For their seed preservation project, Shenoi and Wong-VanHaren also partnered with the Outback Club and Professor Monica Mahoney, an adjunct faculty member who took over the Restoring Nature class to ensure the Outback’s continued care. Shenoi wanted his GIS work to continue supporting this effort.
“As data and drone photography continue to be collected, my database will be used by the Restoring Nature class and Outback Club to analyze trends of plant diversity and plant health and inform long-term restoration plans,” said Shenoi.
For Wong-VanHaren, their work in the Outback had strong ties to Pitzer’s core values, especially interdisciplinary learning.
“We were learning a range of subjects, from the importance of certain plants to Tongva people to the scientific names for the different parts of seeds,” said Wong-VanHaren.
Shenoi and Wong-VanHaren appreciated the opportunity to chart their academic course with Phillips’ support.
“Independent studies can personalize your studies if you find a professor who can support you in a topic that they know well,” said Wong-VanHaren.
“It’s also more intimate,” said Shenoi. “We got to work one-on-one with our adviser and partners.”
In many ways, this independent study continued the project Shenoi launched in summer 2022 as a Hive fellow when he utilized human-centered design to help Claremont students connect to their environment and local plants. “In our time of climate change and natural habitat loss, preserving these spaces is vital to protecting our keystone species, improving the health of our communities, and connecting to our local ecosystems,” he said.