Bristol and Schambach Scholars Present Their Work

On Friday, Oct. 23 in the Kennedy Auditorium, eight Bristol and Schambach Scholars -- students who have demonstrated outstanding academic prowess and have each been awarded a $3,500 stipend for research -- presented their respective projects.

"Just by creating art, regardless of whether there's a political intention, there's a subversive element," said Amy Tannenbaum '10, whose project was titled “Women Acting Up: Performance Art as Political Protest." She explained that as part of her research experience, she partly protested the Israeli cosmetics company Ahava (and, by extension, the Israeli occupation of Palestine) by standing in a storefront in her bikini. "It is an empowering experience to use your body as a performance artist," she said. 

Tannenbaum explained that exposing her skin was symbolic of her exposing the lies of the company. Her protest attracted quite a bit of media attention, including criticism that it was all a publicity stunt and that Tannenbaum and her companions were simply degrading themselves. But she firmly disagreed with that assessment, explaining that her protest was (among other things) an act that promoted feminism and that present the female form in a subjective, rather than objective, light. "It's giving voice back to the body," she said.

Andrew Boddorff '10, whose project was titled "Olive Oil, Isotopes, and Hobbits," first spoke about his adventures in the South Island of New Zealand, humorously relating his experiences to the events in the Lord of the Rings series. Then he explained his research at the University of Otago in Dunedin, in which he performed experiments regarding the chemical make-up of olive oil. The oil, an iconic food of the Mediterranean, is believed to differ in quality depending upon the region in which it was made. Boddorff utilized his knowledge of isotopes -- atoms of the same element with different numbers of neutrons -- in order to determine an oil's quality, since a particular isotopic ratio can indicate the presence of adulterate. Ultimately, he found that he could indeed determine region from isotopes in oil, primarily because of both temperature and aridity. He also determined that canola oil had more unsaturated fat (the "good" kind) than olive oil, indicating the former is actually healthier than the latter.

"I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of Spanish culture," said Danica Wuelfing '10, "and compare other perspectives with my own." Her project was titled “A Walk Through Parque Retiro” and elaborated upon her research in Madrid. While there she carried out 61 video-recorded interviews with random strangers on the street, whose ages ranged from 8-years-old to 80. Wuelfing learned the life philosophies of many residents, who said things such as: "A Spanish person is a person who doesn't think a lot... he thinks after he acts," and "The most important thing in life is to live... we work to be able to live." Additionally, many residents placed an emphasis on family, as well as highly valuing the food/cooking culture, employment, and tranquility. Wuelfing was surprised that it was oftentimes the older residents who had the raciest comments.

Kaitlin Cassel '10, whose project was titled "Discovering Russia: A Trans-Siberian Journey," explained that she wanted to "get out of Westernized industrial Russia" during her research and explore the more obscure regions. Starting in St. Petersburg and traveling east, Cassel traveled by railway. She commented that most of the people she met on the train were very hospitable, providing her with their food and blankets; they even taught her card games. She explained that the cities she visited were somewhat surprising -- "they were more metropolitan than I expected" -- but generally she found that Asian architecture and Buddhist temples became more prominent as she traveled further east.
The people she encountered were titillated by her presence, excited that foreigners were interested in their culture and traditions. Cassel also mentioned that she visited Lake Baikal, the world's most voluminous freshwater lake, and learned of several superstitions that promised longer life if one dipped various body parts into the lake. Unfortunately, she didn't jump in.

David Foster '10, whose project was titled "Price Variation in Retail and E-Tail," performed his own data collection to compare retail stores to their online counterparts. Foster visited Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Staples, Barnes & Noble, and their online stores, as well as Amazon.com, in order to evaluate pricing behavior within and across retailers. He concluded that while his own data set was not exhaustive, it illustrated the importance of consumer search behavior in understanding real-world goods markets. "Although the Internet reduces search costs and provides benefits to consumers, these consumers might take their benefits in the form of more leisure time rather than lower prices," explained Foster.

Zachari Shockley '10 explored the intimate relationship between soccer and Spain's history and culture in his study, "La Liga: Soccer in Spanish Culture." In his travels throughout the country, he encountered Spaniards from all walks of life. Each offered a unique perspective on the game that allowed Shockley to understand the past and present of Spain in the context of its greatest pastime. He spent time in some of the most storied stadiums in the world, like Real Madrid's "Estadio Santiago Bernabeu" and FC Barcelona's "Camp Nou." During his research, he investigated the importance of the rivalry between the two said soccer clubs in the context of the dictatorship of Franco during the years following the Spanish Civil War. Shockley went on to explain "soccer's paradox" as both a uniting and divisive force and the implications for the future of the sport and of soccer-obsessed nations.

After studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, during the fall semester of 2008, Gail Corneau '10 was inspired to return this past summer to continue her exploration of the Danish language and culture, as well as to gain career-related experience in biochemistry. She pursued an internship at H. Lundbeck, a Danish pharmaceutical company, with funding provided by the Hans H. Schambach Scholarship. Working in the process optimization laboratory at Lundbeck's production site in Lumsås, Denmark, Corneau's project involved the purification and characterization of a process impurity that occurs under certain conditions in the production of a drug used for the treatment of schizophrenia.

Corneau, whose project was titled "‘Vi hyggede os’: Life, Language, Science, and Culture During a Summer in Denmark,” discussed both her work in the lab as well as the cultural aspects of her experience. She explained that “Vi hyggede os” is a phrase used often in Denmark, and roughly means “We had a cozy time,” although there are many “X” factors involved in the meaning of hygge. Corneau’s pictures illustrated that one can experience hygge in many different settings, such as at a crowded fish auction in Jutland, during a school festival with the theme of “joy,” and at home with family and friends.

Sarah Cryer ’10 also presented her project, “Assessment of the Research on the Effects of Dietary Intervention for Breast Cancer Patients."

Student author Alex Pure '12 is a graduate of Great Neck North High School.
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