Who Needs a Horse?

game of bike poloSome 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.”

Pomona Blue Calcites

Pomona Blue CalcitesDeep 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.”

Cecil 3.0

Cecil 2.0 and Cecil 3.0There’s a new Cecil in town. Since he’s at least the third in a direct line of Sagehen costume evolution, let’s call him Cecil 3.0.

The old mascot costume—Cecil 2.0—familiar to generations of Sagehens for its round head and dangling ribbon of tongue, has been chirping around campus since 1997 and, after a couple of decades of hard use and washings, was seriously starting to crack, tear and molt. (Not to mention the accumulated—ahem—aroma of years of sweaty occupants that wearers had to cope with when they put on the head.)

Senior Associate Dean of Campus Life Frank Bedoya, in whose closet Cecil 2.0 resided for many years, still has the head of what may have been the original Cecil—call him Cecil 1.0. We were unable to determine when or by whom that Cecil was designed and built, but Bedoya says by the 1990s it was falling apart. “Bill Almquist ’98 was instrumental in coming up with the new design, which we had made,” he says.

Over the years, Bedoya not only housed Cecil 2.0—quite often he was Cecil. He also worked with generations of Pomona students who also donned the costume to bring Cecil to life for some campus event.

Which brings us to 2017. Since the company that created Cecil 2.0 was no longer in business, there was no question of refurbishing the old costume, so the Pomona-Pitzer Athletic Program and Pomona’s Stewardship Office took the lead to create a new Cecil—or should I say Cecils? Due to growing demand, the order was placed not for one costume, but for two.

Cecil 3.0 and his twin (whom we might call Cecil 3.1)—designed and built by ProMo Costumes of Marion, Ohio, based on design concepts provided by the College—are taller, more athletic and a bit more modern-looking than their predecessor. They’re also a bit better dressed—able to choose between a basketball jersey, a football jersey and a snazzy button-up with blue and orange flowers.

They also come with a ventilating fan inside the head and an ice-vest to keep the wearer cool under all that heavy velour and padding, even while dancing inside a hot gymnasium. And for now, at least, inside the head, there’s that luxurious new-mascot smell.

Spaceships and Laundry

What do a 3D space game, an English-Morse code translation app and an app that monitors the machines in a dormitory laundry have in common? They were all among the award-winning entries created in a single night of furious work during the 10th Semi-annual 5C Hackathon, held at Pomona in November.

Billed as a collaborative night filled with “awesome swag, food and mentorship,” the fall 2016 Hackathon covered a span of 12 hours, from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. the following day, during which student competitors worked in groups to come up with novel ideas and put them into action.

Ziqi Xiong ’17, a member of the seven-person team that created Laundry Master, which took second place in the advanced group, said the original idea for an app to let users know when laundry machines were available came from the group’s only first-year student, Sophia Richards ’20. “We found it very cool because it would involve both hardware and software,” says Xiong. Kent Shikama ’18, another member of the team, said he enjoyed the process of “thinking of ways to overcome constraints and executing them.” He cited three memorable hours in the laundry room of Walker Hall, experimenting with an empty dryer and a seismic sensor.

Unlike Xiong and Shikama, two good friends and fellow computer science majors who had partnered in several previous Hackathons, Sonia Grunwald ’18 and Peter Cowal ’19, who took top honors for best design, had never worked together before. “Two days or so before the event I was standing around in the CS lab complaining that I really wanted to do Hackathon and make some simple game with the 3D models I design for fun,” Grunwald said. “Peter happened to be working in the room and heard me. He said that sounded like a fun idea.” The two-person team was formed, and the result was their winning 3D space game, titled “Tiny Forever.”

The Full Fulbright

Pomona College is the No. 2 producer of Fulbright recipients in the nation among all four-year undergraduate institutions, tying for the position with neighboring Pitzer College. For 2016–17, there were 15 Pomona students who garnered Fulbrights. In the previous award year, 14 Pomona students received the coveted awards, and the College was ranked sixth. This year, Smith College was No. 1 on the list. Among this year’s Sagehen projects were a Silk Road journey to study the syncretism of Sino-Islamic identity in China; epidemiological research at the Pasteur Institute’s Enteric Bacterial Pathogens Unit in Paris, France; and teaching positions in Indonesia, Vietnam and Colombia.


Looking Back


Pomona’s Marine Laboratory, 1913–43

Pomona’s Marine Laboratory, 1913–43

Marine Zoology Program Ends

Pomona’s summer marine zoology program, which dated back, with a few interruptions, to the early part of the 1900s, ended in 1967. From 1913 until 1943, it took place in a College-owned marine biology laboratory in Laguna Beach. After the facility was sold, it continued as a six-week summer program at a rented facility, Caltech’s Kerckhoff Marine Lab in Corona del Mar, until 1967.



Escaping Internment

In April 1942, just days before all Japanese Americans in the Claremont area were due to be interned, President E. Wilson Lyon arranged with President Ernest Wilkins of Oberlin College in Ohio for Pomona junior Itsue “Sue” Hisanaga ‘43 to transfer there. The next day, President Lyon, Dean of Men William Nicholl and a crowd of Pomona students accompanied her and her brother, Kazuo “Casey” Hisanaga ‘42—who would be allowed to graduate in May despite his April departure—to the train station, where the College band played for them. “Everybody cried,” one student later told Dean of Women Jessie Gibson. After completing her work at Oberlin, Sue was awarded her degree from Pomona in absentia during Oberlin’s commencement. (See “Farewell to Pomona” on page 35.)



The Cosmopolitan Club

The year 1917 saw the first appearance of the Cosmopolitan Club, a college organization created to help grow the number of students from beyond Southern California. Membership in the club was restricted to students who were from Northern California or out of state. Club members were given literature about the College to distribute to friends, in an effort to “broaden the local atmosphere and bring in students with new ideas and new and different viewpoints.”

For more tidbits of Pomona College history, go to pomona.edu/timeline.

Sagehen Now Part of Rock History

ben-murphy-sagehen-formationSagehen Pride is now part of the very landscape of California.

Four years ago, while still at Pomona, geology-physics double-major Benjamin Murphy ’13did his senior thesis on a geologic formation in Eastern California near Mammoth Lakes. Thanks to a serendipitously-located road, Murphy and his mentors, geology professors Jade Star Lackey and Robert Gaines, came up with the idea of naming it the Sagehen Formation. 

A few years and some revisions later, their paper was recently published in the Journal of Sedimentary Research, making it all official.

Geologically speaking, the Sagehen Formation is a package of coarse-grained sedimentary rocks (sandstones and conglomerates) that were deposited within a lake in the Long Valley Caldera in California between 500,000 and 100,000 years ago, according to Murphy, now in his third year in a Ph.D. program at Oregon State University’s College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences.

How did they manage to name it after our mascot? A newly discovered formation must be named after some local landmark that is as near as possible to the “type section”– the place where the formation is best exposed and representative, says Gaines.

It turned out that Sagehen Road was one of the only named features anywhere near the type section. “Once we realized that, there was no need for discussion! It was obvious that it was both scientifically appropriate and awfully fun,” says Gaines.  

For those new to Pomona, nobody is quite sure how the sage hen, also known as the sage grouse, became our mascot a century or so ago. A sizeable bird with spiky tail feathers, the sage grouse ranges over much of the West, but is not found in the Claremont area. In fact, the region where the Sagehen Formation stands is one of the only places in California where these birds roam, making the name a rock-solid choice.

Flightless to the Bone

pcm-fall2016text39_page_07_image_0001Jeffrey Allen ’17 (center), a teaching assistant in Professor of Biology Nina Karnovsky’s Avian Ecology class, joins Ellie Harris ’18 (left) and Vanessa Machuca ’18, students in the class, to examine the skeleton of an ostrich, part of the vertebrate specimens collection housed in the Biology Department. “From one look at the breastbone you can tell that this bird can’t fly,” Karnovsky notes. “There is no keel for flight muscles—it is totally smooth—plus the wings are tiny. It dramatically shows adaptations for running—lots of area for attaching leg muscles. I use this in my Vertebrate Biology class as well. I have no idea where it came from or how long we have had it. I just love it.”

Critical Inquiries

You can always find some of Pomona’s most distinctive courses among the array of Critical Inquiry (ID1) classes offered each year to introduce first-year students to both the rigors and the pleasures of academic life at Pomona. An intellectual rite of passage, ID1 classes require new students to think, talk and write about some interesting, often cross-disciplinary topic. They also give Pomona faculty members an opportunity to create something new based on their own interests and passions. Here are a few of this year’s new offerings.

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By the Numbers: Trees

According to the tree database kept by Pomona’s Office of Facilities and Campus Services, the most common trees on campus, in order of frequency, are:


1. Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia)* 





pcm-fall2016text39_page_07_image_00072. California sycamore (Platanus racemosa)*





3. Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)pcm-fall2016text39_page_07_image_0008





pcm-fall2016text39_page_07_image_00094. Coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)*





5. California redbud (Cercis occidentalis)*pcm-fall2016text39_page_07_image_0010





pcm-fall2016text39_page_07_image_00116. Mesa oak (Quercus englemannii)*





7. Camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora)pcm-fall2016text39_page_07_image_0012





pcm-fall2016text39_page_07_image_00138. Canary Island palm (Phoenix canariensis)





9. Red ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon)pcm-fall2016text39_page_07_image_0014





pcm-fall2016text39_page_07_image_001510. Sweetshade Hymenosporum flavum)




*California native


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

Cecil Skateboarding