Students learn science best by formulating and testing their own hypotheses, using methods capable of producing convincing evidence. This is true at the elementary level, where students become interested in further study by encountering science as discovery rather than rote facts. It is even more important at advanced levels, where students are most likely to become interested in science careers by working as fully involved junior colleagues with professionally active faculty on research projects that develop new science. The ability to conduct competitive research at Williams helps to attract talented scientists as faculty and keeps them current, so that the diverse range of science courses reflects new results and perspectives. For faculty to involve students in research, to produce publishable results, to compete for research funding, to teach effectively in a formal classroom setting, and to continually bring modern ideas into course laboratories, requires substantial support in the way of modern facilities, instrumentation, supplies and technical support. Williams College long ago recognized this need. With the construction of the Bronfman Science Center in 1967, we established the kind of facilities and support programs recommended by studies such as the 1986 National Science Board Task Committee on Undergraduate Science and Engineering Education. As our science buildings have been upgraded to provide modern facilities for teaching and student-faculty research, the model of the entire science division as a programmatic unit has flourished. Funds for major equipment, for individual student-faculty research projects, and for stipend support of students doing research with faculty are coordinated on a division-wide basis by the Science Executive Committee and the Divisional Research Funding Committee. By working together, we are able to share not only facilities and equipment, but also ideas and enthusiasm, and so provide a “critical mass” of activity that might not be possible within an individual department at a small institution.
About fifteen years ago, Williams College affirmed its commitment to training future scientists by establishing a mechanism for identifying applicants with an expressed interest in pursuing a Ph.D. in science. Since that time, about 15% of each incoming class have expressed interest in careers in science. The high quality of the College’s science programs has maintained this interest and nearly all of those students continue in science. Thus, in the past decade Williams College has become a leader in the training of future scientists with more than 50 students going on to Ph.D. programs in science each year. The quality of this training is evidenced by the number of National Science Foundation (NSF) Predoctoral Fellowships awarded to Williams graduates in the past ten years. During that time, Williams has ranked first among predominantly undergraduate institutions, averaging about 10 NSF Fellowships per year. We attribute this success to an energetic science faculty dedicated to excellence in teaching and to the numerous research opportunities available to Williams students at advanced as well as introductory levels. It has long been recognized that a positive undergraduate research experience is the single most important inspiration for future scientists. As documented later in this report, more than 200 students were engaged in research with Williams faculty this year. More than 55 students conducted independent research projects during the academic year and 160 students were engaged in full-time research with Williams science faculty during the summer. Dozens of Williams students participated in conferences where they presented the results of their research, and many Williams students co-authored publications in peer-reviewed journals.
Concurrent with the increased student involvement in science, Williams has attracted talented and vibrant science faculty engaged in competitive research and dedicated to teaching undergraduates. As a result, the number of external grants awarded to support faculty research or curricular innovations has increased significantly. With 28 active NSF grants this past year, Williams College ranks first among undergraduate institutions in the number of NSF grants awarded to science faculty. The large number of individual faculty grants, together with grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Essel Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Keck Foundation, and other sources, have enabled us to purchase and maintain sophisticated equipment for teaching and research. Emphasizing close student-faculty interactions, the opportunities in undergraduate science education at Williams are exciting, diverse, and progressive. After years of careful planning by science faculty, construction of a $47 million science facility, which unifies all science departments in a single complex surrounding a central science library, was completed in Fall 2000. The new Science Center, as the complex is now called, will ensure Williams’ place as a leader in undergraduate science education as we enter the next century.

Freshman and Sophomore Discovery Courses

Launched under a five-year grant from the Ford Foundation Initiative for Undergraduate Science Education, “discovery” courses in the sciences have become an integral part of our curriculum. Although the grant has expired, most of these special introductory science courses (described below) have become integral parts of our curriculum. Designed to excite the interest of beginning students through hands-on experiences, the discovery courses are typically taught in a manner that requires students to take a greater responsibility for their own education. They are expected to make observations, formulate hypotheses, gather data, conduct analyses, and evaluate outcomes without the faculty providing them with the anticipated results in advance. The great success of these courses has led to the incorporation of the discovery approach to teaching science in upper-level courses as well.

CHEM 255: Organic Chemistry: Intermediate Level: Special Laboratory Section

While covering the same lecture material as other introductory chemistry classes, a special, enriched laboratory program includes activities, which more closely resemble the unpredictable nature and immediacy of true chemical research. Students synthesize, isolate and characterize a family of unknown material in a series of related experiments constituting an integrated, semester-long investigation.

ENVI 102: Introduction to Environmental Science

Taught by a biologist, chemist, and a geologist; the lectures, readings, laboratories and discussions in this course concentrate on integrating basic aspects of each of these disciplines as they apply to the analysis of environmental problems. Laboratory work includes botanical and geological observations in the field and the use of sophisticated instruments to perform chemical and biological measurements in the laboratory.
Birgit Koehler (Chemistry), Manuel Morales (Biology), and Heather Stoll (Geosciences), were the instructors in the spring. The course focused on a research site at Eph's Pond for field and lab investigations.

GEOS 105: Geology Outdoors - An Introduction to Geology through Student Field Projects

The mountains, lakes, rivers, and valleys of the Williamstown area provide unusual opportunities for learning geology in the field. Student projects include the study of streams as active agents of erosion and deposition, the effects of glaciation on the New England landscape, and the history of mountain building in the Appalachians. Following several group projects introducing the techniques of field geology, students pursue independent projects on subjects of particular interest to them.

Essel Foundation Grant for Neuroscience

The Neuroscience Program is the appreciative recipient of a continuing grant of $750,000 from Connie and Steve Lieber, Class of ’47, to support education and research in the study of brain and behavior. The primary intent of this award, which began in 1992, is to involve students in state-of-the-art neuroscience research. During the summer of 2001, eleven Williams students were selected as Essel fellows. These students spent the summer working on research projects with individual faculty members. Most continued their research with either honors theses or independent study work during the next academic year. Connie Lieber is also the President of NARSAD, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression. Four Williams students had the opportunity in January 2002, to attend the annual NARSAD “MindMatters” scientific symposium in New York.
The Essel Foundation grant also greatly facilitated the laboratory exercises in both the Introduction to Neuroscience course and the upper-level Neurobiology course. This year Professor Heather Williams offered a new upper level neuroscience course, Sensory Biology. The new neuroscience laboratory in the Morley Science Center, established in conjunction with the Hughes Foundation Grant and with additional support from the college, continues to allow students in the introductory course to gain a valuable hands-on laboratory experience in neuroscience at a level beyond that usually provided to beginning undergraduates. It has also allowed a greater number of students to participate in advanced research. Essel funding was also used to support two full-time positions to assist in running the neuroscience laboratories. Dr. Noah Sandstrom of the Psychology Department doubled as the Senior Essel Fellow, and Matthew Beverly served as the Junior Essel Fellow. This year the college has agreed to upgrade computers in the neuroscience laboratory which, along with software written by Bryce Babcock and equipment purchased from the Essel grant, continues to allow us to offer wide array of laboratory experiences.
The Essel grant in conjunction with increased funding from the Class of 1960 Scholars Program provided the opportunity to invite five eminent neuroscientists to campus during the academic year 2001-2002: Andrew Bass, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University; John Dowling, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Harvard University and President of the Marine Biological Laboratory; Ofer Tchernichovski, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Biology, The City College of CUNY; Dr. Anne Etgen, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Joseph Fetcho, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Biology, SUNY-Stonybrook. The Neuroscience Program is very fortunate to have such generous support for this rapidly growing area of science.

Hughes Grant (Howard Hughes Medical Institute)

Williams College has received 2.3 million dollars in support of a number of science initiatives from Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) since 1991. These funds have provided summer research opportunities for Williams students, have helped strengthen the curriculum through the purchase of equipment and the support of laboratory development, and have funded elementary and high school outreach programs. Williams College was awarded a four-year grant of $800,000 from the HHMI in 2000. This grant has allowed the strengthening of some existing programs as well as the initiation of others. “These grants are highly competitive, and we are fortunate to receive continued support from the HHMI,” reports Steven Zottoli, the director of the HHMI grants at Williams and the Schow Professor of Biology.
The new grant supports Williams College students conducting original research in faculty laboratories on campus during the summer. In addition, funds are available to allow students to attend scientific meetings to present their results. A new initiative provides the opportunity for six students to spend eight weeks at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, MA participating in courses, meeting various scientists, and conducting original research. This MBL program is also supported by Howard and Nan Schow and the Essel grant to Williams College.
The Williamstown Elementary School outreach program that was initiated in 1996 continues to be supported. In addition, similar programs have successfully been initiated at the Brayton and Greylock Elementary Schools in North Adams. Jennifer Swoap, our science liaison, places Williams College students in elementary classrooms and computer laboratories to help teachers in the development and implementation of their science curriculum. In addition, the grant supports a summer science camp for elementary school students and their teachers and a technology camp for elementary school teachers.
A summer outreach program for Berkshire County high school students was initiated in 1991. This month-long program continues to bring four high school students to Williams College each summer to study with Williams faculty and students.

Kresge Foundation Equipment Grant

In 1990, Williams was awarded a grant from the Kresge Foundation to replace and update major items of scientific equipment and instrumentation. This three-part grant is being used not only to purchase new equipment, but to support maintenance contracts and the repair of instruments as well. One aspect of the grant is that the College sets aside endowment funds for the depreciation and eventual replacement of items purchased under the grant.
The College has purchased and maintains a 24 inch optical telescope, a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer, a transmission electron microscope, an ultraviolet/visible/near infrared spectrophotometer, a scanning electron microscope, and an x-ray diffraction instrument with these funds. In conjunction with funds awarded through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant, the Kresge grant was also used to purchase a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer. In addition, endowment funds were used this year to replace earlier models of both an atomic absorption spectrometer and an ion chromatograph. These expensive pieces of core equipment are heavily used by faculty and students, especially in collaborative research projects.


SMALL is a special summer research program in Mathematics funded by the National Science Foundation and the Bronfman Science Center. Anywhere from 15 to 25 students split into groups of three to five, and work on solving open research problems. Each group has a single faculty advisor. In the past, students have published their results in mathematics research journals and have given talks at a variety of math conferences around the country. In the summer of 2002, there were a total of 16 students working in ergodic theory, geometry, harmonic analysis and networks.

Major Programs

The Astronomy Department offers courses for anyone who is interested in studying and learning about the universe, and who would like to be able to follow new astronomical discoveries as they are made. Students can choose between broad non-mathematical survey courses and a more technical introductory course designed for those planning further study in astronomy or another science. As part of the astronomy observing program, all students in the introductory courses use the 24-inch telescope and other telescopes and instruments on the observing deck to study a variety of astronomical objects. The Astrophysics major is designed primarily for students who plan graduate study in astronomy, astrophysics or a related field. The major emphasizes the structure of the universe and its constituents in terms of physical processes. Majors in astrophysics usually begin their program with ASTR 111 Introduction to Astrophysics as well as basic physics courses. Intermediate and advanced level seminars introduce astrophysics majors to current research topics in astronomy, while parallel study of physics completes their preparation for graduate work in astronomy or employment in a related field. The Astronomy major is designed for students with a serious intellectual interest in learning about many aspects of modern astronomy, but who might not have planned to undertake physics and math in the more intensive astrophysics major. The Astronomy major emphasizes understanding the observed properties of the physical systems that comprise the known universe, from the Sun and solar system to the evolution of stars and star clusters, to the Milky Way Galaxy, to external galaxies and clusters of galaxies, out to quasars and active galaxies. Students considering a major in astronomy, or a double major including astronomy, should consult with members of the Department about appropriate beginning courses. Independent research, extensive use of the observational and image processing computer facilities, field work at remote observatories or on eclipse expeditions and close working relationships with faculty are hallmarks of the Astronomy and Astrophysics majors.

The Biological Sciences are in a constant state of flux that is reforming our entire view of living systems. Significant breakthroughs are occurring at all levels; from the theoretical to the practical, from health related fields to environmental studies, from animal behavior to molecular biology and biochemistry. In response to these needs, the Biology curriculum has been designed not only to keep pace with new developments in the field, but also to afford students as broad a base as possible for understanding the principles governing life processes. Four courses BIOL 101: The Cell; BIOL 102: The Organism; BIOL 202: Genetics; and a 400 level senior seminar are required for the major. In addition, five electives may be selected from a wide range of courses including those in cellular biology, immunology, biochemistry, molecular biology, developmental biology, physiology, neurophysiology, ecology and animal behavior. Every course emphasizes the latest concepts and introduces techniques and instrumentation used in modern biological research. Although the Biology major is specifically designed to provide a balanced curriculum in the broader context of the liberal arts for any interested student, it is also an excellent preparation for graduate studies in medicine and life sciences.

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program is designed to provide students with an opportunity to explore living systems in molecular terms. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology are dynamic fields that lie at the interface between biology and chemistry. Current applications range from the diagnosis and treatment of disease to enzyme chemistry, developmental biology, and the engineering of new crop plants. After completing the introductory biology and chemistry courses and organic chemistry, a student would normally take core courses in the program: BIMO 321, Biochemistry I - Structure and Function of Biological Molecules, and BIMO 322, Biochemistry II - Metabolism. These courses, taken in conjunction with courses in genetics and molecular genetics, establish a solid background in biochemistry and molecular biology. The advanced courses and electives available from the Chemistry and Biology Department offerings encourage students’ exploration of individual interests in a wide variety of topics. Completion of the BIMO Program provides exceptional preparation for graduate study in all aspects of biochemistry, molecular biology, and the medical sciences.

Through a variety of individual courses and sequential programs, the Chemistry Department provides an opportunity for students to explore chemistry, an area of important achievement for knowledge about ourselves, and the world around us. For those who elect to major in chemistry, the introductory courses, CHEM 151, Concepts of Chemistry (or CHEM 153 or CHEM 155 for those who qualify) are followed by intermediate and advanced courses in organic, inorganic, physical and biochemistry. These provide a thorough preparation for graduate study in chemistry, chemical engineering, biochemistry, environmental science, medicine and the medical sciences. Advanced independent study courses focus on the knowledge learned earlier and provide the opportunity to conduct original research in a specific field. For those who elect to explore the science of chemistry while majoring in other areas, the Chemistry Department offers a variety of courses that introduce the fundamentals of chemistry in a context designed to provide students with an enriching understanding of our natural world. Non-majors may investigate chemistry through the following courses: CHEM 113, Chemistry and Crime: From Sherlock Holmes to Modern Forensic Science; CHEM 115, AIDS: The Disease and Search for a Cure; CHEM 119, Chemistry for the Consumer in the Twenty-first Century;and CHEM 111, Fighting Disease: The Evolution and Operation of Human Medicines.

Computers play an enormously important role in our society. TheComputer Science Department seeks to provide students with an understanding of the principles underlying computer science that will enable them to understand and participate in exciting developments in this young field. The department recognizes that students’ interests in computer science vary widely, and attempts to meet these varying interests through 1) its major program; 2) a selection of courses intended primarily for those who are interested in a brief introduction to computer science or who seek to develop some specific expertise in computing for applications in some other discipline; and 3) recommendations for possible sequences of courses for the non-major who wants a more extensive introduction to computer science. Macintosh computers and powerful UNIX workstations, connected via an Ethernet network, enhance computing opportunities for students at all levels. The first course for majors and others intending to take more than a single computer science course is CSCI 134, Introduction to Computer Science. Upper level courses include computer organization, algorithm design, computer graphics, principles of programming languages, artificial intelligence, theory of computing, parallel processing, networks, operating systems, software engineering and compiler design. The computer science major is designed to provide preparation for advance study of computer science and high-level career opportunities, as well as imply a deeper appreciation of current knowledge and the challenges of computer science. For those students interested in learning more about important new ideas and developments in computer science, but who are not necessarily interested in developing extensive programming skills, the department offers three courses. CSCI 109 introduces students to the techniques of computer graphics, CSCI 108 provides an introduction to the field of Artificial Intelligence, and CSCI 105 presents an introduction to the technology behind the World Wide Web.

The academic Program in Environmental Studies commenced soon after the establishment of the Center for Environmental Studies at Williams in 1967. The ENVI Program allows students to major in traditional departments while taking a diverse series of courses in an integrated, interdisciplinary examination of the environment. The program is designed so that students will grow to realize the complexity of issues and perspectives and to appreciate that many of the environmental issues lack distinct, sharp-edged boundaries. The goal is to aid students in becoming well-informed, environmentally literate citizens of the planet who have the capacity to become active participants in their communities ranging from the local to the global scale. To this end, the program is designed to develop abilities to think in interdisciplinary ways and to use holistic-synthetic approaches in solving problems while incorporating the knowledge and experiences they have gained by majoring in other departments at the College.
The CES maintains and operates the 2450-acre Hopkins Memorial Forest and its Rosenburg Center field station, 1.5 miles from campus. The Environmental Science Laboratory in the new Morley Science Laboratory is a joint venture between the CES and the science division at Williams.
During 2001-2002 Professors Art and Fox continued their collaboration of using remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to study vegetation and landscape changes in the Hopkins Memorial Forest. Professors David Dethier and Stephen Sheppard (Economics) taught a course in Remote Sensing and GIS in the new GIS laboratory located in 007 Schow Science Library. Professor Joan Edwards continued as chair of the Hopkins Memorial Forest Users Committee and Professor David Dethier supervised activities in the Environmental Science Laboratory.
Professor Art has been on a yearlong sabbatical. He returns as director of CES in July 2002.
At the National Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences, Professor Kai Lee (Environmental Studies) chairs a three-year study of long-term technical and social problems of radioactive waste cleanup in the aftermath of the Cold War. The committee reported in June 2002 on remediation of a former uranium mill in Moab, Utah, where 12 million tons of mill tailings are piled in the flood plain of the Colorado River.

The Geoscience major is designed to provide an understanding of the physical and biological evolution of the earth and its surrounding ocean and atmosphere. Internal forces drive the development of mountain ranges and ocean basins. Waves, running water, glaciers and wind shape the surface of the earth, providing the landscapes we see today. Fossils encased in sedimentary rocks supply evidence for the evolution of life and record the history of the earth, including a unique record of changing climates. Four introductory courses open to all students include GEOS 101, Biodiversity in Geologic Time, GEOS 102, An Unfinished Planet; GEOS 103, Environmental Geology and the Earth’s Surface; and GEOS 104, Oceanography. A special course limited to twelve fist-year students, GEOS 105, Geology Outdoors, presents geology through fieldwork and small group discussions. Courses in the major are designed to provide a foundation for a professional career in the earth sciences, a background for commercial activity such as the marketing of energy or mineral resources, or simply an appreciation of our human heritage and physical environment as part of a liberal arts education. Students often choose electives so as to concentrate in a particular field: for example, environmental geology, oceanography, stratigraphy and sedimentation, or petrology and structural geology. In addition, GEO 215, Climate Changes; GEOS 206,Geological Sources of Energy; and GEOS 208, Water and the Environment, offer surveys of these areas for both non-majors and majors, and especially for students interested in environmental studies.

History of Science, fundamentally an interdisciplinary subject, traces the historical development of the social relations between science and society as well as the development and mutual influence of scientific concepts. The “external” approach emphasizes the relations between science and society, attempting to relate changes and developments in each to the other. The “internal” approach concerns primarily the ways in which technical ideas, concepts, techniques, and problems in science developed and influenced each other. Courses offered in the History of Science Program introduce students who do not major in a science to the content and power of the scientific and technological ideas and forces which have in the past transformed western civilization and which are today transforming cultures the world over. Science majors are introduced to the historical richness and variety of scientific activity, as well as to how that activity reflects upon the changing nature of science itself and upon science’s relationship to society as a whole.

The major program in Mathematics is designed to meet two goals: introducing some of the central ideas in a variety of areas in mathematics, and developing problem-solving ability by teaching students to combine creative thinking with rigorous reasoning. The math major includes special recommendations to students interested in applied mathematics or other sciences, engineering, graduate school in mathematics, statistics, actuarial science, and teaching. The major requires calculus, a course in applied/discrete mathematics or statistics, three core courses in algebra and analysis, electives, a senior seminar, and participation in the undergraduate colloquium.

Neuroscience is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary field concerned with understanding the relationship between brain, mind, and behavior. The interdisciplinary nature of the field is apparent when surveying those who call themselves neuroscientists. Among these are anatomists, physiologists, chemists, psychologists, philosophers, computer scientists, linguists, and ethnologists. Combining this wide range of disciplines and areas of research for the study of a single remarkably complex organ, the brain, requires a unique interdisciplinary approach. The Neuroscience Program is designed to provide students with the opportunity to explore this approach. It consists of five courses, including an introductory course, three electives, and a senior course. In addition, students are required to take two courses, BIOL 101, and PSYC 101, as prerequisites to the program. NSCI 201, Introduction to Neuroscience, is the basic course and provides the background for other neuroscience courses. Ideally, this will be taken in the first or second year. Either BIOL 101 or PSYC 101 serves as the prerequisite. Electives are designed to provide in-depth coverage including laboratory experience in specific areas of neuroscience. At least one elective course is required in Biology Group A and in Psychology Group B. The third elective course may also come from Group A or Group B, or may be selected from offerings in other departments. NSCI 401, Topics in Neuroscience, is designed to provide an integrative culminating experience. Most students will take this course in the senior year.

The Physics Department offers two majors, the standard physics major and, in cooperation with the Astronomy department, an astrophysics major. Either route serves as preparation for further work in pure or applied physics, astronomy, other sciences, engineering, medical research, science teaching and writing, and other careers requiring insight into the fundamental principles of nature. Physics students experiment with the phenomena by which the physical world is known, and the mathematical techniques and theories that make sense of it. They become well grounded in the fundamentals of the discipline: classical mechanics, electrodynamics, optics, statistical mechanics, and quantum mechanics. In addition, many students take special courses on such topics as condensed matter physics. Many majors do senior honors projects, in which the student works together with a faculty member in either experimental or theoretical research.

The fourteen regular faculty members of the Psychology Department offer a wide variety of curricular and research opportunities to both major and non-major students. Courses are grouped into the areas of behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, clinical psychology, and health psychology. After completing PSYC 101,Introductory Psychology, majors follow a sequence of preparation in the PSYC 200 level, advanced PSYC 300 level courses, and a senior seminar. A variety of research opportunities are offered through independent study, senior thesis work and the Bronfman Summer Science Program. The psychology major provides sound preparation for graduate study in both academic and professional fields of psychology and is increasingly relevant to careers in business, law, and medicine.

Science and Technology Studies (STS) is an interdisciplinary program concerned with science and technology and their relationship to society. Relatively less concerned with distant historical development and philosophical understanding of the ideas and institutions of science and technology, Science and Technology Studies focus more on current ethical, economic, social and political implications. Although many of us acknowledge that science and technology has played a major role in shaping modern industrial societies, few of us, including scientists and engineers, possess any critical or informed understanding of how that process has occurred. We do not have much knowledge of the complex technical and social interactions that direct change in either science or society. The STS program is intended to help students interested in these questions create a coherent course of study from a broad range of perspectives provided in the curriculum. Courses examine the history and philosophy of science and technology, the sociology and psychology of science, the economics of research and development and technological change, science and public policy, technology assessment, technology and the environment, scientometrics and ethical value issues. To complete the requirements of the program, students must complete six courses. The introductory course and senior seminar are required and three elective courses are chosen from the list of designated electives. Students may choose to concentrate their electives in a single area such as Technology, American Studies, Philosophy, History of Science, Economics, Environment, Current Science or Current Technology, but are encouraged to take at least one elective in History, History of Science or Philosophy. The sixth course necessary to complete the program is one semester of laboratory or field science in addition to the College's three-course science requirement.

Winter Study Science Offerings

The January Winter Study Period (WSP) at Williams offers a unique opportunity for concentrated study and research in science. It is particularly valuable for senior thesis research students who are able to devote their full time for a month to their developing projects. Many departments also offer research opportunities to sophomores and juniors during WSP. Projects of lesser complexity than senior thesis projects also are undertaken, often with guidance from more experienced students as well as the supervising faculty member. In addition, the science departments offer many interesting and unusual opportunities to students regardless of whether they intend a science major. Full descriptions of science WSP offerings can be found in the Williams College Bulletin. A few highlights of the 2002 WSP science offerings are given below:

ASTR 011: Leadership in Astronomy: From Copernicus and Galileo to Hubble and the Age of the Universe
(Same as History of Science 011 and INTR 011)
Progress in understanding our Universe has undergone major steps as the result of sweeping new ideas introduced by major scientists. Copernicus, in his book of 1543, shook the foundations of ancient science; Tycho, a few decades later, revolutionized the idea of observing the heavens; and Kepler, in 1603-1618, completed the Copernican Revolution by removing the ancient idea that perfect circles were necessary for orbits. Galileo’s discoveries endorsed Copernicanism observationally. Halley and Newton, starting in the 1680’s, led the world to comprehend the universality of gravity and linked comets with planets in obeying the law of gravity. In the twentieth century, Shapley moved the Sun out of its central place in the Universe and Hubble, in the 1920’s, found that our galaxy was only one out of many and that the Universe is expanding all around us. In addition to studying the contributions of these leaders, we will see how Hubble’s law of the expanding Universe is being studied as a Key Project of the Hubble Space Telescope and how astronomers know more accurately the cosmic distance scale and the age of the universe. We will investigate various observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and other telescopes on the ground and in space to show how they help us understand the universe. We will consider the cosmic distance scale back to its roots in Captain Cook’s expedition to the South Pacific in 1769 to study the transit of Venus and discuss plans for observing the forthcoming transit of Venus, a rare event that has not been viewed by anyone now alive on Earth but that will occur in 2004. We will consider the role of NASA, the space shuttle, and astronaut/astronomers in shaping the scientific goals. Biographies and other readings, videos, and visitors will help shape the discussion. In the rare book library, we will examine first editions of epochal books by the authors listed above, from Copernicus’s 1543 volume on upward toward the present, and some students may wish to make their reports or carry out other projects with those volumes.

BIOL 0020: Stained Glass Workshop

This is a studio/workshop course designed to introduce the student to the techniques involved in working with stained glass. Lectures will describe the use and manufacture of stained glass windows from medieval to modern times. Demonstrations will illustrate how to design, cut and assemble stained glass forms using the copper foil technique. Techniques related to etching designs in glass will be demonstrated as well. Each student will complete a small assigned project during class to learn the basics of the technique. Students will then complete a larger independent project as their “journeyman piece.” This may consist of a traditional window, a free-form mobile or a three dimensional form.

SPEC 011: Science for Kids (Sponsored by the Chemistry Department)

Are you interested in teaching? The aim of this Winter Study Project is to design a series of hands-on science workshops for elementary school children and their parents. Working in groups of two to four students, they spend the first three weeks of Winter Study planning the workshops. This involves deciding on a focus for each workshop based on the interests of the students involved, followed by choosing and designing experiments and presentations that will be suitable for 4th grade children. On the third weekend of Winter Study, we bring elementary school children with their parents to Williams to participate in the workshops.

GEOS 015: Survival in a Winter Landscape

Cold, snow, ice, and extended darkness limit life in the winter season. In this class we use the winter landscape to explore the strategies that plants, wild animals, and humans use to survive and thrive in the season of deprivation.
The winter you experience depends upon where you live. Extreme latitudes, high elevations, and exposed landforms create more severe conditions for living organisms. The Northeastern United States is an ideal classroom: we are north of the 42nd parallel, peaks rise up to 6,000 feet, and many ridgelines experience intense weather. Yet sheltered valleys and a well-developed infrastructure provide safe avenues to study winter and the life forms (including humans) that have adapted to these challenging conditions.
Much of the class will be conducted in the field and no previous winter outdoor experience is required. However, students should be enthusiastic about experiencing the cold – fun and laughter are required. A progression of outdoor sessions will culminate with a three-day winter camping trip in Northern New England. Class topics include: climate and winter weather, snow science, avalanche safety, cold and freezing tolerance of plants and animals, winter plant identification, tracking, observation skills, winter shelter building, human industrial response to winter, travel over snow, and winter camping.

MATH 013: Concealing, Stealing and Revealing Data: The Science and Politics of Encryption

Throughout history, wars have been won and lost based on a military’s ability to successfully send secret messages and to break the enemy’s secret codes. In fact, until the last century, most uses for encryption were related to the military. Since the invention of high-powered computers and the Internet, however, there has been an explosion in the need for and usage of encryption. In the 1970’s, public-key encryption was invented, allowing two parties who want to communicate in a secure way to do so even without already sharing a secret “key”. Today, there are numerous mathematical methods used for encryption – many which are surprisingly simple. In this course, we will study some of the more popular methods, including the Diffie-Hellman public-key exchange, RSA, and PGP. We will also discuss the increasing number of uses of encryption, including the securing of transactions on the Internet, “digital fingerprints,” and recent attempts to digitally protect copyrighted text, music and video. Finally, we will discuss the opportunities and challenges that the invention of these cryptosystems has presented individuals, businesses and the United States government. Until about two years ago it was illegal to export “strong” encryption. Today companies with copyright concerns are attempting to literally remove certain simple and relatively well-known decryption algorithms from the realm of public knowledge. In this course, we will study the history and political atmosphere surrounding these issues, and discuss some of the controversies that are shaping.

PHYS 014: The Making of the Atomic Bomb

We will delve into the science of the atomic bomb and its technological impact. Richard Rhodes’ Pulitzer Prize winning account of the Manhattan Project plus movies, plays, and biographies of participants will form the basis for explosive discussions, posters, papers, presentations, and a few simple calculations.

PSYC 010: The Popularization of Psychological Disorders

In the past decade, psychological disorders have been popularized to an unprecedented degree in Western societies. Syndromes like depression, attention deficit disorder, and panic disorder are now regularly featured on prime-time television, in best-selling books, in radio and television advertisements, and in magazines. We will explore these popularized accounts of psychological disorders and treatments, focusing on their accuracy, on the cultural assumptions and values expressed in them, and on the possible psychological consequences of their popularization. Each student will do library research on, and prepare a presentation about, popular depictions of a particular disorder or treatment.

Autumn leaves decorate the lawn of the Science Quad in this fall 2001 photo
from the roof above the Schow Science Library Atrium.