Campus News & Events

Wesleyan Announces Appointment of New Deans

Beginning July 1, Marc Eisner will serve as Dean of the Social Sciences, Ellen Nerenberg as Dean of Arts and Humanities, and Joseph Knee as Dean of the Sciences and Mathematics.

Eisner’s appointment was announced April 17, while the appointments of Nerenberg and Knee were made at the faculty meeting in November 2014. Eisner will succeed Joyce Jacobsen; Nerenberg will succeed Andrew Curran; and Knee will succeed Ishita Mukerji.

Three Students Receive Goldwater Honorable Mentions

Wesleyan students Selin Kutlu ’16, Jacob “Jack” Lashner ’16 and Aaron Young ’16 have been chosen for honorable mention by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program for the 2015-2016 academic year. The award is presented annually to U.S. sophomores and juniors for excellence in mathematics, science and engineering. This year’s recipients were selected from a field of more than 1,200 students nominated by faculty from more than 420 colleges and universities nationwide. Less than half the students nominated each year are selected as a scholar or for honorable mention.

Kutlu

Selin Kutlu ’16

Kutlu, a molecular biology and biochemistry and neuroscience and behavior double major, is interested in understanding not only biological mechanisms at the cellular and molecular level, but also how these mechanisms can alter human health and behavior. Working with Manju Hingorani, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, Kutlu combines her interest in both biochemistry and neuroscience through research on DNA mismatch repair, a process that corrects errors made during DNA replication. “These errors can cause mutations that can have deleterious effects on an organism’s health, including carcinogenesis and neurological disorders such as Huntington’s disease,” said Kutlu. Her career goal is to obtain an M.A. and Ph.D. in molecular biology in order to teach at the university level and conduct biomedical research.

Seager to Deliver Sturm Memorial Lecture April 29 on “Search for Earth 2.0″

Sara Seager of MIT will address the age old question: “Are we alone?” when she delivers the annual Sturm Memorial Lecture April 29.

Sara Seager of MIT will address the age old question: “Are we alone?” when she delivers the annual Sturm Memorial Lecture April 29.

Sara Seager, Class of 1941 Professor of Planetary Science and Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will deliver the Sturm Memorial Lecture at 8 p.m. on April 29. She will speak in CFA Hall on “The Search for Earth 2.0.”

Seager is a pioneer in the field of exoplanets, specifically in characterizing the atmospheres and searching for life on those distant worlds. Her talk will address the age-old question: “Are we alone?”

Campus Update from Dean Whaley

The following statement was sent April 13 to the campus community from Michael Whaley, vice president for student affairs.

To the Wesleyan Community:

Many of you have asked for an update on the aftermath of the drug poisoning incident of Feb. 22. Two of the five students arrested have been permanently dismissed from the university; the judicial process for the others, who are currently suspended, is ongoing.

Wesleyan is committed to providing a learning environment in which all students can thrive. The use of illicit drugs is clearly an unacceptable detriment to that environment, and our policies in this regard are firm and clear. Wesleyan’s Code of Non-Academic Conduct prohibits underage and unlawful possession, use, abuse, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol. Depending on the circumstances of a case, students who violate this policy may face a range of disciplinary actions, from being required to attend drug/alcohol education and counseling to suspension or expulsion.

Wesleyan Joins Pilot Program to Protect Students with Food Allergies

Wesleyan is working to provide a safer experience for students with food allergies in every aspect of college life.

Wesleyan is working to provide a safer experience for students with food allergies in every aspect of college life.

This month, Wesleyan was one of 12 colleges and universities across the country selected to take part in a new College Food Allergy pilot program being carried out by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). The program strives to help colleges and universities provide a safer experience for students with food allergies and offers schools “gold-standard recommendations and evidence-based resources needed to effectively manage food allergy, a potentially life-threatening disease.”

Associate Dean of Student Academic Resources Laura Patey has been instrumental in bringing this program to Wesleyan, and she answered questions about it.

Earth Month Activities Include Speakers, Films

Lynda Nead of the University of London will speak April 14 on "The Tiger in the Smoke: The Aesthetics of Fog in Post-War Britain c. 1945-55" as part of a series of Earth Month events at Wesleyan.

Lynda Nead of the University of London will speak April 14 on “The Tiger in the Smoke: The Aesthetics of Fog in Post-War Britain c. 1945-55″ as part of a series of Earth Month events at Wesleyan.

In honor of Earth Month, Wesleyan will host a series of speakers and films beginning April 14.

At 4:15 p.m. on April 14, the College of the Environment will present a talk, “The Tiger in the Smoke: The Aesthetics of Fog in Post-War Britain c. 1945-55,” by Lynda Nead, the Pevsner Professor of History of Art at Birkbeck, University of London. The talk will be in 41 Wyllys, Room 112. It is cosponsored by the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life; the Mellon Fund for Lectures in Ethics, Politics and Social Issues; Art History; History; and the Science in Society Program. The event is free and open to the public.

Feinman ’16, TeamIMPACT Child Speak at Boston Gala

Carly Feinman '16, ESPN personality Wendi Nix, and Aliana Fichera at the TeamIMPACT event in Boston, April 2.

Carly Feinman ’16, ESPN personality Wendi Nix, and Aliana Fichera at the TeamIMPACT event in Boston, April 2.

On April 2, Carly Feinman ’16, a diver on Wesleyan’s swimming and diving team, and 10-year-old Aliana Fichera, a local girl who has become an honorary member of the team, spoke on a panel during the TeamIMPACT Game Day Gala in Boston.

In November 2014, Aliana was “drafted” onto the Wesleyan team through the TeamIMPACT program, which matches children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses with local college athletic teams. Aliana has attended numerous Wesleyan meets and team functions, and the team members have visited with Aliana during her treatments for Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID) and for her meets with her swim team in Rocky Hill, Conn.

Student-Athletes, Area School Children Play During Recess at Wesleyan

group_shot_recess_at_wes_040215

Approximately 45 student from the Macdonough School in Middletown came to Wesleyan for recess April 2. It was the fifth year in a row that an area school has been invited to Wesleyan’s Bacon Field House for a noontime recess in eary April.

Student-athletes from many Wesleyan athletic teams have spent significant amounts of time at Macdonough over the last five years to act as role models and speak to the students there on a variety of topics, such as sportsmanship.

Kutlu ’16 Receives ASBMB Undergraduate Research Award

Selin Kutlu ’16 recently received the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) undergraduate research award for her work in DNA mismatch repair. ASBMB’s mission is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology through the publication of scientific and educational journals, the organization of scientific meetings, advocacy for funding of basic research and education, support of science education at all levels, and promoting the diversity of individuals entering the scientific workforce.

Kutlu briefly summarized the research outline that won her the award:

As a molecular biology and biochemistry and neuroscience and behavior double major, I am interested in understanding not only biological mechanisms at the cellular and molecular level, but also how these mechanisms can alter human health and behavior. I am able to combine my interests in both biochemistry and neuroscience through research on DNA mismatch repair, a process that corrects errors made during DNA replication. DNA polymerases make errors such as base pair mismatches, insertion-deletion loops (IDLs) and triplet nucleotide repeat (TNR) expansions while synthesizing new copies of the double helix. These errors can cause mutations that can have deleterious effects on an organism’s health, including carcinogenesis and neurological disorders such as Huntington’s disease.

My research focuses on mismatch repair protein Msh2-Msh3, which recognizes both IDL and TNR DNA structures in eukaryotes, including humans. The findings will help us understand the biochemical basis for Msh2-Msh3 actions on DNA and its role in both preventing and promoting human disease. In the future, I wish to continue doing research that combines both neuroscience and biochemistry in order to help advance the treatment of neurological disorders.

Kutlu’s advisor is Manju Hingorani, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

The award will fund Kutlu’s purchases of reagents and supplies for her research.

Grimmer-Solem’s Research Continues to Have Impact on the Ground in Germany

Associate Professor of History Erik Grimmer-Solem investigated the story of a celebrated German General during World War II, uncovering new evidence that he cooperated in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union. His research has made national news in Germany, where the government is now responding to revelations about the General's legacy.

Associate Professor of History Erik Grimmer-Solem investigated the story of a celebrated German General during World War II, uncovering new evidence that he cooperated in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union. His research has made national news in Germany, where the government is now responding to revelations about the General’s legacy.

Associate Professor of History Erik Grimmer-Solem’s research on a celebrated German general, known as an “anti-Nazi,” is continuing to have an impact on the ground in Germany today. Over the past year, Grimmer-Solem’s findings have ignited a public debate in the country over General Hans von Sponeck’s place in history—a debate which has now turned to the matter of a commemorative stone honoring him.

Since World War II, von Sponeck had been celebrated in Germany with an Air Force base, city streets and other monuments named after him. All this has changed since Grimmer-Solem’s research shed new light on the General’s reputation as a “good general” who was court-martialed and imprisoned for refusing to follow Hitler’s orders during a major Soviet counteroffensive on the Crimean Peninsula in 1941 by withdrawing his troops from Kerch, likely saving the lives of thousands of soldiers.

A personal connection involving his grandfather drew Grimmer-Solem to study von Sponeck. A detailed investigation of von Sponeck’s military career in the German Military Archives turned up evidence that the general’s record was far from spotless: The records showed close cooperation between the military unit von Sponeck commanded and the SS in committing numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity in the southern Ukraine and Crimea in 1941.

The research was covered in major German news outlets and sparked a national debate and parliamentary discussion about von Sponeck’s legacy. The latest impact has been on a Stolperstein (German for “stumbling stone”) commemorating von Sponeck. More than 48,000 of these granite cobbles are installed in locations around German cities, each with a brass plaque inscribed with the names and fates of victims of Nazism. According to Grimmer-Solem, while they began as an artist’s project, the Stolpersteine project has taken on a semi-official character in recent years as the stones are set in cooperation with German city governments and supported by many local commemorative and historical societies.

Since last year, the German city of Bremen has been grappling with the question of what to do with the stone honoring von Sponeck—a victim of the Nazis who was also a perpetrator. The stone was first set into the pavement in 2007, before Grimmer-Solem’s findings, published in the peer-reviewed military history journal of the German Armed Forces in December 2013, changed public perception of the General.

“Since then, any official commemoration of Sponeck in Germany has become controversial and has led to a debate about what to do about street names, monuments, and of course, the commemorative Stolperstein,” said Grimmer-Solem. “Sponeck’s Stolperstein is particularly problematic as it erases a line between the victims and perpetrators of the Holocaust,” a point he made in the conclusion of his article.

When Gunter Demnig, the Cologne-based artist behind the Stolpersteine project, learned of Grimmer-Solem’s findings, he demanded that the city of Bremen remove the Stolperstein immediately, or else he would no longer sanction the project in Bremen, the home of more than 600 stones. Removal of the commemorative stone was controversial, however, and Bremen project leaders insisted on a public discussion about the matter.

“As the project has gained popularity and sanction as a semi-official memorial, removing Stolpersteine is awkward new territory lacking precedent let alone any procedures,” Grimmer-Solem explained.

On March 3, the Bremen State Central Office for Political Education hosted a podium discussion titled “Grauzonen. Stolpersteine für Wehrmachtsgenerale” (“Gray Zones: Stumbling Stones for Members of the Wehrmacht.”) It was ultimately agreed that the Stolperstein should be officially removed.

“But, to everyone’s surprise, thieves had beaten them to it,” Grimmer-Solem said. At some point, unknown people had excavated and stolen Sponeck’s Stolperstein, and police are now investigating.

The debate is now extending to the legacy of the German military resistance to Hitler in contemporary Germany. As an editorial in the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung (TAZ) noted recently, the debate about von Sponeck has spread well beyond Bremen and now extends to reassessing such postwar German national icons as Claus von Stauffenberg, who is remembered for his failed assassination attempt on Hitler on July 20, 1944.

“Stauffenberg, too, has a Stolperstein… and he, like many of his military co-conspirators, was involved in war crimes. Sponeck was shot after the failure of the plot, though he did not belong to it—his evolution from perpetrator to victim corresponds exactly to the ambivalence of this group,” the newspaper wrote.

This increasingly critical view of the July 20 conspirators marks a substantial shift in Germany. In the early years of the Federal Republic, Germans found it difficult to honor “traitors” like Stauffenberg, but he took on an increasingly central place in the “democratic” identity of West Germany’s armed forces, and since the 1960s, in German perceptions of themselves as opponents and victims of the Nazi regime.

“It is a sign of the maturity of German democracy that it is now slowly coming to terms with the complex legacy of men like von Stauffenberg,” Grimmer-Solem said.

Read more about Grimmer-Solem’s research on von Sponeck here.

Allbritton Center to Present Three Panels on “Drugs, Harm and the Campus”

This month, the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life is presenting three linked panels in its Right Now! series titled “Drugs, Harm and the Campus.”

Drug Use @ Wes

At 4:30 on April 7, Michael Whaley, vice president for student affairs, will moderate a panel discussion, “What are we doing about drugs at Wes and why?” Tanya Purdy, director of health education at WesWELL; Beth DeRicco, higher education outreach at Caron Treatment Centers; and Ashley Fine ’15 will discuss education, support and policies at Wesleyan. The event will be held in PAC 002.

Humanities Hosts Queer Art Poetics Conference April 23-25

queerartconference(By Lily Baggot ’15)

Later this month, scholars from across the country will gather on campus for the Queer/Art/Poetics Conference. The conference, which will run from April 23-24, is sponsored by the Center for the Humanities and will address questions such as “What does theory do when it takes queer art seriously?” and “How does queer theory remain artful while unpacking the objects, strategies and politics of queer aesthetics?”