For Starters: Fall 2022

A Space for Everyone, Mimicking Biology, Expository Excellence, and more

A series of three images, one of artist Marian Bailey, one of a mural in the new Health and Wellness Center, and the third a painting hanging in a hallway.

1. A Space for Everyone

Since its opening in February, the new Student Life and Wellness Building—known as The Well—has been a favorite spot for students. The relocation of the Health and Wellness Center, the Career and Civic Engagement Center, and the Pensby Center for Community Development and Inclusion to one central location has helped increase awareness of these College resources, and students have also been enjoying the upgraded halal and kosher kitchens, as well as new multicultural, community, and prayer rooms.

Over the summer, a series of vibrant artworks by Philadelphia artist Marian Bailey (pictured above) was installed in the building to complement The Well’s goal of redefining wellness through inclusivity and accessibility.

Bailey was intentional about including people with disabilities and people of different racial and religious backgrounds in her artwork. “The main theme for me was thinking about Bryn Mawr as a whole and what we would all love to see the population be like,” says Bailey. “I want to show that everyone should be represented, and everyone should be a part of this space.”

Bailey was approached to create artwork for the new building by The Well’s interior designer, Soné Ehabé of 4 Walls Interior Design. After many discussions, they decided on five portraits to fill the common space and one large mural for the community room, a large open space with windows that face out to the courtyard and the Erdman walkway. Soné wanted the mural to stand out so that students passing by could see the piece from the window and be drawn in.

2. Mimicking Biology

Portrait of Ashlee Plummer in a lab

“I’m excited to mimic biology in a test tube using biochemical tools. Biological processes that occur in cells are super complex. In a test tube, we have total control over what reactions occur and what molecules are present. It’s an awesome opportunity to systematically and carefully study complicated biological systems.” — Ashlee Plummer, who recently joined the faculty as assistant professor of chemistry


3. Mathematically Gifted and Black

Portrait of Erica J. Graham in front of a bookshelf

Bryn Mawr College Associate Professor of Mathematics Erica J. Graham ’04, a founder of the Mathematically Gifted and Black (MGB) website, is a winner of the Association for Women in Mathematics’ 2022 Presidential Recognition Award. The MGB website, which was founded in 2016, profiles nearly 200 inspiring lives in mathematics, using first-person storytelling and contextualizing math in terms of a full life experience. Every year during Black History Month, the site highlights 28 living Black mathematicians with a photo and their responses to questions about their lives and mathematical interests.

4. Expository Excellence

Bill Dunham seated at a table behind several open books.

Bill Dunham, a visiting professor and research associate in Bryn Mawr's Math Department, has garnered two awards from the Mathematical Association of America for expository excellence.

He received the Halmos-Ford Award for the article “Euler and the Cubic Basel Problem,” published in The American Mathematical Monthly in 2021, and the Chauvenet Prize for “The Early (and Peculiar) History of the Möbius Function,” which appeared in Mathematics Magazine in 2018.

In his remarks on receiving the awards, Dunham mentioned Bryn Mawr’s Collier Science Library: “On its shelves, I have found Euler’s mathematical works, some fascinating 19th-century journals, and volumes inscribed by faculty superstars like Charlotte Angas Scott and Emmy Noether. It is a treat to graze through the remarkable collections at Bryn Mawr.”

5. Meet BMC’s New Chief Communications Officer

Portrait of Samara Sit outdoors

Samara A. Sit recently joined Bryn Mawr as the College’s new chief communications officer. Sit comes to the College from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), where she was associate dean and chief communications officer.

At Cornell, Sit initiated and led the successful creation of CALS’ new strategic messaging platform and visual identity that also informed an award-winning refresh of the college’s website. In previous roles, Sit directed school communications and administration at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs and served as a producer/reporter on PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

“Bryn Mawr is a highly relevant, quintessential liberal arts institution, and I was drawn to this beautiful campus as an opportunity to apply my strategic and digital communications expertise and help elevate the College’s already stellar public reputation,” says Sit. “It is a privilege to collaborate with such talented faculty, staff, and students to tell their stories in creative and innovative ways.”

6. From Kyiv to BMC

Portrait of Nataliia Gusak outside

The Provost’s Office joined forces with the GSSWSR and the Office of International Student and Scholar Advising to bring Nataliia Gusak, a Ukrainian scholar from the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, to the College for the 2022–23 academic year. Gusak is serving as a faculty fellow at Bryn Mawr’s Center for Child and Family Wellbeing.

The idea to bring Gusak to Bryn Mawr originated with Professor Emeritus of Social Work Jim Martin, who had come to know Gusak as part of an international collaboration on military and veteran social work. While waiting for State Department approval over the summer, Gusak, Martin, and Associate Professor of Social Work Cindy Sousa offered Ukrainian social workers a seven-week webinar program focused on support for their work in Ukraine during this time of war. While at Bryn Mawr, Gusak plans to continue working with Sousa on a study about how Ukrainian families are functioning in wartime.

7. Academic Accolade

Portrait of Alicia Walker '94 in front of a book shelf

Professor of History of Art Alicia Walker ’94 has been selected as a member of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) for the 2022–23 academic year.

During her fellowship, Walker will be finishing her second book, which explores how Greco-Roman mythological characters depicted on everyday objects provided alternative models for shaping the subjecthood of Byzantine women. Walker argues that female viewers identified with depictions of mythological figures and their narratives, promoting qualities such as physical beauty, sexual allure, and social independence, which contrasted strikingly with the dominant Christian values of the time.

“I feel tremendously privileged to join the IAS this coming year, and I am excited to discover how this time will transform my thinking and make a mark on my book project,” says Walker. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to make new connections and forge new relationships during this year as well as reconnect with colleagues whose interests and research dovetail with my own.”