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.

CS Major Gansley ’15 Hopes to Use Programming Skills to Help with Good Causes

As a service-learning project, Alicia Gansley '15 helped create a web application for the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center. Gansley enjoys writing programs from the comfort of the Science Library. "This is where you're usually find me," she said.

As a service-learning project, Alicia Gansley ’15 helped create a web application for the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center. Gansley enjoys writing programs from the comfort of the Science Library. “This is where you’re usually find me,” she said.

#THISISWHY
In this Q&A meet Alicia Gansley from the Class of 2015. (Story by Rosy Capron. Homepage image shows Gansley with friend Kristie Cruz ’15.)

Q: Alicia, what are you majoring in?

A: I’m majoring in computer science and I’m also completing the economics minor and Civic Engagement Certificate.

Q: Last fall, you brought your programming knowledge to COMP 342: Software Engineering, a service-learning course where groups of Computer Science majors develop special projects for local organizations. Tell us more about your project.

A: My group made a web application for Green Street Teaching and Learning Center to use to sign students up for one of its after school programs. Our system will allow Green Street to collect students’ contact information and course preferences, as well as allow the staff to keep track of this information throughout the semester.

Q: How did the experience of working on a project for an organization differ from working on a project for a typical academic course? Were there unexpected rewards and challenges that came with having a client?

A: It was a real pleasure working closely with Sara MacSorley at Green Street and learning more about their facility and programs. Part of what struck me about working on a project for a client was the fact that you can never just say “90 percent is enough.” We needed to always figure out some way to meet their specifications, which I think pushed the team to really learn and work together. I think it was a great motivation to produce our best work, and I’m excited to think we helped such a worthy organization with a hard working staff.

Q: Now that the course has ended, what’s next for your project? Does Green Street plan to implement your work?

A: A couple of students will be hired this Spring to polish all of the projects our class produced last semester. Hopefully, Green Street will be able to implement the project in the Fall.

Q: Why did you sign up for this course?

A: I signed up for the class mainly because I am pursuing a career in software engineering and I wanted to get some formal training in that field. I wanted an opportunity to take the time to learn Ruby and Ruby on Rails. I was also interested in taking a class where we would be undertaking a large scale, team-based programming project.

Q: How has this course influenced your career interests?

A: It solidified my interest in being a software developer and made me realize how much I value teamwork. It also made me realize how much work and thought goes into good software projects. I also realized that software can be used in all kinds of organizations to solve many different problems, and I’m really interested in seeing how I can use my programming skills to promote and help with other good causes in the future.

Q: What other student groups and activities are you involved with at Wesleyan?

A: I am a publicity assistant at Wesleyan University Press and a course assistant in the Computer Science Department. I was the web editor for The Argus and a peer advisor for the Patricelli Center. I have also been involved in feminist activism on campus and was the student leader for Democracy Matters, an organization that advocates for public financing of elections.

Huwel, Morgan Investigate Dynamics of Laser-Induced Sparks in Helium

japiau_117_4Lutz Huwel, professor of physics, and Thomas Morgan, the Foss Professor of Physics, are the co-authors of an article titled “Investigating the dynamics of laser induced sparks in atmospheric helium using Rayleigh and Thomson scattering,” published in the Journal of Applied Physics, Volume 117 in January 2015.

The paper describes the use of two laser systems to prepare and study a helium plasma, and draws on an extensive international collaboration. The electron density and temperature of the plasma are measure as a function of time and space with high precision. The work has important impact in the area of laser induced breakdown spectroscopy and to the spectral line shape scientific community.

Sea Animal Photographs on Display in Exley Science Center

An exhibit titled "Wakaya Octocorals and Giants" is on display in Exley Science Center. The 10 photographs in the display were taken by Joshua Boger '73, P'06, P'09 and feature reefs off Wakaya Island in Fiji. Boger has dived these reefs more than 200 times, spending more than a week underwater.

An exhibit titled “Wakaya Octocorals and Giants” is on display in Exley Science Center. The 10 photographs in the display were taken by Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, P’09 and feature reefs off Wakaya Island in Fiji. Boger has dived these reefs more than 200 times, spending more than a week underwater. Pictured is a royal purple soft coral — Alcyonacea — photographed in 2013.

Sociology Major, Football Player Fabien ’15 Planning to Coach, Join Special Forces after Graduation

Jay Fabien '15 and his "rescued" husky, Glacier, hang out on Citrin Field Jan. 23. Fabien, formerly a wide-receiver for the Wesleyan Cardinals Football Team, hopes to coach student-athletes after graduation and later join the U.S Army Special Forces. 

Jay Fabien ’15 and his “rescued” husky, Glacier, hang out on Citrin Field Jan. 23. Fabien, formerly a wide-receiver for the Wesleyan Cardinals Football Team, hopes to coach student-athletes after graduation and later join the U.S Army Special Forces. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

He loves “chick-flicks” and played alto-sax in high school. But he also wants to earn a spot in the Special Forces after graduation. In short, the Cardinals’ No. 80 in football has many layers. They all start and end with respect, and comfort in being himself, on and off the field.

He’s no prima donna, even though he has only played one position since he was 9 — wide receiver. Being a distraction to the team is not in his DNA.

“I’ve never been that way,” said Jay Fabien ’15. “I love all aspects of being a wide receiver.”

Israeli ’17 Speaks at Awards Gala Hosted by the Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights

Ella Israeli '17 mingled with entertainer/philanthropist Robert De Niro at the Ripple of Hope Gala and Awards Dinner, held Dec. 16 in New York City.  The event was supported by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

Ella Israeli ’17 mingled with entertainer/philanthropist Robert De Niro at the Ripple of Hope Gala and Awards Dinner, held Dec. 16 in New York City.

Two Wesleyan students and two alumni participated in the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala and Awards Dinner in New York City in December.

Ella Israeli '17, Kennedy Odede '12 and Kiley Kennedy '16 shared a group hug at the Ripple of Hope Gala. 

Ella Israeli ’17, Kennedy Odede ’12 and Kiley Kennedy ’16 shared a group hug at the Ripple of Hope Gala.

During the event, Ripple Awards were presented to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, entertainers/ philanthropists Robert De Niro and Tony Bennett, and Physicians Interactive Chairman Donato Tramuto.

Ella Israeli ’17, a government major minoring in film studies film studies, was chosen to introduce New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who presented the Ripple of Hope Award to De Niro. Israeli also spoke about her involvement in the Center’s high school curriculum participation in the center’s film contest. Her speech is online here.

Kennedy Odede ’12, founder of Shining Hope for Communities, was honored as a defender of human rights. Kiley Kennedy ’16 and Edward “Ted” Kennedy Jr. ’83, P’16 also attended the event.

View Israeli’s website, with links to her videos, here.

Shapiro Translates Fables in a Modern Key

Book translated by Norman Shapiro.

Book translated by Norman Shapiro.

Norman Shapiro, professor of French, is the translator of Fables in a Modern Key (Fables dan l’air du Temps), published by Black Widow Press in 2015.

Fables was written by by Pierre Coran (whose real name is Eugene Delaisse), a poet and novelist of the Belgian French-language. One of Begium’s most renowned poets with some 45 poetry books published to date, he also is the author of 25 published novels, 24 books of fables, hundreds of comic book stories, and several albums which have been translated into more than a dozen languages. His children’s stories and fables are published around the world, but this the first selection of his fables to be translated into English in a full length book format.

Johnson-Thornton is the New Dean for Equity and Inclusion

Renee Johnson-Thornton, dean for equity and inclusion.

Renee Johnson-Thornton, dean for equity and inclusion, is exploring ways to better understand the experiences students have that interfere with success and wellbeing. She has a deep commitment to social and environmental justice, conservation and environmental sustainability.

In this Q&A we speak with Renee Johnson-Thornton, dean for equity and inclusion.

Q: Renee, when did you come to Wesleyan and what was your first position? When did you join the Office of Equity and Inclusion?

A: I was hired in 1998 to be the associate director of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. The Office of Equity and Inclusion was established in 2013 following the hiring of Vice President Antonio Farias. Prior to his arrival, I served as dean for diversity and student engagement from 2009-2013, and the associate coordinator of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program from 2000-2013. I also have held the following positions at Wesleyan: assistant dean for student academic resources from 2005-2006, and assistant to the dean of the college from 2000-2005.

Q: How would you describe your role as the dean for equity and inclusion?

A: The dean for equity and inclusion promotes access, education and compliance through collaboration with students, faculty, staff and alumni that engage the campus community in developing all students’ capacity to achieve at the highest level.

Hurteau Earns Cardinal Achievement Award for Planning Library Project

#THISISWHY

Linda Hurteau

Linda Hurteau

Linda Hurteau, library assistant, was recently presented with a Cardinal Achievement Award for her work in anticipation of moving the Art Library collections into Olin Library. Hurteau created a plan to make space for and integrate transferred books from Olin Library into the Science Library.

She planned the project, supervised student employees to do a major shift of the Science Library’s monographic collection, and had the space allocated and ready when professional movers relocated the books. The planning work that Linda did resulted in significant savings to the library and the university. Hurteau also planned and initiated a project to create a separate oversize book area. The oversize shelves will help to preserve these materials by reducing the costs associated with rebinding books that are damaged by shelving them on edge or torqued when squeezed onto shelves of inadequate height or depth.

Lastly, Hurteau also undertook a project to integrate seven separate small collections into one when it became apparent that users were having difficulty locating individual items.

“Linda’s proactive approach to cost-savings and dedication to customer service deserve recognition. She is always looking for ways to improve the Science Library and the services we offer,” said Melissa Behney, science librarian.

This special honor comes with a $250 award and reflects the university’s gratitude for those extra efforts. Award recipients are nominated by department chairs and supervisors.

Nominations can be made anytime throughout the year. For more information or to nominate a staff member for the award, visit the Cardinal Achievement Award website. Recipients will continue to be recognized in News @ Wesleyan. See past Cardinal Achievement Award recipients here.

Bernstein ’15 Remembered for His “Large Personality,” Athleticism

Rex Bernstein ’15

Rex Bernstein ’15

Rex Bernstein ’15 died peacefully in his sleep Jan. 10 while visiting family in the San Francisco Bay area. He was pursuing a government major at Wesleyan with a minor in history. He was a former member of the Wesleyan swim team and a member of Beta Theta Pi.

Bernstein, 22, was “a large person with a large personality, and he will be missed by many here on campus,” wrote Dean Mike Whaley, vice president for student affairs.

Bernstein is survived by his parents and younger sister, Olive, and his dog, Gato. View Bernstein’s guestbook online here.

A memorial service is being planned by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.

Hovey to Serve as Interim Associate Provost

Mark Hovey, professor of mathematics and director of graduate studies, will serve as interim associate provost, part-time through May 15, and then full-time through Aug. 31. Hovey will focus on curricular initiatives and budget management.

Hovey came to Wesleyan in 1997 after receiving his BS from Ohio State University and his Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has taught at Yale, University of New Haven, University of Kentucky and MIT, and has been a regular speaker at international conferences in algebraic topology.

Hovey is the author of the book Model Categories and more than 50 scholarly papers. He has served as editor of publications including Advances in Mathematics and Homology, Homotopy, and its Applications and has been a referee for multiple journals, including Annals of Math, American Journal of Math and Topology.

At Wesleyan he has served as chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and as a member of the Review and Appeals Board.

“Mark has been doing an excellent job as the director of graduate studies this year, and I know that he will contribute immensely to Academic Affairs, and to Wesleyan, as he takes on his new responsibilities as interim associate provost,” said Ruth Striegel Weissman, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “Please join me in thanking Mark for taking in this important role.”

Handler ’92 (AKA Lemony Snicket) Kicks off 2015 Russell House Series

Daniel Handler '92 (Photo by Meredith Heuer)

Daniel Handler ’92 (Photo by Meredith Heuer)

Bestselling author Daniel Handler ’92 will read from his new work Feb. 5 while launching the Spring 2015 Russell House Series on Prose and Poetry. The series is sponsored by Writing at Wesleyan.

Handler’s newest novel is the highly-anticipated We Are Pirates, which Bloomsbury will publish in February 2015 and Neil Gaiman describes as “honest and funny, dark and painful.” He is also the author of the novels The Basic Eight, Watch Your Mouth, Adverbs, and, with Maira Kalman, Why We Broke Up, which won the Michael J. Printz Honor. His criticism has appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Believer.

As Lemony Snicket, he has written the best-selling series All The Wrong Questions as well as A Series of Unfortunate Events, which has sold more than 60 million copies.

Rutland’s Paper Focuses on Oil, Gas and National Identity in Russia

Peter Rutland

Peter Rutland

Professor Peter Rutland is the author of an article titled “Petronation? Oil, gas and national identity in Russia,” published in Post-Soviet Affairs, Volume 31, Issue 1, January 2015. Rutland is professor of government, the Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, professor of Russian and Eastern European studies and tutor in the College of Social Studies.

The article was written as part of the research project “Nation-Building and Nationalism in Today’s Russia (NEORUSS),” financed by the Norwegian Research Council.

Based on survey research, elite interviews, and an analysis of media treatment, Rutland’s article explores the place of oil and gas in Russia’s national narrative and self-identity. Objectively, Russia’s economic development, political stability, and ability to project power abroad rest on its oil and gas resources. Subjectively, however, Russians are somewhat reluctant to accept that oil and gas dependency is part of their national identity. One of the unexpected findings to emerge from the survey data is the strong regional differences on the question of whether Russia should be proud of its reliance on energy.

The article concludes with an analysis of the factors constraining the role of energy in Russia’s national narrative: the prominent history of military victories and territorial expansion; a strong commitment to modernization through science and industry; and concerns over corruption, environmental degradation and foreign exploitation.