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!
This month's profile is of Jenna Pollock '89. Her path, from the child of faculty to Tesla engineer is winding but direct - in the end, it seems as if she was headed there all along.
Read her written interview here:
I was born in Jonquiere Quebec Canada on May 5, 1971. I only lived their for a short time before moving to Maine to live at Kent's Hill School. My parents were teachers there. I lived there until 6th grade and then moved to Berkshire. I spent my childhood on a beautiful boarding school campus.
I am currently a Senior Electrical Design Engineer at Tesla Motors where I work on the development of small, efficient and low-cost magnetic components for automotive powertrain energy conversion systems.
See the rest of Jenna’s bio here.
Watch a video of Jenna's work here:
I absolutely loved how beautiful the Berkshire campus was and I played with my brothers all over. It was a big move to leave my childhood in Maine but it turned out well. Everyone was friendly, and it was fun to make new friends. I went to Mt Everett High School in Sheffield for three years before starting at Berkshire. I already had friends who were also going to Berkshire so that helped with the transition.
One of the best friends I made was one of my mom’s advisees, Annie Tutwiler MacKenzie. We lived in the same dorm. We did take some classes together, but mostly we wanted to hang out.
We have kept in touch. We went to college at the University of New Hampshire together after Berkshire. She is faculty at Proctor Academy, a boarding school in Andover, NH. I have visited her there and she has created an amazing community. She is raising her children as I was raised…on a boarding school campus!
My time at Berkshire solidified my study skills and gave me the skills to tackle many years of higher education. My parents instilled in me that school is a privilege, and Berkshire is a perfect example of that. Berkshire, and schools like it, focus on the whole person and foster curiosity and creativity and life-long learning. Berkshire taught me how to excel academically and I put those skills to work in my career.
Bob Brigham – my ski coach and science teacher – was instrumental in getting me through Berkshire. He always encouraged my curiosity about things I was passionate about. Jeanette Cooper, too – best advisor ever. Helped me countless times. She was supportive and encouraging.
My favorite thing about coming back is the mountain! So many magical times in unsoiled nature. It’s awesome to be back. I love reconnecting with the place and people.
My advice for current students is simple: follow your passion!
Watch the interview between her and fellow-alum, Wally Long '88 here:
(Because it's a Skype interview with a wonky connection, the video quality is compromised; the conversation, however, is worth listening to!)