Tag Archive for Class of 2017

Alumnae Collaborate on Play that Debuts Aug. 10 in NYC

Five alumnae and one student are collaborating on a play that will debut Aug. 10-13 in New York City.

Resistance, written by May Treuhaft-Ali ’17 and directed by Maia Nelles-Sager ’17, is about Libby, a 15-year-old girl from Queens struggling with her weight. Everyone in her life from her mother to her “specialist” is trying to help her lose weight, but none of them seem to understand the underlying issue. When her favorite spin teacher is fired, Libby discovers that violent revenge fantasies makes her feel better. But every time she has a violent revenge fantasy, she gains 16 pounds.

“Resistance touches on themes such as weight-loss culture, female relationships, and gentrification. The cast is entirely female-identifying, as is the production team,” said Nelles-Sager, a film and theater double major.

Nelles-Sager and Treuhaft-Ali are assisted by set designer Nola Werlinich ’17; properties designer and assistant set designer Jess Cummings ’17; graphic designer Caitlin Chan ’17; and sound designer Hope Fourie ’19. At Wesleyan, Nelles-Sager directed four shows with Second Stage and wrote a playwriting thesis; Treuhaft-Ali completed a directing thesis with the Theater Department.

Resistance will be performed at the Wild Project, a theater, film, music, and visual arts venue in New York’s East Village. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. Aug. 10-12 and at 2 p.m. Aug. 12-13. Tickets are available for purchase online.

View Wes in the World Photo Contest Winning Submissions

Earlier this year, the Fries Center for Global Studies sponsored its annual Wes in the World Photo Contest, which celebrates the spirit of global citizenship and encourages students to reflect upon their global experiences. Photos were submitted by students and recent alumni who have studied abroad or who have a home country outside of the United States.

Selected photos are below. View all submitted photos online.

Winner: Best Photograph of Nature | "March, Lake Moke, New Zealand. That night four of my friends (Kirsten, Mel, Jo, and Caroline) and I brought our sleeping bags outside our tents while it was freezing, so that Kirsten and I could work on taking star pictures. This photo represents encompasses my life abroad where I spent almost every weekend traveling, camping, and seeing some of the most breathtaking views with amazing people." (Submitted by: Heidi Westerman '17)

Winner, Best Photograph of Nature: “March, Lake Moke, New Zealand. That night four of my friends (Kirsten, Mel, Jo, and Caroline) and I brought our sleeping bags outside our tents while it was freezing, so that Kirsten and I could work on taking star pictures. This photo represents my life abroad, where I spent almost every weekend traveling, camping and seeing some of the most breathtaking views with amazing people.” (Submitted by Heidi Westerman ’17)

Velez, Wong ’18 Author Paper in ‘The Journal of Politics’

Yamil Velez at Wesleyan University.

Assistant Professor of Government Yamil Velez and Grace Wong ’18 are the authors of a new paper, “Assessing Contextual Measurement Strategies,” published May 17 in The Journal of Politics.

According to the paper’s abstract, “Contextual scholars have explored the impact of residing in racially and ethnically diverse environments on political attitudes and behavior. Traditionally, the literature has employed governmental administrative units such as counties as proxies for citizens’ social contexts. Recently, these measures have come under attack by scholars desiring more personalized measures. This article evaluates the performance of two personalized measures of intergroup context and finds that census-based measures are more closely aligned with subjects’ perceptions of local area demographics than measures that ‘bring the person back in.’ The implications of these findings on the contextual literature are discussed.”

Read the full article here.

Students Catalog Wesleyan’s Lost Fossil Collections

Research fellows Sajirat “Bright” Palakarn ’20 and graduate student Melissa McKee ’17 are discovering and cataloging thousands of fossils at Exley Science Center. The fossils were once housed at the former Wesleyan Museum, a natural history museum that occupied part of the Orange Judd Hall of Natural Sciences from 1871-1957. Once the museum closed, the fossils and other objects were displaced at various locations on campus. “We’d love to make these fossils accessible to Wesleyan students, faculty, classes and the general public,” McKee said. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Research fellows Sajirat “Bright” Palakarn ’20 and graduate student Melissa McKee ’17 are discovering and cataloging thousands of fossils at Exley Science Center. The fossils were once housed at the former Wesleyan Museum, a natural history museum that occupied part of the Orange Judd Hall of Natural Sciences from 1871-1957. Once the museum closed, the fossils and other objects were displaced at various locations on campus. “We’d love to make these fossils accessible to Wesleyan students, faculty, classes and the general public,” McKee said. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Scattered throughout campus are remnants of not only Wesleyan’s history, but world history. After the closing of the Wesleyan Museum in 1957, thousands of specimens in many collections were displaced, often haphazardly, to nooks, crannies, tunnels, attics, storage rooms, and random cabinets at Exley Science Center, Judd Hall, and the Butterfield and Foss Hill residence complexes.

A fossilized bee was discovered in the fossil collections.

A fossilized bee was discovered in the fossil collections.

Many of these specimens haven’t been accessed in 60 years.

“Sadly, few people are aware that Wesleyan has these unique resources,” said Ellen Thomas, the University Professor in the College of Integrative Sciences and research professor of earth and environmental sciences. “The collections have not been well curated, and not much used in education and outreach. We are discovering beautiful fossils, but the knowledge that they are at Wesleyan has long been lost.”

This summer, Thomas, along with two student research fellows, began the painstaking process of not only locating and organizing collections, but digitally cataloging their finds.

Sajirat Palakarn ’20 and earth and environmental science graduate student Melissa McKee ’17 work 40 hours a week on the project and have created a “fossil assembly line” in Exley Room 309. The students take turns sorting trays of fossils by class and phylum, and then match the fossils with identifying hand-written cards or books from an archaic card catalog, entering the information, piece by piece, into a spreadsheet. They’re expecting to itemize more than 15,000 fossils this summer.

“Look here,” Thomas says, while opening a wooden cabinet at random in Exley’s specimen storage room. “We’ve got shells, fossils of shells, one after another with no labels. They are all disorganized. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could make these accessible to the students?”

Melissa McKee holds a plant fossil from Greenland, collected during the second relief expedition for a Peary Arctic Expedition. The leaves were then thought be by Miocene (~20 millions years old), but now they've been identified as being much older at ~ 60 million years.

Melissa McKee holds a plant fossil from Greenland, collected during the second relief expedition for a Peary Arctic Expedition. The leaves were then thought be by Miocene (~20 millions years old), but now they’ve been identified as being much older at ~ 60 million years.

So far, the students have discovered dozens of fish fossils from the Jurassic Period (99.6 to 145.5 million years ago) and Triassic Period (251 million and 199 million years ago). They’ve encountered fossils of preserved leaves and insects from what is today Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, dating back to the Eocene Period, when the world was much warmer (40-45 million years ago). They’ve also found fossilized plants from coal deposits in Illinois (about 300 million years old), as well as fossil sea lilies (crinoids), which lived in shallow warm seas in what is now Indiana. Many of these fossils were collected by S. Ward Loper, who was curator of the Wesleyan Museum from 1894 to his death in 1910.

They’ve even discovered a plant fossil from Greenland, donated to the Wesleyan Museum in 1895 by A.N. Varse, who was on the second relief expedition attempting to assist Robert Peary on one of his early expeditions to explore Greenland and reach the North Pole.

“It’s really incredible to hold a piece of history like this in our hands,” McKee said. “Not only can fossils tell us what an organism might have looked like and how it lived, but fossils also give us clues about ancient environmental conditions. We can use fossils to understand how the Earth has changed over time.”

While most of the fossil finds are located in locked drawers in the hallways of Exley Science Center, the students also are cataloging fossils in the Joe Webb Peoples Fossil Collection, located on the fourth floor. The museum is named after the late Professor Joe Webb Peoples, who was chair of the Department of Geology from 1935 until his retirement in 1975.

The students not only catalog the artifacts, but they also write about their finds, and the museum, on a blog and on Twitter.

McKee and Palakarn, a College of Social Studies major, are constantly learning on the job. “I don’t have a science background, but here I am learning about unicellular microorganisms, sponges, coral, arthropods, trilobites and sea urchins,” Palakarn said.

“I know by the end of this summer you’re going to change your major to earth and environmental science,” McKee said. “I’m sure of it.”

Sanjirat "Bright" Palakarn '20; Ellen Thomas; and graduate student Melissa McKee '17 hold fish fossils inside the Joe Peoples' Museum in Exley.

Sajirat “Bright” Palakarn ’20; Research Professor Ellen Thomas; and graduate student Melissa McKee ’17 hold fish fossils inside the Joe Webb Peoples’ Fossil Collection in Exley.

While rummaging through drawers in Exley's Specimen Storage room, Ellen Thomas discovered large collections of old coins including miniature intaglios and ancient Chinese coins collected by the Methodist missionaries who started Wesleyan. The coins are documented in an accompanying booklet.

While rummaging through drawers in Exley’s Specimen Storage room, Ellen Thomas discovered large collections of old coins including miniature intaglios and ancient Chinese coins collected by the Methodist missionaries who started Wesleyan. The coins are documented in an accompanying booklet.

Melissa McKee holds polished halves of a Perisphinctes species found in Madagascar.

Melissa McKee holds polished halves of a cephalopod found in Madagascar. This species lived during the late Jurassic Period.

Sanjirat Palakarn '20 displays a fossil of Diplomystus dentatus from the Eocene Period. The fossil was discovered in what is now Wyoming. Diplomystus is an extinct freshwater fish distantly related to herrings and sardines.

Sajirat Palakarn displays a fossil of Diplomystus dentatus from the Eocene Period. The fossil was discovered in what is now Wyoming. Diplomystus is an extinct freshwater fish distantly related to herrings and sardines.

The students transcribe hand-written records into electronic form. Pictured is the record of A.N. Varse's fossil discovery in 1895.

The students transcribe hand-written records into electronic form. Pictured is the record of A.N. Varse’s fossil discovery in 1894. It was donated to Wesleyan in 1895.

The research team also found dozens of coral samples stashed away above these cabinets in Exley Science Center.

The research team also found dozens of coral samples stashed above these cabinets in Exley Science Center. “Some of these are now extinct. We will want to catalog these too, but this will be a project for another time,” Thomas said.

Class of 2017 Freeman Asian Scholars Celebrated at Reception

On May 27, the Class of 2017 Freeman Asian Scholars were honored at a reception in Daniel Family Commons. Scholars, their families, friends, advisors and alumni attended the event.

The Freeman Asian Scholarship Program provides expenses for a four-year course of study toward a bachelor’s degree for up to 11 exceptional students annually, one each from the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

During the event, the nine graduating Class of 2017 scholars spoke briefly about their time at Wesleyan and post-graduation plans.

Other speakers included Tracey Gardner ’96, chair of the Wesleyan Alumni Association, Trustee Saeyun D. Lee ’93, and Alice Hadler, associate dean for international student affairs; the event was organized by Gina Driscoll, associate director of alumni and parent relations.

Photo of the reception are below: (Photos by Will Barr ’18)

Kadets, Kwon, Williams, Reyes Deliver Senior Voices, Hatch Gives Faculty Reflection

Lili Kadets ’17, Haneah Kwon ’17, Arnelle Williams ’17, and Mika Reyes ’17 delivered “Senior Voices” addresses on May 27 in Memorial Chapel. Anthony Hatch, assistant professor of science in society, assistant professor of sociology, assistant professor of African American studies, delivered the faculty reflection. Below are the text of their speeches:

AFCA Members Present Students of Color with Graduation Stoles

AFCA co-chair Tracey Stanley, at left, and AFCA member Rosalind Adgers, at right, congratulate Sadasia McCutchen '17 on her upcoming graduation.

AFCA co-chair Tracey Stanley, at left, and AFCA member Rosalind Adgers, at right, congratulate Sadasia McCutchen ’17 on her upcoming graduation.

AFCA, the Administrators and Faculty of Color Alliance, celebrated with the seniors of color during a luncheon and reception in their honor May 23 in Daniel Family Commons. AFCA members also presented the seniors with stoles for commencement.

“This annual luncheon is an opportunity for the seniors to chat and chew and mix and mingle with AFCA members, while sharing their Wesleyan experiences,” said AFCA co-chair Tracey Stanley, administrative assistant in the Office of the Registrar. “We wish our seniors the best of luck!”

Fifty-five students and 15 AFCA members attended the luncheon.

AFCA’s mission is to create a supportive environment for promoting personal and professional growth through experiences, events, and resources for administrators, faculty, and staff of color. AFCA is a community building organization that seeks to strengthen the relationship between its members, allies and other members of the Wesleyan community.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)

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Students Honored with Academic Prizes, Fellowships, Scholarships

Trinity Russell’17 received the Walkley Prize for excellence in psychology; Mae Moskin ’19 received the Scott Prize for Arabic language; and Cheryl Hagan ’17 received the Spurrier Award for ethics.

During the annual student awards reception on May 10, Trinity Russell’17 received the Walkley Prize for excellence in psychology; Mae Moskin ’19 was honored with the Scott Prize for Arabic language; and Cheryl Hagan ’17 received the Spurrier Award for ethics.

Students who received academic prizes, fellowships and scholarships were honored at a reception May 10 in Daniel Family Commons.

Mira Klein ’17 received the White Fellowship for government and the Robert Schumann Distinguished Student Award. Joli Holmes ’17 received the Plukas Prize for economics and the Plukas Teaching Apprentice Award.

Mira Klein ’17 received the White Fellowship and the Robert Schumann Distinguished Student Award. Joli Holmes ’17 received the Plukas Prize for economics and the Plukas Teaching Apprentice Award.

Among the awardees were Mira Klein ’17, who received the White Fellowship for government and the Robert Schumann Distinguished Student Award for demonstrating academic accomplishment and excellence in environmental stewardship; Page Nelson ’17, who received the Alumni Prize in the History of Art; Eric Meyreles ’18, who received a Miller Summer Internship Grant to pursue an internship related to a potential business career; Ainsley Eakins ’18, who received the university’s Social Activist Award; Sofi Goode ’17, who is the recipient of the Wilde Prize for excellence in economics; and AJ Wilson ’19, who was honored with the Richard McLellan Prize for commitment to public service and diversity.

Wesleyan Media Project Researchers Write About What Americans Will Really Dislike about ‘Trumpcare’

Researchers affiliated with the Wesleyan Media Project wrote in The Washington Post on May 5 on what “Americans will really dislike about the House ‘Trumpcare’ bill.” The article, authored by Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, Courtney Laermer ’17, Wesleyan Media Project Project Manager Laura Baum, and Sarah Gollust ’01, is based on data from Laermer’s senior thesis.

House Republicans voted on May 4 to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with their alternative plan, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The authors argue that this vote is likely to cause headaches for Republicans due to several unpopular changes it makes to the law. They focus, in particular, on the AHCA’s replacement for the individual mandate (unpopular itself with only 35 percent public approval) with a “continuous coverage requirement.” As they explain:

If you let your health insurance coverage lapse for more than 63 days, you would have to pay a 30 percent late-enrollment surcharge on top of the premium for the next year. (The bill passed with two amendments affecting these penalties. The widely debated MacArthur amendment lets states seek waivers to enable insurers to charge higher premiums to people with preexisting conditions who fall into this coverage gap. The late-breaking Upton amendment added Wednesday provides $8 billion in funds to offset some of these higher penalties for waiver states, but most analysts don’t think it’s enough).

The researchers surveyed nearly 1,600 Americans in mid-March during the debate over the first version of the AHCA. Here’s what they found:

As much as citizens don’t like the requirement to purchase insurance or pay a penalty to the government, our evidence suggests that they dislike the AHCA’s penalty paid to insurers even more.

In short, AHCA opponents and potential challengers to House Republicans can choose from among many lines of attack: the public is already concerned about protections for people with preexisting conditions, huge cuts to the Medicaid program, and citizens losing insurance. Highlighting the AHCA’s coverage-gap penalty could drop public support further.

Students Inducted into Honor Society, Win Awards At American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Julianne Riggs in Chicago last month, where she attended the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology meeting.

Julianne Riggs ’17 in Chicago last month, where she attended the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology meeting.

Five Wesleyan seniors were inducted into the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology honor society at the ASBMB annual meeting in Chicago, April 22-26. They are: Jennifer Cascino ’17, Kaileen Fei ’17, Julianne Riggs ’17, Rachel Savage ’17 and Stacy Uchendu ’17.

The ASBMB Honor Society recognizes exceptional undergraduate juniors and seniors who are pursuing a degree in the molecular life sciences for their scholarly achievement, research accomplishments, and outreach activities. The mission of the society is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology through organization of scientific meetings, advocacy for funding of basic research and education, support of science education at all levels, promotion of the diversity of individuals entering the scientific workforce, and publication of a number of scientific and educational journals, including the Journal of Biological Chemistry and the Journal of Lipid Research.

Bios of all the inductees, in alphabetical order, can be found here.

Riggs attended the meeting, where she took part in the induction ceremony and presented her research.

“Overall, it was a great experience. I got to present in the undergraduate poster competition and won honorable mention for best chromatin and gene expression poster. I also presented my poster to the general meeting,” she said. “It was a huge conference and there was so much going on. It was great to talk to people of all levels of science, get their perspectives on what it takes to be a scientist, and hear them passionately discuss their research projects. It was also wonderful to talk to people who were researching similar topics to mine, and get their advice and validation on my work.”

In addition, two students, Christine Little ’18 and Cody Hecht ’18, received ASBMB research awards. The $1,000 awards will support their research over the summer.

Wesleyan Celebrates Completion of Science Theses with Poster Session

Wesleyan’s Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division recently hosted a Celebration of Science Theses, a poster session featuring the work of Honors and MA students in the NSM fields. Organized by Manju Hingorani, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry; Barbara Juhasz, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience and behavior; and Seth Redfield, associate professor of astronomy, the event took place in Exley Science Center on April 21, where students from a wide range of disciplines proudly presented their work, marking the culmination of their thesis.

Wesleyan’s Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division recently hosted a Celebration of Science Theses, a poster session featuring the work of Honors and MA students in the NSM fields. Organized by Manju Hingorani, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry; Barbara Juhasz, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience and behavior; and Seth Redfield, associate professor of astronomy, the event took place in Exley Science Center on April 21, where students from a wide range of disciplines proudly presented their work, marking the culmination of their thesis.

Fisher ’17 Wins Watson Fellowship to Study Cooperatives

Michaela Fisher's Watson Fellowship will take her to Spain, Argentina, New Zealand, Germany and Canada. Fisher is interested in understanding “the many ways in which co-ops can flourish or fail." (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Michaela Fisher’s Watson Fellowship will take her to Spain, Argentina, New Zealand, Germany and Canada. Fisher is interested in understanding “the many ways in which co-ops can flourish or fail.” (Photo by Olivia Drake)

As the recipient of a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, Michaela Fisher ’17 will spend a year studying cooperatives in five countries. Her project, titled “Cooperative Worlds: Exploring the Global Cooperative Economy,” will take her to Spain, Argentina, New Zealand, Germany and Canada.

Watson Fellows are all seniors nominated by 40 partner colleges. According to the website, “Fellows conceive original projects, execute them outside of the United States for one year and embrace the ensuing journey. They decide where to go, who to meet, and when to change course.” Fellows receive a $30,000, 12-month travel stipend and health insurance while abroad.

The Thomas J. Watson Foundation was created in 1961 by Jeanette K. Watson in the name of her husband, Thomas J. Watson Sr., best known for building IBM. Through one-of-a-kind programs, the Foundation provides fellows with cultural, professional and personal opportunities that challenge them to expand their vision, test and develop their potential, and build the confidence and perspective to do so for others.