Campus News & Events

Birney Receives Mellon Fellowship to Pursue Role of Scents in Antiquity

Kate Birney

Kate Birney

The scent of ancient perfumes evaporated eons ago, but scientists are able to reconstruct their ingredients by analysis of the residues left on their containers. Up until now, however, such studies have largely been isolated in the scientific literature, disconnected from the textual and archaeological data that place these perfumes back into the hands of their ancient users.

Kate Birney, assistant professor of classical studies, archaeology, and art history, is hoping to change that as co-architect of the OpenARCHEM project, which seeks to assemble the largest set of organic residue samples ever collected from archaeological artifacts around the Mediterranean. Built in collaboration with archaeochemist Andrew Koh of Brandeis University, OpenARCHEM connects botanicals with the containers in which they traveled and the ancient texts that mention them, to reveal the many roles they played in Mediterranean cultures. To develop this project, Birney has received an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation New Directions Fellowship.

The New Directions Fellowship will enable Birney to take advanced coursework at M.I.T. and to study with experts in mineral analysis and the ecology of the ancient Mediterranean, fields that are essential for understanding the cross-disciplinary nature of this work.

Students Learn about New Technologies Being Used to Study the Past

On March 28, the Archaeology Program and the Department of Classical Studies invited Ian Roy of Brandeis University to Wesleyan to discuss ways new technologies are used to study the past. Roy is the founding head of Brandeis MakerLab and director for research technology and innovation at Brandeis University’s library.

Object from the Wesleyan Anthropology Archeology Collections

Students learned how to use a portable Artec 3-D scanner to scan a vessel from the Wesleyan University Archaeology and Anthropology Collections.

Roy first visited the Archaeometry: How to Science the Heck out of Archaeology class taught by Andrew Koh, visiting assistant professor of archaeology. There, he demonstrated how to scan objects in 3-D using an Artec Space Spyder, a tool that uses structured light to capture incredibly high-resolution scans of objects. The class produced multiple models of artifacts, including a vessel that has since been posted to Sketchfab.

“What’s so amazing is that these are just quick versions made in only 15 minutes, without any post-processing and touch-ups,” said Kate Birney, assistant professor of classical studies, archaeology, and art history.

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

  1. Hartford Courant“Extraordinary Life: He Had an Outsized Influence on Wesleyan, and Math”

This article celebrates the life and accomplishments of Bob Rosenbaum, who has been called “the most influential and constructive faculty member at Wesleyan in the second half of the 20th century.” In addition to teaching mathematics, he served as dean of students, provost, vice-president of academic affairs, and acting president.

2. WNPR’s Where We Live“Election Security, Prison Education, and an Explanation for ‘Hyped’ Winter Storms”

Kristen Inglis, Wesleyan Center for Prison Education academic development and planning manager, discusses CPE’s partnership with Middlesex Community College, which allows students to earn associate’s degrees.

3. NPR: “A New Song Cycle Contemplates Blackness”

Assistant Professor of Music Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11, a composer, is interviewed about his unique collaboration with an internationally renowned opera singer and a National Book Award-winning poet.

4. The New York Times“Can Steven Spielberg Remember How to Have Fun?”

Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, comments on the changing style and focus of the famous director over time. Basinger, who is curator of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives, also discusses Spielberg’s new film, Ready Player One, in The Sydney Morning Herald.

5. The New York Times: “For the Love of ‘George and Martha'”

Amy Bloom, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, write an appreciation of the late author James Marshall’s “George and Martha” children’s stories.

Recent Alumni News

  1. NPR—“Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Discusses Russia’s Expulsion of U.S. Diplomats”

Robert Hunter ’62, former U.S. ambassador to NATO, talks to NPR correspondent Audie Cornish about the escalating tensions between Russia and the West. He says, “[A]t some point, grownups on both sides need to talk to one another and say, look; we understand that Russia is going to be a major power. You also have to understand you’re not going to be a superpower. You’re still of very limited capabilities. We would like to see a constructive relationship, but we can’t start that until, Mr. Putin, you stop things like interfering in others’ politics like you interfered in our elections. You’ve got to show that this fall, you’re not going to interfere in the American elections. Then we can sit down and talk about the future. But as of now, no.”

2. Wired: “The FCC Should Use Blockchain to Manage Wireless Spectrum,”

This op-ed by FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel ’93 offers blockchains as an alternative to the current auctions used to offer licenses for spectrum band distribution. Inside Towers, a newsletter for the wireless industry took notice: “FCC’s Rosenworcel Wants to Dump Spectrum Auctions, Modernize Allocation.

3. Politico—”How Veterans Are Powering the Democrats’ 2018 Hopes”This profile of Max Rose ’08, campaigning on Staten Island for a seat in Congress as “the first post-9/11 combat veteran to run for office in New York City history,” places his efforts within the context of a nationwide trend.

4. NBC Right Now“Knighted Ventures Co-Founder Jieho Lee [’95] Named to Aspen Institute’s 2018 Class of Henry Crown Fellows”“Jieho Lee, co-founder and managing partner of California-based Knighted Ventures, is one of 22 business leaders under the age of 45 selected by The Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C. as a 2018 Henry Crown Fellow.” The program was established “to mobilize a new breed of leaders to tackle the world’s most intractable problems.”

5. Albuquerque Journal—“ABQ’s New Leaders Are Women Ready to Change History”

Sarita Nair ’95, chief administrative officer, is 1 of 10 women in the highest-level jobs in Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller’s administration.

McGlone ’18 to Study, Teach Latin in Rome with Paideia Fellowship

Brendan McGlone '18

Brendan McGlone ’18 received a fellowship from the Paideia Institute to study and teach in Rome.

Brendan McGlone ’18, who’s on track to graduate in May with a triple major in classics, medieval studies and the College of Letters, will continue his post-Wesleyan education in Rome as a Paideia Institute for Humanistic Study Fellow.

The Paideia Institute is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to promoting the study and appreciation of the classical humanities, with a focus on Latin and Ancient Greek languages and literature.

Paideia Fellows are selected on the basis of academic merit, personality, and potential as a future teacher of classics. Fellows teach American high school students Latin, and lead them on classics-themed tours around Rome and the Mediterranean. In addition, fellows work on independent research published in the blog “Loci in Locis.”

For his senior thesis at Wesleyan, McGlone is decoding and translating a late medieval manuscript collection of sermons housed in Wesleyan’s Special Collections & Archives.

“I hope to be able to continue with the type of research I am doing for my thesis, looking at the manuscript collections held in the Vatican Libraries or elsewhere in the city,” he said. “I also hope to use the year to figure out my future plans—perhaps grad school, perhaps teaching, perhaps something totally different.”

McGlone’s love for Latin originated in high school and was fostered at Wesleyan. He’s also a practicing Catholic and found studying Latin has broadened and deepened his religious understanding and experiences.

“I took a few classes with Professors Andy Szegedy-Maszak and Michael Roberts, two of the best teachers and scholars I’ve encountered at Wes,” McGlone said.

Wes Press Poet Wins Anisfield-Wolf Book Award

In the Language of My Captor, by Shane McCraeIn the Language of My Captor, a much-lauded book of poetry by Shane McCrae published by Wesleyan University Press, is the recipient of the 83rd Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in the category of poetry. This is the only national juried prize for literature that confronts racism and explores diversity.

According to the Cleveland Foundation, which presents the award, McCrae “interrogates history and perspective” with In the Language of My Captor, “including the connections between racism and love.”

“He uses historic persona poems and prose memoir to address the illusory freedom between both black and white Americans,” according to the foundation’s press release.

“These voices worm their way inside your head; deceptively simple language layers complexity upon complexity until we are shaped in the same socialized racial webbing as the African exhibited at the zoo or the Jim Crow universe that Banjo Yes learned to survive in (‘You can be free//Or you can live’),” said Rita Dove, one of the jurors for the prize.

In the Language of My Captor was previously long-listed for the National Book Award and chosen as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Kleinberg Lectures in France, Elected to Historiography Commission

His fields of expertise are the intellectual history of Europe in the twentieth century, the history of contemporary French philosophy and the theory of history.

Ethan Kleinberg speaks at Bordeaux Montaigne University’s Doctoral School.

On March 27, Professor Ethan Kleinberg, director of the Center for the Humanities, presented a lecture to the École Doctorale on “The Specters of the Past,” as a distinguished visiting professor at University of Bordeaux Montaigne in Pessac, France.

Kleinberg also is professor of history, professor of letters, and editor-in-chief of History and Theory. He is an expert on the intellectual history of Europe in the 20th century, the history of philosophy, as well as the philosophy and theory of history.

Kleinberg’s lecture focused on the theme of his latest book, Haunting History: for a deconstructive approach to the past (Stanford U Press) which advocates for a deconstructive approach to the practice of history at a moment when available forms for writing and publishing about the past are undergoing a radical transformation.

He criticizes the persistence of what he calls “ontological realism” as the dominant mode of thought among historians, and studies the ways in which this realistic way of thinking is reinforced by some current publishing practices.

Kleinberg was recently nominated and elected to the Advisory Board of the International Commission for the History and Theory of Historiography, the leading international organization for the philosophy and theory of history.

Sun ’20 Wins Japanese Language Contest Prize for Essay

Sun took the second place win in the College Intermediate Division.

Zhaoyu Sun ’20

Zhaoyu Sun ’20 received an award for his essay in the Eighth Annual Consulate General of Japan in Boston Japanese Language Contest. Sun took the second place win in the College Intermediate Division.

Sun, who is from Beijing, China, is majoring in East Asian studies and government. His essay focused on the ideal U.S.-Japanese relationship.

“I discussed how military cooperation, establishing a strong relationship with other countries in East Asia, and establishing equality between the two nations will build a strong U.S.-Japanese relationship and subsequently benefit the world,” he explained.

The essay contest is open to students who are currently enrolled in a Japanese language course at a university/college or high school in New England and who did not grow up in a home where Japanese was the main language.

Sun will receive his award during a ceremony April 7 in Brookline, Mass.

Graduate Student Khan Performs at 2 International Music Festivals

Yorkston/Thorne/Khan album

In March, the group Yorkston / Thorne / Khan, featuring Wesleyan graduate student Suhail Yusuf Khan (at right), performed in Spain and the United Kingdom.

Graduate student Suhail Yusuf Khan recently performed at two international music festivals with his group Yorkston / Thorne / Khan. The band comprises James Yorkston, a folk singer and guitarist; Jon Thorne, a jazz bassist; and eighth-generation musician Khan, a sarangi violinist and a vocalist of Indian classical music. The sarangi is a short-necked bowed string instrument from northern India, regarded as sounding similar to the human voice.

On March 19, Yorkston / Thorne / Khan performed at the International Sacred Art Festival in Madrid, Spain. The festival included 39 concerts held over five weeks.

And on March 23, Yorkston / Thorne / Khan dazzled a sold-out theater at the Science Museum in London. The concert served as part of the museum’s Illuminating India series, which commemorated 70 years of independence and was part of the British Council’s U.K./India Year of Culture. “Yorkston / Thorne / Khan is one of the most inspired and inspirational cross-cultural acts to emerge this decade,” wrote Ken Hunt in a concert review published by Pulse Connects. “Their melding of, in order, Scottish and British folk music, jazz and electro, and sarangi lore, Hindustani classical and Sufi devotional music sings of a powerful musical alchemy.”

In this video, watch Yorkston / Thorne / Khan perform the song “False True Piya” from their newest album, Neuk Wight Delhi All-Stars. “Piya is a word in the Hindi language, meaning beloved,” Khan explains on his band’s website. “The Hindi lyrics of the song were composed and written by me. They talk about a lover who is longing for a beloved, devastated by pain. A point comes when the lover starts hallucinating that the beloved has arrived and starts having conversations with this hallucination. There is a strange feeling of dark happiness: the beloved is there, but only as a hallucination.”

Alumni, Faculty, Graduate Students Make Presentations at Planetary Science Conference

Melissa Luna E&ES MA ’18, Jordyn-Marie Dudley E&ES MA ’18, Keenan Golder MA ’16, Reid Perkins E&ES MA ’19, Ben McKeeby MA ’17, Kristen Luchsinger MA ‘17

Graduate student Melissa Luna; graduate student Jordyn-Marie Dudley; Keenan Golder MA ’13; graduate student Reid Perkins; Ben McKeeby MA ’17; and Kristen Luchsinger MA ’17 recently attended the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas.

Faculty, graduate students, and alumni attended the 49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference March 19–23 in The Woodlands, Texas.

Graduate student Reid Perkins

Three graduate students were awarded funds from the NASA Connecticut Space Grant that allowed them to travel to this meeting.

Earth and environmental sciences graduate student Reid Perkins presented a research poster titled “Where Are the Missing Tessera Craters on Venus?” Perkins’s advisor is Martha Gilmore, the George I. Seney Professor of Geology, professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Earth and environmental sciences graduate student Melissa Luna presented a poster titled “Multivariate Spectral Analysis of CRISM Data to Characterize the Composition of Mawrth Vallis.” Her advisors are Gilmore and Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Earth and environmental sciences graduate student Jordyn-Marie Dudley presented a poster titled “Water Contents of Angrites, Eucrites, and Ureilites and New Methods for Measuring Hydrogen in Pyroxene Using SIMS.” Dudley’s advisor is Jim Greenwood, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences.

“At their poster presentations, our graduate students were engaging with the top scientists in our field, who were very interested in their work,” Gilmore said. “I was very proud to see them attending talks across a range of disciplines, asking questions of speakers and making such solid scientific contributions.”

Gilmore also presented a study at the conference titled “Formation Rates and Mechanisms for Low-Emissivity Materials on Venus Mountaintops and Constraint on Tessera Composition.” In addition, she worked with NASA scientists on issues related to Venus exploration.

The following alumni authored abstracts presented at the conference: Avram Stein ’17; Jesse Tarnas ’16; Peter Martin ’14Nina Lanza MA ’06; Ian Garrick-Bethell ’02Robert Nelson MA ’69; and William Boynton ’66. Keenan Golder MA ’13; Ben McKeeby MA ’17; and Kristen Luchsinger MA ’17 also attended.

Moore Remembered for Contributions to Monetary Economics

Basil John Moore, professor emeritus of economics, passed away on March 8 at the age of 84.

Moore, who received his BA from the University of Toronto and his PhD from Johns Hopkins University, came to Wesleyan in 1958. He retired in 2003 after 45 years of scholarship that took him to Cambridge, Stanford, Morocco, Vancouver, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Korea, India, and Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Savage ’18 Awarded Princeton in Latin America Fellowship

Anna Savage ’18 will complete a Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) fellowship in the Dominican Republic.

Anna Savage ’18 has received a Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) fellowship to work with the Mariposa Foundation in Cabarete, a town on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. She will begin the fellowship after graduation in May.

Savage follows a proud tradition of Wesleyan students participating in PiLA fellowships. The Mariposa Foundation works to end generational poverty by providing a space in which girls and young women can receive high-quality academic and artistic instruction, as well as comprehensive sexual health education. The Mariposa center serves about 150 girls and places particular emphasis on musical and artistic expression, as well as on the cultivation of leadership skills.

Savage will teach music, yoga, and English at the center, where she will develop her own curriculum and instruct girls aged seven to 18 in daily classes.