Students Shine at Summer Research Event
More than 30 Westmont students presented their findings on 21 posters at the 2021 Celebration of Summer Research on Sept. 24 around the Winter Hall third floor atrium.
Topics included “Firewise Plants for a Flammable World, “Palms and Oaks Predict Urban Acorn Woodpecker Occupancy Across the California Coast,” “Mental Strength Training Improves Running Performance While Fatigued,” and “The Effect of Antipsychotics on Processing Speed in Geriatric Neurology Patients.”
The opportunity for undergraduate students to work directly with faculty on research projects has become a hallmark of Westmont’s academic program. Most of the students who conduct research for 8-10 weeks in the summer earn research and housing stipends.
One timely project addressed a concern in national news reports regarding the difficulty of managing large forests and the need to protect the urban-wildlife interface. Laura Dagg, Isabelle Hugonioit and Laura Schultheis, assistant professor of biology, analyzed the structural and functional traits that contribute to the flammability of 20 Santa Barbara native plant species. “No standardized methods exist for testing plant flammability,” Hugoniot says. “So we’re analyzing which traits will be the most helpful for future studies on a larger scale. In the meantime, homeowners may use this research to know what to plant in their yards to help prevent fires.”
The five least flammable plants studied include: narrowleaf milkweed, California goldenrod, common yarrow, California poppy and hummingbird sage.
Other student researchers included Alison Thomas, Allison M. Nobles, Braden Chaffin, Caleb Courson, Daniel Yugeun Jang, Danny Rubin, Ethan Walker, Francesca Montemurro, Jared Lush, Jenna M. Peterson, Jessica Wright, John Baker, John Corbett, Jonathan Reitinger, Joseph Hemry, Karly L. Kingsley, Kaylee Ivie, Kirsten Potts, Luke Perrin, Marliss Neal, Mercy Milliken, Rachel M. Lorson, Riley Johnson, Siena Verdon, Sophia McRae, Theo Patterson, Tiffany Gong, Wesley Brown, William J. Grubbs and Winston C. Gee.