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!
Last week, Dr. Kohlhepp took the Advanced Humanities Research class to The Mount, the home of Edith Wharton, for a visit to the source.
Here's a quick explanation from Dr. Kohlhepp of the AHR program and how this trip fits in with its goals:
This visit, in that it encompassed architectural and landscape design as well as literary and historical study, tied together many elements of the Advanced Humanities Research course. The AHR scholars spend the first quarter learning about critical approaches and research methods in the various humanities disciplines, then determine a specific field of study and compile a reading list in the second quarter. The second semester sees them propose and execute a lengthy scholarly project, with oversight from the AHR teacher and guidance from at least one off-campus mentor.
The class's pilgrimage to Edith Wharton’s Berkshire cottage The Mount gave these ambitious scholars the chance to connect a writer with her locus of composition and to trace, within the cottage’s beautiful rooms and gardens, some of the key themes that exist within this American master’s oeuvre. (To prepare, the students read stories from Wharton’s lesser-known collection The Descent of Man, published just as she was completing construction.)
Students were greeted, escorted and informed by Kelsey Mullen ’05, a former English standout at Berkshire. Mullen, the Mount’s Director of Public Programming, was thrilled to share her passion and erudition with some of Berkshire’s best and brightest and “to get Berkshire School students integrated into the local scene.” Mullen also put the AHR crew to work in formulating ways to enrich the visitor’s experience. One team proposed a design competition on the order of Iron Chef; their rivals advocated a writers’ retreat-cum-historical reenactment.
Other memorable aspects of the trip included a visit to Edith’s bedroom and heated hypotheses about the identities of three gentlemen on her mantle; an unstructured tour of the grounds, with much spirit directed toward to the pet cemetery; a balanced debate about the relative virtues of the French and Italian gardens; and an ice cold root beer on the verandah.