Science Day Honors Brother, Showcases Student Research


Saint Mary's christened the School of Science building Brousseau Hall during the College's first annual Science Day on March 30, an open house that also featured students' research projects.

In 2005, the Board of Trustees voted to name the science building in honor of the late Brother Alfred Brousseau, who taught mathematics and physics at Saint Mary's from 1930 to 1941 and from 1959 to 1978. Brother Alfred also was leader of the Brothers' San Francisco Province for 15 years.

"He was a man of prodigious energy and multiple accomplishments," said Brother President Ronald Gallagher. "He was a mathematician, composer, photographer and naturalist."

The ceremony honoring Brother Alfred included Brother Ronald's recollections of hiking with Brother Alfred throughout California and a blessing from Bishop Emeritus John Cummins. Bruce Wolfe's portrait of Brother Alfred, which now hangs in the building's atrium, was also unveiled.

Brousseau Hall's design pays homage to Brother Alfred's most fervent passion in math and science -- the Fibonacci numbers. The first floor includes an inlaid chambered nautilus, which demonstrates the Fibonacci pattern that is found in spirals. Brother Alfred started The Fibonacci Quarterly, a journal that chronicles the mathematical underpinnings of everything from bees' rates of reproduction to the meter of Roman poetry.

"Brother Alfred thoroughly appreciated God's creation," said Brother Ronald. "He was always exploring it, documenting it and celebrating it."

After the ceremony, the School of Science gave tours of Brousseau and Galileo halls. Displays included Professor Douglas Long's armadillo skeletons and bison skulls and photos from Professor Carla Bossard's Jan Term course in the Amazon rain forest and Galapagos Islands.

Seniors Katie Azevedo and Kate Albaugh and junior Emily King, who worked with Professor Joel Burley in documenting ozone levels in California's national parks, talked about their research on air quality and travel patterns at the Joshua Tree National Park.

"In the western end of the park, closer to Los Angeles, there were eight times as many violations of NAAQS (National Ambient Air Quality Standards) from May to December," Albaugh said.

Several students who worked on the project received awards from Sigma Xi and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Burley has published some of his findings in Atmospheric Environment and plans to continue to work with students researching ozone levels in other California national parks.

"We have the equipment and the expertise," Burley said. "We hope to contribute to the study of how things like wildfires affect ozone in places like Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks."

Science Day closed with a roast of Lawrence Cory, a member of the biology faculty since 1952 who was honored as Professor the Year on March 27.

--John Grennan
Office of College Communications