Pomona Faculty and Staff Earn Numerous Grants and Awards in 2020-21 Academic Year

Estela Building

During the 2020–21 academic year, Pomona faculty and staff members secured numerous grant awards, in partnership with the Office of Sponsored Research and the Office of Foundations Relations and Strategic Initiatives. From sciences to the arts, these awards support faculty research and institutional priorities in support of Pomona College’s educational mission. Learn more about the innovative work professors and staff members are doing and the grants that are supporting them:

Nicholas Ball

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Ball received a 2020 Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, which supports the research and teaching careers of talented young faculty in the chemical sciences at undergraduate institutes. The $75,000 unrestricted research grant allows Ball and a team of student researchers to exploit techniques that build important bond formations one electron at a time. This includes making molecules with sulfur—an important element in pharmaceutical and agrochemical compounds. By using one-electron chemistries, Ball and students will develop new methods that allow them to access compounds that are traditionally challenging to access through other strategies. Additionally, this grant will fund studies around Ball’s efforts toward inclusive teaching in the chemistry curriculum.


Mietek Boduszynski

Associate Professor of Politics

The National Council for Eurasian and East European Research awarded $16,000 to Boduszynski, who will collaborate with Victor Peskin, associate professor of politics and global studies at Arizona State University, on a research project “The Perils of State-Building: The U.S. in Post-Conflict Kosovo.” The project will culminate in a monograph that examines the role of the U.S. in state-building in Kosovo in the aftermath of NATO’s 1999 military intervention. Through a series of proposed interviews with key policy and decision makers during the Kosovo intervention, Boduszynski and Peskin problematize the generally held notion that the U.S. state-building efforts were a success, pointing out that while security and stability are indeed desirable outcomes of state-building efforts, the U.S. was less successful in establishing rule of law and transparency, two key values of democratic societies.


Philip Choi

Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy

In collaboration with physicist Chengxing Zhai at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Choi was awarded $238,270 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for the project “Near-Earth-Object Follow-up Observations using Synthetic Tracking.” The objectives of this project are to use Pomona College’s 1m telescope and JPL’s robotic telescopes to regularly acquire astrometric follow-up observation data for near-earth objects, monitor the health status of the telescope systems and manage the computer disks to ensure space for new data, and run JPL’s data reduction to generate highly accurate near-earth objects’ astrometric measurements.


Stephan Ramon Garcia

W.M. Keck Distinguished Service Professor and Professor of Mathematics

The National Science Foundation awarded Garcia $239,937 to study operator theory and its connections. Along with student researchers, Garcia will look at the dynamic interaction between operator theory, combinatorics and probability theory. A second thread will be the connection between discrete geometry (lattices) and operator theory (Toeplitz determinants and frames). This award allows Garcia to continue to sponsor award-winning undergraduate research while recruiting a diverse array of research students.


Edray Goins

Professor of Mathematics

Goins was awarded $124,258 by the National Security Agency for an eight-week summer residential program “Pomona Research in Mathematics Experience (PRiME),” which will host 12 undergraduates, two graduate students and two faculty members. The goals of PRiME are to provide undergraduates with a research experience in algebraic geometry/number theory with the focus of leading to new results worthy of publication or presentation at a national meeting, to position undergraduates to obtain a post-baccalaureate degree in the mathematical sciences and to strengthen an extended community of underrepresented minorities in the field.


Heidi Nichols Haddad

Associate Professor of Politics

Haddad was awarded the Haynes Faculty Fellowship grant of $12,000 by the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation. Haddad will study the impact of the City of Los Angeles’ adoption of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as local goals, i.e., as a prism for all City policy that refracts and connects issues of climate change, gender equality, racial injustice and homelessness. Haddad has the support of the Mayor’s Office in obtaining access to data. In conjunction with this project, Haddad will teach an experiential learning course in partnership with the Mayor’s Office and will publish op-eds in the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post on the results of the study.


Wallace Meyer

Director of the Bernard Field Station and Associate Professor of Biology

Nina Karnovsky

Willard George Halstead Zoology Professor of Biology

The National Science Foundation awarded Meyer and Karnovksy $71,011 by for the project “RCN-UBE Incubator: Expanding Undergraduate Research and Training in a Biodiversity Hotspot: Creating the Southern California Undergraduate Terrestrial Ecological Research Network.” The project aims to develop the Research Experiences in Southern California for Undergraduate Ecologists Network (RESCUE-net). By bringing faculty from across the region together, RESCUE-net will also catalyze new research collaborations and allow participating faculty to share expertise and resources. Collaborations will focus on preserving the California Floristic Province, a biodiversity hotspot.


Jane M. Liu

Associate Professor of Chemistry

The Howard Hughes Medical Institution (HHMI) awarded Pomona College an Inclusive Excellence 3 Learning Community grant of $30,000. Liu is the program director. HHMI’s goal is to foster a learning community whose members will help one another apply an inclusive, equitable and anti-racist lens to their continued self-study, hold one another accountable as they develop an inclusive, equitable and anti-racist approach to address their selected IE3 challenge, and help inform HHMI’s development of phase two of its previous two Inclusive Excellence Initiatives. Pomona’s IE3 focus will be on strengthening inclusive pedagogy in STEM with a focus on faculty development, mentoring and support.


Victoria Sancho Lobis

Sarah Rempel and Herbert S. Rempel ’23 Director of the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College and Associate Professor of Art History

The Terra Foundation for American Art awarded a $75,000 grant to the Benton Museum of Art in support of a special exhibition featuring the museum’s permanent collection holdings of approximately 600 baskets from the Cahuilla culture, all of which were produced in the early 20th century and given to the College in 1933. Selected examples from these important holdings will be exhibited in a dynamic presentation integrating unpublished primary source material as well as physical representation of the present-day activities of Cahuilla artists. This grant from the Terra Foundation of American Art will further enable the Benton to create a sustained, creative collaboration with current members of the Cahuilla tribe, who will contribute to the design of the exhibition and exhibition catalogue, their contents and the related public programming.


Mike Manalo-Pedro

Associate Dean and Director of the Asian American Resource Center

Manolo-Pedro received a $100,000 grant from The California Endowment to support basic needs and continued advocacy to advance the health and racial equity of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander residents most impacted by the effects of COVID-19 in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The team at the Asian American Resource Center under the leadership of Manalo-Pedro has long been engaged with the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community in the Inland Empire region through the Saturday Tongan Education Program (STEP), which serves Tongan youths by providing academic support, cultural connections, leadership development and other opportunities to explore personal identity.


Stephen Marks

Elden Smith Professor of Economics

Marks was awarded a Haynes Faculty Fellowship grant of $12,000 by the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation. Marks will undertake an econometric analysis of the criminal justice system in California, with a specific emphasis on the Los Angeles metropolitan region. The research design employs an innovative “difference-in-differences” analysis, which compares Los Angeles to San Diego, another in-state metropolitan area, as well as to an out-of-state area, Phoenix, Arizona. Marks will bring to bear state-of-the-art econometric methods to control for other possible influences on crime rates, such as the size of the police force, the unemployment rate and demographics.


April J. Mayes

Associate Professor of History

The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures awarded a $20,000 Border Narrative Change grant to Mayes to support “Black Freedom/Black Borderlands,” a participatory archival project that will be created in collaboration with Haitian community members, immigrants and residents living in the Mexico-U.S. borderlands from Tijuana to the Gulf of Mexico. Following model initiatives such as the Quipu Project, Mayes will create an accessible, multi-lingual platform which preserves and facilitates the sharing of recorded testimonials, visual content and a podcast series about Black movements and community formations from the Caribbean to the Pacific.


Rebecca G. McGrew ’85

Senior Curator, Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College

The Getty Foundation awarded the Benton Museum of Art a grant of $120,000 to support research in preparation for an exhibition and related publication titled “Fred Eversley,” which investigates how the artist’s sculptural variations of three-dimensional paraboloids reveal the overlapping roles of invention and imagination central to experimental practices in both engineering and visual art. “Fred Eversley” will be a research project, exhibition and publication devoted to generating rigorous cross-disciplinary scholarship focused on the career of artist and engineer Fred Eversley. This project is being developed for Pacific Standard Time 2024, a regionwide collaboration led by Getty that includes thematically joined exhibitions and public programs on the intersections of art and science. 

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts awarded the Benton Museum of Art a $50,000 grant in support of the project “Sadie Barnette: New Work,” which will encompass an exhibition, publication and public programs. Creating visual compositions at the intersections of abstracted galactic domesticity, vernacular archives and a rigorous untethering of state-sanctioned violence, Sadie Barnette examines the Barnette family’s story, in particular the lived experiences of her father Rodney Barnette, a former Black Panther member. Deploying large-scale installation, drawing, sculpture and found objects, Barnette’s hybrid aesthetic of everyday magic, formal minimalism and material density explores the history of Black Power movements and Black queer identities.


Ami E. Radunskaya

Professor of Mathematics
Radunskaya was awarded $6,000 by an Occidental College program funded by the Mathematical Association of America for the program, EDGE (Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education) Reach, which will provide a select number of EDGE Summer Program applicants with a rigorous experience in machine learning. Participants will engage in real-time classes, receive notes and problem sets, and attend collaborative working sessions. The project will prepare participants for graduate school by providing experience in computational mathematics via an introduction to machine learning, a topic often excluded in undergraduate curriculum. EDGE increases the number of women and underrepresented minorities who succeed in entering and completing graduate programs in the mathematical sciences.


Andrew Wilson

Director of Research Computing & Digital Scholarship

Jane Liu

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Wilson joined Pomona in 2020 with a subgrant of $18,909 from Carleton College, his previous posting, to continue the project “Development of Novel Augmented Reality Tool for Teaching Molecular Visualization in Biochemistry,” a study that Wilson, assistant professor of biology Rou-Jia Sung at Carleton and Pomona’s Liu began in 2019 with support from the National Science Foundation. The project aims to develop an augmented reality (AR) application to visualize 3D macromolecules that are central to understanding biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology and genetics. Another aim is to develop and test in classrooms at both colleges a freely available AR-based application that can be installed on mobile smartphones and tablets.