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!
Creating Installation Art
This past winter season, three students worked with Mr. Banevicius to explore large-scale installation art, challenging the Berkshire community’s understanding and expectations about art. Phuong Nguyen ’13, Chris Jiambalvo ’13, and India Coard ’16 transformed the Berkshire Hall Atrium and the Bellas/Dixon Center lobby with four works in widely varied media. The group strove to surprise its audience and get students talking. “I liked how each project was very different from the another. The installations were unexpected and people were really impressed," commented Indie Coard.
The first project was a display of “Found Sculpture.” The students salvaged scrap metal objects from a local junkyard and simply painted them black. The objects, displayed in front of a glistening pattern of chrome hubcaps and car grills, took on a whole new life, emphasizing form rather than function. The students next explored scale by creating very large composite portraits through digital photography and hanging them in the Math/Science building. The sheer size of these disjointed portraits created a surprise to the building’s passers-by.
“Sarandipity,” played with the effects of light. The students enveloped the space over Berkshire Hall Atrium with yards and yards of plastic kitchen wrap. The natural light and artificial spotlights of the room created different effects on the translucent plastic, depending upon the time of day and whether one stood over or under the piece. It also created some unexpected consequences. Phuong Nguyen observed, “I didn't expect the final product to be a giant electrical field. It was fun to see my hair sticking to the Saran Wrap. It was not fun putting the installation up, as I kept getting shocked every few minutes.”
The final installation was “Dark Night Rising,” a free-standing sculpture. Using discarded plywood lumber (from an old theater set build), the group decided to create a sculpture without making any cuts to the wood. They experimented with different spacial arrangements until the final form emerged. Senior Chris Jiambalvo enjoyed the communal aspect of its construction. “This project intrigued me because of how we each would go and add a piece to it one by one, making it literally the entire Art Option group's work, not any individual person's.”
-- Paul Banevicius, Art Department Chair