Campus News & Events

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

Former Wesleyan Trainer Dies


Posted 11/01/06
Walter Grockowski, a former Wesleyan trainer and trainer for the 1972 Winter Olympics, has died at the age of 86.

Grockowski died Oct. 25 at High View Health Care Center in Middletown.

He began his 39-year tenure in the Athletic Department in 1947. He became the school’s head athletic trainer in 1973, a position he held until retirement in 1986.

His involvement in athletics went beyond the university. For many years, Grockowski helped with athletic events around Middletown, where he made his home, especially events organized by the city parks department and the American Legion.

A native of Pittsfield, Mass., Grockowski moved to Middletown when he was 6. He graduated from Middletown High School and the New Haven College of Physical Therapy. Between high school and college, he spent two years in the Navy as a pharmacist’s mate.

Grockowski was one of four athletic trainers for the U.S. Olympic Team during the 1972 Winter Olympics, in Sapporo, Japan. He was inducted into the National Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame in 1984, and the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.

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

City of Middletown Honors Wesleyan’s 175th


President Doug Bennet and Midge Bennet accept a proclamation honoring Wesleyan’s 175th anniversary from City of Middletown Majority Leader Tom Serra.
Posted 10/05/06
The City of Middletown honored Wesleyan University with a proclamation honoring its 175th anniversary. The designation was made during the City of Middletown’s Common Council meeting Oct. 2.

President Doug Bennet and Midge Bennet accepted the proclamation in front of the council members and the public. The proclamation is mounted on a wall plaque.

Following the ceremony, President Bennet presented a brief history of Wesleyan, noting that it was founded in 1831 through collaboration among Middletown’s civic leaders.

Some of these leaders were Methodists, some not, but all of them agreed that establishing a college in what was then a booming metropolis of 7,000 people would be a good thing for the town. So they banded together and purchased the land and buildings on High Street that had comprised Partridge’s Academy, which had closed for financial reasons.

Willbur Fisk, a young Methodist minister and educator got to work establishing the college that would become Wesleyan. In his first inaugural address, he articulated a value that remains fundamental to the way we think about education. He said: “Education should be directed in reference to two objects: the good of the individual educated and the good of the world.”

“175 years later, Wesleyan has let go of its affiliation to the Methodist church, but not its indebtedness to its home city, nor a sense of common purpose with the people of Middletown,” Bennet said at the meeting. “We hope to continue contributing to the city’s welfare. Thank you for this honor.”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor and Elan Barnehama, contributing writer

Wesleyan Celebrates 100 years of Hosting Government Documents


Erhard Konerding, Olin Library documents librarian, flips through the pages of Survey for the Transcontinental Railroad, dated 1860, located in Wesleyan’s Congress Serial Set in Olin Library. In 1906 Wesleyan became a designated depository for U.S. government documents.
Posted 10/05/06
In October 1906, United States Representative George Lilley allowed Wesleyan’s libraries to receive publications of congress, the president, federal courts and federal agencies, at no cost. Wesleyan was designated as one of the nation’s few depository libraries, under the auspices of the U.S. Government Printing Office.

In October 2006, Wesleyan libraries are celebrating their centennial as a Depository Library for United States Government publications. Judy Russell, superintendent of documents, will take part in the ceremony, scheduled for 4 p.m. Oct. 20 in Olin Memorial Library.

An exhibit will accompany the celebration. It will feature documents from 1906-2006 and focus on the technologies that were present at the time.

“We are fortunate to receive the publications, whether monographs or subscriptions; both would cost us lots of money if we purchased them or subscribed,” explains Erhard Konerding, Olin Library documents librarian.

Konerding estimates there are about 1,100 designated Depository Libraries in the U.S., however the number is declining. The Regional Depositories, averaging one per state, receive 100 percent of the offerings; other libraries varying percentages. Wesleyan receives, free of charge, about 30 percent of the publications offered in pre-selected categories by the Government Printing Office, and is required by federal law to make them available to the general public.

Students, faculty and staff can access United States Government publications from the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of the United States government in several formats: paper, microfiche, CD-ROM, diskette, videocassette, and online. Wesleyan’s collection emphasizes the social sciences, and is strongest in Congressional publications, statistics and government policy.

The main documents collection is housed on the Ground Floor of the Olin Library stacks.  Publications printed after 1976 are listed in Wesleyan’s library catalog, or online at http://www.marcive.com/webdocs/webdocs.dll.

As part of the centennial celebration, Olin’s Special Collections and Archives will be hosting an exhibit inside the library tentatively titled “A Century of Government Information.” This exhibit will feature examples of government documents, which Wesleyan possesses.
For more information on the U.S. Government Information offered through Wesleyan’s libraries, visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/libr/collections/govdoc/govweb.html.

 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Scientists Share Research at Molecular Biophysics Retreat


Gloster Aaron, assistant professor of biology, speaks on “Neurons looking back before firing: the timing of action potentials” during the Molecular Biophysics Retreat Sept. 21.
Posted 10/05/06
Established and budding scientists attended the Seventh Annual Wesleyan University Molecular Biophysics Retreat at the Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown on Sept. 21. The retreat is an annual celebration of the Molecular Biophysics Program, which is co-directed by David Beveridge, professor of chemistry and Ishita Mukerji, associate professor and chair of molecular biology and biochemistry.

Organized this year by Beveridge and Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, the event was supported by the Edward W. Snowdon lecture fund, the Molecular Biophysics Program, the departments of Chemistry and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The retreat was designed to bring together students and faculty in the molecular biophysics and biological chemistry programs and provide them an opportunity to discuss their current research, explore new ideas and possible collaborative work. About 50 people attended this year’s retreat.

Jacqueline Barton, pictured at right, the Arthur and Marian Hanisch Memorial Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology and member of the National Academy of Sciences, was the keynote speaker.

Barton discussed how electrons move through DNA structures and how this process can mediate DNA damage and repair.

“By researching what happens inside the cell that leads to DNA mismatch formation and repair, we may better be able to understand how certain types of cancer occur,” Barton says.

In a complementary talk titled “Mopping up after messy polymerases,” Professor Hingorani discussed her research on mechanisms of DNA damage and repair, involving proteins linked to carcinogenesis.

The event also featured 26 posters by several Wesleyan students and alumni including, Katherine Augustyn, a fifth year graduate student at the California Institute of Technology and double major in chemistry and molecular biology and biochemistry.

Augustyn’s poster detailed how electric charges migrate through DNA, more specifically how cells, like those exposed to UVA radiation, could be damaged by charge migration. She also spoke with students about her research at a Wesleyan Women In Science seminar Sept. 22.

Rex Pratt, Wesleyan University professor of chemistry, described his studies about a class of enzymes that catalyzes the last step in bacterial cell wall biosynthesis.

“These enzymes are the targets of beta-lactam antibiotics such as penicillin,” says Pratt. “Our aim is to learn more about these enzymes at a molecular level to assist further drug development.”

Ryan Pelto, a fourth year chemistry graduate student at Wesleyan, who conducts research with Pratt, presented a poster about bacterial resistance to current ß-lactam antibiotics and how ß-lacatamase enzymes play a major role in bacterial defense mechanisms.

Other Wesleyan University scientists presented research, including new faculty member Gloster Aaron, assistant professor of biology, neuroscience and behavior, and T. David Westmoreland, associate professor of chemistry.

Aaron’s research investigates how neurons communicate with each other and produce precise patterns of activity. The title of his talk was “Neurons looking back before firing: the timing of action potentials.”

“In this ongoing work, we are demonstrating that slow currents in some groups of neurons produce, in a sense, a memory of past communications from other neurons,” says Aaron.

“Thus, the decision of when to fire an action potential can incorporate messages from further back in time than had previously been assumed. This research may help us understand how precision is produced in a network that appears at first glance to be composed from imprecise elements.”

Westmoreland’s talk was titled “Marcus Theory and Atom Transfer: It’s not just for electrons.

“The most important type of atom transfer, both from a biological and an industrial point of view, involves the transfer of a single oxygen atom,” says Westmoreland.

Westmoreland’s talk reported on the progress in showing how the conceptual framework previously developed for reactions that involve transferring a single electron can be extended to include single atoms as well.

He hopes that this work will provide new insights into the functions of a number of important enzymes and may point to new industrial catalysts.
 

By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations; photos by Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

A Sweet Sound: Chapel Receives New Piano


Neely Bruce, professor of music, plays the new, seven-foot August Foerster piano inside the Memorial Chapel Sept. 29.
Posted 10/05/06
The secret is in the strings.

That’s how Professor of Music Neely Bruce defends the exceptionally clear sounds of Wesleyan’s new chapel piano.

“This piano is extraordinarily beautiful, and quite different from the Steinway sound you may associate with a grand piano,” Bruce explains. “It is clearer, more agile, more evenly balanced and is the perfect size for the chapel. It is the best piano of its size on campus.”

The new August Foerster is a brand that’s legendary in Europe, particularly Eastern Europe. It’s the same type of piano that was favored by Serge Prokofiev, Emil Gilels, and most of the major Russian pianists of the first half of the 20th century.

The Music Department, with help from the Administration, purchased the $38,000, seven-foot instrument from piano dealer Wilhelm Gertz.

Three years ago, when the Memorial Chapel reopened, the department intended to move one of its 9-foot grand pianos into the space, however this proved impossible. A smaller Mason and Hamlin piano has been in use, but Bruce felt the piano was not appropriate for the chapel’s magnificent public space.

“The chapel piano is not just a concert instrument, it is used for weddings, funerals and memorials and campus worship,” Bruce says. “Many of you will appreciate that our community has this new resource.”

To introduce the new piano to the community, Bruce played a short recital Sept. 25 in the chapel.

“We are very privileged to have this great piano at Wesleyan,” he says.

(To hear the piano, view the video clips below of Neely Bruce playing.)

      
By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor