Tag Archive for alumni

Neufeld ’79 Named St. Jude Physician-In-Chief, Clinical Director

Ellis Neufeld ’79, MD., PhD, joins St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to lead clinical efforts and patient care programs.

Ellis Neufeld ’79, M.D., PhD, joins St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to lead clinical efforts and patient care programs.

Ellis Neufeld, M.D., PhD., was appointed clinical director, physician-in-chief and executive vice president of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, an internationally renowned center that pioneers research for and offers treatment to children with catastrophic illnesses. He will begin his new position at the Memphis medical center in March.

Neufeld, a pediatric oncologist with a global profile, is a longtime Harvard Medical School faculty member, serving most recently as associate chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. He was also medical director at the Boston Hemophilia Center and held the Egan Family Foundation Chair in Transitional Medicine at Harvard Medical School as a professor of pediatrics.

In a press releaseSt. Jude President and Chief Executive Officer James Downing, M.D., said: “Dr. Neufeld’s leadership and experience will help steer St. Jude clinical operations as we expand our patient care programs, increase the number of patients treated and work to set the standard for pediatric cancer care delivery.”

A biology and chemistry major at Wesleyan who was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Neufeld earned his doctoral degrees at Washington University in St. Louis. He completed specialty training in pediatrics and medical genetics at Boston Children’s Hospital and in pediatric hematology/oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s.

 

Mayberry ’97 Works with Volcano Disaster Assistance Program

Gari Mayberry (Photo courtesy of usaid.gov)

Gari Mayberry ’97 (Photo courtesy of usaid.gov)

Gari Mayberry ’97 was featured in the January issue of EARTH Magazine for her work with the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP).

In the article, “Life-saving Diplomacy: The Volcano Disaster Assistance Program at Thirty,” VDAP’s growth and evolution over 30 years are chronicled, highlighting the team’s past successes and goals for the future.

Mayberry, who studied geology at Wesleyan, is part of the world’s only volcano crisis response team, which is made up of what EARTH writer Bethany Augliere described as “a small group of U.S. volcanologists that works around the world to prevent eruptions from becoming disaster.” Since its inception, VDAP has responded to more than 30 major volcanic crises.

Mayberry discussed her time working at volcanic sites in places like Indonesia and Tanzania. “Volcanoes are not something that most people think about regularly. I want people to know that there is this team of people who are thinking about volcanoes regularly,” she says in the article.

EARTH Magazine is published by the American Geosciences Institute, a nonprofit federation of geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists.

Read the full article here.

Bissell ’88 Balances Social Impact, Scale in Ethnic Goods Retailer Fabindia

William Bissell is on the cover of Forbes Magazine in India.

William Bissell ’88 is on the cover of Forbes India.

William Bissell ’88, managing director of Fabindia, a retail enterprise begun by Bissell’s father, John, in 1960, is featured on the cover of Forbes India on Jan. 20, a special issue on social impact. “A Fab New World: Not Only is Ethnic Goods Retailer Fabinidia Spreading its Wings, It Continues to Shape the Lives of Thousands of Rural Artisans,” the cover line reads.

The article, by Forbes India staff writer Anshul Dhamija, details the beginnings of the company, as an exporter of hand-loomed fabrics and furnishings with only one initial retail store, which opened in New Delhi in 1976. The second opened in the same city in 1994. William Bissell took the helm in 1999, after his father’s death in 1998. The younger Bissell had returned to India after graduating from Wesleyan, establishing an artisans’ cooperative, the Bhadrajun Artisans Trust.

Forbes India charts the astronomic—yet socially conscious—growth of the company since the turn of the century. William Bissell, with a vision to redesign the stores as “retail experience centers” (more than tripling the size, offering cafes, “children’s zones,” and on-site tailoring), plans to open 40 of these centers across the country in the next year-and-half, many as franchise opportunities—all the while maintaining the company’s commitment to local artisans and traditional crafts. Of particular interest is the high percentage of women who are employed by Fabindia in a country not noted for providing financial opportunities for females.

New Book by Arndt ’92 Explores How the American Right Created Trump

The Right's Road to Serfdom, by Chris ArndtIn The Right’s Road to Serfdom: The Danger of Conservatism Unbound: From Hayek to Trump (Bulkington Press, 2016), Christopher F. Arndt ‘92 argues that conservatism is not what it pretends to be and that the American Right created Donald Trump. “There’s a destructive logic that has led the so-called ‘Party of Liberty’ to nominate an authoritarian like Donald Trump as its leader,” says Arndt, a former Wall Street executive and portfolio manager, in the press materials for the book. “I wrote the book to explain how this happened—to offer a readable, yet substantive account of recent political developments and do so in the context of the principles of political freedom that are common to us all.”

Below, News @ Wes talks with Arndt about the book, the subsequent election of Donald Trump, and the future.

What prompted you to write The Right’s Road to Serfdom?
There is a lot of confusion surrounding recent political developments, and in particular political developments on the American Right.  I wrote the book to clarify recent events, to offer a warning, and also to serve as a timely reminder of the American ideal of Liberty. That’s a pretty general answer so let me provide an example:

In early September of 2016, the Dallas Morning News—a famously conservative newspaper—wrote an editorial urging its readership to reject Trump’s bid for the presidency. In doing so, the editorial writers of the paper noted that “Trump is—or has been—at odds with nearly every GOP

Richardson ’60 Publishes Bio of Urban Development Pioneer Shepherd

Alexander Robey Shepherd, by John P. RichardsonAlexander Robey Shepherd: The Man Who Built the Nation’s Capital, by John P. Richardson ’60 (Ohio University Press, 2016), tells the story of urban development pioneer and public works leader Alexander Robey Shepherd, who was instrumental in building the infrastructure of the nation’s capital when it was knee-deep in mud and disrepair after the Civil War. In fact it was Shepherd’s leadership, says Richardson, that made it possible for the city to finally realize the vision of French architect Pierre Charles L’Enfant, some 80-plus years after George Washington appointed L’Enfant to plan what was then known as the new “Federal City.”

“Shepherd did not build the buildings, but he built the infrastructure that made it possible to develop the city we see,” says Richardson, a retired intelligence officer and Middle East specialist who spent more than 30 years researching Shepherd before writing his book. “Much of Shepherd’s work is below the ground but critical to a modern city.”

Alexander Robey Shepherd was born in Washington in 1835. After his father’s early death, Shepherd left school at the age of 13 and worked his way up from apprentice to owner of a plumbing company. After serving in the Union Army during the Civil War, he started a second career—in politics.

Sweren-Becker ’06 Creates a Brave New World in New Book

Daniel Sweren-Becker ’06

Book by Daniel Sweren-Becker ’06.

In The Ones, Daniel Sweren-Becker ’06 creates a vision of a not-so-distant future world in which a random group of babies is chosen each year to be the smartest, best looking, most athletic members of society. “The Ones,” as they are called, short for the chosen ones, enjoy the privilege of membership in this exclusive group during the genetic engineering program’s 20-year history until a society-wide backlash marginalizes their status and threatens to even outlaw their existence. Sweren-Becker’s fast-paced YA novel follows two of The Ones (or are they?): 17-year-old Cody and her boyfriend, James, who are forced to decide whether to stand up for their rights…and how far they’re willing to go to do so.

The Ones (Imprint, 2016) is Sweren-Becker’s literary debut. A television writer and playwright in Los Angeles, he originally conceived the book as a television series. “When I decided to switch gears into a series of books [the second is due in September], it felt natural to pick YA [Young Adult] because the main characters were teenagers,” he says. “I think this genre is read so widely because we’ve reached a point where these books are fun and accessible but also deal with really sophisticated issues that attract a more mature audience.”

Middle School Misfits Inhabit New Wilder ’88 Novel

Robert Wilder ’88

Book by Robert Wilder ’88.

Robert Wilder ’88 draws on his 25 years of teaching experience to paint a complex, funny, poignant picture of life in middle school in Nickel (Leaf Storm Press, 2016). The novel tells the story of two middle school misfits who bond over a mutual love for 1980s pop culture: Coy, whose mother is in rehab and whose stepfather is trying, but not always succeeding, to hold things together in her absence; and Monroe, his just-as-quirky female best friend whose braces have given her a rash that becomes a life-threatening illness. Booklist, in a starred review, says, “Wilder powers his classic coming-of-age narrative with a ferocious storytelling voice . . . A humorous, poignant, and formidable debut.”

The idea of Nickel stemmed from Wilder’s love of the quiet, quirky kids he’s taught over the years, as well as his teenage son, London. “I love teenagers, and I ask them questions daily,” says Wilder. “I take notes on their obsessions, dreams, fashion choices and language, and I learn something new from them every day without fail. I have to be subtler with my own children. They think it’s weird when I ask them a question that has to do with a character I’m working on. They want me to make them enchiladas and give them money.”

Wilder used the elements of storytelling he learned from studying fiction for his first two books—collections of comedic essays based on his own personal experiences as a teacher and a father. In writing Nickel, Wilder found some similarities but also one notable difference. “With nonfiction, you already have the world created for you. If something happened in my kitchen, I can refer to it anytime I need to,” he says. “When writing fiction, you need to create an entire world from the ground up.”

Robert Wilder ’88

Robert Wilder ’88

For Wilder, the process of writing Nickel began with the voice of the book’s main character, Coy. “I started with Coy’s voice and let it lead me,” he says. “Many of the kids I was thinking about when I developed that voice spoke in code and sound effects, so my early drafts were an attempt to try and emulate that shorthand manner of speech. When I sent the manuscript to my friend Christopher, he said, ‘This is great but totally unreadable.’ So I had to try to keep the core elements of Coy’s voice but allow the casual reader access to him and his world.”

Wilder drew on his own high school memories and experiences, as well as his experience as a teacher, to flesh out the book’s relatable, realistic characters and setting. “For the character of Coy, I tried to recall what it was like when I was his age and how hard it was being a relatively sensitive teenager who suffers loss, especially in a large school. When I created the school that Coy and Monroe attend, I drew on all the telling details I’ve gathered in my 25 years of teaching. Schools are such a rich environment and culture; it was a lot of fun trying to capture what it’s like being in that world day after day. I also allowed myself to see the challenges and absurdities of school life the way Coy and Monroe would.”

Wilder, an English major and soccer player during his years at Wesleyan, recently finished another novel, which he hopes to publish soon. He is also working on a television pilot loosely based on his two essay collections, Daddy Needs a Drink: An Irreverent Look at Parenting from a Dad Who Truly Loves His Kids—Even When They’re Driving Him Nuts, which the Los Angeles Times called “consistently hilarious,” and Tales from the Teachers’ Lounge: What I Learned in School the Second Time Around—One Man’s Irreverent Look at Being a Teacher Today, which Publishers Weekly called “honest and funny.”

“There is no doubt that I have far more empathy for the teenage species after writing Nickel,” says Wilder. “How couldn’t I? Writing is an act of empathy, after all.”

Nowell ’48, Lasker Prizewinner for Cancer Chromosome Finding, Dies at 88

Acclaimed cancer researcher Dr. Peter C. Nowell ’48 died Dec. 28, 2016. He was 88.

Acclaimed cancer researcher Dr. Peter Nowell ’48 died Dec. 28, 2016. He was 88 and was a trustee emeritus of Wesleyan.

Acclaimed cancer researcher Dr. Peter Nowell ’48, the Gaylord P. and Mary Louise Harnwell Emeritus Professor and former chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine, died Dec. 28, 2016, of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 88.

A biology and chemistry major at Wesleyan, Nowell earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine in 1952. He joined the faculty in 1956 as a member of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, later serving as chair. He was also the first director of the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center, now known as the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1960, Nowell and colleague David Hungerford, then a graduate student working at the Fox Chase Cancer Center’s Institute for Cancer Research, “made a startling observation that the number 22 chromosome in the tumor cells of individuals suffering from chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) was abnormally small,” explains writer Bonnie Cook in the Philly.com obituary for Nowell. “The research broke new ground because it was the first consistent chromosome abnormality found in any kind of malignancy.” This came to be called “the Philadelphia chromosome.”

To put the enormity of the discovery in perspective, New York Times writer Denise Grady spoke to Mark Greene, director of the Immunobiology and Experimental Pathology Division at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, who told her that, back in this era, “The notions of cancer were so bizarre. It was a total conundrum. There was no consistent theory at that time that was even recognized.”

“The finding,” wrote Grady, “published in 1960, took cancer research in a new direction, leading to an extraordinary advance by other scientists three decades later: the drug Gleevec. For many patients, Gleevec transformed chronic myeloid leukemia from a fatal disease to a chronic one that can be kept under control for many years.”

In 2007, Nowell reflected on his work in a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, “Discovery of the Philadelphia Chromosome: A personal perspective.” Nowell’s son, Michael, told Philly.com writer Cook, “He lived long enough to see it developed into treatment to allow individuals to lead longer lives.”

Nowell was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Wesleyan in 1968. Among the many other honors and awards Nowell received were the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award, the 1998 Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award (often called “the American Nobel Prize”), and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science. He served on Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees for 15 years and was elected trustee emeritus of the university.

Smith ’82 Explores How Fear Distorts Reality in First Novel

Book by Patricia Smith ’82.

Book by Patricia Smith ’82.

“At seven thirty, with SJ still asleep, Deirdre Murphy left the house for school. She walked side streets shaded by trees in their glory—pale autumn reds, yellows the color of honey. She scuffed through piles of leaves, each whoosh a reminder of every other autumn and every other beginning of the school year, the only way Deirdre knew how to mark time. She kept track of events based on the girls she taught: the drama queens, the freaks, the year they were all brilliant. This year, Deirdre could already tell after a week of classes, was the year of the needy girls.”

So begins The Year of Needy Girls, the debut novel from Patricia Smith ’82. The book is published by Kaylie Jones (’81) Books, an imprint of Akashic Books, headed by publisher and editor-in-chief Johnny Temple ’88.

The Year of Needy Girls tells the story of Deirdre, a dedicated private school teacher from a working class background, and her partner, Sara Jane (SJ), who live in a tolerant New England town, divided by a river and by class, until the murder of a 10-year-old boy changes the way the townspeople look at themselves…and at others. Publishers Weekly says, “Smith’s crisp prose and dedication to moralistic ambiguity make for a provoking read,” while Library Journal notes, “Smith’s first novel successfully builds tension and a sense of dread among the picture-perfect New England fall.”

Ainspan ’88 Receives Katzell Award for Work with Veterans, Research-Based Insight

Nathan Ainspan ’88, the editor of The Handbook of Psychosocial Interventions for Veterans and Service Members and When the Warrior Returns: Making the Transition at Home, received the Raymond A. Katzell Award in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Nathan Ainspan ’88, the editor of The Handbook of Psychosocial Interventions for Veterans and Service Members and When the Warrior Returns: Making the Transition at Home, received the Raymond A. Katzell Award in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Nathan Ainspan ’88, an industrial-organizational (I-O) psychologist with the Department of Defense’s Transition to Veterans Program Office, has received the Raymond A. Katzell Award in I-O Psychology from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) for his work improving the lives of military veterans and for his commitment to promoting research-based insights designed to improve organizations and the lives of individuals.

Ainspan’s work has focused on influencing policy and educating service members, veterans, clinicians, and corporate leaders to improve the military-to-civilian transition process. The editor of When the Warrior Returns: Making the Transition at Home, The Handbook of Psychosocial Intervention for Service Members, and Returning Wars’ Wounded, Injured, and Ill: A Reference Handbook, he has just begun editing another handbook to guide private-sector human resource professionals on hiring and retaining military veterans in their companies.

An American Studies major at Wesleyan, he earned his doctorate from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He attributes his interest in I-O psychology to a course he took at Wesleyan and traces his work with veterans from there.

Sienkiewicz ’03 Authors Book on U.S. Efforts to Reshape Middle Eastern Media

Matt Sienkiewicz ’03

Book by Matt Sienkiewicz ’03.

The U.S. has poured millions of dollars into local television and radio programming in the Muslim World in an effort to win the hearts and minds of that region’s citizens. But according to communications scholar Matt Sienkiewicz ’03, the Middle Eastern media producers who rely on these funds are hardly puppets on an American string.

In The Other Air Force: U.S. Efforts to Reshape Middle Eastern Media Since 9/11 (Rutgers University Press, 2016), Sienkiewicz explores America’s efforts to employ “soft-psy” media—a combination of “soft” methods, such as encouraging programs modeled on U.S. entertainment and reality programs, with more militaristic approaches to information control—to generate pro-American sentiment in the Middle East. Drawing on years of field research and interviews, Sienkiewicz gives readers an inside look at radio and television production in Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories to show how Middle Eastern media producers are working to forge viable broadcasting businesses without straying outside the American-set boundaries for acceptable content.

“Although much of the U.S. power apparatus desires Middle Eastern media that will parrot American perspectives, this is no longer the sole, or even dominant, strategy in the region,” says Sienkiewicz in his introduction. “Instead, the encouragement of certain media forms serves as the organizing principle for a wide range of American projects.  More so than asking local agents to transfer specific, American-vetted messages to viewers, U.S.-funded projects have instead tended to demand that Afghans, Palestinians and others create programming the embraces the industrial and aesthetic conventions of for-profit, American-style commercial television and radio, while being constrained mainly by a basic set of ‘red lines’—words and ideas that are off-limits.”

Sienkiewicz is an assistant professor of communication and international studies at Boston College. In addition to authoring The Other Air Force, he is the coeditor of Saturday Night Live and American TV (Indiana University Press, 2013) and has produced several documentaries, including Live from Bethlehem (2009), which chronicled the shaping of the Ma’an News Network, the only major independent news source in the Palestinian Territories.

Christopher ’54 Remembered for Playing Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H

William Christopher’54 was Father Francis Mulcahy on the hit 1970s-1980s TV series “M*A*S*H.” (Credit 20th Century Fox, via Everett Collection.)

William Christopher’54 was Father Francis Mulcahy on the hit 1970s-1980s TV series “M*A*S*H.” (Credit 20th Century Fox, via Everett Collection.)

Actor William Christopher ’54, best known for his role as Father Francis Mulcahy in the popular television comedy/drama series M*A*S*H, died Dec. 31, 2016, at his home in Pasadena, Calif. Christopher’s Mulcahy was a gentle Roman Catholic chaplain assigned to a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War on the CBS series, which aired from 1972 through 1983.

A theater major at Wesleyan, Christopher began his acting career in New York, playing in Broadway and Off-Broadway productions before moving to Los Angeles, where he worked in television and appeared in a number of popular shows.

In a New York Times article, writer Liam Stack quotes Loretta Swit—M*A*S*H nurse Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan—who called Christopher “‘TV’s quintessential padre… It was the most perfect casting ever known. He was probably responsible for more people coming back to the church.’”