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!
Quiz Bowl Team at MIT
On Saturday, six members of the Berkshire School Quiz Bowl team spent the entire day competing in a top-ranked, high-school academic tournament, hosted by MIT in Cambridge. Leaving campus before the dawn, sixth-formers Unyimeabasi Udoh (captain), Sam Cabot, Swetha Kodali, Xiyue “Sissi” Wang, Liza Bernstein, and III-former Shuvam Chakraborty fought hard through nine rounds of as many as 80 questions each, finishing with a respectable 5-4 record, tying for second in the Noether division (after the namesake German mathematician), in an overall field of 28 teams. Questions ranged from the obscure and highly abstruse (e.g., theoretical physics, ancient Asian philosophy, and Scandinavian political history), to the contemporary and popular (football trophy winners, current events in the Middle East, and MTV’s Video Music Awards), to the quirky and irreverent (video games). Berkshire’s capable, diversely-talented group leapt into the fray with determination and aplomb, working as a team to maximize the strengths of each player in a day filled with many dramatic moments and “squeaker” endings. Strong individual performances included that of Unyime, who finished in 16th place, and Shuvam, who took 48th, out of 136 players in total. Over sandwiches and burritos at lunch, the team spoke with a friend who is an MIT freshman, and she explained the academic program, research opportunities, and extracurricular and social activities at the university; in the evening, the team stopped off at Harvard Square for noodles and laughs before the long ride home.
This year, Berkshire School will sponsor varsity (alpha), junior varsity (beta), and developmental teams (omega), since the program is growing substantially. Our next major tournament is on October 27th, at Yale University in New Haven.
-- Evan Clary, English Chair and faculty advisor to the Quiz Bowl teams