Olivia Drake

Undergraduates Share Summer Research

poster session

Ben Sullivan ’20 presents his poster titled “Tracking New York Times Coverage of Every Senator First Elected in the 1990s” during the Summer Program for Research in the Sciences Poster Session on July 25. His advisor is Logan Dancey, associate professor of government.

The 2019 summer program for Research in the Sciences culminated with a research poster session in the lobby of Exley Science Center, with more than 100 students participating.

The program, held May 29 to July 26, was open to frosh, sophomores and juniors currently enrolled at Wesleyan. Wesleyan science faculty members served as mentors for student research in their laboratories. In addition to the closing poster session, the students participated in weekly seminars and workshops, a symposium, and various social events. After the poster session, students displayed their posters in the hallways outside the introductory biology laboratories.

Theater’s Oliveras Performs in World Premiere of Kiss My Aztec!

Desiree Rodriguez and Maria-Christina Oliveras in Kiss My Aztec! (Photo by Kevin Berne)

Desiree Rodriguez and Maria-Christina Oliveras in Kiss My Aztec! (Photo by Kevin Berne)

This summer, award-winning actor, singer, producer, and new assistant professor of theater Maria-Christina Oliveras acted in the world premiere of Kiss My Aztec, a new musical on Latino history.

Written by John Leguizamo and Tony Taccone, winners of the 2018 Special Tony Award for Latin History of Morons, the musical debuted May through July at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Performances will continue at La Jolla Playhouse starting Sept. 8.

Oliveras became involved in the musical’s developmental process in 2014, when it started out as a play and evolved over time.

“I am a new works junkie. There is nothing like ‘brain-childing’ a piece from its inception,” Oliveras said in a recent interview with Broadway World. She described the show as a “non-traditional epic musical comedy with teeth. It is brash, bold, hilarious and vulgar. An Aztec take or retake of history in the vein of Spamalot or Book of Mormon. We are not aiming for historical accuracy. And we are ‘equal opportunity offenders.'”

Wesleyan’s Girls in Science Summer Camp Gets Young Scientists Excited about STEM 

GIS

Marty Gilmore, the George I. Seney Professor of Geology, professor of earth and environmental sciences, leads an experiment about meteors during the Girls in Science Summer Camp Aug. 8. (Photo by Kerisha Harris)

(Story by Kerisha Harris)

For the sixth year in a row, the weeklong Wesleyan Girls in Science Summer Camp welcomed dozens of middle school-aged girls for a week of learning, exploration, and STEM-centered fun.

From Aug. 5-9 inside Exley Science Center, the 32 campers in grades 4-6 spent the week learning about everything from how to extract DNA from a strawberry, to the parts of the brain, and even how to make (but don’t touch) an ice-cold comet. By Friday, the young scientists were excited to share all they had learned with their friends and families, and did so through a poster presentation and art display.

Girls in Science participants observe a "comet" they created during the camp.

Girls in Science participants observe a “comet” they created during the camp.

This partnership between Wesleyan and Middletown Public Schools gives girls the chance to explore and cultivate their interest in science by conducting fun experiments in real-life labs, discovering scientific concepts, vocabulary and equipment, and learning from female Wesleyan professors and students in the sciences.

This year marked the first time in the program’s history that the camp took place fully under the umbrella of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships.  Additionally, the Jewett Center partnered with In-Reach, a program coordinated by Melisa Olgun ’20, to bring local high school girls in as program assistants. These young scientists-in-training provided guidance and support for the campers, while also getting to spend time in research labs at Wesleyan.

Meislahn Reflects on Challenges of Her Career as Dean of Admission

"As my team knows, my mantra is, ‘If we are going to work this hard, we better be having fun!’ I certainly have," Meislahn said. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Student success “is what has recharged my batteries over the years and kept me doing this wonderful work,”  Meislahn said. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, will retire in September following the arrival of the Class of 2023, the 20th class she admitted to Wesleyan. In this Q&A, she reflects on the main challenges, changes, and highlights of her accomplished Wesleyan career. (Read her retirement announcement in this past News @ Wesleyan article.)

Q: You are the longest-serving dean of admission in Wesleyan’s history. How are you feeling ahead of your impending retirement?

A: Definitely a bittersweet moment, but I’m ready. I’ve admitted 20 classes to Wesleyan and that should be enough—for me and for the institution. Time for new leadership! I firmly believe we are all replaceable and that change is good.

Q: During your tenure, applications to Wesleyan (including international student applications) have nearly doubled. To what do you attribute this impressive growth?

A: It was a clearly articulated strategic goal to double the international student population, and create a bigger “global footprint” on campus. So, we set out to work! We increased Wesleyan’s on-the-ground presence, expanding recruitment especially in India, Europe, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, building on the very strong reputation of the Freeman Scholars program. We invited overseas counselors to campus and increased our engagement with international professional associations. It has been a team effort and extremely rewarding to see how we’ve been able to bring more students from all over the world to Wes.

Jenkins Analyzes 200-Year-Old Theatrical Tradition in New Bilingual Book

Ron Jenkins, pictured second from left, celebrated his new book in a garden of an 18th century villa with performances of the play that is the subject of his book, Resurrection of the Saints: Sacred Tragi-Comedy in Venafro. He's pictured with actors, from left, Adriano Cimino, Gianni Di Chiaro, and Emanuela Paolozzi along with the translator of the Italian version of the book, the poet Maria Giusti.

Ron Jenkins (pictured second from left) celebrated his new book in the garden of an 18th-century villa with performances of the play that is the subject of his book, Resurrection of the Saints: Sacred Tragi-Comedy in Venafro. He’s pictured with actors (from left) Adriano Cimino, Gianni Di Chiaro, and Emanuela Paolozzi, along with the translator of the Italian version of the book, the poet Maria Giusti.

Ron Jenkins, professor and chair of theater, is the author of a new book titled Resurrection of the Saints: Sacred Tragi-Comedy in Venafro published by Bulzoni in July 2019 as part of the company’s international series on “Theater and Memory.” The volume is in dual languages; the first part is in Italian, the second translated into English.

Resurrection of the Saints is an analysis of a 200-year-old theatrical tradition in the Italian village of Venafro, where the citizens still perform an 18th-century play that recounts the martyrdom of their patron saints in the third century. In 1792, Giuseppe Macchia wrote the play, “Religion Triumphant” and labeled it “a sacred tragicomedy.”

The book includes Jenkins’s translation of the play and interviews he conducted with the performers, whose professions include nurse, architect, graphic designer, and art restorer.

“Framed as a battle between an angel and a devil for the souls of the saints, the play is a lost link between the medieval traditions of sacred theater and the modern comic masterpieces of the late Italian Nobel Laureate, Dario Fo,” said Jenkins, who has translated Fo’s works for performance at the Yale Repertory Theater, Harvard’s American Repertory Theater, and other venues.

“My experience working with Fo helped me to capture the comic theatrical rhythms of Macchia’s play,” he said. “Anyone interested in the power of the arts to unite a community and preserve the traditions that define its cultural identity would enjoy the play and this book.”

Jenkins is the author of numerous books and was named Honorary Member of the Dante Society of America for having performed theatrical representations of excerpts from Dante’s “Divine Comedy” in prisons throughout Italy, Indonesia, and the United States. Resurrection of the Saints is part of Jenkins’s ongoing research on theater and community.

Price’s Civic Engagement Work Supported by Newman Civic Fellowship

Anthony Price '20

Anthony Price ’20 will begin a Newman Civic Fellowship next fall.

For his efforts in demonstrating the potential for effective long-term civic engagement, Anthony Price ’20 was invited to participate in Campus Compact’s 2019 Newman Civic Fellowship. He will have access to exclusive virtual and in-person learning opportunities during the 2019–2020 academic year for the duration of the one-year fellowship term.

The Newman Civic Fellowship recognizes and supports community-committed students who are changemakers and public problem-solvers at Campus Compact member institutions. Price joins 261 student fellows representing Campus Compact member colleges and universities from 41 states; Washington, D.C.; Mexico; and Greece.

Price, a government and American studies double major, is the founder and executive director of Be The Change Venture, a Cleveland-based nonprofit that teaches young people networking skills to support their career development. He also spent a full semester in Washington, D.C., with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Emerging Leaders Program (see article). Price returned back to the Capitol this summer working for New Jersey Senator, Cory Booker, in the United States Senate. He also served as one of the executive core-planning members for the TedXWesleyan U conference.

“I look forward to being a part of an amazing cohort, building lifelong relationships, and learning from other change agents who are also on the ground serving others,” Price said. “[The fellowship] will be essential for my own civic engagement work serving young people in both inner city and rural communities that tend to get overlooked.”

Wesleyan President Michael Roth nominated Price for the fellowship.

“[Anthony has an] inspiring talent for civic engagement and an admirable dedication to making our society more equitable,” Roth wrote. “At Wesleyan, Anthony has consistently sought opportunities to collaborate with peers and community members on projects with social impact, from organizing a pitch competition for local high school and college students to joining our Nonprofit Board Residency program. As someone who seeks out opportunities to improve his skills in building relationships across sectors and industries, Anthony has held internships with various organizations, ranging from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Office of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.”

As a Newman Fellow, Price receives training and resources that nurture his passions and help develop strategies for social change. He’s able to participate in virtual events focused on skill development and professional learning; present papers at Campus Compact conferences; receive one-on-one leadership development mentoring; and connect and network with other engaged student leaders.

Although the fellowship doesn’t begin until fall, Price has already had conversations with his mentor and attorney Rudhir Krishtel, regarding Price’s nonprofit work. The connection was made through Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

“Rudhir already has played a pivotal role in thinking about how I want to expand upon the impact my team and I have made while at the same time remaining committed to civic engagement work long-term. Specifically, he has advised me on a few things I’m considering pursuing—law school, Fulbright, or perhaps working on Capitol Hill, and staying civically engaged,” Price said. “Overall, I’ve already gotten a head start in crafting the scope of my fellowship months in advance before the fall conference.”

The Newman Civic Fellowship was created in honor of Frank Newman, one of Campus Compact’s founders and a tireless advocate for the role of higher education in preparing students for active and engaged citizenship. The Newman Civic Fellowship is generously supported by the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation.

The 2019 Newman Civic Fellows National Convening will take place in November 2019, in Boston.

“There I’ll meet other fellows and learn about the work they’re doing in communities across the country,” Price said. “I’m looking forward to it!”

After graduation, Price aspires to be a cross-sector change agent, focused in particular on low-income communities. He plans to become an attorney, using the power of the law and policy to address the root causes of inequity in American society.

YAF Ghana Wins 2019 Davis Projects for Peace Award

The Young Achievers Foundation (YAF) Ghana, spearheaded by Ferdinand Quayson '20 (pictured in the black shirt), is a recipient of a 2019 Davis Projects for Peace Award. YAF Ghana exposes disadvantaged students in Northern Ghana to available scholarship opportunities and provides them with free resources needed to be successful applicants.

The Young Achievers Foundation (YAF) Ghana, spearheaded by Ferdinand Quayson ’20 (pictured in the black shirt at left), is a recipient of a 2019 Davis Projects for Peace Award. YAF Ghana exposes disadvantaged students in Northern Ghana to available scholarship opportunities and provides them with free resources needed to be successful applicants.

In the economically disadvantaged Northern Region of Ghana, only 6 of 100 high school students enroll in college, leaving many otherwise bright students trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty.

As recipients of the 2019 Davis Projects for Peace Award, four Wesleyan students who make up the Young Achievers Foundation Ghana are helping low-income students in the region access and apply for scholarship programs within Ghana and beyond. The grassroots group is led by Cofounder and Executive Director Ferdinand Quayson ’20 and members Afrah Boateng ’20, Abdallah Salia ’22, and Alvin Kibaara ’22.

The $10,000 Projects for Peace grant is awarded annually to undergraduate students at American colleges and universities to design grassroots projects that promote peace and conflict resolution around the world. YAF Ghana is using the award this summer to host workshops, seminars, student-led panels, and hands-on training for high school students seeking college scholarship opportunities.

Yang ’21 Participates in NSF-Sponsored Workshop on Antarctic History

Donglai Yang ’21 worked at the University of Arizona this summer on a project titled “Cenozoic detrital record offshore Dronning Maud Land.” His workshop concluded on July 8.

For two weeks this summer, Donglai Yang ’21 used isotope dating of rocks, minerals, and sediments from the Weddell Sea near Antarctica to determine the age of a section of Earth’s southernmost continent.

Yang, an earth and environmental sciences and physics double major, was selected as one of 10 undergraduate and graduate students from around the world to participate in the National Science Foundation–sponsored Antarctichron/Chronothon 2019 workshop held June 24 to July 8 at the University of Arizona.

The workshop introduced participants to geo- and thermochronology through some applications to the geology of Antarctica. Students learned to analyze and interpret their own samples and data in the context of their own research projects.

Yang’s study focused on the “Cenozoic detrital record offshore Dronning Maud Land,” a Norwegian territory that makes up approximately 1/6 of Antarctica. He specifically studied rock and sediment fragments that broke away from a landmass.

“These sediments were deposited around 30 million years ago, but the minerals within that layer of sediments have diverse ages,” he said. “Those minerals are scraped directly from the Antarctic bedrock by glaciers so their ages bear complicated terrestrial thermal history.”

During the workshop, Yang participated in informal lectures and discussions and learned the fundamentals of radioisotopic dating, laboratory techniques, analytical instrumentation, basics of thermochronologic modeling, and the geology of Antarctica. Core samples were provided by the International Ocean Discovery Program sediment core repository and the fellowship also was supported by Wesleyan’s College of the Environment.

Yang’s advisor, Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, initially introduced Yang to the concept of radiometric dating in geosciences.

“I was fascinated at once,” he said. “Its current applications have far transcended its use since its advent when, about a hundred years ago, scientists finally managed to fathom the absolute age of the Earth.”

Now with a much-expanded understanding of the kinetics in multiple decay systems, questions that arise from almost every single field in earth and environmental sciences become resolvable to varying extents, Yang explained. “On top of this, our sedimentology lab reckons it a valuable opportunity to bring in some new techniques as we have rarely dealt with unstable isotopes in minerals before.”

After Yang graduates from Wesleyan, he plans on attending graduate school, conducting research in geophysics or geochemistry.

Biology’s Lynch Remembered for Mentoring Women in the Sciences

Carol Lynch

Carol Lynch, former professor of biology, passed away last week at the age of 76.

Lynch joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1973 and served as dean of the natural sciences and mathematics in the late 1980s and early 1990s. During her time here, Lynch established a model system for studying the evolution of complex traits using house mice and played a pioneering role in supporting and mentoring women in the sciences.

She left Wesleyan in 1992 to join the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she served as dean of the graduate school and vice chancellor for research from 1992 to 2004, and was a professor of ecological and evolutionary biology and a fellow of the Institute for Behavioral Genetics.

Lynch and her husband, Bob, generously established the Carol and Robert Lynch Student Research Fund at Wesleyan, which continues to support the research of undergraduate biology students.

A memorial service will be scheduled later this summer in Boulder.

Rosenthal Serves as Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Rob Rosenthal

Rob Rosenthal

Rob Rosenthal, John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology, Emeritus, is serving as interim provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs. His appointment began on July 1.

Rosenthal previously served as provost from 2010 to 2013, after which he directed the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, becoming an emeritus professor in 2018. Rosenthal also was a founding director of Wesleyan’s Center for Community Partnerships and Service-Learning Center.

“Rob has long been an extraordinary Wesleyan citizen, whose loyalty to Wesleyan is evident to all who know him,” wrote Wesleyan President Michael Roth in a campus-wide email. “He is much respected for his work as an administrator, chair of the faculty, and celebrated teacher-scholar.”

Now, for a period of time as interim provost, Rosenthal again assumes the responsibility for matters relating to the faculty, the curriculum, continuing studies, athletics, and the library.

Rosenthal joined the Department of Sociology at Wesleyan in 1987, writing and teaching in the areas of housing and homelessness, community-based learning, and the use of music in social movements. His most recent book, coedited with his son, Sam, and titled Pete Seeger: In His Own Words, was published in 2012 to great acclaim.

The search for a permanent appointee continues with the expectation that Wesleyan will have someone in place by January 2020.

Members of the Class of 2019 Inducted into Phi Beta Kappa

PBK

On May 25, members of the Class of 2019 were inducted into Wesleyan’s Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa Society, the oldest national scholastic honor society. The Wesleyan Gamma Chapter was organized in 1845 and is the ninth-oldest chapter in the country.

To be elected, a student must first have been nominated by the department of his or her major. The student also must have demonstrated curricular breadth by having met the General Education Expectations and must have achieved a GPA of 93 and above.

Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest surviving Greek letter society in America, founded in December 1776 by five students who attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The emblem contains the three Greek letters “Phi-Beta-Kappa,” which are the initials of the Greek motto, Philosophia Biou Kybernetes. This essentially means “the love of wisdom is the guide of life.”

The spring 2019 inductees are:

Caroline Adams
Yulia Alexandr
Erin Angell
William Bellamy
Cara Bendich
Zachary Bennett
Chiara Bercu
Sophie Brett-Chin
Nicholas Byers
David Cabanero
Talia Cohen
John Cote 

Wesleyan University Press Author Harjo Named U.S. Poet Laureate

Joy Harjo

Poet Laureate of the United States Joy Harjo (Photo by Shawn Miller)

Joy Harjo, an author published by Wesleyan University Press and W.W. Norton has been named the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States, as announced by the U.S. Library of Congress. Harjo is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation. She is the first Native American to serve as U.S. Poet Laureate.

Harjo’s American Book Award–winning In Mad Love and War was published by Wesleyan in 1990. Other books include the pedagogical work Soul Talk, Song Language: Conversations with Joy Harjo, edited by Tanaya Winder; and theater work Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light: A Play by Joy Harjo and a Circle of Responses, with contributing editor Priscilla Page.

The Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center is the home of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, a position that has existed since 1937. During his or her term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry. Harjo will begin her new role in the fall, opening the Library’s annual literary season on Sept. 19 with a reading of her work.

Harjo is a past recipient of the PEN Open Book Award, the American Indian Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award, the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book. Her recent honors include the Jackson Prize from Poets & Writers (2019), the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation (2017) and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets (2015). In 2019, she was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Books

Books by Joy Harjo.