Section: Features

Summer scoops: how faculty and students spent the summer break

Summer scoops: how faculty and  students spent the summer break

While some stayed close to home and others traveled across the world, the faculty and students at Kenyon had enterprising summers. They conducted research, visited old friends and helped maintain the local environment.

Professors of Biology Drew Kerkhoff and Chris Gillen both worked at the inaugural summer of the  Young Science Writers Workshop in Gambier, designing the curriculum and running workshop sections. The students read and discussed poems, fiction, journalism and research articles about science. They also wrote pieces inspired by those readings and their own experiences in science.

“As instructors, we were amazed at how enthusiastically and successfully the participants met these challenges,” Gillen wrote in an email to the Collegian. Kerkhoff added, “I think it really helped them to see that science itself is not a collection of dry facts, but a creative, human endeavor — rife with all of our typical human triumphs and failures.”

As part of a relaxed summer, Professor of Music Benjamin Locke attended both the wedding of a Kenyon alumna who had been a chamber singer and his 50th high school reunion. “We relived the old stuff we used to do and the pranks we played in high school,” Locke said. “I was surprised at how much fun it was.”

Dora Segall ’20 took a three-week trip across the country with a few friends. She went from Washington D.C. to Atlanta to Los Angeles, then to the Grand Canyon, Denver and Chicago. She made most of the journey by Amtrak train, which Segall said was her favorite part of the trip. “It’s more about the travel than getting from point A to point B…. It’s more social than a car,” Segall explained. “People say that you meet lots of weirdos on the train, which is totally true in the best possible way.”

Siobhan Fennessy, the Philip and Sheila Jordan professor of environmental studies and biology, was part of a United Nations project called Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). She worked on two main projects: One was an assessment of the status and trends of the biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Americas; the other, the global assessment of Land Degradation and Restoration. This summer, the group finalized the reports, three years in the making. The results of their findings were important but grim, Fennessy wrote in an email to the Collegian.

“In all regions, biodiversity and ES  [ecosystem services] are being degraded and lost, which poses a risk to the lives we lead,” she wrote. “This threat to the biosphere from the loss of diversity is as great as the risks due to climate change and of course, climate change is also a threat to biodiversity.”

Professor Fennesy during an authors meeting in Cartagena. Photo courtesy of Siobhan Fennessy

Eden Stephey ’21 spent a majority of her summer working at the Brown Family Environmental Center (BFEC). She gardened, weeded, mulched, planted and performed land and trail maintenance. She also spent time working at the Kokosing Nature Preserve, working and learning about land conservation. “The employees of the BFEC are knowledgeable and skilled and care greatly about their work,” Stephey wrote in an email to the Collegian. She hopes to stay involved with the BFEC through the rest of her Kenyon career.

Professor of Music Ted Buehrer trained for Pelotonia, a cycling event that raises money for the James Cancer Center at The Ohio State University. Fifteen people from Kenyon participated in the 100-mile route which ended in Gambier. The ride was personal for Buehrer, whose wife is a cancer survivor. Although the ride was challenging, Buehrer pointed out that it was nothing compared to the challenges patients have to face while fighting cancer. He also praised the enthusiasm surrounding the race: “Seeing people lining the roads all along the way, cheering, clapping, ringing bells, thanking the riders reminds me how cancer has affected so many lives and makes all of the training worth it.”

Bikers at the beginning of the 100-mile Pelotonia ride. Photo courtesy of Ted Buehrer.

Professor of Anthropology Bruce Hardy worked on several projects this summer across the globe. In France, he studied stone tools between 50,000 and 90,000 years old as part of his research on Neanderthals. In Knox County, Ohio, he worked with his wife, Associate Professor of Anthropology Kimmarie Murphy, on projects surrounding local food and farms. He was also one of 20 people worldwide invited to present at a conference on Neanderthals in Gibraltar this summer.

Ellie Melick ’21 worked as a counselor at an all-girls camp in Northern Michigan, leading several wilderness trips throughout the summer including a two-week, 120-mile backpacking trip around Isle Royale National Park. “I did the trip when I was a camper, but I was really sick the entire time,” Melick wrote in an email to the Collegian, “so I’ve always wanted to go back and do it as a counselor, and it was actually the best experience of my life.”

Melick and a fellow counselor at Windigo Harbor. Photo courtesy of Ellie Melick.

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