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!
The 2012-13 academic year will bring several new and reconstituted programs to the Center for Writing and Critical Thinking (CWCT). In addition to writing support, this year the Center will expand its program to help students develop their critical thinking skills, including a seminar series hosted by faculty members. Seminars will include: “The College Essay” with Mr. Mulder (Director of College Counseling); “The Rubrix Cube: Beating 5.66 Seconds” with Mr. Turner (Math department); “Ms. Representation: Women in Media” with Ms. Hutchinson (School Counseling), Mrs. Bogardus (English department), Ms. McGovern (English department), and Mrs. Gappa (Math department); “Hamlet: How the Prince of Denmark can Save Your Life” with Dr. Kohlhepp (English department); “What is Happiness? A Philosophical Perspective” with Mr. Splawn (Dean of Academics), and “Research Methods” with Mr. Clary (English department chair). The Center will also bring in guest lecturers in various disciplines from outside of the school to engage and inspire our students’ critical thinking through differing perspectives.
The Center also has a new home, new student tutors, and a new faculty member. Originally housed in Benson, the Center has relocated to Berkshire Hall; this move places The Center amid other teaching spaces and improves the visibility and access for students. Just as important, though, is the addition of new tutors to staff The Center. Led by veteran Meagan McKenna '13 (Student Tutor Coordinator), a staff of 14 student-tutors, who have been trained by faculty members from the English and science departments as well as the college office, will take on the rewarding work of helping their peers become stronger writers. Moreover, in an effort to make Berkshire a more sustainable campus and to provide more effective feedback to student-writers, tutors have also been trained to use HP tablets, iPads, and specialized software for editing. Finally, the Center is excited to welcome its first science teacher: Mr. O’Rourke ‘02, who, along with Dr. Burch, helped create a useful guide for lab reports and will lend his expertise in science writing to those who visit the Center.
In addition to traditional, academically-oriented programs, The Center will sponsor two student clubs: Story Time with the Bears and Berkshire Reads. Led by seniors Nick Greco and Eric Samuel, Story Time with the Bears offers an opportunity for students to share with peers an original song, story, poem or piece of personal non-fiction. Berkshire Reads, organized by Mrs. Bullock ‘86, is a club to promote reading for enjoyment, without the pressure of quizzes, tests, and essays. Selecting a common book, students will get together and informally share their thoughts on and reactions to the reading.
Click here to see more specific information, such as hours of operation, seminar dates, tutors on duty, upcoming national essay contests, and useful writing resources, or come by The Center in Berkshire Hall (Room 212).
-- Stuart Miller, CWCT Director