This summer, three students from Wesleyan’s Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) attended the International Young Leaders Assembly (IYLA) Global Leadership Summit as partners of the conference.
Ellen Thomas, University Professor in the College of Integrative Sciences and research professor of earth and environmental sciences, is a co-author of a paper titled “Very Large Release of Mostly Volcanic Carbon During the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum,” published in the weekly science journal Nature on Aug. 31.
The study focused on Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum, a surface warming event associated with ecological disruption that occurred about 56 million years ago, releasing a large amount of carbon. The researchers combined boron and carbon isotope data in an Earth system model and found that the source of carbon was much larger than previously thought.
Most of the carbon, Thomas and her colleagues discovered, was probably released by volcanism during the opening of the North Atlantic Ocean when Greenland separated from Europe.
At the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 17, Sasha Alpert ’82, CSA, was awarded the Emmy for the Outstanding Casting for a Reality Program for A&E’s original docuseries Born This Way.
The series follows seven young adults diagnosed with Down syndrome who pursue personal and professional success and try to defy expectations, according to A&E’s website.
Born This Way earned a total of three Emmy wins, going into the evening with six nominations. It was the television show to receive the inaugural award for reality casting, a move that recognizes the process of casting an unscripted show.
“I am thrilled to have won the first Emmy given for reality casting, and especially thrilled that it was for Born this Way,” Alpert said. “Bringing the story of young adults with Down syndrome to television has been an incredible experience. Many people have a story to tell, and by creating a show with a diverse group of people we vastly expand our ability to tell compelling stories.”
Alpert is known for her work in casting reality television shows, such as The Real World and Project Runway, as well as in producing numerous documentaries and specials for PBS, CBS, MTV, TBS, and Disney Channel. The winner of Primetime Emmy Awards, she has had 11 nominations, including a News and Documentary Emmy Award for her work on Valentine Road (2013).
A team of scientists from Wesleyan, led by Associate Professor of Astronomy Seth Redfield and graduate student Prajwal Niraula MA ’18, has co-authored a paper on the discovery of three planets, or super-Earths, transiting around a nearby star, just 98 light-years away.
“Super-Earths are slightly larger than Earth, and the three of them straddle the divide between the rocky planets like Earth and ice giants like Neptune,” explains Redfield.
These planets were found using the Kepler Space Telescope. “Kepler has found thousands of exoplanets these last eight years, but this is the closest planetary system that Kepler has ever found, although closer planetary systems have been found using different telescopes,” says Redfield.
This summer, high school students from Middletown and surrounding areas were immersed in college life, often collaborating with faculty and staff across campus, during the summer session of Wesleyan’s Pre-College Access Program. From an overnight stay on campus, to a field trip to Philadelphia to visit colleges, opportunities to get a feel for college life were plenty.
Wesleyan University’s Pre-College Access Program is application-based and is developed to enhance the academic skills and preparation of talented high school students who have an interest in pursuing higher education.
“Our programs tailor to low-income and first-generation college students,” explained Miguel Peralta, director of Pre-College Access Programs and Upward Bound Math-Science at Wesleyan. “Two-thirds of our participants are both.”
Serving 79 students from Middletown, Meriden and New Britain and running from June 22 to Aug. 1, the Pre-College Access Program is made possible by the federally funded TRIO program and designed to strengthen the math and science skills of high school students from Meriden and New Britain. Middletown students are served by Wesleyan funds and private foundations.
Over two nights in May, Wesleyan Dance Department Artist in Residence Iddi Saaka will premiere Shake, a dance duet featuring Rachel Boggia, associate professor of dance at Bates College.
According to Saaka, Shake is a rambunctious and tender duet born out of a nine-year friendship between himself and Boggia. Their first choreographed work features their shared love of vibratory movement, smooth breath, and cheesy humor. Influences include Ghanaian dance forms, American postmodern dance, fake tap dance, bad jokes, and life experiences.
This unique performance combines the elements of two distinct dance styles. Saaka, who teaches West African dance and directs the West African drumming and dance concert that is held in the fall and spring semesters at Wesleyan, explained, “The audience can expect to see two people from two different dance backgrounds—Ghanaian and American postmodern— express their friendship through movement and humor.”
The performance will take place in the CFA Theater on Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets, which are $6 for Wesleyan students and youth under 18, and $8 for all others, are available at the Wesleyan Box Office.
At the end of April, Wesleyan University’s concert halls will be filled with the sound of rhythm during the 16th Annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend, on Friday, April 28 and Saturday, April 29. The weekend will kick off with the traditional performance by the Wesleyan University Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Ensembles on Friday evening. New this year, on Saturday, there will be percussion clinics hosted by the Connecticut Percussive Arts Society, followed by an evening concert by Eli Fountain’s Percussion Discussion.
Jay Hoggard, professor of music and African American studies, explained the idea behind this ambitious project. “For the first time ever, we’re combining the Wesleyan student ensembles and the Connecticut Percussive Arts Society program,” he said. “We thought that would be an interesting combination, but instead of doing it over a series of multiple weekends, as we have done in the past, it’s going to be one day with multiple performances, about 20 minutes each.”
Najeeba Hayat ’13, entrepreneur and designer, is gaining attention in the fashion industry for her designer shoe company, Liudmila Footwear, most recently in Vogue, which hailed her shoes as “stunning” and “fantastical.”
Produced in Italy, Liudmila shoes are designed with Victorian influences in mind. Hayat’s shoes are also praised for being comfortable to walk in, disregarding the cultural norm that women should suffer for fashion.
Hayat, who is originally from Kuwait, was a government major at Wesleyan, but found herself dreaming of designing shoes. In an interview with the Wesleyan Connection, Hayat said, “The Russian literature classes I took at Wesleyan were actually the biggest influence on my decision to follow my passion for design instead of pursuing a career related to my major.”
She credits the classes she took with Susanne Fusso, professor of Russian language and literature, for cultivating her love for the “unique, bizarre, striking characters of Gogol, Dostoyevsky, Chekov, and Sologub.”
“One day, about a month or so before I graduated, we were discussing a speech given by a character in The Petty Demon that struck me by its passion, simplicity and its exact mirroring of my own sentiments,” she explained. “It was an exasperated paean to life and pleasure that in an instant turned me away from the career in consulting that I was actively pursuing at the time. I immediately decided to jump ship and move to Milan to study footwear.”
The Petty Demon is where Hayat found the inspiration to name her new company. Liudmila is one of the central sisters in the book. “As I was naming my brand, I went through many names, but was unsatisfied with all of them,” she said. “Liudmila’s speech kept coming back to me as my primary inspiration and so I decided to name the brand Liudmila in homage.”
Though her career took a different turn from the degree she earned, Hayat believes her liberal arts education prepared her for her role as founder, designer, and CEO. She said, “Even though the field I pursued had nothing to do with what I studied, all of the skills in analysis, problem-solving, and out of the box thinking that I developed at Wesleyan were crucial to my early success.”
Director and playwright Emily Mann will give a talk at Wesleyan on March 28 as part of the Performing Arts Series of the Center for the Arts. Mann will be in conversation with Wesleyan’s Shapiro Distinguished Professor of Writing and Theater Quiara Alegría Hudes.
“Emily Mann is a revered theatrical auteur,” said Hudes, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who teaches playwriting to beginning and advanced writers at Wesleyan. “An accomplished playwright, director, and artistic director of a leading regional theater, Mann is known for her probing inquiry into our nation’s most urgent issues. Her art has time and again advanced the national conversation.”
Hudes believes those in attendance will benefit from hearing Mann’s views on the arts. Hudes explained, “The audience can expect to hear from a pioneer and trailblazer about what it means to have a vision, how to build and sustain an artistic vision over decades, and how word meets flesh at the intersection of the script and stage.”
“I am honored to be joining Quiara Alegría Hudes at Wesleyan for what will no doubt be an exciting day, both in our class workshop and our public conversation in the evening,” said Mann. “I am very much looking forward to an engaging talk with Quiara, discussing a wide range of topics including the state of the American theater, the American playwright, and opening doors to a whole new generation of voices.”
Known for her politically edgy and documentary style, Mann is currently in her 27th season as artistic director and resident playwright of the Tony Award-winning McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J. In 2015, she received both the Helen Merrill Distinguished Playwrights’ Award, and the Margo Jones Award, given to a “citizen of the theater who has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to the encouragement of the living theater everywhere.”
A Conversation with Emily Mann will take place in Memorial Chapel at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 28 and is free and open to the public.
Wesleyan Joins the Northeast Small College Art Museum Association in Statement in Support of Major Arts Agencies
With the proposed elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), one representative of the arts community at Wesleyan has petitioned against these cuts alongside the Northeast Small College Art Museum Association (NESCAMA).
Clare Rogan, curator of the Davison Art Center at Wesleyan University, joined the initiative on behalf of Wesleyan.
In 2014, the Davison Art Center was the recipient of a three-year IMLS grant in the amount of $111,000 to further the digital imaging of works on paper in the art center’s permanent collection.
Rogan explained, “The Institute of Museum and Library Services has been transformative in the ways people can study the Davison Art Center’s internationally renowned collection. The ability for anyone on campus, or even on the other side of the world, to download high quality images and study these rare works of art is something that can’t be accomplished without this kind of funding.”
The statement, signed by 18 institutions affiliated with NESCAMA, explains how college art museums rely on funding from these sources.
With small operational budgets, college and university art museums are particularly reliant on funding from the NEH, NEA, and IMLS. This funding preserves artistic, ethnographic, scientific, and historic collections, and creates access to cultural heritage unique to our respective diverse communities. This funding not only supports essential infrastructure, it enables us to pursue transformative programs that provide employment for emerging and young professionals. This funding ensures that our collections are interpreted, understood, and valued.
The statement encourages members of Congress “to recognize that the resilience of the NEH, NEA, and IMLS, despite opposition over the years, is a testament to their enduring value.”
Members of the Philadelphia-based ensemble Tempesta di Mare will perform baroque chamber music from Venice and Naples on period instruments for the Connecticut premiere of A Tale of Two Italian Cities in Crowell Concert Hall at 8 p.m., Friday, March 31.
This performance by Tempesta di Mare is part of the Performing Arts Series at the Center for the Arts, and the conclusion of the 2016-2017 season.
“These performances feature a wide array of world-class musicians, cutting-edge choreography, and groundbreaking theater,” explained Sarah Curran, director of the Center for the Arts. “We’re excited to include a baroque chamber orchestra this year and we think the audience will love experiencing the sounds and culture of Italy.”
The audience can expect to hear music that reflects the two cities’ different cultures, explained Richard Stone, co-director of Tempesta di Mare. “Venice was Italy’s party town, while Naples was where you’d go to university or, if you were a musician, to conservatory,” said Stone. “Neapolitan music grabs its listeners with a heady intensity, while the Venetian music catches you with technical brilliance. That’s the generalization though. Naples’ music could get pretty wild, and Venetian music can get pretty cerebral. They’re both great musical worlds to dive into.”
Celebrating their 15th anniversary season, the members of the ensemble performing at Wesleyan will play recorder, violin, cello, lute and harpsichord on trios, quartets and concerti written by Antonio Vivaldi, Alessandro Scarlatti, Dario Castello, Andrea Falconieri, Francesco Mancini and Giovanni Legrenzi.
Tickets can be purchased through the Wesleyan University Box Office. Tickets are $28 for the general public; $26 for senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, and non-Wesleyan students; and $6 for Wesleyan students and youth under 18.
Albert Fry, the E.B. Nye Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, will be honored at the Electrochemical Society National Meeting in New Orleans in May.
The symposium, aptly titled, “The 80th Birthday Trifecta in Organic Electrochemistry,” celebrates Fry, and his two colleagues, Professor Jean Lessard of Sherbrooke University and Professor Denis Peters of Indiana University, who will all be celebrating their 80th birthdays.
“Besides having carried on research in organic electrochemistry for many years, each of us has served as chair of the organic and biological electrochemistry division of the Society, and Peters and I received the Baizer Award in organic electrochemistry,” explained Fry. “Although I retired in January, I’m still carrying computational research in electrochemistry and will present a lecture on recent results of this computational work at the New Orleans meeting.”