Campus News & Events

Starr, Mukerji Explore Ways to Better Engage Students, Faculty in the Sciences

Professors Francis Starr and Ishita Mukerji recently participated in the National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education at Princeton University.

Professors Francis Starr and Ishita Mukerji recently participated in the National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education at Princeton University.

For their efforts enhancing undergraduate science education and supporting teaching innovations, two Wesleyan faculty members were named National Academies Education Fellows in the Sciences for 2015-2016.

Francis Starr, professor of physics and director of the College of Integrative Sciences, and Ishita Mukerji, the Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, received the fellowships while participating in the 2015 National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education, held June 14-19 at Princeton University.

The Summer Institute, a five-day program of discussions, demonstrations and workshops, brought college and university faculty together to develop teaching skills. Co-sponsored by the National Academies and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Starr, Mukerji and 44 other participants were taught ways to transform the undergraduate classroom and engage students and fellow faculty in the sciences. Current research, active learning, assessment and diversity were woven into the program, creating a forum to share ideas and develop innovative instructional materials to be implemented at each participant’s home institution.

Pictured at far right, wearing a striped shirt, Francis Starr worked with more than 40 other faculty from around New England at the Summer Institute. 

Pictured at far right, wearing a striped shirt, Francis Starr worked with more than 40 other faculty from around New England at the Summer Institute. (Photo by Jill Feldman/Princeton University)

“Wesleyan’s commitment to teaching innovation puts us at the forefront of improving undergraduate education that is essential to prepare future scientists and scientifically literate citizens,” Starr said.

During the institute, Starr and Mukerji developed a “teachable tidbit” with four other institute participants. These tidbits can be implemented in a course during the academic year. In addition, Starr and Mukerji are planning to speak about their experiences to fellow faculty at an NSM luncheon. They’re also working on creating an Academic (Technology) Roundtable meeting with one of the co-directors of the institute.

“Francis and I were both interested in learning these new teaching methods and we’re excited to share them with others on campus,” Mukerji said.

Yohe Reappointed to NYC Climate Change Panel

Gary Yohe has been reappointed to the New York City Panel on Climate Change.

Gary Yohe has been reappointed to the New York City Panel on Climate Change.

Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, was reappointed by Mayor Bill DeBlasio to the third New York City Panel on Climate Change on June 30.

Yohe and 18 other experts are tasked with ensuring that the best available climate science continues to inform the city’s resiliency planning. The panel will build on reports by previous panels, and will “look at climate risks through the lens of inequality at a neighborhood scale, as well as focus on ways to enhance coordination of mitigation and resiliency across the entire New York metropolitan region,” according to a press release from the Mayor’s Office.

The panel is an independent body that advises the city on climate risks and resiliency using the best available data. The panel’s report, to be released in 2016, will look at topics including regional climate projections focused on extreme events; community-based assessment of adaptation and equity; critical infrastructure systems, with a focus on interdependent transportation and energy systems in the greater New York City region; expanded climate resiliency indicators and monitoring system; and enhanced mapping protocols. The panel’s second report, released in Feb. 2015, can be read here.

Yohe also is professor of economics, professor of environmental studies.

Shapiro Reads from Fables in a Modern Key

Norman Shapiro, professor of french.

Norman Shapiro

On June 28, Norman Shapiro, professor of French, provided light verse readings, including a passage from his recently translated Fables in a Modern Key, as part of the Find Your Park summer festival event series. The reading took place at Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters in Cambridge, Mass.

Shapiro is a member of the Academy of American Poets and an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la République Française.

Fables was written by by Pierre Coran (whose real name is Eugene Delaisse), a poet and novelist of the Belgian French-language. One of Begium’s most renowned poets with some 45 poetry books published to date, he also is the author of 25 published novels, 24 books of fables, hundreds of comic book stories, and several albums which have been translated into more than a dozen languages. His children’s stories and fables are published around the world, but this the first selection of his fables to be translated into English in a full length book format.

Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site was home to 19th century poet and scholar Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his family from 1837–1950. The historic 1759 colonial mansion also was General George Washington’s first major headquarters during the American Revolution. The house and its collections were a gift to the nation from Longfellow’s descendants in 1972. Its extensive collections and grounds represent more than 250 years of America’s history and literature.

Shapiro’s book can be found here.

Wesleyan Posse Veterans Attend Benefit for Wounded Ranger

Michael Smith ’18, Bryan Stascavage ’18 and Andrew Po ’18 attended a Veteran’s Gala, sponsored by Homes For Our Troops, for wounded veteran Sean Pesce. (Photo by Bryan Stascavage ’18)

Michael Smith ’18, Bryan Stascavage ’18 and Andrew Po ’18 attended a Veteran’s Gala, sponsored by Homes For Our Troops, for wounded veteran Sean Pesce.

Wesleyan sponsored three Posse Veteran scholars to attend the Veteran’s Gala for Specialist Sean Pesce, an Army Ranger who was shot 13 times and paralyzed from the waist down during a mission in Afghanistan in fall 2012. Michael Smith ’18, Andrew Po ’18, and Bryan Stascavage ’18 attended the June 19 benefit to show support for a fellow veteran, and to learn more about a smaller non-profit organization that is helping those who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The charity that is helping Pesce, Homes For Our Troops, modifies or builds homes that allow wounded veterans to live independently.

The gala, organized by WPLR morning radio show hosts Chaz and AJ and sponsored by a number of local and national corporations, took place at the Fantasia Banquet facility in North Haven, Conn.

“We were amazed by how our radio station rallied around the mission of Homes For Our Troops,” said Chaz and AJ, in a preamble before showing a video about Pesce.

Brianne McNamara, community fundraiser coordinator for Homes For Our Troops, spoke with the Wesleyan Posse Veterans. (Photo by Bryan Stascavage ’18)

Brianne McNamara, community fundraiser coordinator for Homes For Our Troops, spoke with the Wesleyan Posse Veterans. (Photo by Bryan Stascavage ’18)

Brianne McNamara, a community fundraising coordinator for Homes For Our Troops, spoke with the Wesleyan Posse attendees about the organization.

“We don’t do any self-promotion or advertising,” she said. “This allows us to give 90 cents out of every dollar directly to helping veterans. Instead, we rely on word of mouth and events like this gala to spread word of our organization.”

The national average for refurbishing a home for a veteran costs more than $400,000, she noted, and Home For Our Troops has been able to help more than 180 wounded veterans. The organization also provides financial counseling services to ensure that the veteran will be able to maintain the house after renovations are complete.

The gala was particularly important to the Wesleyan Posse Veterans: Po and Pesce served in the same Ranger Company while deployed to Afghanistan. Although they hadn’t known each other well at the time, the two spent much time in conversation at the benefit. Afterwards, Po shared some notes about his conversation.

Sean Pesce (left) and Po talk during the gala. (Photo by Bryan Stascavage ’18)

Sean Pesce (left) and Po talk during the gala. (Photo by Bryan Stascavage ’18)

“Pesce still loves to golf, and is looking forward to attending the University of New Haven in the fall,” said Po, noting that Pesce is interested in earning a degree in business or political science. “He wants to open his own restaurant and perhaps run for public office one day.”

Despite his new home and college plans, the road ahead still has challenges for Pesce. “He still has a lot of medical appointments between now and when he starts college,” says Po. “He’ll also have building events at his new home over the summer—and while these events are exhausting for him, he knows it is for a great cause.”

Those in the Wesleyan community interested in volunteering with Homes For Our Troops can find more information here.

Additionally, details on Pesce’s story can be found here.

Danbury mayor Mark D. Boughton spoke at the event, offering support for veterans in Connecticut.

Danbury mayor Mark D. Boughton spoke at the event, offering support for veterans in Connecticut. (Photo by Bryan Stascavage ’18)

The cover band Rum Runners played for free at the benefit. (Photo by Bryan Stascavage ’18)

The cover band Rum Runners played for free at the benefit. (Photo by Bryan Stascavage ’18)

5 Faculty Receive Endowed Professorships

In recognition of their career achievements, five faculty members are being appointed to endowed professorships, effective July 1:

Stephen Angle, professor of philosophy and East Asian studies, is receiving the Mansfield Freeman Professorship in East Asian Studies, established in 1986.

Lisa Cohen, associate professor of English, is receiving the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Chair. The Bennet Chair, endowed in 2007, is awarded for a five-year term to a newly tenured associate professor exhibiting exceptional achievement and evidence of future promise.

Andrew Curran, professor of French and outgoing Dean of Arts and Humanities, is receiving the William Armstrong Professorship of the Humanities, established in 1921.

Lori Gruen, professor of philosophy, environmental studies, and feminist, gender and sexuality studies, is receiving the William Griffin Professorship of Philosophy, established in 1885.

Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry and outgoing Dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and director of technology initiatives, is receiving the Fisk Professorship of Natural Science, established in 1839.

Grossman Presents Papers in Switzerland, Norway

The economic crisis that led to the recent recession is only one of the reasons Grossman decided to write Unsettled Account. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Richard Grossman

Richard Grossman, professor of economics, recently presented a talk titled, “An historical perspective on regulatory competition versus cooperation: the view from economics” at the third annual Conference of the University Research Priority Program. The conference, held June 1-2 at the University of Zurich Institute of Law, was titled, “International Aspects of Financial Regulation: Competition vs. Coordination.”

Grossman’s talk focused on cross-border cooperation between international bank regulators in the wake of the U.S. subprime and European debt crises—an effort to enhance banking stability. Examples include the Basel capital accords and European Stability Mechanism. Grossman put these into historical context by looking at episodes of cooperation—and competition—between federal and state regulators in the U.S. during the 19th and early 20th centuries. He presented evidence on several episodes in which state and federal regulators loosened regulations to help banks under their supervision gain a competitive advantage over banks in neighboring jurisdictions. Although cooperation is feasible in some areas of regulation, Grossman argued that regulators will always be inclined to compete—that is, favor their own banks at the expense of others.

On June 20, Grossman presented a paper at the Third CERP Economic History Symposium, held at Norges Bank, Norway’s central bank, in Oslo.

The paper, co-authored by Grossman and Masami Imai, professor of economics, professor of East Asian studies, is titled “Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain: The Impact of Connected Directors on 19th Century British Banks.

The paper utilizes data on the presence of prominent individuals—that is, those with political (e.g., Members of Parliament) and aristocratic titles (e.g., lords) — on the boards of directors of English and Welsh banks from 1879-1909 to investigate whether the appointment of well-connected directors enhanced equity value for bank shareholders.

Their analysis of panel data shows that the appointment of connected directors did not increase equity returns (as measured by the capital gain plus dividend yield on bank shares), but rather that the appointment of MPs to directorships had negative effects on bank equity returns.

Students Take Intensive Courses During Summer Session

Summer Session students perform an experiment in Research Associate Rosemarie Doris's Biology I lab.

Summer Session students perform an experiment in Research Associate Rosemarie Doris’s Biology I lab.

A student sketches animal skulls in Kate Ten Eyck's Drawing I class.

A student sketches animal skulls in Kate Ten Eyck’s Drawing I class.

This summer, dozens of Wesleyan students are completing a semester-long course in only five weeks. Classes started on May 27 and conclude June 25.

The intensive Summer Session is open to students who feel they have the academic qualifications and stamina to complete intellectually challenging courses in a compressed schedule.

This summer, students are taking courses in drawing, writing creative nonfiction, financial accounting, legal thinking, principles of biology, introduction to programming and developmental psychology. Wesleyan faculty Anna Schusterman, James Lipton, Rosemarie Doris, Douglas Foyle, Marin Gosman, Anne Greene, Kate Ten Eyck, among others, are teaching the courses.

Morgan Models the Evolution of Plasma as a Visiting Professor in Tokyo

morgan

Tom Morgan is a visiting professor in Tokyo, Japan.

Tom Morgan, the Foss Professor of Physics, is spending the month of June as a visiting professor at Seikei University in Tokyo, Japan. He is collaborating with Professor Tomoyuki Murakami on modeling the evolution of plasma (an assembly of ions and electrons) created by injecting energy into water, “a substance with many interesting properties and applications,” Morgan explained.

The work focuses on water in both the vapor phase and as a liquid.

Morgan also is collaborating on this experimental work with Professor of Physics Lutz Huwel at Wesleyan. Huwel uses a pulse of laser light to provide the energy input to the water.

“The goal of the research is to understand the mechanisms responsible for the transport and evolution of the energy as time passes,” Morgan explained.

An additional focus is on how the laser light radiation energy that is deposited near the surface of water is dissipated into kinetic energy of ejected ballistic water droplets that have been observed in the lab to rise high above the water.

“There are many potential applications of underwater plasmas to the environmental, biotechnical and medical fields,” Morgan said.

The visit to Seikei University is partially funded by presidential initiative funds supplied by the Director of Global Initiatives. The funds support international faculty collaborations.

Morgan met Murakami several years ago through a common collaborator in Belfast, N. Ireland. The scientists share overlapping research interests and have published one paper together.

“Physics is a very global collaborative discipline,” Morgan said.

Learn more about Morgan’s research online here.

Kolcio Attends White House Event, Presents Research in Ukraine

Katja Kolcio, associate professor of dance, writes about the role dance organizations played in developing dance as an academic discipline in her new book. Ph.D programs in dance, for example, were not available in the 1950s and 60s. (Photo by Stefan Weinberger '10)

Katja Kolcio

Katja Kolcio, associate professor of dance, associate professor of environmental studies, was invited to attend White House Ethnic Day on June 2. The event brought together about 160 leaders from various ethnic communities for a discussion on immigration reform and foreign policy. The foreign policy discussion dealt predominantly with Ukraine, Kolcio’s area of interest.

The event was attended by White House representatives including Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama; Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Foreign Domestic Council; Felicia Escobar, special assistant to the president for immigration policy; Manar Waheed, deputy director for immigration policy; Michael Carpenter, special advisor to the vice president for Europe and Eurasia; and Celeste Wallander, special assistant to the president and senior director, Russia and Central Asia, National Security Council.

The discussion was preceded by a reception on Capitol Hill on June 1 with members of Congress.

In June and July, Kolcio will travel to Ukraine to present her research on somatic theory—which is premised on body-mind integration—and lead workshops in somatic practice geared toward the issues of displacement and PTSD. She has been invited by three different non-profit groups of mental health professionals and specialists in PTSD, a combination of psychiatrists, therapists, social workers and clergy, who assembled to address the increasing incidence of trauma and displacement due to the unexpected Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea and subsequent fighting on the border between Ukaine and Russia.

Learn more about Kolcio in this video.

Wesleyan Works on Utilities Infrastructure Improvements, Landscaping Projects this Summer

Physical Plant-Facilities recently enhanced the area in front of Weshop.

Physical Plant-Facilities recently enhanced the area in front of Weshop.

This summer, crews around campus are hard at work on several major maintenance and capital projects designed to support Wesleyan’s ultimate goal of creating a more interconnected and sustainable campus.

Physical Plant-Facilities seeks to foster a synergistic residential and academic experience by creating visual and functional transparency between indoor and outdoor spaces, preserving and enhancing opportunities for informal learning, improving formal learning spaces, showcasing learning and living in action, and integrating learning opportunities with Middletown.

Landscaping projects include replacing the sidewalk in front of College Row, from Wyllys Avenue to Church Street, with a 15-foot-wide asphalt path featuring four seating vignettes; landscape improvements at Andrus Field; landscape renovation, including an outdoor learning space at the Center for the Humanities; Cross Street sidewalk replacement between Fountain Street and Pine Street; and sidewalk replacement throughout the Foss Hill complex, including steam line replacement on High Street; hot and chilled water piping replacement at the Center for the Arts; main electrical equipment replacement at Olin Memorial Library; and transformer replacement at Judd Hall.

Other projects include renovations at Pi Café; waterproofing and new flooring at the Bacon Field House; new academic and office space for the Center for Pedagogical Innovations at 116 Mount Vernon Street; laboratory renovations at Hall-Atwater, Exley Science Center, and Judd Hall; and the replacement of the penthouse roof at Exley Science Center.

All projects are scheduled for completion before the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

Several major maintenance and capital projects are taking place on the Wesleyan campus this summer.

Several major maintenance and capital projects are taking place on the Wesleyan campus this summer.

Jimmy Stewart Stars in Free Summer Film Series

stewardfilmsThis July, Wesleyan’s 2015 Summer Film Series presents “Hollywood Icons: Jimmy Stewart,” a four-film series sponsored by Wesleyan’s College of Film and the Moving Image (CFILM). Films will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays in July at the Center for Film Studies.

All films are free and open to the public and will be preceded by an introduction by Marc Longenecker, CFILM’s programming and technical director. The “Hollywood Icons: Jimmy Stewart” film series includes Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (July 7), Harvey (July 14), Rear Window (July 21), and Winchester ’73 (July 28).

See Wesleyan’s Summer Film Series website for more information.

stewartfilms2

Conference Teaches Participants about New Media, Fiction Writing, Journalism

Conference participants had time to write and reflect, in addition to attending seminars, workshops, readings, panel discussions, and manuscript consultations.

Wesleyan Writers Conference participants took time to write and reflect, in addition to attending seminars, workshops, readings, panel discussions and manuscript consultations. (Photos by Laurie Kenney)

The Wesleyan Writers Conference celebrated its 59th year by welcoming more than 60 new and seasoned writers and others interested in the writer’s craft to the Wesleyan campus June 10-14.

The Wesleyan Writers Conference has been useful to writers at different stages of their careers.

The Wesleyan Writers Conference has been useful to writers at different stages of their careers.

Headed by Wesleyan Writers Conference Director Anne Greene, adjunct professor of English and director of Writing Programs, the conference featured seminars, workshops, readings, panel discussions and manuscript consultations led by Wesleyan faculty and other nationally known writers, editors and agents.

Conference topics included the novel, short story, poetry, nonfiction, memoir, biography, journalism, writing for film and TV, new media, writing about food and travel, writing about science and medicine, preparing your work for publication, and how to sell your work.