David Beveridge, pictured at right, the University Professor of the Sciences and Mathematics and professor of chemistry studies molecular dynamics of biological molecules and systems with postdoctoral fellow Bethany Kormos and research associate Surjit Dixit.
by Olivia Drake •
|Ronald Ebrecht, university organist, plays Wesleyan’s concert organ, which he designed for the Memorial Chapel. Below, the organ pipes are installed in the chapel. (Photos by Bill Burkhart)|
| Q: When did you become the Wesleyan organist and visiting instructor in music?
A: I came to Wesleyan in 1988.
Q: How did you begin playing the organ and where?
A: I started as a young child, maybe around the age of 10. I loved the organ like kids love fire trucks.
Q: Did you have an interest in piano that led to the organ?
A: I didnt want anything to do with the piano. It wasnt loud enough.
Q: You studied at the Schola Cantorum in Paris, Yale University, and Southern Methodist University, Dallas. Were you always studying the organ? What types of music in specific?
A: In addition to organ, I also studied harpsichord at all three institutions. This does not mean that I was only interested in Baroque music. In organ concerts, I play a wide range of repertoire. My research, writing and editions are of late 19th and early 20th century French music.
Q: In 1990, you founded the Young Organ Virtuosi Weekend, a biennial festival that celebrates the talents of emerging concert organists. What is the purpose of this event?
A: The festivals purpose is to be a non-contest. That is, there are too many organ-playing contests and too few concert opportunities for the laureates. It is much more pleasant to direct than a contest would be because the visitors get to enjoy the company of each other and to interact collegially with our students. The audience is a mix of students and local organ aficionados.
Q: What is the Midnight Organ Romp?
A: The not-to-be-missed event of the first week of May is themed, but different each year. It is about costumes and craziness. I share this concert with any students who are interested, which makes them more exciting for everyone.
Q: Are you still the dean of the American Guild of Organists Waterbury Chapter? How many organists are in the chapter and in the state of Connecticut?
A: We have 84 in the Waterbury Chapter. There are five other Connecticut chapters and about 3,000 members in the country. We think about 10 percent of organists belong to the guild.
Q: Why should students interested in music study the organ? What types of careers can they go into with this type of skill and background?
A: Playing the organ is the worlds best-paying part-time employment. Students with keyboard ability who study organ have every conceivable major. They often use the organ to support graduate study and supplement their income later in life. There are relatively fewer opportunities for full-time employment.
Q: During the 2002-03 renovations of the Memorial Chapel, you designed the new concert organ, a Holtkamp opus 2085. This is Wesleyans fourth organ. What makes the Holtkamp unique?
A: I designed the organ to be adaptable to current and future compositional needs. It has a very broad tonal palette both in terms of color and volume. Whatever the mathematical result is for 60 combinations, which must be several thousand, is the limit of possible sounds.
Q: Do the music students get to use this organ, or what do they practice on?
A: The beginners are intimidated to practice upstairs in public, so they often use my studio organ for the first semesters practice and then use the big organ when they feel more confident.
Q: As a visiting instructor in music, youve taught Choral Singing, Pipe Organ: Theory and Practice and Individual and Group Tutorials for Undergraduates. What are some of the courses you currently teach
A: I am trying to finish my new book, and only teaching organ and one harpsichordist these days. Usually, I direct some senior projects but not this semester.
Q: What is your new book about?
A: Aristide Cavaille-Coll. Hes the greatest organ-builder of all time. I am writing my new book about his project to build the largest organ in the world at Saint Peters in Rome. Ive also written about American music, Black organ music, Messiaen and other composers.
Q: Youre editor of Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986) The Last Impressionist, which features seven articles on Duruflé’s life and work. What is your personal interest in this French organist?
A: I knew the composer and his wife and her sister, also a musician, quite well. I met them at age 18 and learned French to be able to speak with them. I studied with them and play his complete organ works. I have also conducted his complete choral works, and most of the orchestral and chamber music. I know all the other scholars who had written about them, so invited everyone to join together for the book for his centennial in 2002. I never imagined it would be acquired by libraries on every continent as the first biography of this important composer.
Q: In addition to music, what are your interests?
A: I am an avid flower gardener. I live to cook and entertain, and generally enjoy life. I also would like to make a fad of wearing dress shirts with bowties.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
| Wesleyan received a $200,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support an ongoing lecture series titled Ethics, Politics and Society. The award was given in honor of Douglas Bennets 10 years as president of Wesleyan University.
Wesleyans history of diversity, openness, and activism provides an environment that embraces the opportunity for scholarly discourse around issues of ethics, politics and society, Bennet wrote in the endowment proposal. As a liberal arts college, we have a responsibility to produce graduates who are able to think and act strategically within an ethical and moral framework. A permanent lecture fund, which does not have to compete each year for scarce financial resources, will go far in helping us achieve this goal.
The grant, awarded in December 2005, will allow Wesleyan to bring prominent speakers to campus who will engage faculty and students in intellectual discussions of critical and sensitive ethical, political and social issues.
The lecture fund will serve multiple university objectives. It will stimulate intellectual life on campus by introducing new perspectives and experiences to current issues; promote positive and civil political discourse; lay a foundation for lifelong participation as concerned and engaged citizens; and complement efforts already underway to incorporate ethical reasoning in the curriculum.
Expenditures from the Mellon-funded program, estimated at $10,000 a year, will be used for an honorarium, travel expenses and associated costs for the speaker to give a public lecture, attend a class and/or meet informally with faculty and students for one or two days.
As on many college campuses, Wesleyan recognizes that recent national events, as well as ongoing political and social unrest in several parts of the world, have altered how students view society as well as how they discuss their views, Bennet says. As students and later as graduates of Wesleyan, they will be faced with moral and ethical choices. This will be true, he says, in whatever courses of study or careers our students choose to pursue, from business to scientific research to politics to art.
Wesleyan is already stressing ethical reasoning in the curriculum. Wesleyan has hired new faculty positions in ethics and encourages faculty to designate courses that stress ethical reasoning.
The university also has established a faculty workshop to help them integrate ethics in their courses. This year, students can chose from among 88 courses with an ethics designation.
Wesleyan has a responsibility to prepare students to think clearly about current issues, to make informed choices and resolve conflict between diverse viewpoints, Bennet says.
by Olivia Drake •
Pictured left to right, 9-year-old Monica gets homework help from Wesleyan basketball players Gabe Gonzalez-Kreisberg ’09, Jared Ashe ’07 and Nick Pelletier ’08 during the Green Street Arts Center After School Program. Below, Gonzalez-Kreisberg, who helped launch an ongoing tutoring volunteer initiative goes over a book report with 7-year-old J.J. (Photos by Olivia Drake)
Students involved in Middletowns Green Street Arts Center After School Program look up to Wesleyan Universitys basketball team in more ways than one.
They always tell me that Im so tall! exclaims Gabe Gonzalez-Kreisberg, a 6-ft. 8-inch tall Wesleyan freshman, recalling how students he helps tutor at the center, like 7-year-old J.J., describe him.
Gonzalez-Kreisberg recently helped launch an ongoing tutoring volunteer initiative at Green Street Arts Center with Wesleyan Universitys basketball players.
The idea first occurred to Gonzalez-Kreisberg after Wesleyan basketball coach Gerry McDowell encouraged his team to volunteer in the Middletown area during their winter break from classes.
Gonzalez-Kreisberg remembered an e-mail he received from Wesleyans community service office calling for tutors at Green Streets After School Program. He then mentioned the program to Coach McDowell and the entire team immediately agreed to help.
As a result, in shifts of four players per day, the basketball team began to regularly tutor Middletown children enrolled in the program. Even now, with spring semester underway, a handful of players continue to tutor in their free time.
Many athletes have a sense that things should be given to them, and I wanted our team to know that they should give something back to the community, says McDowell. Our team is a solid group of guys, who all care about one another on and off the court and this is important for them to do as a team.
I love math and I always encourage the kids to stay with it and to have fun, says Jared Ashe, the Wesleyan basketball team captain and a junior Economics major from Stamford, Conn. In sports, great coaching motivates you to play your best. I want to motivate the kids with their homework in the same way.
When they arrive at the Green Street Arts Center, the students, who range in age from seven to 14, eat a snack and socialize a bit with friends. Then the students who are not enrolled in arts classes go to the homework room where several tutors, including the basketball players, are stationed to assist them.
After helping students finish their homework, which can be in a variety of subjects including math and reading, the players often talk with the kids and sometimes play board games with them.
Ashe, who has always enjoyed tutoring his peers even back in high school, says the board games help to motivate the students to follow through and finish up their homework.
Thirteen year-old Elijah always wants to finish his homework, he says, because that means Gonzalez-Kreisberg will tell him a story afterwards.
One time, Gabe told me how he touched the court at an Orlando Magic game! shouts Elijah.
During every tutoring session, Wesleyans basketball players agree that the students always seem to get excited about their schoolwork.
I think one reason why is that were such a close group of guys that are all genuinely happy to help out, says Ashe.
Gonzalez-Kreisberg says another reason why is because he and his teammates act as mentors for the students.
Because we play a sport and because these students are impressed by the NBA, it allows us to connect directly to them, says Gonzalez-Kreisberg.
We try to always stress to them that we are just people who happen to play basketball and that were strong in our academics first, then in athletics, he says.
Despite heavy academic and athletic schedules, both Ashe and Gonzalez-Kreisberg, and other players, like sophomore Nick Pelletier from Amherst, New Hampshire, are committed to continue tutoring at Green Street. Even Coach McDowell has committed to spend some time tutoring at the Center before the year is out.
Having the team volunteer during Winter break was a tremendous help as we are often left with no student volunteers until classes resume in late January, says Ricardo Morris, Director of the Green Street Arts Center. It was also especially nice to have so many male volunteers. I hope the basketball team and other males will consider volunteering at Green Street more often.
This is such a positive experience for us as individuals and as a team, says Ashe. Hopefully it will continue long after we have all graduated from Wesleyan.
|By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations|
by Olivia Drake •
Judith Brown, vice president for academic affairs and provost, will step down from her position June 30. She will spend a year on sabbatical, and return to Wesleyan as a professor of history in 2008.
Brown was recruited six years ago to help Wesleyan achieve its highest academic aspirations as a liberal arts university.
Judith brought extraordinary intelligence and commitment to what is surely one of the most difficult jobs in university administration, says President Doug Bennet. I speak for the trustees and all of us in thanking her for her leadership and celebrating her plan to return to scholarship here at Wesleyan.
Brown, who has not has a sabbatical since 1992, has worked in academic administration for 11 years. She made her announcement during a faculty meeting Feb. 14.
I am ready for a change and for a change of pace, she says. I would like to take a break, to resume some intellectual projects I have neglected, to explore new intellectual horizons, and above all, to take more time to be with and travel with my family, especially with my husband, Shannon, while we are still able to enjoy a healthy, energetic, and active life.
Bennet will appoint another faculty member as interim vice president for academic affairs and will actively consider nominations.
It is of the greatest importance that we sustain the momentum and direction to which Judith has contributed so much, and meet the objectives in the strategic plan, Bennet says.
by Olivia Drake •
|Kate Mullen, head women’s basketball coach, stands outside the Freeman Athletic Center. She has coached Wesleyan athletes for 14 years.|
| Q: When did you become the head womens basketball coach at Wesleyan?
A: The 1992-93 year was my first year at Wesleyan.
Q: What is your record so far this year?
A: As of Jan. 30, we are 13-5 overall and tied with Bates for first place in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) with a 5-1 conference record,
Q: In the last three seasons, youve had an exceptional 63-13 record. And in 2004-05, you led the team to the programs best record of 22-5. What did this mean for Wesleyan?
A: One teams success can help set the tone and standard for other teams. I believe our success helped showcase Wesleyan Athletics both on and off campus. If you attended our National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) First Round game here last March, you experienced a terrific atmosphere of excitement and positive energy.
Q: In 2002-03, you were voted by your conference peers as the NESCAC coach of the year. That must have been a great honor. What was your reaction?
A: The acknowledgement of our basketball staffs efforts by my coaching colleagues was what really made the award special.
Q: What lessons do you stress in your coaching? What do you expect out of your players mentally and physically?
A: Strong fundamentals, team defense, and striving to improve are important parts of the program. We teach everyday in practice and look for student-athletes who want to get better. A high level of fitness and mental toughness are stressed because that is what builds and maintains confidence and success over the long haul.
Q: Who are your key players this year?
A: As usual, we rely on our seniors for their leadership, talent and desire to help meet our goals for the season. Meg Robinson 06, Ashley Mastrangelo 06 and Hannah Stubbs 06 have brought this group a long way this season, and we have our most important basketball ahead of us.
Q: Where did you grow up, and when did you begin playing ball? Did you play other sports?
A: Im from Connecticut originally and began playing basketball in elementary school. I played field hockey and softball in high school and college, but basketball was my passion.
Q: Where did you attend college? What did you major in, and what sports did you play in college?
A: I attended Central Connecticut State University for physical education and to play basketball for Professor Brenda Reilly. I also played field hockey and softball in college.
Q: Did you always want to become a full-time coach?
A: Looking back, ninth grade seemed to be the year I decided I wasnt going to focus on music and lead the band, but instead I would go towards athletics and coaching.
Q: Prior to Wesleyan, where did you coach? Was your team competing against Wesleyan?
A: Prior to Wesleyan I was the head womens basketball coach and associate athletic director at Elms College, a small Catholic Womens College in Western Massachusetts. I became familiar with Wesleyan when we began playing them. When my current position was posted, I felt strongly that I would be a good match for Wesleyan and vise versa. Fourteen years have gone by very quickly and my appreciation and respect for the Wesleyan community continues to grow.
Q: Youve been a lecturer at various basketball camps. What topics do you speak on and messages do you hope to get through?
A: Depending on the age of the campers, I lecture on a variety of topics. I choose skills like defense and rebounding that anyone can improve on. Also, I like to stress the fun and teamwork found in our sport. Often, I end a lecture with giving the campers two words that I guarantee will improve their game: The words are, Yes, Coach! I have them practice those words with energy and enthusiasm.
Q: As an adjunct professor of physical education, what sports-related classes do you teach at Wesleyan?
A: I currently teach two sections of Introduction to Strength Training.
Q: Tell me about the Fundamental Basketball Camp, of which you are co-owner.
A: FBC is for girls from fifth grade through to entering your senior year of high school. We offer a great mix of skill sessions, games, drill work, lectures and fun! Our staff is made up of experienced coaches and our players from Wesleyan, which is an added appeal to the campers. Anyone interested should contact me at 860-685-2888 for any questions.
Q: Aside from sports, what are your hobbies?
A: I enjoy hiking, fitness, reading and playing the flute.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
|Mary Bolich, head of men’s and women’s swimming, wants her swimmers to be mentally strong in the pool and in the classroom.|
| Q: Mary, where did you grow up and when did you develop an interest in swimming?
A: I grew up in Chester, Pennsylvania, a town just outside of Philadelphia. The neighborhood I grew up in had a summer club pool just down the street from my home. My siblings and I lived at the pool each summer. I would say this is where my early interest in swimming started.
Q: Where did you attend college and what did you major in? What events did you swim in college?
A: I attended Temple University for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. Much to the dismay of my distance swimmers I was a sprinter in college. My events were sprint fly, back and freestyle.
Q: Why did you decide to become a swimming coach?
A: I started coaching in college with summer league programs to make some extra money, and really enjoyed it. When I graduated undergrad my college coach asked if I would be interested in being his assistant coach and offered me a graduate assistant position. I earned my masters and continued to enjoy the experience, so I accepted an assistant coaching position at the University of Pittsburgh.
Q: What year did you come to Wesleyan to coach, and what are the teams records?
A: I came to Wesleyan in July of 2000. The mens team record this year is 12 4, and the womens team record is 12 6.
Q: Prior to Wesleyan, where did you coach?
A:, I spent four years at the University of Iowa as the head coach of the womens program. Before Iowa I was at Penn State for seven years as the womens assistant coach, and also taught in the Exercise Science program. I also coached at the University of California Berkeley and the University of Pittsburgh.
Q: Why did you leave a Division I school to come to Wesleyan, a Division III?
A: I had a strong interest in living on the east coast. I also was curious about Division III athletics. When the Wesleyan position opened I saw it as a great opportunity at a school that offered outstanding academics with an excellent swimming facility. A great combination for success.
Q: In 2005, the College Swimming Coaches Association of America reported that the Wesleyan team members had an impressive 3.27GPA in the Academic All-American Standings Division III. How important is it to you that your student-athletes are physically, as well as mentally strong?
A: Academics are the number one priority for the Wesleyan swimmers and divers. We discuss the importance of time management, and our individual and team goals to achieve excellence in the classroom, as well as the pool. As a program, we are very proud of the recognition both teams and several individuals have received as a result of their success in the classroom. The mens and womens team have received national honors each of the last 10 semesters for their team GPAs. Many of the semesters the teams were ranked academically at the top of the NESCAC Conference and top 10 in the country for their overall team GPAs. We have had many individuals recognized with conference honors, and several individuals have earned Academic All American accolades during the last five years.
Q: Who are the teams key athletes this season? What team or individual records been broken?
A: I would say our seniors play a key role in their leadership and guidance for both teams. Rob Mitchell, Dan Devine and Stephanie Lasby as captains, and Josh Tanz, Will McCue and Alec Zebrowski also add to the positive direction for our large underclassmen group. During my six seasons at Wesleyan the mens team has set 12 new team records, and the womens team has also set 12 new team records.
Q:: Who else do you collaborate coaching with?
A: The other members of the swimming and diving coaching staff are Mollie Parrish and Jeff Miller. Mollie is in her fourth year as the assistant coach for the mens and womens swimming teams. She came from Denison University where she majored in biology, and had a highly successful collegiate swimming career. She earned 20 All-America honors, won seven national titles and set three NCAA Division III records and was a member of the 2001 NCAA Championship Title team. Jeff was a national level diver at the University of Pittsburgh, and coached at University of West Virginia and the University of Maryland. Jeff also serves as the associate director of facility management for the universitys physical plant.
Q: The annual New England Small College Athletic Conference begins this month. How are you helping the teams prepare?
A: The Womens NESCAC Championships are Feb. 17 19 at Bowdoin, and the Mens NESCAC Championships are Feb. 24 26 at Williams. The teams are preparing to swim their fastest performances of the season at these meets, as well as at the NCAA Championships in March. Our training focus at this point is speed, recovery and attention to race detail.
Q: Why did the Swimming and Diving Team go to Puerto Rico this year?
A: The mens and womens swimming and diving teams traveled to San Juan for our winter training trip in early January. This is the time in our season where we train at a very high level. We are swimming double workouts plus dry land training that consumes a good part of our day during this training phase. Being able to do this intense training in a warm and pleasant environment enhances the experience for the athletes.
Q:I understand you have coached athletes at the Olympic trials in 1992, 1996, and 2000. What is it like for you to work with the worlds top athletes?
A: It is fun and exciting being a part of training and competing at the national and international level. It is a great opportunity to meet many people and travel to places I may have never gone to with out this experience.
Q: What physical education classes do you teach as an adjunct professor of physical education?
A: I teach Beginning Swimming, which is my favorite, and Advanced Beginning Swimming and Swimming for Fitness.
Q: What are your hobbies?
A: I like to run, and also enjoy spending time with family and friends.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
Ferocious Beauty: Genome premiered Feb. 3 and Feb. 4 in the Center for the Arts Theater.
How we heal, age, procreate and eat may soon change because of genetic research happening right now. The world premiere of renowned choreographer Liz Lermans Ferocious Beauty: Genome explores this moment of revelation and questioning in an arresting theatrical work that combines movement, music, text and film.
The world premier of Ferocious Beauty: Genome took place Feb. 3 and Feb. 4, in the Center for the Arts Theater.
The piece is the result of an unprecedented partnership with scientists and ethicists to confront the promise and threat of a new biological age.
For the past three years, the CFA and Wesleyan faculty have partnered with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, led by Liz Lerman, to explore the ethical and social repercussions of genetic research. The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange is a professional company of dance artists that creates, performs, teaches, and engages people in making art.
Through relationships with Wesleyans science faculty and students, Wesleyan served as a laboratory for Lermans development of the piece. This collaboration reflects both the Dance Exchanges and Wesleyans emphasis on interdisciplinary learning, as the project has initiated an unprecedented dialogue between scientists and artists. The outcome will be represented through a plurality of viewpoints, mirroring a dialogue among multiple voicesartistic, scientific and scholarlyin their varied perspectives.
Wesleyan provided extensive information, assistance and feedback in helping Lerman to create the piece.
The piece took a conceptual turn several times because of the contributions from the scientists at Wesleyan, Lerman says. And, the fact that one of the scientists is a dancer made the leap between the two disciplines easier.
The partnership with Wesleyan has also resulted in the most comprehensive residency ever undertaken by a dance company at Wesleyan. Lerman joined Wesleyans dance faculty as a visiting assistant professor for fall 2005. Students in her class had the opportunity to explore scientific, ethical and social issues related to genetic research.
Liz Lerman, who received a MacArthur Genius Grant fellowship in 2002 for her visionary work, exposed Wesleyan students and faculty to the Dance Exchanges methods and interdisciplinary approach. The ultimate goal was to refine ways to teach science to non-scientists and to gain knowledge through embodied movement.
Wesleyan and the Flint Cultural Center in Flint, Mich. are the lead commissioners of Ferocious Beauty: Genome.
The show will soon tour major performing arts centers including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and the Krannert Center for Performing Arts at the University of Illinois.
For more information on the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange visit http://www.danceexchange.org/.
by Olivia Drake •
|James Taft, manager of systems and operations for Information Technology Services, helps keeps Wesleyan’s accounts and servers running smoothly.|
|Q: When did you come to Wesleyan?
A: I started at Wesleyan in September 2003 as the manager of systems and operations.
Q: Briefly summarize Wesleyans systems and operations. Are you, in a sense, the data center for the university?
A: The systems and operations group maintains our user account directories and the technological infrastructure located inside our Data Center. Almost all of the central servers for the university, including Web servers, e-mail servers, database servers, file servers, application servers and backup systems, are located in the Data Center and are under our care. When you check your e-mail, visit the Wesleyan Web site, or log into Dragon, Condor or Woodstock, you are connecting to a machine in the Data Center.
Q: Being under the Technology Support Services umbrella, what accounts and servers do you support and oversee?
A: We maintain the accounts that members of the Wesleyan community use to log into their workstations, e-mail, e-Portfolio, and the many other electronic services provided by Wesleyan. We work very closely with the other members of Technology Support Services, especially Dave Warner and Ken Taillon who maintain the network infrastructure.
Q: How do you control the door locks on campus?
A: We dont directly control the locks on doors, but the server that runs the key card access system is located in the Data Center and is under our care. The folks in the WesCard office connect to this server remotely to program the locks on campus and can make any changes or additions to access levels from their offices.
Q: As a manager, who are the key members of your staff?
A: Jen Platt and Jerry Maguda are our operations specialists. Doug Baker is our Windows administrator, and Hong Zhu and Matt Elson are our UNIX administrators.
Q: Is your work more behind-the-scenes or do you interact with users often?
A: The operations side of our group, which consists of Jerry Maguda and Jen Platt, frequently interact with users to answer questions about accounts, accessing central services, and using our Print Operations services. The folks on the systems side, including Doug Baker, Hong Zhu and Matt Elson, have less direct contact with users, though we do interact with departments that have servers hosted in the data center, as well as professors needing academic UNIX support. For the most part, though, our direct clients are the other wings of ITS: User Services, Academic Computing Services and Administrative Systems.
Q: What are typical concerns people would contact you for?
A: The systems groups main task is to keep Wesleyans technological infrastructure running smoothly.
On the operations side, we create user accounts for our various services and respond to users when they need help with these accounts. Our print operations service tends to the printing needs of the university, including the phone directory and the Board of Trustees booklets. If people are interested in how Printing Operations can help them, we ask them to call us or e-mail us at email@example.com.
Q: Who sees the results of your work?
A: Much of our work is invisible to our users. We spend a lot of time making our systems more robust so that problems do not affect end users. We are constantly improving the speed and capacity of our infrastructure so that it can keep up with the rapid growth of technology usage on campus. In instances where there are service outages, such as system-wide e-mail problems, we are typically the group that responds.
Q: Where did you go to college and what did you major in? How did you get into a high-tech field?
A: I graduated from Haverford College with a degree in English. I have always had an inclination towards technology, but did not have formal training before joining a tiny IT department at Deutsch Advertising in New York City. I was fortunate to work at Deutsch during a time of exponential growth for the agency and their technological enterprise.
Q: What is your relationship with John Driscoll, alumni director and his wife, Gina Driscoll, associate director of stewardship?
A: I am married to John and Ginas daughter, Laura, and we have a 13-month-old girl, Clara. John and Ginas primary responsibility is teaching Clara the Wesleyan fight song, but I understand they do other work for University Relations as well.
Q: What are your hobbies and interests?
A: My main hobbies are skiing, photography, running and tennis.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
|Lisa Dombrowski, assistant professor of film studies, is a 1992 Wesleyan alumna, and is a specialist on film form, the American film industry and contemporary East Asian cinema.|
|Lisa Dombrowski rarely watches a movie just once.
Or twice. Or even 10 times. In fact, it often takes her more than 20 screenings to fully analyze a film.
Each time I watch a film, Im looking at it for different reasons, explains the assistant professor of film studies. Ill watch it once to get the initial sense of the narrative, and the next time Ill count how many shots are in it, and then Ill focus on the use of the camera, for instance. Is the director using lots of close-ups, or is the camera far from the subject? Is the camera moving a lot? Essentially Im looking for how the filmmakers choices influence our viewing experience.
Dombrowski, a 1992 Wesleyan alumna, is a specialist on film form and analysis, authorship, the history of film style, the American film industry and contemporary East Asian cinema.
Dombrowski teaches Introduction to Film Analysis; The American Film Industry during the Studio Era; American Independent Filmmaking; and Contemporary East Asian Cinema. This spring, shes teaching Melodrama and the Womans Picture and Contemporary International Art Cinema.
In her classes, she often replaces textbooks with films. Dombrowski accentuates the importance of visual style and has her students look for ways in which filmmakers employ narrative structure, composition and framing, editing, lighting, camera angles and movement, and sound to cue certain emotional and intellectual responses.
She cites as an example Steven Spielbergs 1975 thriller Jaws. Viewers are introduced to the shark from his visual perspective in the water. What he sees as he swims, combined with the tension-packed musical score, give the audience clues that the shark is on a man hunt.
We begin affiliating the famous dun-da dun-da musical motif with the shark on the prowl for human flesh, Dombrowski explains. We actually see very little of the shark until late in the film, so when the shark finally emerges from the water, the shock value is very strong.
Dombrowski, who also advises the student-run Wesleyan Film Series, says selecting films to show in her classes is a time-consuming and challenging aspect of her position. Only a fraction of all motion pictures are available from distributors, and 35mm film prints can cost more than $800 each to rent. She prefers to show films in the Center for Film Studies new state-of-the-art Goldsmith Family Cinema. That way, students can watch the film the way the director originally intended it to be seen: on the silver screen.
Janine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, curator of the Cinema Archives and chair of the Film Studies Department says Dombrowski was one of the most brilliant students she taught in the Wesleyan film major. Basinger encouraged her bright pupil to get a masters and Ph.D so she could teach at the collegiate level.
Lisa is a great addition to our department, Basinger says. She brings the ability to teach classes in new areas: the contemporary cinema, East Asian cinema, the history of the film industry, and the independent cinema. Her colleagueship is outstanding, and she’s reached out to the entire campus to help connect Film Studies to all four divisions. Her brains, her energy, her enthusiasm make her a real asset for Film Studies and for Wesleyan.
In addition to teaching, Dombrowski is reviewing the production notebooks of director Elia Kazan, whose papers are held in the Wesleyan Cinema Archives. Kazan, who directed post-WWII films including A Streetcar Named Desire, and On the Waterfront, took meticulous notes concerning all aspects of his productions, from the acting to the cinematography. Dombrowski plans to edit a publication based on the filmmakers thorough journals.
In the past few years, Dombrowski has presented conference papers on the aesthetics of black and white widescreen pictures in the 1950s; the distribution strategies adopted by Miramax in the release of Hong Kong films in the United States; and comparative approaches to low-budget filmmaking. In March, she will present Adrift in Time: Free-floating Camera Movement, Memory, and Loss, at the Society for Cinema & Media Studies Conference in Vancouver, Canada.
Dombrowski didnt always have a heart for Hollywood. A resident of Akron, Ohio during high school, she came to Wesleyan in 1988 to study English and history. During her first year, she took two film courses, which opened her eyes to a new way of watching film. She ended up majoring in American studies and film studies, graduating from Wesleyan in 1992.
When I was younger, like anyone, I went to movies and looked for a good story line, solid acting and beautiful visuals, but I was never thinking about the choices that filmmakers made, and why I responded in a certain way, she says. When you watch film as an artistic creation, and see its historical and cultural context, it becomes a completely different experience.
During a 16mm viewing of Samuel Fullers 1963 thriller Shock Corridor in Prof. Jeanine Basingers Film Noir class, Dombrowski found herself curled into her seat, stunned by the director/producers bold approach and shocking visual style. Fuller would later become the focus of her dissertation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she received her masters of arts and Ph.D. in film.
Dombrowski has rewritten her dissertation into a soon-to-be-published book, If You Die, Ill Kill You: The Cinema of Samuel Fuller. The book highlights Fullers career from the late 1940s through the 1980s, and examines his films from an aesthetic perspective.
Dombrowski has written or co-authored three recent grants, including a Wesleyan University Pedagogical Grant in 2003; an Edward W. Snowdon Fund Grant in 2004; and a Fund for Innovation Grant in 2005. Shes used these grants to develop a Contemporary International Art Cinema course, support an interdepartmental film and speaker series and support interdisciplinary courses, workshops, and speaker events on science and visualization.
She still tries to catch as many new flicks in the theater as possible. Her recent theater trips included viewings of The New World, Brokeback Mountain, King Kong, Match Point and Pride & Prejudice.
Her interest in international and independent films has also taken her to the South by Southwest Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, The Chicago Film Festival, and The New York Film Festival. Shes been a jury member for the Bethel Film Festival in Bethel, Conn. and Film Fest New Haven; and shes served as curator of the Samuel Fuller Series at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Cinematheque.
Shes studied thousands of films, averaging two a day. But to date, theres still one film-related question shell always shrug her shoulders at.
So, whats your favorite movie?
Ill never have an answer for that, she says, smiling. There are too many good movies out there, each with its own distinct style, to have only one favorite.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
|Stephen Devoto, associate professor of biology, neuroscience and behavior, studies vertebrate developmental patterns in zebrafish.|
| A tiny fish popular with aquarium enthusiasts is poised to make a big splash in our understanding of muscle development. The results could have implications on the comprehension and perhaps treatment of muscular dystrophy, certain types of heart disease and other serious muscle-based ailments.
These findings by Stephen Devoto, associate professor of associate professor of biology, neuroscience and behavior were recently published in the paper titled Generality of vertebrate developmental patterns: evidence for a dermomyotome in fish,” in the January issue of the scientific journal Evolution & Development.
Devotos research examined the musculature of the tiny zebrafish, an aquarium favorite indigenous to South Asian streams. What the researcher found was that although fish and human beings comprise widely different physical forms, their underlying muscular development is much more similar than scientists had previously believed.
This research validates the idea that understanding fish development will tell us how human muscle stem cells develop at the very beginning stages,” says Devoto, who has been studying zebrafish at Wesleyan since 1992. “At their very basic level, we found developmental similarities between all vertebrates are much more striking than previously documented.
In basic terms, Devotos work compared the cell layer that contributes to muscle formation in many different vertebrate species, including zebrafish, trout, skates and chickens, among others. He demonstrated that this cell layer in fish, know as the dermomyotome evolved prior to the last common ancestor of all vertebrates.
It was one of those ah-ha moments, admits Devoto, who has always been fascinated by how cells talk to one another, how they are created and how they morph. It was the kind of moment that is so rewarding for a scientist.
But such moments are rare and often require tremendous amounts of work in and out of the lab. In Devotos case, the journey actually took him to Europe.
While on sabbatical at Kings College in London during 2004, Devoto engaged in many lengthy talks with Simon Hughes who was Devoto’s host. Hughes, who provided Devoto with laboratory access during his stay in London, is also a fellow co-author, about chicken and frog muscle development.
Our conversations planted the initial seeds that maybe muscle in all vertebrates is formed the same way, Devoto says.
Their ideas were solidified after Devoto reviewed a cross section of trout embryos with Walter Stoiber, another co-author, at the University of Salzburg in Austria.
Surprisingly, these connections had not been demonstrated before, Devoto says.
After returning to Wesleyan in the summer of 2004, he threw himself into researching the early muscle cell development in as many fish species as he could find.
Katherine Wolfe, an Olin Library assistant in the Interlibrary Loan Department, helped Devoto obtain copies of obscure hand-drawings and research from the 1800 and 1900s. Often he had to do his own translations of the German and French citations.
I got so excited when I found out one of the journals was in I couldnt wait to analyze it, Devoto says. It turned out that some nineteenth century scientists doing comparative embryology suspected these similarities, but they did not have the ability to provide conclusive evidence back then.
After analyzing their findings, Devoto and co-authors began writing the paper in the fall of 2004.
Devoto and his team continues their research with zebrafish. The tiny fish are a transparent species that is easy to study and breed. Currently, about 5,000 of the fish reside in his laboratory.
One of Devotos ongoing projects examines their skeletal muscle signaling protein, named Hedgehog. He and his colleagues learned that, when the protein is intentionally blocked in zebrafish, muscle development is disrupted. With his new work demonstrating close similarities between fish and humans in muscle development, Devoto believes that it is very likely that Hedgehog signaling is required for muscle development in humans. Anomalies in this signaling may underlie some muscle diseases such as muscular dystrophy and certain types of heart disease.
Devoto and his undergraduate and graduate students are also trying to find out what happens next to the embryonic zebrafish muscle cells after they form.
Were now extending our thought process and asking ourselves where do the cells go from this point and what exactly does this mean?
|By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations|
by Olivia Drake •
Laura Grabel, the Fisk Professor of Natural Science and professor of biology, is working with Connecticuts Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee on ways to save the state money on a research laboratory.
Grabel along with scientists from Yale University and the University of Connecticut, believe at least one core laboratory could be established in the state. The scientists told a panel overseeing Connecticut’s 10-year, $100 million stem cell research initiative that they are willing to collaborate and avoid repeating the same work and save money. They said they could share expensive equipment and conduct certain research with human embryonic cells that is not eligible for federal money and prohibited in facilities built using federal funds.
The Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee is in the beginning stages of determining how best to distribute the first chunk – $20 million – of the state’s $100 million investment. The committee hopes to award grants this summer, possibly as early as June 30.