Achievements

Grossman Joins Economics Research Organization in Germany

Richard Grossman

Richard Grossman

Richard Grossman, professor of economics, was invited to become a Research Network Fellow of CESifo, a leading European economic research organization based in Munich, Germany.

The CESifo Group consists of the Center for Economic Studies at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the Ifo Institute of Economic Research, and the CESifo Munich Society for the Promotion of Economic Research. CESifo combines the theoretically oriented economic research with empirical research and is often at the center of economic policy debates in Germany and throughout Europe.

As a fellow, Grossman will be a member of the Network’s Money, Macro, and International Finance area and will join prominent economists from all over the world who collaborate on research through participation at conferences and less formal meetings in Munich. Grossman’s research will be published in CESifo’s working paper series and other outlets.

Chong ’18 to Represent Hong Kong in Tennis at Asian Games

Eudice Chong '18

Eudice Chong ’18

Eudice Chong ’18, a native of Sai Kung, Hong Kong, will be representing her nation in the 17th Asian Games, to be held in Incheon, South Korea from Sept. 19-Oct. 4.

Forty-Five nations will be represented at the Games with 439 events in 36 disciplines being contested. Chong is Wesleyan’s number-one player in women’s tennis and went 4-0 during the team’s opening activity, a double tournament hosted by Sacred Heart University Sept. 6.

She will be competing in both doubles and mixed doubles during the Asian Games. Chong is currently ranked 323rd in the most recent International Tennis Federation World Junior Rankings.

Fowler Joins The Campaign Finance Institute Board

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project.

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project.

Erika Franklin Fowler, assistant professor of government and co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, recently joined the Campaign Finance Institute’s (CFI) Academic Advisory Board.

Fowler was one of 16 academics appointed to the board, which advises CFI as it plans and works through its research agenda. Also appointed was Michael Franz, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project and a professor at Bowdoin College.

Founded in 1999, CFI is a campaign finance policy think tank. According to the website, its original work is published in academic journals, and is regularly used by the media and policymakers. Its tools are made available to stimulate new research by others, while its bibliographies bring the results of recent scholarship to the attention of the policy community. More information about the board is available here.

Fowler, Baum, Students Present Paper at Political Science Association Meeting

Leonid Liu '14, Laura Baum, P. Marshal Lawler '16, Michael Linden '15, Eliza Loomis '15, Zachary Wulderk '15, Erika Franklin Fowler at the American Political Science Association meeting.

Leonid Liu ’14, Project Manager Laura Baum, P. Marshal Lawler ’16, Michael Linden ’15, Eliza Loomis ’15, Zachary Wulderk ’15 and Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler attended the American Political Science Association meeting.

Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, Project Manager in the Government Department Laura Baum, and four students presented a paper titled, “A Messenger Like Me: The Effect of Ordinary Spokespeople in Campaign Advertising” at the 2014 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association Conference, Aug. 30 in Washington, D.C.

The student authors are P. Marshal Lawler ’16, Michael Linden ’15, Eliza Loomis ’15 and Zachary Wulderk ’15.

The paper considers the effects of using non-elite spokespeople (ie. “the everyman”) in political advertising. The authors draw upon the Wesleyan Media Project’s vast database of political advertising, as well as original coding on almost 300 ads, and a new large-scale survey data set assessing the effectiveness and credibility of 2012 campaign ads. They found that using ordinary spokespeople is a common tactic, particularly in negative campaign advertising, and that their use is associated with higher credibility scores than ads without them, even after controlling for partisanship and political sophistication.

The paper grew out of a fall 2013 pilot course at Wesleyan, GOVT 378 Advanced Topics in Media Analysis. Read the full paper online here.

Coach McKenna Selected Members of USA Hockey National U22 Squad

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Wesleyan women’s ice hockey coach Jodi McKenna.

Wesleyan women’s ice hockey coach Jodi McKenna was among the coaches charged with selecting the team members for the USA Hockey National U22 squad that competed in a three-game series with Canada Aug. 21-24. The U.S. team won all three contests. The games were considered a friendly series that begins the next ramp up to the 2018 Olympics, which will be held in South Korea in February of that year.

McKenna has been involved in Team USA coaching since the first call came in 2008.

“It’s an honor to be chosen and tremendous for my professional development but it can’t be at the expense of my commitment to Wesleyan and my family,” McKenna explained. She and her husband, Kevin Cunningham, an assistant men’s ice hockey coach at Connecticut College, have an infant son, Brayden. “I was quite surprised and extremely proud to be chosen.”

McKenna with the 2010 Olympic ice hockey team

McKenna with the 2010 Olympic ice hockey team

McKenna was an assistant coach for the 2010 Olympics under Mark Johnson, the legendary head coach at the University of Wisconsin who played in the National Hockey League for 10 years and was part of the U.S. gold-medal winning men’s ice hockey team during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. The 2010 U.S. women’s ice hockey team secured a silver medal. McKenna had served as an assistant for the World Championships, also under Johnson, in 2009, and was part of the Team USA selection group in both 2008 and 2011. She took a leave-of-absence during the 2009-10 season for her Olympic assignment.

McKenna had worked some junior development camps prior to 2008 and had been an assistant coach at St. Lawrence University before taking over the reins at Wesleyan for the 2007-08 season. Her 2013-14 squad posted an overall record of 8-11-6, the team’s best mark in 11 seasons. With a 5-6-5 record in NESCAC play, the team’s best ever winning percentage in conference action, Wesleyan earned the fifth seed in the NESCAC tournament.

While it can be a bit demanding juggling all her responsibilities as a head coach and mother, McKenna sees her opportunities with Team USA as a positive.

“I always come away from the experience with some new ideas, a fresh perspective that allows me to apply what I’ve learned to my own players.”

For the future, McKenna has the Cardinals ready to become a force in the NESCAC. Last year, Wesleyan had at least a win or tie against every NESCAC rival.

“What I’m looking for in 2014-15 are some more complete weekends and for us to be more of a threat in the later stages of the NESCAC tournament,” she said. “We need to build on our success and make it a habit, not just a flash.”

Graduate Students, Faculty Attend American Chemical Society Meeting

Chemistry graduate student Duminda Ranasinghe spoke about his research on "Density functional for core-valence correlation energy."

Chemistry graduate student Duminda Ranasinghe spoke about his research on “Density functional for core-valence correlation energy.”

Two graduate students and two faculty attended the 248th national meeting of the American Chemical Society Aug. 10-14 in San Francisco, Calif.

Chemistry graduate students Duminda Ranasinghe delivered a poster presentation on her research titled “Efficient extrapolation to the (T)/CBS limit” and an oral presentation on “Density functional for core-valence correlation energy.”

"Assessing weak interactions in small dimer systems with PM7."

Chemistry graduate student Kyle Throssell presented a poster titled “Assessing weak interactions in small dimer systems with PM7.”

Chemistry graduate student Kyle Throssell presented two poster presentations on “Potential curves of selected radical thiol double additions to alkynes” and “Assessing weak interactions in small dimer systems with PM7.”

The students were accompanied by George Petersson, the Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of chemistry; and Michael Frisch, research professor in chemistry.

Ph.D. Candidate Marino Attends Workshop on Computational Number Theory

Mathematics Ph.D. candidate Alicia Marino, pictured top, left, joined 11 other women studying mathematics and computer science for a four-day workshop this summer.

Mathematics Ph.D. candidate Alicia Marino, pictured top, left, joined 11 other women studying mathematics and computer science at a four-day workshop this summer.

Mathematics Ph.D. candidate Alicia Marino recently attended a four-day workshop in Portland, Ore. studying various aspects of computational number theory. The workshop focused on Sage, a mathematics software package, developed by and for the mathematical community.

The event included talks, tutorials, and time spent in small project groups developing Sage code. Participants worked to enhance the Sage library and discussed ways to increase the number of women in Sage development. The workshop ran July 28-Aug. 1.

Alicia Marino works on coding at the Sage workshop. 

Alicia Marino works on coding at the Sage workshop.

Marino, who holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science, attended the conference to sharpen her programming skills.

“My initial desire to attend the workshop was to throw myself back into that kind of an environment,” she said. “With the knowledge I gained at the workshop, I can continue to develop Sage on my own relative to what I do at Wesleyan.”

Marino learned about the workshop from event organizer Anna Haensch, who earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Wesleyan in 2013. Haensch is now on the faculty at Duquesne University.

Professor of Mathematics Wai Kiu “Billy” Chan served as advisor to Marino and Haensch.

“It was definitely an empowering experience to spend a week in a beautiful environment with intelligent women dedicating our time to a merge of math and computer science,” Marino said.

Grad Student’s Graphic to Appear on Journal’s Cover

Katherine Kaus's story and figure will appear in the September 2014 Journal of Molecular Biology. The figure depicts the structure of a domain of the Vibrio vulnificus hemolysin that binds cell-surface glycans allowing the toxin to attack target cells. The structure was determined using a technique called X-ray crystallography.

Katherine Kaus’s figure, based on an article she co-authored, will appear on the cover of the Sept. 9 Journal of Molecular Biology. The figure depicts the structure of a domain of the Vibrio vulnificus hemolysin that binds cell-surface glycans allowing the toxin to attack target cells. The structure was determined using a technique called X-ray crystallography.

A figure created by Katherine Kaus, graduate student in the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department, was selected to run as the featured cover graphic in the Sept. 9 Journal of Molecular Biology.

The graphic is related to her article, titled “Glycan Specificity of the Vibrio vulnificus Hemolysin Lectin Outlines Evolutionary History of Membrane Targeting by a Toxin Family,” which was published in the journal on July 29. It is co-authored by Rich Olson, assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and researchers at the University of Connecticut. The abstract appears online here.

Vibrio vulnificus is an emerging human pathogen that causes severe food poisoning and opportunistic infections with a mortality rate exceeding 50 percent.

The aquatic pathogen secretes a pore-forming toxin (PFT) called V. vulnificus hemolysin (VVH) which form transmembrane channels in cellular membranes. “Determining the mechanism for how PFTs bind membranes is important in understanding their role in disease and for developing possible ways to block their action,” Kaus explained in the paper’s abstract. Sequence analysis in light of the authors structural and functional data suggests that V. vulnificus hemolysin may represent an earlier step in the evolution of Vibrio PFTs.

NSF Grant Supports Shusterman’s Study on Number Word Learning

Anna Shusterman

Anna Shusterman

Associate Professor of Psychology Anna Shusterman has received a major grant from the National Science Foundation to study language structure and number word learning in children. The research is a collaboration with David Barner at the University of California-San Diego. The total grant is $1,496,636, of which $724,128 will go to Wesleyan.

According to Shusterman, the project explores how the structure of a language affects children’s acquisition of word meanings for abstract concepts. Specifically, they will consider how the pace of children’s number acquisition is affected by the presence of a “dual marker” — that is, grammatical marking to specify a precise quantity of two, rather than simply singular versus plural—in their native language. The researchers will study dialects of  Slovenian and Saudi Arabic. The study has broader implications related to understanding how aspects of language, such as syntax, facilitate conceptual development, such as mathematics.

At Wesleyan, the grant will fund a full-time project manager and post-doc, who will mentor and interact with students, for all three years of the study. Students working on the study will get exposure to cross-cultural and cross-linguistic research.

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.