Sagehens publish prolifically. The latest books from Pomona alumni and faculty.
From sculptors to screenwriters, creative Sagehens get the spotlight.
In the competition between bikes and skateboards to be the top means of foot-powered transportation on campus, bikes just got a big leg up (so to speak).
In February, Pomona College and the dockless bike-sharing company ofo rolled out the firm’s first college pilot program in California. Founded in 2014, ofo is the world’s first and largest station-free bicycle-sharing platform. To date, the firm has connected over 200 million global users with more than 10 million bikes in 20 countries.
What makes this bike-sharing program unique is that ofo’s signature yellow bikes are unlocked by way of a smartphone. They can be shared among riders and parked at any bike rack on the campuses of The Claremont Colleges. To celebrate the February launch of the partnership, all rides for students, faculty and staff were free during the bike-sharing program’s first two weeks of operation.
Pomona College Assistant Director of Sustainability Alexis Reyes sees these bikes as a key tool for the community. “As a top performer in sustainability, Pomona is always looking for ways to support opportunities for low or zero-emission commuting,” says Reyes. “Adding ofo’s services to our resources available to our students, faculty and staff helps Pomona on its quest to become carbon-neutral by 2030.”
Four score years ago, the sciences were alive and well at Pomona, as evidenced by these brief stories from the mid-1930s.
20,000 Year-Old Sloth Poop
Pomona professors Jerome D. Laudermilk and Philip A. Munz made headlines after traveling to the Grand Canyon to study a rare find: 20,000-year-old giant-sloth dung. According to an article in the Sept. 20, 1937, issue of Life magazine, the dung covered the floor of a cave believed to be home to giant ground sloths, which waddled on two legs and could grow as large as elephants. Laudermilk and Munz hoped to uncover the sloths’ diet and what it might reveal about plant and climate conditions of the era.
Shark Embalming 101
As a Pomona student, the late Lee Potter ’38 had a simple plan to pay his way through college: sell his skills embalming animals. Potter, a pre-med student, had more than four years of embalming experience by the time the LA Times profiled him on June 1, 1937. He embalmed fish, frogs, rats, earthworms, crayfish and sharks and sold them to schools for anatomical study in their labs. His best seller: sharks—once, he sent an order of 200 embalmed sharks to a nearby college. His ultimate goal was to embalm an elephant.
Crime Lab Pomona
In August 1936, a Riverside woman named Ruth Muir was found brutally murdered in the San Diego woods, and the case ignited a media frenzy. A suspect claiming he “knows plenty” about Muir’s murder was found with 20 hairs that appeared to belong to a woman. In their rush to test whether the hairs were Muir’s, police turned to an unlikely source to conduct the analysis—Pomona College. Though the hairs do not seem to have matched Muir’s in the end, at least we can say: For a brief moment, Pomona operated a crime lab.
In its first year, Pomona’s Humanities Studio will take as its inaugural theme a line from Samuel Beckett, “Fail Better,” according to its founding director, Kevin Dettmar, the W.M. Keck Professor of English.
Each year the program will bring together a select group of faculty, postdoctoral and student fellows in the humanities for a year of engaged intellectual discussion and research on interdisciplinary topics of scholarly and public interest. Programming will also include visiting speakers, professional development workshops and other community events.
Dettmar said the theme honors the late Arden Reed, professor of English, who spoke on the topic last year. Reed’s career, Dettmar notes, “was anything but a failure. But we will honor his memory by applying ourselves to the twin concepts of failure and its kissing cousin, error—seeking better to understand the uses of failure and the importance of error in the ecosystem of scholarly discovery. Together with the studio director, faculty and postdoctoral fellows, and a group of visiting speakers, writers and thinkers, Humanities Studio undergraduate fellows will take a deep dive into failure, to bring back the treasures only it has to offer.”
Last October, biology major Hannah Osland ’20 biked to the Pomona College Farm with a single mission. She would wait by the compost bins, clutching a glass jar filled with ethyl acetate gas—her “kill jar”—until she captured a yellow butterfly she had seen earlier. In total, she spent an hour looking. “I was so frustrated that this little tiny butterfly was beating me,” she says. “It’s amazing how insects will evade me.”
Osland needed to catch and identify the butterfly, known as a small cabbage white, for her Insect Ecology and Behavior class with Professor Frances Hanzawa. For their project, Osland and nine other students captured 40 unique insect specimens from at least 11 different insect orders. Twenty had to be identified down to the scientific family they belong to—a difficult task given that, as Osland tells it, “so many beetles look alike.”
For Osland and other students, the project became a constant source of fascination among friends, many of whom tried to help nab new insect species. (A point of pride among one of Osland’s friends is the grasshopper he caught for her.) Her final collection of insects included bees, ants, butterflies, grasshoppers, beetles and more. “I don’t think I’ll ever forget insect orders now,” she says. “It’s totally ingrained in my brain.”
Camille Molas ’21 begins her first year at Pomona College in uniquely Southern California fashion, with surfing lessons at Mondo’s Beach in Ventura. Again this year, as part of New Student Orientation, the Orientation Adventure program, usually known simply as “OA,” offered a list of 11 outdoor opportunities across California, ranging from hiking to surfing, rock climbing to volunteerism. “What I’m really excited about,” Molas says, “is continuing to build the relationships we made at OA. You know, it’s really different having your first moments together out here on the beach or out here camping. If we can be there for each other out in the outdoors, we can be there for each other when school comes around.”
Pomona College is expanding the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park with a gift of 463 acres to the city of Claremont. The land, including Evey Canyon and three Padua Hills parcels, is to be preserved in its undeveloped state and remain available to the members of the public for hiking, biking, horseback riding and other passive recreational uses. With the new addition, the size of the park will increase to nearly 2,500 acres.
“The Claremont Wilderness area is a natural jewel and provides an important connection to nature,” says G. Gabrielle Starr, president of Pomona College. She adds that the commitment to sustainability of her predecessor, David Oxtoby, “is reflected in his important work to bring this agreement forward and enhance the College’s and community’s commitment to open spaces for all.”
Evey Canyon is home to the Herman Garner Biological Preserve, used by the College’s Biology Department for research. The lower portion of the canyon consists of a type of riparian woodland that is becoming rare in Southern California. Evey Canyon’s varied topography and vegetation, combined with a permanent stream, result in a rich bird and insect diversity.
Pomona’s efforts on behalf of the homeless expanded this semester with the launch of the Pomona Employment Partners (PEP) initiative by the Draper Center for Community Partnerships. It’s the newest of three programs that make up the Center’s Hunger and Homelessness Initiative.
Unlike its sister programs—the Food Recovery Network and the Homelessness Action Team—which focus on such urgent needs as food and shelter, PEP will focus on long-term solutions by connecting the homeless with actual employment opportunities.
Co-directed by Sophie Roe ’19 and Marisol Diaz ’18, the program will combine the work of job researchers with that of on-site volunteers to locate possible job openings and help homeless clients create résumés and apply.
“Most employers don’t like being asked whether they do drug tests on applicants or whether they are felon-friendly,” job researcher Sarah Burch ’21 told Pomona’s student newspaper, The Student Life. “Coming out of jail definitely brings many barriers to getting a job. We try to find specific jobs that meet the needs of the homeless community, taking into account the obstacles that formerly incarcerated people have.”
Deep in the bowels of the Geology Department in Edmunds Hall is a room full of storage cabinets with wide, shallow drawers filled with mineral specimens collected by Pomona geologists over the years. Many of them, according to Associate Professor of Geology Jade Star Lackey, go all the way back to the department’s founder, Alfred O. “Woody” Woodford 1913, who joined the chemistry faculty in 1915, launched the geology program in 1922 and served as its head for many years before retiring some 40 years later. Many of Woodford’s carefully labeled specimens came from the Crestmore cement quarries near Riverside, Calif. “Woody even had a mineral named after him for a while,” Lackey says, but the mineral was later found to have already been discovered and named. “More than 100 different minerals were discovered at Crestmore, including some striking blue-colored calcites—echoes of Pomona.” Ultimately, Lackey adds, Crestmore was quarried to make the cement to construct the roads and buildings of Los Angeles, but in the meantime, “Woodford trained many a student there, and the mineral legacy of Crestmore is widely known.”
Some creative Pomona students made good use of the open spaces of Bixby Plaza in April for a game of bike polo, similar to the traditional game of polo, but with bicycles in place of horses.
According to Jeremy Snyder ’19 (who took the photo below), “the object is to hit the ball into a goal, which we usually just mark as a section of wall, using a mallet. You’re not allowed to set your feet down, or else you have to go over and tap the fountain. We usually play three-on-three every Friday afternoon at the plaza outside Frary, and we bring bikes up from the Green Bikes shop so that anyone who passes by and wants to join can. We made the mallets for it out of sawed-off ski poles from Craigslist and plastic pipe sections that we bolted onto the ends.”
Starting at about 1 a.m. on June 5, Renwick House took a quick trip to its new home on the opposite side of College Avenue, making room for the construction of the new Pomona College Museum of Art. Renwick, which was built in 1900, is now the third stately home on College to have been moved from its original location, joining Sumner House and Seaver House, both of which were moved to Claremont from Pomona. The three-hour Renwick move, however, pales in comparison to the difficulty of the other two. The Sumner move took six weeks in 1901, using rollers drawn by horses. The 10-mile Seaver move, in 1979, took 20 hours.