Students

Students Perform West African, Hip-Hop, South Indian Dances


On May 11, the West African Dance and West African Music and Culture classes performed at the Center for the Arts Courtyard. The invigorating performances featured Wesleyan Artist-in-Residence and choreographer Iddi Saaka, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music and master drummer John Dankwa, and master drummer Mohammed Alidu. Throughout the semester, students learned the fundamental principles and aesthetics of West African dance through learning to embody basic movement vocabulary and selected traditional dances from Ghana. Photos of the performance are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Formerly Enslaved Woman Honored at 1820 Gravesite

Individuals honoring the gravesite and remembering Silva Storms, who was born in Africa and lived as an enslaved person in Middletown, include (left to right) Visiting Assistant Professor of African American Studies Jesse Nasta (far left), Professor Liza McAlister, chair of the Department of African American Studies (far right), and Jumoke McDuffie-Thurmond ’19 with Chief Ayanda Clarke ’99 (center). Congregants who traveled with Chief Ayanda (wearing white, left to right of center: Monica John, Shelby Olatutu Banks, Nkosi Fajumo Gray, and April Alake Silver) also gathered for the ceremony led by Clarke. Next to the Storms gravesite is that of Nancy Williams, a relative of Storms. (Photo by Wendy Black-Nasta P’07)

On May 9, a group of students, faculty, and Middletown friends joined Jumoke McDuffie-Thurmond ’19 and Chief Ayanda Clarke ’99 in a spiritual commemoration ceremony to honor a woman, Silva Storms, who died in 1820 and was buried in the cemetery on Vine Street, across from the Beman Triangle. Research indicates she had been born in Africa and was brought to Middletown as an enslaved person. The event was part of McDuffie-Thurmond’s research project for Black Middletown Lives, the service-learning course taught by Jesse Nasta ’07, visiting assistant professor of African American studies.

Nasta notes that McDuffie-Thurmond, who had been documenting the African American burials in the cemetery as part of his final project in the class, “completely took it upon himself to take that 10 steps beyond the assignment, to envision this ceremony. Jumoke is not just documenting the gravesites, but honoring the people who were enslaved here in Middletown.”

For his part, McDuffie-Thurmond remembers the first time Nasta took the class to the cemetery as a significant experience. “I’d never been to the section of the graveyard that was designated for Black Middletown residents, and Silva Storms’s gravesite—her tombstone stood almost alone in an open space—resonated with me. Professor Nasta told us it was the oldest tombstone in the African American section. I sat down there and listened to what was around me, what I felt, and I thought, I have to do something that tends to the spirit. We have a legacy of slavery in this land that constantly informs the space we live in—and it is unresolved. I wanted to do something that would resonate with those of us who live here now. It was a very intuitive decision.”

Badr ’20 Guides Upward Bound Students to Write about Their Experiences

A 100-person choir performed “Identities,” which included a poem written by Wesleyan Upward Bound student Chelsea Anthony. Chelsea is pictured front and center with Ahmed Badr ’20, who led a storytelling workshop that resulted in Chelsea’s poem being published.

How did a young refugee from Iraq inspire a high school student from New Britain, Conn., to write a poem that went on to be performed by a 100-person choir made up of high schoolers from around the East Coast?

It all began at Wesleyan.

Ahmed Badr ’20 was born in Iraq and came to the United States as a refugee in 2008, after his family’s home in Baghdad was bombed by militia troops. As he struggled to adjust to life in the U.S., he started a personal blog to write about his experiences, and “found it incredibly empowering” to share his story.

“I soon began to realize the power of storytelling to inspire and bring people together,” he wrote on his website, Narratio. Determined to empower other youth, he created Narratio to publish written work by young people around the globe. It has been recognized by the United Nations, We are Family Foundation, and featured on NPR and Instagram. Today, Badr is a sophomore at Wesleyan, studying anthropology and pursuing independent projects as an Allbritton Fellow and Patricelli Center Fellow, while continuing to run Narratio, which includes leading creative storytelling workshops for youth around the country.

Students Celebrate End of Semester at Spring Fling

Wesleyan students celebrated the end of the 2017–18 academic year during the annual Spring Fling, held May 10 on Foss Hill. Music acts included Girltype Behaviors, Gus Dapperton, Injury Reserve, and Kamaiyah. Italian ice and caramel corn vendors provided snacks during the event.

The event is organized by Wesleyan’s Spring Fling Committee and the Office of Student Activities. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Students Inducted into Honor Society, Present Research at American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Meeting

Undergraduates from the Biology, Chemistry, and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry majors showed off their science at the 2018 meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. From Left, Alex Shames '18 (MacQueen Lab), BA/MA student Arden Feil (MacQueen Lab), Will Barr '18 (Weir Lab), Christine Little '18 (Mukerji Lab), Cody Hecht '18 (Taylor Lab), and Emily Kessler '18 (Hingorani Lab).

Undergraduates from the biology, chemistry, and molecular biology and biochemistry majors showed off their science at the 2018 meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. From left, Alex Shames ’18 (MacQueen Lab), Arden Feil BA/MA ’18 (MacQueen Lab), Will Barr ’18 (Weir Lab), Christine Little ’18 (Mukerji Lab), Cody Hecht ’18 (Taylor Lab), and Emily Kessler ’18 (Hingorani Lab).

Seven Wesleyan students recently were inducted into the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Honor Society, and many of them presented research posters at the ASBMB annual meeting in San Diego, April 21–25.

The ASBMB Honor Society recognizes exceptional undergraduate juniors and seniors who are pursuing a degree in the molecular life sciences for their scholarly achievement, research accomplishments, and outreach activities. The Wesleyan students inducted were Will Barr ’18, Alexa Strauss ’19, Emily Kessler ’18, Christine Little ’18, Julie McDonald ’18, Rubye Peyser ’18, and Alexander Shames ’18.

The following students attended the annual meeting:

• Kessler, whose poster was titled, “Investigating the Mechanistic Basis of Mutant MutS DNA Repair Protein Malfunction in Lynch Syndrome”
• Barr, “An mRNA-rRNA base pairing model for efficient protein translation”
• Little, “Investigation into the Binding Interactions of Saccharomyces cerevisiae Histone H1 with Holliday Junction”
• Shames, “The Long and Short of Synaptonemal Complex Assembly: Investigating the genesis and functional relevance of a smaller Zip1 isoform”
• Cody Hecht ’18, “Escherichia coli Heptosyltransferase I: Examining Protein Dynamics with Pyrene Excimer Fluorescence and Tryptophan-Induced Quenching”
• Arden Feil BA/MA ’18, “Scraping the Tip of Zip1’s Role in Meiotic Chromosome Dynamics: Using lacO/LacI corecruitment to identify crossover promoting factors that interface with the N-terminus of a synaptonemal complex protein”

“It was a joy to present the research that I’ve been working on for the past two years as a part of Wesleyan’s Beckman Scholars Program,” said Barr. “Science research can seem like a roller coaster at times, and presenting my research in the company of scientists at all levels of their careers helped me remember just how thrilling this process has been.”

The mission of ASBMB is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology through organization of scientific meetings, advocacy for funding of basic research and education, support of science education at all levels, promotion of the diversity of individuals entering the scientific workforce, and publication of a number of scientific and educational journals, including the Journal of Biological Chemistry and the Journal of Lipid Research.

Improvisational Forms Class Offers Roving Performance on Campus

On May 7, the DANC 354 course, Improvisational Forms, performed a roving improvisational performance on campus as part of their final assignment. The group started at Exley Science Center, traveled to Olin Library and the Public Affairs Center, and finished at Usdan University Center. During the performance, the students explored campus architecture with their bodies and movements. They traveled in interconnected clumps, and also as individuals, and interacted with objects and passersby.

Throughout the semester, students explored various approaches to dance improvisation and studied movement vocabulary; increased compositional awareness; developed their creative thinking and observational skills; and sharpened their performance presence. Students learned about improvisation exercises, structured improvisational forms, development and performance of scores, and exploration of the relationship between movement, sound, and music.

This class is taught by Susan Lourie, adjunct professor of dance, who is retiring this year after teaching for 40 years at Wesleyan.

“Roving improvisational dances bring the unexpected to everyday spaces,” Lourie said. “When people come upon dancers in the middle of a busy walkway, on a staircase, or in a doorway, it interrupts/disrupts the normal flow of life and challenges everyone’s assumptions.”

Photos of the performance are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake and Cynthia Rockwell)

Student-Athletes Honored at 6th Annual Dinner, Awards Ceremony

On May 2, the sixth annual Scholar-Athlete Dinner was held in Beckham Hall to honor top scholar-athletes in all 29 varsity sports.

Photos from the event are below: (Photos by Tom Dzimian)

Francine Rivkin '78 was honored with the Cardinal Award, the Athletic Advisory Council's recognition of extraordinary contributions and dedication to the success of the Wesleyan Athlete Program. Rivkin is pictured with Mike Whalen, the Frank V. Sica Director of Athletics and chair of Physical Education, at left.

Francine Rivkin ’78, a former five-sport athlete at Wesleyan and an ardent supporter of Wesleyan Athletics, was honored with the Athletic Advisory Council’s Cardinal Award. Mike Whalen, the Frank V. Sica Director of Athletics and chair of Physical Education, presented the award to Rivkin in recognition of her extraordinary contributions and dedication to the success of the Wesleyan Athletics program.

Seniors Present College of the Environment Research at Poster Session

Thirteen seniors, majoring in the College of the Environment, presented posters during a COE Colloquium on May 2. (Photos by Tom Dzimian)

Pictured are the COE Class of 2018. Back row: Mariel Holmann, Laura Bither, Sage Loomis, Hannah Wilton, Louisa Winchell. Second row: Guilu Murphy, Katherine Paterson, Nicole Dallar, Nicole DelGaudio, Garrett Hardesty, Ilana Newman. Seated: Alex Horton and Olivia Won.

Students Celebrate Spring, South Asian Culture at Holi Festival

The Asian American Student Collective (AASC) and Shakti, the South Asian Student Association, hosted the annual Holi (Festival of Colors) celebration April 28 on Foss Hill. Students tossed colored powder at each other, celebrating the spring season.

The event served as the culmination of a month-long celebration of Asian-American culture, identity, history, and activism.

(Photos and video by Melissa Rocha)


Honors, MA Students Share Research at Science Theses Celebration

Honors and MA students from the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division participated in the Celebration of Science Theses, April 27 in Exley Science Center. Students shared their work with the broader Wesleyan community.

Honors and MA students from the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division participated in the Celebration of Science Theses, April 27 in Exley Science Center. Students shared their work with the broader Wesleyan community.

Darci Collins presented her research titled "Lord Kelvin's Error? An Investigation into the Isotropic Helocoid." Collins' advisor is Greg Voth.

Darci Collins ’18 presented her research titled “Lord Kelvin’s Error? An Investigation into the Isotropic Helocoid.” Collins’s advisor is Greg Voth, chair and professor of physics.

2017–18 Winter Athletic Season Ends with Historical Victories

The 2017–18 winter season was a historic one for the Wesleyan athletic programs, highlighted by the men’s basketball team winning its first-ever NCAA Tournament game, while Laila Samy ’18 of women’s squash, Caroline Murphy ’20 of women’s swimming and diving, and Isaiah Bellamy ’18 and Devon Carrillo ’17 of wrestling all earned All-American honors.

Here is a team-by-team breakdown:

Men's basketball team guard Jordan Bonner '19 earned Second Team All-NESCAC honors and was named NESCAC Player of the Week twice.

Men’s basketball team guard Jordan Bonner ’19 earned Second Team All-NESCAC honors and was named NESCAC Player of the Week twice.

Men’s Basketball (22–7, 7–3 NESCAC) * NCAA Second Round / NESCAC Finals

  • Set a program record in overall wins (22) and tied a program record with seven NESCAC victories.
    Hosted first- and second-round games in the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time in program history.
    Won the Little Three title outright for the second consecutive season and the third straight year overall, with a 3–1 regular-season record against Amherst (2–0) and Williams (1–1).
  • Earned a second consecutive NCAA at-large bid and third tournament appearance in the past four years.
    Defeated Southern Vermont in the first round, 101–71, for the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win.
    Head Coach Joe Reilly won his 300th career game on Feb. 9, 2018.
  • Jordan Bonner ’19 earned Second Team All-NESCAC honors and was named NESCAC Player of the Week twice. He was also a CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team selection.
  • Jordan Sears ’18 was named the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year and Austin Hutcherson ’21 was named the Rookie of the Year. Hutcherson was also named the D3hoops.com Northeast Co-Rookie of the Year.
  • Wesleyan led the country in total blocks (169) and ranked second in Division III in field-goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a 37.2 shooting percentage.

Women’s Basketball (17–8, 5–5 NESCAC) * NESCAC Semifinals

    • After going 7–15 overall a year ago, the Cardinals turned things around in 2017–18 and finished with a 17–8 overall mark and 5–5 NESCAC record to earn the No. 5 seed in the NESCAC Tournament.
    • Defeated fourth-seeded Middlebury on the road in the quarterfinals, 63–62, before falling to top-seeded and eventual national champion Amherst in the semifinals.