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Why Haverford Sciences are phenomenal: Part 12(?)

HC AlumHC Alum Registered User Posts: 604 Member
edited June 2013 in Haverford College
Sorry if I'm beating this into the ground...

When you look into a college and the strength of its departments, you have to know what questions to ask. “Are X’s science departments any good?” is a common question and the common response is “yes… we spent $30-40 million on a new science center… so our sciences must be the best (as we spent the most…)”. However, like good public policy, spending more $ doesn’t necessarily make it better. You also have to ask about the work that takes place in the building and you have to look at criteria from outside evaluators… such as…

HC bio professor and alum being the 1st LAC professor to win a research grant from the NIH. As Steve Emerson moved his lab from Penn to HC, HC has TWO NIH funded labs (!!!) in addition to other labs funded by HHMI, NSF, NASA, ect… There is simply no other LAC in the US that can boast this. PERIOD.

Haverford biologist Andrea Morris is the first small college faculty member ever to win an NIH Career Development Award.

Speaking of buildings, HC’s Koshland Building was a gift from Daniel Koshland (former editor of “Science” which is thee premier science rag) and named for his wife Marion (former head of molecular bio at Berkeley). Neither of them are alumni so that kind of gives you an idea of HC’s reputation in the sciences from people in the know…

Also, as I wrote, HC’s peers in the Sticks don’t benefit from HC’s ideal location that expands opportunities beyond the college. For example, HC kids will be able to work with the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Penn (probably cause of Steve Emerson). In addition, students have done senior projects at Fox Chase and Penn for as long as I can remember.

Penn: Office of University Communications: University of Pennsylvania Establishes Institute for Regenerative Medicine

Two lectures from visiting speakers about functional brain imaging in the last 2 weeks… You can’t get that if you’re in the middle of nowhere.

Haverford College: Calendar: Event Detail
Haverford College: Calendar: Event Detail

The benefits from location also apply to other fields of interest.

Having lunch with a “Nobel Prize” winner in economics (actually, no such thing as a “Nobel Prize in Econ” but good enough)… Haverford College News Room

Student activism conference at Penn…
Shestack addresses human rights issues - News
Post edited by HC Alum on
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Replies to: Why Haverford Sciences are phenomenal: Part 12(?)

  • skiphan27skiphan27 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    How hard, however, would you say it is to get into Haverford's science classes?

    I ask this for two reasons. 1. I understand that, due to HC's small class sizes, courses fill up rather quickly, and this worries me because...2. In high school, I focused more on the arts and humanities and am worried I might have a hard time getting into, for instance, a bio class. Upon entry to college, I have no wishes to be confined to English.
  • HC AlumHC Alum Registered User Posts: 604 Member
    "Upon entry to college, I have no wishes to be confined to English."

    This is why you go to a LAC! You become more adept in your area of focus by learning skill sets and perspectives from other areas of academia/research to help you more rigorously question your own area of interest. The perfect example is HC’s current president, Steve Emerson HC’74 who was a chemistry and Phil double major and MD/PhD from Yale.

    Here’s an “intro” bio course where students (many non-science) actually had their work published in a peer-reviewed journal. Haverford College News Room

    “I understand that, due to HC's small class sizes, courses fill up rather quickly, and this worries me”

    HC’s small class sizes are due to its student:faculty ratio of 8:1. In general, student interests are broad enough (and class choices are great enough cause of BMC… also with 8:1 ratio) that this isn’t really an issue. There are limited enrollment classes but kids can either get around the limits by asking the professor or they just take it the following year. I usually found myself trying to decide on 4 classes out of 7-9 that I really wanted to take each semester… and my list was usually different from everybody else’s. I’m not aware of limited enrollment being an issue in the sciences. From what I remember, the only time this became a stress was with lab placements for senior year research as each lab can have about 5 students each and you many not get your 1st choice.
  • b@r!um[email protected]!um Registered User Posts: 10,355 Senior Member
    A note on limited enrollment classes:
    The lottery results for spring semester classes have just been released and only two science classes had to use waitlists:

    BIOLH363G01 Stem Cell Biology
    PHYSH107B01 Living in a Fluid World

    You can find the entire lottery list here:
    Lottery Results

    The lottery list contains all limited enrollment classes, including the ones where the number of pre-registered students stayed below the enrollment cap. Note that only 95 out of 361 courses offered in the spring semester have enrollment caps at all and less than half of those actually have to use waitlists.

    Enrollment limits have not been an issue for me so far (I was lotteried out of one class for the sping semester but there are soooo many other interesting classes that I can take instead that I don't really care).

    P.S.: I am a BM student but as HC alum pointed out BM students can take classes at HC and vice versa.
  • skiphan27skiphan27 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    thats great to hear, thank you.
  • HC AlumHC Alum Registered User Posts: 604 Member
    Research on HIV-1 resistance in Old World monkeys

    GE PRIZE-WINNING ESSAY: 2007 Grand Prize Winner -- 318 (5856): 1566 -- Science

    /\ How funny... I remember a "Lloyd Around the World" party I went to and this guy... :)

    thanx [email protected] see, this is the "Bi-co" cooperation I'm talkin about.
  • HC AlumHC Alum Registered User Posts: 604 Member
    Phenomenal science in a state of the art building

    Although I have issues with the EPA, they were at least bright enough to highlight the Koshland building in a case-report examining modern lab spaces.
    ---
    ALN Magazine™ | Blueprint for Greener Laboratory Animal Facilities, Douglas Page, January/February 2008

    A laboratory air system engineered for the Koshland Integrated Natural Science Center at Haverford College in Pennsylvania by Williams’ colleague Philip Bartholomew, P.E., uses energy wheels to great advantage.

    According to a case study prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Laboratories for the 21stCentury, the unique mechanical system “conditions the facility’s makeup air separately from the air that maintains thermal comfort. Energy wheels precondition the makeup air to the temperature and relative humidity levels (space-neutral) desired within the building. Individual fan-coil units located within each building zone further condition a portion of this makeup air to maintain desired thermal conditions. There is no need for reheat because the air entering the fan-coil units is at space-neutral conditions.”

    Because the conditioned makeup air is distributed through a network of plenums, there is very little ductwork in the building.

    Designers estimate the system saves 52 percent in cooling and heating energy annually for the entire facility, compared to a system using 100 percent outside air, variable air volume fume hoods, and no energy recovery.
  • HC AlumHC Alum Registered User Posts: 604 Member
    "HC Alum:

    I really love everything about Haverford- but I was wondering what you knew about its Biology Program. Is it really true that no students can take Biology until their sophomore year. WHY?????? Also, I know its research facilities are amazing- but what about bio classes that are not just in the lab. I really felt looking at the course catalog that there was too much emphasis on research and not enough on regular classes. But please prove me wrong! I want to go to Haverford- but its odd Biology curriculum has certainly not blown me away like other facets of the college."

    /\Somebody wrote me.

    Hc biology is molecular based. Actually, it was the *first* institution in AMerica to teach modern lab biology to undergrads in the late 1950s (even before universities) after the late :( Professor Ariel Loewy (fresh from his post-doc at Cavendish) scored some seed $ from the NIH. You need a firm understanding of chemistry and some organic chem to understand the principles that will be taught in bio 200 such as dna links, amino acids, protein folding and enzymes. Even though bio "begins" as a sophomore, I and my friends were still competitive with getting summer internships our soph summers (me with U Wisc Madison and Los Alamos) so if your concern is with that... don't. What is taught in bio200 is taught elsewhere junior year. Also, taking bio 2nd year doesn't conflict with pre-med and HC has been cranking out docs with this curriculum forever.

    The more common complaint with a science education at many places is that it too often is theoretical, read and not hands on. How fortunate that HC doesn't have that problem then. Personally, I think it is a great balance of lecture and lab. You can better understand something by doing. Even though, I felt the science lectures emphasized understanding and concepts over memorization, it still can't compare to actually seeing, doing and touching. More lecture time may result in a temporary increase in knowledge (that is soon forgotten!) but also, science changes rapidly. Having an emphasis on research teaches students how to conceptualize a problem and how to get answers by using what is available... For example, an essay question I remember having went something like, "A disease afflicts 4 members of a family. Please use the assays and methods learned in lab and lecture to figure out whether this diease is genetically linked or infectious. Explain your work"). I think the strength of the bio curriculum (and a top LAC education in general) is that you wind up getting the core knowledge required in your field of study, but you get a skill set to grow/refresh that knowledge which does not become obsolete with time like an education based more passively on lectures/fact knowledge. These imporant skills are also attractive for many other fields and are transferable... for example, some bio majors I know went for a phd in botany and in environmental studies at some pretty good places.
  • CollegeAdvice10CollegeAdvice10 Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    All of the intro science courses and premed courses are unlimited, the chemistry about 80, bio200 class has about 60, and the orgo class about 50 :)
  • HC AlumHC Alum Registered User Posts: 604 Member
    "The University of Pennsylvania, collaborating with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Haverford College, Lincoln University and Thomas Jefferson University, will receive $3.9 million to develop regenerative therapies for restoring the function of islet cells. Islet cells are the cells that produce insulin and are lacking in people with diabetes. The project will seek to improve the outcome of transplantation by investigating unique mechanisms for promoting the growth of transplanted islet cells to regenerate functional tissue and provide a sustained cure."

    3 local projects get tobacco settlement grants - Philadelphia Business Journal:
    Are there any other LACs invited to play with the "grown-ups"? For many, the answer is "no" because of their remote location and for others it's "no" as well because their sciences aren't as advanced as HC's.
  • HC AlumHC Alum Registered User Posts: 604 Member
    Quantum computers could excel in modeling chemical reactions

    Cambridge, US (EurekAlert!): Quantum computers would likely outperform conventional computers in simulating chemical reactions involving more than four atoms, according to scientists at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Haverford College. Such improved ability to model and predict complex chemical reactions could revolutionize drug design and materials science, among other fields.

    Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe "software" that could simulate chemical reactions on quantum computers, an ultra-modern technology that relies on quantum mechanical phenomena, such as entanglement, interference, and superposition. Quantum computing has been heralded for its potential to solve certain types of problems that are impossible for conventional computers to crack.

    The Hindu News Update Service
  • ParAlumParAlum Registered User Posts: 439 Member
    "Is it really true that no students can take Biology until their sophomore year. WHY??????"

    As a BMC alum, spouse of HC alum and parent of HC student (all science geeks), I can add a few comments to HC Alum's.

    It is true that the HC Bio major is a cell and molecular bio major and begins with general chem. Just like you need to get a good grounding in French vocab and grammar before you can study French literature in the original language, you need a strong chemistry background to discuss cell and molecular biology and to appreciate the nuances, utility and possibilities of this field. It really is a great course of study.

    That said, students can react a few ways to this strong curriculum. if chemistry is not your true love, this can be as dry as studying French vocab and grammar when you want to get to the analysis of French literature. But it is worth it.

    If you wish to just dabble in general Bio courses for breadth, there are many options for the non major at HC. The BMC bio major forms a nice complement to HC's curriculum and does begin basic bio and does take a physiology approach that complements HC's strong curriculum.

    So taken together the Bi-co community can provide the balance of choices that you might need.
  • PrestoHCPrestoHC Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
    Bio can be taken at Bryn Mawr without taking gen chem...hford students who wish to minor in bio can minor at bryn
  • mcpheevnmcpheevn Registered User Posts: 174 Junior Member
    Hi everyone,

    I would like to know what are the commonly graduate schools that Haverford science students (or those with strong science focus, I included the brackets because Haverford is a LAC), and particularly for chemistry enrolled in because I intend to major in chemistry in college. Please don't just list only the top schools because there might be be only one or two that get accepted to each of those schools and therefore will not be representative of all students. If possible, I would want to know the detailed distribution of graduate schools (how many students accepted into what school) for Haverford science major (again, esp. Chemistry).

    I am seriously considering to apply ED for Haverford right now because I used to plan to apply ED for other strong science LACs (based on the graduate productivity: see the Oberlin 50 and nsf.gov - SRS Baccalaureate Origins of S&E Doctorate Recipients - US National Science Foundation (NSF)) such as Reed & Grinnell. However, I am having feelings that some of them are too quirky (read:hippie or indie) for my taste (this is a matter of preference and I don't mean to offend anyone). I feel that Haverford students, while equally hard-working, seem more laid-back and normal (please correct me if I'm wrong). And the fact that it is near Penn, in a consortium & the persuasions from the people on this topic also helped me be attracted more and more to Haverford.

    Edit: I also have considered other strong science LACs such as Swarthmore & Harvey Mudd. They will definitely be on my RD list but for ED I think these school are harder to get into compared to Haverford, esp. for an international student with aid like me (I haven't looked at the numbers yet, if anyone has them please post here as well).
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