Lauren Rubenstein

Director of Media & Public Relations at Wesleyan University

Retiring Research Chimps

Lori Gruen, professor of philosophy, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, professor of environmental studies, was a guest on WNPR’s “Where We Live.” She discussed the history and ethics of conducting biomedical and behavior research on chimpanzees, and a recent announcement by the National Institutes of Health that most chimps in research labs in the U.S. would be retired to sanctuary.

Wesleyan Offers Passion-Driven Statistics on Coursera

Lisa Dierker, professor of psychology, chair of the Quantitative Analysis Center, is bringing her Passion-Driven Statistics course to the online world, according to a story in Forbes. Thirteen thousand students have already registered for the MOOC, which allows students to use statistics to study topics that interest them.

“Thirteen thousand students have signed up…I could teach 13,000 people how to use SAS,” Dierker marveled. “The whole world of possibility is completely changing now.”

They Eat Horses, Don’t They?

In the wake of a recent scandal in which horse meat was discovered in meat products labeled as beef in the United Kingdom, University Professor of Letters Kari Weil wrote in The Boston Globe about a debate in 19th-century France over the morality of eating horse meat. Hippophagy, or the eating of horse meat, was not legalized until the late 19th century in France, and only after a “public campaign to override objections very like the ones Americans have today.”

“…the fact that it took so much persuasion to convince the French to consider eating horse—in a dispute that exposed passionate beliefs about public health, animal rights, and social welfare—suggests why we are once again facing a public scandal over hippophagy. At heart, it is an unsettled cultural crisis about which animals we accept as moral to eat,” writes Weil.

Weil is chair of the College of Letters.

Rethinking Depression

Charles Barber, visiting assistant professor of psychology, visiting writer, is participating in a three-part radio documentary on Canada’s CBC Radio about treatments for depression. In Part I of the series, the panel discusses the history of depression treatments, from lobotomies and electroconvulsive therapy in the 1930s to Prozac and other antidepressant drugs. Though treatments have come a long way, the number of people with depression has soared.

Barber is the author of the book Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation.


Slotkin on the Popularity of the AR-15 Rifle

Professor Emeritus Richard Slotkin comments in a Hartford Courant story by Dan Haar ’81 on the immense popularity of the AR-15 rifle. Slotkin says the tradition of American gun ownership stems from the foundation of this country on individual freedom, and the expectation that violence will happen.

“In a sense it goes back to the handgun,” Slotkin said. “We lived in a violent society for a long time.”

Between the Civil War and the New Deal, Slotkin said, we saw the development of automatic weapons and vast production of firearms at a time when there was no gun control, amid the rise of goon squads against labor, urban gangs and other dangers. Upheaval in the ’60s and the drug wars of the ’80s only added to that, and the current movement of anti-government fervor feeds on it, blending extremist views with a rational desire for personal defense.

Slotkin is Richard S. Olin Professor of English and American Studies, emeritus.

‘I Do and I Don’t’ in the Sunday Book Review

Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies Jeanine Basinger’s new book, I Do and I Don’t: A History of Marriage in the Movies was reviewed in The New York Times’ Sunday Book Review section. The book entertainingly explains how “moviemakers create excitement and drama out of that most quotidian of institutions,” marriage.

“Romance movies may demand chemistry, but movies about marriage demand something more difficult to create — a sense that a couple are simpatico, that however much they may bicker and snipe, their deep understanding and feeling for each other will ultimately keep them together.”

Tucker to Study Modern Visual Evidence as Fulbright Fellow in England

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. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Associate Professor Jennifer Tucker has been selected for a Fulbright-U.S. Scholar Award, through which she will spend eight months at the University of York in England.

Tucker is a historian of British science, technology and medicine, specializing in the study of the connections among British science, photography and the visual arts from 1850 to 1920. At the University of York, she will complete work on her second book, tentatively titled, Facing Facts: The Tichborne Cause Célèbre and the Rise of Modern Visual Evidence. She also plans to begin preliminary research toward her next book project, which will trace the social history of Victorian scientific and popular visual depictions of the ocean life before and after the HMS Challenger expedition (1872-1876), which laid foundations for the modern science of oceanography.

The Fulbright Scholar Program, the U.S. government’s flagship program in international educational exchange, was established in 1946. It aims to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” According to its website, it has provided more than 300,000 participants with an “opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.” Read more about the program here.

“I’m thrilled,” said Tucker. “The Fulbright is a research award in the History of Art Department at York, and the timing could not be better.  I am glad for this chance to complete my current book project and begin a new one in dialogue with several specialists whose interests dovetail so closely with mine.”

Beveridge Elected to Academy of Science and Engineering

David Beveridge

David Beveridge

University Professor of Natural Science and Mathematics David Beveridge was one of 33 leading experts in science, engineering and technology recently elected to membership in the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering. The new members will be introduced at the Academy’s 38th annual meeting and dinner on May 22 at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.

According to the Academy, election is “on the basis of scientific and engineering distinction achieved through significant contributions in theory or applications, as demonstrated by original published books and papers, patents, the pioneering of new and developing fields and innovative products, outstanding leadership of nationally recognized technical teams, and external professional awards in recognition of scientific and engineering excellence.”

Beveridge is in the Chemistry Department and Molecular Biophysics Program. He has taught at Wesleyan since 1986, and served as Dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics from 1992-1999. He has authored or co-authored more than 200 scientific papers. His research interests include theoretical physical chemistry and molecular biophysics, structural biology and bioinformatics, quantum mechanics, statistical thermodynamics, molecular dynamics and Monte Carlo computer simulation, and the role of water in structural biochemistry.

Rodriguez Mosquera, Imada Published in Cognition Journal

The journal Cognition and Emotion published a new paper by Assistant Professor of Psychology Patricia Rodriguez Mosquera and former post-doctoral fellow in psychology Toshie Imada. The paper, titled, “Perceived social image and life satisfaction across cultures,” studies the relationship between perceived social image and life satisfaction for Indian, Pakistani/Bangladeshi, White British and European American men and women. Participants completed a survey on the cultural importance of social image, positive and negative emotions, academic achievement and perceived social image. For Indian and Pakistani/Bangladeshi participants, who generally valued social image more than White British and European American participants, positive perceived social image predicted life satisfaction above and beyond the effects of emotions and academic achievement. Academic achievement only predicted satisfaction among White British and European American participants. Emotions were significant predictors of life satisfaction for all participants.

Read the full article here.

History Through the Eyes of Pete Seeger

The New Haven Register interviewed Rob Rosenthal, provost and vice president for academic affairs, John E. Andrus professor of sociology, about his book compiling folk singer Pete Seeger’s private letters, notes and writings. Rosenthal and his son Sam were granted access to Seeger’s barn, which contained a treasure trove of documents from the 93-year-old activist and singer’s life.

Barber Reviews “Triumphs of Experience”

A book review in The Wilson Quarterly by Charles Barber, visiting assistant professor of psychology, visiting writer to the College of Letters, was recently picked up on Andrew Sullivan’s “The Dish” blog. Barber reviewed the book Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study about a 70-year longitudinal study of 268 Harvard students.

Barber notes the study’s limitations–primarily, that its only subjects are white, privileged men–but writes that many of its findings are universal. “If they could be boiled down to a single revelation, it would be that the secret to a happy life is relationships, relationships, relationships. The best predictors of adult success and well-being are a childhood in which one feels accepted and nurtured; an empathetic coping style at ages 20 through 35; and warm adult relationships.”




Wesleyan U. Press Donates Book to 850 Connecticut Libraries

A book published by Wesleyan University Press, titled, Making Freedom: The Extraordinary Life of Venture Smith, will be distributed for free to about 850 municipal, middle school and high school libraries statewide. The books are being donated through the generosity of an anonymous donor.

The book is about the life of Venture Smith, “an African slave who bought his freedom and became a prominent farmer and trader in 18th century Connecticut,” according to The Day of New London, Conn., which wrote about an event in Hartford announcing the book’s distribution.

At the event, Suzanna Tamminen, director and editor-in-chief of Wesleyan University Press, was joined by Connecticut’s Senator Richard Blumenthal, and Congressmen Rosa DeLauro, Joe Courtney, Jim Himes and Elizabeth Esty, as well as NAACP President Scot Esdaile and descendants of Venture Smith and of his owners.