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!
Two INTEL Semifinalists
Seyoon Lee ’12 of Korea and Penny Ni ’12 of China have been named as Semifinalists in the 2012 INTEL Science Talent Search, the nation's oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition. This is the third year in a row that Berkshire has had a student named as an INTEL Semifinalist.
The 300 semifinalists of the Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS) 2012 were chosen from among 1,839 entrants representing 497 high schools in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and three overseas schools. Each semifinalist will receive a $1,000 award for his or her outstanding research. Additionally, to recognize excellence in teaching and school support of individual student research, every school will receive an award of $1,000 for each semifinalist named. This award is used to further excellence in science, math, and/or engineering education. Colleges and universities regard the Intel STS semifinalist award to be evidence of exceptional academic promise. Past participants have gone on to receive some of the world's most prestigious honors, winning seven Nobel Prizes, two Fields Medals, three National Medals of Science and eleven MacArthur Foundation Fellowships. For high schools with 400 students or fewer, Berkshire had the most INTEL Semifinalists of any school in the nation. For high schools with 600 students or fewer, Berkshire tied with the Breck School (MN) and Westview School (OR) for the most INTEL Semifinalists in the nation.
Seyoon’s project took place over a three-year period at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at SUNY Albany. His mentor was Dr. Shadi Shahedipour-Sandvik, Associate Professor of Nanoengineering. Seyoon also worked closely with Puneet Suvarna. Seyoon created a new type of white light emitting diode (LED) based on a hybrid semiconductor device that uses both organic and inorganic materials. By alterning the inorganic layer, he was able to increase the intensity of white light being emitted, which could advance the current progress for implementation of energy efficient and enviromentally friendly solid-state lighting, as compared to today's incandescent light bulbs. His project is titled, “A Novel Inorganic-Organic Hybrid White Light Emitting Diode Based on an InGaN-F8T2 Heterojunction.” To read his paper abstract, click here.
"It was by far the hardest thing I've ever done in my life,” said Seyoon. “I was very lucky to receive guidance and advice from my mentor Dr. Shadi and other graduate students, especially Puneet. I want to thank Dr. Geer and CNSE for giving me the chance to do scientific research. The gravity and professionalism of the process of entering INTEL and writing a scientific paper were valuable experiences that will help me throughout my future. I am grateful to Mr. Schleunes and Berkshire School for giving me such an amazing opportunity that I couldn't even dream of having if I had stayed in Korea."
Penny’s project took place during the fall of this year at SUNY Albany. Her mentor was Dr. David Strait, Associate Chair of Anthropology. Penny used computer modeling and mathematical analysis to gain a greater understanding of the evolution of the human skull. Her project is titled, “Biomechanical Significance of Modern Human Mentum Osseum Examined Using Finite Element Analysis in Fossil and Modern Humans.” To read her paper abstract, click here.
“It has been a wonderful and unforgettable experience for me to do hands-on anthropology research with Dr. Strait at SUNY,” said Penny. “The research project is so fun and provides me with enlightening insights into modern human evolution. It is amazing for a high school senior to have the chance to work on the same problem as some leading professors do, and finally get some results through my own efforts. I treasure the opportunity to work with my mentor, Dr. Strait, whose passion for science and strong work ethic deeply move and influence me. I also want to thank Mr. Schleunes for providing me this chance to work in the lab and going through my INTEL application, and Dr. Lance and Mr. O’Rourke for driving me to SUNY. Without you, I would not even have had the chance to start my research and enter INTEL.”
Kurt Schleunes, Director of the Advanced Math/Science Research program and Math Department Chair, is proud of Seyoon and Penny and grateful to the mentors who have worked closely with Berkshire students in their scientific research. “Seyoon and Penny did an outstanding job on their projects and made significant contributions to science in their respective areas. We are also very thankful that the scientific community of Albany has been so supportive of our students and our research program.”