In Short

Physics major Adele Myers ’21 has been awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, which provides $7,500 a year for undergraduate education expenses to sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue careers in mathematics, natural sciences or engineering. Working with physicist Greg Spriggs at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Myers discovered evidence of a phenomenon called water entrainment in nuclear blasts over water.

Recent graduate Sal Wanying Fu ’19 has received a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, a $90,000 merit-based grant for outstanding immigrants and children of immigrants who are pursuing graduate school in the United States. A current astrophysics doctoral student at University of California, Berkeley, Fu is among 30 students selected from a pool of more than 2,000 applicants. She is the fourth Pomona graduate to join the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows.

Franco Liu ’20 has been awarded a Downing Scholarship to study linguistics at the University of Cambridge for 2020-21. An international student from China, Liu was hooked on the discipline after taking an introductory course with Professor Michael Diercks during his first year of college. The award will cover Liu’s tuition, fees, living expenses and round-trip travel, as well as a stipend for books, local travel and personal expenses.

Yannai Kashtan ’20 became the first Pomona student and the first chemistry student to win a prestigious Knight-Hennessy scholarship, which provides a full ride to Stanford University to pursue any graduate program of his choosing. The award criteria for winners include “rebellious minds and independent spirits” and “future global leaders.” He plans to study photoelectrochemical CO2 reduction with groups working on integrated artificial photosynthesis modules.

Essential PPE

Modeling the PPE’s new PPE in the photo above is Rachel Oda ’20During the pandemic, the Philosophy, Politics and Economics Program, known on campus as PPE, saw its initials co-opted in the national media as the pandemic focused public attention on shortages of personal protective equipment. So, when Professor Eleanor Brown ’75, chair of the program, was casting about for some memento to send to the graduating PPE seniors, she hit upon the idea of co-opting a piece of personal protective equipment “to proclaim the essential nature of this quintessential liberal arts degree.” Modeling the PPE’s new PPE in the photo above is Rachel Oda ’20.

The Class of 2024

Even in the midst of a global health crisis, the work of the admissions office has gone on with the selection of the new Pomona College Class of 2024. Here are a few facts about the new class of Sagehens:

745 were offered admission.

49 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico, are represented.

45 other countries were home to new admits.

52% of the class are female and 48% male.

58.8% are domestic students of color.

20.7% of the class will be first-generation college students.

26 transfer students were admitted.

4 military veterans were admitted, representing the Army, Marine Corps and Navy.

90% are in the top 10% of their class.

6 are graduates of the Pomona Academy for Youth Success (PAYS).

16 admitted students were matched through Pomona’s partnership with QuestBridge.

20 were admitted through the Posse Foundation.

Starr Named to Academy

President G. Gabrielle Starr

President G. Gabrielle Starr has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences joining a new class of members recognized for outstanding achievements in academia, the arts, business, government and public affairs.

Starr is a highly regarded scholar of English literature whose work reaches into neuroscience and the arts. Her research looks closely at the brain, through the use of fMRI, to help get to the heart of how people respond to paintings, music and other forms of art. She is a national voice on access to college for students of all backgrounds, the future of higher education, women in leadership and the importance of the arts. She took office as the 10th president of Pomona College in 2017.

The Academy was chartered in 1780 to “cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity and happiness of a free, independent and virtuous people.” Academy members are elected on the basis of their leadership in academics, the arts, business or public affairs and have ranged from Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson to such 20th-century luminaries as Margaret Mead, Martin Luther King Jr. and Akira Kurosawa.

For 2020, the Academy elected 276 new members. In addition to Starr, the group includes singer Joan C. Baez, former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., author Ann Patchett, poet and former Pomona College professor Claudia Rankine, among others.

Starr joins a number of exemplary Pomona alumni and former faculty in the AAAS, including scientists Jennifer Doudna ’85, J. Andrew McCammon ’69 and Tom Pollard ’64; author Louis Menand ’73; art historian Ingrid Rowland ’74; artist James Turrell ’65; journalist Joe Palca ’74; and genomic biologist Sarah Elgin ’67.

The Academy is led by Pomona College President Emeritus David Oxtoby, who was inducted into the Academy in 2012 and was named its president in 2018. He served as president of Pomona College from 2003 until 2017.

Starr becomes the third Pomona College president to join the Academy. David Alexander, who served as president of Pomona from 1969 to 1991, was inducted into the Academy in 2006.

All In on Voter Turnout

At a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in November, Lucas Carmel ’19 was honored as one of 10 students from across the country on the “All In” Campus Democracy Challenge Student Honor Role. The award is in recognition of his leadership last year in a nonpartisan voter participation drive on Pomona College’s campus.

Carmel, along with Michaela Shelton ’21, led efforts to get out the vote at Pomona. Their work paid off with voter turnout among Pomona College students almost tripling from the 2014 to 2018 midterm elections, according to a report released Sept. 20 by the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE). In 2018, 50.4% of Pomona College students voted compared to 17.4% in 2014.

A group of students at Pomona College led by Carmel and Shelton began to organize a nonpartisan effort to get out the vote in the summer of 2018. That’s when the group joined the “All In” Campus Democracy Challenge, a national awards program that encourages colleges and universities to increase student voting rates.

“So many people worked to promote voting on campus last fall, and today we get to see proof of just how successful that effort was,” Carmel said in September when the results were announced. “I think Pomona’s status as a leader in college voting has been cemented. The challenge now becomes: How do we maintain and continue to promote voter engagement on campus?”

Carmel, who graduated last May, recently launched Vote for Astra, his organization dedicated to making it easier for college students to vote.

Art on the Move

fragile art objects from the museum’s old storage Sometime this fall, the Pomona College Museum of Art will cease to exist, and the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College will be born in its beautiful new quarters on the opposite corner of the intersection of College and Second. To prepare for that change, for the past few months, the museum’s associate director and registrar, Steve Comba, has been overseeing the effort to inventory, pack and safely move approximately 15,000 valuable and often fragile art objects from the museum’s old storage into the new. Already in their new home are the artifacts of the museum’s Native American collection, previously stored in the basement of Bridges Auditorium and brought out mainly for visiting schoolchildren.

Papers, Politics, Policy

Prof. Amanda Hollis-Brusky’s paper on the promotion of a theory of executive power and its consequences is making its way to the other two branches of government

How Prof. Amanda Hollis-Brusky’s paper on the promotion of a theory of executive power and its consequences is making its way to the other two branches of government

In 2011, during her first year at Pomona College, Politics Professor Amanda Hollis-Brusky wrote a paper on the rise of the “unitary executive theory,” used in recent decades to promote the notion of the primacy of presidential power and limit the autonomy of federal agencies. The paper was part of Hollis-Brusky’s larger work on the conservative legal movement.

In January, U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, Richard Blumenthal and Mazie Hirono cited and relied heavily on Professor Hollis-Brusky’s in their amicus curiae brief filed in a big U.S. Supreme Court case Seila Law v. CFPB, which may decide the fate of the Obama-era Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Arguments are set for March 3.

100 Years Ago

It’s 1920, and Pomona College is entering the Roaring Twenties—facing, among other things, the challenges of dancing and Hollywood.

Everybody Dance

With the close of World War I came a push to overturn the strict college rules against dancing on campus. As recently as 1918, an editorial in The Student Life had lamented that “The principle of non-dancing has become ingrained into the very fiber of the institution for reasons which the executives can best express, and it is worse than futile for us to oppose it.” The post-war culture shift, however, soon carried away that prohibition, and, as informal campus dances became common, the efforts of the administration turned to managing them. A floor committee of four men and four women supervisors were authorized “to reprimand any undesirable form of dancing or to request any person to leave the floor.” By 1922–23, four all-college formal dances were being conducted annually in the “Big Gym”—the Senior-Freshman Dance, the Christian Dance, the Military Ball and the Junior Prom.

Silence is Golden

As Hollywood became the movie capital of the world, the Pomona campus soon came into demand as a collegiate set. The Charm School, a silent feature starring Wallace Reid, was the first known movie to be shot on campus, with much of it filmed around Pomona’s Sumner Hall in 1920.

1,000 Strong

The 1921 Metate (published in 1920) notes that for the first time the number of Pomona alumni has topped 1,000.

For more tidbits of Pomona history, go to Pomona College Timeline.

In Brief

Marshall Scholar

Isaac Cui ’20 has won a prestigious Marshall Scholarship to fund his graduate studies in the United Kingdom next year. During his two years in the U.K., Cui hopes to study at the London School of Economics as well as study political science at the University of Manchester.

Churchill Scholar

Elise Koskelo ’20 has been named one of only 16 American students to win this year’s Winston Churchill Foundation Scholarship to study and conduct research at the University of Cambridge. She plans to study quantum magnetism and superconductivity.

Sustainable Thesis

The senior thesis of Sara Sherburne ’19, titled “Let’s Get Sorted: The Path to Zero Waste,” was recognized last fall by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education as one of six winners of the national Campus Sustainability Research Award.

Solar Cell Grant

Pomona and Harvey Mudd were recently awarded a National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation Grant of $442,960 for new lab equipment to support research and development of next generation solar cells.

Paralympic App

While attending the 2015 Paralympic National Games in his home country of India, Arhan Bagati ’21 saw athletes literally crawling up stairs. So he created an app to guide Paralympians to locations that are accessible, including bathrooms, restaurants, theatres and more. The result was InRio and its successor, the IndTokyo app for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, available on iTunes and Google Play.


The theme of the Humanities Studio’s 2019–20 speaker series is “post/truth,” exploring the various facets of today’s post-truth (un)reality through a series of speakers and seminars, including a “Fake News” Colloquium.

Beyond Writing

Pomona College’s Writing Center isn’t just about writing any more.

Last summer, the center received a $250,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to expand its mission to support oral and visual communication as well. The two-year grant will fund programs in which students can hone not only their writing skills but also their speaking ability and their competency in dealing with visual communications in an increasingly image-driven world.

“Through the new center, we propose a transformative reconceptualization of how we understand literacy and how we teach key forms of communication in the 21st century,” says Kara Wittman, director of college writing and assistant professor of English. “Flexibility, thoughtfulness and deliberateness in all these areas will ensure that all Pomona graduates leave the College able to write and speak effectively, advocate compellingly and have an impact on the real-world issues they care about.”

The new Center for Speaking, Writing and the Image will be a leader among liberal arts colleges in supporting written, oral and visual literacies at a single site.


Sagehens publish prolifically. The latest books from Pomona alumni and faculty.

Cecil Skateboarding