January 2018

The new year is beginning with great news all over campus and plenty of events to look forward to. Read on for the latest.


Oxy Gets Top Marks in Latest Rankings

The numbers and methodology change from year to year, but the result is always the same: Occidental College is one of the top-ranked small liberal arts colleges in the country.

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling

A study co-authored by Bhavna Shamasunder, assistant professor of urban and environmental policy, and published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health this month reveals heightened rates of asthma in densely populated Los Angeles neighborhoods located near active oil-development sites.

Oxy Music Professor Is Grammy Nominee

Assistant professor of music Adam Schoenberg’s work has been nominated for two 2018 Grammy awards.

Spalding to Perform on Campus as Hume Fellow

Grammy-winning musician and singer Esperanza Spalding will be coming to Occidental in February as the 2018 Hume Fellow in the Performing Arts.





Jongnic Bontemps, NTT assistant music professor
Stephen Cabell, NTT assistant music professor
Dan Caputo, NTT assistant music professor
Angela Choi, Master Calendar coordinator
Emmanuelle Despagnet-Ayoub, NTT assistant chemistry professor
Eliza Diliberti, Clery Act compliance coordinator, Title IX Office
Jose Hernandez, Cleaning Services supervisor
Andrew LaFave, data & info specialist, Center for Digital Liberal Arts
Marisol Leon, critical theory & social justice adjunct faculty
John Mathewson, mathematics adjunct faculty
Man Pham, assistant director of planning, design & construction, Facilities
Sandra Saavedra, receptionist and events, Office of the President
Hanna Song, NTT urban & environmental policy assistant professor
Rick Tanksley, chief of Campus Safety


Associate professor of history Alexander Day has co-written the first in a series of articles, "Feeding China: The Project on China’s Food Histories, Geographies and Ecologies" which you can read at feedingchina.wordpress.com. Day and his co-writer analyze the implications of the changes in China's rural political economy for pro-peasant activism in China. This puts recent work on alternative food networks in China into a more critical perspective.

Katja (Liebing) Livingston, Office of Student Life coordinator, freelances as a photographer and won first place for a magazine cover in the JACC SoCal Publication Content for college newspapers and magazines. Livingston also acted as photo editor for the magazine and wrote the cover story along with a feature article.

Arthur Saint-Aubin, Spanish and French professor, has written an essay examining a military report sent to Napoleon’s government by one of his black generals, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, published as "The ‘Prison Diary’ of General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas: The Representation of a Wounded Male Body in a Narrative of Loss and Mourning." Dumas is the father and grandfather of two famous 19th-century French writers: Alexandre Dumas, father, and Alexandre Dumas, son.

A recently published article in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience co-authored by Sasha Sherman (assistant professor of cognitive science) and Clair Morrissey (associate professor of philosophy) argues that psychologists and neuroscientists interested in empirically understanding art appreciation must move beyond studying the aesthetic alone and toward investigating the social, cognitive and epistemic skills cultivated by art appreciation. Sherman and Morrissey specifically focus on how empirical approaches can demonstrate that art appreciation cultivates self and other understanding. Read "What Is Art Good For? The Socio-Epistemic Value of Art" here.

Physics associate professor Janet Scheel has received an INCITE Leadership Computing award from the Department of Energy for 80 million CPU hours to research "Convective Turbulence in Liquid Sodium." This allocation is to be used in 2018 on Mira, a BlueGene Q supercomputer from IBM, which is physically located at Argonne National Lab.

Assistant Dean for Community Engagement Ella Turenne’s production of Love, Locs & Liberation has been selected to receive a 2018 Hollywood Fringe Festival Scholarship. While the Fringe Festival takes place in June, the play will make an earlier debut at the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival on March 31. Turenne also recently published a piece on being Haitian-American in Huffington Post, which you can read here.

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



Ronald Siliezar, budget and planning HRIS coordinator, Business Office

I hail from: Born in Guatemala, raised in Los Angeles/Echo Park.

I graduated from: California State University, Los Angeles

I've been involved with Oxy for: 1 year and 7 months.

A typical day on the job looks like: Analyze processes related to Banner data, making recommendations for improvement via the use of technology, maintenance of Oxy’s employee data in Banner, developing data integrity protocols across HR and payroll, working with the payroll department to make sure the payroll process runs smooth, process and troubleshoot technical issues with EPAF, timesheets and leave reports.

The favorite part of my job is: I love working with my team. Together we are able to collaborate on constructive ideas for improvement. In addition, there is not one day that I don’t learn something new at my job. I love working with technology to find creative ways to make my work better. Lastly, I like connecting with students as I witness their success.

My favorite thing to do in Los Angeles is: Going to concerts, being outdoors on long hikes and exercising.

A recent accomplishment I'm proud of is: Learning how to jump rope like a boxer.

Cooler or Marketplace?: Marketplace!

If I could invite any famous person — living or dead — to a dinner party it would be: I would trade inviting the famous person, and instead have my deceased father attend.

My nickname is: Tato

Something people don't know about me is: I dislike papaya.

A good book I've read lately is: SQL Concepts Review


For more events on campus, visit oxy.edu/calendar.



Io Wright Sweo, companion to Naomi Sweo, enrollment communications specialist in Admission

Io Wright Sweo is one of the newest members of the Oxy community, as he is almost 5 months old now. As a puppy, Io enjoys nibbling on things—nibbling on fingers, nibbling anything and everything really. We named him after one of Jupiter’s moons, but were pleased to find he carries the Io Triumphe! spirit in his name. We adopted him from Smashface Rescue, a rescue in Van Nuys that focuses primarily on bully breeds. Io is a toy poodle terrier mix and only bullies the dirt in our backyard with his fearsome little baby paws, but he was rescued anyway. His favorite activities include lying in the sun, digging up roots in the backyard, running in mad laps around the house and nibbling.