All News

Neufeld ’79 Named St. Jude Physician-In-Chief, Clinical Director

Ellis Neufeld ’79, MD., PhD, joins St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to lead clinical efforts and patient care programs.

Ellis Neufeld ’79, M.D., PhD, joins St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to lead clinical efforts and patient care programs.

Ellis Neufeld, M.D., PhD., was appointed clinical director, physician-in-chief and executive vice president of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, an internationally renowned center that pioneers research for and offers treatment to children with catastrophic illnesses. He will begin his new position at the Memphis medical center in March.

Neufeld, a pediatric oncologist with a global profile, is a longtime Harvard Medical School faculty member, serving most recently as associate chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. He was also medical director at the Boston Hemophilia Center and held the Egan Family Foundation Chair in Transitional Medicine at Harvard Medical School as a professor of pediatrics.

In a press releaseSt. Jude President and Chief Executive Officer James Downing, M.D., said: “Dr. Neufeld’s leadership and experience will help steer St. Jude clinical operations as we expand our patient care programs, increase the number of patients treated and work to set the standard for pediatric cancer care delivery.”

A biology and chemistry major at Wesleyan who was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Neufeld earned his doctoral degrees at Washington University in St. Louis. He completed specialty training in pediatrics and medical genetics at Boston Children’s Hospital and in pediatric hematology/oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s.

 

Best ’14 Returns to Campus for Soul and Jazz Performance

Jess Best '14

Jess Best ’14

Singer-songwriter Jess Best ’14 returns to campus on Jan. 29 to perform her original soul and jazz influences at the Russell House.

Best, who was a music major, says she is influenced by Erykah Badu, Joni Mitchell, and Esperanza Spalding, and believes her time at Wesleyan has prepared her for a career in music. She explained, “Although I still constantly feel like I need to work extremely hard to feel at all prepared for being a musician, I’m so grateful I took visual arts classes and writing classes, in addition to being a music major. It’s been so crucial to be able to draw upon those approaches amidst my songwriting practice.”

Since graduation, Best has stayed connected to the Wesleyan music scene. In the past, she gave a songwriting workshop at the Alpha Delta Phi Society and performed with her band at the Earth House. Best said, “I believe in the music community at Wesleyan so much and hope the current student body can foster something as special as what I experienced when I was there.”

Best, now based in Manhattan, will be releasing new music this summer. She released an EP, Kid Again, in 2016, and her debut album, Gone Baby, in 2014, which featured many Wesleyan students and alumni. Additionally, she has a residency in Brooklyn at 61 Local where she performs every Monday night.



Watch the music video for “Tried to Run” from the Kid Again EP.

Mayberry ’97 Works with Volcano Disaster Assistance Program

Gari Mayberry (Photo courtesy of usaid.gov)

Gari Mayberry ’97 (Photo courtesy of usaid.gov)

Gari Mayberry ’97 was featured in the January issue of EARTH Magazine for her work with the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP).

In the article, “Life-saving Diplomacy: The Volcano Disaster Assistance Program at Thirty,” VDAP’s growth and evolution over 30 years are chronicled, highlighting the team’s past successes and goals for the future.

Mayberry, who studied geology at Wesleyan, is part of the world’s only volcano crisis response team, which is made up of what EARTH writer Bethany Augliere described as “a small group of U.S. volcanologists that works around the world to prevent eruptions from becoming disaster.” Since its inception, VDAP has responded to more than 30 major volcanic crises.

Mayberry discussed her time working at volcanic sites in places like Indonesia and Tanzania. “Volcanoes are not something that most people think about regularly. I want people to know that there is this team of people who are thinking about volcanoes regularly,” she says in the article.

EARTH Magazine is published by the American Geosciences Institute, a nonprofit federation of geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists.

Read the full article here.

Parslow, Chenier Re-Create Ancient Roman “Pork Clock” at Wesleyan

A model of the "pork clock" sundial shows the time as 9 a.m. (Photo by Christopher Parslow. 3-D print by Christopher Chenier)

A model of the “pork clock” sundial shows the time as 9 a.m. (Photo by Christopher Parslow. 3-D print by Christopher Chenier)

The Ancient Romans relied on a curious object to tell time: a sundial in the shape of an Italian ham.

National Geographic has featured the work of Wesleyan’s Christopher Parslow to re-create this ancient “pork clock” through 3-D printing, which is helping researchers to better understand how it was used and what information it conveyed.

“It does represent a knowledge of how the sun works, and it can be used to tell time,” said Parslow, professor and chair of Classical studies, professor of archaeology, professor of art history.

The small, portable sundial—the “pocket watch of its day,” according to the article—was first excavated in the 1760s from the ruins of a grand country house in the Roman town of Herculaneum, which was destroyed by the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79.

Christopher Chenier, digital design technologist and visiting assistant professor of art, printed the “pork clock” on a 3-D printer at Wesleyan.

According to the article:

After Parslow was asked about the pork clock, he was inspired to build a 3-D model. He took dozens of photos of the timepiece at its home institution, Italy’s National Archaeological Museum of Naples. A 3-D printer at his university churned out the model—in plastic rather than the original silver-coated bronze—in a matter of hours.

Like the original, Parslow’s model bears a dial, in the form of a slightly distorted grid, on one side. The vertical lines are marked for the months of the year. The horizontal lines indicate the number of hours past sunrise or before sunset.

The original clock is missing its gnomon, the part of a sundial that casts a shadow, but an 18th-century museum curator described it having one in the shape of a pig’s tail, so Parslow re-created that, too.

Parslow then experimented with the sundial outdoors. The clock is hung from a string so that the sun falls on its left side, allowing the attached pig’s tail to cast a shadow across the grid.

The user aligns the clock so that the tip of the tail’s shadow falls on the vertical line for the current month. Finally, the user counts the number of horizontal lines from the top horizontal line to the horizontal line closest to the tip of the shadow. That indicates the number of hours after sunrise or before sunset.

Bissell ’88 Balances Social Impact, Scale in Ethnic Goods Retailer Fabindia

William Bissell is on the cover of Forbes Magazine in India.

William Bissell ’88 is on the cover of Forbes India.

William Bissell ’88, managing director of Fabindia, a retail enterprise begun by Bissell’s father, John, in 1960, is featured on the cover of Forbes India on Jan. 20, a special issue on social impact. “A Fab New World: Not Only is Ethnic Goods Retailer Fabinidia Spreading its Wings, It Continues to Shape the Lives of Thousands of Rural Artisans,” the cover line reads.

The article, by Forbes India staff writer Anshul Dhamija, details the beginnings of the company, as an exporter of hand-loomed fabrics and furnishings with only one initial retail store, which opened in New Delhi in 1976. The second opened in the same city in 1994. William Bissell took the helm in 1999, after his father’s death in 1998. The younger Bissell had returned to India after graduating from Wesleyan, establishing an artisans’ cooperative, the Bhadrajun Artisans Trust.

Forbes India charts the astronomic—yet socially conscious—growth of the company since the turn of the century. William Bissell, with a vision to redesign the stores as “retail experience centers” (more than tripling the size, offering cafes, “children’s zones,” and on-site tailoring), plans to open 40 of these centers across the country in the next year-and-half, many as franchise opportunities—all the while maintaining the company’s commitment to local artisans and traditional crafts. Of particular interest is the high percentage of women who are employed by Fabindia in a country not noted for providing financial opportunities for females.

Yohe Brings “Rap Guide to Climate Chaos” to Campus

On Feb. 2, the Wesleyan community will be treated to a performance of “The Rap Guide to Climate Chaos,” a one-man show written and performed by Baba Brinkman on the politics, economics and science of global warming.

The performance will begin at 7 p.m. in the Ring Family Performing Arts Hall. The event is free of charge.

Gary Yohe

Gary Yohe

Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, has worked with Brinkman in the past and was responsible for bringing his performance to Wesleyan. In May 2016, Brinkman invited Yohe to serve as the climate expert during an off-Broadway performance of the show at the SoHo Playhouse in New York City. Yohe spent 25 minutes on stage taking questions from the audience, which provided material for the closing raps.

Now, Yohe has sponsored the creation of a new rap, titled “Erosion,” that has been produced by Brinkman on climate change and the election of President Donald Trump. Yohe provided peer review to ensure the scientific accuracy of all climate science statements made in the rap. Watch the new rap online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEx-F-pSdXA, or below.

During the Wesleyan performance on Feb. 2, Yohe will reprise his role as the climate expert on stage and Baba will offer the world premier performance of “Erosion.”

Yohe also has used “The Rap Guide to Climate Change” in a class he taught in the fall semester, ECON 212/ ENVS 310: The Economics of Sustainable Development, Vulnerability and Resilience.

“I taught my students how to apply IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and Department of Defense standards for confidence to statements in the show. Each student was assigned to research and provide literature on two tracks, then assess where the lyrics may have overstated confidence,” Yohe explained. “I shared the students’ work with Baba, and he was very appreciative; only a few sources of concern were detected.”

YouTube Preview Image

Nominate Wesleyan Professors for Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Wesleyan President Michael Roth honored James Lipton, professor of computer science; Demetrius Eudell, professor of history; and Sally Bachner, associate professor of English with Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching during the 184th Commencement Ceremony on May 22. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Wesleyan President Michael Roth honored James Lipton, professor of computer science; Demetrius Eudell, professor of history; and Sally Bachner, associate professor of English with Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching during the 184th Commencement Ceremony on May 22, 2016. Nominations are now open for 2017 recipients.

The Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching recognizes Wesleyan faculty who have had a lasting impact on the academic and personal development of their students. Juniors, seniors, graduate students and Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) are able to nominate up to three professors for 2017 Binswanger Prizes, which will be awarded during Wesleyan’s Commencement Ceremony on May 28.

The Binswanger Prize is made possible by gifts from the family of the late Frank Binswanger Sr. Hon. ’85, and underscore Wesleyan’s commitment to its scholar-teachers who are responsible for the university’s distinctive approach to liberal arts education.

Current faculty who have taught at Wesleyan for at least 10 years are eligible. Previous recipients are excluded for a period of 12 years after which they become eligible once again. Recipients are chosen by a selection committee of faculty and members of the Alumni Association Executive Committee.

(Read a Q&A with 2016 Binswanger Prize recipient James Lipton online here).

The criteria for selecting the recipients is excellence in teaching, as exemplified by commitment to the classroom and student accomplishment, intellectual demands placed on students, lucidity and passion. Recommendations may be based on any of the types of teaching that are done at the university including, but not limited to, teaching in lecture courses, seminars, laboratories, creative and performance-based courses, research tutorials and other individual and group tutorials at the undergraduate and graduate level.

Nominate now.

Thomas Honored by Micropalaeontology Society

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas holds two enlarged samples of microfossils in her lab at Wesleyan. Thomas was recently awarded a medal for her research efforts.

For her outstanding efforts in pioneering studies in micropalaeontology and natural history, The Micropalaeontological Society (TMS) awarded Wesleyan’s Ellen Thomas with the 2016 Brady Medal.

The Brady Medal is TMS’s most prestigious honor and is awarded to scientists who have had a major influence on micropalaeontology by means of a substantial body of research.

Thomas was honored for “communicating to an extremely broad audience fascinating, impactful and often thought-provoking research” and “academic encouragement of students and peers over the years with [her] generosity of time in a very busy and successful career,” noted TMS President F. John Gregory.

Thomas, research professor of earth and environmental sciences and the University Professor in the College of Integrative Sciences, investigates the impact of changes in environment and climate on living organisms on various time scales, with the common focal point of benthic foraminifera (eukaryotic unicellular organisms). She studies their assemblages, as well as trace element and isotope composition of their shells. Foraminifera live in salt or at least brackish water, so she concentrates her research on the oceans, from the deep sea up into tidal salt marshes.

The Brady Medal is cast in bronze from original sculptures commissioned by The Micropalaeontological Society in 2007.

The Brady Medal is cast in bronze.

The Micropalaeontological Society exists “to advance the education of the public in the study of Micropalaeontology” and is operated “exclusively for scientific and educational purposes and not for profit”. It was initiated as The British Micropalaeontological Group in 1970.

The Brady Medal is named in honor of George Stewardson Brady (1832-1921) and Henry Bowman Brady (1835-1891) in recognition of their outstanding pioneering studies in micropalaeontology.

Read more about Ellen Thomas in these past News @ Wesleyan articles.

Thomas’s Research on Marine Biota during a Period of Rapid Global Warming Published

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas, research professor of earth and environmental sciences, is the co-author of “Pteropoda (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Thecosomata) from the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum of the United States Atlantic Coastal Plain,” published in Palaeontologia Electronica, Article 19 (3) in October 2016.

The Paleocene Epoch lasted 65 to 54.8 million years ago and the Eocene Epoch lasted from 56 to 33.9 million years ago, and was a period of rapid global warming.

The response of many organisms to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) has been documented, but marine mollusks are not known from any deposits of that age. For the first time, Thomas and her co-authors describe a PETM assemblage of pteropods (planktic mollusks), consisting of six species representing three genera (Altaspiratella, Heliconoides and Limacina). Four species could be identified to species level, and one of these, Limacina novacaesarea sp. nov., is described as new. Only the genus Heliconoides was previously known from pre-Eocene sediments, with a single Campanian specimen and one latest Paleocene species.

President Roth Defends Liberal Education in Op-Ed, Radio Interview

President Michael S. Roth

President Michael Roth

Following a visit to China Peking University–Shenzhen, which has decided to start an undergraduate liberal arts college, President Michael Roth reflects in an op-ed in The Washington Post on why commitment to a liberal education is more important today than ever. He contends, “This is a fragile time for liberal education, making commitment to it all the more urgent.”

Keeping in mind John Dewey, the pragmatist philosopher who visited China in 1919 to talk about education, Roth focuses on “two dangers and two possibilities.” He warns of the “danger of narrowing specialization” at a time when “we need more academics who can facilitate conversations between the sciences and the humanistic disciplines.” With an eye to the current political climate in the U.S., he cautions against the “danger of popular parochialism”:

It is especially urgent to advocate effectively for a broadly based pragmatic liberal education when confronted by ignorant authoritarians who reject inquiry in favor of fear mongering and prejudice. A broad education with a sense of history and cultural possibilities arms citizens against manipulation and allows them to see beyond allegiance to their own.

Undergraduate education – be it in China or the United States – should promote intellectual diversity in such ways that students are inspired to grapple with ideas that they never would have considered on their own. At Wesleyan University, creating more access for low-income students and military veterans has been an important part of this process.  Groups like these have been historically under-represented on our campus, but just having diverse groups is not enough. We must also devise programs to make these groups more likely to engage with one another, bursting protective bubbles of ideas that lead some campus radicals and free speech absolutists to have in common mostly a commitment to smug self-righteousness.

Roth concludes by discussing the “possibilities of open and reliable communication” among academic researchers in the sciences and humanities, and the importance of creating a “cosmopolitan” culture of openness and curiosity on campuses.

Also, in an interview with WBUR public radio, Roth defended the value of a broad liberal education today, at a time when many are calling for a narrower, more instrumental education.

“On our campuses, we have an academic culture that’s pretty much tilted to the left, in which people get increasingly used to talking to other people who agree with them already… In order to have a real education that’s broad and deep and challenges your own assumptions, you’ve got to talk to people who don’t agree with you. And you have to learn how to tolerate ambiguity and disagreement, and not just learn how to defend yourself and attack all people who don’t agree with you. The current climate is one in which people are very good at yelling at each other or fabricating tweets that make someone else feel really stupid, but that’s not the same as listening to someone else who has a different point of view and learning from that person.”

Roth said that Wesleyan has taken steps in the last five years to ensure diverse viewpoints exist among its student body, its faculty and visiting speakers.

Krishnan Named Top Toronto Stage Artists to Watch

(Photo by Michael Slobodian)

Hari Krishnan (Photo by Michael Slobodian)

Associate Professor of Dance Hari Krishnan has been named one of “10 Toronto Stage Artists to Watch This Winter” by NOW Toronto magazine, which highlights his upcoming spring production, “Holy Cow(s)!” exploring cultural appropriation. It will run March 23-25 at Harbourfront Centre Theatre.

The profile of Krishnan states: “A few years ago, Krishnan heated up the local dance scene with a sizzling, eyebrow-raising piece about queerness called SKIN. Now, just in time to melt winter’s last snow comes a white-hot mixed program sending up ideas about gender, sexuality and cultural taboos. The night of solos and ensemble pieces includes works by David Brick, Seán Curran and Jay Hirabayashi. But look for Krishnan’s signature style – which mixes contemporary with Indian Bharatanatyam – to get you to say that title out loud.”

New Book by Arndt ’92 Explores How the American Right Created Trump

The Right's Road to Serfdom, by Chris ArndtIn The Right’s Road to Serfdom: The Danger of Conservatism Unbound: From Hayek to Trump (Bulkington Press, 2016), Christopher F. Arndt ‘92 argues that conservatism is not what it pretends to be and that the American Right created Donald Trump. “There’s a destructive logic that has led the so-called ‘Party of Liberty’ to nominate an authoritarian like Donald Trump as its leader,” says Arndt, a former Wall Street executive and portfolio manager, in the press materials for the book. “I wrote the book to explain how this happened—to offer a readable, yet substantive account of recent political developments and do so in the context of the principles of political freedom that are common to us all.”

Below, News @ Wes talks with Arndt about the book, the subsequent election of Donald Trump, and the future.

What prompted you to write The Right’s Road to Serfdom?
There is a lot of confusion surrounding recent political developments, and in particular political developments on the American Right.  I wrote the book to clarify recent events, to offer a warning, and also to serve as a timely reminder of the American ideal of Liberty. That’s a pretty general answer so let me provide an example:

In early September of 2016, the Dallas Morning News—a famously conservative newspaper—wrote an editorial urging its readership to reject Trump’s bid for the presidency. In doing so, the editorial writers of the paper noted that “Trump is—or has been—at odds with nearly every GOP