Pandemic Academics: Fall 2020 at Amherst

Photos by Maria Stenzel, Haoran Tong ’23 and Hantong Wu ’23

Large mammoth sign encouraging the Amherst Community to protect the herd during the pandemic

Keeping the Herd Healthy: Overnight, a herd of mammoths appeared, scattered across campus, offering reminders about and encouragement to follow COVID-19 safety practices.


A professor teaching a class outside under a tent

close up shots of the students and professor during an class taking place outside under a tent

Fittingly, students in Professor Nicola Courtright's first-year seminar, “Encounters with Nature,” have learned to incorporate (or at least tolerate) the sounds of birds, wind, rain, and passing traffic into their curriculum.  According to Courtright, “The atmosphere in our tent for all these weeks is often breezy and restorative.”


A professor and student meet outside on the quad for a thesis discussion

Professor of English Judy Frank (right) meets with Julia Shea ’21 (left) in lawn chairs in front of Johnson Chapel to discuss her thesis project, a graphic novel. Shea is double majoring in Fine Art and English and is the Design Editor for The Amherst Student newspaper.


a student sitting on the main quad participates in a zoom class with a view of the holyoke range in the background

Kiiren Jackson ’24 attends “Introduction to Black Studies” via Zoom from a tent on the Main Quad, near Memorial Hill. About the seminar, Professor Solsiree del Moral (shown in Zoom class column one, box three) writes, "I look forward to our remote class meeting every week. The students are always attentive, engaged, and mindful of each other's time and energy. We have great discussions about very difficult topics. As difficult as it may be, I appreciate the students’ willingness to be present and work with each other.”


a professor wholes up a laptop for remote students to see inside the mead art museum

students in the mead explore some create movement experimentation

To accommodate remote students enrolled in “The Language of Movement,” Professor Jenna Riegel holds up a laptop, as in-person students explore current exhibits and experiment with movement in the Mead Art Museum. Co-taught by Professor Wendy Woodson, this course aims to introduce students to movement as language and to dance and performance composition.


symphony orchestra students rehearse outside under a tent

Led by music director and conductor Mark Swanson, physically distanced members of the Amherst Symphony Orchestra record music by Beethoven in the athletics tent near the Alumni Gym.


  a student giving a socially distant tour inside the beneski museum of natural history

Ben Gilsdorf ’21 leads a tour—both in-person and online—at the Beneski Museum of Natural History during a newly launched series led by student docents called “Fossil Fridays.”


students studying inside the beneski museum

Professor Alberto Lopez leads a session of Organic Chemistry over Zoom while Ximena Salas Torres ’23 (left) and Adriana Badena ’23 (right) make use of the study space inside the Beneski Museum of Natural History. 


 

a student led voter registration event

Ben Gilsdorf ’21 and Claire Taylor ’23 lead a voter registration drive for the student group AC Votes on National Voter Registration Day. Gilsdorf writes:  “I’m motivated to lead the voter registration drive because I know how much members of the Amherst community care about making positive change in this world and about politics.”


  a student practices the piano in her dorm room

Alice Rogers ’23 practices Rachmaninov’s Prelude in G Minor on her keyboard piano in her residence hall. While she is not a music major or taking music lessons, she plays the piano daily as a hobby. Students are not required to wear masks while alone in their rooms, but she is wearing one because of her proximity to the photographer.


students studying under a tent on the amherst college campus

The Facilities Department has reconfigured campus to encourage safe and meaningful student engagement. Students in the photo are concentrating on classwork on a warm fall afternoon. Others have used this tent for class sessions, small group meetings and dinners with friends.


a lightshow display on the outside of the science center

An artistic rendering of STEM research projected on the exterior of the Science Center. The research in question? Isoelectric points and charges at varying PH’s for insulin and three different species of alpha-b crystalline. The researchers? Professor Patricia O’Hara and her students Yusrah Kaudeer ’21 and Esi Obeng ’22. Writes O’Hara, “Teaching this fall (CHEM 151) is totally remote, and so a bit like being transported to a foreign country, (Zoom), where you have to lay aside your prior knowledge about how to teach.”