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!
Global Politics class visits U.N.
Image a world with no rules, no rights, no ruler; a world of anarchy where everyone is against each other; a world where allies are scarce; a world where carrying a machine gun is normal and watching someone die is routine; a world where wars occur instantaneously and the sound of bombs are an occasional sound.
After World War II, the United Nations was created to ameliorate such issues and spread world peace. This past Monday, the 21st Century Global Politics class, taught by Jason Gappa, took a trip to the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Guided by Mr. Sayla from the Congo, the class learned about the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Millennium Development Goals, the purpose and function of the Security Council, and the function of the General Assembly. Mr. Sayla urged the class to think about how the United Nations, under the leadership of Ban Ki Moon, is still a work in progress.
The most eye-opening exhibit was the Millennium Development Goals. The United Nations hopes to end poverty and hunger, to grant universal education, to enforce gender equality, to provide child and maternal health, to combat HIV/AIDS and other deadly diseases, to pursue environmental sustainability, and to foster global partnerships by 2015. The class wrestled with the complexity of the intertwined issues; poverty and hunger can’t be fixed without affordable health care, and without basic education, sustaining a job is difficult. While these issues won’t be resolved by 2015, Mr. Sayla stressed that great progress has been made.
After the tour of the U.N., Mr. Jim Sniffen from the United Nations Environment Program talked with the class about his program and the Kyoto Protocol. Mr. Sniffen, a twenty year veteran at the UN, informed us that the Environmental Program's mission is to provide leadership in caring for the environment and to improve people's quality of life without compromising the environment. Mr. Sniffen gave a brief history of the program and focused on the attempts at the international level to protect the environment. In particular, he discussed the Kyoto Protocol, an environmental policy adopted in 1997 by many nations, which enforces a standard that countries must abide by to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. While there is not a consensus for the existence of global warming, the Kyoto Protocol brings the issues to light.
In the first month of the 21st Century Global Politics class, the students have studied how global and national politics interplay, learned about successes and failures at the United Nations, and as held a mock U.N. debate concerning the Kyoto Protocol; the visit to the U.N. furthered their understandings of the complex world in which we live today. The class will continue build on its knowledge of the United Nations and its role in international relations.
-- Britt Brown '13