Campus News & Events

Graduate Students, Faculty Attend American Chemical Society Meeting

Chemistry graduate student Duminda Ranasinghe spoke about his research on "Density functional for core-valence correlation energy."

Chemistry graduate student Duminda Ranasinghe spoke about his research on “Density functional for core-valence correlation energy.”

Two graduate students and two faculty attended the 248th national meeting of the American Chemical Society Aug. 10-14 in San Francisco, Calif.

Chemistry graduate students Duminda Ranasinghe delivered a poster presentation on her research titled “Efficient extrapolation to the (T)/CBS limit” and an oral presentation on “Density functional for core-valence correlation energy.”

"Assessing weak interactions in small dimer systems with PM7."

Chemistry graduate student Kyle Throssell presented a poster titled “Assessing weak interactions in small dimer systems with PM7.”

Chemistry graduate student Kyle Throssell presented two poster presentations on “Potential curves of selected radical thiol double additions to alkynes” and “Assessing weak interactions in small dimer systems with PM7.”

The students were accompanied by George Petersson, the Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of chemistry; and Michael Frisch, research professor in chemistry.

Two Whistler Drawings from DAC to Be Featured in PBS Documentary

Open Access Image from the Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University

Whistler’s sketch showing how his Venice works should be exhibited in 1880

Two drawings by James McNeill Whistler, part of the Davison Art Center’s collection of more than 100 Whistler works, will be shown in a new documentary on the life of the painter.

The sketches, one in pencil and one in pen and ink, will be seen in “James McNeill Whistler & The Case for Beauty,” premiering September 12 on PBS.

They represent just a small part of Wesleyan’s extensive holdings of works on paper by Whistler, one of the most important American artists of the 19th century.

“Whistler was crucial in making the connection between the Impressionists and British art, and … American art,” said Clare Rogan, curator of the Davison Art Center and adjunct assistant professor of art history. “While he worked mostly in Europe, he was incredibly important in creating that link.”

Neither sketch is large – unlike finished prints or paintings, both were for Whistler’s personal use and not intended to be seen by a larger audience. They are, however, interesting glimpses of an artist at work. The pencil sketch, measuring at just 4.4 by 6.9 inches, represents his ideas about displaying his famous landscape prints of Venice at an 1880 exhibit by the Fine Arts Society in London.

Middletown Students Get Taste of STEM at Wesleyan

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Making “gak” at Green Street

Oneiry, in sixth grade and 11 years old, liked the tie-dye experiment, where learning about the light and color also resulted in cool take-home T-shirts. Genesis, a nine-year-old fourth grader, really enjoyed the liquid nitrogen demonstration, especially the ice cream she got to make with it. And Julia, at 10 in fifth grade, had a good time making “gak,” a substance that’s not quite solid and not quite liquid – and slimy and fun.

They were among 10 Middletown girls between fourth and sixth grade who participated in a girls’ science camp sponsored by the Green Street Arts Center Aug. 4-8. The session, staffed by Wesleyan faculty, was designed to introduce girls to the “STEM” fields – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Women are underrepresented in these fields, and educators believe it’s important to engage girls in them as early as possible.

Wesleyan Welcomes New Faculty

Wesleyan welcomes 12 new faculty members this fall. They are:

Amanda Belichick, adjunct assistant professor of physical education, head coach of women’s lacrosse.

Karl Boulware, assistant professor of economics.

Janet Burge, associate professor of computer science.

Claire Grace, assistant professor of art history.

Roger Grant, assistant professor of music.

Laura Grappo, assistant professor of American studies.

Kerwin Kaye, assistant professor of sociology.

David Kuenzel, assistant professor of economics.

Ioana Emilia Matesan, assistant professor of government.

Victoria Pitts-Taylor, professor and chair of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

Jesse Torgerson, assistant professor of letters.

Camilla Zamboni, adjunct instructor in Italian.

Staff on the Move, July 2014

Newly hired

Sarah Jean Chrystler was hired as coordinator for special events on July 1.

Nara Giannella was hired as digital media specialist on July 1.

Frederick Ludwig was hired as assistant football coach on July 1.

Susannah Capron was hired as civic engagement fellow on July 7.

Huanan Li was hired as post doctoral research associate in Physics on July 7.

Shannon Nelson was hired as Center for Prison Education coordinator/fellow on July 7.

Benjamin Wohl was hired as assistant dean of admission on July 7.

Joseph Hopkins was hired as boiler tender on July 9.

Lindsay Rush was hired as research associate in Biology on July 14.

James Huerta was hired as assistant dean of admission on July 21.

Emily Pagano was hired as area coordinator for Residential Life on July 21.

Smith Kidkarndee was hired as post-doctoral clinical/counseling psychologist on July 28.

Transitions

Marianne Calnen became associate director of planned giving on July 1.

Dan DiCenzo became head football coach in waiting on July 1.

Karen Kasprow became director of principal gifts on July 1.

Sarah-Jane Ripa became associate director of student services and outreach at Graduate Liberal Studies on July 1.

Frantz Williams became director of development on July 1.

Departures

Sarah Atwell, administrative assistant in Chemistry.

Katharine Henderson, research assistant.

Debra Holman, facilities manager.

David Thomas, assistant dean of admission.

Samantha Slade, assistant director of communications operations at University Relations.

Wesleyan Hosts Macroeconomics Research Workshop

Wesleyan’s Economics Department hosted the 2014 Workshop in Macroeconomics Research in Liberal Arts Colleges on August 5-6.

The conference brought together about 40 macroeconomists from liberal arts colleges around the country to present and discuss research, and exchange ideas about research and teaching. It aimed to increase productivity of macroeconomists at liberal arts colleges. It was organized by Wesleyan’s Bill Craighead, assistant professor of economics; Pao-Lin Tien, assistant professor of economics; Masami Imai, professor of economics, professor of East Asian studies; and Richard Grossman, professor of economics. The Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life also provided support.

Past years’ conferences have been held at colleges including Claremont McKenna, Lafayette, Vassar, Colgate and Hamilton.

More information and the conference schedule is available on this website.

See pictures from the conference below:

Joyce Jacobsen, dean of the social sciences and director of global initiatives, Andrews Professor of Economics, delivered welcoming remarks at the conference.

Joyce Jacobsen, dean of the social sciences and director of global initiatives, Andrews Professor of Economics, delivered welcoming remarks at the conference.

New faculty member Karl Boulware, assistant professor of economics, spoke.

New faculty member Karl Boulware, assistant professor of economics, spoke.

New faculty member David Kuenzel, assistant professor of economics, spoke.

New faculty member David Kuenzel, assistant professor of economics, spoke.

Cardinals Share Stories, Gifts As Campaign Nears $350 Million

Share your "This is Why" reason you love and value your Wesleyan experience and education through the new campaign website.

Share your “This is Why” reason you love and value your Wesleyan experience and education through the campaign website.

From a journalist who launched a publishing start-up, to the multifaceted designer of the “Fremont Troll,” to a noted international lawyer, scores of Cardinals took time last year to share their “This Is Why” stories with Wesleyan.

That loyalty – and the many gifts also shared by alumni, parents and friends – led to a stellar year in the university’s fundraising campaign. Generous donors gave a total of $44.3 million in gifts and pledges in fiscal 2014. The campaign raised $43.8 million in cash, more than any previous year. And $25 million went directly into the endowment. Currently, giving to the THIS IS WHY campaign stands at $349.3 million toward a goal of $400 million.

“The Wesleyan community – alumni, parents, friends – has been generous in its support again,” said Chuck Fedolfi ’90, director of the Wesleyan Fund. “They have truly helped make the Wesleyan experience what it should be for our students on campus.”

Fedolfi said the Fund exceeded its annual goal of $10.25 million by $100,000, and stressed the importance of annual gifts.

“Our donors recognize that we need support every year,” Fedolfi said. “Without that consistent support, we just wouldn’t be the outstanding institution we are today.”

When Water “Unmixes”: Starr Commentary Published in Nature Physics

Water is the most ubiquitous fluid on Earth, and plays a foundational role in life as we know it.  And yet the complexity of this seemingly simple molecule remains a vigorously debated area of scientific research to this day.  Writing in the most recent issue of Nature Physics, Professor of Physics Francis Starr provides a commentary on recent research to uncover the mystery of water’s unusual properties.  

Francis Starr

Francis Starr

“We all learn as children that oil and water don’t mix,” Starr writes. ” If there was only one fluid – say just the water – then “unmixing” should not even be a possibility.  However, it turns out that evidence suggests that, under unusual supercooled conditions, water can unmix from itself, forming two distinct fluids, both of which are pure water.  And it turns out this unusual behavior just might help explain many of water’s other unusual and vital features.”

Nature Physics, part of the prestigious group of Nature journals, is published monthly.

Starr’s research at Wesleyan focuses on computational approaches to understand the emergent complexity of soft and biological matter.  His lab has explored DNA modeling and nanotechnology, lipid membrane dynamics, and polymer films and composites. Undergraduates and graduate students work together in the Starr lab, emphasizing connections to experimental results.

Wesleyan Launches Pilot Pre-Frosh Math and Science Program

Ishita Mukerji, dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, leads a lab tour.

Ishita Mukerji, dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, leads a lab tour.

New students interested in math and the sciences,  who want to get a jump start on their college experience, are taking advantage of a new program this summer.

The Wesleyan Physical Sciences and Mathematics Scholars Program will welcome 11 students from the Class of 2018 to campus for its debut summer session July 27-Aug. 1. An additional 11 students will participate online.

“We’re really excited to put this program into place,” said Ishita Mukerji, dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “One common variable among all these scholars is a very strong interest in science.”

Debbie Colucci is Equity Compliance Director, Deputy Title IX Coordinator

Deborah Colucci (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Deborah Colucci (Photo by Olivia Drake)

In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we talk to Debbie Colucci, who came to Wesleyan in June 2014 as the new equity compliance director and deputy Title IX coordinator.

Q: Welcome to Wesleyan, Debbie! Please briefly fill us in on your professional and personal background. What makes you uniquely qualified to take on this position?

A:  Personally, I have always been committed to creating an inclusive and supportive environment that addresses the needs of a diverse population and provides a rewarding experience for all individuals.  I have a master’s degree in college student personnel and higher education administration and, while my career in higher education began on a traditional student affairs/residence life path, my more recent experiences have afforded me the opportunity to develop a unique skill-set related to equity initiatives. After spending many years developing and presenting programs related to inclusion, I left residence life and became the assistant project director for the Anti-Defamation League’s A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute.  The emphasis of that program is on communication, understanding, respect for differences, and contribution. That is when my career, and my understanding of my role in the world, shifted.

Gruen Elected Fellow of Hastings Center

Lori Gruen

Lori Gruen is chair and professor of philosophy, professor of environmental studies, and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

Lori Gruen, chair and professor of philosophy, professor of environmental studies, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, has been elected a fellow of the prestigious Hastings Center.

The 45-year-old center, an independent bioethics research institute, addresses ethics in the areas of health, medicine and the environment.

“I’m delighted to be elected a fellow of the Hastings Center,” Gruen said. “The research publications (from Hastings) are cutting edge, and have been an integral part of my teaching.”

Gruen is coordinator of Wesleyan Animal Studies and director of the university’s Ethics in Society project, which aims to develop and foster teaching, scholarship, and institutional reflection on the ethical challenges facing individuals and society. Her work lies at the intersection of ethical theory and ethical practice, with a particular focus on ethical issues that impact those often overlooked in traditional ethical investigations, including women, people of color, and non-human animals.

Wesleyan Media Project Expands Into Health Policy Analysis

WMP logoThe Wesleyan Media Project, which for the past two federal election cycles has tracked and analyzed campaign television ad spending, is expanding into the realm of health policy analysis with a new study examining media coverage accompanying the Fall 2013 rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplace.

The question of inquiry: How did media coverage of the ACA (commonly called “Obamacare”) differ state to state—or even within states—and what impact might this have on new health insurance enrollments? Findings were published July 18 in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law from Duke University Press.