Frederick Cohan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies, has recently been elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE). Set to be inducted during the 42nd Annual Meeting and Dinner on May 22, 2017, Cohan will join 23 others as “Connecticut’s leading experts in science, technology, and engineering,” and the academy’s newest members during their ceremony at the University of Connecticut.
In line with CASE’s mission to honor those “on the basis of scientific and engineering distinction, achieved through significant contributions in theory or application,” Cohan’s work has led to the “development of a comprehensive new theory for the origin, maintenance, and evolutionary dynamics of bacterial species diversity that integrates ecological and genetic criteria; and to the initiation and co-development of associated software tools, which allow microbiologists to identify distinct bacterial species from DNA sequence data.”
Cohan is a graduate of Stanford University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences in 1975. He went on to earn his PhD in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University in 1982. His professional work takes him across the biological and environmental world, including, but not limited to topics such as microbial ecology, evolutionary theory, origins of bacterial diversity, molecular systematics and gene cluster analysis, horizontal genetic transfer and bacterial transformation.
Norman Shapiro, professor of French, poet in residence and the Distinguished Professor of Literary Translation at Wesleyan, has received a grant from the Belgian government’s Ministère de la Culture for his forthcoming volume Fables of Town and Country, a translation of Fables des villes et des champs of Pierre Coran, an eminent Belgian poet and novelist.
The book will feature illustrations by Olga Pastuchiv, a children’s book author and illustrator, and will be published by Black Widow Press, which specializes in poetry translations. Black Widow Press also published Shapiro’s previous collection of Coran, Fables in a Modern Key, translated from the Belgian author’s Fables à l’air du temps. Early next year, Black Widow intends to publish Shapiro’s Rhymamusings, a translation of the 70 whimsical verse-vignettes of Coran’s Amuserimes.
Shapiro has received praise and numerous awards for his translations. In 1971, his translation of Feydeau’s Four Farces was a finalist for the National Book Award for Translation. His French Women Poets of Nine Centuries: The Distaff and the Pen earned him the 2009 National Translation Award from the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA). Shapiro also is a member of the Academy of American Poets and an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la République Francaise.
Consul General Ralf Horlemann honored Professor Krishna Winston with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Krishna Winston, the Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Language and Literature, professor of environmental studies, received a lifetime achievement award from the German government on Feb. 13.
Ralf Horlemann, the Consul General of Germany to New England, bestowed the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany on Winston after a ceremony held in Allbritton Hall. The Order of Merit is the highest tribute the Federal Republic of Germany pays to individuals for services to the nation or contributions to enhancing Germany’s standing abroad and its relations with other countries.
Krishna Winston dons the Order of Merit. (Photos by Olivia Drake)
Winston received the award for her scholarly and literary translations of more than 35 works of fiction and non-fiction by Werner Herzog, Peter Handke, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Günter Grass, Christoph Hein, Golo Mann, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Hans Jonas and others. Her translations make available to the English-speaking world works originally written in German, and she has received three major literary prizes for her work.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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 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)
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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).
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.”
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.