August 14, 2019

Summer research in review

Twenty-four Mellon students presented their research at the 2019 Trinity Summer Symposium, which capped the end of their 10-week research period. Twelve SURFs created posters to showcase their research during the four heavily-visited poster sessions,  while 7 gave oral presentations that were equally well-attended (with standing room only at a few sessions). Click here to view a video of all presenters in action!


While some students carried out traditional humanities research, including working in archives, conducting interviews, collecting and organizing data, and searching databases, others conducted research that included travelling abroad, performing, playing board and video games, watching a Netflix series, and reading graphic memoirs.  


Here are selected project highlights from this summer:


  • Antigone in the City. This play written by first-time Mellon mentor Dr. Rachel Joseph was performed at the F.L.I.P.T theatre festival in Fara in Sabina, Italy and then came to Trinity’s Attic Theater for one performance, kicking off the Summer Symposium. Kirsten Timco (‘20) performed in the play and helped with preliminary research for Dr. Joseph’s playwriting book project, as well as honed her own playwriting skills.


  • Philosophy for Children.  Can you use the summer camp format to engage elementary and middle school students in philosophical discussions?  Andja Bejeltich (‘21), under the guidance of Dr. Judith Norman, who attended philosophy camp for children at Texas A&M and then conducted her own camp at Trinity, thinks so. Check out the June Experiential Learning Roundup for more about her project.

  • Classical Game Reception.  Hannah Friedrich (‘21) and Lizzie Ruetschle (‘21) spent their summer playing board, video, and tabletop games to survey and begin to study how classical materials/stories/myths are transformed in modern day games. Together with their mentor, Dr. Benjamin Stevens, the students held twice weekly open-to-all gaming sessions, and for their presentation created their own game board [poster], inviting Symposium-goers to play!  Hannah and Lizzie will be presenting their research at the 2019 PAMLA conference in November in San Diego, CA.   

  • Video Game Challenge. Nick Smetzer (‘20) learned to code and promptly created his first video game, adapting the John Rawles “Veil of Ignorance” thought experiment and thereby presenting players with philosophical implications of choices, as well as challenging their view of the world. Dr. Aaron Delwiche, Nick’s mentor, and Nick will participate in a game developer’s conference in March of 2020.   

  • Brighton Beach Memoirs.  Alex Parris and Kristen Herink traveled to Bennington, VT to help create a professional theater production of the Neil Simon play “Brighton Beach Memoirs” at Oldcastle Theater alongside their mentor and the play’s director, Dr. Nathan Stith. After beginning the summer with pre-production work and dramaturgical research,  Alex then served as the assistant stage manager, and Kristen played the part of Laurie during the show’s two week run. 


  • Mellon Institute.  This year’s team, four students and three faculty, created a physical and digital exhibit detailing the history of Trinity’s 150 Years of Experiential Learning. You can learn more and check out their digital exhibit by visiting their excellent website.


Well done, 2019 SURFs!