Tag Archive for faculty achievements

Thomas Honored by Micropalaeontology Society

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas holds two enlarged samples of microfossils in her lab at Wesleyan. Thomas was recently awarded a medal for her research efforts.

For her outstanding efforts in pioneering studies in micropalaeontology and natural history, The Micropalaeontological Society (TMS) awarded Wesleyan’s Ellen Thomas with the 2016 Brady Medal.

The Brady Medal is TMS’s most prestigious honor and is awarded to scientists who have had a major influence on micropalaeontology by means of a substantial body of research.

Thomas was honored for “communicating to an extremely broad audience fascinating, impactful and often thought-provoking research” and “academic encouragement of students and peers over the years with [her] generosity of time in a very busy and successful career,” noted TMS President F. John Gregory.

Thomas, research professor of earth and environmental sciences and the University Professor in the College of Integrative Sciences, investigates the impact of changes in environment and climate on living organisms on various time scales, with the common focal point of benthic foraminifera (eukaryotic unicellular organisms). She studies their assemblages, as well as trace element and isotope composition of their shells. Foraminifera live in salt or at least brackish water, so she concentrates her research on the oceans, from the deep sea up into tidal salt marshes.

The Brady Medal is cast in bronze from original sculptures commissioned by The Micropalaeontological Society in 2007.

The Brady Medal is cast in bronze.

The Micropalaeontological Society exists “to advance the education of the public in the study of Micropalaeontology” and is operated “exclusively for scientific and educational purposes and not for profit”. It was initiated as The British Micropalaeontological Group in 1970.

The Brady Medal is named in honor of George Stewardson Brady (1832-1921) and Henry Bowman Brady (1835-1891) in recognition of their outstanding pioneering studies in micropalaeontology.

Read more about Ellen Thomas in these past News @ Wesleyan articles.

Brazilian Play on Cannibalism, Translated by Jackson, to Make American Debut

Elizabeth Jackson

Elizabeth Jackson

A Brazilian play, translated by Wesleyan’s Elizabeth Jackson, will make its American premiere at The Yale Cabaret in early February.

“The Meal: Dramatic Essays on Cannibalism” tells three stories about people consuming — and being consumed. This poetic piece by Newton Moreno, one of Brazil’s leading contemporary playwrights, was translated into English by Jackson, adjunct associate professor of Portuguese for Wesleyan’s Romance Languages and Literatures Department.

Jackson’s translation of “The Meal” first appeared in Theater, Yale’s journal of criticism, plays, and reportage (Vol. 45 No. 2, 2015). “The Meal” is one of four texts by different playwrights that Jackson translated for the journal. In addition, Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento, professor of theater, co-edited this special issue on contemporary Brazilian plays.

“The Meal” will be performed at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Feb. 2-4 at The Yale Cabaret. Tickets can be purchased online.

Hornstein Presents Papers at American Economic Association Conference

Abigail Hornstein

Abigail Hornstein

Abigail Hornstein, associate professor of economics, presented two papers at the 2017 American Economic Association meeting held Jan. 6-8 in Chicago.

In her working paper, “Words vs. Actions: International Variation in the Propensity to Honor Pledges,” Hornstein used data on contracted and utilized foreign direct investment in China to show that firms fulfill an average of 59 percent of their pledges within two years. “The propensity to fulfill contracts is lower for firms from countries with greater uncertainty avoidance, power distance and egalitarianism; and is higher if the source country is more traditional,” she explained. Prior literature has shown that these cultural characteristics are associated with higher levels of utilized foreign direct investment, while Hornstein shows that these cultural characteristics also affect the likelihood that planned corporate investments are actually made.

Her other working paper, “Board Overlaps in Mutual Fund Families” (co-authored by Elif Sisli Ciamarra of Brandeis University), is based on hand-collected data on directors at 3,948 U.S. equity mutual funds belonging to 328 fund families. Hornstein and Sisli Ciamarra used this data to document the prevalence and effects of a common board structure whereby a set of directors serves simultaneously on the boards of multiple funds within the family. Fifty-nine percent of all funds have unitary board structures where a single board serves all funds within the complex. “We find that overlapping boards generally represent 74 percent of the funds within a family, and that this overlapping board structure provides limited benefits to investors while benefiting the fund family,” she said.

In addition to her paper presentations, Hornstein also was elected to the executive board of the Association for Comparative Economics Studies, for a term ending in 2020.

Sultan Discusses Evolutionary Biology at the Royal Society in London

Sonia Sultan at the Royal Society, by Tom Parker for Quanta Magazine.

Sonia Sultan at the Royal Society. (Photo by Tom Parker for Quanta Magazine)

Sonia Sultan, professor of biology, professor of  environmental studies, was invited to speak at a major meeting of London’s Royal Society in November.

The theme of the meeting was “New Trends in Evolutionary Biology.” Sultan was joined by biologists, anthropologists, doctors, computer scientists and other visionaries to discuss the future of evolutionary biology.

Sultan discussed her research on the Polygonum plant, known by its common name “smartweed.” Her research shows that if genetically identical smartweed plants are raised under different conditions, the end result is plants that may look like they belong to different species.

Sultan is a plant evolutionary ecologist. She is a major contributor to the empirical and conceptual literatures on individual plasticity and its relation to ecological breadth and adaptive evolution. In 2015, she published many of these ideas in the book Organism and Environment: Ecological Development, Niche Construction and Adaptation (Oxford University Press).

In addition, Sultan is now affiliated with an international consortium of evolutionary biologists who are testing some of new ideas as part of a multi-million dollar grant project titled “The Extended Evolutionary Synthesis“, primarily funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

Sumarsam Attends World Class Professors Program in Indonesia

Sumarsam, pictured third from left in the top row, joined 40 scholars for the "Visiting World Class Professors" conference in December.

Sumarsam, pictured third from left in the top row, joined 40 scholars for the “Visiting World Class Professors” program in December.

From Dec. 17-24, 2016, University Professor of Music Sumarsam and other 40 diasporic Indonesian scholars were invited by the Indonesian Minister of Research, Technology, and Higher Education (Ristekdikti) to participate in a program called “Visiting World Class Professor.” The program aims at enhancing human resources of higher education in Indonesia through various scholarly activities.

After the opening of the program by the Vice President Yusuf Kalla, the Minister of Ristekdikti and its Director General of Resources, the first day of the program consisted of seminars and workshops in Jakarta, attended by university rectors and academics. Each of the scholars were then sent to one or two of the 29 universities throughout Indonesian cities, holding a series of workshops, lectures and discussion with members of the faculty of the selected university.

Sumarsam was sent to the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI) in Surakarta (his alma mater).

Watch video clips (in Indonesian) of the event’s opening and news of the program online.

Board of Trustees Confers Tenure on 4 Faculty

In its most recent meeting, the Board of Trustees conferred tenure on four faculty members including Tiphanie Yanique, associate professor of English; Jay Hoggard, professor of music; Ron Kuivila, professor of music; and Sumarsam, professor of music. Sumarsam also was appointed to the Winslow-Kaplan Professorship of Music. The appointments will be effective on Jan. 1, 2017.

“Please join us in congratulating them on their impressive records of accomplishment,” said Joyce Jacobsen, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Tiphanie Yanique

Tiphanie Yanique

Tiphanie Yanique is a widely published and highly regarded fiction writer, essayist and poet. She is the author of two novels, one children’s book, one collection of poems, numerous works of short fiction, and many nonfiction essays. Her novel, Land of Love and Drowning (Penguin Random House Publishers/Riverhead Books, 2014), is the recipient of several awards, including the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize and the American Academy Rosenthal Prize, and her recent poetry collection, Wife (Peepal Tree Press, 2015), received the 2016 Bocas Poetry Prize in Caribbean Literature and the 2016 Forward/Felix Dennis Prize for best new collection in the United Kingdom. Her work has focused on themes of belonging and freedom. She offers courses on creative writing and literature. (Yanique’s photo by Debbie Grossman)

Imai Presents Economics Research at Banking Conference, Macroeconomics Research Workshop

Masami Imai

Masami Imai

Masami Imai, chair and professor of economics, professor of East Asian studies, presented a paper at the 19th Annual International Banking Conference held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago on Nov. 4. This year’s theme was Achieving Financial Stability: Challenges to Prudential Regulation, giving Imai the opportunity to speak on “Japan’s Regulatory Response to Banking Problems.”

At the 12th Annual Workshop on Macroeconomics Research at Liberal Arts Colleges, held at Williams College in August, and at the Japanese Economic Association Meeting held at Waseda University College in Tokyo, Japan in September, Imai discussed “The Effects of Ethnic Chinese Minority on Vietnam’s Regional Economic Development in the Post-Vietnam War Period.”

His work examined the impact of the Hoa, an ethnically Chinese, economically dominant minority on regional economic development in Vietnam following the Vietnam War. Imai found that the ethnic group had a positive impact on the development of Vietnam, but the “post-Vietnam War exodus of ethnic Chinese is likely to have had long-term negative economic impacts.”

Imai teaches courses on money, banking and financial markets, economy of Japan, economies of East Asia, and quantitative methods in economics. His research interests include money and banking, political economy, and the economy of Japan.

(Randi Plake contributed to this article).

 

Gallarotti Speaks about the U.S. Economy on 1420 AM

Giulio Gallarotti

Giulio Gallarotti

Giulio Gallarotti, professor of government, spoke on WLIS 1420 AM/WMRD 1150 AM Connecticut radio (Valley Shore program) Oct. 10 about the U.S. economy. Gallarotti also is co-chair of the College of Social Studies and professor of environmental studies.

In the midst of an election campaign, Gallarotti says the American economy is doing well relative to other countries. The U.S. unemployment rate is presently 5 percent, and the budget deficit is less than 8 percent of America’s Gross National Product (GNP), he reported.

“I think the American economy is strong,” he said during the interview. “Our deficits and debt are not as big of a problem as most Americans think. A number of other countries have deficits and debts that are larger relative to their economies than ours are. Hence we are in less trouble than they are.”

Sultan’s Book Nominated for Royal Society of Biology Award

Sonia Sultan

Sonia Sultan

A book titled Organism and Environment (Oxford University Press, 2015) by evolutionary ecologist Sonia Sultan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies, has been shortlisted for the Royal Society of Biology Award for Best Post-graduate Textbook.The winner will be announced later this month.

In addition, Organism and Environment was named a “landmark volume” in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, and reviews are forthcoming in BioScience, Ecology, Evolution and Biology and Philosophy.

In November, Sultan will speak about her research on developmental plasticity at the New Trends in Evolutionary Biology: Philosophical and Social Science Implications symposium held jointly by the Royal Society and the British Academy. Sultan is one of 22 invited scientists and humanists from Europe, North America and Israel.

At Wesleyan, Sultan’s research group studies plant ecological development or how individual plants develop and function differently in response to different environmental conditions, in particular to factors that vary in nature such as light and shade, soil moisture and key nutrients. To examine these responses, Sultan determines developmental patterns (or norms of reaction) expressed by genetic individuals collected from field populations. These experiments reveal the interplay of genotypic and environmental factors in shaping the functional and reproductive outcomes of individual development.

Sultan has long been a major contributor to the empirical and conceptual literatures on individual plasticity and its relation to ecological breadth and adaptive evolution.

She teaches Plant Form and Diversity, Principles of Biology II, Evolution Journal Club, Evolution in Human-Altered Environments and Nature/Nurture: The Interplay of Genes and Environment.

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.

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 Eugene Volokh, the Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law at the 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.