2020-2021 Luce Scholar

Summer-Solstice Thomas is a researcher and activist aspiring to use her intellectual curiosity and propensity towards quantitative analysis to affect social change. Summer-Solstice will graduate with honors from Williams College in June 2020 with a degree in Environmental Studies. Growing up exploring the diverse habitats of her hometown of Santa Cruz, CA, Summer-Solstice has pursued many quests to understand the natural world, from studying bee health and abundance in Californian urban gardens to the effects of deforestation on rivers’ fluvial paths in Borneo. Summer-Solstice plans to dedicate herself to studying how toxic industrial chemicals enter and interact with the environment to affect public health disproportionately across axes of race, socio-economic status, and geography. She desires to understand how power manifests across landscape to perpetuate inequality and illuminate how systems of privilege can be shifted to provide for a more healthy, just, and equitable world.

As a research intern at the Center for Health, Environment and Justice in Washington, D.C., Summer-Solstice spearheaded the design of new policies regulating air pollution in sacrifice zones. Her senior thesis, which will result in two forthcoming papers, analyzed patterns of PCB, or polychlorinated biphenyl, pollution across the Housatonic River floodplain to better inform clean-up of the carcinogenic material. As a varsity Track and Field co-captain (with a hard-earned team national championship in 2019), Summer-Solstice is a five-time All American with a passion for cooperation and community. She hopes to extend this passion into her career, working with leading researchers to empower and amplify the efforts of grassroots community groups to receive the protection from toxic chemicals. Summer-Solstice enjoys running, surfing, river-rafting and anything involving lots of sunshine, dogs, or smiles.