Campus News & Events

Personick Wins LaMer Award from American Chemical Society

Michelle Personick

Michelle Personick

Michelle Personick, assistant professor of chemistry, received the Victor K. LaMer Award from the American Chemical Society Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry. The honor, which comes with a $3,000 monetary award, was presented at the ACS Colloid and Surface Science Symposium June 5-8 at Harvard University, where she presented a plenary talk.

The Victor K. LaMer Award is presented to the author of an outstanding PhD thesis in colloid or surface chemistry. LaMer was the editor of the Journal of Colloid Science (now the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science) from its founding in 1946 to 1965. In addition to his seminal work on colloids, LaMer’s fundamental contributions to physical chemistry have found their way into every textbook and university course on that subject.

Personick received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Middlebury College in 2009 and a PhD in chemistry from Northwestern University in 2013. Her doctoral thesis was titled “Controlling the Shape and Crystallinity of Gold and Silver Nanoparticles.”

A key advance of her dissertation work was the development of a comprehensive set of design guidelines for controlling the shape of gold nanoparticles via reaction kinetics and surface passivation effects. Her graduate research contributed to 15 articles published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Nano Letters, Science and others.

From 2013 to 2015, Personick was a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard. As a member of the Integrated Mesoscale Architectures for Sustainable Catalysis (IMASC) Energy Frontier Research Center, she studied selective oxidative transformations of alcohols on nanoporous gold alloy catalysts. In July 2015, she joined the faculty at Wesleyan where her research focuses on the synthesis of noble metal alloy nanoparticles with well-defined shapes and catalytically active high-energy surfaces.

The Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry is one of the most active Divisions in the ACS with approximately 2,500 members throughout the world.

Gottschalk writes on Islamophobia, Homophobia and Orlando

Peter Gottschalk

Peter Gottschalk

In the wake of the unparalleled homophobic violence committed in Orlando this month, and the Islamophobic and anti-Muslim sentiments expressed only hours later (notably, by presidential candidate Donald Trump), Professor of Religion Peter Gottschalk writes an op-ed for Inside Sources about the deep roots of all three in America.

He opens on a personal note: “As a boy in the late 1960s and 1970s, I knew there were few more destructive suspicions that could be voiced about me than those connoted by the label ‘gay.’ While the term might be flung at someone by friends as a joke, it could be a damning adjective if antagonistically and permanently attached to one’s name. […] Meanwhile — in an era that extended through two Israeli-Arab wars, the OPEC oil embargo and the Iranian Revolution — Middle Eastern politics reinforced longstanding American antipathies toward Arabs and Muslims. I grew up with the impression that all Muslims were Arab, violent and non-American. Of what others did one hear?”

Gottschalk goes on:

Raised in the United States, perhaps (killer Omar) Mateen’s homophobia stemmed, at least in part, from the same fears from which mine did. However, it seems significant that his father reported that Mateen’s outrage was piqued recently when the killer’s 3-year-old son saw two men kissing. In addition to whatever childhood antipathies with which he likely grew up, his homophobic-fueled fury seemingly also fed on fears that public gay life represented a threat to his family, if not to society in general: attitudes still expressed by too many Americans.

It is here that the homophobia still sadly endemic in America intersects with an Islamophobia that also has a long history. Donald Trump lost no time connecting Mateen’s horrible violence to his demand that all Muslim immigration into the United States temporarily cease. His speeches repeat tired stereotypes debunked too long ago to be accidental.

The Republican presidential nominee consistently uses “Muslim” and “Middle Eastern” as interchangeable terms, even though the overwhelming majority of Muslims live outside that region, which is also populated by sizable Christian and Jewish populations.

And Trump loudly insinuates that Muslims should be suspect not only because, as immigrants from conflict zones, they might bring violence with them. In his statement about Muslim migrants on Sunday, he claimed, “And we will have no way to screen them, pay for them, or prevent the second generation from radicalizing.”

An uncritical audience would likely ask why — if the children of migrants might radicalize — might not the third, fourth or 10th generation do so? Are not nearly all Muslims therefore suspect?

Read more here.

Gottschalk is also professor of science in society.

Astronomy Department Celebrates Observatory Centennial with Conference, Reception

On June 16, the Astronomy Department hosted the Van Vleck Observatory Centennial Symposium: A Celebration of Astronomy at Wesleyan University. Wesleyan’s observatory has been celebrating its centennial during the 2015-16 academic year, with a series of events and an exhibition, “Under Connecticut Skies.”

The symposium was co-sponsored by the Astronomical Society of Greater Hartford (ASGH), and held in conjunction with StarConn.

The exhibition was spearheaded by Roy Kilgard, support astronomer and research associate professor of astronomy, and Amrys Williams, visiting assistant professor of history. At the meeting, they discussed the exhibition, which was developed by a team of faculty, students and staff using the observatory’s extensive collection of scientific instruments, teaching materials, photographs, drawings and correspondence to illustrate the changes in astronomical research and teaching over the past century. Located in Van Vleck’s library, the exhibition is semi-permanent and open to the public for viewing when the building is open.

In addition, University Archivist Leith Johnson created an exhibition in Olin Library titled, “A Stellar Education: Astronomy at Wesleyan, 1831-1916.” It is available for viewing through October.

The day-long event included guests speakers discussing topics in the full range of professional and amateur astronomy. Talks were given by many members of Wesleyan’s astronomy department and other departments, past and present.

The event concluded with a gala reception and re-dedication ceremony of the Van Vleck Observatory. Guests viewed the restored 20-inch refractor telescope.

Bill Herbst, the John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy, was honored for his contributions to the Astronomy Department. Herbst and Seth Redfield also discussed “Stellar Astronomy and the Perkin Telescope" during the conference.

Bill Herbst, the John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy, was honored for his contributions to the Astronomy Department. Herbst and Seth Redfield also discussed “Stellar Astronomy and the Perkin Telescope” during the conference.

Wesleyan’s $1M Cardinal Challenge Is On!

Cardinal%20Challenge%20leaping

This month, the Cardinal community is joining together to secure up to $1 million for financial aid for Wesleyan students by taking the $1 Million Cardinal Challenge. “Thanks to the generosity of John L. Usdan ’80, P’15, P’18, P’18, this is the perfect time to make a gift to Wesleyan,” says Chuck Fedolfi ’90, director of annual giving for the Wesleyan Fund. “John will give $500 for financial aid for every gift of any amount to any Wesleyan cause received this month—for a total of up to $1 million.”

So far, more than 568 people have accepted the challenge, which translates to $284,000 so far for financial aid. The challenge ends June 30, 2016. Please join fellow Cardinals and give now at $1 Million Cardinal Challenge. 

Morgan Speaks on Laser-Induced Breakdowns at Plasma Physics Conference

Tom Morgan

Tom Morgan

Tom Morgan, Foss Professor of Physics, recently attended the 43rd Institute of Physics U.K. Plasma Physics Conference in Isle of Skye, Scotland. He presented a flash verbal presentation and a poster contribution dealing with the properties of water following focused laser induced breakdown.

After a plasma (a gas of ions and free electrons) is formed in water by laser breakdown, the energy is dissipated through light emission, shockwaves and cavitation bubbles. When the breakdown is close to the surface of the water, surface waves and water ejection from the surface up to heights of 60 cm also occur.

All of these phenomena have been observed in the laboratory at Wesleyan in conjunction with Lutz Huwel, professor of physics, Matt Mei ’18, and international collaborators. Joining the effort from abroad are Professor Tomoyuki Murakami, Seikei University, Tokyo, and Professor Bill Graham, Queen’s University, N. Ireland.

New effects not seen before have been observed, particularly near the surface at the air-water interface. The air-water interface is ubiquitous with applications to biology, environmental studies, chemical analysis and medicine, but its detailed behavior under different conditions is not well understood. The research uses both state of the art computer simulation and experimentation to elucidate the evolutionary dynamics and structure of bulk water and the air-water interface.

“Since the meeting was in Scotland, the researchers though it appropriate to try a liquid other than water and results were reported on whiskey as well,” Morgan said.

Wesleyan Staff Perform in Beatles Benefit Concert

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 9.00.58 PM

Wesleyan’s Andy Chatfield and Shona Kerr performed along with 21 other singers and musicians at the second annual “Blackbird” Benefit Concert for the Stephanie Nelson Scholarship Fund on June 18.

On June 18, a 23-piece all-star band performed the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album in its entirety at Chapman Hall at Middlesex Community College at a benefit concert in memory former Wesleyan Center for the Arts intern Stephanie Nelson, of Middletown, who passed away last year at the age of 25. This was the second annual benefit concert held in Nelson’s name. The first, held last summer, featured the Beatles’ White Album and raised almost $5,000 to establish the Stephanie Nelson Scholarship at Middlesex Community College (MCC), Nelson’s alma mater.

This year’s concert was organized by Andy Chatfield, press and marketing director for Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts. Nelson was Chatfield’s intern at the CFA. “This year, we played all of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which is one of my favorite Beatles albums. Stephanie’s dad requested that we hold the event on the Saturday before Father’s Day, and clarinet player Catherine Rousseau, one of the musicians returning to perform with us this year, told me that June 18 also happened to be Paul McCartney’s birthday. So we played ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ the day that Sir Paul turned 74.”

Wesleyan Establishes Hamilton Prize for Creativity

Lin-Manuel Miranda ‘02, Hon. '15 and Thomas Kail ‘99 will serve as honorary chairs of the Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity judging committee. (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer)

At left, Lin-Manuel Miranda ‘02, Hon. ’15 and Thomas Kail ‘99 will serve as honorary chairs of the Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity judging committee. (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer)

On June 15, Wesleyan announced the establishment of the Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity, a four-year full-tuition scholarship that honors Lin-Manuel Miranda ‘02, Hon. ’15 and Thomas Kail ‘99, who created and directed the hit Broadway musical for which the prize is named.

The Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize will be awarded to the incoming student (beginning in the class of 2021) who has submitted a creative written work—whether fiction, poetry, lyrics, play, script, nonfiction or other expression—judged to best reflect originality, artistry and dynamism. Miranda and Kail will serve as honorary chairs of the judging committee, which will be composed of other Wesleyan alumni and faculty.

The Broadway musical Hamilton, written by and starring Miranda and directed by Kail, has taken the country by storm and on June 12 won 11 Tony Awards®, including Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Book, Best Original Score, and many others. It had received a record-breaking 16 nominations. Steeped in history and uncannily responsive to contemporary culture, it is an extraordinary artistic achievement at once traditional and experimental.

“I’m truly honored and excited that Wesleyan has created this prize,” Miranda said. “Wesleyan nurtures creativity and encourages students to make connections across disciplines. I got my shot at Broadway thanks to the start I had as an artist in this environment, and I hope this prize will help other young writers to get their start.”

Kail added: “Learning to tell a compelling story that will engage an audience is the hardest task for any writer, and I’m delighted that Wesleyan is recognizing and encouraging young people to persevere as writers.”

The winner of the prize will be selected by a panel of distinguished faculty and alumni, including Miranda and Kail. Interested students will be able to submit their creative work along with their application for admission. More information is available on The Hamilton Prize website.

Hamilton’s source is a historical biography by Ron Chernow, which Miranda transformed into a hip-hop opera that draws on Broadway traditions in profoundly original ways.

Hamilton is a major event, and this is a major prize,” said President Michael Roth ’78. “Wesleyan has had a strong history of great writing. From poet laureate Richard Wilbur back in the days when I was a student to novelist Amy Bloom and playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes today, dynamic writers have made our campus their home.

“The tension between the traditional and experimental,” he added, “continues to energize students here – from the graphic novelist getting work out to new audiences to the slam poet or songwriter wowing fellow students to the screenwriter eager to follow in the footsteps of Wesleyan alumni like Matthew Weiner or Joss Whedon, to name just two.

“The Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity signals our pride in creative endeavors of all kinds.”

Read Roth’s Huffington Post essay on the Hamilton Prize.

CASE Honors Wesleyan’s Hamilton Fundraising Event with Gold Award

More than 1,300 members of the Wesleyan community attended the "Hamilton Event on Broadway" on Oct. 2, 2015.

More than 1,300 members of the Wesleyan community attended the “Wesleyan Hamilton Evening on Broadway” on Oct. 2, 2015.

After the performance, attendees, leadership donors and volunteers moved to the 1831 Society Reception at the Edison Ballroom. (Photos by Robert Adam Mayer)

After the performance, attendees, leadership donors and volunteers moved to the 1831 Society Reception at the Edison Ballroom. (Photos by Robert Adam Mayer)

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) recently honored Wesleyan University with a Circle of Excellence Gold Award in the Single-Day Special Events category. The Office of University Relations and the Office of University Communications collaborated on the prize-winning event, “Wesleyan Hamilton Evening on Broadway,” which included a benefit performance and after-party.

On Oct. 2, 2015, more than 1,300 members of the Wesleyan community descended on the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City as Wesleyan hosted a sold-out performance of Hamilton, written by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 and directed by Thomas Kail ‘99.

The evening was sponsored by Wesleyan parents and was held in conjunction with Wesleyan’s THIS IS WHY Campaign, which ends June 30. Through additional sponsorships and ticket sales, “Wesleyan Hamilton Evening on Broadway” raised more than $1.6 million for financial aid.

CASE’s Circle of Excellence Awards Program enables institutions to gain recognition, benchmark excellence, be judged by peers in higher education, and strengthen on-campus credibility.

View a photo gallery of the special “Wesleyan Hamilton Evening on Broadway” here.

Gruen Weighs in on Killing of Gorilla at Zoo

Lori Gruen

Lori Gruen

Writing in The Washington PostLori Gruen, the William Griffin Professor of Philosophy, argues that fingers are being pointed in the wrong direction after Harambe, an endangered lowland gorilla, was shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo after a 4-year-old child entered his enclosure. “The real culprits are zoos,” she writes.

Many in the animal protection community contend that the gorilla didn’t pose a real threat to the boy, and are questioning if zoo staff did enough to try to separate Harambe from the child. Others are blaming the boy’s mother for not properly supervising him.

Gruen writes:

For me, the real question is not who to blame, but why anyone was in a situation in which they had to make a choice between the life of a human child and the life of an endangered teenage gorilla in the first place. Keeping wild animals in captivity is fraught with problems. This tragic choice arose only because we keep animals in zoos.

Though killing is less common at U.S. zoos compared with the regular practice of “culling” at European ones, zoos are nonetheless places that cause death. Harambe’s life was cut short intentionally and directly, but for many zoo animals, simply being in captivity shortens their lives. We know this is true for whales in SeaWorld. Elephants, too, die prematurely in zoos. So why have zoos?

One of the reasons often given is that zoos protect and conserve endangered wild animals. A few zoos do fund conservation efforts — the Cincinnati Zoo is one of them. These efforts are laudable, and I would hope that in light of the tragedy the Cincinnati Zoo will spend more to help protect lowland gorillas. Their habitat, as is true for so many wild animals, is under threat.

But captive animals, especially large mammals born in captivity, like Harambe, cannot be “returned to the wild.” These sensitive, smart, long-lived gorillas are destined to remain confined, never to experience the freedom of the wild. They are, at best, symbols meant to represent their wild counterparts. But these symbols are distortions, created in an effort to amuse zoo-goers. Zoos warp our understanding of these wonderful beings and perpetuate the notion that they are here for our purposes.

If we really need someone to blame, maybe we should look at our society, which supports these types of institutions of captivity. If zoos were more like sanctuaries, places where captive animals can live out their lives free from screaming crowds and dangers not of their own making, no one would have had to decide to kill Harambe. Sanctuaries are places where the well-being of animals is of primary concern and animals are treated with respect. Four-year-olds and their families could see gorillas in Imax theaters, where their curiosity could be safely satisfied and gorillas could live with dignity, in peace.

Gruen also is chair of philosophy, professor of environmental studies, professor of science in society, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies. She also commented in The Christian Science Monitor’s coverage of the gorilla’s killing, and wrote this piece for the Center for Humans & Nature.

Rudensky’s (’01) Photographs Exhibited in New York City Gallery

Sasha RudenskyPhotography by Sasha Rudensky ’01, assistant professor of art, is featured in an exhibition titled “Tinsel and Blue” from June 8 to July 16 at the Sasha Wolf Gallery, 70 Orchard Street, New York, N.Y.

Rudensky is a Russian-born artist whose work has been exhibited widely including at the Musee de l’Elysee in Lausanne, Switzerland; Fries Museum in Leewarden, Netherlands; Macro Testaccio Museum in Rome, Italy; ArtScience Museum in Singapore; and Danziger Projects in New York. In 2010, Rudensky’s work was included in “reGeneration 2: Photographers of Tomorrow Today,” an international survey of emerging photographers. Her work is held in a number of public collections including Musee de l’Elysee, Yale Art Gallery, and Center of Creative Photography in Tuscon, among others.

Rudensky received her MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2008 and BA from Wesleyan in 2001. She was the recipient of the Ward Cheney Memorial Award from Yale University, Mortimer-Hays Brandeis Traveling Fellowship, Leica/Jim Marshall Award, and Jessup Prize from Wesleyan. In 2013, Rudensky was awarded the Aaron Siskind Individual Fellowship grant. Her work has appeared in New York Times Magazine, Der Spiegel, Cicero Magazine, American Photo, PDN and others. She is currently head of the photography program at Wesleyan.

Sasha Rudensky

Sasha Rudensky at “Tinsel and Blue,” June 8. (Photo by Cynthia Rockwell)

Register for Wesleyan’s Mystery Novel Conference

mysterium
Readers and writers are invited to a day of mystery, workshops and intrigue during Wesleyan’s inaugural Mysterium: The Mystery Novel Conference on Oct. 8.

The conference is hosted by Amy Bloom, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, and taught by New York publishers, publicists and nationally-known agents, and well-known writers. New York Times best-selling author Laura Lippman headlines, followed by Master Classes in writing with best-selling authors Stephen Carter and Barbara Ross. Learn more about the Mysterium speakers here.

“One of the great pleasures of mysteries—of all wonderful fiction—is that it allows the reader to slip into another life, another time, a different being,” says Bloom. “There’s that, and then there’s the particular pleasure of the mystery and thriller genre: it’s not only darkly pleasurable but also comforting. The catastrophe is fictional, not our own. What could be better than comfort, entertainment, and the act of being transported?”

Space is limited and registration is accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The cost is $100 per person and includes all sessions and lunch. Book signings, a vendor show and a cocktail party conclude the day-long conference.

This conference is sponsored by Writing at Wesleyan: the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing, the English Department, and the Writing Certificate Program.

Register for the Mystery Novel Conference online. For more information, e-mail jennifer@amybloom.com.

Wesleyan Celebrates Historic Memorial Day Weekend for Women’s Tennis, Crew

28May2016 Eunice Chong of Wesleyen University won the NCAA Division III Womens Tennis Championship match over Juli Raventos of Williams at Kalamazoo Colleges Stowe Stadium.

Eudice Chong ’18 won the NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Championship finals over Juli Raventos of Williams at Kalamazoo College’s (MI) Stowe Stadium. She’s pictured here with Head Coach Mike Fried.

The 2016 Memorial Day Weekend was a historic one for Wesleyan athletics as women’s tennis player Eudice Chong ’18 defended her crown as the NCAA Division III Individual Singles Champion, and the women’s crew team captured a bronze medal in the Varsity 8 Grand Final at the NCAA Division III Rowing Championships.

Chong, a First Team All-NESCAC selection for the second consecutive season, capped off an incredible sophomore campaign with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Juli Raventos of Williams College in the championship finals of the singles bracket. Chong and Raventos met twice, earlier in the season, with Raventos claiming both matches — the only two losses of Chong’s collegiate career. With a win over Raventos in the third match-up of the season, Chong became Wesleyan’s second two-time national champion in school history.

She also remains the only national champion in Wesleyan tennis history, and boasts an incredible 52-2 overall record in two seasons. In addition to her individual singles title, Chong also reached the doubles semifinals with teammate Aashli Budhiraja ’18. Read more here.

While Chong was excelling on the tennis court, the women’s crew team was busy placing third overall in the Varsity 8 Grand Final at the 2016 NCAA Division III Rowing Championships in Gold River, Calif. With a time of 6:47.82, the Cardinals became the first at-large team to win a bronze medal in the history of the national championships. Wesleyan was edged by Wellesley, who finished first in 6:46.10, while Williams placed second in 6:47.40. Read more here.

In addition to Wesleyan’s varsity athletics success, the Cardinals’ club sports also shined as the women’s ultimate frisbee team finished second in the USA Ultimate Division III College Championships.

Women's Crew claimed bronze in the 2016 NCAA Division III Rowing Championships.

Women’s Crew claimed bronze in the 2016 NCAA Division III Rowing Championships.