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Summer Research Opportunities

2021: Design as Research, "Thinking with Things"

After a year of depending on digital forms of learning, we are especially looking forward to working with tangible materials in physical space. TThis is a four-week design research program, focused on “Thinking with Things”— using (deceptively) simple, analogue prototypes to explore abstract ideas. A central project of summer 2021 will be to prototype a multidisciplinary workshop space in Old Laundry Building: to develop conceptual models for the workshop’s physical layout, to outline a list of key materials, and also to develop protocols and systems that would support the ongoing use of this kind of shared workshop space.   

Students will participate in a series of design methods workshops led by program faculty and visiting guests. They will conduct interviews with students and faculty whose work centers this kind of multidisciplinary hands-on inquiry. They will do archival research and site research, to explore and map analogous spaces at Vassar. They make (virtual) site visits to similar kinds of spaces on other campuses. 

The Creative Arts Across DIsciplines Summer Program Fund was made possible by the generous donation of Henry Wendt III and Holly P. Wendt '57.

Apply Today 

Student Stipends: $1,680* for four weeks over the summer. June 7 - July 2, 2021

Applications due April 5, 2021 at 11:59pm EST. Selected candidates will be notified in mid-April. 

*As this is a stipend for research, should you choose to live on campus, any fees for room and board will come out of this stipend per the appropriate offices and systems. This program may be held totally in-person or virtual, at the program directors' discretion and in accordance with college recommendations and guidelines.

Please note: this is full time program, and students may not hold other college-funded positions during the session. It is expected that participants can be scheduled during normal college business hours (9-5pm EST) without conflict, but with respect to virtual and remote conditions.

Preference may be given to rising seniors; graduates are ineligible to apply.

If you have any questions about the program or application process, please contact

Previous Summers

As part of the Creative Arts Across Disciplines program funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Vassar hosted and supported summer projects based in student creation and innovation since 2015. Student participants draw on backgrounds in many different academic areas, but their projects remain grounded in CAAD’s theme of the five senses. Until 2018, participants in the CAAD Summer Multi-Arts Collectives proposed projects and then worked for eight weeks to develop and formulate them, showcasing their work in the fall. CAAD’s summer format then shifted: the program was shortened to four weeks and the focus turned to the design process, itself, as a form of research.

2018-19: Design and the Senses

This exploratory, open-ended iteration of CAAD’s summer grant saw faculty and students workshopping ideas together. They dove into sensory experiences and interacted with outside exhibitions and institutions to inform their personal areas of interest. Using frameworks from speculative design methods and critical disability studies, participants asked tough questions with an eye towards expanded possibilities, rather than finished results. Students gave form to inquiry with a series of prototypes that may be remounted and developed further in the future.

Student Researchers 2018: Isa Pengskul ‘19, Lily Berman ‘19, Saskia Globig ‘19, Sophia Yoo ‘19, Robert Appleby ‘19

Student Researchers 2019: Sevine Clarey '20, Elinor Quao '20, Elliot Kleinman '21, Logan White '20, Maimuna Touray '20, Olivia Guarnieri '20

2015-2017: Summer Multi-Arts Collectives

Under the auspices of the Creative Arts Across Disciplines project, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Vassar has offered opportunities over the next several summers for multidisciplinary teams of two or more students to work on creative arts or design-based projects.
CAAD’s summer multi-arts collectives are an eight week program for Vassar students and their faculty project mentors. Students with majors in different arts departments may collaborate, or arts majors may collaborate with majors from outside the arts.

  • Projects that involve students majoring in at least two different disciplines, at least one from the arts.
  • Projects taking place mainly on campus and may involve presentation or engagement with the Poughkeepsie-area community.
  • A culmination of the project in something that is presented on campus or in the Poughkeepsie area during the coming academic year, preferably in the fall. It can be in the forms of performance, installation, activity, intervention, community or educational initiative, etc.
  • Projects that tie in some way with CAAD’s programming focus on the senses.

(click on the year below to link to that summer's specifc project details)


Students: Jake Brody, Noah Trueblood

Faculty Mentor: Lisa Brawley

DiSCCo liason: Amy Laughlin

The goal of Windswept is to explore the experience of the touch of wind. When thinking of ideas for a project, we were drawn to the unique phenomenon of the feeling of the touch of wind. In order to create a project that recreates the experience of the touch of wind, we want to simulate the interactions that occur between wind and nature.

Experimental Classroom

Students: Charlotte Foley, Antoine Robinson, Audrey Keefe

Faculty Mentor: Lisa Brawley

DiSCCo liason: Amy Laughlin

The Experimental Classroom is a project in 3 parts that puts classroom architecture in conversation with liberatory pedagogy and interrogating norms via physical interventions on classroom spaces. 

Do You Hear What I Hear? 

Students: Elisabeth Boyce, Maya Enriquez, Conor Flanagan, Gabrielle Miranda

Faculty Mentors: Janet Andrews, Justin Patch

DiSCCo liaison: Baynard Bailey

In the News:

Do You Hear What I Hear? is both a research project and an experiment in science-inspired art making. With audio-illusions as our focus (those being ‘like optical illusions, but for hearing’), we designed an investigation using human subjects to produce results to be used in future research on the subject. The results, as well as various artful depictions of the process, and outside research on the so-called ‘divide between the arts and sciences,’ will also come into play in a performance art and multi-media installation in the Mug.

Performance Dates: September 12-14, the Mug

The data collected from this summer can be found here. 

Create and Control 

Students: Omri Bareket, Andrea Orejarena, Carson Packer

Faculty Mentors: Tom Ellman, Stephen Jones

DiSCCo liaison: Arianna Schlegel

In the Case of a Person, the final product of Create and Control’s summer Multi-Arts Collective, three Vassar students from various disciplines are working on a project that merges Cognitive Science, Computer Science and Drama. They are preparing a small-scale theater experiment that ventures into immersive and interactive theater. Explore what happens when the audience is given control over the narrative and various production elements throughout the performance.

Performance dates: September 23-25 in Rockefeller Hall, Room 200.

Reservations can be made at:

Seeing Shadows, Hearing Echoes 

Students: Henry Krusoe, Jonah Parker, Gordon Schmidt

Faculty Mentors: Susan Botti Vasquez, Christopher Raymond

DiSCCo liaison: Amy Laughlin

In the News:

Seeing Shadows, Hearing Echoes is an installation that invites the viewer to engage with classic philosophical questions outside the traditional realms of lecture and literature. Inspired by Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, it will be installed in the new Environmental Cooperative at the Vassar Barns and will use a variety of audio and visual stimuli to create an immersive, engaging space. Viewers with be challenged to interact with and transform their environment as a means of grappling with themes of emergence, truth, image, and reality.

Performance dates: October 3-7, Vassar Barns


Students: Sofia Benitez (’18), Daniel Dones (’16), Jacqueline Geoghegan (’16), Ariana Sacristan-Benjet (’18)

Faculty Mentor: Miriam Mahdaviani (Dance)

DiSCCo liaison: Amy Laughlin

In the News: éXodo offers new way to understand death, memory and cultureCAAD art collectives explore sound, silence


Students: Jake Ellis ('16), Alan Hagins (’16), Simaya Speed (’17)

Faculty Mentors: Thomas Porcello (Anthropology)

DiSSCo liaison: Baynard Bailey

In the News: CAAD art collectives explore sound, silence

Healing Narratives

Students: Kelsey Greenway (’16), Alex Raz (’16), Aran Savory (’16), Joe DeGrand (’17)

Faculty Mentors: Laura Biagi (Italian), Michael Joyce (English)

DiSSCo liaison: Joanna DiPasquale

In the News: Devised theater piece brings hospice narratives to Shiva stage, Collaborative effort uses art to explain illnessCAAD art collectives explore sound, silence