May 2017

Congratulations to everyone who has survived, thrived and accomplished much in the 2016-17 school year. Take a moment to review the latest news and kudos to come out of spring semester.

May On Campus Header


Commencement 2017Congrats to the Class of 2017!

More than 500 graduates walked across the stage in Hillside Theater to receive their diplomas this past weekend in what was a joyous and sunny occasion. Watch as graduates reflect on their last four years at Oxy in this video and see more photos from the ceremony on Facebook.

sciacSCIAC Coaches of the Year Include Oxy Athletics

After leading the softball team to its best conference season in program history, coach Ali Haehnel and assistant coaches Raven Ferret and Tod Shimamoto have been named the SCIAC Coaching Staff of the Year. Coach Rob Bartlett joins them on the platform with his SCIAC Men’s Track and Field Coach of the Year award (the second year in a row he’s received it).

Prof. Derek ShearerThe McKinnon Center for Global Affairs Releases First Publication

Professor Derek Shearer has authored America and the World in the Age of Obama, the first publication from the McKinnon Center. Read the Occidental Weekly's overview of Shearer’s collection of columns and articles that cover the eight years of Barack Obama ’83’s presidency.

Wanlass Artist Rafa EsparzaWanlass Artist Rafa Esparza Unveils HERE

In an unusual artistic collaboration with students and staff, Wanlass Artist in Residence Rafa Esparza marked the culmination of his residency with the unveiling of his site-specific installation HERE in four sites on campus.



Laura Drew, director of the Child Development Center
Sandra McLean, executive assistant to the VP of finance and general counsel
Erik Quezada, director of Neighborhood Partnership Program
Agustin Vasquez-Lopez, senior academic adviser, Neighborhood Partnership Program


Jazmin Barragan, academic adviser, Neighborhood Partnership Program
Erica Bendaw, assistant director of engagement events, Alumni and Parent Engagement
Violate DeJesus Mendoza, associate director of Upward Bound
William Jones, postdoctoral fellow, Health Center
John Mortl, assistant director of PD&C, Facilities
Deborah Sheen, associate director of the Oxy Annual Fund
Rebecca Stolz, director of strategic and special projects, office of the president
Celia Zepeda, mentor coordinator, Neighborhood Partnership Program


Reconsidering Roots CoverExploring the Roots Phenomenon

Professor of American Studies/Black Studies Erica L. Ball has edited the new book Reconsidering Roots: Race, Politics and Memory. This wide-ranging interdisciplinary collection assesses the ways that the book and its 1977 television adaptation recast representations of slavery, labor and the black family, reflected on the promise of freedom and civil rights, and engaged discourses of race, gender, violence and power in the United States and abroad.

Welcome to the Jungle of Research

Professor of biology Beth Braker has been elected secretary of the Organization for Tropical Studies. The nonprofit consortium of nearly 60 universities, colleges and research institutions provides leadership in education, research and the responsible use of natural resources in the tropics, and offers intensive field courses for students and professionals in Costa Rica, South Africa and other global locations.

Thalia GonzalezProfessor Author Rises to the Top

Associate professor of politics Thalia Gonzalez has been listed in the top 10% of authors on SSRN by downloads this month. The SSRN web database provides access to research and conference papers. Gonzalez has contributed a number of papers to the site on the topics of restorative justice, gender and trauma and legal education.

Photography Exhibit Showcases All That Jazz

Katja Livingston, department assistant in the office of student life, is showcasing her work as a photographer in an exhibit at the prominent jazz club Blue Whale in Little Tokyo. Photographs feature jazz musicians in live concert settings and are displayed through June 30. See more of Katja’s work here.

Moore Makes the CASE

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) has appointed director of alumni and parent engagement Monika Moore to their commission on alumni relations. CASE’s membership includes more than 3,670 education institutions and nonprofit organizations.

Kelema Lee MosesBuilding a Profile in the Art History World

Assistant professor of art & art history Kelema Lee Moses has been selected as a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Scholar. This summer, she will participate in an institute entitled "City/Nature: Urban Environmental Humanities" at the University of Washington. Earlier this year, Moses received the Opler Membership Grant for Emerging Professionals from the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH).

Multicultural Summer Institute (MSI) Turns 30 This Year!

For  30 years, MSI has invited approximately 50 incoming first-year students who represent a variety of ethnic, regional and cultural backgrounds to campus prior to the start of their first fall semester. The program introduces these students to Oxy, L.A. and each other. Student participants often credit their success and enjoyment of Oxy to their start at MSI.

New Grant for Strep Study

Assistant professor of biology Cheryl Okumura has received a $150,000 grant from the American Heart Association to study new strategies to combat persistent Streptococcus infections. Such infections can lead to scarlet fever and heart damage.

Delving Inside Brain States

Sasha Sherman, assistant professor of cognitive science, had an article published that looks at electroencephalography (EEG), an important methodology for understanding the time course of brain processing. Sherman’s study demonstrates the robustness of a powerful computational technique, pattern classification, in sensitively recording people’s brain states while they performed visual perception and attention tasks.

Scienceblind CoverA Clear Look at ‘Science Blindness’

Associate professor of psychology and cognitive science Andrew Shtulman presents intriguing concepts about perception and culture in his new book Scienceblind: Why Our Intuitive Theories About the World Are So Often Wrong. Shtulman explained more about his research and book in a recent Science podcast — listen here.

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

Getting to Know You

Michelle MoutonMichelle Mouton, director of enrollment marketing, office of marketing & communication

I hail from:  Lafayette, Louisiana

I graduated from: Louisiana State University (and also University of South Carolina for graduate school)

I've been involved with Oxy for: 9 months

A typical day on the job looks like: Working on communications to prospective students — everything from writing marketing emails and tracking down stats for publications to looking at data and strategizing with colleagues across campus on admission plans. Several days a week I split my time between Collins House and AGC, so you can often spot me walking back and forth along Bird Road.

The favorite part of my job is: Getting to know staff members across campus and collecting stories from students, faculty and staff.

My favorite thing to do in Los Angeles is: See concerts at the Hollywood Bowl.

A recent accomplishment I'm proud of is: I'm not usually one to cook, but I made a chicken and zucchini pasta recently that I was rather pleased with.

Cooler or Marketplace?: Cooler.

If I could invite any famous person — living or dead — to a dinner party it would be:  Carole King. I just listened to a podcast interview with her, and she had some great stories.  

Something people don't know about me is: In college, I earned a minor in dance, and still take ballet classes in the area occasionally.

A good book I've read lately is: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.