Olivia Drake

Grant Supports Digital Design at Wesleyan

On April 9, members of the campus community gathered in the Downey House to discuss how digital design might evolve at Wesleyan in the near future.

On April 9, members of the campus community gathered in Downey House to discuss how digital design might evolve at Wesleyan in the near future. At left, Nicole Stanton, dean of the Arts and Humanities Division and associate professor of dance, answered questions from the audience. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

With the support of a new $500,000 grant, Wesleyan will be able to expand its Digital Design Studio and integrate technology more fully into the University’s arts program.

The Sherman Fairchild Foundation awarded Wesleyan the grant in March. It will be applied over four years.

“We’re very grateful for this award,” said Nicole Stanton, dean of the Arts and Humanities Division and associate professor of dance. “The grant will enable Wesleyan to integrate technology more fully into our arts program, support the innovative work of our faculty and students, and expand cross-disciplinary opportunities within the arts and with other disciplines.”

The funds will specifically help with the creation of a new comprehensive Digital Design Commons (DDC), which will include renovations of the current Digital Design Studio housed in the Davison Art Center. The studio has already become a gathering space for faculty and students working in photography, architecture, graphic design, scenic design, typography, animation, and various other media. The new commons will include space for studio photography, art documentation, video and motion capture (i.e., green screening), media projection, and 3-D scanning. In addition, Wesleyan will be able to create a large, multidisciplinary space to be used for teaching and projects that promote greater collaboration among students.

7 Wesleyan Students, Alumni Win Fulbrights

2019 Fulbrights

The 2019-20 Fulbright award winners include, from top left, Jordan Legaspi ’19, Emma Porrazzo ’19, Katelin Murray ’19, Amad Amedy ’19, Stephanie Loui ’14, Hai Lun Tan ’18, and Ulysses Estrada ’17.

Seven Wesleyan seniors and recent alumni are the recipients of 2019-20 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships (ETA) and Fulbright Open Study/Research Awards.

The English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Programs place Fulbrighters in classrooms abroad to provide assistance to local English teachers. ETAs help teach English language while serving as cultural ambassadors for the U.S. The age and academic level of the students varies by country, ranging from kindergarten to university level.

Applicants for Open Study/Research Awards design their own projects and will typically work with advisors at foreign universities or other institutes of higher education. The study/research awards are available in approximately 140 countries.

Jordan Legaspi ’19 received an ETA to Taiwan. Legaspi is a McNair scholar and a psychology major from California.

Japanese Community Celebrates Cherry Blossom Viewing

Every spring, the Japanese celebrate Ohanami, or "flower viewing" during the time when sakura, or cherry blossoms are in bloom. On April 18, Wesleyan's Japanese community hosted its annual Ohanami outside the College of East Asian Studies.

Every spring, the Japanese celebrate Ohanami, or “flower viewing,” during the time when sakura (cherry blossoms) are in bloom. On April 18, Wesleyan’s Japanese community hosted its annual Ohanami outside the College of East Asian Studies.

This event is open to current and former students in Japanese classes, native speakers of Japanese, and CEAS faculty members.

This event was open to current and former students in Japanese classes, native speakers of Japanese, and CEAS faculty members.

Wesleyan Wins “Best in Show” at 2019 DataFest

 Anna Zagoren '20, Frederick Corpuz '20, Joseph Cutler '21, Arianna Sang '20 

Anna Zagoren ’20, Frederick Corpuz ’20, Joseph Cutler ’21, and Arianna Sang ’20 won “Best in Show” during the 2019 DataFest.

A Wesleyan team took the top award—“Best in Show”—during DataFest on April 7.

DataFest is a data analysis competition where students are presented with a large, complex, surprise data set and work over the weekend to explore, analyze, and present their findings to a panel of judges. Teams of 3–5 students work together and compete against other teams. This year, students from Wesleyan University, Yale University, the University of Connecticut, and Bentley University participated.

Under the auspices of the American Statistical Association, the event is organized by Wesleyan’s Quantitative Analysis Center

The winning team was made up of Anna Zagoren ’20, Frederick Corpuz ’20, Joseph Cutler ’21, and Arianna Sang ’20.

Winners were honored with a $50 cash prize, a medal, a certificate, and a yearlong membership to the American Statistical Association.

Students of Color Present Annual Fashion Show

Wesleyan’s students of color presented their annual SOC Fashion Show April 11 in conjunction with WesFest 2019. Models worked with designers to create styles that showcase their bodies of color.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)

Class of 2023 Admitted Students Experience All-Things-Wes at WesFest 2019

All Class of 2023 admitted students and their families were welcomed to Wesleyan April 10-12 for WesFest.

More than 500 Class of 2023 admitted students and their families participated in WesFest 2019 activities.

For three days, Class of 2023 admitted students and their families had the opportunity to learn all about Wesleyan during the 2019 WesFest.

Held April 10-12 on campus, WesFest provided campus visitors with multiple information sessions, campus tours, department open houses, attend-a-class opportunities, keynote speakers, meet-and-greets, student performances, a student activity fair, a concert on Foss Hill, and more.

Wesleyan received a record 13,358 applications for its Class of 2023, offering admission to 2,114 students (15.8%) from one of the most competitive, diverse applicant pools in the University’s history. Of those who were admitted, more than 500 attended WesFest. An additional 375 family members and guests accompanied them.  

Paper by Sun ’20 Published in Yale Review of International Studies

Zhaoyu Sun ’20

A paper by Zhaoyu Sun ’20 was published in the April 2019 issue of The Yale Review of International Studies. 

The article, titled “Critical Comments Among Chinese Netizens – Before and After the Cyber Security Law” is based on a research paper he wrote for his CEAS 385/GOVT 391 Legacies of Authoritarian Politics course last fall. The class was taught by Joan Cho, assistant professor of East Asian studies; assistant professor, government.

Sun, a College of East Asian Studies and government double major, explained that despite the growing availability of information within China and the country’s increased linkage to the West, the coercive actions taken by the government following the establishment of the 2017 China Internet Security Law have led to a reduction in comments using confrontational language in sensitive or political documents.

“This behavior indicates that netizens (internet users) are highly conscious of the laws concerning internet use and regulate their behavior accordingly,” Sun wrote. “The censorship system and recent Cyber Security Law therefore seem to have successfully prompted netizens to self-censor their language in accordance with the boundaries established by the regime.”

Sun also was a recipient of a 2018 Consulate General of Japan in Boston Japanese Language Contest prize.

Varekamp Presents Papers at Volcanic Lakes Meeting in New Zealand, Receives Award

Johan (Joop) Varekamp

Joop Varekamp

Johan (Joop) Varekamp, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, presented three papers during the Commission on Volcanic Lakes (CVL) program held March 18-20 in Taupo, New Zealand. The papers were coauthored by Wesleyan students, graduate students, recent alumni, and faculty.

The CVL is a scientific, nonprofit organization of the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI), connecting researchers that seek to understand how volcanic lakes relate to volcanic activity and their hazards.

Varekamp, who also is the Smith Curator of Mineralogy and Petrology of the Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History and professor of earth and environmental studies, is a former leader of the CVL organization. In addition to delivering a keynote address, Varekamp was named the recipient of the 2019 IAVCEI Kusakabe Award.

Fish Species Named After Professor Barry Chernoff

Bryconops chernoffi

Bryconops chernoffi

A new species of fish discovered in Brazil was recently named in honor of Wesleyan Professor Barry Chernoff.

Barry Chernoff

Scientists encountered the Bryconops chernoffi in Rio Ipixuna—a small tributary of the Rio Maicuru, which feeds into the lower Amazon River in Pará, Brazil. Samples of the fish were collected by researchers on four trips in 2014–15, and in March 2019, Zootaxa released an article describing the new species.

Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, focuses his research on freshwater fishes in North America and the Neotropical region, primarily those in South America in the Amazon.

He’s also professor of earth and environmental sciences; professor of biology; chair, Environmental Studies Program; and director of the College of the Environment.

The Zootaxa announcement explains that Bryconops chernoffi’s specific epithet honors “Barry Chernoff, and is in recognition for his contributions to the taxonomy of Bryconops, as well as for ichthyology as a whole.”

Chernoff has published 89 peer-reviewed scientific works, including six books and edited volumes. He has led international teams on expeditions designed to conserve large watersheds of the world, having made more than 34 expeditions in 13 countries.

The Zootaxa abstract describes Bryconops chernoffi as differing from all its congeners “by the presence of an elongated dark patch of pigmentation immediately after the posterodorsal margin of the opercle, running vertically from the supracleithrum to the distal margin of the cleithrum (vs. absence of a similar blotch), and by a dark dorsal fin with a narrow hyaline band at middle portion of dorsal-fin rays (vs. dorsal fin hyaline or with few scattered chromatophores). It differs further from all its congeners, except B. colanegra, by the presence of a blurred black stripe at the anal fin.”

“It doesn’t really resemble my friend Barry, who in addition to being a fish scientist and environmentalist is also a guitar player and songwriter,” wrote Wesleyan President Michael Roth in a recent blog post. “And now he has fish named in his honor. A true species of Wesleyan.”

Chernoff is the third Wesleyan faculty, in recent years, to have a species named in his or her honor.

In 2010, a dinosaur from the Cretaceous Period (about 110 million years ago) was named Brontomerus mcintoshi for John S. “Jack” McIntosh, Foss Professor of Physics, Emeritus. The fossil, discovered in Utah, is marked by its large, powerful thighs, which may have been used to kick predators and travel over rough terrain. The American-British team of scientists who discovered the remains named the dinosaur for McIntosh, “a lifelong avocational paleontologist.”

Two species of benthic foraminifera are named after Ellen Thomas, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Integrative Sciences, research professor, earth and environmental sciences; the Smith Curator of Paleontology of the Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History.

Globocassidulina thomasae, discovered in the northeastern Indian Ocean, was named in 1999, and Ossaggittia thomasae, discovered in the eastern Indian Ocean, was named in 2012. They were named in honor of Ellen Thomas, “a well-known specialist on deep-sea benthic foraminifera, who was one of the first micropaleontologists to document the disappearance of Stilostomellidae and Pleurostomellidae in the Pleistocene of the North Atlantic Ocean.”

Case, Hingorani Coauthor Study on Repair of DNA Damaged by Sunlight

Brandon Case

Molecular biology and biochemistry graduate student Brandon Case and Professor Manju Hingorani are coauthors of a study published in Nucleic Acids Research in March 2019.

The paper, titled “The ATPase mechanism of UvrA2 reveals the distinct roles of proximal and distal ATPase sites in nucleotide excision repair,” reports new findings on how the UvrA2 protein uses its ATPase activity to probe DNA for damage lesions, such as those caused by UV radiation, and initiate nucleotide excision repair (NER). This DNA repair process corrects tens of thousands of lesions introduced daily into the human genome by UV rays and chemical agents.

3 Students Awarded Summer Research Grants in India

Three Wesleyan students will conduct laboratory research in India this summer as recipients of the U.S. Department of Education’s Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program (UISFL) grant.

Claire Glickman ’21, Guadalupe (Lupita) Sanchez ’20, and Jaye Jeong ’20, will work at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai. Their grants are being administered by the College of Integrative Sciences, with support from the Fries Center for Global Studies.

Wesleyan received the two-year $165,699 grant to support the teaching of Hindi and Urdu, the research of STEM faculty and students in India, and the increase of cultural programming related to South Asia. The grant funds 50% of the total expenditures to which Wesleyan is committed over the two-year life of the grant, with the remaining 50% ($165,699) coming from nongovernmental sources.

Naegele Lab Releases New Study on Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

Jyoti Gupta, who earned her PhD in biology in 2018, is pictured presenting her dissertation defense at Wesleyan. Gupta is the lead author on a recently published study that investigates abnormal neuron growth in mice that have temporal lobe epilepsy.

Adult neurogenesis, a process whereby new neurons are added to the brain, is thought to be confined in mammals to just a few regions, including the hippocampus, a structure important for learning. Whether this process occurs in the adult human brain is controversial, but in most other mammals that have been studied, adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus appears to be essential for forming memories.

Producing new neurons in the adult hippocampus is regulated by the environment, mood, exercise, diet, and disease. In some forms of epilepsy, the production of new cells in the hippocampus, called granule cells, becomes highly abnormal and the altered neurogenesis is thought to increase over-excitation and exacerbate seizures.