Talented, New Professors Join Faculty

Jennifer Ito, Assistant Professor of Physics (Photo by Brad Elliott)

Five new accomplished tenure track professors joined Westmont faculty this fall. Isaac Gomez (kinesiology), Jennifer Ito (Physics), Ruth Lin (Music), Siegwart “Zig” Reichwald (music and Guang Song (Computer Science) each bring a deep Christian faith and love of teaching to Westmont.

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 – working with children is a lot of fun.”

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 thought to be residual radiation from the Big Bang,” she says. She will be training 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.

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Lin, who conducted the Gustavus Adolphus College Symphony Orchestra in St. Peter, Minnesota for more than a decade, takes the baton to 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 says. “What we cannot put into words, we can express perfectly in music.” An accomplished conductor and teacher, she earned a PhD in Orchestral Conducting from Northwestern University School of Music.

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Isaac Gomez, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology (Photo by Brad Elliott)

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 for any student interested in making music together,” he says. “Their performances offer meaningful musical and spiritual experiences to the Westmont community and Santa Barbara. I look forward to becoming a part of this tradition.” He teaches history of western music and looks forward to immersing himself in Santa Barbara’s rich music scene.

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 says. “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.

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Along with the new tenure track appointments, several professors are joining the college in short-term roles, including Nathalie Confiac (Care), Aaron Cooke (economy and economy), Lesley Guardia (Care), Diana Hoffman (Care), Wendy Jackson (English, theater arts), Sarah Johnson (Biology), Kelly Taylor (Mathematics), Pauline Remy (modern languages), Anna Marie Gonzales (Care), Holly Shelton (English), Nick Taylor (Biology), Silke Werth (sociology) and Jackie Xie (Chemistry).

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