Tag Archive for alumni publications

Bonin, Louie ’15 Co-Author Paper in Journal of Comparative Economics

John Bonin, the Chester D. Hubbard Professor of Economics and Social Science, and his former student Dana Louie ’15, are authors of a new paper published in Journal of Comparative Economics titled, “Did foreign banks stay committed to emerging Europe during recent financial crises?”

In the paper, Bonin and Louie investigate the behavior of foreign banks with respect to real loan growth during times of financial crisis for a set of countries where foreign banks dominate the banking sectors. The paper focuses on eight countries that are the most developed in emerging Europe and the behavior of two types of banks: The Big 6 European multinational banks (MNBs) and all other-foreign controlled banks. The results show that bank lending was impacted adversely during recent financial crises, but the two types of banks behaved differently. The Big 6 banks’ lending behavior was similar to domestic banks supporting the notion that these countries are treated as a “second home market” by these European MNBs. However, the other foreign banks in the region were involved in fueling the credit boom, but then decreased their lending aggressively during the crisis periods. The results suggest that both innovations matter for studying bank behavior during crisis periods in the region and, by extension, to other small countries in which banking sectors are dominated by foreign financial institutions having different business models.

“I am particularly proud of this collaborative publication because it does not stem from a student’s honors thesis, but rather from work that began with the Quantitative Analysis Center summer program and that Dana and I continued throughout her senior year in addition to her regular coursework,” Bonin said.

The paper is available online and will appear in a forthcoming hardcopy issue of the journal.

Hickenlooper ’74 Releases Engaging Memoir

The20Opposite20of20Woe20by20John20Hickenlooper-197x300Irrepressibly optimistic, funny, self-deprecating, at times self-doubting but driven to tackle difficult challenges. These are the qualities that shine through in John Hickenlooper ’74’s disarming autobiography, The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics (with Maximillan Potter; Penguin Press, 2016).

It was in a moment of self-doubt, or perhaps profound personal insight, that Hickenlooper chose Wesleyan over Princeton, having been accepted to both universities in 1970. He confesses now that he didn’t think he was good enough for Princeton, but then adds, “I had a feeling that Princeton would be a bit too conservative, too buzz-cut and buttoned-down for me, and that Wesu’s long-haired liberal arts types would be more my crowd.” He was right.

Hickenlooper’s time at Wesleyan was remarkable for its longevity, and he devotes three chapters to “That Decade I Spent in College.” With candor unlike any politician bent on image burnishing, he tells in detail how he had his heart broken in love. An English major, he discovered his interest in geology in the second semester of his senior year, when he attended a lecture with a friend and found himself captivated by a discussion of leach fields and perc tests. He stayed at Wesleyan as a special student to take courses specified by the Geology Department as a prerequisite to being admitted into the master’s degree program, which he received in 1980.

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, by Roach ’81 Excerpted in NYT

Grunt_Cover-crop-animate2Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, the new book by Mary Roach (W.W. Norton & Company; June 2016), was excerpted in the New York Times’ Science section on May 30. Describing her visit to the Aberdeen Proving Ground (“a spread of high-security acreage set aside for testing weapons and the vehicles meant to withstand them”), Roach’s first-person account offers her characteristic lively narrative and wry humor. She allows her guide, Mark Roman, to be ours as well.

“’By and large, an army shows up to a war with the gear it has on hand from the last one. In 2003, the Marines arrived in Iraq with Humvees. ‘Some of the older ones had canvas doors,’ says Mr. Roman, who was one of those Marines. They were no match for the R.P.G.s trained upon them. So the Army tried plating vehicles with armor panels, which work well against heavy machine-gun fire. You might as well have armored your vehicle with road signs.

“’We were like, ‘Crap, this does not stop an R.P.G.,’ Mr. Roman told me.”

Following the successful creation of a device to stop an RPG—with what Roach describes as “a hoopskirt [for the armored combat vehicles] of heavy-duty steel grating called slat armor” in which they “would lumber back to base like up-armored hedgehogs…” —Roman notes that the insurgents then switched to making bombs.

It is through this process of the escalation of danger and that resultant need for greater protection that Roach proves a friendly guide, rendering jargon accessible and never losing sight of what is truly at stake: that while the WIAMan — the Warrior Injury Assessment Manikin—may answer questions posed in the proving grounds, a human will bear the cost of any false or incomplete answers. “The long-term quality of a soldier or Marine’s life is a relatively new consideration/ In the past, military decision makers concerned themselves more with go/no-go: Do the injuries keep a soldier from completing the mission?…The answers may or may not affect the decisions that are made in the preparations for war, but at least they’ll be part of the equation for those inclined to do the math.”

In an interview with John Bonazzo for the Observer, Roach highlighted her respect for those working behind the scenes on saving lives and lowering the risks of combat: “There’s a tremendous amount of dedication and work that doesn’t get covered very much,” she said. “I want people to come away with respect for and recognition of that work.”

 

 

Junger ’84 Discusses Tribe on NPR

Photo © Tim Hetherington

Sebastian Junger. (Photo by Tim Hetherington)

On his website, Sebastian Junger ’84 writes that his latest book, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging (Twelve, May 24, 2016), is “about why tribal sentiment is such a rare and precious thing in modern society, and how the lack of it has affected us all. It’s about what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty and belonging and the eternal human quest for meaning. … Humans don’t mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary.”

On May 21, Scott Simon, host of NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, invited Junger to discuss the origin and thesis behind Tribe.The two journalists had both spent time in Sarajevo in 1993–94 during the siege and shared recollections of a young woman, who had been a teen then and is a journalist in Bosnia now.

Simon asked Junger to recall a recent conversation with that journalist in Bosnia, which illustrated an unexpected emotional response to the current peace in the region. “[S]he said, we were better people during the siege. We helped each other. We lived more closely. We would have died for each other. And now.., we’re a wealthy society. And everyone just lives for themselves. And everyone’s depressed….”

Simon also noted the discomfort Junger feels with the term PTSD.

“Well, it has its use,” Junger acknowledged. “It describes a long-term reactions to trauma that some people get.” However, he noted the discrepancy between the relatively low numbers of soldiers who see combat, versus the high percentage who seek help under that tag.

That fact prompted Junger to use his Wesleyan anthropology major—with fieldwork on the Navajo Reservation—as a lens. “I bet the Navajo, the Apache, the Comanche, the Cheyenne, the Sioux, the Kiowa—very, very warlike societies…weren’t getting PTSD,” he hypothesized. Perhaps the society to which the warrior returns is a key factor in the ease of transition from battlefield to home. “And if you come home to a cohesive tribal society, maybe you recover quite quickly from trauma.”

“I think psychological counseling is very important for people who have been traumatized,” he told Simon. “But what do you do with the people who weren’t traumatized, who don’t feel like they should be home? They no longer feel like they belong to the society they fought for.”

McDevitt MALS ’71 Honored with Asteroid Jackmcdevitt

As a science fiction writer of some renown, Jack McDevitt MALS ’71 was invited to NASA to watch a rocket launch—which he is anticipating in this photograph.

As an award-winning science fiction writer, Jack McDevitt MALS ’71 was invited to NASA, to watch a rocket launch—which he is anticipating in this photograph.

Award-winning science fiction writer Jack McDevitt MALS ’71 received an out-of-this-world honor: Lowell Observatory astronomer named an asteroid for him.

In an e-mail, astronomer Lawrence Wasserman, explained, “I discovered the books of Jack McDevitt early in 2015 and spent most of the year plowing through every novel he has written. I was especially taken by his naming the first Mars spaceship for Percival Lowell, our founder. And, as a person who spent their teens in the ’60s reading Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, I was very pleased to find someone who writes science fiction that doesn’t have any elves, dwarfs, or magic swords but gets back to spaceships and time travel.”

Wasserman, who notes his specific interest in asteroids and the Kuiper Belt (a region of the solar system beyond Neptune’s orbit that contains many small orbiting bodies), has discovered around 50 asteroids.

“The International Astronomical Union regulates the naming of these objects (they’re the same ones who demoted Pluto),” he says. “The rules say that the discoverer gets to name the asteroid and that becomes the official name for all astronomers to use.”

Wasserman had named asteroids in honor of his parents, son, and high school physics teacher. Then, “Since Jack McDevitt chose to honor our observatory’s founder, Percival Lowell, in one of his books, I wanted to return the favor and name an asteroid for him.”

The astronomer and the author have exchanged a few e-mails. Wasserman sent McDevitt a photograph of asteroid Jackmcdevitt, as well as one of the asteroid Larissa, which was mentioned in McDevitt’s novel, Coming Home, set in the 12th millennium.

McDevitt, whose newest novel, Thunderbird, was released in December, adds: “Professor Wasserman sent me a list of names provided for asteroids during the past two months. They included mostly scientists, a few literary characters out of Greek mythology, some historical people, a few cities, Tina Fey, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan. And, finally, me. They’ve put me in pretty decent company.

Investigative Journalist McKim ’88 Receives Freedom of Information Award

The New England First Amendment Coalition presented Wesleyan English major Jenifer McKim ’88 with a 2016 Freedom of Information Award.

Investigative journalist Jenifer McKim ’88 won this year's Freedom of Information Award in recognition of her series on child abuse and neglect cases.

Investigative journalist Jenifer McKim ’88 won this year’s Freedom of Information Award in recognition of her series on child abuse and neglect cases.

McKim is senior investigative reporter and trainer at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting (NECIR), a nonprofit based out of Boston University and WGBH. The Freedom of Information Award is presented annually to New England journalists who protect or advance the public’s right to know under federal or state law.

McKim’s award-winning series, “Out of the Shadows—Shining Light on State Failures to Learn from Rising Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths,” first published by the Boston Globe, examined the effectiveness of the Department of Child and Family Services oversight for suspected cases of abuse and neglect.

McKim noted that the stories—often heartbreaking and thus difficult to write—did instigate important systemic changes when published..

“Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker immediately held a press conference and announced that the state would improve screening of suspected abuse and neglect calls, particularly requiring that criminal history reports would be done on every caretaker, something we had pointed to in our reporting. About two months later, the governor eliminated the troubled two-tier system [of graduated risk] altogether, an issue that before our stories had not been in play at all. And we are still fighting for better government transparency when it comes to child abuse and neglect fatalities.”

McKim, who also teaches investigative skills to students and mentors journalists, said, “I really am proud of this work and being part of the small but growing world of nonprofit journalism. It’s exciting to be at the forefront of finding new ways to pay for and tell important stories that make a difference.”

Read moreNew England Center for Investigative Reporting » Child Fatalities

Bevilacqua ’12 and Alam ’15: Translating, Publishing Wiesel’s Night in Indonesian

Max Bevilacqua ’12 spent a year teaching English in Indonesia on a Fulbright. Elie Weisel's memoir, Night, proved a bridge to understanding between cultures.

Max Bevilacqua ’12 spent a year teaching English in Indonesia on a Fulbright. Elie Weisel’s memoir, Night, proved a bridge to understanding between cultures. (photo credit: Sarah Gormley)

It doesn’t seem an obvious choice, publishing one of the most important memoirs to come out of the Holocaust into the language of a country that is home to the world’s largest Muslim population—but that’s exactly the project Max Bevilacqua ’12 and Mansoor Alam ’15 have taken on.
The project is the brainchild of Bevilacqua, who grew up in a Jewish household and studied Christianity as a religion major at Wesleyan. As a Fulbright scholar, he requested placement in Indonesia, which is 88 percent Muslim, and where he taught English. State department officials—as well as family and friends—encouraged Bevilacqua not to reveal his religious identity, since Judaism is not sanctioned there.

“I struggled with that,” he said. “But I came to see it as— I wanted to be ‘Max, the American who is our teacher.’ I didn’t want my religion to be distraction.”
Still, the secret weighed on him. Ten days before his year was complete, he gathered his friends. “You should know that I’m Jewish,” he said.

His announcement was met with some confusion—why hadn’t he told them? It was a time to acknowledge his own fears and biases—and the best way seemed to be with a book: Night, by Elie Wiesel. This memoir recounted Weisel’s horrific experiences as a young boy in the German concentration camps during World War II.

“The book provided an epiphany of the trauma that has been associated with being Jewish,” Bevilacqua said.

Back in the United States, Bevilacqua continued pondering the bridge he’d found. What would it take to share this powerful book with a country that had never had it available to them?

He remembered that he already knew a publisher: Mansoor Alam ’15. The two had met as undergrads. Alam describes Bevilacqua as “very personable—you can sit down and really talk with him.” Bevilacqua calls Alam “humble and brilliant; a true Renaissance man.”

With his own publishing company, Mansoor Alam ’15 was the ideal partner for Bevilacqua. In this 2012 photo, Alam was in Karachi, Pakistan, supporting community educational initiatives.

With his own publishing company, Mansoor Alam ’15 was the ideal partner for Bevilacqua. In this 2012 photo, Alam was in Karachi, Pakistan, supporting community educational initiatives.

Alam had started his own publishing company as a first-year student at Wesleyan. “There are so many good writers and great content that doesn’t make it to readers; I wanted to figure out a way to give authors autonomy and make it cost effective,” he explained. He provides his clients with assistance in copyediting, graphics and marketing.

“When Max talked to me about the project, I knew we absolutely had to do this,” Alam said. “The challenge of it—the ‘what’— was thrilling to me, and Max was so passionate about the ‘why’ of it.”

The “what” began with obtaining rights from the French publishing company, in a series of carefully crafted letters written in French. Next, they lined up a cohort of French/Indonesian translators.

The process is intensive. “It’s such a visceral, personal book,” Bevilacqua said.

Bevilacqua urges us not to forget Indonesia when we, in the West, look to form relationships with Muslim-majority countries.

Bevilacqua urges us not to forget Indonesia when we, in the West, look to form relationships with Muslim-majority countries.

“Max was worried about losing the impact of those details,” Alam said. “To make sure that doesn’t happen, we rely on a network. Translators compare their work—how they rendered this word, that phrase.”

With the translation nearly completed, Bevilacqua is focused on coordinating classrooms in American and in Indonesia who will read Night together. “It’s a book that can bridge cultures,” he said. “When we think about the Muslim world, let’s also look to developing friendships in Indonesia.”

To follow their progress, see http://growingoodfaith.org/.

Philadelphia’s Heller ’04 is Urban Innovator of the Week

Greg Heller ’04, CEO of American Communities Trust in Philadelphia, was named Urban Innovator of the Week for his work  on social impact real estate.

Greg Heller ’04, CEO of American Communities Trust in Philadelphia, was named Urban Innovator of the Week for his work on social impact real estate.

Gregory Heller ’04, CEO of American Communities Trust (ACT), was named Urban Innovator of the Week on Feb. 15, by Urban Innovation Exchange (UIX), an initiative to advance urban improvement and highlight those who are on the leading edge of this movement. Begun in 2012 as a three-year project in Detroit and funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, UIX is now showcasing talented people from all over the country who are transforming the cities and neighborhoods in which they live.

As head of ACT, Heller, who has spent more than 10 years in community development in Philadelphia, helps nonprofits build and finance social impact real estate—projects that improve the quality of life, particularly in low-income areas, by providing needed services and offering desirable real estate for new businesses and residents.

In a TEDx talk given last June in Philadelphia, “How To Set up Social Impact Real Estate,” he explained the impetus behind his work: “Our cities and our communities are defined by the interaction of people and places… but who shapes the built environment around us?” he asks. “We walk around our cities and we say, ‘Oh, look, they’re building that new project over there,’ or ‘Why haven’t they built anything here yet?’ Who are they? Why is it ‘they’ and not we? Too often developers in low income neighborhoods have profit rather than the community’s best interest…I believe that [social impact real estate projects] s are critical to the future of our cities, our communities and ultimately our society.”

An American studies and German studies major at Wesleyan, Heller is the author of Ed Bacon: Planning, Politics and the Building of Modern Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013).

Koeppel ’79 Tells History Behind New York City Grid

Gerard Koeppel '79 - Photo: Diane Connal Koeppel

Gerard Koeppel ’79 (Photo by Diane Connal Koeppel)

Readers who are fans of urban history and planning or have a particular interest in New York should find City on a Grid: How New York Became New York (Da Capo) by Gerard Koeppel ’79 a fascinating read. Koeppel shares the story behind the Manhattan street grid, created in 1811 by a three-man commission featuring headstrong Founding Father Gouverneur Morris; the plan called for a dozen parallel avenues crossing at right angles with many dozens of parallel streets in an unbroken grid.

When the grid plan was announced, New York was just under 200 years old, an overgrown town and a jumble of streets at Manhattan’s southern edge. The street planning commission decided to bring order beyond the chaos with a monolithic grid for the rest of the island. Mannahatta—the native “island of hills”—became a place of rectangles, in thousands of blocks on the flattened landscape, and numerous right-angled buildings rising vertically.

Book by Gerard Koppel '79

Book by Gerard Koppel ’79

“The grid made New York an orderly place, especially in contrast with the jumbled, unplanned streets of the Dutch, English, and early American period,” Koeppel said. “The grid today makes Manhattan easily comprehensible, for people navigating the city by foot or surface transportation, up to developers siting and constructing buildings. These same benefits are also detriments. New York is not a city to happily ‘get lost’ in like Paris, nor does it possess the beauty of varied building forms and public spaces of less rigidly planned cities.”

In his recent review of the book in The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik wrote: “Koeppel argues, convincingly, that the show of hardheaded rationality here is merely a show. There was no good commercial reason to make a thrifty city of intersections at right angles. London, the model of an imperial commercial city, had its ovals and organic oddities and still prospered. Philadelphia had lovely squares interrupting its own version of the grid. Straight-sided and right-angled houses can be built in circles as well as on street corners. The details of New York’s grid turn out to be surprisingly haphazard and improvisational in their origins. As Koeppel points out, no one has ever provided a good explanation for why the wide two-way streets were chosen to fall where they do—at 14th, 23rd, 24th. In general, he persuades us, the impulse behind the grid was less the rationalizing impulses of the Enlightenment than the eternal desire of a bureaucratic commission to finish its report, accented, later, by the eternal real-estate developers’ urge to have regularized lots to develop.”

Koeppel also is the author of Bond of Union: Building the Erie Canal and the American Empire and Water for Gotham: A History.

Kaplan ’73 Writes Second Volume on Sinatra’s Life

James Kaplan '73 - Photo: Erinn Hartmann

James Kaplan ’73 (Photo by Erinn Hartmann)

In 2010, James Kaplan ’73 had a national bestseller with Frank: The Voice, an acclaimed biography which told the story of singer Frank Sinatra’s meteoric rise to fame, subsequent failures, and reinvention as a star of live performances and screen. In his new book, Sinatra: The Chairman (Doubleday), Kaplan continues the singer’s story, starting with the day after Sinatra claimed his Academy Award for From Here to Eternity in 1954 and had reestablished himself as a top recording artist. After winning the Oscar, he was extremely busy with recording albums and singles, shooting several movies a year, and appearing on TV shows and nightclubs. He started his own record label, Reprise, and was involved in movie production, the restaurant business, and prizefighter management. His notorious social activities and commitments also made the news.

In a piece he recently wrote for The Wall Street Journal about his latest book, Kaplan comments: “I’ve studied and written about Frank Sinatra for 10 years, and though I’ve sometimes disliked him, I’ve never been bored with him. His best singing—of which there is a very great deal—still gives me goosebumps, every time. I believe that we will still be celebrating Sinatra, and listening to him, next year, and the year after that, and (as the title of another of his numbers has it) a hundred years from today.”

Biography by James Kaplan '73

Biography by James Kaplan ’73

In his review of the book in The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik says: “Kaplan’s book turns out to be … hugely readable, vastly entertaining, a page-turner, and all the rest. But it’s also interesting as a fine instance of a strikingly newish kind of thing: the serious and even scholarly biography of a much gossiped-over pop figure, where the old Kitty Kelley-style scandal-sheet bio is turned into a properly documented and footnoted study that nonetheless trades on, or at least doesn’t exclude, the sensational bits.”

Wesleyan magazine interview with James Kaplan about Frank: The Voice.

Kaplan is a novelist and nonfiction writer whose essays, reviews, and profiles have appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Esquire, and New York magazine. He co-authored John McEnroe’s autobiography, You Cannot Be Serious, a number-one New York Times bestseller, and coauthored the bestselling Dean & Me with Jerry Lewis. He lives in Westchester, New York, with his wife and three sons.

Naegele, Aaron, Student Researchers Published in Journal of Neuroscience

Jan Naegele, Gloster Aaron and several Wesleyan researchers are the co-authors of an article titled “Long-Term Seizure Suppression and Optogenetic Analyses of Synaptic Connectivity in Epileptic Mice with Hippocampal Grafts of GABAergic Interneurons,” published in the October 2014 edition of The Journal of Neuroscience, Issue 34(40): 13492-13504.

Naegele is professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, and director of the Center for Faculty Career Development. Aaron is associate professor of biology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior. The article is co-authored by Diana Lin ’15; graduate students Jyoti Gupta and Meghan Van Zandt; recent alumni Elizabeth Litvina BA/MA ’11, XiaoTing Zheng ’14, Nicholas Woods ’13 and Ethan Grund ’13; and former research assistants/lab managers Sara Royston, Katharine Henderson and Stephanie Tagliatela.

Studies in rodent epilepsy models suggest that GABAergic interneuron progenitor grafts can reduce hyperexcitability and seizures in temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Although integration of the transplanted cells has been proposed as the underlying mechanism for these disease-modifying effects, prior studies have not explicitly examined cell types and synaptic mechanisms for long-term seizure suppression. To address this gap, the researchers transplanted medial ganglionic eminence (MGE) cells from embryos into adult mice two weeks after induction of TLE.

The researchers found that TLE mice with bilateral MGE cell grafts had significantly fewer and milder electrographic seizures. These findings suggest that fetal GABAergic interneuron grafts may suppress pharmacoresistant seizures.

 

Low’s Short Story Published in Solstice Literary Magazine

David Low

David Low

David Low ’76, associate director of publications in University Communications, is the author of a short story titled “Elevor,” published in the Spring 2014 literary magazine Solstice.

“Elevor” is about a young Chinese American woman living and working in Manhattan who suffers from claustrophobia and has several surprising adventures around the city.

In addition to his many articles in Wesleyan magazine, Low’s fiction has appeared in the Ploughshares Reader, American Families, Under Western Eyes: Personal Essays from Asian America, Many Lights in Many Windows, and Mississippi Review.

He is a recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts, the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, a New York State Arts Council Grant, and a Wallace Stegner Writing Fellowship at Stanford University.