Faculty, Students, Alumnus Co-Author Paper in Biochemistry Journal

Wesleyan co-authors published a paper titled “The Stories Tryptophans Tell: Exploring Protein Dynamics of Heptosyltransferase I from Escherichia coli” in the January 2017 issue of Biochemistry.

The co-authors include chemistry graduate student Joy Cote; alumni Zarek Siegel ’16 and Daniel Czyzyk, PhD ’15; and faculty Erika Taylor, associate professor of chemistry; Ishita Mukerji, the Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

Their paper investigates the intrinsic properties of Tryptophan amino acids found within the protein, Heptosyltransferase I, to understand the ways this protein moves during catalysis. Understanding the movement of this protein is an important step in developing its inhibitors.

When this protein is inactive, either because it was genetically altered or inhibited, hydrophobic antibiotics become more effective, so inhibitors could be useful in reactivating antibiotics that are current not effective against these bacteria.

While it is popularly believed that inhibiting a protein requires a compound to compete with the substrate, their paper argues that instead one can design a inhibitor to disrupt protein dynamics, preventing activity. The co-authors compare the function of this “protein dynamics disruptor” to a wedge holding open a door–once inserted, the inhibitor prevents the protein from performing its function.

Their research on Tryptophan residues also found that distant regions of the protein communicate whether or not they are binding their substrate to other regions.

“It would be like if your right hand knew that your left hand was holding a pencil just by the changes in the position of your left hand. We are currently pursuing computational studies to look for these motions via molecular dynamics experiments,” Taylor said.

Wesleyan Team Takes Second Prize in Investment Contest


A team of Wesleyan students took second place with a 24.28 percent return in the 2017 Adirondack Cup, a stock picking contest for college students interested in the investment field. This is the sixth year that Wesleyan has fielded a team, and represented the best performance to date. The contest offers a unique setting for students to test their investment research skills using businesses not widely covered by analysts and the news media.

Over 160 students from 22 colleges and universities participated in the contest this year, which focuses exclusively on “small cap” public companies, the expertise of the contest’s sponsor, Adirondack Research & Management, Inc. This firm is an advisor to The Adirondack Small Cap Fund (ADKSX), an SEC registered no-loan mutual fund established in 2005. A team from Union College took first place. See the final results here.

Wesleyan’s team members included Eddie McCann ’19, Nikolas Ortega ’19, Daniil Plokhikh ’19, Attul Jakkampudi ’20, Sonja English ’20, Mitchell Motlagh ’20, Sahil Shah ’19, Kofi Ofori-Darko ’20, Dan Tran ’20, Allesandro Lorenzoni ’20 and Daniel Lombardo ’19.

Fisher ’17 Wins Watson Fellowship to Study Cooperatives

Michaela Fisher's Watson Fellowship will take her to Spain, Argentina, New Zealand, Germany and Canada. Fisher is interested in understanding “the many ways in which co-ops can flourish or fail." (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Michaela Fisher’s Watson Fellowship will take her to Spain, Argentina, New Zealand, Germany and Canada. Fisher is interested in understanding “the many ways in which co-ops can flourish or fail.” (Photo by Olivia Drake)

As the recipient of a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, Michaela Fisher ’17 will spend a year studying cooperatives in five countries. Her project, titled “Cooperative Worlds: Exploring the Global Cooperative Economy,” will take her to Spain, Argentina, New Zealand, Germany and Canada.

Watson Fellows are all seniors nominated by 40 partner colleges. According to the website, “Fellows conceive original projects, execute them outside of the United States for one year and embrace the ensuing journey. They decide where to go, who to meet, and when to change course.” Fellows receive a $30,000, 12-month travel stipend and health insurance while abroad.

The Thomas J. Watson Foundation was created in 1961 by Jeanette K. Watson in the name of her husband, Thomas J. Watson Sr., best known for building IBM. Through one-of-a-kind programs, the Foundation provides fellows with cultural, professional and personal opportunities that challenge them to expand their vision, test and develop their potential, and build the confidence and perspective to do so for others.

Grad Student Khan to Perform with Berklee Indian Ensemble

Suhail Yusuf Khan

Suhail Yusuf Khan

Music graduate student Suhail Yusuf Khan will be a featured guest artist at the Berklee Indian Ensemble on May 9. In addition, he will conduct a master class on Hindustani music and the sarangi, one of the oldest string instruments featured in North Indian classical music. The sarangi is the only instrument in the world that can emulate all the nuances of the human voice. Played with a bow, this instrument has three main strings and 37 sympathetic strings.

Khan started to play the instrument when he was 7 years old. The grandson of the sarangi legend Ustad Sabri Khan, and nephew of sarangi genius Ustad Kamal Sabri, his professional career took off at age 11 when he played his first live concert in Liverpool, England. Khan is the first of his family to fuse ancient classical music from India with genres as varied as jazz, rock, electronic and Irish music. In 2014, he was named a Forbes India “30 Under 30.”

He also is a composer, singer and songwriter. After graduating from Wesleyan, Khan is considering applying to PhD programs in ethnomusicology or will continue to perform around the world.

Student Models, Artists Perform at SOC Fashion Show

The For Us By Us (FUBU): Student of Color Fashion Show 2017 on April 13 featured alumni artist, Sandflower Power, as well as student models, designers, artwork and performances. The event was held in conjunction with WesFest and took place in Beckham Hall. Three hundred students attended the show. (Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)

eve_rgtfashionshow_2017-0413212934 eve_rgtfashionshow_2017-0413223841

Rosenman ’17, Feldman ’17 Receive Friends of the Wesleyan Library Undergraduate Research Prizes

Jane Alden, Rachel, Dan Cherubin, Michael Meere.

At left, Jane Alden, associate professor of music, associate professor of medieval studies; Rachel Rosenman ’17; Dan Cherubin, the Caleb T. Winchester University Librarian; and Michael Meere, assistant professor of French studies, gathered to honor Rosenman for her prize-winning essay during a ceremony in the Smith Reading Room on April 11. Meere also is chair of the Friends of the Wesleyan Library. (Photo by Leith Johnson)

Music and French studies double major Rachel Rosenman ’17 is the recipient of the inaugural Friends of the Wesleyan Library Undergraduate Research Prize. During a ceremony on April 11, Rosenman was honored for her essay titled, “‘Mais la musique demeurera toujours’: Repurposing the French Baroque.”

Rosenman’s essay describes the work she undertook in order to generate user-friendly editions of French Baroque music, adapting solo bass viol repertoire to make it playable on the treble viol, in modern notation. She includes discussion of editorial methodologies, and situates the music historically and theoretically. In addition to background information on the viol instrument family in the Baroque era, Rosenman describes the mid-20th century revival,

Class of 2021 Admits Experience ‘All Things Wes’ during WesFest 2017

Admitted Class of 2021 students gather on Foss Hill April 14 during the WesFest picnic.

Admitted Class of 2021 students gather on Foss Hill April 14 during the WesFest picnic.

More than 500 admitted Class of 2021 students and their family members attended WesFest activities on campus, April 12-14.

WesFest is a three-day celebration of all things Wesleyan. The Office of Admission invites all admitted students and their families to visit Wesleyan, experience university life first-hand, and explore the diverse opportunities that a Wesleyan education has to offer.

During WesFest, campus visitors attend classes and academic department open houses; tour campus and academic departments; meet and interact with Wesleyan students; attend a Student Activities Fair; enjoy an all-campus barbecue picnic and live student bands; learn about liberal arts career opportunities and Wesleyan athletic programs; attend student-to-student

Students Raise Funds for Childhood Cancer Research at Dance Marathon

westhon7On April 8, more than 250 students helped raise funds for children and families impacted by childhood cancer.

westhon6WesThon, a student-run philanthropy, provides emotional and financial support to affected families, and spreads awareness and ensures funding for critical research — all in pursuit of a cure. WesThon’s yearlong efforts culminate with a six-hour, no-sitting dance marathon at Psi Upsilon.

At this years event, WesThon participants raised more than $20,000 for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, doubling what they raised last year.

“Since this is only the second year of the event we are beyond thrilled with the result,” said Dana Mitchell ’18, who oversaw recruitment for the event.

(Photos by Christopher Wilkos)

Wesleyan Team Honored for “Best Innovation” at 2017 DataFest

Students from six colleges and universities participated in DataFest March 29-April 2 at Wesleyan.

Students from six colleges and universities participated in DataFest March 29-April 2 at Wesleyan.

The Wesleyan team Data Baes took one of the top prizes for “Best Innovation” during DataFest, held March 31 to April 2 at Exley Science Center. Seventy-five students from six institutions participated in the annual analysis competition.

During DataFest, students are presented with a large, complex data set and work over the weekend to explore, analyze and present their findings. Teams of three to five students work together and compete against other teams from Wesleyan, Connecticut College, Yale University, Lafayette College, University of Connecticut and Trinity College.

Under the auspices of the American Statistical Association, the event is organized by the Quantitative Analysis Center (QAC).

At the end of DataFest, each team had five minutes to present their findings to the judges. The judging panel included data scientists, research analysts and a biostatistician

Kahindi ’18 Named Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow


Claudia Kahindi ’18

Claudia Kahindi ’18 has been named a 2017 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, a non-profit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education. She joins a distinguished group of 273 community-committed students, all nominated by college presidents or chancellors, from across the Campus Compact network of schools in this one-year fellowship.

The Newman Civic Fellowship is supported by the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation. It honors the late Frank Newman, one of Campus Compact’s founders and a tireless advocate for civic engagement in higher education.

“Leadership everywhere is going through a crisis. Social justice issues and polarisation continue to escalate. I am therefore privileged to have received this fellowship, because it will nurture and develop my leadership skills, and hence enable me to be part of the solution,” said Kahindi. “I believe it’s my civic duty to learn values that will make me a better person and a better leader in the future. I am so excited because this is another step towards my leadership and activism journey.”

During the fellowship year, Kahindi will have access to a variety of virtual and in-person learning and networking opportunities, including a national conference of Newman Civic Fellows in November in Boston. Fellows meet quarterly with a designated mentor, and also have pathways to exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities. The 2017 cohort is the first to participate in a completely re-designed fellowship experience emphasizing personal, professional and civic growth.

Wesleyan Hunger Banquet to Be Held April 12

Fred Ayers helps a patron gather a ration of food at Amazing Grace. The pantry serves an estimated 3,000 individuals, or 1, 075 households each month.

Fred Ayers ’17 helps a patron gather a ration of food at Amazing Grace. The pantry serves an estimated 3,000 individuals, or 1, 075 households each month. Ayres also leads the Hunger and Homelessness group at Wesleyan.

On April 12, the Hunger and Homelessness student group in the Office of Community Service will once again host the Wesleyan Hunger Banquet, an interactive simulation of global poverty rates. Attendees are placed into an income bracket at random and then provided a seating arrangement and meal indicative of that income level.

The event will take place in Woodhead Lounge from 5-7 p.m. Anthony Hatch, assistant professor of sociology, assistant professor of science in society, assistant professor of African American studies, will serve as MC, and Ron Krom of St. Vincent de Paul will speak at the event.

“The Wesleyan Hunger Banquet is a simulation of the magnitude of global poverty and hunger that allows attendees to visualize and grasp its severity,” said Fred Ayres ’17, who leads the Hunger and Homelessness group and is involved in organizing the banquet. “Through sharing a meal with others, attendees will also learn about the misperceptions and solutions that surround income inequality. Students involved in current initiatives to ameliorate hunger and homelessness will share how others can get involved.”

Tickets will be sold in Usdan University Center April 7-12, and can also be purchased at the door. No RSVP is required. Proceeds will be donated to Amazing Grace Food Pantry, and the group aims to raise over $500.