Achievements

Gruen Elected Fellow of Hastings Center

Lori Gruen

Lori Gruen is chair and professor of philosophy, professor of environmental studies, and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

Lori Gruen, chair and professor of philosophy, professor of environmental studies, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, has been elected a fellow of the prestigious Hastings Center.

The 45-year-old center, an independent bioethics research institute, addresses ethics in the areas of health, medicine and the environment.

“I’m delighted to be elected a fellow of the Hastings Center,” Gruen said. “The research publications (from Hastings) are cutting edge, and have been an integral part of my teaching.”

Gruen is coordinator of Wesleyan Animal Studies and director of the university’s Ethics in Society project, which aims to develop and foster teaching, scholarship, and institutional reflection on the ethical challenges facing individuals and society. Her work lies at the intersection of ethical theory and ethical practice, with a particular focus on ethical issues that impact those often overlooked in traditional ethical investigations, including women, people of color, and non-human animals.

Lensing Writes Cover Story in Times Literary Supplement

Leo Lensing, professor and chair of German Studies, professor of film studies, wrote the cover article in this week’s issue of the Times Literary Supplement. The article, titled, “Pillar of Fire,” is about a new biography of the Austrian writer Ingeborg Bachmann. The Times Literary Supplement describes the story as “How to assess the ‘stations’ of Ingeborg Bachmann’s self-destructive life from childhood constant reader to modernist ‘Fräuleinwonder’… Lensing counsels caution when dealing with Bachmann’s own accounts of her experiences, including those of her childhood which ‘ended when Hitler troops marched into her hometown’ of Klagenfurt. Sometimes the ‘primal scene’ can ‘look more like a scenario.’”

The article, available to subscribers, can be found here.

Rushdy to Serve as Wesleyan’s Academic Secretary

Ashraf Rushdy

Ashraf Rushdy (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Ashraf Rushdy, professor of English, professor of African American Studies, has agreed to serve as academic secretary for a two-year appointment beginning July 1. The academic secretary facilitates academic decision-making and supports faculty governance, provides advice and support to the Executive Committee of the faculty, the Academic Council and its committees, and the standing committees of the faculty. He also provides parliamentary advice, helps to administer faculty elections, and informs the faculty on matters related to the academic program and faculty responsibilities.

Rushdy will be replacing Tom Morgan, professor of physics, who has served as academic secretary since 2003. Rushdy previously served as academic secretary in 2010-2011 (while Morgan was on sabbatical).

Read a Q&A with Professor Rusdy in this past News @ Wesleyan article.

Starr, Hanakata ’14 Co-Author Paper on Polymer Films, Published in Nature Communications

Francis Starr and Paul Hanakata '14 study the mobility gradient on a thin, polymer film.

Francis Starr and Paul Hanakata ’14 study the interfacial mobility in a thin, polymer film.

Francis Starr, professor of physics, and Paul Hanakata ’14 are the co-authors of a new article published in the journal Nature Communications on June 16. The article, titled “Interfacial Mobility Scale Determines the Scale of Collective Motion and Relaxation Rate in Polymer Films,” is based off Hanakata’s senior thesis research at Wesleyan.

Thin polymer films are ubiquitous in manufacturing and medical applications. Their chemical and mechanical properties make them suitable as artificial soft biological tissue and there has been intense interest in how film thickness and substrate interactions influence film dynamics.

The nature of polymer rearrangements within these films determines their potential applications.  However, up to now, there has been no way to readily assess how design choices of the film affect these dynamic rearrangements.

“Paul’s paper is novel because it demonstrates how an experimental measurement of the surface properties can be used to infer the changes to collective motions within the film,” Starr explained. “These results offer a practical metrology that might be used for the design of new advanced materials.”

Hanakata, who graduated in May, will begin his graduate studies at Boston University next fall.

Resor Delivering 6 Lectures to Petroleum Geoscientists in Australia

Associate Professor Phil Resor is delivering six lectures in Australia this June.

Associate Professor Phil Resor is delivering six lectures in Australia this June. He is the 2014 AAPG Distinguished Lecturer.

Philip Resor, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, is taking his knowledge of petroleum down under.

Between June 18-26, Resor, a Distinguished Lecturer for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), is delivering six lectures in Australia. The talks are geared toward members of the Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia (PESA) and a general petroleum industry audience.

Phil Resor at a talk in Melbourne.

Phil Resor at a talk in Melbourne.

While abroad, Resor will speak on “Syndepositional Faulting of Carbonate Platforms” and “Revisiting the Origin of Reverse Drag.”

He’ll be lecturing in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra.

A specialist in structural geology, Resor’s work integrates field mapping, remote sensing, and numerical modeling to better understand the mechanics of faulting. Recent projects have focused on the causes of syndepositional faulting in carbonate platforms, deformation around normal faults, folding on Venus, and the effects of fault zone geometry on earthquake slip.

Prior to joining the faculty at Wesleyan, Resor worked for several years as an exploration geologist in the oil and gas industry.

sydney

Phil Resor in Sydney.

Kilgard Presents Stunning New Image of ‘Whirlpool Galaxy’

m51_w11Roy Kilgard, support astronomer and research assistant professor of astronomy, together with Trevor Dorn-Wallstein ’15 and Tyler Desjardin MA ’11, recently presented stunning new images of a spiral galaxy produced by combining data from more than 232 hours of observing time with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. Similar to the Milky Way, the galaxy is officially known as Messier 51 (M51) or NGC 5194, but nicknamed “the Whirlpool Galaxy.” Located about 30 million light years from Earth, its face-on orientation to Earth offers a perspective astronomers can never get of our own galaxy.

The image showing a vibrant purple swirl was presented June 3 at the 224th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Boston, Mass. K.D. Kuntz of Johns Hopkins University was also a co-author.

The image also appeared as NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day on June 10.

Kilgard told Universe Today, “This is the deepest, high-resolution exposure of the full disk of any spiral galaxy that’s ever been taken in the X-ray.”

Chandra allowed the astronomers to uncover things that can only be detected in X-rays. According to the website for the Chandra observatory: “Most of the X-ray sources are X-ray binaries (XRBs). These systems consist of pairs of objects where a compact star, either a neutron star or, more rarely, a black hole, is capturing material from an orbiting companion star. The infalling material is accelerated by the intense gravitational field of the compact star and heated to millions of degrees, producing a luminous X-ray source. The Chandra observations reveal that at least ten of the XRBs in M51 are bright enough to contain black holes. In eight of these systems the black holes are likely capturing material from companion stars that are much more massive than the Sun.”

Observations have revealed that the Whirlpool Galaxy is in the process of merging with a smaller companion galaxy, visible in the upper left of the composite image. Researchers believe this is triggering waves of rapid star formation.

Read more coverage of the presentation on NBC News and Space.

Also at the American Astronomical Society meeting, Nicole Arulanantham, a second-year graduate student in the Astronomy MA program, was awarded a Chambliss Medal, and astronomy major Ben Tweed ’13 presented a paper. Read more about it here.

Grossman’s Paper on Irish Stock Market Prices is Published

Professor of Economics Richard Grossman’s paper, “A Monthly Stock Exchange Index for Ireland, 1864-1930,” was published June 5 in the European Review of Economic History. Co-authored by professors at Trinity College Dublin, All Souls College (Oxford, UK), and Greater London Authority, the paper  constructs new monthly Irish stock market price indices for 1864-1930. According to the abstract: “In addition to a total market index covering 118 equity securities issued by ninety-four companies, sectoral indices are presented for railways, financial services companies, and “other” companies. Nominal equity prices doubled between 1864 and 1898. Between the turn of the century and 1914, prices fell by 25 percent, in contrast to the price increases experienced on the London exchange. Overall, the average annual gain in equity prices over the period was just 0.9 percent. We speculate about the respective roles of Irish politics and international shocks in driving these trends.”

Read the full paper here.

Arulanantham Honored with Chambliss Medal at American Astronomical Society Meeting

Astronomy graduate student Nicole Arulanantham received the Chambliss Medal by the American Astronomical Society.

Astronomy graduate student Nicole Arulanantham received the Chambliss Medal by the American Astronomical Society.

Nicole Arulanantham, who is entering her second year as a graduate student in the Astronomy MA program, was awarded a Chambliss Medal by the American Astronomical Society at its June 3 meeting in Boston. The awards are given to recognize exemplary research by a student presenting a poster paper at an AAS meeting.

Arulanantham worked on the study with her advisor, Bill Herbst, the John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy, chair of the Astronomy Department, and Ann Marie Cody of the California Institute of Technology. It involved analysis of data obtained with the Spitzer Space Telescope. Read more about the study online here.

Astronomy major Ben Tweed ’13 also presented a paper at the AAS meeting and reported results of his study of the local interstellar medium using data from the Hubble Space Telescope. His advisor is Seth Redfield, assistant professor of astronomy, and the work was done in collaboration with astronomers at the Universities of Warwick and Kiel, as well as University College London. Read more about the study online here.

Thomas’s Paper Published in Paleoceanography

The deep-sea benthic foram Aragonia velascoensis went extinct about 56 million years ago as the oceans rapidly acidified. (Photo by Ellen Thomas)

The deep-sea benthic foram Aragonia velascoensis went extinct about 56 million years ago as the oceans rapidly acidified. (Photo by Ellen Thomas)

Ellen Thomas, research professor of earth and environmental sciences, is the author of a paper titled “Rapid and sustained surface ocean acidification during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum,” published in Paleoceanography, May 2014. 

In this paper Thomas and her colleagues document that ocean acidification of the surface ocean not only occurred during past times of global warming and high CO2 levels, but also by how much — about 0.3 pH units. The group studied planktic foraminifers from a drill site in the North Pacific.

Thomas’ study has been highlighted in a press release from Columbia University and also on Phys.org.

2 Faculty to Receive Tenure, 5 Promoted to Full Professor

The Board of Trustees recently conferred tenure to two Wesleyan faculty and promoted five faculty to full professor. Their promotions take effect July 1.

Victoria Pitts-Taylor

Victoria Pitts-Taylor

Victoria Pitts-Taylor, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, and Charles Sanislow, associate professor of psychology, will receive tenure. Pitts-Taylor will join Wesleyan as a new faculty members and chair of the FGSS program on the same date.

They join four other faculty members who were awarded tenure earlier this spring.

Those promoted to full professor are Martha Gilmore, professor of earth and environmental sciences; Yuri Kordonsky, professor of theater; James Lipton, professor of mathematics and computer sciences; Brian Stewart, professor of physics; and Greg Voth, professor of physics.

Brief descriptions of their areas of research and teaching are below:

Pitts-Taylor will offer courses in feminist science studies, gender theory, and interdisciplinary body studies.

Bennett, Scott Receive Cardinal Achievement Awards

Nicola Bennett, administrative assistant in the Office of University Relations, and Lorna Scott, assistant to the vice president for student affairs, received a Cardinal Achievement Award in May.

Nicola Bennett

Nicola Bennett

Bennett was acknowledged for her efforts in supporting the 50th Reunion. According to her award announcement, “Bennett played a vital role in the development and production of this year’s 50th Reunion Class Book. Her creativity and organization skills, coupled with her eagerness to take on a new challenge, made this project a huge success. The Class of 1964 and University Relations are very fortunate to benefit from her great work.”

Lorna Scott

Lorna Scott

Scott was honored for her efforts in gathering data from the files of several hundred students related to their decisions to leave Wesleyan. This data provided critical information to staff in the Institutional Research area in time for them to analyze the data for the Retention Committee.

This special honor comes with a $150 award and reflects the university’s gratitude for those extra efforts. The award recipients are nominated by department chairs and supervisors. Nominations can be made anytime throughout the year.

For more information or to nominate a staff member for the award, visit the Human Resources website and scroll down to Cardinal Achievement Award under “Forms.”

Recipients will continue to be recognized in News@Wesleyan.

Chemistry’s Taylor Leads Biofuels Workshop for Area Teachers

On April 26, Erika Taylor, assistant professor of chemistry, assistant professor of environmental studies, led a biofuels workshop for area teachers at the Green Street Arts Center.

On April 26, Erika Taylor, assistant professor of chemistry, assistant professor of environmental studies, led a biofuels workshop for area teachers at the Green Street Arts Center.

Taylor led a presentation about her biofuel research and led an activity where the teachers made biofuel from cooking oil. The workshop was funded by a Connecticut Teacher Quality Partnership grant, which supports professional development of high school teachers in alternative energies and project-based learning.

Taylor led a presentation about her biofuel research and led an activity where the teachers made biofuel from cooking oil. The workshop was funded by a Connecticut Teacher Quality Partnership grant, which supports professional development of high school teachers in alternative energies and project-based learning.