Publications

Taylor Co-Authors Study on Knotted Protein Configurations

Erika Taylor

Erika Taylor

Erika Taylor, associate professor of chemistry, is a co-author of a paper titled, “Methyl transfer by substrate signaling from a knotted protein fold,” published in the August 2016 issue of the Nature Structural & Molecular Biology newsletter.

The paper describes the protein TrmD, an enzyme that catalyzes tRNA modification, but unlike most proteins, TrmD has an “interesting knotted configuration, which is not common,” Taylor said.

The paper demonstrates that even in proteins with knotted configurations, the internal protein movements and dynamics are important for binding, signaling and catalysis.

“This is exciting because one might expect knotted proteins to be more static in their structure due to the knot, where the amino acids wrap in on themselves, but the evidence suggests that protein dynamics are just as important in these types (knotted configurations) of proteins,” she said.

 

Ulysse Contributes #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus Article to Online Anthropology Journal

Gina Athena UlysseGina Athena Ulysse, professor of anthropology, recently contributed to the #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus, a new project by The Anthropoliteia, an online anthropology journal. Ulysse also is professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

One of the main goals of the project is to “mobilize anthropological work as a pedagogical exercise addressing the confluence of race, policing, and justice.” In this vein, Ulysse uses her entries to analyze the film series “Race: The Power of Illusion.” As part of the Race: Are We So Different? Project created by the American Anthropological Association, the film serves as a teaching tool for Ulysse in her own classroom at Wesleyan. Ulysse enters with the aim of unpacking the notion of “race is a social construct,” by paying attention to “1) the making of this narrative and the rise of academic disciplines; 2) changes in social structure and the language of racial classifications in relation to power; and 3) the multiple meanings/ significations of racial difference concomitant to capital signs.”

Throughout her entry, Ulysse talks of the importance of filling in the partial truths of the U.S. and its relations that students have been taught in history classes for their entire lives. She recounts the numerous times she has heard the exclamations, “I had no idea”; “This wasn’t even a sidebar in my textbook”; “Never thought of all these connections. Oh my God! It is all one big story.” For Ulysse, after years of teaching, she is “only too aware of what it means to make this intervention in their thinking given the body of students that she is in.”

Ulysse’s entry is online here.

Siry Details the History of Center for the Arts in Architectural History Journal

Joe Siry

Joe Siry

The Wesleyan Center for the Arts was featured in The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (JSAH), the main U.S. peer-reviewed scholarly journal for architectural history, in an article written by Joseph Siry, the Kenan Professor of the Humanities, professor of art history. The article, titled “Roche and Dinkeloo’s Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University: Classical, Vernacular, and Modernist Architecture in the 1960s,” detailed the extensive history and creative motives behind the impressive 11-building complex.

From 1962, under the presidency of Victor Butterfield (in office 1943–67), Wesleyan’s trustees committed the college to develop into a small university, and in 1964 they commissioned a master plan that identified the eventual site of the Center for the Arts as an integral part of the expansion. The overall goal, in the words of the trustees, was to “reaffirm the relevance of liberal arts in a world of
increased specialization.”

The $11.8 million Center for the Arts was designed in the fall of 1965, at a time when Wesleyan had an endowment of $151 million for a student body of about 1,240.

Officially opening in the fall of 1973, the Wesleyan CFA’s “minimal aesthetic has invoked a sense of timelessness.” From the faculty committee tasked with choosing an architectural firm that met specific guidelines outlined by President Butterfield, to the subsequent hiring of Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo, and then the eventual construction of the CFA, the buildings were created as a “clear and impressive formal statement of what they would be used for, but at the same time, expresses what they stand for and represent,” Siry writes. “As modernist architecture, what these buildings lack in handcrafted ornament they compensate for in material and spatial effects.”

This bird’s-eye view photograph shows the of the 1966 Center for the Arts model.

This bird’s-eye view photograph shows the of the 1966 Center for the Arts model.

 

Stemler’s Study Reveals that Knowing What Not to Do Is a Critical Job Skill

Steven Stemler

Steven Stemler

Situational judgment tests (SJTs) have become an increasingly important tool for predicting employee performance.

In a recent study, Steven Stemler, associate professor of psychology, and two executives at pre-hire assessment firm Aspiring Minds asked current employees at several firms in India to review scenarios and then pick the “best” and “worst” choices from a set of options.

The colleagues found a statistically significant correlation between job success and those who correctly identified the ‘worst’ answers to scenarios.

Their results were surprising.

“What we found in our research is that the ability to correctly identify the ‘worst’ response to a situation is a systematically different skill than the ability to identify the ‘best’ response, and the two may not even be related,” Stemler said.

As a result, Stemler, Varun Aggarwal and Siddharth Nithyan produced a paper titled “Knowing What Not to Do Is a Critical Job Skill: Evidence from 10 Different Scoring Methods,” which was published in the September 2016 International Journal of Selection and Assessment.

Sumarsam, McGraw PhD ’05 Edit Performing Indonesia for Smithsonian

Sumarsam

Sumarsam

Sumarsam, University Professor of Music, and Andy McGraw PhD ’05 served as co-editors for Performing Indonesia, a Smithsonian Freer Sackler online publication of 16 articles on Indonesian music, dance and drama.

Topics include choral singing of Indonesian and Malaysian Borneo; learning from American schoolchildren playing Balinese gamelan; the challenges of music sustainability in Lombok, Indonesia; gong evolution and practices, “the dancing goddess;” the acoustic concept of an American gamelan; musical kinship in the transnational Balinese gamelan community; and more.

In addition to serving as an editor, Sumarsam co-authored the introduction to the publication, and delivered the keynote address titled, “Dualisms in the Formative and Transformational Processes of Javanese Performing Arts.” His address was delivered at the Performing Indonesia Conference held at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C. in 2013.

The paper examines the “formative and transformational processes of gamelan and wayang, Javanese performing art forms, and the ways in which these art forms impacted the arts as they were exposed by and introduced to the West.” Sumarsam and McGraw also analyzed some of the dualisms that accompany traditions, such as stasis/motion, sacred/secular, good/evil, traditional/contemporary and ethnicity/nationality.

Hughes, Leiman-Sifry Research Published in Astrophysical Journal, Nature

Meredith Hughes

Meredith Hughes

Meredith Hughes, assistant professor of astronomy, is the co-author of “Debris Disks in the Scorpius-Centaurus OB Association Resolved by Alma,” published in The Astrophysical Journal, Vo. 828, No. 1. Jesse Lieman-Sifry ’15 also is a co-author of the article.

In addition, the international weekly journal of science Nature mentioned the article in a Sept. 8 publication.

The co-authors explored the idea of carbon-monoxide potentially being in large-star disks. As explained in her abstract, “Stars twice the size of the sun can feature carbon-monoxide-rich gas disks around them, contrary to the expectation that ultraviolet radiation would have stripped away the gas.”

Hughes used the “Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in northern Chile to probe the regions around 24 young star systems, only about 5 million to 10 million years old. They chose stars surrounded by a disk of dust debris—resembling a scaled-up version of the Solar System’s Kuiper belt—this leftover material could form new planets, including gas giants.

In conclusion, the researchers noted that three of the larger stars in the sample had strong carbon monoxide emissions.

Higgins’ Matinee Melodrama Delves into the Genre of Adventure Serials

Scott Higgins author of new book, Matinee Melodrama

ProductImageHandler.ashxScott Higgins, professor of film and chair of the College of Film and the Moving Image, is the author of a new book titled, Matinee Melodrama: Playing with Formula in the Sound Serial, published in February 2016 by Rutgers University Press.

Higgins newest work delves into the genre of adventure serials as a distinct art form, unwrapping its different elements and what makes adventure serials so successful. Intrigued by the active, dedicated fan culture, Higgins suggests that serial’s incoherent plotting and reliance on formula, as well as, the use of other cinematic elements such as, stock characters and cliffhangers, are actually some of the genre’s most appealing attributes, not faults. The earliest forms of this genre, including before Batman, Flash Gordon, or the Lone Ranger had their own TV shows, laid the groundwork for today’s blockbusters like, Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Tomb.

As the first book about the adventure serial, Matinee Melodrama examines the nature of suspense, the aesthetics of action, and the potentials of formulaic narrative, while giving readers the opportunity to analyze everything from Zorro’s Fighting Legion to Daredevils of the Red Circle.     

Kuenzel Investigates Whether the Diversity of Countries’ Export Portfolios Affects Economic Growth

David Kuenzel

David Kuenzel

David Kuenzel, assistant professor of economics, is the co-author of a new paper published in the Canadian Journal of Economics titled “The Elusive Effects of Trade on Growth: Export Diversity and Economic Take-off.

In the paper, Kuenzel and his co-author, Theo Eicher from the University of Washington, investigate whether the diversity of countries’ export portfolios affects their economic growth performance.

In the paper, Kuenzel and Eicher propose a structured approach to trade and growth determinants based on recent advances in international trade. The results show that export diversity serves as a crucial growth determinant for low-income countries, and the effect weakens with a country’s level of development.

 

Pitts-Taylor Edits Collection on Feminist Science Studies and the Brain’s Body

9781479845439_FullVictoria Pitts-Taylor, chair and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, is the editor of Mattering: Feminism, Science and Materialism published by NYU Press in August 2016.

Anthony Hatch, assistant professor of science in society, co-authored a chapter in the collection titled “Prisons Matter: Psychotropics and the Trope of Silence in Technocorrections.”

Mattering presents contemporary feminist perspectives on the materialist or ‘naturalizing’ turn in feminist theory, and also represents the newest wave of feminist engagement with science. The volume addresses the relationship between human corporeality and subjectivity, questions and redefines the boundaries of human/non-human and nature/culture, elaborates on the entanglements of matter, knowledge, and practice, and addresses biological materialization as a complex and open process.

Bonin, Louie ’15 Co-Author Paper in Journal of Comparative Economics

John Bonin, the Chester D. Hubbard Professor of Economics and Social Science, and his former student Dana Louie ’15, are authors of a new paper published in Journal of Comparative Economics titled, “Did foreign banks stay committed to emerging Europe during recent financial crises?”

In the paper, Bonin and Louie investigate the behavior of foreign banks with respect to real loan growth during times of financial crisis for a set of countries where foreign banks dominate the banking sectors. The paper focuses on eight countries that are the most developed in emerging Europe and the behavior of two types of banks: The Big 6 European multinational banks (MNBs) and all other-foreign controlled banks. The results show that bank lending was impacted adversely during recent financial crises, but the two types of banks behaved differently. The Big 6 banks’ lending behavior was similar to domestic banks supporting the notion that these countries are treated as a “second home market” by these European MNBs. However, the other foreign banks in the region were involved in fueling the credit boom, but then decreased their lending aggressively during the crisis periods. The results suggest that both innovations matter for studying bank behavior during crisis periods in the region and, by extension, to other small countries in which banking sectors are dominated by foreign financial institutions having different business models.

“I am particularly proud of this collaborative publication because it does not stem from a student’s honors thesis, but rather from work that began with the Quantitative Analysis Center summer program and that Dana and I continued throughout her senior year in addition to her regular coursework,” Bonin said.

The paper is available online and will appear in a forthcoming hardcopy issue of the journal.

Shapiro’s Poetry Translations Featured in Hyper-Texts

Norman Shapiro, professor of romance languages and literatures, and Wesleyan’s Distinguished Professor of Literary Translation, is one of the poets featured in the August 2016 “The Hyper-Texts,” a prestigious website honoring individual American poets with chosen examples from their work.

Shapiro’s poetry translations include “Innocents We,” translated from the French words of Paul Verlaine; “To the Reader,” translated from the French of Charles Baudelaire’s Au Lecteur; “Invitation to the Voyage” translated from the French of Charles Baudelaire’s L’Invitation au Voyage and “End of the Day” translated from the French of Charles Baudelaire’s La Fin de la Journée.

Among Shapiro’s many translations are Four Farces by Georges Feydeau, which was nominated for a National Book Award; The Fabulists French: Verse Fables of Nine Centuries, named Distinguished Book of the Year by the American Literary Translator’s Association; One Hundred and One Poems by Paul Verlaine, which won the Modern Language Association of America’s Scaglione Prize in 2001; and Charles Baudelaire: Selected Poems from “Les Fleurs du mal,” the last published by the University of Chicago Press. With his next volume of La Fontaine translations, Shapiro will have done all the Fables, to go along with a volume of La Fontaine’s Contes. Other books of translations include Lyrics of the French Renaissance (published by Yale University Press), The Comedy of Eros (published by University of Illinois Press), and two forthcoming including a collection of nine centuries of French women poets to be published by Johns Hopkins, and a collection of one-act comedies by Eugène Labiche.

New Novel by Parkhurst ’92 Tells a Gripping Family Tale

Carolyn Parkhurst '92 (Photo by Nina Subin)

Carolyn Parkhurst ’92. (Photo by Nina Subin)

Carolyn Parkhurst (Rosser) ’92 is the author of the new novel Harmony (Pamela Dorman Books, Viking), in which a mother does everything she can to save her family. The Hammond family’s seemingly normal life is disrupted when oldest daughter Tilly shows signs of abnormal development. Her social behavior is considered undiagnosable and she is asked to leave the last school in Washington, D.C. that will have her.

To help Tilly, the Hammonds move to Camp Harmony in the New Hampshire woods, seeking the guidance of a child behavior expert Scott Bean and testing the bonds of the family. Parkhurst expertly tells her suspenseful story from the points of view of Alexandra, the mother, and younger daughter Iris, who may have the clearest perspective of what is happening to her family.

In her review in The Washington Post, novelist Amy McKinnon writes: “…in Parkhurst’s deft treatment, Harmony becomes a story of our time, a compassionate treatise on how society judges parents, how parents judge themselves and how desperation sometimes causes otherwise rational people to choose irrational lives.”

Novel by Carolyn Parkhurst '92

Novel by Carolyn Parkhurst ’92

For the A. V. Club, reviewer Caitlin Penzey Moog says: “The rare alchemy of achingly powerful words that also induce fevered page riffling is in abundance in Harmony, Carolyn Parkhurst’s sumptuously written, eminently compelling novel about a family and its desperation. Readers will be torn between a desire to pause to admire a golden paragraph and the compulsion to hasten on to find out what happens next.”

Parkhurst is the author of three other novels, The New York Times best seller The Dogs of Babel, Lost and Found and The Nobodies Album. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and two children. Harmony was edited by Pamela Dorman ’79.