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!
New Course Profile: Chinese V
In the second semester of 2012, in the midst of the course selection process, Chinese IV students Mohibullah Amin, Eliza Farley, Liza Bernstein, Hong Minh Ngo and Edeline Loh approached me to express their strong interest in a Chinese V class at Berkshire. I discussed the matter with Mr. Splawn, the Dean of Academics, who supported the new course enthusiastically. Chinese teacher Mrs. Xu was eager to work with these fine students and gladly took on the challenge of teaching a fifth course. As Department Chair, I was delighted that we were able to expand our language offerings for students who truly wanted to challenge themselves academically. The new course began in September.
Mohibullah Amin '13, a native of Afghanistan, is thrilled about the opportunity to take his Chinese studies further. "I think I can speak for my class when I say that we are passionate about learning Chinese. Chinese V is an advanced level class --it is very challenging but, at the same time, exciting. I, personally, wanted to take Chinese V because it will prepare me for a college-level Chinese course. Also, the culture is fascinating and, ironically, very similar to my own culture. Maybe it is because we are neighboring countries. To even further strengthen our relationship, I believe we should get acquainted with each other's cultures, religions and languages and in this way, we will discover fewer differences than similarities."
Mrs. Xu plans to expand the students’ horizon in several ways and prepare them for the study of Chinese in college. First, they will do more sophisticated readings, including magazines and newspapers. They will also listen to Chinese news broadcasts via the internet. Second, students will focus on their written expression of Chinese, including the development of extended sentence structures and fully developed paragraphs in which they will discuss their readings. Third, they will continue to develop their vocabulary by learning new characters and more formal expressions. Finally, as always with Chinese classes, they will continue to expand their understanding of Chinese language and culture. The Language Department is very proud to have such strong students in our program who were willing to come forward and ask us to expand our offerings, as well as having a colleague who was willing to support our students in their pursuit of academic excellence.
-- Dr. Norm Merrill, Language Department Chair