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Covering Subjects Ranging From Autism to Ballet, the Summer Research Poster Conference to be Held Sept. 4

Over the course of the summer, 159 Pomona College students delved into research across all disciplines, funded through the Dean’s Office. The results of the students’ work will be presented at the Summer Undergraduate Research Poster Conference, which will be held Wednesday, Sept. 4 at 4:15 p.m. at Pomona College Stover Walk (east of College Avenue, south of Sixth Street and Alexander Hall). This event is free and open to the public.

Examples of student research include Danielle Holstein’s (’14) study of a wide range of papers discussing mind development in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. While previous research suggests that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) possess certain characteristics (such as slower language acquisition and impaired social interaction) because of lagging theory of mind development, Holstein—a philosophy major from Bothell, WA—suggests these characteristics might be attributed to impairments in the efficacy of mirror neurons, neural structures that automatically simulate social and goal-oriented actions. 

Maya Booth ’14, a science, technology and society major from Denver, CO, interviewed science writers from an array of publications—including a New York Times physics and cosmology reporter—asking what solutions they conceive for the potential pitfalls of science journalism. She explored questions such as how the Internet is changing the field with respect to the wider journalistic realm, how writers and readers are responding to those changes and how the writers envision science writing acting as a bridge between the public and the always growing role of science and technology in people’s lives.

Nicholas Lawson ’14 worked with Professor Nicole Weekes on a neuroscience project investigating the effect of stress on the human brain and worked to understand how people suffering from depression may have a different neurological response to stressors. Lawson, whose hometown is San Diego, Calif., learned about mindfulness from Buddhist monks while spending a semester abroad in Nepal, leading to his study of how an individual’s ability to focus on present actions affects their body’s physical response to stress.

Cassandra Owen ’14, from Huntington Beach, Calif., made a visual timeline of 20th and 21st century ballet dancers doing a movement or pose in a piece that was choreographically innovative at the time, motific, or exemplary of the work—offering a glimpse at the evolution of trends in shapes and lines in ballet since the 20th century to the present day.

For an ongoing study at Pomona College’s CARE Lab (Child Attachment, Relationships and Emotion Laboratory), Michelle Reade ’14 was part of a project that recruited children between the ages of nine to 12 to come to the lab with their mothers. Children answered a variety of questions and engaged in a cognitively challenging task with the mother present. Then the child and mother were interviewed separately about their thoughts and feelings about the preceding activity and physiological responses from both the child and mother were collected. Reade developed a scale assessing mothers’ thoughts and feelings about parenting and hopes to use this data for her senior thesis to analyze how this measure is related to a variety of parent and child behaviors and mental health outcomes.

Support for the Pomona College summer research program is provided by The Berliner Holocaust Studies Fund; James Bradbury '56; the Kenneth L. Cooke Memorial Fund; the Evelyn B. Craddock McVicar Memorial Fund; the Elgin Fund for Student Summer Research; the Sherman Fairchild Foundation; the Faucett Catalyst Fund; The Class of 1971 SURP; the Professors Corwin Hansch and Bruce Telzer Undergraduate Research Fund; the Hart Institute for American History Research Grants; the Hearst Foundation; donors to the History and English Department SURP; the Fletcher Jones Foundation; the Koe Family; Christopher Rand '70; the Linares Family SURP for Chemistry; the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; NIH; NSF; the Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation; The Paul K. Richter and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Memorial Fund; the Dale N. Robertson Fund for Undergraduate Research; The Rose Hills Foundation; the Schulz Fund for Environmental Studies; the Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund; the NEH; the Stutzman Fund; The Friedman Fund; HHMI; Research Corporation; and the Brian Stonehill Memorial Fund for Student Research in Media Studies.

To learn more about research at Pomona College, including an archive of past summers' research abstracts, please visit our Research website.

Pomona College, founded in 1887, is located in Claremont, CA, east of the City of Los Angeles. The College is known for its distinctive liberal arts education, small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and opportunities for research and involvement on campus and in the community.