September 2018






Move-in Day 2018: Welcome to Oxy!

Members of the Class of 2022 moved into their new home at Occidental on August 23 with the help of family, friends and Oxy staff volunteers. O-Team members greeted our newest Tigers and cheered them throughout the weekend. Io Triumphe!


Marine Biology Receives National Science Foundation Grant

Biology professor Dan Pondella has received a $346,916 grant from the National Science Foundation to digitize the College’s unique fish and marine invertebrates collection and give researchers worldwide access to it.


Oxy Football Starts Comeback with Season-Opening Win

Nearly one year after its season was cut short due to a depleted roster, Occidental's football team scrapped its way to a 20-0 season-opening win over CETYS University in Mexicali, Mexico, on September 1.




Christopher Arguedas, case manager, Disability Services
Sandra Casillas Munoz, academic adviser, Neighborhood Partnership Program
Erica Cisneros, registrar’s assistant, Office of the Registrar
Helena Villar De Lemos, special collections instruction and research librarian, Special Collections
Cesar Durazo, stockroom assistant B, Facilities Management
Bridget Laifman, development coordinator, Institutional Advancement
Abel Manuel-Rojas, cook B, Campus Dining
Ben Neil, assistant director for planning, design and construction, Facilities Management
Catherine Nunez, assistant director for career education and advising, Hameetman Career Center
Blanca Verduzco, project coordinator, Urban & Environmental Policy Institute


Ann Blythe, non-tenure track associate professor of geology, has received a $55K Research in Undergraduate Institutions grant from the NSF for her work on the Sierra Nevadas.

Jim L. Brown, professor of mathematics, co-organized the fourth EU/US Workshop on Automorphic Forms and Related Topics, which took place in July in Budapest. The international conference builds a network of research collaborations between number theorists in the United States and European Union.

Jeff Cannon, assistant professor of chemistry, and a cohort of students (including Anne Marie Crooke ’19, Katherine Forbes ’18, Nicholas Foy ’17, Maxwell D. Gruber ’17)  have discovered a new catalytic reaction that harvests low-energy visible light to make challenging carbon-carbon bonds. The products of these reactions are a key structural fragment of many small molecules with potential therapeutic activity. The group has published its findings in Organic Letters.

Lilly Eluvathingal, non-tenure track assistant professor of biology, conducted a countrywide survey of frogs from India to track the presence of an infectious fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. The survey showed the presence of several non-infectious strains and a low infection prevalence in the Asian tropics, as frogs might harbor several endemic strains of Bd, and the high levels of diversity and uniqueness of Bd haplotypes in the region, probably resulted from historical host-pathogen co-evolution. Eluvathingal’s findings can be found in an article for Science Reports.

Caroline Heldman, associate professor of politics, has co-authored Sex and Gender in the 2016 Presidential Election. The authors analyze the nature of gender in public opinion, media coverage, social media and culture during the 2016 presidential election and provide a comprehensive assessment of the influence of sex and gender in determining the election’s outcome.

Diana Keeler, manager of digital production in the media arts and culture department, was recently nominated and accepted into the Adobe Partners by Design program for the 2018-2019 academic year. Partners By Design is a community of teachers in higher education from leading institutions who promote and share best practices in the fields of art and design. Keeler was also nominated and accepted as an Adobe Campus Leader for this school year.

Hal Lauter, professor of philosophy emeritus, was recently presented with a 2018 Soaring Eagle Award by the Eagle Rock High School Alumni Association for his more than 20 years of volunteer work at the high school, working with English classes, the Academic Decathlon team, and helping with college essays.

Associate professor of biology John McCormack has received a $226K grant from the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation program for a DNA sequencer to be housed in the Anderson Center for Environmental Sciences.

Tom Polansky, director of facilities, is presenting at the annual PCAPPA Conference a paper titled "Managing to Achieve Results and Retain Good People."  PCAPPA is the western regional association of facilities management professionals and takes place in Spokane, Wash., from September 29 to October 3.

In a new paper, "Three Varieties of Faith," associate professor of philosophy Ryan Preston-Roedder argues that, although non-religious moral philosophy has devoted little attention to the nature and significance of faith, certain types of faith are centrally important moral virtues. The paper characterizes three forms of faith that a virtuous person has in people—namely, faith in herself, faith in her loved ones and a form of faith in humanity—and it discusses the roles that these forms of faith play in a good human life.

Psychological studies indicate that we tend to feel better and get on with our lives relatively quickly after the deaths of people we love. In their recent paper, "Grief and Recovery," associate professor of philosophy Ryan Preston-Roedder and Mellon postdoctorate fellow Erica Preston-Roedder respond to some ethical anxieties about such quick recoveries, and they consider what it means do well by our loved ones after they’re gone.

Celia Ruiz, assistant director of operations, received a certificate of graduation from the APPA Leadership Academy on September 13. The Leadership Academy provides opportunities for professionals in the education industry to increase their effectiveness skills on a variety of levels, from individual to organizational.

Associate professor of urban and environmental policy Bhavna Shamasunder received a $250K grant from the State of California’s Breast Cancer Research Program to support her research project on beauty product use in Black and Latina women.

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



Mandlenkosi Daley, Circulation and Reserve Manager, Information Resources

I hail from: Plumtree, Zimbabwe

I graduated from: Occidental College '10

I've been involved with Oxy for: 12 years. After graduating, I worked for Residential Education for two years, then moved to the Library as third-shift supervisor for three years. After that, I was hired as a resource sharing specialist and most recently as library circulation and reserves manager.

A typical day on the job looks like: Working closely with Library student workers to ensure that all of our Library patrons are helped: finding where they need to go and what they are looking for.

The favorite part of my job is: Working with students and being in the Library surrounded by books.

My favorite thing to do in Los Angeles is: Play and watch live music.

A recent accomplishment I'm proud of is: Performing at the independent music festival Broke LA.

Cooler or Marketplace?: Either! Staff are awesome and food is so tasty, pasta bar, cooler veggies and ranch—so good! I wish I still had my meal plan.

If I could invite any famous person—living or dead—to a dinner party it would be: Nick Cave

My nickname is: Mandla (pronounced Mahn-lah).

Something people don't know about me is: I play music in a band called The Ugly Sweaters. (We're on Spotify!)

A good book I've read lately is: Erik Larson's Dead Wake about the sinking of the Lusitania.


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