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
The Berkshire School Advanced Math/Science Research students had their first visits to their respective research sites this week. Each student works with a professional researcher at some of the top research institutions in the United States. Last year, eighteen students were in the course, including three who entered the INTEL Science Talent Search Competition, the nation's most prestigious science research competition for high school seniors; Jenny Quilty ‘11 was an INTEL Semifinalist, the second Berkshire student in two years to earn that distinction. This year there are twenty students in the course, eight of whom will enter the INTEL contest. No other independent boarding school in the United States will have as many entrants.
“We are really excited about this year’s group,” said course instructor and Math Department Chair Kurt Schleunes. “In addition to having students at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, SUNY, Albany Medical Center, and Wadsworth Medical Center, we have placed students at Williams College and Amherst College. In addition, two students will be doing mathematical research with our new math teacher, Dr. Tim Lance, here on campus. This is, without a doubt, the finest group of students I have worked with in my 29-year career in teaching.”
“This year we have a nice mix of American and International students. When our students go to the lab, they have the opportunity to work with a team of scientists from all over the world. They are able to succeed in this setting because they are part of a global community at Berkshire; our students come from twenty-five countries and twenty-four states. Another reason is that they play team sports here at Berkshire. Learning to work with or lead a team of people from diverse backgrounds is an important skill, and Berkshire School is deeply committed to developing such life skills in our students.”