Olivia Drake

Olivia (M.A.L.S. '08) is editor of the Wesleyan Connection newsletter and campus photographer. Send me your story ideas to newsletter@wesleyan.edu.

Starr’s Nanoparticle Research Published in Science

Professor Francis Starr and his collaborators are working to self-assemble a diamond-structured lattice at will from nanoscale particles.(Image by graduate student Hamed Emamy). 

Professor Francis Starr and his collaborators are working to self-assemble a diamond-structured lattice at will from nanoscale particles. (Image by graduate student Hamed Emamy).

Professor Francis Starr, graduate student Hamad Emamy and collaborators from the Brookhaven National Lab have co-authored a paper titled “Diamond Family of Nanoparticle Superlattices” published in the prestigious journal Science on Feb. 5. Starr is professor of physics and director of the College of Integrative Sciences.

Their work proposed a solution to a decades-long challenge to self-assemble a diamond-structured lattice at will from nanoscale particles.

“Such a diamond-lattice structure has long been sought after due to its potential applications as a light controlling device, including optical transistors, color-changing materials, and optical — as opposed to electronic — computing,” Starr said.

To solve this challenge, the team utilized the specific binding properties of DNA as a tool for materials science. Specifically, they created nanoscale “atoms” that consist of 15 nanometer gold nanoparticles coated with many single-stranded DNA. The single-stranded DNA act like binding arms to connect nanoparticle/DNA “atoms” by forming double-stranded DNA links, and analogue of traditional chemical bonds between atoms. By appropriate selection of the sequence and orientation of these DNA links, the nanoparticles will spontaneously arrange themselves into the desired structure.

“This self-assembly approach not only allows for highly specific order, but also offers the potential for tremendous savings in the cost of materials production, as compared to traditional methods used in the semi-conductor industry,” Starr explained.

Emamy, a graduate student in Starr’s lab, carried out numerical simulations that helped to develop the approach and explain how to stabilize the structure. Collaborators at Brookhaven experimentally synthesized and verified the structure and properties. The effort, Starr said, represented an ideal collaboration between experiments, theory and computation.

Environmental Justice Topic of MLK Commemoration

On Jan. 29, the campus community attended the annual commemoration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy in Memorial Chapel. Dorceta E. Taylor, a leading voice in the environmental justice movement, delivered the keynote address, titled “Different Shades of Green or Beyond the Farm."

On Jan. 29, the campus community attended the annual commemoration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy in Memorial Chapel. Dorceta E. Taylor, a leading voice in the environmental justice movement, delivered the keynote address, titled “Different Shades of Green or Beyond the Farm.”

Gottschalk Named Director of Faculty Career Development

Professor of Religion Peter Gottschalk is the recipient of a $20,000 National Endowment for the Humanities "Enduring Questions" grant.

Peter Gottschalk

Peter Gottschalk was named the Director of the Center for Faculty Career Development for a three-year term starting July 1.

Gottschalk is currently Professor of Religion and has been at Wesleyan since 2002. He earned his BA at the College of the Holy Cross, his MA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his PhD at the University of Chicago. Gottschalk has co-edited one volume, co-authored another with a Wesleyan student, and authored three monographs, including the recent Religion, Science, and Empire: Classifying Hinduism and Islam in British India. His work has also been published in The Los Angeles Times and the OnFaith website formerly of The Washington Post, and his teaching has been recognized with an NEH Enduring Questions grant.

Staff on the Move, January 2016

The Office of Human Resources reported the following new hires, transitions and departures for January 2016:

Newly hired
Robert Jasek was hired as chief information security officer in Information Technology Services on Jan. 1.
Aidan Earle was hired as gallery supervisor in the Davison Art Center on Jan. 4.
Jenna Starr was hired as assistant director in the Wesleyan fund on Jan. 4.
David Malone was hired as HVAC/utility mechanic in Physical Plant on Jan. 4.
Sonia Vega was hired as department assistant in Admissions Office on Jan. 4.
Olivia Berry was hired as a softball intern in Athletics on Jan. 4.
Michael O’Brien was hired as director of athletic communication on Jan. 11.
LaDarius Drew ’15 was hired as men’s and women’s track and field intern in Athletics on Jan. 11.
Elizabeth Bianco was hired as project coordinator in University Relations on Jan. 19.
Jeremiah Kenney was hired as dispatcher in Public Safety on Jan. 19.

Ray Mason was hired as central power plant foreperson on Jan. 18.
Rosalind Adgers was hired as administrative assistant in the Wesleyan Career Center on Jan 25.

Geraldina Muzik, medical office manager in Health Services.
Kathleen Roberts, assistant director, Wesleyan events and conferences.
Alice Scholar, administrative assistant in the Wesleyan Career Center.
Robert West, research analyst in University Relations.
Lee Maes, volleyball intern in Athletics.

Men’s Basketball Davis ’16 Reaches 1,000-Point Milestone

B.J. Davis '16

B.J. Davis ’16

B.J. Davis ’16, a guard on the men’s basketball team, scored his 1,000th career point as the 25th-ranked Wesleyan Cardinals used a second half rally to defeat the Connecticut College Camels in NESCAC play Jan. 30, 87-79.

Wesleyan trailed the entire first half but outscored the Camels, 53-37 in the final 20 minutes of regulation to earn its fourth-consecutive win.

With 13 points, four fouls and just :43 remaining on the clock, Davis went to the foul line. He missed his first shot but hit the second to etch his name in the Wesleyan record books as he finished with 14 points on the day.

More Cardinal Athletics news can be found on this website.

(Information provided by Mike O’Brien, sports information director)

Herman Receives Dropkin Postdoctoral Fellowship to Study Evolution of Plant-Pathogen Interactions

Jacob Herman

Jacob Herman

PhD candidate in biology Jacob Herman received a V. Dropkin Postdoctoral Fellowship to research the epigenetics of plant response to pathogen infection at the University of Chicago’s Department of Ecology and Evolution.

The V. Dropkin fellowship funds a postdoctoral researcher for up to four years to study the ecology and evolution of plant-pathogen interactions.

Herman will begin the post-doctoral position after completing his dissertation defense this April. His advisor at Wesleyan is Sonia Sultan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies.

Pfister Authors Book on Literary Surveyors

surveyorsJoel Pfister, the Olin Professor of English and American Studies and chair of the American Studies Department, is the author of Surveyors of Customs: American Literature as Cultural Analysis published by Oxford University Press, 2016.

Within his book, Pfister argues “that writers from Benjamin Franklin to Louise Erdrich are critical ‘surveyors’ of customs, culture, hegemony, capitalism’s emotional logic, and more. Literary surveyors have helped make possible—and can advance—cultural analysis.” While noting that cultural theory and history have influenced interpretations of literature, he asserts that, in fact, “literature can return the favor.”

The book raises many historical, but timely questions. “When and why did capitalism need to invest in the secular ‘soul-making’ business and what roles did literature play? What does literature teach about its relationship to establishing a personnel culture that moved beyond self-help incentive making and intensified Americans’ preoccupations with personal life to turn them into personnel? How did literature contribute to the reproduction of ‘classless’ class relations and what does this say about dress-down politics and class formation in our Second Gilded Age?” These surveyors wrote novels, stories, plays, poetry, essays, autobiography, journals and cultural criticism.

(article co-authored by Andrew Logan)



Northrop Featured in Synform‘s Young Career Focus

Brian Northrup

Brian Northrop

Synform, a journal of chemistry, recently featured an interview with Associate Professor of Chemistry Brian Northrop through its Young Career Focus series. Within it, Northrop briefly discusses his research and his most important scientific achievements.

“Currently, I think the greatest impact of my group’s research is more a matter of approach than a specific result. By this I mean that we approach research projects working across each of the ‘three M’s’ of chemistry: making, modeling and measuring. This complementary blend of synthesis, analysis, and theory provides my group with a deep, fundamental understanding of the chemical reactions and processes we are interested in…

“It is my hope that our approach to research and our initial published work have laid a solid foundation for a variety of more important scientific achievements in the future,” he said.

Read the full interview here.

Pollack, Chan Attend Number Theory Conference in Germany

David Pollack, associate professor of mathematics, and Wai Kiu “Billy” Chan, chair and professor mathematics and computer science, recently attended a conference titled “Lattices and Applications in Number Theory” in Germany.

Pollack and Chan traveled to the Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach (MFO), the first research institution established in Germany after World War II, to take part in a weeklong workshop held Jan. 17-23. Dedicated to providing an institute for international cooperative research, the MFO brings together leading experts from all over the world in order to pursue their research activities, discuss recent developments in their field, and generate new ideas. Pollack and Chan were both invited guests.

The workshop focused on the interaction of lattices with number theory, looking specifically at the application of modular forms, finite group theory, algebraic number theory, and the application of tools from linear and semi-definite optimization; applications of lattice theoretic methods to the investigation of algebraic structures; Arakelov geometry; and algebraic modular forms and Hecke operators, especially for orthogonal groups where lattice theoretic concepts play a major role.

(Article by Fred Wills ’19)