Frederic Wills '19

Imai Presents Economics Research at Banking Conference, Macroeconomics Research Workshop

Masami Imai

Masami Imai

Masami Imai, chair and professor of economics, professor of East Asian studies, presented a paper at the 19th Annual International Banking Conference held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago on Nov. 4. This year’s theme was Achieving Financial Stability: Challenges to Prudential Regulation, giving Imai the opportunity to speak on “Japan’s Regulatory Response to Banking Problems.”

At the 12th Annual Workshop on Macroeconomics Research at Liberal Arts Colleges, held at Williams College in August, and at the Japanese Economic Association Meeting held at Waseda University College in Tokyo, Japan in September, Imai discussed “The Effects of Ethnic Chinese Minority on Vietnam’s Regional Economic Development in the Post-Vietnam War Period.”

His work examined the impact of the Hoa, an ethnically Chinese, economically dominant minority on regional economic development in Vietnam following the Vietnam War. Imai found that the ethnic group had a positive impact on the development of Vietnam, but the “post-Vietnam War exodus of ethnic Chinese is likely to have had long-term negative economic impacts.”

Imai teaches courses on money, banking and financial markets, economy of Japan, economies of East Asia, and quantitative methods in economics. His research interests include money and banking, political economy, and the economy of Japan.

(Randi Plake contributed to this article).

 

Grossman Speaks on the Wealth of 18th Century Middletown Residents

Richard Grossman

Richard Grossman

As part of the “A Vanished Port” series, Richard Grossman, professor of economics, presented a lecture titled, “How Rich Was Rich,” at the Russell Library in Middletown, Conn. on Nov. 9.

The lecture came as part of a newly opened exhibit at the Middlesex County Historical Society. “A Vanished Port: Middletown and the Caribbean, 1750-1824,” takes objects and documents from the time period to illustrate the “culture of prosperity that grew from Middletown’s trade relationships with the slave-worked sugar plantations of the English Caribbean.”

Using Middletown merchant, Richard Alsop, who died in 1776 with a huge estate that included property, possessions, and human beings, all valued at 52,000 pounds as an example, Grossman attempted to answer the question, “Were Alsop and his fellow Middletown businessmen rich by modern standards?” In this vein, Grossman examined the colonial currency of early Connecticut, its buying power, the monetary standards of the time, and the difficulty of understanding a very different form of money in today’s standard. Simply put, he discussed “the complexity of comprehending economies from long-ago in the present day,” according to an Oct. 5 article published in the Hartford Courant.

More information on the exhibit “A Vanished Port” is posted to the historical society’s website.

Potts ’60 Honored with Babbidge Award for Book on Wesleyan’s History

pottsbookWesleyan University, 1910-1970: Academic Ambition and Middle-Class America, by David Potts ’60 is the winner of the 2016 Homer D. Babbidge Jr. Award “for the best study of a significant aspect of Connecticut history.”

The book, published by Wesleyan University Press in 2015, has received critical acclaim from a variety of sources including, History of Education Quarterly and Connecticut History Review. Reviews in American History states, “Wesleyan University, 1910-1970 is one of the strongest institutional histories of an American college or university and covers in vivid detail every conceivable aspect of the institution, from finances and board priorities, to professors’ abilities and student aspirations, from building projects, to town-gown relations.”   

Potts’ book also won the Wesleyan’s James L. McConaughy Jr. Memorial Award for “writings by a member of the Wesleyan family that conveys unusual insight and understanding of current or past events.” Additionally, his first volume on Wesleyan’s history, Wesleyan University, 1831-1910: Collegiate Enterprise in New England, published by Yale Press, 1992, also won the Babbidge Award.

Slobin Donates Afghani Instruments to The Met

Mark Slobin, professor of music, professor of American studies, emeritus, recently donated his collection of Afghani musical instruments to The Met museum.

From 1967 to 1972, Slobin traveled to Afghanistan to complete dissertation fieldwork on local folk music of the northern region. Along the way he collected, what are now, extremely rare instruments including, polished river stones, sometimes used as castanets; end-blown shepherds’ flutes; two large fretted lutes known as dutar; both Uzbek and Tajik damburas; and a plethora of other instruments.

His time in Afghanistan was marked by many memorable encounters, such as the “rare, hidden tradition of pre-Islamic shamanism, in which the healer went into a trance, summoning and voicing spirits with the qobuz, a fiddle related to Kazakh and Kyrygyz shamanism.”

Slobin’s full journey with multimedia documentation can be found on the Wesleyan Website and The Met’s blog summarizing the donation is online here.

slobininstruments

Robinson Lab Researches the Effects of Junk Food Diets

Michael Robinson, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience and behavior at Wesleyan University. (Photo by Olivia Drake/Wesleyan University)

Michael Robinson

Mike Robinson, assistant professor of psychology, is a co-author of a paper titled “The impact of junk-food diet during development on ‘wanting’ and ‘liking’.” The paper was recently published in The Behavioral Brain Research Journal. His co-authors include Wesleyan alumni Ellen Nacha Lesser ’15, Aime Arroyo-Ramirez ‘16, and Sarah Jingyi Mi ’16.

The research looked at the developmental impacts of a chronic junk-food diet throughout development and how it blunts pleasure and affects motivation. The study found that chronic exposure to a junk-food diet resulted in large individual differences in weight gain (gainers and non-gainers) despite resulting in stunted growth as compared to chow-fed controls. Behaviorally, junk food exposure attenuated conditioned approach (autoshaping) in females, particularly in non-gainers. In contrast, junk-food exposed rats that gained the most weight were willing to work harder for access to a food cue (conditioned reinforcement), and were more attracted to a junk-food context (conditioned place preference) than non-gainers.

Read the full article here.

Gross Uses Detective Notes, Archival Documents to Write Disembodied Torso

Kali Gross, professor of African American studies, details the 1887 crime of the disembodied torso found near a pond outside Philadelphia, and the subsequent, scandal-driven trial of Hannah Mary Tabbs and George Wilson, in her most recent book Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America, published February 2, 2016.

Gross explains in an editorial published on her website, her use of “detectives’ notes, trial and prison records, local newspapers, and other archival documents to reconstruct this ghastly who-done-it true crime in all its scandalous detail and in doing so, gives the crime context by analyzing it against broader evidence of police treatment of black suspects and violence within the black community.”

Copies of Gross’ Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Oxford University Press.   

Khamis Participates in Informality, Development Conference

Melanie Khamis

Melanie Khamis

Melanie Khamis, assistant professor of economics, assistant professor of Latin American studies, attended the Informality and Development Conference in Honor of Elinor Ostrom held at Indiana University on Oct. 22-23.

Khamis, co-authored two papers presented at the conference including “Migration and the Informal Sector,” and “Risk Attitudes, Informal Employment and Wages: Evidence from a Transition Country.”

The conference was organized by faculty from Cornell University and Indiana University. It centered around the study of informality, the part of an economy that is neither taxed not monitored by any form of government—a subject area where Professor Ostrom, the first and only woman to have won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009, has had a major influence. The goal of the conference was to honor the memory and the legacy of Ostrom by exploring informality from both economic and interdisciplinary perspectives.

Taylor Co-Authors Study on Knotted Protein Configurations

Erika Taylor

Erika Taylor

Erika Taylor, associate professor of chemistry, is a co-author of a paper titled, “Methyl transfer by substrate signaling from a knotted protein fold,” published in the August 2016 issue of the Nature Structural & Molecular Biology newsletter.

The paper describes the protein TrmD, an enzyme that catalyzes tRNA modification, but unlike most proteins, TrmD has an “interesting knotted configuration, which is not common,” Taylor said.

The paper demonstrates that even in proteins with knotted configurations, the internal protein movements and dynamics are important for binding, signaling and catalysis.

“This is exciting because one might expect knotted proteins to be more static in their structure due to the knot, where the amino acids wrap in on themselves, but the evidence suggests that protein dynamics are just as important in these types (knotted configurations) of proteins,” she said.

 

Ulysse Contributes #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus Article to Online Anthropology Journal

Gina Athena UlysseGina Athena Ulysse, professor of anthropology, recently contributed to the #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus, a new project by The Anthropoliteia, an online anthropology journal. Ulysse also is professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

One of the main goals of the project is to “mobilize anthropological work as a pedagogical exercise addressing the confluence of race, policing, and justice.” In this vein, Ulysse uses her entries to analyze the film series “Race: The Power of Illusion.” As part of the Race: Are We So Different? Project created by the American Anthropological Association, the film serves as a teaching tool for Ulysse in her own classroom at Wesleyan. Ulysse enters with the aim of unpacking the notion of “race is a social construct,” by paying attention to “1) the making of this narrative and the rise of academic disciplines; 2) changes in social structure and the language of racial classifications in relation to power; and 3) the multiple meanings/ significations of racial difference concomitant to capital signs.”

Throughout her entry, Ulysse talks of the importance of filling in the partial truths of the U.S. and its relations that students have been taught in history classes for their entire lives. She recounts the numerous times she has heard the exclamations, “I had no idea”; “This wasn’t even a sidebar in my textbook”; “Never thought of all these connections. Oh my God! It is all one big story.” For Ulysse, after years of teaching, she is “only too aware of what it means to make this intervention in their thinking given the body of students that she is in.”

Ulysse’s entry is online here.

Siry Details the History of Center for the Arts in Architectural History Journal

Joe Siry

Joe Siry

The Wesleyan Center for the Arts was featured in The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (JSAH), the main U.S. peer-reviewed scholarly journal for architectural history, in an article written by Joseph Siry, the Kenan Professor of the Humanities, professor of art history. The article, titled “Roche and Dinkeloo’s Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University: Classical, Vernacular, and Modernist Architecture in the 1960s,” detailed the extensive history and creative motives behind the impressive 11-building complex.

From 1962, under the presidency of Victor Butterfield (in office 1943–67), Wesleyan’s trustees committed the college to develop into a small university, and in 1964 they commissioned a master plan that identified the eventual site of the Center for the Arts as an integral part of the expansion. The overall goal, in the words of the trustees, was to “reaffirm the relevance of liberal arts in a world of
increased specialization.”

The $11.8 million Center for the Arts was designed in the fall of 1965, at a time when Wesleyan had an endowment of $151 million for a student body of about 1,240.

Officially opening in the fall of 1973, the Wesleyan CFA’s “minimal aesthetic has invoked a sense of timelessness.” From the faculty committee tasked with choosing an architectural firm that met specific guidelines outlined by President Butterfield, to the subsequent hiring of Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo, and then the eventual construction of the CFA, the buildings were created as a “clear and impressive formal statement of what they would be used for, but at the same time, expresses what they stand for and represent,” Siry writes. “As modernist architecture, what these buildings lack in handcrafted ornament they compensate for in material and spatial effects.”

This bird’s-eye view photograph shows the of the 1966 Center for the Arts model.

This bird’s-eye view photograph shows the of the 1966 Center for the Arts model.

 

Sumarsam, McGraw PhD ’05 Edit Performing Indonesia for Smithsonian

Sumarsam

Sumarsam

Sumarsam, University Professor of Music, and Andy McGraw PhD ’05 served as co-editors for Performing Indonesia, a Smithsonian Freer Sackler online publication of 16 articles on Indonesian music, dance and drama.

Topics include choral singing of Indonesian and Malaysian Borneo; learning from American schoolchildren playing Balinese gamelan; the challenges of music sustainability in Lombok, Indonesia; gong evolution and practices, “the dancing goddess;” the acoustic concept of an American gamelan; musical kinship in the transnational Balinese gamelan community; and more.

In addition to serving as an editor, Sumarsam co-authored the introduction to the publication, and delivered the keynote address titled, “Dualisms in the Formative and Transformational Processes of Javanese Performing Arts.” His address was delivered at the Performing Indonesia Conference held at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C. in 2013.

The paper examines the “formative and transformational processes of gamelan and wayang, Javanese performing art forms, and the ways in which these art forms impacted the arts as they were exposed by and introduced to the West.” Sumarsam and McGraw also analyzed some of the dualisms that accompany traditions, such as stasis/motion, sacred/secular, good/evil, traditional/contemporary and ethnicity/nationality.

Williams ’15 Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

LaNell-374x249

LaNell Williams ’15

LaNell Williams ’15, currently enrolled in the Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s to PhD Bridge Program, was named a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow for 2016. This fellowship program not only recognizes but also supports outstanding  students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. With more than 17,000 applicants, Williams was one of 2,000 selected for the three-year stipend, with its professional development and international research opportunities.

At the Fisk-Vanderbilt program, which aims to increase the number of underrepresented minority students engaged in PhD-level STEM research, Williams is focusing her research on the development of an innovative medical imaging radiation detector, examining new types of crystalline materials that will improve the resolution of Gamma ray detection.

A physics major as an undergraduate at Wesleyan, Williams was an integral member of that community. Christina Othon, assistant professor of physics, was Williams’ advisor.

“LaNell was a vital mentor and friend to many of our students in the sciences, and she went out of her way to support her fellow students by fostering networks, support systems, and a sense of community,” Othon said. “Even today, she continues to mentor undergraduates at Wesleyan, despite undertaking the challenges of starting her own graduate career in physics. Her success is well deserved.”

Class Dean Renee Johnson Thornton praises William’s work ethic and scientific mind.

“When I think about the impressive young woman in a Memphis, Tennessee high school that Cliff Thornton, associate dean of admission, was determined to enroll at Wesleyan so many years ago, I am reminded that LaNell was always destined for greatness. We, at Wesleyan, are lucky that she chose us. Her commitment to breaking barriers and encouraging others to pursue science is the standard we should all emulate.”