Faculty mentors for the COSMOS program come from the Department of Mathematics and many of the science departments on campus. They have received additonal training in how to advise aspiring math and science students, and they have much experience in working with students in the classroom and in research.

Principal Investigators

Professor Gretchen North

Gretchen North

John W. McMenamin Endowed Chair in Biology
(323) 259-2898

Gretchen North investigates how plants cope with physically challenging conditions.

Professor Ron Buckmire

Ron Buckmire

Professor, Mathematics
(323) 259-2536

Ron Buckmire has spent multiple decades in higher education, gathering experience and expertise as a teacher, researcher and administrator.

Professor Justin Li

Justin Li

Associate Professor, Cognitive Science and Computer Science
(323) 341-4116

Justin Li teaches in cognitive science and computer science, and is interested in how people and artificial agents perform knowledge search.

Professor Janet Scheel

Janet Scheel

Professor, Physics
(323) 259-2777

Janet Scheel's research deals with pattern formation and turbulence. The particular system she studies is Rayleigh-Benard convection.

Professor Aleksandra Sherman

Aleksandra Sherman

Associate Professor, Cognitive Science
(323) 259-2786

Aleksandra Sherman studies how our senses, emotions, and cognitive capabilities integrate to influence our perceptions and social interactions.

Lead Faculty:

Dr. Gretchen North (PI) is the John W. McMenamin Endowed Professor of Biology at Occidental College, where she teaches Plant Biology, Ecology, and First Year Seminars. Her research focuses on plant physiological ecology, with an emphasis on the water relations of arid-land plants and plants in the rainforest canopy; she also investigates cellular and subcellular mechanisms of plant water uptake and transport. NSF and the Smithsonian Institution have funded her research, and her work has been published in journals such as American Journal of Botany, Journal of Experimental Botany, and Plant, Cell and Environment. She received the Loftsgordon outstanding teaching award in 2008, the Sterling Award for teaching, service, and distinguished professional achievement in 2012, and the Linda and Tod White Prize for excellence in teaching in 2014, all from Occidental College.

Dr. Ron Buckmire (co-PI) is a Professor of Mathematics at Occidental College. A member of the faculty since 1994, Prof. Buckmire is known for being an “early adapter" of incorporating various kinds of technology into his teaching. He is a representative of multiple groups under-represented in STEM (African-Americans, openly LGBT, immigrants) and has long been active in supporting programs that celebrate and foster diversity in academia. He has extensive experience serving on grant review panels for NSF, the California Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education. In 2011 a national group named Prof. Buckmire LGBT Professor of the Year. His research areas include mathematical modeling and numerical analysis; he has published multiple peer-reviewed papers with Occidental undergraduates. From 2011-2013, Prof. Buckmire served as a Program Officer in the NSF’s Division of Undergraduate Education, where he administred and recommended S-STEM awards to institutions around the country.

Dr. Justin Li (co-PI) is an Associate Professor of Cognitive Science and Computer Science at Occidental College. A member of the Occidental College Faculty since 2015, he is also the Department Chair of the Computer Science department. His research focuses on the strategies that people and artificial agents might use in their search for knowledge during problem-solving, from indicators that more knowledge is needed, to processes for acquiring that knowledge, to the mechanisms, algorithms, and representations of knowledge for efficient retrieval. His papers have been published in journals such as The Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges, Topics in Cognitive Science, and has been part of the Academia Panel at the 8th Annual Conference on Advances in Cognitive Systems.

Dr. Janet Scheel (co-PI) is an Associate Professor of Physics at Occidental college and a Visiting Associate in Physics at the California Institute of Technology. A member of the Occidental College Faculty since 2008, she teaches physics courses at all levels.  Her research deals with the theoretical understanding of pattern formation and turbulence in heated fluids. She performs  numerical simulations of turbulent heated fluids and has obtained over 120 million supercomputing hours at Argonne National Lab from DOE INCITE awards over the past three years.  She is also a coauthor of Analytical Dynamics, an advanced undergraduate physics textbook.



Affiliated faculty:

Dr. Carmel Levitan, Senior Personnel

Dr. Margaret Rusmore, Senior Personnel

Dr. Andrew Udit, Senior Personnel