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Monthly Archive for August, 2010

Three acclaimed books by Wesleyan alumni were on the New York Times hardcover nonfiction best seller list in August. They include: Packing for Mars by Mary Roach ’81, a detailed, often funny examination of space travel; War by Sebastian Junger ’84, a powerful look at the lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan; and Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson ’03, a witty account of the making of the classic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Ron Jenkins, professor of theater, is the author of the 330-page book, Rua Bineda in Bali: Counterfeit Justice in the Trial of Nyoman Gunarsa, published by the Indonesian University of the Arts, 2010. The book focuses on how a Balinese painter, puppet-master and a Brahmin priest perceive a landmark court case involving art forgery and identity theft. Read more about this book in a “5 Questions With . . .” profile at http://newsletter.blogs.wesleyan.edu/2010/09/02/5-questions-with-professor-of-theater-ron-jenkins/.

Steve Stemler, assistant professor of psychology, says that acquiring Practical Intelligence is vital for new teachers because roughly 50 percent of new teachers are out of the profession within their first five years of entering it.

Sure, first-year teachers need to be masters of their subject material and their classrooms, but to be truly effective in that first year and beyond teachers also have learn one vital skill: avoiding “bad” decisions.

“Novice teachers, in particular, don’t necessarily need to make good decisions right away, but what they must develop is the tacit knowledge to identify what a bad decision or bad response may be. That may sound easy in theory, but when you consider all of the challenges  that come from outside the classroom such as administrative duties, dealing with colleagues and dealing with parents, it becomes much more difficult,” says Steven Stemler, assistant professor of psychology.

Stemler is the co-author of a new study titled “The socially skilled teacher and the development of tacit knowledge,” which has been published by the British Educational Research Journal. The study spent a year looking the levels of effectiveness experienced by more than 500 teachers in England. The researchers found that the most successful teachers were those who developed the “tacit knowledge” (more…)

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts (CFA) $750,000 to support the development of artists’ new work, interdisciplinary collaborations, co-teaching initiatives and arts-based campus-wide projects as well as the planning and partial funding of the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP), a new post-graduate professional certificate program for performing arts presenters.

Pamela Tatge (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

“The CFA’s goal is to elevate the place of art, artists and the artistic process at Wesleyan in ways that innovatively strengthen teaching, student learning and art-making,” says Pamela Tatge, director of the Center for the Arts. “The Mellon-funded projects will help to achieve these goals by supporting the creative practice of diverse artists; sponsoring cross-disciplinary exchange and new course development; engaging students in a wide variety of opportunities to make, experience and understand art; and launching the ICPP to enhance professional practice in the presenting field.”

Tatge anticipates that by the end of the grant’s four-year period, powerful new connections will exist between numerous faculty in different departments and between faculty and visiting artists, “so that the arts are more organically integrated into non-arts areas at Wesleyan.”

Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance
The Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP) brings artists, presenters, academics, and other performing arts professionals together (more…)

Wesleyan presented its annual Summer Research Poster Session July 30 in Exley Science Center. More than 100 students, mostly from Wesleyan, participated. Students are funded from Hughes, the Mellon Foundation, a Rauch Environmental Grant, the Wesleyan McNair Program, Sonnenblick and the Robert Schumann Endowment. Students from the Quantitative Analysis Center also participated.

Biology majors Nora Vogel ’11 and Caleb Corliss ’13 discussed their poster titled “Genetic Variation for Invasiveness: Are there Monster Genotypes in Polygonum cespitosum?” They’ve spent the summer trying to understand what role “monster” genotypes (genotypes with the highest relative fitness) play in the invasive spread of this species. Their advisor is Sonia Sultan, chair of the Biology Department, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies.

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Standing, Norman Danner, associate professor of computer science, speaks to students from Bergen Community College about privacy issues in medical records during the 2010 Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software (HFOSS) Project Summer Institutes Workshop July 30. The group is developing a mobile application for use by EMS personnel for recording medical data when on calls.

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Knot Workshop at Wesleyan

Mathematicians from around the country participated in a “Knot Concordance and Homology Cobordism” workshop July 19-23 at Wesleyan.

Tim Cochran, professor of mathematics at Rice University, lectured at the workshop.

Knot theory experts Matt Hedden, associate professor of geometry/topology at Michigan State University, speaks with Daniel Ruberman BA/MA ’77, professor of mathematics at Brandeis University, during the workshop.

Shelly Harvey, assistant professor of mathematics at Rice University, is an expert on knot concordance. The conference was funded by an $18,900 grant from the National Science Foundation. The event also was supported by the Mathematics and Computer Science Department’s Van Vleck Research Fund.

Craig Malamut ’12 helped photograph the Easter Island solar eclipse July 11 as a participant of the Williams College Eclipse Expedition. The composite image brings out the correlation of structures in the sun’s inner and outer corona.

On July 11, Craig Malamut ’12 photographed a pacific solar eclipse 2,500 miles west of South America.

As a Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium Summer Fellow, summer exchange student, Malamut had the opportunity to travel to Easter Island with a group from Williams College. The last time an eclipse occurred over the island was in 591 A.D.

The expedition was led by Jay Pasachoff, the Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College and chair of the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group on Eclipses. This was Pasachoff’s 51st solar eclipse study; it was Malamut’s first.

“Before getting this position, I was thinking my first total solar eclipse would be the 2017 eclipse that runs across the entire United States from Oregon to South Carolina,” he says. “I never in a million years thought I’d be going to Easter Island to see the 2010 eclipse. It was one of the least viewed total solar eclipses in recent history due to the fact that most of the path of totality went over the Pacific Ocean.”

Before the eclipse, student researchers Malamut (more…)

Wesleyan has announced the following promotions of faculty, effective July 1, 2010:

Promotion with Tenure

During the academic year, the Wesleyan Board of Trustees maintains an ongoing process of tenure case consideration. During its most recent review, the Board awarded tenure to one faculty member effective July 1, 2010.

Michael Singer, associate professor of biology, was appointed assistant professor at Wesleyan in 2004. Previously he was postdoctoral fellow at the University of Arizona’s Center for Insect Science, in Tucson.

Singer’s research examines the evolutionary ecology of tri-trophic interactions between plants, herbivores and carnivores. In considering (more…)

Wesleyan has been devoted to liberal learning since its founding in 1831. The Wesleyan Institute for Lifelong Learning is the latest extension of this mission — a dedication to the improvement of human well-being by means of education throughout the course of life.

Students of all ages can benefit from liberal arts-based educational opportunities outside of a formal degree-granting program through the new Wesleyan Institute for Lifelong Learning (WILL).

WILL classes are taken  for interest, not for credit. Classes will be small with an informal atmosphere.

“Everyone in the room–students and teacher–will be engaged in their subject out of pure curiosity,” says Karl Scheibe, director of the Susan B. and William K. Wasch Center for Retired Faculty. “The learning experience is likely to be more intensive than extensive.”

Scheibe, who is overseeing the new institute, says the courses are designed to appeal to Wesleyan alumni, p (more…)

Business partner and trainer Adrian “A.J.” Chan ’11, at right, guides a student-athlete through sit-ups at Ant's Mind and Body in Oakland, Calif., where athletes go to refine their skills. Chan’s gym was recently featured in The San Francisco Chronicle. (Photo by Lance Iversen/ The San Francisco Chronicle)

When Wesleyan student-athlete Adrian “A.J.” Chan ’11 isn’t studying for an economics exam or making a tackle on the football field, he’s busy training Olympic athletes, college and high school students, NFL Superbowl Champions and NBA and NCAA team members.

He’s also working with underprivileged youth who use sports as a vehicle for life lessons.

Chan, who co-manages the Oakland, Calif.-based gym, Ant’s Mind and Body, prepares athletes by training the body, mind and soul as one. His business, which celebrates its 1-year-anniversary this month, was recently featured in The San Francisco Chronicle.

“The training system is a combination of the most efficient, effective, and progressive systems in the world,” Chan explains. “It takes from some programs like the Soviet Black Training Model of building strength and speed and martial arts to increase free range of movements, (more…)

Wesleyan graduate students and advanced undergraduates in science and mathematics participated in a two-day Professional Development Workshop July 8 and 9. The July 8 workshop focused on "An Overview of Conceptual Change Theory and Motivation Theories" and "Writing in the Sciences."

(more…)

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