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!
Meet Gwyneth Connell
New Dean of Faculty
This summer, Gwyneth Connell joined the Berkshire community as the new Dean of Faculty. She assumes the role from Bill Clough who held this role in addition to serving as Assistant Head of School; Bill Clough is now the Associate Head of School. Gwyneth brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to her new position. She shares some thoughts here:
Tell us a little about yourself:
I grew up in New Jersey, where I was a day student at the Peddie School. That was my first exposure to a boarding school community, and I loved being involved in school life, especially the theater and the literary magazine. My years as an American Studies major at Amherst College were my introduction to western Massachusetts, and during my time there, my family moved to Great Barrington. I spent the first seven years of my teaching career at Millbrook School, just down the road from Berkshire, where I taught history, worked in both girls’ and boys’ dorms, coached the Varsity Improv team, advised the Model U.N. club, and ran the peer mentoring program for new teachers. During my time at Millbrook, I took a one-year leave of absence to get my master’s in private school leadership through the Klingenstein Center at Teachers College, Columbia University. I returned to New York City in 2008 to serve as a class dean at Packer Collegiate Institute, a day school in Brooklyn, where I had the opportunity to shepherd the Class of 2012 through from freshman year to their graduation this past spring. I knew I wanted to come back to New England, though, and I missed the round-the-clock action of boarding school life, so I am absolutely thrilled to have landed at Berkshire as the new Dean of Faculty.
So what does a Dean of Faculty do, exactly?
What I actually do will depend somewhat on the needs and wants of the faculty themselves. I’m here to support them, their growth as individuals, and the overall culture surrounding teaching and learning at Berkshire. I’ll be a part of the formal evaluation process for teachers, observing classes and helping to coordinate the teams that provide teachers with feedback. Early-career teachers will be a particular focus of mine – I’m really looking forward to spending a lot of time with that group. I’m also hoping to create more informal opportunities for teachers to talk shop, to share their talents and strategies with one another, and to examine some of the new ideas out there in the education world and see how they might fit into our work here. The better job we do of supporting and cultivating our teachers, the better the experience will be for their students.
What else will you be doing at Berkshire?
Like everyone else here, a lot! I’ll teach a section of Advanced Modern World History, serve as an advisor, live in Crispin-Gordon-Rose, assistant coach j.v. volleyball, advise the Green and Gray, and possibly help out with the improv class and winter musical in some capacity. I’m glad that I’ll have so many opportunities to get to know students, in addition to my work with the faculty.