Olivia Drake

Holtzberg ’79 Honored by American Folklore Society

Past prize winner Maida Owens (left) and AFS President Dorothy Noyes present Maggie Holtzberg (center) with the 2018 Benjamin A. Botkin Prize at the Annual Meeting of the American Folklore Society in Buffalo, New York. Photo credit: Meredith A. McGriff.

Past prizewinner Maida Owens (left) and AFS President Dorothy Noyes present Maggie Holtzberg (center) with the 2018 Benjamin A. Botkin Prize at the Annual Meeting of the American Folklore Society in Buffalo, New York. Photo credit: Meredith A. McGriff.

At its recent annual meeting in Buffalo, N.Y., the American Folklore Society (AFS) named prominent American folklorist Maggie Holtzberg ’79 of Boston, Mass., as the 2018 recipient of its prestigious Benjamin A. Botkin Prize.

The Botkin Prize is given each year by the American Folklore Society and its Public Programs Section in the name of Benjamin A. Botkin (1901–1975) to recognize lifetime achievement in public folklore. Botkin—eminent New Deal–era folklorist, national folklore editor of the Federal Writers’ Project in 1938–1939, advocate for the public responsibilities of folklorists, author and compiler of many publications on American folklore for general audiences, and head of the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress 1942–1945—has had a major impact on the field of public folklore and on the public understanding of folklore.

In its report, the 2018 Botkin Prize Committee praised the outstanding contribution of this year’s awardee, noting: “Maggie Holtzberg has surveyed, documented, and promoted public understanding of the traditional arts and heritage in three states.

Clark ’99, Bleeker ’07: Bully Pulpit Markets for a Better World

Andrew Bleeker ’07 (right) and Ben Clark ’99 were back on campus in March, hosting an employer information session at the Gordon Career Center to talk about their career paths and Bully Pulpit Interactive.(Photo by Olivia Drake MALS ’08)

Andrew Bleeker ’07 (right) and Ben Clark ’99 were back on campus in March, hosting an employer information session at the Gordon Career Center to talk about their career paths and Bully Pulpit Interactive. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

(By Bill Holder)
When a progressive marketing and communications agency that has major Democratic organizations as clients—and ran the digital marketing operations for Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton—decides to expand into the corporate world, one company you might not expect to be on the list is McDonald’s.

Yes, that’s the purveyor of hamburgers founded by the famously conservative Ray Kroc. But times change, and when McDonald’s wanted to tell the world about its new practices to improve environmental sustainability, the company turned to Bully Pulpit Interactive and founding partners Andrew Bleeker ’07 and Ben Clark ’99.

In doing so, McDonald’s selected a youthful firm known for its strength in digital communications. Bully Pulpit looks for a blend of Madison Avenue creative, Silicon Valley tech, and Inside-the-Beltway politics.

Wesleyan Celebrates GIS Day with Hands-on Activities

On Nov. 14, Wesleyan celebrated geography, mapping, and spatial data analysis at the annual GIS Day. GIS Day provides an international forum for users of geographic information systems (GIS) technology to demonstrate real-world applications that are making a difference in our society. The first formal GIS Day took place in 1999.

During GIS Day, the Wesleyan community was invited to participate in multiple activities, including a hands-on humanitarian map-a-thon, a seminar on digital storytelling with maps led by Sam Raby ’17, and games involving “Fun with GIS.” The events were led by students taking the E&ES 281: GIS Service Learning course and Kim Diver, associate professor of the practice in earth and environmental sciences. Diver’s research focuses on island biogeography, with particular interests in water level changes, isolation metrics, forest dynamics, and applications of GIS to investigate spatiotemporal distributions of insular plant species.

Wesleyan joined hundreds of organizations and institutions from North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia in hosting GIS Day gatherings. For more information, visit Wes GIS.

Photos of GIS Day are below:

Jesse Simmons (’21), Luke Green (’20 ENVS, HIST), Sarah Goss (’19 BIOL, PSYCH)

From left, Jesse Simmons ’21, Luke Green ’20, and Sarah Goss ’19.

Kim, Students Coauthor Paper on Self-Memory Advantage

Kyungmi Kim

Assistant Professor of Psychology Kyungmi Kim, Youngbin (Amabel) Jeon ’19, Alexis Banquer ’20, and Danielle Rothschild ’19 are coauthors of a study published in the October 2018 volume of Consciousness and Cognition.

In the paper, “Conscious awareness of self-relevant information is necessary for an incidental self-memory advantage,” Kim and her students examine the relative contributions of conscious vs. unconscious self-processing to the incidental self-reference effect.

The incidental self-reference effect refers to a memory advantage for items simultaneously presented with self-relevant information (e.g., one’s own name) over those presented with other relevant information (e.g., someone else’s name) when the task at hand bears no relevance to the self (e.g., a simple location judgment task; “Does each item appear above or below the name in the middle?”).

In the study, Kim and her students compared memory for target items that were presented with one’s own name vs. another person’s name when the names were consciously identifiable vs. unidentifiable. They found the incidental self-reference effect when the names were consciously identifiable but not when they were consciously unidentifiable.

“These findings show that conscious awareness of self-cues in the environment is necessary for an incidental self-memory advantage to emerge, suggesting a boundary condition under which the self influences memory,” Kim explained.

Freeman Scholarship Supports up to 11 Exceptional East Asian Students Annually

Wesleyan Freeman Asian Scholars gathered for group photos and dinner on Oct. 27.

The Freeman Asian Scholarship Program, now in its 24th year, provides expenses for a four-year course of study toward a bachelor’s degree for up to 11 exceptional students annually, one each from the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The Freeman Program was established in 1995 and supported scholars for 20 years through the generosity of the Freeman family—Mansfield Freeman ’16, P’43, Hon. ’79; Houghton Freeman ’43, P’77, Hon. ’93; Doreen Freeman P’77, Hon. ’03; and Graeme Freeman ’77.

Wesleyan continues to honor the Foundation’s legacy through this scholarship, which aims to improve understanding and strengthen ties between the United States and the countries and regions of the Pacific Rim. A number of early Wesleyan graduates were influential educators and ministers in Asian countries, and today Wesleyan has formal ties to several prominent universities in Asia.

Photos of the gathering are below: (Photos by Caroline Kravitz ’19)

class of 2019

Class of 2019.

PhD Candidate DeAngelis Speaks on Development of Fruit Fly Retinas

On Oct. 31, Miles DeAngelis, a PhD candidate in biology, presented a graduate speaker series talk titled, “The Hippo Signaling Pathway acts as a novel regulator of morphogenesis.”  DeAngelis’s advisor is Associate Professor of Biology Ruth Johnson, associate professor, integrative sciences.The field of morphogenesis aims to understand the biological processes that tell tissues how to organize into their life-supporting shapes. The Hippo signaling pathway is just one of these many processes. In the past, this pathway was thought to only regulate tissue size. DeAngelis’s work with Drosophila fruit flies suggests that in addition to regulating tissue size, the Hippo signaling pathway also regulates the patterning of pupal retina. The Graduate Speaker Series events are open to the entire Wesleyan community and include lunch. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Students Share Global Experiences through Photography

Delila Flores '19 won Best Photo of Daily Life for her image titled “Machete Abuela," taken in San Vincente, Puebla, México. "This is my bisabuela walking through the campo, the fields, where she uses her machete for her livelihood. She uses it to cut the weeds, to protect herself from the snakes, and as a walking stick. Despite being 92 years old, she is still a strong woman who has defended her land and taught her daughters, my abuela and my mamá to do the same," Flores said.

Delila Flores ’19 won Best Photo of Daily Life for her image titled “Machete Abuela,” taken in San Vicente, Puebla, México. “This is my bisabuela walking through the campo, the fields, where she uses her machete for her livelihood. She uses it to cut the weeds, to protect herself from the snakes, and as a walking stick. Despite being 92 years old, she is still a strong woman who has defended her land and taught her daughters, my abuela and my mamá to do the same,” Flores said.

This year, students shared global stories about humanity in 51 cities across 24 countries through the third annual Wes in the World photo contest.

Sponsored by the Fries Center for Global Studies, the contest is open to Wesleyan students who have had any global experience over the previous summer and/or previous semester. This includes study abroad returnees, international students, exchange students, fellowship recipients, and foreign language teaching assistants.

More than 200 students, staff, faculty, and alumni voted on the submissions within five categories: Contemporary Issues, Daily Life, Landscape, People, and Sport and Play.

“Our hope with these categories is to allow students to reflect on ways in which their global experience transcends borders by working towards peace and human rights, recognizing different realities of daily living, appreciating the wonderful landscapes of the earth, raising awareness about peoples and cultures outside of their ethnocentric lens, and connecting with others universally through sports and play,” said Kia Lor, assistant director of language and intercultural learning. “Students are not required to be professional photographers to participate. In fact, we are more interested in the stories behind the photographs than the camera or photo-editing software they used.”

Winners were announced during a ceremony at the Fries Center on Oct. 30.

Delila Flores ’19 won Best Photo of Daily Life; Romina Beltran ’22 won Best Photo of Contemporary Issues; Grant Hill ’20 won Best Photo of Landscape; Shariis Jeffrey ’19 won Best Photo of People; and Alice Ghislaine Musabe ’22 won Best Photo of Sport and Play.

The photo contest is held in conjunction with the Fries Center’s International Education Week celebration, held Nov. 11-17. The theme this year is “Transcending Borders” and events explore the complexities of “belonging” and how our sense of belongs transcends borders.

Romina Beltran '22 won Best Photo of Contemporary Issues for her image titled “In the streets of Kalkota," taken in Kolkata, India. "This photo represents an urban scenario in a capitalistic society in contrast with the elements of both nature and poverty," Beltran explained.

Romina Beltran ’22 won Best Photo of Contemporary Issues for her image titled “In the streets of Kolkata,” taken in Kolkata, India. “This photo represents an urban scenario in a capitalistic society in contrast with the elements of both nature and poverty,” Beltran explained.

Szegedy-Maszak Receives Onassis Fellowship to Teach Greek History to Incarcerated Students

Andy Szegedy-Maszak

Andy Szegedy-Maszak. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

As an inaugural Onassis Foundation Teaching Fellow in Culture and Humanities, Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, the Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek, will have the opportunity to teach Greek history to incarcerated students through Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education (CPE).

Starting during the spring 2019 semester, Szegedy-Maszak will teach an adapted version of his Wesleyan course CCIV 231: Greek History to men at the Cheshire Correctional Institution.

“I was surprised and very honored when I heard that I was awarded the fellowship,” said Szegedy-Maszak. “This class will be a survey of ancient Greek civilization over about 1,000 years, from the Bronze Age to the death of Alexander the Great. It’s less about the memorization of facts than how to use sources—literary, archaeological, and artistic—to put together a narrative, and also how to think about a culture that had some similarities to, but many more differences from, our own.”

The Onassis Foundation established the fellowship with the aim of promoting Greek culture through expanded college course offerings in Greek philosophy, humanities, art, and politics. Through a partnership with the Bard Prison Initiative, Onassis invited partners from across the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison to apply for the titled, distinguished fellowship. Szegedy-Maszak was selected as one of two inaugural fellows.

Neighborhood Preschoolers Trick-or-Treat on Campus

Donning their Halloween costumes, children from Wesleyan’s Neighborhood Preschool parade down College Row on Oct. 31.

Children from Wesleyan’s Neighborhood Preschool (NPS) trick-or-treated on Wesleyan’s campus Oct. 31. The children, accompanied by their families and teachers, stopped at Exley Science Center, Olin Library, South College, and North College to trick-or-treat, sing songs, and show off their Halloween costumes. Many trick-or-treaters are the children of Wesleyan faculty and staff.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth and staff from University Communications offered candy to the children during the campus parade.

Photos of the NPS parade are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Stemler Participates in CTNext’s Entrepreneurship Retreat

Steve Stemler, associate professor of psychology, participated in the High Value Talents and Innovators’ Entrepreneurship Retreat Oct. 26-27 on campus. The new industry-academic initiative, supported by the CTNext Higher Education Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fund works to increase entrepreneurial education and output among the state’s top researchers.

Steve Stemler, associate professor of psychology, participated in the High Value Talents and Innovators’ Entrepreneurship Retreat Oct. 26-27 on campus. The new industry-academic initiative, supported by the CTNext Higher Education Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fund works to increase entrepreneurial education and output among the state’s top researchers. The event was sponsored by Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

Stemler joined faculty and researchers from the University of Connecticut, Unilever, Quinnipiac University, and The Jackson Laboratory at the retreat.

Stemler joined faculty and researchers from the University of Connecticut, Unilever, Quinnipiac University, and The Jackson Laboratory at the retreat. Stemler attended the retreat to learn how his research on testing could have potential real-world applications. He also had many students come up with projects in his Psychological Measurement course that could result in important commercial ventures.

Activities included a combination of instructor talks, attendee presentations, active interactions between participants, and a customer discovery, where participants explored potential product-market fit and a wider business model. Faculty received targeted training modules to help attract and retain high-value researchers and were encouraged to engage in Connecticut’s growing innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Activities included a combination of instructor talks, attendee presentations, active interactions between participants, and a customer discovery, where participants explored potential product-market fit and a wider business model. Faculty received targeted training modules to help attract and retain high-value researchers and were encouraged to engage in Connecticut’s growing innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. The goal of the initiative is to increase the number of successful ventures coming out of universities in the state; launch new products and/or business lines with corporate partners; attract investment and partnership deals for these startups and products; and improve the entrepreneurial ecosystems at these institutions to better attract and retain researchers.

The goal of the initiative is to increase the number of successful ventures coming out of universities in the state; launch new products and/or business lines with corporate partners; attract investment and partnership deals for these startups and products; and improve the entrepreneurial ecosystems at these institutions to better attract and retain researchers.

“One thing I took away from the retreat is that as researchers we often get very excited about our own technological/research innovations and assume that people will immediately understand how it fills a need they have,” Stemler said. “I learned that in business ventures, you have to start by really understanding the needs of the people you think will be your potential customers. To do that, it is critically important to interview and really listen to a whole lot of people whom you think will be most interested in your innovation. What I found is that when we engage in that process, we often find that people we thought would find our innovation appealing actually have very different needs. But we can also walk away with more refined ideas for how to apply our innovation, practically communicate about it in a way that resonates with their needs, and which segments of the market will find our innovations useful and which will not.” (Photos by Preksha Sreewastav ’21)

For more information visit the CTNext Higher Education Initiative website.

Posse Fellow Rodriguez ’20 Helps Establish Inaugural Film Screenings through Arts in the Armed Forces

Pictured in center, Wesleyan Posse Veteran Scholar Daní Rodríguez ’20 recently arranged for a group from Wesleyan to travel to New York City to attend a film screening offered by the Arts in the Armed Forces. (Photos by Jenn Emerling)

On Sept. 22, several members of the Wesleyan community traveled to New York City to attend the Arts in the Armed Forces (AITAF) inaugural Student Veteran Film Screening. AITAF is a nonprofit organization that brings the best of contemporary theater and film screenings to veterans across the world free of charge.

Several Wesleyan Posse Fellows attended the screening.

Thirty people from Wesleyan attended, including 17 Wesleyan Student Veteran Organization (WESVO) members; 10 family and friends, 2 nonveteran students; and 1 faculty member.

While in New York, the group watched a screening of The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974), a film about a New York City subway train hijacking. The film was recommended to AITAF by actor/producer Ben Stiller, whose father, comedian Jerry Stiller, is a WWII veteran and acted in the film. Ben Stiller and Adam Driver, AITAF’s founder, participated in a Q&A session with the guests following the film. Emmy-nominated actor Driver (Star Wars, Logan Lucky, Girls) was an honorably discharged U.S. Marine who later attended the Juilliard School and found difficulties readjusting to civilian life. However, his experiences with the arts transformed his life.

The trip was organized by Wesleyan Posse Veteran Scholar Daní Rodríguez ’20, a 14-year U.S. Marines Corps veteran who interned for the AITAF last summer. While active, Staff Sergeant Rodríguez participated in multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s also been deployed to Korea, Japan, and U.S. Naval Ships abroad.

Like Driver, Rodríguez is pursuing film and acting in his post-military life.

“I understand the challenges veterans face within our own veteran community,” he said. “Generally, the arts are not prioritized in or out of the military and is perceived as a hobby or entertainment rather than a profession or tool. I know this because I was one of those people that thought of it that way.”

Donning a Wesleyan cap, Daní Rodríguez illuminates a scene for a student’s senior thesis in 2017.

Rodríguez discovered that his love for playing guitar and acting could be much more.

“I quickly began drawing the parallels between those disciplines to the newfound mental stability and empathy that has been transformative. Now, cathartic experiences are frequent in my life and I have become calmer and more articulate about my own emotions,” he said.

Last summer, Rodríguez received a Summer Experience Grant funded by the Gordon Career Center. With this support, he was able to volunteer with the AITAF and raise awareness of the program through advocacy and outreach. Rodríguez generated interest with fellow veterans at Columbia University, New York University, Pace University, the City University of New York, and others, and ultimately helped create the inaugural Student Veteran Film Screening. WESVO advisor Robert Cassidy, retired officer teaching fellow, government, and Mike Whaley, vice president for student affairs helped secure funding for the Wesleyan group to attend the screening in NYC.

Rodríguez hopes to explore the possibility of hosting AITAF on Wesleyan’s campus in the future.

Next summer, Rodríguez will assist AITAF in launching its first student veteran paid-internship program.