April 2017

april on campus header

Spring has sprung on campus, as evidenced by the blooming roses and windy patios. Commencement is on the horizon but first, take a look back at Oxy achievements and pencil in a campus event.


John McCormackMcCormack Receives Nearly $800K NSF Grant for Bird Habitat Study

Occidental assistant professor of biology John McCormack, director of the Moore Lab of Zoology, has received a five-year National Science Foundation CAREER grant of $787,000 to fund a project that will look at how human-caused habitat change has affected birds across North America.

NSF GrantsSix Oxy Scholars Receives NSF Grants

Six Occidental students and alumni have been awarded prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research fellowships, awarded annually to candidates in the sciences and social sciences who are pursuing a master’s degree or Ph.D.

Oxy Immigration Symposium: "The Beginning of a Conversation"

More than 250 administrators, faculty and students from dozens of Southern California colleges and universities gathered at Occidental March 10 to consider how best to respond to sweeping changes in federal immigration policy.

50th Anniversary of MLK's Campus Visit

To commemorate the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1967 speech at Thorne Hall, the student-run newspaper, The Occidental Weekly, collaborated with Special Collections and the College archives to gather images and excerpts from King's speech.


Welcome to the newest Occidental employees:

Timothy Carey, Utilities & Energy Management, HVAC helper

Steven Montes, Library Services circulation supervisor

Jarin Somboonsup, Institutional Advancement, project coordinator

Anitra Terrell, Title IX administrative coordinator

Cari Ann Urabe, Residence Life, assistant director of residential education

Daniel Wohl, music part-time NTT faculty


Mijin ChaIn a new article for American Prospect, assistant professor of urban and environmental policy Mijin Cha provided a historical perspective on American coal policy. Cha analyzed why the coal industry may not be able to be restored, "while alternative energy can provide miners with more—and safer—jobs."

Jennifer PiscopoAssistant professor of politics Jennifer Piscopo co-wrote a guest piece for the Washington Post published April 4. The research conducted by Piscopo and her colleagues centers on the bipartisan discontent over the Trump administration’s "strategy" of erasing women from public policymaking.

Janet Scheel, associate professor of physics, has co-authored "Onset of Rayleigh-Bénard convection for intermediate aspect ratio cylindrical containers" for the peer-reviewed journal Physics of Fluids with three Oxy alumni (Joshua Yu ’16, Adam Goldfaden ’16 and Mary Flagstad ’14) who were participants in the URC summer research program as students. Scheel also recently received a Mercator Fellowship as part of the DFG Priority Programme in Turbulent Superstructures. The fellowship will fund part of Scheel’s visiting professorship at the Technische Universitat in Ilmenau, Germany.

Deena SelenowIn collaboration with hip hop/soul duo Sin City, Oxy Arts director Deena Selenow will be bringing the hip hop/rap/theater project Fun House to Highways Performance Space on May 5 and 6. The production is a "collision of concert and theater, narrative and freestyle." Tickets are on sale now.

In her new essay, associate professor of religious studies Kristi Upson-Saia analyzes how early Christians’ figurative language—"wounds of heresy" and "wounds of sin"—contributed to a conceptualization of heresy and sin structured on the qualities and affordances of being wounded, as well as medical wound treatments. The essay appears in a new volume of Melania: Early Christianity Through the Life of One Family (Christianity in Late Antiquity).


Emily Valk

Emily Valk, financial aid counselor

I hail from: Mission Viejo, CA

I graduated from: UCSB with a B.A. in Global Studies

I've been involved with Oxy for: About 2.5 years!  

A typical day on the job looks like: Our days look different depending on the season we're in. Right now, it's meeting with admitted students and their families to discuss their financial aid award and processing appeals for additional assistance.

The favorite part of my job is: Getting to know our students during one-on-one counseling sessions. I love to hear about where our students come from, what they are pursuing academically, what their goals are post-Oxy. I think financial aid can often be falsely viewed as impersonal, but making those connections with students and building trust is what makes the job so meaningful to me.

My favorite thing to do in Los Angeles is: Hike! I'm currently preparing for the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge: hiking Mt. Wilson, Cucamonga Peak, Mt. San Antonio, San Bernardino Peak, Mt. San Jacinto and San Gorgonio before Sept. 30, 2017. I love being in nature, plus it's a great excuse to feast. I'm mostly in it for the food.

A recent accomplishment I'm proud of is: I didn't eat a single piece of candy at the office last week. For those who are familiar with Jean's candy dish, I think you can appreciate what level of self-control that requires.

Cooler or Marketplace?: I tend to pack my lunch but I've ordered a wrap from the Marketplace before and it was super tasty!

If I could invite any famous person — living or dead — to a dinner party it would be: Living, Hillary Clinton. Dead, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

My nickname is: My brothers still call me Emilio.

Something people don't know about me is: I got to ride on the princess float in the 1997 Rose Parade as part of the Orange County Foundation for Oncology Children and Families (OCF-OCF).

A good book I've read lately is: An Area of Darkness by V.S. Naipaul.


Thursday, April 20: Handmade Oxy

Friday, April 21–Sunday, April 23: "A Little Night Music"

Friday, April 21: Deadline for ASC Nominations

Monday, April 24–Friday, May 5: ASC Elections

Tuesday, April 25: Faculty Retirement Party



Sir Lucious Brown, companion to Norm Williams Jr. '05, assistant director, on-campus recruiting.

The regal Sir Lucious Brown is a 5-year-old Brittnay spaniel/Australian shepherd mix. Brownie, as he is affectionately called, was born in Seattle during the summer of 2012. A few hours before his birth, my friend rescued his mom from a local highway. She awoke the next morning to five puppies and a deceased mama dog. After being bottlefed for eight weeks, Brownie boarded a plane to Los Angeles to meet me, his new best friend. We've been inseparable ever since.

Brownie loves to cuddle, make new friends, and has yet to meet someone who can throw a ball further than he is willing to chase it! He recently got a new mommy and a baby sister that he likes to herd like sheep.