Martin Oversees Student Employment, Counsels Families on Financial Aid Issues

Sean Martin.

Sean Martin, senior associate director in the Financial Aid Office, says most students work an average of five to 10 hours per week. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

This year, The Wesleyan Connection will feature conversations with students who perform important work all over campus, and out in the Middletown community. In this issue, we speak with Sean Martin, senior associate director in the Financial Aid Office, who oversees student employment.

Q: Sean, please tell us about your role as senior associate director in the Financial Aid Office.

A: I’ve been working in the Financial Aid Office at Wesleyan for going on 10 years, and my responsibilities there have expanded over time. One aspect of my job is overseeing all facets of student employment. I spend a good amount of my time reading files of applicants and current students, and counseling students and families about financial aid issues. I also do various other things, including serving as liaison to Athletics and ITS.

Q: How many students have jobs at Wesleyan?

A: Students can work on campus whether they are eligible for work-study funding or not. Approximately 1,500 students work on-campus each year, roughly 1,100 of whom are work-study eligible students.

Q: How many hours do students typically work each week?

A: Most positions require students to commit to an average of five to 10 hours per week.

Hanakata ’14 Finalist for American Physical Society’s Apker Award

Paul Hanakata '14

Paul Hanakata ’14

Paul Hanakata ’14 was named a finalist for the American Physical Society’s prestigious Leroy Apker Award, the highest prize offered in the United States for an undergraduate thesis in physics. He will compete to win the award this month.

The Apker Award was created to recognize outstanding achievements in physics by undergraduate students, and thereby provide encouragement to young physicists who have demonstrated great potential for future scientific accomplishment.

At Wesleyan, Hanakata received high honors for his Wesleyan thesis titled, “Cooperative Dynamics in Supported Polymer Films,” under his advisor, Francis Starr, professor of physics and director of the College of Integrative Sciences.

In recognition of his exceptional research accomplishments,

Matesan Studies Contentious Politics, Violence in the Middle East

This fall, Ioana Emy Matesan is teaching two sections of GOVT 157 Democracy and Dictatorship. Matesan is an expert on Middle Eastern politics. (Photo by Cynthia Rockwell)

Ioana Emy Matesan, assistant professor of government, is teaching two sections of GOVT 157 Democracy and Dictatorship. Matesan is an expert on Middle Eastern politics and joined the faculty this fall. (Photo by Cynthia Rockwell)

Q: Welcome to Wesleyan, Professor Matesan! Can you please tell us a little about your background?

A: I’m originally from Romania. I came to the U.S. for undergrad in 1998, and earned a degree in economics and political science from Monmouth College in Illinois. Coming from Romania, I had no sense of differences in states. I got together with a couple friends, and we looked at the admission of international students and amount of aid for them at different colleges, and we applied to the colleges with the most aid per international student. It was very much a cost-benefit analysis. I loved the small liberal arts college experience, which is one of the reasons why I love Wesleyan. It was a very good transition coming from Romania on my own at 18—I made meaningful connections with both faculty and students. After undergrad, I worked with a Romanian-American nonprofit, which I had volunteered with in Romania. They had incorporated as a 501(c)(3), and were looking for someone to start the fundraising arm in the U.S. We worked with families who were at risk of abandoning their children to orphanages because of economic or social problems. We offered tutoring and social activities for the children; we helped the parents get jobs, training, etc. After three years at the nonprofit, I decided to go to grad school at Arizona State, where I got my master’s in political science. Then I went on to Syracuse University and got my Ph.D. in political science. From there, I came to Wesleyan.

Q: How did you become interested in studying Middle Eastern politics?

A: I specialize in contentious politics and political violence, with a regional focus in the Middle East. The very first time I became interested in this topic was when I attended a youth UN conference in 1993. There, I met children from Israel and Palestine. I learned a lot about the conflict, but it also became very real, and I suddenly had friends I could associate with both sides.

Volleyball Coach Lackey to Retire After 37 Years, Hundreds of Victories

Wesleyan head women’s volleyball coach Gale Lackey, the senior athletics department member with 37 years of service, will retire in June. In her 30th year coaching volleyball, Lackey is also the senior woman administrator in athletics and an associate athletics director.

Gale Lackey, head coach of women's volleyball, will be inducted into the Connecticut Women's Volleyball Hall of Fame.

Gale Lackey, head coach of women’s volleyball.

Lackey began coaching at Wesleyan in 1978, handling both field hockey and women’s lacrosse and leading the field hockey squad to its only undefeated campaign — and a subsequent berth in the Wes Athletics Hall of Fame —  in 1980.  She took over as volleyball coach in 1985.

“The time is right,” Lackey said. “Coaching and teaching here has been a blessing.  Wesleyan has given me the opportunity to pursue a variety of endeavors and ongoing support to grow professionally throughout my career. The energetic passions of my colleagues, the students, faculty, staff and alumni make Wesleyan a very special place.”

Lackey has the distinction of coaching Wesleyan women’s teams to Little Three championships in three different sports (volleyball, field hockey and lacrosse). With 464 career women’s volleyball victories at Wesleyan (and 477 in total) heading into the 2014 season, Lackey was named New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Coach of the Year in 2001.

Bloom’s Novel Lucky Us on Success, Luck, Big Dreams, Scandals

New book by Amy Bloom.

New book by Amy Bloom.

Amy Bloom, the Distinguished University Writer-in-Residence and director of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing, is the author of a novel, Lucky Us, published in July 2014 by Random House.

Disappointed by their families, Iris, a hopeful star and Eva the sidekick, journey through 1940s America in search of fame and fortune. Iris’s ambitions take the pair across the America of Reinvention in a stolen station wagon, from small-town Ohio to an unexpected and sensuous Hollywood, and to the jazz clubs and golden mansions of Long Island.

With their friends in high and low places, Iris and Eva stumble and shine though a landscape of big dreams, scandals, betrayals, and war. Lucky Us is a resonant novel about success and failure, good luck and bad, the creation of a family, and the pleasures and inevitable perils of family life, conventional and otherwise.

In celebration of her book release, Bloom will be speaking Sept. 2 at the Society Club in London, and Sept. 3 at Shakespeare and Company in Paris.

Bloom’s stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and numerous anthologies here and abroad. She has written for The New Yorker, Thee New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, Slate and Salon, among many other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award.

Ph.D. Candidate Marino Attends Workshop on Computational Number Theory

Mathematics Ph.D. candidate Alicia Marino, pictured top, left, joined 11 other women studying mathematics and computer science for a four-day workshop this summer.

Mathematics Ph.D. candidate Alicia Marino, pictured top, left, joined 11 other women studying mathematics and computer science at a four-day workshop this summer.

Mathematics Ph.D. candidate Alicia Marino recently attended a four-day workshop in Portland, Ore. studying various aspects of computational number theory. The workshop focused on Sage, a mathematics software package, developed by and for the mathematical community.

The event included talks, tutorials, and time spent in small project groups developing Sage code. Participants worked to enhance the Sage library and discussed ways to increase the number of women in Sage development. The workshop ran July 28-Aug. 1.

Alicia Marino works on coding at the Sage workshop. 

Alicia Marino works on coding at the Sage workshop.

Marino, who holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science, attended the conference to sharpen her programming skills.

“My initial desire to attend the workshop was to throw myself back into that kind of an environment,” she said. “With the knowledge I gained at the workshop, I can continue to develop Sage on my own relative to what I do at Wesleyan.”

Marino learned about the workshop from event organizer Anna Haensch, who earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Wesleyan in 2013. Haensch is now on the faculty at Duquesne University.

Professor of Mathematics Wai Kiu “Billy” Chan served as advisor to Marino and Haensch.

“It was definitely an empowering experience to spend a week in a beautiful environment with intelligent women dedicating our time to a merge of math and computer science,” Marino said.

Grimmer-Solem’s Research Leads Germany to Order Base Re-Named

Associate Professor of History Erik Grimmer-Solem investigated the story of a celebrated German General during World War II, uncovering new evidence that he cooperated in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union. His research has made national news in Germany, where the government is now responding to revelations about the General's legacy.

Associate Professor of History Erik Grimmer-Solem investigated the story of a celebrated German General during World War II, uncovering new evidence that he cooperated in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In response to research by Associate Professor of History Erik Grimmer-Solem, the German air forces have decided to rename a base currently named after a celebrated general known as an “anti-Nazi” in the years following World War II. The base is currently called after Gen. Hans von Sponeck, who was court-martialed and imprisoned for refusing to follow Hitler’s orders during a major Soviet counteroffensive on the Crimean Peninsula in 1941.

Recently, the German government announced in the Bundestag that the air forces had formally approved the name change in June, based in part on Grimmer-Solem’s work, published early this year in the journal Militärgeschichtliche Zeitschrift, and national media reports about that work. A final agreement on renaming the base is pending between the Luftwaffe and the nearby city of Germersheim, and local citizens have protested the name change.

“I knew that my research had the potential to stir up some controversy, but the speed with which a national debate and parliamentary discussion formed around the issue really caught me by surprise,” said Grimmer-Solem. “My findings hit a nerve. An official effort is now underway to assure that other military installations don’t mistakenly honor compromised officers. Still, the fact that there’s a sizable citizen initiative underway to keep the old name of the military base reveals just how divisive this topic still is in Germany.”

Wesleyan Welcomes New Faculty

Wesleyan welcomes 12 new faculty members this fall. They are:

Amanda Belichick, adjunct assistant professor of physical education, head coach of women’s lacrosse.

Karl Boulware, assistant professor of economics.

Janet Burge, associate professor of computer science.

Claire Grace, assistant professor of art history.

Roger Grant, assistant professor of music.

Laura Grappo, assistant professor of American studies.

Kerwin Kaye, assistant professor of sociology.

David Kuenzel, assistant professor of economics.

Ioana Emilia Matesan, assistant professor of government.

Victoria Pitts-Taylor, professor and chair of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

Jesse Torgerson, assistant professor of letters.

Camilla Zamboni, adjunct instructor in Italian.

Staff on the Move, July 2014

Newly hired

Sarah Jean Chrystler was hired as coordinator for special events on July 1.

Nara Giannella was hired as digital media specialist on July 1.

Frederick Ludwig was hired as assistant football coach on July 1.

Susannah Capron was hired as civic engagement fellow on July 7.

Huanan Li was hired as post doctoral research associate in Physics on July 7.

Shannon Nelson was hired as Center for Prison Education coordinator/fellow on July 7.

Benjamin Wohl was hired as assistant dean of admission on July 7.

Joseph Hopkins was hired as boiler tender on July 9.

Lindsay Rush was hired as research associate in Biology on July 14.

James Huerta was hired as assistant dean of admission on July 21.

Emily Pagano was hired as area coordinator for Residential Life on July 21.

Smith Kidkarndee was hired as post-doctoral clinical/counseling psychologist on July 28.


Marianne Calnen became associate director of planned giving on July 1.

Dan DiCenzo became head football coach in waiting on July 1.

Karen Kasprow became director of principal gifts on July 1.

Sarah-Jane Ripa became associate director of student services and outreach at Graduate Liberal Studies on July 1.

Frantz Williams became director of development on July 1.


Sarah Atwell, administrative assistant in Chemistry.

Katharine Henderson, research assistant.

Debra Holman, facilities manager.

David Thomas, assistant dean of admission.

Samantha Slade, assistant director of communications operations at University Relations.

Jamali ’17, Wesleyan’s First Undergrad From Iran, Studies Mathematics and Theater

Ali Jamali '17

Ali Jamali ’17

In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we speak with Ali Jamali ‘17, who comes to Wesleyan from Tabriz, Iran.

Q: Ali, you are Wesleyan’s first undergraduate to come from Iran. How did you make the decision to attend university in the United States, and how did you come to choose Wesleyan in particular?

A: The main reason I wanted to attend college in the United States was that we don’t have liberal arts colleges in Iran. We choose what major we’re going to study before entering university, so we don’t really have the option to explore by taking courses in different disciplines. I was not sure what I wanted to study, and most of the good majors in my country are related to engineering or medical fields. That’s why when I came across the idea of liberal education and exploring your choices before declaring your major, I decided it would be a good opportunity to study in the United States. I was looking for a relatively small university, and liked Wesleyan’s good programs and the flexibility it offered students. I was also looking forward to being near major cities like New York and Boston, because I had interests in theater and film.

Cardinals Achieve Success in Prestigious Summer Baseball Leagues


Gavin Pittore ’16, left, and Nick Cooney ’15, right, have played in the prestigious Cape Cod league this summer.

On the heels of a record-setting season for Wesleyan Baseball, which included a second-ever excursion to the NCAA tournament, 2014 has also been a banner year for Wesleyan Baseball in NCAA-sanctioned summer leagues. Seven Cardinals spent time in these prestigious leagues, including four in the Cape Cod League.

Gavin Pittore ’16 and Nick Cooney ’15 have led the way with standout summers in the Cape Cod league. The league features the best college baseball players in the nation; 256 current Major League players played in the Cape. Overall, there are 1,065 all-time major leaguers who spent their summers there.

Other members of Wesleyan Baseball who are playing in NCAA-sanctioned leagues this summer are:

Donnie Cimino ’15–Chatham Anglers (Cape Cod League) and Nashua Silver Knights (Futures League)

Guy Davidson ’16–Harwich Mariners (Cape Cod League) and Nashua Silver Knights (Futures League)

Sam Elias ’15–Valley Blue Sox (NECBL)

Nick Miceli ’17–Vermont Mountaineers (NECBL)

Sam Goodwin-Boyd ’15–Wachusett Dirt Dogs (Futures League)

Find a complete list of Wesleyan Baseball players in summer leagues here.

Read about Gavin Pittore’s experience in the Cape Cod league in this Cape Cod Times story.

Solar Storms a Wake-Up Call, Redfield Says

solar_storm_2012 (3)

This NASA image shows a solar storm in early 2012.

A July NASA report that a huge solar storm narrowly missed Earth in 2012 – avoiding catastrophic damage to energy, transportation and communications systems – has caused a media stir and some worry among Earthlings.

What’s more, other recent reports say that Earth is overdue for a devastating storm of the kind known as a “Carrington event” after an 1859 storm that disrupted telegraph signals and caused other damage in a still-nascent industrial world. Named for 19th-century English astronomer Richard Carrington, it was the largest of its kind on record. A similar event now, in a world dependent on digital communications and electrical energy, would cause widespread, long-lasting power outages and disrupt transportation and communications planet-wide. Eric Mack, a science blogger for Forbes, referred facetiously to a reversion to “Amish-style” civilization.

Seth Redfield, assistant professor of astronomy, says the recent near-miss isn’t a cause for worldwide freakout, but should be a wake-up call; while a catastrophic solar storm may be several generations away, “it’s going to happen,” and scientists should be working on ways to better predict the event.

“I think it’s really important for us to understand what’s going on and have some good perspective on that because if we don’t prepare for it, we’re going to suffer the consequences,” he said. “We don’t need a Manhattan-style project and (to) devote 10 percent of our GDP to this one. But we do need to pay attention.”