Tag Archive for alumni

Quah ’12 has ‘All the News on Podcasting’

Nicholas Quah ’12 is the creator of Hot Pods, a newsletter on podcasting that is garnering attention as expert commentary on a new field of journalism.

Nicholas Quah ’12 is the creator of Hot Pods, a newsletter on podcasting that is garnering attention as expert commentary on a new field of journalism.

Nicholas Quah ’12 is the subject of “Meet the 26-year-old who’s got all the news on podcasting,” an article by Benjamin Miller on Poynter.org. Quah is the creator and full-time blogger at Hot Pod, his newsletter about podcasts, which you can find at nicholasquah.com. It is also hosted at NiemanLab, the site for Harvard’s Neiman Foundation for Journalism.

While most media aficionados consider the fall of 2014 to be the time when podcasts gained considerable popularity (Serial—the true crime investigation series on public radio is just one example), Quah had been a fan of podcasts for several years by then: as a Wesleyan undergrad majoring in the College of Social Studies, he had enjoyed podcasts. He continued listening in his post-college life, where he started as a research associate at Business Insider.

Both as a fan and a journalist, Quah followed podcasting from a cultural and business perspective. He began an e-mail newsletter, Hot Pods, because, as he explained to Miller: “It just felt like there was a lot missing…. Why were there developments in podcasting? Why were there developments in podcasting culture? Where did “Serial” come from? …I approached it from a criticism standpoint at first and then expanded into more business-side stuff.”

On Jan. 26, he announced his departure from Panoply, a podcast network, for which he served as manager of audience development, to devote himself full time to HotPods, hoping to make his avocation a sustainable business, with subscribers receiving weekly updates—with the option to pay a fee and receive more frequent communications, with Quah’s insights and analysis.

The decision, he told Miller, came about because:  “I think it feels like everything in podcasting is moving a lot quicker, and we’re going to hit some kind of tipping point. And I want to be an outsider and cover that when it happens.”

Bush ’93 Receives Leadership Award from Tufts Medical Center

Jonathan Bush '93, chair, CEO, and cofounder of athena health, was named a visionary leader by Tufts Medical Center.

Jonathan Bush ’93, chair, CEO, and cofounder of athenahealth, was named a visionary leader by Tufts Medical Center.

Tufts Medical Center selected Jonathan Bush ’93 to receive the Ellen M. Zane Award for Visionary Leadership. Chairman and CEO of the health care technology company, athenahealth, Bush was cited for “exemplifying visionary and transformational leadership” as well as his “passion for uniting individualized and coordinated patient care with the demands and practicalities of healthcare management.”

Bush co-founded athenahealth in 1997. In 2007 it was the most successful initial public offering, and it is now one of the health care information technology industry’s fastest growing companies, considered by many to be industry standard. In announcing the award, President and CEO of Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children Dr. Michael Wagner said, “I am proud that we share Jonathan’s enthusiasm to drive change in health care for the greater good.”

Runner ’79 Named President and CEO of Chicago Urban League

Shari Runner ’79 was named president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League

Shari Runner ’79 was named president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League.

Shari Runner ’79 was named president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League. Crain’s Chicago Business notes that she is redirecting the purpose of league.

“Right now, all the things we support are in turmoil,” Runner told reporter Shia Kapos. “We have an opportunity to change that.”

Runner had been interim leader of the Urban League for eight months and had served as senior vice president for strategy and community development a the Urban League since 2010. Previously a banker—vice president of ABN/AMRO Bank and vice president at First National Bank of Chicago—she attributes her move into the nonprofit world to her parents’ influence: her mother was a social worker and her father was a pediatrician.

“It was in my DNA to be of service to the community,” she told Kapos.

While the Urban League has always championed economic empowerment and civil rights, it had been most recently focused on strengthening the business community after the financial crisis. However, with current concerns about gun violence and police/community relationships, Runner plans to focus on education and social justice, as well as economic empowerment. “We’re at a unique point in time. We need to make sure the Urban League is strengthening African-American communities,” Runner explained to Kapos.

Runner also met with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and officials with the U.S. Justice Department. Emanuel “inherited this dysfunctional” system, Runner said, adding, “We need systemic change. We need to make sure we’re changing something in people’s minds that allowed this to exist for 60 years without it being a priority.”

Runner comes to the position after serving since 2010 as senior vice president for strategy and community development at the Urban League. Prior to that, the Chicago native was a vice president of ABN/AMRO Bank and vice president at First National Bank of Chicago.

She grew up in Hyde Park and attended the University of Chicago’s Lab Schools. At Wesleyan, she majored in psychology. She holds an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Kail ’99 Directs Musical Extravaganza Grease: Live

Grease: Live

Thomas Kail ’99, far right, oversaw the stage direction for Grease: Live.

Thomas Kail ’99, who is currently directing the blockbuster hit Hamilton on Broadway, written by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, brought the energy of live theater to the small screen as he set the stage direction for Grease: Live, a musical extravaganza starring Julianne Hough as Sandy and Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo, along with Aaron Tveit as Danny, Carly Rae Jepson as Frenchy, Mario Lopez as Vince Fontaine and Boys II Men in the role of Teen Angel. The musical, which was staged in front of a live audience, aired on Fox on Jan. 31. 

Wesleyan Recognizes Boger Family’s $20M Gift with Naming of Boger Hall

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Next May, the building located at 41 Wyllys Avenue will be named Boger Hall in honor of the Boger family’s $20 million gift to Wesleyan.

#THISISWHY

Wesleyan University President Michael Roth ’78 has announced a $20 million gift from outgoing Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Joshua ’73, P’06, P’09 and Dr. Amy Boger P’06, P’09 to the university’s THIS IS WHY fundraising campaign. In recognition of the Boger family’s generosity and leadership, the building located at 41 Wyllys Avenue on the university’s College Row will be named Boger Hall.

The Bogers are the largest donors to the campaign. Their gifts include $11 million to establish the Joshua ’73 and Amy Boger Endowed Wesleyan Scholarship Program, which has already benefited more than a dozen Wesleyan students and will provide access to Wesleyan to many more in the coming years; $3 million to endow the Joshua Boger University Professor of the Sciences and Mathematics, currently held by Professor of Chemistry David L. Beveridge; and $2 million for the Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, P’09 Endowed Fund for Student Research, which provided lead funding for 50 faculty-mentored student research fellowships in 2015.

“It is truly gratifying to honor a family that exemplifies Wesleyan’s ideal of passionate, generous, forward-thinking individuals who believe in the importance of a pragmatic liberal arts education,” Roth said. “The Boger family’s commitment to Wesleyan will provide students now and in the future with an opportunity to face 21st century challenges head-on to make positive and profound changes in the world.”

Lubell ’98, Lexton ’08, Marcus ’13 on Top National Noteworthy Lists

Jordyn Lexton ’08, founder of Drive Change

Jordyn Lexton ’08, founder of Drive Change

Forbes named Jordyn Lexton ’08 and Guy Marcus ’13 to the 2016 “30 under 30” list for 2016, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy highlighted David Lubell ’98 as one of the “40 Under 40.”

Under the headline, “Todays Brightest Young Stars and The Future Leaders of Everything” Forbes magazine highlighted two Wesleyan alumni in their fifth annual listings of the top 30 young leaders in 20 different categories.

From an initial list of 15,000, Jordyn Lexton ’08 made the listing in entrepreneurs. Lexton is the founder of “Drive Change,” which employs previously incarcerated youth, teaching food preparation as well as providing positions in their award-winning culinary vehicle in NYC.

Mozart in the Jungle, Co-Created by Weitz ’88, Wins 2 Golden Globe Awards

Gael Garcia Bernal in Mozart in the Jungle (Photo: Amazon)

Gael Garcia Bernal in Mozart in the Jungle. (Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios)

At the Golden Globe Awards ceremony televised on NBC on Jan. 10, honoring film and television achievements, the Amazon Studios TV series Mozart in the Jungle received two awards, Best Television Series – Comedy and Best Actor in a Comedy Series (Gael Garcia Bernal).

The series deals with off-screen adventures and love life of a symphony conductor and is co-created, directed and executive produced by Paul Weitz ’88, who also recently directed and wrote the hit film Grandma with Lily Tomlin. Season 2 was just released on Amazon Prime at the end of December.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the comedy series’ win was a bit of a surprise because of its strong competition, which included such popular and acclaimed shows as Transparent, Orange Is the New Black, HBO’s Silicon Valley and Veep, and the new Hulu series Casual.

In a recent interview in Indiewire about the season 2 of the series, Weitz says: “The show is about the great passion of art and it’s a great way to manifest that, with music. I don’t think this one particular show could exist without it being that, because it needs to be contemporary. People devoting themselves to something that’s been going on for hundreds of years. … What’s the role of creativity in one’s life? What’s the role of passion, and how much does that overwhelm everything else?

For those unfamiliar with the show, New York magazine/Vulture recently published “What Is Golden Globe Winner Mozart in the Jungle All About?”

Bay ’86 Directs New Film about 2012 Benghazi Events

David Denman, John Krasinski and Pablo Schreiber in 13 Hours. (Photo: Dion Beebe/Paramount Pictures)

David Denman, John Krasinski and Pablo Schreiber in 13 Hours. (Photo courtesy of Dion Beebe/Paramount Pictures)

Michael Bay ’86 has directed a new film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (Paramount), which opened in U.S. theaters on Jan. 15. Based on the non-fiction book of the same name, the movie traces what happened Sept. 11–12, 2012, when terrorists attacked two Central Intelligence Agency compounds in Benghazi, Libya.

The film tracks six security operatives, most of them former military, who defended the diplomatic compound and nearby CIA annex. The cast includes James Badge Dale, John Krasinski, Max Martini, Toby Stephens, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa and Demetrius Grosse.

In his review in Slate, film critic David Ehlich writes: “Bay has stated that his intentions were simply to honor the heroism of the guys on the ground, and 13 Hours bears that out. The result … is one of the most politically astute films about America’s foreign politics in years ….”

In National Review, critic Stephen Miller also praises the film: “Audience members familiar with the director’s style will still appreciate all the hallmarks of a Michael Bay film present in 13 Hours. Witness the gritty close ups, muted slow motion, earth-rattling explosions, and long tracking shots of bombs and bullets that will draw direct comparisons to his previous work on The Rock and Bad Boys. … this is Bay’s most serious film to date. He does a good job of laying out exactly how and when the attacks took place at the consulate and later at the annex building. We never feel lost in the firefights.”

For featurettes and a trailer for 13 Hours, go to the director’s website.

Scientific American Editor Moskowitz ’05 is Woman Physicist of the Month

Clara Moskowitz. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Clara Moskowitz ’05. (Photo by John Van Vlack)

The American Physical Society (APS) named Clara Moskowitz ’05 the Woman Physicist of the Month for December 2015. A senior editor at Scientific American, she was an astronomy and physics double major at Wesleyan. It was in her senior year that she discovered her “favorite part” of her undergraduate career: her thesis.

“I was fascinated by science from a very young age,” she says, “but so many people feel separated from science—as though they can’t get it. I realized that I like writing and I like to communicate the concepts for nonscientists.” After earning a graduate degree in science journalism at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Moskowitz then joined the online publication Space.com, where she covered NASA’s space shuttle missions and other astronomy news. Two years ago, she joined the venerable Scientific American: “We try to keep it current and stay true to its legacy,” she notes.

Moskowitz recalls her favorite assignment at the magazine—which she focused on both historic import and present application: she served as editor of the theme issue on 100 years of general relativity (Sept. 2015, Vol. 313, Issue 3).
“Einstein is such a fascinating figure; he singlehandedly revolutionized science just by thinking about problems: he went through in his mind exactly what it would be like to ride a beam of light. A hundred years after he proposed the theory, we are still thinking about it, still using it—in our cellphones, GPS devices, and satellites.

“His realization that gravity is not so much a force that pulls things together—but rather that it comes from the shape of space and time—is such a beautiful idea.”

As for her success with the project, editor-in-chief Mariette DiChristina wrote, “Issue editor Clara Moskowitz and the team have created a special report that is profound yet playful and sparkles with the wonder of discovery—rather like the great man himself. We hope you enjoy reading [this issue] as much as we did putting it together.”

Said Moskowitz, “I’m constantly working hard to make science understandable. I want everyone to see what’s so cool about it.”

Reached at the American Astronomical Society’s January 2016 meeting, which she was covering for Scientific American, Moskowitz was most excited about a recent talk she attended about astronomers planning to use telescopes all over the world in conjunction, in order to capture the event horizon of the black hole that astronomers think lies at the center of our galaxy. The project—which could further prove the theory of general relativity, or call for modifications—will take its first images of the black hole in 2017.

“A lot of us are on the edge of our seats until we get the results,” Moskowitz said.

Moskowitz also was back at Wesleyan on Jan. 16 for the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, where she spoke about her career path. She will present a Physics Department colloquium on March 3 about science journalism.

Wall Street Journal Names Fossel ’73 Book a “Best Book for Science Lovers”

telomerase revolutionThe latest book by Michael Fossel ’73, The Telomerase Revolution: The Enzyme That Holds the Key to Human Aging . . . and Will Soon Lead to Longer, Healthier Lives, published by BenBella Books, was recently selected as one of the Best Books for Science Lovers in 2015 by the Wall Street Journal. Fossel has been writing about the telomerase theory of aging for 20 years and is considered the foremost expert on the clinical use of telomerase for age-related diseases.

“As a doctor, my emphasis has always been on clinical results,” says Fossel in his introduction. “Understanding the nature of aging is essential, of course. But the goal isn’t simply to achieve understanding. The goal is to develop techniques to extend lives, cure diseases, and reduce suffering.”

Each time a cell reproduces, its telomeres (the tips of the chromosomes) shorten, decreasing the cell’s ability to repair its molecules. While most of our cells age in such a way, sex cells and stem cells can reproduce indefinitely, without aging, because they create telomerase, which re-lengthens the telomeres and keeps the cells young. In The Telomerase Revolution, Fossel describes how telomerase might soon be used as a powerful therapeutic tool, with the potential to extend lifespans and maybe even reverse human aging.

Fossel earned both his PhD and MD from Stanford University, where he taught neurobiology and research methods. A past recipient of a National Science Foundation fellowship, he was a clinical professor of medicine for almost 30 years, executive director of the American Aging Association and the founding editor of Rejuvenation Research. He wrote the first ever book on the telomerase theory of aging, Reversing Human Aging (1996), followed by Cells, Aging, and Human Disease (2004), and The Immortality Edge (2011). He currently teaches The Biology of Aging at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., and is working to bring telomerase to human trials for Alzheimer’s disease.

‘Eradicate the Self’ Self-Portrait: A TEDx Talk by Artist/Curator Ian Boyden ’95

At his TEDx talk, Ian Boyden shares photographs of the stone self-portrait, before and after its river journey

At his TEDx talk, Ian Boyden ’95 shares photographs of the stone self-portrait, after its river journey permanently changed the initial piece of art. (Photo courtesy of Mari Johnson)

Artist Ian Boyden ’95 presented a TEDx talk in September 2015 on his concept of “‘eradicate the self’ self-portraiture.” He expands our understanding of “self” beyond a single individual to include the environment.

“Several years ago I was sitting around a bonfire with a bunch of artists and we were talking about self-portraiture when I rashly dismissed it as some sort of narcissistic folly,” he recalled in the talk. “I woke up later that night, sweating, wondering what on earth was I, a person who’d never made a self portrait, even talking about?

“Of course, therein lay this challenge: to make a self-portrait. A challenge which I accepted, because I knew I had to make one, if I were ever going to talk about self-portraiture again. And so I did. And it changed my life.”

Rapper Le1f ’11 chooses his American music playlist

Rapper Le1f ’11 discussed the qualities of American music on NPR's 'Here & Now.'  (Photo: Le1f.com)

Rapper Le1f ’11 discussed the qualities of American music on NPR’s ‘Here & Now.’ (Photo: Le1f.com)

New York rapper and music producer Khalif Daoud ’11, known professionally as Le1f, was one of the musicians polled by WBUR-Boston and NPR’s Here & Now with the question “What is American music?”

“Growing up, the idea of ‘Americana’ as a word was intimidating to me,” he told hosts Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson. “The patriotism behind it, and the American dream, I always related that to whiteness and I didn’t easily see how I fit into that category, that culture. But I came to understand that blues and jazz and rock and roll, and all these other genres, that’s folk music to me.”

Asked to assemble a playlist, he offered first, “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)” by The Crystals (1962, written by Gerry Goffin, Carol King, Phil Spector), explaining, “It feels American to me in the way it expresses such a sad story in such a frank way. It doesn’t condone domestic abuse, but it also doesn’t preach, either. That’s a style that… I’ve only experienced in American folk music and blues music.”

His second song choice, “Unpretty” by TLC (1999, FanMail), was important to him: “They discuss issues of self image and body dysmorphia in this anecdotal way and very empowering way…. That was such a big song for me. I don’t remember taking note to uplifting music in that way until this song happened.”

“Bad Religion” by Frank Ocean (2012, Channel Orange) was third on his playlist: “Having such a beautiful iconic singer tell the story of a same-sex love… it was a big turning point for how R&B and urban America might accept someone who isn’t straight and support their work.”

His own song, “Taxi,” off his latest album, Riot Boi, he explained, is a song “about my personal fears of rejection over my complexion and how that has been met in reality, both romantically and in very small ways… “

All four, he noted, gave voice to the black American dream, describing struggles to which he could relate and with an acceptance of difference in perspective, of moral ambiguity.

To listen to the interview and accompanying music clips, click here.