Olivia Drake

YAF Ghana Wins 2019 Davis Projects for Peace Award

The Young Achievers Foundation (YAF) Ghana, spearheaded by Ferdinand Quayson '20 (pictured in the black shirt), is a recipient of a 2019 Davis Projects for Peace Award. YAF Ghana exposes disadvantaged students in Northern Ghana to available scholarship opportunities and provides them with free resources needed to be successful applicants.

The Young Achievers Foundation (YAF) Ghana, spearheaded by Ferdinand Quayson ’20 (pictured in the black shirt at left), is a recipient of a 2019 Davis Projects for Peace Award. YAF Ghana exposes disadvantaged students in Northern Ghana to available scholarship opportunities and provides them with free resources needed to be successful applicants.

In the economically disadvantaged Northern Region of Ghana, only 6 of 100 high school students enroll in college, leaving many otherwise bright students trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty.

As recipients of the 2019 Davis Projects for Peace Award, four Wesleyan students who make up the Young Achievers Foundation Ghana are helping low-income students in the region access and apply for scholarship programs within Ghana and beyond. The grassroots group is led by Cofounder and Executive Director Ferdinand Quayson ’20 and members Afrah Boateng ’20, Abdallah Salia ’22, and Alvin Kibaara ’22.

The $10,000 Projects for Peace grant is awarded annually to undergraduate students at American colleges and universities to design grassroots projects that promote peace and conflict resolution around the world. YAF Ghana is using the award this summer to host workshops, seminars, student-led panels, and hands-on training for high school students seeking college scholarship opportunities.

Yang ’21 Participates in NSF-Sponsored Workshop on Antarctic History

Donglai Yang ’21 worked at the University of Arizona this summer on a project titled “Cenozoic detrital record offshore Dronning Maud Land.” His workshop concluded on July 8.

For two weeks this summer, Donglai Yang ’21 used isotope dating of rocks, minerals, and sediments from the Weddell Sea near Antarctica to determine the age of a section of Earth’s southernmost continent.

Yang, an earth and environmental sciences and physics double major, was selected as one of 10 undergraduate and graduate students from around the world to participate in the National Science Foundation–sponsored Antarctichron/Chronothon 2019 workshop held June 24 to July 8 at the University of Arizona.

The workshop introduced participants to geo- and thermochronology through some applications to the geology of Antarctica. Students learned to analyze and interpret their own samples and data in the context of their own research projects.

Yang’s study focused on the “Cenozoic detrital record offshore Dronning Maud Land,” a Norwegian territory that makes up approximately 1/6 of Antarctica. He specifically studied rock and sediment fragments that broke away from a landmass.

“These sediments were deposited around 30 million years ago, but the minerals within that layer of sediments have diverse ages,” he said. “Those minerals are scraped directly from the Antarctic bedrock by glaciers so their ages bear complicated terrestrial thermal history.”

During the workshop, Yang participated in informal lectures and discussions and learned the fundamentals of radioisotopic dating, laboratory techniques, analytical instrumentation, basics of thermochronologic modeling, and the geology of Antarctica. Core samples were provided by the International Ocean Discovery Program sediment core repository and the fellowship also was supported by Wesleyan’s College of the Environment.

Yang’s advisor, Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, initially introduced Yang to the concept of radiometric dating in geosciences.

“I was fascinated at once,” he said. “Its current applications have far transcended its use since its advent when, about a hundred years ago, scientists finally managed to fathom the absolute age of the Earth.”

Now with a much-expanded understanding of the kinetics in multiple decay systems, questions that arise from almost every single field in earth and environmental sciences become resolvable to varying extents, Yang explained. “On top of this, our sedimentology lab reckons it a valuable opportunity to bring in some new techniques as we have rarely dealt with unstable isotopes in minerals before.”

After Yang graduates from Wesleyan, he plans on attending graduate school, conducting research in geophysics or geochemistry.

Biology’s Lynch Remembered for Mentoring Women in the Sciences

Carol Lynch

Carol Lynch, former professor of biology, passed away last week at the age of 76.

Lynch joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1973 and served as dean of the natural sciences and mathematics in the late 1980s and early 1990s. During her time here, Lynch established a model system for studying the evolution of complex traits using house mice and played a pioneering role in supporting and mentoring women in the sciences.

She left Wesleyan in 1992 to join the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she served as dean of the graduate school and vice chancellor for research from 1992 to 2004, and was a professor of ecological and evolutionary biology and a fellow of the Institute for Behavioral Genetics.

Lynch and her husband, Bob, generously established the Carol and Robert Lynch Student Research Fund at Wesleyan, which continues to support the research of undergraduate biology students.

A memorial service will be scheduled later this summer in Boulder.

Rosenthal Serves as Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Rob Rosenthal

Rob Rosenthal

Rob Rosenthal, John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology, Emeritus, is serving as interim provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs. His appointment began on July 1.

Rosenthal previously served as provost from 2010 to 2013, after which he directed the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, becoming an emeritus professor in 2018. Rosenthal also was a founding director of Wesleyan’s Center for Community Partnerships and Service-Learning Center.

“Rob has long been an extraordinary Wesleyan citizen, whose loyalty to Wesleyan is evident to all who know him,” wrote Wesleyan President Michael Roth in a campus-wide email. “He is much respected for his work as an administrator, chair of the faculty, and celebrated teacher-scholar.”

Now, for a period of time as interim provost, Rosenthal again assumes the responsibility for matters relating to the faculty, the curriculum, continuing studies, athletics, and the library.

Rosenthal joined the Department of Sociology at Wesleyan in 1987, writing and teaching in the areas of housing and homelessness, community-based learning, and the use of music in social movements. His most recent book, coedited with his son, Sam, and titled Pete Seeger: In His Own Words, was published in 2012 to great acclaim.

The search for a permanent appointee continues with the expectation that Wesleyan will have someone in place by January 2020.

Members of the Class of 2019 Inducted into Phi Beta Kappa

PBK

On May 25, members of the Class of 2019 were inducted into Wesleyan’s Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa Society, the oldest national scholastic honor society. The Wesleyan Gamma Chapter was organized in 1845 and is the ninth-oldest chapter in the country.

To be elected, a student must first have been nominated by the department of his or her major. The student also must have demonstrated curricular breadth by having met the General Education Expectations and must have achieved a GPA of 93 and above.

Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest surviving Greek letter society in America, founded in December 1776 by five students who attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The emblem contains the three Greek letters “Phi-Beta-Kappa,” which are the initials of the Greek motto, Philosophia Biou Kybernetes. This essentially means “the love of wisdom is the guide of life.”

The spring 2019 inductees are:

Caroline Adams
Yulia Alexandr
Erin Angell
William Bellamy
Cara Bendich
Zachary Bennett
Chiara Bercu
Sophie Brett-Chin
Nicholas Byers
David Cabanero
Talia Cohen
John Cote 

Wesleyan University Press Author Harjo Named U.S. Poet Laureate

Joy Harjo

Poet Laureate of the United States Joy Harjo (Photo by Shawn Miller)

Joy Harjo, an author published by Wesleyan University Press and W.W. Norton has been named the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States, as announced by the U.S. Library of Congress. Harjo is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation. She is the first Native American to serve as U.S. Poet Laureate.

Harjo’s American Book Award–winning In Mad Love and War was published by Wesleyan in 1990. Other books include the pedagogical work Soul Talk, Song Language: Conversations with Joy Harjo, edited by Tanaya Winder; and theater work Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light: A Play by Joy Harjo and a Circle of Responses, with contributing editor Priscilla Page.

The Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center is the home of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, a position that has existed since 1937. During his or her term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry. Harjo will begin her new role in the fall, opening the Library’s annual literary season on Sept. 19 with a reading of her work.

Harjo is a past recipient of the PEN Open Book Award, the American Indian Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award, the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book. Her recent honors include the Jackson Prize from Poets & Writers (2019), the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation (2017) and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets (2015). In 2019, she was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Books

Books by Joy Harjo.

Wesleyan Community Walks in Middletown’s Inaugural Pride Parade

Pride

Wesleyan was a cosponsor of the Middletown Pride Parade. Police estimate that more than 10,000 people attended the inaugural event.

In celebration of Pride Month, more than 50 members of the Wesleyan community showed their support for LGBTQ communities by participating in Middletown’s inaugural Pride Parade on June 15.

Parade

Chris Cruz carries her daughter, Nora, in Middletown’s inaugural Pride Parade on June 15. Chris’s wife, Tara, is pictured at right.

The parade was jointly coordinated and sponsored by the City of Middletown, the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, and Wesleyan University. In 2018, the City of Middletown formed an LGBTQ advisory committee to work on the inclusion of Middletown’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning residents.

The parade stepped off at 2 p.m. at St. John’s Square and proceeded down Main Street to Union Street. A festival on the South Green followed the parade.

Sitting atop her “ba’s” shoulders, 22-month-old Nora Cruz proudly waved a rainbow flag while passing by thousands of cheering spectators lining Main Street. Nora and her 3-year-old brother, Colin, participated in the Pride Parade with their parents Tara and Chris Cruz. Chris, a 17-year Wesleyan employee is manager of fire safety.

“I have always felt like I could be myself at Wesleyan and being able to march as a Wesleyan employee who is gay was an awesome feeling,” Cruz said. “My family and I marched not only with other members of the Wesleyan community but with some of our closest friends and we had so many family members and friends at the parade celebrating with us all. It was just an amazing experience and such a great day to be a part of.”

6 Faculty Receive Endowed Professorships

Fred Cohan

Fred Cohan is one of six Wesleyan faculty to receive an endowed professorship in 2019.

In recognition of their career achievements, the following faculty members are being appointed to endowed professorships, effective July 1, 2019:

Frederick Cohan, professor of biology, is receiving the Huffington Foundation Professorship in the College of the Environment, established in 2010.

Susanne Fusso, professor of Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies, is receiving the Marcus L. Taft Professorship of Modern Languages, established in 1880.

William Johnston, professor of history, is receiving a John E. Andrus Professorship of History, established in 1981.

Ethan Kleinberg, professor of history and professor of letters, is receiving the Class of 1958 Distinguished Professorship, established in 2008.

Tsampikos Kottos, professor of physics, is receiving the Lauren B. Dachs Professorship of Science and Society, established in 2008.

Daniel Krizanc, professor of computer science, is receiving an Edward Burr Van Vleck Professorship of Computer Science, established in 1982.

Brief biographies appear below:

Frederick Cohan arrived at Wesleyan in 1986 after completing his BS at Stanford University, his PhD at Harvard University, and a postdoctoral appointment at University of California, Davis. His research focuses on the origins of diversity in bacteria. His publications, which have been cited more than 8,000 times, recently include “How We Can All Share the Fight Against Infectious Disease” (Arcadia Political Review, Spring 2019) and “Systematics: The Cohesive Nature of Bacterial Species Taxa” (Current Biology, 2019). Cohan has received numerous grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, and he was elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering in 2017.

Shapiro Translates Coran’s RhymAmusings

Norman ShapiroShapiro, Distinguished Professor of Literary Translation and Poet in Residence, is the translator of Pierre Coran’s book, RhymAmusings, published by Black Widow Press in 2019.

“These 78 amusing rhyme-vignettes by preeminent Belgian children’s poet and novelist Pierre Coran speak with an adult sophistication and endearing grace to the ‘child in all of us,’” Shapiro wrote about the book.

Among the poems are “Six Hundred Six Sour Cherries,” “The Little Goldfish,” “Why Do Potatoes Have Eyes,” “Scat, Cats,” “The Whale in My Hat,” and “The Flea and the Elephant.”

Publication of the book was aided by a grant from the Thomas and Catharine McMahon Fund at Wesleyan.

Shapiro is an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la République Française and a member of the Academy of American Poets. His many translations have won several major awards over the last 50 years.

Wesleyan Employees Participate in Regional Emergency Preparedness Drill

Wesleyan’s Campus Community Emergency Response Team (C-CERT), Public Safety, Physical Plant, and other staff participated in a joint exercise on June 11 to test the area’s ability to respond to a real-life emergency.

Wesleyan partnered with health and public safety departments from Mass Dispensing Area (MDA) 36—which includes Cromwell, Durham, Middlefield, and Middletown, Conn.—and the Middletown and Portland CERT teams on the drill. The full-scale six-hour exercise took take place at the University’s Freeman Athletic Center and Coles Road Fire Station in Cromwell. Many local senior citizens and members of the Wesleyan community volunteered to play the role of patients.

Emergency responders from regional health, police, and fire departments, as well as personnel from Wesleyan University, Middlesex Hospital, and members of the public role-played a scenario in which a mass exposure to anthrax in a neighboring state has occurred. The drill included activating the local emergency operations plan and opening a POD (point of dispensing) at Wesleyan to provide simulated medication to the public. Representatives from various local and state agencies observed and evaluated the exercise. During a real emergency, Wesleyan’s Bacon Field House is the Regional Distribution Site for the Strategic National Stockpile supplies for Middletown, Cromwell, Durham, and Middlefield.

The exercise was supported through multiple public health preparedness grants. Photos of the drill are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Chaplain Mehr-Muska Offers Strategies for Living with Peace and Preparedness

Tracy BookUniversity Chaplain Rev. Tracy Mehr-Muska is the author of a new book titled “Weathering the Storm: Simple Strategies for Being Peaceful and Prepared,” published by Wipf and Stock on April 19.

The book offers simple and proven strategies to develop resilience that will be of benefit to anyone who is yearning to feel more peaceful and prepared. Mehr-Muska draws upon wisdom from different spiritual and religious traditions and from secular scholarship.

“With enthusiasm and passion generated from personal experience, I present the reality that resilience is not inborn, but is instead a simple set of characteristics that can be cultivated,” Mehr-Muska said. “I detail these characteristics; invite readers to identify areas of strength and areas for growth; and provide concrete, proven strategies for building these critical resilience characteristics.”

A Coast Guard veteran, interfaith chaplain, and pastor, Mehr-Muska shares the stories of her own struggles with self-esteem, sexual assault, and miscarriage that inspired her to research resilience. Mehr-Muska brings these characteristics to life using inspirational secular and multifaith stories, as well as compelling scientific evidence. She ties each chapter together with uplifting stories of personal friends who bravely and gracefully overcame obstacles and embody each of these essential characteristics.