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Faculty & Staff

The Swarthmore Summer Scholars Program (S3P) is driven by challenging academics with direct instruction from three Swarthmore professors. 

Each summer, the lab science subject itself rotates among the departments in Natural Sciences and Engineering at the College. Our focus is not the subject content; rather, we want to give students the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art equipment and to learn techniques in a setting where following protocols, trial and error, and working collaboratively, are an integral part of the process. Students interested in any STEM field will benefit from this experience. 


Amy Vollmer

Amy Vollmer
Isaac H. Clothier Jr. Professor of Biology

I completed my B.A. in Biochemistry at Rice University and my Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. After my post-doctoral research in immunology at Stanford Medical School, I spent four years as a member of the Biology Department at Mills College, a liberal arts women’s college in Oakland, Calif. Since 1989, I have been a faculty member at Swarthmore College and currently serve as biology department chair. I teach courses in microbiology, biotechnology, as well as in the introductory sequence. My approach to teaching is to be interactive with students, even in large lecture courses, and to have students develop an awareness of their specific learning styles and of metacognition in general. 

My research focuses in the area of bacterial stress response and I have mentored over 70 undergraduate students with whom I have co-authored and co-presented their work. I have been invited to colleges, universities, and professional conferences to gives lectures on my research, teaching, mentoring, networking, and work-life balance, along with promoting science literacy. Actively involved in the American Society for Microbiology for many years, in 2006, I was the recipient of the Carski Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award from the ASM’s American Academy for Microbiology.  

As a first-generation Asian American, who grew up in Kansas City, Mo., I am keenly aware of feeling like an ‘outsider’ in many circumstances.  As the former co-owner of a small business owner (my husband and I owned an Italian deli), I am also sensitive to distinctions between working class and professional career demands. Given my 30-year experience in the classroom and laboratory, and my commitment to increasing both access to and success in STEM majors at Swarthmore to a diversely trained cohort, I was proud to be a member of the inaugural core group of faculty members in the 2015 Swarthmore Summer Scholars Program and honored to be the director of the S3P beginning in fall 2017.  Teaching in S3P was the best teaching experience I have had, being inspired and energized by the students!  I look forward to involving more of my faculty colleagues to be a part of the program. 


Summer of 2020 Faculty

Betsy Bolton

Betsy Bolton
Professor and English Department Chair

I grew up as one of four kids raised by a single mom who often worried about getting food on the table and keeping the lights on. At Middlebury College, I majored in English. I was scared of the library, so I did my work-study shifts in the dining hall cleaning tables and dishes—and dealing with rude classmates. After working as a technical writer, an educational consultant, and a management consultant to pay off student loans, I missed talking about books with people my own age, so I went to Yale University for a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature.

I’ve taught courses on Romantic literature, food novels, the short story, poetry and fiction workshops, and workshops that connect creative writing with environmental topics. I’m fascinated by the different ways people learn, and I’m always working to adapt class material to student needs and interests. I’ve also been lucky enough to be a Fulbright scholar twice, once in Morocco and once in Bhutan (Fulbright is a US government educational exchange program and a form of public diplomacy.)  Writing has opened up so many opportunities for me. I'm looking forward to sharing some of those opportunities and learning more from everyone participating in the Summer Scholars program! 


Ralph Gomez

Ralph Gomez
Associate Professor of Mathematics 

I grew up just outside of Fresno, in the central valley of California. I came from a low-income background and was the first in my family to attend college. We never discussed the idea of going to college in my household. It was only a concept one saw on television. Unsure of what to do after high school, I enrolled in the local community college where I became very attracted to math and science. I transferred to UC Santa Cruz where I earned a BA in mathematics. Subsequently, I earned an MA in applied math at UCSC.  Once I finished at UCSC, I taught for a year at the very community college where I started. Then, I went to the University of New Mexico where I earned my PhD in mathematics in 2008.

My area of research is in differential geometry, especially as it relates to ideas in theoretical physics. Roughly speaking differential geometry is a branch of mathematics that uses powerful generalizations of calculus to understand the shape of different kinds of spaces.

I am very excited to share with you some of the fantastically beautiful aspects of mathematics and their relationship to the sciences. 


Kathleen Howard

Kathleen Howard
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Kathleen Howard teaches courses and runs a research group in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Swarthmore College.  She has taught across the curriculum with a focus on physical chemistry.  She loves fun science demonstrations and learning how chemistry can explain everyday phenomenon.  Enthusiastic about outreach, Kathleen has worked with middle school children for many years at part of Swarthmore College’s Science for Kids program.  Her research specialty uses light to probe the properties of matter - a group of techniques referred to as spectroscopy.  Spectroscopy can be thought of as the “eyes of chemistry” and enables scientists to look at individual molecules, learn about their structures and figure out how they interact with other molecules.  She focuses on a subset of spectroscopic methods that require placing samples into strong magnetic fields.  Her group is currently working on two proteins that are essential to how influenza infections spread.  Kathleen grew up as part of a large family on Long Island NY.  She graduated from Princeton University with a major in Chemistry, completed a Ph.D. in Biophysical Chemistry from Yale and did a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.  She currently lives in Swarthmore with her husband and two children. 


Past Professors

Summer of 2019 Faculty
Philip Everson, Professor of Statistics
Peter Schmidt, Professor of English Literature
Matt Zucker, Associate Professor of Engineering

Summer of 2018 Faculty
Philip Everson, Professor of Statistics
Lisa Meeden, Professor of Computer Science
Peter Schmidt, Professor of English Literature

Summer of 2017 Faculty
Anthony Foy, Associate Professor of English Literature
Deb Bergstrand, Professor of Mathematics
Catherine Crouch, Associate Professor of Physics
David Cohen, Professor of Astronomy

Summer of 2016 Faculty
Deb Bergstrand, Professor of Mathematics and Statistics
Catherine Crouch, Associate Professor of Physics
Anthony Foy, Associate Professor of English Literature
Frank Moscatelli, Professor Emeritus of Physics

Summer of 2015 Faculty
Jill Gladstein, Associate Professor of English
Cheryl Grood, Professor of Mathematics
Amy Cheng Vollmer, Professor of Biology