Student Research Profile: Sean Richards

Here at PUC, biology students have countless opportunities to get involved with research, oftentimes working alongside professors on projects. Programs are specially curated to not only prepare students academically but also to equip them with real-world experience for success in future endeavors.

Here’s one student’s experience and how they feel PUC helped prepare them.

Who are you?

I am Sean Richards, and I am a senior biology major. I plan to go on to graduate school in marine biology to specialize in invertebrate conservation.

What did you do?

I participated in a research trip with Dr. Hayes to study the commensal associations between different species of urchins, invertebrates, and fish. During this time, I was responsible for taking photos as well as counting urchin individuals, with and without associating organisms.

When and where did you do this work?

This research opportunity took place in January 2019 off the coasts of Cabo San Lucas, in the Gulf of California.

What did you learn?

I learned an immense amount on this trip. Though swimming in a wetsuit for multiple hours in a day can be tiring, it is well worth the effort. I saw several species of pufferfish, pipefish, and eels I had only read about or seen in captivity up until that point. It was also interesting to peek into each crevice to find different species hiding within the urchin’s spines for protection. From this, I learned much about underwater photography, the collection of density measurements, as well as the resources available for fish/invertebrate identification.

How did your experience at PUC help prepare you for this experience?

The classes immediately come to mind for me are those of General Biology, Ecology, and Marine Biology. From these classes, I learned an enormous amount about the writing of scientific papers, animal anatomy, as well as the mindset goes into doing this kind of research. Also, students at PUC are lucky enough to have a department that routinely offers research opportunities in a variety of areas.

Academic Spotlight: Exercise Science

Exercise science isn’t just about lifting weights. It’s also about helping people overcome their fears, cope with and prevent injuries, and live longer, happier lives.

The department of exercise science at PUC features programs designed to prepare students for careers in physical education and the exercise sciences, which are often combined with pre-professional programs. The department gives students the opportunity for career development in athletics, sports management, instruction, and a variety of careers in health and wellness.  

Our facilities include the fitness center, weight room, gymnasium, pool, tennis courts, and athletic fields. In recent years, students have supported our facilities and programs by utilizing student senate funds. They provided a substantial amount toward the creation of our $100,000+ fitness center. They also purchased a state-of-the-art sound system for the gymnasium, weight room equipment, and additional equipment for a climbing wall.

Programs offered:

  • B.S. in Physical Education, Teacher Education Emphasis
  • B.S. in Exercise Science
  • Minor in Physical Education

A Student’s Perspective

“Something I appreciate about the department is they do a great job of informing you about the different areas in which this major is useful. They require classes that cross over with the subjects I will also learn about in graduate school, including anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and exercise physiology, among others. With this degree, I plan to apply to the physical therapy program at Loma Linda University. My future goal is to specialize in pediatrics and work with kids with disabilities. I think PUC’s department of exercise science is preparing me for this career by introducing me to many of the topics I will be learning in graduate school and teaches us about sports and athletic injuries I may encounter as I advance in my career.” — Amy Robles, sophomore, exercise science & honors student

Fast Facts: Exercise Science

  • Exercise science students are offered a variety of employment opportunities within the department at PUC to enhance their resumes and experience, including lifeguarding, weight room and fitness center attendants, gym supervisors, officiating and set up crews for intramurals, and athletics office assistants.
  • In 2013, the department’s intramurals program was ranked #1 in the nation by It is one of the largest intramural programs offered by a school of our size on the West Coast.
  • Interesting and fun classes offered by the department include care & prevention of athletic injuries, pickleball, skiing & snowboarding, kinesiology, hydro aerobics, theory & practice of officiating, fencing, research methods in sports, canoeing, ethics in sports and exercise, and more.
  • According to, the average salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science is approximately $53,000, slightly more than the median household income in the U.S., which is about $51,939 across all jobs.
  • Exercise science is a growing field! About a 10 percent growth is expected in positions between now and 2026. As there has been an increased emphasis on health and wellness in recent years, it has expanded job opportunities in the field.

What You Can Do With an Exercise Science Major

Wondering what you can do with a degree in exercise science? Here are just a few places it can take you!

  • Research
  • Teaching
  • Physical therapy
  • Public health
  • Coaching
  • Fitness instructor
  • Sports medicine
  • Chiropractic medicine
  • Athletic trainer
  • Corporate wellness
  • Sporting goods retail
  • Recreational program director

Our team of admissions counselors can answer any questions you have about exercise science or any of PUC’s other programs. Call (800) 862-7080, option 2 or email to get connected with a counselor now and start learning about all the options available to you!

Student Research Profile: Caroline Hogan

Here at PUC, biology students have countless opportunities to get involved with research, oftentimes working alongside professors on projects. Programs are specially curated to not only prepare students academically but also to equip them with real-world experience for success in future endeavors.

Here’s one student’s experience and how they feel PUC helped prepare them.

Who are you?

I am Caroline Hogan, and I am a junior environmental studies major. I plan to go into the Navy or to get my master’s degree in forestry and ecology.

What did you do?

I did an internship involving the study on the impact the October 2017 fires had on the plant and tree growth on my burned property. The mission was to count and record the impact the Nuns Fire had on the property and to see if any of the trees like oak and Douglas-fir were able to recover from being burned as well as the degree of life that the survivors had.

When and where did you do this work?

My research internship was for eight months on my property in Sonoma Valley in Sonoma County.

What did you learn?

There were so many things I learned when doing this research project I never knew were not in the norm for an internship. Much of the work was in the field and involved a lot of hiking and charting down every single individual tree and shrub inhabited the heavily wooded five-acre property. I learned how to chart and map the trees and plants properly, how to identify them in their burnt state. I also learned how to write up a report on the trees for the insurance company and client. As well as how to deal with a client professionally and how to work with multiple different people, agencies, insurance agents, and lawyers.

How did your experience at PUC help prepare you for this experience?

I am an environmental studies major, so the class Natural History of California helped prepare me to identify the plants and trees that were difficult to identify due to their burnt state. Intro to GIS as well helped me immensely because I learned how to properly use a GPS to map out the entire property and every individual tree. Professor Wyrick also helped me with her knowledge of the native plants of California and how to identify them and gave me tips on how to determine what they were when they were unrecognizable.

Visit PUC This Spring!

Choosing what college to attend is an important decision and one you shouldn’t make without doing a lot of research. What better way to research the colleges you’re considering than by visiting them? We would be thrilled to have you and your family come visit PUC! Take a campus tour given by one of our student ambassadors, sit in on a class, chat with a professor, eat in our cafeteria, walk around the charming nearby towns of St. Helena or Calistoga, AND if you plan in advance, join us for any of the following upcoming and exciting events during spring quarter.

We hope to see you on campus soon!

Special Colloquies

Each week, students, faculty, and staff gather for Colloquy to worship together and create a sense of community and unity. It might be the only time you see some of your pre-med and pre-dent friends! There are two Colloquies in the spring that may be of particular interest to you when planning your visit:

  • April 4, 2019 — Educator of the Year Colloquy, 10 a.m.; See who PUC students voted as the best teacher of the year and learn more about someone who could be one of your future professors!
  • April 8-13, 2019 — Student Week of Prayer, various times; Hear from current students about their spiritual walk and experiences.

For more information about Colloquy, check out the college’s calendar at

Rasmussen Art Gallery Openings

If you’re interested in seeing some incredible works of art, you won’t want to miss the Rasmussen Art Gallery. Several times a quarter, a new exhibit opens at the college’s on-campus art gallery, which often features students, faculty, and other local artists. The opening reception is a chance to meet the artists, mingle with other guests, and enjoy some tasty snacks while appreciating the talent on display. If you can’t make it to one of the opening receptions, check with your tour guide to be sure to stop by the gallery and spend some time browsing during regular open hours.

  • April 18, 2019 — Opening Reception: Student Art Exhibition, 7 p.m.
  • May 18, 2019 — Opening Reception: Senior Art Major Thesis Projects, 7 p.m.

For more information, visit the Rasmussen Art Gallery Facebook page.

Paulin Hall Music Concerts

PUC’s department of music has many concerts throughout the year at the Paulin Hall Auditorium; all of which are free to the public. The college has several ensembles that frequently perform, and there are usually multiple student recitals each quarter. During spring quarter, there are several concerts we hope you can join us for!

  • May 12, 2019 — Orchestra Concert, 4 p.m.
  • May 19, 2019 — Symphonic Wind Ensemble Concert, 4 p.m.
  • June 1, 2019 — Choral Concert, 4 p.m.
  • June 5, 2019 — General Student Recital, 6 p.m.
  • June 6, 2019 — String Ensemble Concert, 7 p.m.

Contact the department of music for more information; call (707) 965-6201 or email

Other Exciting Upcoming Events

There are also several other events happening this coming spring quarter we think might be of interest to you!

  • April 19-21, 2019 — Homecoming Weekend; If one or both of your parents attended PUC, why not tag along with them for Homecoming and hear stories about the college back in the day!
  • April 21, 2019 — Annual Angwin to Angwish Trail Run; This classic trail run is for athletes of all ages and offers a half-marathon, 10k races, and a 4k Fun Run.
  • June 14-16, 2019 — Graduation Weekend; Join us as we celebrate our graduating seniors!
  • Every Friday night — We invite you to attend our weekly vespers service at 8 p.m. where we worship together as a campus family to welcome the Sabbath.
  • Every Sabbath morning — At 12 noon, we also invite you to our student-led church service, the Twelve, which features student and faculty speakers each week.

Visit for more information about these events.

For more information about visiting PUC, check out

We can spend hours explaining what we think makes life at PUC so unique but there’s no better way than by experiencing it firsthand, so schedule your visit today! Call (800) 862-7080, option 2 or email to get connected with our visit coordinator and start setting up your schedule now.

All About PUC Life Groups

I’m a fairly shy person so to be placed into a Life Group without knowing anyone was a bit of a nightmare for me—initially. However, I would soon come to meet two ladies who would become some of my favorite people at PUC; and they continue to be many years later. You might be asking yourself, “What actually is a Life Group?” and that’s a great question. I chatted with Emma Tyner and Logan Earles who are two Life Group leaders, and they answered a few Life-Group-related questions to help explain what they are, and why you should care.

What is a Life Group?

Life Groups are a way for incoming freshmen to meet other students in their class and to get to know someone who knows about PUC. These groups serve as a way for new students to start their college experience off on a good note by introducing them to their fellow classmates and help get them involved in school activities from the start of their first quarter here.

Do I pick a Life Group or am I assigned to one?

You and your roommate are assigned to a group together. Normally you don’t know anyone else in your group; this is to help you meet new people outside your regular group of friends.

What are some of the things Life Groups do?

Activities vary; there are planned events all Life Groups will participate in, but for the most part, the things you do with your life group are discussed and decided by the group. Activities can include watching a movie, going out to eat, going for a hike, or playing board games together. If you have an activity you want to do, all you have to do is bring it up to your Life Group leader, and hopefully, everyone can work out a time to do it!

Who can be a Life Group leader?

Life Group leaders are students from PUC who have expressed the desire to be apart of the new student experience. Usually, these students have a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences at PUC, which can be a huge asset to students new to the college. Life Group leaders want to help new students feel comfortable and have a safe place to ask questions as they start their college experience at PUC.

How long will I be in my Life Group?

Life Groups are usually very active during the first quarter of the year and then stay active as long as the group wants. There is no limit of time you and your Life Group can meet!

We hope this helps you get excited to start your college years at PUC and meet your very own Life Group!

Student Research Profile: Antonio Robles

Here at PUC, biology students have countless opportunities to get involved with research, oftentimes working alongside professors on projects. Programs are specially curated to not only prepare students academically but also to equip them with real-world experience for success in future endeavors.

Here’s one student’s experience and how they feel PUC helped prepare them.

Who are you?

I am Antonio Robles, and I am a junior biology major. I am currently a pre-medicine student looking at research opportunities in the medical field or in marine biology.

What did you do?

I participated in research with Dr. Hayes by studying the symbiotic associations of urchins in the Sea of Cortez. Most were done by natural observations by counting holes with the urchins and writing down every species seen in the hole. In the summer, I also participated in neuroscience research with Dr. Sung. I was in charge of finding a way to stain the C. elegans tissue to link possible neurological damage due to overconsumption of food to dementia.

When and where did you do this work?

In the summer of 2018, I spent 11 weeks working with the C. elegans alongside Dr. Sung. This was all spent in the microbiology lab at PUC. In the first week of January 2019, I spent working with Dr. Hayes gather data for the associations with urchins in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

What did you learn?

From both experiences, I learned about the helpful scientific community and how to use certain equipment. Specifically, with Dr. Sung, I was able to communicate with successful research scientists in Switzerland through the internet to come up with an apparatus that would allow the staining and slicing of C. elegans. This cooperation was a highlight as it allowed me to move forward in my research while seeing how there is always collaboration in science. In addition, I learned how to use cryostats, different types of microscopes, micropipettes, and other tools. With Dr. Hayes, I learned the hard work it takes to do fieldwork and how to record data in computers. Each night Dr. Hayes would spend hours adding all the observations in Excel and being able to observe was a great experience.

How did your experience at PUC help prepare you for this experience?

Taking the Biological Foundations sequence helped me be familiar with lab tools such as the microscope and micropipette. In addition, it gave me the ground foundations for knowing about the brain and the importance of C. elegans for science. Intro to Research Methods II was very helpful in the way we approach research. This allowed me to know how to contact different researchers around the world to collaborate and it also gave me the opportunity to receive a grant for the research in Mexico on urchins. Past experiences with Dr. Hayes doing research in Clear Lake and Roatán, Honduras, also allowed me to be ready.

Transfer Student Spotlight: Katie Williams

Williams at the net (number 13).

By Sarah Tanner

Volleyball player and English major Katie Williams transferred to PUC at the beginning of her junior year. After attending a junior college in Santa Rosa for two years, the student-athlete made the switch to PUC, and after two quarters on campus, she comfortably claims the title of Pioneer. After school shopping for a number of months, Williams’ decision to attend PUC came down to a handful of qualities she simply could not find anywhere else.

“One thing that immediately drew me to the campus is how in-touch it is with nature. My old college had a lot of oak trees, and I knew I wanted to attend somewhere that shared a similar love for nature. Coming up here, something felt familiar, and I think having such a small campus contributed to that feeling of closeness and comfort,” she explains.

Williams also wanted to make sure whatever college she chose included a strong program in her major.

“The department of English at PUC was a huge draw,” she says, “especially since small class sizes meant I would be able to interact more with professors and definitely be able to finish my major on time.”

As a result of her participation in volleyball, Williams began living on campus in August before fall quarter classes commenced. During that time, she gained a sense of the general campus culture and was surprised at how diverse such a small population could be.

When asked what surprised her most about her initial introduction to PUC, Williams notes, “I was shocked at how many people I met from different backgrounds in that first month. There were not very many students on campus when I arrived for volleyball, but the diversity was unlike anything I had experienced in college so far. It was a nice surprise.”

Over the past two quarters, Williams has adjusted to student life, though participating as a student-athlete during the fall often left her with little time to socialize. Nevertheless, she explained the general friendliness of the campus has made the process quite easy, and building connections with others at PUC has been an exciting process.   

Williams continues, “I am so grateful for the people I have met so far. I know I am making lifelong friends, and being able to push myself out of my comfort zone to attend a school with a strong spiritual life has been really good for me. Being away from home can be a little uncomfortable at times, and knowing my professors, advisors, dean, and the desk-workers are all available to talk or just listen is something I really value about being here.”

When asked if there were any pieces of advice she would like to share with others who are considering PUC as their transfer destination, Williams paused a moment before answering.

“The best advice I can give is to be open to changes in your life. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or draw attention to things that matter to you when you first visit. Tour guides are there to help you gain a sense of life on campus; use them as a valuable resource! When you’re looking at the dorms, ask to see what the rooms look like to get a feel for what the living experience will be like. Also, make sure to walk across campus to see if it is something you’ll want to do every day.”

“Do your best to gain a sense of campus life,” Williams smiled, “ It is so important to be comfortable at your college, and that is something I have definitely found at PUC. I can’t imagine going anywhere else.”

Anyone interested in transferring to PUC, hearing about the academic and athletic opportunities on campus, or simply learning more about the transfer process can reach out to Kharolynn Pascual Smith, PUC’s transfer student counselor, via email at or call (800) 862-7080, option 2 to talk with her now. To schedule a campus visit, go to, call the number above, or email PUC’s visit coordinator at