Tag Archive for Class of 2020

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Wesleyan in the News

  1. The Hill: “Advice on Climate Policy for the 2020 Presidential Candidates”

In this op-ed, Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, Emeritus Gary Yohe and his coauthors write that they are encouraged by the “unprecedented attention being given to climate change among those vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination” and offer words of advice for creating an ambitious but credible climate policy.

2. AINT — BAD: “Isabella Convertino”

The photography of Isabella Convertino ’20 is featured on this website, an independent publisher of new photographic art. According to the article, “Her work has been published by ROMAN NVMERALS press, and was recently acquired by the MoMA library. Convertino’s images speak to the complications of adolescence, compounding memory and trauma as points of departure. Interested in the interplay between familial and gender structures, her work probes modes of power-inheritance and the potential devastation of genetic happenstance.”

3. EOS: “Resurrecting Interest in a ‘Dead’ Planet”

Martha Gilmore, the George I. Seney Professor of Geology, is quoted in this article on new research suggesting that, contrary to popular belief, the surface of Venus actually may be quite active today. “Venus is an Earth-sized planet and now—who knew?!—there are Earth-sized planets all over the galaxy,” said Gilmore. “So now, Venus is even more relevant for that reason.”

4. The Middletown Press: “High School Students from Around World Take Part in Wesleyan Summer Arts Camp”

Sixty-eight Center for Creative Youth (CCY) participants from around the country and the world recently demonstrated the skills they had learned in just a week of intensive art study during a community share day. Wesleyan assumed leadership of CCY in fall 2018 as an official University program, and this is the first time the camp has been offered under Wesleyan’s management.

Barth, Patalano Receive $1.09M NSF Grant to Support Numerical Cognition Research

Sophie Charles ’20,

Student research assistant Sophie Charles ’20, a neuroscience and behavior major, shows the line estimation task used by the Psychology Department to understand how people make judgments about number and quantity.

Hilary Barth and Andrea Patalano, both professors of psychology, have received a major grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support collaborative research on numerical cognition.

Hilary Barth, professor of psychology, and Andrea Patalano, professor of psychology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, have received a major grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support collaborative research on numerical cognition.

Collaborative research by Hilary Barth and Andrea Patalano is supported by the National Science Foundation.

The three-year $1,091,303 grant, which is funded by NSF’s EHR Core Research program focused on STEM learning, includes support for Wesleyan student participation in the proposed research project, which will involve experimental studies of children’s and adults’ understanding of, and judgments about, number and quantity.

The two labs collaborate frequently, and have been working jointly on another project for the past three years supported by an earlier NSF grant. The new project is distinct, but grew out of a discovery made in the Barth lab during the earlier project related to a number line estimation task. In this task, participants are shown a line with numbers at each endpoint (e.g., 0 and 1,000) and asked to estimate where on the line a particular three-digit number would fall. The researchers found that participants had a tendency to place two numbers much farther apart on the line than they actually were when those numbers had a different first digit, even if they were quite close to each other in actuality (for example, 799 and 802). This was true even of adult participants, who have a good understanding of numbers.

Price’s Civic Engagement Work Supported by Newman Civic Fellowship

Anthony Price '20

Anthony Price ’20 will begin a Newman Civic Fellowship next fall.

For his efforts in demonstrating the potential for effective long-term civic engagement, Anthony Price ’20 was invited to participate in Campus Compact’s 2019 Newman Civic Fellowship. He will have access to exclusive virtual and in-person learning opportunities during the 2019–2020 academic year for the duration of the one-year fellowship term.

The Newman Civic Fellowship recognizes and supports community-committed students who are changemakers and public problem-solvers at Campus Compact member institutions. Price joins 261 student fellows representing Campus Compact member colleges and universities from 41 states; Washington, D.C.; Mexico; and Greece.

Price, a government and American studies double major, is the founder and executive director of Be The Change Venture, a Cleveland-based nonprofit that teaches young people networking skills to support their career development. He also spent a full semester in Washington, D.C., with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Emerging Leaders Program (see article). Price returned back to the Capitol this summer working for New Jersey Senator, Cory Booker, in the United States Senate. He also served as one of the executive core-planning members for the TedXWesleyan U conference.

“I look forward to being a part of an amazing cohort, building lifelong relationships, and learning from other change agents who are also on the ground serving others,” Price said. “[The fellowship] will be essential for my own civic engagement work serving young people in both inner city and rural communities that tend to get overlooked.”

Wesleyan President Michael Roth nominated Price for the fellowship.

“[Anthony has an] inspiring talent for civic engagement and an admirable dedication to making our society more equitable,” Roth wrote. “At Wesleyan, Anthony has consistently sought opportunities to collaborate with peers and community members on projects with social impact, from organizing a pitch competition for local high school and college students to joining our Nonprofit Board Residency program. As someone who seeks out opportunities to improve his skills in building relationships across sectors and industries, Anthony has held internships with various organizations, ranging from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Office of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.”

As a Newman Fellow, Price receives training and resources that nurture his passions and help develop strategies for social change. He’s able to participate in virtual events focused on skill development and professional learning; present papers at Campus Compact conferences; receive one-on-one leadership development mentoring; and connect and network with other engaged student leaders.

Although the fellowship doesn’t begin until fall, Price has already had conversations with his mentor and attorney Rudhir Krishtel, regarding Price’s nonprofit work. The connection was made through Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

“Rudhir already has played a pivotal role in thinking about how I want to expand upon the impact my team and I have made while at the same time remaining committed to civic engagement work long-term. Specifically, he has advised me on a few things I’m considering pursuing—law school, Fulbright, or perhaps working on Capitol Hill, and staying civically engaged,” Price said. “Overall, I’ve already gotten a head start in crafting the scope of my fellowship months in advance before the fall conference.”

The Newman Civic Fellowship was created in honor of Frank Newman, one of Campus Compact’s founders and a tireless advocate for the role of higher education in preparing students for active and engaged citizenship. The Newman Civic Fellowship is generously supported by the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation.

The 2019 Newman Civic Fellows National Convening will take place in November 2019, in Boston.

“There I’ll meet other fellows and learn about the work they’re doing in communities across the country,” Price said. “I’m looking forward to it!”

After graduation, Price aspires to be a cross-sector change agent, focused in particular on low-income communities. He plans to become an attorney, using the power of the law and policy to address the root causes of inequity in American society.

YAF Ghana Wins 2019 Davis Projects for Peace Award

The Young Achievers Foundation (YAF) Ghana, spearheaded by Ferdinand Quayson '20 (pictured in the black shirt), is a recipient of a 2019 Davis Projects for Peace Award. YAF Ghana exposes disadvantaged students in Northern Ghana to available scholarship opportunities and provides them with free resources needed to be successful applicants.

The Young Achievers Foundation (YAF) Ghana, spearheaded by Ferdinand Quayson ’20 (pictured in the black shirt at left), is a recipient of a 2019 Davis Projects for Peace Award. YAF Ghana exposes disadvantaged students in Northern Ghana to available scholarship opportunities and provides them with free resources needed to be successful applicants.

In the economically disadvantaged Northern Region of Ghana, only 6 of 100 high school students enroll in college, leaving many otherwise bright students trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty.

As recipients of the 2019 Davis Projects for Peace Award, four Wesleyan students who make up the Young Achievers Foundation Ghana are helping low-income students in the region access and apply for scholarship programs within Ghana and beyond. The grassroots group is led by Cofounder and Executive Director Ferdinand Quayson ’20 and members Afrah Boateng ’20, Abdallah Salia ’22, and Alvin Kibaara ’22.

The $10,000 Projects for Peace grant is awarded annually to undergraduate students at American colleges and universities to design grassroots projects that promote peace and conflict resolution around the world. YAF Ghana is using the award this summer to host workshops, seminars, student-led panels, and hands-on training for high school students seeking college scholarship opportunities.

College of the Environment Supports 32 Student Researchers this Summer

This summer the College of the Environment is funding 32 research opportunities here on campus, from coast to coast, and worldwide, from Connecticut and California to Costa Rica and Ghana.

That’s more than $135K for undergrad research, regardless of major or class year.

Students are studying forest fragmentation in Connecticut; volcanic lake ecosystems in Oregon; Lingzhi mushroom’s influence on Chinese medicine; effects of mercury pollution on Eastern Blacknose Dace snakes; solar cell materials; and much more. 

Students Celebrate 2018-19 Leadership Prizes, Fellowships, Scholarships at Reception

Edelina Marzouk '19 won an Outstanding Collaboration Award and a Scott Biomedical Prize for demonstrating excellence and interest in commencing a career in academic or applied medicine. Emma Distler '19 won the Scott Prize-Italian for excellence in modern languages. Jordan Legaspi '19 won a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award.

Edelina Marzouk ’19 won an Outstanding Collaboration Award and a Scott Biomedical Prize for demonstrating excellence and interest in commencing a career in academic or applied medicine. Emma Distler ’19 won the Scott Prize-Italian for excellence in modern languages. Jordan Legaspi ’19 won a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award.

On May 8, the Office of Student Affairs hosted a reception honoring students who received academic or leadership prizes, fellowships, and scholarships in 2018–19.

More than 315 students and recent alumni received one of the University’s 180 prizes. (View the list below or on the Student Affairs website.)

Scholarships, fellowships, and leadership prizes are granted to students and student organizations based on criteria established for each prize or award. Certain University prizes are administered by the Student Affairs/Deans’ Office, while others are administered by the Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development (SALD).

115 Students Present Statistical Research at QAC Poster Session

In the Quantitative Analysis Center course, QAC 201: Applied Data Analysis, students are introduced to statistics and data collection through asking and answering statistical questions that they care about.

Topics come from a large range of disciplines including psychology, sociology, government, and environmental science. Students generate hypotheses based on existing data, conduct a literature review, prepare data for analysis, and conduct descriptive and inferential statistical analyses.

On May 3 in Beckham Hall, 115 students presented their projects at a poster session. Twenty-five guests evaluated the posters, including faculty from Wesleyan, Sacred Heart University, Quinnipiac University, City University of New York, Central Connecticut State University, and Vassar College; research fellows; alumni and staff; social scientists; research analysts; and other industry professionals.

The poster session served as the final exam for the course.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Jodie Kahan '21 presented her study titled, "Do Children Listen?: The Association Between a Child's Perception of their Mothers' Attitudes About Sex and a Child's Willingness to Engage in Sex."

Jodie Kahan ’21 presented her study titled, “Do Children Listen?: The Association Between a Child’s Perception of Their Mothers’ Attitudes About Sex and a Child’s Willingness to Engage in Sex.” Her evaluator is Kendall Hobbs, a research librarian at Wesleyan.

Tinatin Omoeva '21 discussed her poster called, "Control Yourself! The Association Between Self-Control and Financial Skills."

Tinatin Omoeva ’21 discussed her poster called, “Control Yourself! The Association Between Self-Control and Financial Skills.”

Cultural Experiences Discussed at Power of Language Conference

More than 110 Wesleyan students, faculty, alumni, and local guests participated in the second annual Power of Language Conference, April 26-27 at the Fries Center for Global Studies. The event was open to the entire Wesleyan community.

The two-day event featured six panels that focused on: Creative Language Learning, Crossing Time and Border through Translation, Language and Society, Language in Curriculum, Arabic in the U.S., and  Polyphony through Literature.

“The presentations ranged from class final projects (such as a comic version of Dante’s Inferno, reimagined at Wesleyan) to senior theses (such as the challenges of translating early modern Spanish into accessible contemporary English),” said Steve Angle, Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies and director of the Fries Center for Global Studies. “Taken as a whole, the presentations captured the challenges and rewards of working with the world’s languages.”

Joshi ’20 Honored with Research Award to Study DNA Mismatch Repair

Meera Joshi '20

Meera Joshi ’20

Meera Joshi ’20 is the recipient of an American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Undergraduate Research Award for her work on the DNA mismatch repair system.

The $1,000 award will support her research titled “Exploring the Dynamics of Msh2-Msh6 Binding to Holliday Junction Through ATPase Activity. Her advisor is Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

Joshi’s research focuses on a DNA mismatch repair protein called Msh2-Msh6 that initiates the repair of DNA mismatches after replication in eukaryotes. This is a highly conserved process from bacteria to humans and has implications for human health.

“We are particularly interested in Msh2-Msh6 because of it’s involvement in DNA repair, which when faulty, can lead to cancer,” Joshi explained. Mutations in this protein have been linked to Lynch syndrome, an inherited cancer syndrome, and tumor development.

Joshi is building on the work of a previous Mukerji lab student who characterized the binding affinity of Msh2-Msh6 with Holliday Junctions—a cross-shaped DNA structure with four strands of DNA, mostly seen during genetic recombination. This structure is also an important intermediate in the repair of damaged DNA. As Msh2-Msh6 usually binds to DNA containing one mismatched base pair, the lab is interested in understanding its role when binding to Holliday Junctions.

In order to study how the protein interacts with the Holliday Junction, Joshi will use fluorescent analogs to observe how the protein binds to the junction and if there are any changes in structure because of binding. The award will be used to fund the fluorescent analogs and the DNA needed for the experiments.

“Meera is a strong research student who is dedicated and hard-working,” Mukerji said. “I think she will make a lot of progress on her project this summer and am excited to see the results.”

After graduating from Wesleyan, Joshi hopes to attend graduate school and find a lab that focuses on protein dynamics.

ASBMB’s mission is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology through the publication of scientific and educational journals, the organization of scientific meetings, advocacy for funding of basic research and education, support of science education at all levels, and promoting the diversity of individuals entering the scientific workforce.

Gillman ’20 Wins Goldwater Scholarship to Pursue Education in Number Theory

Nate Gillman ’20 received a Goldwater Scholarship that will support his tuition and related academic expenses during his senior year at Wesleyan.

Nate Gillman ’20, a computer science and mathematics double major from Maryland, is the recipient of a 2019 Barry Goldwater Scholarship. He’s one of 496 college students in the country to receive the award.

The Goldwater Scholarship is awarded to sophomores and juniors who show exceptional promise of becoming the next generation of research leaders in the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, and engineering. The scholarship provides up to $7,500 a year to help cover costs associated with undergraduate tuition, mandatory fees, books, and room and board.

Gillman knew he wanted to study math—specifically analytic number theory—after enrolling in a calculus class in high school.

“I have unwavering appreciation and love—and fear—for number theory,” he said. “Appreciation, because the concrete yet abstract nature of number theory captured my imagination at a younger age. Love, because nothing feels better than using a particularly clever estimate to demonstrate a result. And fear, because using tools from calculus to prove fundamental results about numbers entails delving into profound, universal truths.”

7 Prominent Speakers Share Ideas at 2nd Annual TEDxWesleyanU

Members of the 2019 TEDxWesleyanU team gathered on the TEDx stage in Beckham Hall following the successful conference. Tickets for the event sold out within 12 hours.

Members of the 2019 TEDxWesleyanU team gathered on the TEDx stage in Beckham Hall following the successful conference. Tickets for the event sold out within 12 hours.

On April 27, seven prominent thought leaders including Wesleyan alumni, two medical doctors, and local politicians shared their ideas during the second annual TEDxWesleyanU Conference held in Beckham Hall.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. 

Students Receive Undergraduate Research Prizes from Friends of the Wesleyan Library

Two Wesleyan students are the recipients of the Friends of the Wesleyan Library’s third annual Undergraduate Research Prize.

Emma Leuchten '19

Emma Leuchten ’19

Isaac Klimasmith ’20

Isaac Klimasmith ’20

Emma Leuchten ’19, an anthropology and religion double major, received the first place prize for her senior essay, “Anthropology Beyond Belief: Navigating Dreams and Reality in the Burmese Weikza Tradition.” Leuchten based the paper on fieldwork she conducted in Myanmar during a semester abroad. Her advisor was Elizabeth Traube, professor of anthropology.

The essay explores quests for power and knowledge in a contemporary Burmese wizardry tradition. Drawing from personal interviews with weikza (wizard-saints), devotees, and skeptics, Leuchten examines the tensions that have arisen between this tradition and orthodox Buddhist institutions in the post-colonial religious and political landscapes of Myanmar.

“I write against the anthropological impulse to study the symbolic or cultural value of religious figures and experiences—the tendency to explain ‘what’s really going on’ beneath a spiritual event,” Leuchten said. “Beginning with the premise that what I’m studying is real, I propose that a rigorous but open exploration of alternate ontologies can work to destabilize the dominant ontological assumptions that sociocultural discourse takes for granted.”

Isaac Klimasmith ’20, a biology major, received the second place prize for his essay, “Waters in the Wilderness and Rivers in the Desert: Irrigation Myths in the History of Early Mormon Agriculture.” Klimasmith wrote this paper while taking the class ENVS 307: The Economy of Nature and Nations, taught by Paul Erickson, associate professor of history; associate professor, environmental studies.