Five New Professors Join Westmont Faculty | School Zone

Posted on September 19, 2022
| 9:00 am

Five new accomplished tenure track professors joined Westmont faculty this fall. They are Isaac Gomez (Kinesiology), Jennifer Ito (Physics), Ruth Lin (Music), Siegwart “Zig” Reichwald (Music) and Guang Song (Computer Science).

Gomez, a local who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, is finishing his PhD at the University of Oregon. Using behavioral testing, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and electromyography, he studied how our brain controls movement and published his findings.

“I want to apply this research to children who are learning new motor skills,” he says. “I am fascinated by my nieces and nephews – it is incredibly fun to work with children.”

Gomez says he experienced a spiritual reawakening in college through studying science: “The more I learned about physics, chemistry, and biology, the more I felt the presence of God in the natural world.

“I realized that science is an attempt to uncover the mechanisms behind God’s creation—that science and faith are not mutually exclusive—and that the study of science can actually strengthen our faith in God.”

Ito, who recently received his PhD from UC San Diego, helped build millimeter-wave telescopes as part of the Simons Array in Chile.

“We hope to study the cosmic microwave background, which is believed to be residual radiation from the Big Bang,” she said. “This branch of astrophysics deals with original science. It creates a unique opportunity for integration with faith.”

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As researchers collect data from the telescopes, Ito hopes to engage Westmont students in the analysis.

“My faith and my professional work are intertwined and inseparable,” she said. “The laws of physics are extensions of God’s enduring nature, and we use these concepts to describe how Christ holds all things together. I see my research as an opportunity to learn more about God through His work.”

Ito is being trained to use Westmont’s powerful Keck telescope and looks forward to working with the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit and the community as the college opens the observatory to the public on the third Friday of each month, weather permitting.

Lin, who conducted the Gustavus Adolphus College Symphony Orchestra in St. Peter, Minnesota for more than a decade, will conduct the Westmont Orchestra and oversee the music department.

She has already begun to socialize and build relationships in the Santa Barbara music community and looks forward to working with students. “Making music and connecting with others through music is a gift from God,” she said. “What we cannot put into words, we can express perfectly in music.”

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An accomplished conductor and teacher, Lin earned a PhD in orchestral conducting from Northwestern University School of Music. She appreciates the natural beauty of Westmont and Santa Barbara with its mountains and ocean.

“I look forward to open conversations with colleagues and students about what their faith means and how it is manifesting in their lives,” she said.

Reichwald, who has a PhD in Musicology and a Masters of Music in Orchestra Conducting from the State of Florida, is the new Adams Professor of Music and Worship.

“Westmont has an excellent music faculty that offers artistic experiences to all students interested in making music together,” he said. “Their performances offer meaningful musical and spiritual experiences to the Westmont community and Santa Barbara. I look forward to becoming part of this tradition.”

Reichwald teaches history of western music and looks forward to tapping into Santa Barbara’s rich music scene

“As a scientist, I hope to pique the curiosity of everyone at Westmont interested in learning more about how music was and is an essential means of giving voice to the human experience,” he said. “Life happens through relationships. One of the most exciting parts of my job is being a member of the chapel team.

“Music has always been an integral part of worship, and a musician has no higher calling or responsibility than leading worship.”

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Song, who has taught computer science at Iowa State University since 2006, focuses his research on computational biology.

“As a powerful tool, computation extends the reach of many humanities and scientific endeavors,” he said. “I see some of this in my own research experience in computational biophysics and biology, where I use computational models to study protein structure and dynamics.”

Song received his PhD from Texas A&M University. He researches how proteins move, studies their molecular mechanical systems and classifies their different shapes.

“I love teaching and appreciate this opportunity to teach students how to be knowledgeable about computing and how to be a disciple of Christ,” he said.

Along with the new tenure track appointments, several professors are joining the college in short-term roles, including:

Nathalie Confiac (Nursing), Aaron Cooke (Economics and Business Administration), Lesley Gardia (Nursing), Dianthe Hoffman (Nursing), Wendy Jackson (English, Dramatic Arts), Sara Johnson (Biology), Kelly Taylor (Mathematics), Pauline Remy (Modern Languages), Annamarie Gonzales (Nursing), Holly Shelton (English), Nick Taylor (Biology), Silke Werth (Sociology) and Jackie Xie (Chemistry).

New Westmont Professors: Isaac Gomez, Jennifer Ito, Ruth Lin, Siegwart Reichwald, and Guang Song.
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New Westmont Professors: Isaac Gomez, Jennifer Ito, Ruth Lin, Siegwart Reichwald, and Guang Song. (Photo courtesy)

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