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Black Studies Program announces recipients of Petrucci Family Foundation Summer Research Grant

The Black Studies Program is proud to announce the recipients of its 2017 inaugural Petrucci Family Foundation Summer Research Grant in Black Studies Bryton Fett and Shua-Kym McLean.

Bryton Fett is a junior majoring in both Biology and Sociology & Anthropology and minoring in Black Studies. Her academic and research interests lie in sociological understandings of health determinants and outcomes for low-income, black communities. This past summer, she received a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center where she studied immunology and infectious disease. In the fall, she participated in the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program and became increasingly interested in the health consequences of mass incarceration in the United States. Bryton’s experiences as a black woman in STEM have pushed her to challenge normative perspectives of health and wellness and bring to light the complexities of health inequalities for minority populations. After graduating from Swarthmore, she hopes to pursue a career in medicine and patient care, focusing on health epidemics facing underserved and under-resourced black communities.

Project Summary:

More residents from the northern Philadelphia zip code 19124 are incarcerated under the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections than any other region. This summer, Bryton will be working with Swarthmore professor Nina Johnson, as well as Kristine Polizzano and John Pace of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, to collect neighborhood data on this zip code to investigate how high incarceration rates have impacted residents’ access to health care and HIV/AIDS-related resources. The first half of this study will focus on mapping neighborhood institutions, community-based organizations, health clinics, and other spaces in the area that contribute to the social landscape of the community. Using federal, state, and local county corrections data, the project will outline the types of interactions residents of 19124 have with the carceral system and state authorities. In its final phase, Bryton hopes to use this combined data to identify critical sites within the neighborhoods that provide community-based HIV/AIDS health care and resources. She hopes that through this work, she can build an understanding of how mass incarceration and subsequent socioeconomic depression contribute to health disparities for urban HIV/AIDS patients.

Shua-Kym McLean is a third year student, majoring in economics and minoring in history. Born in the heart of Manchester, Jamaica and raised in the broad shadow of the Philadelphia skyline, he calls both places home. Above all, concerned with the economic issues that affect quality of life in black communities worldwide, Shua's dream is to one day become a professor at the University of the West Indies. 

Project Summary:

His project endeavours to analyse issues of food access in Kingston, Jamaica and Havana, Cuba. This will be done largely through the adoption, and more importantly, the refining of the “food desert” concept to encompass the unique challenges and problem-solving approaches present in Caribbean societies. This task will involve geographic data collection on and analysis of food retailers, as well as qualitative inquiry. Special attention will be paid to the impact of informal markets in meeting the nutritional needs of Kingstonians. Similar attention will be paid to the scale and scope of the role played by the urban farming system in alleviating hunger in Havana. This study will work to build on existing literature in urban food security and inequality; evaluating the applicability of the Western theorization of the food desert to these predominantly Afro-Caribbean cities.