Campus News & Events

Men’s Ice Hockey Takes Europe by Storm


At top, The men’s ice hockey team played the HC Valvenosta in Laces, Italy over Christmas break while touring Europe and playing several games. At right, members of the team take in the sights in Innsbruck, Austria.

Below, Wesleyan plays the Caldaro Under-26 squad in Caldaro, Italy. (Photos contributed by Chris Potter)

Posted 01/22/07
During the winter holiday break, the men’s ice hockey team toured Germany, Austria and Italy, competing against four local club teams, and winning all the games while beating opponents by a combined score of 30-1.

“I’m afraid the competition there wasn’t quite up to level we expected,” said fourth-year head coach Chris Potter. “But it still gave us a chance to skate, practice a few new things and improve our game overall.”

The planning for the trip began almost two years ago. Wesleyan teams are permitted foreign travel once every four years. Following the 2004-05 season, Coach Potter and his upperclassmen began discussing options. “We talked about the Czech Republic and Scandinavia, but in the end this trip won out,” Coach Potter explained.

Using numerous fund-raising techniques to help cover the $1,900 cost per individual, the team accumulated enough money to bring a contingent of 36 people, including all 32 players, the three coaches and the head athletic trainer. They were joined by 30 family members, bringing the total for the trip to 66.

The three-country trip began in began in Munich, Germany, a city that left an impression on at least one player.

“I thought our three days in Munich were the best,” said forward J.J. Evans ’09. “It seemed so European and I thought the bratwurst was spectacular. Even though I got a kiss from an Italian girl on New Year’s Eve when we were in Bolzano, I’m still going with Munich.”

For team captain Will Bennett ’07 Innsbruck, Austria was a favorite. He also said the location of the team’s final contest against the Caldaro (Italy) Under-26 squad, an 8-0 Wesleyan win, was amazing.

“This rink was dropped right into the countryside,” Bennett said. “It made you wonder how they managed to build it where they did.”

Soon after returning, the Cardinals managed to get their skates back on for their regular-scheduled home games on January 5 and 6. Wesleyan won both to extend its current unbeaten streak to five games and hold a 5-3-2 overall record. It is the first time the team has held a winning record after 10 games since 1988-89.

“I’m seeing the team starting to gel,” said Coach Potter. “I think the trip was valuable and I made some interesting rooming assignments to help the players get more comfortable with each other. I’m hoping the whole thing will pay off as the season progresses.”
 

By Brian Katten, sports information director

Associate Professor Judges Biomedical Conference for Minorities


Ishita Mukerji, chair and associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, uses a UV resonance Raman spectrometer in her research at Wesleyan. Mukerji recently attended a conference in California, judging presentations on biomedical sciences.
Posted 01/22/07
Encouraging underrepresented minority students to pursue advanced training in the biomedical and behavioral sciences was the purpose of a recent conference in Anaheim, Calif. And the chair of Wesleyan’s Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department was there to help guide these students down that path.

Ishita Mukerji, chair and associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, was among 220 scientists around the country who attended the 2006 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), held Nov. 8-11.

The scientists volunteered their time and energy in judging the 1,048 poster presentations and 72 oral presentations.

“The number of minority students in biomedical research is very small,” Mukerji explains. “I and my colleagues are committed to improving diversity in the sciences and this is a great opportunity to meet and interact with minority students. We would like to have more under-represented students at all levels in the sciences at Wesleyan and this is one way to interact with minority students and potentially recruit them to come to Wesleyan University.”

Now in its seventh year, ABRCMS is the largest professional conference for biomedical and behavioral students. Over 2,500 people attended the 2006 conference including 1,633 students, 421 faculty and program directors and 418 exhibitors. ABRCMS is supported by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and managed by the American Society for Microbiology.

By volunteering as a judge, Mukerji served in one of the most important roles at the conference, explains Ronica Rodela, spokesperson for the ABRCMS.

“The judge’s role in providing constructive feedback to student presenters positively enhances the professional development and advancement of students in their scientific research,” Rodela says.

These presentations were given by undergraduate, graduate, post-baccalaureate students as well as postdoctoral scientists in nine sub-disciplines in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. The top 120 undergraduates received monetary awards of $250 for their outstanding research.

Mukerji says some of the research she judged was comparable to the research being done by Wesleyan undergraduates. On the other hand, there is a wide range of science presented at the conference, and some of the students are coming from two-year institutions that don’t have a lot of resources for doing science.

“The judging process is an interactive one in which I usually talk to the students about their research project, their scientific interests and what their future plans are,” Mukerji explains. “Many of them are very enthusiastic about their projects and that makes the judging a lot of fun. On the whole I find it to be a very rewarding experience.”

Mukerji is currently the chairperson of the Minority Affairs Committee for the Biophysical Society. For their annual meeting in March, she has arranged a panel discussion on “Recruitment, Retention and Mentoring of Under-represented Students.” Featured panelists will be representatives from MentorNet and Venture Scholars. Both of these organizations are committed to increasing diversity at all levels in the sciences.

For more information on the conference, visit www.abrcms.org. The 2007 ABRCMS is scheduled for Nov. 7-10 in Austin, Texas.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Web Site Teaches Haitian Celebration Through Text, Sound, Video


A new learning objects tool, designed by Associate Professor Elizabeth McAlister, features multimedia tools to help teach the story of Rara.
Posted 01/17/07
In Haiti, the people celebrate their African ancestry and religion with a Rara festival, a culturally rich musical and dance event.

Elizabeth McAlister, associate professor of Religion and chair of the Religion Department, associate professor of African American studies, and associate professor of American studies, has studied this tradition for 15 years. Through a newly-created teaching tool, she hopes people can gain new insights on the Rara festival.

Designed by Wesleyan’s Learning Objects Studio staff, the Web site, http://rara.wesleyan.edu/ is available for academic and public use. The site is already being used at classes at New York University and Swarthmore.

“My hope is that people interested in Rara, students, musicians, artists, travelers and other researchers, will be able to use this Web site as an interactive study guide,” McAlister says.

McAlister’s interest in Rara dates back to 1991 when she began researching Haiti’s vibrant culture, often celebrated through Rara. In 2002, she published a book titled, “Rara! Vodou, Power and Performance in Haiti and its Diaspora.” The Web site serves as a companion piece to her book on Rara.

“After my book on Rara came out, internet technology made it possible to display the photographs and videotape that I made in Haiti, together with my friends and collaborators,” she explains.

Through the online tool, McAlister posted a 15-minute film about Rara, music and dance clips. She included images, video and audio clips of Rara as a carnival; Rara as a religious obligation in Vodou; Rara and the Christians and Jews; Rara gender and sexuality; Rara and politics; and Rara in New York City.

In each section, McAlister includes media, notes from the field, and an analysis, often adapted from her book.

When explaining Rara as a form of carnival, McAlister explains, in the analysis, that “the ‘tone,’ or ‘ambiance,’ of Rara parading is loud and carnivalesque … As in Carnival, Rara is about moving through the streets, and about men establishing masculine reputation through public performance. Rara bands stop to perform for noteworthy people, to collect money. In return, the kings and queens dance and sing, and the baton majors juggle batons-and even machetes!”

The site includes clips on several Rara bands including La Belle Fraicheur de l’Anglade in Fermathe, Mande Gran Moun in Darbonne, Rara La Fleur Ginen in Bel Air, Rara Inorab Kapab in Cite Soleil and Rara Ya Seizi.

Donning traditional Rara costumes, which are known for their delicate sequin work and vivacious colors, dancers are shown in action, in low or high bandwidth videos of dances and music. In one clip, a queen and two kings dance the “mazoun.” Traditional instruments such as bamboo and the paper-fabricated konet are shown in several accompanying images like the one at right.

The music featured on the Web site was produced by Holly Nicolas, postal clerk, and mixed and mastered by Peter Hadley, conductor of Wes Winds.

McAlister, who lived in Haiti to study Rara, says she walked with the bands, took them seriously and listened to what they had to say.

“My book, and now this Web site, tell that story,” she says.

For more information on the Learning Objects Studio go to: http://learningobjects.wesleyan.edu.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan University Press Receives NEA Grant for Poetry


Posted 12/20/06
Wesleyan University Press will be the recipient of a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The grant was awarded “for the publication, promotion and distribution of new collections of poetry.”

The press requested support for the publication and promotion of 12 poetry books that will be published in the Wesleyan Poetry Series in 2007 and 2008. Forthcoming titles to be covered by the grant include New and Collected Poems by Barbara Guest, a new edition of Victor Segalen’s modernist classic Stèles, and Zong by Marlene NourbeSe Philip.

“We are delighted that the NEA is recognizing the importance of Wesleyan’s program, explains Suzanne Tamminen, director of Wesleyan University Press. “Their support will not only help us cover publishing costs; it will aid in our marketing efforts,”

Leslie Starr, assistant director and marketing manager, says a portion of the NEA funds will go towards the press’s Web site development. The press hopes to reach a larger student audience, and to increase the course adoption of its poetry books by utilizing the Web.

To this end, new Web pages will be designed for a select group of Wesleyan poetry books, specifically to enhance their usefulness in the classroom setting.

“These pages will provide context for the books, links to author interviews, reviews, and audio clips, as well as essay topics and suggested further reading,” Tamminen says.

The Press’s staff consists of Tamminen, Starr, Stephanie Elliott, publicist; and Eric Levy, senior editor. Their office is located at 215 Long Lane in Middletown, across from the Physical Plant building.

Wesleyan University Press is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2007. The press is best known for its poetry series, which has included such notable poets as James Dickey, James Wright, Robert Bly, Marge Piercy, Ellen Bryant Voigt and Yusef Komunyakaa, among others.

The press has continued the tradition of publishing top-notch poetry, having won the 2004 National Book Award for poetry, for Jean Valentine’s Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965–2003, and the 2006 International Griffin Poetry Prize, for Kamau Brathwaite’s Born to Slow Horses.

For more information visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/wespress/.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

9 Students Compete in National Math Competition


At left, Daniel Greengard ’08, Albert Hill ’07 and David Pollack, assistant professor of mathematics, work through problems, which were part of the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition held Dec. 2.

Posted 12/20/06
During a recent mathematics test, which spanned six hours, Daniel Greengard ’08 believes he only got one question completely correct out of 12.

But getting only one question correct puts him in the top half of all test-takers, explains David Pollack, assistant professor of mathematics and faculty-advisor for the 67th Annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition held Dec. 2.

The Putnam exam tests originality and technical competence, and contestants are expected to be familiar with formal theories embodied in undergraduate mathematics. All the necessary work to justify an answer and all the necessary steps of a proof must be shown clearly to obtain full credit.

Greengard was one of nine Wesleyan students who competed in the national competition. The annual contest began in 1938 and is designed to stimulate a healthy rivalry in mathematical studies in the colleges and universities of the United States and Canada.

“Since the Putman problems come from many different areas of mathematics, occasionally we see a problem that somehow relates to a course that one of us is taking, but rarely do theorems from the course help,” says Greengard, a mathematics major who has competed three times. “Only basic knowledge of math is needed to solve most of the problems. For solving the Putnam problems, creativity and cleverness are much more helpful than knowledge of math.”

Although practicing for the test is not necessary, Pollack ran Putnam practice sessions every Friday afternoon.

“The practice sessions allow the students to work through similar problems together and share ideas with one another,” Pollack says.

But during the test, they compete as individuals, which involves taking two, three-hour examinations under the supervision of a mathematics faculty member. Since the test grading is extensive, results won’t be posted until April 2007.

Prizes are awarded to the institutions with the five winning teams. The top three teams receive cash prizes of $15,000 to 25,000. The five highest ranking individuals are designated Putnam Fellows by the Mathematical Association of America.

Putnam exam-taker Albert Hill ’07, who is double majoring in mathematics and music, says most of the problems can be solved without using anything above linear algebra and multi-variable calculus. He recommends anyone who enjoys thinking creatively about intricate math problems would enjoy taking the exam.

“These aren’t problems you find on homework,” Hill says. “These require multi-level, multi-step thinking and are much more interesting.”

The competition is open only to regularly enrolled undergraduates, in colleges and universities of the United States and Canada, who have not yet received a college degree. No individual may participate in the competition more than four times.

The other students who competed this year include Jacob Goldin ’07, Daniel Hore ’07, Surendra Kunwar ’10, Jamie Macia ’07, Isaac Levy ’09, Yudhishthir Kandel ’09 and Nathan Fieldsteel ’10.

The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition is administered by The Mathematical Association of America.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Graduate Students, Alumni, Faculty Present Papers at Ethnomusicology Conference


At left, ethnomusicology students Marzanna Poplawska, Nick Hockin, Amy Ingram and Hae Joo Kim gather during the Society for Ethnomusicology’s 51st Annual Conference Nov. 16-19 in Honolulu.

Posted 12/20/06
Nine Wesleyan graduate students studying ethnomusicology ended a recent conference on a high note.

Each student presented papers at The Society for Ethnomusicology’s 51st Annual Conference Nov. 16-19 in Honolulu. This year’s topic was “Decolonizing Ethnomusicology.”

“The annual convention is the focal point of the year; these meetings offer a great chance to network with fellow grad students, eminent senior scholars, and former alums,” says Mark Slobin, professor of music. “In addition, this is a record-breaking number of graduate students that presented.”

Thembela Vokwana presented “Can We Sing Together? Performing Nationhood through Choral Festivals in South Africa.” Andrew Dewar presented “Sonic Explorations: On the Analysis of Intercultural Experimentalism;” Marzanna Poplawska presented “Diaspora or not yet–Indonesian Christians in the USA;” and Junko Oba presented “280,000 Invisible Men: Music, Identity, and the Story of Nikkei/Zainchi Brazilian Community in Japan, Summer 2005.”

Hae Joo Kim presented “Riding the Wave of Nostalgia and Melodrama through Dae Jang Geum;” Po-wei Weng presented “The Survival of Oral Tradition in a Modernizing Genre: ‘Oral Notation’ in Taiwan’s Peking Opera Percussion Music;” Ian Eagleson presented “Rural Popular Music and Ethnic Identity: Benga Dance Bands of the Luo Community in Western Kenya;” Chris Miller presented “Indonessian Musik Kontemporer and the Issue of ‘Western Influence;’” Vincenzo Cambria presented “Decolonizing the Archive: Documentation and the Production of Knowledge in a Participatory Ethnomusicological Research in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.” Amy Ingram presented “Parang: Finding a Place for Spanish Creole Identity in the Trinidadian National Calendar; and Nicholas Hockin presented “Drums, Headscarves, and Mothers’ Dances at Weddings in Bamako, Mali: Local Change on the Margins of Globalization;”

This was Hockin’s second time presenting a paper at the SEM conference. This year, the Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology, presented segments of his dissertation, which is scheduled to be completed next year.

“Presenting our ideas in paper sessions allows us a chance to get vital feedback from our peers, not to mention developing public speaking skills. Networking is an integral aspect of the conference, enabling members to share personal and professional insightsthat broaden our understanding of the field and of each other,” Hockin says. “And we develop a sense of what the latest trends are by checking out presentations, reading paper topic titles and abstracts, and by browsing and/or buying books.

In addition to the students, Slobin and Su Zheng, associate professor of music and East Asian studies, chaired panels at the conference. Eric Charry, associate professor of music and Rob Lancefield, manager of Museum Information Services and registrar of collections at Davison Art Center presented papers. Sumarsam, chair of the Music Department and adjunct professor of music, attended the conference, along with several students and recent alumni.

The nine graduate students are among 22 current students studying music. They are an unusually varied group, Slobin explains, including students from Brazil, China, South Africa, Ghana, Mexico, Taiwan and Canada. They are part of the 46-year old program’s interest in drawing the widest spectrum of students from among the substantial pool of applicants; selectivity runs at about 20 percent.

The Music Department faculty wants their students to be well rehearsed, so prior to the conference, they drill the students in the skills of preparing a paper abstract, developing a quality 20-mimute presentation, and delivering it in a lively and well-organized way.

“Usually our students’ papers stand out for the attentive response they draw from listeners, as opposed to the many droning, rapid-fire, or inaudible papers we sit through at the dozens of panels,” explains Slobin, pictured at left, center.

Wesleyan ethnomusicology Ph.D candidate Amy Ingram has attended a few SEM conferences in the past, but this was her first time presenting at the conference, and her first time presenting her dissertational material to her peers.

“I think that the conference is certainly a necessary rite of passage for all grad students,” Ingram explains. “It helps us all to gain the perspective of how our learning experience at Wesleyan compares to other graduate programs. Receiving feedback from peers and committee members certainly reinvigorated my motivation to keep writing, and meeting others during the social moments between panels was really beneficial.”

Following the conference, the Wesleyan affiliates held a party to draw the past and present students together.

In 2008, the SEM convention will be held at Wesleyan in the new Susan Lemberg Usdan University Center.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor. Photos  contributed.

Scholastic Honor Society Welcomes New Members


Wesleyan senior Maggie Arias was one of 15 seniors welcomed to Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest national scholastic honor society during a ceremony Dec. 13. Also pictured, at left, is Gary Yohe, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics and PBK secretary;  Mark Hovey, president of the gamma chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and Jane Tozer, assistant to the vice president of University Relations and PBK treasurer and event coordinator.
Posted 12/20/06
Fifteen Wesleyan students were inducted into the oldest national scholastic honor society, Phi Beta Kappa, during an initiation ceremony Dec. 13.

 

Election is limited to 12 percent of the graduating class, and based on general education expectations and by having a grade point average of 90 or above. Students are nominated by their major departments.

 

“As individuals and as a group, you have contributed a great deal to Wesleyan through your intellectual engagement in the academic work and residential life of the institution,” said President Doug Bennet during the induction ceremony. “Recognizing your accomplishments is certainly one of the highlights of my job and while I won’t claim that my delight exceeds your own, it comes pretty close.”

 

Phi Betta Kappa was founded in 1776, during the American Revolution. The students join the ninth oldest Phi Beta Kappa chapter in the United States—founded in 1845.

 

The organization’s Greek initials signify the motto, “Love of learning is the guide of life.”

 

“I am struck by the breadth and scope of academic interests, and the depth of study reflected across this group,” Bennet said. “A number of you have chosen double majors allowing you to combine those interests in your professional goals.  You have furthered your varied interests through summer activities and internships and research.

 

“Many students excel at Wesleyan, but those of you here today have taken on the challenge of a liberal arts education by investing yourself in everything you do. In a university where academic excellence is common, you stand out. That’s why membership in Phi Beta Kappa is such a singular honor. “

 

The students include:

 

OWEN RANDALL ALBIN, a double major in the American Studies Program and in neuroscience and behavior. Albin sings with the Wesleyan Spirits, one of the oldest all-male a cappella groups in the country. He is also a member of the Wesleyan sketch comedy group, Lunchbox, where he writes comedic skits and acts in them. A senior interviewer for the admission office, Albin and has been a teacher’s assistant for biology and chemistry classes. After graduation he hopes to do a few months of clinical volunteer work somewhere in Africa.

 

MARGARETTE “MAGGIE” ADELINA ARIAS, a psychology major, was inducted into Psi Chi last spring, the Psychology Honor Society. As part of a research team during her sophomore year, she worked closely with a local elementary school to implement a peer mediation program to reduce playground violence.  Three of her four years here at Wesleyan, she has worked at the Edna C. Stevens School in Cromwell in the after-school program, Kids Korner. Her plans include grad school, and plans to go into counseling or clinical social work.

 

HYUNG-JIN CHOI, an economics major, has sung with the a cappella group “Outside-In” for three years and won the intramural basketball championship his sophomore year. A Freeman Scholar, Choi has helped organize events for the Korean Students Association. After graduation Hyung-Jin will return to Korea to serve in the military for two years then plans to go to graduate school and further pursue his studies in economics. 

 

JACK MICHAEL DiSCIACCA carries a double major in mathematics and physics. During his junior year he was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship to fund research during the 2006-2007 school year. DiSciacca plans to attend graduate school to study either pure or applied physics.

 

CHRISTINA ANN DURFEE is a double major in mathematics and psychology. While at Wesleyan, Christina won the Robertson Prize and Rae Shortt Prize in mathematics. Her plans for the future remain uncertain, but Durfee is currently debating between going into the actuarial sciences and going to graduate school for math.

 

JACOB STUART GOLDIN is majoring in economics and government. During his sophomore year, Goldin organized a student group that worked with local organizations to push for gay marriage legislation in Connecticut. Eventually he plans to go to law school and/or graduate school in economics.

 

HANNAH GOODWIN-BROWN, a music major, won the Wesleyan Concerto Competition her sophomore year and performed the Elgar Cello Concerto with the Wesleyan orchestra. She went abroad to the Republic of Georgia, something no one at Wesleyan has done before, and was captain of the women’s ultimate Frisbee team. Goodwin-Brown hopes to work with plants in a professional capacity, perhaps getting a degree in either landscape architecture or horticulture.

 

MAXFIELD WESTGATE HEATH, a music major, is an active composer/pianist in several groups of many genres including jazz, rock, and hip-hop. He has recorded several albums and is in the process of recording a debut studio album of his own songs. He plans on studying composition in grad school in preparation for making a living through some combination of writing/recording/performing and teaching. 

 

CHEUK KEI HO, a math and economics major, is a member of the Wesleyan Spirits and has performed extensively on and off campus for the last four years. He is a Freeman Scholar and studied in Italy during his junior year fall semester. He plans to work in the investment banking division of J.P. Morgan Hong Kong after graduation.

 

CHEN-WEI “JACK” HUNG, a double major in economics and French studies, is a native of Taiwan and is a Freeman Scholar. He has learned French as his third language and studied in Grenoble for a semester. Hung was co-chair of the Wesleyan Model United Nations Team representing Slovenia, Hungary, and Malaysia in different MUN (Model United Nation) Conferences. He also served as a resident advisor for a year, taking care of 35 students. After graduation he will go to New York.

 

GRETCHEN MARLIESE KISHBAUCH carries a double major in psychology and science in society. She served as project director on research co-sponsored by Wesleyan’s Department of Psychology and the Middletown branch of the State Department of Children and Families.  During this time she directed a research team of undergraduate and graduate students investigating child maltreatment.  She was awarded membership in Psi Chi, a national psychology honor society.  She is currently co-developing and co-leading a student form on Global Health Issues in the Science in Society Department. Kishbauch plans to pursue graduate study in public health.

 

MANG-JU SHER, a physics major, is a Freeman Scholar. While at Wesleyan she started learning Japanese and violin.  She loves cooking and plans to pursue a Ph.D in physics.

 

BECK LARMON STRALEY is an earth and environmental science major. The bulk of Beck’s energy is currently focused on Venus. When not studying, Straley can be found at a residential life staff meeting, giving tours on campus to prospective students and their families, destroying the “gender binary,” or running.

 

ZHAOXUAN “CHARLES” YANG, an economics and mathematics major from China is a Freeman Scholar. Yang was captain of the Ping Pong Club for two years, co-chair of the Chinese Students Association, and a resident assistant. After graduation, Yang will be working for J.P Morgan Securities in their Hong Kong Office.

 

KEVIN ALAN YOUNG is a double major in history and Latin American studies.  During his time at Wesleyan, Kevin has taught 6th and 7th graders at Summerbridge Cambridge in two six-week courses in literature and a self-designed social studies class on the Vietnam War. He also served as a faculty advisor and organized a camping excursion for 75 students and 20 teachers. He has been a Big Brother volunteer, mentoring a nine-year-old boy.  On campus, Kevin has been active in United Student Labor Action Coalition, Students for Ending the War in Iraq, Nagarote-Wesleyan Partnership, and English as a Second Language. Young studied abroad in Nicaragua, and he received a Davenport Grant to spend nine weeks in Chiapas and Oaxaca in southeastern Mexico conducting research on popular education programs.  Young’s future includes graduate school in Latin American history and hopes to teach at the college and/or high school level.

 

To view additional photos go to the Wesleyan Connection’s Campus Snapshot section at http://www.wesleyan.edu/newsletter/snapshot/2006/1206phibetakappa.html.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Betty Tishler Celebrates 97th Birthday at Wesleyan


Pictured at top, from left, Gina Driscoll, associate director of stewardship, Penny Apter; Betty Tishler, and Philip Bolton, chair of the Chemistry Department and professor of chemistry. Pictured at left, President Doug Bennet reads a Proclamation to Tishler. (Photos by Olivia Drake and  by Roslyn Carrier-Brault)
Posted 12/20/06
Betty Tishler, wife of the late Professor Max Tishler, celebrated her 97th birthday Dec. 14 in the Exley Science Center. Tishler’s family and friends, Wesleyan affiliates and students attended.

During the two-hour party, President Doug Bennet presented Tishler with a Mayor’s Proclamation that acknowledged Tishler for her contributions to the greater Middletown community.

Tishler, who was married to Max Tishler for 55 years until his death in 1989, raised two sons, Peter and Carl, and has three grandchildren.

She was a partner in her husband’s productive and distinguished career at Merck pharmaceuticals from 1937 to 1970. Max Tishler led the development of new drugs and vitamins, which culminated in his receipt of the Presidential Medal of Honor from President Reagan. His developments included products for heart disease, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, mental depression and infectious diseases.

The Tishlers came to Middletown in 1970. They had an immediate and lasting impact on Wesleyan, especially the Chemistry Department, to which Betty Tishler remains especially devoted today.

She has established prizes at Wesleyan for art, music and for an annual piano competition, and most recently a Research Chair in Medicinal Chemistry in honor of her late husband.

In addition, she is a regular and generous supporter of the Middlesex County United Way.

Over the past 36 years, Tishler’s vitality, resilience, curiosity, generosity, and engagement have marked her as a special citizen of Wesleyan and Middletown.

Professor, Student Study Children’s Ability to Count


In back, Hilary Barth, assistant professor of psychology, works with her student, Ariel Ballinger ’07, on data resulting from a study on children’s counting ability.
Posted 12/20/06
“So many people have had one of those moments, when a check comes after dinner and they’re having a problem adding it up, and they stop and say, ‘I’m just not any good at math!” says Hilary Barth, assistant professor of psychology. “But they are. We all are. We’re born with it.”

This isn’t just an opinion from an overly-optimistic academic. Barth is one of a growing number of researchers studying intuitive understanding of numbers. So far, they’ve established that human beings and even many other species are born with impressive mathematical abilities.

“Studies have shown that animals who have no language can think about quantities approximately – for example, rats can be trained to press a key about 40 times. And babies, who haven’t learned a language yet, can tell that adding 5 toys and 5 more toys gives you about 10 toys,” Barth says. “But animals and babies can’t count. Counting takes language.”

And counting isn’t as simple as you might think. Preschool children quickly learn to count to 10, but it takes them a while to figure out the purpose of counting.

“If I asked a child who has recently learned to count to 10 to go to the toy box and get four dinosaurs, the child will probably just give me a handful,” Barth says.

Most children learn the concept of “one” soon after learning to count. Typically, about six months after that, they comprehend the idea of “two” and about six months later they understand “three.”

“Studies have established that once children understand the concept of three it usually clicks for all the other numbers,” Barth says.

So, counting may be tougher than parents realize. But arithmetic, on the other hand, may be easier than you think! Barth confirmed this with a study published in 2005 based on work completed at Harvard University.

The study, titled “Abstract number and arithmetic in preschool children,” published in an issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that preschoolers can add big sets approximately long before they learn how to add big numbers exactly in school.

In the study, Barth showed pre-school children graphics with blue colored dots, covered them for a few moments, then showed them an array of a similar number of red dots. Then Barth asked the children which set – blue or red – had more dots. She also showed them two successive arrays of dots and asked them if the aggregate number was larger or smaller than a third array of dots. In another permutation, the dots were replaced by sounds, to make sure children weren’t just using visual imagery to solve the problem.

“The children were consistently able to recognize the differences between the dot sets, even in the tasks that included adding the dots,” Barth says. “The sets were too big for these kids to count, yet they had no problems recognizing which sets, when combined, would be larger than the third set. And we didn’t find any differences in gender: girls were just as adept at this as boys.”

One of Barth’s students, Ariel Ballinger ’07, designed a separate study based on Barth’s work thanks to a Fellowship from the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences. The fellowship provides a stipend so students can undertake full-time research during the summer.

“There’s no way I could’ve done a study like this without help from the Hughes Program,” Ballinger says.

Her study, titled “Counting, Estimation and Approximate Nonverbal Addition in Young Children,” is a new examination of number approximation in children who’ve reached different levels of verbal counting ability.

“Some previous studies done by Jennifer Lipton and Elizabeth Spelke at Harvard showed that a child’s ability to estimate numbers is related to verbal counting range,” Ballinger says. “Children were shown pictures containing different numbers of dots and asked to quickly guess how many there were, without counting. These studies showed that kids who could count to 100 guessed pretty well. But kids who could only count to 30, for example, could only guess well for sets of up to 30 dots. For bigger sets, they had no idea – they didn’t even give bigger estimates for 100 dots than for 40 dots.”

“But these studies often averaged the performance of large groups of children with very different levels of counting skill. I wanted to test this relationship by looking at more specific groups.”

Ballinger divided her children into three groups based on counting ability. She found that although counting ability was related to the accuracy of the guesses, even children who could only count to 30 guessed bigger numbers for bigger sets of dots.

“This went against the previous findings,” Barth says. “Children do seem to understand the rough meanings of big number words like 80 or 90 even before they can count that high.”

Ballinger’s study has been accepted for a presentation at a professional meeting. She will present her research at the annual meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, held in Boston in March. Barth will present another research project completed with Ballinger and AnjaLi Carrasco ‘07, Rachel Jacobson ‘08, and Jessica Tsai ‘07.

“It’s great to be at a place like Wesleyan where undergrads can get involved with ongoing faculty research,” Ballinger says.

Ballinger will continue to work with Barth in the next semester gathering more data for her thesis.

Barth has been working with local children – who are rewarded with stickers and prizes for participating, and their parents are compensated for travel expenses – and has recently entered into an arrangement with some local schools.

“We assure parents that we aren’t ‘testing’ the children to see how good they are at math, but rather, finding out how kids in general think about numbers,” Barth says. “There are educational implications as well. “Understanding these abilities better will help us figure out the most effective ways to teach kids.”

Barth’s Cognitive Development Lab is always looking for new participants. Interested people may visit the lab Web site at www.wesleyan.edu/cdl, call 860-685-3588, or email cdl@wesleyan.edu.
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations. Photo by Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

The Wesleyan Connection’s Campus News 2006

Posted 12/20/06
Professor, Student Study Children’s Ability to Count

Posted 12/20/06
Online Incite Magazine Pushes Readers to Take Actions

Posted 12/20/06
Students Compete in National Putnam Math Competition

Posted 12/20/06
Betty Tishler Celebrates 97th Birthday at Wesleyan

Posted 12/20/06
Students Inducted into Scholastic Honor Society Phi Beta Kappa

Posted 12/20/06
Students, Faculty, Alumni Present Papers at Ethnomusicology Conference

Posted 12/20/06
Wesleyan University Press Receives NEA Grant

Posted 12/04/06
Wesleyan Receives State Stem Cell Grants

Posted 12/04/06
Grant Targets Treatment of Epileptic Seizures

Posted 12/04/06
Wesleyan Students Pedal for Affordable Housing

Posted 12/04/06
Scott Plous Named CASE Professor of the Year

Posted 12/04/06
Men’s Cross Country Competes at Nationals for Second Straight Year

Posted 12/04/06
Former Wesleyan Professor Burton Hallowell Dies

Posted 11/17/06
Faculty Receive Fulbright Scholar Grants

Posted 11/17/06
Men’s Soccer Winning Streak Ends at Tourney

Posted 11/17/06
Goldsmith Family Cinema to be Dedicated

Posted 11/17/06
Residential Life Staff Honored by National Organization

Posted 11/17/06
Report Shows Impact of Digital Imaging on College Teaching, Learning

Posted 11/17/06
Middlesex United Way Campaign Begins, Wesleyan Sets Goal at $143,000

Posted 11/01/06
Dana Royer Researches Plant Characteristics During Global Warming

Posted 11/01/06
Economics Professors Take on Role of Editors for National Journal

Posted 11/01/06
Global Warming Topic of Schumann Symposium

Posted 11/01/06
Wesleyan a Top Fulbright Scholar Producer

Posted 11/01/06
Former Trainer Walter Grockowski Dies at 86

Posted 10/05/06
Scientists Share Research at Biophysics Retreat

Posted 10/05/06
Presidential Search Forum Provides Insight

Posted 10/05/06
Wes Home Program Teaches Home Maintenance

Posted 10/05/06
City of Middletown Honors Wesleyan’s 175th

Posted 10/05/06
Presidential Search Committee Formed

Posted 10/05/06
Payroll Going Paperless

Posted 10/05/06
Voices of Liberal Learning Examine Issues that Shape Our World

Posted 10/05/06
Chapel Receives New Seven-Foot Piano

Posted 10/05/06
Wesleyan Celebrates 100 Years of Hosting Government Documents

Posted 09/15/06
Wesleyan, Science Center Forge Partnership

Posted 09/15/06
Presidential Search Committee Forming

Posted 09/15/06
Definitive Strength Moves Online with Drew Black

Posted 09/15/06
Wesleyan Ranked in Several Top 10 Lists

Posted 09/15/06
Faculty, Students offer Reflections at Sept. 11 Memorial

Posted 09/15/06
Fall Features Lecture Series on Slavery, Distinguished Presenter

Posted 09/15/06
Libraries and the Constitution after 9/11 Topic of Constitution Day

Posted 09/15/06
David Titus, Professor Emeritus of Government, Dies

Posted 08/24/06
Annual Hughes Poster Session Big Success

Posted 08/24/06
Physics Professor Tom Morgan Studies Exotic Atoms

Posted 08/24/06
Wesleyan Hires Dean for Diversity

Posted 08/24/06
Art Created on Gallery’s Walls

Posted 08/24/06
Wesleyan Receives $500,000 Challenge Grant from Kresge Foundation

Posted 08/24/06
Committee to Prepare Campus for Crisis, Disaster

Posted 08/24/06
Memorial Service Planned for David McAllester Sept. 24

Posted 08/24/06
Noah Simring ’07 Dies

Posted 07/28/06
Research Team Studies Bioluminescent Bays

Posted 07/28/06
Kay Butterfield Has 100th Birthday at Wesleyan

Posted 07/28/06
Wesleyan Breaks Fund-Raising Record with $35M

Posted 07/28/06
Iberian Studies Major Unveiled this Fall

Posted 07/28/06
Summer Institute on U.S. Citizenship, Race

Posted 07/28/06
Students, Alumni Bring Fatal Fire Story to Life through Play

Posted 07/06/06
Summer Programs Extend Learning Year-Round

Posted 07/06/06
Athletes Named NESCAC All-Academics

Posted 06/16/06
Seniors Start Web Site to Spur Balanced Political Dialogue

Posted 06/16/06
Bennet Attends International Forum on Education

Posted 06/16/06
Professors, Alumni Rock NYC with Tubas

Posted 06/16/06
Wesleyan Busy with Summer Projects

Posted 05/28/06
Class of 2006 Receives Degrees

Posted 05/28/06
President Bennet Delivers Commencement Address

Posted 05/28/06
John Hope Franklin Receives Honorary Doctor of Letter

Posted 05/28/06
Higher Education Innovator, Leader Dies at 72

Posted 05/28/06
“Wesleyan Through the Years” on Display

Posted 05/28/06
Men’s Lacrosse is NCAA Semi-Finalist

Posted 05/28/06
Connecticut Math Teachers Attend Leadership Academy

Posted 05/28/06
Saving Energy All Summer Long

Posted 05/16/06
Service Learning Projects Focus on Community

Posted 05/16/06
258 Students Honored at Awards Reception

Posted 05/16/06
Digital Images Topic of Workshop for Staff

Posted 05/16/06
Students Embrace Jewish Community at Wesleyan B’nei Mitzvah

Posted 05/16/06
AIDS Crisis, Disasters Explored in Upcoming CFA Season

Posted 05/16/06
Sophie Pollitt-Cohen ’09 is Co-Author of The Notebook Girls

Posted 05/04/06
Wesleyan President Bennet to Step Down

Posted 05/04/06
Poster Session Celebrates Thesis Projects

Posted 05/04/06
John Meerts New Vice President for Finance

Posted 05/04/06
Joseph Bruno Promoted to Vice President for Academic Affairs

Posted 05/04/06
Wesleyan’s Turf Field Dedicated at Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Posted 05/04/06
More than 10,000 Books on Sale for Library Benefit

Posted 05/04/06
Apply for Wesleyan Staff Positions Online

Posted 04/17/06
Student, Professor Collaborate on Brain Study

Posted 04/17/06
Jeff Maier ’06 Breaks Team Record in Baseball

Posted 04/17/06
Breaking Down the Barriers in Middle East

Posted 04/17/06
“We Are Family” Theme of Alumni of Color Reunion

Posted 04/17/06
Lecture, Food Politics Week Part of Earth Week Celebration

Posted 04/17/06
Winter Athletes Honored at Reception

Posted 04/17/06
Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm Growing Up and Out

Posted 04/17/06
Economics Professor Gary Yohe Testifies Before U.S. Senate

Posted 04/01/06
No Break this Spring: Wesleyan Students Donate Time-Off to Help Others

Posted 04/01/06
Dana Royer’s Study Gives Teeth to Leaf Activity

Posted 04/01/06
Fauver Takes First Place in Building Competition

Posted 04/01/06
Honorary Degrees, Medals Awarded during 174th Commencement

Posted 04/01/06
Science Explored through Series of Films, Discussion

Posted 03/15/06
Campus Safety Upgrades Continue

Posted 03/15/06
4 Faculty Awarded Career Grants

Posted 03/15/06
WesGuitars Strummin’ Worldly Music

Posted 03/01/06
Ellen Thomas Explored Climate Change in Deep Sea Biota

Posted 03/01/06
Wrestler Wins NECCWA Championship

Posted 03/01/06
Project $ave Finds Savings from Wesleyan Community

Posted 03/01/06
Board Approves Tuition, Fee Increases

Posted 03/01/06
Local Students Get Taste of East Asian Culture

Posted 03/01/06
Recycle Maniacs at Wesleyan

Posted 02/16/06
Basketball Players Tutor Students at Green Street

Posted 02/16/06
Grant Supports Professor’s Research on DNA, RNA Structure and Dynamics

Posted 02/16/06
Grant will Support Lecture Series on Ethics, Politics, Society

Posted 02/16/06
Provost Steps Down, Will Continue Teaching, Research

Posted 02/16/06
Neuroscience and Behavior Alumni Offer Research, Advice

Posted 02/01/06
Steven Devoto Finds Fish May Help Unmask Muscle Diseases

Posted 02/01/06
President Attends Summit on Education

Posted 02/01/06
Wesleyan A Player in Stem Cell Initiative

Posted 02/01/06
“Ferocious Beauty: Genome” World Premier Feb. 3 and 4

Posted 02/01/06
Diversity, Gender Topic of Affirmative Action Workshop

Posted 02/01/06
Trustee Emeritus Richard Couper Dies

Posted 01/17/06
Professor William Herbst, Student, Share Star Power

Posted 01/17/06
Student, Alumna Help AIDS Orphans

Posted 01/17/06
Ergonomics Target Workplace Strain, Pain

Posted 01/17/06
Turf’s Up! New Synthetic Field to Open in Spring

Posted 01/17/06
Bible Studies, Buddhist Meditations, Mass and More During 10th Annual Spirituality Week

Student-Created Online Magazine Pushes Readers to Take Actions


Rebecca Littman ’08, Thomas Coen ’07, Stacie Szmonko ’07 and Aaron Sussman ’07 are the editors of Incite Magazine, which aims to bridge political commentary with the activist community.
Posted 12/20/06
The power of insight, the power to incite. That’s the motto of a new magazine created by Wesleyan students that links progressive political commentary with action.

Incite Magazine founded by Thomas Coen ‘07, Aaron Sussman ‘07 and Rebecca Littman ‘08, features articles that call for a compassionate and honest world while providing readers with the tools and resources to help fight for it. The magazine is updated online as new content is edited at http://www.incitemagazine.org/ and augmented by a periodically-published print edition.

Launched Nov. 20, Incite was founded by with a grant from Campus Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress. The Wesleyan Student Assembly also supports the not-for-profit publication.

According to the magazine’s mission statement,“ Incite Magazine is a collaboration among students at Wesleyan who believe that progressive ends must be realized through free exchanges of ideas, opinions, and critiques that are then applied to action.” The editors not only aim to offer incisive, well-researched commentary and bold, responsible reporting, but to provide a network for writers and activists who share progressive principles and to conclude each article with information on how to become active and involved.

“We started Incite Magazine because we saw a gap between the political commentary community and the activist community,” Coen says.  “We wanted to bridge that divide –so that people don’t just analyze what the problems are, but also connect that to what people can do about those problems, how they can work to make the world a better place.”

Connecting the article with action is what sets Incite apart from other online magazines, Sussman explains. At the end of every article is a “What You Can Do About It” segment.

“I will often read an article in the progressive press that exposes the truth and evokes anger. But the next step is asking, ‘what can I do about this?’” Sussman says. “Every article in Incite, provides ways for readers to get involved in social action, whether that is writing to Congress, contacting local media or joining a demonstration.”

The editors also encourage readers to submit their own views.

Incite has eight sections including Iraq, The Constitution, The Media, Domestic Politics, Foreign Policy, Labor and Economics, Science and Technology and Activism. Under each of these headings, readers will find articles on that topic. For example, under the Science & Technology heading, Leah Katz writes about “Arming Women in the Battle Against HIV/AIDS: The Case for Microbicides,” and under the Foreign Policy heading, Coen writes about “A Life-Long Supply of Genocide” and “Bush’s Democracy Doctrine.”

Sussman’s article “They Hate Our Freedom: The Truth About the Military Commissions Act,” under The Constitution section, was picked up by at least six other publications and was an official source on Google News.

On the magazine’s online version, readers can listen to several interviews conducted by members of the Incite staff. Coen and Ben Levinger have posted their interviews of Ned Lamont, Connecticut’s former democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate and Emily Biuso, internship director for The Nation, and others. Sussman has posted many interviews, including with Cindy Sheehan, an anti-war peace activist and Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU.

In addition, the Web site offers an overabundance of useful links to sites on Iraq, law and human rights, media resources, media activists, government watchdogs, think tanks and other online magazines. It also features an action calendar, which includes upcoming events that involve political activism, advocacy or expression.

“Incite wants to be a resource for several activist groups, and be used as a tool to connect them to the Wesleyan, Middletown, and broader community,” Littman says.

The editors each have extensive experience with activism and journalism, ranging form working as a page in the U.S. Senate to interning with the ACLU and People for the American Way to studying political policy in Uganda and Cameroon. Additionally, Sussman has had articles  published in several publications including alternet.org, the Atlantic Free Press,  mediachannel.org, Eat the State! and In Motion Magazine.

Since three of the four editors will be graduating this spring, they are seeking writers, editorial staff, activists, photographers, designers and technology and Web specialists. The editors hope younger members of the Wesleyan community will take over the reigns in future years.

Stacie Szmonko ’07 is the publication’s editor-in-chief. She hopes the experience with Incite will lead her to a career with a political magazine after college. Meanwhile, it’s an ideal way to gain experience and voice her opinions.

“I’ve always had a deep interest in progressive politics, critiquing the mainstream media and writing argumentative articles,” she says. “We hope new writers will join our discussion and help us create a magazine and community that can positively influence the way we see the world and our own potential to change it – something that can Incite true progress.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Students Pedal for Affordable Housing


Five Wesleyan students will participate in the Habitat for Humanity Bicycle Challenge this summer. Each biker is trying to raise $4,000 for the cause.
Posted 12/04/06
Five Wesleyan students will pedal to help the cause of more affordable home-ownership this summer, raising funds and awareness for Habitat for Humanity coast-to-coast.

The students, led by Jessalee Landfried ’07, will bike 70 miles a day, hoping to cross the entire country in two months. Landfried will be accompanied by Elizabeth Ogata ‘09, Liana Woskie ‘10, Margot Kistler ‘09 and Shira Miller ‘07, along with 90 other students from Yale University.

This is the 13th year Yale has hosted the Habitat Bicycle Challenge (HBC) and Wesleyan came aboard this year.

“The trip is essentially a large-scale service project with a strong commitment to supporting Habitat for Humanity,” Landfried says.

Before leaving, each rider will raise $4,000 – approximately a dollar for every mile biked – for Habitat for Humanity. Every night, the riders will give presentations and answer questions in churches and community centers, trying to increase Habitat’s visibility, stimulate the formation of new chapters and encourage donations.

The event will generate approximately $430,000 in proceeds, enough to underwrite the construction of eight Habitat homes.

Each year, the Habitat Bicycle Challenge not only raises more money for Habitat than any other student-run fundraiser in the country, it introduces thousands of people to the good work that Habitat for Humanity does. Last year, the students raised $430,000.

Landfried learned about the challenge from a teammate in the Americorps.

“My team leader had just finished HBC, and said it was the most exciting, challenging, fun thing she’d ever done,” she says. “I chose to become a leader this year because I’m excited by the opportunity to have an adventure and do something really amazing for a great organization.”

The riders can choose a northern, central or southern route to the west coast. All three routes depart from New Haven, Conn. on June 1, and they end in Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco, respectively.

Landfried and Miller will ride the central route, biking across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho before reaching Portland, Oregon. Kistler will be on the northern trip and Ogata and Woskie will ride the southern trip.

Ogata chose to participate to combine meaningful service work with a journey across the country. This will be her second trek across the U.S.

“Several summers ago, I biked across the country for my own enjoyment,” she says. “Although the trip was amazing, the Habitat Bicycle challenge really excites me because it has the purpose of helping other people in all parts of the country.”

The students will sleep in churches and community centers along the way. In every community where they spend the night, the riders will give a short slideshow presentation about Habitat, the trip, and the goal of ending poverty housing. These venues generally supply meals for the riders.

“When biking all day long, most people need around 6,000 calories a day – so we’re going to be hungry,” Landfried says.

During the ride, every route is accompanied by a support van, which carries the bikers’ clothing and necessities. When they reach their destinations, the van will bring the riders back to Connecticut along with their bikes.

In exchange for raising $4,000 per rider, the bikers receive a free road bike, deep discounts on gear, and free room and board for the duration of the trip. The bike, gear discounts and food are provided for by corporate sponsorships that the leaders arrange over the course of the year.

Since most of the riders are recreational riders who are excited by the combination of adventure and service, every rider is expected to start training once they receive their bike.

Landfried says she bikes about 50 miles a week now, and is training for the trip by increasing the number of miles every week.

But having the physical ability is minor to having the mental ability.

“The prospect of biking across the country is certainly daunting,” Landfried says. “My parents won’t even drive that far! But I try to keep reminding myself that students have been completing the trip for more than a decade now, and that if they could do it, so can I.”

Landfried says her energy is currently too focused on securing corporate sponsorships, individual fundraising, planning the route and arranging housing to get too worried about the biking itself.

The bikers will spend at least one day a week working on various habitat home sites along their journey west.

Miller says the tip may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
 

“I’m doing the trip because I can’t imagine a more unique way to explore the country, or a better time to do it than right after graduating college,” she says. “It is a great personal experience because I know I will be supporting a social cause that is important to me while pushing my limits and having a great time.”

In addition to raising awareness and funds for Habitat, Landfried says she has other goals in mind.

“I hope to gain a greater appreciation for the vastness and diversity of our country, to meet interesting new people, to have fun, and to develop quads the size of a football,” she says.

The Wesleyan fund-raisers are currently accepting donations to support their efforts. They plan to hold fund-raising events later in the year. For more information on making a donation, visit http://habitatbike.org or email Jessalee Landfried at jessalee.landfried@gmail.com.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor