August 2018







Oxy Faculty Honored at 2018 Convocation

Four professors were honored for exceptional teaching, scholarship and service August 28 as the Class of 2022 was formally welcomed to the Oxy community at the College’s 124th annual Convocation ceremony.


InternLA 2018 Roundup

Each summer, 30-40 Oxy students actively develop their professional skills by participating in InternLA, one of Occidental’s signature internship programs.


Recaptured Africans Named Finalist for Douglass Prize

History professor Sharla Fett’s 2017 book exploring the little-known story of Africans who found themselves in the United States after being seized from illegal slave ships has been named a finalist for one of the most prestigious awards for the study of the African American experience.

5 Students Awarded Richter Research Abroad Grants

Five students were awarded Richter grants to conduct independent research projects in other countries this summer.

Oxy Alumna Named L.A. Unified Teacher of the Year

Jennifer Tróchez MacLean ’91 has been named one of Los Angeles Unified School District’s 2017-18 Teachers of the Year, recognized for her strong commitment to her students, school and community.




Oxy Holds 19th Undergraduate Research Conference

More than 130 students skipped the family road trips to spend 10 weeks this summer counting starfish and examining bacteria inside beetles as part of Oxy’s undergraduate research program.





Eden Agonafer, Emmons Wellness Center, Postdoctoral Psychology Fellow
Samantha Alfrey, Center for Digital Liberal Arts, Instruction and Research Specialist  in the Arts & Humanities
Staahl Almeida, ITS, Analytics & Rep. Programmer/Analyst
Scott Amiss, Kinesiology, Adjunct Faculty
Phillip Ayoub, Diplomacy & World Affairs, Associate Professor
Leslie A. Berntsen, Psychology, PT NTT Assistant Professor
Andrea Boyle, Title IX, Administrative Assistant
James L. Brown, Mathematics, Professor
Jordan A. Brown, Admission, Assistant Dean of Admission
Patricia Cabral, Psychology, Assistant Professor
Hsing-Hau Chen, Computer Science, FT NTT Assistant Professor
Kenturah H. Davis, Art and Art History, PT NTT Assistant Professor
Emmanuelle Despagnet-Ayoub, Chemistry, Associate Professor
Julius D. DiLorenzo, Admission Coordinator for Campus Experiences
Ron Drieslein, Campus Safety Officer
Gennady Erlikhman, Psychology, PT NTT Asst. Professor
Darius Fatemi, Emmons Wellness Center, Postdoctoral Psychology Fellow
Catherine J. Foldenauer, Theater, FT NTT Assistant Professor
Heriberto Gallegos, Campus Safety Officer
Megan M. Henkin, Registrar, Associate Registrar, Data & Reporting
Melissa Hernandez, Child Development Center Teacher
Marcel Hite, Admission, Assistant Dean of Admission
Aleem Hossain, Media Arts and Culture, Assistant Professor
Andrew D. Hua, Intercultural Community Center, Coordinator of OEI
Raul Madrid, Politics, FT NTT Instructor
Halie Marohl, Assistant Athletic Trainer
Sidney K. Mitsunaga-Whitten, Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture, PT NTT Assistant Professor
Rochelle Peterson, Child Development Center Teacher
Rick Pfleeger, Advancement Services, Research & Prospect Management Specialist
Brisa Ponce, Information Technology Services, Infrastructure & Systems Administrator
Ashley Robart, Biology, PT NTT Assistant Professor
Keane S. Tarrosa, Admission, Assistant Dean of Admission
Cori K. Vallembois, Athletics, Assistant Director of Operations
Joel Valles, Campus Safety Officer
Agustin Vasquez-Lopez, Neighborhood Partnership Program, Senior Academic Adviser
Michael Vorenberg, History, Billington Professor
Meldia Yesayan, Art and Art History, Director of Oxy Arts



Assistant professor of urban and environmental practice Mijin Cha, along with her co-authors Jane Holgate and Karel Yon, has published a paper, "Emergent Cultures of Activism: Young People and the Building of Alliances Between Unions and Other Social Movements," in a special edition of Work and Occupations. This paper analyzes the relationship that young workers have to other social justice movements.

Senior director of Institutional Advancement (and Oxy parent) Denise Frost P’19 had her story "Don’t Let Go" published in the literary journal Kaaterskill Basin Journal. Find it here.

John Chung-En Liu, assistant professor of sociology, has published an article that highlights how China represents new challenges and opportunities to the theories in environmental sociology. Liu focuses on four domains in which China’s experience compels us to rethink our theories.

Dan Pondella and Amanda Zellmer (professor and assistant professor of biology) have developed a measure of human fishing activity on Southern California reefs using long-term harvest datasets for commercial and recreational fishing, which will be useful for studying impacts on marine fish and invertebrate communities in the area. The research is part of a special issue of Marine Ecology, which features five articles written in part by researchers at Oxy in the Vantuna Research Group and the Oxy Comp Bio Lab.

In an article co-authored for Nature Communications, associate professor of physics Janet Scheel reports on the existence of superstructures in large-scale turbulent Rayleigh-Benard convection when the patterns are time-averaged.

Kristi Upson-Saia, professor of religious studies, has been named a visiting scholar at the American Academy of Rome this fall. While in residency, she will conduct research related to a book she is co-authoring with Heidi Marx: Medicine in Ancient Greece and Rome (500 BCE to 500 CE). The volume will demonstrate that medicine—now the premier science of healing—was, at its origins in the ancient Mediterranean, a field that was roundly criticized and shunned in favor of philosophical, religious and "magical" healing practices.

The Toni Morrison Society has awarded English professor Jean Wyatt with their Book Prize for Best Single-Authored Book on Toni Morrison for her book Love and Narrative Form in Toni Morrison’s Later Novels. The award was presented at the American Literature Association meeting on May 25.

Associate professor of biology Amanda Zellmer and Roshni Katrak-Adefowora ’19 recently contributed to an exhibit on display at Descanso Gardens through collaborations with the Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy. The exhibit, called "Growing Habitat," features wildlife found throughout urban Los Angeles and explores how habitats are being conserved for these species, as well as how scientists are studying them.

For more information on faculty scholarship and accomplishments, visit the Center for Research & Scholarship.



Christopher Wawrinofsky, Art Studio Manager, Oxy Arts

I hail from: Salt Lake City

I graduated from: Utah State and Massart

I've been involved with Oxy for: August was my one-year anniversary!

A typical day on the job looks like: Teaching students how to make objects.

The favorite part of my job is: Teaching students how to make objects.

My favorite thing to do in Los Angeles is: Surfing and making objects.

A recent accomplishment I'm proud of is: Present: Getting this job; future: "Changes" performance at Union Station on August 26.

Cooler or Marketplace?: Cooler is cooler.

If I could invite any famous person—living or dead—to a dinner party it would be: Living: Rhi Rhi or Hillary; Dead: Mark Twain or Caravaggio

My nickname is: Johnny Utah

Something people don't know about me is: I'm really good at rollerskating; I love casinos, but I fear sharks.

A good book I've read lately is: Comsmicomics by Italo Calvino


Mazi, companion to Emily Valk, assistant director of Financial Aid

Mazi (full name Mazel Tov) is a desert tortoise who joined the Valk family in 1998 as the result of a bizarre Bar Mitzvah gift. When he's not hibernating six months out of the year, he enjoys long walks in the backyard, basking under the lavender bush and feeding his voracious appetite. His favorite treats are hibiscus flowers and strawberry tops. Although he might not appear cuddly, he loves a good head scratch and enjoys using human arms and legs as an obstacle course.