My Swat Story: Professor of Biology Amy Cheng Vollmer
Swarthmore’s Quaker Roots Are Important to Her
“The reason to be an educated person is not to simply achieve and do good, but to share that knowledge and the application of that knowledge with as many people as you can, particularly those for whom the opportunity has not been available. Why else would you go out on a limb and be part of the Underground Railroad helping slaves escape?
“The Quakers were devoted to the abolitionist cause and placed themselves in danger to protect others. There is risk-taking there that I would like people to understand. The activism that we support on campus comes from a deeper place than just what’s fashionable, and the basis for that activism came from scholarship and the writings that the Quakers did regarding the ethics of using other humans as slaves.”
She Believes the College Lives in Its Students
“I have often said to prospective students who visit the campus that the greatest asset of the College is not the endowment, not the faculty, not the beautiful grounds we have, not the buildings, but their peer group, the other students. Those are the people from whom you learn the most.
“The richness of the College is reflected best in them, who they are, what they do, how they interact, when they’re here as well as what they do with their lives when they leave. I’ve been here long enough to have lots and lots of former students out there who are now into a stable part of their professional life and are doing remarkable things.”
She Sees Food as a Unifying Force
“My husband is a chef, so I enjoy learning about food. I certainly enjoy trying new foods, but I’m more fascinated by the role it has in culture and in families and how it can often bring people together. I’m also interested in the emotional connection, the important memories that surround food, and why the kitchen is an important room in almost any family setting.”