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 at UConn
Which mentor of Johannes Kepler was responsible for showing that comets are not, in fact, atmospheric phenomena? Which novel by James Michener was adapted into a hit musical by Rogers and Hammerstein? Benzene is an example of which category of molecules that do not, despite their name, all have characteristic odors? In the National Football League, to which position does the “three” in a four-three defensive configuration refer?*
These questions and hundreds more were asked of the Berkshire Quiz Bowl team, who travelled to Storrs, CT on Saturday, February 2nd, to participate in the fourth annual UConn / E. O. Smith High School Connecticut invitational academic tournament on the University of Connecticut campus. Despite bringing only three-quarters of a team (three, rather than four players) due to Berkshire School’s winter recess, the Bears posted a respectable 12th place finish, in a field of 28 teams from 20 public and prep schools from across the southern New England region (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut). After quickly racking up two victories and one loss in the first three rounds, the Berkshire “quizletes” lost four straight games, three of them to teams that would finish in the top five overall at the end of the day. However, in the afternoon, strong individual performances—bolstered by quickness on the buzzer, intense concentration, and sheer intellectual endurance—helped the Bears to three straight wins in the last three rounds, which did not conclude until nearly 6:00 pm, eight long hours after the start of competition. The last round, in particular, was dramatic: up against frequent rival Milton Academy, the Bears battled back from a 100 to 65 halftime deficit to win 210 – 185 at the end of the second half.
Individually, the Bears posted some of the best results in Berkshire Quiz Bowl’s short history. Merit Glover ’14 was outstanding, earning 440 points for an average of 44.0 per game, including 30 “power” points for early answers, to finish in 12th place overall out of nearly 100 competitors. East Asian phenom Xiyue (Sissi) Wang ’13 earned 140 points for 14.0 per game, finishing in 40th place, and acting Captain Sam Cabot ’13 finished in 45th, averaging 16.5 points per game—as importantly, Sam steered the short-handed Berkshire team through the many instances of three-second discussions following group questions to produce scores of correct answers. Considering that each of our three players finished in the top half of all competitors, we might very well wonder how well the team as a whole would have placed, had another of our starters been able to attend.
Berkshire School is still new to the academic tournament world, but already, in just its second year, the team is becoming well known across the close-knit community of New England quiz bowl teams. There is no better testament to this developing reputation than the story of what happened in our final round: walking into the venue, the coach of the Milton team looked at the Berkshire group and said to Coach Clary, “oh, we have to play YOU guys again?” (we last encountered Milton at Yale, in the fall), “this is going to be a tough one….”
Congrats to our team! The next tournament is March 2nd, at Yale, for a reprise of the fall event. Given the growing popularity of the Quiz Bowl activity, we expect to field Varsity, JV, and Development teams, bringing 12 players in all.
*Tycho Brahe; Tales of the South Pacific; aromatics; linebacker.
-- Evan Clary, English Department Chair and faculty mentor to the Quiz Bowl team