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A Culture of Care
Read Smith’s plans for the fall 2020 semester
and the college’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Summer Science & Engineering Program

July 5–August 1, 2020

A student working in a lab
 

Now in its 31st year, the Smith Summer Science and Engineering Program (SSEP) is a four-week residential program for exceptional young women with strong interests in science and engineering. You will engage in hands-on research with Smith faculty in life and physical sciences and in engineering. Accepting young women entering grades 9, 10, 11, 12 in fall 2020.


Important COVID-19 Information

Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, the Office of Precollege Programs is closed this summer beginning on May 30th. We look forward to connecting with everyone in the fall and remain hopeful that we can begin planning for the summer 2021 Precollege Programs. 

April 15, 2020—Smith College and the Smith College COVID-19 Response Team announced today that on-campus summer programs will not be running in 2020. Smith Precollege Programs are canceled for summer 2020. We will not be offering a digital program. For more information, please visit this page

Established in 1990, the SSEP annually serves more than 100 girls. Since its inception, nearly 1,800 high school students have participated, representing 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 53 countries. After the program, participants return to high school better prepared to tackle tough science courses and understand what to expect in college.

Smith College is among the top-rated liberal arts colleges in the United States and one of the nation's largest colleges dedicated solely to the education of women. The Smith science faculty employs some of the finest researchers and teachers in the country. In 1999 Smith became the first women's college in the nation to establish its own program in engineering science, the Picker Engineering Program.

Central to the program is a learning environment that is rich in role models. SSEP offers hands-on, cooperative, investigative and challenging learning—where girls get all of the faculty's attention as well as the opportunities and encouragement to achieve their best. Smith undergraduate students with science majors also serve as teaching assistants.


Research Courses

Unlike regular school classes, SSEP research courses emphasize asking questions and learning by doing, not only by listening and watching.

Students choose two two-week research courses; in these, groups of up to 17 students work alongside Smith faculty members, assisted by undergraduate interns. Informal lectures in the laboratory and out in the field encourage students to ask research questions, and they learn to conduct actual experiments. Most of the work is carried out as a cooperative team effort, with ample opportunities for individual contributions. SSEP participants learn how scientists and engineers formulate questions, work on amazingly sophisticated scientific instruments and develop valuable critical thinking and analytical skills.

Course Selection

Students who have paid their deposit will receive a link to the course selection form in late April in which they rank their preferences for courses. These forms, along with the application essay, help place students in their classes. Although not everyone will get their first choice, most students do. Students will be notified of their course placement on June 15.

Courses

Once we accept students, we will send you a course preference selection sheet. We strive to provide at least one of your first choices.

First Session

Instructor

Mona Kulp, Ph.D., Laboratory Instructor of Chemistry, Smith College

Class Description

Open to all students

A large portion of the world's population has a rich tradition of relying on plants for their medicinal properties. There is also a surging interest in integrating alternative medicine into contemporary western medical practice. Along with this interest, there is a growing realization in the scientific community that we need to better understand the safety and efficacy of these herbal medicines. In this course, we will start with plant material and go through the process of extracting and analyzing the compounds found in some commonly used herbal preparations. This course will also look at examples in the peer-reviewed literature to understand how these compounds alter the biochemistry of the human body and their impacts on human health. In addition to the analytical instruments and resources available in the Chemistry department for analyzing these samples, the students taking the course are also exposed to additional resources on the Smith campus, including the Mortimer Rare Book Room for historical material on the use of herbal medicine and the Botanic Gardens, which will provide some of the medicinal plants used in the experiments.

There are no prerequisites for this course. The course is designed as an introductory experience for students who have an interest in both chemistry and biology. The students will be introduced to ideas in chemistry and biology in an interdisciplinary setting so that they can build connections between the two disciplines.

Instructor

Chris Vriezen, Ph.D., Laboratory Instructor of Biosciences, Smith College

Course Description

Open to students who have completed one year of high school biology

Antibiotics play an important role in modern medical treatments for bacterial infections. Their discovery revolutionized the practice of medicine and significantly reduced death rates due to infection and bacterial diseases. However, the overuse of antibiotics has lead to a dramatic increase in antibiotic resistant microorganisms that can cause infections. Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Flouroquinolone resistant Clostridium difficile (C. diff) are just two examples of pathogens in which antibiotic resistance has had dramatic effects on our ability to overcome infections caused by these microorganisms. One potential solution to this problem is to again go to the soil biome and attempt to find and characterize novel bacterial isolates with the ability to produce antibiotics. Students will first learn standard microbiological techniques such as aseptic work, isolation streaks, making and inoculating liquid cultures, and plate counting. This is followed by the screening of novel bacteria from soil we collect ourselves at Smith's MacLeish Field Station. Finally, some isolates may be characterized in more detail on the molecular (PCR and sequencing) and Biochemical level. Although strict safety protocols are followed, this class is not appropriate for students with compromised immune systems.

Instructor

Leslie Jaffe, M.D., College Physician, Smith College

Course Description

Open to all students

Globally, adolescent girls face an array of health-related challenges in their daily lives, and this course empowers young women to explore them. Lack of gender equity, including the right to an education and access to health care, places millions of girls in poor and developing countries at increased risk for poor health and preventable deaths. Through individual and group activities, this course provides opportunities to learn about many of these issues, including health disparities in the United States, child brides in Asia, obstetric fistula in Africa, maternal deaths in India, and violence against women globally. Course activities include research, discussion, field trips, and presentations. We will read Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo. Participants contribute to the program web site, while also investigating essential young women’s health topics such as the menstrual cycle, healthy eating, media literacy, violence, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases, and emotional health. These topics are considered within the contexts of current research in biology and medicine, and today's multi-cultural society. Global Young Women’s Health is an emotionally intense and rewarding course that builds individual and group knowledge and awareness.

Due to the material covered, this course is open to students entering tenth grade and older. Students in this course become members of a close-knit working group, sharing their own stories and learning from others while conducting research and participating in course activities. Students interested in health-related careers and medicine may find this course useful.

Instructor

Jessica Grant, M.S., Research Associate, Department of Biological Sciences, Smith College

Course Description

Open to students with no programming experience

This introductory computer science course aims to teach coding skills in a fun and engaging way. Each student will learn the basic structures and syntax of the Python programming language while designing and coding a game of her choice. Computer skills are best learned hands-on. Most of the time in this class will be spent working in groups, discussing ideas and actually coding. We will share our progress with other class members and brainstorm ideas and solutions. This class is designed for the beginner, with no prior programming experience. By the end of the class, you will be familiar with concepts like variables, functions, conditional statements and loops, and will have a fun game to play!

This course is open to all, but geared toward students with little or no programming experience.

Instructor

Joyce Palmer-Fortune, Physics Department Lecturer

Course Description

Open to all students

Microcontrollers are essential to our modern life. From nightlights to spaceships, these little electronic chips are everywhere. Have you ever wanted to know how a remote control works, or how a dishwasher knows when to change cycles? Have you ever wanted to design your own electronic device? If so, then this class is for you! In this class we will explore the basics of circuit design and computer programming using the popular Arduino platform. Some topics that will be covered are: electrical components, basic electrical circuits, hardware systems, programming, and device design. You will design and build your own final project that will put the mighty microcontroller to work for you.

Instructor

Alexandra Burgess, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology, Worcester State University

Course Description

Open to all students

Psychological science uses the tools of science to study humanity. Students will learn the research methodology and analytical methods used by real researchers to understand the important and complex topic of anxiety in young children (ages 8-12). We all experience anxiety; it is an inherent quality of the human condition. In this course, we will explore why humans experience anxiety and discuss the important function that anxiety plays in our lives. At the same time, sometimes severe anxiety symptoms develop in early childhood that create problems in daily living. Students will learn about how anxiety can become problematic and the different ways that high levels of anxiety can be expressed in young children (e.g., social phobia, separation anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic, general anxiety). In discussing these anxiety disorders, students will learn to approach the topic with the lens of a clinical psychologist. Students will not only learn about childhood anxiety, but also about the methods that clinical psychologists use to study these problems. Experiential learning components include a data collection practice with the public, analysis of previously collected clinical data and creative projects related to the human experience of anxiety.

Instructor

Jesse Bellemare, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Smith College

Course Description

Open to all students

In this two-week course, we will design and implement student-led ecological research projects  investigating aspects of plant ecology and questions related to the challenges of restoring plant biodiversity in human-impacted ecosystems. We will start by exploring plant diversity and ecology through an evolutionary lens using Smith College’s MacLeish Field Station and the Botanic Garden as settings to observe and study unique plant species and their ecological communities. Students will develop an understanding of plant leaf, stem and reproductive structures, and how botanists identify species using scientific keys and dissecting microscopes. We will gain experience with ecological concepts and approaches to collecting data in the field. Small student groups will develop their own plant-focused ecological hypotheses, collect relevant data through surveys or experiments, and learn how to run basic data analyses and statistics to evaluate their hypotheses. A major theme will involve quantifying and understanding how plant communities have been altered by past human disturbance, using ecological surveys and comparison to more intact ecosystems, like old growth forests. The course will involve indoor lectures, discussions, and hands-on work with microscopes, but also ample time on field trips to observe natural communities and collect ecological data for student projects.

This course is open to all students with interests in biology, environmental studies, and landscape architecture.

Instructors

Lou Ann Bierwert, M.A., Information and Technology Director, Center for Molecular Biology, and Ashanta Ester, M.S., Research Associate, Biological Sciences, Smith College.

Course Description

Open to students who have completed one year of high school biology

Human genetics has fascinated us for centuries—beginning with the basic question of why we look like our ancestors and continuing to recent advances in medical and courtroom analyses. In this course, students will gain experience with a variety of classical and modern techniques used in human genetic analysis. The course will include explorations in basic genetics, probability, pedigree analysis, molecular genetics and population genetics. Participants will determine their own blood types and calculate the frequencies of blood-type alleles in their class, photograph their own chromosomes, sort them into a karyotype and construct part of their own DNA fingerprints using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

Students in this course spend most of their time in the research laboratory. The subjects of the experiments are the students themselves—students will collect their own blood samples (with a simple finger poke) for a variety of analyses. Time between experiments is spent working on genetic problem sets. Visiting speakers include a genetic counselor and a DNA crime scene analyst.

Second Session

Instructor

Doreen Weinberger, Ph.D., Professor of Physics, Smith College

Course Description

Open to all students

This course is a hands-on introduction to robot design and programming. Student teams will receive a kit containing a microprocessor controller, a set of motors and sensors, and various Lego building parts and tools. They will learn how to connect the components and program the controller to make a robot that can move autonomously and intelligently in its environment. For instance, with appropriate programming the robot can avoid obstacles, seek out light, make decisions for changing its behavior based on sensory input, or respond to messages communicated by other robots. Students will perform a variety of activities: building simple robots to accomplish specific tasks, programming in a PC lab, creating their own final robot project, and testing and redesigning to optimize their robot performance. They will also learn HTML and use it to create their own web pages, which will serve as a record of their progress in the course.

Unlike many courses in robotics where the task is to build a robot that performs a specific function (for example pushing ping-pong balls or battling with another robot), in this course students use their own creativity to design robots that do whatever they want. There is lots of trial and error problem-solving in both computer programming and building the robots.

Instructors

Michael Barresi, Professor, Biological Sciences, Smith College
Naren Pathak, Lecturer, Biological Sciences, Smith College

Course Description

Open to all students

When altered in specific ways, genetics and development can influence the form and function of organs in a living organism, potentially enhancing or impairing that organism’s abilities. In this course, we will hypothesize and learn about the principles of genetics and developmental biology through experimentation. In the laboratory, we will conduct experiments with zebrafish, a well-established “model organism,” to explore how organs form during normal embryo development. We will investigate how mutations can cause the loss or gain of gene function and alter embryonic development and form (morphogenesis), and we’ll directly experiment with a novel, unpublished gene to see if it can induce regenerative abilities in the zebrafish. You will not only learn about the biology underlying enhanced abilities, but actually try to create an organism with the power of regeneration.

Instructor

Robert Daniello, Ph.D., Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Course Description

Open to all students

In this course we will learn about engineering theory and practice. Our objective is to introduce some basic engineering concepts in a hands-on environment, use tools, build things, and get our hands dirty. Specifically, we will investigate how we can convert heat to provide useful work and build working model engines in Smith’s Center for Design and Fabrication. We will consider design and manufacturing processes and the selection of materials, and use measuring tools and laboratory equipment. Our goal is to design, prototype and test a mechanism to accomplish a task. Additionally, we will tour campus labs and have an opportunity to see what academics are like for college engineering students.

Instructor

Mona Kulp, Ph.D., Laboratory Instructor, Department of Chemistry, Smith College.

Course Description

Open to all students

There is a well-established link between food that we eat and common chronic health conditions such as diabetes and coronary heart disease. It has also been proposed that food or particular diets could serve as the key to reversing these health outcomes. There is an incredible amount of information available about what we should eat for optimal health and much of it is conflicting, difficult to parse and understand. This course will focus on taking an evidence-based approach to food and health claims. We will learn how to evaluate data that is part of a clinical trial and to critically read scientific information. We will also spend time in the lab analyzing the chemistry and biology of food! Using a number of analytical techniques, we will learn how scientists are able to determine the nutritional content of whole foods. We will also look for chemicals that are commonly used as food additives and understand their impact on human health. Our goal is to take a holistic look at the food we eat, with the idea that food can serve as medicine. Specific objectives for the course are to give students hands-on experience with chemistry, develop scientific writing and presentation skills, expand skills in chemical literacy, and critically read scientific papers. The class will also spend some time preparing and tasting foods and going on local field trips where we can make connections between chemistry and the food we consume. The course is designed as an introductory experience for students who have an interest in chemistry, biology, health and medicine.

Instructor

Joyce Palmer-Fortune, Physics Department Lecturer

Course Description

Open to all students

Microcontrollers are essential to our modern life. From nightlights to spaceships, these little electronic chips are everywhere. Have you ever wanted to know how a remote control works, or how a dishwasher knows when to change cycles? Have you ever wanted to design your own electronic device? If so, then this class is for you! In this class we will explore the basics of circuit design and computer programming using the popular Arduino platform. Some topics that will be covered are: electrical components, basic electrical circuits, hardware systems, programming, and device design. You will design and build your own final project that will put the mighty microcontroller to work for you.

Instructors

Jon Caris, Spatial Analysis Lab Director, Smith College, and Tracy Tien, Spatial Data Specialist, Smith College

Course Description

Open to all students

Drones, also known as small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (sUAV), are revolutionizing field-based scientific research. They are becoming integral to many industries and operations such as film making, infrastructure inspections, search & rescue, precision agriculture, and of course, package delivery. But drones are not without controversy and concern. In this course we will explore the technology, as well as the affordances and problems of drones. Your team will examine a variety of drone classes  with the opportunity to experiment with different sensors. You will learn to fly a drone and practice getting that perfect dronie (a selfie taken by a drone) to send home to your friends and family. Stunning photography and video are also possible, and we will learn techniques that can enhance research and storytelling. You will also learn how to create high resolution maps and 3D surface models for a variety of research applications. Before you take control of your drone, you and your partners will have to understand the airspace for safe flight and operations. Drones are fun, but we engage the technology very seriously.

Students in this class will gain experience with design, critical thinking, and troubleshooting. They'll also learn about photogrammetry, mapping, drone programming and configuration, electronics, and aerodynamics. This course is for students with interests in engineering, field sciences, photography, and filmmaking.

 

Instructors

Anna Baeth, Ph.D., Research Assistant, Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport
Katlin Okamoto, M.S., Research Assistant, School of Social Work, University of Minnesota   

Course Description

Open to all students

Where the Body Meets the Mind is an exploration of the ways exercise, sport and physical activity both influence, and are influenced by, the mind. Drawing from exercise science, sports psychology and physical activity sociology, this course seeks to answer such questions as: Why do some people love roller coasters? How did Michael Phelps win 28 Olympic medals? And why does ice cream taste good if it is bad for you?

In this course, we will engage in daily group discussions of current events and connect major demographic trends (including age, race and gender) to physical activity behaviors. We will explore topics such as the social-psychological influences on exercise motivation and engage in conversations around intersex athletes and doping in elite-level sport. Students will use modeling to effectively teach skills and learn about the uses of physical activity as a healing practice at the individual and community level. Students will learn to use biofeedback tools, gym equipment and exercise science devices to measure physical outputs. Students will also learn the difference between physiological signals and psychological responses, including the ways activity relates to mental health through euphoria, perfectionism, depression and brain trauma.

Focusing on expanding students’ knowledge of the mind and body through concepts such as sensation, biofeedback, motivation and observation, this course is open to all students interested in psychology, anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and neurology. It will be of particular interest to students who wish to explore careers in medicine, physical therapy, coaching and mental health.


Faculty & Staff

Meg Thacher

Academic Director

Meg Lysaght Thacher has worked as a laboratory instructor in the astronomy department at Smith since 1999. She has also taught physics and writing at Smith. She received her bachelor's degree in physics from Carleton College and her master's in astrophysics from Iowa State University. Thacher taught astronomy for five years in Smith's Summer Science and Engineering Program before becoming its academic director. Her science articles for kids have been published in Muse, Faces, Odyssey, and Ask magazines.

Anna Baeth

Anna Baeth earned her bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College, her master’s degree from Smith College (in exercise and sport studies), and her doctorate in kinesiology from the University of Minnesota. Baeth is a sport sociologist and is the senior manager of research for Athlete Ally. She has also been a research assistant in the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport and the head field hockey coach at Oberlin College and Conservatory. Beyond field hockey, she enjoys riding her bicycle, rock climbing and traveling. She is looking forward to her second summer with SSEP.

Michael J.F. Barresi

Michael J. F. Barresi is a full professor at Smith College in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Program in Neuroscience. Barresi was a biology major and studio art minor at Merrimack College. He pursued his doctoral research on muscle fiber type development at Wesleyan University. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst investigating the development of the zebrafish forebrain. Barresi’s laboratory at Smith investigates the molecular and cellular mechanisms governing the development of neural stem cells, brain wiring, bioelectric patterning and models autism spectrum disorders in zebrafish. Barresi is also the leading author of the top-rated textbook on developmental biology. In the classroom, he pioneered the use of web conferencing, documentary movie making and active learning pedagogies, such as course-based research. He created the NSF-funded “Student Scientists” outreach program and was the recipient of the 2012 Sherrerd Prize for Distinguished Teaching at Smith College.

Jesse Bellemare

Jesse Bellemare is an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Smith College. His research and teaching focus on plant ecology, conservation and biodiversity management. He also teaches courses in plant identification and diversity, using the extensive collections at the Smith College Botanic Garden and native plants from the local landscape. Prior to joining the faculty at Smith College in 2009, Bellemare obtained a master’s degree in forest science from Harvard University and a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University. He has led research projects studying the effects of past human disturbance on forest plant diversity in western Massachusetts and is currently working on conservation efforts for rare plants that might be threatened by climate change.

Lou Ann Bierwert

Lou Ann Bierwert is the instruments and techniques instructor and technical director of the Center for Molecular Biology at Smith College. She received both her bachelor's and master's degrees from Smith and was a research associate for more than two decades at Smith in molecular-based projects in parasitology and biomechanical engineering. She enjoys passing on her expertise in molecular techniques during SSEP, where she has taught Your Genes, Your Chromosomes for 13 years.

Alexandra Burgess

Alexandra Burgess is a Smithie (class of 2008) who completed her doctoral work at the University of Hawaii in Child Clinical Psychology. Alex taught at Smith College for several years in the Psychology Department, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Worcester State University. Burgess’s research focuses on anxiety, depression, and perfectionism in children, as well as cross-cultural topics in mental health. SSEP students in Alex's classes learn how clinical psychologists approach the study of human behavior, and gain insights into the development, maintenance, and presentation of clinical symptoms. During lab time, students use clinical data sets to explore research strategies and data analysis techniques in SPSS.

Jon Caris

Jon Caris is the Global Information Systems (GIS) specialist and director of the Spatial Analysis Lab (SAL) at Smith College. He has a master’s in geoenvironmental studies from Shippensburg University and a bachelor’s in geography from the State University of New York at Geneseo. Primarily trained as a geographer and environmental planner, Jon works on new, innovative applications for GIS, operating UAVs (drones), promoting spatial thinking within the Smith community and making the invisible visible. Some of Caris’s research addresses questions concerning political and economical decisions that impact the landscape, especially those that unintentionally marginalize individuals and communities. This area of interest now extends above the landscape to take on issues such as who owns the sky and new forms of surveillance.

Robert Daniello

Robert Daniello is an assistant teaching professor of mechanical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. His teaching objective is to guide students in the application of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer to solve practical problems in fields such as transportation, energy, and life sciences. His research involves experimental studies of fluid behavior. Other interests include microfabrication and manufacturing processes. He holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has previously served as a thermodynamic systems engineer for United Technologies Aerospace Systems and a research engineer at Alden Research Laboratory. He currently serves as the faculty advisor for the UMass Supermileage Vehicle Team.

Ashanta Ester

Ashanta Ester is a Springfield, MA, native with a bachelor's degree in biology/pre-med from Our Lady of the Elms College and a master's in biology from Smith College. She has been doing molecular-based research in parasitology since 2013, with current projects in diagnostics of Lymphatic filariasis and soil-transmitted helminths. She is looking forward to passing on her passion for molecular biology to the students in Your Genes, Your Chromosomes in SSEP.

Jessica Grant

Jessica Grant has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Washington and a master’s in biology from Smith College. She has worked at Smith since 2005 as a research associate in evolutionary biology, and, more recently, as a lab instructor in computer science. She is a self-taught programmer and loves solving puzzles and problems through coding. When she isn’t in front of her computer, Grant raises goats and chickens in her suburban backyard.

Leslie Jaffe

Leslie Jaffe is the college physician at Smith. In addition to providing care to students, he teaches two courses: one looks broadly at women's health and the other focuses on women in India, including Tibetan women living there in exile. The latter is a small seminar of five students who travel to India with Jaffe for a month to learn experientially what they have already studied. Previously, Jaffe served as director of the Adolescent Health Center of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, the largest clinic for teens in the country. He is a board-certified pediatrician and did his fellowship training in adolescent medicine at Mount Sinai. Continuing his work and interest with adolescents, Jaffe has taught in the Smith Summer Science and Engineering program for many years.

Mona Kulp

Mohini (Mona) Kulp has bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and mathematics from Mount Holyoke College. Her doctorate is in biophysics from the University of California, San Francisco. She has worked at Smith in the Center for Proteomics on large scale data analysis of biological samples using mass spectrometry. She currently teaches in the chemistry department at Smith College. Her teaching and research interests have focused on the use of analytical chemistry to answer questions that are of interest to biologists including analyzing herbal medicines for safety and efficacy and looking at the migration of toxic heavy metals into our every day lives( through food, supplements and environmental exposure). When she is not in class during the summer, she enjoys running, hiking and spending time in her garden with her growing collection of fragrant plants that get incorporated into the course work of the SSEP classes that she teaches.

Katlin Okamoto

Katlin Okamoto has a master’s degree in exercise and sport studies from Smith College and a bachelor’s in biology from Colorado College. She has taught for several years in the Smith College Exercise and Sport Studies Department and has 20-plus years of experience coaching soccer at the collegiate and youth levels. Okamoto is currently a doctoral student and teaching assistant at the University of Minnesota, where she focuses on sports-based youth development in the School of Social Work. Okamoto works with all ages of youth in the club soccer community in Minneapolis and is a research intern at the Search Institute, where she focuses on developmental relationships between youth and non-parent adults. She enjoys sports, exercise and the outdoors, and she loves working with SSEP students to discover their passion for physical activity through the Body in Motion course.

Joyce Palmer Fortune

Joyce Palmer Fortune has taught physics at Smith College since 2003 and has led the transition in the introductory physics classes at Smith from the traditional lecture/lab format to the current integrated “2-Cool” format. Prior to joining Smith, Fortune worked as a consultant on a wide variety of microelectronic and optoelectronic device technologies, as well as energy production and sensor systems. She earned a bachelor’s in 1983 from the University of Texas at Austin, and a master’s in 1985 and doctorate in 1989 from MIT. She lived in Japan for five years while working in Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation’s optoelectronics labs in Tokai and the Optoelectronics Technology Research Laboratory in Tsukuba.

Narendra Pathak

Naren Pathak is a lecturer and laboratory instructor in the biological sciences department. Pathak obtained his doctorate from Jawaharlal Nehru University, India, and has worked with diverse animal models including rat snakes, chicks and zebrafish. As a cell biologist and molecular geneticist, he uses zebrafish to model how genes linked to human diseases perturb organ development and physiology. Expanding on his expertise in cilia biology and CRISPR technology, he has created mutants in novel genes linked to autism spectrum disorders to define their roles in neuroglial development.

Tracy Tien

Tracy Tien is the spatial data specialist and FAA-certified remote pilot in the Spatial Analysis Lab at Smith College. She has a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Richmond. Prior to joining Smith, her affinity for maps and animals led her to the conservation field, where she modeled land-use planning and conservation prioritization. At Smith, she engages the community with research intersecting spatial science and drones. Tien is interested in contested territories and how mapping technologies (including the likes of satellites and drones) shape narratives of place.

Chris Vriezen

J.A.C. Vriezen goes by Chris. He has a master’s degree in biology from the University of Wageningen, Netherlands, and a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His main interest is the stress response of bacteria-physical/chemical stresses as well as biological. He has been studying the response of soil-borne bacteria to salt and desiccation. More recently he is studying the environmental and culture conditions that lead to the production of antimicrobials by these organisms. In his teaching he isolates bacteria that produce antibiotics in an attempt to pursue solutions to emerging antibiotic resistance in medically relevant microorganisms.

Doreen Weinberger

Doreen Weinberger received her bachelor's in physics and astronomy from Mount Holyoke College and her doctorate in optical sciences from the University of Arizona. Before arriving at Smith, she was a faculty member in electrical engineering at the University of Michigan, where she was instrumental in helping to develop a graduate program in optics and did research studying nonlinear effects in optical fibers. Since 1991 she has been a professor in the physics department at Smith, where her ongoing research has focused on using lasers to study a variety of physical systems, from ultra-cold atomic gases to microcrystals in minerals. She has been an instructor in SSEP for almost her entire time at Smith, which proves that playing with LEGOs never gets old.


SSEP Tuition: $6,540

  • Tuition covers room, board and all academic costs, including books, classroom field trips, etc.
  • Tuition includes the nonrefundable deposit.

Program Schedule

Sunday, July 5, 2020
1-4 p.m. Registration
4-5 p.m. Parent Q&A
TBD Residential orientation
Monday, July 6, 2020
9 a.m. Classes begin
  Program orientation
Friday, July 17, 2020
6:30-8:30 p.m. First session presentations*
Saturday, July 18, 2020
9 a.m.-noon First session presentations*
Friday, July 31, 2020
6:30-8:30 p.m. Second session presentations*
Saturday, August 1, 2020
9 a.m.-noon Second session presentations*
Noon Lunch**
by 1:30 p.m. Departure

*Open to family and friends.

**Family and friends are invited to stay for lunch following presentations.

A Typical Day

9 a.m.-noon Morning class
Noon-1 p.m. Lunch
1-4 p.m. Afternoon classes and lab
5:30-7 p.m. Dinner
7-10 p.m. Fun house activities that change daily
11 p.m. Quiet hours
Learn more about Life at Smith →