Campus News & Events

Grant to Fund Epileptic Seizure Study at Wesleyan


Gloster Aaron, Janice Naegele and Laura Grabel will study if stem cell-based treatment in mice brains could possibly control epileptic seizures in human brains.
Posted 12/04/06
A $300,000 grant from the McKnight Foundation will help a Wesleyan University researcher investigate the possibility of using brain transplants of embryonic stem (ES) cells to control epileptic seizures in mice. If successful the study could lay the early groundwork for using similar therapy in human beings.

Janice Naegele, chair and professor of biology and professor of neuroscience and behavior at Wesleyan, is the principle investigator in the study that will bring together the expertise two other Wesleyan faculty – Laura Grabel, Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of biology, and Gloster Aaron, assistant professor of biology – as well as Gordon Fishell, professor of biology at New York University.

During the three-year study, Naegele and her colleagues will attempt to create GABAergic neurons from mouse ES cells and implant them in the brains of mice that experience epileptic seizures. The hope is that the new neurons derived from the grafted ES cells will be able to restore normal levels of the brain’s inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA by replacing GABAergic neurons destroyed by the epileptic seizures. GABA is one of the key chemical messengers in the brain that regulates the firing of neurons and prevents seizures.

“A lot of the focus in stem cell-based treatment is in treating neurodegenerative disorders,” Naegele says. “Due to ethical roadblocks in harvesting neural stem cells from human embryos, a preferred course is autologous donation – taking an individual’s own stem cells and using them to generate neural stem cells for treatment. However, in the case of some forms of inherited epilepsy, there a genetic defect in the neurons that causes the seizures. This defect is likely mirrored in the patient’s stem cells, which is one reason why we are focusing on using non-autologous cell lines.”

From a clinical perspective, animal epilepsy isn’t identical in all facets to human epilepsy. However, it is close enough that Naegele’s successful use of these GABAergic neurons to control seizures will go a long way to help scientists understand the potential treatment implications in humans.

For the study, the researchers will chemically induce the initial epileptic seizures in the mice. After two to three weeks, the mice develop spontaneous seizures, making the overall effect more similar to the way seizures occur in humans. The stem cell grafts will be made into the brains of transgenic mice that have fluorescent neurons, allowing the scientists to identify interactions between the cells in the grafts and the host brains using a combination of electrical recording and microscopic imaging. The studies will attempt to demonstrate that the grafted stem cells form connections with the host brain, a critical step for functional recovery from epilepsy.

To create the cells needed to potentially suppress the seizures, Naegele’s team will use a new method to produce high yield GABAergic neurons.

“We plan to use molecular-genetic approaches to get the neural stem cells to express a sequence of transcription factors that will regulate the genes required to produce the GABAergic neurons,” Naegele says. “They will then be transplanted to the mouse hippocampus and then we’ll see if they have enough genetic information to act properly.”

Along with the faculty mentioned, this three-year study will also involve post-doctoral students, graduate, and undergraduate students at Wesleyan who will be assisting with components of the research.

“This is really exciting because it is bringing together three labs here and a lab down at NYU,” Naegele says. “The expertise at each complements the others. It’s a more risky study than others in this area, but the potential information we can generate will really be useful as we move forward investigating if this can be an effective treatment for epileptic seizures.”

In addition to supporting this collaboration, Naegele will participate in a yearly McKnight Conference on Neuroscience, which fosters interactions among the awardees of all of their programs. This year’s conference will be held in the June 2007 in Aspen, Colorado and will focus on music, art, and the brain.

According to their Web site, The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience is an independent charitable organization established by The McKnight Foundation to carry out the wishes of its founder, William L. McKnight (1887-1979), who led the 3M company for three decades. McKnight had a personal interest in memory and its diseases. He chose to set aside part of his legacy to bring hope to those suffering from brain injury or disease and cognitive impairment. The Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Awards were established in 2000 as the Memory and Brain Disorders Awards. Each year, up to six awards are given. Awards provide $100,000 per year for three years. For more information go to www.mcknight.org/neuroscience.
 

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

Plous Named Connecticut Professor of the Year


Posted 12/04/06
Scott Plous, professor of psychology, was named the Connecticut Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

This designation means he is among only 43 professors working in the United States, the District of Columbia and Guam to be considered a 2006 U.S. Professor of the Year.

“It was quite a surprise, as you can imagine,” Plous says, modestly.

The goal of the U.S. Professors of the Year Program is to increase awareness of the importance of undergraduate instruction. In recognizing faculty members for their achievements as teachers, the award gives institutions an opportunity to celebrate excellence and provide models for faculty and students.

Plous, who joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1990, is an expert on psychology of prejudice and discrimination, decision making, and the human use of animals and the environment.

The CASE-Carnegie award is Plous’s second major teaching award. In 1998, he received Wesleyan’s Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

Plous credits Ruth Striegel-Moore, the Walter A. Crowell University Professor of the Social Sciences and professor of psychology, for nominating him while she was chair of the Psychology Department.

“I’m deeply grateful to Ruth for her support of my teaching, and I also owe a huge debt to the wonderful teaching apprentices and course assistants I work with,” he says.

Plous is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and the American Psychological Association, and has been the recipient of several APA division awards, including the William James Book Award, for his book The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making, the Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize, the Otto Klineberg Intercultural and International Relations Award, and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Award for Distinguished Service to the Society. In addition, he is a faculty associate of the Tufts University Center for Animals and Public Policy and is on the editorial board of Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy.

The Professor of the Year program is the only national initiative specifically designed to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.

“One of the things that pleases me about the award is that Wesleyan held its own when compared with large research universities,” Plous says. “This reflects well on Wesleyan’s Instructional Media Services, library and support staff.”

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education began the program in 1981, and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching became a partner and major sponsor the following year.

Winners of the award must meet the program’s demanding criteria. The primary characteristic the judges consider is an extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching demonstrated by the impact on and involvement with undergraduate students; scholarly approach to teaching and learning; contributions to undergraduate education in the institution, community and profession; and support from colleagues and current and former undergraduate students.

For this achievement, Plous was invited to a congressional reception in Washington, DC, and given a framed certificate of recognition.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Residential Life Staff Honored by National Organization


Residential Life student-staff members for the Butterfields and 156 High Street and 200 Church Street are among those trained by Residential Life’s award-winning Social Justice Training Program.
Posted 11/17/06
A program developed by Wesleyan’s Residential Life received the Program of the Year Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), based in Washington DC.

The Social Justice Training Program, spearheaded by Residential Life’s area coordinators, teaches and trains about 100 student-staff members on the topics of social justice, the cycle of socialization, dominant and subordinate group dynamics, privilege and power and the action continuum. It also stresses liberation from systems of oppression, through exploring specific forms of oppression, including racism, sexuality and gender systems of oppression, class and religious oppression.

Fran Koerting, director of Residential Life, nominated the program for the NASPA award.

“By participating in the program, our student-staff is able to apply the knowledge they learned in creating inclusive communities within their residential area, how to interrupt and confront instances of oppression and how to respond to hate and bias incidents,” Koerting says.

The Program of the Year award is awarded to programs that have been implemented within the three previous years. Programs were evaluated on innovation and creativity, contribution to student development and/or professional development, contribution to the home institution and timeliness of topic.

Program planning began in June 2006, with input from student leaders and colleagues from other departments, as well as the Residential Life central staff and student staff members.

During the two-hour sessions held on five consecutive days during August training, students had the opportunity to listen, discuss and reflect as well as participate in various activities. In-services are being held throughout the year.

The trainers taught the student-leaders how to appreciate different cultures and lifestyles; understand how social justice relates to the job; how to feel comfortable facilitating conversations; being aware of social justice resources, and knowing the protocol for bias and hate incidents.

Not only did the program have a significant impact on the student staff, but it also affected the area coordinators who had developed it, Dawn Brown, Sharise Brown, Brandon Buehring, Eric Heng and Robin Hershkowitz.

“All five of us have had significant experience as professionals in Residential Life for at least three years, yet we found the experience of developing and collaborating as well as conducting the training contributed a new and exciting opportunity,” explains Hershkowitz, the area coordinator of Nicolson, Hewitt and Fauver Residence halls. “Not only were we excited that we were able to conduct these trainings with our students, but the experience contributed greatly to our personal and professional growth.”

The university is considering adapting the Residential Life Social Justice Training Program for use with faculty and staff.

“As for the Wesleyan community, social justice is one of the most important issues for students and staff alike,” Koerting says. “Instituting a year long focus, and providing student staff with the information and tools to address the issues with their residents, makes it possible to have a significant impact on the entire community.”

The area coordinators have also shared the program with their colleagues in the field through a session at the Northeast Association of College and University Housing Officers New Professionals Program on Oct. 20. In addition, they will present a session on the program during the annual NASPA/Association of College Personnel Administrators conference in Florida in March.

The NASPA, headquartered in Washington DC, is the leading voice for student affairs administration, policy and practice and affirms the commitment of student affairs to educating the whole student and integrating student life and learning. With over 11,000 members at 1,200 campuses, and representing 29 countries, NASPA members are committed to serving college students by embracing the core values of diversity, learning, integrity, service, fellowship and the spirit of inquiry.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

United Way Campaign Begins With Hope to Raise $143,000 from Wesleyan


Wesleyan is raising awareness and support for the Middlesex United Way.
Posted 11/17/06
Each fall, Wesleyan employees have an opportunity to demonstrate an enduring connection with the greater Middletown community by simply making a donation to the Middlesex United Way.

By giving to the Middlesex United Way, Wesleyan employees are insuring that the local community has greater access to essential health and human services. Contributions to United Way have translated into disaster relief, support services for the homebound and disabled, emergency food and shelter and after school programs.

Middlesex United Way is working to fight the root causes of chronic human service needs including substance abuse, mental health and housing.

“In my tenure as president, I have encouraged a deepening of Wesleyan’s connection to the community with the belief that what is good for Middletown is good for Wesleyan,” says Wesleyan President Douglas Bennet. “Our gifts help address several needs.”

Wesleyan has achieved an outstanding record in past campaigns. Wesleyan is one of the top three institutions in the Middlesex County United Way Campaign, and nationally ranks in the top four percent for contribution and participation among colleges and universities.

Wesleyan’s goal this year is to raise $143,000. Frank Kuan, director of community relations for the Center of Community Partnerships, and Pam Tatge, director of the Center for the Arts, are this year’s co-chairs.

“To achieve our goal, we need a community-wide effort,” explains Tatge. “We hope to encourage 75 people to become new givers this year, and if you have not participated in the past, please consider doing so.”

Although the average gift has increased to $288, the percentage of Wesleyan employees contributing to the campaign has slipped from more than 65 percent to less than 50 percent. Kuan and Tatge hope to reverse the downward trend in participation.

Employees can donate to the campaign in a lump sum or by payroll deduction.

For more information contact Frank Kuan at fkuan@welseyan.edu or Pam Tatge at ptatge@wesleyan.edu.

Report Shows Impact of Digital Imaging on College Teaching, Learning


Posted 11/17/06
Digital images are changing the way professors teach at colleges and universities, but often only after the huge expense of personal time and resources, according to a new study titled “Using Digital Images in Teaching and Learning,” published on Academic Commons, a Web journal that Wesleyan’s Michael Roy helps to edit.

The study, commissioned by Wesleyan University and the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE), suggests ways of how the teaching profession as a whole can harness these new resources in a more efficient manner.

“The big story here is that we’ve still got a long way to go before we realize all of the educational and scholarly possibilities afforded by digital images in particular, and new media in general,” says Michael Roy, director of Academic Computing Services, Digital Projects and Academic Commons founder. Roy is pictured at left.

“Using Digital Images in Teaching and Learning” details the results of an intensive study of digital image use by more than 400 faculty at 33 liberal arts colleges and universities in the Northeast. The report makes a set of recommendations for optimizing the deployment of digital images on campus.

Wesleyan and NITLE undertook the study in 2005 in response to questions about how digital image use might be changing teaching practices in higher education.

The impact on teaching is at the heart of the study. One third of participating faculty reported digital images had changed their teaching greatly. Those teaching image-based subjects found that having anytime/anyplace accessibility to a “vast variety of images from a variety of sources,” has given them greater flexibility and creativity in the classroom. With new access to images provided by the Web and other sources, faculty teaching non-image-based subjects are often using images for the first time or using substantially more, and are more likely to build them into the core substance of their teaching. New relationships to images stimulate ideas about visual thinking and visual learning that are themselves changing approaches to teaching.

“Faculty, however, often feel like lone pioneers in their transition to using digital images as because support, resources and infrastructure at local and national levels in many cases are not sufficiently in place to allow them to use these new resources to their full potential,” Roy explains. “In addition to the pedagogical interest of the report, related issues of image supply, support and infrastructure make up much of its fabric.”

Key findings include:

1. Tools and services are badly needed to assist faculty organize, integrate, catalog and manage their personal collections. Most faculty use images from their personal digital image collections (91 percent), assembled from many sources, rather than from licensed (30 percent), departmental (19 percent) or library collections (14 percent). Campuses should define and enhance the relationship between individual faculty collections and emerging institutional collections.

2. Available resources need to be made easier to find. Faculty are often unaware of digital image resources on campus and as a consequence expensively-produced, often licensed resources go underused. Similarly, while faculty call for high-quality, dependable and free online databases of images, these often do exist, but evidently need to be better publicized and more easily discoverable.

3. Fair Use is vulnerable on many campuses. For several reasons, visual resource curators and instructional technology departments are often risk-averse and shy of exploring the possibilities for faculty to legally use copyrighted digital images in their classrooms and on closed course websites. Creating institutional copyright policy, with full community participation and expert copyright legal advice, is an important first step for campuses to be clear about legal responsibilities and the rights of intellectual property users.

4. Image “literacy” skills need to be developed for optimum use of digital images by teachers and students. As digital images become widely used, many faculty need pedagogical support, especially for ideas and assistance in how to use images most effectively, as well as for opportunities to share pedagogical needs and discoveries with their peers. In addition, students often fail to grasp the skills needed to work with images. Many need training in image literacy (analyzing or reading images, including maps), digital literacy (handling and manipulating image files), and image composition (creating and communicating through images).

5. Transitioning to digital image resources affects every level of an institution. Few appreciate the cross-institutional implications of creating digital image resources and the production and presentation facilities required to satisfactorily work with the new medium. Empowering and funding cross-department, cross-functional groups to make coordinated, informed decisions is one good way for laying the right foundations. Dedicated imaging centers can highlight issues, focus decisions and bring disparate parts of the campus together around the benefits that coordinated digital image production and delivery can bring.

This report is rooted in the faculty experience of going digital, as shown in 400 survey responses and 300 individual interviews with faculty and some staff at 33 colleges and universities: 31 liberal arts colleges together with Harvard and Yale Universities. Two-thirds of the survey respondents worked in the arts and humanities, 27 percent in the sciences and 12 percent in the social sciences. Faculty were self-selected.

The report is online at http://www.academiccommons.org/imagereport.

Faculty Receive Fulbright Scholar Grants


From left, Stephen Angle, associate professor of philosophy; Ronald Jenkins, professor of theater; and Jeff Rider, professor of romance languages and literature, received Fulbright grants for the 2006-07 year.
Posted 11/17/06
Three members of the Wesleyan faculty have been awarded Fulbright Scholar grants for the 2006-2007 academic year: Stephen Angle, associate professor of philosophy; Ronald Jenkins, professor of theater; and Jeff Rider, professor of romance languages and literature.

They join approximately 800 other U.S. faculty and professional who will travel abroad through the Fulbright Scholar program, which is sponsored by the U.S. department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Angle’s his Fulbright-sponsored study will take place at Peking University in Beijing, China to further his research, titled: “Sagehood: The Contemporary Ethical Significance of Neo-Confucianism.

Jenkins will travel to Bali, Indonesia in January to study “Messages of Tolerance in Balinese Temple Festival Performances” under the auspices of Bali’s College of the Performing Arts.

Rider’s Fulbright takes him to the University of Charles de Gaulle-Lille III, in Lille, France where he will pursue a translation of Galbert of Bruges’ “Journal.”

According to the Fulbright Program recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. For further information on the Fulbright Program: http://exchanges.state.gov.
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Men’s Soccer Reaches NCAA Tourney 2nd-Round


Sam Griswold, 2nd-team all-NESCAC, drives a ball past a Montclair opponent Nov. 11. The men’s soccer team had a heart-breaking 1-0 loss to end their National Championship run. (Photos by Peter Stein ’84)
Posted 11/17/06
A goal by Montclair State’s Bill Anthes in the game’s 18th minute held up as the home team Red Hawks, ranked eighth nationally, improved to 20-1 with a 1-0 victory over Wesleyan on Nov. 11 in the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament.

The loss to the New Jersey school ended the Cardinals’ season at 11-3-3. It was the second year in a row that Wesleyan, currently ranked 23rd, saw its season conclude in the second round of the NCAAs.

Wesleyan defeated Baruch, 5-0, in the opening round three days earlier to advance to the game with Montclair State.

The Cardinals turned up the pressure in the second half generating a 7-2 margin on shots over the final 45 minutes but were shut out. The closest they came a was shot in the 79th minute by Jared Ashe ’07 off a Julian Canzoneri ’07 corner kick but were denied by a dramatic defensive save by a Red Hawk.

Ashe, pictured at left, was one of four Cardinals recently honored by the NESCAC with a spot on the all-NESCAC squad. He was a first-team choice along with Matt Nevin ’09 and Peter Glidden ’07. Sam Griswold ’08 was named to the second team.
 

By Brian Katten, sports information director

Goldsmith Family Cinema Dedicated Nov. 17


The Goldsmith Family Cinema was formally dedicated and celebrated Nov. 17 with the family.
Posted 11/17/06. Revised 11.20.06
When he was student at Wesleyan University, John Goldsmith envisioned his college having premier facilities for the burgeoning film studies major. On Nov. 17, Goldsmith returned to Wesleyan with his family to dedicate the Goldsmith Family Cinema, which is housed in the new, award-winning film studies building on Wesleyan’s campus.

“This is just the latest addition to a long-standing labor of love in honor of Jeanine Basinger and the film studies program,” says Goldsmith, the CEO of Metropolis, a Los Angeles-based talent firm that represents artists and writers working in animation. Goldsmith is also president of Metropolis Productions, a production company that creates innovative animated television series and commercials.

“John was an outstanding film major, smart, hard-working, and totally committed,” says Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller professor of film studies and chair of the Film Studies Department. “One thing that stood out about him was his concern for the future of our major. Even as an undergraduate he was looking ahead, planning, and helping shape what would come after him.”

The naming of the cinema came through a generous gift from the Goldsmith Family Foundation.

“The Goldsmith family–John, his mother, and brother and sister–were the first people to provide tangible support for the Cinema Archives at Wesleyan,” Basinger says. “It all started with them. Over the years, we’ve become close friends.”

Wesleyan’s Cinema Archives currently reside in a wood-framed house on Washington Terrace, a formerly free-standing building which has been incorporated into the opulent new film studies building. The construction of an expanded, state-of-the-art cinema archives building will soon begin.

In many ways, the Goldsmith Family Cinema is the centerpiece of the new film studies building, which in 2004 won a prestigious citation by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The Goldsmith Family Cinema is one of the best-equipped and designed film viewing spaces on the east coast, if not the entire country. The screening room contains projectors that can show 16 mm, 35 mm and 70mm films, as well as variable speed projectors essential for viewing silent films. There is also equipment to screen a variety of digital formats, including VHS and Digi-Beta video All formats are presented in the best possible light and sound with impeccable sightlines.

While providing an ideal space for film viewing, the cinema is also specifically designed to accommodate the active study and discussion of film. A podium is equipped to permit speakers to control sound, lighting, microphones, and the screen curtains. Also there is an integrated computer panel to permit the use of peripheral equipment such as laptop computers and other devices.

The events on Nov. 17 will included a private dinner with the Goldsmith family, Basinger, members of the film studies department, and invited guests including Wesleyan Trustees. At 8 p.m. the Goldsmith Family Cinema was formally dedicated and celebrated with a brief ceremony followed by a screening of the classic Buster Keaton silent film “Sherlock JR” with live organ accompaniment.

“Inaugurating the cinema with a film like this, is so much fun,” Goldsmith says, his voice filled with enthusiasm. “I really loved the time I spent as a student at Wesleyan, and my family and I have so much respect for Jeanine and what she has accomplished here.”
 

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

New Method Gives Insight into Plant Characteristics During Global Warm-Up, Says Professor


Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental science, presented his research on leaf economics at the Geological Society of America in October.
Posted 1./1./6/font>
Many scientists have long believed a major clue to rapid global warming is locked in leaf fossils that are millions of years old. Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental science, has just found a key.

Royer and colleagues have generated a reliable method to ascertain from fossils from the Eocene period, 34 million to 56 million years ago, the leaf mass per unit of leaf area, an important trait that is related to “leaf economics.” His findings were highlighted at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA), which was held in Philadelphia from October 22-25.

“The early Eocene was a period when the planet experienced intense warming,” Royer says. “Quantify the leaf economics of that time allows us to see how plants and the environment around them responded to a warm-up and compare that with what’s happening now.”

Which brings us back to leaf economics, or more precisely, what kind of leaves the plants had and how quickly they grew. In essence, plants tend to be relatively quick or slow growing. Quick-growing plants tend to have a low leaf mass per area. They are typified by thinner leaves, a higher photosynthetic rate and use more nutrients. They also tend to have faster lifecycles and be more susceptible to insect damage. Plants with a high leaf mass per area tend to be slow-growing and have thicker leaves that are more resistant to insect damage. They also display slower photosynthetic rates, use fewer nutrients and longer lifecycles.

Obtaining these types of measurements is simple enough in present day, but, in all but a few examples, has been difficult to generate in the fossil record.

Royer and his co-investigators were able to solve this puzzle by relating leaf mass to the width of the petiole, the thin stalk that connects the leaf to the branch. Heavier leaves require thicker petioles for reasons of support. In fossils, petiole width and leaf area can therefore be measured to estimate leaf mass per area. They tested their methods on Eocene fossils from sites in Washington and Utah.

Royer hopes that this new method will open up a new area of inquiry into the fossil record that can provide important data for helping us understand the effects of climate change today.

“It’s always a best case scenario when you can find something from the geological record that helps us learn something new and useful about our own world,” Royer says.
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Economics Professors Take on Role of Editors for National Journal


Gil Skillman, professor of economics and Joyce Jacobsen, the Andrews Professor of Economics are the co-editors of the Eastern Economics Journal.
Posted 11/01/06
Two Wesleyan professors are devoted to making one of the country’s leading economic journals even better.

Joyce Jacobsen, the Andrews Professor of Economics and Gil Skillman, professor of economics, are the co-editors of the Eastern Economics Journal. Jacobsen and Skillman volunteered to assume editorship of thee publication in July 2005. They will complete their term in 2010.

“This is a rewarding opportunity as well as an important service to the profession,” Skillman says. “Helping authors turn a interesting but perhaps undeveloped ideas into solid contributions to the field can be very gratifying.”

The Eastern Economics Journal, established by the Eastern Economic Association in 1973, publishes papers written from every perspective, in all areas of economics. The journal is published four times a year and features between eight and 10 articles per issue.

The editors seek advice from their 16-member editorial board, three associate editors, and get production assistance from managing editor Bill Boyd. Boyd is Jacobsen’s spouse.

The journal considers manuscripts addressing a broad range of concerns including issues in economic methodology and philosophy as well as more standard contributions in economic theory and empirical economic analysis. The theoretical and empirical arguments in these papers are generally couched in formal mathematical terms, although submissions using less technical analytical methods are also accepted.

Labor productivity growth in Chile, the demand for recycling services, salary in major league baseball, the sexual division of labor with households and anti-discrimination programs in the job market are all topics discussed in the journal’s most recent issue.

“We are particularly interested in articles that have a neat idea that may be a little out of the mainstream of economics, that don’t fall neatly into a standard research category, and that other economists may find intriguing,” Jacobsen says. “For instance, an upcoming issue will feature two articles debating about whether or not the penny should be dropped from our currency system.”

As new editors, Skillman and Jacobsen have several goals in mind. Their immediate goal is to publish a backlog of accepted manuscripts that were on hold prior to their editorship. Once they are caught up, they hope to become more selective with their manuscript selections. They are presently publishing about 25 percent of all submitted articles. Increased selectivity would help to raise the publication’s national profile.

Jacobsen and Skillman also want to expand their subscription by finding a commercial printer than can offer advertising and publicity. Already, the association distributes the journal to 700 members and 300 libraries, nation-wide. They also want to expand the journal’s presence online.

“We believe that electronic publications are the wave of the future,” Skillman says. “Indeed, the journal already manages the editorial process online, as authors can submit their papers online, and referees file their reports online as well.”

In addition, Jacobsen and Skillman want to create special symposia issues, in which several articles tackle the same topic. “Agent-based” computer modeling of complex economic interactions is one potential focus area.

When manuscripts are submitted, Jacobsen is the first to see them. She divvies up the submissions between herself and Skillman.

“It’s fortunate Gil and I have varied specializations,” she says. “I handle the more empirical articles, and ones on feminist economics, and give Gil any manuscripts on micro theory, Marxist or institutional economics.”

The editors skim the papers to make sure they contain original work and do not have glaring errors of reasoning or methodology. If the paper passes this initial screening, they send the paper to two or three “referees” who are considered experts in that particular field of economics.

Within a three-month period, the referees offer their feedback. If positive, then Jacobsen and Skillman will most likely eventually accept the manuscript for publication, although they generally recommend that the author first makes revisions. The editing and revising process can take up to 12 months.

Once finalized, the manuscript goes into a queue and awaits publication space.

“We have a pretty steady stream of article submission and there’s always lots of reading to do, but we don’t mind,” says Skillman. “We get to learn a lot along the way.”

Wesleyan, which is credited on the journal, has been supportive of the editors’ efforts, giving them both financial resources for some of the journal’s overhead expenses and some course relief.

The Eastern Economic Journal is online at http://www.iona.edu/eea/publications/publication.htm.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan a Top Fulbright Scholar Producer


Wesleyan Fulbright Program Advisor Krishna Winston helps students apply for the Fulbright grants. Six students received the award this fall.
Posted 11/01/06
For the second year in a row, the Chronicle of Higher Education named Wesleyan as one of the “Top Producers of Fulbright Awards for U.S. Students.” The report was published in the Oct. 20 edition.

Under the “Bachelor’s Institutions” category, Wesleyan tied for 9th place with St. Olaf College of Northfield, Minn. and Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. In 2006-07, Wesleyan had 23 Fulbright applicants, with six students receiving awards.

The students who were awarded Fulbrights are:

Cara Chebuske ’06 and Amie Kim ’04 are currently in South Korea, teaching English as a foreign language. Emily Garts, Kate McCrery and Rose Tisdall, all of the class of ’06, are in Germany teaching English. Elizabeth Langston ’05 is in France teaching English. Laura Goldblatt ’06 also received the French Government Teaching Assistantship but declined the award, and Roger Yang, M.D. ’99 was named an alternate; he had applied for a grant to study Chinese alternative medicine in Australia.

“Wesleyan can be proud of these results,” says Krishna Winston, the Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Language and Literature, who has served as Fulbright Program Advisor since 1979.

In recent years, the number of applicants with whom she works has risen from an average of 12 to more than 20, thanks to the larger number of Wesleyan students participating in study-abroad programs and the internationalization of the curriculum.

“Opportunities for teaching English have increased dramatically, and now attract a good percentage of the applicants, eager to be on the giving end in the classroom instead of the receiving end,” Winston says.

The Fulbright program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, is the largest U.S. international exchange program, offering opportunities for students, scholar, and professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, teaching and work in the creative arts. The program was established in 1946 by the U.S. Congress to “enable the government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.”

This fall, the 1,200 American students who received Fulbright awards are conducting research, taking courses, or teaching English in 122 countries.

Winston works very closely with seniors, graduate students and alumni, helping them refine their projects and write and rewrite their proposals and personal statements.

“I enjoy my role as Fulbright Advisor because I come to know very able and interesting students from a wide range of disciplines, including graduate students, and because I am essentially giving them individual writing tutorials,” she says. “I learn a great deal from discussing the projects with the applicants, and they learn a great deal about how to present their ideas cogently and concisely.”

Winston recruits faculty members with international experience to serve on the Campus Fulbright Committee, which interviews all the applicants who are on campus and any alumni who live within traveling distance of Middletown. This fall, the members of the committee were Annemarie Arnold, Robert Conn, Alice Hadler and Catherine Ostrow.

“I am tremendously grateful to these colleagues who give up an afternoon and an evening to interview up to 20 students,” she says.

For more information on the Chronicle of Higher Education ranking and the full report, go to: http://chronicle.com/temp/reprint.php?id=q24mrmr4fpl57kywxgkz2lwlp4sr6twy#top.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Global Warming Topic of Schumann Symposium


Posted 11/01/06
When it comes to global warming, where on earth are we going?

That is the question scholars hope to answer during the 3rd Annual Robert Schumann Environmental Studies Symposium titled: “Where on Earth Are We Going? Global Climate Change and Vulnerabilities: A Perspective for the Future.”

The event is open to the public and takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 11 at Exley Science Center Room 150.

“Given the trend of global warming, we need to think about these issues and prepare for them and adapt,” says Barry Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies and event coordinator. “

The symposium will begin with a welcome message by Wesleyan President Douglas Bennet and a perspective by Sally Smyth ’07.

Four internationally-recognized speakers will conduct presentations at the symposium and answer audience questions.

“The speakers will be addressing everything from food and energy to extreme weather to human health to global interactions,” Chernoff says. “Global warming affects not only the sea level but human health. Hopefully this will make a big difference to all of us and change how the way we act as a community.”

“Failed and Failing States: A Growing Threat to Social Stability and Economic Progress” will be presented by Lester Brown, president of Earth Policy Institute, a nonprofit, interdisciplinary research organization based in Washington, DC. Brown has authored or coauthored 50 books and is the recipient of many awards, including 23 honorary degrees, a MacArthur Fellowship, the 1987 United Nations’ Environment Prize and the Borgström Prize by the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry, and has been appointed an honorary professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

“Healthy People 2100: Climate Change and Human Health” will be presented by Kristie Ebi, an independent consultant based in Alexandria, Va. Ebi is an epidemiologist who has worked in the field of global climate change for 10 years. Her research focuses on potential impacts of climate variability and change, including impacts associated with extreme events, thermal stress, food-borne diseases, and vector-borne diseases, and on the design of adaptation response options to reduce current and projected future negative impacts. Her scientific training includes a master’s degree in toxicology and a Ph.D. and MPH in epidemiology.

“Global Climate Change and Hurricanes” will be presented by Judith Curry, professor and chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Curry received a Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the University of Chicago and currently serves on the National Academies Climate Research Committee and the Space Studies Board, and the NOAA Climate Working Group. She has published over 130 refereed journal articles. Curry is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union. She is a recipient of the Henry Houghton Award from the American Meteorological Society.

“Apocalypse Now or Brave New World? Two Scenarios for Social and Cultural Responses to Global Warming” will be presented by Alaka Wali, curator and director at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Wali has a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University. She is responsible for coordinating a range of programs designed to enhance interdisciplinary work at the museum, strengthening public programming on cultural issues and promoting efforts to link the museum closer to the Chicago community. She is the author of two books, several monographs and over 30 articles.

John Hall, from the Jonah Center for Earth and Art, will have concluding remarks.

Chernoff anticipates an audience of more than 400 people, including college and high school students who are bussed in for the event. Audio tapes from last year’s symposium were donated to five area high schools and implemented into their curriculum.

“We invite Wesleyan students, faculty and staff, but we encourage the local community to come and ask questions and meet the speakers,” Chernoff says. “This is an opportunity to meet these scholars and learn from them first hand.”

“Where on Earth Are We Going” is sponsored by the Robert Schumann Fund for Wesleyan’s Environmental Studies Program. Funding for the Environmental Studies Program also provides funding for the Long Lane Farm Annual Pumpkin Festival run by Wesleyan students and the Earth Day keynote address at Wesleyan.

For more information on the symposium contact Valerie Marinelli, administrative assistant, at 860-685-3733. More information and video clips from former symposiums, go to: http://www.wesleyan.edu/escp/.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor