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Tag Archive 'faculty achievements'

The Wesleyan Faculty Writing Group meets frequently to work on independent writing projects in a group atmosphere. Pictured at a March meeting is, clockwise from left, Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior; Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior; Mariah Schug, visiting assistant professor of psychology; Sarah Wiliarty, associate professor of government, director of the Public Affairs Center; Lauren Caldwell, assistant professor of classical studies; and Anna Shusterman, assistant professor of psychology.

The Wesleyan Faculty Writing Group meets frequently to work on independent writing projects in a group atmosphere. Pictured at a March meeting is, clockwise from left, Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior; Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior; Mariah Schug, visiting assistant professor of psychology; Sarah Wiliarty, associate professor of government, director of the Public Affairs Center; Lauren Caldwell, assistant professor of classical studies; and Anna Shusterman, assistant professor of psychology.

Once a week, a group of Wesleyan faculty gather to work on individual projects. Although they come from different departments – psychology, classical studies, government, among others – they’re all working towards the same goal: to write, be published, and celebrate each others’ accomplishments.

The Wesleyan Faculty Writing Group, founded in 2010, provides an opportunity for faculty to come sit in a shared space and work on any writing projects they are pursuing. Participants are currently working on book proposals, book manuscripts, articles, reviews, grant and fellowship applications and op-eds.

“All of us have found that the occasional change of scene provided by the Writing Group – just moving outside our individual offices for a few hours once a week – can provide a welcome boost to productivity,” said Lauren Caldwell, assistant professor of classical studies.

Caldwell, who considers herself one of the group’s “regulars,” is using the group time to work on a forthcoming book, Roman Girlhood and the Fashioning of Femininity, and a book review of Susan Mattern’s The Prince of Medicine: Galen in the Roman Empire. She also wrote an op-ed published in The Hartford Courant

“The group also has allowed us to meet faculty outside our departments and divisions and to gain a real appreciation for the breadth of faculty research across the university,” she said.

In the past few years, Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, has had papers published in several journals including Cognitive Development, the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General and Current Biology. She is now using writing group time to work on additional journal articles and a grant proposal. She credits the writing group for helping “in some way with everything” she’s published during this time.

“For me, it’s really helpful to have a quiet, dedicated space and time for writing without distraction,” Barth said. “The group members keep each other on task well. Interruptions are minimized, and that is a lot harder to impose when you are by yourself, given the many other personal and professional tasks that always need to be done.”

Mariah Schug, visiting assistant professor of psychology, also had papers published in Cognitive Development and an op-ed on same-sex marriage in The Hartford Courant while taking part in the writing group. Schug also used the group time to focus on two grant proposals she submitted this semester.

“The breaks can be very isolating for faculty. We find that working together, instead of separately in our own offices, helps us to stay focused and motivated over the breaks. We have all found the group to improve our productivity.”

The group meets at various locations on campus including a conference table in the Judd Hall Lounge, the conference room the Public Affairs Center, or in a classroom in the Allbritton Center. In 2013, the group acquired its own printer and coffee maker, “making us an official group,” Caldwell said.

Wherever the group works, they maintain a quiet atmosphere and occasionally consult with each other about writing-related issues.But unlike a writing workshop, the Writing Group does not present their work to colleagues for feedback. Participation isn’t mandatory, and faculty choose to attend when they can.

The group currently meets about once a week and meets daily throughout the summer.

For more information email Lauren Caldwell.

Tsampikos Kottos, the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Physics is developing a power limiter which may protect the human eye from radiation.

Tsampikos Kottos, the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Physics, is developing a reusable power limiter that will protect sensors from radiation without being destroyed in the process.

The U.S. Air Force has taken a keen interest in the recent work of Tsampikos Kottos, the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Physics. Kottos, along with Graduate Research Assistant Eleana Makri, Hamidreza Ramezani Ph.D. ’13 (now a postdoc at U.C. Berkeley) and Dr. Ilya Vitebskiy (AFRL/Ohio), has come up with a theoretical way to build a more effective, reusable power limiter.

Generally speaking, the function of a power limiter is to protect a sensor  — be it the human eye, an antenna, or other sensitive equipment — from high-intensity radiation, like that generated by high-power lasers.

Kottos, Makri, Ramezani and Vitebskiy published a paper titled “Non-Linear Localized Modes Give Rise to a Reflective Optical Limiter“ [Phys. Rev. A 89, 031802(R) (2014)] that was highlighted in Washington, D.C. at the spring review meeting of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) as one of the main research achievements in electromagnetics of 2014 that can potentially benefit the U.S. Air Force. Now, with the Air Force’s help, Kottos is taking the necessary steps to make the project become a reality.

Generally speaking, there are two categories of limiters —  dynamic and passive. These new limiters are of the passive variety.

Tsampikos Kottos is working with Professor of Physics Fred Ellis on a sensor experiment.

Tsampikos Kottos is working with Professor of Physics Fred Ellis on a related acoustical experiment.

“Dynamic limiters are very slow,” explained Kottos. “They consist of many parts, and then these parts have to communicate with each other. So these are not very good. Passive limiters perform the limiting action —  the filtering of the high power —  based on the intrinsic properties of the materials.”

So, passive limiters are the way to go.

When striving to produce better passive limiter components, one can synthesize new materials (which Wes is not currently equipped to do on-site), or one can rely on existing materials and try to design or propose geometries that will improve the efficiency of existing materials.

Since the dawn of lasers in the 1960s, the standard filtering protection has been based on the use of what are called sacrificial limiters. When high-intensity light passes through a sacrificial limiter, the materials absorb the energy, heat up and melt, becoming opaque. The light is blocked and the sensor is protected, but the limiter is destroyed and must be swapped out like a burnt lightbulb. This is less than ideal, as it’s expensive and time-consuming to replace.

A power limiter consisting of a non-linear lossy layer (blue layer) embedded in a Bragg grating (white and orange layers) allows for (a) a transmission of a low intensity beam while (b) it completely reflects a high intensity beam without any absorption.

A power limiter consisting of a non-linear lossy layer (blue layer) embedded in a Bragg grating (white and orange layers) allows for (a) a transmission of a low intensity beam while (b) it completely reflects a high intensity beam without any absorption.

“We want to propose a clever limiter which is not going to sacrifice itself in order to save the sensor on the other side,” Kottos said. “What we are proposing is to create two stacks of alternate layers, A and B. This is what people usually call a Bragg mirror. Such a structure creates a frequency window for which light is completely reflected irrespective of its intensity. This solves one part of the problem but it creates another one. Namely, we want ’non-harmful,’ low-intensity light to be transmitted. How can we achieve this? Well, the simple way is by creating a ‘bridge.’ But the bridge has to be clever. It must allow low intensity light to pass and block high intensity light. One way to do this is to make sure that the bridge will collapse if high intensity light goes through.”

Kottos’ new work involves placing a defect layer of dissipative nonlinearity (“the bridge”) in the middle of the Bragg mirror. The nonlinear properties of the materials increase dissipation for high light intensities. Strange as it sounds, losses (dissipation) can rescue the limiter (bridge) from high power light and reflect the energy into space.

“To understand this we need to think of how three oscillators coupled with springs — with the middle one having friction (the dissipation layer) — will behave when energy is pumped into the system. Say the left one is excited, displacing it from the equilibrium position. Then energy will move from the left one to the right one via the spring and then will continue to the third via the second spring that connects the last two together. Via this process, some energy will be turned to heat via the friction of the middle oscillator. Now let’s further increase the friction in the middle, which in optics is achieved via the dissipative nonlinear mechanism when incident power is increased. Obviously the process will be repeated, but now more energy will be radiated as heat since the friction in the middle is higher. But what will happen if the friction in the middle is huge, corresponding to high incident power in optics which will trigger high dissipative nonlinearities?”

The intuitive prediction is that friction-generated heat will burn the middle oscillator. But students in Kottos’ “Waves and Oscillations” course would predict that a huge friction will turn the middle oscillator into an immovable wall, neutralizing the friction and reflecting all the energy back without letting it pass to the third oscillator. And this is exactly the mechanism Kottos and co. are exploring, but in the optics realm.

“We knew this principle since centuries ago — it’s called impedance mismatching,” Kottos said. “The more you create an absorber, the more the energy that’s not absorbed but reflected back. I know that’s an oxymoron, but this is how it happens. The reason that we did not use this property up to now is rather psychological. In most cases we strive to ‘match’ things and we are used to this way of thinking. In this specific case we thought the other way around.”

The experimental realizations of these new theoretical optical limiters are currently being investigated at two U.S. labs. With time, the Wes group hopes to continue refining its proposal to further increase the limiters’ effectiveness. A further step down the road is to implement the same idea acoustically.

“I am hopeful that the experimental group of Professor Fred Ellis at Wes will be able to demonstrate the applicability of this idea in acoustics,” said Kottos. “Discussions along this line of research are in progress.”

In recognition of Wesleyan’s commitment to equity and inclusion, A Better Chance Foundation will present President Michael Roth with its 2014 Benjamin E. Mays Award.

Named for the famed civil rights pioneer, the Mays award is presented annually to a leader in education who individually and with their institution demonstrate a clear commitment to diversifying higher education.

“I’m deeply honored to be recognized by A Better Chance,” Roth said. “The Wesleyan community has been enriched by the students who come to us through the foundation.”

The foundation’s mission is to increase substantially the number of well-educated young people of color capable of assuming positions of responsibility and leadership in American society. The oldest national organization of its kind, ABC annually recruits, refers and supports about 500 scholars in grades 6-12 at more than 300 member schools in 27 states. Many of these scholars go on to elite universities.

Every year, A Better Chance recognizes its top Scholars and honors leaders in the community who are committed to promoting education and diversity.

Every year, A Better Chance honors leaders in the community who are committed to promoting education and diversity.

Wesleyan has been one of A Better Chance’s strongest college partners, with more than 250 A Better Chance Alumni matriculated over the past 50 years, more than nearly any other American university.

“Our work continues toward greater diversity and a more inclusive and equitable residential college experience,” Roth said. “And I know that with the help of A Better Chance and other partner groups, we’ll get closer to our goal every year.”

Roth will accept the award in New York on June 20.

Kari Weil

Kari Weil

Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, delivered a keynote address on “Animal Studies: The Ends of Empathy and Beginnings of Reading” at a “Why do Animal Studies?” conference April 3-4 at the University of Chicago.

During the conference, scholars discussed “What is it that draws a multiplicity of voices into this conversation, and how can they productively engage with one another? Why has this field of inquiry gained such traction in recent decades? How is Animal Studies taking shape as a field that overlaps multiple discourses and disciplines, and what opportunities or difficulties arise as a result? How do different methodologies clarify or substantiate one another, fill knowledge gaps, and illuminate unknown aspects of individual areas of interest?”

Weil has published widely on literary representations of gender, feminist theory, and, more recently, on theories and representations of animal otherness. She recently co-edited a special issue of Hypatia titled, Animal Others (2012) and she is the author of  Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now (2012) and Androgyny and the Denial of Difference (1992). Her current project is tentatively titled,  ’The Most Beautiful Conquest of Man’ ?: Horses and Other Animal Pursuits in 19-Century France.

Professor of Economics Richard Grossman gave a public lecture about his book, WRONG: Nine Economic Policy Disasters and What We Can Learn From Themat the Center for Economic Studies/Institute for Economic Research at Munich University on April 7. He delivered the talk in German. More information about the Munich Seminars is here. The book was published in November 2013 by Oxford University Press.

A video of the lecture is available here.

Michael Roberts, professor and chair of the Classical Studies Department, presented a paper titled, “Venantius Fortunatus on Poetry and Song,” at the annual meeting of the International Society for Late Antique Literary Studies at Brown University, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2013. He also spoke at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign on March 21 on “Pompatic Poetics: Claudian’s Epithalamium for Honorius and Maria and Some Features of Late Latin Poetry.”

Roberts also is the Robert Rich Professor of Latin and professor of medieval studies.

Professor of Religion Peter Gottschalk is the author of an op-ed published April 17 in The Los Angeles Times on the history of religious intolerance in the U.S. Responding to recent shootings near Jewish community centers in Kansas, in which three people were killed, Gottschalk writes that though the incident “seems at first glance like a disparaged past flaring briefly into the present,” in fact religiously motivated violence is alive and well in the U.S. Gottschalk walks readers through a history of religious intolerance from the country’s earliest days, and traces the various forms the KKK has taken over the years. He concludes: “The religious pluralism evident in the United States testifies to the remarkable accomplishments the nation has made in promoting tolerance and inclusion. However, the recent sad news from Kansas reminds us that a pernicious current promoting racial, religious, and national exclusivity electrifies an active third rail of American history.”

Book co-authored by Professor Phillip Wagoner

Book co-authored by Phillip Wagoner.

Professor Phillip Wagoner is the co-author of Power, Memory, Architecture: Contested Sites on India’s Deccan Plateau, 1300-1600, published by Oxford University Press in March 2014. Wagoner is chair and professor of archaeology, professor of art history.

Focusing on India’s Deccan Plateau, this book explores how power and memory combined to produce the region’s built landscape, as seen above all in its monumental architecture. During the turbulent 16th century, fortified frontier strongholds like Kalyana, Warangal, or Raichur were repeatedly contested by primary centers—namely, great capital cities such as Bijapur, Vijayanagara or Golconda. Examining the political histories and material culture of both primary and secondary centers, the book investigates how and why the peoples of the Deccan, in their struggles for dominance over secondary centers, promoted certain elements of their remembered past while forgetting others.

The book also rethinks the usefulness of Hindu-Muslim relations as the master key for interpreting this period of South Asian history, and proposes instead a model based on parallel cultures of rulership grounded in different prestige languages, Sanskrit and Persian. Further, the authors systematically integrate the methodologies of history, art history and archaeology in their attempt to reconstruct the past, as opposed to the standard practice of using one of these methodologies to the exclusion of the others. The book thus describes and explains the interstate politics of the medieval Deccan at a more grass-roots level than hitherto attempted.

Story moved to: http://newsletter.blogs.wesleyan.edu/2014/04/18/rothchance/

 

Paula Matthusen, assistant professor of music, has won a prestigious Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome. The prize will allow her to spend the next academic year in residence as a Fellow of the Academy. At Wesleyan, Matthusen teaches the course, “Laptop Ensemble,” which promotes knowledge and skills in live electronics performance and cultivates new musical repertoire for the group.

Paula Matthusen, assistant professor of music, has won a prestigious Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome. The prize will allow her to spend the next academic year in residence as a Fellow of the Academy. At Wesleyan, Matthusen teaches the course, “Laptop Ensemble,” which promotes knowledge and skills in live electronics performance and cultivates new musical repertoire for the group.

Assistant professor of music Paula Matthusen has won a prestigious Rome Prize from the American Academy, which will allow her to spend the next year in the Eternal City working on the compelling compositions that distinguish her career.

Matthusen is a composer of acoustic and electronic music who, among other things, teaches Laptop Ensemble at Wesleyan, and records sound in historic structures and architecture. The resulting work reflects the character of these spaces, which include the Old Croton Aqueduct in New York. As an American Academy fellow, she will visit the paths of the Roman aqueducts.

“I’m elated,” Matthusen said. “It’s a very great honor and a wonderful opportunity.”

Each year, through a national competition, the Rome Prize is awarded to approximately thirty individuals who represent the highest standard of excellence in the arts and humanities. The American Academy in Rome provides extended time and support (room, board, stipend, work space, and freedom from every-day cares) for each fellow to pursue his or her own work and to live among other artists and scholars.

“The Rome Prize in composition has been awarded to such musical luminaries as Samuel Barber, Elliot Carter, and David Del Tredici,” said Dean of the Arts and Humanities Andy Curran. “We are extremely proud that Paula, who reflects the strength of Wesleyan’s music program, has been admitted to this select group.”

Her Old Croton Aqueduct work, developed by working with the Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct, was called “eden’s arch of promise bending,” after a line in an ode composed at the opening of the waterwork in 1842.  The Aqueduct was closed in the mid-20th century, but for more than 100 years, it brought water from Westchester to Manhattan and enabled New York City’s enormous growth. The composition explores the nature of the aqueduct through field recordings and samplings of its resonant frequencies. Go here to listen to an excerpt.

The New York Times has praised Matthusen’s “creative vitality” and “vivid imagination.”

The Academy is a leading American overseas center for independent studies and advanced research in the fine arts and humanities. Founded in 1894, the Academy was chartered as a private institution by an act of Congress in 1905. On the occasion of the Academy’s centennial, the President of the United States signed a joint resolution of Congress in recognition of the Academy’s contribution to America’s intellectual and cultural life.

Pictured below are photos taken at Paula Matthusen’s “Laptop Ensemble” class on April 7. She also teaches a class on “Total Harmony.” (Photos by Ryan Heffernan ’16)

stu_tec_2014-0407184955 (more…)

Associate Professor of History Erik Grimmer-Solem investigated the story of a celebrated German General during World War II, uncovering new evidence that he cooperated in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union. His research has made national news in Germany, where the government is now responding to revelations about the General's legacy.

Associate Professor of History Erik Grimmer-Solem investigated the story of a celebrated German General during World War II, uncovering new evidence that he cooperated in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union. His research has made national news in Germany, where the government is now responding to revelations about the General’s legacy.

Growing up, Associate Professor of History Erik Grimmer-Solem heard many family stories of his grandfather, a member of the Norwegian resistance movement during World War II. Little did he know then that he would go on to uncover new truths about a celebrated German general, and ignite a public debate over the general’s place in history.
Grimmer-Solem holding a photo of his grandfather, Dr. Odd Solem, and his father, Eivind Solem, taken in 1939, one year before the German invasion of Norway. Odd Solem, part of the Norwegian resistance movement, was arrested by the Gestapo and met General Hans von Sponeck in prison in 1942.

Grimmer-Solem holding a photo of his grandfather, Dr. Odd Solem, and his father, Eivind Solem, taken in 1939, one year before the German invasion of Norway. Odd Solem, part of the Norwegian resistance movement, was arrested by the Gestapo and met General Hans von Sponeck in prison in 1942.

Grimmer-Solem’s grandfather, Dr. Odd Solem, was arrested by the Gestapo along with two other Norwegians during the German occupation of Norway in the summer of 1940. He was sentenced to death by a German military tribunal, but had his sentence reduced to a prison term in Germersheim. There, he met and befriended General Hans von Sponeck, a German general who was court-martialed and imprisoned for refusing to follow Hitler’s orders during a major Soviet counteroffensive on the Crimean Peninsula in 1941 by withdrawing his troops from Kerch, likely saving the lives of thousands of soldiers. Von Sponeck was ultimately executed on the orders of Heinrich Himmler following the failed assassination attempt on Hitler in July 1944, while Solem and the other prisoners narrowly escaped an SS execution squad and survived the war.

In the decades since the war, von Sponeck has been celebrated in Germany for his moral courage, with an Air Force base, city streets and other monuments named after him. Along with the tales of von Sponeck’s kindness toward Grimmer-Solem’s grandfather, the general’s unusual reputation as a heroic “anti-Nazi” sparked Grimmer-Solem’s interest. Since he regularly teaches a course on Nazi Germany and knows the literature on the role of the Wehrmacht (Germany’s unified armed forces from 1935-45) in war crimes in the Soviet Union, he began to have questions about von Sponeck’s career when it became clear that the general had commanded units of the German 11th Army during Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, in the summer and fall of 1941. War crimes and crimes against humanity are well documented within the area of operation of the 11th Army. Grimmer-Solem undertook a detailed investigation of von Sponeck’s military career in the German Military Archives in March 2013 (more…)

Marty Gilmore

Marty Gilmore will present her research in Hartford on April 8.

Marty Gilmore, associate professor of earth and environmental studies, will present her work with the MARS Rover missions on Tuesday, April 8 at the final Science of Screen of the year.

The monthly Science on Screen events pair local scientists with screenings of popular movies. Gilmore’s presentation of her research will begin at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a screening of Mission to Mars.

Gilmore’s primary research involves using images of the surface of Mars and Venus to interpret geological processes and history. For example, her research includes searching for clues regarding where and when there might have been water on Mars. She is also interested in the future of planetary exploration: how to bring back soil samples from Mars and Venus and using artificial intelligence to improve the capabilities of the Mars Rovers.

The presentation and screening will take place at Real Art Ways at 56 Arbor Street in Hartford, Conn. For more information, visit the website.

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