Science & Technology

Koplin-Green ’15 Studied Alpha Neurofeedback to Treat Anxiety

Matan Koplin-Green '15 wrote a thesis at the intersection of his interests in neuroscience, technology and music. (Photo by Laurie Kenney)

Matan Koplin-Green ’15 wrote a thesis at the intersection of his interests in neuroscience, technology and music. (Photo by Laurie Kenney)

#THISISWHY
In this issue of News @ Wesleyan, we speak with Matan Koplin-Green from the Class of 2015.

Q: Matan, what is your major and what was the title of your thesis?

A: I’m a neuroscience and behavior major. I wrote my thesis on “Application of Alpha Neurofeedback in the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders.”

Q: Let’s back up. How did your interest in neuroscience and behavior develop?

A: I came to Wesleyan not knowing exactly what I wanted to study. I was interested in cognitive psychology and philosophy of mind, but also had a lifelong love of music. I took a year off between high school and college to play in a band in my hometown of Milwaukee, Wis., and read a lot about cognitive psychology. Once at Wesleyan, I took classes ranging from computer science to experimental music, but I was also very interested in being part of the fast-growing neuroscience major. Then in 2013, Psyche Loui (assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior) came to Wesleyan. I took her intro class and discovered that she teaches at the intersection of all my interests—neuroscience, technology and music. I decided I had to get involved. I applied to be in her lab, and was accepted.

Digital History Class Creates “A Spatial History of Wesleyan University”

Learn about the history of Wesleyan's campus in the new "Spatial History of Wesleyan University" website.

Learn about the history of Wesleyan’s campus in the new “Spatial History of Wesleyan University” website.

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This semester, 18 students with an interest in communication and the history of Wesleyan University created a new website, “A Spatial History of Wesleyan University.”

The students, who were enrolled in the spring 2015 course, Digital History, conceived, designed, built, publicized, and launched this site. The class was taught by Amrys O. Williams, a visiting assistant professor of history, and was part of the university’s Digital and Computational Knowledge Initiative.

A Spatial History of Wesleyan University combines geographical and quantitative analysis with archival and oral history research to interpret the past in place. By studying the history of Wesleyan’s campus landscape and buildings alongside the university’s enrollment, tuition, and student body, website visitors can see the connections between the cultural life of the university and its physical environment.

The class brought together 18 students from across campus with varied skills and backgrounds who shared an interest in historical communication and making things.

The class brought together 18 students from across campus with varied skills and backgrounds who shared an interest in historical communication and making things.

The site has four main sections:

  • A historical narrative offers an overview of the major periods and episodes in the campus’s history, tracing student life, housing, and athletics, as well as the university’s changing educational mission and its relationship to other liberal arts schools in the area.
  • An interactive map allows readers to select and view different historical maps and aerial photographs of campus, learn more about individual buildings and see how the campus expanded over time.
  • A “By the Numbers” series of graphs trace data about enrollment, tuition and endowment over time, offering insights into the financial and demographic shifts that affected the shape and experience of campus.
  • Oral history video clips enrich these chronological, spatial, and quantitative stories with the voices of members of the Wesleyan community and their lived experiences of campus.

Graduate Student Factor Studies Planet Formation Around a Young Star

Sam Factor, a graduate student in astronomy, at the Submillimeter Array, located on Mauna Kea in Hawai'i in March 2015.

Sam Factor, a graduate student in astronomy, at the Submillimeter Array, located on Mauna Kea in Hawai’i in March 2015.

#THISISWHY
In this News @ Wesleyan story, we speak with Sam Factor ’14, a graduate student in astronomy.

Q: Sam, congratulations on completing your master’s thesis in astronomy! We understand you took your first astronomy class in the fall of your senior year at Wesleyan. What was your undergraduate major and how did your late-developing interest in astronomy come about?

A: Thank you very much! As an undergrad, I majored in physics and computer science. During the fall of my senior year I took Introductory Astronomy (ASTR 155). I signed up for the course mainly because I wanted an interesting and relatively easy course to fill out my schedule. I had been interested in astronomy since I was very young, but had never taken a formal class. I absolutely loved the class and decided to apply to the BA/MA program.

Q: How and when did you decide to stay on at Wesleyan to pursue a master’s degree in astronomy?

A: I actually decided to apply to the BA/MA program only a few weeks before the application was due!

Roth Reviews Oliver Sacks’ New Memoir

Michael Roth

Michael Roth

Reviewing Oliver Sacks’ new memoir, On the Move, in The AtlanticPresident Michael Roth writes that the celebrated neurologist “opens himself to recognition, much as he has opened the lives of others to being recognized in their fullness.”

The memoir begins in Sacks’ early life, when a teacher noted in his report card that “Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far.” Sacks describes going to extremes in areas of his life ranging from recreational swimming to competitive weightlifting to drug use. A native of England, Sacks traveled to the United States after completing his medical training to get space from his parents and two brothers who all worked as doctors. Roth writes:

Going far career-wise was something Sacks fervently desired. “Here I am, look what I can do,” is how he describes his feelings about his first professional intervention into the American neurological community. Sacks would develop a genius for recognition of another sort, for paying attention to people whose illness might have rendered them invisible but for his gift of seeing them as beings with histories, with contexts. This genius he combined with his own craving for recognition—writing as a witness to the lives of others in such a way that he himself would be acknowledged through the quality of his testimony.

Wesleyan Faculty Organize, Speak at StemCONN 2015

Gloster Aaron, associate professor of biology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, spoke at StemCONN 2015 in April.

Gloster Aaron, associate professor of biology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, spoke at StemCONN 2015 in April.

Wesleyan faculty members played key roles in StemCONN 2015, Connecticut’s stem cell and regenerative medicine conference, held April 27 in Hartford, Conn.

Janice Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, director of the Center for Faculty Career Development, served on the conference’s organizing committee for the second time this year.

Gloster Aaron, associate professor of biology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, spoke at the conference on “Investigating how transplants reduce seizures: brain slice electrophysiology and ontogenetic stimulation of transplanted cells.” He discussed the collaborative work being done by his lab and those of Naegele and Laura Grabel, the Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, professor of biology, which aims to heal damaged areas of the brain that are the source of seizures in temporal lobe epilepsy by providing newborn neurons to those areas. The goal is for the newborn neurons to replace dead neurons and repair broken neuronal circuits that are thought to be a cause of temporal lobe epilepsy.

Nearly 500 scientists, business leaders and students attended the event, which is held every two years. The event was also attended by many Connecticut officials, including Gov. Dannel Malloy, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut State Rep. Lonnie Reed, and Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra. The conference was sponsored by Wesleyan, as well as Yale University, the University of Connecticut, the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, Yale-New Haven Hospital, the City of Hartford, and other companies and non-profit organizations.

Taylor’s Paper Published in International Molecular Biosciences Journal

Erika Taylor

Erika Taylor

Erika Taylor, assistant professor of chemistry, assistant professor of environmental studies, has co-authored a paper published in FEBS Letters, an international journal established for the rapid publication of final short reports in the fields of molecular biosciences.

The paper, which is an expansion of her lab’s work on the enzyme Heptosyltransferase I, is titled “Cloning and Characterization of the Escherichia coli Heptosyltransferase III: Exploring Substrate Specificity in Lipopolysaccharide Core Biosynthesis,” The paper is co-authored by her former graduate student Jagadesh Mudapaka. FEBS Letters is published by Elsevier on behalf of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies.

Thomas Authors 4 Papers on Environmental Change

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas, research professor of earth and environmental sciences, is the co-author of four recenty-published papers. They include:

Deep-sea benthic foraminiferal turnover during the early middle Eocene transition at Walvis Ridge (SE Atlantic),” published in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Issue 417: pages 126-136, January 2015. The paper’s co-author, Silvia Ortiz, was a PhD student at the University of Zaragoza, and spent several months at Wesleyan working with Thomas.

Students Present Research at Neuroscience and Behavior Symposium

On May 1, the Neuroscience and Behavior Program held its second annual undergraduate research symposium. Arranged in the format of a professional scientific conference, seniors in the program presented their research done in faculty labs, while students and faculty in attendance enjoyed dinner at Daniel Family Commons. Five seniors spoke and seven other students presented posters on topics ranging from sonification of measures of electrical activity in the brain to the study of characteristics of neuronal membranes. About 50 junior and senior neuroscience and behavior students attended, in addition to the NSB faculty. (Photos by Dat Vu ’15.)

Matan Koplin-Green '15 spoke about his research on alpha neurofeedback training for the purpose of reducing anxiety levels.

Matan Koplin-Green ’15 spoke about his research on alpha neurofeedback training for the purpose of reducing anxiety levels.

Sanislow Co-authors Paper on Personality Disorders, Suicide Risk

Chuck Sanislow

Chuck Sanislow

Charles Sanislow, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, is the co-author of a new paper published in the journal Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and TreatmentThe paper is titled “Personality Disorder Risk Factors for Suicide Attempts over 10 Years of Follow-Up.

The findings in the paper are from the Collaborative Longitudinal Personality Disorders Study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), on which Sanislow has been an investigator since it began in 1996.

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)

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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.

Students Share Research at Psychology Poster Session

On April 30, the Psychology Department held its annual poster session in Beckham Hall. More than 50 psychology and neuroscience and behavior majors presented research, and the event was attended by several hundred psychology majors. (All photos by Dat Vu ’15.)

From left, Aviv Fraiman '15, Shenghao "Isis" Chen '15, and Rachel Verner '15.

From left, Aviv Fraiman ’15, Shenghao “Isis” Chen ’15 and Rachel Verner ’15.

Seager Delivers Sturm Memorial Lecture

On April 29, Sara Seager, Class of 1941 Professor of Planetary Science and Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, spoke on “The Search for Earth 2.0″ at the annual Sturm Memorial Lecture. (Photos by Dat Vu ’15)

Seager is a pioneer in the field of exoplanets, specifically in characterizing the atmospheres and searching for life on those distant worlds. Her talk addressed the age-old question: "Are we alone?"

Seager is a pioneer in the field of exoplanets, specifically in characterizing the atmospheres and searching for life on those distant worlds. Her talk addressed the age-old question: “Are we alone?”