Chapman Magazine Spring 2022

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DIGGING INTO COSMIC CULTURE Archaeologists boldly go where none have gone before.


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Executive Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer


Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Communications


Assistant Vice President of Creative Services


Director of Content Strategy

EDITOR Dennis Arp


Adam Hemingway


Ivy Montoya Viado


Michelle Anguka, Stace Dumoski


Shirin Khodabandehloo Editorial Office: One University Drive, Orange, CA 92866-9911 Delivery issues/change of address: email

Chapman Magazine (USPS #007643) is published biannually by Chapman University. © 2022 Chapman University. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Periodicals postage paid at Orange, Calif., and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Chapman Magazine One University Drive • Orange, Calif. 92866-9911

The mission of Chapman University is to provide personalized education of distinction that leads to inquiring, ethical and productive lives as global citizens.

2 UP FRONT 2 President’s Message 3 Matt Parlow brings a record of leadership and fundraising success to the role of chief advancement officer


4 Gabriela Castaneda steps into “an amazing opportunity” as director of Latinx achievement

44 A study led by Professor Hesham El-Askary reveals concerns about a massive dam project in Africa

5 Roxanne Greitz Miller and Henrik Cronqvist are named new deans of Attallah College and Argyros School, respectively

46 Indigenous communities in the Bolivian Amazon provide new clues about healthy aging and Alzheimer’s

6 F E AT U R E S 6 Key metrics help Chapman chart its progress as a national university on the rise 10 At the cutting edge of AI and assistive technologies, university researchers target unmet societal needs 16 Separated by barely a mile, Chapman and CHOC find lots of common ground for projects that change lives 22 For the first time, archaeologists are unearthing extraterrestrial culture on the International Space Station 28 Both the footprint and impact of the popular Hilbert Museum of California Art are growing greatly 36 After fleeing their native Afghanistan, alumni legal scholars return to Chapman to rebuild hope

47 Testimony by Chapman sociologist Pete Simi leads to a judgment against hate group organizers 50 A master class by “Squid Game” creators takes students inside the mania of the globally significant series 51 The largest NEH grant in the university’s history helps establish a minor in Asian American Studies


ALUMNI NEWS 58 Jim Byron ‘15 hopes to increase historical understanding and student opportunities as CEO of the Nixon Foundation 60 Five Chapman alumni are named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 List of honorees 62 Class Notes 64 Friends We Will Miss 66 Chapman in Hollywood

ON THE COVER: A NASA illustration shows the International Space Station, site of the first archaeological study performed outside of the Earth. Chapman Professor Justin Walsh and colleagues are using archaeology's methods of inquiry to gain new understanding of human activity in space. To learn more about the project, turn to Page 22.



ach year, Chapman University President Daniele Struppa announces a poster contest to students in the Advanced Graphics Design course, with the winning design presented at the State of the University address; this year’s theme was research. Graphic design major Alice Premeau ’22 was this year’s winner. The centerpiece of Premeau’s design is Da Vinci’s “Vetruvian Man,” but with a twist: the figure is also a woman. It is also inspired by Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but instead of a divine hand touching a human, it’s a robot arm touching a human’s – the present literally igniting the future. The atom and double helix invoke scientific progress, and the use of Arabic mathematical equations aims to de-center Western history and be inclusive of other cultures. “In the poster, the High Renaissance meets modern design elements,” explained Premeau. Said Struppa, “Alice’s design really captured my imagination the moment I saw it.”

JUNE 2022



CREATING CONNECTIONS THAT CROSS BOUNDARIES As a child, I was fascinated by space exploration. I grew up in Italy, so I would navigate the awkward time difference to watch thunderous launches being beamed by satellite from a faraway place called Cape Canaveral. I was taken with the pure adventure of it all. But as I matured, my fascination expanded to include the boundary-crossing teamwork as well. How many mathematicians, engineers, scientists and countless other contributors must it take to pull off such a feat? At Chapman University, our collective fascination with discovery is similarly propulsive as we find innumerable ways to cross boundaries and pursue new possibilities. Examples abound, including a project led by Chapman Professor of Art Justin Walsh, who is making space a place to dig into the material culture of the cosmos. Professor Walsh and a crossdisciplinary team are applying the tools and principles of archaeology, sociology, anthropology and more to gather insights from inside the International Space Station. In so doing, Walsh and his collaborators not only widen our horizons but they also strengthen our connections, which now stretch around the globe as well as 250 nautical miles into space. We at Chapman have long understood that our academic disciplines aren’t silos of information. We know that information is interconnected and that most breakthrough research crosses disciplinary boundaries. In this issue of Chapman Magazine, we explore the ways in which our researchers, students and alumni are crossing boundaries in the classroom and beyond through academic collaboration, community engagement, industry partnerships and, yes, childlike fascination.

positive change in their war-torn homeland. But regime change turned them into refugees, and now, thanks to a generous donor and many others in the Chapman Family, those alumni are getting a fresh start as visiting scholars in the Wilkinson College of Art, Humanities, and Social Sciences. An ocean away, Professor of Health Economics and Anthropology Hillard Kaplan ventures into the Bolivian Amazon to study the low rates of dementia among the Indigenous Tsimane villagers and explore biomarkers and lifestyle factors that may offer solutions to the growing prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in the Western world. Closer to home, faculty from the Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, School of Pharmacy and others collaborate with researchers from Children’s Hospital Orange County (CHOC). On Page 16, you’ll read about how faculty, students and alumni leverage connections of institutional culture to serve both communities and improve the lives of CHOC patients. As the scope and depth of our research and partnerships continue to grow and evolve, so too does Chapman’s campus. The visionary leadership of Mark and Jan Hilbert will enable the Hilbert Museum of California Art to nearly triple its space (see story on Page 28), allowing not just for enhanced exhibition space but also a gateway into the City of Orange. When visitors step off the train at the Orange Metrolink station, they will immediately see a pathway leading to the museum, declaring Orange a city of art. Chapman’s 160-year journey as a university has only just begun. We emerged after two complicated years of the pandemic stronger than ever before, as evidenced by the strength of our financial outlook, the growth of our campus, our exceptional students and the innovation of our partnerships and research. Much of this is due to the steadfast support of our community of alumni, friends, neighbors and supporters. The interconnectedness of the Chapman Family is the true strength of our university and a testament to the promise of the continued momentum of our legacy together. With gratitude,

The story of the space archaeology project begins on Page 22, illuminating the first-ever extraterrestrial archaeological project in history. But it’s just one illustration of initiatives that reach new heights. On Page 36, you’ll learn about how a group of Fowler School of Law alumni have traversed one of the world’s most treacherous national boundaries in order to access a Chapman education and career. Five legal scholars from Afghanistan – four of them women – sought to apply their Chapman graduate studies to create



Daniele C. Struppa President, Chapman University


Matt Parlow Named Chief Advancement Officer By Dawn Bonker After distinguished service as dean of the Fowler School of Law and Donald P. Kennedy Chair in Law, Matt Parlow is Chapman University’s new executive vice president and chief advancement officer. Parlow came to the role with a wide range of achievements, first as a professor at Fowler School of Law from 2005 to 2008, then as associate dean at Marquette University Law School from 2010 to 2016, and as the Fowler Law dean since 2016. In addition to being a prolific legal scholar, Parlow has been a leader in the legal academy, serving as the chair of both the State and Local Government Law and the Sports Law sections of the Association of American Law Schools. “I am thrilled to be leading the talented, dedicated and award-winning team in University Advancement,” Parlow said. “Chapman is a special place that has distinguished itself nationally with its growth and momentum throughout its history, which has rapidly accelerated during the past 30 years. I look forward to working with the entire Chapman Family to continue to elevate this great university to new heights.”

A Track Record of Leadership and Fundraising Success Parlow’s fundraising success as dean of Fowler Law led to the establishment of several new professorships. He created scholarship funds to increase access for students from underrepresented groups and led other initiatives to spur student success. These donor-supported initiatives led to a rise in the rankings by Fowler School of Law, and it garnered national awards and recognition from the American Bar Association, the Orange County Bar Association, Prelaw Magazine and National Jurist Magazine. As dean, Parlow brought Fowler Law to financial stability while reaching new heights in admissions, career services and other key areas of institutional success. During the past few years, the Fowler School of Law has matriculated the strongest and most diverse classes in its history and has achieved three consecutive years of record graduate employment. “As an experienced fundraiser and a committed academic who embodies our teaching and research mission, Matt brings his management

Matt Parlow’s leadership of donor-supported initiatives helped the Fowler School of Law rise in the rankings and earn multiple awards. expertise and his intellectual energy to his new role as EVP to work with the entire university to expand the strategic role that Advancement has in the modern university,” said Chapman President Daniele C. Struppa. Parlow came to the position following the tenure of Sheryl Bourgeois, Ph.D., who served Chapman University for 24 years and whose immeasurable contributions helped build the university into what it is today.

Amy Rogan-Mehta Takes on New VP of Advancement Role By Stace Dumoski


my Rogan-Mehta has been named Chapman University’s new vice president of University Advancement. In this newly created position, Rogan-Mehta will serve in the Executive Office of University Advancement, which is led by Executive Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer Matt Parlow.

Amy Rogan-Mehta led efforts to build a deep culture of engagement and volunteerism in the Fowler School of Law.

Rogan-Mehta will oversee the areas of University Advancement Systems and Operations, Career and Professional Development and the Hilbert Museum. She will also serve on Chapman’s senior staff in this role. “I’m delighted to join the talented team in University Advancement at this exciting time for Chapman. It’s an honor to be able to contribute to the impressive momentum the university is experiencing through this new role,” said Rogan-Mehta. “I look forward to working with my colleagues and our campus

partners to build on the Advancement team’s success, support our students and elevate the incredible work of the entire Chapman Family.” Rogan-Mehta previously served as the associate dean for administration at the Fowler School of Law. There, she oversaw the entire administration, including career services, admissions, operations, marketing, events and student affairs. “Amy’s leadership led to unparalleled results in the history of the Fowler School of Law in key areas of student and institutional success,” said Parlow, noting record graduate employment numbers and admitting the strongest and most diverse class in the school’s history. In addition, Rogan-Mehta led efforts to build a deep culture of engagement and volunteerism with students, alumni, supporters and community partners throughout the school.

JUNE 2022



MBA Program Rises to Highest Ranking Ever BY DENNIS ARP


hapman University’s Argyros School of Business and Economics has vaulted to No. 72 in the latest Best Business School rankings by U.S. News & World Report, announced Tuesday, March 29. It’s the school’s highest-ever position in the prestigious rankings of business schools with full-time MBA programs. Since Thomas Turk assumed the role of dean five years ago, the Argyros School has jumped 26 places in the national rankings. “These 2023 rankings validate our position among the top private business schools on the West Coast as well as our overall position among all California schools,” said Turk, Ph.D., who holds the Robert J. and Carolyn A. Waltos Endowed Deanship in the Argyros School. “This achievement reflects the quality of our faculty, staff and students,

and it shows the impact our school has on the communities we serve.” Notable is that Chapman’s MBA program now ranks No. 3 among private universities and colleges on the West Coast. Included in the key metrics accounting for the Argyros School’s rise, 91% of full-time Argyros MBAs secured job offers within 90 days of graduation. “Our personalized approach to education continues to provide a competitive advantage, attracting highly qualified students to pursue their MBA and establish themselves in their careers,” Turk said. The U.S. News rankings of schools with fulltime MBA programs are based on a range of indicators, including career placement success, student excellence and qualitative assessments by experts.

Gabriela Castaneda to Open Doors as Director of Latinx Achievement BY MICHELLE ANGUKA


hapman University’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has named Dr. Gabriela Castaneda the new Latinx Achievement Director. Castaneda, Ed.D., comes to the position from the Argyros School of Business & Economics, where she has served as the assistant director of career services since 2016. For the past three years, Castaneda has also served as Chapman’s Latinx Staff & Faculty Forum president.

“This is where our population is going, given that the fastest-growing minority population at Chapman is Latinx,” said Castaneda. In her new position, Castaneda will increase the visibility of and opportunities for Chapman’s Latinx students. She also hopes the increased focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) will encourage scholars and potential staff members to consider Chapman as their place of employment.

“It’s a very exciting time right now at Chapman, but specifically for the Latinx community,” “The Latinx community is a pretty tight Castaneda said. community. This is an amazing opportunity One of the first objectives of the new position will and exciting time to be able to give back to the be to earn Chapman designation as a Hispanic community that has given so much to me and Serving Institution (HSI), a White House initiative my career,” she said. “I’m very much aware that that recognizes higher education institutions with the people who came before me opened doors an undergraduate enrollment of at least 25% for me to get to where I am now.” Hispanic representation. 4


UP FRONT Roxanne Greitz Miller, Ed.D., a widely respected leader and nationally recognized advocate for excellence in PreK-12 public schools, has been named dean of Chapman University’s Attallah College of Educational Studies. Chapman Provost Norma Bouchard announced the appointment after a national search. Miller most recently has held concurrent positions as interim dean of Attallah College and vice provost for graduate education.

Roxanne Greitz Miller to Lead Attallah College BY DENNIS ARP

“Dr. Miller has elevated Attallah College both regionally and nationally,” Bouchard said. “She’s a generous citizen of all her communities, and that generosity is evident in her collaborative approach to leadership.” A first-generation college attendee, Miller has long worked to improve the quality of public education systems and to champion college access for all. “The role of dean is one I never imagined would be open to me when I began my career in education 30 years ago,” Miller said. “When I was a child, my doctor, minister and teachers were the only

Henrik Cronqvist, vice dean at the University of Miami Herbert Business School, has been named dean of the Argyros School of Business and Economics at Chapman University. Cronqvist steps into the role after five highly successful years of Argyros School leadership by Dean Thomas Turk. “I am excited to join the positive momentum and trajectory of the Argyros School,' said Cronquvist, whose appointment will begin July 31, 2022. “I am also looking forward to returning to beautiful Southern California – my favorite part of the U.S.,” he said.

Henrik Cronqvist Named Dean of Argyros School BY STACE DUMOSKI

A native of Sweden, Cronqvist is a graduate of the Stockholm School of Economics (MS in business and economics) as well as the University of Chicago Booth School of Business (Ph.D. in finance). His doctoral advisor was Nobel Laureate Richard H. Thaler.

people my family knew who had college degrees. Just being able to attend college and then become a science teacher was, for me, a dream come true.” After 10 years of classroom teaching in highly diverse secondary schools, Miller earned her Doctor of Education degree in curriculum and instruction, specializing in science education. She joined Chapman in 2005 and currently holds the Donna Ford Attallah Endowed Professorship as well as a joint appointment with the Schmid College of Science and Technology. She is also an active researcher with a distinguished record of articles and book chapters on a range of topics, including science literacy and education policy. “I’m very excited to continue the work of Attallah College,” Miller said. “We will continue to prepare our graduates to work on issues of equity and access as we endeavor to create inclusive communities that support their members’ social, emotional and academic needs.”

Business School. In that role, he was named the Zhongkun Group Endowed Chair. Cronqvist is an award-winning researcher with a distinguished record of publications on topics focused on investors’ behavior examined from a variety of cultural and social determinants. His work has appeared in Management Science, Journal of Financial Economics and Journal of Finance, among other outlets. Cronqvist is a frequent speaker at the national and international gatherings of his professional associations. His work has received extensive media coverage by The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and NPR’s Marketplace Money. He is also an accomplished instructor and has consulted with corporations, banks and law firms.

Prior to Cronqvist’s appointment at the University of Miami, he was on the faculty of the Fisher College of Business (Ohio State University), the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance of Claremont McKenna College (where he held the McMahon Family Endowed Chair in Corporate Finance), and the China Europe International JUNE 2022





hapman’s ascent to national stature registered on the radar of Norma Bouchard long before she stepped into the role of provost at the university. The climb in multiple rankings, the achievement of R2 status as an impactful research institution, the elite productivity of high-profile faculty researchers – all caught her attention from across the country. Now that she has joined the leadership team at Chapman, she’s seeing the dynamism first-hand. The buzz is growing.



“We are recruiting, and it’s just stunning to me the kind of faculty candidates who are applying,” said Bouchard, Ph.D., who joined Chapman as chief academic officer four months ago after serving as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Drexel University in Philadelphia. “The candidates are coming from top-notch programs, and even those just starting on a tenure track come with 30-35 publications already, along with a strong commitment to teaching,” she added. “It’s really exciting to see that these standouts are drawn to Chapman. Their high quality reflects our path as we elevate our profile and enhance the academic excellence of the institution.”




JUNE 2022


”When your president has authored more than 200 publications, has won the Cozzarelli Prize from the National Academy of Sciences and continues to do important research, it sets a high standard for the university,“ says Chapman Provost Norma Bouchard, speaking of President Daniele Struppa, above.

CHAPMAN ACHIEVES NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL STATURE Indeed, there’s plenty of substance behind the buzz as Chapman continues its transformation from a highly regarded regional university to one with a national and even international footprint. Multiple metrics point to a university on the rise. As Chapman’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts has climbed to No. 4 in the nation, passing legacy schools in two high-profile rankings, the overall university has enjoyed three straight years of upward movement since being elevated into U.S. News & World Report’s top national rankings category. And now Chapman has been included in the latest edition of the U.S. News “Best Global Universities” ranking. Global recognition is largely due to faculty researchers producing impactful work – more than 1,250 core collection publications from 2015 to 2019 alone. In this metric, Chapman is outperforming a large number of peer institutions. Notable also in Chapman’s inclusion in the global rankings is the sharp growth curve of publications and citations. Additionally, in a database of more than 100,000 top scientists based on their research citations, 16 Chapman professors rank among the top 2% for the volume and impact of their research.


The list of Chapman top producers is impressive by any measure. The group includes: • Nobel Prize-winning economist Vernon Smith, Ph.D., who helped found the Economic Science Institute at Chapman. Smith, Ph.D., was awarded the Nobel in Economic Sciences in 2002 and has authored or co-authored more than 350 articles and books on capital theory, finance, natural resource economics and experimental economics. • Professor of Psychology Laura Glynn, Ph.D., who for 20 years has helped lead a longitudinal study on child development and maternal mental health. She’s currently part of a multi-university project that has received a five-year, $15 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health and uses cutting-edge neuroimaging and other data to study the effects of exposure to long-term or chronic stress. • National Medal of Science winner Yakir Aharonov, Ph.D., who has discovered dozens of fundamental physics effects, changing the quantum landscape and drawing comparisons to Copernicus and Galileo from colleagues inspired by his breakthrough ideas. Bouchard notes another name on the list of top producers – Chapman President Daniele C. Struppa, an internationally recognized mathematician. “When your president has authored more than 200 publications, has won the Cozzarelli Prize from the National Academy of Sciences and continues to do important research, it sets a high standard for the university,” Bouchard said.

“"It seems to be in the DNA of Chapman to rise."

For his part, Struppa says that Chapman’s institutional focus on research “is not because of pride or prestige but because of the experience we can offer our students and the overall impact we can have on the world.”

Provost Norma Bouchard

He envisioned that impact when he set institutional goals during his first year as president in 2016. One was to establish an Office of Research


to help provide the funding support for projects, and that office was launched in Struppa’s inaugural year. Expenditures have now risen every year since 2012, reflecting Chapman’s research achievements. “This university is ambitious,” said Janeen Hill, Ph.D., vice president for research. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

RINKER CAMPUS AND KECK CENTER HIGHLIGHT CUTTING-EDGE FACILITIES Then there are the upgrades in infrastructure, which include state-ofthe-art core lab facilities at Chapman’s Rinker Health Science Campus in Irvine as well as the 140,000-square-foot Keck Center for Science and Engineering on the main campus in Orange. Of course, a key milestone was achieving R2 status from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, for “high research activity.” That recognition puts Chapman in the company of just 10% of private colleges and universities. A particularly important measure of Chapman’s success is its growing number of citations, Struppa said. He points to the progress made over the past two decades. In 2000, work produced by Chapman faculty was cited 100 times. “That means every few days, someone was citing one of our researchers,” Struppa said. “In 2020, we were up to 9,455 citations, which means that 26 times a day, someone was citing the work of our scholars. That upward trajectory makes us almost unrecognizable from where we were 20 years ago. It shows that not only do our faculty publish a lot, but people pay attention to the work we’re doing.”

Pharmacy professor Rachita Sumbria has three National Institutes of Health R01 grants supporting her research.

“In 2020, we were up to 9,455 citations, which means that 26 times a day, someone was citing the work of our scholars.” President Daniele C. Struppa

Yes, people are noticing, and eager to get involved. Among them: • Biomed researcher Rachita Sumbria, Ph.D., who joined Chapman in February with three National Institutes of Health R01 grants supporting her efforts to learn more about microscopic hemorrhages in the brain. • Climate scientist Joshua Fisher, Ph.D., Chapman Presidential Fellow of Ecosystem Science, has been recognized as one of the world’s “most influential” researchers. Clarivate recently named him a highly cited researcher, placing him in the top 1% globally. • Educational Studies Professor Stephany Cuevas, Ph.D., who joined Chapman this academic year and whose immersive research for her doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education has led to her new book about how Latinx parents build supportive communities to help their children succeed in college. “These impressive faculty members are examples of how we are able to attract some of the very best scholars and researchers in the nation,” Struppa said. “We’re glad that they and others recognize the kind of dynamic institution we’re building.” Even for a newcomer, the energy is palpable, Bouchard said. “It seems to be in the DNA of Chapman to rise,” she noted. “We’re excited by all the opportunities we have to continue our momentum.”

Environmental science and policy professor Richelle Tanner is recognized nationally for her expertise in science communication.

JUNE 2022


, H C TE

, H C E T

O O B Around the world, researchers are exploring the resounding possibilities of machine learning and assistive technologies. At Chapman University, those explorations include a special focus on addressing unmet needs. On the pages that follow, we go inside three research projects at Fowler School of Engineering and beyond born of creative inspiration and building toward life-changing impact.





Concert pianist and professor Grace Fong, graduate student Rao Ali '18 (Ph.D. '22) and computer science professor Erik Linstead '01 collaborated on Project Metamorphosis, using tools of machine learning to translate classical music compositions into colorful "moving paintings."

JUNE 2022


Rhapsody in Blue, Green, Yellow… Project Metamorphosis taps machine learning to transform classical music into visual art. Arpeggios spiral. Brushstrokes in blue, green, yellow and red bend, sway and swoop. High notes glimmer and deep bass tones bloom. Without a sound, the music of Mozart, Bach and Debussy unfolds as images on a screen. It’s all part of an innovative collaboration between Chapman University prize-winning concert pianist Grace Fong, Associate Professor of Computer Science Erik Linstead and graduate student Rao Ali ’18 (Ph.D. ’22). The project translates iconic piano compositions into swirling, colorful and dynamic “moving paintings.” The cross-disciplinary Project Metamorphosis takes a deep dive into machine learning, early 20th-century music theory and an algorithm called Perlin Noise that’s used in commercial films and video games for natural-looking effects. The result: Video versions of familiar classical works. Without a sound, the music unfolds as images on a screen. “In the future, this system could be used to interpret music into an aesthetic experience for people with hearing impairments and hearing loss,” says Ali, a Chapman Ph.D. candidate in computational and data sciences. The translation could be via a computer app that translates recordings for small screens or for display on large video screens at live concerts, he says. “When collaboration works like this, it’s quite magical,” says Fong, a professor and director of Piano Studies in Chapman’s College of Performing Arts, Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music. Her previous collaborations have involved dancers, painters, film directors, even Michelin-star chefs, but never computer scientists. “This has shifted my view to understand the harmony where machines are extensions of humans through reciprocal communication,” she says. “Chapman is the type of place that provides the support and resources to make it possible for these types of projects to materialize.” Fong, Linstead and Ali published a paper in August 2021 in the leading arts and technology journal Leonardo outlining their shared journey.



“I have no background in music, though I do enjoy listening to classical pieces,” says Ali. “Working with Dr. Fong helped me get closer and closer to an aesthetic interpretation of music as visual art.” In addition to drawing on advanced computational techniques, Ali reached back to a circa-1919 theory called Marcotones that assigns colors to musical notes, such as red for the note C and green for F sharp. It was just the starting point. Ali worked closely with Fong and Linstead to add nuance, such as making colors darker for passages in minor keys and lighter for major keys. When Fong said she imagines arpeggios as spirals, Ali wrote code that interprets these rippling, broken chords as swirls of color. He used the Perlin Noise algorithm to produce curving, naturalistic brushstrokes, too. “I didn’t want jagged, straight lines,” he says. Ali is now working on a new project that uses similar techniques to translate paintings into music. “It’s one thing to take a piano composition and just produce colors on a screen, another to make it systematic and meaningful as Rao has done,” says Linstead, associate dean at Fowler School of Engineering and principal investigator of Chapman’s Machine Learning and Affiliated Technologies (MLAT) Lab. “We wanted a mathematical, computational and musical foundation for the project so that it could be used to produce visuals of any number of musical compositions.” Every step of the way, when machine learning team members explored something new through algorithms, they would send the work to Fong for her artistic input and advice. “The best machine learning is done when you bring together people from different disciplines like this,” Linstead said.

“When collaboration works like this, it’s quite magical.” Grace Fong, acclaimed concert pianist and director of Piano Studies at Chapman JUNE 2022


Senses of

Adventure Creating BendableSound, Professor Franceli Cibrian designs with a vision: “These kids deserve to have fun.” Push it, pull it, twist it! The stretchy fabric panel set up in a school in Tijuana, Mexico, for children with severe autism seemed magical: Tap it and a glowing blue galaxy emerged. Slide your hand across it and piano music played. But “BendableSound” is more than a game. It’s a high-tech, high-touch music therapy intervention designed by Franceli Cibrian to build motor skills in neurodiverse kids. “BendableSound and a smartphone version we designed during the pandemic support development by using several senses at the same time,” says Cibrian, an assistant professor in Chapman University’s Fowler School of Engineering. “The music, visuals and movements of the children all match up. For instance, if you push harder on the fabric, the volume of the music increases. This makes it easier for the brain to process the experience and control movements.” Cibrian fell in love with human-computer interaction as a graduate student at the Ensenada Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education in Mexico. “One of the ideas I’ve always had is that technology should be beneficial and available for all, no matter your background, diversity, income or disability,” she says. “It can have huge benefits for children and teens with neurodiversity.” Today, her research at Chapman focuses on the design, development and evaluation of ubiquitous interactive technology to support child development. Her projects, often in collaboration with experts from other institutions, get results.



BendableSound worked as well or better than traditional music therapy for improving strength, coordination and reaction times in a 2020 study of 22 children, ages 4 to 8, with autism. An exercise game called Circus in Motion that adjusts to a child’s abilities increased the amount of activity kids got compared to traditional vestibular system exercises for balance and coordination, according to a 2021 study.


In a preliminary 2020 report, a smartwatch app called CoolCraig, developed and tested with Cibrian’s colleagues at UC Riverside and UC Irvine, was well received by pre-teens and teens with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and their parents. More research is planned. Parents and kids use CoolCraig together, setting goals for activities and behaviors and deciding on rewards. A smartwatch app provides reminder notifications to kids, while a smartphone app lets parents monitor and support them. The goals are serious. The big bonus? This assistive tech is really fun. “These kids deserve to have fun,” Cibrian says. “One of my favorite examples is little kids using their whole bodies – their heads, their backs – as they explore the elastic fabric of BendableSound. They’re learning to control their bodies and having a good time as they do it.”

A smartwatch app called CoolCraig helps youngsters with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and their parents establish goals and rewards. Photos courtesy of Franceli Cibrian

The Science of



What if a tiny, low-cost Braille display could fit on a smartphone? Inside the HEART Lab at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Engineering, Dhanya Nair is harnessing the science of touch to make such assistive technologies widely accessible and easily portable. With a grant from the National Science Foundation, Nair will soon test a refreshable Braille display that uses an array of rounded pins instead of dots on a page to create an ever-changing stream of information, two to three Braille characters at a time. She envisions the device fitting on the case of a smartphone or computer tablet for instant translation of messages, search results and even touchable versions of graphics, emoticons and map directions for the sight impaired. “Refreshable Braille displays on the market now are larger and can cost thousands of dollars,” says Nair, an assistant professor of engineering at Chapman. “My lab wants to develop a version that’s affordable not just in the U.S. but also in places like India, where 40 percent of the world’s people with blindness live.”

Professor Dhanya Nair’s HEART Lab uses haptics to make refreshable Braille displays more accessible.

Another of her ongoing research projects is the “haptic sleeve,” a fabric sleeve with four motors that deliver vibrations to the forearm. “We are testing whether the vibrations help train hand movements,” Nair says. “Right now we’re studying it with handwriting in healthy people. The hope is to use it in the future for rehabilitation for motor disabilities such as after a stroke, when some people lose the ability to control their hands and have to re-learn how to write.” A haptic sleeve study will launch this summer, looking at the best way to use vibrations to direct movements for making cursive letters. Ever curious about the science of touch, Nair has added a twist called Tactile Music. “I want to know whether you can re-create the experience of listening to music as vibrations, such as for the hearing-impaired,” she says. “We’ll translate instrumental music that’s classified as happy or sad or calm into vibrations, play them using the sleeve and ask study participants which emotions they relate to it.”

This summer’s study, in potential community partnership with the Braille Institute Anaheim Center and Beyond Blindness of Santa Ana, will fine-tune the system by testing whether subtle vibrations or a sideways motion of the pins make the characters more legible. “Braille is read by moving your fingers across it, not by pressing down on one character,” she says. “We are adding movement to simulate that sensation.” The name of Nair’s lab – an acronym that stands for Haptic Educational Assistive & Rehabilitation Technology – refers not just to Nair’s focus on haptics (technology that produces the experience of touch) but also to her passion for using it to fill unmet human needs.

Professor Nair's lab is testing a haptic sleeve that delivers vibrations to the forearm. The hope is that someday it might help stroke victims relearn how to write.

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Separated by barely a mile, Chapman University and CHOC children’s hospital share a collaborative culture that brings the two communities even closer together.


rom the effects of toxic stress during early childhood to developmental issues related to balance and gait. From infection risk in pediatric cancer patients to the mining of big

data to reduce hospital readmissions. Across a range of research projects, the connections between Chapman University and Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) grow stronger every day. Here, we explore a handful of those projects and consider their impact. But beyond lab research and bedside care, there are more links in the chain of collaboration between Chapman and CHOC. One way the connection changes lives is through the Thompson Autism Center at CHOC, where families, agencies and others learn to navigate the complexities of the education system. The center and Chapman’s Thompson Policy Institute on Disability assist families and

Food scientist John Miklavcic has dual appointments at Chapman and CHOC, where he's investigating buttermilk powder as a treatment for symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease.

schools through their partnership program: Families, Agencies and Schools Together (FAST). Another manifestation of the bond is the Chapman-CHOC pathway to careers, as CHOC provides Chapman students with internship opportunities and, in turn, the hospital Thinks Chapman



Cyril Rakovski

Louis Ehwerhemuepha Laura Glynn

(MS '13, Ph.D. '15)

First when it has job openings. CHOC is among the top employers of Chapman graduates.


Louis Ehwerhemuepha (MS ’13, Ph.D. ’15) knows every step on the journey between Chapman and CHOC. After starting at the hospital as an intern, he is now a senior data scientist at CHOC, and he also returns to teach classes at Chapman. In addition, he continues to collaborate on research with Chapman faculty members, including his mentor, Cyril Rakovski, associate professor of statistics and computational science in the Schmid College of Science and Technology. “Chapman gave me the tools to succeed, and Dr. Rakovski connected me to the providers at CHOC, where advances in care are built on collaboration across all roles,” says Ehwerhemuepha, one of the first graduates of Chapman’s Ph.D. program in computational and data sciences. “The opportunity to improve the care of children is at the heart of everything we do,” he adds. “Whether in the lab, on the floor providing care or working with data, our job is to save lives.”

Attallah College Dean Roxanne Greitz Miller with her CHOC therapy dog, Genie.

JUNE 2022




hild development experts know that adversity and toxic stress suffered early in life cast a long shadow. Called adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), these events and circumstances are linked to a variety of conditions across the lifespan, from high blood pressure to depression.

Psychology professor Laura Glynn and her research colleagues are exploring the impact on children of persistent chaos and unpredictability in the household.

Chapman University Professor of Psychology Laura Glynn is part of a collaborative team that includes researchers from Chapman, Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) and UC Irvine (UCI). The researchers want to better understand which children are most vulnerable to these events so that targeted interventions and preventive therapies can be deployed in early childhood. The team was awarded a $2.8 million grant for the research project by the California Governor’s Office of Planning & Research, in partnership with the Office of the California Surgeon General. The three-year project connects with an initiative set by California Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris to cut ACEs and toxic stress in half in one generation through targeted public health strategies. “California is leading the way in addressing the impacts of early life adversity because of our surgeon general, and what’s really exciting is that Chapman, CHOC and UCI are part of that agenda,” said Glynn, director of Chapman’s Early Human and Lifespan Development Lab. “It’s profound and it’s important.” What’s the Tipping Point of Chaotic Environments?

A unique portion of the three-year project led by Glynn will also measure how persistent chaos and unpredictability in the household affects child neurodevelopment and cognitive function. Unlike many sources of toxic stress – including poverty, substance abuse, parental incarceration and systemic racism – household chaos can be more immediately addressed, Glynn explains.



“One could argue that things such as encouraging parents to have regular mealtimes, a bedtime routine and consistent family time are easier intervention targets,” she says. Most households with young children hit hectic patches occasionally, Glynn notes. But with the scale of this project, which will include data gathered from 100,000 children visiting CHOC clinics throughout Orange County, she hopes they can identify a tipping point at which such environments become chronic and unhealthy. Much of the work also involves the predictive tools behind big data, which brings another Chapman connection to the collaborative effort: CHOC senior data scientist Louis Ehwerhemuepha, (M.S. ’13, Ph.D. ’15). ‘Unpredictability Cuts Across All Socio-Economic Levels’

Additionally, project participants aim to gain insights into the role socioeconomic status plays. Such data will be the focus of Chapman postdoctoral researcher Sabrina Liu, an expert in toxic stress and health disparities. Nearly 70% of children in Orange County visit CHOC clinics and practitioners for everyday health care needs, Glynn says. “The CHOC landscape is very diverse. Unpredictability cuts across all socio-economic levels,” she says. In the second component of the study, Glynn and fellow researchers at the Early Human and Lifespan Development Lab will collect DNA samples from children at birth and 12 months of age. The goal is to discover if there is an epigenetic biomarker that can predict their level of resilience to ACEs, again so targeted interventions can be provided. “It’s exciting to get a little closer to how we can incorporate research into practice,” Glynn says. “With this multi-institution collaboration, we are in a position to affect health and pediatric practice in a meaningful way.”



t’s not unusual for young children to demonstrate occasional toefirst contact during early walking development, sometimes referred to as “toe walking.” But when the behavior persists and can’t be attributed to a medical cause, physicians often opt for a wait-and-see approach because the reason is unknown. But that could be valuable developmental time lost, says Marybeth Grant-Beuttler, an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy in Chapman’s Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences. New research from Grant-Beuttler and a collaborative team of CHOC and Chapman researchers reveals that many of these children demonstrate impaired balance and functional skills, in addition to the walking issues. Moreover, preliminary results from a companion study show that early, non-invasive interventions can improve gait and head off bigger problems like joint stress, slip-and-trip falls, bunions and musculoskeletal pain.

A study participant in the Chapman-CHOC project undergoes a balance test in one of Chapman’s physical therapy labs at the Rinker Health Science Campus. The collaborative project aims to correct idiopathic toe walking before long-term damage occurs.

“What I fear is that we’re setting these kids up to be less physically active as adults,” Grant-Beuttler says. Concussions Validate Concerns About Falls

Fall risk is also significant. Five of the children in the study cohort have experienced concussions from falls, which is why the team is also passionate about a smart shoe insert – an in-home intervention device. The insert vibrates when it detects toe-walking – specifically three consecutive toe-strikes – which reminds the wearer to use the proper gait. A multifaceted team contributed to its creation, including biomedical engineer Rahul Soangra, a faculty member with Fowler School of Engineering, and Chapman computational science graduate students and alumni Sharon Kim and Michael Pollind, along with computer engineers from UCLA. Helping test the device were CHOC partners Dr. Afshin Aminian from pediatric orthopedics as well as Mollee Oh, DPT. Preliminary observations are promising. All but one of the 14 children in the study improved, based on physical therapists’ visual evaluations and parents’ reports. The researchers will know more when they complete and study 3D visualizations of the children’s walking gait. “I’m optimistic that we’re moving in the right direction,” GrantBeuttler says. Supporting the research are grants from the Kay Family Foundation, CHOC-Transformational Philanthropic Venture Funding Program and The CHOC Foundation.

The research team investigating the possible dangers of toe walking includes, from left, Richard Beuttler, Michael Shiraishi, Christine Jeng, Marybeth Grant-Beuttler, Jacklyn Asher, Christopher Hoang and Michelle Gwerder.

JUNE 2022




A tough-it-out approach to pain can have lasting repercussions for children, says Brooke Jenkins, an assistant professor in Chapman’s Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences.

crutinizing reams of medical records would intimidate many people, even with the help of data analytics.

But the task is ideal for a researcher in Chapman University’s Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences whose work centers on the intersection of stress, emotion and health. In collaboration with Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), Assistant Professor Brooke Jenkins is using big data analytics approaches to extract clues from thousands of medical records. She’s seeking insights on two separate fronts that can be especially stressful in childhood – asthma and pain management. Most recently, she has looked at opioid prescribing for children at CHOC. When the opioid crisis prompted a shift away from the use of many prescription painkillers, one very important factor in the recalibration did not change. Pain. Nevertheless, managing discomfort is essential, so finding a healthy middle ground is vital, Jenkins says. It’s important because a toughit-out approach can have lasting repercussions, especially in children and adolescents. “One reason we are so concerned with pain management is that there is evidence that it can impact how you perceive pain in the future. There is evidence that it can lower pain tolerance and increase fear of medical experiences,” Jenkins says. Jenkins’ first step has been to focus on inhospital prescription pain medications. With support from a $95,718 Kay Family Foundation Data Analytics Grant, the researcher is analyzing 60,000 CHOC medical records drawn from nearly every department.




Just about every Thursday for the past five years, I’ve brought my dog Genie with me to my office at Chapman University so that in the evening we can go to Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) together. The young patients we visit aren’t the only ones whose day brightens when we walk through the door. Genie is an 11-year-old AKC Grand Champion Boston terrier who was shown across the U.S. and retired to me in 2016. My son, Andrew Miller ’19, was a surgical patient at CHOC when he was very

Is Race a Predictor of Opioid Prescribing?

One study within the project focused on differences in race, ethnicity and insurance as predictors of opioid prescribing. Assisted by CHOC senior data scientist and Chapman alum Louis Ehwerhemuepha (M.S. ’13, Ph.D. ’15), she found that white children were more likely to be prescribed opiates than their Hispanic and Black counterparts. The two published their findings in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. In the asthma project, Jenkins is looking at data from medical records to see which demographic groups may be lacking asthma action plans. Those written strategies used by patients, families, caregivers and school personnel are known to be key tools for successful asthma management. But some children and their families don’t have them. Jenkins is looking to see what factors contribute to that disparity. “Knowing where these disparities are is the first step in helping these children and families,” she says. A study of patient zip codes, or geocoding, is a component of another project using the CHOC data, conducted in collaboration with Ashley Kranjac, assistant professor in Chapman’s Department of Sociology. Jenkins says that work may produce a better understanding of how air quality influences asthma, which affects more than 6 million U.S. children. “I am incredibly fortunate to work with my collaborators at CHOC who truly value what research adds to the practice of medicine,” Jenkins says.

young and was treated there for several years. I knew then that someday I would like to give back to CHOC as a volunteer because we were so grateful for the care Andrew received. For years, I’ve rescued and trained Boston terriers, so preparing to handle a therapy dog was a natural fit, allowing me to mix my love of dogs with my “teacher skills.” Many CHOC patients and families tell us how much it means for them to see Genie and connect with a dog. One particularly poignant story I can share involves an


Research leading to improved outcomes for pediatric cancer patients is the focus of several projects by a faculty member and clinical pharmacist at Chapman’s School of Pharmacy (CUSP) in collaboration with the CHOC Cancer Institute. Sun Yang, an assistant professor at CUSP, is working to unlock insights that could improve pain management, stem-cell transplants and infection risk in pediatric oncology patients. Among them are:  Investigations into outpatient opioid prescribing for pediatric and young adult patients in California – Yang found a high degree of variability of prescription rates. Findings were published in the Journal of Contemporary Pharmacy Practice. The Kay Family Foundation-Data Analytic Grant supported the work.  A newly initiated clinical study planned to investigate the impact of mental distress on patients’ response to opioid prescriptions – The research could help identify which patients could benefit from interventions to help manage pain without extensive use of the powerful pain medications, says Yang.  A predictive risk model to determine patient likelihood for a severe infection caused by the infection C. difficile – Collaborating with CHOC oncologist and infectious disease physicians, Yang and CUSP colleague, Jason Yamaki, are working to develop a predictive risk model to determine patient likelihood for this infection. This translational research project is supported by the 2021 Faculty Opportunity Grant from Chapman University Office of Research.

“Every morning you just want to go to work because  Research aimed at you know what you’re identifying risk factors for a complication that doing is helping patients,” often afflicts bone marrow says Sun Yang, clinical transplant recipients – pharmacist at the Chapman Called acute graft-versus-host School of Pharmacy. disease, the syndrome occurs when donor cells attack the cells of the transplant recipient. The data analysis found a correlation with donor age as a risk factor, suggesting that siblings rather than parents might be preferred donors.

Opportunities to conduct translational research so close to patient impact inspires Yang daily, she says. “Every morning you just want to go to work because you know what you’re doing is helping patients. Working with CHOC helps me see the patients we’re working to help,” she says. “It’s very rewarding.”

adolescent patient we had seen in physical therapy many times.

gave support. It’s one of many days at CHOC that I will never forget.

The patient always wanted a dog but couldn’t have one in her apartment. During the difficult first days of recovery after she endured complex spinal surgery, the nurses asked her if there was anything more they could do to help. She asked to see Genie, and the next day we made a special visit just for her.

It’s a privilege to help the patients at CHOC, many of whom are college age and even young adults, as older patients with “childhood cancers” are often treated at children’s hospitals.

Genie snuggled with her friend and the two napped side by side as I talked with the patient’s mom and

Roxanne Greitz Miller is dean of Chapman University’s Attallah College of Educational Studies.

Giving back to such a fantastic organization brings great joy to my life.

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JUNE 2022


Gaze up at the sky on any given clear night. If you know where to look, you’ll likely catch a glimpse of the International Space Station as it charts its well-trodden easterly course across the sky.


Researchers from five international space agencies, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), live and work on the station in what is one of the world's most ambitious multinational collaborative projects. Their research is well documented on NASA's ISS blog and includes such wideranging topics as the effects of space travel on the human body, materials science, dark matter, spacecraft systems and countless other topics over the station’s over 21-year history. But an additional source of endless fascination is the astronauts’ daily life in a vessel about the size of a football field, floating in microgravity with an international crew of seven people. How do the astronauts wash their hair? (rinseless shampoo); sleep? (in a bag and attached to the wall); spend their free time? (mostly looking out the window, according to NASA). The ISS has been fastidiously designed to maximize the health, productivity and comfort of the crew while optimizing the efficient use of space and supplies. But even as the mundane aspects of daily life are accounted for, questions remain about the more elusive but nonetheless riveting topic of culture. How do crewmembers on the ISS interact with each other and with equipment and spaces? How do the spaces, interactions and objects inform conflict or cooperation among the crew? Do the same geopolitical tensions that plague Earth replicate in extraterrestrial spaces?

Archaeologist and and professor Justin Walsh conducted the first archaeological study aboard a spacecraft with co-principal investigator Alice Gorman of Flinders University in Australia.

“It’s a microsociety in a mini world,” says Chapman University’s Justin Walsh, associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Art. Walsh, an archaeologist by training, is using archaeology’s methods of inquiry and analysis – in which the objects and spaces of a culture are analyzed to provide insight into how humans adapt to their environment – to reveal new understanding of human activity in space.

“The Past Is Right Now” Along with co-principal investigator Alice Gorman of Flinders University in Australia, Walsh just completed Sampling Quadrangle Assemblages Research Experiment (SQuARE), the first archaeological study ever performed outside the Earth. People tend to understand archaeology as dealing with the distant past. But at its core, the discipline is primarily concerned with a type of evidence – material culture – regardless of when that culture existed. “The past is right now – what happened 10 seconds ago is the past and is equally available for archaeological research as something a millennia ago,” explains Walsh.

SQuARE project logo by @cheatlines (Instagram)/International Space Station Archaeological Project



In his view, archaeological techniques can be used to understand what happened at a distinct time – including the present – and what humans did in that location to adapt to it. “So, the question of when and where is irrelevant,” he says. “What we are showing with this project is the potentially practical side of archaeology as a science. We are revealing aspects of a habitat that people have lived in for over 20 years, and that the very people inhabiting it 24/7 have not been aware of.”

NASA astronaut Kayla Barron takes a photograph of the sample location in the US Node 1 module on the International Space Station for the Sampling Quadrangle Assemblages Research Experiment (SQuARE), on Jan. 15. Photo credit: NASA/International Space Station Archaeological Project

The Big “Bing” For Walsh, the galvanizing moment came in 2008. Throughout his scholarly career, Walsh has conducted the type of research that most people associate with archaeology, complete with all the trappings expected from the discipline: trowels and brushes, pottery sherds and grids that divide ancient sites for excavation. He is currently principal investigator on a Chapman excavation in Cástulo, Spain, and doing ceramics analysis at the Morgantina site in Sicily, Italy – a site with a notorious history of looting, with artifacts turning up in famous museums and private collections around the world. Back in 2008, when the extent of that looting was just coming to light, Walsh was teaching “Cultural Heritage in the Art World,” an ethics course for graduate students who might eventually work in the culture industry. Responding to what was happening at Morgantina, the class focused on cultural heritages that need to be protected. “One day a student said, ‘What about stuff in space?’ Bing. Lightbulb. As soon as she asked the question, I thought, of course, stuff in space is heritage too,” Walsh recalls.

Consider Tranquility Base, the site where the crew of Apollo 11 first set foot on the moon. For more than 52 years, it has remained undisturbed – no wind, no return visitors, no water, no erosion. What protections are in place to preserve the integrity of the site – to protect it from the fate that befell Morgantina? “It’s hard to think of a site that might be more significant in the history of humanity – it was the first time any human had set foot on something that wasn’t the Earth,” says Walsh. “Space is international territory, like the high seas or Antarctica. No country has sovereignty. So, the implication is that, unlike Earth, no one government can say it's protected. What happens to that site when we have tourists on the moon?”

”It's a micro society in a mini world.“ Justin Walsh

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Excavating Space

Walsh at the Cástulo site in 2014 holding a fragment of a fourth-century CE glass paten (a bowl for serving the Eucharist in a Christian Mass).

New Tools for an Old Trade The most basic archaeological technique for sampling a site is the test pit. Archaeologists divide a site into a grid of squares, usually one meter by one meter, then select individual squares to dig in so that they can get a better sense of what the site is like and plan their future excavation strategy. For the SQuARE project, the researchers had the astronauts aboard the ISS create 1-meter squares on walls using tape throughout the space station – six in total. Instead of digging them to reveal new layers of soil representing different moments in the site’s history, the crew photographed each of the squares once per day to identify how those spaces were being used and how they changed over time. In a traditional test pit, each stratum of soil reveals a new layer of geographical insight and glimpse into cultural history – depth tells the story. On the ISS, it is not depth that reveals the vicissitudes of history and culture, but time. “When you’re doing a terrestrial dig, you are present in the landscape, you are constantly assessing what is being found, and it is an unrepeatable experiment – the work is destructive by necessity. The very act of uncovering an object is a threat to its continued survival,” explains Walsh.

In his 2013 book “Consumerism in the Ancient World,” Walsh explores the acquisition of Greek pottery by ancient peoples who were not Greek, even though the shapes of the earthenware were specific to Greek practices and behavior and were decorated with images from Greek mythology. He found that many of these pieces ended up buried intact in tombs, which typically identifies them as prized possessions, likely only used in a funerary context. Zooming out, that research provides a framework for identifying the ways in which objects take on different meanings in new contexts; the linkages between the consumption of goods and identity construction; and how people use objects to signal social status and other information to others in their community. In many ways, the SQUaRE team’s early analysis of the ISS also conforms to this framework. Take the galley, in the ISS Node 1 (Unity), where the crew’s dining table attaches to the wall and condiments are held tight in mesh bags attached to the wall. A bar of dark chocolate seems to shrink over the course of days; a tin of Altoids moves around; and one day, most curiously, several tubes of different colored frosting appeared. A later Instagram reel by U.S. astronaut Kayla Barron revealed that she and fellow astronaut Thomas Marshburn had made a birthday cake for a Russian crewmember Pyotr Dubrov using muffin tops glued together with honey, which was then decorated with the frosting. “And that’s an interesting phenomenon, because that’s cooking, and cooking has a lot of social implications, especially a birthday cake,” says Walsh.“It shows that you care about somebody else and that they’re special to you. Cooking is something that you really cannot do in microgravity – they usually just eat bags or cans of food. This shows us that exercising a sense of control and curating the experience of fresh ingredients is part of the culture of the American crew on the International Space Station.” Another inference Walsh made was the adaptation of U.S. Node 2 (Harmony), a maintenance workstation, into an ad hoc laboratory space. An experimental bag takes up residence in the frame for a few days, which Walsh later learned was for experimenting with concrete production in microgravity.

Not so with photography. In 2009, Jason De León, Ph.D., an archaeologist from UCLA, gave migrants from Central America to the U.S. disposable cameras to document their journeys, in what may be the first archaeological research done with photographs. It was also the first time researchers could look at a cultural phenomenon from an archaeological – vs. historical – perspective that they couldn’t directly observe. “Jason’s work was the impetus for us to look at photography as a viable method for space archaeology. We’ve also been using archive photos. The sole data is the photograph. But we can go back to those photographs over and over again—it’s a repeatable experiment,” explains Walsh.



“From an archaeological perspective, I wouldn’t have known that they are making concrete there, but I can determine that science is happening there, and it speaks to the flexibility of the location,” Walsh says. As for the international crew’s continued cooperation amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Walsh followed the breadcrumbs to determine that the agencies are still working and living well together when the SQuARE team identified a Russian gingerbread pastry on the U.S. galley table. "The crew is clearly still mixing their food or trading it with each other," Walsh says. "I have a feeling that they are doing their best to get along under trying circumstances."

A sample location, the galley area in the NASA Node 1 module (Harmony) on the International Space Station, for the Sampling Quadrangle Assemblages Research Experiment (SQuARE). The area to be sampled is marked at the corners by yellow tape. From one day to the next, tubes of frosting appear in the upper right of the second frame. Photo credit: NASA/International Space Station Archaeological Project

From the ISS Come Insights on Plant Resilience and Adaptation Using images captured by a new instrument on the International Space Station (ISS), scientists from Chapman University and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are learning how different plants balance the tradeoffs between growth and water use. A major global study by the team was published April 14 in the prestigious journal Nature Plants. In this first-of-its-kind research project featuring tens of millions of observations from 11 ecosystems around the world, the authors found that plants of the same type often had very similar water-use efficiency regardless of where they grew.

The images captured on the ISS using an instrument called ECOSTRESS “allow us to determine plant water use nearly anywhere on Earth at spatial scales that were unthinkable just a few years ago, all from an instrument that is traveling more than 17,000 miles per hour more than 250 miles above us,” said study co-author Joshua Fisher, a Presidential Fellow of Ecosystem Science in Chapman’s Schmid College of Science and Technology. The study was led by Savannah Cooley, a graduate student at Columbia University and scientist at JPL, in collaboration with Fisher and Gregory Goldsmith, assistant professor of biological sciences and director of Chapman’s Grand Challenges Initiative. Fisher was the science lead for ECOSTRESS while at JPL prior to joining Chapman’s faculty. He was recently named a highly cited researcher by Clarivate, placing him in the top 1% of researchers globally. Goldsmith is a member of NASA’s ECOSTRESS Science and Applications Team. Insights gleaned from ECOSTRESS images have direct application. How different plant types optimize the tradeoffs between growth and water use can inform plans to mitigate and adapt to a warmer and drier future.

The results indicate that the type of plants, rather than the climate, dictates water-use efficiency. The findings also show that plant types with longer lifespans, such as shrubs and trees, have higher wateruse efficiency than plant types with shorter lives, like grasses. The research provides important insights into how global climate change will shape the future of plant communities and the ecosystem services they provide.

“[ECOSTRESS images] allow us to determine plant water use nearly anywhere on Earth at spatial scales that were unthinkable just a few years ago, all from an instrument that is traveling more than 17,000 miles per hour more than 250 miles above us.” Joshua Fisher, Chapman Presidential Fellow and co-author of research published in Nature Plants.

JUNE 2022






ix years after its opening, The Hilbert Museum of

Working with the Los Angeles-based architectural design

California Art, now one of Orange County’s most

firm Johnston Marklee (JML) and officials from the City of

popular art destinations, will begin construction on

Orange, Chapman developed plans that include more

a new expansion that will add new space for enhanced

gallery space to exhibit works from the museum’s fine-art

exhibitions and programs.

collection as well as movie production art, animation art

The expansion plans will nearly triple the museum’s size,

and works of American illustration.

augmenting its gallery space and increasing its capacity

In addition, the museum will add a Founders’ Gallery that

to serve Chapman University students and the community.

will showcase other major works assembled by Mark and Janet Hilbert, whose impressive collection of California Scene paintings remains at the heart of the museum.

Chapman University's expanded Hilbert Museum of California Art will include a 40-foot mosaic designed and created by the heralded California artist Millard Sheets. Artist rendering courtesy of Johnston Marklee.

JUNE 2022


MUSEUM WILL GROW FROM ABOUT 7,600 SQUARE FEET OF SPACE TO 20,275 GROSS SQUARE FEET “The Hilbert Museum is on the cusp of a transformational moment,” said Chapman President Daniele C. Struppa. “We’re grateful to Mark and Jan Hilbert for their visionary leadership and to the City of Orange and its residents for embracing our vision of Chapman as an important hub for the performing and visual arts.” “It’s wonderful to see how the Orange community, art lovers from throughout the region, and travelers to Orange County from across the nation and around the world have embraced the Hilbert Museum since our opening,” said Mary Platt, director of the museum. “Thanks to the generosity of the Hilberts and the support of Chapman University and our community, this expansion will allow the museum to better showcase our growing collection, increase our space for community and campus events, and welcome more visitors to experience the power of art.” “Our quest is to become one of the leading university-based art museums in the nation,” founder Mark Hilbert added. “The additional space and the exciting new design will provide a wonderful context for these extraordinary works.”

The Hilbert Museum provides study, curation and research opportunities for Chapman students as it also opens its doors to visits by K-12 classes.

The expansion will unite the current museum space with the building next door, previously the home of Chapman’s Department of Dance, which will be moving to a spectacular new venue on the Chapman campus. A redesigned historic packinghouse on Cypress Street is the planned site of the new Sandi Simon Center for Dance.

NEW SPACES FOR RESEARCH, DINING, EVENTS AND REFLECTION The Hilbert Museum expansion plan revamps both of its buildings, combining them into two wings of a stunning new space that will also include a research library and conference room, and a community room for lectures, classes and events. In addition, a cafe and outdoor courtyard “will become great places for students and visitors to gather and relax,” Platt said.

Above: A schedule of concerts, lectures and other events adds to the popularity of the Hilbert Museum. Left: Hilbert Museum director Mary Platt, center, joins founders Mark and Janet Hilbert, whose impressive collection of California Scene paintings remains at the heart of the museum.

In its architect’s statement, Johnston Marklee notes that it drew inspiration for the design from the Hilbert collection’s various depictions of early 20th century Southern California landscapes and emerging cityscapes marked by abstract surfaces, visual graphics and an industrial aesthetic. The design emphasizes reflected natural light in the new gallery space, while the central courtyard will provide civic space for flexible programming and informal gatherings. Outside, two sculptures – “Child on a Dolphin” (1970) and “Nuclear Family” (1969) – will join with native plant gardens designed by landscape architect SWA to evoke the scale, texture and atmosphere of the California Scene paintings in the collection. Community engagement and research informed a design strategy that seeks to attract diverse communities of visitors from campus, the City of Orange and beyond.



HISTORIC MOSAIC IS A DAZZLING FOCAL POINT OF THE DESIGN Perhaps the most striking feature of the new building’s exterior will be a 40-foot-wide tile mosaic designed and created by the heralded California artist Millard Sheets (1907-1989). The 1969 mosaic, called “Pleasures Along the Beach,” was gifted to the Hilbert Museum by the owners of a former Home Savings Bank in Santa Monica, where it had been displayed until just recently when the building was scheduled for demolition. Now the mosaic will grace the museum’s west-facing facade. “We’re very pleased to have played a role in conserving this dazzling mosaic so many more generations can enjoy its beauty,” Platt said. “We can’t wait to start reassembling the tens of thousands of tiny pieces of Italian Murano glass and then watch them reflect the setting sun each afternoon. It will undoubtedly become an iconic piece of art here in Orange.” Since its founding in 2016 at 167 N. Atchison Street, across from the Orange Metrolink station, the Hilbert Museum has certainly found its place in the sun, growing from 8,000 visitors in its first year to more than 30,000 in 2019. Through two years of COVID impact, the museum has largely remained open as an important resource to the community. Along the way, it has become a five-star-rated attraction on Yelp and Trip Advisor and was “Most Popular” in its category of the 2021 Los Angeles Times’ Best of the Southland – Orange County Awards. To accommodate visitors during the expansion project, a Hilbert Temporary location is planned, with the opening in early summer.

MUSEUM WILL EXPAND OPPORTUNITIES FOR ACADEMIC STUDY As the Hilbert launches its expansion project, the museum also enhances its important academic and research mission at Chapman. That mission includes providing study, curation and research opportunities for Chapman undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and visiting scholars. A schedule of concerts, lectures and other events adds to the popularity of the Hilbert Museum. The Hilbert Permanent Collection – which features oils, watercolors, prints and drawings of everyday life in the Golden State – is a treasury of 20th century narrative and representational art by a diverse roster of historical and contemporary California artists. The museum’s collection also includes outstanding works of American magazine, book and advertising illustration, featuring works by Norman Rockwell and other famed illustrators.



Yet another major focus of the Hilbert Collection is animation and movie production art from Walt Disney Studios and other major Hollywood studios, spotlighting an important facet of Southern California art and tying into the fact that many fine artists came to California to work for the movie studios. The museum also presents many traveling exhibitions and partners with other museums and arts organizations to co-present exhibitions. Exhibitions change on a regular basis, with something new on view at the museum every four to six months. Within Chapman, the Hilbert Museum has partnered with many venues, schools, departments and offices, including Musco Center for the Arts, Dodge College of Film and Media Arts and Leatherby Libraries. Chapman classes visit the museum throughout the year, as do hundreds of Orange County K-12 students. The Hilbert Museum also maintains a robust programming schedule of concerts, lectures and other events, and ongoing partnerships with local organizations such as Pacific Symphony, Orange County School of the Arts, and Orange Barrio Historical Association. “When this expansion project is complete, the influence of the Hilbert Museum will only grow as it welcomes new visitors and greatly expands Chapman’s artistic community,” Struppa said.

JUNE 2022


A Diwali celebration honoring the Hindu tradition helped plant the seed for the start of the South Asian Student Association (SASA) at Chapman. Members include, from left, Ananya Pochiraju ‘23, Gaurav Gurijala ’25 and Riya Mody ’22.


Students and others find safe space to explore diverse traditions. One by one, visitors enter the tranquil, skylit chapel at Chapman University’s Fish Interfaith Center. Some arrive to worship and others in search of answers. Rabbi Corie Yutkin, Chapman’s director of Jewish life and chaplain, recalls a student who entered the chapel in search of the latter. Although the student identified as Jewish, she was struggling to find a connection to her faith. Yutkin recalls counseling the student before giving her a moment to herself. When Yutkin returned to check on her, she was stopped in her tracks as she saw the student engaged in conversation with Shaykh Jibreel Speight, Chapman’s director of Muslim life and chaplain. The conversation with Speight was so impactful, the student felt compelled later that week to bring her dad to the center to meet Speight. For Yutkin, that experience encapsulates the essence of the Fish Interfaith Center. “It doesn’t matter what faith tradition you identify with. When you walk through those doors, there will always be someone to listen to you with unconditional love and support,” says Yutkin.



AN OVERLOOKED ELEMENT OF DEI WORK Creating spaces on campus that engage religious diversity is an often overlooked component of the work of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), Speight says. “When people talk about DEI, I rarely hear religion being discussed,” he notes. “I hear gender. I hear race. I hear age and physical ability, but I don’t often hear much about religion.” But embracing diverse spiritual and religious practices is central to being respectful of the various identities that make up the university, Speight and Yutkin say. “I don’t live in a Jewish world. I live in a predominantly Christian world,” says Yutkin. “So, to help others be sensitive to issues that may arise for me or for those from different religious backgrounds, it’s important to have a place like Fish that reaches across religious lines.” Adds Speight: “Students should have the opportunity to articulate their faith without fear of being judged or ridiculed for their beliefs.”

CHAPMAN NOW FEARLESS FAITH JOURNEYS Anais Padilla ‘23, president of Chapman’s interfaith council, has experienced first-hand the kind of freedom of faith-expression Speight refers to. Although she was raised Catholic, Padilla found herself wrestling with her faith when she got to college. “I couldn’t seem to reconnect with a lot of the practices and religious values I grew up with,” she says. Frustrated, she eventually confided in her friends at Fish about her spiritual battle. “They told me it’s OK to question my faith in order to learn more about the religion and myself.”

That gracious embrace for all is what keeps students like Mody and Cisar returning to the Fish Interfaith Center. “It’s what makes the interfaith community at Chapman so amazing,” says Cisar. “You have all these different people practicing different religions. But, at the end of the day, we’re all striving for the same thing. We just have different ways of getting there.”

While Padilla’s spiritual journey ultimately led her away from Catholicism, it kindled in her a stronger sense of spirituality and a deeper appreciation for interfaith work. “In the end, I concluded I am happier being more spiritual than religious,” says Padilla. “I learned to see the beauty in all religions and in interfaith dialogue.” Wherever students are in their spiritual journey, Chapman’s interfaith community offers a safe space to seek spiritual grounding in the face of challenges. As a transfer student from the Midwest, Reagan Cisar ’24, who engages in Dharma practice and serves as the president of Chapman’s Inner Peace group, recalls battling feelings of loneliness and anxiety at the start of her Chapman journey.

From left, the Rev. Gail Stearns, Sami Rubnitz, Rabbi Corie Yutkin and Toby Shapiro celebrate Hanukkah with a menorah-lighting ceremony at the Fish Interfaith Center.

“I didn’t meet my best friend in the first week of class like you expect to do,” says Cisar. “Being able to visit the interfaith center allowed me to foster better connections and push past my anxieties.” She says her journey into Dharma practice and mindfulness was fueled by a desire to make sense of a world so often in disarray. “As a political science major, I’m learning all day about horrible things happening in the world. Being able to ground myself in spiritual practice allows me to see those realities and be OK. To coexist with them.”

STRENGTHENING CULTURAL AND COMMUNITY TIES For other students, religion and culture go hand in hand. Psychology major Riya Mody ’22, who identifies as Hindu, says religion helps her stay connected to her Indian culture.

Members of Chapman’s Muslim Student Association gather for iftar, the meal served to break the day’s fast during Ramadan.

She recalls her first semester at Chapman when an on-campus Diwali celebration helped plant the seed for the start of what would become Chapman’s first South Asian Student Association (SASA). “Fish was really integral to me feeling like I had a place here, and that’s how we got inspired to start SASA,” Mody says. She also rejoices when members of the campus community celebrate with SASA members. “Faith is so personal,” she says. “When we share it, it’s to help others gain a deeper understanding of who we are, so it’s always encouraging to see allies show up to support events like our Diwali celebration.”

South Asian Student Association members celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights.

JUNE 2022




At Chapman University, student-led programs are giving voice to important conversations on environmental justice. A wide-ranging initiative in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences called Engaging the World: Leading the Conversation examines key societal issues through an interdisciplinary program of humanities courses, events, podcasts, book discussions,

guest speakers, visiting performers at Musco Center for the Arts and more. The focus changes each year, and this year it’s environmental justice, with students as the creators, doers and voices driving the dialogue. Alumni participate, too. Among the events is the Engaging the World Book Club featuring Leah Thomas ’17, author of “The Intersectional Environmentalist.”

LEARNING BY DOING Shifting the focus from conventional assignments sparks student experiences with real-world impact. That’s how first-year student Cassandra Chan ’25 found herself on a student team curating “This Land is Your Land,” an exhibition drawing on the irony woven into Woody Guthrie’s legendary song some have called an alternative national anthem. Chan proposed the title for the exhibition on display now in Roosevelt Hall and worked with other students in the First-year Focus Course (FFC) to select pieces from the Escalette Collection of Art. “It’s so amazing how many stories art pieces can hold,” she said. The project includes a tapestry, photos, social media components and a virtual exhibition. “The students worked very hard at learning how you create a conversation between artworks,” said Fiona Shen, Ph.D., director of the Phyllis and Ross Escalette Permanent Collection of Art and instructor of the Wilkinson FFC course that produced the exhibition, which will be on display through October 2022.

‘SECONDHAND SMOKE OF THE SEA’ Students in “Environmental Advocacy Through Story” also found a way to connect their coursework to the Engaging the World theme and share it with the community. When an undersea pipeline spilled thousands

Pieces from the student-curated art exhibition “This Land Is Your Land,” on display in Roosevelt Hall, are part of Wilkinson College’s Engaging the World initiative. 34


Students in Richelle Tanner's course "Environmental Advocacy Through Story" created messaging tool kits to aid with response to an oil spill. of gallons of crude oil into the water off Orange County’s shoreline, course instructor Richelle Tanner, Ph.D., an assistant professor double appointed in Wilkinson and Schmid College of Science and Technology, asked the students if they’d like to create messaging tool kits to empower advocacy around oil spills. The students embraced the additional assignment with gusto. The idea was to equip key community members and policymakers ranging from lifeguards to non-profits such as Orange County Coastkeeper with messaging kits they could use to educate their constituencies about oil spills,their hazards, and their actionable outcomes. After studying the topics and the principles of science communication – a research interest of Tanner along with climate change – they developed graphics and posters to convey oil spills as the price of fossil fuel dependency, rather than as mishaps that can be quickly cleaned up. Junior Berkana McDowell ’23 was on a team that crafted materials urging policymakers to include Indigenous peoples’ knowledge, perspectives and needs when problem-solving environmental situations. Presenting information toolkits to a gathering of nonprofits at the semester’s end was a particular highlight, she said. “It’s so nice to be able to learn things that are so applicable to everyday life that can go straight into the field and connect with something that feels purposeful,” McDowell said.



Dwight Rhoden, a distinguished choreographer and dancer renowned for shaking up the ballet world by bringing a diversity of people, styles, body types and music to the stage, has been named artistic professor of dance at Chapman University. “Our students will be able to work with one of the most sought-after choreographers in the world, who has developed a unique and rigorous contemporary ballet pedagogy and continues to be at the forefront of diversifying ballet,” said Julianne O’Brien, chair of Chapman’s Department of Dance. “I look forward to seeing the ways in which Dwight will open our students’ eyes and hearts, advance their technical training and deepen their understanding of choreography.” Rhoden’s appointment reflects the rising reputation of the Chapman program, said Giulio M. Ongaro, dean of the College of Performing Arts, home to the Department of Dance. Moreover, the choreographer’s arrival coincides with the debut of Chapman’s new state-of-the-art Sandi Simon Center for Dance, set to open in fall 2022 in a repurposed citrus packing warehouse.

“The appointment of Dwight Rhoden is both a recognition of the quality of the department and of its commitment to excellence, and an exciting opportunity for our students and faculty to learn and interact with one of the true masters of contemporary American dance. We are all counting the days until we can welcome him to campus,” Ongaro said.

range of music, from Nina Simone and the Rolling Stones to Bach and Chopin. He has directed and choreographed for television, film and theatre, including “So You Think You Can Dance,” Cirque du Soleil, world tours for Prince and Lenny Kravitz and the film “One Last Dance.”

Dwight Rhoden is a leader in innovative, high-energy dance that moves beyond conventional ballet traditions.

In addition, Rhoden has a long history in higher education. At the University of Mississippi his 2004 Racial Reconciliation Project was credited as a catalyst for dialogue in a community that has been historically divided. He has served as artist in residence at numerous institutions, including The Juilliard School, New York University and Chapman.

Rhoden is the founding artistic director and resident choreographer for New York-based Complexions Contemporary Ballet, which in the 27 years since its launch has grown to be a leader in innovative, high-energy dance that moves beyond conventional ballet traditions. His work embraces athleticism, celebrates multicultural diversity and incorporates a

“As a member of the faculty, I’m looking forward to being able to influence the various aspects of dancers’ training and contribute to the conversation and overall philosophy of what makes impactful performances,” he said. “I am also looking forward to bringing my body of work to the students as well as building new work, and having creation processes — encouraging their imaginations and ideas and to empower them to discover their unique voices.” Rhoden has received numerous honors, including the New York Foundation for the Arts Award, he Choo San Goh Award for Choreography and The Ailey School’s Apex Award in recognition of his extensive contributions to the field of dance.

“I’m looking forward to being able to influence the various aspects of dancers’ training and contribute to the conversation and overall philosophy of what makes impactful performances,” says Dwight Rhoden, who has joined Chapman as an artistic professor of dance. JUNE 2022


After years of work on equity and reform in their native Afghanistan, Chapman alumni legal scholars are forced to flee with their lives on the line. What comes next is a story of support in rebuilding hope as an antidote to despair. 36



Photos by Adam Hemingway

At the B O U N D A R I E S of




(LLM ’16)

Senior judicial training specialist, assisting the Afghan Supreme Court. She also aided the Afghan Women Judges Association. Quotable: “Before, all the day I would think about Afghanistan, and I would cry. But now I have a plan. I’m getting knowledge and new experiences. That gives me hope and strength that in the future, I will transfer this knowledge and experience to the people of Afghanistan. There are ways that I can still be helpful. My goal is to find those ways.”


ahima Amini (LLM ’16) heard the front door open and knew immediately something was wrong. Why would her husband, a physician, be home from the hospital in the middle of the day? Then she saw his face and realized their worst fears were now real.

“The Taliban are in Kabul,” her husband confirmed. “President Ghani just left the country and the government is in Taliban hands.” In an instant, Amini’s years of work on government and court reforms in Afghanistan slipped like sand through her fingers. Visions of a post-war future full of new opportunities for Afghan women melted in the August heat. Amini had no time to reflect on any of it. She scrambled to reach U.S. and U.N. contacts and devise a plan to get herself, her husband and their year-old twin sons out of the country. It wasn’t just about the loss of their work, their possessions, their home. Amini’s life was in danger. She had been working to build Afghan institutions, champion gender development, advocate for women judges, even reform the Afghan Supreme Court. “But when the Taliban arrived I couldn’t even help myself to have a life,” she said.

DREAMS OF REFORM RECEDE INTO DARKNESS Amini is one of nine Afghan legal scholars who earned graduate degrees at Chapman’s Fowler School of Law through a decade-long program called the Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan, headed by California State Sen. Tom Umberg. Five of the alumni scholars, including Amini, are now back at Chapman, providing students with insights about their journeys as they also begin new lives in the United States. Thanks to a generous gift from an anonymous donor, Amini, Munira Akhunzada (LLM ’13), Sahar Masoom (LLM ’15), Navid Mujaddedi (LLM ’17) and Salma Stanakzai (LLM ’11) all have formal appointments as visiting scholars at Chapman. The journey of Chapman alumna visiting scholar Fahima Amini (LLM '16) now features opportunities to share her story with Chapman students, including in a course on religion and international conflict (top photo). About 10 months ago, Amini carried her son, Tamim, as she and her family navigated the chaos outside the Kabul airport in an effort to escape the dangers of the Taliban takeover. Photo courtesy of Fahima Amini 38


Each scholar has a story with echoes of Amini’s, starting with an abrupt and traumatic end to dreams for a better Afghanistan. Their stories are full of chaos but also resilience: marshal resources, leverage



(LLM ’17)

National program officer, U.N. Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Most recently, he worked as a staff member at the Afghan consulate in Los Angeles, where he continued to perform his duties even after the Taliban takeover – after he stopped being paid because the government he had served didn’t exist any more. Quotable: “After the collapse, we would still get calls for appointments because people needed help – a document, a birth certificate to prove they were the son or daughter of a parent they were trying to get out of Afghanistan. Often they would call and burst into tears. It was so hard to see things melting down.”

contacts, gather family and find a path to a new life in a new country. For three of the scholars, all women, it was even more dire. Fill a backpack, get to the airport, try to get on a flight. To anywhere. As soon as humanly possible. Meanwhile, as the bedlam of the U.S. pullout and Afghan regime change turned the scholars into refugees, members of the Chapman community tracked the news from afar with special concern.

‘IT WAS GOOD TO LET THEM KNOW THEY WEREN’T ALONE’ Professor Ron Steiner had been instrumental in bringing the nine Afghan legal scholars to Chapman for graduate study during the 2010s, and he had kept in touch as they applied their lessons in burgeoning careers. He reached out via text and received updates on their plight. He knew that two were on their way to starting over in Canada, while another was with her family in Texas. A fourth was planning to go to England to study public administration at Oxford. Steiner also knew that five were particularly vulnerable to retaliation by the Taliban, given their associations with U.N. or U.S. agencies and their work for reforms such as gender equity. When Steiner asked the five if they needed help getting out and starting over, they all were grateful for the support. Steiner and others in the Chapman Family applied their own resources, first by providing counsel and a sympathetic ear in real time. Salma Stanakzai (LLM '11) and Navid Mujaddedi (LLM '17) (top photo) speak with students and others after a panel discussion in Kennedy Hall. In the bottom photo, Fahima Amini (LLM '16) and Munira Akhuzada (LLM '13) prepare for a presentation to students in the class of Andrea Molle (center).

JUNE 2022




(LLM ’13)

National political affairs officer, U.N. Assistance Mission. Also was a candidate for the Afghan Parliament in 2018. Notable: As a Chapman grad student, she was chosen by her peers to speak during Commencement. A photo of her giving that speech became one of her campaign posters. Like other visiting scholars, Akhunzada endured wearying months as a refugee on a U.S. military base, waiting for the chance to travel to Chapman. At one point, to lift her spirits, Chapman Professor Ron Steiner sent Akhunzada a photo of the name plate next to her Chapman office door, showing her what was waiting for her. When she finally reached that door, she looked through its small window and saw that Steiner had hung a poster from her run for Parliament.

“As I was watching things on TV, I could only imagine what was happening to them on the ground,” said Steiner, now Chapman pre-law advisor in the Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. “It was good to get updates and to let them know they weren’t alone.” The texts kept flying, sometimes at 3 in the morning, as hours turned into days and options into setbacks. Then, little by little, despair gave way to steps forward. “Each one was on a different path, but one by one, there was a stroke of luck or a piece of ingenuity – they knew someone who knew someone – and they all made it out,” Steiner recalled. “We weren’t able to help much with that part, but we’ve been able to help in other ways since.”

‘THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE PART OF THE CHAPMAN FAMILY’ The depth of Chapman Family support is how this story flips from a tale of lost hope to one of fresh starts. Administrators and alumni, faculty and staff, students, parents and other community leaders – all have rallied with actions that are easing the scholars’ transition to new lives and careers. For Chapman President Daniele C. Struppa, it was an emphatic “yes” when the idea was presented to create the visiting scholar positions for the Afghan alumni. “These are our people,” he said. “This is what it means to be part of the Chapman Family.” Wilkinson College Dean Jennifer Keene and her staff prepared offices for the scholars and also helped develop classroom and research roles for them. “These extraordinary individuals have engaged extensively with our students, faculty and staff, sharing their expertise and experiences to offer a different perspective on American involvement in Afghanistan,” Keene said. As a visiting scholar at Chapman (top photo), Munira Akhunzada (LLM '13) speaks with students about her reform efforts in Afghanistan that included campaigning for a seat in Parliament (bottom photo). Photo courtesy of Munira Akhunzada



“Their stories remind us that U.S. foreign policy and military intervention sometimes have unintended consequences. We are incredibly grateful to our anonymous donor and Dr. Ron Steiner, who mobilized immediately to create these visiting scholar positions.”



(LLM ’15)

External relations and advocacy specialist for the International Development Law Organization in Afghanistan. Notable: Her 6-year-old daughter, Bareen, was born during Masoom’s Fowler Law graduate studies. Her daughter’s U.S. passport was instrumental in getting Masoom and her family onto a military transport plane and out of Afghanistan during the tumult of regime change. The other day, Masoom asked Bareen if she would like to go back to Afghanistan. “Why would I go back?” she said. “I was born here.”

What’s more, Steiner and others at Chapman secured housing, furniture, clothing, food and other essentials. Fowler Law Professor Michael Bazyler and student Lana Rayan also helped get the scholars settled. That’s just for starters. Of the dozens of ways Chapman Family members responded, a few examples stand out.

‘IT HAS ALL BEEN LIFE-CHANGING FOR ME’ Cherie Johnston ’06 (MBA ’16) was a classmate of Amini when both were grad students at Chapman. “She’s brilliant,” Johnston said of Amini. “If ever there was a role model for women of the world, Fahima is it.” The two kept in touch, including via text during the confusion of the Taliban takeover. Johnston reached out to Congress members, senators and military contacts trying to help Amini secure safe passage. After Amini made it to Qatar, then to a refugee camp in at Fort Lee in Virginia, and finally to California, it was Johnston who met her and her family at LAX to drive them to their new home in Orange County. “To see her face and give her that first big hug – it has all been life-changing for me,” Johnston said. Johnston’s impact continues. As CEO of Military Children’s Charity Inc., she knows all about rallying communities to meet needs. Among other things, she and her organization made sure the children in the visiting scholars’ extended families received gifts during the holidays. “One of the biggest lessons through all of this is that you can lose everything and move to the other side of the world, and the Taliban can take everything from you, but they can’t steal your hope,” Johnston said. “To see where [the Afghan scholars] started in August and now see them able to smile today is a phenomenal feeling.” Like many other Afghan refugees, Sahar Masoom (LLM '15) and her family found ways to adapt during their extended stay in a refugee facility at a U.S. military base. For the children, the transition was difficult but also an adventure. At Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, Ayan, Masoom's 3-year-old son, would salute just like the military personnel on the base whenever the U.S. national anthem was played. Photos courtesy of Sahar Masoom JUNE 2022




(LLM ’11)

Legal advisor on immigration for the Consulate General of Afghanistan. In 2018, she was deputy consul general for the Afghan consulate in Los Angeles. Quotable: “It will take us a long time to understand what went wrong socially, militarily, culturally. I don’t think it can be easily explained as a U.S. failure. All the problems of Afghanistan and all the solutions of Afghanistan are in Afghanistan. I don’t see the collapse of a government. The government was never there – it was an illusion. It’s a matter of waking up to the reality that it was a collapse of civilization.”

‘WE LOOK OUT FOR EACH OTHER’ For Faheem Tukhi ’05 (JD ’15), it’s second nature to give back to the Chapman community. “The connection is for life,” said Tukhi, a former member of the Chapman Alumni Association Board of Directors. “We look out for each other. The Chapman Family is real.” Tukhi’s own family was forced to flee Afghanistan in 1983, during the SovietAfghan War. “Like these scholars, we came here with nothing,” said Tukhi, now assistant general counsel for West Coast University and American Career College. “We wish that 40 years ago we had an institution like Chapman to provide support and help get us back on our feet.” So it was an easy decision to help with the visiting scholars’ transition. Tukhi’s mother, Zainab, even opened her home in Buena Park to Masoom and her young family while Chapman readied an apartment. Zainab had done the same when Masoom first arrived at Chapman as a student. In fact, it was Zainab who accompanied Masoom to the hospital when she delivered her daughter during her Chapman grad school experience. When mother and baby came home, Zainab provided the bassinette. “I think of [the scholars] like they’re my children, and their children call me Grandma,” Zainab said. “I like that.”

‘NOW I HAVE A CHANCE TO MAKE THE BEST OUT OF THINGS’ For the alumni legal scholars, support from the Chapman Family and beyond has been nothing short of transformational. Each scholar finally has some footing to start a new journey, including the pursuit of career goals such as resuming legal careers and landing faculty teaching positions.

Salma Stanakzai (LLM '11) leads a discussion with students in the peace studies class of Prexy Nesbitt. 42


During the spring semester, several Afghan scholars sat in on a bar prep course taught by Chapman adjunct professor of law Melodie Arian. Meanwhile, Amini and Akhunzada shared insights

as observers in a course on religion and international conflict taught by Andrea Molle, associate researcher in sociology and political science at Chapman. Masoom and Stanakzai were similar contributors to a peace studies course on global conflict taught by Prexy Nesbitt, Presidential Fellow in Peace Studies. "Sharing my classroom and teaching with two experienced and insightful leaders like Salma and Sahar has meant the introduction of substantive and inspiring experience into the learning process,” Nesbitt said. “So often I watch the eyes of the students fill with awe and respect as they listen to Sahar or Salma comment on a subject. And my own eyes glisten, as well.” For all the scholars, many daily uncertainties remain. How to secure a green card? Where to find reliable day care? How does the Metrolink work? There’s so much new ground to navigate while still dealing with the trauma of loss and the concern for family and friends left behind in the rubble. But each day more of the darkness gives way to light. “Teaching, research, a conference – all of these things are helping me navigate my way and understand my emotions,” Stanakzai said. “This is such an amazing opportunity for all of us. I didn’t have an income, I didn’t have a work permit, I didn’t have anything. Now I have a chance to make the best out of things, which I think is how we convey how grateful we are. If you’re doing your best, you’re not letting Chapman down. That’s how we repay the contributions toward our advancement.”

Inspired by the Stories of



n March 31, I attended “Fleeing Afghanistan: Our Voices,” a panel discussion featuring five visiting scholars from Afghanistan. I have had

the privilege of also learning from two of those scholars – Salma Stanakzai (LLM ’11) and Sahar Masoom (LLM ’15) – in my class “Global Conflict Analysis and Resolution,” taught by Presidential Fellow Prexy Nesbitt. The five visiting scholars shared their personal experiences, providing a perspective on Afghanistan we do not get in standard news media coverage. Their insight is unapologetically human. Additionally, seeing the four women of color on the panel command a room was awe-inspiring. Historically, women are branded as “too emotional.” These women showed that being emotionally tied to a cause does not make them weak but more capable. When emotions, passion and the need for justice collide, the result is strong women creating change where it is needed most. I came to Chapman to learn from people like Nesbitt, Stanakzai, Masoom and their colleagues. The service and impact these five visiting scholars bring to our campus is priceless. Our duty as a university is to acknowledge that for us to continue to have scholars of this caliber, we must never stop working to make our community a more equitable place.

Eva Wong ’23 is a double major in theatre performance and peace studies.

JUNE 2022




A Chapman University research study led by earth systems science professor Hesham ElAskary has revealed potentially dangerous stresses in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a massive project in the late stages of construction on the Blue Nile in Africa. Satellite imagery processed using sophisticated computer technology in El-Askary’s Earth Systems Science Data Solutions Lab at Chapman indicates an increasing risk that the dam may fail, imperiling millions in Sudan, directly downstream from the project. The data from more than 100 satellite images captured between December 2016 and July 2021 shows gradual sinking at both ends of a concrete structure that is the main component of the dam. Both sides of the structure have moved downward, but not uniformly, making the concern more acute, said El-Askary, Ph.D. If the downward movement continues, the concrete is at risk of cracking, the professor said, as water is added and the pressure intensifies. “The structure has no capacity for elasticity. As one side pushes against the other, there’s risk of fracture in the middle,” said El-Askary, who is also director of computational and data science

graduate programs in Chapman’s Schmid College of Science and Technology. If construction on the Ethiopian dam project continues and the reservoir reaches its projected capacity, the dam would be required to support 74 billion cubic meters of water. The research report says that a dam failure would threaten the lives of 20 million people in Sudan. The research study was published in September in the journal Remote Sensing. The interdisciplinary project team includes Chapman researchers Erik Linstead, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science and machine learning; Tom Piechota, Ph.D., professor of environmental science and policy with expertise in hydrology; and Daniele Struppa, Ph.D., Chapman president and an internationally recognized mathematician. Other contributors include Chapman data science faculty member Nicolas LaHaye ’13 (Ph.D. ’21), graduate research assistant Rejoice Thomas (MA ’20, Ph.D. ’23) and former Chapman post-doctoral researcher Wenzhao Li (Ph.D. ’19), now a research associate in climate modeling and high-performance computing at the University of Texas, Arlington.

Professor and Director of Computational and Data Science Graduate Programs Hesham El-Askary presenting at the Cairo Water Week conference. El-Askary gave a talk on the research during the Cairo Water Week conference, Oct. 24-28 in Egypt, where there was widespread media coverage of the study’s findings as concerns about the dam continue to grow. The findings in the Chapman research report are based on interpretations of satellite images using a state-of-the-art computer technique called Differential Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry in El-Askary’s lab. “The data is very critical and very accurate,” El Askary said. “The accuracy of the technology is one reason everyone is so concerned about the risk.” He added that his role as a scientist is to raise concerns based on the findings of the team’s research. “I’m not an engineer,” El-Askary said. “I’m an earth system scientist who has observed something alarming and now is shedding light on it.”

The Chapman research project says that a dam failure would threaten the lives of 20 million people in Sudan. 44



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JUNE 2022




Chapman-led research project on healthy aging finds that two Indigenous communities have low rates of dementia. A globally significant research project led by Chapman University Professor Hillard Kaplan has published new findings indicating that Indigenous villagers in the Bolivian Amazon have markedly low rates of dementia. In the study, published in March in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association, Tsimane and Moseten people 65 or older were found to have dementia rates of about 1%, compared with 11% for Americans in the same age group. These new research results support previous findings about healthy aging involving the Tsimane and Moseten, who are among the last people on Earth still living a hunter-farmerforager lifestyle. Those earlier results, collected as part of the Chapman-led Tsimane Health and Life History Project, show that the Amazon villagers have the world’s lowest reported levels of vascular aging. “Something about the pre-industrial subsistence lifestyle appears to protect older Tsimane and Moseten from dementia,” said Margaret Gatz, lead author of the Alzheimer’s study and a professor of psychology, gerontology and preventive medicine at USC.

our understanding of these diseases and generates new insights.” The study found only five cases of dementia among 435 Tsimane people and just one case among 169 Moseten aged 60 or older. In the same age groups, the research team diagnosed about 8% of Tsimane and 10% of Moseten with mild cognitive impairment, which is typically marked by early-stage memory loss or other cognitive decline. Kaplan and his colleagues say these rates are more comparable to mild cognitive impairment in high-income countries like the U.S. Researchers also learned that the study participants found to have dementia or mild cognitive impairment frequently had prominent calcifications of their intracranial arteries. These study participants often displayed parkinsonian symptoms during neurological examinations and cognitive deficits in attention and spatial awareness.

The international team of Tsimane Project researchers is led by Kaplan, a co-author of the study. Kaplan is a professor of health economics and anthropology at Chapman who has studied the Tsimane for two decades.

Although calcifications were more common among the cognitively impaired, researchers also observed these vascular calcifications in the CT scans of those without dementia or mild cognitive impairment. The researchers say that more research is needed to understand the role of vascular factors as well as infectious and inflammatory disorders. Tsimane Project research is ongoing, so additional data-gathering is planned.

Researchers used CT brain scans, cognitive and neurological assessments and culturally appropriate questionnaires — facilitated by a local team of trained translators and Bolivian physicians — to diagnose dementia and cognitive impairment among the Tsimane and Moseten.

As the project continues, the team acquires significant insights about how diet and lifestyle affect health. If the industrialized world emulated the Tsimane and Moseten in diet and daily activity, it would save millions of lives and billions of dollars in health care costs, Kaplan says.

“We’re in a race for solutions to the growing prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias,” Kaplan said. “Looking at these diverse populations augments and accelerates

“We are our own worst enemies,” he notes.



The Tsimane are among the last people on Earth living a hunter-farmer-forager lifestyle. Ongoing research offers insights about how diet and lifestyle can help prevent chronic health conditions.

“We’re in a race for solutions to the growing prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias,” Professor Hillard Kaplan says.



Testimony of Chapman sociologist Pete Simi leads to judgment against organizers of Charlottesville rally. Two weeks into the high-profile trial of the white nationalists who organized the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Chapman University sociologist and hate group researcher Pete Simi finally got his chance to testify as an expert witness.

HE WAS MORE THAN READY FOR THE MOMENT “Simi’s testimony was devastating,” the Slate online news magazine reported in its trial coverage. “He explained, in the most academic terms possible, the degree to which the performance artistry of the white supremacists is not accidental. It’s deliberate stagecraft, constructed to promote both violent spectacle and plausible deniability.” The verdict against rally organizers “offers an opportunity to capture truth in terms of the historical record,” Pete Simi says. Nine days later, a jury found Richard Spencer, Christopher Cantwell and other white supremacists and neo-Nazis liable of conspiracy for their role in the 2017 rally that injured dozens and killed Heather Heyer, who was hit by a car driven into a crowd of counter protesters. The jury awarded the plaintiffs more than $25 million in damages.

REVEALING THE VIOLENT INTENT BEHIND THE RALLY Much of the team’s report was gleaned from alt-right conversations on the chat platform Discord. “When you go behind the scenes and look at where Unite the Right was planned on Discord, and you see the volume of references to using violence during the rally, it’s overwhelmingly clear that this event was organized for the purpose of committing violence,” Simi said. The judgment has the potential to greatly deter the white supremacist movement, Simi said. But beyond that, the jury’s decision “underscores why the court system is so important,” he added. “It offers an opportunity to capture truth in terms of the historical record.” On a personal level, the more than 1,000 hours of research time Simi spent poring over hateful conversations online and then testifying in court also produced some emotional scars, he said. “A lot of what we went through is vile, toxic material advocating for various kinds of violence, in some cases using the crudest of images,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been immersed in for a long time, but it still takes an emotional and psychic toll. In essence, you’re exposing yourself to poison.”

The result in the civil trial was “[The jury᾽s decision] particularly satisfying for Simi, an associate professor in Chapman’s underscores why the court Wilkinson College of Arts, system is so important. It offers Humanities, and Social Sciences an opportunity to capture truth in whose intensive research takes him terms of the historical record.” deep inside the minds and motives of white supremacists. Simi, co-author Pete Simi of the book “American Swastika: Inside White Power Movement’s Hidden Spaces of Hate,” has lived with those espousing racist ideology to try to understand them better. He has compiled 20,000 pages of life histories from interviews with former members of white supremacist groups.

So it matters that the effort wasn’t in vain. “It’s worth it to expose that truth,” he said.

He also studies events like the Unite the Right rally, including online messaging before and after such events. For the trial of the rally organizers, he and sociology research colleague Kathleen Blee of the University of Pittsburgh compiled a 63-page research report showing how the defendants had worked together to promote the event while also trying to hide behind coded messaging full of dog whistles and doublespeak.

Chapman Professor Pete Simi, right, and University of Pittsburgh colleague Kathleen Blee developed a 63-page research report that decoded messaging used by the defendants before the Unite the Right rally. JUNE 2022




Building on foundational research, Andrew Jordan works to expand the scope of the Institute for Quantum Studies. Ever since high school, Andrew Jordan has been fascinated by the promise and possibilities of quantum mechanics. So much so that he has devoted his professional life to the study of matter and light on the atomic and subatomic scale. Decades later, the field still amazes him. “Part of the excitement is that things in nature can transcend our ability to grasp them at any kind of fundamental level,” said Jordan, an internationally recognized theoretical physicist who joined Chapman University in fall 2021 as co-director with Jeff Tollaksen of the Institute for Quantum Studies (IQS). “You can get some experience with [quantum physics], and you can become used to it, but it’s still as mysterious as when you first encounter it,” Jordan added. The mystery just adds to the allure, encouraging him to dive deeper into quantum research and teaching. “Part of the vision for doing quantum foundations is to try different angles to understand concepts from different points of view,” Jordan said. “That can lead to different lines of approach to the same kind of phenomena.” Now, as leader of a Chapman program that for more than a dozen years has attracted some of the best minds in the discipline to join in collaborative research, Jordan is working to build on IQS achievements – to transform curiosity into tangible advances that expand the scope and vision of the institute.


The mission of Chapman University's Institute for Quantum Studies is high-level research and teaching but also increasing public understanding of quantum concepts, says Andrew Jordan, co-director of the institute. Technologies based on such research might lead to the development of tiny gyroscopes that run on very little power, expanding options for navigation and making it more precise. In addition, research by Jordan that was published last year in the journal Nature Communications illuminates a weak value amplification technique that can be used to precisely measure the properties of light guided by waveguides fabricated on a Silicon chip about the size a quarter. By using light instead of electricity, the chip might be used for everything from stabilizing lasers to aiding with the remote sensing of objects.

A GLOBAL COMMUNITY OF WORLD-CLASS THINKERS The IQS culture of creative breakthroughs first attracted Jordan to Chapman years ago, when he was a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Rochester. In 2012, he became an IQS affiliated scholar, joining a collaborative global community that also includes Nobel laureates Sir Anthony Leggett, David Gross and François Englert, as well as celebrated cosmologist Paul Davies. But even as that community grows and the opportunities for high-level research expand, Jordan says the team will continue to fulfill another IQS mission: to promote quantum literacy with engaging public talks.

Thanks to the 2008 arrival at Chapman of renowned quantum physicist Yakir Aharonov, IQS is grounded in foundational topics like weak values and superoscillation. Aharonov, winner of the National Medal of Science, has pioneered mind-bending concepts, including that time can flow backward and subatomic particles are changed by far-away forces.

A recent example is Davies’ presentation “What's Eating the Universe? And Other Cosmic Questions,” delivered during Homecoming.

“Part of the reason I’m here is that I’m interested in those things too, but we’re working on lots of other things as well,” Jordan said. “For instance, quantum thermodynamics is a subject I’m excited about, and there’s a lot of activity going on with quantum metrology – the science of using quantum mechanics to do precise measurements.”

To enlighten, yes, but not necessarily to demystify.



“It’s our goal to not only educate our students but also the general public about important discoveries and the world we live in,” Jordan said.

“Because we’re often mystified ourselves,” Jordan said with a smile. “It’s more about sharing the mystery.”



Multimillion-dollar donations from Emeritus Chairman of the Board Doy B. Henley and James H. and Esther M. Cavanaugh have established a pair of endowed chairs in presidential studies at Chapman University, ensuring the university’s strong commitment to the study and teaching of the U.S. presidency, its history, influence and global impact. The gifts will advance a field of study with lasting significance and contribute to a greater understanding of the American experience, said Jennifer Keene, Ph.D., dean of the Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, where the chairs are centered. “These two endowed chairs are recognition of the enduring importance and relevance of the humanities and social sciences. We cannot understand politics or the world today without an appreciation of how the American presidency has evolved historically,” Keene said. Moreover, such scholarship will be a profound benefit for Chapman students, who also have the unique advantage of benefiting from the resources of the Nixon and Reagan presidential libraries in Southern California, Keene says. Both donors said their gifts were inspired by their commitment to deepening students’ understanding of the democratic process and the vital role that public service and citizenship play in American life.

previously of Texas A&M University, will hold the James H. Cavanaugh Endowed Chair in Presidential Studies, created by a $2 million gift from the Cavanaughs. For Han, this new role opens opportunities to further her research and writing. She has authored several books on the presidency, and the third edition of her book “Presidents and the American Presidency” will be published with Oxford University Press in 2022. “Through campus events, including a speaker series, conferences and research opportunities for students, I want American presidential studies at Chapman to model civil discourse at a time in our history when a more substantive understanding, beyond political personalities, is needed on the role presidents play in governing,” Han said. Nichter is a New York Times bestselling author of five books, including “Richard Nixon and Europe: The Reshaping of the Postwar Atlantic World.” He also served as editor for two books by presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. Nichter’s next book is tentatively titled “The Making of the President, 1968: Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Richard Nixon, George Wallace, and the Election that Changed America.” “Chapman is getting into a space that others have not in recent years and so has a chance to really build a flagship in the region and become something that can be known nationally as well,” Nichter said.

160 Years: The Faces of Chapman

“A nonpartisan center of research and scholarship dedicated to the study of the American presidency has never been more important for the future of our country. These faculty and programs will equip students with the skills they need to solve problems, serve with integrity and turn their passions into meaningful careers that support the greater good,” Henley said. “It’s a privilege to help provide this opportunity for honor students those who best embody the spirit of Chapman. As we close our celebratory 160th year, we and scholars alike. ” Innovators, bold leaders, those who demonstrate kindness and compassion or help solve problems James H. Cavanaugh,locally Ph.D., chairman of the Nixon or around theFoundation globe –Board youof Directors and a key advisor in the Nixon and Ford administrations, spoke to Chapman’s commitment to elevating faculty and student research.

are truly the best of Chapman.

“This is an exciting timelegacy to supporthas suchmade important work at Chapman Your Chapman what it is today, and University. Both faculty members are renowned scholars in this field and will exemplify the best of Chapman,” Cavanaugh us forward into the future.

your inspiration

Two nationally recognized scholars have been selected as inaugural holders of the chairs. Lori Cox Han, Ph.D., a presidential scholar, author and professor of political science at Chapman, will hold the Doy B. Henley Endowed Chair in American Presidential Studies, made possible by a $2 million gift from Henley. Luke Nichter, Ph.D., an author and scholar of American history

Generous support from James. H. Cavanaugh and Doy B. Henley, from left at 2021 top, 1861 created the endowed chairs in presidential studies, to be held by Lori Cox Han and Luke Nichter, below. JUNE 2022




When Hwang Dong-hyuk wrote the screenplay that would become the runaway hit Netflix series “Squid Game,” he had $5 in his bank account.

story. Dodge regularly welcomes to campus industry leaders and visionaries who offer insights and answer students’ questions.

“I went to withdraw 10 bucks from the ATM machine and was rejected,” the South Korean filmmaker said through an interpreter, recounting the “Squid Game” origin story for an overflow crowd of students at Chapman University.

Other recent master classes have featured writer-director Sofia Coppola, actor Halle Berry and producer and writer David Chase, among others.

“I could only dream of being in a contest and getting a fortune, like from a survival game,” he added. Now his dreams of success are as real as the thunderous applause that greeted him on Monday, Feb. 28, when he took the Folino Theater stage along with four “Squid Game” cast members for a master class at Chapman’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. “People didn’t like the script,” Hwang said of his first attempt to sell “Squid Game” in 2009. “But I was determined to see it succeed.” Struggle on the way to achievement was a recurring theme for the “Squid Game” cast and creator, as it often is during events in Dodge’s Master Class Series, which is its own success

The “Squid Game” master class was hosted by The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg as he taped his “Awards Chatter” podcast after a screening of an episode in the drama series. Along with Hwang, panelists were actors Lee Jung-jae, Jung Ho-yeon, Park Hae-soo and Anupam Tripathi. The night before, Jung and Lee had become the first actors from a non-English language show to win in their categories of the Screen Actors Guild Awards. The successes just keep rolling in for “Squid Game.” The drama series about a game that gives debt-addled participants a chance to get rich if they can survive, has become Netflix’s most popular show ever. It attracted more than 142 million member households during the first four weeks after its release.

Creator Hwang Dong-hyuk said he’s been talking with Netflix about a second season of “Squid Game,” adding, “There’s big pressure, but I’ll try to live up to it.” The entertainment industry certainly has become friendly territory for Korean movies and series. Even before “Squid Game,” films such as 2019 Oscar-winner “Parasite,” by Best Director honoree Bong Joon-ho, have been opening doors and winning fans. Why has Korean storytelling become so popular globally? “Because Koreans are so creative,” Hwang said, eliciting powerful applause. “We live in a very competitive society, and we’re confined [geographically and economically]. We’ve always been told by our parents that we have to sell to other countries.” Fans of Hwang’s creativity will be glad to know that signs are definitely pointing to “Squid Game’s” return for a second season. “We’ve been talking, and we’re almost there. In my mind, it’s kind of official,” Hwang said. “There’s big pressure, but I’ll try to live up to it.”

Lee Jung-jae, center, and Jung Ho-yeon, right, stand to acknowledge the audience's applause for their Screen Actors Guild Awards during a "Squid Game" master class at Chapman University. Scott Feinberg, left, hosted the event as he taped his "Awards Chatter" podcast, which included insights by "Squid Game" creator Hwang Donghyuk, second from left. Photo by Dennis Arp 50




A National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant will establish a minor in Asian American Studies and support current ethnic studies courses and programming at Chapman University. The $150,000 award announced in January is the largest NEH grant in the university’s history and just one of 208 awarded to universities, museums and other organizations across the country. It will further advance the strong 21st century humanities educational experience offered in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, noted Jennifer Keene, Ph.D., dean of Wilkinson College.

The new major also resonates with Chapman history. Chapman was a school of choice for many Filipinos at a time when few Asians were welcome in American higher education. Similarly, JapaneseAmerican alumni like Toshi Ito ’46 and Paul Nagano ’42 found kindness and support at Chapman in the years surrounding World War II.

“We have this history that is instilled in us,” Takaragawa said. “That’s “The NEH grant will offer critical support for next year’s Engaging one of the reasons this is a really important legacy for Chapman.” the World: Leading the Conversation on Ethnic Studies initiative by helping us develop innovative curriculum that Wilkinson will incorporate programming related to the new minor advances the conversation on diversity, equity in upcoming events and projects. Official enrollment in the and justice in our community,” said Keene. minor opens in fall 2023. “This includes distributing George Takei’s "Asian Americans graphic novel about his experiences "Asian Americans continue to be seen in a Japanese American internment to be seen asor camp to all students enrolled in as continue a perpetual foreigner the Engaging the World First-Year a perpetual foreigner or model minority that has been Focus program and bringing him to model minorityinthat has been misunderstood mainstream campus to speak.”

misunderstood mainstream American in history." American history." Stephanie Takaragawa

Adding an Asian American Studies minor is a logical next step for Wilkinson College, which in recent years expanded its interdisciplinary minors to include Africana Studies and Latinx and Latin America Studies, said Associate Professor Stephanie Takaragawa, Ph.D., who will direct the program.

Moreover, it is especially timely, Takaragawa said. Hate incidents against Asian Americans have surged during the coronavirus pandemic, a symptom of racism and inadequate appreciation for the diversity that has long existed in U.S. history, culture and civic life, she said. “Asian Americans continue to be seen as a perpetual foreigner or model minority that has been misunderstood in mainstream American history,” Takaragawa said. “It has become a problem in light of excessive violence toward Asians in recent years. The thinking that Asians are unassimilable, responsible for SARS and bird flu, along with the tendency to exoticize or fear Asians, has caused backlash. I think part of it is a lack of education and understanding.”

Associate Professor Stephanie Takaragawa, Ph.D., leads a panel discussion on JapaneseAmerican incarceration at the 2021 event Tsunami of Memory. The new Asian American Studies minor supported by the NEH will help bring similar events to Chapman.

JUNE 2022


IN MEMORIAM DONALD BOOTH Professor Emeritus Donald Booth, an economics professor from 1959 through 2018, passed away in his sleep in the early morning of February 17, 2022. His time at Chapman as a teacher and administrator spanned nearly 60 years, longer than any other faculty or staff member in university history. “We all knew him as an individual who dedicated his time and energy daily to the success of Chapman University, demonstrating an exceptional level of interest in students of every school and college,” said President Daniele C. Struppa. “Don was an educator of extraordinary intellect, drive and compassion.” Booth served in numerous leadership roles during his time at Chapman, including as the first chair of Corporate Faculty from 1966-68, vice president of Academic Affairs and Dean of College from 1977-78, vice president of Finance and Administration in 1988, and the founding director of the Executive Masters in Business Administration from 199598. He also held the position of Larry Parlett Professor of Economics in Memory of Alan Thompson. But it was his long-standing commitment to the Chapman Experience that won him the admiration of the many students and colleagues whose lives he touched. He was a mentor to countless students, and stayed connected and engaged with hundreds of alumni long after graduation. “He was always a voice of calm and reason during frequent turbulent and pressure-filled times,” said Mike Drummy ’74, former assistant vice chancellor and chief admission officer. “Over the years, I’d reach out to him often, or he’d just show up … somehow sensing I needed a pep talk.” Booth and his wife, Louise, who passed away in 2012, were generous supporters to campus facilities and initiatives, including the Leatherby Libraries, College of Performing Arts, Chapman Athletics, Office of Church Relations, Town & Gown and many funds connected to the Argyros School of Business and Economics. He established the Don Booth Philanthropy Fund to bridge the financial gap for students who needed assistance. At a 2013 celebration in Booth’s honor, Doy B. Henley, chairman emeritus of Chapman University’s Board of Trustees, said, “He has helped so many people, whether it’s with an airline ticket, an internship or something else. There are so many ways he has transformed people’s lives. He’s one of the best people you will ever know in your life.” “Dr. Donald Booth was among the legendary faculty members of Chapman University,” said David B. Moore (MA ’09), assistant vice president of legacy planning. “His son, David Booth ’80, tells me that Dr. Booth believed the memory care center where he lived the last several years to be the Chapman campus, so he was in his happy place.”



WILLIAM PARKER ’52 William Parker '52, a loyal and active member of the Chapman Family, passed away on January 21, 2022. He was 93. Parker and his wife, Barbara '64, his Chapman sweetheart who passed away last year, were regular attendees at university events, especially athletic events, often visiting the Orange campus every week during baseball season. Recalling Bill’s commitment to sports specifically, Dave Currey, the university’s athletic director for 25 years prior to his 2016 retirement, said, “We lost a Chapman Athletics icon. Bill was not only a supporter but was a link to all of Chapman’s success on the athletic fields. He was a tremendous, loyal booster of Chapman Athletics. When tough times came, Bill was always there with a positive boost.” The Parkers showed their love for the Chapman Family through their generous support, making donations toward Chapman Athletics, student scholarships, Town & Gown, the alumni association, Leatherby Libraries, Fish Interfaith Center and each of the university’s schools and colleges.

In addition to his financial support, Parker served on multiple groups and boards, and he and Barbara regularly volunteered at Chapman events, such as the annual Candle Lighting Ceremony for new students, and they hosted hundreds of students at their home for meals through the years. Though he will be missed dearly, Bill’s memory and spirit remain on our campus through the Bill and Barbara Parker Atrium Lobby. As he and Barbara arranged many years ago, his ashes will be interred within the Columbarium of the Fish Interfaith Center, beside his late wife, so that Chapman Family members and friends might all have a place in which to gather and reflect on their lives. “I send my sincerest condolences to his whole family and all who knew and loved him,” said President Daniele C. Struppa. “He will always be remembered at Chapman, and I feel certain that Bill and Barbara are together again right now, cheering passionately for each and every one of our students.”

RONALD SODERLING Ronald Soderling, philanthropist and trustee of Chapman University, passed away on December 28, 2021. A real estate developer who played an instrumental role in defining the local Orange County culture and aesthetic, Soderling’s impact on the region is only surpassed by the impact he had on Chapman. Soderling, along with his wife, Gail, was a longtime supporter of Chapman, and the couple’s three children (Teresa ’83, Eric ’89 and Kurt ’88) all graduated from the university. “Ron was an inspirational and forwardthinking leader who was committed to helping communities thrive,” said President Daniele C. Struppa. “He knew that giving back, whether it was his time, experience or financial support, would generate new opportunities and open doors for others.”

Soderling’s commitment to the Chapman Family touched every aspect of university life. In 1996, he joined the Board of Trustees, where he offered sage advice to Chapman’s leadership for more than 25 years. From 1998 to 2000, he served as the chair of Chapman Celebrates (at the time called American Celebration), and he and Gail generously supported Musco Center for the Arts, the William Hall Legacy Endowment and the Millennium Campaign. Soderling was also a major supporter of the Argyros School of Business and Economics, where he endowed the Ronald E. Soderling Chair in Economics and Real Estate Development.

JUNE 2022


HERE TO LEND A HAND. We need something that only you can give — your time!

Our volunteers are essential in helping us provide the Chapman Experience for every Chapman Family member. We have an array of fun, high-impact volunteer opportunities for every kind of volunteer in almost every department on campus:

• Mentors

• Committees and task forces

• Event support

• Speakers

• Panelists

• Career assistance

Our new Volunteer Portal makes it easier than ever to get involved. Whether you live close to campus or across the globe, we have in-person and virtual opportunities for you. To learn more, go to





Chapman University has announced that Nadia Murad, a human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, will be the keynote speaker at the university’s 2022 Commencement ceremony. The event will mark the beginning of Murad’s appointment to a three-year term as a Presidential Fellow at Chapman. Murad was born in the village of Kocho in the Sinjar District of Iraq, a region populated mostly by the Yazidi, an ethno-religious minority indigenous to northern Iraq. In 2014, Islamic State militants attacked her home and killed hundreds of men and older women in her village, including her mother and six of her brothers. Murad herself was captured – one of more than 6,500 Yazidi women and children taken into slavery. She was later able to escape and was smuggled out of the Islamic State’s territory to a refugee camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Murad chronicled her story of survival in her book, “The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State,” and has since become a leading advocate for both gender equality and survivors of genocide and sexual violence. In 2016, Murad became the first United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. In 2018, she won the Nobel Peace Prize. “I am proud to serve as a Presidential Fellow at a university that is dedicated to seeking truth and fostering thoughtful global citizens,” said Nadia Murad. “I was 21 when my village was attacked, and I began my journey as an activist. I hope to educate and inspire Chapman students – many of whom are the age I was then – and impart that they too can make a difference. Together, we can make the world a better place: one where marginalized communities are protected, survivors are supported and gender equality is the norm.”

INSPIRING CHAPMAN STUDENTS TO GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP “Chapman has never shied away from the dark places of human history,” says Chapman University President Daniele C. Struppa. ”We shine a light on them, to remember, and to find the lights that are shining back. Nadia Murad is one of those lights. Her story inspires us not because of how she has suffered, but because she has become a voice for global change. That is the message we hope to impart to our students.”

Among other causes, the work of Nadia Murad focuses on preventing the systemic use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and protecting marginalized communities. The three-year appointment as Presidential Fellow will allow Chapman students to interact with and learn from Murad on multiple occasions. In recent years, students in Professor James Brown’s FirstYear Focus Course “Difficult Histories and Critical Theory” and the Leadership/Peace Studies course “Critical Discourse, Social Change, and Positive Peace” have had the opportunity to talk with Murad via Zoom and hear her story first hand. Says Brown, Ph.D., “The narrative of her personal experiences during the genocide and her approach to recovery with Nadia’s Initiative provide the perfect illustration of the impact of destructive and polarizing ideology and the power of transformational leadership and positive peace efforts.”

NADIA’S INITIATIVE: ADVOCATING FOR SURVIVORS Murad’s advocacy work focuses on raising awareness of the Yazidi genocide, preventing the systemic use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, and protecting marginalized communities, in part, by improving gender equality. She founded and serves as president of Nadia’s Initiative, an international NGO dedicated to rebuilding communities in crisis and advocating for survivors of sexual violence. Nadia’s Initiative uses a comprehensive peace-building approach to the process of rebuilding and recognizes that reconstruction efforts must be developed in conjunction with survivors – local solutions to local problems. The Initiative implements programs in the Sinjar region of Iraq that are community-driven, survivor-centric and sustainable. This approach empowers survivors and helps to reestablish a sense of community. Central components of Nadia’s Initiative’s work are ending the use of women and girls as weapons of war, seeking justice and accountability of Islamic State perpetrators and enabling survivors to heal and rebuild their lives. Murad’s appointment at Chapman will begin on June 1, 2022, and continue through May 31, 2025. JUNE 2022




More than $11 million in support reflects the expanding influence of Chapman’s Thompson Policy Institute on Disability. In the struggle to make education more inclusive, too often people with disabilities have been on the outside looking in. But now Chapman University’s Thompson Policy Institute on Disability (TPI) is increasing access and opportunity for all individuals, aided by growing support from foundations and other donors. In September 2021, TPI received a $3.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund a Technical Assistance Collaborative supporting innovative approaches to preparing educators to teach all students equitably in general-education classrooms. The Gates Foundation grant establishes the California Educator Preparation Innovation Collaborative (CalEPIC). The gift elevates the total amount of foundation grant and donor support for TPI programs to more than $11 million.

The Thompson Policy Institute on Disability team includes director Meghan Cosier (second row, second from left), codirector Audri Gomez (bottom row, left) and founding director Don Cardinal (top row, second from left). Support from outside funders expands TPI’s impact. In addition to the Gates Foundation’s grant for CalEPIC, recent support includes

“We’re pleased and grateful that the Gates Foundation shares our commitment to improving the lives of people with disabilities,” said Meghan Cosier, Ph.D., director of TPI and associate professor in Chapman’s Attallah College of Educational Studies.

• A three-year grant of $784,000 from the Gates Foundation that supports PK-12 schools and educator preparation programs to improve outcomes for historically marginalized students.


• An additional award from the William S. and Nancy E. Thompson Family Foundation of $500,000, supporting TPI’s overall mission.

Since 2015, when TPI began under the leadership of founding director Don Cardinal, Ph.D., now TPI leadership coach and professor emeritus, the institute has steadily expanded its impact, providing technical assistance and research to influence policy and reduce barriers that limit access to learning, living and working. Through a network of more than 50 local, state and national partners including CHOC Children’s, UCI Center for Autism and Nuerodevelopmental Disorders, and the California Alliance for Inclusive Schooling, TPI develops technical assistance programs for teachers and administrators.



• An initial Gates Foundation grant of $420,000 to support the California Teacher Residency Lab, which features a webinar series helping pre-service teachers fulfill teaching credential clinical hours. Chapman partnered on the project with the University of Kansas and the University of Florida. “The CalEPIC project supports California institutions, but going forward we see this as a national effort to prevent special education from being siloed,” said TPI co-director Audri Gomez (Ph.D. ’16).

“All students benefit when they have the chance to learn together,” Cosier added.

LEADERSHIP HELPS SHARPEN A FOCUS ON COMMUNITY AND EQUITY Cosier and Gomez are champions of engagement. They agree that TPI’s collaborative and humanistic approach is at the heart of their relationship-building success. “We don’t have all the answers, so it takes a collaborative approach to do the work we do,” Gomez said. By succeeding in leadership roles that historically have been held by men, Cosier and Gomez are also helping Chapman continue its forward momentum on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. “As a first-generation Hispanic woman, I’m proud of the example we’re setting,” Gomez said.



The vital role pharmacists play in health care is more visible than ever. With a fellowship at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Division of Pharmacovigilance, Michael Phan (Pharm.D. ’18) is helping to ensure that the drugs we take are safe. Along with his work at the FDA, Michael is on the faculty of the Chapman University School of Pharmacy and serves on the Chapman University School of Pharmacy (CUSP) Alumni Advisory Board.

Who was the most influential person for you at Chapman? Why? “Dr. Sun “Coco” Yang. She was my mentor from my time as a Pharm.D. candidate and after when I was an assistant research professor at CUSP. She had a tremendous role in guiding me to my successes and was very nurturing as she saw my strengths and potential.”

If you could go back in time and experience one moment again from your time at Chapman, what would it be? Is there anything that you would do differently? “Going to Sacramento to present to the California Board of Pharmacy about my capstone project. We argued that additional regulations were needed to help with the disposal and handling of hazardous drugs in the outpatient setting. This was a project that was mentored by Dr. Yang when I was a Pharm.D. candidate. That experience vitalized my enthusiasm for tackling public health issues through research and dissemination.”

What do you wish you knew at the time of your graduation that you know now? What advice can you give to the students and/or recent graduates of today? “Be forthcoming with your intentions and goals, but also have space to allow for change and modifications. Recognize that big life decisions need to be deliberated over time and that your stance may waver from day to day. Allow yourself and others to have the opportunity to change and grow.”

How did Chapman prepare you for your career? For life? How did your experience prepare you for the real world? “I learned how to direct myself and not rely on instructions to get things done. A lot of my learning came from the projects I was involved in, which ranged from very guided experiences to entirely independent work. Direct communication and strategic actions are necessary to keep things moving forward effectively.”

Were there any major societal issues in our country/world that you recognized or faced as a young college student? What was your perspective or how did you get involved? Have your opinions on these issues changed or stayed the same? “We have a bigger potential to impact our communities than most people realize. There are so many ways to do this — speaking to decision and policy makers, working with community/ grassroot organizations, relaying information and messages. I think these roles are necessary to pick up if we want to maintain or grow a healthy community.”

JUNE 2022


“If we can be that center where people come to help one another, I think that's very much in keeping with the mission of the Nixon Foundation.” Jim Byron '15


As CEO of the Nixon Foundation, Jim Byron ’15 hopes to increase historical understanding and contribute to civics education. The pandemic presented challenges to every institution, and the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum was no exception. “Every single one of our revenue streams disappeared, practically overnight,” says Jim Byron ’15, the newly elected president and CEO of the Nixon Foundation, the nonprofit that operates the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif. “We couldn’t do events. We couldn’t welcome museum guests.” But what they could do was shift gears. During the 14 months that the Nixon Library remained closed to visitors, the foundation supported the local community’s pandemic response. It opened its beautiful replica of the White House East Room for blood drives and food drives. It acquired 1 million disposable face masks and donated the bulk of them to local schools, businesses and houses of worship.



“We really embraced our role as a partner to so many in the community in a different way,” says Byron. “If we can be that center where people come to help one another, I think that’s very much in keeping with the mission of the Nixon Foundation.”

A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY Byron, who graduated from Chapman University with a BA in business administration and a minor in history, is intimately familiar with the foundation’s mission. He started working there as a teenager more than 15 years ago. “I wrote a ‘to-whom-it-may-concern’ letter to the Nixon Library, and much to my surprise I received a response,” says Byron, who was offered an internship working for a few hours a week in the


The foundation and Chapman are creating opportunities for students to do hands-on research at the library.

marketing department. “I was learning the ins and outs of marketing and management and how to work with people at a very young age.” Byron continued to work part-time for the foundation throughout high school and college, with increasing areas of responsibility, ultimately leading to a full-time position. In 2016, he led the reopening of the Library after its $15 million renovation, and from 2014 to 2017, he worked as the coordinator of the foundation’s $25 million capital campaign. Most recently, he served as executive vice president, under then-Nixon Foundation president and Chapman law professor Hugh Hewitt.

BECOMING A CENTER FOR PRESIDENTIAL STUDIES While President Nixon’s political legacy is complicated, Byron is enthusiastic about the opportunity to deepen the understanding of the former president’s administration. “There are 46 million pages of material from President Nixon’s life here at the Nixon Library,” he says. “There’s 2 million feet of film. There are 300,000 photographs. There are 3,600 hours of White House tapes. Only a fraction of this material has been fully gleaned by historians, scholars and students.” That’s where Byron hopes the foundation’s strong ties to Chapman will come into play. The two institutions have already worked together to create opportunities for students to come in and do hands-on research at the library. The new Presidential Studies program in Wilkinson College of Art, Humanities, and Social Sciences, which was launched last year with two fully endowed chairs, is another milestone in the growing, mutually beneficial partnership between the university and the library. One of the chairs was funded by James Cavanaugh, the current chairman of the Nixon Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

Elaine Chao, who served two presidents, first as secretary of labor and then as secretary of transportation, meets with Jim Byron ’15 in the Nixon Library’s Argyros Oval Office replica.

“Not every undergraduate student has an opportunity to go to a presidential library near their campus and dig through the papers,” says Byron. “It’s a really unique opportunity and I think will help to put Chapman on the map as a center for the study of the presidency.”

After starting at the Nixon Foundation as a student intern, Byron now leads the organization.

JUNE 2022




What does it mean to get national recognition for your work when you’re not even 30 years old?


“More than words can describe, truly,” says Alexa Dectis (JD ’19), one of five Chapman University alumni who have been honored in the Forbes 30 Under 30 spotlight for 2022. The annual listing, which in years past has featured notables such as Lena Dunham, Daniel Ek and Miley Cyrus, shines a spotlight on “the young innovators, trailblazers and disruptors remaking our world.”

As associate counsel for Skydance Media, Dectis oversees child labor law and compliance across the company’s live action and animated productions. She credits her professors at Chapman’s Fowler School of Law, particularly Judd Funk and Kathy Heller, for cultivating her interest.

We spoke to each of them about their careers, their time at Chapman and what they hope to accomplish next.


Co-founder & Creative Director, MGX Creative Karam Gill ’16 majored in business administration at Chapman, but now he’s a groundbreaking documentary filmmaker who has also been named one of Variety magazine’s Top 10 Documentary Filmmakers to Watch. He was just 22 when his film “G Funk” premiered at the South By Southwest festival, and his docuseries “Supervillain” about notorious rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine and the toxicity of digital culture is streaming now on Showtime. Along with documentaries, MGX Creative, the production company and creative agency Gill founded with fellow Chapman alumnus Daniel Malikyar ’17, creates stylized, next-generation content for companies such as Apple, Fujifilm, Adidas, YouTube Originals, Amazon and Mercedes Benz. It’s not Gill and Malikyar’s first venture together — they founded 23FIFTN while still undergraduates at Chapman. “At Chapman, you meet so many talented individuals in different fields,” says Gill. “It allows you to build across different mediums. That’s what Chapman is really great for, especially as a small school. You cross paths with so many people and that can be something that really propels your life going forward.” The creative team at MGX is filled with Chapman alumni, including Andrew Primavera ’17, Josh Whitaker ’19, Beatrice Ho ’18 and Zach Gelman ’18. 60


Associate Counsel, Skydance Media

“Professor Heller’s entertainment industry contracts course gave me knowledge that I will use for the rest of my career,” she says. “It taught me skills that a textbook can’t teach you, like redlining.” Recent projects for Dectis include overseeing international child labor law compliance for Skydance Media’s upcoming feature “The Greatest Beer Run Ever” and providing guidance for working with child voice actors for the Apple TV+ animated film “Luck.” She hopes to continue making a difference in child labor law compliance. “It’s so important to protect kids in the entertainment industry,” she says. “And I feel so fortunate that I get to do it.”


Strategic Partner Manager, Twitch “I think I’m the most passionate about my job when I get to help creators build up their businesses from scratch and make a living off their art,” says Ana Sena (MBA ’15), who manages content creators on the streaming service Twitch. “I get really excited working with creators from diverse backgrounds, helping them become successful entrepreneurs and artists. I’m so happy that I get a chance to contribute to their success.” While earning her MBA at Chapman, Sena was fortunate to be able to work as an assistant to Dodge College of Film and Media Arts Professor Harry Ufland. “He helped me understand where entertainment executives traditionally start in their careers. I learned that I had to start at a talent agency in order to understand the business from all angles. If I hadn’t met Harry while I was at Chapman and gotten involved, I wouldn’t have learned the information that I

needed to make the most out of my degree and education.” As for what comes next, Sena says, “I would love to grow within the company and become a really valuable executive in the industry.”


Senior Colorist, Company 3 Bryan Smaller ’14 has won two Emmy awards for behind-the-scenes work most viewers don’t even notice. With a film and video career that started when he was just 14, Smaller has colored 35 feature films, numerous TV shows and commercials. He has collaborated with pop stars like Kanye West, The Weeknd and Ariana Grande. Along with his Emmys, he’s been nominated for multiple Video Music Awards and Hollywood Professional Association awards.

JACOB BRAUNSTEIN ’16 Cofounder, LiveControl

Jacob Braunstein ’16 was studying Creative Producing at Dodge College when his side hustle of venue production took off. During his time at Chapman, his company produced more than 500 live events across the Los Angeles area. Fast forward to 2022: Braunstein’s company, LiveControl, has earned nods on both the Consumer Technology and Big Money lists from Forbes. The company, which sells robotic cameras with remote camera operators and cloud-based production software, has raised more than $30 million in venture funds, employs 75 in their Santa Monica office, and produces hundreds of live events each week. “Chapman gave me exposure to the film world with a specific business lens,” says Braunstein. “This gave me the context and knowledge to reinvent how live video is produced today. Many Chapman alumni have helped along this journey, and we employ five of them today.”





JUNE 2022





Emma Salahuddin ’71 celebrated

Carly Heath ’05 published a book

both her 50th wedding anniversary and her 50th Chapman class reunion. Married by Dr. William Carpenter at Irvine Park filled with Chapman family and friends, she was happy to remember that day with her husband, Ronald. She also was inducted into the Chapman University 50 Year Club during 2021 Homecoming. 1

called “ The Reckless Kind,” from Soho Teen, in November 2021. Heath’s young adult novel tells the story of three misfits who defy the expectations of their rural village by living on their own and challenging the town's patriarch in the region's annual horse race. More information is at 3

Joe Zuckerman '72 retired to

Vanessa King ’05 released a new

Henderson, Nev., after practicing law in Southern California for 44 years with his fiance, Bobbie Charles.

book “A Certain Appeal” on Nov. 2, 2021. Published by Putnam Books, this story is a retelling of “Pride and Prejudice” set in the tantalizing world of New York burlesque. 4

1980s Wayne Bethanis ’88 is a best-

selling New Age pianist whose new album, “Measures of Light,” is called “monumental and captivating” by New Age Music Guide. Clay Landon ’89 caught up with Ted Canedy for dinner in Newport Beach while on vacation. “Nice to be back in Southern California! Chapman grads … if you find yourself in Atlanta let me know!” he says. 2

1990s Morgan Ferris (MBA ’97) was

promoted to head of income property banking at Genesis Bank. There, he is helping to launch the largest capitalized newly chartered bank not acquired through purchase in Orange County history.


Kelly Huddleston ’07 created and

owns three cooking schools in Texas named The Cookery Dallas, The Cookery Fort Worth and The Cookery Houston. They offer dinner-party style cooking classes. Huddleston earned a degree in theatre at Chapman and is also grateful to have learned business management skills. She has been featured on Good Morning Texas and NBC Texas Today as well as in USA Today and the Dallas Morning News. Anil Bhartia ’08 recently partnered with two other Chapman Law alumni, Andrew Phan ’14 and Stephan Brown ’14 to form a new personal accident law firm called Accident Pros LLP.



Sarah Nicole Smetana ’09

published a book called “Battle of the Bands,” in September 2021. In the story, 15 young adult authors and one rock star band together for an epic take on a memorable high school rite of passage. Smetana is one of 16 authors featured in this interconnected anthology. The book was selected as one of Amazon's Best Books of the Month in YA for September. 5 Chris Redrich ’09 launched a new

startup called Product Manager Jobs that focuses on helping software product managers advance their careers. 6








James Wimberley ’16 (MS ’19), member of Wimberley Bluegrass Band, released an album, “Where the West Begins,” with his four siblings, Danielle Wimberley ’16, James Wimberley '16 (MS ’19), Mark Wimberley

Christina Trocco ’11 is head of API

’16, and Michael Wimberley ’16

Commercialization for Zonos and was featured in Utah Business magazine’s 40 Under 40 feature. 7

(JD ’20). Keeping it in the Chapman

Meera Kharbanda ’13 started a private school called Wonder Academy in San Clemente with two other Chapman Alumni, Marissa Goldenstein and Kendra Azure. Kharbanda and Goldenstein are co-heads of school, while Azure is director of education and lead teacher. 8


Emily Greer ’14 has published a

book called “Repave: Art for Healing” to create a space of artistic discourse around mental health and wellness. The anthology was published in April 2021. 8

Allie Friedman ’14 is executive producer at Denver 7 News, where in 2021 she won an Emmy Award as Best Live News Producer.


family, alumni Adam Borecki '12 and Scout Engbring '21 recorded, mixed and mastered the album. 11 Talia Fishbine ’18 earned a new

position at the Independent School Washington as assistant director of communications. Niki Lorentzen ’18 and Michael Rosner-Hyman ‘18 were married

Aug. 29, 2021, in Topanga, Calif. The two met at Chapman in 2014. Both earned degrees from Dodge College and currently work in the entertainment industry, Niki as a director/producer for live broadcast and Michael as a cinematographer and gaffer. Dozens of Chapman alumni attended the wedding. 12 Lovely Kaur ’18 is student support

coordinator at Chapman University. Erika Talbott ’14 has earned a

Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Palo Alto University and is working as a psychology resident at the Boise VA Medical Center in Idaho. She is grateful for the mentorship she received from her Chapman professors, including Steven Schandler, professor emeritus of psychology in Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences. Talbott also celebrated her wedding on Oct. 30, 2021, to Nathan Talbott. 9 11

Brandon Willms (JD ’15) has been named Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado.


2020s Monique Raynaud-Lopez ’21 is

an insurance agent for New York Life in Huntington Beach, helping young entrepreneurs create and preserve their wealth. 13 Elmira Ziaeli ’21 has has been

named a technical lab specialist at Quest Diagnostics in San Clemente.

Kimberly Powers ’15 and Nick Lopez ’14 wed Jan. 8, 2022, in Malibu

and honeymooned in Hawaii. Both are graduates of Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. 10


Marina Petrich ’16 earned a promotion and is an occupational therapist for the Santee School District in California.


JUNE 2022



FRIENDS WE WILL MISS SHARON CAPLE ’61 passed away in November 2021. A chemistry major at Chapman, Caple enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a high school science teacher. Along with her husband, she ran one of the largest Native American science programs in the nation before retiring in 2000, after which she enjoyed many travel adventures. Among her favorite campus memories was being selected a Chapman Lady during her senior year.



THE REV. BERNARD (BERNIE) DAVIS ’47 passed away Jan. 26, 2022, with family by his side. Davis and his wife, Julia Davis ’47, both served as missionaries in the Democratic Republic of the Congo before returning to California to attend Chapman University. Bernie served as the adjunct minister at First Christian Church in Orange as well as Camile Christian Church and Church of the Foothills, both in Santa Ana. He and Julia, who passed away in 2019, were selected Church Leaders of the Year at Chapman Founders Day 2006. FAY TURNER HOLCOMB ’41 passed away in July 2021 at her home in San Luis Obispo. She was 102. After graduating from Chapman with a degree in elementary education, she taught students in kindergarten through eighth grade in a one-room schoolhouse, serving various mining companies and their communities in Latin America. Later, Holcomb served as a substitute teacher in the Santa Ynez Valley of California. She is remembered as a loving mother and grandmother. Holcomb was preceded in death by her husband of 46 years, Bud Holcomb. She is survived by three children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.


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On Chapman University’s 4th Annual Giving Day, an outpouring of support from the Chapman community raised over $1 million for student scholarships and financial aid, campus programs and activities, and to support the mental and physical wellbeing of all our students. Thanks to the generosity of more than 645 participants, the university can ensure that every student gets the financial support they need to pursue their education, their careers and their dreams.

Visit to learn more. JUNE 2022





CHALLENGING JOURNEY LEADS TO STUDENT ACADEMY AWARD “Gigantic victory” by Phumi Morare (MFA ’20) is a breakthrough moment for the South African filmmaker and for Dodge College. To get her narrative short film made, Phumi Morare (MFA ’20) overcame inordinate challenges, including location shooting in South Africa as the COVID-19 pandemic encroached. So it’s doubly satisfying that her project, “Lakutshon’ Ilanga (When the Sun Sets),” not only won a Student Academy Award but is also helping to break down barriers for other filmmakers. “This is a gigantic victory for Phumi and for our film school – the first time we’ve won the Student Academy Award for a narrative short,” said Stephen Galloway, dean of Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. “‘Lakutshon’ Ilanga’ is a beautiful cinematic odyssey through a horrific time in Phumi’s home country,” Galloway added. “I’m so proud of her, our faculty and the Academy for recognizing this story – especially in a year when diversity is being widely embraced and barriers are being demolished by women and people of color.”

Phumi Morare (MFA '20) won the Student Academy Award for her narrative film "Lakutshon' Ilanga (When the Sun Sets)." Set in South Africa during the Apartheid era, "Lakutshon' Ilanga" tells the story of a young Black nurse working to keep her family and her dreams from crumbling as violence surrounds them.

Winning the Gold Medal for narrative short felt a bit surreal, says Morare, a native of South Africa who earned her MFA in film directing at Dodge.

The film also won an NAACP Image Award and was selected to screen at the prestigious Telluride Film Festival in addition to earning a student BAFTA award nomination.

“Not only did we face typical production issues, but we also had to do an international shoot with the pandemic looming,” she says. “In addition, we did post-production over Zoom across a nine-hour time difference because I was stuck in South Africa when the country shut the airport. I’m grateful to my team, who had the tenacity to push forward and complete the film.”

"Lakutshon' Ilanga" is available for streaming on HBO Max.

This is a gigantic victory for Phumi and for our film school. – STEPHEN GALLOWAY, DEAN OF CHAPMAN'S DODGE COLLEGE OF FILM AND MEDIA ARTS




HER WORK HELPS GIVE ‘TED LASSO’ ITS PUNCH Since graduating from Dodge College’s Film Production program in 2007, Melissa McCoy ’07 has worked on TV shows like “CSI,” “Grace and Frankie” and “Life Sentence.” Now she’s putting her best foot forward as an editor on the Apple TV+ series “Ted Lasso.” In addition to assembling the final images viewers see on screen, McCoy makes sure the jokes are well-paced and punchy. The huge success of the show indicates that her editing is achieving the right balance of comedy and drama. “I’ve worked on some big action shows, but ‘Ted Lasso’ has been the hardest,” McCoy says. “We have big action pieces with the football (soccer) matches and some heavy dramatic scenes. Touching that line between comedy, drama and sports action takes a delicate hand, especially when the show means so much to so many people. I’m constantly focused on what’s best for the story and staying true to each character to help make those transitions in tone as seamless as possible.” The hard work has yielded some peak experiences. “My favorite memory would have to be the Season 2 [rooftop] premiere party,” McCoy said. “We screened the first two episodes with a live audience – something I rarely get to experience working on a TV show. It was a magical night that made me realize this show has gotten pretty big. Then all the awards show hoopla has been another cherry on top.”

FILM SHORTS • Danielle Beckmann ’08 plays the title character and is a producer of the short film “Liza Anonymous,” written by Leah McKendrick ’08. The film tells the story of a lonely millennial addicted to support groups who tries desperately to fit in. “Liza Anonymous” was an official selection to the Newport Beach, Austin and Tribeca film festivals. • The first feature film from director Andy Vallentine ’12 is being executive produced by Zach Braff and stars Nico Tortorella, Juan Pablo Di Pace and Carl Clemons-Hopkins. “The Mattachine Family” is currently in production.

Melissa McCoy '07 enjoys the Season 2 premiere of "Ted Lasso" with fellow editor AJ Catoline, left, and series star Jason Sudeikis.

I'm constantly focused on what's best for the story and staying true to each character to help make those transitions in tone as seamless as possible. – MELISSA MCCOY '07, EDITOR ON "TED LASSO"

JUNE 2022


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PAWS UP FOR PETE! Over 5,500 students, alumni, faculty and staff cast their vote to choose a new illustrated design for Chapman University’s beloved Pete the Panther mascot. The new design is now a part of Chapman’s official brand, a fun complement to the classic Chapman Athletics logo. Pete’s new look will start appearing soon!


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