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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. 

 
Ben Geller

Ben Geller, Interim Director
Assistant Professor of Physics

I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, a child of parents from New York City who left to raise a family in a small town. I was and am a passionate sports fan, whose favorite teams always let me down but never stop me from believing the next year will be different. My dad is a lawyer who spent his entire career working for Legal Services, providing voice and representation to low income folks and those who are most vulnerable. Those values were instilled in me from an early age and now inform my teaching and research. I am a Swarthmore alum, having graduated from the college with a degree in Chemistry in 2001.

As an undergraduate I was fascinated by almost every subject I studied and felt like they were all connected. I wrote a paper about the similarities between quantum mechanics and Buddhist philosophy, and another exploring what genetics had to say about ethics. Picking a major was a challenge and I changed my mind a few times along the way. After college I did a master’s degree in the Philosophy of Physics at Columbia University, spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar in the U.K, and ultimately pursued and obtained a Ph.D. in Physics. It’s been a winding path, but the strand that runs through all of it is the liberal arts commitment to seeing the natural sciences and humanities as deeply connected. I do Physics Education Research, a field of study that explores all aspects of how students learn science, and physics in particular. I’m interested in how not just thoughts and ideas, but also attitudes and emotions, play such an important role in how we learn math and science. It is also research that directly informs my teaching. I am continually trying to make my classroom a more interactive and engaging space in which all students can learn deeply. I’m excited to share some of my experiences and learn from everyone involved in the Summer Scholars Program!

 

Summer of 2022 Faculty

Carr Everbach

Carr Everbach
Professor of Engineering

I grew up in a leafy, dominantly white suburb of a southern town with a macho culture that was not very intellectual.  As a smallish, unathletic, and nerdy kid, I was picked on by bullies and found solace with a handful of friends who were similarly outcast.  I also became a social critic and longed for a different, more egalitarian, environment. This I found in college in the northeastern US, where my intellectual journey led me through pre-law, English Literature, Psychology, Philosophy, Physics, and finally, Engineering.  As a passionate amateur musician and composer, I blended my love of physics and music in a self-defined Acoustics major, then worked for two years for a small acoustics consulting firm in Boston after college.  During that time, I had an epiphany that I should pursue a PhD in acoustics, which I did subsequently in a Mechanical Engineering program that acquainted me with Biomedical Ultrasound.  It was in graduate school that I had my second epiphany, that I wanted to teach at a small liberal arts college instead of at a big research university, and I was lucky enough to land a tenure-track position at Swarthmore.  

At Swarthmore since 1990, I have played nearly every semester in the Wind Ensemble and/or Orchestra, participated in the founding and running of the Environmental Studies program, become involved in campus sustainability efforts, and taught courses in Engineering, Environmental. Studies, and even Gender and Sexuality Studies.  I treasure the fact that Swarthmore allows me to interact across a wide range of areas with wonderful, interesting students and colleagues.  I feel that my responsibility is to make the world a better place, and that the best way I can do that is through my students.  I want to be a partner in making them the best, most effective innovators and agents of change that they can be.

 
Phil Everson

Phillip Everson
Professor of Statistics

I grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota and I attended Pomona College, which is a lot like Swarthmore College, only in Southern California. I majored in Mathematics with an emphasis in Statistics. I went straight from Pomona to a Statistics PhD program at Harvard University, where I discovered a passion for teaching. After graduating Harvard I spent one year teaching in the Department of Statistics at Yale University before moving to Swarthmore in Fall 1996. 

Statistics is a distinct field from Mathematics but it makes extensive use of probability and other math concepts. My research interest is in statistics methodology, specifically for Bayesian hierarchical models. Investigators collect data values to try to answer important questions and they often assume a probability model for how the data values occurred. Complicated models have many unknown parameter values to be estimated from the data and my research focuses on this step: assuming the model is correct, how do we estimate the model parameters and answer the questions of interest? This makes me more of a theoretical statistician because I focus on the model rather than on actual data - I leave it to the applied statisticians to decide whether a particular model is appropriate for their data (although fitting the model is a necessary step in deciding). This also allows me to work with "fun'' data. I played football and rugby at Pomona and I'm a fan of sports in general, so I like to use sports data to demonstrate my inference procedures and software. I have served as an editor for sports journals and I chaired the section on Statistics in Sports for the American Statistical Association.

At Swarthmore I teach the probability and mathematical statistics sequence (Stat 51, Stat 61 and Stat 111). I've noticed that even our strongest math and science students are often a bit rusty on some important pre-calculus concepts such as logarithms and exponential functions. I enjoyed the opportunity in S3P to spend time reviewing these basic but crucial concepts and I look forward to another good session this Summer.

 
Joseph Derrick Nelson

Joseph Derrick Nelson
Associate Professor of Educational and Black Studies

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Studies at Swarthmore College, and affiliated faculty with the Black Studies Program, and the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. I am also a Senior Research Fellow with the School Participatory Action Research Collaborative—a race and gender equity institute at the University of Pennsylvania. As a sociologist of education, my research employs interdisciplinary frameworks to examine two interrelated fields of inquiry: (1) race, boyhood, and education, and (2) identity, culture, and school reform. For the last eight years, my research has been situated within learning environments that largely serve Black students from neighborhoods with concentrated poverty. Prior to Swarthmore, I held postdoctoral fellowships with the Ford Foundation, and the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation. In the high-poverty neighborhood where I grew-up in Milwaukee, I taught first-grade in a single-sex class of Black boys.

I am the Co-Founder and a Co-Principal Investigator of The Listening Project: Fostering Curiosity and Connection in Middle Schools with Dr. Niobe Way and other faculty at New York University. Funded by the Lyle-Spencer Foundation, this three-year project involves partnerships with eight middle schools throughout New York City, where students and teachers are trained on a method of “Transformative Interviewing” (Way & Nelson, 2018). The goal is to re-ignite curiosity, listening, and connection among students, teachers, and parents, and in order to counteract dehumanizing stereotypes that often permeate middle school cultures. 

 

Past Professors

Summer of 2021 Faculty
Tim Burke, Professor of History
Ben Geller, Assistant Professor of Physics
Bradley Davidson, Professor and Biology Department Chair

Summer of 2020 Faculty
Betsy Bolton, Professor of English Literature
Ralph Gomez, Associate Professor of Mathematics
Kathleen Howard, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

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

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

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
Anthony Foy, Associate Professor of English Literature
Deb Bergstrand, Professor of Mathematics and Statistics
Catherine Crouch, Associate Professor of Physics
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