16 Seniors Elected to Phi Beta Kappa

Wesleyan President Michael Roth (pictured in the back row, blue shirt) congratulated 16 seniors on their induction into Phi Beta Kappa on Dec. 5. The students are, from left, Julianna Harwood, Sarah Padgett, Anna Shen Knes, Maria Rodriguez-Castro, Theo Prachyathipsakul, Anna Apostolidis, Alison Biester, Alexa Strauss, Zachariah Foster, Emma Austin, Isabel Steckel, Paul Franceschi, Shane Ross, Michael Yablong, and Lily Martin Gould. (Han Yang Tay is not pictured.)

Sixteen students from the Class of 2019 were elected to early decision membership in Wesleyan University’s Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, Fall 2018. They were honored during an induction ceremony and reception Dec. 5 at the Office of Admission.

To be elected, a student must first have been nominated by the department of his or her major. He or she also must have demonstrated curricular breadth by having met the General Education Expectations and must have achieved a GPA of 93 or above. 

“For students elected in the fall, it is an especially exacting selection process because admittance is based on a student’s performance at Wesleyan only through their junior year,” explained PBK Gamma Chapter President Steven Horst, professor of philosophy. “Also for this election, students must have finished their General Education Expectations. These new members’ accomplishments during their years at Wesleyan should be a source of pride for themselves and their families.”

Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest surviving Greek letter society in America, founded by five students who attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., on Dec. 5, 1776. The society’s motto is “the love of wisdom is the guide of life”—in Greek, philosophia biou kybernetes, whose initial letters form the name of the society, Phi Beta Kappa.

During the ceremony, the students were congratulated by Horst; Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth; Dean Louise Brown, secretary and marshal for Phi Beta Kappa; PBK treasurer Krishna Winston, the Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Language and Literature; and Karen Collins, the Edward Burr Van Vleck Professor of Mathematics.

The students and their majors include:

  • Anna Apostolidis, anthropology, German studies
  • Emma Austin, American studies, sociology
  • Alison Biester, chemistry, molecular biology and biochemistry
  • Zachariah Foster, biology, Neuroscience and Behavior Program
  • Paul Franceschi, art and art history, environmental studies
  • Lily Martin Gould, Hispanic studies, history
  • Julianna Harwood, physics
  • Anna Shen Knes, Neuroscience and Behavior Program, psychology
  • Sarah Padgett, philosophy, Science and Society Program
  • Theo Prachyathipsakul, chemistry
  • Maria Rodriguez-Castro, psychology
  • Shane Ross, economics, psychology
  • Isabel Steckel, College of Letters, Italian studies
  • Alexa Strauss, chemistry, molecular biology and biochemistry
  • Han Yang Tay, computer science, psychology
  • Michael Yablong, economics

Additional photos of the initiation ceremony are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Theo Prachyathipsakul Chemistry

Theo Prachyathipsakul is minoring in the College of East Asian Studies. After graduating from Wesleyan, he hopes to continue his studies in a chemistry graduate program.

Sarah Padgett serves as a tour guide, peer tutor, and an Eye-to-Eye peer mentor. She is also the leader of the Ecstatic Dance club. She swam on the women’s varsity swimming team for two years and has acted in various student-run plays.

Maria Rodriguez-Castro is a member of the Korean Fan Dance and K-Pop Dance groups. As a member of WesInterpreters, she continues to refine her Spanish skills to increase the accessibility of educational materials for non-English speakers.

Anna Shen Knes Neuroscience and Behavior Program, Psychology

Anna Shen Knes enjoys taking photographs of nature, playing Ultimate Frisbee on the women’s team, and cooking with friends. Next year she plans to participate in the 5th-year master’s program and continue her research with Mike Robinson, assistant professor of psychology.

Michael Yablong belongs to the men’s ice hockey team, Delta Kappa Epsilon, and the Road to Finance club. He has been a course assistant for multiple economics and data-analysis courses. He’s also minoring in data analysis.

Lily Martin Gould is currently working on a history thesis titled “America’s Amazing Escape from Reality: Comic Culture and the Eastern Color Printing Company, 1930s to 1950s.” She cocaptains the women’s Ultimate Frisbee team, Vicious Circles, and works as a consultant at the Information Technology Services Helpdesk.

Zachariah Foster played on the football team and currently serves as the liaison between the nonprofit Team Impact and Wesleyan. After graduating, Foster plans to work in a clinical research setting before applying to medical school.

Alexa Strauss recently submitted submitting her graduate-school applications and looks forward to attending a PhD program in biochemistry next fall. Outside of research, Alexa enjoys being a committee chair for Wesleyan’s molecular biology and biochemistry student group, the Major Groove, as well as being involved in various dance groups on campus.

Alexa Strauss recently submitted her graduate-school applications and looks forward to attending a PhD program in biochemistry next fall. Outside of research, Strauss enjoys being a committee chair for Wesleyan’s molecular biology and biochemistry student group, the Major Groove, as well as being involved in various dance groups on campus.

Isabel Steckel is writing a thesis that examines the emergence of modern conceptions of objective and public scientific practice through a case study of the Palazzo Poggi—an early modern natural history museum in Bologna. She enjoys working as a Wesleyan writing tutor.

Anna Apostolidis, at right, is currently writing a thesis about postcolonial memory and German identity at the site of the Humboldt Forum, a new museum in Berlin. She enjoys singing Classical and Renaissance music in various groups on campus, including her choral a cappella group, the Mixolydians, of which she has been a member since her first year at Wes. She has also acted in and directed plays on campus, including a play that she wrote about Hannah Höch, a female artist from the 1920s.

Shane Ross Economics, Psychology

Shane Ross is dedicating his senior data-science capstone project to reducing recidivism rates for the Connection, the local nonprofit that operates halfway houses and offers a range of supportive services. Along with his academic pursuits, Ross holds various leadership roles around campus, serving as the captain of the varsity wrestling team and the executive director of WesTHON, a yearlong fundraiser for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

a teaching assistant for Introductory Physics and a peer mentor for Applied Data Analysis. She’s also the goalie and a co-captain of the women’s club soccer team and a member of the 2019 WesMaSS cohort.

Julianna Harwood is a teaching assistant for Introductory Physics and a peer mentor for Applied Data Analysis. She’s also the goalie and a cocaptain of the women’s club soccer team and a member of the 2019 WesMaSS cohort.

Paul Franceschi is currently completing a thesis in photography that focuses on play and material interventions in the landscape. Since his first semester, he has also been a committed member of Long Lane Farm, which he comanages with a collective of fellow students.

Alison Biester

Alison Biester works as a teaching assistant for organic chemistry, and she is writing a thesis about thiol-Michael reactions. After graduating, she plans to pursue a PhD in chemistry.

Emma Austin is writing a thesis that analyzes the jurisprudence governing the U.S. foster-care system, in particular its privileging of the exclusive nuclear family. Outside the classroom, Emma is the president of the Wesleyan Student Assembly, a senior interviewer in the Office of Admission, lead organizer for the Title IX process advisors, a director of the storytelling collective called The Sloth, and a member of the belly-dance club.

The new PBK members open their certificates of membership.