Students Offer Slice of Summer Research

While it may be nearly two months until the next academic year begins, Swarthmore’s academic spirit is not in short supply this summer.

On Friday, all students participating in on-campus summer research were invited to a pizza lunch in Cornell Science Library. The gathering aimed to create a space where students could share their interests with others who may be researching something completely different, said Nabil Kashyap, librarian for digital initiatives and scholarship, who helped organized the event.

"Everyone is in their own little silos," added co-organizer Andrea Baruzzi, a science librarian, "and because the libraries are the place where everyone comes together, why not have an event like this?”

The goal was to mix formal and informal presentations to create a laid-back atmosphere, encouraging students to interact and share with one another. By all accounts, the organizers succeeded.

The event began with a gentle dash for pizza. While everyone ate, Kashyap and Baruzzi set up screens asking the group questions about their research. Students responded via their cellphones, and the answers were displayed for the group to see. Legitimate responses quickly became jokes and memes (who knew "Gucci Gang" was such a popular research topic?), but that also contributed to a space where students could "let off some steam," Kashyap said. Once everyone had their fill of pizza, semiformal "lightning talks" began.

Here's a taste of the summer research Swarthmore students are up to on campus, as presented at the lunch:

  • Tai Warner '19, a linguistics and computer science major from Seattle, on a Swarthmore Projects for Educational Exploration and Development (SPEED) project facilitating the speech-to-text process for lectures to increase accessibility
  • David Robinson '19, a mathematics and physics honors major from Tucker, Ga., on dark matter and dark energy
  • Rebecca Regan '19, an English literature honors major from Buffalo, N.Y., on a SPEED project creating a digital visualization of the library’s collection
  • Calla Bush St. George '20, a biology honors major from Philadelphia, on reactions in mutant strains of E. coli
  • Elyse O’Bannon '20, a religion major from Dallas, on Hoodoo books and their historical use in black communities
  • Lizzy Stant '19, a neuroscience special major from Dover, Del., on the impact of a protein in pain responses in fruit-fly larvae
  • Ziv Stern '20, a linguistics honors major from The Bronx, N.Y., on how the mouth makes different sounds, focusing on Kyrgyz vowels
  • Kyle Vu '19, an economics major from Reading, Pa., on a SPEED project creating a real-time visualization of Swarthmore’s environmental footprint
  • Jerry Gu '19, an engineering major from Ellicott City, Md., on creating a wearable bioimpedance spectroscopy system
  • Guinevere Mesh '19, an art and biology major from Pleasantville, N.Y., on a SPEED project publishing the oral histories of alums who were involved in activist projects
  • Karen Avila '20 of New York, N.Y., did not present, but her work with Professor Edwin Mayorga can be found here.