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Mark Burgunder, English senior, helps pilot professors' book

Senior English major Mark Burgunder spent part of his summer break assisting two English professors on a collaborative project called Airport Reading. Part memoir, part survival guide, Airport Reading is at once a serious and irreverent take on air travel. From check-in to baggage claim, from delays on the runway to turbulent landings, the book directly addresses our fascination with flight -- and, for many of us, our fears of flying.

Professors Mark Yakich and Christopher Schaberg began co-authoring the manuscript in early spring 2009. Beginning with notes and anecdotes shared via a Google document, which can be simultaneously edited by numerous writers, the two professors soon realized they could use the help of a third. Incoming senior Mark Burgunder, who is writing a thesis in poetry guided by Professor Yakich, was given a research assistant stipend by the Dean's office to help with the project. His tasks included gathering mundane facts (how many people flew in 2008 the world over?) and running down urban legends (did American Airlines really save $40,000 in the 1980s by eliminating one olive from martinis in first class?).