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Monthly Archive for April, 2011

Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics division, received a grant for $6,750 from the National Sciences Foundation. The grant is part of the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates, which provides funding for faculty to work with an undergraduate student. The award is supporting research on “Structure and Function of Holliday Junctions Complexed with Proteins Probed by Flourescence and UV Raman Spectroscopic Methods.”

The Green Street Arts Center received a grant for $3,000 from the Bank of America Thomas J. Atkins Memorial Trust Fund in 2011.  The one-year grant provided funding for scholarships to the afterschool arts and sciences program.

Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts received a grant worth $5,000 from the New England Foundation of the Arts on April 20, 2011. The grant supported the National Dance Project “Chunky Move” in 2012.

Former Wesleyan President Douglas J. Bennet '59.

Former Wesleyan President Douglas J. Bennet ’59 has been named a 2011 member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS).

As one of 212 new AAAS members, Bennet joins one of the world’s most prestigious honorary societies and leading centers for independent policy research.

“It is a privilege to honor these men and women for their extraordinary individual accomplishments,” said Leslie Berlowitz, Academy President and William T. Golden Chair. “The knowledge and expertise of our members give the Academy a unique capacity – and responsibility – to provide practical policy solutions to the pressing challenges of the day. We look forward to engaging our new members in this work.”

After earning a B.A. from Wesleyan, Bennet received a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. He is also the son of a Wesleyan alumnus and the father of two Wesleyan alumni.

Active in government service, Bennet was assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs when elected to the Wesleyan presidency. Prior to that he was the chief executive officer and president of National Public Radio (NPR) for ten years, during which the number of listeners tripled, the number of member stations doubled, and he raised enough funds so that NPR did not have to depend totally on federal money.

Prior to his years at NPR, he had been the assistant to the economic adviser for the Agency for International Development, special assistant to U.S. Ambassador to India Chester Bowles, assistant to Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, assistant to Senators Thomas F. Eagleton and Abraham Ribicoff, assistant secretary for congressional relations in the State Department, and head of the Agency for International Development.

Bennet served as Wesleyan’s president from 1995 until 2007. While president he oversaw the $281 million Wesleyan Campaign, which enabled Wesleyan to add 20 new faculty positions, create 140 new scholarships, and established six endowed professorships. Bennet also presided over more than $200 million in construction and renovation projects on campus and the creation of the Green Street Arts Center in Middletown’s north end.

More information on the award and AAAS can be found here.

At left, Zully Adler and Davy Knittle received 2011-12 Thomas J. Watson Fellowships.

Zully Adler ’11 hopes to document cassette culture in five countries while Davy Knittle ’11 aims to explore the relationship between public space and location-based identity in three major cities.

As 2011-12 Thomas J. Watson Fellows, Adler and Knittle will have one year to travel outside the United States for an independent study. Each student receives a $25,000 stipend, which is funded by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation.

The Wesleyan students were among 148 finalists nominated this year to compete on the national level. Of those, only 40 were selected for a fellowship.

Adler, a history major focusing on European history, will travel to Malaysia, Australia, Mexico, Belgium and Sweden for his project titled, “Redubbing the World: Cassette Culture and the Power of DIY Production.”

Adler’s interest in cassette culture stems from running the student radio station in high school, where he hosted local musicians from the Los Angeles area. He observed that most musicians used cheap and recyclable cassette tapes to distribute their own releases and trade music with others. (more…)

Steven Stemler, assistant professor of psychology, has published a new study showing key differences between federal educational initiative goals and high school mission statements.

Americans have been bombarded over the past three decades with the news that our K-12 students are academically falling behind their peers dozens of countries. The U.S. government has responded by implementing a series of standardized tests and creating such programs as “Race to the Top” and “No Child Left Behind” to measure and improve our children’s success. The outcomes of these initiatives are often used to determine teacher effectiveness, as well.

“These programs are based on an assumption that has rarely been questioned by researchers and policy makers–the assumption that there is a consensus about the fundamental purpose of schooling in American society,” says Steven Stemler, assistant professor of psychology.

“But how can you presume common standards for ‘success’ when we are all pretty sure the definitions of success for urban schools, suburban schools and rural schools don’t even match up in the same state, never mind nationwide?”

However, “pretty sure” is the operative phrase here. Though virtually everyone who studies educational performance will readily agree that schools vary in the way they approach “success” and “excellence” no one could really identify definitively (more…)

Greg Voth studies turbulent fluid flows and flows of granular materials.

This issue, we ask “5 Questions” of Greg Voth, associate professor of physics.

Q: Professor Voth, what are your primary areas of research and how did you become involved in them?

A: My research group studies turbulent fluid flows and flows of granular materials. These complex systems have a wide range of environmental and industrial applications, but fundamental understanding of these systems has been held back because of the difficulty of measuring rapidly changing flow fields. Advances in high speed digital imaging over the past two decades have opened new ways to measure the trajectories of particles transported by these flows. I started studying turbulence during my graduate research in the mid 1990s, at Cornell Univ. There we built our own high speed imagers out of silicon strip detectors that had been designed for detecting sub-atomic particles in high-energy physics (more…)

Lori Gruen is organizing the upcoming symposium titled “Protecting Great Apes: How Science and Ethics Contribute to Conservation.” (Photo by John Van Vlack)

A diverse group of primate researchers will convene at Wesleyan on April 22 for a day-long symposium about the relationship between humans and the other great apes – chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans and gorillas. The schedule is online here.

“Protecting Great Apes: How Science and Ethics Contribute to Conservation” will feature presentations by anthropologists, psychologists, primatologists and conservationists who study or advocate for non-human great apes in the wild and in captivity. Discussions will follow each talk, with an emphasis on chimpanzee behavior and the ethical treatment of non-human great apes.

“We’re in this complicated and increasingly intense relationship with the other great apes,” says Lori Gruen, associate professor of philosophy and the symposium’s principal organizer. “If chimps and other great apes were living in their worlds undisturbed by our activities, we wouldn’t have to raise questions about our relationship to them.”

Gruen is currently teaching a course called “Primate Encounters,” in which students examine (more…)

Robin D. G. Kelley

Prize-winning author Robin D.G. Kelley will deliver the Center for African-American Studies 17th Annual Distinguished Lecture at 8 p.m. April 14. Kelley is a professor of American studies and ethnicity and history at the University of Southern California.

His topic will be, “Faking It for Freedom: Grace Halsell’s Amazing Journey through the Minefields of Race, Sex, Empire and War – A 20th Century Love Story.” The lecture is based on Kelley’s new project – a biography of the late journalist Grace Halsell. Halsell, a white journalist, spent a good part of her life masquerading as others and traveling the country and the world in order to understand the experience of subjugation.

“Halsell is an interesting figure: she ran toward crisis and found ways to insert herself, and each time it tested her liberalism, her faith, expanded her feminism, and reinforced her anti-racism, while simultaneously revealing the limits (and evolution) of her perspective,” Kelley says. “And every encounter, every journey (more…)

The Wesleyan McNair Program assists students from underrepresented groups in preparing for, entering, and progressing successfully through post-graduate education. The program provides guidance, research opportunities, and academic and financial support to students planning to go on to Ph.Ds. All fields of research leading to a Ph.D. are eligible.

In efforts to prepare undergraduates from diverse backgrounds for graduate studies, the McNair Program hosts a series of research talks. These talks are designed for interested, non-expert, students. They are free and open to all students.

The next McNair Research Talk will take place from noon to 1 p.m., Friday, April 15 in Exley Science Center room 121. Christian Hoyos ’11 will speak on “Direction-of-transfer effects in Children’s map use” with his mentor, Anna Shusterman, assistant professor of psychology; Matthew Narkaus ’11 will speak on “Race Language in Psychological Experiments” with his advisor, Jill Morawski, professor of psychology and director of the Center for the Humanities; and Jessica Bowen ’11 will speak on “Breaking Habit (U.S.) Diversifying the Elite at……” with her mentor, Sarah Wiliarty, assistant professor of government, tutor in the College of Social Studies. More information is online here.

On March 25, the McNair Program hosted a talk by Francis Starr, associate professor of physics.  Pictures of his talk are below:

On March 25, the Wesleyan McNair Program presented “Some Assembly Required: DNA-based Nanomaterials,” with Associate Professor of Physics Francis Starr. While DNA has long been known as the chemical foundation of genetics, Starr is exploring new ways to take advantage of the special features of DNA.


Alvin Lucier (photo by Amanda Lucier)

For 40 years, Alvin Lucier, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, has pioneered music composition and performance, including the notation of performers’ physical gestures, the use of brain waves in live performance, the generation of visual imagery by sound in vibrating media, and the evocation of room acoustics for musical purposes.

His recent works include a series of sound installations and works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, and orchestra in which, by means of close tunings with pure tones, sound waves are caused to spin through space.

On Nov. 4-6, the Music Department and Center for the Arts will celebrate Lucier’s remarkable musical career and contributions. Lucier retires this June.

The celebration will be held over Homecoming/Family weekend. It will include a symposium, concerts and Zilkha Gallery exhibition titled, “Alvin Lucier and His Artist Friends,” curated by Andrea Miller-Keller. (more…)

Approximately 115 students from the Woodside Intermediate School in Cromwell joined Wesleyan student-athletes from the men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s ice hockey, football, softball, women’s tennis and wrestling teams and the rugby club for an hour in the Bacon Field House for “recess.”

Three play stations were set up, allowing groups of third- to fifth-graders from Woodside to interact with the Wesleyan students in kickball, capture the flag, red light/green light and basketball.

The Wesleyan football team, through an arrangement between assistant coach Jeff McDonald and Woodside principal Bo Ryan, who met during their college years in the mid-1990s, has been frequenting the school since the fall.

Team members have helped out during recess, while the students were preparing for the Connecticut Mastery Tests, and in other capacities to aid the students and teachers at Woodside. On Thursday, April 7, Wesleyan hosted five students from each of the 21 classes (with a few wild card selections) for a very active hour of fun.

“This whole arrangement is unreal,” says Woodside Principal Bo Ryan. “ It has blossomed into an amazing relationship and our kids absolutely love it. It’s not just that the Wesleyan students come by. They are so actively engaged with our students. It is just amazing.”

More activity between Wesleyan and Woodside is planned for the future.

Below are video highlights and event photos:

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At left, rugby team member Daniele Packard ’13 and wrestler Howard Tobochnik '13 shout to students during a game of capture-the-flag.


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