Talented, New Professors Join Faculty

By Scott Craig   |   September 20, 2022
Jennifer Ito, assistant professor of physics (photo by Brad Elliott)

Five new accomplished, tenure-track professors have joined the 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 a love for teaching to Westmont. 

Gomez, a local resident who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, is finalizing his doctorate from the University of Oregon. Using behavioral testing, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and electromyography, he has studied how our brains control movement and published his findings. “I want to apply that research to children who are learning new motor skills,” he says. “I’m fascinated by my nieces and nephews – kids are wonderfully fun to work with.”

Ito, who recently earned a doctorate from UC San Diego, helped build millimeter-wavelength telescopes as part of the Simons Array in Chile. “We’re hoping to study the cosmic microwave background, thought to be remnant 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 when the college opens the observatory to the public the third Friday of each month, weather permitting. 

Lin, who directed the Gustavus Adolphus College Symphony Orchestra in St. Peter, Minnesota, for more than a decade, takes up the baton to lead the Westmont Orchestra and chair the music department. She has already started making connections and building 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’re unable to say in words we can express perfectly in music.” An accomplished conductor and teacher, she earned a Doctor of Music in orchestral conducting from Northwestern University School of Music. 

Isaac Gomez, assistant professor of kinesiology (photo by Brad Elliott)

Reichwald, who earned a doctorate in musicology and a Master of Music in orchestral conducting from Florida State, is the new Adams professor of music and worship. “Westmont has an excellent music faculty who offer artistic experiences for all students interested in making music together,” he says. “Their performances provide meaningful musical and spiritual experiences to the Westmont community and Santa Barbara. I look forward to becoming part of that tradition.” He teaches History of Western Music and looks forward to plugging into the rich musical scene in Santa Barbara. 

Song, who has taught computer science at Iowa State University since 2006, has focused his research on computational biology. “A powerful tool, computation extends the reach of many liberal arts and science endeavors,” he says. “I see some of this in my own research experience in computational biophysics and biology, where I apply computational models to study protein structure and dynamics.” Song earned a doctorate at Texas A&M University. He explores how proteins move, studies their molecular mechanical systems, and classifies their various shapes.

Along with the new tenure-track appointees, several professors join the college in short-term roles, including Nathalie Confiac (nursing), Aaron Cooke (economics and business), Lesley Gardia (nursing), Dianthe Hoffman (nursing), Wendy Jackson (English, theater 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).  


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