Ada Palmer is an assistant professor in the history department at the University of Chicago. She teaches European intellectual history, focusing on the Italian Renaissance and on the long-term history of ideas, especially the relationship between religion, science, atheism and the classics. Her research focuses on Latin manuscripts in Italian libraries, especially in Rome and Florence, which gives her many opportunities to enjoy and study Italian cooking. Ada is the composer of almost all Sassafrass’s music. She took Peabody music theory courses in childhood, and has studied violin, piano, guitar, and various medieval instruments, but her compositions are primarily vocal. Outside the Filking world, Ada writes science fiction and fantasy, and her first novel “Dogs of Peace” is due out from Tor Books in 2016. She enjoys many sci-fi, fantasy and gaming activities, especially LARPing and costuming. She is active in the anime fan community, running cosplay and gameshow events like Cosplay Human Chess, primarily at Anime Boston. She is also a manga scholar, working mostly on the works of the “God of Manga” Osamu Tezuka. She has published several articles on Tezuka, and runs TezukaInEnglish.com. Ada’s interest in Viking culture and Norse Mythology stems from stories her parents read her in childhood. See adapalmer.com for more; Ada is on Facebook, and on LJ others usually refer to her as Thrud.
Alexa is an MD/PhD student at the University of Minnesota, pursuing a PhD in microbiology. No, she doesn’t expect to ever finish school, either. When she’s not playing with deadly bacteria, she spends her time singing, fencing, and cooing over her dog Frey. Alexa began singing in choirs in high school, and continued singing in a Broadway revue group as an undergraduate. She also ran her college’s science fiction association, which is how she met many of Sassafrass’s members (she is one of the few who did not attend Bryn Mawr). Sassafrass is her first experience with a cappella singing. With the notable exception of her husband, Matt, she lives apart from most members of the group, and has recently begun experimenting with multi-tracking herself as a result. If the idea of living the life of a medical student vicariously through a blog appeals to you, you can do so at tiamat360.livejournal.com.
Emily is a high school Latin teacher in Northern Virginia and member of The Pericles Group. Although she attended Bryn Mawr, like many of Sassafrass’ members, she was not a member of Sassafrass until Irina recommended that she join when the group came back together in 2008. Since she recently moved to VA, you may know her from the Boston branch of Sassafrass, but she sings with whatever branch she happens to be near at the time! In addition to singing, Emily is an avid SciFi/Fantasy fan, an active Swing and Salsa dancer, and an ice hockey player. She is also an energetic sponsor in Junior Classical League at both the Virginia and National levels. When she has a minute to breathe, she may tweet at @blueathena14 or update her blog at: aurelia-star.livejournal.com.
Irina is a Latin teacher in Virginia with teaching experience from the elementary through university levels. She is also proficient in French and Japanese, and a student of, in particular, Greek and German (though at any time she can be found studying up to nine languages). She was one of the founders of Sassafrass at Bryn Mawr College, and has remained one of its most enthusiastic members. She is currently active with the DC-area Sassafrass group. Other than singing, Irina’s primary fan activities are gaming of all kinds, watching anime, and reading manga and comics as well as sci-fi and fantasy prose. In addition to pursuing a Ph.D. in Classics and continuing research in education, she is also an interested researcher in the history of science fiction, fantasy, and comics worldwide. Irina coordinates the DC branch of Sassafrass. Her blog is at http://animairenea.wordpress.
Kara joined Sassafrass in summer 2008. She did not attend Bryn Mawr College, although she did grow up just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the school in the Philadelphia area. More recently, Kara hails from Boston, where she obtained a law degree and a master’s degree in social work. Kara organizes the Boston branch of Sassafrass, and is also one of the technical masters of our high-tech recording studio.
In her free time, Kara enjoys piña coladas and getting caught in the rain. She’s not into yoga, though.
Lauren is another of the founding members of Sassafrass. She has Masters in Library and Information Science and works in the library at Texas A&M University. She is interested in digital libraries and hopes to go back to school for yet another degree soon. Lauren is fond of musicals and the musical styles of the 1920s through 1950s, and brings a different tone to Sassafrass’s mostly-Renaissance feel. She too is a sci-fi/fantasy fan and active cosplayer, and has staffed many anime cons, running gameshows and cosplay events. Lauren is the administrator and primary contact for the Sassafrass website and LJ community. She also organizes events for the Texas area branch of Sassafrass. Lauren sometimes updates her Livejournal.
Lila is an independent scholar specializing in literary sci-fi, fantasy, horror, anime, manga and gender studies. She has published short fiction and poetry in several magazines and journals, has an article in the Encyclopedia of Women in Science Fiction, and has been nominated for the BSFA and the Rhysling. She is a frequent face and occasional panelist at literary F&SF cons across the US and Canada. She has been a member of Sassafrass from the beginning. She recently completed a blogging project in which she read an entire book every day for 365 days. Her blog is at rushthatspeaks.livejournal.com/.
Matt is newly certified as a high school English teacher, so now the ghosts of the teachers he tortured in high school can laugh at him. Matt began singing in his synagogue’s choir at a young age. Although his lilting soprano soon gave way to bass, he continued singing in his high school choir and music directed a Broadway revue group as an undergraduate. Matt met most of Sassafrass’s members through his college’s science fiction association, and later became the group’s first male member.
Ruth was a friend and classmate of the founders of Sassafrass back at Bryn Mawr and supported us with her enthusiasm for many years before becoming an active member when we began performing again in 2008. She is a psychotherapist in private practice in Somerville, MA, specializing in working with GLBTQIA folks, polyamorous people, kinksters, pagans, furries, otaku, gamers, and everyone else who doesn’t want to waste their time in therapy explaining such perfectly functional and awesome parts of their lives, rather than talking about their actual problems.
Sandry is a quirky musician who has gotten involved with IT/software development in lieu of pursuing a career as a penniless orchestral flutist. Originally hailing from New York, she is now a stout Boston advocate who also spends spare time reading, gaming, playing and composing with Stranger Ways, cooking delicious vegetarian food, whistling, and making sarcastic commentary. Sandry posts at http://sandrylene.
Tili, a Sassafrass member since summer 2012, studies English and Women, Gender, and Sexuality as a Harvard undergraduate. She is a board member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association and of Vericon, Harvard’s annual science fiction convention. She loves LARPing, mocking terrible movies, knitting, and reading, especially comics. She has also performed with the Harvard College Madrigal Singers and the Harvard Noteables.
Technical and Administrative Members
Ethan, the newest member of the group, is Sassafrass’s administrative manager.
Nat has been into technology since before it was reasonable, and has been making music since before it was socially acceptable for him to do so. With these powers combined, he joins Sassafrass to edit and produce “Sundown.” Nat also plays guitar, cello and sings with Stranger Ways, and has previously been part of the goth-klezmer ensemble Klezmoratorium.
Beecher got his start as one of the group’s oldest fans. He has worked as a software engineer in the DC area ever since graduating from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2003. His major fan activities are gaming of all kinds, anime, manga and comics, and since marrying Irina, attending filk conventions.
Bryan is part of the Washington DC chapter.
Frey is a puppy. He loves you.