Tag Archive for faculty achievements

Bolton Published in Mutation Research

Philip Bolton, professor of chemistry, has published “Complexes of mismatched and complementary DNA with minor groove binders: Structures at nucleotide resolution via an improved hydroxyl radical cleavage methodology” in Mutation Research, 2011. The article is online here.

Rose Receives Major NIDA Grant

Jennifer Rose, research associate professor of psychology, received a grant worth $450,000 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The grant will fund research on the use of Integrative Data Analysis to inform the development of nicotine dependence symptoms among novice smokers.

Faculty Lead Weekly Lectures on Critical Theorists

President Michael Roth spoke on "Theorizing the Self: Sigmund Freud" during the Fall 2011 "In Theory" lecture series Sept. 7. "In Theory" is a weekly lecture series by Wesleyan faculty who introduce and discuss major critical theorists. The series is sponsored by the Certificate in Social, Cultural and Critical Theory. Roth also read segments from his forthcoming book.

Biology Researchers Study Connecticut’s Native Fish Populations

Barry Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, and his graduate student, Michelle Tipton, photograph an Eastern Blacknose Dace used in their current research. The photo of the fish will appear in an upcoming scientific journal.

There’s something fishy about one of Connecticut’s minnows, and the topic hooked researchers in the Department of Biology.

During the last ice age, Connecticut was covered by layers of snow and ice, forcing organisms to seek refuge elsewhere. After the glaciers retreated, recolonization of the fauna and flora resulted in the diversity of native species that inhabit the state today.

Graduate student Michelle Tipton holds an Eastern Blacknose Dace. Tipton captured the fish from Middletown's Coginchaug River Aug. 8. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

“But where did they come from? How did they come back to the Northeast to give us all the organisms we see today?” asks biology graduate student Michelle Tipton. “These questions are of particular interest to the ichthyologists at Wesleyan with regards to fishes.”

In an upcoming issue of Ecology and Evolution, a scientific open access journal, faculty and students provide some of the first genetic evidence of what took place during the most recent post-glacial recolonization events, which provided Connecticut and the northeast with its native fish populations. To begin filling the void of information for this large biogeographic question, they started their research with this ubiquitous minnow.

Grabel Receives New Human Stem Cell Research Grant

Laura Grabel

Professor Laura Grabel has received a $750,000 grant from The State of Connecticut Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee for her study titled “Angiogenesis of Embryonic Stem Cell Derived Hippocampus Transplants.” It is her third grant from the Committee since Connecticut began its state-funded human stem cell research program in 2006, and second where she is the principal investigator (P.I); she was co-P.I. on the other.

Grabel, professor of biology and Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science in Society, is also a co-director of Connecticut’s Human Embryonic Core Facility, a research center in Farmington, Conn. that houses some human stem cell research performed by scientists from Wesleyan, The University of Connecticut, and The University of Connecticut Health Center.

The new grant will fund a study that builds on previous research

5 Questions With . . . MB&B’s Scott Holmes on Gene Expression, Genetics

Scott Holmes, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, looks at a set of protein gels with his students.

This issue, we ask “5 Questions” of Scott Holmes, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry. He received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support his research on epigenetic silencing of gene expression. 

Gene expression refers to the observable characteristics generated on a molecular level by a particular sequence of DNA or gene; epigenetic controls are essential in maintaining the specific patterns of gene expression that distinguish hundreds of distinct cell types in skin, muscles and other types of tissue. Epigenetic mechanisms also explain how humans can have more than 200 distinct cell types.

Q: Professor Holmes, you are an expert on genetics, molecular biology and chromosome structure. What led you to an interest in genetics and what does your lab research?

A: I had a strong affinity to genetics both as a field of study and as an experimental approach. Our DNA is present in our cells in structures known as chromosomes. My lab is addressing fundamental questions about how these structures are organized, and how that organization influences the function of genes present on the DNA. To accomplish this we primarily use genetic tools. In a directed manner we manipulate genes that we know or suspect will influence the structure of chromosomes, then assess the consequences of these changes.

Associate Professor Scott Holmes uses budding yeast to study chromosome structure and gene expression.

Q: Last year, you received a three-year grant worth $599,832 from the National Science Foundation to support your research titled “Epigenetic Silencing of Gene Expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.” Please explain what epigenetic controls are and what role do they play in gene expression.

A: Most people are familiar with the basics of genetics: the DNA sequence of any two individuals varies by about 0.1 percent (about 1 in 1,000 positions in the DNA sequence), and some of that variation is manifested in measurable ways in our biochemistry, physiology, and outward appearance. Epigenetics refers to situations in which two cells or organisms have identical DNA sequences, yet establish distinct patterns of gene expression and exhibit different characteristics. Epigenetic mechanisms explain how humans can have over 200 distinct cell types despite the fact that all our cells have exactly the same DNA. The distinct gene expression patterns in these different cell types are dictated by their unique chromosome structures; we’d like to know how these structures are initially established, and then how they are inherited as cells grow and divide.

Q: What is the advantage of using Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a budding yeast, for studying gene expression?

A: Budding yeast has been used for centuries for baking and brewing;

Beveridge Guest Lectures at Institute in New Delhi

Becky Lee '10 and Professor David Beveridge at the Institute of Technology in New Delhi, India.

David Beveridge, the Joshua Boger University Professor of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, professor of chemistry, was on sabbatical last spring at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in New Delhi, India. He was visiting and working on research projects with Professor B. Jayaram, director of the Supercomputer Center for Bioinformatics, SCFBIO.

Beveridge’s former student, Becky Lee ’10, was spending a year doing research in Jayaram’s SCFBIO research group on a project in computational biophysics.

Beveridge presented one of the thematic lectures on “Dynamic Allosterism” in a lecture series celebrating the 50th anniversary of IIT-Delhi.

Cohan Published in Microbiology, Infectious Diseases Journals

Papers, articles and book chapters by Fred Cohan, professor of biology, are published in several publications including:

“Community ecology of hot spring cyanobacterial mats: predominant populations and their functional potential,” published in ISME Journal: Multidisciplinary Journal of Microbial Ecology, 2011;

“Influence of molecular resolution on sequence-based discovery of ecological diversity among Synechococcus populations in an alkaline siliceous hot spring microbial mat,” published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology 77:1359-1367, 2011;

“Are species cohesive?—A view from bacteriology,” published in Bacterial Population Genetics: A Tribute to Thomas S. Whittam, American Society for Microbiology Press, Washington, pages 43-65, 2011;

“Species,” a chapter published in Elsevier’s Encyclopedia of Genetics. Oxford: Elsevier, in press;
“Metagenomic approaches for the identification of microbial species,” a book chapter published in the Handbook of Molecular Microbial Ecology, Volume I, pages 105-109, 2011;

Cohan and Jane Wiedenbeck ’10 are the co-authors of the invited article, “Origins of bacterial diversity through horizontal gene transfer and adaptation to new ecological niches,” published in FEMS Microbiology Reviews 35:957–976, in print.

Cohan and Ph.D. candidate Sarah Kopac are the co-authors of “A theory-based pragmatism for discovering and classifying newly divergent bacterial species,” published in Genetics and Evolution of Infectious Diseases,  pp. 21-41, 2011.

Imai Published in Economic Journals

Articles by Masami Imai, director of the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, chair and associate professor of east asian studies, associate professor of economics, were published in two economic publications:

Elections and Political Risk: New Evidence from Political Prediction Markets in Taiwan,” with Cameron Shelton, appeared in the Journal of Public Economics, 95 (7-8), August 2011.

Transmission of Liquidity Shock to Bank Credit: Evidence from Deposit Insurance Reform in Japan,” with Seitaro Takarabe, appeared in the Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, June 2011.

Jenkins Interviewed on Radio Australia Program

Ron Jenkins, professor of theater

Ron Jenkins, professor of theater, was interviewed about his prison theater project for a Radio Australia program on June 24. The broadcast was aired on their pacific network in Australia, Indonesia, Cambodia and East Timor. A transcript of the interview is below:

Theatre program with a difference in Bali, Indonesia

The Kerobokanprison has become synonymous with the trials and convictions of Australian drug traffickers Schapelle Corby, and members of the Bali 9. But now a professor of theatre from the United States is running a theater program as part of efforts to change the atmosphere of the jail.

Presenter Nasya Bahfen interviewed Jenkins, professor of theatre at Wesleyan University in Connecticut; Made Mantle Hood, honorary research fellow, University of Melbourne’s Conservatorium of Music:

JENKINS: Well I’ve always enjoyed staging theatre in venues that are outside of traditional theatres
and over the last five or six years I’ve been working in theatres in the United States in prisons.

BAHFEN: Ron Jenkins, mild mannered professor of theatre at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, USA. He regularly meets with a theatre group in one of Indonesia’s most notorious prisons, Kerobokan jail in Kuta, Bali. He gets inmates who reportedly include three members of the Bali 9 to perform pieces such as Dante’s Inferno.

JENKINS: Although I’ve been going to Bali and Indonesia

Women Faculty Featured in WIA Report

Four Wesleyan women faculty members are featured in the June 30 Women in Academia Report.

According to the article, “Wesleyan University, the highly regarded liberal arts institution in Middletown, Connecticut, has promoted three women to full professor. Another woman was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor.”

Lori Gruen, who has taught at Wesleyan since 2000, was promoted to full professor of philosophy. Her research focuses on the ethical treatment of animals. Professor Gruen holds a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado.

Magda Teter was promoted to full professor of history and named the Jeremy Zwelling Professor of Jewish Studies. She has taught at Wesleyan since 2000. She is a graduate of the University of Warsaw in Poland. Professor Teter holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Elizabeth Willis was named full professor and appointed the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing. Professor Willis has been on the Wesleyan faculty since 2002. She is a poet and a scholar of poetry. Dr. Willis is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire and earned a Ph.D. at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Mary Alice Haddad, who has served on the Wesleyan faculty since 2004, was promoted to associate professor of government and granted tenure. She is the author of Politics and Volunteering in Japan: A Global Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2007). She is completing work on a second book entitled, Building Democracy in Japan, scheduled for publication by Cambridge University Press next year. Dr. Haddad is a graduate of Amherst College and earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D at the University of Washington.

Glenn Discusses Constitutional Conservatives in Salon.com

Brian Glenn

An article by Brian Glenn, visiting assistant professor of government, was published on salon.com July 4.

In the piece, titled “What is a ‘constitutional conservative’ anyway?,” Glenn writes, “For conservative politicians, the name signals that they are identifying as Tea Party members, which means limiting government, balancing the federal budget, lowering taxes, ending redistribution from the wealthier to the poor, assigning a central position for God in the lives of Americans, even in courthouses and public schools, and asserting the right to bear arms. While God will always be given top billing, one gets the sense that lowering taxes and eliminating social programs are actually the most important pillars in the platform — so much so that many elected officials claim to be unwilling to compromise no matter what the short-term consequences.”

Read the entire article online here.