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 Go Bragh!
For one week in mid-June, a few lucky Bears left the mountains of Western Massachusetts behind in exchange for a week on the Emerald Isle. The Berkshire Taconic Foundation sent a small group of rising seniors on a week-long excursion called Experiencing Bloomsday. This trip across the pond gave students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the cultural, spiritual, and literary history of Ireland through the lens of literary great James Joyce, culminating in a celebration of Bloomsday on June 16th in the most appropriate of settings: Dublin, Ireland.
The trip centered on Joyce’s work and his powerful observations of life in Dublin, and Ireland as a whole. Trinity College, located in the heart of Dublin, was home for the week, and from there the group visited a number of Joycean locations within the city’s bounds. Leading the way as our host and guide was Kevin O’Halloran, retired assistant headmaster of Westland Row School and a Joyce scholar. With Berkshire faculty chaperones Mr. and Mrs. O’Rourke and Mr. Cronin, Mr. O’Halloran took the group on a whirlwind tour of the city’s landmarks, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the James Joyce Centre, the Irish Writers’ Museum, and the Dail, the Irish Parliament. The group also visited the mountains of Wicklow and Wexford in the south (home to Mrs. O’Rourke’s ancestors), where the group visited Clongowes Woods College and stopped off at Glasnevin Cemetary. Finally, the trip culminated with a celebration of Bloomsday, a number of Joyce-related activities and festivities around Dublin for the group to participate in and enjoy.
The journey really began back in late March, when interested Fifth Formers were asked to read the short story “Eveline” from Joyce’s Dubliners, and compare in an essay their aspirations for travelling to Ireland with Eveline’s hesitance to leave. Typically, a group of six is chosen based on their essay responses, and this year’s applicants—Christina Cohen, Anna Driscoll, Eliza Farley, Alex Fuller, Swetha Kodali, Maddie Maher, Lan Nguyen, and Ellie Rochman—all submitted thoughtful and passionate pieces. Many embraced the challenge of something new and uncomfortable, citing change as being “vital to [providing] and [prolonging] happiness,” and acknowledging that “a new environment and new experiences bring knowledge into [our lives].” A number of essayists yearned to travel more, or simply to begin travelling, and expressed a desire “to actually wander the streets of foreign cities, test my language skills, taste the exotic food, or see the scenery with my own eyes.” After struggling to choose six out of the pool of applicants, the Berkshire Taconic Foundation was kind enough to grant all eight applicants the chance to go on this unique trip.
-- Will Cronin, English teacher and trip chaperone