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Monthly Archive for October, 2012

Maya Berkman ’16 received a visit from her brother, Nadav, of Amherst, Mass. during Homecoming/Family Weekend Oct. 20.

For Robert Nelson P’16 and Jean Fujisaki P’16, nothing means more to them than time with their son, Ryden ’16. During Wesleyan’s Homecoming/Family Weekend Oct. 19-21, the parents, who visited from La Jolla, Calif. caught a glimpse of Ryden’s new home-away-from-home.

Robert Nelson P ’16 and Jean Fujisaki P’16 visited their son, Ryden Nelson ’16 during Homecoming/Family Weekend.

During their short visit, Nelson and Fujisaki attended Ryden’s Japanese class, a general physics lecture, a comedy show, mingled with his new friends and watched bits of the Homecoming football game Oct. 20.

“Family Weekend has given us a better sense of what Wes is about,” Nelson said, sitting with his family outside Fayerweather on Saturday morning. “We’ve enjoyed going to Ryden’s classes so we learn more about the educational process here, and so far we’ve been very impressed with the teachers, the lectures and the small class sizes.”

Ryden’s family was one of 2,000 alumni, parents and guests who attended Homecoming/Family Weekend events. More than 4,500 people attended the homecoming football game against Amherst College.

Iris and David Berkman ’16, of Amherst, Mass., visited campus to see their daughter, Maya ’16. Maya’s brother, Nadav, and her best friend, Cora, also visited for Homecoming/Family Weekend events. The family attended the soccer, field hockey and football athletic contests. (more…)

Audrey Haynes '12 stands on the rim of the Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica. When she tested samples of human hair from 53 residents in the area, she discovered high levels of mercury in more than half of the samples.

Audrey Haynes ’12 stands on the rim of the Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica. When she tested samples of human hair from 53 residents in the area, she discovered high levels of mercury in more than half of the samples.

(Story contributed by Jim H. Smith)

Senior thesis research conducted last spring by Audrey Haynes ’12 at Costa Rica’s National University, under the tutorship of Johan “Joop” Varekamp, has shown that many residents of the Central American nation have levels of mercury in their hair that far exceed those recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Varekamp, whose student made the discovery as part of a broad evaluation of environmental mercury in Costa Rica, says the elevated mercury levels are probably a consequence of over-consumption of large ocean fish, not exposure to mercury in the air emitted by volcanoes, as a controversial 2011 study suggested.

The research was done in collaboration with Maria del Mar Martinez of the volcanology and seismic monitoring center (OVSICORI/UNA).

Varekamp, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, and his student were invited last spring to test Costa Rica’s mercury levels because research conducted by another team of scientists had found levels of mercury in Costa Rican air that were dramatically higher than those documented anywhere else in the world. While the average environmental mercury concentrations worldwide are in the neighborhood of two or three nanograms (billionths of a gram) per cubic meter of air, the 2011 study reported extraordinarily high concentrations of 600-800 nanograms Hg per cubic meter.

“This was puzzling because many small and remote countries that are less industrialized, like Costa Rica, report modest levels of airborne mercury from coal-fired power plants. Costa Rica doesn’t have any coal fired power plants, though, nor does it have any major mercury-emitting industries,” Varekamp explains. (more…)

Nadja Aksamija, associate professor of art history, is writing a book on the Bolognese villa in the age of Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti at Villa I Tatti in Florence, Italy.

Nadja Aksamija, associate professor of art history, is writing a book on the Bolognese villa in the age of Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti at Villa I Tatti in Florence, Italy.

Nadja Aksamija, associate professor of art history, is spending her 2012-13 year abroad in Florence, Italy as a Robert Lehman Fellow at the Villa I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. She is one of 15 scholars to receive the fellowship.

I Tatti Fellows are selected by an international and interdisciplinary committee that welcomes applications from Italian Renaissance scholars from all nations.

While abroad, Aksamija is researching the Bolognese villa in the age of Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti.

“My project investigates the Bolognese villa culture at the end of the 16th century, a period marked by Catholic reform and huge cultural and intellectual shifts resulting from these changes, as well as from new scientific discoveries,” she says. (more…)

Arianna Fishman '13 and Hannah Cressy '13 sold pumpkins, apples and squash at the ninth annual Long Lane Farm Pumpkin Fest Oct. 6.

Arianna Fishman ’13 and Hannah Cressy ’13 sold pumpkins, apples and squash at the ninth annual Long Lane Farm Pumpkin Fest Oct. 6.

It’s that time of year: crunchy fall leaves and the long awaited end to the summer harvesting season. Long Lane Farm’s ninth annual Pumpkin Fest, held on Oct. 6, celebrated this culmination with free vegetarian food, face painting, live music from student bands, farm tours, yoga, and more.

Middletown residents and Wesleyan students and faculty alike came together in what farm enthusiast Josh Krugman ’14 called “a celebration of the farm as a student-run project that makes amazing things happen, and also the farm as a community and the possibility the farm has of creating community even outside of the school with the people of Middletown.”

Several student bands performed at Pumpkin Fest.

Several student bands performed at Pumpkin Fest.

Jiving to the music of Northpaw, Brushfire, Featherwood, and other student bands, participants relaxed in the sunshine and visited the various booths that embodied similar causes to that of Long Lane Farm. Students’ bicycles were hooked up to generate a small portion of the energy needed for the musical performances; even Arrow, the Ronnybrook cow, showed up for the occasion to promote the all-natural local milk that Wesleyan drinks in its dining halls. Vendors sold baked goods, smoothies, and of course, pumpkins, along with free veggie burgers and apple cider.

The farm began in 2002 as a student initiative to promote sustainable farming and to provide an educational space to do so. That first season Long Lane supplied 50 Middletown residents with summer produce, and positive results have been growing upwards from there. This past season, six students stayed over the summer vacation, harvesting and cultivating the farm’s crops, which included tomatoes, eggplants, squash, peppers, potatoes, melons, and more. (more…)

Matt Long '14 is a tight end on Wesleyan's Football Team.

Matt Long ’14 is a tight end on Wesleyan’s Football Team.

Matt Long ’14 a tight end on Wesleyan’s Football Team, hopes to make a new friend in about a year. Why would a 6-foot 5-inch, 240 pound scholar-athlete at a prestigious college like Wesleyan who was named an academic all-NESCAC choice in 2011 need to wait 12 months to make a new acquaintance? One very special reason.

This past spring, Long, of Williston, Vt., was coaxed by a schoolmate to enlist in a bone marrow donor program during a drive on campus. It was sponsored by DKMS, the world’s largest bone marrow donor program. Thus, Matt was on a donor matching list after a cheek swab. The general consensus is that any individual donor has less than a one percent chance of being called upon to donate. When is does happen, it could be years after the potential donor is first in the system. For Long, the wait was about four months.

“In late August, just before the start of camp [preseason football training], I received an urgent overnight letter,” Long explains. It said that he was a preliminary match for an anonymous patient. Matt was tested further in his home area and things looked promising.

Shortly thereafter, Long was transported to Georgetown Hospital in Washington, D.C., for more testing, (more…)

The Shasha Seminar will offer expert articulation of the issues, from Wesleyan and Middletown to the broader arenas of American and global music today, as well as hands-on engagement with a number of world music traditions.

The Shasha Seminar will offer expert articulation of the issues, from Wesleyan and Middletown to the broader arenas of American and global music today, as well as hands-on engagement with a number of world music traditions.

The 11th Annual Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns, featuring keynote speaker, ethnomusicologist Anthony Seeger, will be held on Nov. 8-9. Endowed by James J. Shasha ’50 P’82, the seminar is an educational forum for Wesleyan alumni, students, faculty and friends that provides an opportunity to explore issues of global concern in a small seminar environment.

The focus of this year’s seminar is Music and Public Life. It is part of a year-long celebration of Music and Public Life taking place at Wesleyan over the 2012-13 academic year. The full schedule is online here.

Seeger’s keynote address, to be delivered at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8, is called, “Can We Safeguard Disappearing Musical Traditions? And If We Can, Should We?” Seeger is distinguished professor of ethnomusicology, emeritus, at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and director emeritus of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings at the Smithsonian Institution. His books and published articles have focused on issues of land use and human rights for Brazilian Indians, issues of archiving and intellectual property, and ethnomusicology theory and method. He was executive producer of all recordings issued on the Smithsonian Folkways label between 1988 and 2000, a total of about 250 audio and video recordings.

Seminar participants also will be treated to concerts and will participate in musical workshops. On Nov. 9, two discussion sessions will be held on local music and national/transnational music.

Wesleyan’s Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music Mark Slobin will facilitate the seminar. He is author and editor of many books on Afghanistan and Central Asia, eastern European Jewish music, and ethnomusicology theory.

The registration fee is $100 per person, and includes all sessions, receptions, meals and conference materials. Seating is limited; register online here. Contact Kathy Macko at kmacko@wesleyan.edu or 860-685-2737 for information on scholarship assistance.

Michael Dorsey, visiting professor of environmental studies, says the College of Environment’s Think Tank is "a novel, innovative space for learning."

Michael Dorsey, visiting professor of environmental studies, says the College of Environment’s Think Tank is “a novel, innovative space for learning.”

In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we ask “5 Questions” of Michael Dorsey, visiting professor of environmental studies. In September, he was reappointed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Advisory Committee.

Q: Professor Dorsey, you’re a visiting professor of environmental studies and a fellow in the College of the Environment’s Think Tank. What is the 2012-13 Think Tank theme, and what is your role in the year-long exploration?

A: The 2012-2013 College of the Environment’s Think Tank theme is: environmental justice and global health.

Despite growing awareness of the problems of environmental injustice and related impacts on health and sustainability, many communities here in the U.S. and around the globe remain vulnerable or are being put at risk in new ways. This year’s COE Think Tank will use our collective interdisciplinary strengths and practical experience to seek to tackle these complex issues. Using complementary, yet distinct, disciplinary approaches to examine the connection between environmental justice and global health, we will explore the health and livelihood implications of environmental injustice from local to global scales –from neighborhood struggles for food justice to regional responses to mountaintop removal in Appalachia and environmental activism in East Asia to the plight of island communities facing unfolding global climate disruption.

Q: Why did you want to be part of the Think Tank, and what do you hope will be accomplished?

A: The College of Environment’s Think Tank is a novel, innovative space for learning; it is a unique space for environmental autodidactical fellowship. Individual learning blossoms as a result of camaraderie and collegial labor—of both peer faculty and dynamic student fellows. (more…)

A rotating crew made up of the Wesleyan baseball team helped remove a 23-year-old wooden playscape at the Neighborhood Preschool Oct. 5. Team members arriving for the earliest shift are, from left, Coach Mark Woodworth '94; Jimmy Hill ’14 of Glastonbury, Conn.; Jordan Farber '16, of  Livingston, N.J.; Jeff Blout ’14 of Duxbury, Mass.; Chris Law ’14 of Dover, Mass.; and Kai Kirk '16 of San Jose, Calif.

A rotating crew made up of the Wesleyan baseball team helped remove a 23-year-old wooden playscape at the Neighborhood Preschool Oct. 5. Team members arriving for the earliest shift are, from left, Coach Mark Woodworth ’94; Jimmy Hill ’14 of Glastonbury, Conn.; Jordan Farber ’16, of  Livingston, N.J.; Jeff Blout ’14 of Duxbury, Mass.; Chris Law ’14 of Dover, Mass.; and and Kai Kirk ’16 of San Jose, Calif.

At Wesleyan’s Neighborhood Preschool on Lawn Avenue, a 23-year-old wooden playscape with safety issues needed to come down.

Mark Woodworth ’94, father of current NPS student Dylan, and head coach of Wesleyan’s baseball team, signed up to help. On Oct. 5, Woodworth and his team set aside the baseball bat and took swings with sledge hammers and mallets, wielding tools, and lifting timbers between their Friday morning classes.

During playtime, the NPS students looked on in amazement, repeating to each other what their teacher, Karyn Hurlbert reminded them, “Stay out of the sandbox”—where the baseball team was dismantling their old climber.
The playscape will be replaced later this month after a successful fundraising effort chaired by Neighborhood Preschool (NPS) parents Lauren Caldwell, assistant professor of classical studies, and Makaela Kingsley ’98, associate director of events for University Relations.

Built by Bears Playgrounds, it is to be named “The Teachers’ Playscape,” in honor of the dedicated individuals who have taught and nurtured community youngsters in the more than three decades that the school has been in operation. Additionally, Jen Alexander ’88, Scott Kessell ’88, and Matt Niland are involved in creating and building additional structures that will share the playground space.

“We have had great support from Wesleyan,” notes Hurlbert, adding that the NPS location on High Street also is getting a new climber.

By noon the old jungle gym was down and the site cleared and ready for the arrival of the new centerpiece to NPS children’s active play.

Additional photos of the playground destruction are below: (Photos by Cynthia Rockwell)

(more…)

Emma Gross '15 tries out one of Wesleyan's new EnergyPods in the Science Library Oct. 18.

Emma Gross ’15 tries out one of Wesleyan’s new EnergyPods in the Science Library Oct. 18.

Need a nap?

Newly installed in both Olin and the Science Library are what appear to be lounge chairs enclosed by white spheres of plastic. These sleek, futuristic-looking machines are built for the sole purpose of squeezing in that midday, mid-study power nap—a recharging center for the mind. The EnergyPod, as it’s called, is the brainchild of a company called MetroNaps and the very first of its kind. Donated by co-founders and Wesleyan alumni Christopher Lindholst ’97 and Arshad Chowdury ’98, these pods are designed to create the ideal energy enhancing environment.

The EnergyPod has a 20-minute timer.

The EnergyPod has a 20-minute timer.

“There is a tremendous amount of research that supports the notion that a 20-minute midday nap can rejuvenate people. It improves memory, learning and mood and can boost productivity by up to 30 percent,” Chowdury said in a BBC article prior to the EnergyPod’s release.

Features include a reclined seat to take pressure off the lower back and legs, an adjustable visor that creates a shield of privacy from the outside, and soothing sounds and rhythms acting as relaxing white noise. A built-in 20 minute timer allows for nap goers to wake up with ease to a combination of slight vibrations and ambient lighting.

The workloads and busy schedules of college life can be just as exhaustion-inducing as those of MetroNaps’ usual corporate customers. For Yekaterina Sapozhnina ’16, who has spent a large portion of her past few days finishing up midterms, a few minutes of sheer relaxation after lunch on Oct. 18 was all she needed to make it through her afternoon classes.

The EnergyPods were donated by Christopher Lindholst ’97 and Arshad Chowdury ’98.

The EnergyPods were donated by Christopher Lindholst ’97 and Arshad Chowdury ’98.

“After sitting in the chair and closing the pod, I fell asleep almost instantly. I really didn’t even realize how badly I needed to rest until I sat up and felt much better,” she said. “Everybody should at least try it out.”

According to Nancy Collop in a 2010 U.S. News & World Report article, “Most people don’t get enough sleep. And for those people, a nap will clearly help. The most important factor is duration, and it’s well-accepted that short naps are good.”

In the corporate world, this concept is catching on. MetroNaps’ clientele includes household names such as Google, AOL/ Huffington Post and Zappos.

Logan Dancey joined the Government Department this fall. He enjoys teaching Wesleyan’s “intellectually curious” students.

Assistant Professor of Government Logan Dancey started teaching at Wesleyan this semester—the perfect time, he says, to be teaching a course on Campaigns and Elections.

“The unfolding presidential and congressional elections continually give us new events to think about as we read and discuss broader theories about the importance and meaning of campaigns and elections,” Dancey says. And though Congress has mostly ground to a halt this election season—meaning a dearth of current events to discuss in his Congressional Policymaking class—the increasing polarization in Congress has led to many interesting and important discussions in that course nevertheless.

Dancey describes the students in his classes as “intellectually curious.”

“They ask great questions and consistently show a desire to really understand a concept or theory. The students definitely keep me on my toes, but ultimately it makes class discussion more interesting and thought-provoking,” he says. (more…)

Jennifer Tucker is chair and associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, associate professor of history, associate professor of science in society.

Jennifer Tucker is chair and associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, associate professor of history, associate professor of science in society.

Jennifer Tucker will serve as interim director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, beginning immediately through the end of the fall 2013 semester. Tucker has accepted this position in order to enable the faculty and the university to formulate a vision for the Allbritton Center that will engage the curriculum and faculty scholarship, and enhance the intellectual life of the university. Her work this year will provide a framework for strategic planning and guide the search for a new director.

Tucker is chair and associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, associate professor of history, associate professor of science in society.

Tucker received her M.A. in history and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge, and her Ph.D. in the history of science, medicine, and technology from Johns Hopkins University. Her research interests at Wesleyan include the history of science and technology, Victorian visual culture, photographic truth and evidence, early science film history and spectatorship, gender and science, and the links between art and the popularization of science in the British Empire.

She is the author of Nature Exposed: Photography as Eyewitness in Victorian Science (Johns Hopkins University, 2006), editor of a special theme issue of History and Theory on “Photography and Historical Interpretation” (Dec. 2009), and author of more than 15 articles and book chapters on topics including scientific ballooning, visual history and the archive, photographic evidence in Victorian law, and the relationship between gender and genre in 19th Century European scientific illustration. Her research and teaching have been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Social Science Research Council, Marshall Scholarship Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies, and National Science Foundation, among others.

Her current project, “The Art and Visual Politics of the Tichborne Claimant Affair,” excavates hundreds of photographs, engravings, and other visual materials that circulated around the time of the high-profile trial in order to show how the physical movement of photographs and other visual materials through time and space shaped the public meaning of the case from the beginning. She is the image editor for History and Technology journal and a member of the Radical History Review editorial collective.

“Please join me in thanking Jennifer for accepting this position; and please join her in conversation as she begins to work with departments and programs and other colleagues to begin the transformation of the Allbritton Center into the leading regional center for the study of public life,” said Rob Rosenthal, provost and vice president for academic affairs, the John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology.

Read a “5 Questions With . . .” piece on Tucker in this past Wesleyan Connection article.

Robert Schmidt and Anne Marcotty received Cardinal Awards in October 2012.

Robert Schmidt and Anne Marcotty received Cardinal Awards in October 2012.

Robert Schmidt, senior project manager for Physical Plant – Facilities, and Anne Marcotty, senior designer in the Office of University Communications, each received a Cardinal Achievement Award in October.

Schmidt and Marcotty were honored for demonstrating extraordinary initiative or providing outstanding service with regard to specific tasks in their departments. This special honor comes with a $150 award and reflects the university’s gratitude for those extra efforts.

The award recipients are nominated by department chairs and supervisors. Nominations can be made anytime throughout the year.

For more information or to nominate a staff member for the award, visit the Human Resources website and scroll down to Cardinal Achievement Award under “Forms.”

Recipients will continue to be recognized in The Wesleyan Connection.

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