Tag Archive for faculty achievements

Hingorani Finishes Program Director Appointment with NSF

Manju Hingorani

Manju Hingorani

Manju Hingorani, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, professor of integrative sciences, recently completed a two-year tenure working for the National Science Foundation’s Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB). Hingorani served as the program director of the MCB Genetic Mechanisms program.

Hingorani worked with investigator-driven proposals submitted to both the Genetic Mechanisms and the Cellular Dynamics and Function programs. As a rotating program director, Hingorani managed proposal reviews and awards and responded to inquiries from principal investigators conducting fundamental research related to the central dogma of biology.

Jenkins Stages Play in Florentine Prison

Ron Jenkins, professor of theater, recently completed a collaboration with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights in Florence, Italy. The center asked Jenkins to stage a play in a Florentine prison on the theme of human rights.

The play, which was based on Dante Aligheri’s 14,000 line epic poem, “The Divine Comedy,” was performed on July 14 and featured Coro Galilei, a choir that specializes in Gregorian chants, and actors from a local prison. The script consisted of texts written by the prisoners on the theme of justice intertwined with fragments from the “Divine Comedy” and interviews with human rights activists from around the world.

“Dante’s Inferno” is the most famous section of “The Divine Comedy” and is based on Dante’s real life in 14th century Italy, where he was a city official, diplomatic negotiator, and a man who dared to cross the Pope. Dante also was a convict and convicted of crimes, and Jenkins uses Dante to connect with incarcerated men and women.

“Dante was condemned to death, but we do not remember him as a convict,” Jenkins told the audience at Sollicciano prison in his prologue to the play. “We remember him as writer and philosopher who denounced the lack of justice in his society. After having seen our play, we hope you will remember the performers, not as convicts, but as writers whose words are born from the wisdom of experience, as Dante said, ‘Men of great value…. Suspended in this limbo.'”

Jenkins has already taught “Dante’s Inferno” and acting to inmates in Connecticut and Indonesia. Jenkins encourages incarcerated men and women to make connections between their own life stories and the experiences of the characters in classics like “Dante’s Inferno.” Their thoughts are used to create play scripts that are performed inside a prison. Wesleyan students also perform the scripts at other colleges and in the community, and engage in discussions about issues related to reforming the country’s criminal justice system.

Personick Wins LaMer Award from American Chemical Society

Michelle Personick

Michelle Personick

Michelle Personick, assistant professor of chemistry, received the Victor K. LaMer Award from the American Chemical Society Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry. The honor, which comes with a $3,000 monetary award, was presented at the ACS Colloid and Surface Science Symposium June 5-8 at Harvard University, where she presented a plenary talk.

The Victor K. LaMer Award is presented to the author of an outstanding PhD thesis in colloid or surface chemistry. LaMer was the editor of the Journal of Colloid Science (now the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science) from its founding in 1946 to 1965. In addition to his seminal work on colloids, LaMer’s fundamental contributions to physical chemistry have found their way into every textbook and university course on that subject.

Personick received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Middlebury College in 2009 and a PhD in chemistry from Northwestern University in 2013. Her doctoral thesis was titled “Controlling the Shape and Crystallinity of Gold and Silver Nanoparticles.”

A key advance of her dissertation work was the development of a comprehensive set of design guidelines for controlling the shape of gold nanoparticles via reaction kinetics and surface passivation effects. Her graduate research contributed to 15 articles published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Nano Letters, Science and others.

From 2013 to 2015, Personick was a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard. As a member of the Integrated Mesoscale Architectures for Sustainable Catalysis (IMASC) Energy Frontier Research Center, she studied selective oxidative transformations of alcohols on nanoporous gold alloy catalysts. In July 2015, she joined the faculty at Wesleyan where her research focuses on the synthesis of noble metal alloy nanoparticles with well-defined shapes and catalytically active high-energy surfaces.

The Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry is one of the most active Divisions in the ACS with approximately 2,500 members throughout the world.

Rudensky’s Photos Featured in The New York Times

Ricky Preslar, who has undergone growth-attenuation therapy, in his bedroom. (Photo by Sasha Rudensky/For the New York Times.)

Ricky Preslar, who has undergone growth-attenuation therapy, in his bedroom. (Photo by Sasha Rudensky/For The New York Times)

Photographs by Sasha Rudensky ’01, assistant professor of art, are featured in the March 22 online edition of The New York Times. The images accompany an article “Should Parents of Children With Severe Disabilities Be Allowed to Stop Their Growth?

Rudensky’s images are of 9-year-old Ricky Preslar, who who underwent a controversial medical intervention known as growth-attenuation therapy. When children with intellectual and developmental disabilities enter adolescence and adulthood, the simple tasks of caring for them — dressing, toileting, bathing, holding and carrying — can become prohibitively difficult for parents. Arresting a child’s growth could benefit both child and parent. Ricky currently weighs 43 pounds and is 43 inches high.

From the time he was 4 until just shy of his 7th birthday, he received doses of estrogen high enough to stimulate the premature closing of the epiphyseal or “growth” plates, the thin wedges of cartilage found at the end of the long bones in children and adolescents.

Rudensky studied studio art and Russian literature at Wesleyan where she received a BA in 2001. She received her MFA in photography from Yale University in 2008. Her other photographs can be found online at http://www.sasharudensky.com.

The Preslar family at home. (Photo by Sasha Rudensky/For The New York Times).

The Preslar family at home. (Photo by Sasha Rudensky/For The New York Times).

Plous Named Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science

Professor of Psychology Scott Plous at the AAAS fellow induction ceremony, Feb. 13. (Photo by Fijare Plous)

Professor of Psychology Scott Plous at the AAAS fellow induction ceremony, Feb. 13. (Photo by Fijare Plous)

Professor of Psychology Scott Plous has been elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

He was inducted on Feb. 13 during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., part of the association’s annual meeting. Plous was one of eight fellows newly elected to the Psychology section of the AAAS this year. He was chosen “for distinguished contributions to social psychology, particularly understanding decision-making and prejudice, and for communication of psychology science to the public.”

Founded in 1848, the AAAS is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of all people. Fellows are members of AAAS “…whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished… Examples of areas in which nominees may have made significant contributions are research; teaching; technology; services to professional societies; administration in academe, industry, and government; and communicating and interpreting science to the public. In a tradition stretching back to 1874, these individuals are recognized for their extraordinary achievements across disciplines. Fellows are elected annually by the AAAS Council from the list of approved nominations from the Section Steering Committees.”

Plous holds a PhD in psychology from Stanford University. He is a former recipient of the SSRC-MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in International Peace and Security. He joined Wesleyan’s faculty in 1990 and has interests in judgment and decision making, international security, prejudice and discrimination, the human use of animals and the environment, interactive web-based research and action teaching.

Plous is the founder and executive director of Social Psychology Network, a suite of nonprofit web sites supported by the National Science Foundation, several other organizations, and more than 3,500 members. Collectively, these sites have received more than 317 million page views.

He also is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Society for the Teaching of Psychology and the Society of Experimental Social Psychology.

Composer Matthusen’s U.S. Premiere Performed Nov. 21 at Crowell

Paula Matthusen, assistant professor of music, delivered a speech titled “Sounds in Remembered Spaces.”

Paula Matthusen in Memorial Chapel.

(By Fred Wills ’19)

A composition by Assistant Professor of Music Paula Matthusen will debut in the U.S. on Nov. 21.

Her work, “on the attraction for felicitous amplitude,” will be performed by the string quartet, Brooklyn Rider, in Crowell Concert Hall. Join Matthusen for a pre-concert talk at starting at 7:15 p.m. In addition, on Dec. 3, violinist Todd Reynolds will perform a composition written by Matthusen at CFA Hall.

Matthusen returns to Wesleyan this fall after being named a 2014-2015 Rome Prize recipient. Through a fellowship awarded by The American Academy in Rome, she received the opportunity to expand upon her own professional and artistic pursuits.

An acclaimed composer who writes both electro-acoustic and acoustic music and realizes sound installations, Matthusen had the pleasure of composing for a variety of different ensembles, choreographers, music festivals, and theater companies around the world including Dither Electric Guitar Quartet, Mantra Percussion, the Estonian National Ballet, the Tanglewood Festival, the MusicNOW Series of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Ecstatic Music Festival, Other Minds, and the Aspen Music Festival to name a few—and now adds another to her ever growing list.

Matthusen’s awards include honors from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fulbright Grant, two ASCAP Awards, the Elliott Carter Rome Prize and many others. She also has held residencies at The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, STEIM, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts.

Jenkins Celebrates Indonesia’s Cultural, Linguistic Diversity in International Simulcast

Ron Jenkins

Ron Jenkins

Ron Jenkins, professor of theater, will participate in an international simulcast on Nov. 27 to celebrate Balinese language and Indonesia’s cultural and linguistic diversity.

The simulcast will take place at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington where Jenkins will be helping to celebrate Saraswati Day by reading from his new book, Saraswati in Bali. Saraswati Day is the Balinese day set aside for honoring wisdom, knowledge and culture.

The celebration will be streamed simultaneously to Indonesian diplomatic missions in New York, Tokyo, Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Australia.

The program also will include live simulcasts of a reading of a Balinese poem; greetings from Indonesian Ambassadors to the participating countries; introductory remarks from Professor Gabriela Perez Baez, director of Recovering Voices, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History; a presentation of new books in Balinese; and dance, music and singing performances.

Jenkins will also be speaking about his book at the Indonesian Consulate in New York on Tuesday, Dec. 1 at an event featuring an exhibition of the Balinese paintings related to Saraswati analyzed in his text. To register for the free event, e-mail information@indonesianewyork.org.

Weissman Discusses Mental Health Care as Panelist

Pictured, at left, is Carlton Whitmore of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Ruth Weissman; Milton Wainberg, co-scientific director of Columbia’s Global Mental Health Program; Shekhar Saxena of the World Health Organization; Tia Powell of the Center for Bioethics at Montefiore Health System; and Sheryl WuDunn, moderator and author of A Path Appears. Pictured, at left, is Carlton Whitmore of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Ruth Weissman; Milton Wainberg, co-scientific director of Columbia’s Global Mental Health Program; Shekhar Saxena of the World Health Organization; Tia Powell of the Center for Bioethics at Montefiore Health System; and Sheryl WuDunn, moderator and author of A Path Appears.

Pictured, at left, is Carlton Whitmore of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Ruth Weissman; Milton Wainberg, co-scientific director of Columbia’s Global Mental Health Program; Shekhar Saxena of the World Health Organization; Tia Powell of the Center for Bioethics at Montefiore Health System; and Sheryl WuDunn, moderator and author of A Path Appears.

On Nov. 9, more than 200 people gathered to celebrate the launch of The World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Research and Capacity Building in Mental Health at Columbia University, Department of Psychiatry. The event, Global Mental Health Priorities and Opportunities, provided a platform for discourse around the challenges humans are tackling in mental health.

Ruth Weissman, the Walter A. Crowell University Professor of the Social Sciences, professor of psychology, joined a panel discussion on “Global Mental Health Priorities and Opportunities,” which was moderated by Pulitzer Prize winning author Sheryl WuDunn.

Weissman and other leaders in the field discussed stigma as a barrier to improving mental healthcare and the need to train more non-clinical professionals to deal with the growing crisis of mental healthcare worldwide.

The World Health Organization collaborates with more than 700 centers in more than 80 member states working with WHO on areas such as nursing, occupational health, communicable diseases, nutrition, mental health, chronic diseases and health technologies.

Collaborative Cluster Provides Perspectives in Dance, Music, English, African American Studies

Faculty Jay Hoggard, Lois Brown,  Nicole Stanton, and L’Merchie Frazier are teaching the new Collaborative Cluster Initiative Research Seminar.

Faculty Jay Hoggard, Lois Brown, Nicole Stanton, and L’Merchie Frazier are teaching the new Collaborative Cluster Initiative Research Seminar. The cluster enables faculty to develop a shared research project with a unifying theme. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

#THISISWHY
This year, four Wesleyan faculty are coordinating a year-long interdisciplinary project that enables students from an array of majors and academic disciplines to collaborate, create and work together as a learning community under the theme “Renaissance Projects: Reclaiming Memory, Movement and Migration.”

The Collaborative Clusters Initiative of the Allbritton Center enables faculty from a variety of departments and programs to develop a shared research project with a unifying theme. Cluster courses in 2015-16 provide perspectives from dance, music, English, and African American studies on the ways performance practices have engaged the past and present in the face of great migrations. The collaborative project is rooted in a multi-faceted conception of renaissance, and explores states of past and present, of vitality and decay, and of presence and absence.

Students, in collaboration with peers, faculty and visiting artist/scholars, develop original research in writing, performance or visual art around the cluster theme.

This year, faculty members Nicole Stanton, Jay Hoggard, Lois Brown,  and L’Merchie Frazier are teaching courses in the Collaborative Cluster Initiative Research Seminar.

Bria Grant ’17, an African American studies and dance double major, was ecstatic to take classes in the new cluster because it addressed both her interest in the arts and black people in America in one initiative. She’s enrolled in Stanton’s and Hoggard’s class this fall.

“The discussions we have each week, coupled with the nurturing aspect of breaking bread and eating dinner together, create a familial and intellectual space that both comforts and stimulates my mind simultaneously,” Grant said. “Furthermore, the research seminar itself gives me the space to immerse myself within the subject matter in a way I personally see fit, and explore specific aspects without the heavy burden of a strict curriculum.”

Ulysse Honored with Excellence in Scholarship Award

Pictured at right, Gina Ulysse received the Haitian Studies Association's Excellence in Scholarship award from association board members Régine Jackson and Nadève Menard. (Photo by Gregory Jean-Baptiste)

Pictured at right, Gina Ulysse received the Haitian Studies Association’s Excellence in Scholarship award from association board members Régine Jackson, left, and Nadève Menard. (Photo by Gregory Jean-Baptiste)

Professor of Anthropology Gina Athena Ulysse received the Haitian Studies Association‘s Excellence in Scholarship award during the organizations’ 27th annual conference Oct. 24. The conference centered around the theme “Haiti in the Global Environment: Presence, Representations, Performances” and took place at the Université de Montréal in Québec, Canada. Previous anthropologists awarded this honor include Paul Farmer (2001) and Michel-Rolph Trouillot (2003).

While in Québec, Ulysse presented a talk on “Successfully Individuating Within Academia: Thoughts on Rebel Mentoring and Your Voice” at the Emerging Scholars pre-conference.

Ulysse also will be recognized by her peers at the American Anthropological Association meeting next month for her work as a public anthropologist and ethno-performer.

Naegele Honored by Society for Neuroscience

Janice Naegele accepting the award at the Society for Neuroscience's annual meeting.

Janice Naegele accepting the award at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting.

During the Society for Neuroscience‘s (SfN) annual meeting Oct. 17-21, Janice Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, received the Louise Hansen Marshall Special Recognition Award.

The Louise Hanson Marshall Special Recognition Award honors individuals who have significantly promoted the professional development of women in neuroscience through teaching, organizational leadership, public advocacy and more. Naegele shares the 2015 Louise Hansen Marshall award with Paul Greengard P’77, P’79, GP ’08, the Vincent Astor Professor at The Rockefeller University in New York.

Naegele began her career studying the characteristics of cortical neurons and more recently has performed pioneering studies of transplantation of inhibitory neurons in the brain as a potential treatment for severe epilepsy.

Hornstein Presents at American Financial Management Association Meeting

hornstein150Associate Professor of Economics Abigail Hornstein presented a paper at the 2015 American Financial Management Association Meeting, held in Orlando, Fla. Oct. 14–17.

Hornstein’s research paper, titled “Board Overlaps in Mutual Fund Families,” is co-authored with Elif Sisli Ciamarra of Brandeis University. Hornstein also was a discussant on a paper titled “Mutual fund home bias and market uncertainty” by Nicole Choi of the University of Wyoming and Hilla Skiba of Colorado State University.