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Presidential Challenge Grant Announcement

Dear Pomona College Community,

Earlier this year, the College sought proposals for the newly created Presidential Challenge Grants—an initiative intended to support highly creative and collaborative research projects that transcend boundaries of all kinds. Today it is my great pleasure to announce the result of this year’s selection process.

Here are the recipients of the 2018 Presidential Challenge Grants, each worth $10,000, and a brief description of each of their projects:

Joanne Randa Nucho, the Mellon Chau Postdoctoral Fellow in Anthropology at Pomona; Jesus Sanchez, executive director and founder of the Pomona-based community organization Gente Organizado; and Alejandro Guerrero ’19 will use their grant to support a community partnership class collaboration for the purpose of creating an oral history archive in the city of Pomona.

Adam Pearson, association professor of psychology at Pomona; Rainer Romero-Canyas, senior behavioral scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund; and Jonathan Schuldt, assistant professor of communication at Cornell University’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, will use their grant to conduct research that will test the efficacy of a norms-based advocacy campaign to enhance pro-environmental civic engagement among underrepresented groups.

Nina Karnovsky, professor of biology at Pomona, and Wallace Meyer, associate professor of biology and director of the Bernard Field Station, will use their grant to help train undergraduates to be the next generation’s environmental leaders and build upon a regional network in Southern California for undergraduate research and the preservation of the region’s rich biodiversity and key ecosystem services.

The College received an impressive array of proposals for this year’s grants. In evaluating them, the Faculty Research Committee, Dean Audrey Bilger and I found these three projects to capture very effectively the theme of this inaugural academic year—Imagine. Create. Engage. Together.

It is my hope that the transdisciplinary nature of these grants will allow us as a community to continually challenge one another to imagine, create and engage. This is the essence of the liberal arts. Be it in classrooms, laboratories, on the stage, in studio spaces, in residence halls, and certainly beyond the gates of Pomona College, we are constantly being challenged to cross borders of all kinds—disciplinary, intellectual, cultural, social, geographic—in order to bring people together and to solve problems creatively.

I am confident that these grant awards will enrich scholarship at Pomona and help our students bear “their added riches” beyond our gates.

With best wishes,

G. Gabrielle Starr