Olivia Drake

When Ill, These Caterpillars Acquire a Taste for Medicinal Plants

Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology, discovered that the wolly bear caterpillar, Grammia geneura, ingests medicinal plants when sick.
Posted 08/17/05
When tiger moth caterpillars get a bug, they do what a lot of us do – ingest some medicine and hope it provides a cure.

These findings by co-investigators Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology, and Elizabeth Bernays, regents professor emerita of entomology at the University of Arizona, appear in the July 27 issue of Nature.

During a study of the caterpillars of two types of tiger moths, known as Grammia geneura and Estigmene acrea, Singer and Bernays observed that when the caterpillars were besieged by potentially deadly parasites, they underwent a chemical change that affected their taste sensing cells. The result: the infected caterpillars suddenly acquired a taste for plants that contained compounds – iridoid glycosides and pyrrolizidine alkaloids. When plants containing these compounds are ingested by the caterpillars the parasites die, often before they could inflict mortal harm on the caterpillars from within.

Singer and Bernays noted that the taste for these medicinal components was heightened in the infected caterpillars while remaining unchanged in uninfected caterpillars.

“In essence, contracting the parasites actually triggers a chemical reaction inside the caterpillars that makes them more disposed to eating the very plants that may help them get rid of these deadly organisms,” Singer says. “The parasites are actually setting in motion a process that may lead to their own demise, provided the caterpillars can get to the right type of plants in time.”

Singer adds that this type of chemical “taste change” that gravitates the caterpillars toward medicinal foods has not been observed in other caterpillars, but is likely to occur as in other animals that are known to self-medicate, including some primates.

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

THE CAGE, CAGED: An 8-foot chain link fence surrounds the old Alumni Athletic Building, also known as the ‘Cage,’ to mark the construction zone for the new Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center, which is expected to be completed in August 2007. Parts of the gym are being renovated and incorporated into the new facility.

Only construction personnel are allowed into the fenced-off construction zone surrounding the old Alumni Athletic Building and Fayerweather Gymnasium. A new gravel access road will line this fence for foot traffic, handicap, emergency, service and construction vehicles only.
South College is receiving an interior and belfry renovation this month. Stairwells are being repainted and the building’s front entrance is closed.
Scaffolding surrounds the front side of South College as staff from Physical Plant work on replacing the belfry’s roof and exterior railings. In August, eight new bells will be installed to the current 16-bell array. This will upgrade the status of the Wesleyan bells from a chime (10-22 bells) to that of a carillon (23 or more). (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Assistant Professor Joins Earth and Environmental Sciences Department

Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, studies fossilized plants and plant physiology. He started at Wesleyan July 1.
Posted 07/13/05
Dana Royer has joined the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department as an assistant professor on July 1.His professional interests include global change; paleoclimatology, paleoecology, carbon cycles, paleobotany; plant physiology and stable isotope geochemistry.

“I study fossil plants in order to infer something about the paleoclimates in which they lived, as well as their paleoecologies,” he says. “I also study modern systems to learn more about the biological basis of these plant-environment relationships.”

After spending a semester studying wildlife ecology and conservation at the School for International Training in Arusha, Tanzania, Royer double majored geology and environmental studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He received a Ph.D in geology from Yale University. His thesis is titled “Estimating Latest Cretaceous and Tertiary Atmospheric CO2 from Stomatal Indices,” and is based on fossil leaves that infer ancient CO2 levels back to 66 million years ago.

Before coming to Wesleyan, Royer worked as a research associate in the Department of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University and as a visiting research associate at the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield, in The United Kingdom.

This fall, Royer will teach Geobiology and Introduction to Environmental Studies in the fall and Global Warming in the spring.

Royer says he’s most impressed by the energy in the E&ES Department, and Wesleyan’s solid reputation with research.

“I like the dual l emphasis on undergraduate teaching and cutting-edge research here at Wesleyan,” he says. “Most academic institutions make some claim to this, but Wesleyan delivers on both fronts better than any other institution that I know.”

Royer says the students also make Wesleyan an appealing institution to work.

“I was blown away by the students during my interview,” he says. “When I talk to my colleagues about Wesleyan, invariably the first point that they raise is the quality of the student body.”

Royer is the co-author of “Correlations of climate and plant ecology to leaf size and shape: potential proxies for the fossil record,” published in The American Journal of Botany, 92: 1141-1151, 2005; “Contrasting seasonal patterns of carbon gain in evergreen and deciduous trees of ancient polar forests,” published in Paleobiology, 31: 141-150, 2005; and “CO2 as a primary driver of Phanerozoic climate change,” published in GSA Today, 14(3): 4-10, 2004.

He received an $80,000 grant from the Petroleum Research Fund, American Chemical Society in 2004 for his research on “Why do leaves have teeth? Breakthroughs in paleoclimate analysis from biological understanding of leaf shape.” The grant expires in 2006.

Royer resides in Middletown with his wife, Jenny, a plant ecologist. They have a 2-year-old son, Cole, and two “lazy” cats. For fun, he participates in endurance sports including marathons, ultramarathons and bicycling.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Director of Leadership Gifts Encourages Other Alumni to Keep on Giving

Paul DiSanto, director of leadership gifts, builds strong programs for the 25th and 50th reunions.
Posted 07/13/05

During his fifth-year reunion, 1981 Wesleyan alumnus Paul DiSanto realized the importance of pledging annual gifts to the university.

“I feel the type of education Wesleyan offers is important, and can only continue with support from future generations,” he says.

DiSanto has pledged an annual gift every year since. As Wesleyan’s director of leadership gifts, DiSanto has also encouraged several thousand other alumni to give to their alma mater.

DiSanto works with a number of top donors and helps build strong programs for the two most prominent reunions each year, the 25th and 50th.

“I’m focusing on raising as much money as we can from those classes, but also on ensuring that these milestone reunions are a great experience, and bringing the alumni back, or closer, to Wesleyan,” he says.

DiSanto and Frantz Williams ’99, associate director of leadership giving, work closely with their colleagues in Major Gifts, Planned Giving, the Annual Fund and Alumni Programs to coordinate an efficient and effective reunion program. They touch on everything from the class books and class photos to class dinners, which DiSanto anticipates will lead to a big reunion class gift.

“During the reunion, many alumni take the opportunity to really think more seriously about their giving, and make their biggest gifts at this time,” DiSanto says.

Williams describes his colleague as a “walking database.”

“Paul can really connect with people on a personal level,” Williams says. “If someone mentions where he’s from, his children, cousins or dogs, Paul will remember that, and having that kind of connection makes him a very powerful fund-raiser.”

DiSanto spends a good deal of time at his 318 High Street office communicating with alumni via phone and email. Much of this involves recruiting reunion volunteers and strategizing with colleagues about issues and programs.

During his 19 years at Wesleyan, DiSanto has worked under three presidents, two acting presidents, four vice presidents for University Relations and two acting vice presidents. He started as the director of alumni programs and outreached to alumni and local clubs.

“I’ve seen a great amount of change here,” he says.

DiSanto also played a significant a role in the recently completed $281 million Wesleyan Campaign. During this five-year span, he held several positions including director of regional major gifts, director of the Wesleyan Annual Fund and director of major gifts and reunion fundraising. His job title changed to director of leadership gifts in June.

During the campaign, he traveled to cities nation-wide, most recently to New York, Boston, Washington D.C. and cities within Connecticut. During these visits, he made contact with alumni and parents, and encouraged them to be supportive of Wesleyan. 

“It was rewarding that the work I have done during my time at Wesleyan resulted in some of the major gifts to the Wesleyan Campaign,” he says.

DiSanto says the key to being successful in the fund-raising field is having common sense and the drive to work hard. He aims to listen and build trust with individuals.

Aside from fund-raising, DiSanto works out at the Freeman Athletic Center three times a week, plays golf, reads and enjoys following world and national events. 

He and his wife, Lynne, spend ample time with their sons Greg, 13, and Alex, 10. DiSanto is their baseball, basketball and soccer coach and volunteers at their schools and church.

The family also roots on the Boston Red Sox.

“I’ve been to a Red Sox game every year since ’65, and don’t plan on having the streak end,” he says. “Sure was great to see them win it all last year.”

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Project Manager Oversees Construction, Cares for the Seriously Ill

Rosann Sillasen examines laminate flooring before installing it in the 200 Church Street house for students.
Posted 07/13/05
Roseann Sillasen knows how to take care of a bowing floor or sagging ceiling. She’s also pretty good at helping treat pneumonia, intestinal bleeding and other major ailments.

Sillasen, the associate director and project manager of Wesleyan’s Construction Services, is also a practicing registered nurse. The full-time project manager and part-time nurse says the two occupations are a perfect match.

“Both careers involve working with people and critical thinking,” she says. “They create a balance.”

Not that balance equals easy. Being that this is July, Sillasen is mid-way through a hectic schedule of projects. Most of these need to be completed by the third week in August – the week students begin to return to campus.

“There are lots of projects that we need to get done while the students are on summer break,” she says, examining new floor laminate for the 200 Church Street freshman residence hall.

Along with the renovations at 200 Church, Sillasen’s to-do list for the summer includes repairs to Science Center classroom 339; the Center for the Art’s Jones Room renovation, art workshop cabinetry, exterior lighting and cinema lighting; the Davison Art Center’s and Center for African American Studies Americans with Disabilities entrance ramps, Olin Library’s interior and exterior painting and elevator modernization; the Van Vleck Observatory’s interior dome painting; Shanklin Labaratory’s window replacement; Foss Hill’s steam manhole maintenance; and the William Street Highrise exterior renovation.

Her most time consuming project is managing the renovation of the Center for the Arts Art Workshop. Construction Services is morphing the first floor into a technology hub for the CFA. Ultimately, the hub will house a digital classroom, media lab, editing rooms and a new drawing studio.

Barbara Spalding, project manager of Construction Services, says her co-worker possesses a wide range of technical knowledge on every aspect of construction. Spalding says Sillasen has the ability to talk to senior staff, coworkers, architects, engineers and contractors — and get her message across.

“She is the original multi-tasker, which you have to be to be a good project manager, and she really loves what she does,” Spalding says. “I have no idea how she does it, but she does more work than is humanly possible. She is super organized, has a mind like a steel trap, and has endless energy.”

A typical summer day begins at 7 a.m., when Sillasen visits each construction zone, unlocking doors and overlooking each work site.

Later, she stops by her office at 186 College Street to check voice and e-mails, review schematics, respond to priority calls, develop bid documents for new projects and attend project meetings.

“In Construction Services, we are mindful stewards in the management of new construction, renovation and major maintenance of buildings and infrastructure on campus,” she says. “We work with clients to address their need and incorporate them as best as possible into projects.”

While her attention to construction projects consumes her work week, every other weekend she focuses on people with serious medical conditions.

Sillasen works two weekends a month at the John Dempsey Hospital, part of the University of Connecticut’s Health Center in Farmington. She works on a floor with eight monitored cardiac beds and helps those suffering from pneumonia, intestinal bleeding, immunosuppressed conditions, cardiac monitoring, stroke, renal failure, peritoneal dialysis and end of life care.

”Nursing is both rewarding and challenging,” she says. “I am a part of my patients’ lives at a time that is extremely difficult for them, providing comfort, support and advocacy. It’s not just medical care that makes them feel better, it’s the personal attention and care I give them.”

It is Sillasens fifth year in nursing.

Joyce Topshe, assistant vice president for Facilities, worked with Sillasen 13 years ago at the University of Connecticut Health Center. When the position opened at Wesleyan, Topshe persuaded Sillasen to apply. Sillasen came to Wesleyan in 2001 as the associate director in construction services for renovation and new construction projects

“Roseann’s work ethic is second to none, and I am so glad to have her here at Wesleyan,” Topshe says. “She is incredibly talented, motivated and reliable. She is doing a tremendous job leading our major maintenance program and a variety of other key projects.”

Sillasen learned the construction trade after gaining hands-on experience at an architect’s office as an administrative assistant in 1984. There, she was involved in the coordination of all phases of the construction process from negotiating contract fees with civil, mechanical and electrical consultants, to approving site plans. She learned how to prepare condominium and bid documents, calculate building square footage, review shop drawings and attended several site meetings.

At Wesleyan, she’s involved in many of the same processes.

“I’m never bored,” she says. “I enjoy working in construction. Everyday you have the opportunity to learn a new approach to an issue that may arise in the field.”

Sillasen says she never feels awkward working in what once was a male-dominated field. She works among several women in the construction field including Joyce Topshe, assistant vice president for facilities; Stacy Baldwin, construction project assistant; Barbara Spalding, associate director of construction services and project manager; Brandi Hood, senior project coordinator; Bev Hugee, facilities manager for student life facilities; Amy Regan, a maintenance and repair mechanic; and Kim Krueger, a painter.

Alena Staron, Joyce Heidorn, and Abby Chaplin support the physical plant offices. And budget accounting and finance coordinator Claire Schukoske, customer service manager Chris Cruz and department assistant Donna Steinback ensure all work orders are processed.

“Women in the field have become more common. You get what you give,” she says. “I am treated professionally and with respect. I have high expectations that are reasonable and the people I work with know I expect them to be met.”

She also sets high expectations for herself. Although she juggles two jobs, Sillasen makes time to continue her education through Wesleyan’s Graduate Liberal Studies Program.

She’s four classes short of the degree.

“Learning is a life long process,” says Sillasen. “When you stop learning, you stop growing.”

Sillasen also is an avid volunteer. As an Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) mentor, she works with high school students in Hartford to expose them to the inner workings of these fields. She also is the treasurer of the Connecticut Nurses Association, a member of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and a member of the building committee for the Northern Middlesex Habitat for Humanity, leading a crew for the Habitat Whittier House in East Hampton last year.

In addition, she’s a member of her alumni association and assists with its newsletter. She’s also a member of the Oncology Nursing Society, the American Cancer Society Power Over Pain, Iota Upsilon Chapter Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing and the Alpha Chi Honor Society.

And with any time left, Sillasen enjoys bird watching, watching science fiction movies and spending time with her husband, John, and her three grown children and four grandchildren between the ages of 12- and 15-weeks-old.

“I really do enjoy being busy,” she says, grinning.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Press and Marketing Coordinator Promotes Center for the Arts Events

Lex Leifheit, press and marketing coordinator for the Center for the Arts, stands inside the Zilka Gallery. Leifheit works to increase media coverage for the CFA.
Posted 07/13/05
Q: Your position as press and marketing coordinator is fairly new. How long have you been at Wesleyan?

A: I have been here a little over a year, since March 2004. I showed up on a Saturday during one of the CFA’s annual season highlights, DanceMasters Weekend, and immediately started taking photographs. It was a great introduction to the constant activity of the CFA.

Q: What were you doing before you came to Wesleyan?

A: From 2001 to 2004, I was the communications director at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford. I also directed and produced numerous plays and arts events in downtown New London, Connecticut, including the Hygienic Cabaret and a performance art series designed to increase awareness about local issues.

Q: What are your degrees in and from where?

A: I have a BFA from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa and a Certificate of Study from the Moscow Art Theater. Right now, I’m taking classes through Wesleyan’s Graduate Liberal Studies Program.

Q: How would you describe your role in the Center for the Arts? In a nutshell, what are your objectives?

A: The CFA is always looking for ways to let more people know about our events. My job is to increase media coverage and make the CFA easily accessible to the communities it serves, within the university and throughout the region.

Q: When you started at the CFA, how were performances advertised, and how has that changed with you being here?

A: One of the most noticeable changes is increased press coverage. There are a lot more photos popping up in regional newspapers and magazines, and the New Haven Advocate recently declared our 2005-06 dance programming the “best and most diverse” in the state. Of course, none of this would be effective if we didn’t actually have great programming by students, faculty and guest artists. I also do a lot of targeted marketing, for example advertising our Outside the Box Theater events in the Hartford Stage programs or sending flyers about our jazz events to jazz festivals in the region. It’s time-consuming but worth it—once people find their way here they tend to come back again and again.

Q: Who generally attends the CFA performances?

A: Plenty of people come to the CFA from well beyond Middletown—we have recently had an increase in attendees from Fairfield County but Hartford and New Haven area residents are also quite familiar with the CFA. It is hard to estimate who comes to our many free events, but for the ticketed series events the breakdown is approximately 54 percent Wesleyan students, 40 percent community members and 6 percent faculty and staff.

Q: What’s your favorite part about working in the CFA?

A: I feel very lucky to work at something I really believe in—helping people discover things about themselves, their community, and other cultures through the arts.

Q: Do you attend many of the CFA events? What have been some of your favorites?

A: I am very excited about our upcoming theater season—The Neo-Futurists, Sarah Jones and the SITI Company—all artists I would drive an hour to see without thinking twice. One of my favorite performances last year was Music Professor Alvin Lucier’s I am sitting in a room. He performed in the midst of a Sol Lewitt installation in Zilkha Gallery. It was very magical to hear that historic work with people filling every corner of the space.

Q: What are other hobbies or interests of yours?

A: Last month, I moved into the North End Artist Cooperative on Main Street, so my main “hobby” has been getting to know my new neighbors! I also enjoy swimming at Miller’s Pond and have, surprisingly, run into some Wesleyan folks there.

Q: Does your family live around here too?

A: My family moves around a lot. Currently they are in Kansas. Here, it’s just me and my cat, Stella.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Assistant to the Dean of Admission Sprints Between Budgeting Department and Triathlons

Joan Adams, assistant to the dean of admission, stands outside the Office of Admission.
Posted 07/13/05
Q: Joan, you are the assistant to the Dean of Admission. How long have you been in the Office of Admission?

A: I started working in the office of admission in January of 2000.

Q: And what were you doing before that?

A: I was hired in August of 1999 and started my Wesleyan career in the registrar’s office.

Q: What do you like most about working here after these five years?

A: There are many things that I love about working at Wesleyan. First and foremost, I truly enjoy working with the office of admission staff. To me this group is like my extended family. We all get along well and work together as a team toward our common strategic goal of attracting and retaining the best students for Wesleyan. Working at Wesleyan provides so many benefits. Since I am a health and fitness nut, I appreciate the opportunity to utilize Freeman Athletic Center nearly every day. The new addition is just incredible and such an added bonus.

Q: Who do you primarily work with in the office?

A: I mostly assist Nancy Meislahn, dean of admission and financial aid. We work well as a productive team and after four years together operate in sync setting priorities and accomplishing as much as possible. As her assistant I manage her calendar, coordinate domestic and international travel, prepare correspondence and documents, and basically try to stay one step ahead of her which is a major challenge!

I also assist and support Greg Pyke, senior associate dean, with travel planning and statistical reporting for the University common data set and college guidebooks. Greg and I also work together to coordinate the Wesleyan High School Scholars Program which permits outstanding juniors and seniors from area high schools to take one course per semester.

Q: What else do you do?

A: Along with supporting Nancy and Greg I oversee the admission office budget and manage the prospects and applicants who have alumni relations or other special interests. Every day is unique with many challenges. I don’t personally meet with students and parents on a daily basis but enjoy working at the registration table during our open houses in the fall and WesFest in the spring. I also work with University Relations to schedule special tours and interviews for alumni relatives.

Q: What is the busiest time of the year for you and why?

A: It is impossible to pick a time that we aren’t busy in admission. The summer months are very hectic and exciting with prospective students and their parents visiting campus; the deans travel extensively through the fall and January 1st is our application deadline for regular admission. November through April is the busiest time for me personally. Summer marks the end of the cycle as the Class of 2009 matriculates in August, but we’ve already begun to recruit the Class of 2010!

Q: What were you doing before? Are you a Connecticut native?

A: I grew up in Lake Placid and Greenwich, New York, and received an associate’s degree in travel administration from Bay Path College and a bachelor’s of science degree in management from Central Connecticut State University. I have lived in Massachusetts, California and Florida working a variety of jobs in sales, for example contract office furniture and food service, and more recently in human resources and benefits administration so my background is very diverse to say the least.

Q: Are you involved in any organizations or volunteer services?

A: Last winter I volunteered with the “Mom’s Program” through New Britain General Hospital. The program trains young mothers in parenting classes and while they are in class the volunteers care for their children, mostly infants. Prior to the Mom’s Program I volunteered on the hospice unit at Middlesex Hospital.
I tend to volunteer during the winter months as I spend most of my free time in the summer months training for sprint triathlons.

Q: What’s involved in a triathlon?

A: The sprint level tri’s are usually a half mile swim, 10 to14 miles on a bike and 5k run in length. The swim segment was most intimidating to me so I joined a Masters Swim group in September, thanks to Tom DiMauro in IT, and enjoyed swimming with an over-40 group through the winter. It was lots of fun.

Q: I doubt many people will believe you’re over 40 when they see the photo with your profile. So, is there anyone in your life worth mentioning?

A: Next month I am thrilled to be celebrating six years with my partner, Mary. She is the one who puts that smile on my face. My 83-year-old mom, Virginia lives in New Hampshire with her companion, Jim and they travel between New Hampshire and Florida each year. I have a sister, Cindy, who lives in Florida and brother, Greg and wife Nancy living at Ballston Lake, New York – and four nieces, two nephews and a great niece on the way!

Q: What are your other hobbies and interests?

A: Mary and I spend as much time as we can working in our yard and enjoying time with our family and friends. We love to travel and have taken several trips abroad and have traveled extensively in the US.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

World Premiere of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange at Wesleyan

Wesleyan has partnered with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange for several fall events.
Posted 07/13/05
For the past three years, the Center for the Arts and Wesleyan faculty have partnered with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange to explore the ethical and social repercussions of genetic research.

The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, led by MacArthur Fellow Liz Lerman, has been creating dance works that are metaphorical and powerfully visceral about the issues of the time.

The Wesleyan-Dance Exchange partnership has resulted in Wesleyan serving as a lead commissioner of “Ferocious Beauty: Genome”, which will premiere at the CFA on February 3, 2006, before touring major performing arts centers across the country.

The partnership has also resulted in the most comprehensive residency ever undertaken by a dance company at Wesleyan or in Middletown, with Dance Exchange members working throughout the fall semester with both science and dance students as well as community members at the Green Street Arts Center.

The following Dance Exchange events are scheduled:

  • “The Making of ‘Ferocious Beauty: Genome’” will take place at 8 p.m. September 20 in the CFA’s cinema. Enjoy an evening with Liz Lerman and Kathy Hudson, director of the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University. Admission is free.

    Lerman will discuss her use of the dance medium to explore the meaning and potential of new genetic science research. Hudson will provide an update on the public policy issues raised by recent advances. Both women will share their insights into the crossing of boundaries between art and science and their growing understanding of creativity and inquiry in both fields.

  • “Challenging Nature: Biotechnology in a Spiritual World” will take place at 8 p.m. October 11 in the CFA’s cinema. Attend a lecture by Lee M. Silver, professor of molecular biology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Admission is free.

    Silver, author of “Challenging Nature: Biotechnology in a Spiritual World” published by Ecco Press, will examine Catholic, Protestant, post-Christian and Eastern spirituality’s responses to the advances of biotechnology and predict how these arguments will affect future scientific research.

  • The Double Helix: Law and Science Co-constructing Race” will take place at 8 p.m. November 10 in the CFA’s cinema. Attend a talk by Pilar Ossario, assistant professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin. Admission is free.

    Ossario’s talk will explore the ways in which the law and guidelines mandating inclusion have had the effect of re-animating a very simple-minded set of arguments about race and genetics. Ossario is the former director of the Genetics Section at the Institute for Ethics at the American Medical Association. The event is sponsored by the Ethics in Society Project.

  • The World Premiere of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange “Ferocious Beauty: Genome” will take place at 8 p.m. February 3 and 4 at the CFA’s theater. A pre-show talk begins at 7:15 p.m. February 3 in the Zilkha Gallery. Tickets cost between $8 and $19.

    “Ferocious Beauty: Genome” is about how we heal, age, procreate and eat may soon change because of genetic research happening right now. The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange partnered with scientists and bio-ethicists to confront the promise and threat of a new biological age. The show explores this moment of revelation and questioning in an arresting theatrical work which combines movement, music, text and film.

    The planning committee for this residency includes Professor of Biology and Fisk Professor of Natural Science Laura Grabel, Associate Professor of Philosophy Lori Gruen, Adjunct Professor of Dance Susan Lourie, Green Street Arts Center Director Ricardo Morris, Zilkha Gallery Curator Nina Felshin, CFA Associate Director for Programming and Events Barbara Ally and CFA Director Pamela Tatge.

    In addition, Lerman has consulted extensively with Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology Laurel Appel, Professor of Biology Michael Weir and Professor of Chemistry and University Professor of Sciences and Mathematics David Beveridge, among others, on the development of Genome.

    Lerman will be making monthly visits to Grabel and Gruen’s Reproduction in the 21st Century course this fall, and is a fall faculty member of the Dance Department, teaching the repertory class.

    All events have been made possible by grants from Wesleyan University’s Edward W. Snowdon Fund, Hughes Program and the Fund for Innovation. “Ferocious Beauty: Genome” is funded in part by the Expeditions program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, which receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts with additional support from the state arts agencies of New England and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

    For more information or to order tickets, call 860-685-3355, or e-mail boxoffice@wesleyan.edu.

    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Professor Investigates the Trouble With Haiti

    Alex Dupuy, professor of sociology, is a native of Haiti and has traced the country’s turmoil back to its revolution.
    Posted 07/13/05
    It started out as one of the most inspiring stories in human history: slaves rebelled against their masters, fought a long, bloody revolution and took control of an oppressive nation. But since that auspicious beginning, the history of Haiti and its people has been fraught with turmoil and division. During the last few decades, Alex Dupuy, professor of sociology, has been searching for reasons why, and sharing his insight not just with his students but the world.
    Though now a U.S. citizen, Dupuy is a native of Haiti and has witnessed first hand the schisms in Haitian society. According to Dupuy, the roots can be traced all the way back to the revolution that ended in 1804 with the declaration of Haitian independence from France.
    “The revolution created tremendous animosity between the new state rulers and the wealthy elites, as well as divisions between both of them and the subordinate race and classes,” Dupuy says. “Even though the slaves rose up and liberated themselves, when they their leaders came to power they almost immediately created a predatory state structure.”
    Dupuy says the leaders of the rebellion who took control of the country also began taking the land of their former owners. But instead of dividing it up among the rest of the former slaves, they became plantation owners themselves, creating in their wake a landed peasantry. The government that was installed post-revolution quickly institutionalized these practices and seized land and other assets wherever and whenever it could.
    “The new owners rented out parts of the plantations to other former slaves in much the same way of share cropping occurred in The United States,” Dupuy says. “The workers leasing the land could never get ahead and remained the equivalent of peasants.”

    In addition, the wealthy elite who managed to weather the revolution began exploiting the new peasant class as if they were the old slave class. The equation became further charged by what Dupuy calls “color divisions.” The wealthy elite was heavily populated by mulattos and light-skinned blacks; the new political leaders were predominantly dark-skinned blacks. Animosity between the groups quickly grew. As a result, all the divisions became entrenched.

    Further exacerbating the situation, other countries did not step up to recognize the new nation. Given the importance of slavery to the colonial powers of Europe, it was in their political and economic interests to see a weakened Haiti. Much of Europe had no interest politically or economically in seeing Haiti succeed. The nascent government of The United States was balancing slave states with free within its own borders and was nervous to see a slave population rise up and create an independent nation.
    “It took until 1865, after the American Civil War, for The United States to finally formally recognize Haiti, even though the country was virtually in its own backyard,” Dupuy says.
    Despite the high ideals of its own revolution that preceded the Haitian revolution, France was no better. The French demanded reparations for lost assets from the new leaders of its former colony. The new post-revolutionary French governments continued with the demanded reparations for the lost assets from the former colony, and withheld formal recognition like a ransom until reparations were finally paid in 1843. By then Haiti, which before its revolution had been the wealthiest colony in the Caribbean generating more revenue than all the British West Indies colonies combined, was now among the poorest nations on earth.   During the 19th Century and into the 20th century, Haitian governments came and went rapidly, often bringing with them varying levels of oppression. In 1915, the situation became so violent and tenuous that The United States occupied the country.
    “This did bring about a certain level of stability,” Dupuy says. “However it did nothing to change any of the class or race color issues.”   The one big change that did come with the American occupation was the creation of a unified mordern army that led to the centralization of government, with the capital city of Port Au Prince becoming the seat of power. After the U.S. forces left in 1934, the new governments in Haiti were made and unmade by the strengthened Haitian military. However, in 1957, when the military permitted a movement toward democracy, Dr. Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier was elected to a six-year term as president on the promise of ending the mulatto elite’s hold on economic power. Soon after, Duvalier did open the country up to manufacturing, and bauxite mining, and coffee production, all under the auspices of multinational corporations. The economic elite stayed in place and Duvalier took generous kickbacks from everyone involved.   Duvalier also quickly marginalized the army, closed the military academy and created his own “Volunteers for National Security,” or Tontons Macoutes. The Tontons Macoutes quickly became a national secret police that terrorized the populace and maintained the old standards. Within a few years, Duvalier declared himself “president for life.”   The United States viewed “Papa Doc” Duvailier with a wary eye. There were even rumors that the CIA had tried to unseat him on two occassions. However, with the Cold War at its peak and Castro controlling Cuba, American Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon ultimately made decisions to tolerate Duvalier. After he died in 1971, his son Jean Claude took power at age 19. Though Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier was reputed to be as ruthless and greedy as his father, the cold shoulder of the United States slowly thawed and by the early-1980s the U.S was openly providing aid and support to the Haitian government.    “U.S. support did not improve economic conditions in Haiti, however,” DuPuy says. “In fact, if anything workers in the export assembly industries producing for the U.S. market became even more exploited and Duvalier stole more money from the public treasury.”   Duvailier was deposed in 1986 and escaped to France where currently he lives off the hundreds of millions of dollars he took with him. He was ultimately replaced by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was elected on a reform platform that pledged the elimination of the Tontons Macoutes and the ways of Duvailer. But when Aristide ran up against the same class and race color issues that his predecessors faced, he soon resorted to the same practices as his predecessors.   Aristide was deposed in 1991 a mere seven months after he had taken office, returned to government and then deposed again February 2004 (though he says he was kidnapped, but it seems apparent he fled the country willingly in fear of his life). He was replaced by a U.S.-backed Interim Government, and since then Haiti has been cast into turmoil which has resulted in the arrival of U.N. and French troops who are trying to keep the peace.   “And here we are, with essentially the same problems that Haiti began with after the revolution,” Dupuy says.   Dupuy has brought clarity to the Haitian situation not just for his students but as a resource often-cited in such news outlets as The New York Times, The Washington Post, the BBC, and the News Hour with Jim Leher. As for solving the problems of the island Dupuy is not optimistic., but he says that the solution is not entirely difficult.
    “The problems of the country seem daunting and intractable, but unless they are solved democratically they will not be solved at all,” Dupuy says.   A leader has to emerge who can unify the conflicting factions of Haitian society,”  he says. “Be it the reach of the government, the exploitive practices of the elites, the deep-seeded inequalities, the presumptions on race – those are the issues that have to be resolved. Haiti has extensive resources. It has good people. It could be a jewel of the Caribbean. But the divisions and perceptions have gone on for so long, I am afraid it will not be easy.”   He sighs and shakes his head.   “Sometimes it seems the Haitian people are their own worst enemies.”

    By  David Pesci, director of media relations

    CASE Honors Wesleyan’s Fund-Raising Efforts

    Posted 07/13/05
    When it comes to fund-raising, Wesleyan is right on the money.

    The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) has awarded Wesleyan the CASE-Wealth ID Award for Educational Fund Raising: Overall Performance. Wesleyan competed in the Private Liberal Arts Institutions category.

    Wesleyan shared this distinction with eight other institutions, including Wellesley College and Williams College.

    “Wesleyan is already ranked highly for academic excellence, but now it demonstrates exemplary support of private education through its fund-raising performance,” says Mark Bailey, director of development communications.

    CASE, a nonprofit education association, supports educational institutions by enhancing the effectiveness of the alumni relations, communications and fund-raising professionals who serve it. In 2002, Wealth ID, a provider of wealth screening services and fund-raising solutions, joined CASE as a sponsor of the Educational Fund Raising Awards.

    Barbara-Jan Wilson, vice president for University Relations, says Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees, President Doug Bennet, the alumni and parent volunteers, and the University Relations staff are vital members of Wesleyan’s fund-raising effort.

    “This development team represents a rare convergence of talent, skills, dedication, and energy,” Wilson says. “Like the Yankees in 1927 and 1998, you have to see them perform to fully appreciate how important they are to the institution.”

    This year, of the 970 eligible institutions, 274 college and universities were considered meritorious, and 46 were recognized for the CASE-Wealth ID Awards for Educational Fund Raising in 18 categories.

    The awards program recognizes Overall Performance and Overall Improvement in educational fund raising based on data submitted to the Council for Aid to Education’s “Voluntary Support of Education” survey.

    Judges analyzed three years of data in their review of institutions. They selected the winners based on a multitude of factors: the pattern of growth in total support; evaluation of what contributed to the total support figure; overall breadth in program areas; pattern of growth in each program area; pattern of donor growth among alumni donors and other individual donors; impact of the 12 largest gifts on total support; total support in relation to the alumni base; and the type of institution.

    Wilson says that the CASE Award also recognizes Wesleyan’s overall fund-raising performance and its record-setting $281 million Wesleyan Campaign. The funds will support financial aid, faculty, facilities and programs.

    “What is best about the CASE Award, I think, is the fact that this honor was awarded not for what Wesleyan received, but for what so many alumni, staff, and friends gave,” Wilson says. “The more we give, the more we receive. That’s the Wesleyan experience.”

    The judges also look for indications of a mature, well-maintained program.

    “Wesleyan’s fund-raising program has innovated and improved over several years,” Bailey says. “Today’s fund-raising program at Wesleyan is focused, client service oriented, and competes with the best programs in America and abroad. The CASE Award confirms Wesleyan’s growing leadership in this area.”

    Delegates from Wesleyan will receive the award during the CASE Annual Assembly July 16 in Miami Beach, Fla.

    Other winners in Category 5 include Bowdoin College in Maine; Colby College in Maine; Davidson College in North Carolina; Hope College in Michigan; Middlebury College in Vermont; and Washington and Lee University in Virginia.

    For the list of all winners, visit

    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

    Polish National Swimming Team Trains at Wesleyan

    Posted 07/12/05   Updated 07.25.05
    Olympic Champion Otylia Jedrzejczak, who also holds the world record in the 200-meter butterfly (2:05.78), was one of 17 athletes on the Polish National Swimming Team who trained at Wesleyan July 15 through July 21. The Polish squad was preparing for the World Championships to be held in Montreal, Quebec from July 24-31.

    It is customary for international teams to do time-zone acclimation training, according to Brad Flood, head women’s swimming coach at the University of Bridgeport. Flood has been working with the Polish National team for more than a dozen years and recruited a number of their talented performers for both the University of Iowa and Central Connecticut State University.

    “Athletes usually need one day of training for each hour of time-zone difference and there is a six hour time difference between here and Poland,” Flood says.

    In addition to eight two-hour practice sessions in Wesleyan University’s Natatorium the Polish squad practiced at the Cheshire YMCA outdoor facilities, since the World Championships in Montreal will be held outdoors.

    While 2004 Olympic gold medalist Jedrzejczak, currently ranked first in the world in the 200 butterfly by FINA, is the headliner of the Polish squad, a number of other swimmers are among the world’s elite in their events. This includes Pawel Korzeniowski who is ranked among the top 10 men in the world in both the 200-meter butterfly (third) and the 400-meter freestyle (10th).

    The practice sessions at Wesleyan were open to the public.

    By Brian Katten, sports information director

    Library Assistant Develops Student Exhibition Cases in Olin’s Basement

    Cheryl-Ann Hagner, library assistant for Special Collections and Archives and coordinator of the Friends of the Wesleyan Library, sorts through a card catalog inside the archives.
    Posted 07/13/.05
    Q: How is your summer going so far here at Olin? Do you miss the students?

    A: Summer in the library is quiet. I miss the interaction with students and the energy they bring to campus, but it is nice to have time to catch up on projects that had to be put on hold during the busy semester.

    Q: How many years have you worked at Wesleyan?

    A: I’ve been at Wesleyan for four years.

    Q: What is your educational background, or what led you into working here?

    A: I have a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. Before I went to graduate school I taught high school English, did editorial work for several publishing companies, and owned a small bookstore. After graduate school I worked as a family therapist. Then I took some time off to be home with my newborn son. When I re-joined the work force, I looked for a position that would combine my interests in people and books. This position is a nice convergence.

    Q: What are your thoughts on Olin Library?

    : Olin Library is a beautiful and rich resource in the grand tradition of libraries. It is a significant part of Wesleyan and academic life. The demands of the evolving information age require that it change with the times and people here are working hard to do that.

    Q: What are some of your job duties?

    A: I split my time between the busy Special Collections office, supervising student workers and helping patrons, and developing the Friends of the Wesleyan Library organization. I am also responsible for the exhibition cases in the basement level of Olin Library.

    Q: I hadn’t realized there were displays in the basement.

    A: With the generous support of the library office for special lighting to highlight the exhibition cases, I developed this space for the display of student art not related to a class or grade.

    Q: What do the Friends of the Wesleyan Library do?

    A: Officially the mission of the Friends is to enhance, preserve and support the assets of the Wesleyan Library. We sponsor programs and events, fund the library newsletter, and raise money for special projects that are not covered by the library budget.

    Q: And you organize events for this?

    A: Yes. Last year I organized two events. One was a screening of the independent documentary film “Stone Reader” in the new Center for Film Studies followed by a question and answer session with the filmmaker and the author of the book who was the subject of the film, and a slide show and talk by Richard Gutman, author of “American Diners Then and Now.”

    Q: What can we look for this fall?

    A: We will be collaborating with Classical Studies to host a lecture by David Sider. We are also planning a book sale for the spring of 2006.

    Q: Do you have a personal interest in Wesleyan’s historical collections?

    A: I had not been exposed to artists’ books before I came to Wesleyan. Special Collections has a growing collection. Book artists and dealers from around the country visit us during the year to show us their work. I enjoy looking at the unique and beautiful ways artists communicate through these non-traditional books. I was recently so taken with a collection of haiku poems, letterpress printed on beautiful paper by Terri Tibbatts, that I bought a copy for myself. A special present.

    Q: Do you miss working in the mental health field?

    A: I did an internship with Lisa Currie, the director of WesWELL, so I could learn first hand the health issues many college students struggle with. Students I know well have talked to me about their issues and I offer support. I organized a collaboration between Special Collections and WesWELL called “The Body and The Book” during which Suzy Taraba displayed and talked about some of the artists’ books in our collection that deal with body image and mental and emotional distress.

    Q: What is your favorite book or type of reading material?

    A: I read a lot of contemporary fiction and non-fiction books, especially those by women writers.

    Q: What are some of your hobbies or interests?

    A: I enjoy ballroom dancing and dance weekly at a dance studio on the shoreline. I also dance at Wesleyan when ballroom dance class is offered at lunch time through the Freeman Athletic Center. The class is low key and fun, but we need more men in it to balance the lead and follow.

    Q: Where does your family live?

    A: I’ve lived in Guilford for 15 years with my husband Will, our son Skyler, and our poodle Marley.

    Q: I understand there’s something unique about your home.

    A: Our house was originally built as a chicken coop on a large farm. In the 1950s it was converted into a dog kennel; the previous owner raised Golden Retrievers there. We bought it in 1990 as a barely inhabitable dwelling and have completely renovated and added to it. We tried to maintain some of the integrity of the original chicken coop, though from the outside it no longer resembles one. 

    Q: What does the interior look like?

    A: On the inside, the chicken coop area is now the kitchen and dining rooms. They have the original low-pitched asymmetrical ceilings. It’s kind of funky and a little challenging for tall people. Our renovations have been with energy conservation in mind and last year we converted to a geo-thermal heating and cooling system. It’s a wonderful place to live.

    By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor