Over the past several years there has been dramatic growth in the sciences at Williams. Increased enrollments of first-year students with an expressed interest in scientific careers have led to unprecedented numbers of students collaborating with faculty on research projects. As documented later in this report, more than one hundred students were engaged in research with Williams faculty this year. More than sixty students conducted independent research during the academic year. Dozens of Williams students participated in conferences where they presented the results of their research, and more than twenty Williams students co-authored publications in peer-reviewed journals. It has long been recognized that a positive undergraduate research experience is the single most important inspiration for future scientists. In confirmation of this, we have seen a substantial increase in the number of Williams students who have gone on to graduate school in science in the past decade.
Work is now well into the final design stage on a major expansion of the Science Division that will include laboratories for teaching and research, a centralized science library, and renovation of the Thompson Laboratories. The Board of Trustees has approved a $40 million budget for the project. The architectural team includes firms that bring particular strengths to the project: Zimmer Gunsul Frasca, design architects; Einhorn Yaffee Prescott, executive architects and engineers; and Earl Walls Associates, laboratory consultants. The architects and building committee are wrestling with the challenging task of taking the science facilities well into the next century, while maintaining the architectural and historical integrity of the present structures.
Concurrent with the increased student interest 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. A large number of individual faculty grants, together with grants from the Essel Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Kresge, NECUSE, 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.
The Essel foundation grant greatly facilitated the implementation of expanded laboratory exercises in the Introduction to Neuroscience course. In conjunction with the Hughes Foundation Grant and support from the college, a new neuroscience teaching laboratory has been established. Funds were also provided to support two full-time technicians to assist in running this laboratory. The establishment of the laboratory has allowed students in the introductory course to gain hands-on laboratory experience in neuroscience that is not generally available to beginning students. It has also allowed a greater number of students to participate in advanced research.
In future years, the Essel award will continue to fund these programs as well as additional endeavors, including extended visits by prominent neuroscientists, summer research support for faculty, and support for student research during the academic year. The Neuroscience Program is very fortunate to have such generous support for this rapidly growing area of science
Williams will use some of the funding to purchase equipment for laboratories in introductory biology and biochemistry and in intermediate and upper level courses in the biological sciences. The equipment will be used to accommodate increased enrollment in the introductory level course and to initiate new laboratory exercises in the upper level ones.
Among the previously established programs to be continued and augmented is the Williamstown Elementary School outreach program, in which the elementary school and the college collaborate on science programs for elementary school students, and Williams students serve as science assistants in elementary school classrooms. The new grant will allow the college to strengthen this program by purchasing and networking computers for the elementary school. The networking will provide elementary school teachers and students with greater access to Williams faculty, students, and libraries.
The grant will also allow the college to continue its summer outreach program for Berkshire County high school students. This month-long program brings three local students to Williams each summer to study with Williams faculty. The college will also continue and expand its summer lab opportunities for Williams students. The new grant will allow for additional stipends, which will be used to increase the number of women and minority students participating. A Minority Research Training Program will also be established, with the objective of exposing minority students to research during their first and second summers at Williams. It will enable approximately four students to spend one month working in the laboratory of a Williams faculty member.
A new initiative made possible by the grant will provide opportunities for teachers from both Williamstown Elementary School and Mt. Greylock Regional High School, Williamstown, MA to further their education and to participate in workshops designed to match their science curricular needs. The grant will also help expand Williams' science curriculum to include a new interdisciplinary seminar for non-science majors. Zottoli says that such a seminar is important because "undergraduate institutions have a responsibility to ensure that all students are scientifically literate so that, as citizens, they can make informed decisions on scientific-social issues." Distinguished scientists working in high-profile and high-interest areas will be invited to the seminar to present lectures, participate in panels, and conduct workshops.
To date, the College has purchased and is maintaining a 24 inch optical telescope, an atomic absorption spectrophotometer with graphite furnace, a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer, a transmission electron microscope, an ultraviolet/visible/near infrared spectrophotometer, 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. These expensive pieces of core equipment are heavily used by faculty and students, especially in collaborative research projects.
All Williams students are required to take at least three semester courses in mathematics or science. More than a dozen courses are offered to help provide non-specialists with a broad introduction to particular scientific areas.
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 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. 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. 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 the midst of a renaissance 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, including BIMO 406 Topics in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 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 101, 102 Concepts of Chemistry (or CHEM 103, 104 for those who qualify) are followed by intermediate and advanced courses in organic, inorganic, physical, and biochemistry which provide thorough preparation for graduate study in chemistry, chemical engineering, biochemistry, environmental science, medicine and the medical sciences. Advanced independent study courses focus 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. Nonmajors may investigate chemistry through the following courses: CHEM 113 Chemistry and Crime: From Sherlock Holmes to Modern Forensic Science and CHEM 115 AIDS: The Disease and Search for a Cure.
Computers play an enormously important role in our society. The Computer Science Department seeks to provide students with an understanding of the principles underlying computer science that will enable them to understand and possibly participate in exciting research 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 SUN 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, with CSCI 135 available as an enriched version for selected first and second-year students. Upper level courses include computer organization, algorithm design, computer graphics, principles of programming languages, artificial intelligence, theory of computing, operating systems and compiler design. The computer science major is designed to provide preparation for advanced study of computer science and high level career opportunities, as well as simply 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 two courses. CSCI 109 introduces students to the techniques of computer graphics used for special effects in film, visualization in the sciences and the creation of artistic images. CSCI 108 provides a similar introduction to the field of Artificial Intelligence.
Historically, the Program in Environmental Studies commenced soon after the Center for Environmental Studies was established in 1968. This program allows students to major in a conventional department and take a series of courses in an integrated, interdisciplinary examination of the environment. The intent of the program is both to broaden the student's experience in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences and to simultaneously explore the relationship between the discipline that she or he is specializing in and the larger environmental arena. The Center maintains and operates the 2400-acre Hopkins Memorial Forest and its Rosenburg Center field station, 1.5 miles from campus. The CES also shares responsibility with the Bronfman Science Center for operating the Environmental Analysis Laboratory in Bronfman.
During 1991 the Hopkins Forest acquired a 90-acre parcel known as the "Driver Lot" through a gift from an anonymous donor. This land has particular importance since it completes the holdings of the Forest in the South Branch of Birch Brook, upstream of the stream gauging station that was installed by the US Forest Service in the 1930s. In the summer of 1992 the vegetation of the Driver Lot was inventoried and the data collected was added to the substantial data base on vegetation, meteorology, hydrology, and land-use that is maintained on the Forest. This past year the Hopkins Forest served as the major focus in the ENVI 102 Introduction to Environmental Science course. The object of this field and lab course, was to integrate perspectives on biological, geological, and chemical processes using a 60-acre tract known as the "Moon Lot" as a case study. Courses in ecology, field botany, studio art, geology, and various winter study offerings also made excellent use of the Hopkins Forest facilities.
The Geosciences major is designed to provide an understanding of the physical and biological evolution of the earth. Forces within the earth are responsible for the development of mountain ranges and ocean basins. Waves, rivers, glaciers and wind have shaped 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. Five introductory courses open to all students include: GEOS 101 Earth History and Evolution of Life, GEOS 102 The Shifting Earth, GEOS 103 Environmental Geology and the Earth's Surface, GEOS 104 Oceanography and GEOS 166 Climates Through Time. A special course limited to twelve first-year students, GEOS 105 Geology Outdoors, presents geology through field work 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, 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 those concentrating 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 and actuarial science, and teaching. The major requires calculus, a course in applied/discrete mathematics, 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. Introduction to Neuroscience NSCI 201 is the basic course and provides the background for other neuroscience courses. Ideally, this will be taken in the Freshman or Sophomore 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 from other departments. Topics in Neuroscience NSCI 401 is designed to provide an integrative culminating experience. Most students will take this course in the senior year.
The major program in Physics serves as preparation for further work in pure or applied physics, 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 and optics, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, and quantum mechanics. In addition, many students take special courses on such topics as condensed matter physics and electronics. Typically, about half of our physics majors do senior honors projects, in which the student works together with a faculty member in either experimental or theoretical research.
The eleven regular faculty members of the Psychology Department offer a wide variety of curricular and research opportunities to both major and nonmajor students. Courses are grouped into the areas of behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, and personality and clinical 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 wide 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 the distant historical development and philosophical understanding of the ideas and institutions of science and technology, SCTS focuses on their more current ethical, economic, social and political implications. Although many of us acknowledge that science and technology have 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 or 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 amongst a broad range of perspectives provided in the curriculum. Courses examine the history of 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.
Observing will take place on all class dates during which the sky is clear. On those days when the sky is cloudy, we will do in-class exercises or discuss topics in astronomy, such as the results from the Hubble Space Telescope.
The course will be divided into discussion sections and laboratory meetings. In the laboratory section, students will concentrate on building actual working circuits, learning good assembly techniques, and gaining practical experience with electronics.
This course will study the geology, ecology, and exploration of Antarctica. The geology will extend from the breakup of Pangea to the formation of its massive ice cap and the influence of the Antarctica ice on ocean circulation and the world's climates. The ecology of the Antarctica food web will be examined along with the current problems of natural resource exploitation, expanding eco-tourism, and the ozone hole. The exploration of Antarctica will focus on the heroic age of Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton (1901-1914).
Much of the course will involve trying to set these sequences back onto a dancer and interpret how much of the original information of the sequence is retained. Issues of notation will also be discussed. A student interested in chance events in musical composition rather than dance may also be able to participate with permission of the instructor. Groups of students may be able to combine musical and dance compositions together in performance.
Each student, alone or in small groups, will create a dance piece to be performed at the end of the course. It is not expected that every student will have experience in both dance and computing, but it is desirable that a student has familiarity with either one or the other. Lecture-discussion sections will meet three days a week. In addition, it is expected that each student will work on developing the tools for and creating the dance piece for approximately two or three 3-hour periods per week. Prerequisites: Some experience either with dance/music or an interest in computing. Enrollment limited to 12-15 depending on the mix of students interested in the course.
During the initial part of the course, the class will meet to go over background material and methodological issues. During the middle part of the course, students will conduct the research and meet with the instructor in small groups. During the last section of the course, the class will meet to discuss the results of the studies. Throughout the course, we will watch and discuss films.