Students

Students Teach DNA, Self-Awareness Workshops to Local Children

On Nov. 30, Alex Shames '18, Alison Biester '19, Sojeong Park '18, Alexa Strauss '19 and Mikaela Carty '18, who belong to the Molecular and Biochemistry Department's undergraduate student group Major Groove, lead workshops on DNA.

Wesleyan students recently hosted special 1/2 day programs for the Green Street Arts Center AfterSchool students. On Nov. 30, Alex Shames ’18 (pictured), Alison Biester ’19, Sojeong Park ’18, Alexa Strauss ’19 and Mikaela Carty ’18, who belong to the Molecular and Biochemistry Department’s undergraduate student group Major Groove, led workshops on DNA.

McKee Leads Graduate Series Discussion on Fossils, Climate’s Effect on Leaves

BA/MA student Melissa McKee, who is pursuing a MA in earth and environmental sciences, delivered a talk during the Graduate Student Speakers Series on Nov. 29. McKee’s talk was titled “Looking to the past to predict the future: Restoring the fossil collections at Wesleyan’s Joe Webb Peoples Museum and testing the accuracy of using fossil leaves to estimate past temperatures.” McKee spent the summer working on restoring and cataloging a fossil collection for Wesleyan’s Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History. “This work paired perfectly with my research, which tests the assumptions of models that use the size and shape of fossilized leaves to reconstruct the mean annual temperature of ancient environments,” she said.

BA/MA student Melissa McKee, who is pursuing a MA in earth and environmental sciences, delivered a talk during the Graduate Student Speakers Series on Nov. 29. McKee’s talk was titled “Looking to the past to predict the future: Restoring the fossil collections at Wesleyan’s Joe Webb Peoples Museum and testing the accuracy of using fossil leaves to estimate past temperatures.” McKee spent the summer working on restoring and cataloging a fossil collection for Wesleyan’s Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History. “This work paired perfectly with my research, which tests the assumptions of models that use the size and shape of fossilized leaves to reconstruct the mean annual temperature of ancient environments,” she said.

Case, Kessler ’18 Honored for Outstanding Poster Presentations

PhD candidate Brandon Case and Emily Kessler '18 attended the North Eastern Structural Symposium at the University of Connecticut.

PhD candidate Brandon Case and Emily Kessler ’18 attended the North Eastern Structural Symposium at the University of Connecticut.

Molecular Biology and Biochemistry PhD candidate Brandon Case and Emily Kessler ’18 recently won poster awards at the North Eastern Structural Symposium (NESS) at the University of Connecticut on Oct. 28.

Both students research the mechanisms of action of DNA replication and repair proteins with Manju Hingorani, chair and professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, professor of integrative sciences. Hingorani’s DNA Lab investigates proteins responsible for DNA replication and repair. These proteins maintain genome and cell integrity, and their malfunction leads to cancer and other diseases.

Case received an Outstanding Poster Award for his work, “Coordinated Actions of Four ATPase Sites on UvrA2 During Initiation of Nucleotide Excision Repair.”

Kessler, who is a Wesleyan Beckman Scholar, received an Outstanding Undergraduate Poster Award for “Investigating the MutS Conformational Dynamics During MMR Initiation of Lynch Syndrome-Linked MutS Mutants.” The NESS created this undergraduate award only for Kessler after hearing her presentation.

Wesleyan Celebrates 23rd Year of Freeman Asian Scholars Program

On Nov. 3, Wesleyan’s Freeman Asian Scholars gathered for group photos and dinner. The Freeman Scholars Program annually provides expenses for a four-year course of study toward a BA for up to 11 exceptional Asian students from these countries and regions: the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

On Nov. 3, Wesleyan’s Freeman Asian Scholars gathered for group photos and dinner. The Freeman Scholars Program provides scholarships annually to 11 exceptional Asian students from these countries and regions: the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The Freeman Program was established in 1995 through the generosity of the Freeman family – Mansfield Freeman ’16, Houghton Freeman ’43, P’77, Hon ’93, Doreen Freeman P’77, Hon ’03 and Graeme Freeman ’77.

Winners of the Wes in the World Photo Contest Announced

On Nov. 13, the Fries Center for Global Studies announced the winners of the 2017-18 Wes in the World Photo Contest. More than 200 Wesleyan students, staff, faculty and alumni voted on 56 images in five different categories, including landscape, people, contemporary issues, daily life and sports.

Photographs were submitted by international students and U.S. students who studied abroad.

View the winners below. View the honorable mentions online here.

“Cinque Terre Town” by Natalie Strassheim, ‘18 / Manarola, Italy “I was ready to capture some of my own awesome photos by embarking on a solo trip. I remember, in Pompeii, saying farewell to my study abroad friends. I boarded the train, heading off to my next stop in Italy. This was the beginning to feeling independent. This was the start to feeding my wanderlust.”

BEST PHOTO OF LANDSCAPE: “Cinque Terre Town” by Natalie Strassheim ‘18, Manarola, Italy. “I was ready to capture some of my own awesome photos by embarking on a solo trip. I remember, in Pompeii, saying farewell to my study-abroad friends. I boarded the train, heading off to my next stop in Italy. This was the beginning to feeling independent. This was the start to feeding my wanderlust,” she said.

Student-Athletes Raise Awareness, Funds for Men’s Health in Movember

The Men's Crew Team showing off their mustaches-in-progress to raise awareness for men's health issues in support of the Movember Foundation.

The Men’s Crew Team showing off their mustaches-in-progress to raise awareness for men’s health issues in support of the Movember Foundation.

This month, Wesleyan students, many affiliated with athletic teams, are raising awareness and raising funds for men’s health through the Movember Foundation. According to its website, the Foundation is the only charity tackling men’s health on a global level, with a focus on addressing prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. It has funded over 1,200 men’s health projects in 21 countries.

Wesleyan has had an official Campus Representative with the Foundation for the past four years. This year Luke Forsthoefel ’20, a member of Men’s Crew team, is the Campus Representative for all of Wesleyan.

“The issue of men’s health is especially important to me because I think in a lot of ways there are societal norms and expectations put on men that can make it difficult for those who need help to get it,” he said. “There is a certain stigma around men asking for help and support when they need it, which is why I think it is so important to get people of all genders involved in helping men break this stigma.”

Wilson ’18 Wins Fundraising Competition at Clinton Global Initiative University Conference

Siri McGuire '17, Taiga Araki ’17, Alvin Chitena ’19, AJ Wilson ’18, Makaela Kingsley '98 (director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship) and Ferdinand Quayson ’20 attended the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) Conference in Boston.

Siri McGuire ’17, Taiga Araki ’17, Alvin Chitena ’19, AJ Wilson ’18, Makaela Kingsley ’98 (director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship) and Ferdinand Quayson ’20 gathered for a group photo prior to the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) Conference in Boston.

Dreams are coming true for AJ Wilson ’18, founder of the non-profit organization Dream Chasers.

During the 10th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) Conference in Boston Oct. 13-15, Dream Chasers won a Crowdrise fundraising competition and set the record for most money raised ($18,025) by any single group. For his efforts, Wilson was congratulated by Chelsea Clinton, Congressman Joe Kennedy III and former president Bill Clinton.

AJ Wilson '18 was honored by Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, during the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference on Oct. 14. (Photo by Diana Levine/Clinton Foundation)

AJ Wilson ’18 was honored by Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, during the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference on Oct. 14. (Photo by Diana Levine/Clinton Foundation)

Wilson, who grew up in Kennesaw, Georgia, created Dream Chasers to close the academic and opportunity gaps in the South and Midwest through a collection of different programs and initiatives. In five years, the team has impacted the lives of more than 5,300 students and helped students earn $1.4 million in scholarships.

Dream Chasers wasn’t the only Wesleyan student-created organization represented—and invited to—CGI U. Attendee Alvin Chitena ’19 spoke about his organization, ZimCode, which provides Zimbabwean youth with free access to resources they need—computers, internet access and instruction—to learn computer programming and how to apply their new skills in their community.

Ferdinand Quayson ’20, founder of Young Achievers Foundation Ghana, created the organization to provide disadvantaged students in Northern Ghana access to higher education through scholarship workshops and innovative in-school mentorship programs.

Taylor ’07 Teaches Design Thinking Workshop at Wesleyan

On Oct. 19, students, staff and faculty learned about design thinking and creative problem solving through a Wes Design Tank. During this two hour workshop, participants learned the methodology and solved a problem experienced in their own life. Their mission? To reimagine a personal behavior.

The event was organized by Posse Scholar and Patricelli Center Fellow Lance Williams ’20 and facilitated by Brent Taylor ’07, a design thinking practitioner and coach at Stoke.d in Nashville, Tenn. Coaches at Stoke.d help individuals and teams get back in touch with their inherent creative abilities.

Participants worked with a partner and created experiences through interviews, ideas, written words, sketches and ultimately a physical prototype.

“What does this idea look like in the real world,” Taylor asked. “Bring your idea to life in as much detail as you can.”

At the end of the workshop, partners shared their ideas and prototypes with each other.

Wesleyan currently offers two courses in design thinking – Thinking with Things and Participatory Design – both taught by Barbara Adams, the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Design.

Photos of the workshop are below (Photos by Olivia Drake):

Fall Harvest Celebrated at Pumpkin Festival

The College of the Environment hosted its 13th Annual Pumpkin Festival Oct. 14 at Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm to celebrate the fall harvest.

The Pumpkin Festival provides an opportunity for the Wesleyan and local communities to learn about local organic farming and the politics of food. The event included farm tours, a farmer’s market, a bake sale, live music, face and pumpkin painting, free veggie burgers, arts and crafts, bulb planting, and more. Pumpkin Fest was held in conjunction with Campus Sustainability Week.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Caroline Kravitz ’19 and Will Barr ’18)

Graduate Student Kiman Awarded Scholarship to Attend Yiddish Festival

Douglas Kiman

Douglas Kiman

Douglas Kiman, a first-year PhD student in ethnomusicology, recently received a scholarship to attend the 2017 Yiddish New York festival held Dec. 23-28. Kiman’s research focuses on contemporary klezmer music in Western Europe.

Yiddish New York celebrates and engages with East European Jewish (and other Jewish and co-territorial) traditions to foster new creativity. Drawing inspiration from the historic cultural riches of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Yiddish New York is an intergenerational gathering featuring daily workshops and a broad spectrum of performances and programming. Yiddish New York evenings feature concerts, dance parties, and jam sessions at clubs.

Kiman, a native of France, spent two years in New York as a visiting scholar conducting research at the Yiddish Cultural Institute (YIVO). He also was a member of the Columbia Klezmer Band under the conducting of Jeffrey Warshauer.

“This scholarship is a unique opportunity to collaborate and study with some of the greatest living exponents of Yiddish folk arts including instrumental klezmer music, Yiddish song, dance and theater,” said Cheryl-Ann Hagner, director of Graduate Student Services. “Douglas will also start fieldwork for his dissertation by meeting and interviewing the most prominent American and international members of today’s klezmer scene.”

Graduate Liberal Studies Partners with ARC Program for Teaching Certification

Students who are admitted, or have already matriculated to Wesleyan’s Graduate Liberal Studies program will receive priority consideration for admission to the Connecticut’s Alternative Route to (Teaching) Certification.

Wesleyan has partnered with the State of Connecticut’s Alternative Route to Certification (ARC) program in a new initiative that will benefit both Wesleyan undergraduates seeking teaching certification and ARC participants seeking a master’s degree.

The ARC program, in existence since 1986, is of particular interest to working professionals making a career change into becoming an educator since it offers a one-year, part-time path to obtaining teaching certification in Connecticut.

Jennifer Curran, director of Continuing Studies and Graduate Liberal Studies, says Wesleyan proposed a partnership to ARC officials – one that would be mutually beneficial. Current ARC students and ARC alumni need a master’s degree to obtain full certification in Connecticut, and that’s what GLS can provide. As an incentive to ARC students, Wesleyan is offering scholarship support that significantly lowers the cost of obtaining a master’s degree.

Speakers, Poster Sessions at Annual Molecular Biophysics Program Retreat

Wesleyan’s Molecular Biophysics Program hosted its 18th annual retreat Sept. 28 at Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown. Wesleyan affiliated speakers included:

Professor Francis Starr, spoke about DNA junction dynamics and thermodynamics during the 18th annual Molecular Biophysics Retreat.

Professor Francis Starr spoke about DNA junction dynamics and thermodynamics during the 18th annual Molecular Biophysics Retreat.

  • Colin Smith, assistant professor of chemistry, on “An Atomistic View of Protein Dynamics and Allostery;”
  • Meng-Ju Renee Sher, assistant professor of physics, on “Tracking Electron Motions Using Terahertz Spectroscopy;”
  • Kelly Knee, PhD ’07, principle scientist for Pfizer’s Rare Disease Research Unit, on “Protein Folding Chaperones: Molecular Machines for Tricky Problems;”
  • and Francis Starr, professor of physics, director of the College of Integrative Sciences, on “DNA Four-Way Junction Dynamics and Thermodynamics: Lessons from Combining Simulations and Experiments.”

Arthur Palmer, the Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University Medical Center, delivered the keynote address on “Conformational dynamics in molecular recognition and catalysis: Lessons from ribonuclease H, AlkB, and GCN4.”

The day-long retreat also included two poster sessions, where undergraduates, graduate students and faculty shared their research with their peers and colleagues. The event concluded with a reception.

The Molecular Biophysics Training Program, Chemistry Department, and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department sponsored the event.

Photos of the retreat are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)