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Language Experts Discuss Teaching, Researching, Assessing with Technology

On Oct. 19-20, Wesleyan hosted the New England Regional Association For Language Learning Technology (NERALLT) 2017 Conference. The event was held at the Fries Center for Global Studies in Fisk Hall and at Russell House.

On Oct. 19, in a “lighting round” format, speakers from Wesleyan, Yale University, Salve Regina University, Colby College, Boston University, Columbia University and the University of Connecticut discussed topics on language teaching, researching and assessing with technology. Talks focused on group-based learning tools, going beyond the classroom with technology, teaching language and multimodal literacies, simple tools for teaching language with technology and more.

On Oct. 20, guests from the University of Massachusetts- Amherst, MIT, Columbia University and Southern Connecticut State University led longer discussions. Topics included evaluating teacher tech literacies using an argument-based approach, the pros and cons to online discussion forums, language learning in a shared virtual space, connecting classrooms and communities with technology, and developing “Minecraft Memory Palaces” to teach French grammar and composition.

The conference concluded with a tour of Wesleyan’s language learning facilities.

Photos of the conference are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Antonio González, director of the Fries Center for Global Studies and Professor of Spanish, welcomed the conference participants to Wesleyan. 

Antonio González, director of the Fries Center for Global Studies and Professor of Spanish, welcomed the conference participants to Wesleyan.

Louise Neary, adjunct associate professor of Spanish and Ana Perez-Girones, adjunct professor of Spanish, shared how students at Wesleyan are building Spanish language portfolios using a Mahara language pack. Perez-Girones also led a discussion on Wespañol, an intermediate-level online program for independent learners.

Louise Neary, adjunct associate professor of Spanish and Ana Perez-Girones, adjunct professor of Spanish, shared how students at Wesleyan are building Spanish language portfolios using a Mahara language pack. Perez-Girones also led a discussion on Wespañol, an intermediate-level online program for independent learners.

Wilbur Remembered for Founding Wes Press’s Poetry Series

Richard Wilbur taught English classes at Wesleyan for 20 years. 

Richard Wilbur, pictured third from left, taught English and literature classes at Wesleyan for 20 years. (Photos courtesy of Wesleyan’s Special Collections & Archives)

Richard Wilbur

Richard Wilbur, eminent poet and former professor of English, died Oct. 14 at the age of 96. Wilbur joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1957 and taught here until 1977. During his two decades at Wesleyan, he received the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for Things of This World (1956), was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and founded the renowned Wesleyan University Press poetry series.

Over his long and distinguished career as a poet and translator, he was appointed as national poet laureate, received two Pulitzer Prizes, a National Medal of the Arts, two Guggenheim Fellowships, the T.S. Eliot Award, and the Frost Medal, among others.

Wilbur died at a nursing home in Belmont, Mass. A memorial celebrating his life and work is being planned on campus in the spring.

Read Wilbur’s obituaries in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post and on NPR.

(Information for this article is provided by Wesleyan’s Office of Academic Affairs)

Taylor ’07 Teaches Design Thinking Workshop at Wesleyan

On Oct. 19, students, staff and faculty learned about design thinking and creative problem solving through a Wes Design Tank. During this two hour workshop, participants learned the methodology and solved a problem experienced in their own life. Their mission? To reimagine a personal behavior.

The event was organized by Posse Scholar and Patricelli Center Fellow Lance Williams ’20 and facilitated by Brent Taylor ’07, a design thinking practitioner and coach at Stoke.d in Nashville, Tenn. Coaches at Stoke.d help individuals and teams get back in touch with their inherent creative abilities.

Participants worked with a partner and created experiences through interviews, ideas, written words, sketches and ultimately a physical prototype.

“What does this idea look like in the real world,” Taylor asked. “Bring your idea to life in as much detail as you can.”

At the end of the workshop, partners shared their ideas and prototypes with each other.

Wesleyan currently offers two courses in design thinking – Thinking with Things and Participatory Design – both taught by Barbara Adams, the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Design.

Photos of the workshop are below (Photos by Olivia Drake):

Anasse ’18 Reflects on Impact of UCSF Science Camp

Najwa Anasse ’18

Najwa Anasse ’18, who is working on adouble major in neuroscience and behavior and biology, and is a member of Professor Grabel’s lab, did summer research at the Gladstone Institutes. (Photo by Chris Goodfellow)

As a woman of color in STEM, Najwa Anasse ’18 represents a minority in a field known for its lack of gender and racial diversity. Recognizing that the low interest among women and youth of color is largely the result of barriers to access, an increasing number of organizations and programs have been created to direct underrepresented youth towards science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Anasse, who is double majoring in Neuroscience & Behavior and Biology, credits one such program, the University of California San Francisco’s Science Camp, for sparking her interest in STEM and inspiring her continued commitment to the sciences. Jay A. Levy ’60, UCSF Professor of Medicine, has been serving as the camp’s faculty advisor since its inception in 2007, when a pharmacy student in his lab founded the program.

Biddle Authors Chapter on Using Watermarks to Date Islamic Manuscripts

Michaelle Biddle, collections conservator and head of preservation services, is the author of a chapter titled “New strategies in using watermarks to date sub-Saharan Islamic manuscripts” published in The Arts and Crafts of Literacy: Islamic Manuscript Cultures in Sub-Saharan Africa, edited by Andrea Brigaglia and Mauro Nobili (De Gruyter, 2017).

As a specialist of paper making, Biddle provides a comprehensive history of the Galvani Italian paper mills whose various qualities of paper widely circulated in West and East Africa, as well as Indonesia and Malaysia, from the 1730s well into the 20th century.

Kilgard Explains Why Scientists Are So Excited About Observing Merging Neutron Stars

The Van Vleck Observatory on Foss Hill.

Writing in The Conversation, Roy Kilgard, research associate professor of astronomy, explains the significance of an exciting new discovery in astronomy. For the first time, astrophysicists have observed merging neutron stars using LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) and the Virgo interferometer.

Kilgard writes:

This news may confirm a longstanding theory: that some gamma-ray bursts (GRBs for short), which are among the most energetic, luminous events in the universe, are the result of merging neutron stars. And it is in the crucible of these mergers that most heavy elements may be forged. Researchers can’t produce anything like the temperatures or pressures of neutron stars in a laboratory, so observation of these exotic objects provides a way to test what happens to matter at such extremes.

Astronomers are excited because for the first time they have gravitational waves and light signals stemming from the same event. These truly independent measurements are separate avenues that together add to the physical understanding of the neutron star merger.

CNN’s Santana ’98 Reports from Puerto Rico: Desperate Shortages, Little Relief

CNN's Maria Santana interviews the mayor of a Puerto Rican city after the Hurricane. In the photo, a CNN cameraman points a video camera on the interview.

CNN’s Maria Santana ’98 interviews the mayor of the town of Aguadilla (pop. 60,000) in Puerto Rico. “To help his people, he’d set up three locations where people could gather water from the local aqueduct. Daily, he traveled the two hours to San Juan at 4 a.m., hoping to pick up FEMA aid. Other mayors were also making that same trip, because each town still lacked a way to communicate with the central government. The mayors would have to show up in person to find out if any aid was available.”

When CNN en Español journalist Maria Santana arrived on the island of Puerto Rico on Sept. 25, five days after category 4 Hurricane Maria tore over the land, she was eager to do her work—tell the stories of those in the center of the devastation and report on the efforts to support the victims and rebuild. But the situation was not what she expected, and—though her job has taken her to many places in the United States that had been ravaged by natural disasters—this was nothing like what she’d seen before.

While she and the crew stayed at a hotel in San Juan—with internet accessibility to transmit her reports—even short trips into the countryside showed massive devastation, but little aid reaching the people.

Fall Harvest Celebrated at Pumpkin Festival

The College of the Environment hosted its 13th Annual Pumpkin Festival Oct. 14 at Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm to celebrate the fall harvest.

The Pumpkin Festival provides an opportunity for the Wesleyan and local communities to learn about local organic farming and the politics of food. The event included farm tours, a farmer’s market, a bake sale, live music, face and pumpkin painting, free veggie burgers, arts and crafts, bulb planting, and more. Pumpkin Fest was held in conjunction with Campus Sustainability Week.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Caroline Kravitz ’19 and Will Barr ’18)

 

Wesleyan-Middletown Collaborations Strengthen Community

The Wesleyan Upward Bound Math-Science Program is designed to help low-income and first-generation college students recognize and develop their potential, to excel in math and science, and pursue post secondary degrees. The Upward Bound Program is benefiting from new federal funding and is one of many Wesleyan-Middletown collaborations. Pictured are Upward Bound students in 2016. 

A new $1.3 million grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education over five years to Wesleyan’s Upward Bound Math-Science program has brought federal funding for an important collaborative initiative in Middletown that will help provide low-income, historically underrepresented high school students with pathways to success in science and math.

The grant is the latest in a growing list of initiatives that are bringing Middletown and Wesleyan together in projects large and small.

“We don’t often pause to appreciate the full scope of collaborations between Wesleyan and Middletown,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth, “but when we do, the many ways they are contributing to the growth of our strong local community become so apparent. We couldn’t ask for better partners than we have here in Middletown.”

Starr Elected Fellow of the American Physical Society

Francis Starr

Francis Starr

Francis Starr, professor of physics, was elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society in October. This honor is bestowed upon only 0.5 percent of physicists nation wide.

The criterion for election is “exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise including outstanding physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in or service to physics, or significant contributions to physics education.

Starr received the APS fellowship for his simulation studies elucidating fundamental aspects of glass formation in bulk and ultra-thin film polymer materials. At Wesleyan, the Starr group focuses on soft matter physics and biophysics. Starr and his graduate and undergraduate students combine computational and theoretical methods to explore lipid membranes, glass formation, DNA nanotechnology, polymers and supercooled water.

Starr also is professor and director of the College of Integrative Sciences (CIS) and professor of molecular biology and biochemistry. The CIS is dedicated to providing students with translational and interdisciplinary science education through original research. The CIS summer research program hosts around 180 students annually.

Starr is the seventh Wesleyan faculty to receive the honor since 1921. He was nominated by the Division of Polymer Physics.

Dierker Authors Article on ‘Passion-Driven’ Approach to Teaching Statistics, Data Analysis

Lisa Dierker

Lisa Dierker

Lisa Dierker, the Walter Crowell University Professor of Social Sciences, professor of psychology, is the author of a new article, “Falling in Love with Statistics: Shaping Students’ Relationships With Data.” It was published in October in Scientia, a site that seeks to open a dialogue between science and society.

Dierker writes about the novel approach, called Passion-Driven Statistics, that she and her team at Wesleyan developed to teach statistics and data analysis to students from diverse backgrounds. According to the article, it is a “multidisciplinary, project-based approach that is both supportive and engaging for students at all levels of statistical mastery and those coming from diverse educational backgrounds.”

Loui Co-Authors Article on Human Creativity and the Brain

Psyche Loui

Psyche Loui

Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, assistant professor of integrative sciences, co-authored a new article published in the December 2017 issue of Brain and Cognition.

The paper is titled, “Jazz Musicians Reveal Role of Expectancy in Human Creativity.” Loui and her colleagues found that within one second of hearing an unexpected chord, there is a world of differences in brain responses between classical and jazz musicians.