Campus News & Events

Post Doc Awarded Gilder Lehrman Fellowship


Posted 04/02/07
Jacob Dorman, the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, has been awarded a research fellowship by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Dorman will conduct research at the Columbia University Rare Book & Manuscript Library. His project title is “Everyday Life and the Harlem Renaissance.”

Dorman received a bachelor’s of art from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in African American history. At Wesleyan, he teaches Black Urban Religious History.

He will use his Gilder Lehrman Fellowship to research the social history of black life during the Harlem Renaissance.

To support outstanding scholarship, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History awards short-term fellowships in several categories: Research Fellowships for post-doctoral scholars at every faculty rank, Dissertation Fellowships for doctoral candidates who have completed exams and begun dissertation reading and writing, and Research Fellowships for journalists and independent scholars. The Gilder Lehrman Fellowships support work in one of five archives in New York City.

Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History promotes the study and love of American history. Increasingly national and international in scope, the Institute targets audiences ranging from students to scholars to the general public. It helps to create history-centered schools and academic research centers, organizes seminars and enrichment programs for educators, partners with school districts to implement Teaching American History grants, produces print and electronic publications and traveling exhibitions, and sponsors lectures by eminent historians. Since 1994, it has funded a total of 415 fellowships.

For more information on the Gilder Lehrman Fellowship go to http://www.gilderlehrman.org.

Student Presents Stem Cell Research at International Symposium


Jenna Gopilan ’07 researches neural stem cells in mice brains, and presented her research at a recent StemCONN conference.
Posted 04/02/07
Jenna Gopilan ’07 familiarized herself with the scientific research environment during her freshman year as a work study student. As a sophomore, she shadowed graduate students to learn their techniques. Now, as a senior, the neuroscience and behavior major had the opportunity to present her own research project to the Media and Legislative Briefing at the State Capitol in Hartford.

The briefing took place during Connecticut’s Stem Cell Research International Symposium, also known as StemCONN 07, March 27-28. Gopilan’s research, presented on a poster, was titled “Defects in the Neural Stem Cell Niche in Adult Mice Deficient for DNA Double-Strand Break Repair.” Political leaders, scientists, academics and the general public attended the symposium. Gopilian was the only undergraduate chosen from 10 other students to present for this session.

“It was a little intimidating to present my research to scientists from around the world and our state’s legislators, but it was an educational experience,” Gopilan says. “Listening to legislators’ inspiring speeches, I learned that scientists should take a more active role in their community.”

Launched in the wake of Connecticut’s historic decision to support human stem cell research, StemCONN attracted stem cell researchers from around the world. The program included events touching all aspects of stem cell research, including scientific, commercial, political and ethical dimensions. Connecticut’s Governor Jodi Rell opened the proceedings.

Gopilan received funding for her project from Connecticut United for Research Excellence (CURE) and Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA). The grant funds her studies of endogenous neural stem cells in the hippocampus of adult mice and the neurogenic response of the brain to seizures.

Last summer, Gopilan conducted research at the University of California, San Francisco. There, she learned how to harvest neural stem cells from the central nervous system of adult mice. She was able to use the technique back at Wesleyan in the lab supervised by Janice Naegele, professor of biology and chair of the Biology Department.

“Although these are early days in her research project, Jenna already has some interesting data that she had the opportunity to present in the Capital and at StemCONN,” Naegele says. “Not only is this a very nice recognition of her interesting project, it is also an opportunity to present her ideas at an international conference where she was able to receive feedback from experts in the stem cell field.”

Prior to her junior year, Gopilan was accepted to be a Hughes Fellow, spending the entire summer working on a single research project “The Effects of Serotonin on Adult Neurogenesis in the Dentate Gyrus of DNA-PKcs Mice”. Gopilan will graduate this May, but will continue her research as a fifth-year master’s student at Wesleyan.

After Gopilan offered her presentation side-by-side with scientists who have received major grants from the state, Dr. Gerald Fishbone and Dr. Jerry Yang, members of the Connecticut Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee, lauded her work and offered advice for the young scientist.

“Their input allowed me to reevaluate my research and think of new and innovative experiments to answer questions I have for my research,” Gopilan says. “I would to like continue working with adult neural stem cells in the future. There are still many things left to understand and decipher.”

The long-term goal of her work is to repair brain damage in disorders such as epilepsy.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan Selects 16th President


Wesleyan’s next president, Michael Roth, left, will visit campus with his daughter, Sophie Weil-Roth and his wife, Kari Weil, on April 27.(Photo by Bill Burkhart)
Posted 04/02/07
Michael S. Roth, a historian and president of California College of the Arts, will become the 16th president of Wesleyan at the beginning of the 2007-08 academic year.

Roth, a member of Wesleyan’s Class of 1978, has been a professor in history and the humanities since 1983 and is recognized both as a curator and author. He is noted for founding the Scripps College Humanities Institute in Claremont, Calif., as a center for intellectual exchange across disciplines, for his scholarly leadership in the arts community as associate director of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, and for enhancing the academic excellence, national reputation and financial strength of California College of the Arts (CCA).

“Michael Roth embodies the qualities of leadership that Wesleyan strives to instill in its students,” says Wesleyan Board of Trustees Chair James van B. Dresser ’63, P’93. “His broad intellectual curiosity and his great personal energy have enabled him to drive innovation across a range of disciplines and in a variety of institutional settings. I can think of no one better suited to lead Wesleyan as we continue to build and promote its academic strengths and to enhance students’ experiences.”

Roth traces his scholarly and administrative successes back to his undergraduate experience. “I discovered my intellectual passions at Wesleyan,” he notes. “Over time I came to appreciate more fully that the gifted teachers I had were consistently advancing knowledge through both their classroom work and their scholarship. This experience shaped how I have approached my own historical work, as well as the values I have brought to academic leadership throughout my career. The bridging of disciplines, the efforts to foster intellectual community, the pursuit of problem-oriented research, and the combination of art and public culture have been expressions of the intellectual principles I first encountered at Wesleyan. I look forward to connecting to my roots while helping to build the future of the institution.”

Roth describes his scholarly interests as centered on “how people make sense of the past.” He has authored four books: Psycho-Analysis as History: Negation and Freedom in Freud (Cornell University Press, 1987, 1995); Knowing and History: Appropriations of Hegel in Twentieth Century France (Cornell, 1988); The Ironist’s Cage: Trauma, Memory and the Construction of History (Columbia University Press, 1995), and Irresistible Decay: Ruins Reclaimed, with Clare Lyons and Charles Merewether (Getty Research Institute, 1997). Roth curated an exhibition titled Sigmund Freud: Conflict and Culture for the Library of Congress, which attracted praise for its balanced and wide-ranging view of Freud’s intellectual and cultural heritage when it opened in 1998. The exhibit traveled internationally in subsequent years. Roth’s most recent co-edited volumes are Looking for Los Angeles: Architecture, Film, Photography and the Urban Landscape and Disturbing Remains: Memory, History, and Crisis in the Twentieth Century (both Getty Research Institute, 2001). In recent years, Roth has published essays and book reviews in such publications as the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, Book Forum, Rethinking History, and Wesleyan’s History and Theory.

“Michael Roth certainly has the cast of mind of a public intellectual,” observes Professor of Russian Language and Literature Susanne Fusso, who served on the presidential search committee. “He is always trying to make connections to the personal, the political, the world that surrounds us every day. Yet his work is on a high level of intellectual sophistication. He is a masterly writer, very clear without being simplistic. To me his writing is a model of what academics should strive for.”

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and in the first generation of his family to attend college, Roth entered Wesleyan in the fall of 1975 from the Alfred G. Berner High School in Massapequa, N.Y. He designed a university major in “history of psychological theory” and wrote a thesis titled Freud and Revolution, which began the exploration that would become his first book and the basis of the Library of Congress exhibition. His undergraduate studies earned him both the Robins Prize from the History Department and the Wise Prize from the Philosophy Department. Outside class, he served as president of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity and volunteered at the Middlesex Hospital psychiatric ward. He completed his undergraduate studies in three years, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and went on to earn his doctorate in history at Princeton University in 1984. His dissertation, on how French philosophy in the first half of the 20th century dealt with history, was supervised by Carl E. Schorske, with whom Roth had studied as a freshman at Wesleyan. Victor Gourevitch of the Wesleyan philosophy department served on his committee and would later co-edit with Roth an edition of the correspondence of Alexandre Kojeve and Leo Strauss that grew of out this dissertation research. Roth’s second book, Knowing and History, also is based on this work.

“Michael Roth genuinely appreciates Wesleyan’s distinctive qualities, both academically and in terms of campus life and culture,” says Brittany Mitchell ’07, vice chair of the Wesleyan Student Assembly and a member of the presidential search committee. “His career has embodied a Wesleyan education: he has pursued interdisciplinary academic work, and he has been courageously innovative at his prior institutions. He has a great vision of Wesleyan’s potential and the qualities necessary to lead it to become even greater.”

Roth began his teaching career at Scripps College and Claremont Graduate School in 1983, where he earned tenure in 1986 and promotion to full professor in 1990. He became Hartley Burr Alexander Professor of the Humanities at Scripps in 1989. His work garnered grants from the Sloan and Mellon foundations, and he received Scripps faculty achievement awards for both his scholarship and his teaching.

In 1987, Roth became founding director of the Scripps College Humanities Institute, which he says was modeled on Wesleyan’s Center for the Humanities: an institutional structure to foster “a culture of inquiry, exchange and productivity that would connect to the classroom as well as the professional communities.” The institute sponsored conferences and talks designed to appeal to faculty from across the disciplines.

In 1994, Roth was invited to participate as a visiting scholar in the Getty Research Institute’s year on memory. Two years later, he was asked to lead the scholars and seminars program at the Getty. Roth saw an opportunity to reshape the program, and particularly to strengthen its public outreach. He focused research around such topics as the history, architecture and arts of Los Angeles and built partnerships with cultural organizations in the East and South Central sections of the city, as well as with international centers of research. In 1997, Roth became associate director of the Getty Research Institute and focused his energies on making the institute a producer and disseminator of scholarship and to fostering the sort of intellectual community he had experienced at Wesleyan and helped to build at Scripps College. While at the Getty, Roth curated the Library of Congress exhibition on Freud, as well as another on ruins, Irresistible Decay, as part of the opening of the Getty Museum.

When asked to be a candidate for the presidency at CCA, Roth again saw an opportunity to build an institution in support of both academic and civic purposes.

“I have been deeply attracted to the arts and crafts movement, which was at the roots of CCA,” Roth says. “The college offers a first-rate education through the arts, and we believe in connecting that education to social and political issues.”

At CCA – a San Francisco Bay Area institution devoted to fine arts, architecture, design and writing – Roth led an effort to revise the school’s curriculum to emphasize interdisciplinary work and liberal learning. The school added new academic programs, including undergraduate degrees in community arts, creative writing, visual studies and animation, as well as masters programs in curatorial practice, visual criticism, design, writing and architecture. Roth developed and raised funds to support a Center for Art and Public Life, which fosters community partnerships in the San Francisco Bay area and models ways art can benefit underserved urban neighborhoods and their schools. Similarly, he strengthened the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, which has developed an international reputation for its exhibitions and public programs. Roth led fundraising efforts for new facilities, programs, and endowment that tripled the institution’s fundraising record from a similar period in the 1990s. The number of alumni donors grew threefold during his tenure. In the seven years under his leadership, the institution has become “one of the most progressive arts education institutions in the country,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

CCA trustee and former board chair Simon Blattner described Roth as a “consensus-builder who has worked effectively with faculty, students, staff, as well as the board, to achieve the college’s strategic goals.” Roth is a “quick learner” in academic and business settings in which he has no prior expertise. Blattner also noted that Roth “connects with students by teaching what has been the most popular course on campus for the past four years.”

Roth’s wife, Kari Weil, is chair of the Critical Studies Program and associate professor of writing and literature at CCA. Weil’s interests include 19th and 20th century French and comparative literature, cultural studies, literary theory and criticism, feminist theory, women’s studies and, more recently, animal studies. She is the author of Androgyny and the Denial of Difference (University Press of Virginia, 1992) and is at work on a manuscript titled “La Plus Belle Conquête de l’Homme: Horses, Gender and the Conquest of Animal Nature in Nineteenth-Century France.” Weil earned her Ph.D in comparative literature from Princeton University in 1985. She joined the faculty at Wake Forest University that year and earned tenure in 1992. After 1997, she taught at UCLA and the University of California at Berkeley before joining the faculty at CCA in 2001.

Roth and Weil have a 9-year-old daughter, Sophie Weil-Roth, who will accompany them to Middletown. Roth also has two sons from a previous marriage: Jeremy Neil Roth, 22, a senior at CCA who hopes to pursue graduate studies in film, and Max Benjamin Roth, 19, a freshman at CCA.

Roth and his family will visit campus on Friday, April 27, to be formally introduced to the campus community. The 4:15 p.m. introduction will be broadcast on the Wesleyan Web site.

NSF Grant to Support Women’s Advancement in the Geosciences


In center, Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, teaches visiting 5th grade students about rocks. O’Connell was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to support building a community of women geoscience leaders.
Posted 04/02/07
A three-year, $488,367 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and Mary Anne Holmes, research associate professor at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, will help women from all academic levels take part in a community that stresses professional development in the geosciences.

The project, titled, “Building a Community of Women Geoscience Leaders” is funded by the NSF’s ADVANCE Partnerships for Adaptation, Implementation and Dissemination Award. Wesleyan’s portion of the grant is$259,593.

“We want to overcome isolation, a known factor in the non-retention of women scientists, teach women skills to help them succeed in academia, and develop strategies with female and male department chairs to develop an environment that is more supportive of women,” O’Connell says.

The grant will fund a program designed to increase the retention of women in geoscience programs. The program, called GANE, or Geoscience Academics in New England, will target colleges and universities located in the northeast region of the country.

O’Connell and Holmes hope to implement professional development workshops and writing retreats to provide women necessary skills to reach their full potential as academic and scientific leaders. Geoscience department chairs will be offered special workshops, as well, with an emphasis on increasing gender balance. These workshops will address strategies to increase department diversity, while providing a productive environment for all faculty.

A database of academic geoscientists will be created to measure progress. Results may be shared with other regions across the country.

O’Connell and Holmes are both members of the Association for Women Geoscientists, an international organization devoted to enhancing the quality and level of participation of women in the geosciences. It also aims to introduce girls and young women to geoscience careers. In 2000, O’Connell was given the association’s Outstanding Educator Award.

O’Connell says it was a physician who inspired her to become a professional woman. When O’Connell was 10, she fell off a fence and was taken to the hospital. Lying for hours in a large green room, she saw many incredible sights, but what amazed her most at the time was that the person who treated her was a woman.

“A woman doctor! That was a revelation,” O’Connell recalls. “At that time, I was planning to be a nun, but now it occurred to me that maybe I could be a doctor. That woman, just by her presence, started me thinking. Like that physician, we are all role models. Who knows what ideas we can implant in young heads.”

O’Connell didn’t grow up to be a physician or nun, but she did receive a Ph.D studying marine sediments, focusing on how large quantities of land sediment get transported to the deep sea by turbidity currents. She teaches Wesleyan students about sedimentology, marine geology, climate change and oceanography, and researches past climate change by studying sediment cores from the ocean.

“I don’t think we can always know how we are influencing others,” O’Connell says. “But I do think that we, as women geoscientists, help every young girl to know that she has wider career options. It’s often not easy, but it is exciting.”

O’Connell was featured in the March 2007 issue of Nature, Volume 446 Number 7133, in an article titled, “Leaks in the pipeline: Why do women remain curiously absent from the ranks of academia?” The article is online at http://www.nature.com/naturejobs/2007/070315/full/nj7133-346a.html.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Faculty Finds Strongest Evidence Yet of Link Between CO2 and Global Temperature Change


A study by Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, has established a calculable relationship between increases in CO2 and global surface temperatures.
Posted 04/02/07
The connection between CO2 concentrations and increased global temperatures just gained a significant amount of evidence – about 420 million years worth of evidence, to be specific.

In a paper published in the March 29 issue of Nature, Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, and two colleagues from Yale University have used nearly 500 data points to create the most comprehensive model of the relationship between CO2 and temperature to date. The findings indicate that over the last 420 million years increases in CO2 in the atmosphere have had a direct and calculable relationship to increases in global surface temperatures.

Royer is the study’s primary investigator; his co-authors on the paper are Robert Berner and Jeffrey Park who are both faculty at the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale University.

The study provides the strongest and most conclusive evidence to date that, in the history of the Earth, rises in atmospheric CO2 concentrations are directly linked to increases in global surface temperatures.

“This link has been established by previous studies, but the most expansive of these only went back about 15,000 years,” Royer says. “That’s barely a blink of an eye in terms of the life of the planet. Our study went back much further in time. It was intriguing that much of what we found was consistent with these other studies.

Specifically, what Royer and his co-investigators found was that every doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentrations resulted in an approximately 3° C (approx 5 ° F) increase in global surface temperature. This ratio is consistent with shorter-term models and surveys.

Of course, identifying accurate data points for atmospheric CO2 are what make studies such as these difficult. Before approximately 50 years ago, there were no atmospheric CO2 measurements made directly by human beings. However, scientists have been able to use a variety of methods that rely on studies of soil, sediments, sea beds, and even fossils.

“One method involves analyzing the stomata of certain kinds of fossilized plants,” Royer says. “When the CO2 concentrations are higher, plants will have fewer pores for gas exchange. When it is lower, these plants will have more pores. This information can be combined with what we know about the temperature and other environmental factors from that period in a particular kind of modeling.”

Royer and his fellow researchers were able to draw together the data generated from a variety of methods to create their study.
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Watson Fellowship Allows Seniors to Study Abroad


 
At left, Marlon Bishop ’07 and Leigh Senderowicz ‘07 received Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellowships, which facilitate independent projects abroad.
Posted 04/02/07
Two Wesleyan students will have the opportunity to travel abroad and conduct independent studies as Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellows.

Marlon Bishop ’07 and Leigh Senderowicz ‘07 each received the $25,000 award. The Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellowship provides graduating college seniors with a one year fellowship to explore an independent project outside of the United States, to enhance their capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership and to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community.

Approximately 195 students were nominated to be Watson Fellows; of these, only 50 were accepted. They come from 24 states and seven foreign countries.

Louise Brown, associate dean of the college and campus liaison, nominated Bishop and Senderowicz.

“We are delighted that Marlon and Leigh will have this unequaled opportunity to experience learning on a global scale, “Brown says. “They will not only engage in a project about which they are passionate, but also experience the personal and intellectual stretch from undertaking an independent project in countries outside the United States. Being awarded seven fellowships over the past five years is a wonderful recognition of the intellect, creativity and character of Wesleyan students.

Bishop will travel to the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Uruguay, Ecuador and Brazil for his study “From Punta to Palos: Exploring the Hidden Afro-Latino Musics.” Senderowicz will travel to Peru, Senegal, South Africa, Turkey for a study titled “Taboo and Tolerance: Reproductive Health in Cultural Context.”

Bishop’s psroject comes from a personal musical connection to the African-derived musical styles of the United States, a great interest in Latin America and its cultural milieu, and a musicological education at Wesleyan. The Queens, N.Y. native started playing piano when he was 10, and started performing musical jams at the age of 14. He’s explored rock, American blues, soul, funk, jazz, classical and Afro-Cuban music, and at the age of 16, developed a fascination for Latin American culture and music during a visit to Peru.

Bishop recalls playing his charango, a small Andean string instrument, and a group of teenagers with guitars and flutes came by, curious to see what a “fair-haired gringo” was doing with a local instrument. Though he only knew a handful of chords, it was enough to play along and he and the Peruvians spent the rest of the day playing.

“Though I spoke little Spanish at the time, I was able to communicate meaningfully with people who lived a world apart through music,” Bishop says. “The Watson year will take my personal, musical, and academic development to the next level, synthesizing the knowledge I have achieved into a single vision of the cultural processes that make music what it is.”

Senderowicz will look at how women’s health is affected by the laws of a nation, the dictates of culture, the directives of religion, the politics of international development organizations, and the values of the women themselves. Specifically, she will examine reproductive health choices by looking at the situation at each rung of the ladder as aid money travels from international organizations down to women seeking health care.

She intends to talk with administrators, doctors, nurses, traditional health care practitioners, and most importantly, women seeking reproductive health care at non-governmental organizations and local health clinics.

“The biggest thing I hope to accomplish is gaining a sense of what my role in a broader global context should be,” Senderowicz says. “I’m going to use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as a chance to re-engage and try to figure out where I can make positive interventions.”

The foundation selects its fellows by identifying individuals who demonstrate leadership, resourcefulness, imagination or vision, independence, integrity, responsibility and emotional maturity and courage. A candidate’s academic record, while not of primary importance, is also considered, together with those extracurricular activities that reflect both initiative and dedication.

Watson Fellows must create, execute, and evaluate their own projects. Fellows set their agenda and decide how questions can be answered, when it is time to move on, if a project must be adjusted in any way. All fellows are required to maintain contact with the foundation during their year abroad, and submit a final evaluation.

“I’m very lucky not to have to jump into the grind of a career, and want to make the most possible out of this year,” Bishop says. “A year of travel, adventure, new sights and sounds, education, the joy of exploration of a little-studied subject. It all sounds like a great experience.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Blumenthal Featured at Wesleyan Earth Day Celebration


Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will speak April 18 on campus.
Posted 03/16/07
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will deliver a keynote address on Connecticut’s Role in the Fight Against Global Warming at Wesleyan University’s Earth Day celebration at 8 p.m. April 18 in Wesleyan’s Memorial Chapel.

The event is free and open to the public. A reception will be held afterward in the adjoining Zelnick Pavilion.

The presentation is being sponsored by The Robert Schumann Lecture Series in the Environmental Studies Certificate Program.

For more information, contact Valerie Marinelli at 860-685-3733 or vmarinelli@wesleyan.edu.

Computer Protocols Changed to Insure Private Network


Wesleyan will keep its Internet services private.
Posted 03/16/07
Wesleyan will adjust its computer network access protocols in order to remain exempt from an order by the Federal Communications Commission that requires facilities-based Internet service providers to engineer their networks to assist law enforcement agencies in executing wiretap orders.

The changes, intended to ensure that the university’s network is viewed as “private” and thus exempt, include requiring log-ins for access to the campus wireless network, kiosks and library computers. To facilitate guest use, each Wesleyan user will be able to request as many as five guest accounts through the electronic portfolio; each guest account will remain active for three days. ITS expects to have these changes implemented in May.

The 2005 FCC order extends the terms of the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) to facilities-based Internet service providers. CALEA is a federal law that requires providers of commercial voice services to engineer their networks in such a way as to assist law enforcement agencies in executing wiretap orders. Only private networks are exempt from the FCC order. Analyses by EDUCAUSE and the American Council on Education support the use of two criteria in determining whether a college or university can hold itself exempt: it may not own the hardware that connects its network to the Internet, and it must authenticate all users who access the Internet from its network. The hardware Wesleyan uses is owned by the Connecticut Education Network.

The right of law enforcement agencies to legally intercept all forms of communication, including the Internet, and use the results as evidence in a court of law has existed since 1968. CALEA does not change the legal requirements to wiretap. CALEA requires providers to engineer their systems to make wiretapping easier and less expensive for law enforcement; in doing so, it places what can be a significant financial burden on the provider.
 

By Justin Harmon, vice president for Public Affairs

Student Selected to Join Institute for Responsible Citizenship

 

Posted 03/16/07
This summer, Gaël Hagen ’09 will be doing something a little different than he’s used to. Specifically, he’ll have the opportunity to meet with such high-level government officials including Supreme Court Justices, the Secretary of State, U.S. Senators, U.S. Congressmen, as well as business leaders.

Hagen, pictured at right, is a newly-selected scholar to the Institute for Responsible Citizenship, a leadership program centered at Georgetown University. Each year, 24 minority male students are selected to participate in the two-summer program in Washington, D.C. During the first summer, students take courses on campus while interning in the D.C. Metro area. During the second summer, students work full-time and act as mentors to the next group of 24 newly-admitted candidates.

“I feel very fortunate to have been chosen among a group of individuals who all are highly talented and have managed to do astonishing things with their lives thus far,” Hagan says. “It will be both a great honor and a privilege to be a part of the institute and enjoy all it has to offer.”

A stipend is provided to cover the cost of transportation and food. Students live in university housing provided by the institute during the program.

Hagen, who is studying in the College of Social Studies, became interested in law during high school. Since then, he’s tried to immerse himself in as many law-related activities as possible; the institute being one of them. The institute will provide him with not only a legal internship in America’s political powerbase, but offer encouragement within a valuable academic and social environment.

“What personally draws me to law is the way in which it demands a person to perform and analyze in a constantly changing environment,” Hagen says. “The practice of law, at least as I have witnessed it, is something that is never a stagnant ordeal. New cases provide new hurdles, new personalities, and new problems. It seems as though it requires a person who likes a consistent challenge.”

A resident of Centennial, Colorado, Hagen came to Wesleyan, seeking a university that offered a new environment. He favored the College of Social Studies for its closeness and intensity. He also joined the crew team as a freshman, looking for a different kind of intensity.

“Certainly the culture here is much different than in Colorado, or most places west of here, for that matter; so it was a compelling move,” Hagen says. “For some, being involved in a two-season sport like crew and studying in the College of Social Studies is an all but desirable combo; but for me, it means that every day I get to do the two things that I love most about being at Wesleyan.”

A recipient of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Academic Scholarship for his academic achievements, Gaël was also named Student of the Year by the Colorado Association of Black Engineers and Scientists in 2005 for his distinguished leadership skills. Last summer, Gaël interned at Holland and Hart LLP, where his proficiency in French aided the firm immeasurably.

Hagan says his background and cultural experience provides him with a toolset and a perspective with which he can employ as a unique advantage, not only at Wesleyan but at the institute.

“The experience of the American minority is one that is highly important for the country as a whole given its ‘melting pot’ origins, and I think that our voice is one that is, and rightfully should be represented and respected in the nation’s judicial activities,” he says.

On the other hand, Hagan winces at sloppy references to cultural or ethnic groups as just ‘the minorities’ and ‘people of color.’ He believes it places too much emphasis on a separation of cultures, which only discourages unity and distances people from each other.

“I do not consider myself to be a minority or a ‘person of color’ before I consider myself a young person, a student, a person with career goals, an athlete; no different from any other person who might fit those categories,” he says. “Yes, I happen to have a multi-ethnic background which, if I were to explain in depth, would span four continents; but I don’t feel that those are my primary personal attributes and encourage people in both camps – ‘the minority’ and ‘the majority’ — to understand not how their cultural experiences differ them from others, but how their cultural experiences connect them to others.”
 

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

New Science Center Gets Boost from Trustee, Wife


Posted 03/16/07
A $2.5 million pledge from Board of Trustee member Joshua Boger ‘ 73, and Amy Boger will support planning for a new molecular and life sciences building at Wesleyan.

Joshua Boger, pictured at left, who founded and currently serves as president and CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, leads Wesleyan’s Science Advisory Council, which works to strengthen the sciences at Wesleyan and to raise their visibility on and off campus. He also has served as a charter trustee of Wesleyan since 1999.

Payette Associates of Cambridge, Mass., is working with faculty in the molecular and life sciences disciplines on programming and feasibility studies for the building, which would replace the Hall-Atwater Laboratory. These studies will provide the basis for a schematic design to be completed within a year. A $1 million gift from Board of Trustees member George Ring P ’98 ’02 and his family has supported the initial planning. The Bogers’ gift is intended both to support this work through the schematic design phase and to catalyze further fundraising for the project. The building is expected to provide at least 175,000 square feet of space and to cost at least $125 million. If fundraising proceeds quickly, construction could begin as early as 2009.

Boger believes that, in addition to serving the needs of science faculty, graduate students and science majors, the new building should support the efforts of Wesleyan faculty to address a crucial need for science literacy among college graduates. “The challenge to society is to have everyone comfortable and conversant with the sciences,” he says. “We want all our students to be able to go out into the real world and be players in discussions that involve science issues, to understand what it means to be a scientist, to be confident approaching scientists and talking to them about the many questions of the day that concern science. That means all our students, whether English majors or economists, should have some experience with real science.

“Part of the goal for the new building will be to help pull the rest of the campus into the experience of real science,” Boger adds. “We think the architecture should be inviting and support the sense that science is fun.”

Wesleyan’s educational model features science graduate programs situated within a traditional liberal arts college, as well as a strong focus on interdisciplinary research and teaching. Wesleyan undergraduates have opportunities to participate in extramurally funded research in close partnership with faculty and graduate students. They frequently participate in upper-level project-based laboratory experiences, and over a third of science majors execute independent research projects in the laboratories of Wesleyan faculty. According to data compiled by the National Science Foundation, Wesleyan consistently ranks among the top 10 baccalaureate colleges in the numbers of students going on to obtain the Ph.D degree in the sciences.

Boger began to realize his own love of the sciences when as a boy of nine he began growing potassium permanganate crystals in a lab he set up above the family garage. He also swabbed the mouths of neighborhood playmates and grew cultures in his mother’s refrigerator.

“If you had asked me then if I was going to be a scientist, I wouldn’t have understood why you were asking,” he says. “It was simply that science was a fun thing to do.

“Fast forward a few years to the day I walked into Max Tishler’s organic chemistry class, and that was a good moment as well,” Boger says. “Max was amazingly animated and passionate about why this was all so important. Peter Leermakers was my Intro to Chem teacher, and he had the same sense of fun.”

Boger is a director and vice chairman of BIO, the biopharmaceutical industry trade association; a founding director of the New England Healthcare Institute, and a director of the Hastings Institute. He holds a BA in chemistry and philosophy from Wesleyan and MS and PhD degrees in chemistry from Harvard University. Amy Schafer Boger , a physician and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, is a professional ceramic artist.

“We are grateful to Joshua Boger for his leadership on the Science Advisory Council and the Board of Trustees and to Joshua and Amy for their personal generosity to Wesleyan,” says President Doug Bennet. “Their enthusiasm for Wesleyan science education inspires all of us to think expansively about ways we can advance our work to address a crucial societal need. We look forward to having a facility that will support the experience of science as a vital and integral part of the education all our students receive.”
 

By Justin Harmon, vice president for Public Affairs

Davis ’07 Wins 5,000M National Indoor Championship


Posted 03/16/07
Competing in the 5,000M event in the NCAA Division III Indoor Track Championships for the third year in a row, Ellen Davis ’07 completed her rise from eighth in 2005, to fourth in 2006, and finally national champion in 2007 at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind. March 10.

Her winning time of 16:43.73 eclipsed the team record she set a year ago (16:46.61) when she entered the NCAAs with the fastest qualifying time in the country.

This race is equivalent to 3.1 miles.

Davis, pictured at far left, came into the event as the number four seed but ran away from the field, leaving second-place Shauneen Garrahan of Amherst 7.5 seconds behind. With 10 team points courtesy of Davis’ top finish, Wesleyan came in tied for 16th among 56 scoring teams at the NCAAs in 2007.

A three-time indoor track All-American, Davis also has two All-America performances in cross country to her credit, including a 9th-place finish in 2006.

Davis is Wesleyan’s second national female indoor track champion in the last four years. She joins Jenna Flateman ’04 who won 55-meter dash title in 2003 and was a four-time All-American in the event.

Davis’ victory is seen in the online video http://www.rose-hulman.edu/sports/ncaatrack/pages/5000womenweb.mov.

The next track meet for Wesleyan is the outdoor Trinity Invitational at Trinity College in Hartford on March 31.
 

By Brian Katten, sports information director. Photo provided by Rose-Hulman.

WesLink Connects Campus to Business Opportunities, Events and Each Other


University Relations created WesLink for faculty, staff, students and alumni to post events.
Posted 03/16/07
On a single site, Wesleyan alumni can market their businesses, faculty can promote their newly-released books, students can seek volunteers for their community service projects, and much more.

WesLink, a Web site launched Feb. 16 by the Office of University Relations, enables all alumni, faculty, staff and students to post non-Wesleyan sponsored events, announcements, activities, and services to the greater Wesleyan community.

“We are always looking for opportunities to engage alumni with the university and with each other, and WesLink helps to bridge that engagement, while at the same time showcasing some of the extraordinary talents of the greater Wesleyan community,” explains Jennifer Jurgen, senior associate director of Regional Programs and Networks.

WesLink, https://weslink.wesleyan.edu/ is reserved for all members of the Wesleyan community. Users can post events occurring on or off campus. These events may be theater, music, comedy, literary, athletic or community-service related.

WesLink offers a dozen regional sections where alumni living in these areas can post their own local events. These sections include the cities of Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC, and Connecticut.

In addition, the site features sections on Real Estate and Housing, Wesleyan Authors, Reunion & Commencement Weekend 2007; Business Marketing and an Everything Else category.

The site is maintained by University Relations and Information Technology Services staff. The site mirrors the Wesleyan Classifieds, which was established in 2005.

“In the process of working with our regional club programming, we often hear from alumni who want to promote their theater events, concerts, comedy shows, art exhibits, etc,” Jurgen says. “Since the timing doesn’t always allow us to work these alumni-sponsored events into our club event calendars, we wanted to create a forum where they could still get their information out to the greater Wesleyan community.”

Wesleyan’s online newsletter, The Wesleyan Connection, and online magazine, The Wesleyan Extra, also receive dozens of e-mails each month from the campus community eager to announce upcoming events or business endeavors. WesLink will provide a venue for people to post these announcements if they are unable to be published in one of these publications.

WesLink was an instant success with alumni, who contributed more than two dozen postings in the site’s first week of being active.

Heidi Mastrogiovanni ’79 took advantage of the Los Angeles Events section by posting an animal rescue volunteer opportunity. In the ad, she mentions she is a board member of volunteer-operated Forgotten Animals of Los Angeles. Elizabeth Ehrlich ’04 posted an announcement of her business, Snuggle Up, in the Business and Marketing section of WesLink. In her posting, she mentions she is a stay-at-home mom selling personalized towels, hand-dyed clothing, fleece blankets and more for babies and kids.

“She sells baby clothes with watermelons painted on them. They are too cute. I had to send the link to three of my friends,” Jurgen says.

While the public may view the postings, only Wesleyan alumni, students, faculty, and staff have the ability to post items to WesLink. The site requires a Wesleyan username and password to log into the system. Users are allowed to upload one photo with each posting.

Items posted to the system automatically expire after 30 days, however users will be sent an email a week prior to the expiration date, which will offer the option to extend the posting for an additional month.

WesLink administrators reserve the right to edit or remove postings with inappropriate content.

For more information, to obtain a lost username or password, or to make a suggestion on the new system, e-mail weslink@wesleyan.edu.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor