Tag Archive for Government Department

Asian American Culture, Race Discussed at Roundtable

The Center for East Asian Studies hosted a “Roundtable on Race in Asian America” for students, staff and faculty on Sept. 29. Participants were encouraged to discuss what it means to be Asian American and share personal stories.

The Center for East Asian Studies hosted a “Roundtable on Race in Asian America” for students, staff and faculty on Sept. 29. Participants were encouraged to discuss what it means to be Asian American and share personal stories. Pictured is Takeshi Watanabe, assistant professor of East Asian studies. Watanabe teaches Japanese Culture through Food and Life in Premodern Japan.

Long Bui, visiting assistant professor of American studies, and Alton Wang '15 moderated the discussion. While at Wesleyan, Wang studied sociology and government, chaired the Asian American Student Collective and taught a course on Asian American history. He currently works in Washington D.C. engaging voters at Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote and serves on the Board of Directors for the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership.

At left, Long Bui, visiting assistant professor of American studies, and Alton Wang ’16 moderated the discussion. While at Wesleyan, Wang studied sociology and government, chaired the Asian American Student Collective and taught a course on Asian American history. He currently works in Washington D.C. at Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote and serves on the Board of Directors for the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership.

Rutland Speaks on BYUradio about the Olympics, Nationalism

Peter Rutland

Peter Rutland

Peter Rutland, the Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, was interviewed on BYUradio about the Olympics and nationalism.

“The Olympics are practically built for indulging in what you might call ‘good nationalism,’ as opposed to the xenophobic kind,” said host Julie Rose in the introduction. Yet this year’s Olympic Games come at a time of fear of outsiders, both in the U.S. and abroad.

They begin by discussing the difference between patriotism—which has more positive connotations—and nationalism, which implies dislike of foreigners. The key distinction, says Rutland, is about having respect for people from all countries.

“In practice, the Olympics is a competition, it’s about winners and losers,” he said. “The Olympics is very contradictory. On the one hand, it claims to be transcending nationalism in a kind of fellowship of international athletes. But at the same time, in practice, it reinforces nationalism by encouraging people to cheer for their team and take pride in their team’s victories, and correspondingly, the defeat of other nations’ teams.”

Rutland also commented on the mass appeal of such competitions.

“It does tap into a desire to express our belonging to a bigger community—not just our family and neighborhood, but our country. And, at least when it’s going through the media—when it’s watching the Olympics or watching the World Cup for soccer, it seems to be pretty benign. It’s not like going to war. Sport, as George Orwell said, is a kind of substitute for war. Nobody is getting killed, nobody is getting hurt, and we’re all kind of on the same side, in that everybody is enjoying the competition, and you win some, you lose some.”

Rutland also is professor of government, professor of Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian studies, and tutor in the College of Social Studies.

7 Faculty Promoted, 4 Awarded Tenure

In its recent meeting, the Board of Trustees conferred tenure on four faculty members. They are Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, Professor of African American Studies Kali Gross, Associate Professor of English and American Studies Amy Tang, and Associate Professor of Chemistry Erika Taylor. They join eight other faculty members who were awarded tenure earlier this spring.

One faculty member, Louise Neary, was promoted to adjunct associate professor of Spanish.

In addition, six faculty members are being promoted to full professor:

J. Kehaulani Kauanui, professor of American Studies and anthropology
Matthew Kurtz, professor of psychology
Cecilia Miller, professor of history
Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento, professor of theater
Andrea Patalano, professor of psychology
Michael Singer, professor of biology

Brief descriptions of their research and teaching appear below:

Associate Professor Fowler specializes in political communication and directs the Wesleyan Media project, which tracks and analyzes all political ads aired on broadcast television in real-time during elections. Her work on local coverage of politics and policy has been published in political science, communication, law/policy, and medical journals. Most recently, she co-authored Political Advertising in the United States (Westview Press, 2016). Professor Fowler teaches courses on American Government and Politics; Media and Politics; Campaigns and Elections; and Polls, Politics and Public Opinion.

Professor Gross is a scholar of African American history whose research concentrates on black women’s experiences in the United States criminal justice system between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Her book, Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America (Oxford University Press, 2016), explores a crime and trial in 1887 against broader evidence of biased police treatment of black suspects as well as violence within the black community. Professor Gross will offer courses on race, gender and justice and Black Women’s Studies.

Professor Kauanui’s research lies in the fields of comparative colonialisms, indigenous politics, critical racial studies, and anarchist studies. Her book, The Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty (Duke University Press, due in 2017), explores the cultural and legal politics of the contemporary Hawaiian nationalist movement in relation to land, gender, and sexuality. Professor Kauanui teaches courses on Colonialism and Its Consequences; Race and Citizenship; United States in the Pacific Islands; Hawai’i: Myths and Realities; Decolonizing Indigenous Middletown; and Anarchy in America: From Haymarket to Occupy Wall Street.

Professor Kurtz’s research seeks to clarify the cognitive and social impairments associated with schizophrenia, to develop and assess behavioral treatments for these impairments, and to critically evaluate the history and current status of ideas regarding treatment of the severely mentally ill. He has received significant grant support from the NIH, and has received a Fulbright-Nehru U.S. Scholar Award for Academic and Professional Excellence. He offers courses on Schizophrenia and Its Treatment, Clinical Neuropsychology, Statistics, and Behavioral Neurobiology.

Professor Miller is a European intellectual historian with a focus on the long eighteenth century. Her recent book, Enlightenment and Political Fiction: The Everyday Intellectual (Routledge, 2016), examines five works of fiction to argue that the accessibility of political fiction in the eighteenth century made it possible for any reader to enter into the intellectual debates of the time and that ideas attributed to philosophers and political and economic theorists of the Enlightenment actually appeared first in works of fiction. She offers courses on European Intellectual History, Political Fiction, Theories of Society, and Contemporary Europe.

Professor Tatinge Nascimento is a theater artist and scholar with a special interest in experimental performance and Brazilian contemporary theater. She has performed and published internationally, and most recently is the author of a book manuscript, The Contemporary Performances of Brazil’s Post-Dictatorship Generation, under review with Palgrave Macmillan for the series Contemporary Performance InterActions. At Wesleyan she directs main stage productions and teaches courses on acting, theory, and performance studies.

Adjunct Associate Professor Neary teaches beginning and intermediate Spanish. She is currently collaborating with a colleague on an online Spanish course for the general public, titled Wespañol, and with McGraw Hill on a test bank project for an elementary Spanish language textbook. She has served as head of Spanish, has chaired the Romance Languages and Literatures Honors Committee, and has served on the Language Resources Center Faculty Committee.

Professor Patalano is a cognitive scientist whose research focuses on mental and neural processes involved in human reasoning, judgment, and decision making. Her lines of research address indecisiveness and decision deferral, clinical and neural correlates of discounting, numeracy and choice behavior, and the role of categories in thought. She teaches courses on Cognitive Psychology, Psychological Statistics, Decision Making, and Concepts and Categories.

Professor Singer is an evolutionary ecologist whose research focuses on the plant-feeding habits of caterpillars in the context of threats from predators and parasites of caterpillars. He uses this research focus to inform issues of broad biological interest, such as animal medication, dietary specialization, dynamics of ecological networks, and evolutionary diversification. He teaches courses on Ecology, Conservation Biology, Evolutionary Biology, and Plant-Animal Interactions.

Professor Tang’s research focuses on the relationship between aesthetic form and politics in Asian American literature and theory. Her first book, Repetition and Race: Asian American Literature After Multiculturalism (Oxford University Press, 2016), explores how Asian American writers use structures of repetition to register, and creatively inhabit, the impasses generated by multiculturalism’s politics of identity and recognition. She teaches courses on Asian American Literature, Afro-Asian Intersections, and Literary and Cultural Theory.

Associate Professor Taylor’s multidisciplinary research investigates problems at the intersection of biology and chemistry. Her work strives to advance medicine and environmental sustainability with two long-term goals – developing bacterial enzyme inhibitors and other small molecules with medicinal applications, and engineering microorganisms to improve the efficiency of biomass to biofuel conversion. Professor Taylor has received significant grant support from both the NIH and the Department of Energy, enabling numerous impactful publications in her field. She offers courses in Organic Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Biological Chemistry, and Biomedicinal Chemistry.

Faculty, Students, Alumni Attend Political Science Conference

Students presented research at the 74th annual Midwest Political Science Association conference in Chicago.

Students presented research at the 74th annual Midwest Political Science Association conference in Chicago.

The 74th annual Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) conference in Chicago April 7-10 was attended by several Wesleyan faculty members, students and recent alumni. The conference, held every April, is one of the largest political science conferences with more than 5,000 presenters from throughout the United States and around the world. It is traditionally held in Chicago’s historic Palmer House Hilton.

Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, Assistant Professor of Government Logan Dancey, and Assistant Professor of Government Yamil Velez all presented research at the conference. They were accompanied by Joli Holmes ’17, John Murchison ’16, Grace Wong ’18, Anh Tuan Nguyen Viet ’16, and Eki Ramadhan ’16, students who contributed to and presented research.

Also in attendance were recent alumni Leonid “Leo” Liu ’14, who presented research with Fowler, and Matt Motta ’13, now a graduate student at the University of Minnesota.

8 Faculty Awarded Tenure

In its recent meeting, the Board of Trustees conferred tenure on eight faculty members, effective July 1, 2015. They are: Associate Professor of Sociology Robyn Autry, Associate Professor of Government Sonali Chakravarti, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Amy MacQueen, Associate Professor of Music Paula Matthusen, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Rich Olson, Associate Professor of Mathematics Christopher Rasmussen, Associate Professor of Economics Damien Sheehan-Connor, and Associate Professor of Classics Eirene Visvardi.

Brief descriptions of their research and teaching appear below:

Associate Professor Autry is a cultural sociologist with broad interests in collective identity, memory, and visual culture. Her research on the ways in which the past is constructed and represented at museums has been published in several journals. Autry’s book, Desegregating the Past: The Public Life of Memory in South Africa and the United States, analyzes clashes around the development of history museums in both countries as a window into the desire for particular personal and collective orientations toward the past (Columbia University Press, forthcoming). She teaches courses on comparative race and ethnicity, the future, and memory and violence.

Finn Suggests Recipes Invite the Cook to Experience and Perform, Rather than Simply Reading Them

John Finn

John Finn

John Finn, professor of government, is the author of an article published in Table Matters, an interdisciplinary journal of food, drink and manners.

Titled “How Does a Recipe Mean: Interpreting the Recipe as a Text,” Finn makes the argument that recipes invite the cook to experience and perform them, rather than simply read them. Using the classic work “How Does a Poem Mean,” by John Ciardi, Finn draws a connection between poems and recipes through Ciardi’s idea that a “poem cannot be defined by dictionaries or understood simply by reading or memorizing it. It can be know only though experience. The question we should ask…is not what a poem means, but how it means.”

Cooking, writes Finn, is an active task. “One has to cook a recipe to know how it means … The recipe becomes yours, and you become the recipe.”

At Wesleyan, Finn teaches courses in constitutional theory and public law, as well as in cuisine and popular culture.
Finn’s scholarship and writing in the field of food studies lay at the intersection of food, recipes and politics. His other published works in food studies include an entry on “Measurements,” in The Oxford Companion to Sweets (2015), an essay on Julia Child in Gastronomica (2007), and articles on “The Perfect Recipe,” (2011) and “The Kitchen Voice as Confessional,” (2004) in Food, Culture & Society.

Professor Finn earned his BA in political science from Nasson College, a JD from Georgetown University, and a PhD in political science from Princeton University. He also has a degree from the French Culinary Institute.

The Wesleyan Media Project Finds More Campaign Advertising with Little Impact

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

The campaign season so far has seen a significant increase in the volume of GOP presidential ads, and an explosion in advertising by super PACs and other outside groups. Outside groups sponsored 81 percent of ads between January 1–December 9, 2015—a 71 percent increase over 2011, and 12,000 percent increase over 2007.

This was the finding of an analysis by the Wesleyan Media Project, its first of the 2016 election cycle. The “remarkable growth in campaign activity by independent groups” it found was covered by The Washington Post, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, USA Today, Vox and others.

Notably, the report found little correlation between campaign advertising and a candidate’s poll numbers. As Vox demonstrates in a chart, there actually appears to be an inverse relationship between the two at this point. They write: “The big thing that jumps out is the contrast between Jeb Bush (lots of spending, low poll numbers) and Donald Trump (no spending, high poll numbers).” The apparent ineffectiveness of TV campaign ads has led some to ask whether their death is near.

“It’s far too early to call for the death of TV advertising,” Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, says in the report. “The Republican field is still crowded, which makes for a more challenging advertising environment. It is also important to remember that volume isn’t everything. All ads are not created equal; advertising content and the characteristics of the receiving audience matter and will condition their influence.”

Fowler discussed ad effectiveness with NPR:

“Some ads score well” on effectiveness, she said. “But volume and quality don’t go hand in hand.”

She cited “Desk,” a 30-second spot the Bush superPAC released last week. As the camera moves in toward the desk in the Oval Office, images of Trump, then Ted Cruz, and then Marco Rubio appear as if sitting behind it. An announcer suggests each is unqualified for the job — and then the ad shifts to talk about Bush.

Fowler said three attacks are too many. “It ends up coming off as a laundry list,” she said. And right now that’s the problem with the whole campaign: “There are too many other candidates to attack.” She predicted the ads will get more focused and effective as the candidate field shrinks.

Matesan Writes About Strategic Response to ISIS Attacks on Paris

Ioana Emy Matesan

Ioana Emy Matesan

In an op-ed written for Inside Sources (and appearing in Las Vegas Sun and other newspapers), Assistant Professor of Government Ioana Emy Matesan questions whether the swift French military response to the recent ISIS attacks on Paris will be effective in preventing future attacks and improving security for civilians.

Matesan, who studies contentious politics and political violence in the Middle East, considers different opinions on ISIS’s strategic logic and what each would mean for the repercussions of a military response. She concludes that the most likely logic is one of provocation.

She writes:

[Provocation] is a strategy beloved by al-Qaida and many other extremist groups, who count on the emotional response of their opponents, and who know that the use of indiscriminate violence against them will turn them into martyrs and heroes, boosting their ranks and recruitment potential. And if this is the case, then the escalation in military strikes, the resurgent sectarian rhetoric and the bubbling xenophobia in the West in response to the attacks is precisely what ISIS was counting on, and hoping for.

That is not to say that the military strikes might not be effective in destroying the military capabilities or even much of the leadership of the Islamic State. The fact that the group has a very clear geographic concentration in Syria makes this quite possible. But would such a destruction of capabilities count as “success”?

Over the last decade the United States has recognized that destroying the military capabilities of a group does not equate to winning “the war on terror,” it does not necessarily undermine the sources of violent extremism, and it does not always make civilians at home or abroad any safer. Furthermore, if we’ve learned anything over the last decade of counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency, it’s that clandestine organizations learn and adapt, quite often much faster than military organizations and state governments.

Matesan writes that it’s critical to recognize that much of ISIS’s recruiting has been fueled by a refrain of social justice and opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

We would be remiss if we condemn the violence perpetrated by ISIS and remain silent about the unthinkable violence that Assad has inflicted on his country’s population over the past five years. Improving domestic security can work, but it can also become counterproductive if it results in profiling, and if it doesn’t prioritize human security.

Unlike what some governors in the United States might have us believe, showing hospitality toward Syrian refugees might in some ways be the best way to undermine radical groups, and to show that the United States is indeed committed to social justice and to the protection of human life.

This is particularly important because there is growing evidence that individuals who engage in terrorist groups can and do renounce violence and leave the organization if they become disillusioned with the group and with the cause. This is an incredibly important silver lining and opportunity that liberal democracies should be able to take advantage of, and which might hold more promise than a solely military approach, which we have seen fail time and again.

A student group also invited Matesan to discuss the recent attacks on Paris, Beirut, Baghdad and the Sinai and alternative policy responses at 4 p.m. Nov. 23 in PAC 002.

4 Faculty Panelists Discuss European Crisis in Historical Perspective

As the Syrian war draws on and the ranks of displaced people grows ever larger, Europe arguably faces its largest refugee crisis since World War II. The movement of people across the Mediterranean and the Balkans has alternately revealed official incapacity, reactionary violence, and outpourings of voluntarism and support. In recent weeks, some commentators have objected to the characterization of those in flight as migrants, insisting that the term misrepresents their movement as voluntary as a way of denying them basic human rights.

On Sept. 17, four faculty panelists discussed “Refugee or Migrant? The European Crisis in Historical Perspective,” as part of the Department of History’s History Matters series. The faculty questioned “how can other instances of voluntary and involuntary migration shed light on the current crisis?”

The four scholars, Bruce Masters, Marguerite Nguyen, Laura Ann Twagira and Peter Rutland, put the European crisis in historical perspective by analyzing varied experiences of displacement, from the persistent plight of African asylum seekers in Europe to the Southeast Asian diaspora in the United States.

The four scholars, Bruce Masters, Marguerite Nguyen, Laura Ann Twagira and Peter Rutland, put the European crisis in historical perspective by analyzing varied experiences of displacement, from the persistent plight of African asylum seekers in Europe to the Southeast Asian diaspora in the United States.

Berger ’90 Lectures on “Birthright Citizenship” during Constitution Day

Bethany Berger ’90, the Thomas F. Gallivan, Jr. Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, delivered the annual Constitution Day Lecture on Sept. 17 in Olin Library's Smith Reading Room. Her topic was “Birthright Citizenship on Trial — Immigration and Indigeneity.” Egged on by Donald Trump, the majority of Republican candidates have supported ending birthright citizenship. This talk looked at this 14th Amendment right, its constitutional origins, and the different things it meant for American Indians and immigrants.

Bethany Berger ’90, the Thomas F. Gallivan, Jr. Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, delivered the annual Constitution Day Lecture on Sept. 17 in Olin Library’s Smith Reading Room. Her topic was “Birthright Citizenship on Trial — Immigration and Indigeneity.” Egged on by Donald Trump, the majority of Republican candidates have supported ending birthright citizenship. This talk looked at this 14th Amendment right, its constitutional origins, and the different things it meant for American Indians and immigrants.

Berger started her research on birthright citizenship after developing an interest in the different ways the system works for native people and immigrants, and the different ways the process works for these groups—and the similarities. The topic of birthright citizenship, she observed is a topic that has become "unexpectedly open to debate," she said, referring to the Republican presidential runners. "They've opened a debate about the worth of birthright citizenship and whether we really have to do it," implying that the U.S. is the only country that offers this path to citizenship.   Birthright citizenship in the U.S. came out of British Law, when British citizens immigrated to the U.S. If one was born in the U.S., you become a citizen, however this did not apply to slaves. However in 1968, the 14th Amendment was ratified and birthright citizenship became the law of the land, excluding children of Ambassadors, children of soldiers on U.S. soil (fighting against the U.S.), Native Americans and Asians. It wasn't until the 1950s that Asian and Native Americans could naturalize.

Berger started her research on birthright citizenship after developing an interest in the different ways the system works for native people and immigrants, and the different ways the process works for these groups—and the similarities. The topic of birthright citizenship has become “unexpectedly open to debate,” she said, referring to the Republican presidential candidates. “They’ve opened a debate about the worth of birthright citizenship and whether we really have to do it,” implying that the U.S. is the only country that offers this path to citizenship.
Birthright citizenship in the U.S. came out of British Law, when British citizens immigrated to the U.S. If one was born in the U.S., you become a citizen, however this did not apply to slaves. However in 1968, the 14th Amendment was ratified and birthright citizenship became the law of the land, excluding children of Ambassadors, children of soldiers on U.S. soil (fighting against the U.S.) and Native Americans. Native Americans only became birthright citizens by statute in 1924. Although Asians could be birthright citizens, those not born in the U.S. could not become citizens until restrictions on non-whites naturalizing were lifted in the 1950s.

Richard Adelstein, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, introduced Professor Berger to the audience. Berger graduated from Wesleyan in 1990 with a major in government, and from Yale Law School in 1996. After law school, she became the director of the Native American Youth Law Project at DNA-Peoples Legal Services, which serves the Navajo and Hopi reservations, and later the Managing Attorney at Advocates for Children of New York. Her articles on legal history, race, gender and jurisdiction in federal Indian law have been cited in testimony to Congress and several briefs to the Supreme Court. 

Richard Adelstein, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, introduced Professor Berger to the audience. Berger graduated from Wesleyan in 1990 with a major in government, and from Yale Law School in 1996. After law school, she became the director of the Native American Youth Law Project at DNA-Peoples Legal Services, which serves the Navajo and Hopi reservations, and later the Managing Attorney at Advocates for Children of New York. Her articles on legal history, race, gender and jurisdiction in federal Indian law have been cited in testimony to Congress and several briefs to the Supreme Court.

Berger showed a map of the world, highlighting the countries that do have laws in place to grant birthright citizenship. The Americas—South, Central, and North—were prominent. She asked the audience what these countries have in common. "They are immigrant nations; they are Colonial Nations," she said. "People come here and make it great, and traditional people lose land," she said, pointing out the paradoxical quality of the situation created by an influx of immigrants. In 1887, the Davides Allotment Act—divide up tribal lands, all Indians accepting a land allotment would become citizens—which started the boarding school for Indian children, so they would become "good citizens" and lose their native language.

Berger showed a map of the world, highlighting the countries that do have laws in place to grant birthright citizenship. The Americas—South, Central, and North—were prominent. She asked the audience what these countries have in common. “They are immigrant nations; they are Colonial Nations,” she said. “People come here and make it great, and traditional people lose land,” she said, pointing out the paradoxical quality of the situation created by an influx of immigrants. In 1887, the Davides Allotment Act—divide up tribal lands, all Indians accepting a land allotment would become citizens—which started the boarding school for Indian children, so they would become “good citizens” and lose their native language.

In honor of Constitution Day, all educational institutions receiving federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the U.S. Constitution. The Friends of Olin Library annually supports and coordinates the event, which is free and open to the public. Pictured in foreground is Sam Rosenfeld, visiting assistant professor of government. 

In honor of Constitution Day, all educational institutions receiving federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the U.S. Constitution. The Friends of Olin Library annually supports and coordinates the event, which is free and open to the public. Pictured in foreground is Sam Rosenfeld, visiting assistant professor of government. (Photos by Will Barr ’18)

Read more about Berger here and past Constitution Day speakers here.

Velez Studies Political Psychology, Racial and Ethnic Politics

Assistant Professor of Government Yamil Velez's expertise lies at the intersection of psychology and political science.

Assistant Professor of Government Yamil Velez’s expertise lies at the intersection of psychology and political science. This year he is teaching Racial and Ethnic Politics and Place and Politics. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

In this News @ Wesleyan story, we speak with Yamil Velez, a new member of Wesleyan’s Government Department.

Q: Welcome to Wesleyan! Please tell us about your background—where did you grow up, go to school, etc?

A: I grew up in Miami, Florida as the only son of two immigrant parents. My parents divorced at an early age and since my mother had to work and go to school to support us, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. It was my grandmother who instilled a passion for politics in me, as I would spend every afternoon listening to talk radio and discussing contemporary politics with her. When it was time to go to college, I opted for a university in the capital of Florida with a great political science department – Florida State University – and there I began my journey as a political scientist. Political science appealed to me because it reminded me of the long conversations I would have with my grandmother about local and global politics, and I was excited to contribute to the discussion.

Q: As an undergrad, you double majored in political science and psychology. How did this inform your graduate work and scholarly interests today?

A: I appreciated political science for its focus on understanding how different political actors interact and its emphasis on institutions. However, I always felt like these courses did not place enough importance on the individual so I sought out psychology

Schwartz ’17 Founder of Wesleyan Radio Control/ Drone Club

David Schwartz '17, founder and president of the Wesleyan Radio Control/ Drone Club, flies a drone behind South College July 28. He's also on Wesleyan's ski team, rock climbing team and sailing team. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

David Schwartz ’17, founder and president of the Wesleyan Radio Control/ Drone Club, flies a drone behind South College July 28. He’s also on Wesleyan’s ski team, rock climbing team and sailing team. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

In this News @ Wesleyan story, we speak with David Schwartz from the Class of 2017.

Q: David, where are you from and what is your major?

A: I grew up in Amherst, Mass. When I first came to Wesleyan, I walked around wearing my Amherst sweatshirt for awhile before realizing there was a bit of a rivalry. I’m an Economics and Government double major, with a minor in data analysis. I’m particularly interested in applying “big data” techniques to government policymaking.

David Schwartz operates the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ drone "that was very user-friendly and intuitive to learn," he said.

David Schwartz operates the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ drone “that was very user-friendly and intuitive to learn,” he said.

Q: You are founder and president of the Wesleyan Radio Control/ Drone Club. How did your interest in aerial photography begin?

A: I’ve always had a passion for flying, but unfortunately I get air-sick in small planes, so I’ve been able to apply my interest by being involved in the radio control community. Last summer, I spent my free time building an aerial photography quad copter and coding a basic auto-pilot system. For example, if the gyroscope was leaning left, the program would simply instruct the servos (motor) controlling the ailerons (parts on the wings that tilt the plane) to counter this movement until the plane was stable again. When I was able to stabilize the aircraft, I noticed that the camera on it was able to take some really clear photographs.

Q: Why did you decide to start the club? How many members do you have?

A: After telling my friends about my project building a drone last summer