Students To Pursue Independent Projects This Spring

Medicine and disease, creative writing and urban development are three of many topics for next term’s independent projects. Students can create term-contained independent projects with an academic department under the guidance of a faculty advisor to pursue a topic of interest in greater depth. Dr. Richard Keller, School Physician, is teaching an independent project (IP) elective called “Human Pathophysiology: An Introduction to Medicine,” under the biology department. Pathophysiology is the study of the body’s biological functions after they have been disrupted by disease. Keller’s elective will teach students who are interested in a career in medicine about medical diagnoses and treatments for specific conditions or diseases. The goal of this independent project is to give students a sample of a physician’s duties, said Keller. The students will also review medical case studies from The New England Journal of Medicine. According to Keller, students taking his course “will first be taught a working vocabulary of the language of medicine, focusing on anatomy, physiology, pathology, laboratory medicine, radiology and pharmacology.” “Course requirements are a term paper, some outside reading and class participation. There are no exams. The class meets twice a week, 90 minutes each,” Keller said. Human Pathophysiology has a limited enrollment of six to eight students. Andrew Pohly ’09 will write a collection of poetry with the help of his faculty advisor, William Lychack, Instructor in English and Writer in Residence. Pohly said, “I decided on this project after taking all of Mr. Lychack’s Creative Writing courses. I found that I was really interested in poetry and the writing process and thought that it would be great to pursue it during my final term at Andover.” Pohly will present his work during the Creative Writing reading at the end of the term. He hopes to grow as a writer and explore different forms of poetry. Celia Lewis ’10, Trisha Macrae ’09 and Zoe Weinberg ’09 will intern in Lawrence to examine urban development. Lewis is a Managing Editor of The Phillipian. Each of the students will be paired with a non-profit organization in Lawrence and will spend five hours a week working with the organization. All of the students will also research topics related to urban development, such as economics or immigration. Seth Bardo, Instructor in English, and Alana Rush, Assistant Community Service Director, are co-advising the Lawrence-based independent projects. “Celia, Zoe and I all have international service experience and have worked with Alana and PA’s own community service program, so service learning was an established interest,” Macrae said. “But none of us had previously considered doing a service-oriented IP.” Macrae said, “Our IP is a bit different from others, because even though it’s classified under an English IP, it lies really more in the realm of interdisciplinary community service. It’s a combination of practical work with non-profits in Lawrence and academic work.” Lewis, Macrae and Weinberg have been planning their IP since fall term. They were required to submit a proposal explaining their project and an extensive syllabus. Weinberg said that the three students will meet each week to discuss their readings and work. Each participant will write a research paper over 20 pages long and will present her research to the PA community in mid-May. Macrae said, “The paper helps us fulfill the academic requirements of an IP because we need to produce some kind of work that can be evaluated and graded. The presentation will present more of an opportunity to share our experiences in Lawrence, more so than our academic discoveries, with whoever would like to know.” “We’ve had a lot of help from faculty members and we want them to know what we’ve been up to,” Weinberg said. “And it’s a good opportunity for people to learn about the different IP opportunities and service learning.” Macrae hopes to learn more about the day-to-day work of a non-profit organization. She said, “Rarely does a high school student get to see what kind of effort goes in behind the scenes and what kind of skills are required to effect real social change [at a non-profit organization].” She added, “The academic side of the project will also teach me more about the process of urban development. Right now, I only know vague concepts, but I don’t know much about the roles that citizens or organizations play in furthering the economic or social development of a community.” Valeria Fedyk ’10 and Scotty Fleming ’10 will conduct an independent project on astrophysics next term. Fedyk wrote in an email, “We’ll hopefully observe a variable star and plot its light curve to determine some of its physical properties.” She added, “We’re currently writing a 10-page paper and (hopefully) we’ll present our results at [the International Conference of Young Scientists] as well as at Andover.” Dr. Richard Fienberg, Visiting Scientist in Astronomy, will be Fedyk’s and Fleming’s faculty advisor for their astrophysics IP.