Tag Archive for faculty achievements

Hughes Recipient of 2015 Bok Prize for Astronomy

Meredith Hughes

Meredith Hughes

For her outstanding contributions to Milky Way research by observational methods, Meredith Hughes, assistant professor of astronomy, received the 2015 Bok Prize in Astronomy from Harvard University.

The prize, named in honor of Astronomer Bart Bok (1906–1983), is awarded to a recent holder of a PhD degree in the physical sciences from Harvard or Radcliffe who is under 35 years of age. Hughes received her PhD from Harvard in 2010, and a MA in astronomy from Harvard in 2007.

Hughes is an expert on planet formation, circumstellar disk structure and dynamics, gas and dust disk evolution and radio astronomy. She studies planet formation by observing the gas and dust in the disks around young stars, mostly using (sub)millimeter interferometers.

At Wesleyan, she teaches the courses Observational Astronomy, Radio Astronomy, Introductory Astronomy and Pedagogy Seminar.

She’s also the 2015 faculty advisor for the Wesleyan Women in Science organization (WesWIS) and serves on the American Astronomical Society Committee for the Status of Women in Astronomy and acts as the liaison between CSWA and the Working Group on LGBTIQ Equality.

Hoggard Named Middetown’s Music Ambassador

Pictured, Jay Hoggard (center) accepted his award from City of Middletown Mayor Dan Drew and Commission on the Arts Chair Jenny Lecce.

Pictured, Jay Hoggard (center) accepted his award from City of Middletown Mayor Dan Drew and Commission on the Arts Chair Jenny Lecce. (Photo by Cassandra Day/Middletown Press)

Wesleyan vibraphonist and composer Jay Hoggard was named the Music Ambassador for the City of Middletown on Aug. 31 at the Mayor’s Office. In addition to being recognized for his valuable artistic and creative contributions, the Music Ambassadors’ music becomes the featured ‘music on hold’ for all City of Middletown phones.

Hoggard, who is a member of the Class of 1976, is an adjunct professor of music and adjunct professor of African American studies.

City of Middletown Mayor Dan Drew also proclaimed that August 31 is Jay Hoggard Day.

Read more in The Middletown Press.

Jay Hoggard

Jay Hoggard

The Music Ambassadors’ program is sponsored by the Middletown Commission on the Arts/City Arts & Culture Office. Learn more about Jay Hoggard on his website.

Gruen Discusses Chimpanzees Used in Research on Canadian Nature Show

Lori Gruen

Lori Gruen speaks about the ethics of using chimps in research in a Canadian show The Nature of Things.

On March 12, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) aired an episode of The Nature of Things called “Safe Haven for Chimps” in which host David Suzuki and his crew follow the efforts of the staff at Chimp Haven in Louisiana. The compound is a place where chimps, who have been used in biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are retired and allowed to live our their lives in a sanctuary.

Lori Gruen, chair and professor of philosophy, professor of environmental studies, professor of feminist gender and sexuality studies, first appears about 10 minutes into the episode. She speaks about her website, www.last1000chimps.com, which tracks the remaining chimps being used in American biomedical and behavioral research.

“The idea of the ‘LAST 1000′ was a way of taking abstract notion of ‘there are chimpanzees being used in laboratories’ and maybe we should end chimpanzee research and retire them,” asserts Gruen.

On her website, Gruen tracks the chimps by name. The names of chimps that are retired to a sanctuary like Chimp Haven are turned green on the site. Gruen explains, “The hope is to turn as many of the names on the ‘LAST 1000′ site green, which means they have been retired from the laboratory.”

“I think it’s important to identify the chimpanzees by name, both to honor and represent them as individuals, and oftentimes to be able to identify and empathize with another is a central part of what moves people to action.”

Near the end of the episode, Gruen summarizes her thoughts.

“When I first started working on topics related to captive chimpanzees something like 20 years ago, I had really no idea that by this point in time we would be discussing the retirement of chimpanzees…”

The video can be seen here.

Crosby Honored at Barnard College Event


Christina Crosby, at right, was honored at Barnard College on March 10. She’s pictured here with her partner Janet Jakobsen, formerly a Wesleyan faculty member and fellow at the Center for the Humanities.

Christina Crosby, professor of English, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, was honored at an event March 10 at Barnard College. Several Wesleyan faculty and alumnae participated in the discussion.

Panelists Laura Grappo '01, assistant professor of American Studies, assistant professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies; Maggie Nelson '94, teaches at California Institute of the Arts; and Gayle Pemberton, former Wesleyan professor of English, currently professor of English at Mt. Holyoke College.

Panelists Laura Grappo ’01, assistant professor of American studies, assistant professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies; Maggie Nelson ’94, teaches at California Institute of the Arts; and Professor of English and African American Studies, Emerita Gayle Pemberton.

The event, titled “Body Undone: A Salon Honoring Christina Crosby,” was hosted by the Barnard Center for Research on Women and NYU’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies. It focused on Crosby’s forthcoming memoir of living with disability, Body Undone: Living on After Great Pain. The memoir will be published by NYU Press in the “Sexual Cultures” series.

In 2003, Professor Crosby broke her neck in a bicycle accident.

“Spinal cord injury has cast me into a surreal neurological wasteland that I traverse day and night,” she wrote. “This account is an effort to describe the terrain. I want you to know, and I, myself, want better to understand, a daily venture of living that requires considerable fortitude on my part and a great dependency on others, without whose help my life would be quite literally unlivable.”

According to the event description, in her book, “Crosby grapples directly with the physical deficits of quadriplegia suddenly encountered at age 50 and refuses to look away from the rawness of grief over the loss of her active, athletic life. The book is an exploration of embodiment that reaches back to the author’s childhood as a tomboy in small-town in Pennsylvania, her brother’s life with (and death from) multiple sclerosis, and the feminist and gay liberation movements of the 1970s that were for her thrilling life-affirmations. In the end, queer commitments create life-sustaining possibility, and open to an unknown future, lived in an undone body.”

The event featured a reading by Crosby, followed by a panel discussion featuring, among others, Wesleyan’s Associate Professor of English Lisa Cohen; Professor of English and African American Studies Emerita Gayle Pemberton; Assistant Professor of American Studies Laura Grappo ’01; and Maggie Nelson ’94, a professor at the California Institute for the Arts.

Watch a video of the event here.

Varekamp Elected Chair of Geology, Public Policy Committee

Joop Varekamp

Joop Varekamp

Johan “Joop” Varekamp, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, professor of earth and environmental sciences, was elected to be chair of the Geology and Public Policy Committee (GPPC) of the Geological Society of America (GSA). The group prepares position statements for GSA (e.g., on fracking, climate change). Varekamp has already made six congressional visits in March, visiting the offices of Senators Richard Blumenthal, Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey and Representative Rosa DeLauro. He does similar work as chairman of the board of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment / Save the Sound.

Varekamp also was elected to be the chair of the LimnoGeology (‘lakes’) division of GSA for the next two years, which involves organizing conferences and sessions at annual GSA meetings, and editing special volumes on lakes.

In addition, Varekamp received funding through the Keck Geology Consortium for a research project on the two crater lakes of Newberry volcano in Oregon. Varekamp will visit the lakes this summer with a group of student researchers from Wesleyan, Amherst, Colgate and Smith College.

Varekamp Authors 2 Chapters in Volcanic Lakes Book

Volcanic Lakes. (Image courtesy of Springer Science+Business Media)

Volcanic Lakes. (Image courtesy of Springer Science+Business Media)

Johan “Joop” Varekamp, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, professor of earth and environmental sciences, is the author of two chapters in Volcanic Lakes, published by Springer Science+Business Media, 2015. He worked on the chapters during his sabbatical in Bristol, U.K., in 2013.

Varekamp’s chapters are titled “The Chemical Composition and Evolution of Volcanic Lakes” and “Volcanic Lakes.” Five other authors also contributed to the “Volcanic Lakes” chapter.

Volcanic lakes are natural features on the planet. The changing water compositions and colors of these lakes over time provide insights into the volcanic, hydrothermal and degassing processes of the underlying volcano.

This book aims to give an overview on the present state of volcanic lake research, covering topics such as volcano monitoring; the chemistry, dynamics and degassing of acidic crater lakes; mass-energy-chemical-isotopic balance approaches; limnology and degassing of Nyos-type lakes; the impact on the human and natural environment; the eruption products and impact of crater lake breaching eruptions; numerical modeling of gas clouds and lake eruptions; thermo-hydro-mechanical and deformation modeling; CO2 fluxes from lakes; volcanic lakes observed from space; biological activity; continuous monitoring techniques, and other aspects.

Gruen Discusses Her New Book Entangled Empathy

Lori Gruen

Lori Gruen is chair and professor of philosophy, professor of environmental studies, and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

Lori Gruen, professor and chair of philosophy, discussed her new book, Entangled Empathy: An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationships with Animalswith University of Colorado Professor Emeritus Mark Bekoff in The Huffington Post. Bekoff calls the book “a wonderful addition to a growing literature in the transdisciplinary field called anthrozoology, the study of human-animal relationships.”

Gruen defines “entangled empathy” as “a process whereby we first acknowledge that we are already in relationships with all sorts of other animals (humans and non-humans) and these relationships are, for the most part, not very good ones. We then work to figure out how to make them better and that almost always means trying to promote well-being and flourishing.”

She adds, “One thing I think is crucial in our process of thinking differently about our relationships is to recognize that making those relationships better requires practice. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution. We need to continually learn more about ourselves and others to improve the lives of everyone. We will make mistakes, so we should always engage with a fair dose of humility, but also be hopeful that we can fix our mistakes and hone our empathetic skills.”

Read the full interview here.

Gruen also recently penned an op-ed titled, “Ban Greyhound Racing Now,” published on Al Jazeera America’s website. She relates her personal experience adopting a rescued greyhound who was a former racing dog, and more generally describes the “grotesque cruelty in the racing industry.”

Gruen also is professor of environmental studies, and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

Tucker to Study Victorian Sustainability, River Pollution Prevention Reform as Visiting Fellow

Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker is associate professor of history; associate professor of environmental studies; associate professor of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies; associate professor of science in society and faculty fellow in the College of the Environment.

As a 2015 Humanities Research Centre Visiting Fellow, Associate Professor Jennifer Tucker will study Victorian sustainability, photography, law and river pollution prevention reform at Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, Australia.

Her appointment will be May 15-July 15.

Tucker’s ongoing research, tentatively titled “Science Against Industry: Photographic Technologies and the Visual Politics of Pollution Reform,” traces the historical roots of the use of visual evidence in environmental science and pollution reform. Using nearly 300 visual representations (drawings, engravings photographs, and graphs) from archives and libraries, many of which have never previously been studied, she analyzes the scientific impact of new forms of visual representation in chemical climatology and examines the presentation and use of specific visual exhibits in Victorian courtroom debates over air and river pollution.

The research addresses current questions that lie at the heart of several fields and disciplines, including environmental history,

Shinohara’s Solo Exhibitions to be Displayed in Japan

keijiMaster printmaker Keiji Shinohara, artist in residence, will have three solo exhibitions in 2015.” The title is “Keiji Shinohara: Woodcut.”

The first will be at the Odakyu Shinjuku Art Salon in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan March 11-17. For more information call 03-3342-1111 (Japan).

The second show will be at Art Zone-Kaguraoka in Kyoto, Japan May 9-May 25. For more information call o75-754-0155 (Japan).

The exhibition will return to the United States and be on display at the Visual Arts Gallery at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. throughout the month of October.

In addition, Shinohara will be demonstrating Japanese Ukiyo-e printmaking and techniques at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston from noon to 3 p.m. April 6 and April 19. He’ll also lead a workshop at the Penland School of Crafts in Penland, N.C. Aug. 9-21.

Shinohara teaches in the Art and Art History Department and the College of East Asian Studies. While living in Kyoto, he trained for 10 years in the traditional Japanese woodblock printing style known as Ukiyo-e.  The technical foundation for his artwork is rooted in that training, accompanied by techniques of contemporary western printmaking, yet the imagery itself is very different from historical Ukiyo-e.

According to Shinohara’s artist statement, “the story behind the work is very important; there is a sense of narrative that is very private. The feelings and emotions that I convey through these abstract landscapes matter most to me. Almost always my images are of nature, but it is the essence of the landscape that I want to express, not realistic accuracy.”

Gruen Speaks at Minding Animals Conference in India

Professor Lori Gruen visits India as a distinguished guest to the Minding Animals Conference.

Professor Lori Gruen recently visited India as a distinguished guest at the Minding Animals Conference. She’s pictured here at the Taj Mahal.

Gruen spoke on "Entangled Empathy," the topic of her most recent book.

Gruen spoke on “Entangled Empathy,” the topic of her most recent book.

Lori Gruen, chair and professor of philosophy, was a distinguished guest speaker at the third Minding Animals Conference (MAC) in New Delhi, India on Dec. 7. Gruen also is professor of environmental studies, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

During the conference, Gruen discussed “Entangled Empathy,” which is the topic of her most recent book.

Gruen notes “that we are already entangled in complex and life-altering relationships with other animals and argues for a version of empathy as a way of rethinking and practicing animal ethics.”

She also sat on a panel that discussed the state of the field of animal studies and led a workshop on “Feminism and Animals.”

The MAC is a conference held every three years and organized by Minding Animals International (MAI).  The MAI “has been designed to improve the status of nonhuman animals and alleviate nonhuman animal exploitation by facilitating research and discourse among scholars, students, artists, activists, advocates (and members of the general population) in the trans-disciplinary field of animal studies.  MAI’s main objectives are to further the development of nonhuman animal studies internationally and to help establish legal and moral protections for nonhuman animals.”

Gruen shared some of her pictures from her trip to New Dehli:

Picture taken by Gruen.

Picture taken by Gruen.

Gruen sits on a panel about the state of the field of Animal Studies and a workshop on "Feminism and Animals."

Gruen, third from left, sat on a panel about the state of the field of animal studies and led a workshop on “Feminism and Animals.”


Huwel, Morgan Investigate Dynamics of Laser-Induced Sparks in Helium

Lutz Huwel, professor of physics, and Thomas Morgan, the Foss Professor of Physics, are the co-authors of an article titled “Investigating the dynamics of laser induced sparks in atmospheric helium using Rayleigh and Thomson scattering,” published in the Journal of Applied Physics, Volume 117 in January 2015.

The paper describes the use of two laser systems to prepare and study a helium plasma, and draws on an extensive international collaboration. The electron density and temperature of the plasma are measure as a function of time and space with high precision. The work has important impact in the area of laser induced breakdown spectroscopy and to the spectral line shape scientific community.

Shapiro Translates Fables in a Modern Key

Norman Shapiro, professor of French, is the translator of Fables in a Modern Key (Fables dan l’air du Temps), published by Black Widow Press in 2015.

Fables was written by by Pierre Coran (whose real name is Eugene Delaisse), a poet and novelist of the Belgian French-language. One of Begium’s most renowned poets with some 45 poetry books published to date, he also is the author of 25 published novels, 24 books of fables, hundreds of comic book stories, and several albums which have been translated into more than a dozen languages. His children’s stories and fables are published around the world, but this the first selection of his fables to be translated into English in a full length book format.