Olivia Drake

Gillman ’20 Wins Goldwater Scholarship to Pursue Education in Number Theory

Nate Gillman ’20 received a Goldwater Scholarship that will support his tuition and related academic expenses during his senior year at Wesleyan.

Nate Gillman ’20, a computer science and mathematics double major from Maryland, is the recipient of a 2019 Barry Goldwater Scholarship. He’s one of 496 college students in the country to receive the award.

The Goldwater Scholarship is awarded to sophomores and juniors who show exceptional promise of becoming the next generation of research leaders in the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, and engineering. The scholarship provides up to $7,500 a year to help cover costs associated with undergraduate tuition, mandatory fees, books, and room and board.

Gillman knew he wanted to study math—specifically analytic number theory—after enrolling in a calculus class in high school.

“I have unwavering appreciation and love—and fear—for number theory,” he said. “Appreciation, because the concrete yet abstract nature of number theory captured my imagination at a younger age. Love, because nothing feels better than using a particularly clever estimate to demonstrate a result. And fear, because using tools from calculus to prove fundamental results about numbers entails delving into profound, universal truths.”

Class Uses Wesleyan’s British Book Collection for Final Research Project

On April 29, the HIST 269 (Modern Britain: From Empire to Quagmire, 1688–Present) class visited Wesleyan’s Special Collections and Archives to present five-minute talks about their final research projects. The class is taught by Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history.

At the beginning of the semester, each student chose a book from Special Collections and was required, for the assignment, to write a 20-page critical introduction to the book for modern audiences.

The students shared their projects with Susan Kent, a professor from the University of Colorado at Boulder, who specializes in modern British history, focusing on gender, culture, imperialism, and politics. Kent also is the author of the class’s core history textbook on modern British history.

The majority of Wesleyan’s collection comes from the Beales collection, which is focused on 19th-century British social and economic history.

Photos of the class are below: (Photos courtesy of Jennifer Tucker)

Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division Hosts Celebration of Science Theses

On April 26, honors and graduate students in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division presented posters at the Celebration of Science Theses.

On April 26, honors and graduate students in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division presented posters at the Celebration of Science Theses.

Han Yang Tay presented a poster titled "Rich Club and Diverse Club in Structural and Functional Neuroimaging Data." His advisor is Psyche Loui

Han Yang Tay ’19 speaks to Barbara Juhasz, associate professor of psychology, about his study titled “Rich Club and Diverse Club in Structural and Functional Neuroimaging Data.” His advisor is Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology.

7 Prominent Speakers Share Ideas at 2nd Annual TEDxWesleyanU

Members of the 2019 TEDxWesleyanU team gathered on the TEDx stage in Beckham Hall following the successful conference. Tickets for the event sold out within 12 hours.

Members of the 2019 TEDxWesleyanU team gathered on the TEDx stage in Beckham Hall following the successful conference. Tickets for the event sold out within 12 hours.

On April 27, seven prominent thought leaders including Wesleyan alumni, two medical doctors, and local politicians shared their ideas during the second annual TEDxWesleyanU Conference held in Beckham Hall.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. 

Study by Herbst, Greenwood Presents New Theory on How Meteorites Formed

A paper by John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy William Herbst and Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences James Greenwood will be published in the September 2019 issue of Icarus, published by Elsevier. The paper is available online.

The paper, titled “Radiative Heating Model for Chondrule and Chondrite Formation,” presents a new theory of how chondrules and chondrites (the most common meteorites) formed. It suggests a new approach to thinking about these rocks that populate the meteorite collections on Earth. It includes both theory and experiments (completed in Greenwood’s lab in Exley Science Center).

These laboratory experiments demonstrate that porphyritic olivine chondrules, the most voluminous type of chondrule, can be made using heating and cooling curves predicted by the “flyby” model. View a schematic diagram here.

“The problem of how chondrules and chondrites formed has been around for decades—more than a century, really. We cannot yet claim to have solved the problem but we have provided a new idea about the solution that passes many tests,” Herbst explained.

The basic idea, Herbst said, involves heating of small fluffy “rocks” in space as they fly past molten lava eruptions on larger asteroids, during the first few million years of the solar system’s existence.

Herbst, Greenwood, and Postdoctoral Research Associate Keniche Abe, will present this research at meetings this summer in Europe and Japan.

Psychology Department Hosts Research Poster Session

More than 120 students presented 65 posters during the Department of Psychology's Research Poster Presentation April 25 in Beckham Hall. 

More than 120 students presented 65 posters during the Department of Psychology’s Research Poster Presentation April 25 in Beckham Hall.

Will Ratner '22 shared his poster titled "Relationship between Coping Strategies and Self-Esteem." Ratner's advisor is Sarah Kamens, the David Scott Williams Visiting Professor of Psychology

Will Ratner ’22 shared his poster titled “Relationship between Coping Strategies and Self-Esteem.” Ratner’s advisor is Sarah Kamens, the David Scott Williams Visiting Professor of Psychology.

Sammi Diep ’20 and Helena Sanchez ’21 presented their poster titled “What’s Sexual Orientation and Race Got to Do With It? Examining Multiple Domains of Psychosocial Adjustment at University.” Their advisor is Royette Tavernier, assistant professor of psychology.

Versey Authors Paper on the Impact of Gentrification, Moderates Panel

shellae versey

H. Shellae Versey

H. Shellae Versey, assistant professor of psychology, is the author of “A tale of two Harlems: Gentrification, social capital, and implications for aging in place,” published in Social Science & Medicine, Volume 214, October 2018.

In this paper, Versey discusses the impact of gentrification on features of the social and cultural environment.

“While research generally describes gentrification as a phenomenon of housing shifts and neighborhood migration, I argue that gentrification is more so a process of slow violence that increases housing scarcity and social isolation, disrupts neighborhood social capital, and decreases a sense of belongingness, particularly among older adults and communities of color,” she said.

Versey examined several neighborhoods undergoing gentrification, including Harlem and Brooklyn, N.Y., which revealed a more complicated narrative about changing neighborhood dynamics and the implementation of new norms as a consequence of gentrification.

At Wesleyan, Versey leads the Critical Health + Social Ecology (CH+SE) Lab. There, Versey and her students explore social ecologies and the context of neighborhoods, work, health, and gender by using surveys, epidemiological data, geospatial analytics, and community engagement to examine questions related to these themes.

At 5 p.m. on May 2, Versey will moderate an American Studies panel discussion on gentrification titled “Interrogating the Wesleyan to New York City Pipeline.”

Students Receive Undergraduate Research Prizes from Friends of the Wesleyan Library

Two Wesleyan students are the recipients of the Friends of the Wesleyan Library’s third annual Undergraduate Research Prize.

Emma Leuchten '19

Emma Leuchten ’19

Isaac Klimasmith ’20

Isaac Klimasmith ’20

Emma Leuchten ’19, an anthropology and religion double major, received the first place prize for her senior essay, “Anthropology Beyond Belief: Navigating Dreams and Reality in the Burmese Weikza Tradition.” Leuchten based the paper on fieldwork she conducted in Myanmar during a semester abroad. Her advisor was Elizabeth Traube, professor of anthropology.

The essay explores quests for power and knowledge in a contemporary Burmese wizardry tradition. Drawing from personal interviews with weikza (wizard-saints), devotees, and skeptics, Leuchten examines the tensions that have arisen between this tradition and orthodox Buddhist institutions in the post-colonial religious and political landscapes of Myanmar.

“I write against the anthropological impulse to study the symbolic or cultural value of religious figures and experiences—the tendency to explain ‘what’s really going on’ beneath a spiritual event,” Leuchten said. “Beginning with the premise that what I’m studying is real, I propose that a rigorous but open exploration of alternate ontologies can work to destabilize the dominant ontological assumptions that sociocultural discourse takes for granted.”

Isaac Klimasmith ’20, a biology major, received the second place prize for his essay, “Waters in the Wilderness and Rivers in the Desert: Irrigation Myths in the History of Early Mormon Agriculture.” Klimasmith wrote this paper while taking the class ENVS 307: The Economy of Nature and Nations, taught by Paul Erickson, associate professor of history; associate professor, environmental studies.

Wesleyan Mock Trial Team Takes 8th Place in National Competition

Mock Trial

Wesleyan Mock Trial club competitors gather after their eighth-place finish in their division of a National Championship Tournament.

This year, approximately 740 teams from more than 350 universities across the country competed in tournaments hosted by the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA). And of those 740 teams, Wesleyan’s Mock Trial Team A placed eighth in the country in the Temple Law Division during the National Championship Tournament on April 7.

The AMTA hosted three rounds of competition for the 5,300 participating college students: Regionals, the Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS), and the National Championship. 

Wesleyan’s three teams—A, B, and C—qualified for the ORCS tournament leading up to Nationals. And for the first time in Wesleyan’s history, teams A and B both earned a bid in the National competition.

Book by Odede ’12, Posner ’09 Chosen for First Year Matters Program’s Common Reading

Find Me Unafraid

Kennedy Odede ’12

Kennedy Odede ’12

A book coauthored by Wesleyan alumni Kennedy Odede ’12 and Jessica Posner ’09 was unanimously chosen as the Common Reading selection for the Class of 2023.

The Common Reading is part of Wesleyan’s First Year Matters Program, which serves as an introduction to intellectual life at Wesleyan.

All Class of 2023 students will receive an electronic copy of the book, Find Me Unafraid: Love, Loss, and Hope in an African Slum (2016). As their first Wesleyan “homework assignment,” the students are expected to read it prior to New Student Orientation. The book will serve as a tool for spearheading discussions throughout the Class of 2023’s first year.

Odede also plans to speak to the Class of 2023 during orientation.

Find Me Unafraid tells the story of two young people whose collaboration sparked a successful movement to transform the lives of vulnerable girls and the urban poor.

The book explores how Kennedy, a native of Kibera (the largest urban slum in Africa) first confronted his environment by creating Shining Hope for Communities, a group to empower urban youth and women. Soon thereafter, he met Jessica, who was working in community theater in Kibera during her semester abroad. The two fell in love, bringing their worlds and community commitment together. Kennedy exchanged the escalating violence of Kibera for the world of higher education, attending Wesleyan with a full scholarship. After graduation, Kennedy and Jessica returned to Kenya to start the Kibera School for Girls. Find Me Unafraid provides a compelling account of how these two people became agents of the kind of change that embodies the pragmatic idealism that is core to Wesleyan’s mission.

Whitney ’19 Wins DAAD Scholarship to Support Graduate Study in Germany

Lizzie Whitney ’19

Lizzie Whitney ’19

Lizzie Whitney ’19, a College of Letters and German studies double major from California, is the recipient of a 2019 DAAD scholarship for study/research in Germany.

The Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, or German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) supports the internationalization of German universities and promotes German studies and the German language abroad. The study scholarship is presented to graduating seniors at the top of their class.

Whitney, who is applying to the University of Konstanz for graduate school, will use her DAAD scholarship to support her studies in comparative literature. The study scholarship also provides students with a monthly stipend plus funds for health insurance and travel costs.

“I’d also like to focus on the creation of a concept of German national identity through literature and literary confrontation with the Other, in whatever form that might be over the past few centuries,” she explained.

Since 1925, more than 1.9 million scholars in Germany and abroad have received DAAD funding.