Glaser Fellows

2017 Barney Glaser Fund for Math & Science fellowship recipient:
Finnian Zink '18

What did you do for your Fellowship?

For my fellowship, I embarked on a journey of combining my engineering and artistic interests in the form of a tangible project. This project took the form of a city block, four buildings that tried to reflect modern design, stability and functionality. In my classes, I found myself yearning for a project like this; an opportunity to get tangible with my math problem sets and practical with my artistic skills. This was the perfect project for that.

what was your inspiration?

I would have to cite my obsession with creation and problem solving as my primary inspiration for this project, in an effort to learn more about myself and about the discipline. Indeed, if I was going to call myself an engineer and study it in college, it would be important I do an engineering project and not walk into that next stage completely blind.

What was an unexpected lesson?

I learned more about myself during this project than anything else. I learned that I set extremely lofty goals, and sometimes improvisational pivoting is critical to meet them. I learned too that procrastination is a strong force, and that it can only be counteracted with a concrete schedule and plan of attack. I maintain that dealing with these long-term, month-long projects is a skill not cultivated in the 55-minute classes we experience day to day. Thus, going through the fellowship process was incredibly instructive for a multitude of reasons. Thanks again to the Glaser family for the opportunity; it was invaluable.

2016 Barney Glaser Fund for Math & Science fellowship recipient:
robin tuscher '17

What did you do for your Fellowship?

I spent my summer at a multiple sclerosis (MS) lab in San Francis­co. MS is a neurodegenerative disease caused by an uncontrolled pro-inflammatory immune response, and it is most common in women 35 and older. There is currently no cure, but certain medi­cations can slow the progress of the disease.

can you describe your work?

I worked with an international team of scientists, from Sweden, Germany, South Korea, and Argentina. My job was to determine if there were differences in how diet affected gut bacteria in MS patients and a control group. To analyze the raw data and identify nutrients that caused different responses for MS patients and healthy controls, I learned programming and wrote code to produce lists and charts of the findings that were statistically sig­nificant. During the summer I also took online courses in robotics and programming.

What was an unexpected lesson?

Learning that getting a little derailed and working through it is part of the process and part of the fun.



In writing music, I have always wanted to make my sound unique, so my goal was to build my own custom guitar from scratch. Besides creating a custom instrument, I wanted to learn how to plan, solve problems, and be adaptable when things go wrong, as they inevitably do.

What was your inspiration?

My path to this project had many inspiration points. Led Zeppelin’s Heartbreaker inspired me to become a musician, and Jeff Symonds’ Rock Performance and Seminar class taught me to be a better listener. The musicianship of Page, Hendrix, and May, in addition to the quality of their art, inspired me to start writing my own music. Matt Jaffe demonstrated to me that Branson graduates could find a foothold in the competitive modern music industry. When I learned that Brian May built his Red Special when he was 16, I thought that I might give it a try.

Can you describe your process?

I drew on my father’s extensive woodworking skills: I had to figure out how to cut diagonal lines on machines that cut at right angles, how to cut with a saw to 1/64 of an inch, and how to wire an electric guitar properly. Pieces of wood can slip when being glued together, and I needed to be able to work with my mistakes and still make a functional product.


This experience has humbled me in my abilities as an engineer, a craftsman, and a musician.