Tag Archive for faculty achievements

Johnston, Eiko Exhibit A Body in Fukushima in Manhattan

From The Fukushima Project, by Eiko Otake and William Johnston: Hattachi Benten 7 August 2016 No. 0457; Photo by William Johnston.

From The Fukushima Project, by Eiko Otake and William Johnston: Hattachi Benten 7 August 2016 No. 0457; Photo by William Johnston.

A Body in Fukushima, the collaborative work of Wesleyan artist-in-residence Eiko Otake P’07, ’10 and Professor of History and East Asian Studies William Johnston, will be on view at the Cathedral of St, John the Divine in Upper Manhattan as part of a larger exhibition The Christa Project: Manifesting Divine Bodies from Oct. 6 through March 12. Otake, who serves as an artist-in-residence at the Cathedral and a co-curator with Wesleyan senior Hannah Eisner ’17 for this project, will offer a short performance for the opening reception, which is open to the public. The exhibition includes works by many notable artists such as Kiki Smith, Kara Walker and Meredith Bergmann ’76.

The project offers a response to and a wider revisiting of the 1984 exhibit of sculptor Edwina Sandys’s Christa, a conceptualizing of the crucified Christ in female form, which sparked considerable outrage at the time. In a statement introducing this re-exhibition of the sculpture, now alongside works of 21 contemporary artists, the project directors note: “Christa’s essential statement …remains vital to our world today: people are hungry to see themselves and each other fully represented in society, especially in its most powerful and iconic institutions.

Otake and Johnston’s collaboration, A Body in Fukushima, explores environmental disaster, human failure, and loss through Johnston’s photographs of Otake’s presence in Fukushima, the site of the 2011 earthquake, tsumanmi and nuclear meltdowns. The large area of Fukushima remains uninhabitable to this day. Prior to this artistic collaboration with their three visits to Fukushima in 2014 and this summer, the two have co-taught courses on the atomic bombings and mountaintop removal mining.

In artists’ statements the two note the importance of a physical presence and bearing witness. Otake says, “By placing my body in these places, I thought of the generations of people who used to live there. Now desolate, only time and wind continue to move.”

Johnston, also, speaks to the historic context of the place: “By witnessing events and places, we actually change them and ourselves in ways that may not always be apparent but are important. Through photographing Eiko in these places in Fukushima, we are witnessing not only her and the places themselves, but the people whose lives crossed with those places.”

Hittachi Benten 7 August 2016 No._0457 Photo by Wm Johnston copyJohnston

From The Fukushima Project, by Eiko Otake and William Johnston: Minami Soma, Shiogama Shrine, 3 August 2016 No. 426. (Photo by William Johnston)

From The Fukushima Project, by Eiko Otake and William Johnston: Tomioka 5 August 2016 No. 0215; Photo by William Johnston

From The Fukushima Project, by Eiko Otake and William Johnston: Tomioka 5 August 2016 No. 0215.(Photo by William Johnston)

 

Hudes’ New Musical Focuses on Family in an Ever-Changing American Society

Quiara Alegria Hudes

Quiara Alegria Hudes

Miss You Like Hell is a new musical written by the Shapiro Distinguished Professor of Writing and Theater, Quiara Alegria Hudes. Focusing on what it means to be a family in an ever-changing American society, Hudes’ work follows the story of a “whip-smart, deeply imaginative teenager and her free spirited Latina mother, as they embark on a road trip.”

Commissioned by Christopher Ashley, the artistic director at La Jolla Playhouse, in La Jolla, California, the production is a new piece that embraces the idea of changing identities. Ashley states in an a broadwayworld.com article, “this is exactly the right time for their powerful and moving new musical…”

Hudes received her BA in music composition from Yale University and a MFA in playwriting from Brown University. Boasting an extensive list of accomplishments, Hudes received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for drama for her play Water by the Spoonful. Her play Elliott, A Soldier’s Fugue was a Pulitzer finalist, and her most recent work, The Happiest Song Plays Last, premiered at the Goodman Theater. Hudes also wrote the book to the Tony Award winning musical, In the Heights, where Wesleyan alumni Lin Manual-Miranda ’02, music and lyrics, and Thomas Kail ’99, director, also had major roles in its creation.

Miss You Like Hell will run from Oct. 25 through Dec. 4 in the Mandell Weiss Theater in La Jolla, Calif. Tickets are available at lajollaplayhouse.org.

Tucker Coordinates Firearms, Constitutional Rights Conference Sept. 14-15

Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history, is organizing a conference titled “Firearms and the Common Law Tradition” to be held at the The Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., Sept. 14-15. The conference discussion of “Guns and the Supreme Court” will be live streamed at noon on Thursday, Sept. 15.

The live stream will feature Darrell Miller, professor of law at Duke University School of Law; Gary Schwartz, professor of law, UCLA School of Law; and moderator Nina Totenberg, NPR legal affairs correspondent.

Other topics will include “The Uses of Guns,” “Laws Regulating Carriage of Guns,” “Guns and the Supreme Court: The Influence of History,” and “Guns and Constitutional Rights.”

Focused on the ways in which historical arguments have become important for the judicial debate about guns in America, the discussion will feature Darrell Miller, professor of law at Duke University School of Law and Gary Schwartz, professor of law, UCLA School of Law. NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg will moderate.

In addition to the paper presenters, who include several of the historians who consulted on the relevant Supreme Court decisions, for both sides, about 25 leading historians, legal scholars, and curators of historic firearms collections will attend, including guests from the Buffalo Bill Museum; Autry Museum of the American West; the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution; the NRA Museum; and The Royal Armouries, Leeds.

Wesleyan’s Richard Slotkin, Olin Professor of English, Emeritus, and John Finn, professor of government, are planning to attend.

The conference, which is hosted by Ruth Katz at The Aspen Institute,  is supported with funds from Stanford University and Wesleyan University.

Tucker also is associate professor of environmental studies, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies and associate professor of science in society.

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.”