Olivia Drake

Wesleyan Team Places in Top 5 Percent of Putnam Math Competition

“Consider an icosahedron with every edge labeled from 1 to 30. Color these edges red, white, or blue, such that no face has all three edges the same color or all three faces the same color. How many ways are there to do this?”

If you can solve this problem, you might have what it takes to participate in the annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, a preeminent mathematics competition for undergraduate college students.

“The problems themselves are very difficult, often asking us to demonstrate that a general statement is true rather than to solve a specific problem, or if we do solve a specific problem, it is often a very complicated problem,” said competitor Sam Bidwell ’21. “For this particular question, which appeared on last year’s test, the solution involves complicated mathematics that I do not have the experience to properly explain within even five paragraphs to anyone who had not taken the prerequisite class, which was, as I recall, Abstract Algebra 2.”

Bidwell, along with Di Chen ’20, Haochen Gao ’21, Joe Cutler ’21, Morgan Long ’22, and Yaqian Tang ’21 were among 4,623 students from the U.S. and Canada to participate in the 2018 competition. Chen and Gao ranked in the top 500 individual competitors; and a team consisting of Bidwell, Chen, and Gao was ranked 27th out of 568 institutions (within the top 5 percent).

Public Broadcasting Studio in South Dakota Named in Honor of Jeanine Basinger

Barb and Van Fishback

Brookings, S.D., residents and donors Barb and Van Fishback stand outside the newly named Jeanine Basinger Studio located on the campus of Basinger’s alma mater, South Dakota State University.

South Dakota State University (SDSU) recently named a studio in honor of Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies and special advisor to the president. Basinger has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from SDSU and is a former resident of Brookings, S.D.

Jeanine Basinger

The South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) Jeanine Basinger Studio, located on SDSU’s Brookings campus, enables professional, high-quality sound for guests and interviews. The Basinger Studio was funded by Brookings residents Barb and Van Fishback.

“We are pleased to recognize SDSU Distinguished Alumna and world-renowned film educator and author Jeanine Basinger with the new SDPB Basinger Studio,” said Barb and Van Fishback in a recent SDPB press release. “Jeanine and we are proud of the opportunity to enhance public broadcasting for South Dakota and strengthen the relationship between SDPB and the university.”

Grabel Named a Connecticut Women of Innovation Finalist

Laura Grabel

For her efforts creating and fostering STEM initiatives that support women in science, Laura Grabel, the retired Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, was selected as a Women of Innovation finalist by the Connecticut Technology Council in March. She is one of 50 finalists in the state.

Grabel, who also is a retired professor of biology, is an accomplished scientist engaged in understanding how the fertilized egg can become a complex organism. This spring, she is teaching Reproduction in the 21st Century.

In addition to publishing dozens of academic articles and a book on ethical stem cell research, Grabel fosters STEM initiatives that focus on supporting women in science, such as teaching a course on the biology of women at York Correctional Institution, and collaborating with professional choreographers to convey complex scientific concepts through movement and dance in and outside of the classroom.

The Connecticut Technology Council is a statewide trade association focused on technology and technology-oriented companies and institutions, providing leadership, guidance, and support in areas of policy advocacy, community-building, and assistance for growing companies.

The Women of Innovation program seeks to celebrate and create a growing network of women working in STEM areas. Finalists are scientists, researchers, academics, manufacturers, student leaders, entrepreneurs, and technicians.

The finalists will be recognized at the 15th annual Women of Innovation awards gala on March 27.

Read more in this Middletown Press article.

O’Connell’s Article Published by the Geological Society of America

The article is accompanied by graphic, featured on the cover, of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) ships (left to right): the Chikyu, a riser-equipped platform coring in the western Pacific; the JOIDES Resolution, which recovers cores throughout the ocean; and a Mission Specific Platform (MSP) drilling vessel. Dotted lines—representative depth.

O’Connell’s article is accompanied by a graphic featuring the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) ships (left to right): the Chikyu, a riser-equipped platform coring in the western Pacific; the JOIDES Resolution, which recovers cores throughout the ocean; and a Mission Specific Platform (MSP) drilling vessel. The dotted lines show representative depth.

Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, is the author of a cover article titled “Holes in the Bottom of the Sea: History, Revolutions, and Future Opportunities,” published by the Geological Society of America (GSA) Today in January 2019.

Scientific ocean drilling (SOD) contributions include geophysical surveys, core samples, borehole well logs, and sub-seafloor observatories. After more than half a century, involving thousands of scientists from around the world, SOD has been instrumental in developing three geoscience revolutions: (1) plate tectonics, (2) paleoceanography, and (3) the deep marine biosphere.

In this paper, O’Connell explains that without SOD, it is unlikely that our current understanding of Earth processes could have developed. SOD has also been a leader in international collaborations and the open sharing of samples, data, and information. Almost 2.5 million samples have been taken from over 360 km of core located in three repositories. Today about half the members of scientific teams, including co-chief scientists, are women. This program is needed in the future for geoscientists to continue exploring our planet to understand how it functions and to create predictive models, she explains.

At Wesleyan, Professor O’Connell teaches geosciences with a strong emphasis on hands-on research with undergraduates. Her current research focuses on Antarctic climate change using sediment cores from the Weddell Sea, Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 113. She has authored or coauthored more than 60 refereed publications. Read more about O’Connell’s recent Weddell Sea core research in this College of the Environment blog post.

She is a member of the American Geophysical Union, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Association for Women Geoscientists, the Union of Concerned Scientists and a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. She is also on the governing council of the Geological Society of America and a recipient of the Association for Women Geoscientists Outstanding Educator Award, Wesleyan’s Edgar Beckham Helping Hand Award, and the McConaughy Writing Award.

Drozdov ’19 Wins Wesleyan Monogram Design Competition

Gabriel Drozdov ’19 proudly displays his design that was chosen as Wesleyan’s new monogram. “I wanted to maintain Wesleyan’s rebranding while reintroducing some of the elements that the new visual elements had reduced,” he said. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Wesleyan announced Wednesday that a design submitted by Gabriel Drozdov ’19 has been selected by popular vote as the University’s next monogram. Drozdov’s submission garnered more than 50 percent of the 6,200 votes cast by Wesleyan community members.

“For the monogram, I personally wanted to reintroduce some of Wesleyan’s old spirit back into a new design,” Drozdov said.

In September of 2018, Wesleyan launched an updated website, featuring new messaging and visual elements. One of those elements was a new monogram that many community members felt did not cohesively represent the University. Wesleyan’s administration responded by rolling back the mark, and forming a committee of students, alumni, faculty, and staff to organize a monogram design submission contest and engage the community’s substantial creative abilities and input.

Participants were faced with the design challenge of creating something uniquely Wesleyan—to set it apart from the nearly 200 other colleges and universities that start with the letter W and around 20 with Wesleyan in their names—as well as something flexible enough to work with current and emerging formats like small screens and handheld devices. It also needed to have the potential to work at scale (as on a large banner), while following the existing Wesleyan design standards.

Wesleyan’s monogram selection committee members include Jen Carlstrom, manager of design services for University Communications;  Aaron Cheung ’19, a member of the Wesleyan Student Assembly; Marcy Herlihy, director of stewardship and donor relations for University Relations; Elijah Huge, associate professor of art; Deb Katz, director of marketing; Gil Skillman, professor of economics and chair of the faculty; former trustee Harold Sogard ’74, P’17, retired president of Hive Advertising; Jonathan Turitz ’86, chief marketing officer of D’Addario & Co.; and trustee Luke Wood ’91, president of Beats by Dr. Dre.

“We realized that the best way to develop a truly representative mark was to engage our community’s creativity and incorporate their feedback,” said Deb Katz, director of marketing. “We received 30 submissions from students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and were impressed by their originality and creativity.”

The committee narrowed the submissions down to three finalists. From Feb. 20 to 27, the University hosted an online vote to determine the community’s favorite. Drozdov’s design of a white “W” on a red shield “was the clear winner,” Katz said, and will be able to be adapted for use with other color palettes as well.

Drozdov, who is double-majoring in theater and computer science, described his submission as a “simple, clean design that incorporates several elements of the University’s new visual identity and is based on students’ belief that Wesleyan’s ‘longstanding collegiate identity’ and reputation speak for themselves.”

Drozdov incorporated the Copernicus typeface to match the serif focus of Wesleyan’s old monogram. He designed an expanded variant of the shield crest to more easily elicit the collegiate tone, “since the full crest is more recognizable as an icon of higher education,” he said. Drozdov also maintained the simplicity of Wesleyan’s redesign by keeping the color palette monochromatic, and improved legibility over the old monogram by increasing line weight.

“I know that I and others felt like the new visual elements didn’t acknowledge Wesleyan’s prior identity,” Drozdov said. “As a senior, I want to leave this school feeling like I can still relate to it. Still, it wouldn’t make sense to reuse Wesleyan’s old typeface and colors, so I mixed a bit of the old and new and I’m glad people seem to like it and feel the same way.”

Although Drozdov hasn’t designed a monogram before, he works as a freelance graphic artist, creating designs, websites, and branding guidelines for theater and arts organizations. “After graduation, I’ll probably find a career in graphic design,” he said.

For questions or additional information, email ucomm@wesleyan.edu.

Wesleyan Confers Tenure to 8 Faculty, 1 Promoted

Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees conferred tenure to eight faculty members, effective July 1. They include:

· David Constantine, associate professor of mathematics
· Megan Glick, associate professor of American studies
· Kerwin Kaye, associate professor of sociology
· Jeffers Lennox, associate professor of history
· Maria Ospina, associate professor of Spanish
· Justine Quijada, associate professor of religion
· Lily Saint, associate professor of English

In addition, one faculty member was promoted to full professor:
· Nicole Stanton, professor of dance

Brief descriptions of their areas of research and teaching appear below:

David Constantine’s research examines the relationship between dynamics and geometry – what the geometry of an object can reveal about its dynamics, and what the dynamics of an object can reveal about its geometry.

Student-Led Ventures Win $5,000 Entrepreneurship Seed Grants

Sydney Ochieng ’22, founder of Accessible and Affordable Sanitation for Women (AASW), is one of four recipients to receive a 2019 Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship (PCSE) Seed Grant. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

On March 4, not three, but four student-run ventures received $5,000 seed grants from the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship (PCSE). The unrestricted funding is accompanied with training, advising, mentoring, incubator workspace, and other resources from the Patricelli Center.

On March 1, six finalists pitched for a panel of judges in Allbritton 311.

“As always, the competition was steep, and the judges had a tough time selecting grantees,” said Makaela Kingsley ’98, director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. “In fact, this year they decided to make a special donation to the Patricelli Center so we could offer four grants instead of the usual three.”

Article by Personick, Robertson ’18 Featured on the Cover of Chemistry of Materials Journal

An invited perspective article written by Michelle Personick, assistant professor of chemistry, and Danny Robertson ’18 is featured on the cover of the Feb. 26, 2019, issue 4 of Chemistry of Materials.

Personick was invited to contribute the perspective article as part of Chemistry of Materials’ “Up-and-Coming” series of Perspectives. The series provides a place for emerging, early career scientists to discuss and provide insights into new areas of materials science, and to showcase their research accomplishments.

The perspective, titled “Growing Nanoscale Model Surfaces to Enable Correlation of Catalytic Behavior Across Dissimilar Reaction Environments,” highlights recent advances and potential future directions in the use of larger (>10 nm) noble metal nanoparticles.

Personick also created the cover graphic.

At Wesleyan, Robertson majored in chemistry, physics, and the College of Integrative Sciences. He is currently pursuing a PhD in chemistry, researching electrochemical energy storage at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research interests broadly lie in the development of fundamental structure-function relationships in materials for energy-related applications.

Personick joined the faculty at Wesleyan in 2015, and her research group focuses on developing tailored metal nanomaterials to enable fundamental research toward improved catalysts for resource-efficient chemical synthesis and the clean production of energy. She is a recipient of the Victor K. LaMer Award from the ACS Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry and an Army Research Office Young Investigator Award.

Students Receive Innovation Fund Grants from the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships

Musical Mentor Henry Hodder ‘20 works with two of his guitar students at Oddfellows Playhouse in Middletown.

Musical mentor Henry Hodder ’20 works with two of his guitar students at Oddfellows Playhouse in Middletown. Hodder’s group, Cardinal Kids, is one of nine student ventures to receive grants from the JCPP Student Innovation Fund.

This spring, nine student ventures received grants from the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships (JCCP) Student Innovation Fund. These student efforts are representative of the JCCP’s commitment to cocreate mutually respectful partnerships in pursuit of a just, equitable, and sustainable future for communities beyond the campus—nearby and around the world.

The Student Innovation Fund provides up to $750 for spring or summer projects that prioritize:

  • Collaboration between student groups, faculty/staff, and/or community partners.
  • Investigation of the impact of our civic engagement efforts.
  • Sharing of ideas and learnings in civic engagement on campus and beyond.

The recipients are:

Jessica Brandon ’20 and Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19
Adolescent Sexual Health Awareness (ASHA)

Due to the structural forms of racism that economically oppress people of color, volunteer opportunities are inherently restrictive. ASHA’s innovation seeks to investigate this barrier to the involvement of students of color in volunteer opportunities, as it is essential to the project of cultural competency for an educational organization to include members that represent the identities of many different students. The Student Innovation Fund will support their effort to make ASHA an inclusive and equitable organization.

Cardinal Kids Teaching Collective Hosts Interactive Lessons for Area Children

Wesleyan’s student group, Cardinal Kids, led a six-part series of events throughout the month of February at the Wesleyan R.J. Julia Bookstore. Cardinal Kids is a teaching collective run by Wesleyan students, each adapting their on-campus work into fun, interactive lessons for children in grades 1–5.

Throughout the month, Cardinal Kids provided a comic book–making workshop, two introductions to world art, a lesson on protecting the environment, a class on journalism and newspapers, and a DNA-extracting workshop. All lessons were taught alongside an accompanying book.

On Feb. 21, Cardinal Kids’ Meera Joshi ’20 led “Get That DNA!” using the book Have a Nice DNA. Participants extracted DNA from strawberries and learned about genetics. The events are free to all participants. For more information email books@wesleyan.edu.

Photos of the DNA workshop are below: (Photos by Caroline Kravitz)

Princeton Review Ranks Wesleyan as Its No. 1 Impact School

Wesleyan University was named the No. 1 “Impact School” for 2019 by The Princeton Review.

Wesleyan and the other 24 schools that made the list “were selected based on student ratings and responses to survey questions covering community service opportunities at their school, student government, sustainability efforts, and on-campus student engagement.” The Princeton Review also took into account PayScale.com’s percentage of alumni from each school that reported having high job meaning.

Since the Princeton Review created this category in 2015, Wesleyan has remained at the top of the list.

“According to our Civic Action Plan, we wish to be an increasingly ‘Engaged University’ where we prepare our students to engage in civic participation throughout their lives and where civic responsibility is a visible institutional commitment,” said Rhea Drozdenko ’18, coordinator of community participation for Wesleyan’s Jewett Center for Community Partnerships. 

Students Practice Personal Pitches with Alumni Mentors at Connect@Wes

On Feb. 22, 10 alumni and 35 students participated in Connect@Wes 2019 in Beckham Hall. The event serves as a "practice" networking event for Wesleyan students of all class years. 

On Feb. 22, eight alumni and 35 students participated in Connect@Wes 2019 in Beckham Hall. The fifth annual event serves as a practice networking event for Wesleyan students of all class years.

Students rotated through short sessions with alumni mentors in different industries to practice their version of a personal pitch. 

Students rotated through short sessions with alumni mentors in different industries to practice their version of a personal pitch. The mentors used their expertise to critique the pitches and provided advice and insight on how to build a personal network.