Monthly Archives: December 2009

Green Street Celebration Filled With Holiday Cheer

The students of the Wesleyan-supported Green Street Arts Center (GSAC) held a Winter Solstice celebration that caught the eye of The Hartford Courant. The event was months in the making and involved several GSAC students.

Basinger on Nancy Meyers’ Films, Characters

In The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Jeanine Basinger, Chair and Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, contrasts the films and characters of Nancy Meyers with those of other writer-directors, including Frank Capra. “She makes it easy for the actors and the audience,” Basinger says. “They can slip into their parts and be happy, and we can slip into our seats and be happy.” Meyers is the writer-director of the new film “It’s Complicated.”

Foyle: Lieberman Out of Step with Most of State

In The Christian Science Monitor, Douglas Foyle, the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Government, discussed how the recent maneuvers by Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman regarding the health care bill before the U.S. Senate do not reflect the views of the majority of the state’s voters.

Students Create Web Episode Series About College Life

Robby Hardesty '11 and Chris Correa '10 are actors and writers in the new FutureHouse Pictures web series, ENROLLED. Correa, creator of FutureHouse Pictures, hopes to create seven episodes by the time he graduates.

Robby Hardesty '11 and Chris Correa '10 are actors and writers in the new FutureHouse Pictures web series, Enrolled. Correa, creator of FutureHouse Pictures, hopes to create seven episodes by the time he graduates.

When college students Chris and Robby woke up outside after their 21st birthday bash, they assumed their night included dancing, girls and a fist fight. But a friend later confirms the intoxicated duo spent the entire party outside lying on top of their cars.

“What were we even doing out there, man,” Chris asks a hung-over Robby.

The characters “Chris” and “Robby,” played by Christopher Correa ’10 and Robby Hardesty ’11 are two of four main characters in the new FutureHouse Pictures Enrolled web series. To date, the FutureHouse Pictures staff has created two episodes, screened exclusively through YouTube.

Correa ’10, who started up FutureHouse Pictures this year, debuted the Enrolled pilot Nov. 12. To date, it’s had more than 2,200 views.

Caitlin Winiarski '10 plays the role of Caitlin' in Enrolled.

Caitlin Winiarski '10 plays the role of Caitlin' in Enrolled.

Enrolled is a collaborative effort; Correa, Hardesty, Josh Margolin ’11, and Caitlin Winiarski ’10 write, film and act in the show.

“When I first planned to start a production company, Josh, Robby and Caitlin were the three names that I knew needed to be on board,” Correa says. “We’ve worked together on campus at one point or another, and I think all of them bring something unique to the table.”

In the group’s initial meetings, they talked about – and watched – every television show that they could. They took mental notes and brainstormed a story line. They decided to tell stories of four friends that live together on campus.

The first episode focuses on the show’s main protagonists,

Pomper to Retire in 2010 after Nearly a Half Century at Wesleyan

Philip Pomper will retire in 2010 but plans to continue his research on Russia.

Philip Pomper will retire in 2010 but plans to continue his research on Russia.

Professor of History Philip Pomper is making history of his own as he plans to retire from Wesleyan after 46 years in May 2010.

Pomper came to Wesleyan after graduating from the University of Chicago with a doctoral degree. He had enjoyed the seminar style classes at Chicago and looked forward to teaching seminars at Wesleyan.

“I always dreamed of joining the faculty of a small liberal arts institution,” Pomper says.

Not only did Pomper have an idea for the type of institution he was drawn to, he was compelled to be a professor even in high school.

“After the usual fantasies about an athletic career I think I always wanted to be a college professor,” Pomper says. “My high school buddies used to call me ‘Professor.’ In my teens I encountered Enlightenment ideals and believed that if anything could save us from self-destruction it would have to take the form of the deep self-examination of our species and a progressive historical process. Growing up during World War II and the Holocaust probably made me precociously serious about such things.”

Pomper originally wanted to study French revolutionary history, but his interest in Russia was sparked in the summer of 1957 as he and some friends explored another continent.

“Two friends and I hitchhiked, bicycled, and motored through Europe,” he recalls. “In August we were sleeping in cow pastures in the English Lake District near

Wiedenbeck ’10 Receives NASA-Supported Grant for BA/MA Research

BA/MA biology student Jane Wiedenbeck received a NASA-supported fellowship that will support her research in Professor of Biology Fred Cohan's lab on bacterial evolution.

BA/MA biology student Jane Wiedenbeck received a NASA-supported fellowship that will support her research in Professor of Biology Fred Cohan's lab on bacterial evolution.

In some models of origins of life, hot springs are considered to be one of the first environments inhabited by life. During the 2010-11 academic year, biology BA/MA student Jane Wiedenbeck ’10 will use a NASA-funded Graduate Fellowship to study the evolution of certain microorganisms to discern how life may have originated and evolved under extreme conditions.

Wiedenbeck, who applied for the fellowship during the fall 2009 semester, received a $20,000 award from the Connecticut Space Grant College Consortium. The Consortium is a member of the NASA-funded national Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, and serves to promote and support NASA aeronautic and space-related research in Connecticut.

Martha Gilmore, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and Wesleyan’s liaison for the Connecticut Space Grant, presented the award to Wiedenbeck.

This fellowship will support Wiedenbeck’s research in Professor of Biology Fred Cohan‘s lab on bacterial evolution–specifically the nature and rate of species formation in Bacillus subtilis and hot-spring Roseiflexus. Both model organisms are of particular interest to astrobiology, Wiedenbeck explains.

” Both Bacillus and Roseiflexus are able to thrive in extreme environments, for example, Roseiflexus has the ability to live in extreme thermal conditions in hot springs,” she says. ” While Bacillus and Roseiflexus themselves may not be found in other parts of the universe, studying their ecology and evolution may give us clues as to what types of traits may be advantageous for organisms that would allow them to survive on other planets, and how simple microorganisms in general are able to adapt to extreme environments.”

Bacillus produces an extremely resistant spore, which is believed to be able to withstand the rigors of travel through space, perhaps after being launched into space with dust from an erupting volcano. Thus, if another planet were to be colonized spontaneously by earthly life, Bacillus

Students Enrich Lives, College Experience by Studying Abroad

While studying abroad in Paris, France, junior Lydia Tomkiw's host family gave her a tour of the city at night, which included a stop at the Eiffel Tower.

While studying abroad in Paris, France, junior Lydia Tomkiw's host family gave her a tour of the city at night, which included a stop at the Eiffel Tower.

Lydia Tomkiw ’11 began studying la langue française in kindergarten, and as a College of Letters major, she was required to study abroad for one semester. Little did she know that that her first week in Paris would result in a discussion on the American political landscape in French.

“During my first week, when I was still adjusting to everything, my camera battery broke. I had never been taught the vocabulary for battery and charger. I looked those words up and found a store. I walked in and felt a little nervous. But I was able to tell the shop keeper my problem and, as he was fixing my camera, he asked me where I was from,” Tomkiw recalls. “When I said I was American, he started asking me about President Obama.

“We spoke for 10 minutes in French and it ended up being one of the most interesting interactions I had in Paris, and when I left the store I realized that not only had I successfully gotten my camera fixed, I had discussed the American political landscape in French with a complete stranger who understood everything I said – and all because of a camera battery. After that, I stopped being nervous. Of course I did make mistakes in French but I kept speaking to improve my language skills.”

Tomkiw, who went abroad in spring 2009, studied through the Vassar Wesleyan Program in Paris, one of several Study Abroad programs offered through the Office of International Studies. There, OIS Director Carolyn Sorkin and OIS Assistant Director Gail Winter advise about 50 percent of the student population on study abroad options.

Students earn credit towards their Wesleyan degrees through some 150 academic programs in nearly 50 countries. About 300 students go abroad every academic year.

“Study abroad increases knowledge of another society, which in turn enables the participant to see his/her own cultural values and biases,” Sorkin explains.

Tomkiw says studying abroad in Paris was one of

5 Questions With…David Pollack

David Pollack is an associate professor of mathematics and computer science. (Photo by Stefan Weinberger '10)

David Pollack is an associate professor of mathematics. His research focuses on questions about the arithmetic cohomology of higher rank matrix groups. (Photo by Stefan Weinberger '10)

This issue we ask 5 Questions of…David Pollack, associate professor of mathematics and computer science.

Q: How did you become interested in mathematics in general, and as an
academic career specifically?

DP: Mathematics was my favorite subject in school as far back as I can
remember. At that time I had no idea that one could be a mathematician, so I imagined I would be a scientist or engineer. After my sophomore year in high school I was fortunate enough to attend the summer mathematics program at Hampshire College, where I was first exposed to professional mathematicians. I realized more or less immediately that mathematics itself was the right career for me. The next summer I attended the Ross Mathematics Program at Ohio State, an incredibly rigorous mathematics immersion course that teaches students to “think deeply about simple things” by developing number theory and basic abstract algebra from the ground up. Students get the

Wesleyan Hosts Unigo-Wall Street Journal Webcast

Jordan Goldman '04 Unigo founder and CEO moderated a recent 90-minute question and answer session with admission officers from around the country.

Wesleyan Student Michael Pernick '10 introduced a recent 90-minute question and answer session with chief admission officers from around the country.

Imagine being a college-bound high school student and getting the chance to sit down for a 90-minute question and answer session with a chief admission officer from one of the best colleges in the nation. Now multiply the opportunities of that session times seven and you have a sense of what a recent webcast hosted by Wesleyan offered to students across the nation.

The Dec. 2 webcast from the Daniels Family Commons in the Usdan Center was produced by Unigo and The Wall Street Journal through their new partnership, “WSJ on Campus,” and featured candid, live conversations with seven chief admissions officers: Seth Allen, Grinnell College; Roby Blust, Marquette University; Eric J. Furda, University of Pennsylvania; Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, Wesleyan University; Richard L. Nesbitt, Director of Admissions, Williams College; Janet Lavin Rapelye, Princeton University; Jenny Rickard, Bryn Mawr College; and Beth A. Wiser, University of Vermont.

Moderated by Unigo founder and CEO Jordan Goldman ’04, the panel

WESU 88.1 FM Hosting Holiday Pledge Drive

Ben Michael, general manager of WESU 88.1 FM radio, hopes to raise $25,000 during the station's annual pledge drive. Funds are used to sustain operating expenses throughout the coming year. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

Ben Michael, general manager of WESU 88.1 FM radio, hopes to raise $25,000 during the station's annual pledge drive. Funds are used to sustain operating expenses throughout the coming year. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

Wesleyan’s non-commercial college and community radio station, 88.1FM WESU, calls on listeners to give the gift of WESU this holiday season during The Fifth Annual WESU Holiday Pledge Drive.

The goal for this year’s drive is to raise $25,000 in listener support to sustain operating expenses throughout the coming year. As Wesleyan struggles to close a budget gap this fiscal year, WESU faces more pressure than ever to become a self- sustaining community service. To date, the station has raised $13,000.

“To be able to keep pace with the revenue we in raised past years pledge drives in this tough economy is a true testament to the good service our volunteers are committed to providing to the various communities we serve,” says Ben Michael, WESU general manager.

With its 70th anniversary year

Courtney Fullilove: Historian Specializing in 19th-Century United States

Courtney Fullilove, assistant professor of history, will teach  a course on the history of drugs and medicines, and "Confidence and Panic in 19th Century U.S. Economic Life" during the spring 2010 semester. (Photo by Stefan Weinberger '10)

Courtney Fullilove, assistant professor of history, will teach a course on the history of drugs and medicines, and "Confidence and Panic in 19th Century U.S. Economic Life" during the spring 2010 semester. (Photo by Stefan Weinberger '10)

Courtney Fullilove has joined the History Department as assistant professor. She specializes in research related to the study the development of technical knowledge in the fields of agriculture, medicine, and manufacturing in the 18th and 19th century United States.

A graduate of Columbia University’s Ph.D program in history, Fullilove was attracted to Wesleyan for many reasons, among them its historical significance and liberal arts idealism. She says that being a part of a place where “everyone is creative and engaged” is satisfying to her.

“I’m a historian, so I like to think about the fact that Wesleyan was founded as a tiny bastion of Methodism in the 1830s, ” she says. “There’s a way in which Wesleyan retains the best qualities of small 19th century religious and Utopian communities: it has purpose, and people believe in being here.”

In terms of her work, Fullilove has broad interests that focus on one specific purpose: “people’s access to the things they need to live: food, medicine, clothes, shelter.”

“Since human necessities often entail a lot of know-how in addition to material resources,” she says. “I’m interested in how the know-how has been organized over time, and who has had control of it. Much of my recent work has involved the U.S. Patent Office in some way, but patents are just one legal mechanism to secure ownership of knowledge, which is my real interest.”

Fullilove researches how “farmers made seeds and plows, and how local healers made tinctures and poultices.” She uncovers “the ways local knowledge was codified, represented, or effaced in institutions of commerce and law.”

Journal Films Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Methods

Molecular biology and biochemistry graduate student Jie Zhai explains a scene for videographer Kai-Jie Wang Dec. 15 inside the Hingorani Laboratory. Wang works for the Journal of Visualized Experiments, a peer reviewed, indexed journal devoted to the publication of biological research in a video format. He is filming a project at Wesleyan titled Application of Stopped-flow Kinetics Methods to Investigate the Mechanism of Action of a DNA Repair Protein.

Molecular biology and biochemistry graduate student Jie Zhai (left) explains a scene for videographer Kai-Jie Wang Dec. 15 inside the Hingorani Laboratory. Wang works for the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE), a peer reviewed, indexed journal devoted to the publication of biological research in a video format. He is filming a project at Wesleyan titled "Application of Stopped-flow Kinetics Methods to Investigate the Mechanism of Action of a DNA Repair Protein."

Zhai and her peers use a KinTek-brand stopped-flow kinetics instrument to monitor the activities of DNA repair proteins in real-time. The JoVE video will explain how the lab uses the instrument so others can develop their own experiments on their own system. The equipment and film was supported by a National Science Foundation grant awarded to Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

Zhai and her peers use a KinTek-brand stopped-flow kinetics instrument to monitor the activities of DNA repair proteins in real-time. The JoVE video will explain how the lab uses the instrument so others can develop their own experiments on their own system. The equipment and film were supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant awarded to Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

Molecular biology and biochemistry major Christopher Doucette '11 and graduate student F. Noah Biro also are featured in the JoVE video. The filmed experiments explain how they're able to monitor a protein binding with DNA by using a fluorescent 'reporter' marker.

Molecular biology and biochemistry major Christopher Doucette '11 and BA/MA student F. Noah Biro also are featured in the JoVE video. The filmed experiments explain how they're able to monitor a protein binding with DNA by using a fluorescent reporter molecule.

Biro explains how a chromatography system works in the lab's 'cold room.' Here, the students purify milligram quantities of a protein from E. coli host cells by ion exchange and chromatography. The JoVE film will be released in early 2010. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett Drake)

Biro explains how a chromatography system works in the lab's 'cold room.' Here, he purifies milligram quantities of a protein from E. coli host cells by ion exchange and chromatography. The JoVE film will be released in early 2010. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett Drake)