Through one extraordinary alliance, students in an interdisciplinary research project traveled thousands of miles and crisscrossed subjects in the STEM fields to study community health in California and Peru.
“It was an invaluable experience and really brought the classes alive,” says Elizabeth Shokoya ‘19. “Learning about other cultures makes you appreciate what you have and helps you become more compassionate.”
The partnership between the Mount’s biological and social science departments began two semesters ago. Students took a “Cancer and Society” course that covered the molecular, environmental and nutritional causes of cancer. Then they took a “Politics of Peru” course examining disparities in policy and healthcare access in California and Peru.
Summer 2017 brought a 10-day trek to Peru, where students visited hospitals and schools, interviewing women about health factors and their use of traditional remedies. Back home, the team is still compiling and interpreting data, studying correlations between the cervical cancer rate in women in Peru’s indigenous population and in women living in poorer communities of Los Angeles.
Shokoya, a biochemistry major and international relations minor, believes that studying the sciences at a leading liberal arts university represents the best of both worlds.
“Interdisciplinary work broadens your perspective on life and your career,” Shokoya says.