Bryan Stascavage '18

Intern at the Wesleyan Office of Communications for Spring and Summer 2015. Currently working towards meeting the requirements for an Economics and Government dual major. A Wesleyan Posse Veteran.

Csere Receives Social Justice Employee Award

David Csere, winner of the Morgenstern-Clarren Social Justice Award, is known for his legendary grilled cheese sandwiches and knack for memorizing student's birthdays.

David Csere, winner of the Morgenstern-Clarren Social Justice Award, is known for his legendary grilled cheese sandwiches and knack for memorizing student’s birthdays.

#THISISWHY

In this Q&A we sit down with David McClure Csere, chef for Bon Appétit, recipient of the 2015 Morgenstern-Clarren Social Justice Employee Prize. The award was created in 2009 in memory of Peter Morgenstern-Clarren ‘03 who pursued social justice while a student at Wesleyan. Morgenstern-Clarren’s activism included securing benefits for Wesleyan custodial staff, participating in the United Student and Labor Action Committee, and contributing his leadership to the campus chapter of Amnesty International. Peter’s parents, Dr. Hadley Morgenstern-Clarren and the honorable Pat Morgenstern-Clarren of Shaker Heights, Ohio, are sponsoring this award that honors their son’s activism for the public good.

Q: When and why did you decide to work for Wesleyan?

A: When I graduated from UCONN I worked a sales job and didn’t really like it. I wanted to work with my hands, to make things from scratch. After working odd jobs, I was finally given an opportunity to work as a cook, and then took classes to develop my chef skills. It was basically an apprenticeship program. After completing that training program, I applied to Wesleyan and was offered a job. That was in 1983, so I’ve worked here for more than 31 years.

Q: What is the best part about working for Wesleyan?

A: Meeting and interacting with the students. I like to go to at least one game of all of the Wesleyan sports each year. I also attend the senior thesis video and art projects.

Kutlu ’16 Receives ASBMB Undergraduate Research Award

Selin Kutlu '16

Selin Kutlu ’16

Selin Kutlu ’16 recently received the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) undergraduate research award for her work in DNA mismatch repair. ASBMB’s mission is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology through the publication of scientific and educational journals, the organization of scientific meetings, advocacy for funding of basic research and education, support of science education at all levels, and promoting the diversity of individuals entering the scientific workforce.

Moezzi ’01 to Speak on Living with Mental Illness April 7

moezzi

During the Noah Langholz ’14 Memorial Lecture April 7, Melody Moezzi ’01 will talk about living with mental illness. (Photo courtesy of Melody Moezzi)

Iranian-American Muslim feminist writer, attorney and activist Melody Moezzi ’01 will deliver the Noah Langholz ’14 Memorial Lecture at 7 p.m. April 7 in Daniel Family Commons.

Moezzi, who earned a BA in philosophy, will speak about living with mental illness and the broader impact of stigma.

Moezzi will share her experiences living with bipolar disorder from her unique perspective as an Iranian-American Muslim feminist writer, attorney and activist thriving despite, and because of, a serious mental illness. Moezzi also will speak on seeking help and cultural barriers to care, among other issues. She will also sign copies of her memoir, Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life (2014), which will be available for purchase after the talk.

Langholz’s family shared the following message:

Noah loved his many friends at Wes. He stopped seeking help with depression and anxiety as his condition worsened, and he took his life in 2013. This did not have to be. If you are in terrible pain, please tell someone. If your friend is in crisis, please don’t ignore their odd behavior – listen, intervene, and tell someone who can help. Know the signs. Cherish your lives; it gets better. Pass it on.

The event is sponsored by Active Minds, Muslim Life at Wesleyan, and Wesleyan Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).

For further information about Melody Moezzi, see her recent “Opinionator” piece for the New York Times Couch series, “A Persian in Therapy.

Also a blogger for the Huffington Post, Moezzi’s most recent piece is “Treat, Don’t Traumatize,” a call for meaningful mental health care reform.

 

Gruen Discusses Chimpanzees Used in Research on Canadian Nature Show

Lori Gruen

Lori Gruen speaks about the ethics of using chimps in research in a Canadian show The Nature of Things.

On March 12, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) aired an episode of The Nature of Things called “Safe Haven for Chimps” in which host David Suzuki and his crew follow the efforts of the staff at Chimp Haven in Louisiana. The compound is a place where chimps, who have been used in biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are retired and allowed to live our their lives in a sanctuary.

Lori Gruen, chair and professor of philosophy, professor of environmental studies, professor of feminist gender and sexuality studies, first appears about 10 minutes into the episode. She speaks about her website, www.last1000chimps.com, which tracks the remaining chimps being used in American biomedical and behavioral research.

“The idea of the ‘LAST 1000’ was a way of taking abstract notion of ‘there are chimpanzees being used in laboratories’ and maybe we should end chimpanzee research and retire them,” asserts Gruen.

On her website, Gruen tracks the chimps by name. The names of chimps that are retired to a sanctuary like Chimp Haven are turned green on the site. Gruen explains, “The hope is to turn as many of the names on the ‘LAST 1000’ site green, which means they have been retired from the laboratory.”

“I think it’s important to identify the chimpanzees by name, both to honor and represent them as individuals, and oftentimes to be able to identify and empathize with another is a central part of what moves people to action.”

Near the end of the episode, Gruen summarizes her thoughts.

“When I first started working on topics related to captive chimpanzees something like 20 years ago, I had really no idea that by this point in time we would be discussing the retirement of chimpanzees…”

The video can be seen here.

Wesleyan’s Vegan Cuisine Continues to Impress

Wesleyan’s vegan fare continues to impress voters and critics: collegemagazine.org has named the school the ninth best vegan campus nationwide, and Wesleyan is looking to reach the final round in the People’s Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) “March Madness”-style voting contest.

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According to collegemagazine.org:

Wesleyan not only boasts its history of social justice activism, but also a wide range of mouth-watering vegan foods. Veggie chicken red curry is just one of these fine meals. Let your senses run wild with Bon Appétit, the campus’ food supplier. Their navy bean soup, garden burger and steamed parsnips will have you running back for more. Even better, Bon Appétit serves vegan options all day, every day.

The article and rest of the top 10 universities can be found here.

As of March 16, Wesleyan has a commanding lead over Shippensburg University in PETA’s small school vegan cuisine contest. Wesleyan looks to reach the final round where it will potentially face Warren Wilson College, which has a small lead over Oberlin College.

The contest page can be found here.

Basinger, Arnold ’91 Talk About Classic Movies on TCM

Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, and Jeremy Arnold ’91 will hold a public talk on “Films and Facts: Whose Responsibility?” at 12:30 p.m. March 27 at the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Classic Film Festival. The schedule of the film festival can be found here.

Hollywood’s alleged disregard for the facts of history is year after year the subject of heated media debate. From the early days of the silent era to this year’s Oscar race, charges of historical inaccuracy have fueled great conversations about factual reproduction, creative license, propaganda and audience responsibility. Jeanine Basinger and Jeremy Arnold will continue the tradition by discussing the fascinating question of whether Hollywood films have a responsibility to history or storytelling.

Arnold, who holds a BA in film studies, is the author of Lawrence of Arabia: The 50th Anniversary, a coffee table book published by Sony and included in their 2012 Blu-ray release of Lawrence of Arabia. The book and Blu-ray can be found here.

Held over four days in the heart of Hollywood, the TCM Classic Film Festival is a place where movie lovers from around the world can gather to experience classic movies as they were meant to be experienced: on the big screen, in some of the world’s most iconic venues, with the people who made them. Moreover, the TCM Classic Film Festival strives to be a place where a community of movie fans of all ages can share their love of classic movies with each other, make new friends and see films as they are seldom seen today.

Faculty, Students, Alumna Co-Author Paper on Skeletal Myogenesis in Zebrafish

Stephen Devoto, professor of neuroscience and behavior; Rosemary Doris, visiting assistant professor of biology; Ph.D. candidate Steffie Windner; and neuroscience and behavior major Chantal Ferguson ’13 are the co-authors of a paper that is the culmination of three years of research. The paper, titled “Tbx6, Mesp-b and Ripply1 Regulate the Onset of Skeletal Myogenesis in Zebrafish” is published in the March 2015 edition of Development, Vol. 142, No. 6, pages 1,159-1,168. The paper is a collaboration between Wesleyan, Kings College London and the National Institute for Medical Research (MRC).

Devoto highlights the importance of the paper:

The paper identifies three new regulators of muscle development, using research with genetically modified zebrafish. It shows that these three proteins form a network that regulate each other. These three proteins and the genes that encode them also regulate the most basic vertebrate features – the body segments that will form the vertebrae and ribs. Thus, the paper demonstrates a genetic linkage between segmentation and muscle development.

The paper’s abstract can be found here.

Graduate Student Blasser Hand Crafts Analog Instruments

Graduate student Peter Blasser tunes one of his hand-crafted analog instruments. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Graduate student Peter Blasser tunes one of his hand-crafted analog instruments. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

#THISISWHY
In this Q&A, we speak with Peter Blasser, a music graduate student. 

Q: What was your first experiences with music? When did you decide that music would be your life work?

A: I was in elementary school in the 1980s when music programs were still part of the public school curriculum. I remember that those music classes were not very noteworthy at the time. In middle school I took a wood shop class and liked working with the tools. After taking classical civilization classes, I started to triangulate all three — I wanted to work with wood to make ancient Greek instruments to see what they sounded like. The first instruments I decided to recreate were ancient stringed instruments.

Blasser changes where the transistors are connected in order to tune the instrument.

Blasser changes where the transistors are connected in order to tune the instrument.

Q: Where did you complete your undergraduate studies?

A: I went to Oberlin College. I initially went as a classics major, but still had a passion for making classical instruments. Oberlin had a conservatory for music, and they offered introductory courses in electronic music. I started to use electronic music to model and tune classical instruments. I also was able to take a course in analog music, learning about transistors and electronics, and how they could be used to make music. This caused me to combine wood and analog electronics, which is all about the flow of the transistors.

Q: What did you do after graduating?

A: I purchased a home in Baltimore about 10 years ago as a space to work on my art. Fixing up the house was an artistic experience in of itself. I also started my own business where I sold analog instruments. I wasn’t making much money, so I spent a lot of time working on poetry, thinking of ideas for my business and exploring my philosophy. I also toured with my instruments, but didn’t like how much I had to promote myself and push my brand.

Q: Why did you choose Wesleyan for your graduate school?

Blasser likes to work with wood, which is frequently used in his instruments.

Blasser likes to work with wood, which is frequently used in his instruments.

A: I decided to attend Wesleyan after developing a friendship with Ron Kuivila, chair of the Music Department. After graduating from Oberlin I never thought I would return to school, but I found that I enjoyed giving lectures and helping other students make their instruments. I also like how Wesleyan’s music program, and art program in general, is experimental — there are no prejudices from students about what music should “be” like. The different departments are porous, there is mixing between different mediums and styles. This enables me to sit with undergraduates and help them make a piece that the student will own, with a shared experience. This made me realize that I enjoy teaching, and in order to become a professor, formal education is required.

Q: What are your plans after Wesleyan?

A: Right now my analog electronics business,

Students Travel to Puerto Rico to Develop Research Skills

The group photo of the earth and environmental science team.  The group travelled to Puerto Rico in January to develop their research skills.

Twenty-one students, two faculty and one guest traveled to Puerto Rico in January. Students honed their research skills while on the chain of islands.

This semester, 21 senior earth and environmental science majors in the Senior Field Research Project (EES 398) course traveled to Puerto Rico to develop their research, data collection, analytical and presentation skills.

Students gathered samples in a bat cave while wading through inches of bat guano.

Students gathered samples in a bat cave while wading through inches of bat guano.

As part of the EES Department’s capstone course sequence, students are required to participate in a series of student-designed research projects. From Jan. 12-19, students performed independent research in the field.

“The overarching spirit is to have students participate in the full arc of a research project: from the design all the way to the presentation of the results,” said Dana Royer, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, associate professor of environmental studies. Royer has co-taught the class three times, this year with Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, faculty director of the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program.

President Roth Speaks about Liberal Education (with video)

President Michael Roth delivers his speech at Memorial Chapel.

President Michael Roth spoke on the value of a liberal arts education Feb. 3 in Memorial Chapel.

#THISISWHY

On Feb. 3, President Michael Roth gave a talk on “How to Destroy Liberal Education” in Memorial Chapel. Since the publication of his book, Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters (Yale University Press, 2014), Roth has been speaking about liberal education to Wesleyan alumni and many others at various venues around the country. At this event, he spoke to students, staff and faculty about the relevance of the kind of education offered so compellingly at Wesleyan.

A video and more photos of the event are below:

A Body in Fukushima: Photo, Video Exhibit on Display at 3 CFA Galleries

Patrick Dowdey, curator for the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies gallery, introduced the <em>Body in Fukushima</em> exhibit Feb. 5.

Patrick Dowdey, curator for the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies gallery, introduced the Body in Fukushima exhibit Feb. 5.

A Body in Fukushima, a series of color photographs and video presented in a groundbreaking exhibition across three Wesleyan galleries, is on display through April.

"Eiko in Fukushima, Komagamine No. 146, 17 January 2014," digital photo, 13.3" x 20", photo by William Johnston.

“Eiko in Fukushima, Komagamine No. 146, 17 January 2014,” is on display in the exhibit. (Photo by William Johnston)

The series is an exploration into the area around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which destabilized and melted down after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. The power plant released radioactive materials into the surrounding environment.

In 2014, dancer-choreographer Eiko Otake and photographer/historian William Johnston followed abandoned train tracks through desolate stations into eerily vacant towns and fields in Fukushima, Japan. Otake is a visiting instructor in dance and Johnston is professor of history, professor of east Asian studies, professor of environmental studies and professor of science in society.

“By placing my body in these places, I thought of the generations of people who used to live there. I danced so as not to forget,” Otake said. A project of witness, remembrance, and empathy, A Body in Fukushima grapples with the reality of human failure.

The explosions of the Daiichi Power Plant made the area uninhabitable. Sometimes in vulnerable gestures and at other times in a fierce dance, Otake embodies grief, anger and remorse. Johnston’s images capture her with the cries of the Fukushima landscapes.

The works can currently be seen at the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies Gallery, the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery and the Davison Art Center Gallery. More hours and more information see the exhibit’s website.

The exhibit features a photo and a video installation.

The exhibit features a photo and a video installation.

Gruen Speaks at Minding Animals Conference in India

Professor Lori Gruen visits India as a distinguished guest to the Minding Animals Conference.

Professor Lori Gruen recently visited India as a distinguished guest at the Minding Animals Conference. She’s pictured here at the Taj Mahal.

Gruen spoke on "Entangled Empathy," the topic of her most recent book.

Gruen spoke on “Entangled Empathy,” the topic of her most recent book.

Lori Gruen, chair and professor of philosophy, was a distinguished guest speaker at the third Minding Animals Conference (MAC) in New Delhi, India on Dec. 7. Gruen also is professor of environmental studies, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

During the conference, Gruen discussed “Entangled Empathy,” which is the topic of her most recent book.

Gruen notes “that we are already entangled in complex and life-altering relationships with other animals and argues for a version of empathy as a way of rethinking and practicing animal ethics.”

She also sat on a panel that discussed the state of the field of animal studies and led a workshop on “Feminism and Animals.”

The MAC is a conference held every three years and organized by Minding Animals International (MAI).  The MAI “has been designed to improve the status of nonhuman animals and alleviate nonhuman animal exploitation by facilitating research and discourse among scholars, students, artists, activists, advocates (and members of the general population) in the trans-disciplinary field of animal studies.  MAI’s main objectives are to further the development of nonhuman animal studies internationally and to help establish legal and moral protections for nonhuman animals.”

Gruen shared some of her pictures from her trip to New Dehli:

Picture taken by Gruen.

Picture taken by Gruen.

Gruen sits on a panel about the state of the field of Animal Studies and a workshop on "Feminism and Animals."

Gruen, third from left, sat on a panel about the state of the field of animal studies and led a workshop on “Feminism and Animals.”