Harvey Mudd Celebrates a Decade of Community Partnerships

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In celebration of science and technology-based partnerships, the Harvey Mudd College Office of Civic and Community Engagement hosted its 10th annual Voices of Engagement event Jan. 31.

The event showcased projects of HMC students, faculty and staff who collaborate with local and national partners with shared ambitions to better society.

Cynthia Martinez, interim vice president for student affairs and dean of students, welcomed 7C students, staff, faculty and community partners. “Thank you to our community partners for helping us make a difference,” Martinez said. “Not only are we making a positive impact, but also a meaningful contribution to society.”

Posters showcased projects from groups that included SALSA-Mudd (Society for the Advancement of Latinx Students At Mudd), Science Bus, Sacred Sistahs, and Gateway to Exploring Mathematical Sciences (see full list below).

Gabriela Gamiz, director of civic and community engagement, reflected on the success of community engagement efforts during the past decade.

“We started Voices of Engagement to honor the work that our community partners are doing as well as the dedication and passion shown from our students and faculty,” Gamiz said. “We kept it going every year because both our local and campus community expressed gratitude to be in that space where they can connect and learn from one another.”

The Office of Civic and Community Engagement works with students, faculty and staff to develop community partnerships and support community outreach efforts.

Voices of Engagement, 2023–2024 Projects

Science Bus

5C Student Organization

Science Bus aims to inspire young students to pursue higher education and careers in the sciences. We write and test our own hands-on science lessons, then implement the lessons each week in local elementary schools. Through our passion for science and the fun integrative experiments, we hope to make science exciting and inspiring to young students.

A Summer at the Weill Cornell Cardiovascular Research Institute

Matea Zelich ’24

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the developed world, with socioeconomic status being one of the strongest determinants of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease impacts all communities, including communities whose risks may be understudied and communities without access to steady healthcare. This summer, I conducted cardiovascular research at the Weill Cornell Cardiovascular Research Institute with the goal of translating what we learned in the lab to patient care.

Adaptive Design

Leilani Elkaslasy ’26

We use engineering to build custom adaptations for those with disabilities. We build everything from switch-adapted toys to chairs to prosthetics so that those with disabilities can find independence. In so doing, we meet needs that the market does not build for and create lifelong relationships with those we help.

Cancer Basic Research and Activism

Nicholas Schiller ’25

I interned in Professor Kornberg’s lab at UCSF as a research assistant, contributing to research on developmental disorders and cancer. I also volunteered with the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. I supported cancer advocacy efforts and learned how to integrate cancer research and policy.

Ecological Restoration in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park

Lila Blank ’25

Work in urban ecology helps to combat the biodiversity crisis and mitigate the impacts of climate change felt on cities. Prospect Park is the largest park in Brooklyn, which is NYC’s most populated borough. As an ecological restoration intern at the Prospect Park Alliance, I worked with the senior forest ecologist to engage in field work monitoring forest health.

Flux Marine Internship, Summer 2023

Brittany Pan ’24

Flux Marine is a startup based in Rhode Island that is making all-electric outboard motors for boats. During the summer, I worked on a coolant flowrate analysis and heat dissipation test rig. This test setup will help the company test components in their cooling loop and inform their next designs.

GEMS Program

Student/Staff/Faculty Project: 7C Gateway to Exploring Mathematical Sciences

The Gateway to Exploring Mathematical Sciences program (GEMS) is a once-a-month, Saturday morning workshop designed to get young students excited about math and science. GEMS is designed to reach eighth, ninth and 10th grade students who may have an interest in mathematics, science or engineering. The GEMS program helps excite the interests and curiosity of young students and shows them how amazing and satisfying the mathematical sciences can be.

HMC’s Sacred SISTAHS Science and Technology Conference for Girls

Talithia Williams, associate professor of mathematics and Mathematics Clinic director

The Sacred SISTAHS conference is an enriching experience for African American youth ages 12 to 18. A diverse selection of conference speakers share life experiences that inspired their development, their work and their dreams. Students explore the Harvey Mudd campus, meet some of our faculty members and get inspired to aspire for careers in one of the STEAM fields. The conference includes a special parent session, a mixture of expert science talks, keynotes and a panel. There is no cost for the conference.

HMC Society of Women Engineers

Student Organization

HMC-SWE’s mission is to empower women to achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering and technology professions as a positive force in improving the quality of life and demonstrate the value of diversity and inclusion. Throughout the year, we build our community through mentorship programs, social events, organized conference trips and company collaborations. In the spring, we host our annual Women Engineers and Scientists of Tomorrow Conference on the Mudd campus, where local high school girls can participate in a day filled with STEM-themed workshop sessions hosted by our very own professors.

Machine Learning Applied to Expanding Model Understanding of Low Resource Languages

Alyssa Sawyer ’26

Large language models, like what powers Chat-GPT, perform extremely well in English because there is the entire internet worth of data. However, for languages that are not represented online but are utilized offline, it is almost impossible to train large language models the same way since the training data just doesn’t exist. This research proposes a method of textbook training to expand resources associated with machine learning and low-resource languages.

Midtown Summer 2023

Lucas Lemos ’26

Midtown offers a summer enrichment program for low-income urban youth in Chicago to learn to love learning, play sports and develop in virtue. This summer, I taught the math class for approximately 150 students, from third through eighth grade. I engaged the students with project-based learning that was playful and applicable to real life to show my students that math isn’t horrible.

Mudders Making Difference Through Community Engagement

Student Organization

MMAD is a student-run organization that works with the Office of Civic and Community Engagement to serve as a connection between HMC students and local communities, provide HMC students the chance to participate in a variety of existing community service and socially conscious activities and support students who wish to pursue independent volunteer or community-oriented projects. Some of the organizations that MMAD works with include Shoes that Fit, Crossroads, Food Recovery Network, Red Cross and Priceless Pets. Each program for these organizations is typically managed by a liason of MMAD and HMC student volunteers to help or provide resources.

Napier Initiative

Faculty/staff Project: Napier Initiative

The Napier Initiative is a partnership between Pilgrim Place and the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges to encourage leadership for social change. The Napier Initiative offers as its primary programs: 1) Napier courses and 2) The Napier Awards for Creative Leadership.

Research at Scripps Research “Worms to Human Health” hlh-11 Gene Dynamics in C. elegans

Fumi Tanizawa ’25

During my summer internship at Scripps Research in the Department of Neuroscience, I worked on a project aimed at defining the action site of a key transcription factor involved in regulating fat metabolism, innate immunity and lifespan in C. elegans. This transcription factor is also implicated in colorectal cancer, making my research crucial for uncovering new therapies for major unmet medical needs. My role involved generating custom DNA rescue constructs, transgenic animals and conducting phenotypic assays.

Silicone Nasal Swabs

Ethan Sandoval ’26

This research project started at City of Hope National Medical Center during the onset of COVID-19 pandemic. It aimed to improve COVID testing through the optimization of nasopharyngeal testing. It found that decreasing the amount of viral transport medium per test would thereby decrease the dilution of patient samples and false-negative rates. Now, the research project has shifted toward creating silicone nasal swab alternatives that are more efficient at collecting samples and cause less discomfort for patients.

The Art of Giving Back

Student Organization

The Sewing and Fashion Design Club has taken pride in teaching dozens of workshops every year in textile arts and design. This year, we aim to show how appreciation of textile craft and teaching others to create can build communities and inspire generosity. Crocheting for a Cause gathers individuals to teach them to crochet and encourages donations of crocheted squares that are distributed to various charitable causes. With Crocheting for a Cause, we hope to show how learning a simple technique can enable us as a community to weave together tangible symbols of solidarity and support.


Student Organization

SALSA Mudd partners with Uncommon Good to hold bi-weekly tutoring sessions, where local students can visit Mudd and meet some of the Latinx students. Uncommon Good is an organization that works to provide underprivileged youth a path to college. Our SALSA Mudd students spend two hours providing assistance with homework or explanations of concepts from our STEM specialties. We think it’s important to promote academia in the communities surrounding The Claremont Colleges to perpetuate the presence of Latinx personalities in collegiate institutions.

Union of Concerned Scientists

Social Justice Clinic

This is a climate and social justice Clinic project with the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) whose mission is to put rigorous, independent science into action, developing solutions and advocating for a healthy, safe and just future. One of the goals is to analyze the extent to which funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law (BIL) is equitably distributed to communities in California that are marginalized and/or historically disadvantaged. A main focus is on the climate, energy and environment section of the BIL.