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2020 Summer Experiences


Katherine Capossela '21

I was immensely grateful to intern with the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU or the ACLU for NY) this summer, thanks to a little cohort of former Swatties. Political Science Professor Keith Reeves '88 connected me with Perry Grossman '03—a Senior Staff Attorney at the organization who graciously agreed to be my mentor—and The Lang Center funded my opportunity. Although the internship was remote, my summer was very rewarding and very busy with litigation and advocacy work. I compiled instances of police misconduct during the NY George Floyd protests, which will be used for a Monell Liability case against the NYPD Commissioner. I compared state voting deadlines and online registration access, which will be used in a case against NY's 25-day registration deadline. Alongside Perry, I advocated for voting rights bills to 15 NY state senators and assembly members (via Zoom), and I researched the impact of school board elections voter dilution on minority political participation and student outcomes. The list goes on, but my main takeaway was just how talented and thoughtful the people of the NYCLU were. They are doing the best work in the world.  Katherine Capossela '21 (Major: Political Science; Minors: English Literature & Peace and Conflict Studies) 

Noah Cheng '21

This summer I was supposed to return to a laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley where I was conducting my thesis research. My research focuses on discovering an efficient delivery mechanism for the CRISPR-Cas9 system, a system that has been harnessed from bacteria and engineered to be used as a genome editing tool. Specifically, I worked with virus-like particles that can package the CRISPR-Cas9 system and then deliver it to cells. Unfortunately, I was unable to continue my laboratory research as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, I have conducted a literature review on the subject of genome editing and its therapeutic applications. I have read and summarized articles that describe novel gene editing tools, such as base editors and prime editors. Virus-like particles are just one method of delivering editing tools to human cells, so I surveyed the literature that characterize other delivery mechanisms, like adeno associated viruses and lipid nanoparticles. Lastly, I examined the intersection of CRISPR and cancer immunotherapy. Cancer immunotherapy, which aims to enhance one's immune response to cancer, has transformed the approach to and options for cancer treatment. CRISPR-Cas9 has helped discover new immunotherapy targets and enhance current therapeutics. This literature review provided me a greater understanding of the field of genome editing and helped me identify topics that I would like to conduct research on in graduate studies.  Noah Cheng '21 (Major: Biology; Minor: English Literature)

 Reuben Gelley Newman '21

This past summer, I worked on a poetry and research project funded by the English Department’s Morrell-Potter stipend. My initial plans involved working in the New York Public Library archives of the musician Arthur Russell and writing poetry inspired by his life and music. Due to the pandemic, however, I had to conduct my research digitally, and midway through the summer, I expanded my project to include a contemporary of Russell’s, Julius Eastman. Both musicians were part of the dynamic music scene in New York’s downtown during the 1970s and 80s. Examining my own relationship to their music, I developed a poetry book manuscript that delves into their musical innovations and fascinating lives. I’m particularly grateful to Professor Nathalie Anderson and fellow English major friends for their comments throughout the summer!  Reuben Gelley Newman '21 (Major: English Literature; Minor: Music)

 Nicole Liu '21​​​​​​

This summer, with the help and guidance of the English Department and the funding from Monroe C. Beardsley Research Fellowship and Internship, I interned remotely at the Los Angeles Review of Books. LARB is a multimedia, non-profit organization dedicated to, among many things, translating the rigor of traditional newspaper book reviews and long-form writing into the digital age. In the beginning of my internship, because I expressed my interest in LARB’s editorial process, my assigned mentors were editor-in-chief Boris Dralyuk and managing editor Medaya Ocher. Boris introduced me to LARB’s main website and the process of publishing articles there; Medaya showed me how LARB’s print publication, the LARB Quarterly Journal, was put together. Between these two mentors, I had the opportunity to reach out to and communicate with writers and intellectuals whom I’ve admired for a very long time (including, but not limited to, Terese Marie Mailhot, Ruth Ozeki, Julian Randall, & Megan Ward). I witnessed how an article transforms from a first draft into an edited, fact-checked, proof-read, formatted final product in print and on WordPress. As my internship progressed, I was also given the opportunity to work on different teams and projects. I helped out at LARB’s publishing workshop and listened to significant members of the publishing industry impart their wisdom and experience. I fact-checked and proof-read articles, one of which was written by Feminist Art Historian and recent Holberg Prize winner Griselda Pollock. I helped out on the production process for a thought-provoking series of Posthumanist essays and artworks curated by the Transformations of the Human project of the Berggruen Institute. I did outreach and research for the podcast production of LARB Radio Hour; one of the guests I helped invite and translate for was Yan Lianke, a prominent contemporary Chinese writer and a personal hero of mine. Throughout my internship, LARB’s editors were always warm, patient, and generous with their insight; my cohort of fellow interns were smart, kind, and frighteningly capable. Even with the chaos and uncertainty of the pandemic, I find my summer experience to be rewarding and full of joy.  Nicole Liu '21 (Major: English Literature; Minor: Chinese)

Elisabeth Miller '21

This summer I was awarded the Mellon Interdisciplinary Humanistic Summer grant to create a podcast about the events that took place during the spring of 2019 that ultimately led to the disbandment of fraternities at Swarthmore. I have conducted interviews with nearly forty different students and alumni about their various perspectives and the ways in which that semester impacted our campus. While this summer I was only able to conduct interviews and plan out the episodes of the series, I will continue to work on this project throughout the rest of the summer and fall. I plan to have seven episodes, with each focusing on a certain perspective on campus, such as student journalists and activists. The spring of 2019 was an incredibly difficult and triggering time for me, as it was for many members of our community. I wanted to see past my own experiences and learn more about what other students were feeling and how their various roles on campus affected their stories. I wanted to create a space for students to discuss their painful, contemplative, and hopeful takeaways from that time, as well as reflect on what we can do to thoughtfully move forward as a community and institution. So far, I think that I have achieved this, but we won’t know for sure until I’m finally ready to release the final project. My hope for this project is that it will be able to serve as an oral history that future students can access when they inevitably have questions about this important time in our school’s history.  Elisabeth Miller '21 (Majors: English Literature & History)

Erin Snoddy '21​​​​​​

This summer I worked with Professor David Cohen in the Physics & Astronomy Department. The main focus of the work was centered on the winds of massive star, mainly O stars, which are the hottest and most massive star types. The amount of mass lost by an O star wind over the course of the star’s lifetime can amount to a significant fraction of the star’s initial mass, thereby contributing to “evolutionary consequences”, which can affect the properties and fate of that star. My research group’s work this summer involved the use of x-ray spectroscopy and analytic and numerical modeling to measure the properties of the hot plasma in the winds.  Erin Snoddy '21 (Major: Astrophysics; Minor: English Literature)

Tiffany Wang '21​​​​​​

This summer I was able to begin doing research and conducting interviews for my honors history thesis. In the coming school year, I will be writing a thesis focused on the stories and experiences of Asian Peruvians and their relationships to broader identity formation as people living in Peru. As a third generation Chinese Taiwanese American whose mom was born in Brazil, I feel personally invested in uncovering histories and relationships of the Asian diaspora in South America. I have spoken with Peruvians of various generations of Asian descent now living in the US, China, and various cities in Peru. Moving forward, I hope to continue doing interviews as well as dive in more deeply to the concept of "Tusanaje," a unique identity crafted by Peruvians of Chinese descent and their efforts to connect with the larger Chinese diaspora. I hope to one day travel to Peru as originally planned to explore Lima Chinatown and visit in-person the many cultural centers about which I have learned through readings and interviews!  Tiffany Wang '21 (Major: History; Minors: English Literature & Spanish)

Yi Wei '21

This summer, I worked at the Los Angeles Review of Books, and specifically with their Publishing Workshop program uplifting fellows of color in a transparently white and broken publishing industry. Together with a small core team of a director and assistant director (both women of color in a mostly white staff), we facilitated the move of a rigorous five week fellowship program onto Zoom and Slack for the first time, focusing on building digital community and navigating pressing conversations about race, privilege, and compensation between fellows and other staff. Over the course of the summer, I formed close relationships with some of the other fellows working on innovative entrepreneurial and creative projects, inspiring speakers of color at the frontlines of reshaping what publishing, literature, and language means, and a meaningful and restorative core team. Because of the fluid and nonhierarchical structure of my internship, I was also able to tackle other projects like pitching and pulling Arundhati Roy for LARB Radio Hour (their podcast) and editorial work with BLARB (their online blog)! My final week, I worked with Irene and Sonia (the core team) to conceptualize what community outreach could look like at LARB; we brainstormed a free/donation based curriculum that would make literary resources housed in the nonprofit more accessible to a larger digital community. I'll be spending some time and energy supporting this work in the coming year.  Yi Wei '21 (Majors: English Literature & Asian American Studies)

 Abigail Young '21

This summer I worked on an independent research project which will inform my thesis for my French literature major. While I intended to extend my time studying abroad in France into the summer to conduct this research at the Archives d’Outre Mer in Aix-en-Provence, I ended up doing the work remotely using the Archives’ internet database. I searched through the documents from Martinique during France’s first colonial empire, particularly around the time of the French Revolution and Haitian Revolution, in order to contextualize the presence (or lack thereof) of slavery in the 1823 French novel Ourika written by Claire de Duras, which is about the experiences of a Black woman kidnapped from Senegal and raised in a white, wealthy household in France, who ultimately dies after realizing that she cannot marry her white adopted brother. Some of the most important documents I have examined are decrees restricting the ability of slaves and free people of color from carrying weapons and assembling due to the white ruling class’s fear of revolution and reactions to slave rebellions on the island. This research has particularly illuminated how the construction of race was (and still is!) inextricably intertwined with class and capitalism, and I intend to use these documents to support an intersectional post-colonial, Marxist, and feminist reading of the novel in my thesis.  Abigail Young '21 (Majors: French and Francophone Studies & English Literature)

2019 Summer Experiences