Knight Foundation Supports Wesleyan Media Project

The Wesleyan Media Project received a grant of $74,851 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to track and analyze campaign ad spending in the 2014 midterm election cycle.

The project is directed by Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, along with Michael Franz of Bowdoin College and Travis Ridout of Washington State University. A resource for journalists, policymakers, scholars and voters, the project has worked to increase transparency in federal elections since it was established in 2010 with support from the Knight Foundation.

Petit Family Foundation Supports Green Street’s Science Summer Camp

A summer science camp for girls – featuring three Wesleyan faculty, several Wesleyan students and two teaching artists – will be supported by a new $10,000 grant from the Petit Family Foundation. The camp, a pilot program of the Green Street Arts Center, will expose about 10 local 5th grade girls to “real world examples of women in science” and introduce them to the wide variety of scientific careers.

“We still have a long way to go to achieve gender equality in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields,” said Sara MacSorley, Green Street’s director. “We want to support young girls in our community. A key piece to increasing the number of women in the sciences is to provide role models and support systems.”

The idea for the camp was born out of conversations MacSorley had last year with several Wesleyan faculty around connecting the PIMMS (Project to Increase Mastery of Mathematics and Science) program at Green Street to research going on in campus labs.

Those faculty – Erika Taylor, assistant professor of chemistry, assistant professor of environmental studies;  Christina Othon, assistant professor of physics; and Ruth Johnson, assistant professor of biology — will teach in the camp, assisted by Wesleyan students from their respective departments. Teaching artists Lindsay Behrens and Meredith Arcari, who work in Green Street’s Science and Art AfterSchool Program, will help include the arts integration approach to learning science concepts.

The campers will be chosen from among the current AfterSchool students at Green Street. With the help of the Wesleyan teaching assistants , they’ll do hands-on experiments, art projects and a final science show for family and friends.

“An evaluation piece – this is really cool – will be to have the girls draw a picture of a scientist at the very beginning, before they interact with any of the faculty or students,” MacSorley said. “Then at the end of the week, we’ll ask them to complete the same task. This exercise has been done in other places with surprisingly diverse results.”

The Green Street project was chosen from among 40 proposals this year to the Petit Family Foundation. To read more about the foundation go here.


Oliver Received NIH Grant for Protein Translocation Research

Professor Don Oliver received a three-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) (R15) for his research titled “Mechanism of SecA-dependent protein translocation.” The grant, worth $374,148, was awarded on April 15.

Oliver is the Daniel Ayres Professor of Biology and professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

NASA Grant Supports Herbst’s Observations with Spitzer Space Telescope

Bill Herbst, the John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy, director of graduate studies, received a $5,000 grant from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to support observations with the Spitzer Space Telescope. The title of the proposal is “Planet Formation in the Circumbinary Disk of KH 15D.”

Herbst and his colleagues are measuring the brightness of the T Tauri binary system KH 15D covering several important missing orbital phases around minimum light and one near maximum. Data is crucial to understanding the mechanisms behind the observed reddening in the system, which has implications for planetformation and disk evolution.

Learn more about this study online here.


Center for Prison Education Receives $300,000 Grant from Ford Foundation

The Center for Prison Education has received a grant of $300,000 from the Ford Foundation, supporting the continuation of the program which has delivered a Wesleyan education to Connecticut prisons since 2009.

The grant will not only help fund the classes taught at the Cheshire and York Correctional Institutions, but also support CPE’s re-entry services, which assist students who complete their sentences in continuing their college education post-release.

“Support from the Ford Foundation recognizes the necessity of bringing educational opportunities to our prisons, the success of the Center for Prison Education’s model for doing so, and the ability of incarcerated students to meet the challenges of even the most demanding liberal arts education,” said Dara Young, manager of the CPE.

College of Film and the Moving Image Secures Challenge Grant with Mellon Foundation

Wesleyan’s College of Film and the Moving Image includes the Film Studies Department, the Center for Film Studies, the Cinema Archives and the Wesleyan Film Series.

Wesleyan’s College of Film and the Moving Image includes the Film Studies Department, the Center for Film Studies, the Cinema Archives and the Wesleyan Film Series.

This month, the College of Film and the Moving Image (CFMI) secured a $2 million challenge grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

If Wesleyan is able to raise $4 million for the College over the next four years, the Mellon Foundation will offer an additional $2 million gift.

In 2011, Wesleyan’s Center for the Humanities received a similar challenge grant from the Mellon Foundation. Through support from generous donors, Wesleyan completed that match in 2013, establishing an endowment for the Center for the Humanities for the first time in its 50-year history.

The CFMI is dedicated to advancing understandings of the moving image in all its forms—film, television and digital media—through pedagogy, scholarship, community outreach and historical preservation. The focus throughout is on the study and practice of visual storytelling, and the model of a close-knit, interactive college is well suited to the inherently collaborative nature of work in the world of film, television and digital media.

Department of Defense Supports Kottos’ Symmetric Optics Research

Tsampikos Kottos, the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Physics, received a $575,000 grant from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research‘s Multidisciplinary University Research Program (MURI). MURI is a basic research program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The award will support Kottos’ study on “PT-Summetric Optical Materials” through April 2017. During this time, Kottos will develop a theoretical framework for Parity-Time (PT) Symmetric Optics using mainly polymetric platforms. Additionally, efforts will be made towards identifying other platforms/areas where PT-Symmetric ideas can be applied. Kottos will be coordinating his research with faculty at the University of Central Florida, Rice University, Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Utah.

“We plan to explore a variety of opportunities provided by this reflection symmetry for a new generation of photonic materials, structures and devices that will exhibit novel optical properties and functionalities,” Kottos said. “We plan to pursue prospects in the areas of open quantum systems, plasmonics, and transformation optics. Our results may be also applicable to ultrasonics where stealth properties are often desired.”

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research granted six other awards to various academic institutions to perform multidisciplinary basic research. The AFOSR awards, totaling $67.5 million, are the result of the Fiscal Year 2013 competition conducted by AFOSR, the Army Research Office, and the Office of Naval Research under the Department of Defense’s MURI Program.

State Grant Supports Intel Math Institute Hosted by PIMMS, Green Street

PIMMS/ Green Street Director Sara MacSorley and Assistant Professor of Mathematics Christopher Rasmussen.

PIMMS/ Green Street Director Sara MacSorley and Assistant Professor of Mathematics Christopher Rasmussen.

A new state grant will support the creation of an Intel Math Institute for local teachers at Wesleyan starting this summer. The Project to Increase Mastery of Mathematics and Science (PIMMS), a partner of the Green Street Arts Center, will develop the course for Middletown and Meriden teachers, supported by the Connecticut State Mathematics and Science Partnership grant of $158,483.

The Institute will pair an intensive, 80-hour math course with ongoing academic-year professional development and arts integration workshops, to help teachers link Common Core concepts to classroom instruction. Artists from Wesleyan’s Green Street Arts Center will take the math course alongside the teachers and develop workshops for K-8 educators that integrate the arts into math instruction.

“The arts, like science and math, build skills in observation, visual thinking, pattern recognition, and problem-solving – all valuable skills for the next generation,” said PIMMS and Green Street Arts Center Director Sara MacSorley. “We want to create a space for interdisciplinary teaching and learning. This is the first time we’ve formally integrated the arts into a math professional development opportunity.”

The Institute will be co-taught by Christopher Rasmussen, assistant professor of mathematics, and Math Education Specialist Sharon Heyman, currently the only Intel-trained instructors based in Connecticut. Rasmussen taught an Intel Math course to teachers in the Danbury, Conn. area in 2013.

“I am proud and thrilled that Wesleyan has been awarded a Connecticut State Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant to implement an Intel Math Institute,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth. “We have long practiced interdisciplinary math and science education on campus, and we are eager to share what we’ve learned with teachers from across the state.”

PIMMS, with 35 years of demonstrated experience in delivering high-quality professional development for math and science teachers, will lead this partnership. MacSorley will serve as project coordinator. She  cited the award as a model for the state’s commitment to maintaining  workforce competitiveness through improved math and science instruction – with an arts-integration twist.

(Photo of Sara MacSorley by Catherine Avalone/ The Middletown Press)

Mellon Grant to Support Creative Campus, Institute for Curatorial Practice

The Center for the Arts received a $750,000 grant to support the development of new work by a range of diverse artists, interdisciplinary collaborations, co-teaching initiatives and arts-based campus-wide projects of the Creative Campus Initiative, as well as the ICPP, the University’s post-graduate program.

The Center for the Arts received a $750,000 grant to support the development of new work by a range of diverse artists, interdisciplinary collaborations, co-teaching initiatives and arts-based campus-wide projects of the Creative Campus Initiative, as well as the ICPP, the University’s post-graduate program.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts a $750,000 grant to support the Creative Campus Initiative and the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance.

Half a million dollars of the $750,000 grant will be matched by $1 million to be raised to endow continued cross-disciplinary Creative Campus activities. With support from Wesleyan alumni, the fundraising campaign to meet this challenge is being launched on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the CFA during the 2013-14 season.

“This terrific grant is a recognition of the critical role the arts play at Wesleyan,” said President Michael S. Roth. “The CFA understands art as fundamental to a liberal education and its Creative Campus Initiative makes arts accessible to students and faculty in all disciplines; the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance supports an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approach to performance. Both of these programs contribute to the rich artistic life at Wesleyan and have impact far beyond campus as well.”

The grant will support the development of new work by a range of diverse artists, interdisciplinary collaborations, co-teaching initiatives and arts-based campus-wide projects of the Creative Campus Initiative, as well as the ICPP, the university’s post-graduate program.

“With this leadership support, we will be able to continue forging powerful connections between numerous faculty in different departments and between faculty and visiting artists, so that the arts are more deeply integrated into non-arts areas at Wesleyan for the benefit of our students,” said Pamela Tatge, Director of the CFA. “We will also be able to extend the reach of the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance through a field-wide convening this July.”

The event on July 25 will underscore ICPP’s commitment to the evolving field of performance curation, and will affirm its role as a leading proponent of curatorial inquiry, addressing  contemporary performance through a variety of institutional platforms and intersections with other disciplines. Designed for presenters, curators, artists and members of the cultural community, the day-long symposium will include panel discussions, artist lectures/performances, and interactive work-sessions.

The Mellon Foundation previously awarded the Center for the Arts a grant in July 2010 to help support the expansion of the Creative Campus Initiative’s cross-disciplinary exchanges, development of new courses, and student engagement in a wide variety of opportunities to make, experience and understand art; as well as support the planning and partial funding to launch the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance to enhance professional practice in the presenting field.

The goals of the Creative Campus Initiative at Wesleyan are to provide arts experiences for students that illuminate issues of cultural and societal concern; to allow students to integrate arts research and practice into their work in other disciplines; to provide non-arts faculty with the tools to involve integration of artistic research methods and modes of inquiry; and to support artists in theater, music and dance (both faculty artists and visiting artists) who work with scholars and materials in non-arts areas in ways that will advance the artists’ own research, and extend the arts into new areas of campus curricular and co-curricular life.

CFA Receives Funding for Muslim Women Voices Project

The Center for the Arts has received a grant of $200,000 to support the Muslim Women Voices Project during its 2014-2015 season. The project, part of the Creative Campus initiative, will present theater, music and dance performances by women from nine different countries.

The award, announced Jan. 10, is from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, a national service and advocacy group.

APAP distributes the grants (Wesleyan’s CFA is one of six organizations chosen this year), which are funded through the Building Bridges program of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

Building Bridges supports groups creating interdisciplinary and community collaborations expanding awareness of Muslim culture. 

“An essential part of Wesleyan’s mission as a residential undergraduate institution is ‘to build a diverse, energetic community of students, faculty, and staff who think critically and creatively and who value independence of mind and generosity of spirit,'” said Pamela Tatge,  director of the CFA. “This project will feature extraordinary artists from around the globe and will assist us in building a more inclusive and dynamic campus community while at the same time catalyzing important dialogues within our region.”

Along with the performances, a series of events including workshops, lectures, informal talks and meals with the artists will take place. Curricular projects will include work in Religion and French Studies and two new courses, the CFA said.

An artist will be commissioned to guide Wesleyan students and Muslim community members in creating a theatrical work; the team will conduct interviews with Muslim women and weave the gathered stories into a structure that integrates documentary theater, talk show, cabaret and traditional storytelling.

For the project, the CFA has partnered with Wesleyan’s Music Department, Dance Department, Religion Department, Psychology Department Culture and Emotion Lab, French Studies, Middle Eastern Studies Certificate Program, South Asia Studies, Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, the Center for Community Partnerships, the Green Street Arts Center, the Turath House (a student program house), and the Muslim Students’ Association; and with community and national partners including the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut, the Hartford Seminary, and the Al-Rawiya Foundation.



Sumarsam Awarded AIFIS Grant for Performing Arts



Ethnomusicologist Sumarsam, University Professor of Music, received a Henry Luce Fellowship grant worth $5,000 from the American Institute for Indonesian Studies (AIFIS) in January 2014 for his research on “Expressing and Contesting Java-Islam Encounters in the Performing Arts.”

Since 2001 due to global geo-politics, issues of religion and culture have been highlighted, especially within Muslim cultures that were repositioning in non-normative ways.

“This adjustment, the popular if historically flawed perception of Islam as ‘against performing arts’ has made for significant dialogue about performing arts,” Sumarsam said. “Inserted in a taking its cue from global dialogue between wahabi Islam and westernized global culture in a nation reasserting its own spiritual and national identity in the aftermath of the 1998 ouster of the repressive Suharto regime, this study will focus on the discourse around the performing arts in Java/Indonesia and Islam.”

Sumarsam will focus his research on the use of wayang puppet performances as a proselytizing tool (dakwah) that involves three component tiers of hybridity: Java, Islam, and Western. In this dakwah, the preacher incorporates wayang to reenact stories based on Hindu epics but frames them in the context of Java-Islam. Many of these performances are accompanied not by traditional gamelan music, but by a Western rock band, yet the band performs gamelan compositions, alongside the repertoire of Java-Western popular music.

CFA Receives Grant to Support Community Partnerships

A $10,000 grant from the state of Connecticut will support local partnerships or “placemaking” by Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts in 2014. The grant, announced this week, will be used to support CFA performances in February and March.

The Arts Leadership grant is one of 104 to organizations and individuals around the state as part of the Arts Catalyze Placemaking program of the state’s department of economic and community development. The program was created to invest in the state’s arts-based cultural activities, advancing the attractiveness and competitiveness of Connecticut communities.

“Supporting the arts in our community is an important part of promoting better quality of life for our residents and ensuring local artists can succeed,” said State Rep. Matthew Lesser.

The performances at Wesleyan include, on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, the New England premiere of the dance work “Times Bones” by San Francisco’s Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, and the Connecticut debut by Vadym Kholodenko, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Gold Medalist.  The 15th annual DanceMasters Weekend, March 8-9, will also be supported by the grant.

The Center for the Arts has partnered with the Connecticut Dance Alliance, Middletown Senior Center, Moody Elementary School and the Green Street Arts Center to include classes during DanceMasters for seniors and children. Several Middletown restaurants will offer special fixed-price menus for dinner on Valentine’s Day, after which patrons can choose to attend either the dance performance or the classical music concert. Participating restaurants will include La Boca Mexican Restaurant and Cantina, Tibetan Kitchen Restaurant, Typhoon Restaurant, and The Nest.

“This grant will enable Wesleyan to connect more deeply with Middletown residents and businesses. We’re excited to have children from Moody and Green Street take classes with Brandon ‘Peace’ Albright, a master hip hop artist from Philadelphia, and have Middletown seniors experience the artistry of Middletown’s own Broadway veteran, Carolyn Kirsch,” said Pamela Tatge, Director of the Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University. “The grant will also enable us to promote patronage of area restaurants to people traveling to Wesleyan from all over the state to attend our Valentine’s Day performances.”