A collage of seven students, comprised of black and white photos of the students, surrounded by elements from each of their symposium projects.
Photography by Jamie Betts, collages by Katie McBride

7 Spiders step into their futures

July 5, 2023

Curriculum Vitae

More than 300 remarkable students presented research and creative projects in April at the annual symposia hosted by the School of Arts and Sciences and the Jepson School of Leadership Studies.

Here, seven of the seniors — now alumni — look back on their Richmond experience.

By Matthew Dewald
A collage comprised of a black and white photograph of student Rilyn McKallip, surrounded by elements from her symposium presentation on using differential equations to estimate the trade-offs of using antibiotics to 
control salmonella on commercial poultry farms. Other collage elements include images of a chicken house full of chickens, a math equation, and graphs showing the increase in antibiotic resistance, and cost versus profits.

Rilyn McKallip, ’23

HOMETOWN: Forsyth, Georgia

ACADEMICS: Mathematics major with minors in biology and health studies

SYMPOSIUM FOCUS: Using differential equations to estimate the trade-offs of using antibiotics to 
control salmonella on commercial poultry farms

How does this fit into the big picture of your academics here?

This project combined all of my academic interests — my major and my two minors. It was part of my honors thesis. I started thinking about food systems while doing a research project on pesticides while studying abroad in India. It feels like we’re all so detached from where our food comes from.

What would you change about the past four years if you could redo them?

There are so many classes I would have loved to have taken. I would also have tried to be a little less busy and enjoy it a little more. That’s a big thing.

What’s your next step?

I’ll be a post-baccalaureate research fellow at the National Institutes of Health in Frederick, Maryland, doing cancer research.

A collage comprised of a black and white photograph of student Samara Rosen, surrounded by elements from her symposium presentation on social media use among college students during the Covid-19 pandemic, and its effect on depression. It includes the words

Samara Rosen, ’23

HOMETOWN: Glen Rock, New Jersey

ACADEMICS: Leadership studies and psychology double major

SYMPOSIUM FOCUS: Social media reliance, loneliness, and depression in college students

How does this fit into the big picture of your academics here?

There’s a big debate in psychology right now about the implications of social media. Is it supplementing our personal connections or displacing them? Social media is not something that we were wired to deal with in our evolution. I knew I wanted to do something with practical implications.

What role did your mentor play?

I absolutely love Dr. Karen Kochel. She was extremely helpful providing feedback that narrowed my vision. I was in her lab freshman year and really wanted to work with her because I felt like we had such a strong bond and shared interests.

Why was this research important to you?

If I could say anything through my thesis, it’s that you have to be so careful with social media. You have to be hyperaware of what messages you’re consuming because you can internalize things without even realizing you are. You might not even understand how it’s changing your perspective.

A collage comprised of a black and white photograph of student Jack Inzer, surrounded by elements from his documentary about the Richmond music scene - ReVeAl. Collage elements include a map of Richmond overlaid on an image of a bass drum with an

Jack Inzer, ’23

HOMETOWN: Clinton, New York

ACADEMICS: Film studies major with a minor in business administration

SYMPOSIUM FOCUS: Screening of ReVeAl, a 44-minute documentary he produced about the city of Richmond’s music scene


How does this fit into your experience at Richmond?

I wanted to get to know [the city] better. What better way than diving into the music culture? I could have made a documentary about anything, but I wanted it to be something fun for me to work on.

Tell us about your thesis mentor, professor Sonja Bertucci.

Sonja was great. I didn’t feel like I had a boss telling me how to do things. It was more like she gave me the resources that I needed and was there to support me.

What’s your next step?

I’m working for an advertising agency called Wieden+Kennedy, in their New York office. I searched for Richmond alumni there and sent messages saying, “Hey, I’m reaching out to a Spider as a Spider.” One of them passed my application forward, which got the ball rolling. It all started as the Spider connection, which was pretty great. 
I can’t wait for someone to message me now.

A collage comprised of a black and white photograph of student Grace Martin, surrounded by elements from her symposium presentation on solar energy in Puerto Rico, including the words

Grace Martin, ’23

HOMETOWN: Syracuse, New York

ACADEMICS: Environmental studies major and women, gender, and sexuality studies minor

SYMPOSIUM FOCUS: Case study of solar energy production in Puerto Rico

How are you different now than you were four years ago?

I’ve learned that you can’t always accept things for what people say they 
are. You have to do your own investigating and read between the lines to understand, “Who is this person? Do they have ulterior motives?” That’s a big thing, especially in the world of sustainability, because greenwashing is such a prevalent issue.

What’s your next step?

A graduate program in industrial design at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. I aim to design and innovate modes of renewable energy capture, specifically for the electrification of transportation.

What’s your long-term plan?

I genuinely don’t have an answer. Sometimes I feel like the position I want doesn’t exist yet. I usually describe it as creating my path by way of steppingstones. I’m flinging myself in a general direction that I think will be beneficial in the future.

Brendan Crockett, ’23


ACADEMICS: Biology major with a minor in health studies

SYMPOSIUM FOCUS: Differences between wild rats and selectively bred laboratory rats, which has potential implications for results of studies involving lab rats

How was it working with professor Kelly Lambert as your lab mentor?

She sees things I wouldn’t have seen, and we talk about ideas. She’s incredibly smart, and she really wants to take care of you as a student.

How are you different now than when you started at Richmond four years ago?

Coming to campus, I was terrified of insects. But in my junior year, I took a medical entomology class, which is all about insects, right? Eighteen-year-old me would never ever have done that. It was probably one of my favorite classes.

What’s your next step?

I’m working in Dr. Lambert’s lab this summer. After that, I’m not 100% sure. Medical school or maybe a Ph.D. route is in my future. I’m keeping my options open.

Tanner Brooks, ’23

HOMETOWN: Chesterfield, Virginia

ACADEMICS: Political science and PPEL double major with a law and liberal arts minor

SYMPOSIUM FOCUS: An argument that aiding in food emergencies is a duty of justice that sometimes overrides the principle of state sovereignty

What’s something you wouldn’t change about the past four years?

Interning for a member of the General Assembly my junior year. Being able to experience policy and legislation being created firsthand had a way of grounding me to understand that not everything has to be perfect. The result is not always exactly what we want, but that’s OK.

What’s your next step?

I’ll be attending law school here at University of Richmond. I’m very excited.

What’s something you’ve learned over the last four years?

The idea of justice as fairness requires a lot. There are so many shoulds. Maybe this is reductive, but I think the key is improvement. Do the best you can now; come back and fix it when you can. If you’re only ever doing your best, then you’ve done your best, and that’s really all you can ask for.

Sofie Martinez, ’23

HOMETOWN: Centennial, Colorado

ACADEMICS: Leadership studies major with minors in women, gender, and sexuality studies and Latin American, Latino, and Iberian studies

SYMPOSIUM FOCUS: Comparative study of gender-based violence during the Salem witch trials; in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico; and on a college campus

How are you different now than you were four years ago?

I came into UR thinking I’m really not meant to be here — a lot of impostor syndrome and feeling like I have to blend in. My faculty taught me that I did the work to get here and deserve to be here. The table is set, I have a seat, and I deserve to take it. If I don’t have a seat, I deserve to ask people to move and make a seat for me.

What’s something you wouldn’t change about the past four years?

I’ve been able to build such an incredible network of support. It’s beautiful seeing how open professors have been to getting to know me as a person and me getting to know them as a person. I would not change that for anything.

What’s your next step?

I’m going home to spend time just relaxing and reading for fun this summer. In the fall, I will be going to University of Oxford as a Jepson Scholar to get my master’s degree.