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Swarthmore Social Innovators

Social Innovation Lab Associates 

The Social Innovation Lab Associates assist the Lab's faculty and staff with space management, help fulfill training needs, and work on individualized projects in the social innovation space. Take a look below to meet the students and learn a bit more about the projects they work on. 

Fall 2021 Associates

Ed Tranter '22: Edward Tranter is majoring in Political Science with a double minor in Economics and Philosophy at Swarthmore College. (Go Garnet!) He became involved with the International Student program at Swarthmore as a freshman and then became president of the ambassadors for the program in his sophomore year. As a SILA, Ed designed and developed a Design Thinking workshop and materials for Lang Center's CoLab - focusing on tailoring the design thinking methodology for students hoping to make the leap fron ideation to prototyping of their ideas. 

Deepshikha (Shikha) Shrestha '24: A sophomore from Nepal, Shikha is a prospective  major in Economics and Statistics. Outside of academics, she enjoys playing violin, watching historical documentaries, and baking.  Her work as a Social Innovation Lab Associate involves delving deep into the theft of cultural artifacts of Nepal. She is working on an impact gap analysis to better understand why this problem has persisted for the past 60 years.

Khaliun Enkhbayar '24 : From a frequent hospital visitor to an active player in the healthcare scene, Khaliun is a sophomore student from Mongolia hoping to bring sustainable change to the healthcare system through technology and social innovation. As a double major in Medical Anthropology and Economics, she is to view health in all of its spectrum - cultural, societal, political, and economic. As a Social Innovation Lab Associate at the Lang Center, Khaliun is working on identifying gaps in healthcare and environmental injustice in Mongolia, subsequently designing a project to help address these gaps. 

Yilin Ye '23: Yilin is a junior at Swarthmore, double majoring in Sociology & Anthropology and Film & Media studies. It has always been Yilin's goal to learn deeper about certain issues or areas, listen from different perspectives, understand and empathize with other people, and spread awareness if possible. Because of the seminar “Development and Discontent” Yilin took with Prof. Schutze and her own personal experience in Ninglang, Yunnan, China, she was particularly interested in the dilemma caused by the development project there. As a Social Innovation Lab Associate, she is focusing on the benefit and cost of development & poverty elimination projects that were launched in China during the recent years. 

Lifelong Learning Series, Spring 2021 - "Towards an Economy of Distributive Justice"

In Spring Semester 2021, Social Innovation Lab Associates (SILAs) will be partnering with the Lifelong Learning Series to assist in the "application of knowledge to need".   Over the course of 8 weeks, our SILAs will be gathering the comments, ideas and proposals generated by the class and capture them on a Mural Board; an online collaborative whiteboard platform that fosters team work in the digital space.   After the weekly brainstorms, SILAs will cluster and analysis the data and work with class participants to organize and engage in action.

The SILA Lifelong Learning team:

Nelson Dufitimana '24: Nelson is a huge fan of non-fiction books who is always eager to learn something new. He is a Rwandan citizen committed to giving back to his community through striving for equity in education, especially for the unprivileged. Although not yet decided, Nelson intends to major in Computer Science and Economics. At Swarthmore, he is a member of LaunchDek, Swarthmore’s largest Entrepreneurship and Technology club, and the International Students Club. As a life-long goal, he hopes to use his skills to be a leader in innovation.

Mikayla Purnell ’22: Mikayla Purnell (she/ her) is a junior from Newark, DE, majoring in Black Studies and Economics. Mikayla is deeply interested in studying intersectional movements that strive for economic liberation and self determination. Last year, she primarily engaged with the Social Innovation Lab since enrolling in Social Innovation for Peace with Professor Denise Crossan. In this course, Purnell studied land ownership in Colombia for Afro and Indigenous communities. It has inspired her to continually question how we can build a world that is truly based on communal economic principles and abundance for everyone. She is excited to join the Lifelong Learning Series as a SILA because she wants to participate in the movement toward economic justice.

Sharon Hu ‘21: Sharon is a New York native studying computer science, psychology, and environmental studies. She’s heavily involved with Swarthmore’s Tech for Social Good chapter, which was actually founded right in the Social Innovation Lab! This semester, Sharon will be assisting the Social Innovation Lab with the Lifelong Learning classes.


Alan Beltran Lara ’23: Alan is a member of the class of 2023, a political science major, and a proud FLI student. He is passionate about connecting to and helping communities with what they most need as well as finding ways to help students actualize the same goals for themselves. On-campus he is involved with the Lang Center as a public health LCA and is a part of various FLI and immigrant-oriented groups, including Questbridge and Swatties for Immigrant Rights. He has interests in medicine and public health, politics, international affairs, technology, global health, and global cooperation. When not working or studying, Alan likes to watch movies, listen to music, take a long walk or jog, or try just about any hobby as long as it involves spending time with friends.


Tinashe Maparura ‘23: Tinashe is an international student from Zimbabwe who seeks to use his unique experiences at Swarthmore to contribute to the spread of access to the resources available at the Social Innovation Lab. Using skills acquired as a Computer Science major, he hopes to learn about current and future systems that bridge the gap between education and community development. In his spare time, he enjoys reading novels as well as listening to and dissecting music and film pieces.

Zoe Januzzi '22: As part of Prof. Crossan's engaged scholarship course, PEAC060 Social Innovation for Peace, last year, Zoe traveled to Northern Ireland to learn about how social innovation can be used as a meaningful tool for peacebuilding. Her team collaborated with local partners to propose a peace prototype idea, "Beads for Peace", which  allows youth to run a 3D bead printing business that tells the "Day in the Life" stories of youth living in conflict zones.  While in N. Ireland, Zoe's team was struck by the needs of young people their age, victims of the legacy of the conflict, who were out of education, employment, or training (this group is often referred to as NEETS).  They also were interested in the opportunities that the FabLab and digital literacy training might present for this group if delivered in a sensitive and responsive way. 

Zoe will be spending this semester working on building out the Beads for Peace idea further. 

Bereketab Abeje '23 & Matiwos Mebratu '21: Bereketab and Matiwos spent the Fall 2020 semester designing and developing an affordable version of a contact tracer - a small beeper-like device that functions with a bluetooth module. They aspire to create a solution that gives healthcare providers in developing countries an efficient way of contact tracing. With these beeper-like devices, through bluetooth/ near field communication and through registering the specific and unique reference numbers associated with each of the devices, healthcare providers will be able to access the list of people that have come in close contact with a patient.

Mwangangi Kalii '23: Mwangangi served as a SIL Sr. Associate Fall 2020, available as a peer resource for students seeking to engage with the Social Innovation Lab. For the past year, he has been working on a project that is aimed at addressing Food Insecurity, and the impact of hunger and starvation in Kasaala--a rural area in the arid South East of Kenya.

SILA Alumni

Christopher Gaeta

Erin Cronin, Class of 2022
During the 2019-20 academic year, Erin worked on a social enterprise which produces funds that will go towards ending "academic hazing" on college campuses by providing fun activities for students as well as providing workshops for professors!



Christopher Gaeta

Christopher Gaeta, Class of 2022
Chris assisted Steve Schwartz ’84 with expansion and research efforts for Africa Fire Mission (AFM). This project affords the opportunity to bridge didactic coursework that the Lang Center has offered through seminars and partners both on our campus and in the greater community. Through collaborating with leaders in AFM, Chris will primarily center work on forming relationships with peer organizations, researching pertinent case studies to enhance operations , in addition to implementing Design Thinking practices and the Social Business Model Canvas skill sets to this project. 


Katie Knox

Katie Knox, Class of 2021
Katie worked on Swarthmore's Civic Engagement Map, later called the Engaged Scholarship Map. The Map is designed to track social innovation projects across campus, and connect social innovators to community partners and other folks interested in innovation.


Natasha Markov-Riss

Natasha Markov-Riss, Class of 2020
As member of Vertigo-go, Swarthmore's improv comedy group, Natasha believd there is a natural connection between VGG and SIL: in different ways, both are about innovation, collaboration, and creativity. Natasha worked to facilitate a partnership between the two groups, whether it is holding practices in the SIL (4 hours per week), or using the space for workshops. 

Hussain Zaidi

Hussain Zaidi, Class of 2022
Hussain's project centered around working with the Global Health Forum to allow Swarthmore students creating health-related community-based projects to brainstorm and create innovative solutions to pressing issues in the realm of global health using resources available within the SILab. 

Campus Social Innovators Community

The Social Innovation Lab has offered its space, expertise, and support to a number of other faculty, staff and student groups and associations, in particular:

The Dean of Student's Division

The President's Sustainability Research Fellowship program

The University Innovation Fellows program, Stanford

The Center for Innovation and Leadership / SwatTank

This year, the Social Innovation Lab intends to expand services across campus and beyond, and is currently developing partnerships with external organizations who would like to collaborate on Design Thinking, Social Innovation, and Social Entrepreneurship related projects.  If you are interested in learning more, please contact Prof. Denise Crossan or Nimesh Ghimire '15.