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!
Summer Reading: Faculty-Style
Unencumbered from classroom prep and grading during the dog days of summer, teachers remain a curious lot, busy with their noses in books (or on devices, as the case might be). With the luxury of time on their hands, the faculty has been industrious, nonetheless, churning through an impressive and diverse slate of books. Here’s a snapshot of what some are reading this month:
Clay Splawn – Academic Dean
“My wife Kristina and I are reading along with the students this summer -- we selected four books off of the summer reading list, one from each "form". We thought it would be fun to pick books from the list so we would try something out of our comfort zones. I am most of the way through Paul Greenberg's Four Fish. It traces the evolution of, well, four fish (salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna) and how their treatment at the hands of human beings has and will continue to shape our collective future. Good stuff.”
April Burch – Advanced Math/Science Research Director
“Feynman’s Rainbow: A Search For Beauty In Physics And In Life, because Richard Feynman was a great American thinker who mentored hundreds of brilliant minds. He had a way of inspiring creativity and intelligence that I find admirable. This book, I've heard, is about his impact on one student. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand: from what I've heard, is an incredible story about personal strength, perseverance and forgiveness.”
Paul MacKenzie – History teacher
“I am currently reading Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt, the story of the 15th century rediscovery of Lucretius' poem De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things). On the list: Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel - sequel to Wolf Hall, (which is an option for AP Euro reading this summer) which I read last year; and 1Q84 by Haruki Marukami - I enjoyed Kafka on the Beach, and Wind Up Bird Chronicle, so more Japanese surrealism might be fun. It's a big book, though.”
Bill Clough – Assistant Head of School
“I just finished two books by Jay Parini that I have been meaning to read for some time: Robert Frost: A Life and The Art of Teaching. Biographers have not always been kind to Frost, but Parini paints Frost as more than just a mercurial genius; he is also a devoted (and long-suffering) friend, husband and father. His book on teaching is aimed at higher education, but there are great anecdotes in here for high school teachers as well. In process: Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher and Why Read Moby Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick.
Evan Nielsen – History teacher and V Form Dean
“I am looking forward to having some time this summer for some more reading. Recently though I read Everything Matters by Ron Currie Jr., a novel that I enjoyed about a boy that possesses the knowledge that the world will end when he is 36 years old. The main character is left grappling with the universal question, "How much does what I do with my life really matter?" The search to answer that question makes for an interesting and thought-provoking story. I also have recently picked up Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I don't often read books multiple times, but this is my all time favorite novel and had the urge to read this one again. “
Kurt Schleunes – Math Department Chair
“Too Smart for our Own Good by Craig Dilworth and Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer.”
Michael Ramella – SAGE Food Service Director
“Ideas in Food by Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot; The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffery Steingarten; Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton; and Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Of course, I'll be trying to read all of this while taking care of our summer programs, spending lots of time with the kids, and weeding the garden (I doubled the size of it this year!)”
Evan Clary – English Department Chair
"Despite (and because of) my being an English teacher, I never have time to read for myself during the school year. So that means that I'm quite happy to spend my breaks with good books, which are almost as good as friends (or so people with many friends tell me).
"So far this summer, I have read: Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies, the second and brand new volume in her planned trilogy of novels about Henry VIII's court--not for the gentle, timorous, romantic, or idealistic; the biography Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson about the most brilliant boss few were ever unlucky enough to work for; and The Day The World Discovered the Sun by local author Mark Andersen about the rival expeditions in the 1760s to the ends of the earth to observe two transits of Venus, thereby discovering the solar parallax and thus calculating the size of the solar system as well as providing a reliable system of longitude--so gripping, surprisingly, that I read it in one sitting. Next up is Henry James's The American, long-neglected by me, and another book about a transoceanic journey, Michael Ondaatje's new novel The Cat's Table. Inspired by a recent conversation as well as The Day The World..., I also intend to reread The Voyage of the Beagle and The Starry Messenger, two of the best written (and, of course, most important) scientific works in the western tradition. I also plan to read some newly translated plays of Nobel winner Gao Xingjian and fellow laureate's Toni Morrison's new novel Home. That should leave me just enough time to get to Berkshire's summer reading list!"
Jasper Turner - Pro Vita Director, Math teacher
"I am reading Good to Great after hearing Grant Wiggins speak at the Exeter Math Conference this summer. Wiggins is the creator of the backward by design idea and he cited Jim Collin's research in Good to Great as a viable way to modify American schools. While the book was written before the financial crisis and as a result highlights several now bankrupt companies (Fannie Mae and Circuit City both come to mind) for their impressive growth and long-term strategy, his overall analysis of the factors behind a company's transition from good to great seems highly applicable to educational organizations as well.
"Steph is making her way through Sue Grafton's mystery novels."
Della Scheunes – Dance teacher
“Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain was a hoot. Harry Belafonte's My Song took me back to my growing up years and the events I remember from them, Mao's Last Dancer by Cunxin Li gave me a window into the struggles that so many Chinese faced, and The Dirty Life by Kristen Kimball inspires me to try new things in the garden.”
Brian Lewton – Assistant Athletic Trainer
“Summer means matching leisure time schedules for my wife and me. Since I have so much more reading time during the year, I often get very far ahead of her on the reading list. This summer, however, we will read a book together, even through the traveling and visits with family: This Momentary Marriage by John Piper. We can't wait to see what we will learn about Biblical marriage!”
Sylvia Gappa – Math teacher
“Other than reading Ameila Bedelia and Fancy Nancy selections with Katy, I have begun to read Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath, as well as Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult.
Linda Bellizzi – English teacher
“Finished today...Anne Tyler’s The Beginner's Goodbye, a quick, sweet read about more quirky characters in Baltimore. This novel is about dealing with loss, but it's funny and odd and just nice. On deck: Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding. I don't know much about it except that it begins with a baseball error and unfolds from there. David Eggers and Jonathan Franzen think it's dandy, and I bet I will too.”
Dan Skoglund – History teacher
“Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson: A good business read with some drama in the mix. Jobs lived a fascinating and complicated life; Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden: Fascinating read on the hunt for Pablo Escobar, the cocaine kingpin of the 1980's; 50 Places to Fly Fish Before You Die by Chris Santella: I always have this on the bedside table and read a chapter here and there about places around the globe I fantasize about fishing; Small Giants by Bo Burlingham: I am currently reading this and loving it. Burlingham basically identifies leading small companies in many different industries and explains why they are great but also why they choose to be small and shun expanding. Some of the companies he analyzes are Cliff Bar, Anchor Steam Brewing, and Danny Meyer Hospitality Group. Great book for the entrepreneurial spirit.”
Dary Dunham – English teacher
“Canoeing with the Cree by Eric Severeid: In the summer of 1930 two Minnesota teen agers, Eric Severeid, age 17, and Walter Port, age 19, paddled an eighteen-foot canoe from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay. The journey covered 2,250 miles, required sixty portages, and lasted nearly four months; The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, winner of the Man Booker Prize.”
Lissa McGovern - English teacher
"I recommend Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Strayed offers an absolutely fearless memoir of her hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in which she hiked in an effort not to find herself, but to save herself. Her voice is clear and strong and the story is terrific!"