necessary books, a journal, and a sleeping bag were all that accompanied Meagan McKenna and Jack Lewers during their individual stays in the cabin.With Meagan and Jack’s time in the cabin juxtaposed against that of their peers' time in the dorm, the class began to look at the impact society and material goods have on the environment and an individual’s morals—both in 1920s’ and today’s society. During her stay, Meagan wrote: “Finally being in the cabin allows me to think. Just think: nothing special, nothing complicated. Just reflect on my life, my choices, and my future.” If only this were what Jay Gatsby decided to do.