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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 full 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. Along with the construction of the Bronfman Science Center in the nineteen sixties we established the kind of facilities and support programs now 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 its subcommittees. 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.

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.

We have recently broken ground 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 $47 million project is the largest in the history of the College and will ensure Williams' place as a leader in undergraduate science education as we enter the next century.

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.

Freshman & Sophomore Discovery Courses

Seven years ago Williams College was awarded a five-year grant from the Ford Foundation Initiative for Undergraduate Science Education to support the development of "discovery" courses in the sciences. Although the grant has expired, most of these special introductory science courses 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.

ASTR 016 Observational Astronomy

This course, meant for non-majors, will focus on the most basic aspects of astronomy and will be observing-intensive, taking full advantage of various telescopes housed on the Williams College observing deck. Topics to be covered will include the constellations and night sky in general, planets, the moon, the sun, stars and galaxies. Study of these topics will require a mix of both day and night class sessions during which students will be required to make observations at the telescopes. Student observations will be recorded in drawings, notes, and computer printouts of images.

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.

CHEM 106 & 108 Concepts of Chemistry, Special & Advanced Laboratory Sections

While covering the same lecture material as other introductory chemistry classes, a special, enriched laboratory program includes activities that more closely resemble the unpredictable nature and immediacy of true chemical research. Students synthesize, isolate, and characterize a series of organic/inorganic complexes in a series of closely related experiments using modern analysis techniques in a flexible laboratory format.

ENVI 102 Introduction to Environmental Science

Taught by a biologist, a 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 observation in the field and the use of sophisticated instruments to perform chemical and biologic measurements in the laboratory.

GEOS 105 Geology Outdoors

An introduction to geology through student field projects and small discussion sessions. The mountains, lakes, rivers and valleys of the Williamstown area provide unusual opportunities for learning geology in the field. Emphasis is placed on learning through active participation in field projects reinforced by group discussion sessions on related readings in geology. Following several group projects introducing the techniques of field geology, small teams are formed to work on independent research projects.

PHYS 016 Confronting the Mysterious

Every day we encounter claims of extra-scientific phenomena such as telepathy, ESP, UFOs, astrology, faith healing, dowsing, and crop circles. Are they real? Should you invest money in cold fusion research or a device that liberates energy from the vacuum? Can one travel faster-than-light or backward in time? How does one go about answering these types of questions? This course will study the scientific methods used to access evidence for phenomena that extend beyond the present boundaries of science. Readings will include works by Carl Sagan and The Amazing Randi, a professional magician who uses his special expertise to examine claims of psychic phenomena.

Essel Foundation Grant for Neuroscience

In May of 1992, the college received a grant in the amount of $1,050,000 to support research in the neurosciences. The primary intent of the award is to involve students in state-of-the-art neuroscience research. During the summer of 1997, 9 Williams students were selected as Essel fellows. These students spent the summer working in individual faculty laboratories. Most of them continued their research as either honors thesis or independent study students during the 1997-98 academic year.

The Essel foundation grant also 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.

During the past year, the extended visits of three prominent neuroscientists were funded by the grant. The Essel award will continue to fund these programs as well as additional endeavors, such as 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

Hughes Grant (Howard Hughes Medical Institute)

Following its generous award of $900,000 from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) last year, Williams College continued its expansion and improvement of its science curriculum, programs and facilities. This grant is part of $45.4 million awarded by HHMI to help fifty-two colleges and universities strengthen their undergraduate education programs in the biological sciences. This new grant will allow for continued expansion and improvement of initiatives started under previous HHMI support. The College received $900,000 from the institute in 1991, and $500,000 in 1993. "These grants are highly competitive, and we are fortunate to have received support from HHMI," said Steven Zottoli, the director of the Hughes Grants at Williams and the Howard B. Schow `50 Professor of Biology.

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 allowed the college to strengthen this program by purchasing and networking computers for the elementary school. The networking provides elementary school teachers and students with greater access to Williams faculty, students, and libraries.

The grant also allows 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. It enables the college to expand its summer lab opportunities for Williams students. The new grant allows for additional stipends, that have been 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 provides 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.

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 is setting aside endowment funds for the depreciation and eventual replacement of items purchased under the grant.

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.

NECUSE (Pew Charitable Trust)

The New England Consortium of Undergraduate Science Education is made up of 16 universities and colleges, of which Williams is one. The consortium is funded until 1998 by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trust and through contributions made by the member institutions. The purpose of the consortium is to improve science education by bringing together faculty and students of member institutions through conferences, workshops, summer undergraduate research fellowships, and exchange visits. Elsewhere in this report you will find references to NECUSE sponsored summer research students, the SMALL program, curricular developments in various departments, and conferences where Williams students present the results of their research.


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 two 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 given talks at a variety of math conferences around the country. In the summer of 1998, there will be a total of 15 students working in algebraic geometry, commutative algebra, ergodic theory, geometry, and knot theory.

Major Programs

Departments offer major programs in Astronomy, Astrophysics, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geology, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology. There are coordinate programs in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, and Science and Technology Studies, and courses are offered in Environmental Studies and in the History of Science. Students can also design interdepartmental majors through the contract major program. Within departments and programs, faculty advisors help students to select individualized major programs that reflect each student's interests, yet satisfy prerequisites for graduate study, medical school or other postgraduate plans.

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 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 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 which 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 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 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 SUN 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 organizations, 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 advance 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, while CSCI 105 presents an introduction to the technology behind the World Wide Web.

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 to both 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. Four introductory courses open to all students include: GEOS 101 Earth History and Evolution of Life, GEOS 102 An Unfinished Planet, GEOS 103 Environmental Geology and the Earth's Surface, GEOS 104 Oceanography . 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 thirteen 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 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 distant historical development and philosophical understanding of the ideas and institutions of science and technology, SCTS focuses more on 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.

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 1998 WSP science offerings are given below:

ASTR/ARTH 025 Comets in British Art and Science from Newton to the Present

For the past two years, Professor Pasachoff and an art historian, Professor R.J.M. Olson of Wheaton College, have been engaged in a joint exploration of comets and comet images in British art and science. Their explorations were largely funded by a grant from the Getty Trust, which enabled them to undertake research trips and to complete the manuscript of a book on the subject. Their period of investigation began with the work of Newton and Halley in observing the comets of 1680 and 1682, continued through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and ended with the visits of Halley's Comet during the present century.

A group of students will travel with Professor Pasachoff, recreating his research path of exploration to London, Oxford, Cambridge, and the surrounding countryside. The group will spend Winter Study Period in England to pursue images of comets. The group will visit the Old Royal Observatory and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich; the Royal Astronomical Society, the Royal Society, and the Royal Institution among scientific institutions in London; the Tate Gallery, the National Gallery, the British Library, and Kensington Palace in London to see works of art with comets in them; the Royal Greenwich Observatory (probably meeting the Astronomer Royal) in Cambridge; and the Museum for the History of Science in Oxford.

BIOL 017 Outbreak: Viruses and Culture

The popular press would have us believe that the AIDS pandemic is a unique example of a viral pathogen causing cultural, political, and behavioral changes in society. In fact, infectious diseases and viral epidemics have impacted society throughout recorded history. This course will examine the intersection of infectious disease and society. The basic biology of viruses will be covered in context of examining the impact of viruses on human history and politics. The current interest in emerging viruses will also be examined with a focus on the social, economic, ecological, and cultural factors which induce episodes of novels to see how the representation of infectious diseases has evolved. How viruses have been portrayed by the entertainment industry, in both the print and film media, will be considered for their accuracy and intent.

SPEC 011 Science for Kids (Sponsored by Chemistry)

Are you interested in teaching? The aim of this Winter Study Project is to design a series of hands-on science workshops for elementary schoolchildren and their parents. Students, working in groups of 2-4, spend the first three weeks of Winter Study planning the two-hour 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 kids with their parents to Williams to participate in the workshops.

CSCI 020 Computer Animation

In this course, students will learn the fundamental issues facing animators in the fast lane of today's high-end special effects field through hands-on experience under the direction of some of the most talented animators in the business, the Kleiser-Walczak Construction Co., a computer graphics firm specializing in high-end database construction and human figure animation. They developed and own a system for the creation of computer generated actors call "Synthespians" which has been demonstrated in experimental films "Nestor Extone for President" (1988) and "Don't Touch Me" (1990). They have also worked for PBS and CBS and their feature film work includes "Honey I Blew Up the Kids," "The Pickle," "Stargate," "Clear and Present Danger" and "Judge Dredd." They have also worked on special effects attractions for the Luxor Hotel and for Disney Theme Parks. The course will consist of lectures in which the field of computer animation will be explored from a historical context, using videotape to create 3-D animated sequences of their own design. In addition, students may have an opportunity to participate in the production of actual projects on an intern level

GEOS 025: Geology in the Virgin Islands

Participants in this course will spend the Winter Study period camping and conducting field work in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the geology of which represents an unusual mix of active tectonic processes and carbonate sedimentation. Subduction of the Caribbean plate beneath the North American plate produced a chain of volcanic islands, including the Virgin Islands. Although volcanism is ongoing elsewhere in the Antilles, the Virgin Islands volcanoes are now extinct. The islands were much modified by changing sea levels during the last 1.5 m.y. Coral reef systems that developed during periods of high sea level were exposed and eroded when sea level dropped. Sea level has risen steadily over the last 15,000 years, and much of the modern offshore topography is due to the development of a system of fringing reefs that have grown up on top of the older, eroded reef terraces. This course will examine modern and ancient reef and carbonate sedimentation systems, both on land and in the ocean. We will also investigate the volcanic and deep-marine sediments that are now uplifted in the core of the island, and we will study the interactions between tectonics and sedimentation in this unique environment.

MATH 011: Gambling, Game Shows, Money, and Analytical Reasoning

Have you ever been bothered by the way contestants bid on the Price is Right game show? How would you bid? Where would you drop the Plinko chips? Have you ever wondered what good strategies are for casino games? In this course, we will develop reasonable strategies for various games. In addition, we will study such problems as how to split an inheritance fairly among beneficiaries, how cities could save money on the cost of garbage collection, and how airlines could improve their efficiency. If you love games and you like to save money, this is the course for you.

PHYS 010 Light and Holography

This course examines the art and science of holography. It introduces modern optics at a level appropriate for students majoring outside the sciences, and gives the necessary theoretical background in lectures and discussion. Demonstrations are presented and students make several kinds of holograms in the lab. Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, there are 7 well-equipped holography darkrooms available for student use.

PHYS 016 Confronting the Mysterious

Every day we encounter claims of extra-scientific phenomena such as telepathy, ESP, UFOs, astrology, faith healing, dowsing, and crop circles. Are they real? Should you invest money in cold fusion research or a device which liberates energy from the vacuum? Can one travel faster-than-light or backward in time? How does one go about answering these types of questions? This course will study the scientific methods used to access evidence for phenomena that extend beyond the present boundaries of science. Readings will include works by Carl Sagan and The Amazing Randi, a professional magician who uses his special expertise to examine claims of psychic phenomena.

PSYC 012 Pursuit of Happiness

What makes people happy? Fame and fortune? Love and fulfillment? Winning the lottery? Are men happier than women? Are the young happier than the elderly? Is religious faith associated with happiness? Does happiness vary by culture? In this course, we'll look at social psychological research on the causes and consequences of happiness and discover the (occasionally surprising) answers to these and other questions. We'll also look at the other side of the coin: What makes people unhappy, how people deal with tragedy and unhappiness, and what people regret most in life and why. A theme throughout the course will be the application of the various research findings to living our own happy lives.

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