Alumni who have met with success in the midterm elections include:
Democrat Alex Bergstein ’88, who won a Connecticut State Senate race;
Democrat Brian Frosh ’68, who won re-election as Maryland Attorney general;
Democrat Matt Lesser ’10, who prevailed in Connecticut’s State Senate race for the 9th district, which includes Middletown;
Democrat Amy Martin ’99 is judge-elect for the Texas District Court 263; and
Democrat Max Rose ’08, who won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from New York’s 11th Congressional District.
An article in the Greenwich Time quoted Bergstein, post-victory, as saying, “‘I am elated. I am humbled. I am grateful and I am so ready to serve.’ … Calling herself a ‘different kind of Democrat,’ Bergstein said she would work outside of Hartford’s two-party system.”
A News 12 story noted that Bergstein’s win was historic because “A Democrat has not represented Greenwich and New Canaan in the state Senate for 88 years.”
Wesleyan Freeman Asian Scholars gathered for group photos and dinner on Oct. 27.
The Freeman Asian Scholarship Program, now in its 24th year, provides expenses for a four-year course of study toward a bachelor’s degree for up to 11 exceptional students annually, one each from the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The Freeman Program was established in 1995 and supported scholars for 20 years through the generosity of the Freeman family—Mansfield Freeman ’16, P’43, Hon. ’79; Houghton Freeman ’43, P’77, Hon. ’93; Doreen Freeman P’77, Hon. ’03; and Graeme Freeman ’77.
Wesleyan continues to honor the Foundation’s legacy through this scholarship, which aims to improve understanding and strengthen ties between the United States and the countries and regions of the Pacific Rim. A number of early Wesleyan graduates were influential educators and ministers in Asian countries, and today Wesleyan has formal ties to several prominent universities in Asia.
Photos of the gathering are below: (Photos by Caroline Kravitz ’19)
Melanie Khamis, associate professor of economics and associate professor, Latin American studies, recently presented her paper, “Reversed Migration Trends and Local Labor Markets” at two meetings. She spoke at the North East Universities Development Consortium (NEUDC) at Cornell University on Oct. 27, and at the Kiessling Presentation, Economic Studies Division at The Brookings Institution on Oct. 16.
Khamis coauthored the paper with Emily Conover of Hamilton College and Sarah Pearlman of Vassar College. According to the abstract, the paper estimates the effects of the unprecedented decline in Mexican net migration from 2006 to 2012 on labor markets in Mexico, and finds that declines in migration can have an impact on labor markets in sending countries.
D.C. Public Defender Jeffrey Stein ’08 won the 2018 Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 28 with an official time of 2:22:49. (Photo courtesy Jeff Stein)
Jeffrey Stein ’08 had only one thing on his mind when he registered for the 43rd Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.—redemption.
After a wrong turn off-course a quarter mile into the race in 2017 landed him an 8th place finish and a trip to the hospital for heat stroke, Stein registered for the 2018 race with one overriding goal: “to reclaim a little bit of dignity.” He achieved his goal and more, surging ahead in the last 2 miles to finish first with an official time of 2 hours 22 minutes 49 seconds.
Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” In a new article, Professor of Government Mary Alice Haddad writes that the recent election of many pro-environment mayors was a promising sign for our country’s response to climate change. She describes the progress that cities in the U.S.—and around the world—have made in this area in recent years, at a time when the federal government is moving backwards. Haddad is also professor, environmental studies, and professor, East Asian studies.
Americans elected mayors who care about climate change
Being pro-environment was a winning strategy for this country’s mayors.
Twelve mayors in America’s 100 largest cities faced re-election battles during the 2018 midterms, and mayors – both Democrats and Republicans – who followed pro-environmental policies were rewarded. All six mayors who had demonstrated their commitment to the environment by signing the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy – including Stephen Adler of Austin, Texas, Greg Fischer of Louisville, Kentucky, and Libby Schaff of Oakland, California – won re-election. The other big city mayors in re-election battles weren’t so fortunate – two won, two lost, and two are facing runoffs.
Of course, voters consider many issues when they cast their ballot. It’s unlikely that the environment was the deciding issue in these races. However, mayors that prioritize the environment seem to be making changes in their cities that please constituents. The positive election results in 2018 were not an anomaly – all 15 mayors who signed the covenant and sought re-election in the last two years have been victorious at the ballot box, usually by large margins.
Mayors with pro-environmental agendas aren’t just popular. I believe they are an important part of the answer to the global challenge of climate change.
As a scholar of civil society and environmental policy – this is just one of the positive signs I see not just in American cities, but around the world.
Climate change is urgent
A month before the election, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its latest report about the risks associated with climate change. The news was bad. Our planet is now expected to reach a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase in average global temperatures as early as 2030. One billion people will regularly endure conditions of extreme heat. Sea levels will rise, exposing between 31 and 69 million people to flooding. Seventy to 90 percent of coral reefs will die. Fishery catches will decline by 1.5 million tons. And that is if we are lucky and keep the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which will not be easy.
As my colleague Gary Yohe reflected in a recent New York Timesarticle, “2 degrees is aspirational and 1.5 degrees is ridiculously aspirational.” At exactly a time when we need to become more ambitious in our efforts to tackle this global problem, the United States has pulled out of the Paris agreement and is dismantling many of its clean energy and other climate policies at home. One of my students recently expressed a common feeling of helplessness: “It makes me wonder if the best thing I can do is just go out in the backyard and compost myself.”
So, I’d like to say: There is hope. While the president of the United States may not be making much progress, many other people are. The election of pro-environment mayors and governors is one excellent sign.
Cities take the lead
A number of U.S. cities have gained global reputations for their innovative responses to the challenge of climate change.
San Francisco, which reduced its carbon emissions by 30 percent between 1990 and 2016, cemented its global leadership position by hosting the 2018 Climate Action Summit this past September, which gathered 4,500 leaders from local governments, nongovernmental organizations, and business together to address climate change. The summit resulted in numerous corporate and city commitments to become carbon neutral, as well as trillions of dollars of investment in climate action.
New York City reduced its emissions by 15 percent between 2005 and 2015. Its residents have a carbon footprint that is only one-third that of the average American. The mayor of the financial capital of the United States has also become a champion of oil divestment.
As in the U.S., global cities are also making significant progress on climate change. Tokyo reduced its energy consumption more than 20 percent between 2000 and 2015, with the industrial and transportation sectors making astounding 41 percent and 42 percent reduction respectively. By 2015, the city of London had reduced its emissions 25 percent since 1990, and 33 percent since peak emissions in 2000.
These cities are not waiting for presidents and prime ministers to act, they’re making changes right now that are improving the lives of the tens of millions of their own residents by improving air quality, reducing flooding risk, and expanding green space, all while helping to bend the global emissions curve downward.
On Oct. 31, Miles DeAngelis, a PhD candidate in biology, presented a graduate speaker series talk titled, “The Hippo Signaling Pathway acts as a novel regulator of morphogenesis.” DeAngelis’s advisor is Associate Professor of Biology Ruth Johnson, associate professor, integrative sciences.The field of morphogenesis aims to understand the biological processes that tell tissues how to organize into their life-supporting shapes. The Hippo signaling pathway is just one of these many processes. In the past, this pathway was thought to only regulate tissue size. DeAngelis’s work with Drosophila fruit flies suggests that in addition to regulating tissue size, the Hippo signaling pathway also regulates the patterning of pupal retina. The Graduate Speaker Series events are open to the entire Wesleyan community and include lunch. (Photos by Olivia Drake)
Delila Flores ’19 won Best Photo of Daily Life for her image titled “Machete Abuela,” taken in San Vicente, Puebla, México. “This is my bisabuela walking through the campo, the fields, where she uses her machete for her livelihood. She uses it to cut the weeds, to protect herself from the snakes, and as a walking stick. Despite being 92 years old, she is still a strong woman who has defended her land and taught her daughters, my abuela and my mamá to do the same,” Flores said.
This year, students shared global stories about humanity in 51 cities across 24 countries through the third annual Wes in the World photo contest.
Sponsored by the Fries Center for Global Studies, the contest is open to Wesleyan students who have had any global experience over the previous summer and/or previous semester. This includes study abroad returnees, international students, exchange students, fellowship recipients, and foreign language teaching assistants.
More than 200 students, staff, faculty, and alumni voted on the submissions within five categories: Contemporary Issues, Daily Life, Landscape, People, and Sport and Play.
“Our hope with these categories is to allow students to reflect on ways in which their global experience transcends borders by working towards peace and human rights, recognizing different realities of daily living, appreciating the wonderful landscapes of the earth, raising awareness about peoples and cultures outside of their ethnocentric lens, and connecting with others universally through sports and play,” said Kia Lor, assistant director of language and intercultural learning. “Students are not required to be professional photographers to participate. In fact, we are more interested in the stories behind the photographs than the camera or photo-editing software they used.”
Winners were announced during a ceremony at the Fries Center on Oct. 30.
Delila Flores ’19 won Best Photo of Daily Life; Romina Beltran ’22 won Best Photo of Contemporary Issues; Grant Hill ’20 won Best Photo of Landscape; Shariis Jeffrey ’19 won Best Photo of People; and Alice Ghislaine Musabe ’22 won Best Photo of Sport and Play.
The photo contest is held in conjunction with the Fries Center’s International Education Week celebration, held Nov. 11-17. The theme this year is “Transcending Borders” and events explore the complexities of “belonging” and how our sense of belongs transcends borders.
Romina Beltran ’22 won Best Photo of Contemporary Issues for her image titled “In the streets of Kolkata,” taken in Kolkata, India. “This photo represents an urban scenario in a capitalistic society in contrast with the elements of both nature and poverty,” Beltran explained.
Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, is the coauthor of two papers published Oct. 22 in the journals Fire and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, respectively.
Poulos lead-authored a paper on fire and plant evolutionary ecology titled, “Do Mixed Fire Regimes Shape Plant Flammability and Post-Fire Recovery Strategies?” Contrary to a new model assuming that plant species have evolved three divergent flammability strategies, Poulos and her fellow researchers present three case studies that indicate plant species have evolved “bet-hedging strategies” that mix a variety of flammability and post-fire recovery strategies.
“Working with a group of international scientists has really helped me in terms of thinking about global issues associated with fire, and also how humans can work together to create more sustainable landscapes,” Poulos said.
As an inaugural Onassis Foundation Teaching Fellow in Culture and Humanities, Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, the Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek, will have the opportunity to teach Greek history to incarcerated students through Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education (CPE).
Starting during the spring 2019 semester, Szegedy-Maszak will teach an adapted version of his Wesleyan course CCIV 231: Greek History to men at the Cheshire Correctional Institution.
“I was surprised and very honored when I heard that I was awarded the fellowship,” said Szegedy-Maszak. “This class will be a survey of ancient Greek civilization over about 1,000 years, from the Bronze Age to the death of Alexander the Great. It’s less about the memorization of facts than how to use sources—literary, archaeological, and artistic—to put together a narrative, and also how to think about a culture that had some similarities to, but many more differences from, our own.”
The Onassis Foundation established the fellowship with the aim of promoting Greek culture through expanded college course offerings in Greek philosophy, humanities, art, and politics. Through a partnership with the Bard Prison Initiative, Onassis invited partners from across the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison to apply for the titled, distinguished fellowship. Szegedy-Maszak was selected as one of two inaugural fellows.
Donning their Halloween costumes, children from Wesleyan’s Neighborhood Preschool parade down College Row on Oct. 31.
Children from Wesleyan’s Neighborhood Preschool (NPS) trick-or-treated on Wesleyan’s campus Oct. 31. The children, accompanied by their families and teachers, stopped at Exley Science Center, Olin Library, South College, and North College to trick-or-treat, sing songs, and show off their Halloween costumes. Many trick-or-treaters are the children of Wesleyan faculty and staff.
Wesleyan President Michael Roth and staff from University Communications offered candy to the children during the campus parade.
Photos of the NPS parade are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)
Wesleyan President Michael Roth and Viral Doshi spoke about the value of liberal arts education at an event in Mumbai, Oct. 22.
On Oct. 22, President Michael Roth held a public discussion in Mumbai, India, with leading education and career counselor Viral Doshi on the value of pursuing a liberal arts education. Nearly 90 people, including many alumni, parents, prospective students, and high school counselors, were in attendance.
Over the past decade, an increasing number of students from India are choosing to pursue higher education in the United States. Wesleyan has seen applications from India increase by 70 percent over the past 5 years.
At the event, Roth spoke about the educational experience offered by Wesleyan, while Doshi shared his perspective on and insights into current trends in higher education. He is the founder of Viral Doshi Associates, which provides students and young adults with services ranging from psychometric testing and mentoring to career and college planning.
“I am delighted to return to India to discuss the importance of liberal arts education in today’s culture and economy,” Roth said. “Wesleyan University has long had deep connections with India, and today our students who come from this country are contributing greatly to our dynamic campus. Now more than ever, a creative, bold, and rigorous liberal education equips our graduates for lifelong learning and productive careers.”
Steve Stemler, associate professor of psychology, participated in the High Value Talents and Innovators’ Entrepreneurship Retreat Oct. 26-27 on campus. The new industry-academic initiative, supported by the CTNext Higher Education Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fund works to increase entrepreneurial education and output among the state’s top researchers. The event was sponsored by Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship.
Stemler joined faculty and researchers from the University of Connecticut, Unilever, Quinnipiac University, and The Jackson Laboratory at the retreat. Stemler attended the retreat to learn how his research on testing could have potential real-world applications. He also had many students come up with projects in his Psychological Measurement course that could result in important commercial ventures.
Activities included a combination of instructor talks, attendee presentations, active interactions between participants, and a customer discovery, where participants explored potential product-market fit and a wider business model. Faculty received targeted training modules to help attract and retain high-value researchers and were encouraged to engage in Connecticut’s growing innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. The goal of the initiative is to increase the number of successful ventures coming out of universities in the state; launch new products and/or business lines with corporate partners; attract investment and partnership deals for these startups and products; and improve the entrepreneurial ecosystems at these institutions to better attract and retain researchers.
“One thing I took away from the retreat is that as researchers we often get very excited about our own technological/research innovations and assume that people will immediately understand how it fills a need they have,” Stemler said. “I learned that in business ventures, you have to start by really understanding the needs of the people you think will be your potential customers. To do that, it is critically important to interview and really listen to a whole lot of people whom you think will be most interested in your innovation. What I found is that when we engage in that process, we often find that people we thought would find our innovation appealing actually have very different needs. But we can also walk away with more refined ideas for how to apply our innovation, practically communicate about it in a way that resonates with their needs, and which segments of the market will find our innovations useful and which will not.” (Photos by Preksha Sreewastav ’21)