Westmont Magazine Stauffer Challenge Grant Funds Student Research in Chemistry
Westmont raised $500,000 in matching funds to complete a challenge grant from the John Stauffer Charitable Trust, endowing the chemistry department’s summer research program. Income from the $1 million endowment provides a stipend each year for eight to 10 students doing full-time summer research with chemistry professors. More than 40 individuals and a dozen foundations and corporations helped match the Stauffer Charitable Trust grant and build the endowment.
“In a research environment, students see how science really works: a gradual and incremental process of eliminating false explanations in pursuit of better ones,” says Michael Everest, professor of chemistry. “It is almost impossible to model this complex process in a typical instructional laboratory exercise during the academic year. If something surprising happens during the summer, students can do more than merely guess at what might be going on. Many discover that they really love the lab and decide to pursue a career in research—and others discover research isn’t for them.”
“Summer research at Westmont with Allan Nishimura taught me how to be a scientist and ultimately persuaded me to pursue my doctorate in physical chemistry at Stanford,” says Niva Tro ’85, who has been teaching chemistry at Westmont for 26 years. “Because I was included as a coauthor on three of Allan’s publications, I was able to get into the best chemistry graduate program in the country.”
Nishimura, distinguished professor emeritus of chemistry, has taught for more than three decades at Westmont and celebrated his milestone 100th research paper with students in 2013.
Kristi Lazar Cantrell ’00, assistant professor of chemistry, also participated in Westmont’s long tradition of students conducting research with faculty.