Tag Archive for Class of 2014

Wesleyan Slam Poets Place 13th in National Competition

Wesleyan’s WESlam team placed 13th out of 59 college teams from around the country in the 2013 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, held April 3-6 at Barnard College in New York City.

Five students, Evan Okun ’13, Lily Myers ’15 , Zachary Goldberg ’13, Cherkira Lashely ’15 and Markeisha Hill ’16 competed on the team and Emily Weitzman ’14 coached. Lily Myers won the award for best love poem.

“‘Most moving’ was the response Wesleyan got from community ,” Okun said. “We were complemented for our creative manner in which we resisted the typical ‘slam-poem-formula’ that is often over dramatic and exploitative of personal trauma.”

Watch Zachary Goldberg, Evan Okun and Lily Myers perform “We Made It:”

YouTube Preview Image

Varekamp, Students Study Volcanic Products, Waters in Argentina

Ellen Alexander '14, Professor Joop Varekamp and graduate student Lauren Camfield in Argentina.

Ellen Alexander ’14, Professor Joop Varekamp and graduate student Lauren Camfield in Argentina.

Ellen Alexander ’14, Professor Joop Varekamp and graduate student Lauren Camfield recently returned from Argentina where they studied the eruptive products of the Copahue volcano March 7-March 19.

Varekamp, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, professor of environmental studies, has studied the volcano since 1997. It erupted in 2000 and again in December 2012.

“Many Wesleyan students have done their senior theses and grad theses on Copahue. It’s exciting stuff for us volcanology types,” Varekamp said.

Camfield sampled the products of the most recent eruption of Copahue, which included ash, pumice and volcanic bombs. She will analyze her samples at Wesleyan for major and trace elements on a X-ray fluorescence machine and analyze any melt inclusions at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on an electron microprobe.

“This information can give us insight on what is happening in the magma chamber of the volcano as well as depth of crystallization of minerals,” Camfield said.

Student-Athlete Long ’14 Misses Game to Donate Bone Marrow

Matt Long '14 is a tight end on Wesleyan's Football Team.

Matt Long ’14 is a tight end on Wesleyan’s Football Team.

Matt Long ’14 a tight end on Wesleyan’s Football Team, hopes to make a new friend in about a year. Why would a 6-foot 5-inch, 240 pound scholar-athlete at a prestigious college like Wesleyan who was named an academic all-NESCAC choice in 2011 need to wait 12 months to make a new acquaintance? One very special reason.

This past spring, Long, of Williston, Vt., was coaxed by a schoolmate to enlist in a bone marrow donor program during a drive on campus. It was sponsored by DKMS, the world’s largest bone marrow donor program. Thus, Matt was on a donor matching list after a cheek swab. The general consensus is that any individual donor has less than a one percent chance of being called upon to donate. When is does happen, it could be years after the potential donor is first in the system. For Long, the wait was about four months.

“In late August, just before the start of camp [preseason football training], I received an urgent overnight letter,” Long explains. It said that he was a preliminary match for an anonymous patient. Matt was tested further in his home area and things looked promising.

Shortly thereafter, Long was transported to Georgetown Hospital in Washington, D.C., for more testing,

MacLean ’14 Helps Ill Children, Supports Students with Disabilities

Catherine MacLean received a $1,000 scholarship from Citizen’s Bank TruFit Good Citizen Scholarship program on Sept. 14.

Q&As with outstanding students is an occasional feature of The Wesleyan Connection. This issue we speak with Catherine MacLean from the Class of 2014.

Q: Catherine, what are you majoring in at Wesleyan, and why?

A: I am a biology and science and society double major. I have been fascinated by biology for quite a long time, so I was pretty sure I wanted to study it when I came to Wesleyan. I am very interested in the way that such basic low-level structures can combine synergistically to give rise to an organism and the complexity of life. The combination of elegant simplicity and endless complexity in biology is really interesting to me. Once I got to Wesleyan, I stumbled upon the Science in Society Program and found that it was a perfect combination of my love of science and social science. In the same way that context is key in studying cells and systems in biology, the context of the historical, political and social conditions in which science is done is key to studying science.

Q: You recently received a $1,000 scholarship from Citizen’s Bank TruFit Good Citizen Scholarship program for your efforts with the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Conn. What is your role with the camp?

A: The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp is a summer camp and year-round center serving children with serious illnesses and their families. In the summer, there is a summer camp program that allows kids with sickle cell disease, HIV, cancer, metabolic and mitochondrial disease, and blood disorders to attend a traditional overnight summer camp.

I’ve been involved at camp for a number of years. I’ve helped out at fundraisers and events held at the camp, and volunteered at both summer and weekend camp programs. My freshman year at Wesleyan, I hosted the camp leadership for an information session at Wes so that other students could get involved. This led to several students volunteering or working at Hole in the Wall and associated SeriousFun Children’s network camps.

I love working at camp. It is an incredibly positive and friendly community where I have made fantastic friends. Being able to provide support, fun and relaxation to parents and children who really need it is very important work to me. 

Video Feature on Matt Donahue ’14

Matt Donahue ’14 is a double major in psychology and neuroscience and behavior, works in several departments on campus, and is the chapter president of Brighter Dawns, a student run non-profit that aims to improve health conditions in the slums of Bangladesh. Learn more about Donahue in the video below:

YouTube Preview Image

Ribner ’14 Studying Spatial Navigation, Early Number Knowledge

University major Andrew Ribner ’14 is working in the Cognitive Development Lab this summer. He’s also a photographer, a campus tour guide and a baker.

Q&As with outstanding students is an occasional feature of The Wesleyan Connection. This issue we speak with Andrew Ribner from the Class of 2014.

Q: Andrew, you’re a rising junior, working toward a university major in educational psychology and learning theory and biology. Please explain what a university major is and why you chose this degree path.

A: A university major is essentially an interdisciplinary create-your-own major. It’s an option that isn’t very highly publicized, and is completely unique to each student who does it. It’s an intense application process that involves writing a formal proposal and four-year class schedule, finding three advisors who will support and recommend you to the committee, and justifying the necessity of the major. Essentially, it’s creating an entire unique department using classes that are already offered in other departments. For my university major, I’ll be investigating how children learn through a combination of psychology, sociology and neuroscience.

Q: This summer, you’re working in the Cognitive Development Lab with Anna Shusterman, assistant professor of psychology. Why did you want to spend your summer at Wesleyan?

A: I chose to stay at Wes this summer for a number of reasons. Anna is the primary advisor on my university major, and I’m planning to do an experimental thesis through her lab as it intersects with sociology. She recommended I stay this summer to get a start on my thesis research because she’s going to be on sabbatical in the fall and I need to start running participants while she’s out. I also just wanted to see what research was like and whether it’s something I enjoy—which it is.

MINDS Foundation, Students, Featured in Huffington Post

The MINDS Foundation, an organization started by Raghu Appasani ’12, was recently featured in the June 6 Huffington Post. The MINDS Foundation is working to eradicate mental illness stigmas and provide mental healthcare services to patients in rural villages in India.

According to the article, the conditions of many mental health facilities are inexcusable; people lack basic human dignity, and necessities such as clothes, clean water, and food; they are often locked away in prison-like rooms; and lack even the most basic legal protections.

Since 2012, the MINDS Foundation has educated nearly 1,000 individuals, and is currently treating 36 patients suffering from a variety of illnesses ranging from schizophrenia to depression. The Foundation operates in Gujarat, outside the city of Baroda, and works through a close partnership with Sumandeep Vidyapeeth University to reach out to a cluster of 19 villages and 15,000 individuals in the surrounding vicinity. University psychiatrists volunteer their time pro bono to diagnose, treat, and counsel patients.

This summer, Setarah O’Brien ’14 and Simone Hyman ’15 are volunteering with the organization in India.

The Huffington Post article is online here.

Chemistry Major Sagi ’14 Receives Goldwater Scholarship for Academic Merit

Goldwater Scholar Andras Sagi studies how different compounds bind to quadruplex DNA. His research may lead to treatments for cancer.

A Wesleyan sophomore is the recipient of a prestigious award from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

Andras Sagi ’14, a chemistry and molecular biology double major, is one of 282 college students from around the country who received a Goldwater Scholarship. Goldwater Scholars are selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,123 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. The $15,000 scholarship will be applied to Sagi’s tuition, fees, books, and room and board over two years.

At Wesleyan, Sagi works with Philip Bolton, professor of chemistry, on localizing the binding of different ligands to quadruplex DNA, which may lay a foundation for cancer treatments.

“Quadruplexes are of considerable therapeutic interest because induction or stabilization of quadruplex formation in cells has been shown to cause cancer cell senescence and death,” Sagi explains. “Moreover, quadruplexes have a protein-like structural diversity, allowing for the development of drugs highly specific to particular quadruplex structures. Thus, pharmaceuticals capable of targeting certain quadruplexes may be of significant interest as treatments for cancer.”

Sagi is interested in determining where and how different compounds bind to quadruplex structures.

“If we can understand the locations of binding of various compounds to particular quadruplex structures, then we can help scientists design drugs capable of achieving similarly strong binding,” he says.

After graduating from Wesleyan, Sagi intends to pursue a doctorate in chemistry “at the best institution in my field  of biophysical chemistry I can receive acceptance to,” he says. “From this point on, I will seek employment either in academia or with the government, with the intention of becoming an established scientist at a national laboratory or institute.”

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law 99-661 on Nov. 14, 1986. The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry M. Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

Since its first award in 1989, the Foundation has bestowed over 6,200 scholarships worth approximately $39 million.


Aaron ’14, Malamut ’12 Receive NASA Research Grants

Two undergraduates each received a $5,000 grant from the NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium on Jan. 1.

Lavontria Aaron ’14 to will study minerals on Mars with Martha Gilmore, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences; and Craig Malamut ’12 will research local interstellar mediums with Seth Redfield, assistant professor of astronomy.

EE&S Major Lief Friedrichs ’14 Interested in Permaculture, Sustainability

Lief Friedrichs '14 is interested in permaculture, a holistic approach to design that values efficiency, social justice, and environmental quality.

Q&As with outstanding students is an occasional feature of The Wesleyan Connection. This issue we speak with Lief Fredrichs from the Class of 2014.

Q: Lief, where are you from, and why did you choose Wesleyan?

A: I am from Exeter, NH. I chose Wesleyan because, when I visited, the students (actually tour-guides) seemed the most real to me. I liked Wes because of its reputation for being a small and prestigious school. I applied and got accepted off the waiting list in July. I was planning to go to Bard College, but I decided that I couldn’t pass up the chance to come here.

Q: You recently had an op-ed published in the Exeter News-Letter where you discuss pollution prevention in New Hampshire’s Great Bay estuary. What prompted you to write this piece?

A: I wrote this letter as a project for my Introduction to Environmental Studies class. I decided to submit it out of family legacy/pressure. I was the only person in my family who had yet to write an op-ed for the town paper. I guess childhood memories had a part in it, too. There was a big discussion about the health of the estuary and new EPA