Upper School

Edith Hamilton Scholars Program

Inagurated in 1999, The Edith Hamilton Scholars Program affords Bryn Mawr seniors an opportunity to pursue a unique course of study of particular interest to them while working with a mentor who has expertise relevant to the subject matter. Participation in the program is open to all rising seniors who desire to undertake a rigorous project, for which they receive neither credit nor grade, in addition to their regular academic courses. Scholars are chosen late in junior year through an application process that includes a written proposal and interview before a faculty and administrative committee. Following the completion of her project, each scholar delivers a convocation about her topic.

List of 11 items.

  • Sophie Freeman '14 - Exploring the Portrayal of American Indians in Museums

    Sophie attends Yale University.

    For my Edith Hamilton project, I chose to study how American Indians are portrayed in museums. Specifically, I wanted to find out what museums are teaching about Indian history and culture and how this portrayal is contributing to the perception that Indian people are only alive in history books. I became interested in the topic when I interned for Della Warrior at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture (MIAC). Ms. Warrior is the first woman chief of the Otoe Tribe of Oklahoma, and the first Indian director of the MIAC. Under her direction, the way Indian culture is portrayed at the MIAC is changing, from dusty artifacts indicative of a dead or dying race to live cultural exhibitions demonstrating the persistence and flourishing of Indian culture today. To better understand how this project could be undertaken, I visited eight museums and cultural centers in the United States and Mexico, interviewed museum professionals, read any article I could find on the topic, and visited days of cultural celebration on the pueblos in New Mexico.

    I learned an incredible amount about attitudes toward American Indian people from the first landing of Christopher Columbus until today. I needed to educate myself about the history —the reasons why American Indians were relegated to museums in the first place—to understand why they are portrayed the way they are. It was encouraging to learn that as Indian directors take charge of museums about American Indians, attitudes are changing. Museums like the National Museum of the American Indian have transformed into vibrant educational centers that not only teach the history of the native peoples of America, but also showcase the art, culture, and lives of Indian people today.
  • Laura Hawes '14 - Gender Inequality in the Film Industry

    Laura attends Sarah Lawrence College.
    For my Edith Hamilton Scholars project, I explored gender inequality in the film industry and its role in perpetuating a society that renders people who do not identify with the male gender invisible. The second part of my project consisted of filming a short documentary that drew on the experiences of local independent filmmakers and advocated for Bryn Mawr students to become involved in making films and engaging in this dialogue. Through my studies I found that in order to get diverse groups of people and perspectives on film screens, a diverse body of people needs to work behind the camera. The goal of my project was to inspire some young women from Bryn Mawr to take steps towards helping to achieving greater gender equality in the movie industry both on the screen and off. Although I do not see myself pursuing a career in film, I am looking forward to taking courses in Gender Studies during college.
  • Lindsay Hexter '14 - Creating a Computer Database to Track Gene Mutations

    Lindsay attends Emory University.

    This year, I used Python, a computer programming language, to study mutations in the two genes PTEN and PI3K. The proteins made by expressing these genes are involved in cell growth and metabolism, so mutations in these two genes commonly cause cancer. I created a database of protein sequences that included information such as the pathogenicity of the mutation, the database from which it was taken, and the species of the organism. Comparing mutations among different species can lead to other insights as well, so I gathered sequences from many organisms.
    After creating the database, I began to learn the technique of machine learning, which is teaching the computer how to classify something based on a training set of data. Thus, the goal of my project was to predict mutations in these two genes, based on data I had gathered and information from my computer.
    The main reason I wanted to complete this project was to delve deeper into the field of biocomputation. I am interested in biology and computer science, so this project exposed me to the intersection of these two areas, through research. I also wanted to learn more about computer science. Learning Python gave me a head start on programming.

    The first step in my project was to teach myself Python, so that was an entire learning experience in itself! Overall, this project acquainted me to the world of independent research; I had to do a lot of decision-making and problem solving, as I turned down many different paths to find the right one. In general, I learned much more about genomics and programming. This project has allowed me to see the bigger picture that is the interconnection of biology and computer science, exposing me to the importance of applying advanced technologies to biological concepts. Therefore, with the knowledge of possible solutions to seemingly inexorable health issues, I hope to continue research like this in college, and beyond!
  • Criss Moon '14 - Translating Poetry from Latin to English

    Criss attends Columbia University.
    For my Edith Hamilton project, I chose to study the art of translating a quantitative language into a language of accentuated stress, focusing on the mechanics of meter. In other words, I completed original translations of Latin love poetry into English set in the original classical meters.
    I know that I want to study classics in college because I am so interested in Latin, poetry, and Latin poetry. But I wanted to study this through the Edith Hamilton program because of the platform it required: a convocation in front of the whole Upper School. People have always wondered why I dedicate so much of my time and passion to a dead language, so I wanted to show why! The dream was to convince others to love Latin and poetry too.

    Why I chose meter is quite simple: to me, meter has always been what breathes life into the ancient language, giving it rhythm and a pulse. It also provided a hefty challenge that I really enjoyed tackling. Having finished, I have a fuller vision of my college career. I hope to pursue a double major in Classics and English Literature. For my intended classics major, I plan to pursue Ancient Greek while continuing with my study of Latin lyric poetry and also exploring philosophy and history.
  • Alexa Philippou '14 - Analysis of Baltimore City's "Change to Grow" Initiative

    Alexa attends Stanford University.
    As a lifelong resident of the greater Baltimore area, I have always been intrigued by our city, particularly by the ways in which it is a paradox: there are parts that look like they are straight out of “The Wire,” but there are also parts that are thriving areas of culture, sports, and community. This fascination spurred my interest in completing an Edith Hamilton research project on urban renewal in Baltimore. I ended up studying Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's plan "Change to Grow," which seeks to improve Baltimore's financial stability. My goal was to see whether her plan will achieve its ultimate goal of bringing 10,000 families to Baltimore City over the next decade. I also gave some suggestions of my own that I believe could help achieve the mayor's objective.

    My ultimate conclusion was that the mayor's financial plan is necessary for creating a fiscally-sound city government, but will not be enough to increase the city's population numbers. To meet this goal, I offered specific suggestions for how to reduce crime, improve schools, bring businesses to the city and more. For years I have thought that I would go into journalism, but after completing this project, I have developed a greater interest in urban planning and in perhaps returning to my hometown after college so that I can work to improve the city. This may involve a career in public service, something I had not considered before my project. We shall see!
  • Anne Wondisford '14 - Evaluting the Efficacy of Emergency Department Design

    Anne attends the University of Pennsylvania.
    Since June 2012, I have been volunteering at the Pediatric Emergency Department (ED) at Johns Hopkins Hospital. For my Edith Hamilton project, I worked to correlate patient wait times with patient volume and staffing levels for physicians and nurses in the new Pediatric ED on Orleans Street. I then compared this data to historical data obtained from the old Pediatric ED located on Monument Street, which operated from 1960 to 2012. My goal was to analyze the data from a systems engineering approach, which attempts to manage a complex problem by breaking it down into its individual parts and examining how these parts are interrelated. My conclusion was that the new ED was clearly designed with the patient in mind, and most staff and patients believe that the design works. For example, patient satisfaction increased greatly. One way to measure patient satisfaction is to determine how many patients leave the emergency room without being seen. Patient satisfaction can also be determined by how many patients leave the emergency room against medical advice. Both of these measures decreased significantly in the redesigned ED. However, the new design was not created with physicians in mind, and in some ways, it has made the work of the doctors and nurses more difficult. Based on the data I gathered, I believe that a more advantageous design would be a compromise between the old layout and the new layout. I believe this would remedy some of the problems that have arisen in the renovation of the ED without compromising patient care.
  • Chinyere Amanze '13 - Public Service Announcement Campaign

    Chinyere is the recipient of the prestigious Robertson Scholars Leadership Program scholarship, which will provide her with full four-year support to attend Duke University.

    For my Edith Hamilton Scholars project I created a Public Service Announcement campaign called “You Go Girl.” The goal of my campaign was to remind girls in the Bryn Mawr community that they don’t have to be superhuman, that they are always good enough just as they are, and to enjoy each moment. I dedicated my project to my cousin, Ugo, who passed away two years ago and who inspired the name of my campaign.

    I first became interested in media psychology when I took a course on the subject during the summer of 2010. This interest sparked the idea for my Edith project, but there were a couple of other reasons that I wanted to make a PSA campaign. For one, I really like PSAs. I admire how a 30-second video can change, inspire, and encourage a person. I also wanted to send a message to my classmates in the Bryn Mawr community where I see many cases of the so-called “SuperGirl Syndrome.” This syndrome, simply put, is the feeling that you have to be and do everything possible. If you don’t, then you are not doing enough, being enough. You are not good enough. SuperGirl Syndrome is a common affliction among teenage girls today, and I wanted to remind my Bryn Mawr girls that just because you can do anything doesn’t mean you have to do everything. As I learned about the SuperGirl Syndrome through my research, I realized that this feeling is prevalent in our society, and I feel that it is an issue that should be addressed. It’s essential to understand what the messages we get from the media are and how these affect the way we treat one another and how we see the world. I plan to pursue this research by taking more classes on the subject when I enter college.
  • Jacqueline Betz '13 - Music and the Mind

    Jacqueline attends Colby College.
    For my Edith Hamilton Scholars project, I studied the physiological and psychological effects of music on human brains, then created a website to display the results of my research. I was drawn to this topic because I know how incredibly important music is to me and to everyone I know, and I wanted to understand how it could affect us so uniquely and profoundly. I also wanted to incorporate my interest in computer science into my project, and I believed that a website would allow me to present my research in the varied and dynamic form that I felt the subject deserved.
    The research that I did on this topic showed me how incredible the entire process of hearing, understanding and reacting to music really is. Having the opportunity to code my website independently taught me a lot about working through problems and teaching myself outside of a classroom. Computer science is something that I definitely plan to continue studying in college, and I also hope to eventually have the opportunity to research music even more in depth. I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to take on this project, and I really appreciate all of the help and support that my mentor and my teachers at Bryn Mawr gave me throughout this process.
  • Liza Davis '13 - Analysis of T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land"

    Liza received a full-ride scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania through the Questbridge Scholarship Program.

    For my Edith Hamilton project, I analyzed T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” through the lens of examining the symptoms of a society in ruin. In addition to writing a ten-page analytical essay, I wrote my own poem, “Dusk ‘Til Dawn,” in response to Eliot. My poem discusses the realities of life in the urban city of Baltimore, as well as life in general.
    I wanted to do this project because I love literature and I love humanity. I believe that words have tremendous power in terms of expression, and that was made so much clearer through my in-depth study of “The Waste Land” as well as my own creative process. There are so many issues in our world, and my poem attempts to convey difficult issues such as suicide through abstract emotional scenery. In writing this poem, I learned that there is strength in perseverance. It was a very difficult process, but I am so glad that I pushed through time and time again. In the future, I might study English in college. And as long as I find inspiration, I will definitely be writing more poems.
  • Carlie Hruban '13 - Edwardian Era Dressmaking

    Carlie attends the University of Chicago.
    Carlie Hruban '13 - Edwardian Era DressmakingFor my Edith Hamilton project, I set out to construct a day dress from the Edwardian era, or approximately the year 1904 (coincidentally also the first year that Gym Drill took place at Bryn Mawr). I had originally fallen in love with the Edwardian era while looking up pre-war dresses on the Metropolitan Museum of Art website. In preparation for my project, I researched the fashion of the time period by combing through books and websites and visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see some actual historical pieces of clothing.
    I began by sewing my own Edwardian underthings—corset, drawers, camisole, petticoats—before moving on to the dress itself. I used construction and techniques to mimic the sewing done in the Edwardian era. To achieve an authentic look, I copied stitches, tried to match my materials as best I could, and incorporated many different aesthetic components that were present in Edwardian clothing (use of lace and velvet, sleeve style, hat decorations, and so on). I’d done a number of elaborate sewing projects before, and I thought that having the time to work on an Edith as well as the space to present it would be incredibly beneficial for my skills as a seamstress.

    During the process of making the garments I learned a good deal, mostly about patience and perseverance. I’m usually the kind of person who will take on many projects and finish only about half of them, giving up in frustration on many paintings, sewing projects, and sudoku puzzles. But in my Edith, as many times as I got frustrated with a seam or wanted to give up on a sleeve, I had to keep working on it. I gave myself space, taking breaks from working on certain things, but I always came back to it. In the end, it was completely worth it. I had a whole lot of fun as well. I’m sure costuming will follow me wherever I go in the future, and the skills I developed here will be very helpful. I was incredibly lucky to have this opportunity to work on something that I love, and I know the things I learned (even some simple sewing tricks) will not be soon forgotten.
  • Stephanie Murphy '13 - Making an Animated Short Film

    Stephanie attends the University of Denver.

    For my Edith Hamilton project, my final piece was an animated short film created using computer generated imagery (CGI) with the program Cinema 4d. It tells the brief story of a balloon floating up from Earth onto the moon where a robot begins to interact with it. This short took about three months to animate, requiring me to work carefully on each movement. A few months before that were required to create plot lines, story boards, and character models with the help of my mentor, Lydia Gregg, a medical animator. I learned each different step in the process of creating an animation from the idea to post production. I now have a greater appreciation for long animations such as Pixar movies because I understand the effort it takes to create a single second of movement.
    I chose to study animation because I have always loved watching animated movies. My favorite class junior year was the animation class taught by Mrs. Letras, so I wanted to explore this subject in greater depth. This project has given me a small taste of animation, and furthered my hope of someday working as a Pixar animator.
Located in Baltimore, Maryland, The Bryn Mawr School is a private all-girls kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school with a coed preschool for ages 2 months through 5 years. Bryn Mawr provides students with exceptional educational opportunities on a beautiful 26-acre campus within the city limits. Inquisitive girls, excellent teaching, strong student-teacher relationships and a clear mission sustain our vibrant school community where girls always come first.