All News

Unprecedented Star Cluster Study May Offer View of Planet Formation and Our Solar System’s Own Early Beginnings


Posted 01/17/06
An unprecedented 14-year study by Wesleyan University researchers has revealed a phenomenon that may indicate the forming of new planets or perhaps even the existence of young planets orbiting young sun-like stars more than 1,600 light years away.

The observations were presented at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting in Washington, DC. on January 11 by William Herbst, the John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy and chair the astronomy department (pictured at right), Gabriel Roxby ‘06, a Wesleyan undergraduate involved in the study, and Eric Williams, the systems manager of the Van Vleck observatory.

The Wesleyan team analyzed 500 stars in the Orion Nebula Cluster (ONC) which is approximately 500 pc or 1600 light years from earth. The data from the stars were collected by faculty and graduate and undergraduate students during a continuous 14-year period. The observations gave the astronomers the unique opportunity to track the long-term behavior of these stars concurrently with their subtle changes over short timescales.

The findings presented at the AAS meeting detail the discovery of a large number of young T Tauri stars with intriguing patterns in brightness variation over both short and long timescales. One star discovered, Trapezium 093/JW#669, became of particular interest because it seemed to grow brighter then fainter in a remarkably steady pattern with a possible period of about 10 years. This is an extremely long cycle, given that it rotates every 1.18 days.

One theory suggests the presence of a disk of dust and rock orbiting the star. Such a circumstellar disk would have to contain a large clump, such as a planet or proto-planet, in order to obscure the light of the star at certain times and not others. Another possible explanation for the brightness fluctuations may be that the star is experiencing magnetic cycles akin to those seen in our Sun, where its magnetic field becomes stronger and weaker over time, causing the total area covered by sunspots to grow and shrink. Another theory is that the phenomenon is being caused by the presence of a young fully-formed gas-giant planet akin to Jupiter.

Whatever the cause, the observations by the Wesleyan researchers may offer significant insights into our own solar system’s origins. Trapezium 093/JW#669 bears a strong resemblance to a younger version of the Sun, and it may be undergoing processes similar to those in the Sun’s early history. Further investigation may reveal whether these or other explanations can account for this star’s long and regular period.

This active star-forming region is a promising area for observations because of its relative nearby distance and its large population of T Tauri stars, which are typically young (about 1 million years old).

The study also offers a new perspective on the changes that occur in T Tauri stars over many years. For the first time a large collection of long-term light curves for a vast sample of young variable stars has been gathered. The sample can be used to further analyze general trends among these stars, as well as locate other unique stars that may help to shed light on the genesis of our own Solar System.

The data were obtained using Wesleyan’s 0.6 meter (24 inch) Perkin telescope. Researchers used differential photometry to calculate stars’ alterations in brightness from night to night by comparing the variable stars to a few stars in each field known to have relatively unchanging brightness. They used these calculations to plot “light curves,” or diagrams of the change in brightness over time, for each star.

Wesleyan astronomers will continue their study of the star cluster and generate data for further analysis.

 
By Clara Moskowitz ’06 and David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Financial Planner Oversees $65M Budget for Academic Affairs


Janine Lockhart, financial planner and analyst in the Office of Academic Affairs, finds the best options for meeting the demands of Wesleyan’s five-year financial plans.
 
Posted 01/17/06
Q: Janine, so you’re the financial planner and analyst in the Office of Academic Affairs.

A: Yes, although I usually am introduced as the budget person since that’s a more familiar concept for most people.

Q: When did you come here?

A: I came to Wesleyan and this position in July 2004. Several others held the position before me, including Sun Chyung, with whom I work closely in her current capacity as the budget director for Wesleyan.

Q: Explain what your role is as a financial planner? What budgets do you monitor?

A: I oversee the annual operating budget for Academic Affairs, which amounts to $65 million and consists of funding for more than 50 departments and programs.

Q: What does the analyst part of your job consist of?

A: Although I don’t really think of them separately, as an analyst I look at the potential impact of various planning options, policy changes or funding changes, as well as monitor the outcome of the plans that are implemented.

Q: What are typical questions or problems people would come to you with?

A: I provide support for a variety of issues –everything from how to use various components of the financial/reporting systems to which account/object code should be used for a particular expenditure to finding funding for unanticipated needs.

Q: What are some of the big challenges in your job right now?

A: Right now, it’s the challenge of finding the best options for meeting the demands of Wesleyan’s five-year financial plans.

Q: Who are the key people you work with in Academic Affairs?

A: I work closely with everyone in Academic Affairs, as well as a number of people in Financial Affairs and Information Technology Services on a regular basis.

Q: What were you doing before you came to Wesleyan?

A: I’ve worked primarily in higher education and the arts, most recently as the budget officer at a medical school in Ohio.

Q: Where are you from?

A: I grew up in East Liverpool, Ohio, a small town where the Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia borders meet, which was once the pottery capital of the world. I lived throughout northeastern Ohio until I moved to Connecticut last year.

Q: Where did you attend college and what did you major in?

A: I have a bachelor’s degree in French horn performance from the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University in Ohio. I’ve also completed graduate coursework in arts administration.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not working?

A: I love to read, go to the movies, and keep up with the crazy antics of my family. I’ve served as a volunteer for various arts organizations and feel fortunate to have played a very small role in helping out at Green Street Arts Center since coming to Wesleyan.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Hoop Hopes: Coach Celebrates 10th Year Leading Wesleyan’s Basketball Team


Wesleyan head men’s basketball coach Gerry McDowell, center, hangs out near the hoops with varsity players Eric Winters ’08, left, and Jim Shepherd ’07. McDowell has coached the team for 10 years.
 
Posted 01/17/06
Q: When did you become the head men’s basketball coach at Wesleyan, Gerry?

A: I began coaching here in 1996, so this my 10th year at Wesleyan.

Q: I understand you entered the season with a 113-103 record. Is it true you had a streak of seven consecutive winning seasons?

A: Yes, it is true. However, our performance in the next game and our growth as a team this season is all that really matters.

Q: Can you briefly sum up the season so far?

A: We are evolving into a very good defensive team. Our success will depend on maintaining a high level of defensive execution and improving our defensive rebounding. NESCAC is a very strong conference and every opponent will provide a big challenge as well as an excellent opportunity to make some noise in the conference.

Q: When does the NESCAC tournament begin?

A: This year the tournament begins on February 18 with the top eight teams competing on that day.

Q: Prior to Wesleyan, where did you coach?

A: I began my teaching and coaching career on Cape Cod at Barnstable High School. I coached at the freshman, junior varsity and varsity levels and learned how to teach the game. I gained experience at the college level at Colby College as an assistant coach to Dick Whitmore. His son, Richard Whitmore, is Wesleyan’s facilities manager in our Athletic Department.

Q: When did you decide to go into coaching?

A: My student-teaching experience while I was at Colby led me into a 12-year teaching stint at Barnstable High. I learned that I enjoyed the challenge of motivating young people in the classroom. Ultimately, my desire to motivate players who are passionate about basketball led to a move to the college level.

Q: What type of training methods do you use for your players?

A: The biggest adjustment a player has to make is adapting to the physical nature of college basketball. A commitment to a weight program is a must. In order to become an effective player he must be able to play through the physical contact that is part of the game.

Q: What are you looking for in a player when recruiting?

A: A student athlete must show that he has the ability to succeed academically. Wesleyan must be appealing to him for a lot more than simply basketball. After that, I am looking for mentally strong and physically tough players. They must be resilient in order to handle the challenges of a season. A player must demonstrate that he possesses and understanding of team play in order to be a candidate for Wesleyan basketball.

Q: When does practice begin and how do you prepare the athletes for games?

A: All winter sports teams begin practicing on November 1. We begin the season by working on conditioning, drilling the fundamentals of the game and implementing our offensive and defensive approach. Developing a familiarity of each opponent is vital and adjustments to our approach are introduced and drilled in the days leading up to each game.

Q: Who are your key players this year, and what are your general thoughts on the team overall?

A: This year’s captain is Jared Ashe ’07. He is an all-conference caliber guard who is extremely competitive player and a great leader.

Q: Do your student athletes participate in other sports?

A: There are six two-sport athletes on our team. Jared is an All-NESCAC performer on the soccer team. Blake Curry ’07, Mike Raymond ’08 and Steve Tolbert ’09 are members of the football team. Sam Grover ’08 competed in the triple jump at nationals last year as a freshman. Jon Sargent ’09 will pitch for the baseball team in the spring.

Q: What is the most rewarding factor about being a Cardinal coach?

A: The opportunity to represent Wesleyan University is rewarding and leading a group of athletes who take pride in Wesleyan is truly a unique experience.

Q: As an adjunct professor of physical education, what sports-related classes do you teach at Wesleyan?

A: Introductory and Beginning Tennis are my physical education assignments. It’s a lot of fun meeting and coaching students in a life-long activity like tennis.

Q: Tell me about the Cardinal Hoop Clinic.

A: The Cardinal Hoop Clinic is a basketball camp for boys and girls from age 8-15. Members of the men and women’s basketball team are vital to the success of the clinic. They serve as coaches and teach the fundamentals of the game, conduct drills and contests that reinforce the skills involved in basketball and serve as role models for the campers. This summer the Clinic will run from June 26-30. Anyone who is interested should call me at 860-685-2918.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Ergonomics Target Workplace Strain, Pain


Steve Windsor, database administrator, suffers from repetitive strain injury and uses special ergonomic tools at work such as rubber-ball chair, a specially designed mouse, a headset and a touch-sensitive keyboard.
Posted 01/17/06
Working on a computer all day can become a real pain in the neck (and the back and forearms and hands). Fortunately, a new ergonomics Web site created by Information Technology Services has several suggestions to keep bodies in balance.

The site, http://www.wesleyan.edu/its/ergonomics/, offers advice on good working positions, stretches, workstation guidelines for health, an office ergonomics checklist and even the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s guidelines for proper video display viewing.

Ergonomics is the science that studies the relationship of humans to their working environment and seeks to improve working conditions and increase efficiency. Proper ergonomics can prevent repetitive strain injury, explains Steve Windsor, database administrator.

“Repetitive strain injuries are a subtle affliction which may develop undetected for months or years before it is noticed by the user,” Windsor says. “Correspondingly, it may take the same amount of time for the user to completely heal.”

Windsor knows about work-related physical stress first hand. Ten years ago, the then-corporate programmer noticed tightness in his neck and shoulders and pain in his arms and wrists. He tried to ignore the pain for several months, but by the time he saw a doctor and was prescribed physical therapy, it was too late. For six months, he was unable to type, and any forms of gripping – jars, door handles, steering wheel and even shaking hands – became too painful to bear. Windsor lost his job as a result.

In 1997, Windsor came to Wesleyan where “they were very receptive and supportive of my condition,” he explains. Windsor currently goes to physical therapy sessions in combination with anti-inflammatory drugs and nutritive supplements.

At work, he uses a rubber-ball chair to align his spine, a specially designed mouse, a headset that he can use to dictate text rather than type it, and a touch-sensitive keyboard that eliminates the need to push keys.

Several body-aligning illustrations are depicted on Wesleyan’s ergonomics Web site. The site suggests simple stretches, such as a head rotation, lateral neck stretch, finger flexor stretch, standing back bend and arm stretch.

Each stretch should be performed throughout the workday, explains Brandi Hood, senior project coordinator for Physical Plant and ergonomics expert. Hood makes formal assessment of Wesleyan employees’ workstations.

Windsor says when an employee is diagnosed with a repetitive strain injury a typical reaction is to throw ergonomic equipment at the problem. However, the employee’s posture and work habits are the most important issues to study for a correct diagnosis.

“All the ergonomic equipment in the world will not affect positive change unless the user addresses postural and working habits,” says Windsor.

When setting up a computer workstation, Hood suggests that employees should be aware of neutral body positioning. This is a comfortable working posture in which joins are naturally aligned. This reduced stress and strain on the muscles, tendons and skeletal system.

“Proper posture and limb alignment include making sure your feet are flat on the floor, your butt is all the way back in the chair, your back is in contact with the back of the chair, and your arms are relaxed close to your sides to reduce the severe angles between your shoulder and elbow and your elbow and wrists,” she says.

These postures are illustrated on the ergonomics site.

This year, Hood and Julia Hicks, associate director of Human Resources, are planning at least one ergonomics session for Wesleyan employees.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Turf’s Up! New Synthetic Field to Open in Spring


Posted 01/17/06
Thanks to more than $920,000 in private donations, including one from a notable alumnus, Wesleyan will install a new synthetic turf field in hopes of having it ready for play this spring.

The field will be located on the grounds of the former Long Lane School and provide a competitive playing surface for Wesleyan’s varsity lacrosse and field hockey teams, as well as foul-weather practice space for other varsity sports including football and soccer. Baseball and softball teams will also use the field for pre-season practice in late February when Bacon Field House becomes overcrowded. The field will be available for selected club sports, intramural play, sport camps and some use by the local community, as well.

Wesleyan is installing the field in part to maintain a competitive edge with peer schools in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC).

“The sport of field hockey in particular has adopted synthetic turf as the surface of choice,” says John Biddiscombe, Wesleyan’s director of athletics and chair of physical education. “The synthetic turf provides a faster, more exciting game for participants and spectators. High schools throughout the country are moving field hockey games and practices from grass to synthetic surfaces and soon high school players will come to Wesleyan with an expectation to play on the artificial surface.”

The same can be said for lacrosse.

More than 160 alumni and parents earmarked donations for the field, including one of Wesleyan’s more famous former lacrosse players, Bill Belichick, ’75. Belichick is coach of the New England Patriots and father of Amanda, ‘07, who is a varsity lacrosse player.

The field will be composed of Polytan Megagrass 2025. The project is scheduled for completion by April of this year. Wesleyan is hoping raise an additional $300,000 to outfit the field with lights, bleachers, a scoreboard, protective netting and other amenities.

Several alumni, parents and friends of the university have been actively involved in helping to raise the funding for the field, including Moira Byer P’06, David Campbell ’75, P’10, Michael and Marilyn Dee P’06, Mike McKenna ’73, Preston Smith ’64, P’06, Jim Walsh P’07 and Cole and Katherine Werble P’07.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Perfect Web Sight: Web Manager Designs Wesleyan’s Online Communications with Consistent Message, Look, Feel


Jen Carlstrom, Web Manager in the Office of University Communications, helps departments learn to update their own Web site information.

 
Posted 01/17/06

Jen Carlstrom grew up sketching Disney cartoon characters, molding clay figurines and designing Christmas cards on her father’s computers. As she matured, so did Carlstrom’s love for art and technology, which has ultimately led to a career as Wesleyan’s Web manager.

“I’ve always loved drawing and using the computer to create arts projects,” she recalls. “Designing on the Web combines those two passions I’ve had since I was a child.”

Carlstrom, who came to the Office of University Communications in 2001, is celebrating her fifth year building and designing Web pages this year at Wesleyan. She came to the university with a bachelor’s of fine art in graphic design from the University of Connecticut and an extensive list of high profile clients, including Pfizer, Philip Morris, Allied Domecq and IBM. Her work included leading multimedia projects, designing Web sites, working on interface design and helping come up with companies’ visual identities.

As Wesleyan’s Web Manager, Carlstrom oversees communications through the Web by making sure Wesleyan’s pages have a consistent message, look and feel. She stresses branding, or the visual way Wesleyan is marketed to the public.

“We want to create a consistent, recognizable identity in all our Web communications,” Carlstrom says. “This includes our logo, colors, fonts and imagery. We also help to leverage technology to communicate to our audiences.”

Carlstrom says accomplishing this can, at times, be challenging. Departments, which Carlstrom refers to her as clients, want to have their own identity and a site that stands out from the others. Carlstrom tries to give departments this freedom but within the cohesiveness of the university’s standards and identity.

“When we get a client who wants green text on a blue background, we explain that we want to help market their department, but consistency with the other Wesleyan pages can be a good thing,” she says. “We hope to create all department Web sites with a cohesive and unified look and feel while keeping the department’s identity with certain features in our templates.”

Carlstrom points to the sites created for the English Department, http://www.wesleyan.edu/english/, and the Art and Art History Department, http://www.wesleyan.edu/art/, as recent examples. Carlstrom was able to work with the departments to retain their unique own look and feel and yet remain quickly identifiable as “Wesleyan” sites – a task that’s not as easy as it sounds or looks.

“Jen brought a real clarity to the process, and she did it with a lot of good humor and patience,” says Marlisa Simonson, associate director for employer relations at Wesleyan’s Community Resource Center (CRC). “She helped us figure out our needs and then worked with us throughout the process to make sure that we were thinking in terms of both design and functionality.”

Simonson said functionality was a key because CRC’s site http://www.wesleyan.edu/crc experiences heavy traffic.

“It was much more than just upgrading a look that met our needs and got it in line with university standards,” she says. “We really wanted to improve the way the site provided service. Jen was great in helping us reach all those goals.”

A big part of Carlstrom’s job continues to be working with clients to update their sites with the newly-created Wesleyan style and providing better Web-based services to their audiences.

“Jen has taken on a set of formidable challenges: to make Wesleyan’s Web site a vehicle for effective communication with all the University’s constituencies, to integrate our online and print collateral, and to develop new media as part of our portfolio,” says Justin Harmon, the director of communications. “Wesleyan has strong platforms and needs leadership to realize the potential of these media. I am grateful that we are led by a professional who so deeply understands both the available technologies and communication design.”

Carlstrom’s Web team includes Web designer Ryan Lee and senior designer Anne Marcotty. The staff frequently consults with Pat Leone, World Wide Web administrator for technical issues in Information Technology Services (ITS). During the last few years, Leone worked with Carlstrom to implement a template system that gives university pages a consistent look and feel, and enables offices and departments to maintain current content.

Along with creating Web pages, Carlstrom and her colleagues have created Wesleyan screen savers; the new virtual tour; e-mails using HTML, the software language used on the Internet’s World Wide Web; and multimedia products for University Relations using Macromedia Flash. Carlstrom also co-developed a DVD slideshow for the alumni donor reception and another DVD of the university’s master plan for prospective donors.

“We strive to better communicate our message using these technologies,” she says.

The entire process of building a department’s Web site takes roughly six weeks, depending on the client’s schedule. Carlstrom holds an initial meeting with the client and discusses ideas and educates the client on the best use of the Web for their purposes. The Web team then designs a site based on the client’s needs.

After a client approves the design, Carlstrom oversees the building of templates and training of the client on how to upload content onto their pages. These training sessions are usually about three hours long and provide clients with the know-how to manage their own sites.

Carlstrom also suggests clients new to Web design take additional software training in Adobe GoLive if they use a Mac, or Microsoft Office FrontPage if they are PC users.

Because she is doing this for the entire university, as well as the other projects mentioned, Carlstrom has to be a master of multi-tasking. In between playing watchdog to multiple Web projects, she spends her days “usually in a lot of meetings” with clients or her Web staff. She’s constantly communicating with the clients on the phone or through e-mail, in addition to working on her projects.

“We’re always here if the client has any questions,” she says.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Student, Alumnae Research Orphan Care In South Africa and Establish Aid Organization


College of Social Studies majors Angela Larkan ’06 and Lindsey Reynolds ’04 raise funds and awareness for orphaned pre-schoolers in South Africa through their non-profit organization, Thembanathi. Larkan’s thesis at Wesleyan involved establishing a method of care for AIDS orphans using their school system. (Photos contributed by Maya Casagrande)

Posted 01/17/06
Angela Larkan ’06 was raised in an apartheid South African town knowing that she could have been born into a poor family just down the road. With an estimated one in three South African children expected to be orphans by the year 2010 due to the AIDS virus, Larkan always knew she wanted to make a difference in her native country.

“When I look into the eyes of the orphans, they all seem to be telling me the same thing,” says Larkan, who has family roots in South Africa reaching back to the 1800s. “They show me that they matter as human beings; that they have energy, love and innocence to offer the world, and that they need someone to help them survive.”

In 2003, Larkan took on the task of co-founding a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness for children in South Africa. The organization, Thembanathi, means “hope with us” in Zulu. Social studies major Lindsay Reynolds ’04 has worked on and off in South Africa for the last three years on HIV prevention projects and co-directs Thembanathi with Larkan.

According to the South African Department of Health, in 2004, South Africa had more HIV positive people than any other country in the world. In the province of KwaZulu-Natal, known as the “AIDS belt,” 40.7 percent of women attending antenatal clinics had HIV/AIDS. Mothers have a one in three chance of passing the deadly disease onto their children.

Thembanathi partners with Holy Cross AIDS Hospice, a non-governmental organization which supports orphans of AIDS and other vulnerable children. Money raised by Thembanathi goes toward feeding programs, a summer camp, children’s educational fees, and transportation for children to and from the preschool, among other needs.

Larkan’s interest in the orphaned children of AIDS was intensified during her sophomore year at Wesleyan. She applied for the Davenport Study Grant, normally awarded to juniors doing thesis research, to go to South Africa and conduct research on the AIDS orphan crisis, and determine a strategy to best handle the dramatic increase of orphans expected by 2010.

“I wanted to work on something that was real and more relevant to today’s world,” she says.

Larkan received the grant, and for six weeks, she traveled around the city of KwaZulu-Natal, interviewing key players in orphan care and the AIDS pandemic. There, she worked with Reynolds, who received a similar grant her junior year to study in South Africa. That opportunity crystallized Reynolds’ interest in AIDS on an international level and expanded her interest to working with children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS.

Together, the women witnessed dozens of pre-school-aged children left alone to fend for themselves in areas where hunger, disease, and poverty were already part of daily life. They communicate with the children through an acquired “toddler Zulu” and hire a translator when conducting research.

“Our time there was fateful because we left with a desire, drive, and persistence to do more than just write about the AIDS situation,” Larkan explains. “We knew that we had to do something, no matter how small, to help the children that we had seen.”

Larkan, who spearheads Thembanathi’s fundraising efforts, has coordinated benefit concerts, bake sales, candy-grams, refreshment sales at athletic games and jewelry sales to raise money for the organization. Beaded AIDS pins, handmade by Zulu women, are the program’s top seller. Thembanathi raised $14,000 in its first two years, and acquired a $33,000 grant from the Wellesley Rotarians and Rotary International to establish a water purification system at Holy Cross.

Last summer, support from President Doug Bennet and the Christopher Brodigan Fund afforded the Thembanathi directors to return to South Africa for two months. While there, Larkan conducted some follow-up research on her thesis, which involved establishing a method of care for AIDS orphans using the school system. In addition, she developed a proposal that would link at-risk children in orphanages and schools with non-governmental agencies and social workers.

Larkan and Reynolds are also building networks, and are trying to have their ideas discussed in academic public policy circles.

Richard Elphick, professor of history, supervised Larkan’s thesis.

“I certainly encourage my students to do projects in public service, but Angela is doing extraordinary things on a number of different fronts,” he says. “Rather than studying AIDS prevention, Angela is working on the other end – how to deal with victims, or the tsunami of orphans. She’s very intellectually acute and practical, and it’s wonderful that she’s out there raising money for her cause.

A good part of running Thembanathi is administrative work, so Larkan and Reynolds can work using remote devices. Reynolds is living in Chad, Africa for 2 1/2 months doing more research as part of the completion of her Master’s in International Public Health from Johns Hopkins. Larkan, who finished her studies at Wesleyan in December, is living in Colorado.

“Some people don’t understand why I want to spend four hours a day working on something that doesn’t pay me, but they haven’t met the children I worked with,” Larkan explains. “They haven’t interviewed officials who sadly, slowly, tell you how they country is being ruined. It is the experience on the ground that keeps me going. Children are innocent and don’t deserve to be the victims of a crisis this large before they have even learned to read.”

Larkan and Reynolds hope to run Thembanathi full-time in the future and set up AIDS testing clinics and pediatric antiretrovirals for those AIDS orphans that are positive.

Larkan credits her experience at Wesleyan with her present and future plans. She’s worked in the Office of Community Service where she ran a group called AIDS and Sexual Health Awareness, teaching HIV prevention in local high schools and raising awareness about local and global AIDS issues.

Classes in government, economics, history and philosophy at Wesleyan provided Larkan with a broad range of pertinent information, allowing her to use to use these tools innovatively to build a model for orphan care. But it was Wesleyan’s students, she says, that inspired her to jump at the problem and try to change it.

“Wesleyan’s atmosphere is inspiring and makes you want to be active in creating change,” she says. “Most importantly, it makes you realize that you can be a part of that change.”

For more information on Themabanathi visit http://www.thembanathi.org/.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

AIDS AWARENESS: The Oasis Wellness Center of Middletown and the Green Streets Arts Center presented “Keeping the Promise: World’s Aids Day and Beyond” at Olin Library Dec. 1. The event included an art show, singing, speakers who are HIV positive and a vigil. Students and community volunteers handed out HIV/AIDS health information and red ribbons in commemorating Worlds Aids Day. (Photo by Olivia Bartlett)

Former Music Professor Dies


Posted 12/19/05
Professor Robert Brown, one of the founders of the Wesleyan World Music Program, died recently.

 

Brown was one of the first students to receive a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from University of California Los Angeles. He was appointed assistant professor in Wesleyan’s Music Department in 1961 and joined the tenured ranks of the faculty in 1966. 

 

Brown helped the department to grow rapidly to national and international prominence. He brought with him from UCLA a concept called “performance study group,” a musical pedagogy that emphasizes the importance of direct contact between students and master musicians from around the world. In this context, he brought to Wesleyan T. Balasaraswati (1918-1984), the most renowned classical South Indian dancer, and her brothers, a renowned flutist and drummer, T. Viswanathan (1927-2001) and T. Ranganathan (1924-1987), followed by master musicians from Africa, Indonesia and Japan.

 

Professor Brown had an important role in giving Wesleyan’s music program a distinctive character and legacy. After his departure from Wesleyan in 1971, Brown led a program at the American Society for Eastern Arts.

 

In 1973 he established the Center for World Music located in Berkeley, California. From 1979 until his retirement in 1992, he was a professor of music at San Diego State University (SDSU). Bob was known as a promoter of gamelan studies in the United States and beyond.

 

He is survived by a niece and three nephews, and many great nieces and nephews. The arrangements for the memorial service at SDSU are still pending.

 

Alumni Donate $500,000 to Wesleyan Museum


The new Wesleyan University Museum will provide a single secure, environmentally-controlled space to house valuable collections of art and materials. Pictured below is a cross section model of how the building will appear. The third-floor spaces will contain three gallery spaces and glass enclosed seating and study areas.
Posted 12/19/05
Rick Segal ’75 and Monica Mayer Segal ’78 have donated $500,000 toward the new Wesleyan University Museum, which will be built on College Row through an extensive remodeling of the historic former squash building.

The new museum building, now in its final planning stages, will make an important architectural impact in the center of the campus. Three exterior walls of the former squash court building will be retained insuring the integrity of College Row. However, the west facade of the building facing Andrus Field will gain a dynamic new architectural expression featuring glass and metal.

“Rick and I both feel that there needs to be a stronger visual arts presence on the Wesleyan campus, and that an attractive, inviting, well-placed, user-friendly museum would do wonders to inspire undergraduates to enjoy the arts during their college years, and hopefully into their adult years,” says Monica Mayer Segal, who, along with her husband Rick, is an avid art collector. “We all know that Wesleyan students are attracted to arts and culture, so it seems a straight shot that they would make great use of a first class museum.”

The museum, which will cost approximately $23 million to complete, will provide a single secure, environmentally-controlled space to house valuable collections of art and material culture currently dispersed throughout the campus. These collections include more than 18,000 European and American prints, 600 Japanese prints and over 6,000 photographs displayed or stored in the Davison Art Center, as well as some 30,000 archeological and ethnographic items now housed in Exley Science Center, a collection of musical instruments from throughout the world now in storage in the Music Building, and a variety of Asian objects currently in the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies.

The need for a new museum building was signaled by the Collections Committee Advisory Report in 1997. The report indicated that Wesleyan was beyond reasonable capacity for its collections and that conservation demanded stricter standards of climate and light controls.

“In addition to new, secure exhibition spaces and much-needed expanded storage the museum will provide new lab spaces and study areas where students can work closely with objects in our collections under the guidance of the faculty and the curatorial staff,” says John Paoletti, Kenan Professor of the Humanities, professor of art history and director of the new museum. “More of our collections will be able to be shown on a regular basis, highlighting what are now some of Wesleyan’s best kept secrets.”

The new facility will also permit Wesleyan to borrow works of art from other institutions and alumni and alumnae collectors, enhancing the university’s exhibition program and teaching capabilities. The space will also include a new auditorium and reception area on the museum’s main floor.

Paoletti has been on the Wesleyan faculty since 1972 and has seen the interest in the arts at Wesleyan and other institutions develop in extraordinary ways during that time. And yet, Wesleyan has been without an appropriate museum facility comparable to its peers. His enthusiasm for the museum is contagious, as the Segals soon discovered.

“We had been talking with the administration about this project for a few years, and it had gone through several permutations, but when John got involved it all coalesced for us,” says Rick Segal. “John’s vision for the physical component of the museum and his programmatic ideas are very exciting.”

Paoletti is most excited about the impact that the museum will have on Wesleyan’s educational programs.

“We’ve recently had sophomore and juniors who have had internships at The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the Frick Collection in New York City, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Chicago Art Institute, just to name a few,” says Paoletti. “Many of our students have gone on to prestigious positions in the gallery and museum world and in academics. The new museum will improve our ability to provide more extensive teaching opportunities and give our educational programs a very public face to the world outside Wesleyan.”

Paoletti does not have an exact date for the museum’s completion, though the gutting of the old squash courts has already begun as part of the work being done for the Susan Lemberg Usdan University Center, which will be next door to the museum.

“The speed at which will be able to move this project along will be strongly linked to the support we receive from alumni and friends of the university who want to make it a reality,” says Paoletti. “Rick and Monica have helped us take a very big first step, and for that we are all very grateful. I am anxious to seize the momentum they have created to keep the museum project moving forward in a creative and expeditious manner.”

For more information about the Wesleyan University Museum please go to: http://www.wesleyan.edu/masterplan/teaching.html. For illustrations of the Wesleyan University Museum please go to: http://www.wesleyan.edu/masterplan/teaching_detail.html.

 
By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

15 Students Inducted into National Honor Society

 

Posted 12/19/05
Wesleyan recently elected 15 seniors to the Gamma chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest national scholastic honor society.

Election to the society is based on fulfillment of eligibility requirements, including a grade point average of 90 or above and nomination by the student’s major department. Phi Beta Kappa is limited to 12 percent of the graduating class each year. The newly elected students are:

Claire Nilsen Blumenson, a government, psychology and sociology major from Cambridge, Mass., is interested in child advocacy as it relates to academic failure and juvenile delinquency. Blumenson completed a semester abroad in Brussels, Belgium, which included a full-time internship at the European Parliament working for the Maltese Labour Party.

Jennifer Mary Bunger is a biology major from Southington, Conn., whose interests include dancing, teaching, and working with children. A dancer in the group Power Groove, Bunger is also ballet and tap instructor and choreographer to children ages 3-12. She has been a teaching assistant in both science and math courses and tutors several hours a week. She plans on attending medical school and studying pediatrics.

Thapana Chairoj is a math-economics major from Bankok, Thailand, and a Freeman Scholar. His experience here has broadened his intellectual sphere and deepened his experience as an international student.

Avishek Chatterjee, a physics, math, and astronomy major from Calcutta, India, spent the past two summers conducting physics research on theoretical simulations of vortex dynamics in a film of superfluid helium. He is an honors candidate in math and physics and interested in philosophy, particularly in relation to the implications of scientific theories. He is applying to graduate school for theoretical physics.

Katherine Leigh D’Ambrosio, a double major in English and history from Atlanta, Georgia, is a member of the History Majors Committee and on the editorial boards of Historical Narratives, Wesleyan’s undergraduate literature journal. As a university scholar, D’Ambrosio has worked as a research assistant in the English and history departments and as a writing tutor and recently performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

Hoan Bui Dang is a math major and came to Wesleyan from Vietnam. He likes to challenge his mind with mathematical and logical thinking and wants to use this knowledge exploring physical nature. Dang is currently on the West Coast on a combined program.

Cassandra Dunkhase, a music major from Iowa City, Iowa, is a member of Wesleyan’s Chamber Music program and Cello Ensemble and has been principal cellist of the Wesleyan Symphony Orchestra for the past three years. Dunkhase was recently selected as the Senior Honoree in the 2005 Wesleyan Concerto Competition and will be performing a solo with the orchestra in May. She spent the fall of 2004 studying music at Royal Holloway University in London and is an experienced cello teacher.

Julia Fox, a double major in Spanish and psychology from West Hartford, Conn., spent a summer working with Miami ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) on a campaign that successfully raised the Florida minimum wage by $1. After a few years off, she plans on returning to school to further explore her interests and develop personal career goals that may include a combination of political campaign work, international travel and teaching.

Emily Jacobs-Palmer is a major in molecular biology and biochemistry from Greenfield, Mass. who has been researching a protein that corrects mistakes made in DNA during replication. After graduation, she plans to work for a year and then get her Ph.D. in a lab that applies the techniques of molecular biology to conservation problems.

Kimberly Anne Landry is a psychology major from Agawam, Mass, who studied abroad last spring in Canterbury, England. She loves astronomy and volunteers during the public observing night at the Van Vleck Observatory. Landry plans to go on to graduate school and will be applying to programs in Clinical Psychology and Marriage and Family Therapy. Her career goal is to become a practicing psychologist or therapist.

Rachael Elizabeth Lax is a psychology major from West Newton, Mass. In the summer of 2004 she received the Dana Grant and was sponsored to work at a non-profit organization in Ecuador as a mentor to children living on the street of the inner city Quito. She is currently assisting in a research project at the Middletown Department of Children and Families and is treasurer of the Wesleyan chapter of Psi Chi, the National Psychology Honor Society.

Heung Ming Ngai is a math-economics major from Hong Kong. During his time at Wesleyan, he has been a co-chair of the Chinese Students Association and a resident advisor and chair of technology for ODE – the economics honor society. After graduation he plans to pursue a career in banking in Hong Kong.

Krista Eva Perks, a neuroscience and biology major from Phoenix, Md. worked over the summer at the Marine Biological Laboratories in Woods Hole as part of the Hughes Summer Research Program. There, she studied the learning properties of the principle neurons of the cerebellar-like structure in the hindbrain of the “little skate.” Perks is a gymnastics coach in Middletown and was House Manager of Community Services House during her sophomore year.

Tal Gronau Rozen is a studio arts major from Amherst, Mass. In the fall of 2004, Rozen spent a semester studying High Renaissance and Baroque art history in Rome. In addition, he works as a layout editor for Fat Bottom Magazine, an experimental literary and arts student publication.

Liang Zhao is a double major in economics and math from China and a Freeman Scholar. He has worked for Information Technology Services (ITS), the math workshop, and has been a Chinese Economics Course Assistant. He has also been active in the Chinese Student Association. Zhao looks forward to returning to China and contributing to the future development of his home country.

 
By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations

Programs Provide Jobs, Friendships for Special-Needs Adults


From left to right, Cecil Apostol ’08, Kristina, Kimberly Greenberg , Bobby and Carolyn go over math problems at the Davenport Campus Center. Kristine, Bobby and Carolyn are students enrolled in the Middlesex Transition Academy, which meets at Wesleyan daily. Pictured below are Jesse, Jessica Markowitz ’08, Bobby and Lauren.
Posted 12/19/05
The pizza served at McConaughy Dining Hall is prepared by a new member of the Wesleyan community. As part of a cooperative educational program for individuals with special needs, 19-year-old Kristina is learning hands-on how to work in food services.

“I prep the dough, oil the pans, and flip it,” Kristina says. “I technically make the whole pizza. I haven’t thought a lot about it, but I might want to work in a restaurant or pizza place after this. I do like to work with people.”

Preparing Kristina and six other disabled adults aged 18-21 to function individually in the community is the goal of the Middlesex Transition Academy. Launched in March 2004, the academy helps disabled individuals who recently graduated from area high schools find employment. Wesleyan provides classroom space and job opportunities for the grant-funded program.

Under direction of a job coach, the academy members learn about their strengths and weaknesses, managing money and social skills. While on campus, they also attend functional academic classes in the Davenport Campus Center.

At Wesleyan, they are assigned various jobs at Davenport, Exley Science Center, McConaughy Dining Hall, Freeman Athletic Center and WesShop.

Frank Kuan, director of Community Relations for the Center for Community Partnerships, says having the academy students on campus offers an excellent opportunity for them to be connected with Wesleyan students. The university also benefits by having this diverse group as part of the Wesleyan community.

“It is gratifying to see the growth of these students during their time on campus,” Kuan says. “You can see them developing their life skills and independence. This community connection is truly a win-win for all of us.”

While Lauren, 18, sorts and folds mail at the science center, Bobby, 18, is busy washing dishes at McConaughy or stocking shelves at WesShop.

Both agree that working in a college environment is gratifying. Bobby enjoys the friends he’s made. Lauren favors the college atmosphere and is overwhelmed by “cute college boys.”

“The job is pretty easy, and I just love working for money,” says Bobby, who works five days a week. “I love money!”

Normally, when a student is 18 and graduates from high school, he or she goes on to college or employment. Christine Jakubiec, an academy teacher, says the academy provides opportunities to address individual transition goals in an age-appropriate, college environment for these disabled adults in the 18-21 year range. As her pupils get closer to the age of 21, they are weaned off a job coach and should be ready to find similar jobs in local businesses.

All seven students enrolled in the Middlesex Transition Academy also are part of Wesleyan’s student program called “Best Buddies.” Best Buddies matches Wesleyan students with adults from the Middlesex County area. Wesleyan’s Center for Community Partnerships began spearheading this collaboration last year. Best Buddies go bowling (pictured at left), star gazing and participate in other monthly activities.

Kimberly Greenberg ’07 says her buddy, Rick, brightens her moods. She can always find him making pizzas at McConaughy during the lunch hours.

In his second year with the organization, College Buddy Director Cecil Apostol ’08 has developed a meaningful relationship with his buddy Winston, 28. Apostol feels that society stigmatizes people like Winston.

“They have been neglected and marginalized as much as any other minority group,” Apostol says. “We expose them to a world that was denied to them for so long. Together, we both embrace the opportunity to participate in a long-lasting, meaningful friendship.”

Best Buddies is accepting associate members. For more information e-mail capostol@wesleyan.edu or kgreenberg@wesleyan.edu.

The Transition Academy meets at the Campus Center from 8 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

 
By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor