Faculty & Staff

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

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 ownedan 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. 

Anthony Foy

Peter Schmidt

William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English Literature

Peter Schmidt teaches U.S. literature at Swarthmore in the English Department, especially poetry and fiction of the 20th and 21st centuries. He’s written a book on the pediatrician-poet Dr. William Carlos Williams of New Jersey, and one on Mississippi writer Eudora Welty’s short stories. He’s also co-edited an anthology on postcolonial theory and U.S. literature, with a special focus on how debates about race, ethnicity, and class get played out in literary forms.

Since the 1980s he’s participated in Swarthmore’s Black Studies program. In his spare time he rides his bike to Delaware and back on hilly country roads, or into Philadelphia. He likes teaching because teachers are always learning something new. He’s excited to join the Swarthmore Summer Scholars team for 2018.

Cheryl Grood (Math)

Philip Everson
Professor of Statistics 

I majored in mathematics at Pomona College and completed a Ph.D. in statistics at Harvard University. After a temporary position in the Department of Statistics at Yale University, I joined Swarthmore College in 1996. I recently chaired the mathematics and statistics department and I now serve as the first-year placement advisor.

My research is in statistical methodology, with a particular interest in Bayesian methods. A probability model is a set of specific assumptions involving unknown constants called “parameters” that determine the probabilities of observing different data values. If you assume the model is exactly correct, it may still be a challenge to make appropriate inferences about the unknown parameters. Currently I am working on generalizations to logistic regression, which is a tool for estimating probabilities based on numeric explanatory variables. A simple example is estimating the probability that a randomly chosen person votes Republican (e.g.) as a function of his or her age. I look forward to describing exciting elements of mathematics and statistics as part of S3P!

Catherine Crouch

Lisa Meeden
Professor of Computer Science

I was a mathematics major at Grinnell College, and received a Ph.D. in computer science with a minor in cognitive science from Indiana University. As a math major I enjoyed learning how to write a clear and succinct proof, but when I discovered computer science I was fascinated with how a computer program is like a proof come to life. A program is like a proof that accomplishes something and can be executed again and again with different parameters to achieve different goals. At its core, computer science is about the art of problem solving, and I am eager to get the S3P students working on lots of interesting problems involving robots, graphics, and much more.

My research is in the broad areas of artificial intelligence and robotics. I am specifically interested in creating curious robots that go through a developmental process of adaptation, rather than being directly programmed to solve one particular task. By giving a robot the ability to learn and explore it can discover its own knowledge about how its body operates and how its actions change the world. Using this developmental approach in robotics may also help us to better understand how learning functions in animals and humans.

Past Professors

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