Monthly Archives: April 2010

Swinehart on Munson’s Debut ‘November Criminals’

In The Chicago Tribune, Kirk Swinehart, assistant professor of history, reviews November Criminals, the anticipated debut novel by Sam Munson. The book is told from the perspective of Addison Schacht, an intelligent high school senior who is “a motherless crackerjack Latin student and smalltime pot dealer from ‘a tree-heavy upper-middle-class neighborhood in Washington, D.C.’ ” By the way, Schacht also wants to go to college and is working on his application essay, which focuses on the question: “What are your best and worst qualities?.” Munson takes the set-up and creates, according to Swinehart, “one of the funniest, most heartfelt novels in recent memory—a book every bit as worthy of Mark Twain and J. D. Salinger—about the goodwill and decency that sometimes shrouds itself in adolescent vulgarity and swagger.”

Shepard ’97 Closes Independent Filmmaker Series 4-29

Sadia Shepard ’97 will close out the 2010 Independent Filmmaker Series with a showing of her documentary, The September Issue, which details the creation of a single issue of Vogue. Sponsored by the Film Studies Department with special support by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the series brings critically-acclaimed filmmakers to campus to show and discuss their work. Shepard was profiled in The Hartford Courant.

The free presentation is at 8 p.m. in Goldsmith Family Cinema on Thursday, 4-29, and is open to the public.

Wesleyan Press Book Wins L.A. Times Award

Practical Water by poet Brenda Hillman was awarded a Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry. The theme of the collection is water, including “Taoist water, baptismal water, water from the muses’ fountains, the practical waters of hydrology from which we draw our being—and the stilled water in a glass in a Senate chamber.”

The competition’s judges state that Practical Water is Hillman’s “finest book,” in which “she creates an urgent new poetry for our moment.”

Royer’s Study Gives Insight to Early Flowering Plants

Science Daily reports on a new study by Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, that examined fossils of ancient flowering plants, also known as angiosperms, that provide clues to their growth patterns. Royer also discussed his study at length, which is published in the American Journal of Botany, in The Wesleyan Connection.

‘Bearing Witness’ Opens at Zilkha Gallery

Daniel Heyman’s one man show, “Bearing Witness: Stories from the Front Lines,” opens on Fri., April 23, at the Ezra and Cecile Gallery, with an artist talk at 5 p.m.. A story by Fox61 and CTNow highlights the exhibition of Heyman’s haunting portraits of Iraqis who have suffered torture and abuse at various detention facilities. Heyman, a Guggenheim fellow, teaches at Princeton University and Rhode Island School of Design.

Woskie ’10 Awarded Watson Fellowship to Research Community Health Workers

Liana Woskie '10, pictured in India, will return to the country next year as a Watson Fellow.

Liana Woskie ’10 believes that Community Health Workers (CHWs) can be effective and vital components of systems that serve the health needs of hard-to-reach populations. However, their success varies across cultures and program models. She wants to know why.

As a 2010 Watson Fellow, Liana Woskie ’10 will research CHWs systems through case studies of programs located in Bangladesh, Tanzania, India, Thailand and Lesotho. Woskie, a College of Social Studies major, is one of only 40 students in the world to receive a Watson Fellowship this year. The fellowship, which includes a $25,000 stipend, offers promising college graduates a year of independent, study and travel outside the U.S. in order to enhance their capacity for effective resourcefulness, leadership and participation in the world community.

Her project, “Bringing Primary Healthcare Home: The Community Health Worker” is designed to understand the structure and implementation of CHW networks from a community perspective.

“I hope to learn whether CHW programs were implemented in collaboration with their patient population and what the nature of their communication strategies has been with their given communities,” Woskie says. “Second, I intend to explore how they address cultural understandings of illness and disease in their trainings, curriculum and ultimately in their day-to-day outreach. “

Much of Woskie’s research will be performed

Wesleyan Celebrates Earth Day with Film, Panel Discussion

Feet to the Fire: Exploring Global Climate Change from Science to Art was an 18-month project which included research opportunities for a team of students and faculty to explore first-hand the effects of global warming. Feet to the Fire included an eco-arts festival in a neglected city park.

“Keeping Our Feet to the Fire: Joining Art and Science to Engage Environmental Issues” is the topic of Wesleyan’s 2010 Earth Day celebration on April 22.

The event will feature a world premier screening of Paul Horton’s film Connections within a Fragile World.

A  panel of environmental experts will discuss the question “are art and science as natural allies in communicating environmental issues to the public?” It will be moderated by Jeremy Isard ’11, with panelists: Godfrey Bourne, University Missouri St. Louis; Marda Kirn, EcoArts Connections, Colorado; Cassie Meador, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, Washington, D.C.; and Barry Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, professor of biology and director of the Environmental Studies Certificate Program at Wesleyan.

The Schumann Prize for Distinguished Environmental Stewardship will be awarded to a member of the class of 2010 and a reception will follow the event.

Admitted Class of 2014 Most Selective Ever

Wesleyan offered admission to 2,125 students to join the Class of 2014. About 500 admitted students sampled "all-things Wesleyan" during WesFest April 15-17. Pictured is a WesFest picnic on April 16.

This year Wesleyan received 10,656 applications to join the university’s class of 2014, an increase of nearly 6 percent from last year. Of those, 2,125 or just under 20 percent, were offered admission, giving Wesleyan its most selective admission cycle on record.

“This is a really superb and exciting group of students who are poised to join the Wesleyan community,” says Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, dean of admission and financial aid. “We had another significant increase in the overall number of applications this year and we had to make a lot of difficult decisions. But the students we chose were absolutely the best match for Wesleyan.”

Some of the highlights of the admitted class include:

Barth Receives NSF Grant for Cognition Research

Hilary Barth, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, will be conducting a series of studies with children and adults in the Cognitive Development Laboratory at Wesleyan to investigate abstract and perceptual magnitude biases.

Hilary Barth, assistant professor of psychology, was recently awarded a five-year, $761,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study “magnitude biases in mathematical cognition, learning, and development.” Barth will be conducting a series of studies with children and adults in the Cognitive Development Laboratory at Wesleyan to investigate abstract and perceptual magnitude biases.

The grant, which begins this year, comes from the NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program. The program is only available to non-tenured faculty. Barth’s colleague Anna Shusterman was awarded a CAREER grant in 2009.

“The psychology department is thrilled about Professor Barth’s accomplishment,” says Lisa Dierker, chair and professor of psychology.

Career Resource Center to Benefit from $2M Gift

Wesleyan’s old Squash Building, built in 1934, is scheduled to be renovated during the 2010-11 academic year. It will house the Career Resource Center. (Photo by Olivia Bartlett Drake)

A generous $2 million gift to Wesleyan will greatly enhance the ability of the Career Resource Center to serve students in a planned new home at the center of campus.

The anonymous gift from Wesleyan parents will endow the programs of the center, which will be located in the old Squash Building at the north end of College Row. Part of Wesleyan’s historic brownstone row, this building is scheduled for renovation beginning in the 2010-11 academic year.

“The Career Resource Center has an essential role in helping students translate their intellectual interests into productive work and career aspirations,” says Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth. “We are deeply grateful for the support of our donors, who recognize the importance of that translation.”

The Career Resource Center is known for its innovative programming. It has been nominated for a NACE (National Association of College and Employers) National Award for its Senior Survival Month 2009 —a month-long series of daily events and workshop

Slotkin Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Richard Slotkin, the Olin Professor of English, Emeritus, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. (Photo by Bettina Hansen/Hartford Courant)

Richard S. Slotkin, the Olin Professor of English, Emeritus, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Established in 1780 by John Adams and other founders of the nation, the Academy undertakes studies of complex and emerging problems. Its membership of scholars and practitioners from many disciplines and professions gives it a unique capacity to conduct a wide range of interdisciplinary, long-term policy research. Current projects focus on science and technology; global security; social policy and American institutions; the humanities and culture; and education. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

5 Questions with . . . Dana Royer

Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences.

In this issue we ask 5 Questions to…Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, who has a new study in the American Journal of Botany that examined flowering plant fossils in hopes of uncovering clues about the growth characteristics of some of these ancient angiosperms.

Q. Your study looks at the structure of fossil flowering plants, also known as angiosperms, from more than 100 million years ago. What were you hoping to discover?

A. Flowering plants are ubiquitous in most areas on Earth today. Over 90 percent of all plant species today are angiosperms. Given how important these plants are today, it is surprising how little we know about their origins. We sought to better understand the ecology of early angiosperms. In what kinds of environments did flowering plants rise to dominance? What was their growth strategy: were the slow-growing or fast-growing?

2. What is the basis for the theory that angiosperms from 140-100 million years ago were fast-growing?

A. It has been known for several decades that many of the earliest angiosperm fossils are found in river deposits. Plants growing today along river corridors are usually fast-growing. This is true not just for the weeds but also for the trees such as cottonwood.