Students

Biology Team Samples Drought-Tolerant Bacteria in Death Valley

Nicole DelGaudio ’18 samples the rhizospheres of a juniper tree at about 7,000 feet above sea level.

Nicole DelGaudio ’18 samples the rhizosphere of a juniper tree.

This spring, a research team from Wesleyan traveled to Death Valley National Park to explore the ways bacteria diversifies in extreme environments.

Death Valley, located about 130 miles west of Las Vegas, is a below-sea-level basin known for being the hottest place on earth and driest place in North America. The average rainfall is less than 2 inches, annually.

“National parks are ideal for research, in general, because the land is protected indefinitely from commercial development,” said team leader Fred Cohan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies. “Death Valley is a nice model system for exobiology because of its extreme habitat.”

Cohan, along with graduate student Jerry Lee, Bella Wiener ’19 and Nicole DelGaudio ’18, traveled to California May 29 through June 4. During this time, the researchers trekked through miles of parched — and often prickly — landscapes seeking to sample root soil, or rhizosphere, from various plant species, each over a wide range of elevations that differ notably in their temperatures.

Environmental History Class Produces Radio Program

This year, students in Associate Professor of History Jennifer Tucker’s class, Seeing a Bigger Picture: Integrating Visual Methods and Environmental History, had an opportunity to share what they learned in an unusual format. They produced an hour-long radio program, which debuted on WESU 88.1 FM on Memorial Day. It will air again on the station this summer, and can be heard on wesufm.org or on SoundCloud.

Rosie Dawson, a producer at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), teaches Phie Towle '20 and Alea Laidlaw '20 about radio program development. 

Rosie Dawson, a producer at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), teaches Phie Towle ’20 and Alea Laidlaw ’20 about radio program development.

The course introduces students to key landmarks in the visual history of environmentalism and environmental science, from the 18th century to the recent past. The class studies the power and the limits of visual representations, addressing how images of nature have changed as well as how the nature of images has been transformed in the past 250 years, according to Tucker, who is also associate professor of environmental studies, associate professor of science in society, and associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies. The students received training in radio storytelling from Rosie Dawson, a producer at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

Tucker and Dawson first met two years ago, when Tucker contributed an essay to a BBC series that Dawson was producing

Class of 2017 Freeman Asian Scholars Celebrated at Reception

On May 27, the Class of 2017 Freeman Asian Scholars were honored at a reception in Daniel Family Commons. Scholars, their families, friends, advisors and alumni attended the event.

The Freeman Asian Scholarship Program provides expenses for a four-year course of study toward a bachelor’s degree for up to 11 exceptional students annually, one each from the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

During the event, the nine graduating Class of 2017 scholars spoke briefly about their time at Wesleyan and post-graduation plans.

Other speakers included Tracey Gardner ’96, chair of the Wesleyan Alumni Association, Trustee Saeyun D. Lee ’93, and Alice Hadler, associate dean for international student affairs; the event was organized by Gina Driscoll, associate director of alumni and parent relations.

Photo of the reception are below: (Photos by Will Barr ’18)

Chong ’18 Repeats as DIII Honda Athlete of the Year Nominee for Tennis

Eudice Chong '18

Eudice Chong ’18. (Photo by Jonas Powell ’18)

For the third consecutive year, Eudice Chong ’18 of the women’s tennis team was named the Division III Honda Athlete of the Year nominee for tennis, as announced by Executive Director Chris Voelz of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA) presented by Honda.

“This past season has been a crazy ride, with our team trying to make small steps each day to improve our chances of coming up on top every match,” said Chong, the three-time NCAA Individual Singles Champion as well as the 2017 Individual Doubles Champion. “The camaraderie we have in our team is what keeps our team focused on reaching a common goal, and the support I get from them is phenomenal.”

Chong is the first player in NCAA Division III Women’s Individual Tournament history to win three-consecutive singles titles. She also captured her first DIII NCAA Double’s Championship to become the first player since 2004 to win both NCAA titles in the same year.

“It is nice to be playing at the Individual NCAA Championships knowing that my teammates will be cheering me on, but hopefully next year, we will be able to make the Elite 8 and compete as a team at the tournament venue as well,” she said. “It is such an honor to be nominated for such a prestigious award, showing that hard work really does pay off!”

Kadets, Kwon, Williams, Reyes Deliver Senior Voices, Hatch Gives Faculty Reflection

Lili Kadets ’17, Haneah Kwon ’17, Arnelle Williams ’17, and Mika Reyes ’17 delivered “Senior Voices” addresses on May 27 in Memorial Chapel. Anthony Hatch, assistant professor of science in society, assistant professor of sociology, assistant professor of African American studies, delivered the faculty reflection. Below are the text of their speeches:

77 Seniors Inducted into Phi Beta Kappa

eve_ruc_2017-0527160949On May 27, 77 members of the Class of 2017 were inducted into Wesleyan’s Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa Society, the oldest national scholastic honor society. They join 14 others who were initiated in fall.

To be elected, a student must first have been nominated by the department of his or her major. He or she also must have demonstrated curricular breadth by having met the General Education Expectations, and must have achieved a GPA of 93 and above.

The inductees and their majors include:

Joie Akerson, neuroscience and behavior;
Taiga Araki, biology, government;
Eric Arsenault, chemistry, physics;
eve_ruc_2017-0527163654Jeremy Auerbach, biology;
Fred Ayres, economics, neuroscience and behavior
Brennan Baker, biology;
Henry Barrett, economics, government;
Clayton Baumgart, physics;
Jordan Bell, neuroscience and behavior;
Kate Bodner, English, hispanic literatures and cultures;
Emma Broder, biology, science in society;
Henry Bushnell, biology, mathematics;
Sarah Corner, English, psychology;
Allison Cronan, film, mathematics;

Wesleyan Awards Hamilton Prize for Creativity to Incoming First-Year Student

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An all-star committee of Wesleyan University alumni, chaired by Hamilton writer/creator and former star Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ‘15 and director Thomas Kail ’99, has selected the recipient of the inaugural Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity: Audrey Pratt of Needham, Mass. Pratt’s submission, a short piece of fiction titled, “Thorns, Black and White,” was selected from among more than 600 entries.

Pratt will receive a four-year full-tuition scholarship to Wesleyan, worth as much as $200,000.

“The selection committee was blown away by the range and quality of the submissions we reviewed,” Miranda said. “Audrey’s story stood out as exceptional, but all of the finalists’ work displayed great originality and promise. Being part of Wesleyan’s Hamilton Prize selection process has deepened my faith in our creative future.”

“We were honored to work with our amazing fellow alumni in selecting this very deserving recipient,” Kail said. “I can’t wait to see what this remarkable group of creative students produces with their Wesleyan education.”

The Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity was established in honor of Miranda and Kail’s contributions to liberal education and the arts and named for the pair’s hit Broadway musical, Hamilton: An American Musical, which in 2016 won 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Book and Best Original Score.

In the first year of the Hamilton Prize, Wesleyan received more than 600 creative written work submissions, ranging from short stories to slam poetry, from screenplays to songs. All entries were first reviewed by Wesleyan’s faculty, and finalists were judged on their originality, artistry and dynamism by the alumni selection committee.

“Wesleyan has been home to so many dynamic writers over the years. We’re delighted to welcome these bright and imaginative students to campus, and to help develop their creative talents through a broad liberal education,” said President Michael Roth.

In addition to honorary chairs Miranda and Kail, the selection committee members include alumni Carter Bays ’97, Amy Bloom ’75, Daniel Handler ’92, Maggie Nelson ’94, Amanda Palmer ’98, Mary Roach ’81, Bozoma Saint John ’99, Kaneza Schaal ’06, Tierney Sutton ’86, Craig Thomas ’97, Matthew Weiner ’87, P’18, and Simone White ’93. Learn more about the committee and read bios of all its members here.

See the original announcement of the Hamilton Prize here, and learn more on the website.

Submissions for next year’s Hamilton Prize are due Jan. 1, 2018, the regular decision deadline for Wesleyan’s Class of 2022.

Porrazzo ’19 to Study in China as Critical Language Scholar

Emma Porrazzo '19 is one of 550 American students in the U.S. to receive a Critical Language Scholarship. She will spend about eight weeks abroad learning the Chinese language and culture in Suzhou, China. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Emma Porrazzo ’19 is one of 550 American students in the U.S. to receive a Critical Language Scholarship. This summer, she will spend more than eight weeks abroad learning Chinese language and culture in Suzhou, China. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Emma Porrazzo ’19 has received a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study Chinese in Suzhou, China this summer.

According to the CLS program website, the scholarship is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. “CLS scholars gain critical language and cultural skills that enable them to contribute to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.” Porrazzo is among approximately 550 American students at U.S. colleges and universities to receive the scholarship this year.

“Critical languages” are defined as those that are less commonly taught in U.S. schools but are essential for America’s engagement with the world. Students spend eight to 10 weeks overseas, where they receive intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language development.

Students Honored with Academic Prizes, Fellowships, Scholarships

Trinity Russell’17 received the Walkley Prize for excellence in psychology; Mae Moskin ’19 received the Scott Prize for Arabic language; and Cheryl Hagan ’17 received the Spurrier Award for ethics.

During the annual student awards reception on May 10, Trinity Russell’17 received the Walkley Prize for excellence in psychology; Mae Moskin ’19 was honored with the Scott Prize for Arabic language; and Cheryl Hagan ’17 received the Spurrier Award for ethics.

Students who received academic prizes, fellowships and scholarships were honored at a reception May 10 in Daniel Family Commons.

Mira Klein ’17 received the White Fellowship for government and the Robert Schumann Distinguished Student Award. Joli Holmes ’17 received the Plukas Prize for economics and the Plukas Teaching Apprentice Award.

Mira Klein ’17 received the White Fellowship and the Robert Schumann Distinguished Student Award. Joli Holmes ’17 received the Plukas Prize for economics and the Plukas Teaching Apprentice Award.

Among the awardees were Mira Klein ’17, who received the White Fellowship for government and the Robert Schumann Distinguished Student Award for demonstrating academic accomplishment and excellence in environmental stewardship; Page Nelson ’17, who received the Alumni Prize in the History of Art; Eric Meyreles ’18, who received a Miller Summer Internship Grant to pursue an internship related to a potential business career; Ainsley Eakins ’18, who received the university’s Social Activist Award; Sofi Goode ’17, who is the recipient of the Wilde Prize for excellence in economics; and AJ Wilson ’19, who was honored with the Richard McLellan Prize for commitment to public service and diversity.

Student-Athletes Honored at 5th Annual Dinner, Awards Program

On May 4, the Department of Physical Education and Athletics hosted its fifth annual scholar-athlete dinner and awards program.

Rachel Aronow ’17 and Michael Liu ’17 were honored with the Roger Maynard Memorial Award.

Rachel Aronow ’17 and Michael Liu ’17 were honored with the Roger Maynard Memorial Award.

The 170 student-athletes in attendance distinguished themselves through both their outstanding work in the classroom and their accomplishment in athletic competition.

During the event, Mike Whalen ’83, director of athletics, served as master of ceremonies and presented the Maynard Awards; Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 provided comments from the administration; Dan Lynch ’80, P’11, P’14 presented the Athletic Advisory Council Award; Rob Harbison ’17 and Molly Schassberger ’17 spoke on behalf of the scholar-athletes; and alumnus John Driscoll ’62 led the Wesleyan Fight Song.

Rachel Aronow ’17 (women’s ice hockey and women’s lacrosse) and Michael Liu ’17 (men’s tennis) were honored with the Roger Maynard Memorial Award, which is presented annually to the Wesleyan male and female senior scholar-athlete who best exemplifies the spirit, accomplishments and humility of Roger Maynard ’37, a former Wesleyan trustee who lettered in cross country and track. He died March 30, 1968.

6 Students Awarded Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowships

The 2016-17 Mellon Mays fellows include, from left, Jumoke McDuffie-Thurmond '19; Brianna Thurman '19, Kaiyana Cervera ’19; Bisa McDuffie-Thurmond '19, Azher Jaweed’19 and Brenda Quintana’18 (not pictured). Demetrius Eudell, pictured at far right, is the Mellon Mays faculty coordinator.

The 2017-18 Mellon Mays fellows include, from left, Jumoke McDuffie-Thurmond ’19; Brianna Thurman ’19, Kaiyana Cervera ’19; Bisa McDuffie-Thurmond ’19, Azher Jaweed’19 and Brenda Quintana’18 (not pictured). Demetrius Eudell, pictured at far right, is the Mellon Mays faculty coordinator.

This spring, Wesleyan has awarded six Wesleyan students with a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. The fellowship is the centerpiece of the Andrew Mellon Foundation’s initiatives to increase the presence of traditionally underrepresented groups in the faculty ranks of institutions of higher learning in the U.S.

Fellows participate in the program during the last two years of undergraduate study and receive a monthly stipend to offset work study requirements, modest research funds, and additional summer research funding as part of the fellowship. Upon successful completion of graduate study, Mellon Mays Fellows also receive up to $10,000 to assist in repayment of student loans.

The 2016-17 Mellon Mays fellows include Jumoke McDuffie-Thurmond ’19; Brianna Thurman ’19, Kaiyana Cervera ’19; Bisa McDuffie-Thurmond ’19, Azher Jaweed’19 and Brenda Quintana’18. Demetrius Eudell, professor of history, serves as faculty coordinator and Teshia Levy-Grant, dean for equity and inclusion, is staff coordinator. 

French Students Offer a Glimpse of Wesleyan’s History

Students from Wesleyan’s French 325 class Museums, Objects and Empire, recently presented a pop-up exhibition on the history that surrounds Wesleyan’s former museum that once occupied Judd Hall from 1871 to 1957.

Students from Wesleyan’s French 325 class Museums, Objects and Empire, recently presented an exhibit on the history that surrounds Wesleyan’s former museum that once occupied Judd Hall from 1871 to 1957. Included was information on the Wesleyan’s missionary past; history on Javanese gamelan and ethnomusicology at Wesleyan; and a mummy, acquired by Wesleyan in the 1880s.