Skip to main content

How I Spent My Swarthmore Summer

Even without the majority of students around, Swarthmore still buzzed with activity this summer. From camps and clinics to renovations and research, here are some highlights from campus life over the summer months.

Connecting the Liberal Arts

Students use microscope for biological imaging

From left: Megan Strachan ’21, a computer science major from Medford, N.J.; Yifan Yan ’22, of Shanghai, China; and Nora Blodgett ’22, of Flagstaff, Ariz., collaborated this summer in Maxine Frank Singer '52 Hall on techniques to improve microscopes for biological and medical imaging. Along with Assistant Professor of Engineering Vidya Ganapati, the team used deep learning to determine the best illumination pattern for imaging purposes, allowing the microscope to take better pictures in less time.

Abigail Diebold '20 and Professor Carol Nackenoff discuss gerrymandering

Carol Nackenoff, Richter Professor of Political Science, and Abigail Diebold ’20, an honors political science major from Portland, Ore., collaborated this summer through a summer grant in the Social Sciences Division. Among Diebold’s experiences was co-authoring a paper in the Supreme Court Annual ’19 on the partisan redistricting case Rucho v. Common Cause.

Swarthmore student Shira Samuels-Shragg ’20 presents on learning music notation

Shira Samuels-Shragg ’20, a music major from Tarzana, Calif., talked about working with music lecturer Andrew Hauze ’04 on how to study a musical score, including how to listen and notate. She performed Mendelssohn’s quartet for a conductor event in New York City in mid-July.

Social Impact

Amit Schwalb ’17 facilitates thinking about cancer biology in the Science for Kids (SFK) Workshop

Amit Schwalb ’17 facilitates thinking about cancer biology in the Science for Kids Workshop in mid-July. He and Jesse Lepkowski (both teachers in the School District of Philadelphia, at W.B. Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences) led the workshop for middle-school-age youth who are also members of the Chester Children’s Chorus. Seven summer research students from the natural sciences served as teaching assistants for the workshop, whose content was an adaptation of Associate Professor of Biology Brad Davidson’s National Science Foundation-funded research.

Chester Children's Chorus members present science research

A wealth of fascinating topics were explored (and explained!) at the annual Science for Kids poster session. The event was the culmination of a five-week summer program for students in the Chester Children’s Chorus that included swimming, reading, music, robotics, biology, and engineering with the guidance of Swarthmore faculty, students, staff, and alumni.

Inclusive Community

Swarthmore Summer Scholar Program participant presents engineering research

Participants in the Swarthmore Summer Scholars Program presented research at a poster session in Eldridge Commons. The program is designed to support admitted Swarthmore students who have an interest in STEM fields and are the first in their family to attend college, come from a low-income background, or belong to a traditionally underrepresented group.

Swarthmore Summer Scholar Program participant presents engineering research

Members of the community celebrated the season together on Parrish Beach at the Summer Soirée with hot dogs, cool drinks, and sweet treats.

Vital Spaces

"Farewell Hicks Hall" hangs on fence outside of Hicks

Demolition of Hicks Hall took place this summer to make way for phase two of Singer Hall, beginning with the careful removal of the exterior stone, which will be salvaged for reuse in future projects. The building’s murals, painted by James Egleson ’29, are being stored in Old Tarble.

Maxine Frank Singer '52 Hall under construction

With the completion of phase one of the construction of Singer Hall, members of the Engineering Department moved in, and some laboratories and other programs of biology and psychology also made the transition.

Swarthmore's Mertz Hall under renovation

Mertz Hall is undergoing its first comprehensive renovation since it opened in 1981. Taking place over two summers, this much-needed work to renovate the building’s envelope and replace its core systems is ambitious in pace and scope, and also necessary for the building to reopen this fall.

Read about Swarthmore’s impact on the local and global community and plans for the physical campus at

Submissions Welcome

The Communications Office invites all members of the Swarthmore community to share videos, photos, and story ideas for the College's website. Have you seen an alum in the news? Please let us know by writing