Jim Tranquada

Four Occidental students collaborating with faculty in the fields of chemistry, physics, biology and geology have been named 2015-16 Science Scholars and presented with research grants funded by the Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris and Fletcher Jones foundations.

Juniors Rishi Bhandia, a physics and math major from Los Altos; Kristina Chang, a chemistry and math major from Bellevue, Wash.; Marshall Trautman, a geology major from Lake Oswego, Ore.; and Travis Wilson, a chemistry major from Wilder, Vt., were selected by Oxy faculty to receive the prestigious award. Each Science Scholar receives $15,000 of support to carry out research from the spring of their junior year through graduation.

Bhandia received a Norris Science Scholar award to continue his research with Physics Professor George Schmiedeshoff on thermoelectrics, which has a wide variety of eco-friendly applications for cheap, renewable energy.

Chang also received a Norris Award to work with Chemistry Professor Eileen Spain on Raman spectroscopy research on nanomaterials characterization. Her work reflects her interest in this technique’s ability to extract information about structures and interactions on the molecular level.

Trautman received a Fletcher Jones award to support his work with Geology Professor Margi Rusmore to gain new insights into the nature of continental growth, which last summer found him on a fishing boat off the coast of British Columbia studying undersea formations.

Wilson also received a Fletcher Jones award to work with Associate Professor of Biology Kerry Thompson to examine neural stem cells’ relationship to epileptic seizures in hopes of clarifying the potential benefits of neural stem call fusogenic events for the treatment of epilepsy.