Olivia Drake

Olivia (M.A.L.S. '08) is editor of the Wesleyan Connection newsletter and campus photographer. I have two dogs, five chickens and 30 house plants. I like snow, photographing firemen and enjoying "stinky" cheeses. Send me your story ideas to newsletter@wesleyan.edu.

O’Connell Edits Book that Focuses on Women in the Geosciences

womeningeosciencesSuzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, is the co-editor and co-author of the book, Women in the Geosciences: Practical, Positive Practices Toward Parity, published in May 2015 by Wiley and the American Geophysical Union.

The geoscience workforce has a lower proportion of women compared to the general population of the United States and compared to many other STEM fields. This volume explores issues pertaining to gender parity in the geosciences, and sheds light on some of the best practices that increase participation by women and promote parity.

Highlights include lessons from the National Science Foundation-ADVANCE; data on gender composition of faculty at top earth science institutions in the U.S.; implicit bias and gender as a social structure; strategies for institutional change; dual career couples; family friendly policies; the role of mentoring in career advancement for women; recruiting diverse faculty and models of institutional transformation.

O’Connell’s chapters are titled “Multiple and Sequential Mentoring: Building Your Nest”; “Learning to Develop a Writing Practice“; “Hiring a Diverse Faculty”; and “Lactation in the Academy: Accommodating Breastfeeding Scientists.”

O’Connell also is the faculty director of the McNair Program.

Res Life’s O’Neill Oversees 26 RAs, Creates Dynamic Women of Wesleyan Group

Krystal-Gayle O’Neill says she enjoys the way Wesleyan students challenge her "on every front as it keeps me on my toes."

Krystal-Gayle O’Neill says she enjoys the way Wesleyan students challenge her “on every front as it keeps me on my toes.”

In this issue of News @ Wesleyan, we speak with Krystal-Gayle O’Neill, an area coordinator in Residential Life. In addition to her role with Res Life, O’Neil leads Dynamic Women at Wesleyan, a group that was created as a way for women or persons who identify as women to come together, talk about various topics, and gather under a common purpose

Q: Krystal-Gayle, when did you join the staff at the Office of Residential Life and where were you working prior to Wesleyan?

A: I joined the Res Life staff in the Summer of 2011. Prior to Wes, I worked in Res Life at The Juilliard School in New York and in campus recreation at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla.

Q: As an area coordinator, what areas of student housing do you oversee? Also, where is your office?

A: I oversee the Foss 1-10 residence halls (West College, Nicolson, Hewitt and the program halls). My office is located on the garden level of the Hewitt Foss 8 residence hall.

Q: In what ways do you assist your student residents?

A: I oversee a student staff of 26 resident advisors, program hall managers, office assistants and a head resident. My primary responsibility is to supervise and support them to be advocates for their residents and to do events and programs that gear towards the out-of-the-classroom learning experience. I also serve as one of the campus’ judicial officers and coach students through judicial infractions through reflection and accountability.

Mathew ’18 Participates in Summer Session’s Biology Institute

Christine "Cj" Mathew '18 is taking two intensive science classes this summer that equate to an entire year's worth of credits.

Christine “Cj” Mathew ’18 is taking two intensive science classes this summer that equate to an entire year’s worth of credits. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

In this News @ Wesleyan story, we speak with Christine “Cj” Mathew from the Class of 2018.

Q: Cj, have you chosen a major?

A: I’m a prospective neuroscience and behavior major.

Mathew's second Summer Session class began June 29.

Mathew’s second Summer Session class, Principles of Biology II, began June 29.

Q: This summer, you are enrolled in the new Biology Institute, which is held as part of the Wesleyan Summer Session, and includes intensive Principles of Biology I and II Lecture and Lab. Why did you decide to participate in the institute?

A: For my major requirements and pre-med requirements, there are tons of science classes that I have to take, and I didn’t want to feel too overwhelmed by taking more than one science class in a year.

Q: How many students were in your Bio I class? Do you enjoy the more intimate learning atmosphere?

A: There were 11 people in the class, and I absolutely love having a small class. This class is pretty fast paced, so it’s really helpful to have more individual attention. We spend a lot of time together between class and labs; by the second week of class, it was like we’d all known each other for a long time!

Q: When are you in class? Also, have you done any interesting lab experiments?

A: We’re in class every day from 9-10:40 a.m. and the lab meets Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1:30-4:20 p.m., but most of the labs don’t take that long so we’re let out earlier. In Bio I, we’ve done some pretty cool labs including genetic engineering, where we transformed bacteria. One of my personal favorites was when we looked at what proteins are found in milk and how much protein is found in milk. This one was particularly interesting because so many people are lactose intolerant because of these proteins.

Q: The Biology II course began June 29. How do you feel about jumping right into another class?

A: Luckily, there was a small, five-day break in between the two sessions. But, it’s not too bad. Since we’re only taking one class, not all of our time is consumed with class, so it’s manageable.

Q: After Bio II, do you have any summer plans?

A: Maybe a little traveling!

Q: Where are you from and why did you choose Wesleyan?

A: I’m from Long Island, N.Y. I chose Wesleyan because I knew I wanted a small school, and I loved the fact that Wesleyan has a lot of flexibility when it comes to choosing classes.

Q: Are you involved in any extracurricular activities on campus? What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I’m part of Women in Science and I enjoy playing tennis.

Students Gain Skills, Help Departments While Working on Campus this Summer

More than 185 Wesleyan students are employed in various campus departments over the summer. Of those, about 78 are work-study eligible. Students earn money that can be contributed to the cost of their education, while learning skills that will benefit them in the classroom and beyond. Employers benefit from students’ skills, insight and enthusiasm.

Andrea Vargas ’17 is spending her summer working as a student assistant for the Office of University Events and Scheduling. She also holds this job during the academic year. “I use a computer program to process information about campus events. We handle all the logistics for events, and right now I’m planning for faculty lectures that will be held next fall.”

Andrea Vargas ’17 is spending her summer working as a student assistant for the Office of University Events and Scheduling. She also holds this job during the academic year. “I use a computer program to process information about campus events. We handle all the logistics for events, and right now I’m planning for faculty lectures that will be held next fall.”

Weaver MALS ’75, CAS ’76 Discusses Ways Science, Entertainment, Education Overlap

On June 22, Christopher Weaver MALS'75 CAS '76 presented a seminar titled "Amplius Ludo: Beyond the Horizon" to interested students and faculty at Exley Science Center. Weaver is an author, software developer, scientist and educator. He is the founder and CEO of Bethesda Softworks, where he co-developed wildly popular games, including The Elder Scrolls role-playing series and John Madden Football for Electronic Arts.

On June 22, Christopher Weaver MALS ’75, CAS ’76 presented a seminar titled “Amplius Ludo: Beyond the Horizon” to interested students and faculty at Exley Science Center. Weaver is an author, software developer, scientist and educator. He is the founder and CEO of Bethesda Softworks, where he co-developed wildly popular games, including The Elder Scrolls role-playing series and John Madden Football for Electronic Arts. Success in these ventures has required Weaver to bring together elements of computer science, design, and storytelling. As a result, he is an expert in the special niche where science, entertainment, and education overlap.

Shapiro Translates Haitian Poetry Collection

haitianpoetryNorman Shapiro, professor of romance languages and literatures and the Distinguished Professor of Literary Translation, translated the book Poetry of Haitian Independence, published by Yale University Press in May 2015.

At the turn of the 19th century, Haiti became the first and only modern country born from a slave revolt. During the first decades of Haitian independence, a wealth of original poetry was created by the inhabitants of the former French Caribbean island colony and published in Haitian newspapers. These deeply felt poems celebrated the legitimacy of the new nation and the value of the authors’ African origins while revealing a common mission shared by all Haitians in the young republic: freedom from oppressors and equality for all.

This collection of Haitian verse written between 1804 and the late 1840s sheds a much-needed light on an important and often neglected period in Haiti’s literary history. Editors Doris Kadish and Deborah Jenson have gathered together poetry that has remained largely unknown and difficult to access since its original publication two centuries ago. Featuring translations a foreword by the Haitian-born novelist Edwidge Danticat, this volume describes a turning point in Haitian and world history and makes a significant corpus of poetry accessible to a wide audience.

Scott Published in Routledge’s The Modernist Reader

Stanley Scott

Stanley Scott

Stanley Scott, private lessons teacher in music, authored a chapter titled “Modernism in South Asian Art Music,” published in the The Modernist World, part of the Routledge Worlds series, in 2015.

Scott traces modernism in South Asian art music from its 18th century roots to the 21st century. The examples, drawn from Pakistan, North India and Bangladesh, represent parallel developments throughout South Asia. The seeds of South Asian modernism were sown in 18th century Calcutta, with the emergence of British orientalist scholarship and the development of the urban South Asian intelligentsia. The orientalist discovery of India’s “golden age” allowed Hindu nationalists to find inspiration in an India that predated both European colonization and Islamic rule. North Indian music, in particular, served sometimes as an icon of national identity, sometimes of revived Hindu hegemony, and sometimes of an Indo-Islamic synthesis.

5 Faculty Receive Endowed Professorships

In recognition of their career achievements, five faculty members are being appointed to endowed professorships, effective July 1:

Stephen Angle, professor of philosophy and East Asian studies, is receiving the Mansfield Freeman Professorship in East Asian Studies, established in 1986.

Lisa Cohen, associate professor of English, is receiving the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Chair. The Bennet Chair, endowed in 2007, is awarded for a five-year term to a newly tenured associate professor exhibiting exceptional achievement and evidence of future promise.

Andrew Curran, professor of French and outgoing Dean of Arts and Humanities, is receiving the William Armstrong Professorship of the Humanities, established in 1921.

Lori Gruen, professor of philosophy, environmental studies, and feminist, gender and sexuality studies, is receiving the William Griffin Professorship of Philosophy, established in 1885.

Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry and outgoing Dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and director of technology initiatives, is receiving the Fisk Professorship of Natural Science, established in 1839.

Students Take Intensive Courses During Summer Session

Summer Session students perform an experiment in Research Associate Rosemarie Doris's Biology I lab.

Summer Session students perform an experiment in Research Associate Rosemarie Doris’s Biology I lab.

A student sketches animal skulls in Kate Ten Eyck's Drawing I class.

A student sketches animal skulls in Kate Ten Eyck’s Drawing I class.

This summer, dozens of Wesleyan students are completing a semester-long course in only five weeks. Classes started on May 27 and conclude June 25.

The intensive Summer Session is open to students who feel they have the academic qualifications and stamina to complete intellectually challenging courses in a compressed schedule.

This summer, students are taking courses in drawing, writing creative nonfiction, financial accounting, legal thinking, principles of biology, introduction to programming and developmental psychology. Wesleyan faculty Anna Schusterman, James Lipton, Rosemarie Doris, Douglas Foyle, Marin Gosman, Anne Greene, Kate Ten Eyck, among others, are teaching the courses.

Morgan Models the Evolution of Plasma as a Visiting Professor in Tokyo


Tom Morgan is a visiting professor in Tokyo, Japan.

Tom Morgan, the Foss Professor of Physics, is spending the month of June as a visiting professor at Seikei University in Tokyo, Japan. He is collaborating with Professor Tomoyuki Murakami on modeling the evolution of plasma (an assembly of ions and electrons) created by injecting energy into water, “a substance with many interesting properties and applications,” Morgan explained.

The work focuses on water in both the vapor phase and as a liquid.

Morgan also is collaborating on this experimental work with Professor of Physics Lutz Huwel at Wesleyan. Huwel uses a pulse of laser light to provide the energy input to the water.

“The goal of the research is to understand the mechanisms responsible for the transport and evolution of the energy as time passes,” Morgan explained.

An additional focus is on how the laser light radiation energy that is deposited near the surface of water is dissipated into kinetic energy of ejected ballistic water droplets that have been observed in the lab to rise high above the water.

“There are many potential applications of underwater plasmas to the environmental, biotechnical and medical fields,” Morgan said.

The visit to Seikei University is partially funded by presidential initiative funds supplied by the Director of Global Initiatives. The funds support international faculty collaborations.

Morgan met Murakami several years ago through a common collaborator in Belfast, N. Ireland. The scientists share overlapping research interests and have published one paper together.

“Physics is a very global collaborative discipline,” Morgan said.

Learn more about Morgan’s research online here.

Sanislow Published in Journal of Clinical Psychiatry

Charles Sanislow

Charles Sanislow

Charles Sanislow, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, is the co-author of an article titled “Interactions of Borderline Personality Disorder and Anxiety Disorders Over 10 Years,” published in the June issue of The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

This report examines the relationship of borderline personality disorders (BPD), as defined by the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition), to anxiety disorders using data on the reciprocal effects of improvement or worsening of BPD and anxiety disorders over the course of 10 years.

Sanislow and his colleagues prospectively assessed borderline patients with DSM-IV–defined co-occurring generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder with agoraphobia, panic disorder without agoraphobia, social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) annually between 1997 and 2009. They used proportional hazards regression analyses to assess the effects of monthly improvement or worsening of BPD and anxiety disorders on each other’s remission and relapse the following month.

The study suggests that BPD negatively affects the course of general anxiety disorder, social phobia, and PTSD. In contrast, the anxiety disorders, aside from PTSD, had little effect on BPD course. For general anxiety disorder and social phobia, whose course BPD unidirectionally influences, the researchers suggest prioritizing treatment for BPD, whereas BPD should be treated concurrently with panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, or PTSD.


NIH Grant will Support Taylor’s Drug Treatment Research

Erika Taylor

Erika Taylor

On June 15, Erika Taylor, assistant professor of chemistry, assistant professor of environmental studies, received a grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (part of the National Institutes of Health) to support her research on “Inhibition of (the enzyme) HeptosyltransferaseI for the treatment of Gram-negative bacterial infection.” Gram-Negative bacteria include things like E. coli, Salmonella, and V. cholerae (the cause of Cholera) that are common causes of food-bourne illnesses.

The grant, worth $492,000 will enable her to engage multiple graduate and undergraduate students in the proposed work through June 2018. Preliminary results for this project were obtained with the help of graduate student Joy Cote and Dan Czyzyk PhD ’15; and undergraduates Zarek Siegel ’16, Keonmin Hwang ’16, Noreen Nkosana BA ’11, MA ’13, and several others.

The current widespread use and misuse of antimicrobials has led to the emergence of bacterial resistance to many commonly used antibiotics, necessitating development of new drug targets. Lipopolysaccharides, a major constituent of the Gram-negative bacterial outer membrane, important for cell motility, intestinal colonization and bacterial biofilms formation, contribute substantively to antibiotic resistance by hampering antibiotic uptake. Inhibiting the synthesis of bacterial lipopolysaccharides results in bacteria that are unable to form biofilms and are more susceptible to antimicrobials.

The LPS heptosyltransferase enzymes investigated as part of this proposal are therefore potential targets for the inhibition of bacterial biofilm formation and the development of therapeutic agents.

“Every morning when you wake, you have a bacterial biofilm on your teeth,” Taylor explained. “Also, when you see/feel slime on a rock at the shore that too is likely from a bacterial biofilm (so long as it isn’t being caused by algae).”

Bacteria grow in biofilms to help enable survival under harsh conditions (including things like drying out, being exposed to highly acidic environments as happens in our mouths; biofilms also help bacteria resist UV-radiation and antibiotic treatments).

The project is intended to lead to the development of new antimicrobials for the treatment of Gram-negative bacterial infections. The long-term goal of this work is the development of new drugs for the treatment of these infections, Taylor said. This work also could help in the prevention of secondary infections transmitted in hospitals because of the prevention of bacterial biofilms on things like catheters.