Campus News & Events

Gilmore, Greenwood Recipients of NASA Grant to Map Venus’s Craters

Caption: Radar image of Venus. Alpha Regio tessera is partly covered by the dark parabola of the impact crater Stuart on the volcanic plains.

Professors Martha Gilmore and James Greenwood recently received a NASA grant to study crater parabolas on Venus using radar data. Pictured is a Magellan radar image of Venus. Alpha Regio tessera is partly covered by the dark parabola of the impact crater Stuart on the volcanic plains. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

Like planet Earth, the geology of Venus is diverse; consisting of areas of flat plains and deformed, mountain-like terrains called tesserae. And like Earth, Mars, and the Moon, Venus is checkered with hundreds of craters.

“What’s odd about Venus’s craters, is that craters we do see are relatively young, indicating the surface of Venus has been covered by planet-wide volcanic flows,” says Martha “Marty” Gilmore, George I. Seney Professor of Geology, professor of earth and environmental sciences. “The tesserae are the only terrains older than these volcanic flows and thus our only hope at accessing rocks from the first billion years of Venus’s history, when the planet may have had an ocean and may have been habitable.”

As the recipient of a three-year $430,801 grant from NASA’s Solar System Workings Program, Gilmore and James Greenwood, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, will use Magellan radar data to create the first map of crater ejecta on Venus classified by origin on plains or tessera terrain. Their project is titled “Radar Emissivity and Dielectric Permittivity of the Venus Surface Beneath Crater Parabolas.” Crater parabolas refer to the shape of the ejecta deposits as they are carried westward by the high-altitude Venus winds.

Film by Modi ’22 Screened at LA Film Festival’s Future Filmmakers Showcase

Ishan Modi ’22 directed a short film titled Just Stories that was shown at the LA Film Festival’s 2018 Future Filmmakers Showcase, a special screening of films made by talented high school students from across the globe.

Since his filmmaking debut at the age of 11, Ishan Modi ’22 has directed more than 20 short films. And the prospective film and history major has yet to call his creative talent “a wrap.”

Ishan Modi '22

Ishan Modi ’22

On Sept. 22, Modi’s short film Just Stories (2017) was shown at the LA Film Festival’s 2018 Future Filmmakers Showcase, a special screening of films made by talented high school students from across the globe. The film features a senior couple who—after a lively visit with their grandchildren—experience the isolation and uncertainty of old age.

In addition to screening at the LA Film Festival, Just Stories also was named an official selection at the Nashville Film Festival (2018); Rhode Island International Film Festival (2018); Carmarthen Bay Film Festival (2018); San Luis Obispo International Film Festival (2018); and the world’s largest high school film festival, the All American High School Film Festival (2018).

Modi’s other recent film, SuperNova (2017), screened at the Across Asia Youth Film Festival, the 17th Annual Laurie Nelson Film Festival, and the Newark International Film Festival Youth in 2017. For this film, Modi was named a finalist of the “Young Filmmaker Award” presented at the My Rode Reel Film Competition and a finalist of the 60th Golden Eagle Award for “Student & Youth Media.”

His other recent projects include Nextstep (2018) and the Singapore American School’s Class of 2018 senior video.

Modi, who is currently taking a class on Dante’s Comedy during his first semester in college, is looking forward to learning more about the filmmaker’s craft during the next four years.

“Wesleyan’s Film Studies Department offers a unique equilibrium of theory and craft,” he said. “While I’ve created many films in the past, I haven’t had many opportunities to learn about the history and study behind movies, which is also very important! Wesleyan represents the best of both worlds. I will learn skills to improve my practical filmmaking abilities, and at the same time heavily study film theory, bringing into focus what constitutes a powerful narrative.”

When applying for colleges, Wesleyan’s liberal arts environment was also appealing to Modi, who wants to explore different branches of knowledge.

“At Wesleyan, I have the freedom to take classes from multiple disciplines,” he said. “Filmmaking revolves around powerful storytelling. By immersing myself in history, philosophy, literature etc. I hope to satisfy my curiosity and find inspiration for stories that I can share with the world.”

For more information and to view other films, visit ModiFilms.com. Read comments from Modi in “Get to Know the 2018 Future Filmmakers on the Road to the LA Film Festival,” an article published on filmindependent.org.

Graduate Students, Faculty to Present Studies at Society for Ethnomusicology’s Annual Meeting

Three Wesleyan music graduate students and two faculty were accepted to present at the Society for Ethnomusicology‘s 2018 Annual Meeting Nov. 15–18 in Albuquerque, N.M.

Bianca Iannitti will present a case study on the queer Indian-American DJ, Bianca Maieli, in order to explore the queer female identity within Desi music and virtual spaces.

Gene Lai, MA ’16, will present a study titled “Disdained at Home Embraced by Motherland: The Revitalized Tamil Folk Drumming Ensemble in Singapore.”

And Douglas Kiman will present a study titled “Mapping Klezmer Music in Contemporary Europe: A Case Study of the Jazz’n Klezmer Festival.” He will also be presenting at the Society for American Music in March on the musical identity of a band, the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars.

In addition, B. “Balu” Balasubrahmaniyan, adjunct associate professor of music, will speak on “Hybridized Instrumentation in Ilayaraja’s Tamil Film Scores: A Quest for Village Identity.” And Kate Galloway, visiting assistant professor of music, will speak on “Stop to Smell the Pixels: A Digital Field Guide to Nonhuman Musicality in Proteus.”

Founded in 1955, the Society for Ethnomusicology is a global, interdisciplinary network of individuals and institutions engaged in the study of music across all cultural contexts and historical periods. The annual meeting will include several presentations, roundtable discussions, a symposium, concerts, an open jam session, and a world music pedagogy workshop and professional development workshop.

Campus Community Celebrates Family Weekend Sept. 28-30

More than 2,000 parents, families, friends, and alumni are attending Family Weekend, a three-day celebration of the Wesleyan experience, Sept. 28-30

Highlights include:

  • WESeminar lectures, panel discussions, workshops, and performances
  • Gordon Career Center Open House and Wesleyan Summer Grants Showcase
  • Tailgating
  • Friends of the Wesleyan Library Book Sale
  • Campus tours
  • Football, soccer, and field hockey vs. Hamilton College
  • Lunches and brunches with families and friends
  • The 26th Annual Dwight L. Greene Symposium presenting Black Phoenix Rising
  • Alumni and Student of Color Celebration
  • The 8th Annual Stone A Cappella Concert

For a full schedule of events, visit www.wesleyan.edu/fw2018.

View the photo gallery online here.

Wesleyan to Assume Leadership of Center for Creative Youth (CCY)

Wesleyan will oversee the Center for Creative Youth (CCY) for camps beginning in summer 2019. The program, which targets high school students ages 14–18, features daily art classes in a variety of majors, including music, theater, creative writing, and visual arts. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Next summer, Wesleyan will assume leadership of the Center for Creative Youth (CCY), a precollege residential program that offers four weeks of intensive study in the arts.

CCY, a program created by the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC), has been hosted on the Wesleyan campus since its inception in 1976. Wesleyan will oversee the noncredit program for camps beginning in summer 2019.

Standaart Remembered for Teaching Flute at Wesleyan for 43 Years

Peter Standaart

Peter Standaart

Adrian Peter Standaart, private lessons teacher of flute, passed away Sept. 16 at the age of 70.

Standaart was born in Richmond, Va., and grew up in Asheville, N.C. He was of Dutch descent and came from a musical family; his father was an organ builder and his mother an organist. He was educated at Duke University, the North Carolina School for the Arts, and Yale University. Standaart came to Wesleyan in 1975 and continued to teach flute until shortly before his death.

“His knowledge of the flute literature was encyclopedic, and his influence as a pedagogue and a champion of music for the flute was enormous,” said Paula Matthusen, associate professor and chair of the Music Department.

Standaart performed many times with the Wesleyan Orchestra; the Nielsen Concerto and the Griffes Poem (conducted by Roger Solie); the Mozart Concert for Flute and Harp, with Sally Perreten (conducted by Melvin Strauss); and most recently the Honegger Concerto da Camera for Flute, English Horn and String Orchestra, with Libby Van Cleve (conducted by Nadya Potemkina).

He premiered many new works for flute, including compositions of his Wesleyan colleagues. He also performed contemporary works of extraordinary difficulty by Pierre Boulez and Henry Brant. Brant said that Peter Standaart was the finest flutist he had ever heard.

In 1981 he was one of four finalists for the piccolo position of the San Francisco Symphony.

Morawski Honored for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology Research

Jill Morawski (Photo by Christopher Green)

Jill Morawski is an expert on the history of modern psychological sciences. (Photo by Christopher Green)

For her ongoing contributions to the philosophical foundations of psychology, Jill Morawski, Wilbur Fisk Osborne Professor and professor of psychology, is the recipient of two distinguished awards.

Morawski was most recently honored with the American Psychological Association Division 24 Award for Distinguished Theoretical and Philosophical Contributions to Psychology. The award was presented at the annual meeting of the APA, at which Professor Morawski delivered an invited address, “Chasing Psychology’s Objects: The Quest for Ontological Certainty.” It is the division’s highest award and recognizes one of its members each year for lifetime scholarly achievement.

Morawski also received the American Psychological Foundation’s 2017 Joseph B. Gittler Award. The annual Gittler Award was established through a bequest from Joseph Gittler, PhD, who wished to recognize psychologists who are making and will continue to make scholarly contributions to the philosophical foundations of psychological knowledge.

Morawski was honored for “contribut(ing) in original and profound ways to our understanding of reflexivity, subjectivity, and the place of the researcher in experimental and qualitative psychology. Her contributions can be characterized as an explication of the deep structure of the relationship between the researcher, the researcher’s epistemology, and the research object derived from the research participant. Together this frames much of her research on the subject, on the researcher, and on the laboratory practices that together unfold the ontological conditions of the experiment. Her work has ranged over the contentious nature of what is now often referred to as mechanical objectivity by philosophers and historians of science, and she has connected this work with the important elements of reflexivity entailed and sometimes addressed by the psychological community.”

Morawski has made numerous contributions to the organizations and societies that matter to the philosophical and historical foundations of psychology. This includes having held the presidency of two APA divisions, the Division of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology and the Division of the History of Psychology. She is also professor, science in society, and professor, feminist, gender, and sexuality studies.

Haitian Musicians Lead Drumming Workshop, Performance for Students

Boukman Eksperyans band members toured Wesleyan while visiting campus Sept. 20-21.

On Sept. 20-21, core members of the Grammy-nominated Haitian “roots” band Boukman Eksperyans, along with the band leaders’ son Paul Beaubrun (band leader of Zing Eksperyans), engaged with several groups on campus. Boukman, founded in 1978, is one of Haiti’s best-known bands and performs traditional Vodou rhythms with pop, reggae, and blues.

After learning that the group was touring between Brooklyn, N.Y., and Montreal, Canada, faculty from African American Studies and the Music Department invited and coordinated their visit at Wesleyan.

On Thursday, band members led a workshop for students enrolled in the West African Music and Culture course, taught by John Dankwa, adjunct assistant professor of music. Boukman Eksperyans’ drummer Hans Dominique, known as “Bwa Gris,” taught the students about traditional Haitian drumming and rhythm.

Later that evening, the group performed an acoustic set in Downey Lounge, bringing to Wesleyan their distinctive style that fuses the traditional rhythms of Afro-Haitian religion (known as Vodou) with rock and reggae. Singing in the Haitian Kreyol language, they bring attention to the different ways of knowing and living in the Caribbean. The younger Beaubrun has been bringing the family tradition in new directions, performing as the opening act for Lauren Hill’s latest tour. They are also celebrating the release of Paul Beaubrun’s new album “Ayibobo” on Ropeadope Records.

On Friday, the musicians worked with students from the Music Department’s experimental music and sound design programs to record new tracks in the Music Department’s recording studio.

“Boukman Eksperyans is long known for their political activism critiquing the Haitian class system, American meddling in Haitian affairs, and racism and colorism throughout the world,” said Liza McAlister, professor of religion and professor and chair, African American studies. “Boukman Eksperyans are ambassadors for a better understanding of the Vodou religion; they have served as U.N. Goodwill Ambassadors too. We are thrilled that they were able to visit campus and share their experiences with us.”

A video of the drumming workshop is on Facebook, Photos of the drumming workshop and concert are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake and Chloe de Montgolfier ’22)

Shasha Seminar Explores Suicide, Resilience through Film, Narrative, Community, Research

Suicide and Resilience: Finding the Words was the topic of the 2018 Shasha Seminar, held Sept. 14-15 on campus.

Endowed by James Shasha ’50, P’82, the Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns supports lifelong learning and encourages participants to expand their knowledge and perspectives on significant issues. The educational forum provides Wesleyan alumni, parents, and friends with an opportunity to explore issues of global concern in a small seminar environment,

The seminar was codirected by Karl Scheibe, professor of psychology, emeritus, and Jennifer D’Andrea, director of Wesleyan’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), the seminar, held Sept. 14-15,

(Photos by Olivia Drake, Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19, and Caroline Kravitz ’19)

Leslie Shasha ’82, a clinical psychologist in private practice in New York City., made the featured opening remarks at the Shasha Seminar. As a result of her own life experiences, she has become active in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention organization and also in the Jed Foundation. Committed to working on suicide prevention as well as with the stigma surrounding the topic of suicide, she was integral in this year’s seminar. 

Wesleyan Launches New Home Page

On Thursday, Sept. 20, Wesleyan University launched a new home page, part of a broader core messaging effort to update and strengthen University-wide communications.

The home page design process was driven by rigorous analysis of usage statistics and by examining best practices for websites. The home page’s state-of-the-art functionality is intended to differentiate Wesleyan in an increasingly crowded and competitive higher education landscape, and to highlight the University’s distinctive qualities.

Wes Press Authors Nominated for 2018 Book Awards

Four Wesleyan University Press–affiliated authors were nominated for book awards this month.

Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Rae Armantrout is one of 10 contenders for the National Book Award for Poetry. Her collection, Wobble (Wesleyan University Press, 2018) was named to the award’s longlist on Sept. 13. Finalists will be revealed on Oct. 10.

Teetering on the edge of the American Dream, Armantrout’s Wobble seeks to both playfully and forcefully evoke the devastation of a chaotic, unstoppable culture.

Two authors were named 2018 CT Book Awards Finalists by the Connecticut Center for the Book, a Connecticut Humanities program. The awards recognize and honor authors and illustrators who have created the best books in or about Connecticut in the past year.

Between three and five finalists have been selected in each of five categories: Fiction; Nonfiction; Poetry; Young Readers—Young Adult; and Young Readers—Juvenile. Five distinguished judges per category read each entry and reviewed works using rigorous criteria. A total of 140 books were submitted this year.

Middletown, Conn., resident Gina Athena Ulysse, professor of anthropology; professor, feminist gender, and sexuality studies; was nominated in the Poetry category for her book, Because When God Is Too Busy: HAITI, me & THE WORLD (Wesleyan University Press, 2017).

And Chester, Conn., resident David Hays, Hon. ’86, was nominated in the Nonfiction category for his book, Setting the Stage: What We Do, How We Do It, and Why (Wesleyan University Press, 2017).

Winners will be announced at the 2018 Connecticut Book Awards ceremony on Oct. 14 at Staples High School in Westport, Conn. Okey Ndibe, the 2017 Connecticut Book Award winner for nonfiction, will deliver the keynote speech. A reception and book signing will follow, and all finalists’ and winners’ books will be available for purchase.

In addition, Wesleyan University Press author sam sax is the recipient of a 2018 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from The Poetry Foundation. The $25,800 fellowship is among the largest and most prestigious awards available for young poets in the United States.

sax is the author of bury it (Wesleyan University Press, 2018), winner of the 2017 James Laughlin Award given by the Academy of American Poets.

Dierker, Rose Win $2.8M NSF Award for Innovative Approach to Teaching Statistics

Lisa Dierker

Wesleyan professors Lisa Dierker and Jennifer Rose were recently awarded a $2.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to extend and disseminate their research on passion-driven statistics. The grant begins in the fall of 2018 and extends through 2023.

Recognizing the rapidly increasing importance of data-oriented skills in the modern workforce, passion-driven statistics was developed as a novel approach to make statistics and quantitative methods courses more accessible and engaging, particularly for traditionally marginalized students. It moves away from canned exercises, toward more applied, real-world, project-based learning experiences.

”An empowering curriculum needs to rise to many challenges,” Dierker said. “Those include promoting inquiry across a wide range of disciplines, building new skills as challenges arise, facilitating the use of modern computing tools, providing support for students regardless of educational background, and framing statistics as an exciting set of tools for understanding a complex world. We are confident in and excited about this project’s ability to do all of that.”