Old-growth Fieldwork

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Part of the study area at the Dukes Natural Area in the Hiawatha National Forest

Two 2014 grads — Joe Kendrick and Ellen Hanson — and two current students — Charlotte Uden and Roi Karlinsky — are spending four weeks in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula working with faculty member Kerry Woods in his on-going research on old-growth forests.  They join about 40 other student researchers who have worked on this project since 1989.

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It’s good to find a log for lunch; the mosquitoes are worse near the ground. (Roi Karlinsky, Joseph Kendrick, Ellen Hanson, Charlotte Uden)

The project revolves around monitoring of permanent study plots established as early as 1935 — one of the longest-term records for any old-growth forest.  The work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service, The Huron Mt. Wildlife Foundation, and Bennington College faculty grants. A series of resulting publications can be downloaded from this site.

The 2014 season features a late season — trees are still leafing out along the Lake Superior shoreline, where ice-floes were still present three weeks ago — and unusually numerous and hungry mosquitoes.  A large supply of deet (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is proving essential.

Congratulations Graduates!

This year was another productive year for Computer Science at Bennington. Students successfully implemented a distributed file system; spent Field Work Term at Nebula in Seattle (under the supervision of Ben Broderick-Phillips ’13), and CRA in Cambridge (where Erick Daniszewski ’14 will be working after graduation); and built a (nearly functional) operating system using C and ARMv6 assembly from the ground up for the Raspberry Pi.

Introductory students built an alternative source code repository to GitHub (codenamed Reposaurus), while students in Computing in the Developing World designed physical enclosures for wireless mesh network nodes and built prototype mobile apps for the developing world.  In collaboration with astronomer Hugh Crowl, we assisted in building a small radio telescope; while we also collaborated with technologist Guy Snover to use Python and Rhino 3D to create robotically-generated wall drawings and sculpture installed on campus.  It was a busy year.

But perhaps the most significant accomplishment of the year was our re-creation of some old-timey computer science photos on the last day of classes.  I’ve never grown a mustache before, and may never do so again – however, I think we nailed it overall.

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Computer Scientists Gilbert-Espada, Cencini and Daniszewski with their new portable microcomputer, a Kaypro II running CP/M.

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Some members of the Bennington Computer Science Laboratory, clockwise from left: Logan Traynor, Klemente Gilbert-Espada, Torrent Glenn, Andrew Cencini, Brendon Walter, Erick Daniszewski.

Congratulations and good luck to all of the graduating seniors this year!  Have a great summer!  Great things to come in the coming year!

 

Signs of Spring

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Forsythias are finally beginning to flower. Geese are on the pond and will soon be keeping watch over the foot bridge and jealously guarding their precious goslings. And students are feverishly completing research projects and planning how to communicate their results in the form of informative and artistic posters. Yes, it’s Sciencepalooza time again and we wanted to make sure to get the word out early. This year’s event will feature, as always, many posters from students doing original research in a range of courses. It will be on the final Friday of the term, May 23rd, from 12:30 to 1:30. There will be lots of food, drinks and, of course, some terrific science to enjoy.

Until then, we wanted to let you know about a few other events we’ll be hosting. This Friday, May 9, there will be two student presentations at Science Workshop: Joe Kendrick and Elsa Costa will give talks on their advanced work (click here to read the abstracts). And next week, to celebrate Spring and to get some sunshine and fresh air, we’ll be taking a break from normal Science Workshop goings on to have student/staff/faculty SOFTBALL GAME. So bring your mitt, if you have one, and a good sense of humor over to the soccer field at 1:00, Friday May 16th for what promises to be a great time.

Alum News: Celeste Schepp ’13

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Celeste Schepp ’13 will begin genetic counseling training at Johns Hopkins University and the National Human Genome Research Institute in the fall of 2014. Genetic counseling is a versatile profession that involves providing patient, professional, and community genomics education. While most traditionally it has been involved in working directly with patients as they face reproductive decisions, the field has exploded to include disease susceptibility counseling and research opportunities. The JHU/NHGRI program will enable Celeste to gain a graduate level mastery of human genetics and the skills necessary to provide non-directional and supportive counseling to individuals facing a health or reproductive crisis. She plans to complete her ScM in genetic counseling in 2016.

Science Workshop: Discovering the Higgs Boson

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The ATLAS detector at CERN in Switzerland.

In the summer of 2013 two experimental collaborations independently reported on the discovery of a new particle at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.  In this talk, Dr. Emlyn Hughes (Columbia University) will review the field of particle physics and discuss the discovery of the Higgs Boson.

OCEAN DAYS

Three exciting events that highlight our understanding of the ocean:

Thursday, March 13 at 7:30 pm in CAPA Symposium

Ocean Apocalypse Woodworth Science Lecture will be presented by distinguished marine scientist Dr. Jeremy Jackson, Professor of Oceanography and Director Geosciences Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Jackson’s seminal work on the loss of ocean biodiversity has informed scientists, governments, NGOs and citizen groups all around the world. He warns that saving the oceans and ourselves will require fundamental changes in how we live.

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Friday, March 14 at 11:45-12:45, downstairs in Dickinson

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Pizza Poster Session. Join us for pizza and other cool stuff as students from the Bennington Coral Reef Project display their research.

 

 

Friday, March 14 at 1:00-2:00 pm, Dickinson 225

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Science Workshop. 

Finally, at this week’s Science Workshop, two distinguished marine scientists will present their current research:

 

 

Dr. Nancy KnowltonNew genetic approaches to understanding marine diversity

Dr. Jeremy JacksonThe future of Caribbean Coral Reefs                                        

We hope you can come to all of these events.

Science workshop this friday: Can you fish better than a robot?

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Matthew Holden will talk about his research on the management of renewable resources, using fish as an example. Can mathematical models be used to improve the management of fisheries? As a baseline for comparison, we will play an interactive web-game, where you fish a hypothetical sockeye salmon population (so bring your laptops/tablets!). We will discuss the strategies you use and I will demonstrate some of the quantitative tools economists, fishery scientists and mathematicians have developed to maximize revenue and keep a sustainable number of fish in the ocean. How well can you manage the fishery using your intuition compared to a robot using only math? Come to Science Workshop this friday and find out!

Science workshops are fridays from 1 pm – 2 pm in Dickinson 148.

Ben Broderick-Phillips ’13 at OpenCompute

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Ben Broderick-Phillips (’13) and Andrew Cencini (faculty) caught in a rare moment of being dressed well.

About two weeks ago, I traveled to San Jose, CA for the OpenCompute summit – a gathering of people working on open-source data center hardware and software.  It was a good event, and my friend Steve White and I did a brief introduction to the hardware hackathon that took place there (we submitted winning entries in previous years, so we sat this one out).

But perhaps one of the most exciting things was running into Ben Broderick-Phillips (’13) at the conference.  Ben is currently working as a software engineer for Nebula, and doing great work.  He was showing off some cool and groundbreaking work that he has been doing at Nebula, and by all accounts has been helping to give Bennington a good name in the technology industry.  Hopefully, we will see Ben on campus some time this spring.