Faculty & Staff
The Swarthmore Summer Scholars Program (S3P) is driven by challenging academics with direct instruction from four Swarthmore professors.
Allison Dorsey, Director, Professor of History
My mother was an avid reader who expected her children would do well in school. Two high school teachers conspired to be my mentors and guided me to college. I was the first of my mother's eight children to graduate from college. I followed my interest in the past and my love of reading to a Ph.D. in American history from the University of California at Irvine.
My work is focused on the history of the African American struggle for freedom and equality from the period of Reconstruction to the turn of the 20th century. I've also developed an interest in teaching the history of the modern civil rights movement, the American West, and the history of food in America.
My students would tell you that I am very good at asking complicated, layered questions and expecting equally complicated and layered answers. I believe understanding the past requires information and analysis. My favorite instruction is 'read a book.' All my classes are reading and discussion intensive.
My best hope for the Summer Scholars Program is that we provide talented young people with an academically challenging summer learning experience. I want them to understand that the faculty is committed to helping them master new skills which will help them meet their goals. It is my expectation that all our summer scholars will thrive at Swarthmore and beyond.
Associate Professor of English Literature
I graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in English (and a concentration in American Literature) before earning my Ph.D. at Yale in American Studies. My current research focuses on the development of African American autobiography during the Jim Crow era and I teach courses on black autobiography, too; I also teach a range of courses involving African American literature from emancipation to the present, including an advanced course on black culture since the 1980s.
At Swarthmore, I have been an active member of both the English Literature Department and the Black Studies Program and the enthusiastic coordinator of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program. As a professor, I have served as a mentor to students both formally and informally, and I have been committed to supporting the College’s efforts to be even more diverse and more accessible. For these reasons, I am especially honored—and excited!—to be working with S3P.
Professor of Mathematics
I completed my B.S. in mathematics at Allegheny College and my Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Illinois, Chicago. I have done research in graph theory and coding theory and my current interests are primarily in pedagogical writing. I love mathematics because it is beautiful, abstract, logical, and profound, and because it is essential to understanding and accomplishment in the sciences and other quantitative fields. These very same qualities can also make studying math frustrating and difficult, especially when the ideas and techniques become much more complex as they do in college. Success in math at any level requires struggle, practice, acknowledging confusion, and working through failure. I want to guide S3P students as they explore new mathematical ideas, strengthen fundamental skills, and gain the confidence and maturity they need to reach their academic goals.
Associate Professor of Physics
I studied physics and chemistry at Williams College. After college, I spent a year working in an urban community development organization in southern California, providing support to the after-school and summer programs for neighborhood children living in the community. I then returned to an academic setting, earning my Ph.D. in physics at Harvard University. I spent several years as a postdoctoral researcher evaluating methods for teaching introductory physics, including studying the impact of teaching methods on the success of women and underrepresented groups in physics courses.
Since my arrival at Swarthmore in 2003, I have continued research in both the evaluation of undergraduate science education and biological physics and I enjoy working on projects with Swarthmore students in both areas. My teaching ranges from introductory physics for engineers and life science students to quantum mechanics and biological physics for physics majors. In my teaching, I seek to get to know my students and help them develop as individual learners and problem solvers in ways that will benefit them after my class is over. I treasure the privilege of knowing and interacting with so many amazing students, and I am looking forward to that opportunity as I begin teaching in the 2016 Swarthmore Summer Scholars Program.
Edward Hicks Magill Professor of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
I was born in Brooklyn. My mother was a garment worker, my father a machinist in the aerospace/defense industry. My high school education was at a poor school, and I did poorly. A cousin helped me get accepted to a local liberal arts college, though this was contingent on my participating in a program for students whose high school background was weak. Once I understood how to be a college student, I went on to major in physics and graduated with honors. I earned my M.S. and Ph.D. in Physics at New York University, with post-doctoral work at the University of Oxford. My fields of specialty are laser atomic physics and biomedical imaging physics.
When I teach the large introductory physics course at Swarthmore, I am painfully aware that first-year students come with vastly different levels of preparation. I try to make them feel at home with an informal atmosphere interspersed with (hopefully good!) humor. If students feel comfortable in class, they will feel free to visit faculty outside of class. In the sciences, any student can go to any professor's office at any time to talk or get help. I am proud to have been part of the faculty committee that helped bring about the Summer Scholars Program and feel that this experience can help entering students address the challenges they might face.