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!
Advanced Bio: Full Moon Hike
As a part of a field ecology unit focused on our mountain and its varied ecosystems, Anita Loose-Brown’s advanced biology class took advantage of a lovely night and a spectacular full moon to explore the mountain at night. Using no artificial lights at all, the group took the Glenbrook Trail up to the reservoir and waterfall, walked down the access road to Cross Trail and followed that to the ski hill and thence back to campus. While the access road was bathed in moonlight, the moon was too low to shed much light on the Glenbrook Trail; still, the students were stunned by how well they could see the trail and aspects of the forest. Between the sound of Glen Brook racing along side the trail and some excited chatter from the students, the group did not hear much evidence of wild life. But the class agreed that the outing had been worthwhile and that it gave them a different sense of the mountain than they could get from their daytime visits. “It had a surreal effect” was how Shuvam Chakraborty described it, and Julia Allyn’s take was “It was amazing to see the mountain with no sunlight”. Sandra Stephen summed the experience up well when she added “The best part… is having enough light to be able to see the shapes of everything but not enough light to be able to do anything else other than be in the surroundings”. The class agreed that they would like to reprise the hike in May.