Tag Archive for COE

Chernoff Honored at “Sound of Science” Musical Premiere

Chernoff, second from right, at the concert November 10. He is pictured on stage with, from left, composer Felipe Perez Santiago, composer Graham Reynolds, and cellist Jeffrey Zeigler.

Barry Chernoff, second from right, is pictured on stage with, from left, composer Felipe Perez Santiago, composer Graham Reynolds, and cellist Jeffrey Zeigler.

Barry Chernoff, director of the College of the Environment, was one of eight scientists recently honored with a new musical composition based upon his research—part of a concert and album titled “The Sound of Science, performed in New York City on Nov. 10.

The project aims to build “bridges between the musical and scientific worlds, celebrating their shared culture of inquiry,” according to the website. The pieces were written by seven celebrated composers for amplified cello and electronics, and were all recorded and performed by world-renowned cellist Jeffrey Zeigler, longtime member of Kronos Quartet and several other groups. The Grammy Award–winning quartet has performed at Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts, most recently in April 2018.

Each composer was paired with a scientist of his or her choosing and tasked with creating music inspired by and reflective of the scientist’s life and practice.

Chernoff’s piece, titled, “Pastaza,” was composed by Graham Reynolds, an Austin-based composer-bandleader-improviser who creates, performs, and records music for film, theater, dance, rock clubs, and concert halls. “Pastaza” and the other works can be played online here.

According to the website: “Graham was drawn to Chernoff’s work for its influence and importance on this grand scale…. When it comes to considering what future we are creating, there is nothing more crucial than the planet, its limited resources, and how it will fare for generations to come.”

The piece aims to honor Chernoff’s “abundant curiosity for the world” around him, and to examine the ways in which his work influences our understanding of “what came before and what’s ahead.”

“I am incredibly honored to have a piece of music inspired by my research and conservation efforts in the Amazon and in South America—and I am in awe of Graham Reynolds’s ability to have imagined the music without having traveled by dugout in the Amazon basin himself!” said Chernoff. “His composition, ‘Pastaza’ is so beautiful, if not breathtaking. Hearing the music performed live by Jeffrey Zeigler with Graham’s electronic backing with my photos being displayed on the wall was an experience I will never forget.”

Chernoff is also the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, professor of biology, professor of earth and environmental sciences, and professor and chair of environmental studies.

Poulos Authors Papers on Managing Ecological Fire Risks, Recovery Strategies

Helen PoulosHelen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, is the coauthor of two papers published Oct. 22 in the journals Fire and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, respectively.

Poulos lead-authored a paper on fire and plant evolutionary ecology titled, “Do Mixed Fire Regimes Shape Plant Flammability and Post-Fire Recovery Strategies?” Contrary to a new model assuming that plant species have evolved three divergent flammability strategies, Poulos and her fellow researchers present three case studies that indicate plant species have evolved “bet-hedging strategies” that mix a variety of flammability and post-fire recovery strategies.

Poulos also co-authored a paper led by ecologist Christopher Johnson of the University of Tasmania titled, “Can trophic rewilding reduce the impact of fire in a more flammable world?” This paper is about managing fire risk by reintroducing large mammals and has received a lot of buzz, including a nod in Science.

“Working with a group of international scientists has really helped me in terms of thinking about global issues associated with fire, and also how humans can work together to create more sustainable landscapes,” Poulos said.

COE Celebrates Schumann Institute with Gathering, Keynote Alumni Speakers

On Oct. 26, members of the campus community celebrated the Robert F. Schumann Institute of the College of the Environment (COE) with a reception, remarks, and keynote speakers.

On Oct. 26, members of the campus community celebrated the Robert F. Schumann Institute of the College of the Environment (COE) with a reception, remarks, and keynote speakers. The event was held at the Fries Center for Global Studies in Fisk Hall.

The Robert F. Schumann Institute was established in July 2017 with a $2.5M gift from The Robert F. Schumann [’44] Foundation. Pictured, from left is Timothy Crowley, a foundation trustee, and Robert F. Schumann’s sons and foundation advisors, David and Ford Schumann.

Fall Harvest, Music, Gatherings at 2018 Pumpkin Fest

The campus and local community celebrated the fall season during the College of the Environment’s annual Pumpkin Fest on Oct. 13.

Held at the student-run, Long Lane Organic Farm, participants enjoyed farm tours, farm produce and baked good sales, crafts, face painting, local vendors, free veggie burgers and apple cider, a pie eating contest, prizes from Wesleyan University Press, and musical performances.

Wesleyan performers included Brien Bradley ’19, Phie Towle ’20, Rebecca Roff ’20, Dreamboat (May Klug ’19), Slavei, Long Lane Gourdchestra, and Anna Marie Rosenlieb [’20] Collective Dance Improv.

In addition, the student groups Veg Out, Outing Club, Climate Action, Bee Club, and Wesleyan Sustainability had tables at the festival.

(Photos by Alexa Jablonski ’22)

Yohe, Siry, Sultan Awarded Wesleyan Prize for Excellence in Research

At left, Wesleyan President Michael Roth '78 congratulates the recipients, Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies; Joseph Siry, the Kenan Professor of the Humanities; and Sonia Sultan, professor of biology.

At left, Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 and the recipients of the inaugural Wesleyan Prize for Excellence in Research: Gary Yohe, Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies; Joseph Siry, Kenan Professor of the Humanities; and Sonia Sultan, Professor of Biology.

Three Wesleyan faculty were honored with the Wesleyan Prize for Excellence in Research on Sept. 4. The inaugural prize, presented by Joyce Jacobsen, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, is similar to the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching, but is presented to members of the faculty who demonstrate the highest standards of excellence in their research, scholarship, and contributions to their field.

Each recipient received a plaque and citation as well as research funds for their award. Nominations by faculty colleagues for this new prize will be accepted through the end of April each spring, and the prize will be awarded at the first faculty meeting the following fall.

The 2018 award recipients include Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies; Joseph Siry, the Kenan Professor of the Humanities; and Sonia Sultan, professor of biology. Their award citations are below:

Eck ’19 Helping City of Middletown Earn Sustainability Certification

Ingrid Eck ’19, pictured here in the West College Courtyard on Sept. 12, is working to certify the City of Middletown by Sustainable CT. Sustainable CT recognizes thriving and resilient Connecticut municipalities. An independently funded, grassroots, municipal effort, Sustainable CT provides a wide-ranging menu of best practices. Municipalities choose Sustainable CT actions, implement them, and earn points toward certification. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Since arriving on campus freshman year, Ingrid Eck ’19 has fully immersed herself in all Wesleyan has to offer: working on the Wesleyan Green Fund; founding Veg Out, a student group dedicated to food justice; and joining—and currently serving as president of—Wesleyan’s only sorority, Rho Epsilon Pi. She is also working toward not one, but three majors: government, environmental studies, and French studies. More recently, she’s felt a desire to get involved in the broader Middletown community and “truly get to know the city in which I have been living.”

This summer, Eck had a unique opportunity to become intimately familiar with the City of Middletown as she prepared and submitted the city’s application to Sustainable CT for certification.

According to Jen Kleindienst, Wesleyan’s sustainability director (for whom Eck interns), the Sustainable CT certification is similar to the STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) sustainability rating for colleges and universities. Wesleyan received a silver rating by STARS, a program of The Association of the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, in 2013, and was re-certified in 2016. Like STARS, Sustainable CT encourages municipalities to become more sustainable in many different realms—such as environmental, social, and economic.

Sultan, Baker ’18, Berg ’16 Coauthor Paper on Plant Development

Sonia Sultan, professor of biology and professor, environmental studies, and her former students Brennan Baker BA/MA ’18 and Lars Berg ’16 are the coauthors of a paper published in the August 2018 issue of Frontiers in Plant Science.

The study, “Context-Dependent Developmental Effects of Parental Shade Versus Sun Are Mediated by DNA Methylation,” presents work that Baker completed as a BA/MA student in 2017–18. The article is part of a special Frontiers theme on the emerging area of ecological epigenetics.

In this study, the coauthors compared the development of individual plants when their parents were grown in shade or in full sun. The results show that genetically identical seedlings developed very differently just as a result of this difference in parental conditions.

Baker followed up this finding in several ways, including showing that this ‘neo-Lamarckian’ effect on development was conveyed from parents to offspring through epigenetic regulatory changes to DNA expression rather than changes in the genes themselves.

“Learning how environmental effects in the parent generation can influence offspring via these epigenetic mechanisms is one of the most astonishing and important new areas in biology since it challenges the long-held view that only DNA sequence information could be inherited,” Sultan explained.

Baker will be pursuing his work on transgenerational environmental effects in a different biological context. This fall, he is starting an environmental health PhD program at Columbia University, where he plans to study inherited effects of environmental contaminants on human health. Since graduating from Wesleyan, Berg has held a competitive NIH research internship and is planning to go on to medical school.

In addition, a paper by Baker, Sultan, Maya Lopez-Ichikawa ’18, and Robin Waterman ’19 was an invited submission for a special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society that is dedicated to adaptive responses to rapid environmental change. The paper is currently under review for publication.

Wesleyan Welcomes 71 New Faculty in 2018-19

New Faculty Orientation was held on Aug. 28.

This fall, Wesleyan welcomes 71 new faculty, including 15 tenure-track faculty, 10 professors of the practice, 1 adjunct, and 45 new visiting faculty.

“Academic Affairs, in conjunction with a number of departments and centers, ran successful searches for a number of new professor of the practice positions this year in order to expand the curriculum in particular areas such as writing, education studies, physics, and others, where these faculty could be of great value,” explained Joyce Jacobsen, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

Bios of the new ongoing and full-time visiting faculty are below:

Anthropology

Joseph Weiss, assistant professor of anthropology, received his BA from the University of British Columbia, and his MA and PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago. He comes to Wesleyan from a position as curator of western ethnology at the Canadian Museum of History. Weiss is a sociocultural and political anthropologist whose scholarship explores intersections between indigenous sovereignty, time, and ecology. He has conducted fieldwork with the Haida community of Old Massett, in Western Canada, since 2010. His first book, Shaping the Future on Haida Gwaii: Life Beyond Settler Colonialism (University of British Columbia Press), refutes settler colonial ideas of indigenous people as futureless by foregrounding Haida self-determination in reckoning with pressing political, social, and environmental change. Weiss is currently working on two projects: the first an oral history of the relationships between the Haida community and the Canadian Forces Station Masset, a naval radio base on Haida territory (1943–97); the second an ethnographic project tracing the category “Indigeneity” and its ecological imaginaries at the United Nations. His research has been funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the American Philosophical Society, among others, and he has collaborated with the University of Chicago and the Field Museum of Natural History on a project examining relationships between indigenous people and museums. Weiss’s teaching interests include global indigeneity, temporality, ecological politics, ethnographic methods, anthropological theory, research ethics, and museum anthropology. This semester, he is teaching The Anthropology of Time and Toxic Sovereignties: Life after Environmental Collapse.

Seniors Present College of the Environment Research at Poster Session

Thirteen seniors, majoring in the College of the Environment, presented posters during a COE Colloquium on May 2. (Photos by Tom Dzimian)

Pictured are the COE Class of 2018. Back row: Mariel Holmann, Laura Bither, Sage Loomis, Hannah Wilton, Louisa Winchell. Second row: Guilu Murphy, Katherine Paterson, Nicole Dallar, Nicole DelGaudio, Garrett Hardesty, Ilana Newman. Seated: Alex Horton and Olivia Won.

Paterson’s Senior Thesis Explores Urban Farming, Communal Activity, Performance

Theater and earth and environmental studies major Katherine Paterson ’18 moves a bin of radishes into a greenhouse she constructed on the Center for the Arts green on April 16. The greenhouse build was part of her senior thesis, which was accompanied by a performance and harvest on Earth Day. Paterson also is minoring in German studies.

Senior Katherine Paterson’s passion for theater and environmental studies has grown over the past two months while she constructed a greenhouse for an honors thesis that explores and links together urban farming, communal activity, and theater.

On Earth Day, April 22, Paterson presented (at)tend, a durational performance of song, poetry, and spoken word, which unfolded over the course of the spring semester. The project involved the collective construction, seeding, and tending of a greenhouse by students and community members, and culminated with a spring harvest.

“The goal of the project was to serve as an experiment in creative place-making—in creating a space that the larger Wesleyan community helps to build and maintain,” she said. “A greenhouse containing living plants brings people together and links them with one another and their environment.”

The thesis also explored the questions, “Where does our food come from? How does it grow? How does changing our relationship to food affect our interactions with one another and with our environments?”

Paterson’s advisor is Katherine Brewer Ball, assistant professor of theater. The project was sponsored by the Wesleyan Green Fund, the Department of Theater and the College of the Environment.

A photo essay of the thesis project is below (photos by Olivia Drake MALS ’08):

Feb. 29: Paterson kicked off the project inside a cold frame at Long Lane Farm. Cold-frame structures allow gardeners to get a head start on the growing season. Students broke up compacted soil and filled large bins. Paterson taught fellow students how to plant seeds and mark containers.

During the summer of 2017, Paterson conducted field research in New York City (funded by a College of the Environment grant). She interned at Harlem Grown, an urban farm, and visited Swale, a floating food forest. The experiences helped shape and inform her thesis project.

“Facing Disasters” Explored in Multidisciplinary Performance

Eiko Otake, Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment, performs during “Facing Disasters” March 2 in Memorial Chapel.

On March 2, the College of the Environment Think Tank presented a multidisciplinary performance titled, “Facing Disasters: Disturbing the Human-Environment Relationship” in Memorial Chapel and Zelnick Pavillion.

COE fellows and members of the Wesleyan community explored ideas of facing disasters and motivating action by presenting multiple works that engaged with the 2017–18 Think Tank theme “From Disruptions to Disasters.”

Presenters included Vaishvi Jhaveri ’18; Paula Tartell ’18, Shingo Umehara ’18 Nora Thompson ’15 and Ostin Pham ’17.

Other participants were Katja Kolcio, associate professor of dance, associate professor of environmental studies and associate professor of Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies; William Johnston, professor of history, professor of East Asian studies, professor of science in society, and professor of environmental studies; Ronald Ebrecht, artist-in-residence, music; Ishita Mukerji, Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, professor of integrative sciences; Marguerite Nguyen, assistant professor of English, assistant professor of East Asian studies; Eiko Otake, Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment; and Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies.

Ukrainian Social Reform, Current Events Discussed through Panel, Concert

During "This Side of the Curtain: Ukrainian Resistance in Uncertain Times," held Feb. 20 in Memorial Chapel, speakers, musicians and dancers expressed current events in Ukraine, social reform, non-violent resistance, civic engagement, and social-environmental health through a panel discussion, keynote address and concert performance. 

During “This Side of the Curtain: Ukrainian Resistance in Uncertain Times,” held Feb. 20 in Memorial Chapel, speakers, musicians and dancers from Wesleyan and the local community — discussed current events in Ukraine, social reform, non-violent resistance, civic engagement, and social-environmental health through a panel discussion, keynote address and concert performance.