Pomona Faculty and Staff Earn Various Grants and Awards in 2021-22 Academic Year

A class is held outdoors on beautiful Marston Quad.

Pomona faculty and staff members secured numerous grant awards during the 2021–22 academic year, in partnership with the Office of Sponsored Research. 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.

Jade Star Lackey

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a grant of $114,000 to Jade Star Lackey, associate professor and chair of the geology department. Over the next three years, he will be collaborating with Emily Cooperdock from the University of Southern California and Jaime Barnes of the University of Texas-Austin on research into the behavior of halogen elements in igneous rocks of California’s Sierra Nevada.

In addition, Lackey is the recipient of a National Science Foundation grant of more than $100,000 for his collaborative research with Caltech studying the chemistry of mafic rocks, an important building block of the continents.

Additionally, the team will provide earth science classroom lessons and field trips for middle and high school students from the Big Pine Unified School District (BPUSD) in Owens Valley, California. The BPUSD is comprised of a student population that is about 50 percent Native American and more than 40 percent Latina/o, two underrepresented groups in geosciences.

Nina Karnovsky and Wallace “Marty” Meyer

College students across Southern California—and perhaps someday beyond the Golden State—can now take part in collaborative multi-institutional ecological research with other undergraduates and their professors, thanks to the leadership of Pomona College biologists Nina Karnovsky and Wallace “Marty” Meyer
A five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, totaling $499,000, will fund implementation of RESCUE-Net—Research Experiences in Southern California for Undergraduate Ecologists Network. Led by Karnovsky and Meyer, the collaboration aims to inspire and train the next generation of ecologists so they can tackle major challenges facing the world.

Robert Gaines

Edwin F. and Martha Hahn Professor of Geology Robert Gaines will study the Ediacaran Period, a period just after Snowball Earth, when the entire planet is thought to have experienced its most intense ice age and nearly froze over. Gaines will join a research team working in Australia’s Outback, which geologists say was an ocean a half-billion years ago.

The fossil record in the Ediacaran Period shows “mysterious organisms there that are not clearly animals,” says Gaines. “We have the flourishing of organisms that are as big as a meter, but they don’t appear to have any eyes or mouths or organs. It seems that these organisms must have been passively absorbing nutrients from the environment around them.”

David Kauchak

Computer Science Professor David Kauchak and colleagues from the University of Arizona will research ways to improve health and medical literacy in the virtual-assistant world. They have been awarded a grant from the National Library of Medicine to build a tool that will help health-information creators prepare audio-friendly content. Funding for the four-year project continues through 2025.

Matthew Sazinsky

Pomona College Chemistry Professor Matthew Sazinsky is part of a team of scientists searching for ways to stop future pandemics. A three-year NIH grant of $1.8 million will support the team’s research in developing a computer assessment procedure to predict the structure of antibodies that could neutralize a previously unknown antigen or a novel virus that might emerge in the future.

This process could help with vaccine development and have a lasting impact on medicine in general, potentially leading to the development of new treatments for cancer, allergies and hypersensitivity issues.

Eric Grosfils

Eric Grosfils, Minnie B. Cairns Memorial Professor of Geology, seeks to understand how giant volcanoes on Mars have functioned and evolved. He recently received a $389,000 grant from NASA to model this volcanic activity along with two collaborators, John Chadwick from the College of Charleston and Patrick McGovern from the Lunar and Planetary Institute.

Over the next three years, using innovative mapping methods and high-resolution images taken by spacecraft, they will study young lava flows and summit calderas, which are large depressions formed when volcanoes erupt and collapse.

Ami Radunskaya

Pomona College Math Professor Ami Radunskaya was recently awarded $14,993 from the National Science Foundation to support the 2021 EDGE (Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education) Summer Symposium. The EDGE Summer Symposium is a three-day conference that takes place during the EDGE Summer Session, an annual four-week workshop designed to prepare women mathematicians to succeed in their mathematics Ph.D. programs and to thrive in their careers.

Professor Radunskaya also received a $64,290 grant from the National Science Foundation to host a conference in February 2003 on Strengthening Community in Research Mathematics, with co-organizers Taylor Billingsley at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Alex Barrios at the University of St. Thomas. The conference is designed to enhance the flow of underrepresented talent into the mathematics research community.

AARC and Mike Manalo-Pedro

Pomona College’s Asian American Resource Center (AARC) has been awarded a $293,781 grant from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) using emergency funding allocated by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help low-income Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander residents navigate and access safety net programs like public health insurance.

Edray Goins

Professor of Mathematics and Statistics Edray Goins received a National Science Foundation grant for $538,768 to offer an expanded program of the Pomona Research in Mathematics Experience (PRiME) during the summers of 2022 and 2023, in collaboration with his colleague and former doctoral student Alex Barrios of the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota.) Students underrepresented in mathematics attending Pomona College and other colleges and universities across the country will conduct research on topics in algebraic and number theory while learning about the culture and profession of mathematics from graduate students, faculty mentors, and guest lecturers.

Benton Museum of Art and Victoria Sancho Lobis

The Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College, under director Victoria Sancho Lobis, has received a $249,468 grant from the federal Institute for Museum and Library Services to dramatically improve access to its permanent collection by professionals and broader audiences. The grant will enable the Museum to greatly expand the digital information available for approximately 8,500 objects, including approximately 500 key works, with enhanced photography, bibliography, exhibition history, provenance, and conservation information. The permanent collection includes thousands of Native American works from more than 100 tribes and peoples.