My Year Studying Abroad in Spain

By Stefaan Dick

My name is Stefaan and I spent last year studying abroad in Spain, through the Adventist Colleges Abroad program at the Escuela Superior de Español de Sagunto (ESDES). As a photography major with a love for sharing the world around me, I’ve been asked to share some of my adventures here on PUC’s Admissions blog, for anyone interested in the ACA program. Here are 11 of the most representative shots from my year in Europe. To see more of my favorite photos, visit

Mountain biking from the Norwegian highlands down to the end of a fjord.

Cliff jumping on the school camp meeting weekend in Central Spain.

Abandoned wreckage on a black sand beach in Iceland.

Sunset over the small coastal town of Rovinj, Croatia.

Riding camels on the school trip to Morocco.

Reppin’ PUC above the most powerful waterfall in Europe in Northern Iceland.

Wandering through the April tulip fields near Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Camping in the hills above the ACA campus in Sagunto, Spain.

One of the top 10 lunch spots in the UK in the dunes near Bamburgh Castle in England.

Group photo of ESDES (the ACA program in Spain) on top of the Miguelete in Valencia, Spain.

Students on a school trip and locals passing by in the square underneath the great aqueduct in Segovia, Spain.

A Conversation with Dr. Kent Davis, PUC’s 2017 Educator of the Year

On April 27, 2017,  the PUC Church sanctuary was packed full of students, faculty, and staff, all excitedly awaiting the announcement of PUC’s next student-selected Educator of the Year. As PUC tradition states, the winner is a tightly kept secret known only to a few people on campus and is announced at the annual Educator of the Year Colloquy.

When Dr. Kent Davis’ name was announced, there was loud and extended applause for the ever popular chemistry professor and department chair. As he sat in the seat of honor on the platform, the audience was treated to funny stories from his wife Rachelle Davis, a fellow PUC faculty member in the department of music, and touching stories from a few close students.

Not everyone has the privilege of taking classes from Dr. Davis, so we asked him a few questions to get better acquainted with the man behind the 2017 PUC Educator of the Year award.

Describe your typical work day.
I generally arrive at my office around 8 a.m. I make final preparations for my class at 9 and then go teach it. Afterwards I talk with students, make assignments covering the material from class, do other administrative tasks, or just relax for a bit. I often spend the noon hour in wind ensemble or chorale rehearsal before going back the chemistry offices to get ready to supervise labs for the afternoon.

When you were younger, what was your dream job? Is teaching similar?
I don’t know if I had a “dream” job, at least after the firefighter, astronaut, zookeeper, etc., stage of early childhood. I started college as an engineering major and switched to chemistry after my first year. My 20-year-old self would be horrified at the idea of standing in front of people and speaking out loud for a living. So no, teaching is, in that way at least, about as far from what I would have expected as possible.

How did you end up teaching chemistry at PUC?
My wife, Rachelle, was teaching music at Washington Adventist University (then Columbia Union College) and I was teaching as an adjunct professor at a Catholic women;s college in DC. The position in chemistry at PUC opened with the likelihood of a soon to open position in music and we decided to come to PUC.

Tell us about your family.
My wife, Rachelle, is a violinist who teaches in (and chairs) the department of music at PUC. Our elder son, Ethan, is a freshman at PUC Prep and our younger son, Benjamin, is a fifth grader at PUC Elementary. We have two dogs, Sammy and Gigi.

We hear you love to bake. What is the most delicious thing you’ve ever made?
I’m fairly critical of anything I bake so I don’t think I’d apply terms like ‘most delicious’ to things I made but I make a pretty good loaf of bread. We got a bread maker as a wedding present and I started there but soon got into sourdough. I’ve had my sourdough starter for about 20 years now. I feed and water it daily kind of like a pet (that I plan to eat). The sourdough experience has led me to explore other uses of bacteria/yeast cultures in food like cheesemaking. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert and many cheeses need to age for several months which makes experimenting difficult. But a nice dollop of fresh homemade goat cheese on a slice of freshly baked sourdough is quite enjoyable.

What are your other hobbies?
In another twist my 20-year-old self would be surprised to learn, since coming to PUC I have become a runner. In 2016 I ran over 1,000 miles and in 2017 I have run about 800 miles so far. The trails in PUC’s forest, the adjoining state forest, and the ridge between Angwin and Calistoga are great. I try to be out there around dawn, when I think it’s at its most beautiful. I also enjoy traveling. I’ve visited all 50 states and, in the last few years, I’ve been in Sweden, Costa Rica, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Taiwan.

What was the last book you read?
“Big Chicken” by Maryn McKenna is about how antibiotics changed agriculture and the way we eat. I just finished reading “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown to my sons. Currently I’m reading “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance and “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer (inspired by “Big Chicken”). I don’t usually give a lot of thought to what mix of books I read at once but it surprises me a bit that none of these recent selections are fiction.

From left to right: Dr. Eric Anderson, former PUC president; Dr. Kent Davis; and Dr. Nancy Lecourt, PUC academic dean

What does it mean to you to be named the 2017 Educator of the Year?
I very much enjoy teaching so it is its own reward, but it’s very nice to hear from others that they think you’re doing a good job. On the one hand, I think since I’m Educator of the Year I better show why by being better at the parts of teaching I hate (like grading). On the other hand, I feel a little freedom to experiment more with my teaching (as in can I teach physical chemistry without lecturing).

What is your favorite thing about teaching?
Seeing my students grow and learn and become successful is very satisfying. Talking about hard problems and seeing students struggle (along with me) and gradually catch on is also a lot of fun.

What is your favorite thing about PUC?
The location. I run in the forest and along mountain ridges almost daily. I walk to work every day. Most people at PUC live close by so  it’s a real community in a way most other places I’ve worked have not been.

Why should someone choose to study chemistry at PUC?
We have a long history of students having success in achieving their goals. If you do well in chemistry (or the sciences in general) at PUC, you will be well situated to do well in medical school, dental school, pharmacy, or doing study in science at a higher level.

You knew it was coming—is PUC the best school to study at to get into Loma Linda medical school?
To get into any medical school requires dedication to study, ability to avoid of distraction, capable and available teachers, and a culture among your classmates that supports excellence. I think PUC has that. Of course, students who find these less important than the ease of getting to Taco Bell or luxury living accommodations probably may not be PUC material but those values suggest they might not be getting into medical school anyway.

Students, keep an eye on your PUC email inbox! Soon you will receive information about how to nominate a professor for the 2018 Educator of the Year award.

#FacultyFriday: Meet Robert Wilson

For this week’s #FacultyFriday feature, meet Dr. Robert Wilson, associate professor of chemistry. Dr. Wilson has taught at the college since 2012 and specializes in analytical and inorganic chemistry. Previously, he worked at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a teaching assistant and graduate assistant, and at Andrews University as a laboratory assistant. While he was at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dr. Wilson participated in several research projects, and his graduate research focused on the lipid and protein organization within the cell membrane.

Name: Robert L Wilson
Title: Associate professor of chemistry
Faculty since: July 1, 2012

Classes taught: General Chemistry and its labs; Laboratory Glassblowing; Analytical Chemistry and its labs; Inorganic Chemistry; Topics in Chemistry: Organometallics; Introduction to Research; and Senior Capstone

Education: Bachelor’s degree in chemistry and mathematical studies, from Andrews University, 2007; Ph.D. in chemistry, from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 2012

Professional activities:

Wilson, R. L.; Frisz, J. F.; Klitzing, H. A.; Zimmerberg, J.; Weber, P. K.; Kraft, M. L. “Hemagglutinin Clusters in the Plasma Membrane Are Not Enriched with Cholesterol and Sphingolipids” Biophysical Journal. 2015, Vol. 108, Issue 7, pp 1652-1659

Wilson, R. L.; Kraft, M. L.; “Quantifying the Molar Percentages of Cholesterol in Supported Lipid Membranes by Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry and Multivariate Analysis” Anal. Chem., 2013, 85 (1), pp 91-97

Wilson, R. L.; Frisz, J. F.; Hanafin, W. P.; Carpenter, K. J.; Hutcheon, I. D.; Weber, P. K.; Kraft, M. L. “Fluorinated colloidal gold immunolabels for imaging select proteins in parallel with lipids using high-resolution secondary ion mass spectrometry” Bioconjugate Chem., 2012, 23(3), pp 450-460

Frisz, J. F.; Choi. J. S.; Wilson, R. L.; Harley, B. A. C.; Kraft, M. L. “Identifying differentiation stage of individual primary hematopoietic cells from mouse bone marrow using ToF-secondary ion mass spectrometry” Anal. Chem., 2012, 84 (10), pp 4307-4313

Frisz, J. F.; Lou, K.; Klitzing, H. A.; Hanafin, W. P.; Wilson, R. L.; Carpenter, K. J.; Lizunov, V.; Hutcheon, I. D.; Zimmerberg, J.; Weber, P. K.; Kraft, M. L. “Direct chemical evidence for sphingolipid domains in the plasma membranes of fibroblasts” PNAS Vol. 110 no. 8, E613-E622

Stoffregen, S. A.; McCulla, R. D.; Wilson, R.; Cercone, S.; Miller, J.; Jenks, W. S. “Sulfur and Selenium Ylide Bond Enthalpies” J. Org. Chem. 2007, 72, 8235-8242.

Merga, G.; Wilson, R.; Lynn, G.; Milosavlevic, B. H.; Meisel, D. “Redox Catalysis on ‘Naked’ Silver Nanoparticles” J. Phys. Chem. C 2007, 111, 12220-12226.

What made you decide to be a teacher?
I planned on doing research in the chemical industry; however, I had always enjoyed the academic environment. I was told of an open position here at PUC and applied. I am really happy I did.

What are some of your hobbies?
Glassblowing, board games, camping

What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
I have a pilot’s license.

What’s your favorite thing about PUC?
The family-like atmosphere and tall trees.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
In the woods.

What’s your favorite TV show?
“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”

What advice would you give to an incoming freshman?
Study early and often, but never on Sabbath. This is what helped me the most in college and graduate school.

Three Ways to Solve Issues with Your Roommate

By Kaleb Zenk

Where’d all the dishes come from?
Rooming with someone we don’t know particularly well can leave us at odds: stressed out, worried, and full of anxiety! We take our space seriously, and rightfully so, but it can be especially difficult when two individuals’ habits and behaviors collide.

The truth is, you will probably have more than one roommate during the course of your life, and why not learn to overcome some of those obstacles now? It is a journey of the most rewarding kind to learn how to better communicate and navigate possible issues that might arise while having a roommate.

Take on this mantra to have a better relationship with your roommate: Strategize more. Stress less.

The most critical part of being a better roommate is to communicate your feelings clearly, even if it might seem out of your comfort zone to be assertive and ask for things you need. The bottom line is half of the room is your space, too. You must speak up if something is bothering you because allowing problems to pile up can only hinder the initial jump into better communication.

Each person has a different set of idiosyncrasies or behaviors that are particular only to them. Many are not acutely aware of these behaviors, which can create a perpetual cycle of bad habits. How then would you tell your roommate what they’re doing is driving you nuts?

For one, compose yourself and have a conversation with your roommate so they can begin correcting certain behaviors they might be unaware of. Talk to your roommate before the end of the semester. Not only will the issues between you and your roommate pile up, but also finals will pile up, creating even more stress and tension.

If this doesn’t work and you are desperate to solve the issues between you and your roommate, talking to your resident assistant (RA) and asking them to mediate is advisable.

Again, one of the most important actions you can take to have a better relationship with your roommate is to communicate earlier rather than later. One way you can streamline the communication process is to start setting boundaries which keeps both you and your roommate accountable.

Who’s going to clean the dishes on what day? Who’s going to clean the bathroom? Who’s going to replenish the paper in the printer? Who’s going to vacuum? There are a lot of responsibilities you don’t necessarily think of when it’s just your space, but now that someone is living three feet away from you, it’s time to start thinking strategically how you can accomplish all the tasks without having to remind each other.

One way you can accomplish and share some of these tasks is to create a calendar both you and your roommate can visibly see.

Undoubtedly, you and your roommate will have issues. And this is what we have to say about that: Strategize more. Stress less.

Don’t let the actions of your roommate affect your attitude and happiness elsewhere. It’s easy to take that tension outside of the room and vent about it to your friends, but most importantly, what does that say about yourself and your communication habits?

How you talk about your roommate to other people may instill a set of bad habits in yourself, which could reflect poorly on you. If you’re complaining about your roommate’s habits and behaviors instead of choosing to tackle them in a straightforward manner, others may think you can’t solve issues with them, or worse, your friends may think you’re bad mouthing them too!

Keep the annoyances of your roommate out of the conversation and focus on how you can solve them privately. Learning to talk one on one with your roommate will help you be a more positive individual and possibly learn to like your roommate! We tend to like people who listen to us and are able to effectively solve issues together. Let the strategy in your dorm room affect how you become a better overall communicator.

#FacultyFriday: Meet Backil Sung

For this week’s #FacultyFriday feature, meet Dr. Backil Sung, a professor of biology who has taught at the college since 2012. Previously, he worked as an associate professor in the department of natural sciences at Atlantic Union College; as an instructor in the department of anesthesia and critical care at Harvard Medical School; and as an instructor in the department of rehabilitation and physical therapy at Sahmyook University in Seoul, South Korea. Dr. Sung has also worked as a research fellow for many years at Harvard Medical School and at the school of medicine at the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Sung has conducted extensive research in Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, often including PUC students in his research projects. He has received numerous grants, including PUC’s own Herber Family faculty development grant. Dr. Sung has authored or co-authored 41 scientific papers in neuroscience, mainly in the area of pain mechanisms. He has also authored two book chapters, and authored or co-authored many abstracts.

Name: Backil Sung, M.D., Ph.D.
Title: Professor of biology
Faculty since: 2012

Classes taught: Neuroscience, General/Medical Microbiology, Biological Foundations 111/113L, Biotechnology labs* (*starting Winter 2018)

Education: M.D. from the School of Medicine at Korea University, 1995; Ph.D. in medical biotechnology from the Graduate School of Biotechnology at Korea University, 1999

Professional activities:

Editor’s note: Since Dr. Sung’s professional activities are so extensive, we have listed only a few of his most recent accomplishments.


Wang, Y. Tian, Y. Ma, G. Lim, J. Mao, B. Sung, J. Mao, Role of central melatoninergic function in comorbidity of pain and depression, Society for Neuroscience 41th Annual Meeting, San Diego, 2010

Book Chapters

Hyangin Kim, Backil Sung, and Jianren Mao, Animal Models of Acute Surgical Pain, Analgesia: Methods and Protocols, vol. 617, p.31-39, Humana Press, 2010


Sujung Yeo, Backil Sung, Yeon-Mi Hong, Maurits van den Noort, Peggy Bosch, Sook-Hyun Lee, Jongbeom Song, Sang-Kyun Park, Sabina Lim, Decreased expression of Serum- and Glucocorticoid-Inducible Kinase 1 (SGK1) promotes alpha-synuclein increase related with dopaminergic cell death in the Substantia Nigra of chronic MPTP-induced Parkinsonism mouse and in SH-SY5Y cells, Gene (Submitted October 23, 2017)

What made you decide to be a teacher?
I wanted to be a research scientist rather than a clinician after graduating from med school. I chose a teaching job that was a good choice to continue to my research. I have an idea or inspiration about research while I interact with students and instructing them.

What are some of your hobbies?
I like to walk/climb mountains, plant trees, and listen to violin music.

What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
I’ve gone on a medical mission trip to the third world every summer for the past ten years. I have seen patients in remote regions within developing countries such as Cambodia, Tanzania, China, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Often the patients are visiting a physician for the first time. I welcome any volunteers to come to work together too.

What’s your favorite thing about PUC?
PUC’s mountain hills where I love to walk along the trails.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
The microbiology prep room, which is where I conduct my Alzheimer’s disease research.

What’s your favorite book?
The Bible that leads me the right way.

What advice would you give to an incoming freshman?
PUC is a gateway to your future professionally and spiritually.

Merry Christmas from Your Enrollment Counselors!

(From left to right) J.R. Rogers, Janae Bowman, Avery Lay, and Chris Romero.

As 2017 winds down to a close, we’re taking time to reflect back on the past year and look forward to what the new year will bring. We asked your four enrollment counselors to share with us what they’re giving thanks for this holiday season and what they’re looking forward to in the new year.

What are you most grateful for this past year?

“I’m thankful and grateful for five wonderful years with my wife (as of Dec. 16). We have been very blessed with family, work, and a super awesome year and a half old Great Dane.” – J.R. Rogers

“Continued life, health, family, and loved ones. All that God has allowed me to accomplish.” – Chris Romero

“I often put a lot of thought into what I’m thankful for each year, but this year I am most thankful for the intangible things, the things that have helped me grow. One of the biggest things I’m thankful for is the support from my friends and family to continue my education and start graduate school.” – Janae Bowman

“Getting to see my grandmother one last time during the Columbia Union tour. She lives in Virginia so I almost never see her, and she passed away just last week. There was just enough time to go visit her nursing home before my flight back from Richmond.” – Avery Lay

What are you most looking forward to in 2018?

“I’m looking forward to whatever God decides should happen to my 2018. We have some fun trips planned personally and some great ideas for PUC.” – J.R.

“All of the above listed plus whatever God has in store for me next this upcoming year.” – Chris

“Opportunities! I am looking forward to the opportunities, whether it be with my job or grad school! I always look forward to seeing what God has in store for me.” – Janae

“Looking forward to volunteering with Berkeley Homeless Ministry and St. Anthony’s Dining Room again. I don’t get to do it in the fall when all the visits and college fairs are happening.” – Avery

PUC in Pictures: Fall 2017 Edition

With the close of another great fall quarter here at PUC, we’re taking a moment to reflect back on some of the many great times and memories of the quarter.

Remember—You can follow PUC on Instagram (@PUCNow) and browse through some of our hashtags for a closer look at student life at PUC. #PUCNow and #MyPUCReason are great places to start!






Foggy mornings in the valley 🌫 #karlthefog

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We’re looking forward to 2018 PUC!