Campus News & Events

Wesleyan African Students Association to Host Africa Innovation Summit

africaOn Nov. 7, the Wesleyan African Students Association will host the first Africa Innovation Summit. Co-sponsored by the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship and other campus partners, the event will facilitate conversations about the growth of innovation on the African continent, and will celebrate those who are paving a new path for progress in Africa.

The summit will be held from 2:30 to 8 p.m. in Daniel Family Commons in Usdan University Center. Hirut M’cleod ’00 of the World Bank, a former Wesleyan trustee, will deliver the keynote at 2:30 p.m. There will also be panels on topics including children and youth, healthcare, and business and development. Dinner will be served, along with a dessert reception hosted by the African Students Association.

See a full schedule and list of speakers, and register online here. Tickets are $5 for Wesleyan students and $10 general admission; space is limited.

WESU Radio Celebrates 75th Anniversary Nov. 2

The exhibit “WESU: Celebrating 75 Years of Community Radio,” is on display in Olin Library and is part of WESU's 75th anniversary celebration.

The exhibit “WESU: Celebrating 75 Years of Community Radio,” is on display in Olin Library and is part of WESU’s 75th anniversary celebration.

WESU Radio will host an event to commemorate the non-commercial radio station’s 75th anniversary on Nov. 2. Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew, among other dignitaries, will be in attendance to honor the station’s 75-year legacy of community service and acknowledge the radio station’s staff of more than 150 student and community volunteers.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. in Olin Library and is open to the public. There, attendees can view an exhibition titled “WESU: Celebrating 75 Years of Community Radio,” which offers an anecdotal look at one of the oldest college radio stations in the United States using photographs, documents, news clippings and artifacts. Wesleyan University Archivist Leith Johnson curated the show.

On Nov. 3, WESU will be presented with a proclamation from the City of Middletown.

Established in 1939 and currently celebrating its’ 75th anniversary, WESU is one of the oldest non-commercial radio stations in the United States. By day, Monday through Friday, WESU offers a diverse mix of news and public affairs from NPR, Pacifica, and independent and local media sources. Week nights and weekends WESU student and community volunteer broadcasters provide a freeform mix of creative music programming featuring music not readily available elsewhere on the radio.

The station currently broadcasts at the frequency of 88.1 FM from its 6,000-watt transmitter located atop Exley Science Center with a potential to reach over one million listeners throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts. WESU also streams audio, online through the website

Backer, Culliton Honored with Cardinal Achievement Awards in October

Scott Backer

Scott Backer

Rick Culliton

Rick Culliton

Scott Backer, associate dean of students, and Rick Culliton, assistant vice president/dean of students, received a Cardinal Achievement Award in October for completing the federally mandated campus crime (Clery) report for the past two years. This special honor comes with a $250 award and reflects the university’s gratitude for those extra efforts.

They completely revised and updated the report from previous years and incorporated additional edits to ensure the data in the report was accurate. This involved collaborating with various offices on campus. They took on this responsibility in the absence of the Public Safety Director who is typically responsible for coordinating the report.

Award recipients are nominated by department chairs and supervisors. Nominations can be made anytime throughout the year. For more information or to nominate a staff member for the award, visit the Cardinal Achievement Award website.

Recipients will continue to be recognized in News@Wesleyan.

See past Cardinal Achievement Award recipients here.

Wesleyan Media Project Launches New Attack Ads Website, Videos

WMPbanner_20perThe Wesleyan Media Project, which analyzes campaign television advertising in federal elections, has launched a new initiative to educate the public about attack ads and dark money in elections, thanks to funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

As anyone who watches television is well aware, the airwaves are filled with attack ads. Negativity in advertising is especially pronounced in some races, such as the Connecticut governor’s race, in which only 15 percent of ads were positive from Sept. 1 to Oct. 23. At the same time, dark money—or spending by outside groups who do not disclose their donors—is playing an increasingly prominent role in campaign advertising. This is concerning to those who care about transparency in elections.

The Wesleyan Media Project’s new website,, aims to educate voters about attack ads and dark money.

Studies by Varekamp, Thomas Published in Paleoceanography


Joop Varekamp

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas

Wesleyan faculty Joop Varekamp and Ellen Thomas are among the authors of a paper on rates of sea-level rise along the eastern U.S. seaboard titled “Late Holocene sea level variability and Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation,” published in the journal Paleoceanography, Volume 29, Issue 8, pages 765–777 in August 2014. Varekamp is the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, professor of earth and environmental sciences and professor of environmental studies. Thomas is research professor of earth and environmental sciences at Wesleyan, and also a senior research scientist in geology and geophysics at Yale University.

Ellen Thomas discovered that microfossils, such as this  foraminifera fossil, reveal that warm oceans had less oxygen.

Ellen Thomas discovered that microfossils, such as this foraminifera fossil, reveal that warm oceans had less oxygen.

Pre-20th century sea level variability remains poorly understood due to limits of tide gauge records, low temporal resolution of tidal marsh records, and regional anomalies caused by dynamic ocean processes, notably multidecadal changes in Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). In the study, Varekamp and Thomas examined sea level and circulation variability along the eastern United States over the last 2,000 years, using a sea level curve constructed from proxy sea surface temperature records from Chesapeake Bay, and 20th century sea level-sea surface temperature relations derived from tide gauges and instrumental sea surface temperatures.

Thomas also is a co-author of a paper titled ‘I/Ca evidence for upper ocean deoxygenation during the PETM‘ published in the Paleoceanography, October 2014.

In this paper, Thomas suggests that the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a potential analog for present and future global warming, may help in such forecasting future deoxygenation and its effects on oceanic biota. Forecasting the geographical and bathymetric extent,

Grossman Discussant at Economics Research Conference

Richard Grossman

Richard Grossman

On Oct. 24, Richard Grossman, professor of economics, was a discussant at a conference titled “Organizations, Civil Society, and the Roots of Development,” organized by the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass.

Grossman commented on a paper by Dan Bogart (University of California at Irvine) titled “Securing the East India Monopoly: Politics, Institutional Change, and the Security of British Property Rights Revisited.” The paper focuses on the history of the English East India Company and ways it yields new insights on the relationship between politics, institutional change, and the security of property rights in Britain.

Makri’s Power Limiter Research Noted in Scientific Reports Article

Makri used a power limiter consisting of a nonlinear lossy layer embedded in two mirror layers. This setup provides a resonant transmission of a low intensity light and nearly total reflectivity of a high-intensity light.

Makri used a power limiter consisting of a nonlinear lossy layer embedded in two mirror layers. This setup provides a resonant transmission of a low intensity light and nearly total reflectivity of a high-intensity light.

A study co-authored by Graduate Research Assistant Eleana Makri and two other Wesleyan researchers is a topic of a Oct. 20 article published in Scientific Reports.

Due to the ultrahigh-speed and ultrawide-band brought by adopting photons as information carriers, photonic integration has been a long-term pursuit for researchers, which can break the performance bottleneck incurred in modern semiconductor-based electronic integrated circuits. The article states that “recently, Makri theoretically proposed the concept of reflective power limiter based on nonlinear localized modes, where a nonlinear layer was sandwiched by two reflective mirrors, thus increased the device complexity.”

The report is based on Makri’s study, titled “Non-Linear Localized Modes Give Rise to a Reflective Optical Limiter” published in March 2014. The paper is co-authored by Tsampikos Kottos, the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Physics; Hamidreza Ramezani Ph.D. ’13 (now a postdoc at U.C. Berkeley) and Ilya Vitebskiy (Sensors Directorate at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Ohio).

The same study was also highlighted in Washington, D.C. at the spring review meeting of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) as one of the main research achievements in electromagnetics of 2014 that can potentially benefit the U.S. Air Force. Read more about this study in this past News @ Wesleyan article.

Read the full Scientific Report article, titled “Chip-integrated optical power limiter based on an all-passive micro-ring resonator,” online here.

Kottos, Basiri Author Paper Published in Physical Review

Data by Tsampikos Kottos and Ali Basiri.

Tsampikos Kottos and Ali Basiri, a Ph.D. student in physics, are co-authors of a paper titled “Light localization induced by a random imaginary refractive index,” published in Physical Review A 90, on Oct. 13, 2014. Kottos is the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Physics.

In the paper, the authors show the emergence of light localization in arrays of coupled optical waveguides with randomness.




Roth Speaks about Liberal Arts Education in 92Y Interview

Wesleyan President Michael Roth recently spoke about “Why Liberal Arts Education Matters” as part of the 92nd Street Y (92Y) American Conversation series. 92Y connects people all over the world through culture, arts, entertainment and conversation.

In the Oct. 15 episode, New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni interviews Roth about the contentious debate over the benefits—or drawbacks—of a liberal education. In the interview, Roth, who is author of Beyond the University, Why Liberal Education Matters, makes the case for the great American tradition of humanistic education.

Watch a video of the conversation below:

Roth also discussed “The Future of Education” at the 92nd Street Y’s Social Good Summit on Sept. 21.

6 Inducted to Wesleyan’s Athletic Hall of Fame

Wesleyan’s Athletics Department welcomed five notable former athletes and one coach into the seventh class of Wesleyan’s Athletics Hall of Fame Oct. 17. The inductees include Joe Barry Morningstar ’39; Cochrane Chase ’54; Marion Stoj, M.D. ’74; Thomas Vincent Reifenheiser III ’94; Sarah Hann, DVM ’95; and J. Elmer Swanson, track and cross country coach. Chase, a tremendous football and wrestling talent, was unable to attend the event.

The Wesleyan University Athletics Hall of Fame grew out of the collaborative work of the Athletics Advisory Council (AAC), founded in the fall of 2006, and the Wesleyan administrative. Though the inventory of outstanding coaches and competitors was especially daunting for early class selection, with significant research and considerable discussion the selection committee was able to provide a slate of inductees representing over 100 years of Wesleyan athletics.

The event included an Athletic Hall of Fame reception, dinner and award ceremony. John Biddiscombe, adjunct professor of physical education, emeritus, presented the awards. Read past Athletics Hall of Fame stories here.

(Photos by Dat Vu ’15)


J. Elmer Swanson joined the Cardinal staff in 1963 as a track and cross-country coach, adding the women’s teams in both sports to his portfolio when they turned varsity during the 1970s. He served as a mentor to hundreds of Wesleyan student-athletes during his 30 years as a full-time head coach.

WESU Seeking Donations for Fall Record Fair Oct. 26

Hundreds of vinyl records and CDs will be for sale during the WESU 88.1 FM Fall Record Fair.

Hundreds of vinyl records and CDs will be for sale during the WESU 88.1 FM Fall Record Fair.

WESU 88.1 FM will host a Fall Record Fair from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 26 in Beckham Hall.

Dozens of vendors from across the Northeast will be selling vinyl records, CDs, posters, T-shirts and more. WESU DJs will sell WESU gear and records to support the station. The station also is seeking donations to be sold at the event.

“Cleaning out your shelves but can’t make it to the event? Please consider donating your records for WESU to sell to aid in our fundraising efforts,” said WESU member Tess Altman ’17. “Come support the station and invite your friends! Why? You can’t scratch an MP3.”

Staff on the Move, September 2014

The Office of Human Resources reported the following new hires and departures for September 2014:

Newly hired
Janani Iyer was hired as a research assistant/lab coordinator in the Psychology Department on Sept. 2.
Ilona Bass was hired as a research assistant/lab coordinator in the Psychology Department on Sept. 2.
Paul Wilson Cauley was hired as a researcher in the Astronomy Department on Sept. 8.
Franklin Huynh was hired as a senior budget analyst in the Office of Financial Planning on Sept. 15.
Michael Schramm was hired as assistant director of the Wesleyan Fund on Sept. 15.
Luigi Solla was hired an associate director of admission for the Office of Admission on Sept. 22.

Thomas Diascro was hired as director of alumni and parent relations for University Relations on Sept. 8.

Rani Arbo, fellow in the College of the Environment.
Christopher Andrews, senior budget analyst in the Office of Financial Planning.
Linnea Benton, library assistant in Olin Library.
Edward Chiburis, facility and events manager for Memorial Chapel/ ’92 Theater.