Olivia Drake

Staff Work Behind the Scenes to Create a Successful COVID-19 Testing Operation

covid testing tent

Wesleyan’s COVID-19 testing facility opened Aug. 17, 2020, on Andrus Field. Testing operations continue today inside Beckham Hall.

Ninety-nine thousand and counting.

That’s how many times Wesleyan students, faculty, and staff have stuck, swiped, and swirled cotton swabs in their nasal cavities over the past seven months at the Wesleyan COVID-19 testing facility, with hopes for that negative result indicating no presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA.

“Implementing an effective testing program was essential to returning for in-person learning,” said Associate Vice President/Dean of Students Rick Culliton, who spearheads Wesleyan’s Curricular Contingency Planning Task Force (CCPTF). “Our number one priority is keeping the campus community safe. Having accurate, timely test results has been critical to identifying and containing any cases of COVID-19 on campus.”

And this is why Wesleyan’s ad hoc testing site, currently set up in Beckham Hall, is so crucial for the University during the pandemic. Students are still required to test twice per week, and employees once per week.

But establishing such a facility wasn’t in anyone’s job description or workplace experience. It required a dedicated team of Wesleyan staff to step outside their traditional roles and develop what is now among the most important operations on campus.

Assembling an Effective Site

On July 14, 2020, members of the newly-formed CCPTF began murmuring about the need for mass testing on campus if Wesleyan was to open with in-person learning in the fall. Andy Tanaka, senior vice president, chief administrative officer and treasurer, appointed three staff members to plan the operations and assist with staffing: Joyce Walter, director of the University Health Center; Lisa Brommer, associate vice president for Human Resources; and Joyce Topshe, associate vice president for Facilities.

Cantwell ’22: Liberals Are Anxious About COVID-19 And They Social Distance More

cantwell poster

Ori Cantwell ’22 presented his research poster during the Convention of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Conference on Feb. 13. Cantwell’s study found that liberals were more anxious than conservatives, partially explaining why liberals socially distanced more during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ori Cantwell '22

Ori Cantwell ’22

Do political views and anxiety play a functional role in combating COVID-19?

According to a recent study by Ori Cantwell ’22, the answer is yes.

Cantwell, a psychology major, presented his recent study “Yes We (Anxiously) Can: Liberal Ideology and Anxiety Predict Social Distancing during the COVID-19 Pandemic” during the virtual 22nd Annual Convention of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Conference, held Feb. 9–13.

“We found that in a sample of over 10,000 American adults, anxiety partially mediated the relationship between liberal ideology and social distancing,” Cantwell explained. “Liberals were more anxious than conservatives, and people were most likely to want to social distance if they were more anxious.”

Cantwell began working on this research in March 2020 with his advisor, Kostadin Kushlev of the Digital Health and Happiness Lab at Georgetown University. They were introduced through Assistant Professor of Psychology Alexis May ’05.

“We don’t think that there’s a plus side to anxiety disorders, but these findings suggest that anxiety could have played a role in how people adapted to the threat of COVID-19 by social distancing.”

To create a social distancing index, Cantwell explored data collected by the Pew Research Center. Between March 19 and 24 more than 10,000 participants were asked, whether, during the pandemic, they’d be comfortable visiting a friend/family member’s house; eating out in a restaurant; attending a crowded party; going out to the grocery store; and going to a polling place to vote.

The average participant was comfortable doing 3.29 out of 5 activities, Cantwell noted.

In November 2020, Cantwell and Kushlev co-authored a pre-print titled “Anxiety Talking: Does Anxiety Predict Sharing Information about COVID-19?” This spring, they’ll continue their research on the topics of misinformation, infodemics, political ideology, anxiety, and social distancing.

Cantwell also is a recipient of the Psychology Department’s Feldman Family Fund grant, which supported his conference registration.

Wes in the News

News

Feb. 23
Forbes – How To Become Rich Without Selling Your Soul. Quotes Alok Appadurai ’00, founder and CEO of UpliftMillions.com.

Feb. 24
E! News – Don’t Throw Away Your Shot to Learn More About Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Love Story. Mentions Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15.

The Middletown Press – Veterans Corner: Learn the history of the Greater Middletown Military Museum. Mentions agreement with Wesleyan University, which provides interns to help preserve and document the museum’s collection.

Closer – Barbara Stanwyck’s Triumph Over Tragedy: How She Survived a Lifetime of Pain to Become a Star. Quotes Jeanine Basinger.

Feb. 25
Yardbarker – Eric Mangini Talks NFL Career Start with Cleveland Browns. Mention’s Eric Mangini ’94, Bill Belichick ’75, Hon. ’05, and Wesleyan University.

Stamford Advocate – Middletown offering mobile COVID vaccination for homebound residents. Mentions Wesleyan’s mandatory COVID-19 testing.

The Daily News, Maine – Maine’s top federal prosecutor is resigning. Mentions Halsey Frank ’80 and Wesleyan.

Chicago Tribune – How did ‘Drivers License’ become the song of 2021? Quotes Jeanine Basinger. (This story appears in more than 20 national media outlets)

Tribune Publishing – John Carroll swimmers enjoy season, despite its shortness. Mentions Delaney Hopkins ’25 who “is headed to Wesleyan University, a D-3 school in Middletown, Conn. Hopkins will swim and hopes to study neuroscience and biology.”

The Trentonian – Basketball rallies. Mentions Kennedy Jardine ’25, “who is headed to Wesleyan University.”

Feb. 26
Connecticut Magazine – For former industrial towns, building the future means rebuilding downtown. Mentions Mayor of Middletown Ben Florsheim ’14.

Connecticut Magazine –  What’s next for CT’s struggling downtowns? Middletown’s Main Street may show the path forward. Written by Dan Haar ’81, mentions Wesleyan.

ConnecticutPlus.com – HCC Archive Joins Top Colleges in Connecticut’s Archive Online. Mentions that “prestigious Connecticut colleges,” such as Wesleyan University, contributing material to Connecticut’s Archive Online (CAO).

Feb. 27
The List – Who Is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Attorney Wife, Vanessa Nadal? Mentions Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 and Wesleyan.

Feb. 28
The New York Times – In Quest for Herd Immunity, Giant Vaccination Sites Proliferate. Quotes Mark Masselli Hon. ’09, P’15, ’16, the president and chief executive of Community Health Center.

History News Network – George Shultz: The Last Progressive. Written by Professor of History Ron Schatz.

March 1
The Chronicle of Higher Education – The Review: The Nightmare of History. Mentions Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78.

MSN via NBC Connecticut – Lin-Manuel Miranda Continues to Inspire Creativity, Confidence at His Alma Mater Wesleyan University. Features Brianna Johnson ’24, Hamilton Prize recipient and mentions Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02. Hon. ’15, Tommy Kail ’99.

NBC Connecticut –  A Look Back at Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Start Here in Conn. Mentions Brianna Johnson ’24; Jack Carr, professor of film emeritus; and Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. 15.

Forbes – Many of the nation’s leading private colleges and universities originated as religious institutions affiliated with a specific denomination within the broad Christian tradition. Mentions Wesleyan.

The Washington Post – Why can’t a company unleash irrepressible undergraduates as campus guides? Mentions Elizabeth Irvin ’23, a 20-year-old student of anthropology and film at Wesleyan University.

March 2
Boston Globe – The Milton Public Library is hosting a virtual art exhibit featuring the paintings of artist and alumna Elizabeth Lazeren, a Cape Cod resident whose work focuses on images of the sea. The artist, who trained at Wesleyan University and Hartford Art School, draws on memory, experience, and imagination.

March 3
Bloomberg Law – Gibson Dunn Names First Woman Chair in 131st Year After Founding. Mentions Barbara Becker ’85

Also, Financialmarket.com – Gibson Dunn Elects New York M&A Lawyer Barbara Becker [’85] as Chair and Managing Partner. (Story appears in more than 30 media outlets)

March 4
Boston Globe – This doctor stepped up to bridge the gap as the pandemic ravaged this small city. Feature on Dr. Beata Nelken ’94.

March 5
Newsbrig – TickTok collector reunites families with old videos. Mentions Jono Marcus ’88.

Also, USA News Hub — TikTok Helps Return Long Lost VHS Tape Featuring a Man’s Vacation From 30 Years Ago. Mentions Jono Marcus ’88.

88.5 WYSU – Donald P. Pipino Performing Arts Series features a performance by composer Tyshawn Sorey, a MacArthur Foundation Genius Fellow, on April 14.

Karageorgos’ Paper on T.S. Eliot and Joseph Brodsky Honored by AATSEEL

Nataliya Karageorgos

Nataliya (Natasha) Karageorgos

The American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL) honored Nataliya Karageorgos, assistant professor of the practice in Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies, with the Best 2020 Slavic and East European Journal Article (SEEJ) award.

Karageorgos’ article, titled “‘A List of Some Observations’: The Theory and Practice of Depersonalization in T.S. Eliot and Joseph Brodsky,” was published in the Fall 2019, Volume 63, Issue 3 of SEEJ.

Karageorgos’ article argues that Joseph Brodsky’s use of depersonalization owes a lot to Brodsky’s readings of T.S. Eliot, and that Eliot’s role in Brodsky’s evolution has thus far been underestimated. She traces Brodsky’s engagement with Eliot during Brodsky’s youth and poetic maturation, effectively showing that, rather than merely topological coincidence, Brodsky’s use of depersonalization comes from a shared set of philosophical underpinnings.

Karageorgos specializes in 20th- and 21st-century Russian literature and links between Russian and Anglo-American literature. She’s currently working on a book titled Forbidden Attraction: Russian Poets Read T.S. Eliot During the Cold War. Her scholarly interests include poetry and poetics, cognitive linguistics, modernism, postmodernism, Cold War studies, and post-colonial studies.

Siry’s Book on Air-Conditioning in Modern American Architecture Published

Joe Siry BookJoseph Siry, Kenan Professor of the Humanities, professor of art history, is the author of Air-Conditioning in Modern American Architecture, 1890–1970 (Penn State University Press, February 2021).

According to the book’s abstract, Air-Conditioning in Modern American Architecture, 1890–1970 documents how architects made environmental technologies into resources that helped shape their spatial and formal aesthetic. In doing so, it sheds important new light on the ways in which mechanical engineering has been assimilated into the culture of architecture as one facet of its broader modernist project.

Tracing the development and architectural integration of air-conditioning from its origins in the late 19th century to the advent of the environmental movement in the early 1970s, Siry shows how the incorporation of mechanical systems into modernism’s discourse of functionality profoundly shaped the work of some of the movement’s leading architects, such as Dankmar Adler, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Gordon Bunshaft, and Louis Kahn. For them, the modernist ideal of functionality was incompletely realized if it did not wholly assimilate heating, cooling, ventilating, and artificial lighting. Bridging the history of technology and the history of architecture, Siry discusses air-conditioning’s technical and social history and provides case studies of buildings by the master architects who brought this technology into the conceptual and formal project of modernism.

Study by Snashall ’21, Poulos Published in Forests

Gabe Snashall ’21 and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Helen Poulos are the co-authors of “Oreos Versus Orangutans: The Need for Sustainability Transformations and Nonhierarchical Polycentric Governance in the Global Palm Oil Industry,” published in the Feb. 22 issue of Forests.

According to the paper’s abstract, “While the myriad benefits of palm oil as a food, makeup, and cleaning product additive drive its demand, globally, the palm oil industry remains largely unsustainable and unregulated. The negative externalities of palm oil production are diverse and devastating to tropical ecosystem integrity and human livelihoods in palm oil nations. Given the current trend in increasing sustainability and transparency in global supply chains, we suggest that sustainability policy reforms are feasible and have the potential to promote 21st-century U.S. and international sustainability standards. Polycentric governance may improve the attainment of sustainable global palm oil standards with a set of rules that interact across linear and nonlinear hierarchies and structures, thereby improving collaboration efforts, and increasing connectivity and learning across scales and cultures. Transformations towards sustainability in international palm oil governance has the potential to make valuable contributions to global sustainable development and improve the prosperity of poor rural communities in the tropics by providing a framework for achieving palm oil trade transparency and aligning the sustainability goals across a range of actors.”

Film on Author Tim O’Brien by Matthews ’93, Mittelstadt ’92 to be Released March 2

war and peace of tim o brienA new film by Aaron Matthews ’93 and Jennifer Mittelstadt ’92 will be released March 2 on Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, and other digital streaming platforms.

The film, titled The War and Peace of Tim O’Brien, follows the renowned author of The Things They Carried and Vietnam veteran Tim O’Brien, as he struggles to write one last book. The documentary dives deep into the meaning and impact of war, as well as the effect of America’s forever wars on civilians and soldiers. It also gives an in-depth look into the creative process from the perspective of one of America’s most influential living authors.

Watch the film’s trailer online here.

Matthews, who spent five years creating the film, met O’Brien during an interview he directed for PBS called The Draft. “Working on that project, I became interested in how most Americans are so disconnected from the wars we wage, how so few people in this country bear the burden of killing and dying,” Matthews recalled. “When I talked with Tim, I had my heart blown open. He was a smart, funny wordsmith—which you might expect from a legendary author—but he was also emotionally raw and open in a way that I found electrifying. In his trademark jeans and ball cap, he presents as this regular guy. But he’s not a regular guy. He’s operating on a higher level, able to express big ideas, especially about the meaning and impact of war, in a powerful, relatable way. Plus, he chain-smoked throughout the interview, so the frame was filled with cinematic swirls . . . Everything about him screamed ‘not your typical ivory tower writer.'”

Students Use GIS-Based Maps, Apps to Study the Effects of the Pandemic

mapsThroughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the public has relied on dynamic visualizations in the form of maps and apps to keep up-to-date with the spread of the disease on both local and global scales.

And with the use of geo-enabled apps, individuals can locate COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites, order groceries and other goods online, find uncrowded outdoor spaces, and track and even map the number of available medical resources in area hospitals.

“All of these services are available due to geographic information systems (GIS),” said Kim Diver, associate professor of the practice in earth and environmental sciences. “By using spatiotemporal visualizations, we can provide citizens, researchers, health care providers, and policy makers with a powerful analytical framework for visualization, data exploration, spatial pattern recognition, response-planning, and decision-making during the current pandemic.”

Wesleyan in the News

NewsSeveral Wesleyan faculty and alumni have been featured in national media outlets recently. They include:

The Conversation — “Trump’s acquittal is a sign of ‘constitutional rot’: partisanship overriding principles” by Professor Emeritus John Finn.

Democratic Underground — “I’ve Studied Terrorism for Over 40 Years. Let’s Talk About What Comes Next” by Professor Emerita Martha Crenshaw.

Thrive Global — “Being kind to yourself is one of the most important qualities you can develop for success.” Mentions Happier Inc. founder Nataly Kogan ’98.

All About Jazz — Guillermo E. Brown: Freedom Of Music, mentions Wesleyan University and Guillermo Brown ’98.

News 8 WTNH — Mass vaccinations kicking off in Middletown. Mentions Community Health Center opening up a vaccine clinic at Wesleyan University.

Knox.edu — Knox College welcomes its 20th President, C. Andrew McGadney ’92.

Stamford Advocate — Netflix Global CMO Bozoma Saint John ’99 is the headlining keynote speaker for Activate Live, an annual growth marketing conference, taking place virtually on April 7.

Business Insider via GlobeNewswire — Texas Capital Bank announced two additional executive leadership appointments. Mentions new Chief Risk Officer Tim Storms ’81, P’10.

The Hartford Courant — Kristina Wong: “Sweatshop Overlord” preview at the Center for the Arts.

The New York Amsterdam News — “I am 400” banners commemorate the 400-year anniversary of the first Africans arriving in America and the spirit of the Black American experience. Mentions Wesleyan University.

The Middletown Press — “If conditions are favorable, Middletown school board to reexamine sending older students back.” Quotes parent and Professor Sarah Wiliarty.

MSN — “Colleges that graduate the most celebrities.” Mentions (on slide 28 and 29) Michael Bay ’86, Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon ’15; and Amanda Palmer ’98.

Hartford Business Journal — 2021 Power 50. Mentions Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget director Melissa McCaw ’01.

EHS Daily Advisor — “Faces of EHS: Crystal Turner-Moffatt Leads from Center Stage as the Safety Diva.” Mentions Crystal Turner-Moffatt ’85.

The Hartford Courant — “As vaccination across Connecticut intensifies, health experts look to Black churches in a growing effort to control COVID-19.” Mentions retired Wesleyan custodian Ida Bruch.

Publishing Perspectives — PEN America Literary Awards have announced the 2021 Finalists. Mentions Honorée Fanonne Jeffers and Rae Armantrout/Wesleyan University Press and Professor John Murillo.

San Francisco Classical Voice — How the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians Shaped Jazz in the Bay Area. Mentions Anthony Braxton.

New Haven Register — Rock On! Learn about the New Haven landscape. Mentions visiting scholar in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Wesleyan Peter LeTourneau.

Canada Geese Graze and Greet Wesleyan Students

geese

A gaggle of Canada geese visited campus on Feb. 22 to enjoy a grassy area for feeding. Although some geese migrate, they’re also year-round Connecticut residents and are frequently seen on Andrus Field in February and March. Canada geese prefer wide-open spaces for grazing and breeding. More than 25 geese gathered in this area and greeted Wesleyan students as they walked by. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Campus Community Celebrates the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On Feb. 12, Wesleyan welcomed Civil Rights activist, organizer, author, and educator Ruby Sales to deliver the annual 2021 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration. Sales is the founder and director of SpiritHouse Project, a national 501(c)3 non-profit organization that uses the arts, research, education, action, and spirituality to bring diverse peoples together to work for racial, economic, and social justice. In the 1960s, Sales joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) at Tuskegee University and went to work as a student freedom fighter in Lowndes County, Alabama.

On Feb. 12, Wesleyan welcomed civil rights activist, organizer, author, and educator Ruby Sales to deliver the annual 2021 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration. Sales is the founder and director of SpiritHouse Project, a national 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that uses the arts, research, education, action, and spirituality to bring diverse peoples together to work for racial, economic, and social justice. In the 1960s, Sales joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) at Tuskegee University and went to work as a student freedom fighter in Lowndes County, Alabama. “Not only do Black people survive, we also try and we thrive, because we were privileged to have 111 historically black colleges that produce Black doctors, Black lawyers, Black morticians—a Blackness that exists in every southern city in the United States—Birmingham; Washington D.C.; Charleston, South Carolina,” Sales said. “Yes, there was a plantation system in this, but there was also the magnificent work of the people who carved out a middle-class existence in a society that did not intend for us to survive.”

Ostfeld ’10, MA ’12 Named a “40 Under 40”

Rosemary Ostfeld

Rosemary Ostfeld

Rosemary Ostfeld ’10, MA ’12, visiting assistant professor of environmental studies and public policy, was named to Connecticut Magazine’s 2021 “40 Under 40” list.

The 32-year-old from East Lyme, Conn., is the founder of Healthy PlanEat, a new sustainable food-tech startup that helps farmers who use sustainable growing practices sell their farm-fresh goods (whether fruits or veggies, cheese or oysters) directly to local customers.

Farmers using Healthy PlanEat—which enthusiastic members of the community helped start via a crowdfunding campaign—can upload inventory, set distribution options, and manage incoming orders. Customers can purchase food to pick up at the farms themselves, at farmers markets, at pop-up shop locations, or for delivery.

Ostfeld currently works with 14 USDA Certified Organic and Northeast Organic Farming Association Farmer’s Pledge farms in Connecticut and has plans to expand Healthy PlanEat throughout the Northeast.

She completed a BA/MA in biology and earth and environmental sciences at Wesleyan, an MPhil in environmental policy, and a PhD in land economy at the University of Cambridge as a Cambridge Trust Scholar. Her doctoral research focused on exploring the impact of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a multi-stakeholder initiative designed to improve environmental sustainability in the palm oil industry.

This spring, she is teaching CSPL 239: Startup Incubator; E&ES 197: Intro to Environmental Studies; and ENVS 125: Community Gardening.