Category: Interviews

Amherst College Science Center

Beneski’s Not-So-Hidden Gem? Dino Tracks

Two gray rock slabs mounted vertically on a beige wall. Each slab has footprint evidence. The left shows the impression, the right shows the natural cast.

By Nora Lowe Beneski Natural History Museum is a treasure trove that houses skeletons, minerals, and even meteorites. However, Beneski’s hidden gem is past the picturesque mammoth skeleton, down the stairs, and around the corner, where an unassuming room actually boasts one of the world’s largest collections of fossil dinosaur tracks. As the Museum Educator,…

Below the SURFace: Amherst Students Present Their Research

A woman with long, curly hair wears light-washed jeans and a white button-up shirt. She smiles in front of a scientific-style poster. A staircase is behind her, and people mill about in the background.

By Nora Lowe On September 8, the Science Center was cleared of furniture and filled instead with student researchers. This year’s cohort of Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) participants presented more than 80 posters as the culmination of their multiweek experience of rigorous scientific inquiry across nine departments, as well as in collaboration with parties…

A New Look into Computer Science: An Interview with Professor Lillian Pentecost 

Article by Pho Vu In the beginning of the fall 2022 semester, I had the opportunity to sit down with Professor Lilian Pentecost, the newest addition to Amherst College’s Computer Science Department, for The Amherst Student’s “Fresh Faculty” article.  After our initial interview, I asked to follow up with Professor Pentecost to delve deeper into…

Probing Planet Formation: Cailin Plunkett Thesis Spotlight

Article by Amy Zheng Cailin Plunkett ’23 is a physics and math major from Oakland, California. She is writing her thesis with Assistant Professor of Astronomy Kate Follette on the formation of protoplanets. Since childhood, Plunkett wanted to study space and physics. Despite receiving advice to pursue computer science or engineering, Plunkett chose to follow…

A Master of Physics: An Interview with Professor Vasquez

Article by Amy Zheng Juan C. Vasquez Carmona is a visiting assistant professor of physics. He is the current Chair of the New England section of the American Physical Society and a full-time member of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society. This academic year is his first time instructing physics at Amherst College. This…

Exploring PAR-1 in Neuromuscular Junctions—An Interview With SURF Participant Zakaria Shenwari

Could you briefly describe your research? “Of course! Our lab research is concerned with Drosophila—a fancy name for house flies. We are using the JR neuromuscular junction of Drosophila as a model system. Every student’s research is different, [but] I was assigned to research one of the proteins called PAR-1 within the presynaptic region of…

Spilling the Peas on STEMsibs

This piece was co-authored by Amy Zheng. STEMsibs, derived from “STEM siblings,” is a student group with a mission to guide new and undeclared students throughout their STEM journey at Amherst College. The STEMsibs offer monthly informational panels hosted by upperclassmen to form a tight-knit STEM community.  Tavus Atajanova, one of the group’s organizers, describes…

Positive Psychology: A Q&A with Professor Sanderson

Cover of Dr. Sanderson's book; rainbow design.

This year, the Amherst DeMott reading and lecture were centered around Poler Family Professor of Psychology Catherine Sanderson’s book, The Positive Shift: Mastering Mindset to Improve Happiness, Health, and Longevity. I sat down with her to ask a few questions inspired by the reading. Could you start by describing what your book, The Positive Shift…

Episode 10: Conversation with Apoorva Mandavilli

Hosts: ASN E-board On May 4th, 2021, Amherst STEM Network (ASN) hosted a conversation on science communications with Apoorva Mandavilli. As the Health and Science journalist for The New York Times, Mandavilli has been key in disseminating crucial information about COVID-19 this past year. Through this podcast, she answered questions regarding the rewards and difficulties…