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President Valerie Smith's Introduction of Iris Chan '17


I’m pleased to introduce Iris Chan, who was selected by her classmates to be their senior class speaker.

A native of Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, Iris graduates today as a biology major with minors in English literature and psychology. She has served as a teaching assistant for numerous biology courses and as a Summer Teaching Fellow with the Science for Kids program.  Beyond the classroom, she has been a writer for the student admissions blog and co-president of Saturdays of Service, an initiative sponsored by the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility.

Iris developed a passion for translational cell biology research that has applications in clinical medicine through her work in Professor of Biology Liz Vallen’s lab. Iris studied the role of protein structures in the symbiotic relationship between sea anemones and algae. Next year she will serve as a research assistant studying blood stem cell development in the Zon Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital.

In addition to her intellectual passions, Iris is a dedicated musician and has performed as a pianist, harpsichordist, and organist in collaboration with the Wind Ensemble, Chorus, and Chamber Choir. Her senior recital showcased pieces that reflected her journey as a musician and amplified the voices of underappreciated composers.

Iris’s contributions to Swarthmore speak to the power of interdisciplinary learning, and we are proud that today she becomes a Swarthmore alumna. I am delighted to welcome Iris to the podium as the speaker for the Class of 2017.