Faculty & Staff

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

Anthony Foy
Associate Professor of English Literature

I graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in English (and a concentration in American Literature) before earning my Ph.D. at Yale in American Studies. My current research focuses on the development of African American autobiography during the Jim Crow era and I teach courses on black autobiography, too; I also teach a range of courses involving African American literature from emancipation to the present, including an advanced course on black culture since the 1980s. 

At Swarthmore, I have been an active member of both the English Literature Department and the Black Studies Program and the enthusiastic coordinator of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program. As a professor, I have served as a mentor to students both formally and informally, and I have been committed to supporting the College’s efforts to be even more diverse and more accessible. For these reasons, I am especially honored—and excited!—to be working with S3P.


Cheryl Grood (Math)

Deb Bergstrand
Professor of Mathematics 

I completed my B.S. in mathematics at Allegheny College and my Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Illinois, Chicago. I have done research in graph theory and coding theory and my current interests are primarily in pedagogical writing. I love mathematics because it is beautiful, abstract, logical, and profound, and because it is essential to understanding and accomplishment in the sciences and other quantitative fields. These very same qualities can also make studying math frustrating and difficult, especially when the ideas and techniques become much more complex as they do in college. Success in math at any level requires struggle, practice, acknowledging confusion, and working through failure. I want to guide S3P students as they explore new mathematical ideas, strengthen fundamental skills, and gain the confidence and maturity they need to reach their academic goals.


Catherine Crouch

Catherine Crouch
Associate Professor of Physics

I studied physics and chemistry at Williams College. After college, I spent a year working in an urban community development organization in southern California, providing support to the after-school and summer programs for neighborhood children living in the community. I then returned to an academic setting, earning my Ph.D. in physics at Harvard University. I spent several years as a postdoctoral researcher evaluating methods for teaching introductory physics, including studying the impact of teaching methods on the success of women and underrepresented groups in physics courses.

Since my arrival at Swarthmore in 2003, I have continued research in both the evaluation of undergraduate science education and biological physics and I enjoy working on projects with Swarthmore students in both areas. My teaching ranges from introductory physics for engineers and life science students to quantum mechanics and biological physics for physics majors. In my teaching, I seek to get to know my students and help them develop as individual learners and problem solvers in ways that will benefit them after my class is over. I treasure the privilege of knowing and interacting with so many amazing students, and I am looking forward to that opportunity as I begin teaching in the 2016 Swarthmore Summer Scholars Program.


David Cohen

David Cohen
Professor of Astronomy

When I was young, I loved looking at the sky and reading books about the universe, how it works, and where it - and we - came from. I struggled in physics class in high school, and thought I would never be able to really study the scientific questions I wanted to know the answers to. I went to college and didn't take a science class until my second year, when I took an astronomy class that focused on the history as well as the science of astronomy. My professor offered me a job as a research assistant. Working with a group of people attempting to be the first to discover planets around other stars (we did not succeed) showed me that same wonder and awe that I'd experienced as a child. It also showed me how important it is to study and work with people who share your passion.

I love teaching astronomy and doing research with students at Swarthmore - sharing my love of the night sky, the regularity and also variety of the universe, and of the disciplined work it takes to become expert at something. I'm excited about sharing these things with the S3P students I'll be working with this summer and throughout their time at Swarthmore.

At Swarthmore I teach all levels of astronomy, with a special focus on stars. I do research, along with my students, on the most massive stars in the galaxy using mostly orbiting X-ray telescopes. We also use the 24-inch telescope on the roof of the science center to discover and study exoplanets: planets around other stars - the ones I was trying, and failing, to discover when I was in college.