People

Hingorani Serves as NSF Program Director for the Biosciences

Manju Hingorani

Manju Hingorani

Manju Hingorani, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, is serving as the rotating program director at the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C. Her rotation concludes in August and she will resume teaching next fall.

The MCB supports quantitative, predictive and theory-driven fundamental research and related activities designed to promote understanding of complex living systems at the molecular, subcellular and cellular levels. MCB gives high priority to research projects that use theory, methods and technologies from physical sciences, mathematics, computational sciences and engineering to address major biological questions. Typical research supported by MCB integrates theory and experimentation.

“I look forward to advancing science from this very different and much broader perspective than usual. And it would be nice to become a more effective advocate for basic research and science education after this experience,” she said.

 

Staff on the Move February 2015

The Office of Human Resources reported the following new hires and departure for February 2015.

Newly hired
Michele Matera was hired as office assistant in the President’s Office on Feb. 16.
Joseph Buchino was hired as an athletic facility maintenance person on Feb. 23.

Departure
Dashaun Outlaw, public safety officer

Opalacz, LaPlant Honored with Cardinal Achievement Awards

#THISISWHY

Jennifer Opalacz, assistant director of alumni and parent relations, was recently presented with a Cardinal Achievement Award for her efforts in taking on greater responsibility for several high-profile, time sensitive projects that were critical to the success of the University Relations team. Opalacz also stepped up to take on additional project ownership for a team member who was out on leave.

“Jen is among the most conscientious, organized, and upbeat individuals with whom I’ve worked. She is well deserving of a Cardinal Achievement Award,” said Thomas Diascro, director of alumni and parent relations.

Lisa LaPlant, assistant to the president, was recently presented with a Cardinal Achievement Award for her initiative in coordinating the efforts of several individuals who were working independently on the Sasaki project into a cohesive group, which resulted in an extremely well organized and successful event on campus.

It took extraordinary effort to coordinate this event over a ten-day period. She pulled together all of the Sasaki meetings including a luncheon for more than 100 staff, faculty and students with talks by President Michael Roth and Sasaki principals. The luncheon was followed by workshops with six different groups focusing on particular questions. She coordinated meetings the next morning with Trustees and again at the formal meeting of the Board.

“She not only pulled all of this together and was there overseeing everything, she did it all at the second busiest time of the year – the winter meeting of the Board, on which she worked tirelessly,” said Charles Salas, director of strategic initiatives.

This special honor comes with a $250 award and reflects the university’s gratitude for those extra efforts. Award recipients are nominated by department chairs and supervisors.

Nominations can be made anytime throughout the year. For more information or to nominate a staff member for the award, visit the Cardinal Achievement Award website. Recipients will continue to be recognized in News @ Wesleyan. See past Cardinal Achievement Award recipients here.

Varekamp Elected Chair of Geology, Public Policy Committee

Joop Varekamp

Joop Varekamp

Johan “Joop” Varekamp, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, professor of earth and environmental sciences, was elected to be chair of the Geology and Public Policy Committee (GPPC) of the Geological Society of America (GSA). The group prepares position statements for GSA (e.g., on fracking, climate change). Varekamp has already made six congressional visits in March, visiting the offices of Senators Richard Blumenthal, Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey and Representative Rosa DeLauro. He does similar work as chairman of the board of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment / Save the Sound.

Varekamp also was elected to be the chair of the LimnoGeology (‘lakes’) division of GSA for the next two years, which involves organizing conferences and sessions at annual GSA meetings, and editing special volumes on lakes.

In addition, Varekamp received funding through the Keck Geology Consortium for a research project on the two crater lakes of Newberry volcano in Oregon. Varekamp will visit the lakes this summer with a group of student researchers from Wesleyan, Amherst, Colgate and Smith College.

Packer ’15 Creates Online Community to Unify Collegiate Sustainability Movement

Brent Packer '15 is the founder of Potlux, which is on track to be the first online community where collegiate sustainability initiatives are effectively aggregated and shared.

Brent Packer ’15 is the founder of Potlux, which is on track to be the first online community where collegiate sustainability initiatives are effectively aggregated and shared. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

#THISISWHY
In this News @ Wesleyan story, we speak with Brent Packer from the Class of 2015. 

Q: Brent, where are you from and what are you majoring in?

A: I was born and raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Growing up nearby Amish farms and having tortoises, dogs and a semi-domesticated duck scampering around my house piqued my environmental interests. At Wesleyan, I’m a member of the College of the Environment with a double major in economics and environmental studies.

Q: You are the founder of Potlux, an online community where collegiate sustainability initiatives are aggregated and shared. What is the community’s mission?

A: Our mission is to accelerate global environmental progress by unifying the collegiate sustainability movement. View our pitchdeck online.

Q: When did you come up with the idea for Potlux? When did you begin the project?

War Veteran, Posse Scholar Stascavage ’18 Pursuing Degree in Economics

Posse scholar Bryan Stascavage '18 served from August 2006 until March 2012 as a U.S. Army military intelligence analyst. He was deployed three times: twice to Iraq and once on a humanitarian aid mission in Haiti in 2010. Now Stascavage is a member of the Class of 2018 at Wesleyan. (Photo by Laurie Kenney)

Posse scholar Bryan Stascavage ’18 served from August 2006 until March 2012 as a U.S. Army military intelligence analyst. He was deployed three times: twice to Iraq and once on a humanitarian aid mission in Haiti in 2010. Now Stascavage is a member of the Class of 2018 at Wesleyan and is working towards a degree in economics. (Photo by Laurie Kenney)

While walking back to his room from Al-Faw Palace in Baghdad, Iraq, Bryan Stascavage ’18 remembers telling a friend about his plans for the future.

“When I get out of the military, I’m going back to college with a vengeance,” Stascavage said. “A perfect 4.0 GPA or bust. I’m not messing around and wasting this opportunity like I did my first time around.”

His first time in college, which he attended right after high school, had been an “unmitigated disaster,” Stascavage recalls. He only lasted three semesters with a GPA hovering around a 2.0. After taking a wide array of courses at several community colleges in Connecticut, and then working as an apprentice for a writer in California, Stascavage joined the military as an intelligence analyst in August 2006.

“I joined for personal and patriotic reasons: the war in Iraq was going poorly,

Cummings, McQueeney Honored with Cardinal Achievement Awards

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Linda Cummings, administrative assistant in the Sociology Department and for the Public Affairs Center, was recently presented with a Cardinal Achievement Award for her efforts in taking on the responsibility of cleaning the PAC basement storage rooms. These large rooms were so full of old furniture, papers, books and assorted other items that it was almost impossible to enter them. Cummings worked with Physical Plant to arrange for multiple rounds of removal of usable furniture, assisted current and emerti faculty with review of their stored materials, arranged with the university archivist to remove historical files of interest to the university, and arranged with the shredding contractor to make special pickups of sensitive material. This process took four months to complete.

“We now have clean usable storage space for short-term and medium-term faculty projects. This was a challenging and complicated special project, and Linda took initiative at numerous points to make sure the process moved forward. In addition, she was always cheerful and helpful during the process,” said Joyce Jacobsen, the Andrews Professor of Economics and dean of the Social Sciences and director of global initiatives.

Kris McQueeney, administrative assistant in the Government Department, was recently presented with a Cardinal Achievement Award for assisting three professors with a complicated office move. McQueeney took it upon herself to reconfigure the office space to accommodate three workstations in one office which included space for storing the books and papers for each of the professors. She worked out how to reconfigure the phones and computer lines and drew up a careful floor plan so as to be able to fit all three into one space.

“Thanks to Kris’s careful management of the process, the move was completed in a timely manner,” Jacobsen said.

McQueeney also monitored the storage space situation in the PAC basement areas that the Government Department had traditionally controlled, and took good advantage of the larger basement cleaning project this fall so as to clear out excess furniture in these rooms as well.

“Kris is always hardworking and efficient and I appreciate her willingness to pitch in and take responsibility to make sure challenging projects that require much coordination are completed on schedule,” Jacobsen said.

This special honor comes with a $250 award and reflects the university’s gratitude for those extra efforts. Award recipients are nominated by department chairs and supervisors.

Nominations can be made anytime throughout the year. For more information or to nominate a staff member for the award, visit the Cardinal Achievement Award website. Recipients will continue to be recognized in News @ Wesleyan. See past Cardinal Achievement Award recipients here.

Graduate Student Blasser Hand Crafts Analog Instruments

Graduate student Peter Blasser tunes one of his hand-crafted analog instruments. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Graduate student Peter Blasser tunes one of his hand-crafted analog instruments. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

#THISISWHY
In this Q&A, we speak with Peter Blasser, a music graduate student. 

Q: What was your first experiences with music? When did you decide that music would be your life work?

A: I was in elementary school in the 1980s when music programs were still part of the public school curriculum. I remember that those music classes were not very noteworthy at the time. In middle school I took a wood shop class and liked working with the tools. After taking classical civilization classes, I started to triangulate all three — I wanted to work with wood to make ancient Greek instruments to see what they sounded like. The first instruments I decided to recreate were ancient stringed instruments.

Blasser changes where the transistors are connected in order to tune the instrument.

Blasser changes where the transistors are connected in order to tune the instrument.

Q: Where did you complete your undergraduate studies?

A: I went to Oberlin College. I initially went as a classics major, but still had a passion for making classical instruments. Oberlin had a conservatory for music, and they offered introductory courses in electronic music. I started to use electronic music to model and tune classical instruments. I also was able to take a course in analog music, learning about transistors and electronics, and how they could be used to make music. This caused me to combine wood and analog electronics, which is all about the flow of the transistors.

Q: What did you do after graduating?

A: I purchased a home in Baltimore about 10 years ago as a space to work on my art. Fixing up the house was an artistic experience in of itself. I also started my own business where I sold analog instruments. I wasn’t making much money, so I spent a lot of time working on poetry, thinking of ideas for my business and exploring my philosophy. I also toured with my instruments, but didn’t like how much I had to promote myself and push my brand.

Q: Why did you choose Wesleyan for your graduate school?

Blasser likes to work with wood, which is frequently used in his instruments.

Blasser likes to work with wood, which is frequently used in his instruments.

A: I decided to attend Wesleyan after developing a friendship with Ron Kuivila, chair of the Music Department. After graduating from Oberlin I never thought I would return to school, but I found that I enjoyed giving lectures and helping other students make their instruments. I also like how Wesleyan’s music program, and art program in general, is experimental — there are no prejudices from students about what music should “be” like. The different departments are porous, there is mixing between different mediums and styles. This enables me to sit with undergraduates and help them make a piece that the student will own, with a shared experience. This made me realize that I enjoy teaching, and in order to become a professor, formal education is required.

Q: What are your plans after Wesleyan?

A: Right now my analog electronics business,

Steinberg ’16 Studies Effects of Artificial Feeders on Hummingbird Diversity, Interactions in Costa Rica

Hannah Steinberg '16 studied hummingbirds in Monteverde, Costa Rica  through the School for Field Studies.

Hannah Steinberg ’16 studied hummingbirds in Monteverde, Costa Rica through the School for Field Studies.

#THISISWHY
In this Q&A, we speak with Hannah Steinberg from the Class of 2016.

Q: Hannah, you studied abroad through the School for Field Studies’ (SFS) Costa Rica program in Spring 2014. Why did you choose this program and why did you decide to conduct research during your study abroad experience?

A: I chose SFS Costa Rica because I wanted to go to Latin America to improve my Spanish skills and get practical hands-on experience in biological science. Another cool part of the program was that it was situated on a sustainable orange and mango farm in central Costa Rica, but also took us on field trips around the country, and even to Nicaragua for a week.

Q: You were one of six students to receive SFS’s Distinguished Student Research Award this month. Please tell us about your research project, “Effect of Artificial Feeders on Hummingbird Diversity and Level of Interactions in Monteverde, Costa Rica.”

A: My research project was part of an ongoing study of the ecology of hummingbirds

McLaughlin ’15 Helps Students Discover Body-Mind Awareness through WesBAM! Classes

Katie McLaughlin '15 teaches a WesBAM! class called Vinyasa Flow Fusion, which combines meditation, breathing techniques and traditional asana practice for whole body health and happiness.

Katie McLaughlin ’15 teaches a WesBAM! class called Vinyasa Flow Fusion, which combines meditation, breathing techniques and traditional asana practice for whole body health and happiness.

In this Q&A we speak with Katie McLaughlin from the Class of 2015. (Story and photos by Hannah Norman ’16)

Q: Katie, what are you majoring in?

A: I’m majoring in French and environmental studies with the certificate in international relations. For my capstone project in the environmental studies major, I am researching the academic justifications of contemplative pedagogy and developing a curriculum which integrates it and movement-based learning into elementary school, high school and adult education. The goals of the curriculum are to explore the environment through physical inquiry and embodiment, reevaluate the ways we perceive ourselves as a part of, or apart from nature and reexamine how we interact with ourselves, our communities and the spaces we inhabit.

Q: You are a WesBAM! manager and yoga instructor on campus. Please explain what WesBAM! is all about.

A: Started by Renee Dunn ’14 and Shira Engel ’14, Wesleyan Body and Mind (WesBAM!) is a student-run organization that makes mind-body awareness and fitness accessible at Wesleyan by offering a wide variety of daily classes, free community classes every weekend, and free workshops throughout the semester. WesBAM! instructors are students certified in a variety of athletic disciplines.

Government Major Sveen Promotes Political Diversity on Campus through the Wesleyan Republican Committee

Emmakristina Sveen '17, of Denver, co-founded the Wesleyan Republican Committee this fall. The group now has more than 75 active members.

Emmakristina Sveen ’17, of Denver, Colo. co-founded the Wesleyan Republican Committee this fall. The group now has more than 75 active members. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

In this Q&A we speak with Emmakristina Sveen from the Class of 2017.

Q: How and when did you form the Wesleyan Republican Committee (WRC)?

A: Meghan Kelly ’17 and I founded the Wesleyan Republican Committee this fall. The previous Republican student group on campus, which was started in 2009, gradually deteriorated after the 2012 elections and after their senior leadership graduated. We wanted to establish a club that served as a vehicle in which students with any level of affiliation with the Republican Party could discuss their political views in a safe environment. With the help of Meghan’s brother, who served as chairman of the College Republican chapter at Northeastern, we received our charter from the College Republican National Committee and the Connecticut Federation of College Republicans. We are now the largest College Republican chapter in the state of Connecticut.

Q: Wesleyan has a reputation as being a rather liberal institution. Was political diversity a consideration for you in choosing a college, and how did you feel about Wesleyan?

A: Wesleyan is an incredibly liberal institution,

Staff on the Move January 2015

The Office of Human Resources announces the following new hires, transitions and departures for January 2015:

Newly hired

Christopher Chenier was hired as a digital design technician in the Art and Art History Department on Jan. 5.

Rebecca Foster was hired as the technical director and production manager of theater/manager of ’92 Theater in the Theater Department on Jan. 5.