March 2018


Occidental to Celebrate Women in Leadership at Commencement

Occidental’s 2018 Commencement ceremony will celebrate Women in Leadership and, in a departure from traditional practice, will feature not one but four speakers—women who have become leaders in fields ranging from technology and politics to international education and conflict resolution.

Oxy's Innovative Computer Science Major Makes Headlines

It took the new computer science major less than a year to make front-page news in the Los Angeles Times. The story describes Oxy’s innovative approach that asks students to explore technology’s impact on the world and the challenges that come with it.

Hawthorne Named Mayor's Chief Design Officer

Adjunct professor Christopher Hawthorne’s latest career move began a year ago with a conversation with the mayor on the stage of Occidental’s Thorne Hall.

2018-19 Science Scholars Named

Four of Occidental's best students in the fields of biochemistry, biology, chemistry, cognitive science, geology, kinesiology, physics and psychology have been named the 2018-2019 Science Scholars.

Clair Morrissey: The Philosopher in the Jungle

Last summer, Clair Morrissey spent two weeks at the Organization for Tropical Studies’ La Selva Biological Station and Reserve in the Costa Rican jungle. It’s one of the last places on earth you’d expect to find a philosophy professor carrying out her research.

Professor Identifies 2 New Scorpion Species

Associate professor of biology John McCormack is co-author of a new study that identifies two new species of scorpion native to Southern California.







Eric T. Coleman, assistant football coach, offensive coordinator
Stephanie Gibbs, adjunct assistant professor, art and art history
Theresa Natividad, vendor maintenance specialist, Business Office
Samantha Sandman, General Counsel


Kalzang Dorjee Bhutia, non-tenure track professor of history, has published "Foxes, Yetis, and Bulls as Lamas: Human-Animal Interactions as a Resource for Exploring Buddhist Ethics in Sikkim" in the Journal of Buddhist Ethics. Bhutia examines Sikkimese Bhutia language oral traditions, which feature an abundance of stories related to human-animal interactions. This article engages with these oral traditions and what they can tell us about local traditions of Buddhist ethics.

Geology professor Scott Bogue has published a report on lava flows in Nevada that just happened to erupt while the geomagnetic field was reversing 15.2 million years ago. The project began with field work in 1996 and was interrupted by two major projects in British Columbia with Margi Rusmore (field work from 1998 to 2003). Bogue made five more trips to the field area in northern Nevada. Some 14 Occidental students helped out with the field and laboratory aspects of the project.

Shana Goffredi, associate professor of biology, has co-authored two recently published papers (in one week!). Both highlight the ubiquity of beneficial partnerships between bacteria and animals, which can have profound influences on their form and function, genetics and ecology. In the first paper, "An inordinate fondness for Osedax (Siboglinidae: Annelida): Fourteen new species of bone worms from California," Goffredi and co-authors incorporate DNA sequences from a comprehensive sampling of taxa to provide an updated phylogeny of Osedax and discuss the remarkable diversity of this clade of siboglinids. In the second, "Cladogenesis and Genomic Streamlining in Extracellular Endosymbionts of Tropical Stinkbugs," Goffredi and her co-authors sequenced the genomes of the uncultivable bacterial symbionts of four neotropical stink bugs of the Edessa genus and discuss their findings.

In a new article for the Handbook of International Trade and Transportation, assistant professor of economics Jesse Mora and coauthors Alan Spearot (UCSC) and Federico Diez (the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston) focus on the critical role firms play in the global economy. The paper surveys the behavior of firms in the international economy, both in theory and in the data. They include a discussion on of how firms expand to global markets and how they make critical financing decisions when engaging in international commerce.

Diana Ngo, assistant professor of economics, has published a new article for the Journal of Development Economics, "A theory-based living standards index for measuring poverty in developing countries." Ngo pairs economic theory with empirical methods to estimate households' preferences for durable goods and utilities. She uses these estimates to generate a meaningful measure of wealth, discusses its advantages over commonly used statistical methods and demonstrates its applications for tracking poverty and inequality in developing countries.

Biology assistant professor Cheryl Okumura and professor Gary Martin have co-authored a recently published research paper that explores the role of mast cells, a type of immune cell normally associated with allergic reaction, in controlling bacterial infection. Because mast cells are more often studied in the context of allergic reaction, their roles in controlling bacterial infection is not well studied. Four Oxy undergrads and one Oxy postdoc are also authors on this paper.

Ella Turenne, assistant dean for community engagement, has launched a new podcast, Fanm on Films, to celebrate Haitian cinema, culture and the power of community. The podcast can be found on iTunes and Google Play.

Professor of economics Kirsten Wandschneider has been appointed a research fellow in the Economic History Program at the London-based Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR). The Centre is an independent, nonprofit organization that enhances the quality of economic policymaking within Europe and beyond.

In an article for Ecology and Evolution, biology assistant professor Amanda Zellmer investigates the role of gene flow and environment on morphological variation across larval wood frog populations using a common garden experiment paired with population genetic structure analyses. The results indicate that wood frog larvae show fine-scale morphological variation across ponds consistent with environmental differences and regardless of high levels of gene flow. This research adds to the growing body of evidence demonstrating that evolutionary divergence can occur despite connectivity among populations.

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



Caroline Kim Palacios ’07, associate director of the Oxy Fund

I hail from: Los Angeles, Calif.

I graduated from: The best school in the known universe, Occidental College.

I've been involved with Oxy for: After graduating in 2007, I worked in Student Affairs from 2007-2009. I returned to Oxy in September 2017 as part of the Oxy Fund team.

A typical day on the job looks like: Traveling around Southern California and the East Coast meeting with alumni and parents, building the Oxy network and encouraging support for the Oxy Fund; building lists and doing research about Oxy's alumni network in specific regions and states.

The favorite part of my job is: Meeting with Oxy alumni and parents all over the country, hearing their Oxy stories and learning about the incredible things they are doing in their lives and careers. It is truly the best part of my job.

My favorite thing to do in Los Angeles is: Finding and visiting L.A.'s oldest restaurants with my husband.

A recent accomplishment I'm proud of is: I'm proud to be back at Oxy. My own Oxy story was made possible through the generous financial support I received. I feel especially proud to be able to now support the work of the Oxy Fund, which helps expand the opportunities that make the Oxy experience possible for our current students and families.

Cooler or Marketplace?: Marketplace. Me and the pasta bar go way back.

If I could invite any famous person—living or dead—to a dinner party it would be: Fellow Tiger Barack Obama '83.

My nickname is: Wrecking Ball.

Something people don't know about me is: I'm a connoisseur of black and white cookies. I try one from a different place whenever I travel to the East Coast. The best so far has been from Ess-A-Bagel in Midtown, New York City.

A good book I've read lately is: In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan.


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