Campus News & Events

Thomas Honored by Micropalaeontology Society

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas holds two enlarged samples of microfossils in her lab at Wesleyan. Thomas was recently awarded a medal for her research efforts.

For her outstanding efforts in pioneering studies in micropalaeontology and natural history, The Micropalaeontological Society (TMS) awarded Wesleyan’s Ellen Thomas with the 2016 Brady Medal.

The Brady Medal is TMS’s most prestigious honor and is awarded to scientists who have had a major influence on micropalaeontology by means of a substantial body of research.

Thomas was honored for “communicating to an extremely broad audience fascinating, impactful and often thought-provoking research” and “academic encouragement of students and peers over the years with [her] generosity of time in a very busy and successful career,” noted TMS President F. John Gregory.

Thomas, research professor of earth and environmental sciences and the University Professor in the College of Integrative Sciences, investigates the impact of changes in environment and climate on living organisms on various time scales, with the common focal point of benthic foraminifera (eukaryotic unicellular organisms). She studies their assemblages, as well as trace element and isotope composition of their shells. Foraminifera live in salt or at least brackish water, so she concentrates her research on the oceans, from the deep sea up into tidal salt marshes.

The Brady Medal is cast in bronze from original sculptures commissioned by The Micropalaeontological Society in 2007.

The Brady Medal is cast in bronze.

The Micropalaeontological Society exists “to advance the education of the public in the study of Micropalaeontology” and is operated “exclusively for scientific and educational purposes and not for profit”. It was initiated as The British Micropalaeontological Group in 1970.

The Brady Medal is named in honor of George Stewardson Brady (1832-1921) and Henry Bowman Brady (1835-1891) in recognition of their outstanding pioneering studies in micropalaeontology.

Read more about Ellen Thomas in these past News @ Wesleyan articles.

President Roth Defends Liberal Education in Op-Ed, Radio Interview

President Michael S. Roth

President Michael Roth

Following a visit to China Peking University–Shenzhen, which has decided to start an undergraduate liberal arts college, President Michael Roth reflects in an op-ed in The Washington Post on why commitment to a liberal education is more important today than ever. He contends, “This is a fragile time for liberal education, making commitment to it all the more urgent.”

Keeping in mind John Dewey, the pragmatist philosopher who visited China in 1919 to talk about education, Roth focuses on “two dangers and two possibilities.” He warns of the “danger of narrowing specialization” at a time when “we need more academics who can facilitate conversations between the sciences and the humanistic disciplines.” With an eye to the current political climate in the U.S., he cautions against the “danger of popular parochialism”:

It is especially urgent to advocate effectively for a broadly based pragmatic liberal education when confronted by ignorant authoritarians who reject inquiry in favor of fear mongering and prejudice. A broad education with a sense of history and cultural possibilities arms citizens against manipulation and allows them to see beyond allegiance to their own.

Undergraduate education – be it in China or the United States – should promote intellectual diversity in such ways that students are inspired to grapple with ideas that they never would have considered on their own. At Wesleyan University, creating more access for low-income students and military veterans has been an important part of this process.  Groups like these have been historically under-represented on our campus, but just having diverse groups is not enough. We must also devise programs to make these groups more likely to engage with one another, bursting protective bubbles of ideas that lead some campus radicals and free speech absolutists to have in common mostly a commitment to smug self-righteousness.

Roth concludes by discussing the “possibilities of open and reliable communication” among academic researchers in the sciences and humanities, and the importance of creating a “cosmopolitan” culture of openness and curiosity on campuses.

Also, in an interview with WBUR public radio, Roth defended the value of a broad liberal education today, at a time when many are calling for a narrower, more instrumental education.

“On our campuses, we have an academic culture that’s pretty much tilted to the left, in which people get increasingly used to talking to other people who agree with them already… In order to have a real education that’s broad and deep and challenges your own assumptions, you’ve got to talk to people who don’t agree with you. And you have to learn how to tolerate ambiguity and disagreement, and not just learn how to defend yourself and attack all people who don’t agree with you. The current climate is one in which people are very good at yelling at each other or fabricating tweets that make someone else feel really stupid, but that’s not the same as listening to someone else who has a different point of view and learning from that person.”

Roth said that Wesleyan has taken steps in the last five years to ensure diverse viewpoints exist among its student body, its faculty and visiting speakers.

Krishnan Named One of “10 Toronto Stage Artists to Watch”

(Photo by Michael Slobodian)

Hari Krishnan (Photo by Michael Slobodian)

Associate Professor of Dance Hari Krishnan has been named one of “10 Toronto Stage Artists to Watch This Winter” by NOW Toronto magazine, which highlights his upcoming spring production, “Holy Cow(s)!” exploring cultural appropriation. It will run March 23-25 at Harbourfront Centre Theatre.

The profile of Krishnan states: “A few years ago, Krishnan heated up the local dance scene with a sizzling, eyebrow-raising piece about queerness called SKIN. Now, just in time to melt winter’s last snow comes a white-hot mixed program sending up ideas about gender, sexuality and cultural taboos. The night of solos and ensemble pieces includes works by David Brick, Seán Curran and Jay Hirabayashi. But look for Krishnan’s signature style – which mixes contemporary with Indian Bharatanatyam – to get you to say that title out loud.”

Brazilian Play on Cannibalism, Translated by Jackson, to Make American Debut

Elizabeth Jackson

Elizabeth Jackson

A Brazilian play, translated by Wesleyan’s Elizabeth Jackson, will make its American premiere at The Yale Cabaret in early February.

“The Meal: Dramatic Essays on Cannibalism” tells three stories about people consuming — and being consumed. This poetic piece by Newton Moreno, one of Brazil’s leading contemporary playwrights, was translated into English by Jackson, adjunct associate professor of Portuguese for Wesleyan’s Romance Languages and Literatures Department.

Jackson’s translation of “The Meal” first appeared in Theater, Yale’s journal of criticism, plays, and reportage (Vol. 45 No. 2, 2015). “The Meal” is one of four texts by different playwrights that Jackson translated for the journal. In addition, Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento, professor of theater, co-edited this special issue on contemporary Brazilian plays.

“The Meal” will be performed at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Feb. 2-4 at The Yale Cabaret. Tickets can be purchased online.

Hornstein Presents Papers at American Economic Association Conference

Abigail Hornstein

Abigail Hornstein

Abigail Hornstein, associate professor of economics, presented two papers at the 2017 American Economic Association meeting held Jan. 6-8 in Chicago.

In her working paper, “Words vs. Actions: International Variation in the Propensity to Honor Pledges,” Hornstein used data on contracted and utilized foreign direct investment in China to show that firms fulfill an average of 59 percent of their pledges within two years. “The propensity to fulfill contracts is lower for firms from countries with greater uncertainty avoidance, power distance and egalitarianism; and is higher if the source country is more traditional,” she explained. Prior literature has shown that these cultural characteristics are associated with higher levels of utilized foreign direct investment, while Hornstein shows that these cultural characteristics also affect the likelihood that planned corporate investments are actually made.

Her other working paper, “Board Overlaps in Mutual Fund Families” (co-authored by Elif Sisli Ciamarra of Brandeis University), is based on hand-collected data on directors at 3,948 U.S. equity mutual funds belonging to 328 fund families. Hornstein and Sisli Ciamarra used this data to document the prevalence and effects of a common board structure whereby a set of directors serves simultaneously on the boards of multiple funds within the family. Fifty-nine percent of all funds have unitary board structures where a single board serves all funds within the complex. “We find that overlapping boards generally represent 74 percent of the funds within a family, and that this overlapping board structure provides limited benefits to investors while benefiting the fund family,” she said.

In addition to her paper presentations, Hornstein also was elected to the executive board of the Association for Comparative Economics Studies, for a term ending in 2020.

Coach Kenny Inducted into Middletown Sports Hall of Fame

Herb Kenny coached men’s basketball at Wesleyan for 27 years. (Photo courtesy of Wesleyan University Special Collections & Archives)

Herb Kenny coached men’s basketball at Wesleyan for 27 years. (Photo courtesy of Wesleyan University Special Collections & Archives)

Former men’s head basketball coach Herb Kenny will be inducted to the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame on Jan. 26.

The Middletown Sports Hall of Fame and Museum was created to honor the numerous outstanding athletes and other sports-minded individuals, and to preserve the deep and rich history of sports in the life of the City of Middletown.

Kenny, an adjunct professor of physical education, emeritus, coached the Cardinals from 1968-1995 and ended his career with a 312-280 record.

Kenny was known for his intense coaching style and intricate offenses. To honor Kenny for his 27 years of coaching, Wesleyan annually holds a Herb Kenny Tournament.

He was president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches in 1992-93 and last year was chairman of the NABC’s Division III committee and a member of its committee on academics. He is on the board of directors of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.

A resident of Meriden, Kenny came to Wesleyan as freshman coach in 1964 after coaching basketball, baseball and football at Platt High School-Meriden. He has served on the board of directors of the Meriden Boys Club.

Kenny is a 1955 graduate of St. Bonaventure. In 1964, he received a master’s degree in physical education from the University of Connecticut.

Kenny will join Wesleyan’s Mike Whalen, director of athletics, and John Biddiscombe, the former director of athletics, on the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame roster.

The 24th Annual Middletown Sports Hall of Fame Induction Dinner will be held at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell, Conn. Tickets are $50 a person and $15 for children 12 and under. For tickets, call 860-347-6924.

Coach Kenny will be inducted into the Middletown Athletic Hall of Fame.

Coach Kenny will be inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame. (Photos courtesy of Wesleyan University Special Collections & Archives)

Record Number of Students Enroll in Winter Session 2017

James Lipton, professor of computer science, teaches Introduction to Programming on Jan. 9. His class is one of seven being taught this January during Wesleyan's fourth Winter Session.

James Lipton, professor of computer science, teaches Introduction to Programming on Jan. 9. His class was one of seven taught in January during Wesleyan’s fourth Winter Session. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

More than 100 Wesleyan students completed a full-semester course in two weeks as part of Winter Session 2017. Now in its fourth year, this was the highest enrollment to date.

Winter Session was held Jan. 9-24 and classes typically met for four hours a day for 10 days.

Courses this year included Introduction to Digital Arts, taught by Christopher Chenier; The Dark Side of the Universe, taught by Edward Moran; Homer and the Epic, taught by Andrew Szegedy-Maszak; Introduction to Programming, taught by James Lipton; U.S. Foreign Policy, taught by Douglas Foyle; Masculinity, taught by Jill Morawski; and Applied Data Analysis taught by Lisa Dierker.

The small class sizes allowed students to develop close relationships with one another and faculty. Students completed reading and writing assignments before arriving on campus.

“A quieter campus, and a singular focus on just one course,

Research by Redfield, Zachary ’17 Using Hubble, Voyager Probes Widely Reported

Astronomy student Julia Zachary '17 presented research at a press conference at the American Astronomical Society's 229th annual meeting on Jan. 6. (Photo by © CorporateEventImages/Todd Buchanan 2017)

Astronomy student Julia Zachary ’17 presented research at a press conference at the American Astronomical Society’s 229th annual meeting on Jan. 6. (Photo by © CorporateEventImages/Todd Buchanan)

Wesleyan Associate Professor of Astronomy Seth Redfield and astronomy student Julia Zachary ’17 recently reported at the 229th meeting of the American Astronomical Society on their research using data from the Hubble Space Telescope combined with two Voyager spacecraft probes, both very long-lived and successful NASA missions. The findings were shared in dozens of news outlets from the U.S. to India to Afghanistan.

According to Nature.com, “The work is a rare marriage of two of the most famous space missions — and an unprecedented glimpse at the realm between the stars.”

“If the Voyager spacecraft and the Google Street View car are going around your neighborhood taking pictures on the street, then Hubble is providing the overview, the road map for the Voyagers on their trip through interstellar space,” Zachary said at a press conference held Jan. 6.

Astronomers have used instruments such as Hubble to obtain indirect measurements of the material in interstellar space. But the Voyager probes are giving them a direct taste of this mysterious environment, sending back data on the electron density of their surroundings. “As an astronomer, I’m not used to having measurements from the place I’m observing,” Redfield said.

SpaceDaily.com reports: “A preliminary analysis of the Hubble observations reveals a rich, complex interstellar ecology, containing multiple clouds of hydrogen laced with other elements. Hubble data, combined with the Voyagers, have also provided new insights into how our sun travels through interstellar space.”

“This is a great opportunity to compare data from in situ measurements of the space environment by the Voyager spacecraft and telescopic measurements by Hubble,” said study leader Seth Redfield of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

“The Voyagers are sampling tiny regions as they plow through space at roughly 38,000 miles per hour. But we have no idea if these small areas are typical or rare. The Hubble observations give us a broader view because the telescope is looking along a longer and wider path. So Hubble gives context to what each Voyager is passing through.”

Read more at Astronomy.comThe Indian ExpressEarthSky.org and International Business Times. See photos of Zachary at the press conference on the American Astronomical Society’s website. A press release can be found on HubbleSite.

Redfield also is associate professor of integrative sciences.

Stone ’17 Ends Wesleyan Football Career; Takes Advantage of Athletics Advantage Program

Jordan Stone '17

Jordan Stone ’17

Student-athlete Jordan Stone ’17 not only ended the Cardinal football season as tri-captain of the team, he also scored a professional career thanks to Wesleyan’s Athletic Advantage Program (A+).

Head Coach Dan DiCenzo says he was not surprised with the decision his team made to elect Stone as a captain. “Jordan is a special kid and has a presence about him. He works hard and leads by example. He is everything we are looking for in a student athlete.”

A 255-pound, 6’4″ athlete, Stone was named 1st Team All NESCAC in 2015 and 2016 and contributed to the team’s defense being in the top 10 nationally. He ended his Wesleyan football career with 81 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, five breakups and three blocks. The Cardinals ended their season with a 6-2 overall record and claimed the Little Three title,

Stone, who began playing football at the age of 8 in his hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y., says he chose to play football at Wesleyan for many reasons, including the education it would provide him along with “the extensive alumni base that is willing to help you prepare for your future.”

Jordan Stone '17 and Jaylen Berry '18 participated in the Athletic Department's alumni mentoring program.

Jordan Stone ’17 and Jaylen Berry ’18 participated in the Athletic Advantage Program. After graduating, Stone will work for Endurance Specialty Holdings, Ltd. full-time.

Through the A+ Program, which combines individual training, mentoring, internships, career coaching, job shadowing and community service opportunities for student-athletes, Stone was able to spend the past two summers interning at Endurance Specialty Holdings, Ltd., a position which he found through alumnus Jack Kuhn ’86, whose son Matt also was on the team. Stone noted his time at Endurance has not only prepared him for post-Wesleyan life, but it has also benefited him on the field.

“In terms of preparation and attention to detail, those are two big things that I have brought over from the internship to the football field,” he said. “If there was a meeting and you weren’t prepared, you’d be lost. You need to know every detail, and that’s the same for football.” He continued: “When you are on the field, you need to pay attention to every detail; you need to be able to pick up on your opponent’s tendencies and capitalize on them. No detail is too small.”

Director of Athletics Michael Whalen says that Stone has shown tremendous growth over his time as a Cardinal and ended his football career gaining more confidence in his abilities.

“He had a commitment and passion to play. He loved to play. He’s always been focused on getting better, and was never complacent, and that’s not just on the football field, that’s in every phase of his life,” Whalen said.

Jordan Stone '17.

Jordan Stone ’17.

Like many student-athletes who complete their final sports season, Stone says he has accepted that he will no longer play on another team, but he is planning to volunteer some of his free time to his pop warner team, The Queens Falcons.

“It will be a great opportunity to give back to the program that introduced me to the game, and a chance to share my experiences among the young kids who have aspirations of playing college football,” he says.

After graduating, Stone will return to Endurance Specialty Holdings as a full-time underwriting trainee. “I am looking forward to engaging into this next chapter in my life,” he says.

For more information on athletics alumni mentoring, see this website.

(Lauren Dellipoali, athletic communication intern, and Olivia Drake, editor of The Wesleyan Connection, contributed to this article.)

Register Children for Green Street’s AfterSchool Spring Semester Program

This spring, AfterSchool Program participants can take classes in hip hop, scrapbooking, creative movement, environmental art, African drumming, art and science, and more. 

This spring, AfterSchool Program participants can take classes in hip hop, scrapbooking, creative movement, environmental art, African drumming, art and science, and more.

Wesleyan’s Green Street Teaching and Learning Center is currently accepting applicants for its Discovery AfterSchool Program. Spring semester classes will be held Jan. 30 through May 12.

The Discovery AfterSchool Program offers a range of classes in the arts, sciences, and math for children in Grades 1- 5. The program encourages children to be curious and creative while they build self-esteem and problem-solving skills. For middle school students in Grades 6-8, GSTLC offers the Wesleyan Bound college experience class on Friday afternoons.

“Classes range from visual arts to dance, even to kung fu this semester,” said Sara MacSorley, director of GSTLC. “We offer many choices every day of the week.”

Grossman Argues Truth Was Lost in the Election

Richard Grossman

Richard Grossman

Professor of Economics Richard Grossman tells his students that getting closer to the truth is what economic research is all about. That’s why he was so dismayed when “my devotion to, and belief in, the truth was battered by the presidential election,” he writes in an op-ed on The Hill.

He writes:

It turns out that polling data and analysis contained very little truth. The news were no better. The mainstream media got many things wrong. And there was no shortage of fake news. Although peddled as the real thing, it really wasn’t even trying to provide truth, only to shape opinion.

But by far the biggest letdown in the truth department was Donald Trump, who proved that telling lie upon lie upon lie need not prevent someone from being elected president.

“What should the truth-loving public do going forward?” Grossman asks.

First, pay attention to sources. It is relatively easy to construct a realistic website that has the look and feel of a real news organization or reputable think tank. Do not be fooled. If someone tells you something about the state of employment in the United States, double check facts at Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website. The U.S. government is the best, most reliable source for factual data about the nation’s economy. Obama didn’t fudge the numbers, and Trump is unlikely to be able to do so.

Second, even relatively trusted new sources have their less trustworthy bits. In print media, the division between truth and opinion is usually clear. You can generally trust what you read in the Wall Street Journal, until you get to the opinion pages. Television networks are less clear about separating fact from fiction. CNN’s hiring of Trump campaign employee Corey Lewandowski—while he was on the Trump payroll and still subject to a non-disclosure agreement—should have set off alarm bells among CNN viewers, not to mention the better journalistic instincts of CNN’s management.

Third, be demanding. I encourage my students to challenge the authors that they read in class, including me. Ask questions, check sources and verify the truth for yourself. Just because something has been shared on Facebook a million times does not mean it is true. We should challenge the assertions of politicians of all stripes just as vigorously.

Finally, we need to care more about the truth. One of the most troubling aspects of the election was that so many people voted for Trump despite being fully aware of his many lies because “he shouldn’t be taken literally.” At the risk of sounding naive again, approaching national elections with the attitude that outright lies don’t matter does not bode well for the future of our democracy.

68 Student-Athletes Named to NESCAC’s Fall All-Academic Team

Women's soccer player Sarah Sylla '17 is one of 68 student-athletes who was named to the NESCAC's Fall All-Academic Team. (Photo by Steve McLaughlin

Women’s soccer player Sarah Sylla ’17 is one of 68 student-athletes who was named to the NESCAC’s Fall All-Academic Team. (Photo by Steve McLaughlin)

Sixty-eight Wesleyan student-athletes were honored for their excellence in the classroom when the New England Small College Athletic Contest (NESCAC) announced its 2016 Fall All-Academic Team. Nine others were named to the All-Sportsmanship Team.

To be honored on the All-Academic Team, a student-athlete must have reached sophomore academic standing and be a varsity letter winner with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.40. A transfer student must have completed one year of study at the institution.

The women’s soccer team led the way for Wesleyan with 14 selections, followed by men’s soccer with 12, golf with nine and football with eight. The cross country teams put a combined 14 student-athletes on the list, while field hockey and volleyball had seven and four All-Academic honorees, respectively.

“The Wesleyan Athletics pursuit of excellence ideology extends beyond performance in an individual’s sport and I’m extremely proud of the accomplishments of our student-athletes, especially those who also excel in the classroom,” said Director of Athletics Mike Whalen. “Our coaches seek student-athletes who demonstrate equal passion and commitment to academic challenges as they do for winning a NESCAC or Little 3 championship.”

Men's soccer player Adam Cowie-Haskell '18 also was named NESCAC All-Academic. (Photo by Peter Stein ’84)

Men’s soccer player Adam Cowie-Haskell ’18 also was named NESCAC All-Academic. (Photo by Peter Stein ’84)

The All-Sportsmanship Team is composed of one student-athlete from each institution for each sport, and is selected by the players and coaches from their respective team for their positive contributions to sportsmanship. It recognizes student-athletes from each varsity sport who have demonstrated outstanding dedication to sportsmanship. These student-athletes exhibit respect for themselves, teammates, coaches, opponents and spectators. They display sportsmanship not only as a participant in their sport but also as a spectator and in their everyday lives.

Representing the Cardinals on the All-Sportsmanship Team are Will Dudek ’17 (Men’s Cross Country), Joie Akerson ’17 (Women’s Cross Country), Saadia Naeem ’20 (Women’s Golf), Zach Lambros ’17 (Men’s Golf), Colleen Lynch ’17 (Field Hockey), Lou Stevens ’17 (Football), Jack Katkavich ’17 (Men’s Soccer), Sarah Sylla ’17 (Women’s Soccer), and Rachel Savage ’17 (Volleyball).