A team of staff members is updating Wesleyan’s emergency response plan, which describes protocols for maintaining personal safety and the continuity of operations in the event of a crisis.
Led by Director of Physical Plant Cliff Ashton, the Business Continuity Planning Committee is updating a plan that was implemented in 2002. The plan covers hurricanes and other natural disasters, as well as such manmade crises as power outages and chemical spills. The committee is exploring responses to more recent threatssuch as the possibility of a pandemic contagion. It also is reviewing the plan for consistency with protocols established in the National Incident Management System created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The committee, which began its work last spring, will recommend a revised plan to the senior administration in the fall.
Questions and comments may be directed to Cliff Ashton at email@example.com.
|By Justin Harmon, vice president for Public Affairs and director of University Communications|
Campus News & Events
by Olivia Drake •
| Wesleyans Music Department will sponsor a memorial service for David McAllester, professor of music and anthropology, emeritus, at 2 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel Sept. 24.
McAllester, a founder of the Society for Ethnomusicology, died April 29, 2006, after suffering a stroke. He was 89.
David had a huge impact on generations of Wesleyan students, many of them not music majors or grad students, says Mark Slobin, professor of music, who worked with McAllester for 15 years. When I was hired at Wesleyan in 1971 and looked at a college guide, the only course singled out was McAllesters exciting course on American Indian Music, complete with a pow-wow on Foss Hill.
A graduate of Harvard University, McAllester studied at the Juilliard School of Music and earned his doctorate in anthropology at Columbia. He began his career at Wesleyan in the Psychology Department, and soon established the Anthropology Department, where he was an instructor of anthropology. In 1957, he was promoted to a full professor and in 1971, he moved to the Music Department, where he co-founded the program in World Music. He remained in the Music Department until his retirement in 1986.
“The twin career in anthropology and music is the work of a man who, faced with the choice between art and science, embraced them both,” wrote Richard Winslow, professor of music, emeritus, in the summer 1986 issue of Wesleyan magazine.
One of the founders of the Society for Ethnomusicology in 1952, McAllester served the organization in a number of positions, first as its secretary, and later as the president and editor of the society’s journal. His particular field of interest was Native American ceremonial music, especially that of the Navajos of the American Southwest.
Known internationally for his scholarly works and publications, he was a recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for research in new Native American music and of a Fulbright grant that provided him with a senior lectureship in Australia. He was a member of the board of trustees for the American Indian Archaeological Institute in Washington, D.C., and did extensive fieldwork with several native American groups, with books that include Peyote Music (1949), Enemyway Music (1954) and Navajo Blessingway Singer (1978).
With a longstanding commitment to nonviolence, he served in conscientious objector work camps during World War II. He was a founding member of the Middletown Quaker Meeting, as well as the South Berkshire Friends meeting, where he set up a tipi on the grounds, as well as helping to construct a swamp trail around a beaver pond.
Predeceased by his first wife, Susan McAllester, in 1994, he is survived by his wife, Beryl Irene Courtenay, a daughter, a son, two granddaughters, and a son-in-law.
by Olivia Drake •
by Olivia Drake •
|Grigori Enikolopov 08 was one of more than 50 students to present their research at the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences Poster Session in the Exley Science Center.|
When Grigori Enikolopov 08 studied the leaf economics in river, swamp and upland areas, he found that the wetter the area, the more ridges or teeth the leaves of woody tree species possessed.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
| The Kresge Foundation of Troy, Mich., has awarded a challenge grant in the amount of $500,000 to Wesleyan University. This grant will be applied toward the purchase of equipment for several Wesleyan science departments, including biology, chemistry, molecular biology and biochemistry, earth and environmental sciences and physics.
To apply to the Science Equipment Program, Wesleyan had to raise $500,000 and now must raise an additional $1 million to meet the terms of Kresge challenge grant and establish an endowment for repair and replacement of science equipment. According to the tenets of the grant, Wesleyan must raise $1.5 million to meet the challenge and establish an endowment for the repair and replacement of science equipment. To date the university has already raised $500,000 toward this goal.
Wesleyan’s planned purchases of advanced scientific equipment with the grant and additional money raised include:
– LC-Mass Spectrometer for Biology ($158,000)
– Gel Permeation Chromatograph for Chemistry ($148,000)
– Telescope Control System for the Astronomy departments telescopes ($60,000)
– ICO-Mass Spectrometer for Earth and Environmental Sciences ($203,000)
– YAG/Dye Laser for Physics and Chemistry ($89,000)
– Microplate Reader for Biology ($61,000)
– Photosynthesis System for Biology and Earth and Environmental Sciences ($31,000).
In the next few years, Wesleyan will construct a state-of-the-art facility for teaching and research in the life sciences. The new facility will add roughly 80,000 square feet of departmental and community space that will enable Wesleyan to continue its academic leadership in the sciences.
The Kresge Foundation is a national foundation with $3 billion in assets that seeks to strengthen nonprofit organizations by catalyzing their growth, connecting them to their stakeholders, and challenging greater support through grants.
by Olivia Drake •
| Noah Lior Simring, originally a member of Wesleyan’s class of 2007, died recently in New York City, his hometown. He was 21.
Noah, who was on leave from Wesleyan for the past two years, graduated from the Horace Mann School in New York City where he enjoyed fencing. His interests included the sciences, theater, music, wilderness living, animation and rocketry and volunteerism.
He is survived by parents Ruth and James Simring and sister, Mia Simring.
Donations in his memory may be made to the Horace Mann School or Children International.
by Olivia Drake •
|The American Story Project, a theater company comprised of Wesleyan students and alumni, will perform We Can’t Reach You, Hartford at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival held in Edinburgh, Scotland Aug. 7-19.|
| In 1944, the Hartford Circus Fire caused more than 150 deaths during an afternoon circus performance. Although the cause of the fire remains officially undetermined, five employees of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus were charged with involuntary manslaughter, and the circus was forced to accept full financial responsibility for the fire that occurred during their show.
This tragic, yet compelling story, will be retold and performed by the American Story Project, a new theater company comprised of Wesleyan students and alumni. The seven-member group will premier We Cant Reach You, Hartford, a play by Jess Chayes 07 and Stephen Aubrey 06, at the Bedlam Theatre during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival held in Edinburgh, Scotland Aug. 7-19.
Under Chayess direction, the audience will witness the story of sad clowns, unlikely heroes and the forgotten tragedy under the big top. Performers include Annie Bodel ’08, Edward Bauer ’08, Elissa Kozlov ’08, Mike James ’07 and Hayley Stokar ’06.
In We Cant Reach You, Hartford, Bauer plays the role of Emmett Kelly, a sad clown from the Depression-era 1930s who once performed as an actual member of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus from 1942 to 1956. One of the most memorable pictures to emerge from the Hartford Circus Fire depicted Kelly, in full sad clown makeup, attempting to extinguish the flames that had already engulfed the entire circus behind him. Even until his death in 1979, Emmett Kelly never discussed what he saw that day in July.
James plays Meryl Evans, a band director who continued to conduct during the fire until the flames forced his musicians to flee.
Jess really wanted to make the play a living document without following docudrama rules, James says. She and Stephen made something surprising. The play focuses mostly on the disasters periphery; its an eerie stage poem.
This will be a second venture to the Fringe Festival for Chayes, James, Stokar and Kozlov. Last year, the American Story Projects production of Tone Clusters premiered at the Bedlam Theatre and brought critical acclaim. The American Story Project has also performed at venues in Connecticut and New York.
Each of our plays strives for honest, powerful expression among the more bizarre channels of the human experience, Chayes says. Each piece tackles difficult, haunting questions, striving not for answers, but for illumination, insight and a journey into the human condition.
In 2001, a comprehensive history of the Hartford Circus Fire was published. Novelist Stewart ONan, author of The Circus Fire: the True Story of an American Tragedy, attended the companys workshop performance in May. Afterwards, he wrote of the production: We Can’t Reach You, Hartford re-imagines the tragedy of the Hartford Circus Fire with a strange and compelling immediacy. It’s a weird, nearly overwhelming tale, but director Jess Chayes, writer Stephen Aubrey and the players bring an intimate scale and bracing range to the material. Creepy, funny, touching–it’s a tour de force.
A benefit performance of We Cant Reach You, Hartford runs in Manhattan, N.Y., Aug. 2; and in Scarsdale, N.Y. on Aug. 3. For more information visit americanstoryproject.com.
|By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
|Friends and family celebrated Kay Butterfields 100th birthday July 27 in the Office of the President. Kay Butterfield is the wife of the late Victor Butterfield, who served as Wesleyans president 1943-1967. Pictured above is Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano declaring July 27 Kay Butterfield Day in the City of Middletown.|
| Kay Butterfield, wife of former Wesleyan President Victor Butterfield, turned 100 July 27. She celebrated the day with friends and family during a celebration at the Presidents House.
Kay has lived a life of idealism and service. She was born July 27, 1906 in Brooklyn, N.Y., the daughter of Philip Geyer and Sophie Westerman Geyer. Her grandfather, Philip Geyer, Sr. had emigrated from Bavaria, settling first in Newark, N.J, where he and his brothers established a brewery. The family moved to Brooklyn, and Kays father followed his father into the profession of Master Brewer, eventually owning Franks Brewery.
In 1919, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, prohibition, caused a reversal of fortune for the Geyer family, which had all its assets invested in the family brewery. One result was that Kay would eventually have to finance her own college education.
Kay graduated from Girls High School in Brooklyn in 1922, one month shy of her 16th birthday. In the spring of her senior year, searching the school bulletin board for employment opportunities, she spotted a notice for a city-wide essay contest for a one-year scholarship to the Manhattan Business School. She won the prize, attended in 1922-23, and then earned enough money as a legal secretary on Wall Street to pay for her first year of college.
In 1924, Kay entered Cornell University as a freshman. She was the publicity manager for the Womens Varsity Council; the womens editor for the Cornell Daily Sun, a varsity member of the womens basketball team; and president of Delta Gamma Sorority. She also was involved in Alpha Chi Alpha, the honor society for journalism; Raven and Serpent, the junior honor society; and Mortarboard, the senior honor society.
During her junior year at Cornell, Kay met Victor Lloyd Butterfield at a dance. The duo got married June 11, 1928. Two days later, Kay graduated with a bachelors of art in English. She had paid her entire way through college by working as a secretary and typing student papers, and as a legal secretary in Manhattan during the summers.
The Butterfields moved to Deerfield, Mass. where Vic taught and coached at Deerfield Academy and Kay taught fifth and sixth grade in a single classroom in the Deerfield Elementary School. She called it baptism by fire.
In 1929, Vic joined the faculty of the Riverdale Country School in the Bronx. Kay taught mathematics to all grades at the Neighborhood School in Riverdale. An apartment and meals were included at Riverdale, allowing them to save all their earnings for graduate school for Vic. In 1931, the couple moved to Cambridge, Mass., where Vic entered Harvard as a Ph.D candidate. Kay became a door-to-door salesperson and typed doctoral theses for extra income. Her habits of thrift and industry enabled Vic and Kay to spend the summer of 1934 in Europe after Vics resident Ph.D work was completed.
Vic was hired by Wesleyan as the dean of Admission from 1935 to 1941, and worked as the associate dean from 1941 to 1942, acting president in 1942, then president from 1943 to 1967.
In 1938, the Butterfields built their first house on a four-acre plot on Randolph Road in Middletown. Kay cut all the studs and joists with a power saw, cut rock wool into bats for the insulation, and secured them with slats that she nailed in. They lived there until Vics appointment as president in 1943 and, then moved to a brick house on High Street. When the war ended, they moved into the Presidents House at 269 High. After Vics retirement, they went back to their beloved small house on Randolph Road.
During the years of Vics presidency, Kay was heavily involved in college life. She loved the seminars, conferences, concerts, and the sporting events. She was a regular at games and matches, particularly football, basketball, and wrestling. She volunteered for decades at the Wesleyan Blood Drive, registering donors, as well as donating blood herself.
Much of her energy went toward the job of entertaining at the Presidents House. Money was scarce in those days, and badly needed to improve faculty salaries. So Kay economized by cooking and baking for receptions and dinners for trustees, faculty, students and honorary degree recipients. On one occasion, during a period of intense rivalry in football between Trinity and Wesleyan, she even cooked and served dinner for both varsity teams on the night before the big game.
Kay became involved early on in the Middletown community. Before her own children were born, she was a Girl Scout leader. The YMCA was her earliest and longest commitment. As a member of the Womens Board, she help nurture the girls club. She also raised large sums of money for the YMCA through her chairmanship of the Ys annual Tour of Homes. When the womens lounge needed new slipcovers, Kay and her fellow board members brought their sewing machines for a bee, and made them all themselves. It was through the Y that Kay was a long-time member of the Middletown League of Women Voters, as well as its president from 1936-37. She was also a member of the Board of Education (1952-1965), an annual campaigner for the United Way, and a Board member of Connecticut Citizens for Public Schools.
She also had a long connection with the Davison Art Center. In the early 1960s, Curator Heinrich Schwarz, hoping to add to the large print collection left to Wesleyan by George W. class of 1892 and Harriet Davison, proposed to Kay the idea of forming a Friends of the Davison Art Center to raise money for acquisitions.
Kay has been the recipient of a number of awards for her service, including the Bnai Brith Woman of the Year award in the 1950s, the Baldwin Medal for service to Wesleyan in 1982, and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Wesleyan in 1997.
In the late 1960s, after Vics retirement from Wesleyan, Kay renewed her ties to the First Church of Christ, Middletown, which she had joined in the 1950s. Kay taught Sunday School until she was in her 90s, and after the Vietnam War, she tutored children from Vietnam and Cambodia through the church.
In the mid 1990s, she wrote a series of essays for the Middletown Press on backyard bird-watching, on her particular pleasure in crows, on Elderhostels, on her two hip replacements, and on her decision at the age of 94 to leave her beloved Randolph Road home and move to One MacDonough Place, where she now resides.
Another great love of Kays throughout her life has been music, and particularly singing. She had a huge repertoire – everything from Vaudeville to Negro Spirituals. Kay still loves singing – now with the One MacDonough Singers.
In honor of her 100 years, the Governors Office proclaimed July 27 as Kay Butterfield Day in the State of Connecticut, and the Mayor’s Office declared July 27 as Kay Butterfield Day in the City of Middletown.
|Photos by Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor. Text contributed.|
by Olivia Drake •
| Immigration, race and the history of U.S. citizenship are just a few of the topics that will be discussed during a summer institute presented by the Center for African American Studies for secondary school teachers from Aug. 7-10.
Race and Membership: A History of United States Citizenship, has pre-registered more than 20 social studies teachers, most hailing from Connecticut. The four-day institute is open to all secondary school educators (grades six through 12), support staff, curriculum specialists and school librarians.
The institute aims to foster a sustained and in-depth discussion among the participants about how to teach United States history, how to bring many different racial groups into the historical narrative, and how to connect historical issues to contemporary problems in Connecticuts secondary school curriculum. Last year, the institute focused on the Civil Rights Movement.
Participants will examine some of the most recent scholarship on the history of several different racial groups, including Blacks, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanics. With its focus on the theme of citizenship, the Institute will draw connections between historical debates about what it means to be American, how membership in the nation has been regulated, and contemporary debates about immigration and Native sovereignty rights.
“The summer institutes are so much fun for the Wesleyan faculty, says Renee Romano, associate professor of History, African American Studies and American Studies and the institutes director. The teachers we work with are so dedicated and engaged and they are just a joy to work with.”
The following Wesleyan faculty members are participating in this summers institute: Demetrius Eudell, associate professor of History and African American Studies, Gayle Pemberton, professor of English, African American Studies and American Studies, Melanye Price, assistant professor of government, Kehaulani Kauanui, assistant professor of American Studies and Anthropology and Romano.
Besides engaging in activities and discussion with scholars, participants will also be split into four curriculum development groups to translate content into usable classroom lesson plans.
“It’s helpful to meet with teachers from different school districts and to discuss what effective materials and techniques are being used in their classroom,” says institute participant Doris Duggins, an eighth grade teacher of U.S. History at Silas Deane Middle School in Wethersfield, Conn. “The institute affords me the opportunity to absorb information in the hopes of continually improving myself as a teacher.”
Romano says it is particularly important to explore the history of U.S. citizenship laws and practices given the current political debates about immigration, border control, and how the nation should deal with illegal immigrants.
This institute will ask what it means to be a full member of the state, how the United States government has sought to control, which people can be considered a member of the nation, and how groups that have been excluded from membership or who have faced restrictions on full citizenship rights have fought for inclusion,” Romano says.
Race and Membership: The History and Politics of United States Citizenship is funded by Humanities in the Schools, a program of the Connecticut Humanities Council, the We The People initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities and Wesleyan University.
For more information about the Summer Institute, please contact Professor Renee Romano at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-685-3579.
|By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations|
by Olivia Drake •
|Max Schenkein ’08 chats with an alumnus during a Wesleyan Fund fund-raising drive. Below, Sean Collins ’08 and Ana Lombera ’09 request gifts for Wesleyan. The student callers, along with staff in University Relations, helped raise more than $35 million this past year.|
| Wesleyan enters its 175th anniversary year celebration with a tremendous gift from its alumni, friends, and other supporters: a record-breaking $35,054,196 in cash gifts, surpassing the 2005 record by $3.7 million.
These funds will support financial aid, faculty, facilities, and programs. Fifty-four percent of alumni participated in giving to Wesleyan in 2006, equaling 2005’s participation rate.
The official tally, announced this week by Barbara-Jan Wilson, vice president for University Relations, marks a significant milestone for Wesleyan.
“This generous support ensures Wesleyan’s future and announces to the worldwide Wesleyan community that our University is strong, getting stronger, and will be here for future generations,” Wilson says.
Wilson added that the Board of Trustees, President Douglas Bennet, alumni and parent volunteers including the Development Committee and the University Relations staff, are vital members of Wesleyan’s fund-raising effort.
“This development team represents a rare convergence of talent, skill, professionalism, dedication, and energy,” Wilson says.
The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) agrees with Wilson. CASE has awarded Wesleyan the CASE-Wealth ID Award for Educational Fund Raising: Overall Performance in the Private Liberal Arts Institutions category. In 2002, Wealth ID, a provider of wealth screening services and fund-raising solutions, joined CASE as a sponsor of the Educational Fund Raising Awards.
“What is best about the CASE Award is that this honor was awarded not for what Wesleyan received, but for what so many alumni, staff, and friends gave,” Wilson says. “The more we give, the more we receive. That defines the Wesleyan experience.”
“Wesleyan, already ranked highly for academic excellence, now demonstrates an exemplary new standard of excellence in support of private education through its fund-raising performance,” says Mark Bailey, director of Development Communications.
CASE, a nonprofit education association, supports educational institutions by enhancing the effectiveness of the alumni relations, communications and fund-raising professionals who serve it.
Other winners in the private liberal arts institution category include Amherst College in Massachusetts; Berea College in Kentucky; Bowdoin College in Maine; Middlebury College in Vermont; and Wellesley College in Massachusetts.
|By Justin Harmon, vice president for Public Affairs. Photos contributed by Regan Schubel.|
by Olivia Drake •
|A new Iberian Studies major will enable students to focus primarily on Iberia, mainly Spain, but includes Portugal and former colonies.|
| Iberian studies will be introduced as a new major by the Spanish section of the Romance Languages and Literatures Department this fall.
The major is designed for students interested in studying the literature, history, culture and society of the Iberian peninsula. The new major will complement the current Spanish major, which provides students with a broad knowledge of the Spanish-language literatures of Spain and Latin America.
“Over the years students have repeatedly expressed an interest in a Spanish major that would allow them to study Spain in depth,” says Michael Armstrong-Roche, associate professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and head of the Spanish section.
Iberian studies will enable students to focus primarily on Iberia, mainly Spain, but includes Portugal and former colonies.
Lynn Cartwright-Punnett 07, was happy to switch from her double major in Spanish and History to Iberian Studies and History this past spring.
“The Spanish major did a great job of integrating aspects of Spanish culture, but Spanish, as a major, also deals with Latin America, which I am less interested in, says Cartwright-Punnett Iberian Studies gives me more flexibility and relates more directly to my varied interests than purely literature based major would.”
Incoming Wesleyan sophomore Bryan Jones also plans on majoring in Iberian studies, primarily in order to master the Catalan language of the Iberian Peninsula.
“While visiting friends in Barcelona, I was intrigued by the Catalan language and culture, and have since obtained the desire to master that language as well as Spanish,” says Jones. “Clearly, the Iberian Studies major allows me to do so, as well as looks into the numerous
Armstrong-Roche says that Iberian studies majors such as Cartwright-Punnett and Jones may count up to four courses taken outside the Spanish section in English or Spanish.
“The requirements permit students to earn major credit for coursework on Iberia offered on campus outside the Spanish section, in the History Department, for instance, along with coursework on Iberia in fields other than literature offered by approved study abroad programs such as our own program in Madrid,” says Armstrong-Roche.
Iberian studies majors must qualify for the major with a grade of B- or better in Spanish 221 or the equivalent. Spanish 221 is not required but may be counted towards the major. Students are expected to maintain at least a B- average in the major program and are required to do a minimum of five of their nine required courses in Spanish literature with faculty from the Spanish section of Wesleyan’s Romance Languages and Literatures Department.
Armstrong-Roche says the Iberian studies major may interest students who want to pursue graduate work focused on Spain or other professional options that involve Spanish companies or international organizations.
Cartwright-Punnett plans on turning her thesis about sites of memory from the Spanish Civil War into a tourist guide book about the history of the war and to teach high school, where she can use her European History and Spanish background.
Jones is interested in working in Spain’s Catalonia region or in the U.S. teaching at a secondary school or hopes to land a job in international relations, either within a business or the government.
For more information about the Iberian studies major, please contact Michael Armstrong-Roche at 860-685-3128, e-mail email@example.com or visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/registrar/catalog/rlant.htm#Spanish.
|By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations|
by Olivia Drake •
| At top, Anda Greeney 07 and Suzanne OConnell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, prepare to deploy a bathyphotometer, an instrument that measures bioluminescence, into a bay in Vieques, an island off Puerto Rico.
At right, Tim Ku, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, shows students how to drill a core sample in a bay they are studying.
| Ten miles off the east coast of Puerto Rico, on the island of Vieques, three mangrove-lined bays are illuminated with unicellular marine life known as dinoflagellates. One of the bays has an unusually high abundance of these microscopic creatures that produce their own light through bioluminescence, a chemical reaction similar to the one that makes fireflies glow.
But why do these colorful creatures thrive so well in these bays? That is the question Suzanne OConnell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences and Tim Ku, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, want to answer.
As part of a grant-funded research study, OConnell, Ku and Anna Martini of Amherst College took 13 students from eight colleges, including Anda Greeney 07, Andrea Pain 08 and Ulyana Sorokopoud 08, to the Puerto Rican island for a two-week intensive study. The trip was succeeded by two weeks of lab analyses at Wesleyan and Amherst.
This ecosystem is so special and were curious to know why so many dinoflagellates live here, Ku says, browsing through digital photos of the turquoise-water bays. Its most likely very fragile. We hope to learn what could destroy them, and also, how to maintain a bay that supports this type of ecosystem.
The study, supported by the Keck Geology Consortium (now funded by the National Science Foundation), began June 17. The students and researchers hauled along their necessary research equipment to the Caribbean, including sediment core samplers, water quality monitors and centrifuges.
They rented a house on the ocean, living on the top floor and using the main floor as a laboratory. Ku and OConnell taught classes on the front porch, overlooking the water.
Every day, the group drove to the south-central side of Vieques, and studied the Puerto Mosquito, Puerto Ferro and Bahia Topin bays, each less than a mile apart from each other. The researchers studied the hydrodynamics of the water, present-day and past sediment sources, nutrient and metal cycles, and satellite imagery to see how the area has changed through anthropogenic development and hurricane activity. Studies were conducted by wading, snorkeling, kayaking or and boating in the bays, and core samples were taken of the layered sediment. These samples will be the basis of the student research throughout the year on campus.
Ku says the most bioluminescent bays in Vieques have a narrow opening to the ocean to maintain the necessary balance of temperature and water flow and; the surrounding mangroves may supply other key nutrients to feed the dinoflagellates. In addition, a nearby salt flat may be crucial in providing proper nutrients. On the neighboring island Jamaica, a bioluminescent bay no longer glows at night when developers decided to build a hotel in the salt flats to better see the bay.
To conserve these fragile environments we need to understand how they function and how they respond to environmental threats, OConnell says.
The bays are a unique find, world-wide. For more than 60 years, theyve have been untouched by developers. The U.S. Navy used sections of the island for military exercises, blocking access to the bays. In 2003, the land was transferred from the Navy to the U.S. Department of Fishing and Wildlife to become a wildlife refuge. Although the lack of development kept the area pristine, pollution from the Navys bombing residues is being studied and activities and plans are underway to clean-up material left by the Navy.
But its not only the toxic pollution that concerns the researchers. It’s actually light pollution encroaching on the bays. Light beaming from a full moon alone is enough to hide the brilliant bioluminescence. There are pressures from both individuals and the Puerto Rican government to develop the hills above the bay and in the public beach area to the west.
Wesleyan students Greeney, Pain and Sorokopoud, who were funded in-part by the Mellon and Hughes programs, will continue their research during the academic year. Theyve returned home with core samples, which will be examined in depth inside Wesleyan laboratories. OConnell and Ku hope to obtain additional grant funding in the future to continue studying the unique ecosystem.
OConnell made her first trip to Vieques seven years ago and returns each year, most recently to teach courses in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program.
Once I saw these bays, I fell in love with them, and I want to study them and preserve them, she says.
|By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor. Photos contributed by Tim Ku and Suzanne O’Connell.|