Campus News & Events

Wesleyan Aims for 47% United Way Participation to Make Difference in the Lives of Local Residents

Posted 10/16/07
Growing up, Karen Collins’s family found themselves in financially-difficult situations. But when times got tough, her community generously helped the family through local programs.

In college, she received financial aid, and relied on the support of many alumni of her school to finish her degrees.

Nowadays, the chair of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department, professor of mathematics, is giving back to her community by chairing Wesleyan’s Middlesex United Way campaign drive for the 2007-08 term.

Wesleyan’s annual campaign kick-off is Oct. 23.

“I’m a supporter of United Way because I want to give back to the world some of the help that I received,” Collins says. “I also want to live in a strong and healthy community, and that’s not really possible unless the people around me have food, homes, and basic medical care. The United Way serves people in our community, which is important to me, and supports so many programs in our community, that it is easy to find programs that I really want to support.”

Wesleyan employees will have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of local residents and improve community conditions by making donations to the Middlesex United Way. The campaign supports critical human care services and county-wide projects that address the top concerns of local residents including housing issues, mental health and substance abuse.

This year, Wesleyan’s goal is to raise $140,000 with 47 percent faculty and staff participation. Last year, Wesleyan raised $135,399 with 45 percent participation.

“As faculty and staff retire, we have to expect that our total contributions will fluctuate from year to year, and that’s one reason we are making the participation rate a priority this year,” Collins says.

Middlesex United Way currently supports six “What Matters” focus areas for funding including Affordable Housing Matters, School Readiness Matters, Positive Youth Development Matters, Independent Living Matters, Personal & Community Safety Matters and Volunteers Matter.

United Way also is mobilizing the caring power of communities in new ways, by working with new partners on prevention-based approaches that can bring about long-term, positive change.

Bill Holder, director of publications, says as a Wesleyan Middlesex United Way Campaign Board member, he is able to witness first hand how much effort goes into making sure that United Way dollars have a beneficial impact, and his contribution is handled with care.

“I certainly believe in helping worthy organizations in the community, and that’s part of my motivation for giving,” he says. “I’m also well aware that Middlesex United Way is working in a strategically smart way to address the underlying causes of problems in our county, and I think that’s so important.”

In 2006-07, Wesleyan was one of 160 businesses and organizations which helped raise 65 percent of all United Way funds during their annual workplace campaign. For its efforts, Wesleyan was named a Silver-level Corporate Sponsor.

“Together with our donors, volunteers and funding partners, we are bringing lasting change on key community issues like youth substance abuse, affordable housing, and early childhood development,” says Andy Heuer, Middlesex United Way development director. “Wesleyan’s leadership and financial support is, and always has been, an integral part in helping us achieve our goals.”

Employees can make a one-time donation or have funds withdrawn once a week, once every two weeks or once a month through Wesleyan’s payroll deduction plan. Forms will be sent to Wesleyan employees this month. A raffle drawing will be held with prizes for those making contributions.

“Here in the Wesleyan community, we have so much wealth compared to many, many people who live around us. We have wealth of education, of resources, and of support for our plans and ideas,” Collins says. “I believe that we can make a difference in the world and that, because we can be, we need to be leaders in making the world a better place. Our contributions make a difference in the lives of the people in our community, and they have an immediate impact. When we live in a strong community, our own lives are enriched and improved.”

For more information on Middlesex United Way go to the organization’s website at

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Farmers’ Market, Cob-Oven Demos at Pumpkin Fest 2007

The Long Lane Farm Club is spearheading the fourth annual Pumpkin Festival Oct. 20 for the Wesleyan and local community. The event will be held at the student-run Long Lane Farm.
Posted 10/16/07
The Wesleyan community and people from the surrounding area can paint and purchase pumpkins during the fourth annual Long Lane Farm Pumpkin Festival Oct. 20.

The event offers educational composting and organic gardening workshops, beekeeping, pumpkin face painting, tours of the farm, T-shirt designing, free bike tune-ups, garlic planting, music by student and local bands, games and a farmer’s market, selling farm produce and pumpkins. Long Lane Farm Club members will also offer demonstrations of the “cob oven” they constructed last summer.

“Pumpkin Fest is a chance to celebrate fall harvest and the changing of seasons, to bring together folks with connections to long lane both from Wesleyan and the broader Middletown sphere, and to make the farm accessible to students who miss out on the summer season when it is most alive and productive,” says Long Lane Farm Club member Jordan Schmidt ’08.

Although the farm successfully produces more than 80 different types of vegetables from eggplants to tomatillos, the pumpkin patch never produced a successful harvest until this year. Schmidt says the farm will display their 20 “own big beautiful pumpkins” at the fest, and supplement them with pumpkins and apples grown at an eco-friendly orchard in Meriden, Conn.

The Long Lane Farm was created in 2004 so students would have a place to come together and learn about food security issues. Students have the opportunity to participate in all aspects of running the farm.

People of all ages are welcome to participate in Pumpkin Fest activities.

Farm Club member Grace Lesser ’08 says Pumpkin Fest provides an excellent opportunity to introduce children to organic farming. As a freshman, she brought a class of students from a local elementary school to Middletown’s Washington Street Community Garden, and helped them plant a plot with lettuce, carrots and flowers, and met those students three months later to harvest to their crops.

“Some of these students had no idea where their vegetables at dinner came from, and definitely no idea that they could in fact eat food that they, themselves planted,” Lesser says.

The Long Lane Farming Club is extending festival activities into a series of other events highlighting the exploration of urban agriculture and broader food-agriculture interaction.

On Oct. 18, the farm club and Environmental Studies Certificate Program will host the agricultural film, “The Future of Food” from 8 to 10 p.m. in PAC 001; on Oct. 19, the Farming Club will meet between 2 and 5 p.m. to make pizza in their cob oven and work on the farm. At 7 p.m. Oct. 19, Scott Kellogg, co-founder of the Rhizome Collective, will discuss Urban Agriculture in the Russell House. The Rhizome Collective operates out of a self-renovated building in urban Austin, Texas where they work on creating accessible forms of autonomous energy and growing their own food using recycled water and nutrients from the available city-scape.

The 2007 Pumpkin Fest will be held from noon to 5 p.m. at the Long Lane Farm. The farm is located at the corner of Long Lane and Wadsworth Street, south of Physical Plant and Wesleyan University Press. Admission and activities are free. This year’s special musical guest is the band Busted Roses.

”I hope people can come out and have a good time, meet some new folks, share good food, become familiarized with the fall tasks of organic gardening, and just feel comfortable hanging out at the farm,” Schmidt says. “

The event is sponsored by the Environmental Studies Certificate Program, First Year Matters and Student Budget Committee. For more information contact Valerie Marinelli at 860-685-3733.

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Wesleyan Faculty Member of Nobel Peace Prize Winning Panel

Wesleyan’s Gary Yohe is a member of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The panel is supported by the United Nations.
Posted 10/16/07
Gary Yohe, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, is a senior member and coordinating lead author on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is a co-recipient of the 2007 the Nobel Peace Prize.

The other co-recipient was former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

The official press statement from The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited the IPCC and Gore for: “their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.”

IPCC efforts were also further noted in the statement:

“Through the scientific reports it has issued over the past two decades, the IPCC has created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming. Thousands of scientists and officials from over one hundred countries have collaborated to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of the warming. Whereas in the 1980s global warming seemed to be merely an interesting hypothesis, the 1990s produced firmer evidence in its support. In the last few years, the connections have become even clearer and the consequences still more apparent.”

Yohe, who has been involved with IPCC for more than a decade, is one of the leading members of the panel. Currently he serves as the Coordinating Lead Author in the Contribution of Working Group II of the Fourth Assessment Report and member of the Core Writing Team for the Synthesis Report of the Fourth Assessment.

When contacted about the award, Yohe was elated.

“The authors who participate in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have always been secure in the knowledge that their assessments contribute to their respective climate research communities,” Yohe said. “We are, as well, always gratified when the member nations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change accept the summary reports of our work as the natural and social scientific basis for their negotiations on how to frame global climate policy. It is now particularly rewarding to hear that the Nobel Committee thinks so highly of our work and recognizes its role in elevating the public discourse on climate change. We are, collectively, humbled and invigorated by this award.”

Yohe is featured in a New York Times article about the award at:;

A Hartford Courant article at:,0,812879.story;

And on WNPR Connecticut Public Radio at:

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Wesleyan Tests New Emergency Notification System

Posted 10/16/07
In the event of catastrophic weather, accidents that threaten the campus or other life-threatening situations, Wesleyan has furthered its capabilities to inform the campus community quickly and effectively.

A recently-implemented Emergency Preparedness Notification System was tested university-wide on Oct. 10. The emergency notification system alerts students, parents, faculty and staff of serious campus-wide emergencies.

“If Wesleyan has an extended power outage, an incident requiring mass evacuation, or possibly a hostage situation, we will use this system to quickly notify the Wesleyan community,” says Cliff Ashton, director of Physical Plant and chairperson of Wesleyan’s Business Continuity Committee.

Wesleyan has had an emergency preparedness plan prior to 2000, but the new, expanded system includes considerations for long term recovery and on-going business continuity for the university following a major emergency. As a result, the Business Continuity Committee developed the Emergency Preparedness Notification System.

“The need for an expansion in the plan’s scope became apparent to colleges across the U.S. following hurricane Katrina in New Orleans where operations for several universities came to a halt for extended periods, severely challenging the on going viability of those institutions,” Ashton explains.

Wesleyan began implementing the new system in March of 2007. This notification system contacts regular phones, cell phones and e-mail addresses through a Web-based system provided by Connect-Ed. This system is designed specifically for electronic messaging at colleges and universities.

The system notification occurs by voice message to regular telephones or cell phones that students, faculty, and staff identify in the emergency contact listing in their portfolio. Consequently, once someone have been informed of an emergency through e-mail, home phone or cell phone. Employee’s voice mail box will serve as a secondary source of information.

“We needed a way to get campus-wide electronic emergency messages out quickly and reliably,” explains Steve Machuga, director of administrative systems and member of the Business Continuity Committee.

Machuga says the new system is still undergoing some inherent technical and human difficulties with trying contact 4,000 students, staff, faculty and parents as simultaneously as possible. The test on Oct. 10 revealed some problems, such as getting messages past spam filters and simplifying the e-mail format. Machuga and his colleagues are currently addressing these problems.

“We’ve gotten a lot of good information and encouragement through the Emergency Notification Confirmation, which we requested, and we’ve responding to all of them,” Machuga says. “We are moving forward because this is very important for the Wesleyan community.”

The possibility of adding text messaging to the system is being investigated, and additional protocol for the types of notifications that will be sent through the system is under consideration.

In order for the system to work, students, their parents and Wesleyan staff and faculty must update their contact information.

Students can update their phone numbers and their parents’ phone numbers by visiting the Enrollment, Hold & Addresses link in the student portfolio or by navigating to the following
Faculty and staff can update their campus-wide emergency numbers through the Personal Profile link in the electronic portfolio or using the following link

Graduate students can update their phone numbers and e-mail addresses by visiting Enrollment, Holds and Addresses under my Enrollment status in your portfolio or by using the following link

Graduate Liberal Studies Program students can update their phone numbers by visiting the “Address Verification Tab” of the “GLSP On-Line Registration” in your portfolio or by using the following link

The Business Continuity Committee has also proposed low-tech options such as using Public Safety officers and their vehicles or limited public announcement systems to alert people of emergencies.

The following members of the Business Continuity Committee helped implement the new system: Ashton, Machuga, Anna van der Burg, registrar; Camille Dolansky, associate director of Parent Programs; Eloise Glick, faculty resource specialist; Justin Harmon, vice president for Public Affairs; Fran Koerting, director of Residential Life; David Meyer, director of Public Safety; David Pesci, director of Media Relations, and Dan Pflederer, human resources management systems functional specialist; Ganesan Ravishanker, associate vice president for Information Technology Services; and Mike Whaley, dean of student services and interim dean of the college.

The committee plans to test the system at regular intervals. Staff will also routinely review Wesleyan’s preparedness procedures to ensure that the university maintains the safest possible campus.

A team of staff members is also currently updating Wesleyan’s emergency response plan in order to comprehend more recent threats, such as the possibility of a pandemic contagion, and to ensure consistency with protocols established in the National Incident Management System created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This same team recently conducted a training drill implementing Wesleyan’s plan in conjunction with the City of Middletown police, fire, and health departments.

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Neuroscience, Lemony Snicket Talks Part of Snowdon Lecture Series

Dale Purves, the George Barth Gellor Professor for Research in Neurobiology, and director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University will speak on “Why We See What We Do: Brightness and Color” as part of the upcoming Snowdon Lecture Series. (Photo courtesy of Duke University)
Posted 10/16/07
Upcoming lectures funded by the Edward W. Snowdon Fund focus on children’s book writing, the way human beings perceive brightness and color, and cognitive behavior as it relates to stress and health.

For several years, the family of Edward W. Snowdon ’33 has supported a variety of programs through the Edward W. Snowdon Fund.

“Wesleyan is privileged to have special funds available to bring artists, musicians, dancers, writers, scientists, and other renowned people to campus,” says Linda Secord, director of University Lectures and Alumni Programs. ”These campus visitors provide outside-the-classroom learning experiences that would not be possible without generous funding from supporters like the Snowdons.”

The upcoming speakers, co-sponsored by the Edward W. Snowdon Fund include:

Daniel Handler ‘92, novelist, screenwriter, children’s book author, and musician will speak about children’s books at 8 p.m. Oct. 24 in Beckham Hall in Fayerweather Hall. Under the pen name of Lemony Snicket, Handler, who is pictured at right, is the author of the children’s books, A Series of Unfortunate Events. His talk is co-sponsored by English Department and Wesleyan Writing Program.

Dale Purves, the George Barth Gellor Professor for Research in Neurobiology, and director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University will speak on “Why We See What We Do: Brightness and Color,” at 8 p.m. Oct. 24 in Kerr Lecture Hall in Shanklin Laboratory. His talk is co-sponsored by the Departments of Biology, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, and Psychology, the Neuroscience and Behavior Program and the Wesleyan Student Assembly.

Purves will speak again on “Why We See What We Do: Geometry and Form,” at noon Oct. 25 in Exley Science Center Room 121. This talk is co-sponsored by the Biology Department.

Robert Sapolsky, professor of biological sciences, professor of neurology and neurological sciences, from Stanford School of Medicine at Stanford University will speak on “Stress and Health: From Molecules to Societies” at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Goldsmith Family Cinema. His talk is co-sponsored by the departments of Biology, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and Psychology, the Neuroscience and Behavior Program and the Wesleyan Student Assembly.

Additional upcoming lectures are posted online at

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Campus Buildings Book Memento for Wesleyan Community

Posted 10/02/07
Wesleyan’s campus has been captured on camera and bound in a book.

Wesleyan University Press has released Welcome to Wesleyan: Campus Buildings in October 2007. The 64-page, full-color book features numerous photographs of Wesleyan’s diverse structures captioned with historical notes.

Leslie Starr, the assistant director and marketing manager at Wesleyan University Press, is the book’s author and editor. Photographs in the book were contributed by a number of university staff members and professional photographers.

“We’ve felt that Wesleyan has needed a book like this for a long time – an informative and inexpensive memento of campus,” Starr says. “As I began to pull together the material, I discovered that there really weren’t many photographs of some of these buildings, and basic information on the history wasn’t readily available, either,” Starr says.

Founded in 1831, Wesleyan’s campus is rich in architecture and history. This collection of photographs of campus buildings begins with the original buildings of College Row, and, like a walking tour, takes the reader past a variety of more recent additions. Focusing on what would interest students, staff, faculty, alumni and university visitors, the book includes academic, athletic, administrative, and arts buildings, as well as residence halls, fraternity houses, and the off-campus deli.

In-depth, informative captions detail each building’s history and transitions over the years, and describe the buildings’ occupants and namesakes.

The book contains over 50 full-color photographs, including an aerial view from autumn 2006, an informative introduction describing the university’s history, a campus map, illustrations, acknowledgements, notes on the book and information about the author and Wesleyan University press. It will be updated for the next printing.

“We already know that we will revise several pages, since this book needed to go into production last January, so we weren’t able to include a finished image of the new Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center.” Starr says.

Several Wesleyan staff, faculty and students assisted with the book through historical researching, writing, editing, photo selection, printing and overseeing technical issues. They include Barbara Ally, Mark Bailey, Stacy Baldwin, Danielle Bugge ’07, John Biddiscombe, Shelley Burchsted, Lynn Cartwright-Punnett ’07, John Driscoll, Valerie Gillispie, Cheryl Hagner, Bill Herbst, Bill Holder, Brandi Hood, Linda Hurteau, Maureen Isleib, Erhard Konerding, Susan Krajewski, Shirley Lawrence, Willard Lockwood, Susan Lourie, David Low, Karl Maier, Cynthia McDermott, Nancy Meislahn, Jeff Miller, Joanne Palmer, Karl Scheibe, Joe Siry, Barbara Spalding, Bridgett Stapleton, Suzanne Tamminen, Suzy Taraba, Stephen Thompson, Allynn Wilkinson and Andy Wiltshire ’08.

Photography was contributed by Starr, Olivia Drake, Robert Benson, Bill Burkhart, Stephanie Elliott, John Foraste, Ryan Lee, William Mercer, Rick Scanlon Photography and Nancy Walz.

Welcome to Wesleyan: Campus Buildings can be purchased at Broad Street Books, the Usdan University Center or online at

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Annual Flu Clinic Held for Faculty, Staff

Posted 10/02/07
A free flu vaccination is available for Wesleyan faculty, staff and their dependents this month.

Influenza is a highly contagious viral illness marked by fevers, muscle aches, cough, headache and fatigue.

“Influenza is at best a miserable experience for which we are all at risk every year,” says Dr. Davis Smith, medical director at the Davison Health Center. “An annual flu shot is very likely to confer protection against this year’s strains of influenza and is highly recommended for all members of the Wesleyan community. When flu season comes around, better to know you got the flu shot than wish you had.”

Influenza’s symptoms often have a dramatically sudden onset and usually last seven to ten days. Although Influenza almost always improves without complications, certain individuals, especially those with underlying medical problems such as diabetes or asthma may develop complications, especially pneumonia; ear infections or sinusitis may also occur.

The vaccination also is available to Wesleyan retirees and dependents 16 years and older who are CIGNA eligible.

The campus-wide flu clinic is sponsored by the Davison Health Center and Department of Human Resources. The MidState VNA and Hospice will provide the clinical services and Davison Health Center staff will assist with clerical duties.

The free flu clinic will be held for faculty, staff and dependents only from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27.

A clinic will also be held for faculty, staff, dependents AND students from noon to 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29 and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30. There is a fee for students to receive the shot.

All clinics will be held inside Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center, Room 108.

Registration is not required. However for faster service, bring a completed Influenza Immunization Permission sheet to the clinic. The form is available online at

More information on the flu is online at

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

International Mathematics Conference Coming to Campus

Posted 10/02/07
Wesleyan’s Mathematics and Computer Science Department will host The Wesleyan Dynamical Systems Conference, Oct.13-14 at the Exley Science Center. The conference is being held in honor of Ethan Coven, professor of mathematics, emeritus.

Dynamical systems, an extremely broad and central field of mathematics, is, at its core, the quantitative study of systems evolving over time.

“Scientists in many disciplines have come to realize and use geometric and quantitative techniques that have been the outgrowth of this field of study,” says Edward Taylor, associate professor and one of the conference organizers. “It cross cuts such major areas of mathematical research as low-dimensional geometry and topology, hyperbolic geometry, analysis and the theory of ordinary and partial differential equations. Techniques from the field of dynamical systems have found applications in such diverse fields as economics, ecology, physics, medicine and biology.”

Taylor adds that, while the conference talks are being given by internationally recognized experts in the field of dynamical systems, people with a general interest in mathematics considering attending the conference would appreciate the breadth and vigor of this field.

The list of speakers is impressive and includes mathematicians from universities across the United States, as well as Canada and Israel. The full list of speakers, abstracts and events can be found on the conference website:

The Mathematics and Computer Science Department will also host a sectional meeting of the American Mathematics Society next October.

Along with Taylor, The Wesleyan Dynamical Systems Conference organizers include Petra Bonfert-Taylor, associate professor of mathematics, Adam Fieldsteel, professor of mathematics, and Michael Keane, professor of mathematics. The conference is supported by the Philips Corporation and Wesleyan University.

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

Casale ’10 Marches Across Country to Support Peace

Holding the “March 4 Peace” banner, Ashley Casale ’10 and Michael Israel reached Washington DC Sept. 10 after walking 3,000 miles across the country supporting nonviolent resistance to war efforts.

After wearing through four pairs of shoes and speaking to hundreds of people in 12 states about war solutions, Wesleyan student Ashley Casale ’10 returned briefly to campus after a 3,000-mile cross-country trek to promote world peace.

Casale walked from San Francisco, Calif. to Washington D.C. this summer to raise peace awareness and discuss ways to take action nonviolently. Her March for Peace concluded Sept. 10 in front of the White House.

“Overall, this was a great, eye-opening experience,” Casale said to peers, deans and President Michael Roth during campus visit Sept. 21. “This walk was about peace, and (we learned that) peace isn’t political.””

Casale crossed the country with her walking partner Michael Israel, a recent high school graduate from California. Together, they trekked 25 miles a day, carrying a wide “March 4 Peace SF to DC” banner or donning pro-peace attire. They made several stops along the route to chat with area residents about their cause.

Their messages included supporting nonviolent resistance to war efforts, ceasing crimes against humanity, ending nuclear weapon holding and proliferation, and promoting sustainability and global citizenship. They particularly marched for peace in Iraq, and to raise awareness of the genocide, rape, and torture in the Darfur region of Sudan, Africa.

Casale and Israel began the walk on May 21, carrying only three outfits, two journals, a first aid kit, water bottle, sunscreen, sleeping bag and a small tent apiece. They relied on acquaintances they met along the way to donate food, additional clothing, shelter and shoes. They also asked for monetary donations via their Web site, Casale said hundreds of peace-supporters joined their march, some for hours, others for days.

Together, they crossed America’s deserts, prairies and mountainous regions, in the sun, rain storms and whipping winds, all in an attempt to make a visible impact. Casale and Israel made several media appearances, from radio and television interviews to being featured on the front page of the Chicago Tribune.

“We never wanted to draw attention to ourselves, just our cause,” Casale says.

President Michael Roth meets Ashley Casale ’10.

Roth, who was living in California during the time of their departure, says he remembered seeing Casale on the 10 p.m. news.

“When I saw that there was a student from Wesleyan walking across the country for peace, I thought that was a very admirable thing,” Roth said during a recent meeting with Casale and Israel. “It’s wonderful you were able to bring attention to peace activism, and that you were so determined to get your message out there.”

The walkers recorded their experiences along the way in a journal, but the memories are still very fresh in their minds. They recall meeting a woman in Griswold, Iowa who lost her fiancé at the time to the Vietnam War, and a military mom in Peoria, Ill. whose son joined the Army and was deported to Iraq.

“It was always emotional for us to talk to military moms, because most of them have sons in Iraq who are our same age,” Casale said. “She said she told her son in Iraq about us, and he was awed that we had walked so far to end this war.”

Casale and Israel plan to write a book together this year based on their March for Peace. Class deans Marina Melendez and Michael Whaley invited them to speak at a dean’s colloquium, and Roth said he will encourage other students to express their views and be proactive.

Casale and Israel made dozens of stops in each state they passed through. Their route included California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and finally Washington D.C. Their journey is documented in an online photo gallery at

Casale, an undeclared environmental studies and music major, will resume her studies at Wesleyan in Spring 2008.

Faculty Plans International Conference to Attract Elite Mathematicians from Around the World

Former Ohio State Ph.D colleagues Wai Kiu “Billy” Chan, associate professor of mathematics, and Maria Ines Icaza of Universidad de Talca in Chile, met for two weeks in September at Wesleyan to collaborate on planning a mathematics conference.
Posted 10/02/07
A Wesleyan mathematics faculty member is helping to organize an international conference in Chile that will be only the second of its kind ever held.

Wai Kiu “Billy” Chan, associate professor of mathematics, is co-organizing the International Conference on The Algebraic and Arithmetic Theory of Quadratic Forms 2007. The event will be attended by elite mathematicians from around the world Dec. 13-19 near Lake Llanquihue in the southern part of the country.

“The purpose of the conference is to get together and exchange ideas,” Chan says. “Although we do write back and forth through e-mail, mathematicians prefer to get together in person and communicate that way.”

Chan is one of six conference organizers, and has teamed up with Maria Ines Icaza, associate professor and director of The Institute of Mathematics at Universidad de Talca in Chile. In September, Icaza visited Wesleyan for two weeks and worked with Chan on conference planning and a future publication.

This is the second quadratic forms international conference in history. The first was held in 2002. Chan spoke at that conference on “’Positive ternary quadratic forms with finitely many exceptions.”

Chan and Icaza attended The Ohio State University and worked under the same Ph.D advisor. They’ve been collaborating on several research projects funded by the National Science Foundation and National Security Agency of US, and Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Cientifico y Tecnologico (FONDECYT) of Chile.

The colleagues’ conference is an integral part of Chile’s 2008 bicentennial celebration.

“One of our country’s goals is to support an economy and society based on new ways of thinking when it comes to math, sciences and technology,” Icaza says.

The Chilean Science Foundation created the Programa Bicentenario de Ciencia y Tecnologia (PBCT), or the Bicentennial Program in Science and Technology. This program is funding the international conference with a $900,000 grant.

The conference organizers are using these funds to invite attendees from all over the world. In addition to Chan and Icaza’s U.S. and Chile origins, the other organizers come from University of Bordeaux in France, University of Nottingham in England; Bielefeld University and University of Saarlandes in Germany.

About 85 participants have confirmed they will be attending, although only a select few will speak at the conference. All attendees are professors, post doctoral researchers and graduate students. English will be the language used to communicate at the conference.

“This is a very selective conference, and our speakers will be among the best mathematicians in the world,” he says.

The Quadratic Forms 2007 conference was one of 15 science-related projects funded by the PBCT. Forty-seven applications were refereed by a selected group on scientists from all over the world including researchers in biology, chemistry physics and mathematics.

As part of Chile’s Bicentennial Program in Science and Technology, Chan was not only asked to be part of the conference’s organizing committee, but to participate on a long-term collaboration with mathematicians from Universidad de Talca.

“Professor Chan’s participation as well as the participation of the other international collaborators makes our projects strong and suitable to achieve the PBCT goals on developing research in science in Chile,” Icaza says.

This year, Chan’s former student, Anna Rokicki, who earned a Ph.D from Wesleyan in 2005, will attend the conference.

For more information on the International Conference on The Algebraic and Arithmetic Theory of Quadratic Forms, go to

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Kottos to Receive International Nonlinear Physics Award

Tsampikos Kottos, assistant professor of physics, says his Wesleyan colleagues have encouraged him to pursue his research.
Posted 10/02/07
Tsampikos Kottos, assistant professor of physics, is the recipient of a major international award for his “many outstanding contributions in the field of nonlinear physics and quantum chaos.”

In March 2008, he will be presented with the Stephanos Pnevmatikos International Award for Research in Nonlinear Phenomena, which is given to an outstanding young researcher in the fields of nonlinear physics, mathematical physics and nonlinear disordered systems. The award, worth $10,000, is presented to only one researcher or scientist every two years.

Kottos is the eight recipient of the award, and the only researcher from a liberal arts college. This speaks highly of Wesleyan, he says.

“I was always viewing the success of these people not only as a result of their personal achievement, but also as a result of their scientific environment, support of their colleagues. Research is not a one person’s achievement,” Kottos says. “It involves discussions, alternative viewpoints, composition of ideas and above all, a supporting academic environment. Wesleyan University, offering me the position of assistant professor, showed its recognition to my scientific work and encouraged me to pursue my research line further.”

Kottos studies complicated moving forms, from electrons and bosons in “chaotic” confinements, to arrays of coupled “non-linear” pendula. Among his most important contributions was his simplified method of modeling electron transport from complex, or chaotic, confinements.

“Pretty often the mathematical equations that describe these systems become very ugly, and the systems are so complex that you cannot even write, or dare to write, the mathematical equations that describe them,” he says.

In his Quantum Mechanics class, Kottos teaches students how to use quantum graphs, a simplified model which imitate the behavior of complex nuclei, molecules, and solid-state devices. Last year, Kottos introduced quantum graphs in a new area of research called “atomtronics”. His goal is to propose atom-based devices that will be extremely accurate, highly controllable, and have the ability to process quantum information in precision measurements.

For these efforts, among others, he was nominated for the nonlinear phenomena research award by Professor Theo Geisel, director of the Max-Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Goettingen-Germany. The Max-Planck Institutes are the leading research institutions in Germany, and several of their directors are Nobel-prize-caliber scientists. “In this respect, the nomination itself by Professor Geisel is a great honor,” Kottos says.

His group, consisting of graduate students Moritz Hiller and Josh Bodyfelt; and undergraduates Gim Seng Ng ’08; Rangga Budoyo ’08; Katrina Smith-Mannschott ‘08, Jiayi Zhang ’09; and Carl West ‘11 have already made a significant presence in the scientific community. Together, they have produced more than 10 publications and participated in 15 invited talks at international conferences, colloquia and seminars during the past two years.

“I am pretty confident that we will move forward with the same excitement, achieving new breakthroughs in the future,” he says.

Kottos will receive the award during the American Physical Society meeting. The award will be presented by the committee member Prof. David Campbell, provost of Boston University. The award is established by the Foundation of Research and Technology Hellas, which is the largest research organization in Greece, in memory of the late Professor Stephanos Pnevmatikos. Candidates must be outstanding researchers in the fields mentioned above and must be under 40 years old.

Kottos plans to use the monetary award for personal reasons; however his youngest daughter, Eva-Maria, 2, was promised a “slice” of the prize.

“When I learned that I received the award, I called my wife to share my excitement, and she asked my daughters, “Did you hear what daddy won?’ Eva replied ‘Cake? Wooooo!’ so we’ve figured that $10,000 is equal to approximately 10 years of cake paradise for our daughter,” Kottos says.

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor

Exley Classroom Dedicated to Late Professor Max Tishler

President Michael Roth ’78 greets Betty Tishler, wife of the late Max Tishler, for whom Wesleyan dedicated a science lecture hall in his name. Pictured in back is Max and Betty’s son, Peter Tishler.
Posted 09/19/07
Science Center Room 150 was recently dedicated in the name of a Chemistry Department icon.

Members of the Wesleyan community gathered outside the Exley Science Center classroom Sept. 6 to remember the work, mentorship and memory of Max Tishler. The classroom is now named “Tishler Lecture Hall.”

Max Tishler touched countless numbers of chemistry students at Wesleyan. He was the president of Merck, Sharpe & Dohme Laboratories during the 50’s and 60’s before accepting a faculty position with Wesleyan’s Chemistry Department. He taught from the late ‘60’s to ’75, but stayed on afterwards to do research. He passed away in 1989. His widow, Elizabeth Verveer “Betty” Tishler, was a co-partner in her husband’s legacy and a living Wesleyan legend in her own right.

The room was named through of the generosity of Joshua ’73 and Amy Boger P’06 and P’09. At Wesleyan, Tishler was Boger’s mentor and with Tishler’s sponsorship, Boger rose to the leadership of Merck research before leaving to co-found Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

Boger is currently the chair of Wesleyan’s Science Advisory Council and a member of Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees. The Bogers have also supported undergraduate financial aid at Wesleyan.

Speakers at the dedication included Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78; Joe Bruno, professor of chemistry and vice president for Academic Affairs and Provost; Joshua Boger; Katie Feldman ’10, a Boger Scholar; and Betty Tishler. Betty and Max Tishlers’ sons, Peter and Carl Tishler, also attended.

Pictured at right, Betty Tishler mingles with Gina and John Driscoll ’62 of University Relations during the dedication ceremony. Pictured above, Joe Bruno speaks about Max Tishler.

Photos by Philip Bolton, Roslyn Carrier-Brault and Olivia Drake.