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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, Director
Associate 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 2023 Faculty

photo of Sibelan Forrester

Sibelan Forrester
Professor of Russian, Russian Section Head 

I was the oldest of four kids, and my big things were riding my one-speed bicycle around town and singing in a wonderful children's choir founded by Dr. Eileen Cline (look her up!). I never played sports (poor vision), but did a lot of reading (good town library), hiking and knitting. I grew up in a college town (Boulder, CO), mostly white but with a large Hispanic and also significant East Asian populations. My single-parent mother ran a daycare center in our house to support her children, and I had to do babysitting to pay for things like shampoo, but I got a nice educational background in high school. When I went off to college, I was going to major in French, and I wanted to study Arabic too because my high school French teacher (from Morocco) said it was a beautiful language. When I got to Bryn Mawr College, there was no Arabic class, so I signed up for Russian as a kind of placeholder. I loved it so much--both the systematic grammar and the amazing poetry--that I got totally sucked in, went right ahead to graduate school, taught for five years at Oberlin College, and then came to Swarthmore in 1994.

My academic specialties are Russian poetry, women writers, folklore, and theory and practice of translation; I've published a lot of fiction, poetry, and scholarly prose in translation from Croatian, Russian, Serbian and Ukrainian. Plus studies of various translation issues and works of poetry, folklore, and science/speculative fiction. I also run a monthly poetry reading series in a town nearby. At Swarthmore I teach both language and literature classes, and I love working with writers of all kinds. 

photo of Cheryl Grood

Cheryl Grood
Professor of Mathematics and Statistics

Cheesy but true story: I have wanted to teach mathematics since I was ten years old. I grew up in the Midwest and went to college at the University of Michigan. Although I was the only woman in many of my mathematics classes and struggled mightily with impostor syndrome, I nonetheless persevered, in large part because of a network of supportive mentors and peers. I went on to earn my Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin and landed at Swarthmore College right after that, where I am thrilled to be living my childhood dream.

Making mathematical communities more accessible, welcoming, and inclusive has been a goal throughout my career. I designed and piloted our department's pi-rate peer mentor program, which created more robust support for students early in the calculus sequence, and I brought the nationally-successful Emerging Scholars Program to Swarthmore in the form of Math 15SP. I am proud to count myself among the group of four founding S3P faculty who worked from 2013 to 2015 to propose, develop, establish, and run this program, and I taught the mathematics portion in its inaugural summer.

I will be teaming up with Math/Stat Academic Support Coordinator Laura Dandridge to bring this summer's scholars a taste of the beauty and power of mathematics. I am so excited to return to the program and work with another amazingly-talented, wonderful cohort of students!

Lisa Meeden

Lisa Meeden
Professor of Computer Science

I grew up in Ames, Iowa where my dad was a professor of Statistics at Iowa State University. I did my undergraduate studies at a small, liberal arts college in Iowa called Grinnell College, which reminds me a lot of Swarthmore College. I was a Math major, but also took all of the Computer Science courses that were offered at the time. I liked doing proofs, but I loved writing programs, which to me seemed like a proof that had concrete consequences.

In college, I ran track and did the sprints, which were in yards back than rather than in meters as they are now. I ran the 100, 220, and 440 yard dashes. I also learned how to play ultimate frisbee out on the field by the dining hall. When I went to graduate school for Computer Science at Indiana University, I co-founded the first women's ultimate team there called Calamity Jane.

I started at Swarthmore College in 1994, so in 2023 I will be beginning my 30th year at the College. Time has flown by! I was only the second computer scientist at the College, and today the department has grown to 11 full-time faculty. My research focuses on artificial intelligence, and specifically on creating robots that are curious, and learn in an open-ended way.

I have continued to play ultimate at the club, masters, grand masters, and great grand masters levels. In the past 5 years I've also started coaching ultimate at our local high school and for the Philadelphia area's under-17 girls youth club.

One of the great things about ultimate is that it is self-refereed and is governed by a concept known as "spirit of the game". The idea is that we should respect our opponents, know the rules, and adhere to them, never purposefully fouling another player. Maybe we can play some ultimate this summer!


Past Professors

Summer of 2022 Faculty
Joseph Derrick Nelson, Associate Professor of Educational and Black Studies
Philip Everson, Professor of Mathematics and Statistics
Carr Everbach, Professor of Engineering and Environmental Studies

Summer of 2021 Faculty
Tim Burke, Professor of History
Ben Geller, Associate Professor of Physics
Bradley Davidson, Professor of Biology

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

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

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

Summer of 2017 Faculty
Anthony Foy, Associate Professor of English Literature
Deb Bergstrand, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Statistics
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 Emeritus 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 Emeritus of Biology