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March 26 , 2004

Symposium to Feature Science Research

Mount Holyoke’s 2004 science symposium, a showcase for seniors’ thesis and independent research in all of the science disciplines, will take place April 2 from 1 to 6:30 pm in Cleveland Hall, L-1, L-2, and L-3. Fifty-nine students from astronomy, biochemistry, biological sciences, chemistry, computer science, earth and environment, mathematics and statistics, neuroscience and behavior, and physics will participate.

Mark Peterson, Professor of Physics and Math on the Alumnae Foundation and chair of physics, is organizing this year’s symposium. “The symposium is a wonderful tradition and a wonderful event,” Peterson said. “The high level of the work being reported is just amazing.” The event not only gives students an opportunity to summarize their research but to share their work with an audience. “Public speaking is an essential part of being a scientist these days, and the science symposium is a chance for young scientists to present their work before a sympathetic but critical audience,” Peterson said. “It is one of the focal points of a Mount Holyoke education in the sciences.”

The twenty-ninth annual event highlights the College’s strong science programs. Among similar colleges (designated as “baccalaureate colleges” based on Carnegie classification), Mount Holyoke ranked fifth in graduates earning doctorates in the biological sciences, and sixteenth in graduates earning doctorates in all sciences and engineering between 1991 and 1995.

Many of the participating students will present work done in connection with Mount Holyoke faculty research. Several students working with chair and associate professor of chemistry Sean Decatur will present work on how proteins fold into their proper conformation after they are synthesized. Other students assisting professors with ongoing research projects will discuss RNA transcription in E. coli, embryonic development, semiconductor physics, robotics, and fieldwork on granites and lake cores. Some new work will highlight computational chemistry, biomechanics, cutting-edge mathematics, and research on a ciliate organism that does not copy its genome in reproduction, but builds it up anew from a sort of “program.”

The symposium is open to the public, and all members of the College community are encouraged to attend one or more of the presentations.




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