Olivia Drake

Personick Selected to Participate in an NSF-Funded Project

Michelle Personick joined the faculty this fall, and is teaching courses in Chemistry of Materials and Nanomaterials and an Integrated Chemistry Lab. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Michelle Personick

Michelle Personick, assistant professor of chemistry, has been selected by the Leadership Council of the Interactive Online Network of Inorganic Chemists (IONiC) to participate in a National Science Foundation–funded study to develop, test, and refine a flexible, foundation-level inorganic chemistry course.

As a Virtual Inorganic Pedagogical Electronic Resource (VIPEr) Fellow, Personick joins 17 other inorganic chemists from across the country in a community of practice dedicated to improving student learning. The 2018 VIPEr Fellows are the first faculty who have been selected for this groundbreaking project.

The study, titled “Improving Inorganic Chemistry Education,” is being conducted with support from the National Science Foundation’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program. The project will use classroom observations, analysis of student work, student surveys, and faculty interviews to study how changes in the classroom affect student learning, interest, and motivation. The project also will investigate how IONiC may encourage the adoption of evidence-based classroom practices.

At Wesleyan, Personick teaches general, inorganic, and materials chemistry. Her research group focuses on developing tailored metal nanomaterials to enable fundamental research toward improved catalysts for resource-efficient chemical synthesis and the clean production of energy.

She received her undergraduate degree from Middlebury College, where she studied platinum anticancer drug analogs, and her PhD from Northwestern University, where she developed syntheses for shaped gold and silver nanoparticles. As a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University, she studied the catalytic behavior of bimetallic nanoporous alloys.

Read more about Personick in these past News @ Wesleyan articles.

NEA Supports Dance Artist Yerushalmy’s Residency at Wesleyan

Netta Yerushalmy: "Paramodernities." Photo by Maria Baranova.

New York City dance artist Netta Yerushalmy will present “Paramodernities” at Wesleyan in October. Her work at the Center for the Arts is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. (Photo by Maria Baranova)

Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts recently received a $15,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the presentation and residency activities of dance artist Netta Yerushalmy, who will perform the work “Paramodernities” in October.

The Center for the Arts is one of 977 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an Art Works grant.

“Support from the National Endowment for the Arts is central to our ability to fulfill our mission to be a vibrant center for dance in the state, and to bring contemporary dance to audiences who might not otherwise be able to access it,” said Sarah Curran, director of the Center for the Arts. “We are grateful for the vote of confidence that this grant implies.”

Yerushalmy’s performance will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 4 in the Center for the Arts Theater. It’s part of the CFA’s Performing Arts Series, which features cutting-edge choreography, world-renowned dance companies, and companies pushing the boundaries of the art form, as well as a wide array of world-class musicians and groundbreaking theater performances and discussions. 

Smolkin Speaks at “Culture of Unbelief” Conference in Rome

Victoria Smolkin

Victoria Smolkin

From May 28 to May 30, Associate Professor of History Victoria Smolkin attended a conference in Rome, Italy, on the “Cultures of Unbelief,” organized by the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network and the Vatican’s Council on Culture.

She spoke on “The Culture of Unbelief 50 Years On,” which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the original “Culture of Unbelief” conference, organized in 1969 by the Vatican’s Secretariat on Non-Believers and the University of California, Berkeley. Her copanelists included Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Andrew Copson, president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. Professor of Theology and the Sociology of Religion and Director of the Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society at St Mary’s University Stephen Bullivant moderated the panel.

The “Cultures of Unbelief” conference brought together leading academics, leaders of religious and nonreligious groups, journalists, educators, and others to understand the meaning of being a religious “unbeliever.” Topics explored how “unbelievers” engage with religion; their diverse existential, metaphysical, and moral beliefs; and prospects for dialogue and collaboration between believers and unbelievers.

Smolkin also presented a conference paper titled, “Atheism as a vocation: What can socialists teach us about modern belief and unbelief?”

A photo exhibit titled Unbelievers by Aubrey Wade took place during the Cultures of Unbelief Conference. The series offers an insight into the diversity of beliefs and worldviews held by people who don’t believe in God, or gods, in five countries around the world: Brazil, Japan, Norway, the U.K., and USA.

Scholarship Supports Graduate Study at Oxford for Mundangepfupfu ’19

Keith Mundangepfupfu '19

Keith Mundangepfupfu ’19

Zimbabwe native Keith Mundangepfupfu ’19, a College of Social Studies major and African studies minor, is the recipient of a scholarship through the Oxford-Weidenfeld and Hoffmann Scholarships and Leadership Programme.

The scholarship will fund full course fees and living costs at St. Antony’s College at Oxford.

The Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Scholarship supports “leaders of tomorrow by providing outstanding university graduates and young professionals from developing countries and emerging economies with the opportunity to pursue fully-funded graduate studies, combined with a specially created program of leadership development, long-term mentoring and networking.”

At St. Antony’s, Mundangepfupfu will pursue a Master of Science in migration studies, focusing on the immigration of Zimbabweans to South Africa and how they interact with the law, specifically LGBTQ+ Zimbabwean immigrants. 

Paper by Robinson, Alumni Published in Behavioural Brain Research

Robinson Lab

A paper coauthored by several members of the Robinson Lab is published in the Oct. 3 issue of Behavioural Brain Research, Volume 371.

The coauthors include Mike Robinson, assistant professor of psychology; graduate student Charlotte Freeland, Callie Clibanoff ’19, Anna Knes ’19, John Cote ’19, and Trinity Russell ’17.

The flashing lights and celebratory sounds that dominate slot-machine gambling are believed to promote engagement and motivation to keep playing. However, these cues are often presented in the absence of reward, and previous research suggests that this reward uncertainty, which degrades their predictive value, also increases their incentive value. In their paper titled “Distinguishing between predictive and incentive value of uncertain gambling-like cues in a Pavlovian autoshaping task,” the researchers used a process called autoshaping to tease apart the impact of reward uncertainty on the predictive and incentive value of a conditioned stimulus using serial cues.

The Robinson Lab’s research program seeks to identify how intense incentive motivations are produced by brain systems, both naturally in extreme cases and less naturally, but still powerfully, in pathological addictions. Their areas of interest include the role of cues in diet-induced obesity, the impact of uncertainty in gambling, and how cues produce craving in drug addiction.

Researchers Explore the Effects of Dam Removal on Bottom-Dwelling Aquatic Animals

COE

Kate Miller PhD ’13

Although dam removal is an increasingly common stream restoration tool, it may also represent a major disturbance to rivers that can have varied impacts on environmental conditions and aquatic biota.

In a paper titled “Dam Removal Effects on Benthic Macroinvertebrate Dynamics: A New England Stream Case Study, five researchers from Wesleyan examined the effects of dam removal on the structure, function, and composition of benthic macroinvertebrate (BMI) communities in a temperate New England stream. The benthic—or “bottom-dwelling”—macroinvertebrates are small aquatic animals that are commonly used to study biological conditions of water bodies.

The paper is published in the May 21 edition of Sustainability, an international, cross-disciplinary, scholarly, peer-reviewed and open-access journal of environmental, cultural, economic, and social sustainability of human beings.

Ross Heinemann '09, MA '13

Ross Heinemann ’09, MA ’13

The paper’s coauthors include Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies; Barry Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies; Kate Miller PhD ’13; Ross Heinemann ’09, MA ’13; Michelle Kraczkowski PhD ’13; and Adam Whelchel from the Nature Conservancy in New Haven, Conn.

The results of their study indicated that the dam removal stimulated major shifts in BMI community structure and composition above and below the dam.

“Our research shows that the effects of dam removal on the river were not predictable. During the fours years of the study after dam removal, the river did not return to its original state in the areas where the dam was removed,” Chernoff explained.

High School Counselors from India, Middle East Visit Wesleyan

Several high school counselors visited Wesleyan on June 5 through the 2019 Global Educator Program. The visit was coordinated by Chandra Joos deKoven, director of admission (pictured third from right).

On June 5, 17 high school counselors from India and the Middle East visited campus to learn about Wesleyan’s distinctive liberal arts education.

Over the past decade, an increasing number of students from India have chosen to pursue higher education in the United States. Wesleyan has seen applications from India increase by 70 percent over the past 5 years.

“We’re hoping to expand our presence and raise our visibility in India,” said Chandra Joos deKoven, director of admission. “During our four-hour program, we wanted to give the counselors a visceral sense of what Wesleyan has to offer, what makes us distinctive amongst our peers, and how our greater campus community may be a good fit and match for their students.”

Carby, Hartman ’84, Sanders II ’69 Receive Honorary Degrees

Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 and Board of Trustees Chair Donna Morea congratulate honorary degree recipients Saidiya Hartman ’84, Hazel Carby, and Edwin Sanders II ’69 at Wesleyan's 187th Commencement.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78, third from right, congratulated honorary degree recipients Hazel Carby, Edwin Sanders II ’69, and Saidiya Hartman ’84 at Wesleyan’s 187th Commencement. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

At the University’s 187th Commencement on May 26, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the historic Vanguard Class of 1969 and the founding of the African American Studies program at Wesleyan, Wesleyan presented three honorary degrees to Saidiya Hartman ’84, Hazel Carby, and Edwin Sanders II ’69.

Hartman, a groundbreaking scholar and cultural historian, also delivered this year’s Commencement address.

“I am proud to note that all three recipients have deep Wesleyan roots and distinguished careers dedicated to better understanding and improving the lives of African Americans through scholarship, creativity, and service,” Roth wrote in a campus-wide email. “They helped establish and expand African American Studies at Wesleyan, which our faculty voted to award full department status this past fall as a means of carrying forward this important work.”

Hazel V. Carby, who taught English at Wesleyan from 1982 to 1989, is the Charles C. and Dorothea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies, professor of American Studies, and director of the Initiative on Race, Gender and Globalization at Yale University. She is a leading scholar on issues of race, gender, and ethnicity.

Fowler, Northrop, Siry Receive Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching

2019 Binswanger winners

Wesleyan faculty (from left) Joseph Siry, Brian Northrop, and Erika Franklin Fowler join President Michael Roth before the 187th Commencement ceremony, May 26. During the ceremony, the three professors were honored with Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Every year at Commencement, Wesleyan recognizes three outstanding teachers with Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching. These prizes, made possible by gifts from the family of the late Frank G. Binswanger Sr., Hon. ’85, underscore Wesleyan’s commitment to its scholar-teachers, who are responsible for the University’s distinctive approach to liberal arts education.

Recommendations are solicited from alumni of the last 10 graduating classes, as well as current juniors, seniors, and graduate students. Recipients are chosen by a selection committee of faculty and members of the Alumni Association Executive Committee.

This year, during the 187th Commencement ceremony, Wesleyan honored the following faculty members for their excellence in teaching:

Erika Franklin Fowler
Erika Franklin Fowler, associate professor of government and director of the Wesleyan Media Project, has taught at Wesleyan since 2009. She has a BA in political science and mathematics from St. Olaf College, and an MA and PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She served as a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan School of Public Health from 2007 to 2009.

Alumni Celebrate with Old Classmates at 2019 Reunion


Alumni—especially those whose class years ended in 4 or 9—joined the families of graduating Class of 2019 seniors for a campus-wide series of celebrations, WESeminars, thesis exhibitions, and festivities.

Wesleyan’s Class of 1969, celebrating their 50th Reunion, began with a dinner on Thursday to gather the group and kick off the weekend.

View photos below or on Wesleyan Tumblr.

Class of 1989

6 Faculty Retire from Wesleyan in 2018-19

University Organist Ronald Ebrecht gathers with Joshua Kaye ’04 at a reception honoring retiring faculty on May 26. Ebrecht is one of six Wesleyan faculty who retired during the 2018-19 academic year. (Photo by Rich Marinelli)

In 2018–19, six Wesleyan faculty retired from Wesleyan. They were honored during the 187th Commencement ceremony on May 26 and during a special ceremony at the Wasch Center for Retired Faculty.

Krishna Winston, the Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Language and Literature, retired from Wesleyan after 49 years.

The faculty include:

Douglas Charles
Professor of Anthropology (2000 – 2019)
Associate Professor of Anthropology (1994 – 2000)
Assistant Professor of Anthropology (1986 – 1994)

Ronald Ebrecht
University Organist (1988 – 2019)
Artist-in-Residence, Music (2011 – 2019)

Laura Grabel
Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society (2008 – 2018)
Fisk Professor of Natural Sciences (1996 – 2008)
Professor of Biology (1995 – 2018)
Associate Professor of Biology (1989 – 1995)
Assistant Professor of Biology (1983 – 1989)

Patricia Hill
Professor of American Studies (2011 – 2018)
Professor of History and American Studies (2002 – 2011)
Associate Professor of History and American Studies (1991 – 2002)
Assistant Professor of History (1985 – 1991)

Krishna Winston
Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Language and Literature (2006 – 2019)
Professor of German Studies (1984 – 2019)
Associate Professor of German Studies (1977 – 1984)
Assistant Professor of German Studies (1970 – 1977)

Gary Yohe
Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies (2011 – 2019)
Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics (2006 – 2011)
John E. Andrus Professor (2001 – 2006)
Professor of Economics (1985 – 2019)
Associate Professor of Economics (1981 – 1985)
Assistant Professor of Economics (1977 – 1981)
Watch a video about Professor Yohe online here.