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University Relations Collects Items for Puerto Rico

During University Relations’ Jammin’ Holiday Party on Dec. 13, staff collected more than 1,000 items for Puerto Rico residents affected by Hurricane Maria.

University Relations employees load a vehicle with donations for Puerto Rico.

Items included:
128.5 lbs. of pet food
795 diapers and baby wipes
13 gallons of water
186 cans/boxes of food
41 towels
12 blankets/pillows
99 books/toys
4 solar lights
248 oz. of hand sanitizer
5 can openers
3 power strips
5 first aid kits
3 sunscreens
12 insect repellents

Former Curator Feller Expert on Jewish Philosophy, Museum Studies

Yaniv Feller joined the faculty in 2017. He’s teaching religion courses this spring.

Yaniv Feller is the Jeremy Zwelling Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and assistant professor of religion. Feller specializes in Jewish philosophy, Jewish-Christian relations, post-Holocaust theology, material culture and museum studies. His current book project is titled “Leo Baeck and the Tradition of Dialogical Apologetics.” Prior to Wesleyan, Feller worked as an exhibition curator for the new permanent exhibition project at the Jewish Museum Berlin.

In this Q&A, Feller speaks about his time working at a renowned Jewish museum, the importance of incorporating the lives and histories of objects into his courses and woodworking. 

Q: You just joined the faculty at Wesleyan this year. What are you enjoying and how would you characterize your new academic home?

A: It is hard to believe that a semester has already passed—time flies by when you are having fun! Reflecting on the last couple of months, I realize that Wesleyan is indeed everything I hoped it to be: it is a passionate community of learners, and this is true of faculty and students alike. I obviously heard about how smart and engaged people at Wesleyan are, and it was a pleasure to discover that sometimes, positive reputation is more than justified.

Q: What courses are you teaching this spring?

A: I am teaching RELI 203, Jews and Judaism, and RELI 213, Refugees and Exiles: Religion in the Diaspora.

Q: Do you have a favorite course? (Or is that like asking a parent about a favorite child?) Is there one that seems particularly well received or apropos?

A: It IS a bit like asking for a favorite child. I like them all! I like to teach classes that examine Jewish history and philosophy as a springboard for larger theoretical questions, or ones that ask the theoretical questions through a series of case studies. Perhaps most relevant this semester is “Refugees and Exiles” in which we will examine contemporary discussions on refugees in light of philosophical, literary and historical perspectives. What do narratives about the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, for example, have to teach us about today? More than you might suspect.

Carpooling Matching Event Feb. 20

Whether you live in Middletown or elsewhere in the region, commuting to work is often time-consuming, stressful and costly. Setting up a carpool—an arrangement between people to travel together in a single vehicle—is a great way to save money, connect with coworkers and cut your carbon footprint, explains Sustainability Director Jennifer Kleindienst.

The Wesleyan Sustainability Office, in conjunction with CT Rides (a service of CT DOT), is hosting an Employee Commuter Event in February for Wesleyan faculty and staff. This will be a chance to meet other faculty and staff who live near you and potentially find a carpool buddy. CT Rides helps commuters find the best way to get to work or school and offers information and resources for travel options throughout Connecticut.

The event will take place from noon to 1 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 20, in Usdan 110. RSVP by Friday, Feb. 16, at bit.ly/ctridesrsvp. Contact Jen Kleindienst at jkleindienst@wesleyan.edu with any questions.

Juhasz Authors Eye Movement Study on Compound-Word Processing

Barbara Juhasz

An article by Barbara Juhasz, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, has been published in the January 2018 edition of the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. The study, titled “Experience with compound words influences their processing: An eye movement investigation with English compound words” appears in Issue 71, pages 103–12.

Recording eye movements, Juhasz explains, provides information on the time-course of word recognition during reading. Eye movements also are informative for examining the processing of morphologically complex words such as compound words.

In this study, Juhasz examined the time-course of lexical and semantic variables during morphological processing. A total of 120 English compound words that varied in familiarity, age-of-acquisition, semantic transparency, lexeme meaning dominance, sensory experience rating and imageability were selected.

The impact of these variables on fixation durations was examined when length, word frequency and lexeme frequencies were controlled in a regression model. Juhasz discovered that the most robust effects were found for familiarity and age-of-acquisition, indicating that a reader’s experience with compound words significantly impacts compound recognition. These results provide insight into semantic processing of morphologically complex words during reading.

In 2003, Juhasz and her former graduate mentor, Professor Keith Rayner, co-authored a related study on “Investigating the effects of a set of intercorrelated variables on eye fixation durations in reading,” published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition. This study examined the impact of five-word recognition variables, however focused on relatively short, morphologically simple words.

Juhasz’s new article is published in a special issue devoted to honoring Rayner, who passed away in 2015. Rayner, the Atkinson Family Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, San Diego, oversaw an Eyetracking Lab at the university.

“Keith was a very well-respected cognitive scientist who was a pioneer in using eye movements to study reading processes,” Juhasz said. “I’m honored that I could follow up on research that we worked on together more than a decade ago and have it published in this special issue.”

Khamis Co-Authors Article on Effects of Historical Labor Policies on Women

Melanie Khamis

Melanie Khamis

Melanie Khamis, assistant professor of economics and assistant professor of Latin American studies, has co-authored a new paper published in the December 2017 issue of Labour Economics. The paper, titled “Women make houses, women make homes,” examines the effects of historical labor market institutions and policies on women’s labor market outcomes.

To conduct the research, Khamis and her colleagues studied the “rubble women” of post–World War II Germany, who were subject to a 1946 Allied Control Council command that required women between the ages of 15 and 50 to register with a labor office and to participate in postwar cleanup and reconstruction.

The study showed that this mandatory employment had persistent longstanding adverse effects on German women’s overall participation in the labor market. Possible reasons for this include physical and mental exhaustion associated with the demanding manual labor involved in removing war debris; an increase in postwar marriage and fertility rates; and a reversion to traditional gender roles as men returned from war.

The findings highlight how important it is for countries—especially those recovering from conflict—to develop labor market institutions and policies that support women’s participation in the workforce. In addition, the paper concludes, “Our results also provide suggestive evidence that work-contingent income support programs may have limited positive effects on female future labor market outcomes and welfare dependency unless such policies are further backed up by the provision of quality child care and labor market institutions at large.”

Thayer, Galganov ’17, Stein ’17 Publish Article on Allosteric Signaling

A new article by Visiting Assistant Professor in Computer Science Kelly Thayer and students in her Spring 2017 Scientific Computing class is challenging conventional metrics used in allosteric signaling—the regulation of an enzyme by a binding molecule at a site other than the enzyme’s active site.

“What’s special about allostery is that a molecule called an allosteric effector binds at one location, and the change happens somewhere else,” Thayer explained. “What we were trying to understand was: How does that signal get across?”

2017–18 Employee Campaign Raises More Money Than in Previous Five Years

Wesleyan’s 2017–18 United Way Campaign capped off another successful year, posting the highest numbers—both in participation and in amount pledged—since 2012.

According to Campus Coordinator Paul Turenne, more than 400 Wesleyan employees, retired faculty and authorized vendors (including 38 “Leadership Givers” pledging $1,000 or more) participated. Together they donated a total of $122,150 in support of United Way programs in Middlesex County and throughout the state.

Contributing to this year’s increased giving was the implementation of lessons learned from previous years, including moving campaign dates earlier (Oct.1–31) in order to avoid competing with other fundraising initiatives and streamlining the donation process to ensure donors were being reached through the channels that made the most sense for them.

Paige’s Short Stories Published in Literary Magazines

Paula Paige, adjunct professor of romance languages and literatures, emerita, is the author of five short stories published in literary magazines in 2016-18. These include:

Flu Story” published in Newfound, Vol, 8, Issue 2, 2018. 

Daddy,” published in The Umbrella Factory, Issue 29, September 2017.

“Roman Ruins:  an Update on a Once Great Beauty,” published in Artes Magazine, May 26, 2017.

The Baby Sitter,” published by the Diverse Arts Project, August 2016.

Gluten and Other Abominations,” published by Sundress Publications, June 2016.

Paula Paige taught at Wesleyan for 30 years. She is the recipient of the 2010 Our Stories Gordon Award for her flash fiction piece “Mosiach is Here.” Most recently, she was shortlisted for Glimmer Train’s February 2014 Short Story Award for New Writers, and First Runner-up in Red Hen Press’s 2015 Short Story Award. Paige also has translated two 19th century Italian literary fiction pieces with Northwestern University Press.

Students Prepare for Final Exams, Winter Recess

On Dec. 11, Caroline Kravitz '19 studied for her HIST 203 Modern Europe exam at Exley Science Center. "My finals aren't until next Saturday, but I want to get a good head start," she said. "I like to study alone at first to prepare, but then I prefer to study in groups because you can learn so much more from your peers."

On Dec. 11, Caroline Kravitz ’19 studied for her HIST 203 Modern Europe exam at Exley Science Center. “My finals aren’t until next Saturday, but I want to get a good head start,” she said. “I like to study alone at first to prepare, but then I prefer to study in groups because you can learn so much more from your peers.”

This week, in preparation for final exams, hundreds of students are flooding Olin Library, Science Library, Exley Science Center, Usdan University Center and other quiet spots seeking an area to study in solitude, while others are collaborating with classmates in groups.

Undergraduate and graduate classes ended on Dec. 8. Reading Period was held Dec. 9-12 and final exams end at 5 p.m. Dec. 16.

University housing closes on Dec. 17 and re-opens on Jan. 23, 2018, and spring semester classes for Wesleyan undergraduates and graduates begins on Jan. 25. Graduate Liberal Studies courses begin on Jan. 29.

Contemporary Physics Class Takes Virtual Tour of World’s Largest Particle Accelerator

Foss Professor of Physics Tom Morgan (right) and his contemporary physics class enjoy a morning “virtual visit” to the CERN laboratory in Geneva, via Skype, with images of the Hadron Collider projected on a screen in Exley along with real-time conversations with physicists working there.

On Dec. 11, Foss Professor of Physics Tom Morgan invited his class, Introduction to Contemporary Physics, to join him in Exley Science Center for a virtual visit to the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, located in Geneva. With Senior Instructional Media Specialist Heric Flores-Rueda projecting images on a classroom screen through video conferencing, Morgan’s students enjoyed a real-time view of the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) laboratory and an on-screen peek inside the collider. Physicist Steven Goldfarb—a member of the team that discovered the Higgs Boson Particle—led the tour, explaining the experiments underway, as well as offering a question/answer period.

This course, a sophomore-level gateway to the physics major, is new to the department in this format, said Morgan, and slated to become part of the curriculum, due to its popularity. This semester five seniors, six juniors, six sophomores, and what Morgan calls “one lucky first-year student”—admitted after an interview—make up the class.

Wesleyan to Offer Second Annual ‘Hamilton Prize for Creativity’ to Recognize Outstanding Written Work by an Incoming Student

For a second consecutive year, Wesleyan will offer a four-year, full-tuition scholarship worth as much as $200,000 to the incoming student who submits a creative written work judged to best reflect the originality, artistry and dynamism embodied by the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Hamilton.

Submissions are due Jan. 1, 2018, the regular decision application deadline for Wesleyan’s Class of 2022. Learn more on this website.

The prize was established to honor alumni Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 and Thomas Kail ’99, who created and directed the hit broadway musical Hamilton. In 2016-17, the inaugural year of the Hamilton Prize, Wesleyan received over 600 creative entries, ranging from short stories to slam poetry, from screenplays to songs. The prize was awarded to Audrey Pratt of Needham, Mass., for her short piece of fiction titled, “Thorns, Black and White.” Read more about Pratt in the Wesleyan magazine and in The Boston Globe.

Ganbarg ’88 Co-Produces Another Grammy Nominee with Dear Evan Hansen

The Broadway cast recording of the Tony Award–winning musical Dear Evan Hansen earned a Grammy nomination for Best Musical Theater Album on Nov. 28. Produced with Atlantic Record’s President of A&R (artists and repertoire) Pete Ganbarg ’88, along with music supervisor and orchestrator Alex Lacamoire, creators Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and Broadway producer Stacey Mindich, the album had debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 when it came out last February.