Grants

Art History Research Team Led by Mark Wins Major Grant

Peter Mark on the summit of the Ortler, the highest mountain in the Italian Sudtirol, in August. At Wesleyan, Mark teaches a course on “The Mountains and Art History.” (Contributed photo)

Peter Mark on the summit of the Ortler, the highest mountain in the Italian Sudtirol, in August. At Wesleyan, Mark teaches a course on “The Mountains and Art History.” (Contributed photo)

An international research team headed by Professor of Art History Peter Mark has been awarded a grant for a project titled “African Ivories in the Atlantic World.” The $115,000 three-year grant from the Portuguese Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) will make it possible for the research team to carry out the first laboratory analyses of selected ivories, in order to determine more precisely the age and the provenance of these little-known artworks. In addition, team members will compile the first comprehensive catalogue of “Luso-African ivories” in Portuguese collections, as well as the first thorough study of those carvings that were exported to Brazil at an early date.

Mark is the co-founder and director of the research group, based in Lisbon, Portugal.

Grants Support New CEAS Faculty Positions, Japanese Language Databases

With support from The Japan Foundation, Wesleyan acquired three electronic databases including JapanKnowledge, a large collection of language dictionaries, encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries, and other Japanese reference works for Japanese-only searches of historical terms and figures. It includes abbreviate version of the Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan in English and full-text coverage of the Toyo Bunko and Shan Ekonomisuto (Weekly Economist).

With support from The Japan Foundation, Wesleyan acquired three electronic databases including JapanKnowledge, a large collection of language dictionaries, encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries, and other Japanese reference works for Japanese-only searches of historical terms and figures. It includes an abbreviated version of the Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan in English and full-text coverage of the Toyo Bunko and Shan Ekonomisuto (Weekly Economist).

The College of East Asian Studies (CEAS) received two major, multi-year grant awards to hire new faculty and improve library resources.

The Korea Foundation has awarded the CEAS a $314,330 five-year grant to support the hiring of a tenure-track faculty member in Korean political economy. The mission of The Korea Foundation is to promote better understanding of Korea within the international community and to increase friendship and goodwill between Korea and the rest of the world through various exchange programs. Located in Seoul, the foundation was established in 1991 with the aim to enhance the image of Korea in the world and also to promote academic and cultural exchange programs.

The Japan Foundation grant also supports the Yomiuri Shinbun, a full text database of the Yomiuri Shinbun from its initial publication in 1874 to date, as well as full text of the Daily Yomiuri, its English language equivalent, and a biographical dictionary of modern Japanese figures.

The Japan Foundation grant also supports the Yomiuri Rekishikan, a full text database of the Yomiuri Shinbun newspaper from its initial publication in 1874 to date.

The Japan Foundation has awarded the CEAS a four-year grant to support a tenure-track faculty position in pre-modern Japanese literature as well as fund the library’s acquisition of new Japanese language digital materials, managed by EunJoo Lee, head of access services, at Olin Library. During the first year, Wesleyan will receive $197,125.

The new databases include JapanKnowledge, a large collection of language dictionaries, encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries, and other Japanese reference works for Japanese-only searches of historical terms and figures; the Kikuzo II Visual for Libraries Database, which provides access to the newspaper Asahi Shimbun (full text from 1984 to the present); and the Yomidas Rekishikan database, which provides the full text of the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun from its initial publication in 1874 to date, as well as full text of the Daily Yomiuri, its English language equivalent, and a biographical dictionary of modern Japanese figures.

The Japan Foundation, based in Tokyo, aims to deepen the mutual understanding between the people of Japan and other countries/regions. The foundation was established in 1972 as a special legal entity supervised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the objective of promoting international cultural exchange through a comprehensive range of programs in all regions of the world.

The faculty searches for both faculty positions will begin this fall with the new hires starting in the fall of 2016.

Mary Alice Haddad, chair of the College of East Asian Studies, professor of government, associate professor of environmental studies, is overseeing the CEAS awards.

NSF Supports Thomas’s Study on the Impact of Rapid Carbon Emissions on Global Climate

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas, the University Professor in the College of Integrative Sciences, received a grant in August from the National Science Foundation to support her research on “Evaluating Deep-Sea Ventilation and the Global Carbon Cycle during early Paleocene Hyperthemals.”

The $105,000 award is part of a combined $619,000 grant shared with Yale University and the University of Texas at Arlington.

Rapid, short-term global warming events in the Early Paleogene (~65-45 million years ago) were caused by massive greenhouse gas release into the ocean-atmosphere system. These warming events, called hyperthermals, had far-reaching effects on the evolution of life on Earth, ecosystems and the carbon cycle. The most extreme of these events was the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (~55.5 million years ago). Hyperthermals resemble what could happen during anthropogenic climate change, and provide analogs for the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and their long-term effects on life on Earth.

By testing earth system interactions during the Paleogene hyperthermals, this interdisciplinary project will provide new insight into the impact of rapid carbon emissions on global climate—carbon cycle feedbacks and extremes in climate.

In this three-year collaborative project, new biotic, isotopic and trace element proxies will be integrated with existing data into a state-of-the-art, high-resolution, comprehensive earth system model to test the hypothesis that deep-sea ventilation released a massive amount of carbon from the refractory dissolved organic matter (DOM) pool during hyperthermal events, increasing atmospheric CO2 levels, thus amplifying climate change through carbon-cycle feedback.

“We will investigate the environmental response (e.g., ocean acidification and deoxygenation) and its impact on pelagic ecosystem structure for three Paleogene hyperthermals with different magnitude and duration,” Thomas explained. “The project will focus on a key mechanism involving remineralization of organic matter and oxidation of the DOM pool in the ocean, with potentially major implications for future climate evolution.”

Petit Family Foundation Supports Women in Physics Conference

On July 15, the Petit Family Foundation awarded Wesleyan’s Physics Department with a $5,000 grant to support the 2016 Northeast Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP). Pictured, from left is Kimberly Petit, Chris Othon, William Petit and Meredith Hughes.

On July 15, the Petit Family Foundation awarded Wesleyan’s Physics Department with a $5,000 grant to support the 2016 Northeast Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP). Pictured, from left is Kimberly Petit, Chris Othon, William Petit and Meredith Hughes.

On July 15, the Petit Family Foundation awarded Wesleyan’s Physics Department with a $5,000 grant to support the 2016 Northeast Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP). The three-day conference, scheduled for January 15-17, 2016, will showcase career opportunities available to physicists through plenary talks, panel discussions and a career fair. Attendees will have the opportunity to network and interact with more than 200 fellow undergraduate women physicists as well as a variety of industrial and academic leaders.

Chris Othon, assistant professor of physics, and Meredith Hughes, assistant professor of astronomy, are co-organizing the conference with help from Nisha Grewal ’17 (physics/economics) and Julia Zachary ’17 (physics/astronomy). The group is planning a career fair representing regional technology companies and graduate physics programs.

The 2016 CUWiP will be held at nine different sites including Wesleyan, Black Hills State University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Old Dominion University – Jefferson Laboratory, Ohio State University, Oregon State University, Syracuse University, the University of California – San Diego, and the University of Texas – San Antonio. For more information visit the CUWiP website.

NIH Grant will Support Taylor’s Drug Treatment Research

Erika Taylor

Erika Taylor

On June 15, Erika Taylor, assistant professor of chemistry, assistant professor of environmental studies, received a grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (part of the National Institutes of Health) to support her research on “Inhibition of (the enzyme) HeptosyltransferaseI for the treatment of Gram-negative bacterial infection.” Gram-Negative bacteria include things like E. coli, Salmonella, and V. cholerae (the cause of Cholera) that are common causes of food-bourne illnesses.

The grant, worth $492,000 will enable her to engage multiple graduate and undergraduate students in the proposed work through June 2018. Preliminary results for this project were obtained with the help of graduate student Joy Cote and Dan Czyzyk PhD ’15; and undergraduates Zarek Siegel ’16, Keonmin Hwang ’16, Noreen Nkosana BA ’11, MA ’13, and several others.

The current widespread use and misuse of antimicrobials has led to the emergence of bacterial resistance to many commonly used antibiotics, necessitating development of new drug targets. Lipopolysaccharides, a major constituent of the Gram-negative bacterial outer membrane, important for cell motility, intestinal colonization and bacterial biofilms formation, contribute substantively to antibiotic resistance by hampering antibiotic uptake. Inhibiting the synthesis of bacterial lipopolysaccharides results in bacteria that are unable to form biofilms and are more susceptible to antimicrobials.

The LPS heptosyltransferase enzymes investigated as part of this proposal are therefore potential targets for the inhibition of bacterial biofilm formation and the development of therapeutic agents.

“Every morning when you wake, you have a bacterial biofilm on your teeth,” Taylor explained. “Also, when you see/feel slime on a rock at the shore that too is likely from a bacterial biofilm (so long as it isn’t being caused by algae).”

Bacteria grow in biofilms to help enable survival under harsh conditions (including things like drying out, being exposed to highly acidic environments as happens in our mouths; biofilms also help bacteria resist UV-radiation and antibiotic treatments).

The project is intended to lead to the development of new antimicrobials for the treatment of Gram-negative bacterial infections. The long-term goal of this work is the development of new drugs for the treatment of these infections, Taylor said. This work also could help in the prevention of secondary infections transmitted in hospitals because of the prevention of bacterial biofilms on things like catheters.

Loui Receives $200K Grant from Imagination Institute

Psyche Loui is assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior.

Psyche Loui is assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior.

Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, was awarded a $200,000 grant from the Imagination Institute’s Advancing the Science of Imagination: Toward an “Imagination Quotient” initiative. She will use the grant for the first longitudinal neuroscience study on the development of aesthetic creativity through jazz improvisation.

Loui’s was one of 16 projects to receive funding, out of an initial pool of 251 who expressed interest.

Learn more in this press release.

Grant Supports Kirn’s Research on Adult Neurogenesis

John Kirn

Professor John Kirn recently received a three-year $225,000 grant from the Whitehall Foundation to look at the activity patterns of vocal control neurons formed in adult zebra finches. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

#THISISWHY

It may not be the most beautiful, or the most complex, or the most well known, but the simple song of the zebra finch is helping Professor John Kirn learn more about how new information is acquired and old information preserved during adult neurogenesis.

Krishnan Receives Choreomundus Scholars in Residence Award

Professor Hari Krishnan recently received a prestigious award and residency at  the University of Roehampton.

Professor Hari Krishnan recently received a prestigious award and residency at the University of Roehampton.
(photo c/o Stephen De Las Heras)

Hari Krishnan, assistant professor of dance, recently received the Choreomundus Scholars in Residence Award, which will support a three-week residence at the University of Roehampton in London, beginning May 18. During his residency, Krishnan will teach and mentor Choreomundus students who are working on their final project.

(photo c/o Michael Slobodian)

(photo c/o Michael Slobodian)

Krishnan expressed excitement over his award: “I am delighted and honored to be one of two recipients of the prestigious Erasmus Mundus grant for visiting scholars to the “Choreomundus International Masters in Dance Knowledge, Practice and Heritage” at the University of Roehampton’s Department of Dance in London.”

Rutland to Serve as Visiting Professor at University of Manchester With Grant

Peter Rutland

Peter Rutland

Peter Rutland, the Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, has won an $85,000 grant from the Leverhulme Trust to serve as a visiting professor at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom in 2016. There, he will be working on a research project titled, “Visualizing the Nation” with Manchester professors Vera Tolz and Stephen Hutchings.

The Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Manchester is a leading institution in the study of Russian television and mass media.

Rutland is also professor of government, professor of Russian and Eastern European studies, tutor in the College of Social Studies. From May to June 2015, he will be a visiting scholars in the Centre for European Studies at Australian National University in Canberra.

ICPP Receives $100K Doris Duke Grant

Wesleyan's Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP) has received a $100K grant from the Doris Duke Foundation.

Wesleyan’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP) has received a $100K grant from the Doris Duke Foundation.

Wesleyan’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP) has been awarded a four-year, $100,000 grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to support the participation of low-income students and students of color in ICPP’s master’s and certificate programs through the ICPP Scholarship Fund.

Founded in 2010 and housed at Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts, ICPP is a center for the academic study of the presentation and contextualization of contemporary performance, and offers an interdisciplinary, graduate-level education in innovative and relevant curatorial approaches to developing and presenting time-based art. Starting in July 2015, the institute will offer a master’s degree in performance curation. ICPP’s ten-month, post-graduate certificate program is now in its fourth year.

“We are extremely grateful for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s critical support for the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance’s expanded offerings,” said ICPP Director Samuel A. Miller ’75. “These funds will allow us to significantly enhance access to both our master’s and certificate programs.”

Hingorani Awarded Major NIH Research Grant

Manju Hingorani, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, was awarded a grant of $408,609 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the structure and mechanisms of DNA repair proteins responsible for fixing errors in the genetic code and preventing carcinogenesis.

The three-year grant will fund PhD and undergraduate students’ research on DNA mismatch repair (MMR). MMR corrects base mismatches and loops in DNA, and is therefore a critical guardian of genetic and cellular integrity. Defects in this essential, evolutionarily conserved DNA repair process cause high levels of mutations in the genome, which in turn lead to cancer. In humans, MMR defects manifest most frequently in a hereditary disorder known as Lynch Syndrome (LS), which substantially raises the risk of colorectal, endometrial and many other cancers.

A large number of MMR defects occur due to small, single-amino-acid changes in the MutS protein that initiates the repair reaction. Hinagorani’s research group has been investigating MMR proteins for the past 15 years. The group now has a detailed enough understanding of the MutS biochemical mechanism to determine how changing single amino acids affects MutS structure and function enough to disrupt MMR. In addition to experimental research, the project also builds on computational modeling done in collaboration with Joshua Boger University Professor of the Sciences and Mathematics David Beveridge’s group in the Chemistry Department, and Professor Saraswathi Vishveshwara’s group at the the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India. Beverage is also professor of chemistry. The researchers hope that by applying biochemical, biophysical and computational approaches in an interdisciplinary manner, students will gain new knowledge about MutS function and, thereby, a better understanding of the basis for its malfunction in cancer.

Astronomy Department Awarded Grants for Research

Seth Redfield, astronomy professor of astronomy, campus director of the NASA CT Space Grant Consortium, reports that several students and faculty have recently been awarded grants for their research in astronomy.  Photo c/o Redfield

Seth Redfield, assistant professor of astronomy, campus director of the NASA CT Space Grant Consortium, reports that several students and faculty have recently been awarded grants for their research in astronomy. (Photo c/o Redfield)

Several Wesleyan students and faculty were recently awarded grants for research by NASA’s Connecticut Space Grant Program. Seth Redfield, associate professor of astronomy and campus director of NASA’s CT Space Grant Consortium, was excited about the number of winners.

“I was thrilled to see how successful Wesleyan was this year in getting grants through NASA’s CT Space Grant program,” wrote Redfield. “It demonstrates the diversity and quality of work we do that is aligned with NASA’s mission.”

“The grants this year support undergraduate, graduate, and faculty research, as well as special events organized by faculty at Wesleyan to promote exposure and career development in STEM fields,” explained Redfield.