Faculty

Grabel Named a Connecticut Women of Innovation Finalist

Laura Grabel

For her efforts creating and fostering STEM initiatives that support women in science, Laura Grabel, the retired Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, was selected as a Women of Innovation finalist by the Connecticut Technology Council in March. She is one of 50 finalists in the state.

Grabel, who also is a retired professor of biology, is an accomplished scientist engaged in understanding how the fertilized egg can become a complex organism. This spring, she is teaching Reproduction in the 21st Century.

In addition to publishing dozens of academic articles and a book on ethical stem cell research, Grabel fosters STEM initiatives that focus on supporting women in science, such as teaching a course on the biology of women at York Correctional Institution, and collaborating with professional choreographers to convey complex scientific concepts through movement and dance in and outside of the classroom.

The Connecticut Technology Council is a statewide trade association focused on technology and technology-oriented companies and institutions, providing leadership, guidance, and support in areas of policy advocacy, community-building, and assistance for growing companies.

The Women of Innovation program seeks to celebrate and create a growing network of women working in STEM areas. Finalists are scientists, researchers, academics, manufacturers, student leaders, entrepreneurs, and technicians.

The finalists will be recognized at the 15th annual Women of Innovation awards gala on March 27.

Read more in this Middletown Press article.

Wesleyan Confers Tenure to 8 Faculty, 1 Promoted

Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees conferred tenure to eight faculty members, effective July 1. They include:

· David Constantine, associate professor of mathematics
· Megan Glick, associate professor of American studies
· Kerwin Kaye, associate professor of sociology
· Jeffers Lennox, associate professor of history
· Maria Ospina, associate professor of Spanish
· Justine Quijada, associate professor of religion
· Lily Saint, associate professor of English

In addition, one faculty member was promoted to full professor:
· Nicole Stanton, professor of dance

Brief descriptions of their areas of research and teaching appear below:

David Constantine’s research examines the relationship between dynamics and geometry – what the geometry of an object can reveal about its dynamics, and what the dynamics of an object can reveal about its geometry.

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. Forbes: “Three Questions to Ask Yourself at the Beginning of Your Career”

Sharon Belden Castonguay, director of the Gordon Career Center, offers career advice for young people just starting out.

2. The Times Literary Supplement: “Multiple Lives”

Hirsh Sawhney, assistant professor of English, coordinator of South Asian studies, explores the “complicated existence” of Mahatma Gandhi.

3. The Washington Post: “The Delight of Being Inconspicuous in a World That’s Always Watching Us”

President Michael Roth reviews a new book, How to Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a Time of Transparency, by Akiko Busch.

Tavernier, Students Coauthor Paper on Psychological Trauma of Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are becoming more common all over the world. While the focus is often on restoring physical damage, these disasters also impact residents of the affected region psychologically in ways that are less well understood.

In a paper published in the journal Traumatology on Feb. 7, Assistant Professor of Psychology Royette Tavernier, along with five student coauthors, examined the psychological impact of tropical storm Erika, which hit the Caribbean island of Dominica in August 2015. The data analyzed was based on a sample of 174 college-aged individuals who completed survey-based assessments of several psychosocial variables six months after the storm.

Results showed that more negative exposure to the storm (e.g., displacement, lack of access to food and water) was associated with poor quality sleep, which, in turn, was associated with poorer psychological adjustment (higher rumination, less effective emotion regulation strategies and less perceived psychological growth from the experience of the storm). Furthermore, those who were more negatively affected by the storm had higher religious coping (praying, meditating). Interestingly, higher religious coping was linked with both positive (higher perceived psychological growth from the experience of the storm) and negative (higher rumination and PTSD symptoms) aspects of psychological adjustment.

According to Tavernier, these findings highlight the important roles that both sleep and religious coping play in explaining psychological adjustment in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Poulos, Students Collaborate on 2 Publications

Helen PoulosHelen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, is the coauthor of two published papers in February.

Response of Arizona cypress (Hesperocyparis arizonica) to the Horseshoe Two Megafire in a south-eastern Arizona Sky Island mountain range,” is published in the February issue of International Journal of Wildland Fire (Issue 28, pages 62-69). It is coauthored by Andrew Barton, professor of biology at the University of Maine at Farmington.

This study documents the effects of the 2011 Horseshoe Two Fire in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona on Arizona Cypress. Two Wesleyan students, Hunter Vannier ’20 and Michael Freiburger ’21 assisted with the fieldwork in 2018 as part of their College of the Environment summer fellowships.

The group documented the effects of a fire-sensitive tree species that survives wildfire through fire-induced seed release (serotiny). On sites subject to severe fire, most mature cypresses were killed, the canopy opened, and seedlings established abundantly. Their results firmly establish Arizona cypress as a fire-sensitive but fire-embracing species that depends on stand-replacing fire (the loss of overstory trees) for regeneration.

“A drier future with more frequent wildfires could pose serious threats to all New World cypresses if these species do not have enough time between fire events to reach sexual maturity,” Poulos explained.

The second paper, titled “Invasive species and carbon flux: the case of invasive beavers (Castor canadensis) in riparian Nothofagus forests of Tierra del Fuego, Chile” was published in the February issue of Climatic Change. It is coauthored by biology major Chloe Papier ’17 and Alejandro Kusch of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Punta Arenas, Chile.

For this study, Papier completed a month of fieldwork in Patagonia on a College of the Environment winter fellowship.

The researchers documented the effects of invasive North American beavers (Castor canadensis) on carbon sequestration of riparian Nothofagus forests in Tierra del Fuego, Chile. Their results suggest that beaver invasion can result in major differences between aboveground carbon in invaded versus un-invaded forest stands.

Gary Yohe, professor of economics; the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies; and professor, environmental studies; serves as the coeditor in chief of the journal.

Jacobsen Named President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Joyce Jacobsen

Joyce Jacobsen

On Feb. 8, President Michael Roth announced in a campus-wide email that Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Joyce Jacobsen will become the president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., beginning July 1.

In announcing Jacobsen’s appointment as president, Hobart and William Smith’s Board of Trustees Chair Thomas Bozzuto said, “President Jacobsen is a prominent scholar and an esteemed educator with a deep understanding of the interdisciplinary inquiry so vital to our mission here at Hobart and William Smith. In her work with students and colleagues in the academy, and with preeminent national and international organizations, she has distinguished herself as a remarkable leader with the experience, values, and vision to pilot the Colleges to new heights.”

Jacobsen joined Wesleyan’s Economics Department in 1993 and has contributed to the University in myriad ways—as a scholar, teacher, and administrator—since that time.

In the all-campus email, Roth wrote, “As a leader of the University, Joyce has touched nearly every aspect of university operations—overseeing the entire academic enterprise at Wesleyan, including Athletics, Institutional Research, and Community Partnerships. She has also been a thoughtful contributor to student affairs and equity and inclusion, and has helped create fundraising and stewardship plans and collaborated on admission and enrollment strategies.”

Plous Honored with Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Minnesota

Scott Plous

For his accomplishments in research and scholarship, the University of Minnesota’s Department of Psychology is honoring Professor of Psychology Scott Plous with a Distinguished Alumni Award.

Plous graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1980 with a BA degree in psychology, summa cum laude. He later completed a PhD in psychology and a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University. At Wesleyan, Plous’s research focuses on judgment and decision-making, prejudice and discrimination, and the human use of animals and the environment.

The University of Minnesota’s alumni awards honor distinguished alumni from the undergraduate and graduate programs. Nominations are solicited from alumni, faculty, and friends of psychology at Minnesota and are reviewed by a Distinguished Alumni Awards Committee, who forward their recommendations to the department chair.

“This award recognizes [Plous’s] distinguished accomplishments in research and scholarship, both basic and applied, as well as in education and enhancing public awareness and impact of psychological science and practice,” wrote Jeffry Simpson, chair of the University of Minnesota’s psychology department, and Mark Snyder of the Distinguished Alumni Awards Committee, in an award letter to Plous. “Your achievements are truly distinguished, and we are so pleased to have you among our truly distinguished alumni.”

Q&A with Amy Grillo on Education Studies

In addition to teaching at Wesleyan, Amy Grillo works with a nonprofit media/production company that makes films about teaching and teachers. “Our aim is to make visible the actual work of excellent teaching … (and) also to inform and inspire those currently in the classroom or those considering the profession.”

In this Q&A, we speak with Amy Grillo, associate professor of the practice in education studies. This spring, she is teaching Schools in Society and Practicum in Education Studies.

Q: You joined Wesleyan’s faculty during the fall 2018 semester. Welcome to Wesleyan! What are your overall thoughts so far on the University?

A: I keep pinching myself, which is to say that I am incredibly happy to have landed here. I’ve found the students to be lively and engaged, both with their academic work and with the world beyond Wesleyan. The staff and faculty seem similarly energetic and positive. I was most impressed getting to know this year’s batch of new faculty during orientation in August because they seemed to hit the ground with a natural interest in collaborating and supporting each other in both teaching and research, and very open to thinking creatively about pedagogy. Few things could make me happier than working with people who care about teaching as much as I do.

Q: What led you to Wesleyan? Where were you working/teaching prior to Wesleyan?

A: Immediately prior to coming to Wesleyan, I spent six years at Mount Holyoke College, where I taught in the Psychology & Education Department and also in the graduate Master of Arts in Teaching Program. That was supposed to be a one-year visiting faculty gig, but it kept expanding. Prior to that, I was a core faculty member at Vermont College, an unorthodox, low-residency BA program for working adult students. This was an amazing little college, where students met all the requirements of a liberal arts degree by designing and conducting a series of 16-credit interdisciplinary independent studies with the guidance of a faculty mentor and a group of peers. We did teacher education through this model as well, which was a wonderful way to prepare teachers who know how to break out of the boxes that the current system of public education so often puts them in. I’ve also taught at places ranging from Harvard to Hampshire College, I’ve served as senior class dean at Mount Holyoke, and I was a dean of students at the tiny, democratically run, progressive Marlboro College, in Vermont. In all of these settings, my work has always been about looking closely at how we think about and conduct various processes of teaching and learning. So, when I saw that Wesleyan was looking for someone to work with the Center for Pedagogical Innovation and develop and teach courses in education studies, it seemed too good to be true.

Detroit Native Slobin Pens New Book on the Motor City’s Musical History

Mark Slobin, the Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music, Emeritus, is the author of Motor City Music: A Detroiter Looks Back, published by Oxford University Press (November 2018).

Slobin’s book is the first-ever historical study of music across all genres in any American metropolis.

According to the publisher:

Detroit in the 1940s–60s was not just “the capital of the 20th century” for industry and the war effort, but also for the quantity and extremely high quality of its musicians, from jazz to classical to ethnic.

Slobin, a Detroiter from 1943, begins with a reflection of his early life with his family and others, then weaves through the music traffic of all the sectors of a dynamic and volatile city. Looking first at the crucial role of the public schools in fostering talent, Motor City Music surveys the neighborhoods of older European immigrants and of the later huge waves of black and white southerners who migrated to Detroit to serve the auto and defense industries. Jazz stars, polka band leaders, Jewish violinists, and figures like Lily Tomlin emerge in the spotlight. Shaping institutions, from the Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers through radio stations and Motown, all deployed music to bring together a city rent by relentless segregation, policing, and spasms of violence. The voices of Detroit’s poets, writers, and artists round out the chorus.

Slobin grew up with classical and folk music backgrounds. His early work on folk music of Afghanistan shifted to studies of Eastern European Jewish music in Europe and America, film music, and theory of ethnomusicology.

 

Boulware Presents Paper on Labor Market Conditions at Economics Meeting

Karl Boulware

Karl Boulware

Karl Boulware, assistant professor of economics, presented a paper at the Allied Social Science Associations (ASSA) Annual Meeting on Jan. 4. The three-day meeting was attended by more than 13,000 economists, who gathered to network and celebrate new achievements in economic research.

Boulware’s paper, titled “Labor Market Conditions and Charges of Discrimination: Is There a Link?” examines whether the degree of labor market conditions affects the frequency of claims of discrimination based on race, sex, age, national origin, color, and disability.

“Our findings have implications for how macroeconomic policies might be used to promote equal opportunity in the labor market,” Boulware explained.

Economics majors Will Levinson ’19 and Avi Lipton ’20 also contributed to the project as research assistants.

This spring, Boulware is teaching courses on Quantitative Methods in Economics and Monetary Policy Transmission.

Murillo’s Poem Featured in American Poetry Review

John Murillo (Photo courtesy of American Poetry Review)

New poetry by John Murillo, assistant professor of English, is published in the Feb. 2019 issue (Volume 48, No. 1) of American Poetry Review. Murillo also is featured on the publication’s cover page.

His poem, titled “A Refusal to Mourn the Deaths, by Gunfire, of Three Men in Brooklyn,” is a nod to Dylan Thomas’s famous poem, “A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London.”

Bloom Creates New Memoir and Personal Essay Specialization on Coursera

Amy Bloom

Amy Bloom, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, recently launched a new nonfiction writing course housed on the Coursera platform. This is Wesleyan’s 21st free massive, open, online course (MOOC) offered through Coursera.

Launched on Jan. 14, Bloom’s Memoir and Personal Essay: Write About Yourself Specialization shows participants how to write with confidence. Taught by award-winning essayists and memoirists, this specialization provides tips, prompts, exercises, readings, and challenges that prepare students to write compelling nonfiction.

Bloom, author of two New York Times best-sellers, also is professor of the practice in creative writing and professor of the practice, English. In this Q&A, Bloom discusses the new specialization. (The Q&A also appears on Coursera.)

Q: What is the Memoir and Personal Essay Specialization?

A: The Memoir and Personal Essay Specialization focuses on these two popular forms of creative writing about the self. One of the wonderful opportunities in this kind of work is that memory and observation are even more important than imagination and the ability to create fictional plot lines. Here, you weave all these skills together to help you put to paper the story you’ve always wanted to share.