Moravian's Trail-Blazing Watsons

Michael '11 and Andrew Watson '12—the first siblings to participate in Moravian's SOAR program—talk quantum theory, music, and future plans (which involve space travel). Photo by Christie Jacobsen '00.

The list of pioneering Watsons includes molecular biologist James Dewey Watson (co-discoverer of the structure of DNA), psychologist John B. Watson ("father of behaviorism"), and businessman Thomas J. Watson (founder of IBM).

Although Moravian's Michael '11 and Andrew Watson '12 have not yet earned Wikipedia pages, they have made a mark as the first siblings to participate in Moravian's SOAR (Student Opportunities for Academic Research) program. And though their research projects seem miles apart (one features writing, the other physics), the Watson brothers share an inquisitive nature and creative flair that suggest many interesting explorations in the years to come.

Mike, an English major, spent much of his summer wandering the brown fields of the former Bethlehem Steel, finding inspiration for a lyric essay he's writing about community and landscape, under the mentorship of Joyce Hinnefeld, associate professor of English. "It was tons of fun," he said. "I did a lot of reading, which included John Strohmeyer's '45 book Crisis in Bethlehem, written in Reeves Library. Dr. Hinnefeld and I are both working on lyrical essays—which are a kind of middle ground between an essay and a poem. We traded drafts and exchanged critiques," working toward the final pieces. Mike plans to use his summer research as the basis for his senior Honors Project, which Hinnefeld will advise.

Meanwhile, inside a Collier Hall physics lab, Andrew explored cobalt ferrites using Mössbauer spectroscopy, under the guidance of Kelly Krieble '86, associate professor of physics. The team collaborated with John Snyder '80, physics professor at Cardiff University in Wales. "Dr. Snyder's students are doing complementary research," explained Andrew. "He provided us with samples and we shared our results." Professors Krieble and Snyder will co-author a paper on the findings of the new research, which ultimately could be used to improve power steering technology—with the potential to "increase fuel efficiency by 5%," said Andrew. "Having this kind of experience, especially working with Drs. Krieble and Snyder, will be very helpful when I apply to grad school."

Both Watsons plan post-graduate studies. Mike will pursue an M.F.A. in creative writing with a focus on creative nonfiction. Andrew (who dreams of "visiting someplace beyond Earth") would like to study the structure of the universe, perhaps in London, while working on his Ph.D. in astrophysics.

"Both of us have always been interested in science and quantum theory," added Mike. "In fact, we're both interested in everything."