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!
Unyimeabasi Udoh '13 sat down to talk a little about her paper during Parents' Weekend, so she was able to combine our conversation with some family time. (The man in the photo with her is her father.) Read her description of the paper and how it reflects her interests below:
My paper is on Le Corbusier (Charles-Edouard Jeanneret), a French modernist architect and urban planner who worked mostly in the first half of the 20th century and is widely considered to be one of the fathers of modern architecture. In my research, I focused on the parallels between his work and his personal life (he kept the two very separate), specifically using Freud's ideas on the id, ego and superego to examine how Corbusier's two dominant "personalities" (that of Le Corbusier and of Jeanneret) acted and interacted.
I am very interested in architecture -- it's my planned major -- in general and Le Corbusier in particular. At first, my ideas for this paper were quite nebulous; I knew that I wanted to study the overlaps between architecture and psychology, and I knew that I loved modernist architecture, but I didn't know where else to go from there. My teacher really helped me narrow my focus over time. I think I ended up picking Le Corbusier because he was French and a little bit crazy.
Over the course of my two years in AHR, I wrote several shorter papers on different aspects of my eventual thesis. The first identified the duality of Le Corbusier's life and work, and the following ones focused on specific works and life themes. Regular meetings and a lot of reading (most notably Le Corbusier's own works, a comprehensive biography, and too much Freud) helped to keep me on track, though sometimes I found myself inundated with so much new and interesting information that it was difficult to keep my topic small enough to manage.
As you may have noticed from the above, the Advanced Humanities Research program was integral to my being able to write this paper. Without it, I would not have learned the theory and technique that allowed me to embark on such a vast endeavor. The class itself really broadened my worldview in terms of how I approach the humanities, more than any history or English class had done separately before. I was exposed to so many different aspects of (Western) culture and there developed my love of modernist architecture.
In AHR, and at Berkshire in general, I found that I could pour myself into what I otherwise would find dull work (like writing a paper of such length and involvement) when I really cared about what I was studying.
Watch a short video of Unyime's reaction to winning this award here:
Meanwhile, the Cum Laude Society on campus keeps growing. Ms. Geerhold recently hosted the Berkshire Chapter to welcome 4 new members. Newly-elected members Olly Liu, Elif Kesaf, and Quintin Pollert joined previously-elected members, Jimmy Chung, JiWon Ryoo, Matty Wieczorek and Ediline Loh. George Blinick was also elected but was unable to attend.