Coos Bay, OR – Dr. Scott Fisher of the University of Oregon Department of Physics and Pine Mountain Observatory returns to Southwestern to shed more light on the wonders of our universe.  His talk “What’s Up Up There? Recent Discoveries in Astronomy” will take place Thursday, June 6, 2019 at 7:00 pm on the Coos campus of Southwestern, 1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay, in the Hales Center for the Performing Arts.

In this presentation Dr. Fisher will describe and speak about recent discoveries from some of the largest telescopes in the world. In particular the discovery of Exoplanets – planets that orbit stars that are not the Sun. Along the way he will talk about what it is like to work as a staff scientist at a modern, large-aperture telescope, and how astronomy is taught at a large public university like the University of Oregon. This presentation is full of images and videos that will be presented at a level that is appropriate for all ages and all levels of astronomy knowledge. During the presentation and afterwards, Dr. Fisher will be happy to answer questions from the audience.

Dr. Scott Fisher is a faculty member in the University of Oregon Department of Physics where he teaches introductory-level astronomy courses, runs an astronomical observatory, and serves as the Director for Undergraduate Studies. Scott previously worked at the National Science Foundation in Washington, DC where he was responsible for selecting and funding astronomy programs across the United States. Before his time in Washington, Scott was based in Hilo, Hawaii where he worked as a staff scientist of the Gemini Observatory. At Gemini, he worked as an instrument scientist and as a member of the Gemini Outreach team. Scott's main areas of research is searching for and studying planet-forming disks around young stars and more recently, the evolution of galaxy clusters at high redshift.

For more information please contact Dr. Aaron Coyner, Physics Instructor at Southwestern, at 541-888-7244.

LaMont Swinson

COOS BAY, Ore. – How do you honor a person who “is continuously helping young people navigate the world” and who “always gives back to Southwestern students in a positive and uplifting way”? Someone who’s volunteered for more than a decade mentoring college students and coaching K-12 and college athletes?

Here’s how: Southwestern Oregon Community College is very pleased to announce 2000 graduate LaMont Swinson of Coos Bay as our 2019 Distinguished Alumnus.

“LaMont has overcome much adversity in his life. He never gave up on his dream and is a great example of the success that comes from resiliency and determination,” said Dr. Patty Scott, president. “He is a great role model for our students today.”

Swinson is an assistant vice president and branch manager for First Community Credit Union in North Bend and a lot more. He has spent a big chunk of his life at SWOCC. Swinson started with the college in 1997, competing in basketball and eventually graduating with an Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree. During that time, Swinson earned honors as a Northwest Athletic Conference First Team member in 1999, and in 2000 led the Lakers to a NWAC Southern Regional Championship. He moved the following year to the Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls and was 2001 Cascade Conference Player of the Year, leading OIT’s team to the Elite Eight national tournament in its league.

Upon graduating from OIT with a business management and marketing degree, Swinson returned to Coos Bay and soon found his way back onto SWOCC’s campus. Now, he is a longtime member of the Laker Alumni Association. He’s the assistant men’s basketball coach and coaches youth sports team in the community. He also mentors young people, listening to them and encouraging them to take advantage of school and go on for college education. He makes time to meet with first-generation college students, and is a perennial volunteer teaching students about credit and managing their money.

“The leadership skills LaMont exhibits working with the young men and women as well as his staff at the credit union is commendable,” said Tom Nicholls, SWOCC’s Dean of Enrollment, who recruited Swinson to play for the college. “He is encouraging to both students and his staff in furthering their education through post-secondary educational opportunities and/or advanced training, serving as a terrific role model for young people and adults alike.”

Swinson came from Wasilla, Alaska. He was the first in his family to graduate from college, and it wasn’t easy getting here.

“It’s one of those situations where at some point, you have to make a decision to connect and better your life,” Swinson said.

Instead, he focused on school. Teachers and coaches recognized his potential, and opened their homes to give him a safe, stable place to live and a supportive environment to graduate.

“Living with these other families, even though they didn’t have everything in the world, they made good choices,” he said. “Sometimes it’s harder to make those good choices.”

After OIT, like many young people Swinson had the dream to compete professionally in sports, but priorities changed when his first child was born with a heart problem. He moved his family back to Coos Bay, focused on family and went to work. In 2007, he became branch manager at the credit union and he’s become more involved with students ever since.

“I express to them it might not have been part of the plan to be at SWOCC, but believe me that everyone here wants you to succeed,” Swinson said. “All in all, SWOCC allows young people a great opportunity to start their foundation and start learning in a positive environment on what they might want to become.”

The Distinguished Alumni award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated significant contributions to their professions, communities or academia. The college will host a celebration to honor Swinson at 6 p.m., Thursday, June 13. He also will be the keynote speaker at SWOCC’s 58th graduation at noon, Friday, June, 14.

For more information, those interested can contact Deb Nicholls at 541-888-7400,; or Foundation Director Elise Hamner at 541-888-7211,

photo of dr steve palumbi  photo of narwhals

Coos Bay, OR  –  Southwestern’s geology lecture series concludes for the 2018-19 academic year when Dr. Stephen Palumbi comes to SWOCC on Friday, May 17 at 7:00 pm.  Dr. Palumbi will present a lecture on "The Extreme Life of the Sea: Amazing Ways Animals Live in Amazing Parts of the Ocean".  In addition to the talk, representatives of the Charleston Marine Life Center will be present in the lobby starting at 6:30 pm and also after the lecture with some examples of extreme life of the sea for the audience to observe in person. 

Dr. Palumbi is the Jane & Marshall Steel Jr. Professor in Marine Sciences at Stanford University. He earned his B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and Ph.D. from University of Washington.  Steve is also the Director of the Hopkins Marine Station and Holds a Senior Fellowship at the Stanford Institute for the Environment.  Dr. Palumbi has published extensively in many of the leading scientific journals.  Steve’s latest book for non-scientists is about the amazing species in the sea, written with his son and novelist Anthony. The Extreme Life of the Sea tells about the fastest species in the sea, and hottest, coldest, oldest etc. Steve's previous book, The Death and Life of Monterey Bay: A Story of Revival, written with Carolyn Sotka, brought to life the unusual environmental success story of the recovery of Monterey Bay. Steve's first science book for non-scientists The Evolution Explosion explored how humans accelerate evolutionary change in the species around us. Steve helped write, research and also appears in the BBC series The Future is Wild and the History Channel's World Without People. Other recent films appearances include The End of the Line, and the Canadian Broadcasting series One Ocean. Major work continues on the microdocumentary project, the Short Attention Span Science Theater.

The talk on The Extreme Life of the Sea will focus on:  What are the fastest fish in the sea? The deepest species? The hottest, coldest, oldest? The strangest family lives? The oceans are filled with a huge diversity of life, and species manage to live in virtually all habitats. There is the deepsea stop light fish with red search lights for finding prey – that only it can see. There are ice fish with special proteins that keep ice out of their blood, and are now used to keep ice out of your ice cream. This is a talk for everyone who wants to know the secrets of the sea. It is about the familiar – where Nemo finds a mate – and the unfamiliar – how do squid fly? It is about the extreme life of the sea. (Twitter hash tag #ExtremeLifeOTC/

Geology Lecture Series talks are free and are held in the Hales Center for the Performing Arts on Southwestern’s Coos Campus, 1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay.  For those not able to attend in person, this lecture will be Livestreamed and archived, with access from the College's web site at  This is the final talk in the series for this academic year, but talks are already being scheduled for fall 2019 including:  Dr. Susan Hough (USGS) on Friday October 18th with “What Past Earthquakes Tell Us About Future Earthquake Hazard: Facts & Fake Facts” and Dr. Artie Rogers (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) on Friday, November 8th with “Forecasting Ground Shaking from Earthquakes Using Supercomputers”.  Lecture series sponsors include DB Western, The Mill Casino, the Southwestern Foundation and the College, IRIS/SSA and the Ocean Discovery Program. 

For additional information, please contact Ron Metzger at 541-888-7216.

COOS BAY, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College is partnering with Bosporus International to offer a study abroad opportunity in Istanbul, Turkey from July 16-30, 2019. The program, “Confronting Global Problems and Creating Sustainable Futures,” provides international perspectives on three critical social and ecological topics: work and livelihood, sustainable food systems, and the politics of consumption and waste. The program employs an experiential approach to learning, combining classroom-based instruction with site visits throughout Istanbul. Students participate in lectures and seminars around each of the core topics, followed by site visits to local farms, farmers markets, and employee cooperatives to allow for a deeper understanding of how the topics are experienced in people’s everyday lives. This approach grounds abstract concepts in concrete experiences and provides students with practical tools they can use to study similar topics in their own communities. The course will be co-taught by sociologists Dr. Sara Keene and Dr. Ian Bailey (Southwestern Oregon Community College), Dr. Carrie Freshour (Delta State University, Mississippi), and Dr. Evren Dincer (Bursa Uludag University, Turkey).

In addition to the academic instruction and activities, two day-long, professionally-guided trips to historic landmarks including the Hagia Sophia Museum, the Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar are also included in the program.

Students will need to register for the program through Bosporus International (, and enroll in the summer course, SOC 250: Field Studies in Sociology, through Southwestern Oregon Community College. Students will also need to obtain a travel visa and travel insurance before departure. Any community members, businesses, and/or organizations interested in participating in the program or sponsoring a student from our community to participate in the program are encouraged to contact Dr. Sara Keene, Assistant Professor of Anthropology/Sociology, by phone at (541) 888-7127 or email,  For more information about the program, please visit or contact Sara Keene.