Tag Archive for Class of 2013

10 Wesleyan Students, 1 Alumna Receive Fulbrights

Eleven Wesleyans were finalists in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program this year, including 10 from the Class of 2016, and a Class of 2013 alumna. In all, 23 people from Wesleyan applied for Fulbrights, and 12 were semi-finalists.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The program operates in 160 countries worldwide. Primary funding for the program comes from an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments, host institutions, corporations and foundations in the U.S. and abroad also provide direct and indirect support.

The program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs. Candidates must submit a Statement of Grant Purpose defining activities to take place during one academic year in a participating country outside the U.S. Recipients are selected based on academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

Faculty, Students, Alumni Attend Political Science Conference

Students presented research at the 74th annual Midwest Political Science Association conference in Chicago.

Students presented research at the 74th annual Midwest Political Science Association conference in Chicago.

The 74th annual Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) conference in Chicago April 7-10 was attended by several Wesleyan faculty members, students and recent alumni. The conference, held every April, is one of the largest political science conferences with more than 5,000 presenters from throughout the United States and around the world. It is traditionally held in Chicago’s historic Palmer House Hilton.

Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, Assistant Professor of Government Logan Dancey, and Assistant Professor of Government Yamil Velez all presented research at the conference. They were accompanied by Joli Holmes ’17, John Murchison ’16, Grace Wong ’18, Anh Tuan Nguyen Viet ’16, and Eki Ramadhan ’16, students who contributed to and presented research.

Also in attendance were recent alumni Leonid “Leo” Liu ’14, who presented research with Fowler, and Matt Motta ’13, now a graduate student at the University of Minnesota.

Wilkins, Alumni Author New Paper on Threat of Racial Progress to Whites

Clara Wilkins, assistant professor of psychology, has studied perceptions of discrimination against whites and other groups who hold positions of relative advantage in society—such as heterosexuals and men—since she was a graduate student at the University of Washington. She became became interested in the topic of perceptions of bias against high status groups after hearing Glenn Beck call president Barack Obama racist. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Clara Wilkins

A paper by Assistant Professor of Psychology Clara Wilkins, Alexander Hirsch ’13 and Michael Inkles ’12 has been published in the journal Group Processes & Intergroup Relations

Titled, “The threat of racial progress and the self-protective nature of perceiving anti-White bias,” the paper describes two studies in which the researchers examine whether racial progress is threatening to whites, and if perceiving anti-white bias assuages that threat. The first study showed that whites primed with racial progress—by reading an article on social advancement by minorities—exhibited evidence of threat: lower implicit self-worth relative to the baseline. The second study replicated the threat effect from the first study, and examined how perceived discrimination may buffer the white participants’ feelings of self-worth. After the participants attributed a negative event to their race, their implicit self-worth rebounded. For those primed with high racial progress, greater “racial discounting” (attributing rejection to one’s race rather than to oneself) was associated with greater self-worth protection. The researchers concluded that these studies suggest changes to the racial status quo are threatening to whites and that perceiving greater racial bias is a way to manage that threat.

Read more about Wilkins’ other research here, here and here.

Taylor’s Papers Published in Molecular Biosciences, Biochemistry Journals

Erika Taylor

Erika Taylor

Erika Taylor, assistant professor of chemistry, assistant professor of environmental studies, has co-authored a paper published in FEBS Letters, an international journal established for the rapid publication of final short reports in the fields of molecular biosciences.

The paper, which is an expansion of her lab’s work on the enzyme Heptosyltransferase I, is titled “Cloning and Characterization of the Escherichia coli Heptosyltransferase III: Exploring Substrate Specificity in Lipopolysaccharide Core Biosynthesis,” The paper is co-authored by her former graduate student Jagadesh Mudapaka. FEBS Letters is published by Elsevier on behalf of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies.

Taylor also is the co-author of “Improving Alternate Lignin Catabolite Utilization of LigAB from Sphingobium sp. strain SYK-6 through Site Directed Mutagenesis,” published in Process Biochemistry, June 2015. The work in this paper describes molecular engineering of the enzyme LigAB to be better able to metabolize compounds derived from Lignin. Co-authors include Kevin Barry, PhD ’15; Erin Cohn ’15 and Abraham Ngu ’13.

Taylor presented her research “Thoughts about Adenosine: Efforts in Drug Discovery of Nucleoside Utilizing Enzymes” at the Gordon Research Conference: Nucleosides, Nucleotides and Oligonucleotides in July. Her talk described the work she is performing to help in drug discovery for two enzymes from E. coli, Heptosyltransferase I and the TrmD tRNA methyltransferase, and one human enzyme, p300 histone acetyl transferase.

“Our work in these systems involves computational modeling of interactions between small molecules and the enzymes, to help design new compounds with medical applications,” Taylor explained.

Sanislow, Sypher ’13 Published in Encyclopedia of Clinical Psychology

A chapter titled “Research Domain Criteria (RDoC)” by Charles Sanislow, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, was published in the Encyclopedia of Clinical Psychology in January.

Kevin Quinn of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and Isaiah Sypher ’13 co-authored the chapter.

Sypher worked in Sanislow’s lab at Wesleyan and then went on to a research position at the NIMH Intramural Program in Affective Neuroscience. He is currently in the process of applying to clinical science programs in psychology.

Sanislow and Quinn are both charter members of the NIMH Working Group for the RDoC, a project that is developing a new diagnostic approach based on internal mechanisms to guide research on mental disorders.

Paper by Gilmore, Harner MA ’13 Says Mars May Host Hydrous Carbonate Minerals

Martha Gilmore, the George I. Seney Professor of Geology, and her former graduate student Patrick Harner MA ’13 are the co-authors of a paper titled “Visible–near infrared spectra of hydrous carbonates, with implications for the detection of carbonates in hyperspectral data of Mars,” published in Icarus, Vol. 250, pages 204-214, April 2015.

The paper suggests that hydrous carbonate minerals might be relevant on Mars.

“We bought and made these unusual minerals in my lab and then took spectra of them to simulate what Mars orbiters might see. Carbonate minerals form in water on Earth (e.g., limestones), and are predicted for Mars, but to date are uncommon on Mars,” Gilmore explained. “We suggest this may be because Mars may host hydrous carbonates which look very different than the anhydrous carbonates everyone is looking for in the data.”

Gilmore also is chair and professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Arulanantham Honored with Chambliss Medal at American Astronomical Society Meeting

Astronomy graduate student Nicole Arulanantham received the Chambliss Medal by the American Astronomical Society.

Astronomy graduate student Nicole Arulanantham received the Chambliss Medal by the American Astronomical Society.

Nicole Arulanantham, who is entering her second year as a graduate student in the Astronomy MA program, was awarded a Chambliss Medal by the American Astronomical Society at its June 3 meeting in Boston. The awards are given to recognize exemplary research by a student presenting a poster paper at an AAS meeting.

Arulanantham worked on the study with her advisor, Bill Herbst, the John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy, chair of the Astronomy Department, and Ann Marie Cody of the California Institute of Technology. It involved analysis of data obtained with the Spitzer Space Telescope. Read more about the study online here.

Astronomy major Ben Tweed ’13 also presented a paper at the AAS meeting and reported results of his study of the local interstellar medium using data from the Hubble Space Telescope. His advisor is Seth Redfield, assistant professor of astronomy, and the work was done in collaboration with astronomers at the Universities of Warwick and Kiel, as well as University College London. Read more about the study online here.

Students Honored For Academic Achievement with Awards, Fellowships

During the Academic Scholarships, Fellowships and Prizes Reception May 7, Yan Pui "Angela" Lo '14, Julian Theseria '14 and Paul Hanakata '14 received honors. Lo received the Holzberg Fellowship and Frances M. Sheng Prize, awarded for excellence in Chinese language and excellence in Japanese language. Theseria received the Baden-Württemberg Connecticut Sister State Exchange Award and the Scott Prize for German Studies. Hanakata received the Bertman Prize.

During the Academic Scholarships, Fellowships and Prizes Reception May 7, Yan Pui “Angela” Lo ’14, Julian Theseria ’14 and Paul Hanakata ’14 received honors. Lo received the Holzberg Fellowship for psychology research and the Frances M. Sheng Prize for Japanese language. Theseria received the Baden-Württemberg Connecticut Sister State Exchange Award and the Scott Prize for German Studies. Hanakata received the Bertman Prize for physics research.

Wesleyan hosted the Academic Scholarships, Fellowships and Prizes Reception for students May 7 in Daniel family Commons.

“We gather today to honor students who represent the highest ideals of Wesleyan University―intellectual curiosity, academic excellence, creative expression, leadership, and service. While celebrating these recipients of awards, prizes, and scholarships, we also honor and thank alumni and friends whose generous contributions make these prizes possible,” said Ruth Striegel Weissman, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The prizes and recipients are listed below:

Butterfield Prize 

Established by the Class of 1967 and awarded to the graduating senior who has exemplified those qualities of character, leadership, intellectual commitment and concern for the Wesleyan community shown by Victor Lloyd Butterfield, 11th president of the University.

Andrew Trexler ’14 

Nicole Updegrove ’14 

Rachel Sobelsohn '17, at right, was the recipient of the Susan Frazer Prize. The prize is awarded to students who have done the most distinguished work in the elementary and intermediate French language sequence.

Rachel Sobelsohn ’17, at right, was the recipient of the Susan Frazer Prize. The prize is awarded to students who have done the most distinguished work in the elementary and intermediate French language sequence.

Chadbourne Prize 

The gift of George Storrs Chadbourne, Class of 1858, to that member of the first-year class outstanding in character, conduct, and scholarship.

Ya-Lih Horng ’17 

Limbach Prize 

Established in 1966 by Russell T. Limbach, professor of art, in memory of his wife, Edna Limbach. Awarded annually to the student who has contributed the most imaginative, generous, thoughtful, and understanding social service to the people of the City of Middletown and/or the Wesleyan community.

Joshua Krugman ’14 

Catherine Marquez ’16 

Wesleyan Memorial Prize 

The gift of undergraduates in the Class of 1943 in memory of fellow students who made the supreme sacrifice in the Second World War, to the members of the junior class outstanding in qualities of character, leadership, and scholarship.

Gabriel Gordon ’15 

Christian Hosam ’15

Academic Scholarships, Fellowships, and Prizes 

Pictured are, at left, Benjamin Jacobs '14 and Benjamin Carus '14. Jacobs received the Sheng Prize, a Fulbright Fellowship and the Hallowell Prize. Carus received the Plukas Teaching Apprentice Award and White Prize. Alex Iselin '14 received the Plukas Teaching Apprentice Award, Wilde Prize and White Prize.

Pictured are, at left, Benjamin Jacobs ’14, Benjamin Carus ’14 and Alex Iselin ’14. Jacobs received the Sheng Prize, a Fulbright Fellowship and the Hallowell Prize. Carus received the Plukas Teaching Apprentice Award and White Prize. Iselin ’14 received the Plukas Teaching Apprentice Award, Wilde Prize and White Prize.

George H. Acheson and Grass Foundation Prize in Neuroscience 

Established in 1992 by a gift from the Grass Foundation, this prize is awarded to an outstanding undergraduate in the Neuroscience and Behavior Program who demonstrates excellence in the program and who also shows promise for future contributions in the field of neuroscience.

Adele Bubnys ’14 

Rachel Rosengard ’14 

Alumni Prize in the History of Art 

Established by Wesleyan alumni and awarded to a senior who has demonstrated special aptitude in the history of art and who has made a substantive contribution to the major.

Isadora Dannin ’14 

Kopac, Herbst, Martinez MA ’13 Attend Space Telescope Science Institute Symposium

Biology Ph.D candidate Sarah Kopac was invited to speak at the 2014 Spring Symposium of the Space Telescope Science Institute on the campus of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, M.D. on April 29. Kopac spoke on “Specialization of Bacillus in the Geochemcially Challenged Environment of Death Valley.” Watch a video of her 20 minute presentation online here.

Kopac’s talk was part of a four-day interdisciplinary meeting titled “Habitable Worlds Across Time and Space” featuring speakers from around the world working in such diverse fields as biology, geology and astronomy. The focus of the seminar was on identifying places within our Solar System and Galaxy where we can most profitably search for life beyond the Earth.

Astronomy major Raquel Martinez, MA ’13 and William Herbst, the John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy, director of graduate studies, also attended the conference.

Both Kopac and Martinez were active active participants in Wesleyan’s Planetary Science Group seminars and activities. Kopac’s advisor is Fred Cohan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies. Martinez’s advisor was Seth Redfield, assistant professor of astronomy.

Biology Ph.D candidate Sarah Kopac speaks at the the Space Telescope Science Institute's Spring Symposium.

Biology Ph.D candidate Sarah Kopac speaks at the the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Spring Symposium.

Raquel Martiniz MA '13 poses with her research poster and conference organizer John Debes. Raquel is currently working in NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center and has been accepted to the Ph.D. program at the University of Texas where she will begin studies in the fall.

Raquel Martiniz MA ’13 poses with her research poster and conference organizer John Debes. Raquel is currently working in NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center and has been accepted to the Ph.D. program at the University of Texas where she will begin studies in the fall.

Oliphant ’13 on the Sense of Community at Wesleyan

Melody Oliphant ’13, who double majored in neuroscience and behavior and history at Wes, is now a research associate in a neurogenetics lab at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City.

“I’m often awestruck at the seemingly limitless answers to the question, ‘What makes Wesleyan special?’ or ‘What excited me about Wesleyan?’ Yet, in some form or fashion, the answer always remains the same: the people, the sense of community.

Throughout my Wesleyan experience, I participated in a disparate array of activities and academic pursuits ranging from environmental activism to my double major, from founding a sorority to participating in the Wesleyan Student Assembly, from playing Ultimate Frisbee to serving as a women’s center escort to help women pass center protesters. I worked as an archivist at the Middlesex County Historical Society, as a student manager for the Red and Black Calling Society, as a sustainability intern working to remove bottled water from campus, and as an intern for the Senior Gift.

Someone unfamiliar with Wesleyan might wonder what unites such supposedly divergent interests. But the answer is simple: community. Even in my academics, I learned not to take courses according to my own purported interests, but rather by following professors who ignite a sense of intellectual curiosity and foster a holistic understanding of the world, uniting the humanities with the technoscientific realm.”

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View this video and others at the Video @Wesleyan site.

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BA/MA Astronomy Student Edelman Researching Winds around Stars

Graduate student Eric Edelman is writing a master's thesis on the process of measuring the winds of stars. He's focusing on stellar systems that have known planets orbiting them, with the aim of trying to decipher how the measured winds of these stars may affect or potentially even dissipate the atmospheres of their host planets. (Photos by Hannah Norman '16)

Graduate student Eric Edelman is writing a master’s thesis on the process of measuring the winds of stars. He’s focusing on stellar systems that have known planets orbiting them, with the aim of trying to decipher how the measured winds of these stars may affect or potentially even dissipate the atmospheres of their host planets. (Photos by Hannah Norman ’16)

In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we speak with astronomy graduate student Eric Edelman ’13, who is one of 16 BA/MA students at Wesleyan. 

Q: You’re one of only a few who pursue the BA/MA option — it seems like a lot of work. But it seems tailor-made for work in the sciences… Are you still happy with your choice?

A: Absolutely. The BA/MA program provided me with the possibility to realistically pursue astronomy as a late bloomer in the field. I entered Wesleyan with the plan to major in English, and focused my efforts on that path for my first two years here. I took my first introductory course in astronomy and physics as a junior, switched into the astronomy major that semester, and was barely able to complete the bare minimum requirements to receive a BA degree.

Eric Edelman applauds the Astronomy Department's student-to-faculty ratio.

Eric Edelman applauds the Astronomy Department’s student-to-faculty ratio.

Even though I was able to get a degree, the amount of classes I had taken in astronomy and physics in only those two years would not have made me very competitive for Ph.D. programs, which tend to be the next logical step when pursuing a career in astronomy. With the flexibility provided from the BA/MA program, I have been able to stick around for an extra year and really sink my teeth into some incredibly difficult and worthwhile upper level physics and astronomy courses.

Q: The Class of 2018 is getting their admission letters this week. If a prospect is interested in studying sciences, what would you say are the bonuses of studying at Wesleyan?

A: My answer when it comes to physics and particularly astronomy is the student to faculty ratio. It really does literally approach the golden ratio over here. There tend to be around a total of 10-15 graduate and undergraduate majors in the astronomy department per year, with five professors and one postdoc to go around. While trying to land a research position with a professor at larger universities can sometimes feel like being part of a crazy rat race, the astronomy department here at Wes has more than enough space to accommodate any and all students who want to invest themselves in a worthwhile research project. It is an incredibly open and welcoming department.

Sociology’s Long, Coven ’13 Present Teacher Evaluation Research

Assistant Professor of Sociology Daniel Long and Rebecca Coven ’13 presented their research on teacher evaluations at a press conference held by the Connecticut Education Association March 6 in Hartford, Conn.

Assistant Professor of Sociology Daniel Long and Rebecca Coven ’13 presented their research on teacher evaluations at a press conference held by the Connecticut Education Association March 6 in Hartford, Conn.

When Rebecca Coven ’13 decided to dedicate herself to the arduous task of completing a senior honors thesis, she was concerned that no one would ever read her work beyond the few professors grading it. So she was excited to have the opportunity to conduct relevant, timely research on teacher evaluations in the state of Connecticut, and share her findings at a press conference held in Hartford March 6 by the state’s largest teachers union.

Together with her advisor, Assistant Professor of Sociology Daniel Long, Coven spent her senior year conducting a review of a teacher evaluation pilot program run by the Connecticut Education Association in the Hamden, Conn. public schools. The CEA, which was looking to promote an alternative model of teacher evaluation to the one embraced by the state Board of Education in guidelines passed in June 2012, asked Long to conduct the external review of the pilot. Long invited Coven to help conduct the review as part of her senior honors thesis. Coven’s interest in education reform was sparked when she took Long’s Sociology of Education course during her sophomore year. She served as Long’s research assistant, collaborating with him on a study about the impact of increased instruction time on the achievement gap, including an apprenticeship in the Quantitative Analysis Center the summer after her junior year.

Coven’s thesis, titled, “No Teacher Left Behind: A Look at Alternative Systems of Educator Evaluation,” can be read on WesScholar here.

“It was exciting to know that my senior thesis would be read by other people, and was relevant to an important education debate going on in Connecticut,” said Coven.