Campus News & Events

Kelly ’19 Presents Paper at Mellon Mays Ancient World Conference

Ronald Kelly '19, pictured second from right, attended the inaugural Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Conference on the Ancient World in November. Tushar Irani, associate professor of philosophy and letters, is pictured second from the left in the back row. 

Ronald Kelly ’19, pictured second from right, attended the inaugural Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Conference on the Ancient World in November. Kelly’s Mellon Mays mentor, Tushar Irani, associate professor of philosophy and letters, is pictured second from the left in the back row. Also pictured is Bret Mulligan ’97, second from right in the back row.

Ronald Kelly ’19, who is majoring in the College of Letters and classical studies, presented a paper at the first Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Conference on the Ancient World at Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College on Nov. 9–11. He attended the conference with his Mellon Mays mentor, Tushar Irani, associate professor of philosophy and letters.

Ronald Kelly

Kelly discussed what it meant to be foreign within the Roman Empire, focusing on aspects of immigration, integration, and myths of foreignness.

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) Program is the centerpiece of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s initiatives to increase diversity in the faculty ranks of colleges and universities. The program operates from the foundational principle that encouraging a diverse range of scholarship and scholars in the academy is directly related to the betterment of career opportunities and life opportunities available to scholars, and by extension, to the country.

Kelly discussed the research he has conducted as a Mellon Mays fellow on what it meant to be foreign within the Roman Empire, focusing on aspects of immigration, integration, and myths of foreignness found in the Satyricon, written by the 1st-century CE Roman novelist Petronius.

“The conference offered an opportunity for Mellon Mays fellows to share with a wider community of scholars the research they are conducting. There were also activities tailored specifically to the fellows’ experiences and their aspirations to continue in academia,” Irani explained.

The conference included a graduate school panel focusing on fields that deal with aspects of the ancient world and a discussion of support systems in place to assist students of color as they transition into graduate study.

Dan-el Padilla Peralta, professor of classics at Princeton University, was the keynote speaker for the conference. Serendipitously, also at the event as a Mellon Mays faculty mentor was Bret Mulligan ’97, associate professor of classics at Haverford College, who—like Kelly—majored in the College of Letters and classical studies, at Wesleyan.

“The conference provided a wonderful occasion for the two to discuss their shared experiences as Wesleyan students, even at a distance of over 20 years,” Irani said.

The MMUF aims to prepare talented students to pursue university teaching careers in disciplines where minority faculty are notably underrepresented, and to prepare talented students who are committed to increasing cross-racial and ethnic understanding and interested in enabling others to better understand persons of different races and cultural backgrounds, as well as to address the attendant educational consequences of these disparities. The program serves the related goals of working to create campus environments that will be more conducive to improved racial and ethnic relations, and of providing diverse role models for all youth.

5 Students Attend Clinton Global Initiative University Conference in Chicago

Katie Shewfelt '20, Makaela Kingsley '98, Anthony Price '20, Momi Afelin '19, Frederick Corpuz '20 and Ferdinand Quayson '20 attended the 11th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) conference, held Oct. 19-21 in Chicago, Ill.

Katie Shewfelt ’20, Makaela Kingsley ’98, Anthony Price ’20, Momi Afelin ’19, Frederick Corpuz ’20, and Ferdinand Quayson ’20 attended the 11th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) conference, held Oct. 19-21 in Chicago, Ill.

While 94 percent of children from wealthy Filipino households attend high school, only 69 percent from poor households continue to get a high school education after graduating from grade school (UNESCO).

Through a nonprofit venture called SALIN Ed., Frederick Corpuz ’20 is working to create an inexpensive, sustainable alternative to classroom learning that enables 10- to 12-year-olds in the Philippines to become independent, successful learners through an online program.

To advance his social entrepreneurial skills and better his venture, Corpuz applied to participate in the 11th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) conference, held Oct. 19–21 in Chicago, Ill.

Campaigns and Elections Class Conducts Real-World Exit Poll Research

Students in Assistant Professor of Government Logan Dancey's Campaigns and Elections course conducted exit polling around Connecticut's Fifth Congressional District on Election Day.

Students in Assistant Professor of Government Logan Dancey’s Campaigns and Elections course conducted exit polling around Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District on Election Day.

Students in Assistant Professor of Government Logan Dancey’s GOVT 232 Campaigns and Elections course got a real-world lesson in the subject matter this Election Day.

On Nov. 6, the students stood out in the rain to field an exit poll—a survey of voters as they’re leaving their polling locations—in Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District. The students conducted the surveys at nine different polling places spread out across six different towns in the district.

In order to generate a diverse sample that reflected the demographics of the congressional district, the precincts were intentionally selected to provide a balance of more Republican-leaning, Democratic-leaning, and balanced precincts. The survey included a mix of demographic and political questions, such as respondents’ race; sex; age; party identification; approval of Trump and Governor Dannel Malloy; vote choice for House, Senate, and governor; and positions on issues such as the Affordable Care Act, border wall, and abortion.

Wesleyan Celebrates GIS Day with Hands-on Activities

On Nov. 14, Wesleyan celebrated geography, mapping, and spatial data analysis at the annual GIS Day. GIS Day provides an international forum for users of geographic information systems (GIS) technology to demonstrate real-world applications that are making a difference in our society. The first formal GIS Day took place in 1999.

During GIS Day, the Wesleyan community was invited to participate in multiple activities, including a hands-on humanitarian map-a-thon, a seminar on digital storytelling with maps led by Sam Raby ’17, and games involving “Fun with GIS.” The events were led by students taking the E&ES 281: GIS Service Learning course and Kim Diver, associate professor of the practice in earth and environmental sciences. Diver’s research focuses on island biogeography, with particular interests in water level changes, isolation metrics, forest dynamics, and applications of GIS to investigate spatiotemporal distributions of insular plant species.

Wesleyan joined hundreds of organizations and institutions from North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia in hosting GIS Day gatherings. For more information, visit Wes GIS.

Photos of GIS Day are below:

Jesse Simmons (’21), Luke Green (’20 ENVS, HIST), Sarah Goss (’19 BIOL, PSYCH)

From left, Jesse Simmons ’21, Luke Green ’20, and Sarah Goss ’19.

Kim, Students Coauthor Paper on Self-Memory Advantage

Kyungmi Kim

Assistant Professor of Psychology Kyungmi Kim, Youngbin (Amabel) Jeon ’19, Alexis Banquer ’20, and Danielle Rothschild ’19 are coauthors of a study published in the October 2018 volume of Consciousness and Cognition.

In the paper, “Conscious awareness of self-relevant information is necessary for an incidental self-memory advantage,” Kim and her students examine the relative contributions of conscious vs. unconscious self-processing to the incidental self-reference effect.

The incidental self-reference effect refers to a memory advantage for items simultaneously presented with self-relevant information (e.g., one’s own name) over those presented with other relevant information (e.g., someone else’s name) when the task at hand bears no relevance to the self (e.g., a simple location judgment task; “Does each item appear above or below the name in the middle?”).

In the study, Kim and her students compared memory for target items that were presented with one’s own name vs. another person’s name when the names were consciously identifiable vs. unidentifiable. They found the incidental self-reference effect when the names were consciously identifiable but not when they were consciously unidentifiable.

“These findings show that conscious awareness of self-cues in the environment is necessary for an incidental self-memory advantage to emerge, suggesting a boundary condition under which the self influences memory,” Kim explained.

Wesleyan, Eversource Begin 3-Year Strategic Partnership

Eversource Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Morton and Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 seal the deal on a partnership between Eversource Energy and the University.

Wesleyan recently kicked off a strategic partnership with Eversource Energy that will support the University’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth and Eversource Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Morton signed an agreement on Oct. 30 before receiving a tour of the Freeman Athletic Center’s recent energy efficiency upgrades.

The new strategic partnership supports a three-year energy efficiency plan that will save an additional 3.2 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

Kahindi ’18 Awarded Rhodes Scholarship

Claudia Kahindi '18, second from right, was awarded the 2019 Rhodes Scholarship for Kenya. From left, Elizabeth Kiss, warden of the Rhodes Trust, Sheila M'mbijjewe, Rhodes Selector, Kahindi, and Nic Hailey, the British High Commissioner to Kenya.

Claudia Kahindi ’18, second from right, was awarded the 2019 Rhodes Scholarship for Kenya. From left, Elizabeth Kiss, warden of the Rhodes Trust, Sheila M’mbijjewe, Rhodes Selector, Kahindi, and Nic Hailey, the British High Commissioner to Kenya.

Claudia Kahindi ’18 is a recipient of the 2019 Rhodes Scholarship for Kenya. Established in 1903, the Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest, and one of the most prestigious, international scholarship programs in the world. It offers about 100 fully funded scholarships each year to students around the world for post-graduate study at the University of Oxford in the UK. Recipients are selected based on their “outstanding intellect and character” as well as their motivation to “engage with global challenges,” serve others, and become “value-driven, principled leaders for the world’s future.”

“For me, receiving the Rhodes Scholarship means that even the most disadvantaged person can achieve their ultimate vision through immense hard work, persistence, and support from other people,” said Kahindi, who is originally from Kilifi, Kenya. She attended Wesleyan with assistance from the Kenya Scholar-Athlete Project (KenSAP) and graduated with honors in the College of Social Studies as well as a minor in African studies.

Chernoff Honored at “Sound of Science” Musical Premiere

Chernoff, second from right, at the concert November 10. He is pictured on stage with, from left, composer Felipe Perez Santiago, composer Graham Reynolds, and cellist Jeffrey Zeigler.

Barry Chernoff, second from right, is pictured on stage with, from left, composer Felipe Perez Santiago, composer Graham Reynolds, and cellist Jeffrey Zeigler.

Barry Chernoff, director of the College of the Environment, was one of eight scientists recently honored with a new musical composition based upon his research—part of a concert and album titled “The Sound of Science, performed in New York City on Nov. 10.

The project aims to build “bridges between the musical and scientific worlds, celebrating their shared culture of inquiry,” according to the website. The pieces were written by seven celebrated composers for amplified cello and electronics, and were all recorded and performed by world-renowned cellist Jeffrey Zeigler, longtime member of Kronos Quartet and several other groups. The Grammy Award–winning quartet has performed at Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts, most recently in April 2018.

Each composer was paired with a scientist of his or her choosing and tasked with creating music inspired by and reflective of the scientist’s life and practice.

Chernoff’s piece, titled, “Pastaza,” was composed by Graham Reynolds, an Austin-based composer-bandleader-improviser who creates, performs, and records music for film, theater, dance, rock clubs, and concert halls. “Pastaza” and the other works can be played online here.

According to the website: “Graham was drawn to Chernoff’s work for its influence and importance on this grand scale…. When it comes to considering what future we are creating, there is nothing more crucial than the planet, its limited resources, and how it will fare for generations to come.”

The piece aims to honor Chernoff’s “abundant curiosity for the world” around him, and to examine the ways in which his work influences our understanding of “what came before and what’s ahead.”

“I am incredibly honored to have a piece of music inspired by my research and conservation efforts in the Amazon and in South America—and I am in awe of Graham Reynolds’s ability to have imagined the music without having traveled by dugout in the Amazon basin himself!” said Chernoff. “His composition, ‘Pastaza’ is so beautiful, if not breathtaking. Hearing the music performed live by Jeffrey Zeigler with Graham’s electronic backing with my photos being displayed on the wall was an experience I will never forget.”

Chernoff is also the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, professor of biology, professor of earth and environmental sciences, and professor and chair of environmental studies.

Students Share Global Experiences through Photography

Delila Flores '19 won Best Photo of Daily Life for her image titled “Machete Abuela," taken in San Vincente, Puebla, México. "This is my bisabuela walking through the campo, the fields, where she uses her machete for her livelihood. She uses it to cut the weeds, to protect herself from the snakes, and as a walking stick. Despite being 92 years old, she is still a strong woman who has defended her land and taught her daughters, my abuela and my mamá to do the same," Flores said.

Delila Flores ’19 won Best Photo of Daily Life for her image titled “Machete Abuela,” taken in San Vicente, Puebla, México. “This is my bisabuela walking through the campo, the fields, where she uses her machete for her livelihood. She uses it to cut the weeds, to protect herself from the snakes, and as a walking stick. Despite being 92 years old, she is still a strong woman who has defended her land and taught her daughters, my abuela and my mamá to do the same,” Flores said.

This year, students shared global stories about humanity in 51 cities across 24 countries through the third annual Wes in the World photo contest.

Sponsored by the Fries Center for Global Studies, the contest is open to Wesleyan students who have had any global experience over the previous summer and/or previous semester. This includes study abroad returnees, international students, exchange students, fellowship recipients, and foreign language teaching assistants.

More than 200 students, staff, faculty, and alumni voted on the submissions within five categories: Contemporary Issues, Daily Life, Landscape, People, and Sport and Play.

“Our hope with these categories is to allow students to reflect on ways in which their global experience transcends borders by working towards peace and human rights, recognizing different realities of daily living, appreciating the wonderful landscapes of the earth, raising awareness about peoples and cultures outside of their ethnocentric lens, and connecting with others universally through sports and play,” said Kia Lor, assistant director of language and intercultural learning. “Students are not required to be professional photographers to participate. In fact, we are more interested in the stories behind the photographs than the camera or photo-editing software they used.”

Winners were announced during a ceremony at the Fries Center on Oct. 30.

Delila Flores ’19 won Best Photo of Daily Life; Romina Beltran ’22 won Best Photo of Contemporary Issues; Grant Hill ’20 won Best Photo of Landscape; Shariis Jeffrey ’19 won Best Photo of People; and Alice Ghislaine Musabe ’22 won Best Photo of Sport and Play.

The photo contest is held in conjunction with the Fries Center’s International Education Week celebration, held Nov. 11-17. The theme this year is “Transcending Borders” and events explore the complexities of “belonging” and how our sense of belongs transcends borders.

Romina Beltran '22 won Best Photo of Contemporary Issues for her image titled “In the streets of Kalkota," taken in Kolkata, India. "This photo represents an urban scenario in a capitalistic society in contrast with the elements of both nature and poverty," Beltran explained.

Romina Beltran ’22 won Best Photo of Contemporary Issues for her image titled “In the streets of Kolkata,” taken in Kolkata, India. “This photo represents an urban scenario in a capitalistic society in contrast with the elements of both nature and poverty,” Beltran explained.

Poulos Authors Papers on Managing Ecological Fire Risks, Recovery Strategies

Helen PoulosHelen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, is the coauthor of two papers published Oct. 22 in the journals Fire and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, respectively.

Poulos lead-authored a paper on fire and plant evolutionary ecology titled, “Do Mixed Fire Regimes Shape Plant Flammability and Post-Fire Recovery Strategies?” Contrary to a new model assuming that plant species have evolved three divergent flammability strategies, Poulos and her fellow researchers present three case studies that indicate plant species have evolved “bet-hedging strategies” that mix a variety of flammability and post-fire recovery strategies.

Poulos also co-authored a paper led by ecologist Christopher Johnson of the University of Tasmania titled, “Can trophic rewilding reduce the impact of fire in a more flammable world?” This paper is about managing fire risk by reintroducing large mammals and has received a lot of buzz, including a nod in Science.

“Working with a group of international scientists has really helped me in terms of thinking about global issues associated with fire, and also how humans can work together to create more sustainable landscapes,” Poulos said.

Szegedy-Maszak Receives Onassis Fellowship to Teach Greek History to Incarcerated Students

Andy Szegedy-Maszak

Andy Szegedy-Maszak. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

As an inaugural Onassis Foundation Teaching Fellow in Culture and Humanities, Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, the Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek, will have the opportunity to teach Greek history to incarcerated students through Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education (CPE).

Starting during the spring 2019 semester, Szegedy-Maszak will teach an adapted version of his Wesleyan course CCIV 231: Greek History to men at the Cheshire Correctional Institution.

“I was surprised and very honored when I heard that I was awarded the fellowship,” said Szegedy-Maszak. “This class will be a survey of ancient Greek civilization over about 1,000 years, from the Bronze Age to the death of Alexander the Great. It’s less about the memorization of facts than how to use sources—literary, archaeological, and artistic—to put together a narrative, and also how to think about a culture that had some similarities to, but many more differences from, our own.”

The Onassis Foundation established the fellowship with the aim of promoting Greek culture through expanded college course offerings in Greek philosophy, humanities, art, and politics. Through a partnership with the Bard Prison Initiative, Onassis invited partners from across the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison to apply for the titled, distinguished fellowship. Szegedy-Maszak was selected as one of two inaugural fellows.

President Roth, Renowned Indian Education Counselor Discuss Value of Liberal Education in Mumbai

Michael Roth and Viral Doshi spoke about the value of liberal arts education at an event in Mumbai, Oct. 22.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth and Viral Doshi spoke about the value of liberal arts education at an event in Mumbai, Oct. 22.

On Oct. 22, President Michael Roth held a public discussion in Mumbai, India, with leading education and career counselor Viral Doshi on the value of pursuing a liberal arts education. Nearly 90 people, including many alumni, parents, prospective students, and high school counselors, were in attendance.

Over the past decade, an increasing number of students from India are choosing to pursue higher education in the United States. Wesleyan has seen applications from India increase by 70 percent over the past 5 years.

At the event, Roth spoke about the educational experience offered by Wesleyan, while Doshi shared his perspective on and insights into current trends in higher education. He is the founder of Viral Doshi Associates, which provides students and young adults with services ranging from psychometric testing and mentoring to career and college planning.

“I am delighted to return to India to discuss the importance of liberal arts education in today’s culture and economy,” Roth said. “Wesleyan University has long had deep connections with India, and today our students who come from this country are contributing greatly to our dynamic campus. Now more than ever, a creative, bold, and rigorous liberal education equips our graduates for lifelong learning and productive careers.”