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!
Berkshire Offsets all Carbon Emissions due to Transportation
By Elijah Merritt ‘12
A carbon offset is a credit that an individual or organization can purchase to negate a carbon footprint. Money spent to purchase carbon offsets can be used by a company to fund renewable energy projects, finance sustainable development, plant trees or expand landfill methane projects. These projects either take away carbon from the atmosphere or significantly reduce its output. Jackie Pape ‘14, a fourth former in the sustainability class, measured Berkshire’s emissions due to campus vehicles, commuting, and airline use during the 2010-2011 fiscal year. Jackie said that she “started by emailing all day students and faculty that commute to Berkshire to find out their addresses, the make and models of their cars, and whether or not they carpool. Then, I used Mapquest and www.fueleconomy.gov to calculate gallons of gasoline used last year via commuting.” Collecting the information related to campus vehicle and airline use took an equal amount of time and effort. Using the carbon calculator published by Clean Air-Cool Planet, Jackie discovered that Berkshire would need to offset just under 700 metric tons of CO2 if we wanted to offset all last year’s emissions due to transportation.
Offsetting emissions due to transportation will be necessary to bring Berkshire closer to its goal of carbon neutrality. Berkshire School started its path toward carbon neutrality when four students presented a Climate Action Plan to the board of trustees in 2008. Major projects such as the construction of a 2MW solar field, the establishment of a revolving loan fund for energy efficiency improvements, and the administration of several energy reduction education campaigns have pushed Berkshire closer to its goal of carbon neutrality by 2014.
After researching several different companies and spending time speaking with representatives, she was able to narrow her search down to the New Hope View Farm in Homer, NY. The farm owns an agricultural methane capture and destruction system. The system composts organic waste in a machine that limits access to oxygen, encouraging the generation of methane and carbon dioxide by microbes in the waste. This digester gas is then burned as fuel to make electricity. Derek Six, New Hope View Farm’s portfolio manager, voiced his appreciation citing also how impressed he was that Berkshire School gave students the opportunity to work on such a project.