Students

Class of 2020 Experiences Different Cultures, Dance Styles at Common Moment

The Center for the Arts hosted the Common Moment Sept. 2 on Andrus Field. As one of the culminating experiences of New Student Orientation, the Common Moment brought the Class of 2020 together as they experienced cultures and dance from around the world. Prometheus, Wesleyan’s fire-spinning group, also performed during the Common Moment.

Photos of the event are below and in this Wesleyan Center for the Arts photo gallery. (Photos by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography)

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Student Music Scene Celebrated at The MASH

Inspired by Fete de la Musique, also known as World Music Day, the fifth annual MASH highlighted Wesleyan’s student music scene on Sept. 9. The 5 1/2 hour concert, sponsored by the Center for the Arts, featured 22 bands performing at four different venues on campus including Olin Library, the North College Lawn, Center for the Arts and Foss Hill.

Musical acts included Slavei, Hari, Slender James, Birchbark, Fortune Plays Sax, Anna Savage, Sneaky Boy, MEG, Dinomanic, Yer Trash, the good lonely, Mom, Rui Barbosa, BOSSY, Lo-Qi, McCleary McCleary, Going Up North for the Weekend, Slouch, The Highlanders, Jal & Locus, Chef and El Niño. Each band performed for about 20 minutes.

Photos of The MASH are below and on this Wesleyan Facebook gallery. (Photos by Will Barr ’18, Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19, Caroline Kravitz ’19 and Olivia Drake)

The MASH at Wesleyan University, Sept. 9. (Photo by Will Barr '18)

The MASH at Wesleyan University, Sept. 9. (Photo by Will Barr '18)

Wesleyan Students Recognized for Scientific Images

This summer, Stephen Devoto, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, launched the inaugural Wesleyan Scientific Imaging Contest. The contest, which recognizes student-submitted images from experiments or simulations done with a Wesleyan faculty member that are scientifically intriguing as well as aesthetically pleasing, drew 35 submissions from the fields of physics, biology, molecular biology and biochemistry, psychology, earth and environmental science, chemistry and astronomy.

Participants submitted an image along with a brief description written for a broad, scientifically literate audience. The entries were judged based on the quality of the image and the explanation of the underlying science. The first-place prize went to Eliza Carter ’18 from the Earth and Environmental Science Department. Aidan Stone ’17 and Jeremy Auerbach ’17 tied for second places, while Riordan Abrams ’17 won third place. The images were judged by a panel of four faculty members: Devoto; Ruth Johnson, assistant professor of biology, assistant professor of integrative sciences; Brian Northrop, assistant professor of chemistry, assistant professor of integrative sciences; and Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics.

The first-place winner receives a $200 prize; the second-place winner receives $100; and the third-place winner receives $50. Prizes were funded by the Office of Academic Affairs.

Devoto was inspired by a similar contest that his daughter won at Haverford College.

“Students at Wesleyan produce extraordinary scientific images, ranging from graphs and computer simulations to microscope and telescope images,” he said. “I wanted students to have fun, to think of their scientific images in an artistic sense. And I thought that the artistic presentations of student scientific images would be a striking testament to the quality and fun of student research here. I hope these will be displayed on campus to highlight the science and the creativity, which thrive at Wesleyan.”

The four winning images are shown below, along with scientific descriptions:

Eliza Carter '18 submitted a scanning electron microscope image of the shell of a radiolarian (a protozoa) found near the top of an Antarctic sediment core from ODP site 697. The radiolarian shell is around 2.7 million years old and is made from silica that was produced by the radiolarian. Studying the percent biogenic silica in a sediment sample is a proxy for primary productivity: the more biosilica you have, the more productive it was.

Eliza Carter ’18 submitted a scanning electron microscope image of the shell of a radiolarian (a protozoa) found near the top of an Antarctic sediment core from ODP site 697. The radiolarian shell is around 2.7 million years old and is made from silica that was produced by the radiolarian. Studying the percent biogenic silica in a sediment sample is a proxy for primary productivity: the more biosilica you have, the more productive it was.

Undergraduates Present Posters at Summer Research Presentation

More than 100 undergraduate research fellows presented their work at the Wesleyan Summer Research Poster Session July 28 in Exley Science Center and the Science Library.

More than 140 undergraduate research fellows presented their work at the Wesleyan Summer Research Poster Session July 28 in Exley Science Center and the Science Library.

Tristan Ang Tze Heng speaks about his study titled “Quantifying the Heterogeneous Dynamics a DPPC and Cholesterol Bilayer. Ang’s advisor is Francis Starr, professor of physics, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, director of the College of Integrative Sciences.

Tristan Ang Tze Heng speaks about his study titled “Quantifying the Heterogeneous Dynamics of a DPPC and Cholesterol Bilayer. Ang’s advisor is Francis Starr, professor of physics, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, director of the College of Integrative Sciences.

Mellon Mays Fellows Generate Research Topics during 6-Week Summer Program

Pictured, from left, are Delia Tapia '18, Alicia Strong '18, Aura Ochoa '17, Iryelis Lopez '17 (back row), Paige Hutton '18 and Aleyda Robles '18. 

From left, Delia Tapia ’18, Alicia Strong ’18, Aura Ochoa ’17 (front), Iryelis Lopez ’17 (back), Paige Hutton ’18 and Aleyda Robles ’18 spent six weeks this summer developing research topics as part of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program. They presented their ideas on July 28 at the Center for African Studies.

For six weeks this summer, 11 Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows received an intensive introduction to graduate school expectations while developing a research topic to pursue during their time in college.

On July 28, the students, who hail from Wesleyan (6) and Queens College (5), offered brief project presentations at the Center for African American Studies.

Aleyda Robles '18 speaks on her research topic, "From the Salvadoran Civil War to the Refugee Crisis: Can there be U.S. accountability and reparations for El Salvador?"

Aleyda Robles ’18 speaks on her research topic, “From the Salvadoran Civil War to the Refugee Crisis: Can there be U.S. accountability and reparations for El Salvador?”

The fundamental objective of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) Program is to increase the number of minority students, and others with a demonstrated commitment to eradicating racial disparities, who will pursue PhDs in core fields in the arts and sciences. The program aims to reduce over time the serious underrepresentation on faculties of individuals from certain minority groups, as well as to address the attendant educational consequences of these disparities.

Wesleyan fellows, their majors and research topics include: Paige Hutton ’18 (American studies),”White Skin, Black Masks: The Appropriation of Black Womanhood by White Gay Men;” Iryelis Lopez ’17 (American studies), “Committing to Difference? Performing Diversity at the Neoliberal University;” Delia Tapia ’18 (American studies), “Historicizing and Combating Colonial Threats to Community and Survival in Harlem;” Aura Ochoa ’17 (American studies and chemistry), “Deconstructing ‘Humanness’: Understanding and Rehistoricizing the Exploitation and Erasure of Women of Color in Science and Medicine in the United States;” Alicia Strong ’18 (religion and government), “Blurred Lines: The Politics of Islamic Identity in Postwar Kosovo;” and Aleyda Robles ’18 (American studies), “From the Salvadoran Civil War to the Refugee Crisis: Can there be U.S. accountability and reparations for El Salvador.”

Gordon Career Center Teaches Career Education through Course, Podcast Interviews

The Gordon Career Center launched Careers by Design.

The Gordon Career Center’s Careers by Design program is a series of lectures and exercises designed to help students identify what factors may be influencing their choice of major, internship, or career path.

The Gordon Career Center is helping students design their futures.

Through a new intensive seminar called Careers by Design, Wesleyan students can explore the many influences on their career decision making and make choices that are right for them. The Gordon Career Center’s innovative approach to career education encourages students to design their own careers by exploring the intersection between their interests, the skills they have and wish to acquire, and market demand.

“Careers by Design is a framework that applies the principles of design thinking to solve every college student’s ultimate questions: ‘Who do I want to be? What do I want to become?’” said Sharon Belden Castonguay, director of the Gordon career Center.

Careers by Design, which is offered in January as part of Wesleyan’s Winter on Wyllys career programming, also is taught through an online course and can be taken at any time. Students learn how to apply design thinking to the search for meaningful work, write an “elevator pitch” to describe themselves, analyze the past and visualize the future, understand and define workplace success, and explore ways to launch their career. The online course, which runs for about an hour and 15 minutes, includes multiple exercises and recommended resources.

In addition, Careers by Design boasts a series of interviews by well-known Wesleyan alumni and guests including Joshua Boger ‘73, founder of Vertex Pharmaceuticals; Andy Brandon-Gordon ‘86, managing director of Goldman Sachs; Majora Carter ’88, founder of Sustainable South Bronx; Laura Walker ‘79, CEO of WNYC; Bradley Whitford ‘81, actor (The West Wing, The Cabin in the Woods, Transparent); and more. New episodes of the podcast will be released every other Friday. A conversation with athlete Kathy Keeler ’78 is slated for Aug. 5, just in time for the start of the Olympics.

These interviews are offered as podcasts and can be accessed through iTunes and Sound Cloud.

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Levin ’19 Interviews Actor Cambor ’01 of Showtime’s Roadies

Peter Cambor '01 (Photo by Coco Knudson)

Peter Cambor ’01. (Photo by Coco Knudson)

Hannah Levin ’19 recently interviewed Peter Cambor ’01, an actor on Showtime’s Roadies, about his career and his time at Wesleyan. The interview appears on Master Chat Mag, a website Levin has been running since her sophomore year of high school, which serves as a resource for students who are passionate about TV, film, theater and comedy and wish to work in the field one day.

Cambor has starred in television series including Notes from the Underbelly and NCIS: Los Angeles. In the interview with Levin, he talks about catching the acting bug in high school, and about how his time at Wesleyan fueled his creativity:

I guess that the best thing for me was the faculty at the time was great, Bill Francisco was a great teacher who has since retired. A litany of great actors had come out of Wesleyan before my going there, like Bradley Whitford and Frank Wood. The ’92 Theater [Wesleyan’s student theater] had a play going on every weekend. Some of the plays were quite good, including In the Heights, as you know. There were things like that going on all the time.

There are two sides to working as an actor professionally. There’s the creative side where you’re making all the fun stuff, making theater, which is great. But you also have to have a business acumen. Just like in any other business you have to know how to work on a team, how to work with other people, what’s realistic under great constraints and how you can find freedom within those constraints. You’re forced to creatively think your way out of problems. I think that little microcosm of the ’92 Theater really taught me that thing. People took big swings and sometimes things were great, sometimes things were awful. But there were always big, bold swings. Learning how to work together, fail together, succeed together was great.

I was also working with a great group of people. I was good friends with Thomas Kail (’99) who directed Hamilton, Lin-Manuel [Miranda] (’02) and I were in a play together, I did a film with one of the executive producers for Brooklyn-Nine-Nine. There’s just so many more: Zack Whedon, Joss Whedon’s younger brother. All those guys were there. That’s a pretty hefty group of people to be working with, which of course I didn’t realize at the time.

Read the full interview here.

Wesleyan Students Help Local Preschoolers Get a Kickstart on Kindergarten

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Stephanie Blumenstock ’16 works with children in the Kindergarten Kickstart program on July 14 at Bielefield School in Middletown. The program, which is taught by Wesleyan students and local teachers, is celebrating its fifth year this summer. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Kindergarten Kickstart, a research-based, summer pre-K program for children in Middletown created by Associate Professor of Psychology Anna Shusterman and her students, is celebrating its fifth year. It’s marking the occasion with an event July 20 at the Middletown Roller Skating Rink (free for any current or past Kickstart family, 4 to 6 p.m.) and using a new grant to further develop student innovation in the program.

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At left, Megan Dolan ’17 and Stephanie Blumenstock ’16 help Kindergarden Kickstart students during outdoor playtime.

Shusterman and three of her students first launched Kindergarten Kickstart in summer 2012 as a pilot program with 15 children at MacDonough School. They designed the curriculum and taught the program together with a MacDonough teacher. Today, this five-week program serves 35 children at Bielefield and Farm Hill schools (who will be entering kindergarten at those schools plus MacDonough), with six Wesleyan undergraduates and recent alumni leading the classes and developing the curriculum. A certified teacher continues to work at each site. Funding comes from a variety of sources, including a small budget from Wesleyan’s Provost, the Foundation for Greater Hartford, Safe Schools/Healthy Students, and a seed grant from Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

The program is intended for children who could benefit from an extra pre-school experience before beginning kindergarten in the fall. Through a partnership between university-based research labs, Middletown Public Schools and local community organizations, Kindergarten Kickstart aims to bridge the research-to-practice gap and improve participants’ school readiness skills through a short-term, high-impact, low-cost preschool program.

According to Shusterman, children in low-income neighborhoods start kindergarten with academic skills up to two years behind their peers. Research shows that quality early childhood education makes a huge difference in helping to shrink this achievement gap. In fact, economists estimate a $7 return for every $1 invested in early childhood education, resulting from lower spending on school remediation, incarceration, unemployment and other programs that become necessary when children do not start out on the right foot.

Shusterman said Kindergarten Kickstart was started as a way to put early childhood research into practice.

Wesleyan Group Helps Discover First Philistine Cemetery

Assistant professor Kate Birney (pictured in foreground wearing a blue shirt and tan hat) and Joy Feinberg '19 (pictured in back with a long-sleeve shirt) work to unearth skeletons and artifacts buried in a Philistine cemetery.

Assistant professor Kate Birney (pictured in foreground wearing a blue shirt and tan hat) and Joy Feinberg ’19 (pictured in back with a long-sleeve shirt) work to unearth skeletons and artifacts buried in a Philistine cemetery.

Two Wesleyan students, one recent alumna and a faculty member contributed to a groundbreaking discovery of the first Philistine cemetery, a crowning achievement of more than 30 years of excavation in Ashkelon, Israel. Archaeologists and scholars have long searched for the origin of the Philistines, and the discovery of the cemetery is poised to offer the key to this mystery. Findings from the cemetery, dated to the 11th–8th centuries BCE, may well support the claim – long inferred and recorded in the Bible – that the Philistines were migrants to the shores of ancient Israel who arrived from lands to the West around the 12th century BCE.

Kate Birney, assistant professor of classical studies, assistant professor of archaeology, assistant professor of art history, is the assistant director of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon and has been bringing Wesleyan students to the site since 2011 to participate in the research and excavation. The 3,000-year-old site, located in the southern district of Israel on the Mediterranean coast, offers clues to the Philistines’ way of life. Little is known about their origins.

Sarah McCully '16 has worked for the Leon Levy Expedition in Ashkelon for three years.

Sarah McCully ’16 has worked for the Leon Levy Expedition in Ashkelon for three years.

This summer, Joy Feinberg ’19, Jaimie Marvin ’19 and Sarah McCully ’16 worked on the Philistine cemetery. McCully ’16, who came to Ashkelon with Birney years ago, is now a staff member for the Leon Levy Expedition. In addition, Sam Ingbar ’16, Hannah Thompson ’17, Maria Ma ’17 and Sabrina Rueber ’18 are also in Ashkelon this summer working on the excavation of a 7th century merchants’ neighborhood.

GLS Students Take Intensive Summer Courses

Wesleyan’s Graduate Liberal Studies is offering 13 courses this summer in narrative fiction and film, biography writing, European history, world literature, multivariable mathematics, the photographic book, abnormal psychology and more. Wesleyan offers a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) and the more advanced Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts (MPhil), as well as a Graduate Certificate in Writing and non-degree graduate study. Rather than becoming specialists in narrow fields, GLS graduates possess the highly-valued ability to connect across disciplines, identify multiple possibilities, and argue all sides of a topic.

Indira Karamcheti, associate professor of English, associate professor of American studies, is teaching HUMS 633: World Literature for Graduate Liberal Studies on Monday and Wednesdays.

Indira Karamcheti, associate professor of English, associate professor of American studies, is teaching HUMS 633: World Literature for Graduate Liberal Studies on Monday and Wednesdays.

Karamcheti’s class examines literature from the last half of the 20th century including works by authors from India, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean.

Karamcheti’s class examines literature from the last half of the 20th century including works by authors from India, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean.

Students learn how the authors shape their world and what issues concern them. Students learn how the authors shape their world and what issues concern them.

Students learn how the authors shape their world and what issues concern them.

Place, Character and Design offers a rich and varied reading list and a chance to write and experiment, with careful editing of one's work.

Place, Character and Design offers a rich and varied reading list and a chance to write and experiment, with careful editing of one’s work.

The assignments are flexible and will suit each student's interests. Students may writing a novel, journalism, a memoir, or a grant proposal,The assignments are flexible and will suit each student's interests. Students may writing a novel, journalism, a memoir, or a grant proposal,

The assignments are flexible and suit each student’s interests. Students may write a novel, journalism article, a memoir, or a grant proposal.

Students read each other's work and offer feedback in class. Students learn how to establish a narrator's voice or characters' presence, develop style and design, and connect with readers.

Students read each other’s work and offer feedback in class. Students learn how to establish a narrator’s voice or characters’ presence, develop style and design, and connect with readers. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Giulio Gallarotti, professor of government, professor of environmental studies and co-chair of the College of Social Studies, is teaching SOCS 630: The Evolution of Government: The Rise of the Modern Nation State on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Giulio Gallarotti, professor of government, professor of environmental studies and co-chair of the College of Social Studies, is teaching SOCS 630: The Evolution of Government: The Rise of the Modern Nation State on Tuesday and Thursday evenings this July.

This course takes the most historically complete view of the evolution of governance, from the very earliest forms of governance among humans in hunter-gatherer societies up to the most recent forms of governance in the present. Our study of the evolution of governance focuses on patterns in the transition from one form of governance to the next.

This course takes the most historically complete view of the evolution of governance, from the very earliest forms of governance among humans in hunter-gatherer societies up to the most recent forms of governance in the present. The class studies the evolution of governance and focuses on patterns in the transition from one form of governance to the next. (Photos by Ben Travers)

Students Catalog Roman Gems during Museum Internship

Margot Metz '18 holds a tiny intaglio gem from the early Roman Empire that appears to be made of carnelian or sard, and depicts an athlete holding a strigil (a tool for scraping oil and sweat from the skin during exercise). Metz, Maria Ma '17 and Emma Graham '19 spent four weeks this summer cataloging about 200 gems during an internship at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford. 

Margot Metz ’18 examines a tiny intaglio gem from the early Roman Empire that appears to be made of carnelian or sard, and depicts an athlete holding a strigil (a tool for scraping oil and sweat from the skin during exercise). Metz, Maria Ma ’17 and Emma Graham ’19 spent four weeks this summer cataloging about 200 gems during an internship at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford. An intaglio is made by grinding material below the surface of the gem, leaving an inverse image.

During the Roman Empire, the art of gem carving or intaglio provided a way to characterize one’s self, family or acquaintances.

This summer, three Wesleyan students with an interest in classical studies worked with a Roman intaglio collection previously owned by J. Pierpont Morgan (father of J.P. Morgan) at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford.

As interns, Maria Ma ’17, Margot Metz ’18, and Emma Graham ’19 collaborated on documenting and cataloging about 200 intaglio gems, which made the collection accessible to a wider audience of scholars and museum visitors. The gems were hidden from public view for decades.

The student researchers determined this Roman intaglio (at right) pictured Ajax carrying Achilles over his shoulder. An arrow is sticking out from the top of Achilles' foot. By using The Handbook of Engraved Gems by C. W. King, the students were able to find an illustration of a similar gem. "This is how we came to the conclusion that it is Ajax carrying Achilles," Margot Metz said. 

The student researchers determined this Roman intaglio (at right) pictured Ajax carrying Achilles over his shoulder. An arrow is sticking out from the top of Achilles’ foot. By using The Handbook of Engraved Gems by C. W. King, the students were able to find an illustration of a similar gem. “This is how we came to the conclusion that it is Ajax carrying Achilles,” Margot Metz said.

“It’s so exciting that our students had the opportunity to work in the local community and to employ what they know about Greek and Roman antiquity in a partnership with a wonderful museum like the Wadsworth Atheneum,” said Lauren Caldwell, associate professor of classical studies.

Graham, a College of Letters major, felt the internship would perfectly combined her two intellectual passions: classics and art history.

“I have always been interested in how these two areas of study overlap and influence each other,” Graham said. “Also, I have always been a great lover of museums and I was interested in what goes on behind the scenes at a museum.”

The students would frequent the museum three days a week for about six hours a day. During their time, they documented the gems’ measurements, material and imagery.

“The subject matter of the gem determined how long we spent on each one. For example, we were able to identify animals very quickly but other gems, such as badly weathered gems or gems with more complex imagery, took more much time,” Graham said.

In order to determine the symbolic meaning of each gem, the students worked together and consulted intaglio collections online owned by the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and The British Museum, as well as a huge collection of imprints of intaglio gems housed at Cornell University.

“We were able to personally work with every gem in the collection, which was truly an amazing experience,” Graham said.

Metz was interested in the internship because she wanted to explore another area of ancient civilization. “It was fascinating being able to apply what I had learned in the classroom at Wesleyan in a practical manner at the museum. We were able to identify generic figures as gods and goddesses, such as Neptune and Ceres, by using the objects they were pictured with in gems and comparing them to stories in mythology,” she said. 

The internship, which concluded June 23, was jointly supervised and organized by Wesleyan faculty and Atheneum staff including Caldwell; Clare Rogan, curator of the Davison Art Center; Linda Roth, the Charles C. and Eleanor Lamont Cunningham Curator of European Decorative Arts; and Johanna Miller, school and teacher programs specialist at the Wadsworth Atheneum. The Watson Squire Fund in the Department of Classical Studies supported the students’ room and board expenses. Students applied and interviewed for the internship through the Atheneum.

“The interns did a great job and their work will be entered into our database and made available to the public through our website,” Roth said. “There already is a small selection on view now in a gallery devoted to Art and Curiosity Cabinets.”

Classes in Drawing, Biology, Programming, Writing Currently Offered during Wesleyan’s Summer Session

During Wesleyan’s Summer Session, students complete semester-long courses in only five weeks.

This summer, classes are being offered in drawing, biology, chemistry, computer programming, legal thinking, writing creative nonfiction, foreign policy, the art of the personal essay, the narrative, techniques of fiction, and international politics. All courses have limited enrollment, preserving the small seminar style and opportunity for close relationships with faculty and fellow students.

Summer Session I runs May 25 to June 23, and Session II takes place June 28 to July 28.

Pictured below is ARST131, Drawing I, taught by Kate TenEyck, assistant professor of art:

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