Faculty

Thomas Co-Authors 5 Papers in Academic Journals

Ellen Thomas, professor of earth and environmental sciences and University Professor in the College of Integrative Sciences, recently co-authored five papers in academic journals.

Her first paper, “Jianshuiite in Oceanic Manganese Nodules” co-authored with Jeffery Post and Peter Heaney, appeared within American Mineralogist. Deviating from her usual research, Thomas focused on mineralogy and, in particular, the crystal structure of a rare mineral found in sediments during an ancient counterpart of future global warming.

Thomas co-authored “Variability in Climate and Productivity during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum in the Western Tethys,” with Flavia Boscolo-Galazzo and Luca Giusberti, both of the University of Padova. This paper, more in line with her usual research, examines unicellular organisms of the deep sea floor that suffered extinction due to a prior period of global warming. It appeared in Climate of the Past.

Working once again with Boscolo-Galazzo and Giusberti and several other scholars, Thomas co-authored, “The Planktic Foraminifer Planorotalites in the Tethyan Middle Eocene” in the Journal of Micropaleontology. This paper describes the researchers’ use of stable isotope analysis to distinguish between floating planktonic matter from bottom-dwelling foraminifera. Through this analysis, they discuss environmental changes during a relatively period of global warming that took place between approximately 9 and 40 million years ago.

“Late Paleocene-Middle Eocene Benthic Foraminifera on a Pacific Seamount (Allison Guyot, ODP Site 865):Greenhouse Climate and Superimposed Hyperthermal Events,” appeared in Paleoceanography. It discusses deep-sea faunas during the same period in the article from the paragraph above. The two other authors of the paper were mentored by Thomas and briefly visited Wesleyan while under her supervision.

The final paper, “Oxygen depletion recorded in upper waters of the glacial Southern Ocean,” appeared in Nature Communications. This paper documents Thomas’s collaborative research with several scholars and PhD students on Antarctic environments during the last few ice ages. In particular, their work focuses on benthic foraminifera, and chemical analysis of their shells.

COE Hosts Community Discussion on Middletown’s Future

On April 26, the College of the Environment hosted a discussion on “Middletown/Mattabesset and the Connecticut River: Past, Present and Future” in the Community Health Center in Middletown. Several Wesleyan staff and faculty attended, along with members of the Middletown community.

On April 26, the College of the Environment hosted a discussion on “Middletown/Mattabesset and the Connecticut River: Past, Present and Future” in the Community Health Center in Middletown. Several Wesleyan staff and faculty attended, along with members of the Middletown community.

Panelist Stephen Devoto, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, is a community activist who is a member of the Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission.

Panelist Stephen Devoto, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, is a community activist who is a member of the Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission.

The panelists shared short vision statements on Middletown’s past, present and future and discussed what will and should the Middletown/Mettabesset look like in 50 years. Panelists welcomed questions and comments from the audience.

The panelists shared short vision statements on Middletown’s past, present and future and discussed what will and should the Middletown/Mettabesset look like in 50 years. Panelists welcomed questions and comments from the audience.

William “Vijay” Pinch served as the moderator. Pinch is professor of history, chair and professor of environmental studies. William “Vijay” Pinch served as the moderator. Pinch is professor of history, chair and professor of environmental studies.

William “Vijay” Pinch served as the moderator. Pinch is professor of history, chair and professor of environmental studies.

Other panelists included John Hall, founder and director of the Jonah Center for Earth & Art in Middletown; Erik Hesselberg, president of the Middlesex County Historical Society; Lucianne Lavin, director of research and collections for the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, Conn.; and Meg Walker, vice president of Project for Public Spaces in New York, NY.

Other panelists included Meg Walker, vice president of Project for Public Spaces in New York; Erik Hesselberg, president of the Middlesex County Historical Society; Lucianne Lavin, director of research and collections for the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, Conn. and John Hall, founder and director of the Jonah Center for Earth & Art in Middletown.

Attendees continued their conversation at a reception following the event. (Photos by Richard Marinelli)

Attendees continued their conversation at a reception following the event. (Photos by Richard Marinelli)

Crosby’s Memoir Chronicles Life with Pain, Rebuilding after Suffering

9781479833535_FullProfessor of English Christina Crosby is the author of a new book published by NYU Press in March 2016. Titled, A Body, Undone: Living On After Great Pain, the novel chronicles her encounter with pain, which left her paralyzed.

Three miles into a 17-mile bike ride, the spokes of her bike caught a branch, pitching her forward and off the bike. With her chin taking on the full force of the blow, her head snapped back leaving her paralyzed.

This event, as she makes note of in her novel, opened her eyes to the beauty, yet fragility of all human bodies. Her memoir tells of the importance of “living on,” and rebuilding after suffering.

O’Connell, Alumni Participate in National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Workshop

Suzanne O’Connell, right, with Ed Laine ’69 and Kerry Brenner ’94 at a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine workshop.

Suzanne O’Connell, right, with Ed Laine ’69 and Kerry Brenner ’94 at a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine workshop.

Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, faculty director of the McNair Program, together with Ed Laine ’69 and Kerry Brenner ’94, attended a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) workshop in Washington, D.C. on April 20-21. The three were involved in a report on Service Learning in the Geosciences.

O’Connell presented the report at the meeting.

Laine, recently retired from Bowdoin College, was on the meeting steering committee, while Brenner, a senior program officer in the Board on Science Education in the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (NAS) coordinated the meeting.

A summary of the workshop will be published as a book by the National Academies Press in fall 2016.

Faculty Learn How to Enhance Their Online Profiles at CFCD Workshop

Through grants, workshops, seminars, publications, and formal and informal discussions, the Center for Faculty Career Development (CFCD) aims to cultivate dialogue among Wesleyan’s faculty and encourage association with faculty members at other academic institutions.

On April 12, about 25 faculty members attended a CFCD workshop titled “Becoming More Visible: Enhance Your Online Profile” in Usdan University Center. The workshop taught faculty ways to become more visible to colleagues, students and non-campus organizations by optimizing their work and presence online through search engine optimization as well as social media.

The workshop was taught by editor Naedine Joy Hazell MALS ’14 and Scott Johnson. Hazell has been editor-in-chief of The Hartford Courant, a three-time judge of the Pulitzer Prizes, editor of Hartford Magazine and New Haven Living and more. Johnson spent 25 years in journalism before moving into rebranding and strategy. Beginning as a graphic artist and designer, he then moved into newspaper redesign. He then moved from newspapers to the Associated Press in New York as director of graphics and visuals and authored the AP visual style guide. He currently works at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in the Strategy and Innovation Department.

(Photos by Tom Dzimian)
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Slobin Honored for 45 Years at Wesleyan

Mark Slobin, second from left, was celebrated by colleagues, friends and family during a day long conference and concert April 16.

Mark Slobin, second from left, was celebrated by colleagues, friends and family during a day long conference and concert April 16.

Mark Slobin, the Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music, was honored April 16 with “Ideas on the Move,” a conference celebrating his career and many accomplishments. Slobin will retire from Wesleyan June 30.

Slobin is an ethnomusicologist who has written extensively on the subject of East European Jewish music and klezmer music, as well as the music of Afghanistan.

The daylong event featured talks by alumni from as far back as 45 years. Topics included “Mark’s Metaphors: Visual Poetics, Pedagogy and Theoretical Clarity;” “ONCE Upon a Time: Mark Slobin’s Experimental Ethnomusicology;” “How Mark Slobin Became an Ethnomusicologist;” and “Growing Up With Mark.” A concert, featuring Irish, Yiddish, Korean and other music, also was held in honor of Professor Slobin in World Music Hall. View a list of all speakers and musicians on this website.

Slobin came to Wesleyan on July 1, 1971. He has been president of the Society for Ethnomusicology, president of the Society for Asian Music, and editor of Asian Music. He has been the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Seeger Prize of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award, the Jewish Cultural Achievement Award (for lifetime achievement) from the Foundation for Jewish Culture, and the Curt Leviant Award In Yiddish Studies from the Modern Languages Association (honorable mention). He was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award for Chosen Voices (1989).

In his blog, President Michael Roth said: “He is at home with all kinds of sounds, and his students (many of whom were present at the conference) work on everything from Mongolian throat singing and African funeral music to hip-hop and klezmer. He’s even written the book on music at Wesleyan.

“Mark spoke briefly at the conference about how Wesleyan has fostered groundbreaking research, practice and teaching in music for a very long time. Thanks to him, and to his colleagues and students, we expect that to continue far into the future.”

The evening concluded with a Javanese Wayang Puppet Play “Arjuna in Meditation,” performed with the Wesleyan Gamelan Ensemble under the direction of I. M. Harjito and Sumarsam (dhalang) and guest musicians.

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Stanton, Hoggard, Brown: ‘Storied Places’ Unites Dance, Music, Text of Collaborative Cluster

Professor of Dance and Department Chair Nicole Stanton notes that faculty dance concerts play a crucial role in academic life: "For many of us in the dance department, this is our creative research. This how we explore our ideas and passions and how we engage with the world and with critical, cultural, social and political themes."

Associate Professor Nicole Stanton notes that faculty dance concerts play a crucial role in academic life: “For many of us in the dance department, this is our creative research. This how we explore our ideas and passions and how we engage with the world and with critical, cultural, social and political themes.”

On the weekend of April 15-16, the CFA theater was home to the spring faculty dance concert, Storied Places. In addition to the dance, which was choreographed and directed by Chair and Associate Professor of Dance, Associate Professor of African American Studies, and Environmental Studies Nicole Stanton, the performance also featured original compositions and musical direction by Adjunct Professor of Music and African American Studies Jay Hoggard ’76. Adding a further layer of texture was narrative text, written and performed by Chair and Class of 1958 Distinguished Professor of African American Studies, Professor of English and Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Director of the Center for African American Studies Lois Brown.

Additionally, Visiting Assistant Professor of Public Policy L’Merchie Frazier created visual scenography and design—some based on the photographs that grace the cover of Hoggard’s new two-CD set, Harlem Hieroglyphs.

The collaboration, which featured a host of musicians and dancers—including Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Dante Brown ’09 and Rick Manayan ’17—had begun with Hoggard’s compositions, which were inspired under the theme of “Migrations”—as he thought specifically of the migration his own family had made from the rural South to a new home in Harlem, as well as more generally about the movement of peoples throughout history and how that was illustrated in music, particularly jazz.

Nicole Stanton recalls that she had reached out to Hoggard, at the suggestion of Pam Tatge ’84, MALS ’10, P’16, who was then director of the Center for the Arts.

“I enjoy very much the idea of collaboration and collaboration across disciplines,” Stanton explains. “I’m interested in dance and the total art form that engages a lot of different senses and a lot of different modes of expression.”

Siry Speaks on Energy and Modern Architecture

As part of Wesleyan’s Earth Month celebration, the College of the Environment presented a talk on “Energy and Modern Architecture 1935-2015” April 7. Joe Siry, the Kenan Professor of the Humanities and processor of art and art history, led the discussion.

As part of Wesleyan’s Earth Month celebration, the College of the Environment presented a talk on “Energy and Modern Architecture 1935-2015” April 7. Joe Siry, the Kenan Professor of the Humanities and processor of art and art history, led the discussion.

Siry teaches the history of modern architecture and urbanism at Wesleyan. His current book in progress is titled “Before Sustainability: Air Conditioning and Modern Architecture 1890-1970.”Siry teaches the history of modern architecture and urbanism at Wesleyan. His current book in progress is titled “Before Sustainability: Air Conditioning and Modern Architecture 1890-1970.”

Siry teaches the history of modern architecture and urbanism at Wesleyan. His current book in progress is titled “Before Sustainability: Air Conditioning and Modern Architecture 1890-1970.”

Siry traced the history of ideas about energy usage in architecture, especially those related to air condition from the era of the Great Depression, to the first efforts of energy conservation after World War II, the redirection of architecture following the energy crises of the 1970s and the contemporary idea of zero-energy buildings.

Siry traced the history of ideas about energy usage in architecture, especially those related to air condition from the era of the Great Depression, to the first efforts of energy conservation after World War II, the redirection of architecture following the energy crises of the 1970s and the contemporary idea of zero-energy buildings.

Dierker, Mukerji Honored as Women of Innovation

Lisa Dierker

Lisa Dierker

Lisa Dierker, professor of psychology, director of pilot programs for the Center for Pedagogical Innovation, and Ishita Mukerji, the Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, professor of integrative sciences, were both honored at the 12th annual Women of Innovation Awards. Presented by the Connecticut Technology Council, the awards celebrate the energy, creativity and success of women and students from Connecticut’s science and technology community.

Both professors were honored in the category of Academic Innovation and Leadership. The celebration was held April 6 in Plantsville, Conn.

Dierker was honored for her work developing a curriculum to introduce students to a passion-driven, project-based course in applied statistics, data analysis and programming. Through a growing network of high schools, community colleges, and universities as well as a massive open online course (MOOC), she is dedicated to creating real access for women and other underserved populations, both locally and across the globe.

Ishita Mukerji

Ishita Mukerji

Mukerji was recognized for her research focused on the study of protein-DNA interactions to understand the mechanisms of gene expression, DNA replication and DNA repair. She previously served as dean of science and mathematics at Wesleyan, where she helped to establish the Wesleyan Math and Science Scholars program and the College of Integrative Sciences.

Faculty, Students, Alumni Attend Political Science Conference

Students presented research at the 74th annual Midwest Political Science Association conference in Chicago.

Students presented research at the 74th annual Midwest Political Science Association conference in Chicago.

The 74th annual Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) conference in Chicago April 7-10 was attended by several Wesleyan faculty members, students and recent alumni. The conference, held every April, is one of the largest political science conferences with more than 5,000 presenters from throughout the United States and around the world. It is traditionally held in Chicago’s historic Palmer House Hilton.

Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, Assistant Professor of Government Logan Dancey, and Assistant Professor of Government Yamil Velez all presented research at the conference. They were accompanied by Joli Holmes ’17, John Murchison ’16, Grace Wong ’18, Anh Tuan Nguyen Viet ’16, and Eki Ramadhan ’16, students who contributed to and presented research.

Also in attendance were recent alumni Leonid “Leo” Liu ’14, who presented research with Fowler, and Matt Motta ’13, now a graduate student at the University of Minnesota.

Kolcio, Students Attend Ukraine in Washington Forum

Students spoke with former Ambassador from Georgia Temuri Yakobashvili at the Ukraine in Washington forum. From left, James Reston '18, Misha Iakovenko '18 and Molly Jane Zuckerman '16.

Students spoke with former Ambassador from Georgia Temuri Yakobashvili at the Ukraine in Washington forum. From left, James Reston ’18, Misha Iakovenko ’18 and Molly Jane Zuckerman ’16.

Katja Kolcio, associate professor of dance, associate professor of environmental studies, and a group of students attended the Ukraine in Washington forum at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on March 30, where Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko delivered the keynote address. Poroshenko was in Washington for President Barack Obama’s Nuclear Summit.

The trip was funded by the Dean of Social Sciences and the Dean of Arts and Humanities. According to Kolcio, the highlight of the trip occurred when Poroshenko responded to a question posed by Misha Iakovenko ’18 about the president’s efforts to deal with corruption, and a recent article that appeared in the Kyiv Post by gas company CEO and anti-corruption advocate Oleg Prokhorenko. The group also heard panels on Humanitarian Crisis, Economic Reform, and Political Context: Budapest to Minsk Agreements.