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Registrar Makes Enrollment Process Easier for Students, Faculty


 
Registrar Anna van der Burg stands outside the registrar’s windows in North College where she helps students answer questions about class enrollment.
 
Posted 04/15/05

Not long ago, all Wesleyan students returning to campus each semester had to participate in Enrollment Day. This meant hours of waiting in lengthy lines snaking through the lobby of the Exley Science Center. If they wanted to drop or add a class, students would have to chase down professors and their advisor to sign the drop/add slip. Students would carry this slip over to the registrar’s office, again waiting in long lines for a staff member to type the course selections into the computer system.

That’s how it was five years ago.

Now students can enroll in the university and drop or add classes via the Internet, 24 hours a day thanks in part to Anna van der Burg and the Office of the Registrar.

“By automating these processes, we are saving the students, staff and faculty time and money, and since it’s all done on computers, we might be saving some trees too,” Registrar van der Burg says. “What used to be done on paper and in person, and had the chance for errors, can now be done quickly and accurately and any time of the day.”

van der Burg, who came to Wesleyan in 2000, has facilitated meetings with her staff, academic deans, class deans, the staff in Information Technology Services and other members of the Wesleyan community to implement these changes. In some cases she’s held open forums to come up with final solutions for projects.

Students favor the online technologies in lieu of standing in long lines.

“We’re moving into an age where students expect to do things online,” van der Burg says. “They’ve been dealing with technology practically since their infancy.”

The drop/add system allow students and faculty to view class enrollments online in real-time. That way, students who want to add a class can see if a particular class is still open. Meanwhile, faculty can see how their classes are filling up.

“Students and faculty operate at different times of the day, so this system is convenient to them both,” she says. “This saves students a lot of time and running around tracking down their professors for signatures.”

So far, the new system has been “incredibly successful,” says Karen Anderson, assistant dean of the Graduate Liberal Studies Program.

“Anna has been very instrumental in developing and streamlining these new systems, and the new technologies are very effective,” Anderson says. “She has a vision, and she is always working toward the next innovation.

Technology changes are only one aspect of van der Burg’s job. The Office of the Registrar is also the official recording agency for the University and therefore is the keeper of historical information such as class lists, transcripts, other student and enrollment data. In addition, the Honors Program is coordinated by the office, located on the first floor of North College.

With her staff of 10, van der Burg also oversees the publication of the annual University Course Catalog and the administrative applications in the student and faculty portfolios. The catalog includes academic regulations, degree requirements, academic standing, general regulations and advanced degrees in addition to major requirements and course offerings and descriptions.

Dealing with legal issues, such as keeping students record confidential, are also on her slate. Anderson says she’ll call van der Burg with any questions relating to student records or policies.

“When we ever have a question about any issues regarding student records, we just ask Anna, and she can rattle off the answer immediately,” she says. “She is very attentive to university policies. She knows them like the back of her hand.”

Much of her day is spent answering questions via e-mail, phone or in person.  She also meets with class deans on a weekly basis.

“Sometimes I have to interact with some very upset students,” she says. “Some of them don’t understand that I don’t have the power to put someone in a class, but by the time they leave my office, usually I have helped them to understand this and I direct them to their class dean or advisor who can help work out an alternative.”

Oh, and she also doesn’t have the power to alter transcripts.

“I have been asked that before,” she says, smiling.

van der Burg, a native of Oostvoorne, The Netherlands, first came to America at the age of 6 weeks old. Her father took up a job with Uniroyal in Patterson, N.J. and later Detroit, Mich. When Anna was 10, the family moved back to Europe and Anna attended schools in Germany and Luxemburg before graduating high school back in her native country. She returned to the America for college, earning her bachelor’s of art in art history from the College of Wooster in Ohio. There, she met her husband-to-be, Andrew Saslow, and moved to Connecticut where his family lived.

“And I’ve been here ever since,” she says.

van der Burg started at Yale University in the library system. That got her working on computers, and later she started programming. This skill led her onwards into the Registrar’s Office, in total she spent 22 years at Yale. Then in 2000, she got a call from her friend, Steve Machuga, director of administrative systems in Information Technology Services. 

“He told me Wesleyan had a registrar’s position open, but I was already very happy doing what I was doing at Yale,” van der Burg says.  “Then I got this call from the associate provost, Billy Weitzer, and, well, by the time of interview, I was already convinced that Wesleyan would be a good move, and it sure has been.”

van der Burg lives in Cheshire with her husband and boys Nate, 17, and Jake, 15. The boys are members of the Cheshire Football team so the family spends ample time at games.  In her spare time, she enjoys working out at the Freeman Athletic Center, reading, listening to “all kinds” of music, gardening, playing with her cat and dog, and rooting for the New York Giants. And bashfully, van der Burg admits that she’s a “huge fan” of pop-TV show “American Idol.”

“I think it’s going to be Bo, the rocker, who wins this season,” she predicts.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

$800,000 Grant to Benefit Computer Sciences


A new grant will expand emphasis on computer science instruction and resources.
 
Posted 04/15/05

An $800,000 Mellon Foundation grant will allow the Mathematics and Computer Sciences departments at Wesleyan University, Connecticut College and Trinity College to collaborate on a new cost and resource sharing arrangement, expand the departments’ curricula and provide incentives for more computer science faculty to work in a liberal arts setting.

The grant will fund the hiring of four post-doctoral fellows in computer science who will develop new courses, seminars and workshops. While each fellow will be employed by a “home” institution, all four will provide instruction and collaborate with colleagues at the three participating academic institutions. This will include on-site instruction and the simultaneous teaching of courses at the institutions through video conferencing.

The grant also focuses on providing resources for the recruitment, mentoring and training of women and underrepresented students in computer sciences. Methods will include faculty and peer mentoring, workshops and programs on career and research opportunities, and the creation and distribution of materials aimed at interesting nontraditional students to enroll in introductory computer science courses.

Wesleyan University, Connecticut College and Trinity College have enjoyed a long tradition of academic collaboration known as the CTW Consortium, which includes sharing instructional technology and library service resources. In recent years, the Mellon Foundation has also awarded grants to the CTW Consortium to sponsor a computer sciences joint colloquium and to build on existing shared resources to improve the curricula of all three member institutions.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is a private foundation that makes grants on a selective basis to institutions in higher education, museums, and art conservation, performing arts, population, conservation and the environment and public affairs.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations with Eric Cárdenas, Connecticut College

Assistant Professor Studies Brooklyn Neighborhoods


 
Henry Goldschmidt, assistant professor of religion and society, joined the Religion Department in 2004.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Henry Goldschmidt joined the faculty in the Religion Department as an assistant professor of religion and society. Goldschmidt completed his undergraduate work at Wesleyan in 1991, and earned his Ph.D at the University of California Santa Cruz in 2000.

His dissertation, which he is currently revising for publication, focuses on Jewish identities and Black-Jewish differences in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights, a neighborhood known for its history of conflict between Lubavitch Hasidic Jews and their predominantly Afro-Caribbean neighbors. The manuscript is titled “Race, Religion and Other Differences among the Chosen Peoples of Crown Heights.”

Goldschmidt, born and raised in Brooklyn, said his research in Crown Heights reflects an interest in the relationships between racial and religious identities, and, more broadly, in critical theories of collective identity.

“My work has been focused in Jewish studies and American religion, but I’m also very interested, to say the least, in Brooklyn,” he says. “I’m a Brooklynite and a Brooklynist. When I finish my research on Crown Heights, I’d like to do research with Jews and others who left Brooklyn in the 50s, 60s and 70s – the Brooklyn Diaspora.”

Goldschmidt says he wanted to return to his alma mater after receiving a “fabulous education” here as an undergraduate. The Religion Department also drew him back.

“The innovative and interdisciplinary religion department attracted me, which is built around the social and critical analysis of religion,” he says.

Last year, Goldschmidt co-edited a collection of essays with Elizabeth McAlister, associate professor of religion and African American studies, titled “Race, Nation and Religion in the Americas,” published by Oxford University Press in 2004. Another essay, titled “Food Fights: Contesting ‘Cultural Diversity’ in Crown Heights” was published in a collection of anthropological research on American politics called “Local Actions: Cultural Activism, Power and Public Life in America.”

Goldschmidt lives in Brooklyn with his wife Jillian Shagan and two cats, Junior and Cleo.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Assistant Professor Researches Theories of Rhythm and Meter


 
Yonatan Malin, assistant professor of music, came to Wesleyan in in August 2004. He learned to play piano as an undergraduate.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Yonatan Malin joined the faculty in the Music Department as an assistant professor in August 2004. Malin instructs classes on music theory and analysis and the history of western music, including the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods.

Prior to coming to Wesleyan, Malin taught music at the University of Colorado. He completed his undergraduate work at Harvard University and earned his Ph.D. is from the University of Chicago. His dissertation is on “Metric Dissonance and Music-Text Relations in the German Lied,” and his primary areas of research include German Lied, Romanticism, relations between music and text, and theories of rhythm and meter. Malin is also interested theories of metaphor, and traditions of Jewish liturgical chant.

“Wesleyan attracted me because of the quality of the students. I have found them to be bright, engaged, and open,” he says. “Wesleyan also attracted me because of the range of musical activities in the department and on campus. And finally, Wesleyan attracted me because of the quality of the faculty, in the music department and throughout the university.”

Malin recently presented a paper at the meeting of the Society for Music Theory, on “Metric Analysis and the Metaphor of Energy: A Way into Selected Songs by Schumann, Wolf, and Schoenberg.”

A review of a book on Schumann’s Dichterliebe is coming out soon in the journal “Music Theory Spectrum.”

Malin lives in Middletown, with his wife Diana Lane, and two daughters Avivah, 5, and Sarah, 8 months. Aside from music, Malin enjoys hiking, skiing and being outdoors with his family.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Energy Specialist Always on Lookout for Ways to Cut Energy Usage


Phil Cotharin, temperature controls mechanic/energy management specialist, examines a variable frequency drive that controls the neighboring air handling unit in the Exley Science Center. The system significantly reduces energy waste.
Posted 03/31/05

Use less. Get more.

That’s how Phil Cotharin, temperature controls mechanic/energy management specialist, is helping Wesleyan save thousands a year by slashing energy usage. In an agreement finalized February 17, Connecticut Light & Power Company has agreed to pay Wesleyan a $27,450 incentive for keeping energy usage down.

“When Wesleyan uses less energy, CLPC can produce less energy, and it won’t have to build another power plant to service the community,” Cotharin says from his office, located in the basement of the Exley Science Center.

Cotharin started researching ways to lower energy cost last year by running an energy audit on the east side of Olin Memorial Library. The audit measured kilowatts used by a single air handling unit, which moves and conditions the air in the building.

“What I found is that the unit was running at 80 percent of its efficiency 24 hours a day,” Cotharin says. “So I figured, after midnight, why don’t we bring it down to 40 percent and have it running back at 80 percent at 7 in the morning.”

This formula conserves energy, but has little effect on the library’s temperature.

The simple idea has opened up many complex energy studies campus-wide. Cotharin is now devoting his career to finding ways to cut energy costs in all campus facilities.

“It is feasible to say that, in five years, Wesleyan could save half-a-million dollars a year if we apply this formula to all buildings,” Cotharin says. “It’s my goal and I don’t see why this is not obtainable.”

The numbers are already speaking for themselves. Cotharin discovered that the Exley Science Center will save $21,478 a year on its electric bill by running air units 1,584 fewer hours a year. Normally, the 13 air handling units would run 24 hours a day.

“Why should we run these things at a full work load when people aren’t inside, using the building,” Cotharin says. “Any piece of electrical equipment needs to be questioned. Do I need to leave that on or can I shut it off. It will all add up in the end.”

Cotharin encourages the installations of high-tech variable frequency drives (VFDs), which control air handling units by varying electric motor speed, significantly reducing energy waste. Most of Wesleyan’s building are equipped with pneumatic motor driven systems, set to operate at full speed, 24 hours a day. 

So far, Hall-Atwater, the Science Library, the Center for Fine Arts’ dance studios, Cinema Archives, Fisk Hall, the Center for Film Studies and the Freeman Athletic Center are heated and cooled with VDF systems.

Although these controls are pricey, they generate tangible benefits quickly. The Science Center’s units will pay for themselves in savings within the next three years.

“This one just celebrated its one month birthday,” Cotharin says, patting the side of a new unit in the basement of the science center. “This is state-of-the-art energy management.”

Cotharin and other employees of the Physical Plant can access climate control data of any building on campus 24 hours a day by computer. An energy-control program features schematics of every floor of every building, and can pin-point temperatures of any room at any time.

“Say I get a call from Hall-Atwater and they say room 140 is too hot, so I just look on here,” Cotharin says, clicking on a floor plan of Hall-Atwater. “I see that it is 76 degrees and the heating vent’s valve is closed, so I know there is a problem there. The data gathering information of this program is phenomenal. It’s just an invaluable piece of equipment.”

Cotharin and Gene Payne, heating and ventilation air conditioning utility mechanic, say all Wesleyan employees and students can do their part to conserve energy. By simply setting a building’s summer temperature at 76 degrees rather than 74 degrees on a 90-degree summer day, energy use is significantly reduced.

“You come here and work, but don’t tend to think about these things,” Payne says.

Cotharin and Payne are big supporters of the new Fauver Field Residence Complex, due to open in Fall 2005. Students currently housed in the approximately 140 wood-framed homes near campus are wasting the most energy.

“Most of these students are here to get an education and don’t think about things like conserving energy, and they won’t until they’re paying the bills out of their back pocket,” Payne says. “Wesleyan has such a diverse group of people from all different places and they’re not accustomed to New England climates, and they’ll turn their heat up to 76 or higher all winter. What a waste of energy.”

Cotharin says everyone on campus should be most aware of their energy usage during August and September when Wesleyan reaches its peak kilowatt demand. CLPC will issue a demand charge for this usage, in addition to a monthly service charge and kilowatt-per-hour energy charge.

“If we have a kilowatt demand level of 3.1 and we get a heat wave and everyone turns on their air conditioning and everything is sucking energy, our demand level might go up to 3.7 and we’ll get very high bills,” Cotharin says. “The whole target of my job is to keep us from going above that number and keeping Wesleyan’s total kilowatt usage down.”

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Ways to Save

Phil Cotharin, temperature controls mechanic/energy management specialist, advises Wesleyan students and employees to save energy where they can. Students and employees can contact Physical Plant at 685-3400 with any energy-saving suggestions, or to report any energy-wasting appliances (i.e. leaks or running toilets). “We’re not working or living in these places, so if we don’t know about it, we can’t fix it,” Cotharin says.

Here are some of Cotharin’s suggestions:

Employees 

Turn off lights when out of the office

Turn off computer monitors and shut down laptops

Use less hot water

Don’t use electric fans or space heaters

Shut coolers off during weekends and breaks

Set a reasonable work environment temperature

Dress warmer or cooler to rely less on heating and air conditioning

Turn fume hoods off in science center when not in use

Students

Turn of lights

Install energy efficient light bulbs

Use electrical timers that shut lights off automatically

Keep windows shut and locked during cold months

Install water-saving shower heads in homes

Report any dripping faucets or running toilets

Turn off refrigerators and coolers during breaks

Have housemates agree on reasonable temperature

 

Assistant Professor Receives NSF Grant


 
Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Manju Hingorani researches pathways that lead to carcinogenesis.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Manju Hingorani recently earned an award totaling more than $571,700 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for research on pathways leading to carcinogenesis, including the development of colon, rectal, stomach, and ovarian cancers.

The five-year grant will specifically fund the research of Hingorani’s laboratory focuses on the workings of proteins responsible for DNA mismatch repair with the long-term goal of understanding how defects in repair are linked to many forms of cancers.

“I am tremendously grateful to the National Science Foundation for its strong commitment to basic science research and education, especially in this time of constrained budgets,” says Hingorani.

Hingorani earned the award thanks to the NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program. This program recognizes the critical roles faculty members play in integrating research and education, and in fostering the natural connections between the processes of learning and discovery.

To date, eight Wesleyan University faculty members have received this award including Hingorani, Assistant Professor of Astronomy Kathryn Johnston, Professor of Physics Reinhold Blumel and Associate Professors of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Scott Holmes and Michael McAlear.

Hingorani plans to use the funds to support graduate and undergraduate research projects in her laboratory, and to develop innovative courses on science writing and on science documentary filmmaking in collaboration with faculty from Wesleyan’s Department of Film Studies.

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of media relations

NASA Awards Wesleyan Astronomer Major Grant


 
Astronomy Professor William Herbst studies the star, KH 15D. Pictured are images of KH 15D out of eclipse (left) and in eclipse (right) as taken from Wesleyan’s observatory.
 
Posted 03/31/05
It’s 3 million years old and 2,400 light years away, but a distant star discovered by Wesleyan researchers has given insight into how our solar system may have formed. NASA wants to know more, and has given William Herbst almost a quarter of a million dollars to keep looking.
 
This month NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) awarded Wesleyan Professor of Astronomy William Herbst a $216,000 grant to continue his studies of the star, KH 15D, and other emerging stars and their possible link to the creation of our solar system.
 
The grant for Herbst’s proposal titled “Synoptic Studies of T Tauri Stars in Nearby Clusters and Associations” will span three years. It was approved by NASA’s Origins of Solar Systems Program and is one of only 39 proposals of the 94 submitted that received funding.
 
“NASA is particularly interested in this work because they want to find planets that may support life,” says Herbst, the Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy, chair of the Astronomy Department and director of the Van Vleck Observatory. “As far as we know, life can only get started on a planet. Understanding how these types of planets form can help us pinpoint where they may exist and when the conditions for the creation of life first occur.”   Three years ago, Herbst reported how KH 15D, a star in the constellation Monoceros that he and graduate student Kristin Kearns discovered, and that physics Ph.D. candidate Catrina Hamilton further helped identify, seemed to displaying the early stages of planet formation. KH 15D was periodically going through “winking” eclipses, determined by Herbst to be he swirling waves of rock and dust clouds typical of early planet formation. The discovery sent excitement through the astronomical community. He continues to study KH 15D and other young stars looking for more clues.   “Wesleyan has been recognized as a world leader in monitoring these young stars,” Herbst says proudly. “And we are able to do many of our observations using our own observatory on campus.”   Herbst also notes that in the awarding of the grant, the officials at NASA went out of their way to applaud the way undergraduates have been involved in the studies. Specifically, the reports says Herbst “is to be commended for his extensive work in student training, where he has done a first rate job in engaging undergraduates in research and launching them along productive career paths.”
 
“Involving undergraduates in the research is not required for the grant. In fact it’s pretty atypical for this level of research,” Herbst says, then smiles. “But it is what we do here at Wesleyan. I was glad NASA made note of it. It’s a part of our program that we are very proud of.”

Related resource: Animation of KH 15D.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Red & Black Cafe Donates 1% to Financial Aid


 
Posted 03/31/05

The next time you grab a bite to eat or enjoy a drink at the Red & Black Café, you’ll also be helping students in need at Wesleyan.

Ed Thorndike, Jr. ’89 and Karen Kaffen-Polascik, owners of Wes Wings and Red & Black Cafe, will donate 1 percent of their gross sales from Red & Black Cafe to support financial aid through the Wesleyan Annual Fund (WAF).

“This is something we’ve really been wanting to do,” says Thorndike. “I contacted University Relations and we were able to set it up and make it work. It’s really gratifying to know that this money will be going to help Wesleyan students in need.”

Their intention is to give semi-annually in May and January.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Assistant Director of Residential Life Helps Students Find Comfortable Place to Live, Study, Socialize


 
Rich DeCapua, assistant director of Residential Life, lounges in the newly-remodeled Clark Hall.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Q: Were you hired in as assistant director of Residential Life in 2002?

A: I was originally an area coordinator for Clark Hall and Foss Hill, and I was then promoted to assistant director at the end of my first year. This is my third year at Wesleyan, and I’m enjoying every minute of it!

Q: What attracted you to Wesleyan?

A: Well, I was looking for a place where I knew I could be successful professionally, but would also be challenged. The nature of our student body and the quality of our student services staff has really made working here a wonderful experience. I especially liked the fact that the campus was starting to renovate existing residence halls and had plans for new ones. That is hard for anyone to not be a part of. Also, the issues that our campus faces collectively usually comprise subjects that would be taboo at other places. I feel here that students, staff, and faculty have the ability to really discuss valid issues on this campus in an honest and open way.

Q: How did you get into this type of work?

A: I graduated from Quinnipiac University with a B.A. in psychology and sociology and then received my master’s of education from Springfield College in student affairs administration. I’m currently working on my doctorate in educational leadership. The biggest reason why I became involved in Residential Life as a career was my experience as a resident advisor. In my early college days I was a communications major hoping to be on ESPN one day — I wanted to broadcast Red Sox games — but the whole world of student affairs lured me away. After I made my decision to change majors I never looked back.

Q: What factor can a living arrangement play in a student’s academic success?

A: Who students live with impacts everything. Where a student resides is the place where they get their sleep, where they probably study and create their social circles.

Q: How does Residential Life go about providing students with resources and direction needed to be academically successful at Wesleyan?

A: My office tries to make sure that when roommate problems occur that we are dealing with them quickly and effectively. We also have many resources for students such as their resident advisor, house manager or head resident; these are student peers employed by our office who are extensively trained to handle conflict resolution and roommate issues. Residential Life also has five Area Coordinators; professional staff who have advanced degrees in counseling or student services administration that supervise all the student staff in a particular area and will resolve all sorts of problems or issues in their area. My office knows that if a student resides in a good residential environment, we are creating a place where they can be academically successful.

Q: How do you determine their housing and roommates?

A: I meet with students on a fairly regular basis, usually relating to housing assignments or the room selection process. We house all first year students by the preferences they submit to our office in May via an on-line process. We give first-year students roommates based on similar housing preferences. All continuing students receive housing through the General Room Selection Process. This process is based on student seniority at Wesleyan through a ranking system, giving all seniors the first pick of housing, then juniors, etc. Students self-select their roommates.

Q: What are students’ housing options?

A: Oh that’s a big question. Undergraduate students can live in a variety of housing options including traditional style residence halls, program houses, apartments, or senior house. Their options range so that they can live by themselves or up to six people, so there are a lot of configurations students can put themselves in to get a good place to live. Graduate students really have two choices. They can live in either a group house — a one person single in a house with other grad students — or a family house, which is obviously for those grad students who have a partner or children or both.

Q: Please explain what Program Housing is.

A: Program Housing is tremendously important asset to Residential Life at Wesleyan. It consists of 25 houses on campus that all have different missions; these can be spiritual, religious, cultural, or academic. Each year my office sponsors a very competitive application process as part of general room selection to apply to these houses. There are almost 300 students who live in this programmatic housing option and its one of the things that makes Wesleyan so unique.

Q: What is the role of a resident advisor?

A: RAs are student staff members who have a wide variety of duties; some of these include being on duty, planning programs for their residents, and creating an overall positive community in their residential area.  But the most important role an RA plays is that they are a doorway to campus services for their residents. Many offices on campus whose main objective is to help students in some important way like Behavioral Heath, their class dean, or health education hear about students issues from the RA staff. They are the ones who really dissolve the line between students and administrators and are vital to continued success of the Residential Life program.

Q: Take me through a typical day here.

A: Everyday is truly something different and it’s always interesting. Even though the nature of my job includes a lot of computer work, students are always coming in asking questions about assignments or different housing options. Since we’re in the midst of room selection I’m meeting with many students daily.

Q: What are your personal hobbies or interests?

A: I am an avid runner and I’ve ran many races in the past couple of years. The highlight has been running the Boston Marathon in 2002. Also, being raised in Boston I am a sports nut and these past couple of years have been great. There’s nothing better than beating the Yankees!  My wife and I try to get to as many Sox and Patriots games as I can. She is a registered nurse at New Britain General Hospital. 

Q: Do you have any children?

A: We’re expecting our first child next month which is tremendously exciting.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Director of Scientific Imaging Scopes out the Microscopic


 
Jeff Gilarde, director of Scientific Imaging, helps students and faculty members use Wesleyan’s newest confocal microscope inside the Advanced Instrumentation Center.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Jeff Gilarde loves to scope out new research. But to explore his big ideas, he has to look small.

As the Biology Department’s director of Scientific Imaging, Gilarde spends his days looking through the lab’s five microscopes. He also assists faculty and students with their microscopic research inside the Advanced Instrumentation Center, located under the pathway between Hall-Atwater Laboratory and Shanklin.

“Look, these are liver cells,” he says, pointing out a cell’s image, glowing through a transmission electron microscope, or TEM. “Do you see the nucleus?”

The lights are off, and Gilarde explains how electrons are shot down through the scope’s vertical column and are scattered through the sample, mounted on a 1/8-inch circular copper grid. The result is a clear, two-dimensional image magnified 15,000 times.

This is one microscope Gilarde is extremely familiar with. Prior to coming to Wesleyan in 1984, he worked for Yale University as a microscopist in the Department of Pathology. There, he used a similar scope to examine segments of liver, kidney or lung for autopsies.

“It was kind of icky at first, but I got used to it,” he says.

Gilarde’s favorite, most commonly used – and most expensive – microscope uses lasers to illuminate specimens under the Zeiss LSM 510 confocal scope. This high-tech machine came to Wesleyan in 1999 at the price of $259,000, funded in part from a National Science Foundation grant. It has the ability to magnify objects more than 400 times and produces crisp, colorful multi-dyed images. Many of these images have been published in a variety of scientific journals.

Another microscope that receives extensive use is the scanning electron microscope, known as a SEM. The SEM creates detailed three-dimensional images by bouncing and collecting electrons instead of light waves. Some SEM images are even making their way on TV through programs like CSI.

This scope is often used to examine micro-fossils, rocks and even brain tissue. Physics students have used the scope to examine heat-treated metal.

“You know those nature shows that show the ant head close up or the Gillette commercials that show the stubble sliced close to his face? Those were made on an SEM like this,” Gilarde explains.

At most universities, undergraduate students would not have access to an SEM, Gilarde says. But at Wesleyan, undergrads use the all the microscopes regularly. One biology student is currently using the SEM to count chambers in moths’ wings. Other students are using the microscope to examine sediment core samples taken from the ocean as part of Associate Professor Suzanne O’Connell’s earth and environmental sciences classes. Students also have identified surface features on quartz grains that have been transported by glaciers under the scopes. 

“Jeff is always accessible and willing help students learn how to use the equipment,” says O’Connell, chair of the Earth and Environmental Sciences department.

Gilarde also oversees a Zeiss Axioplan florcent microsope and “babysits” two mammoth nuclear magnetic resonance machines in the lab. Step past the danger sign and anything magnetic will be erased, Gilarde warns.

On a marble counter top, among shelves of chemical dyes and powders, there are also a traditional light microscope.

“I still get a lot of use out of that one,” he says. “We use it for low magnification quality control of samples before we go to the big scope.”

Gilarde has put his knowledge to use beyond the center, he served as the president and vice president of the Connecticut Microscopy Society, and he sat on the nomination board for the Microscopy Society of America.

He also co-instructs BIOL 344, Biology Structure, with Professor of Biology Jason Wolfe, teaching students the theory, methods and interpretation of cellular structure by using scanning electron microscopy, fluorescent immunocytochemistry and confocal microscopy.

Gilarde, who holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Connecticut, and a master’s degree in liberal studies from Wesleyan, is a member of Wesleyan’s Local Emergency Planning Committee. He’s also received certification by the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety, also known as HazMat, to handle certain types of hazardous materials emergencies.

Gilarde and his wife, Lisa, live in Cobalt with their 9-year-old twins, Alec and Graham, and 6-year-old daughter, Camille. When he’s not busy spending time with his family, this shade tree mechanic races his self-customized 1995 BMW M-3 at speeds up to 150 mph around Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn.

 “Cars have been my passion for years,” he says, pointing out a racing plaque he earned for placing in the top 10 in a recent BMW Car Club of America race at Lime Rock.

Gilarde’s other hobby is a bit fishy. Along with Biology Department Lab Coordinator and officemate Bruce Libman, Gilarde cares for saltwater aquariums, raising coral.

Libman, who has worked with Gilarde for six years, says Gilarde has bonded with many students over his 20 years at Wesleyan.

“All the grad students love him because he doesn’t pretend to be above or below them,” Libman says. “He makes sure they get the best possible pictures with the confocal, there is no “good enough.”

Gilarde, who is also Wesleyan’s assistant golf coach, leads construction projects for Habitat for Humanity of Horry County during vacations to South Carolina four times a year. For the past 15 years, he has also taken to the slopes as a volunteer for Skiers Unlimited. The organization’s members team up with physically challenged patients from the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford. To date, Gilarde’s taught more than 30 children, including one young man with only one leg, to ski comfortably.

“One of them is now skiing all by himself, and he can go faster than I can,” Gilarde says, pointing out another prized skiing photo of Matt, using a walker on the slopes.

“I want to leave the world a better place. That’s my mission in life.”

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Cruz-Saco to Become Dean of the College at Wesleyan


Maria Cruz-Saco will become dean of the college.
 
Posted 03/31/05

Maria A. Cruz-Saco, interim dean of the college at Connecticut College, will become dean of the college at Wesleyan University on July 18.

Wesleyan’s dean of the college is responsible for the programs and services that support student learning and development. The office of the dean encompasses the class deans, the Office of Residential Life, student and behavioral health services, the Office of Student Activities, the Office of Community Service, the chaplains, and the new Usdan University Center. The dean serves as a member of the university’s senior staff.

“This is a moment of unusual opportunity,” says President Doug Bennet. “We are thinking afresh about how we link students’ academic experiences with their lives in the community and about how we can take full advantage of the diversity of student experience as a resource for learning. Wesleyan is also strengthening our residential life and student programming  in concert with the addition of new housing and the Usdan University Center. Maria Cruz-Saco will provide strong leadership in all these areas, and we welcome her to Wesleyan.”

Cruz-Saco is an economist and expert in social protection and the reform of social security systems with a regional emphasis in Latin America and the Caribbean. She has authored three books, co-edited one, and contributed many articles and chapters to professional journals and books. She earned her B.A. at the Universidad del Pacífico in Lima, Peru, in 1979 and her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Pittsburgh in 1983.

She is a full professor of economics at Connecticut College.

Cruz-Saco has served as interim dean at Connecticut College since July 2003. She joined the college in 1990 and held leadership positions including chair of the economics department, chair of the Priorities, Planning and Budget Committee, member of the Grievances Committee, and member of the faculty steering committee of the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy. In 2002-03, she chaired the Presidential Commission on a Pluralistic Community charged with delineating the college’s vision for a multicultural experience and inclusive excellence. 

As interim dean, Cruz-Saco led an internal self-study of her division in comparative perspective, redrafted its vision, mission and goals and designed an action plan for 2004-2006. Under her leadership, the Dean of the College division produced a student quality of life report, concluded and implemented the results of a self-assessment of the Multicultural Center, secured an increase in the operational budget for pluralistic initiatives and supported the creation of a peer-mentoring pilot.

“Professor Maria Cruz-Saco has been a leader in strengthening the entire educational program at Connecticut College,” says Connecticut College President Norman Fainstein. “In 2002-03 she chaired a presidential commission on creating a genuinely pluralistic community. As interim dean of the college, she has continued to support efforts to improve equity and diversity, to further student achievement, and to better integrate the curricular and co-curricular sides of the college. She has worked closely with students, faculty and staff to establish a collegial climate and institutional structure where students can truly put the liberal arts into action as citizens in a global society. Her enthusiasm, energy, and intellect will be sorely missed.”

“I look forward to joining the Wesleyan community and to being a part of this vibrant and engaged campus,” says Cruz-Saco. “Wesleyan offers an extraordinary liberal arts education, and I feel fortunate that I will contribute to the continued excellence of student life and development.”

Billy Weitzer, senior associate provost and dean of continuing studies at Wesleyan, will continue in his role as acting dean of student academic services during Cruz-Saco’s transition. The role of dean of student academic services was established as part of a reorganization of the dean of the college office led by Wesleyan’s interim dean, Peter Patton.

 
By Justin Harmon, director of University Communications

Davison Curator has Life-Long Interest in Art


 
Clare Rogan, curator of the Davison Art Center, looks over “Self-Portrait in Profile,” sketched by German artist Kathe Kollwitz in 1927. The piece is included in “A Passion for Prints” on exhibit through May 22.
 
Posted 03/31/.05

Q: You started here on February 14th. What attracted you to the university?

A: I was attracted to the position of curator at the Davison Art Center because it is a wonderful combination of museum curatorial work and academia. I am very much looking forward to teaching in the fall. At the same time, I get to do the curatorial work I love. It is a perfect combination.

Q:  How did you get into this type of work?

A: I have been interested in art for a long, long time. The first one-page essay I wrote in grade school was titled “What is Art?”  In fact, a classmate swears that on the first day of high school, I told the guidance counselor that I wanted to be a museum curator, but I have absolutely no recollection of this!  Along the way I thought about architecture, geology, and a few other things, but always came back to art history and museum work.

Q: What kind of perspective does a curator need for this type of job?

A: A curator needs to be interested in the physical condition of the art work as well as the aesthetic issues. To follow the art market in order to acquire new art wisely. To research and present their findings in a clear, understandable fashion.  To develop his or her “eye” for art, so that they can trust both their research and their gut response to new work. Curators need to work well with other people, because every exhibition requires collaboration with installers, registrars and many, many others.

Q: What type of education is required?

A: To be a curator you need an advanced degree in the relevant specialty.  For art museums, either a master’s or Ph.D. in art history or a related field like archaeology. These days a Ph.D. is preferred, and I am finishing up mine at Brown University. While the subject knowledge is learned in university programs, you need to learn the museum skills on the job. I learned a vast amount during my ten-month fellowship at the Fogg Museum at Harvard, working under the supervision of Marjorie B. Cohn, Curator of Prints.

Q: What is most unique about the Davison Art Center?

A: The DAC has a world-class collection, which it makes available for direct study by students. The amount of student involvement and access to the collection is unique.

Q: Can you tell me a bit about the current exhibit, A Passion for Prints, that ends May 22?

A: The exhibition, “A Passion for Prints: The Davison Legacy” focuses on the amazing collection of George Willets Davison, class of 1892, who donated more than 6,000 prints over two decades. The curators of the DAC will be represented by key acquisitions made to complement and expand upon Davison’s original vision. Working with Interim Curator Ellen D’Oench, student curators Jesse Feiman ’05, and Dan Zolli ’07, have spent the year researching the  collection and selecting the prints. Highlights will include prints by Andrea Mantegna, Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt van Rijn

Q: How do you spend the bulk of your day? Are you at a desk, out in the gallery or meeting with people?

A: A little bit of all three.  Doing email and correspondence. Meeting with various people. Advising students. Regularly going to exhibitions, etc.

Q: In a nutshell, how do you create an exhibit? What is the process? And where do you find the art for the exhibit?

A: For me, exhibition ideas come from studying the prints, drawings, and photographs in the collection, and beginning to explore themes or narratives across individual works and individual artists. These can be developments in technique, such as chiaroscuro woodcuts, or connected to recent studies in art history. For some exhibitions, the work comes from the collection. Other exhibitions are based on loans from collectors, artists, or other institutions. I’m still mulling over the exhibition possibilities for the fall.

Q: Do you find your job rewarding?

A: My job is extremely rewarding.  It offers the chance to continue to build a renowned art collection. I work with wonderful people, and will teach in the fall.

Q: Tell me about your hobbies outside of work.

A: Graduate school severely curtailed my hobbies. I play a terrible game of squash. I also enjoy sewing and knitting, which help fulfill my creative urge. And I spend time with my partner, Michelle Emfinger, who works in information technology and plays the double-bass.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor