Tag Archive for graduate students

Ricci PhD ’14 Awarded Congressional Fellowship

(by Christine Foster)

James Ricci PhD ’14, an assistant professor of mathematics at Daemen College was named a Congressional Fellow. (Photo by Darrell Porter, Daemen College)

James Ricci PhD `14 was awarded a 2018-2019 Congressional Fellowship. The program is administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in conjunction with The American Mathematical Society.

During this year-long fellowship, Ricci will be paired with either a member of Congress or a congressional committee. Fellows work as special legislative assistants learning about policy creation and contributing their own technical and academic expertise. “They are looking for people who are able to speak clearly and be advocates for STEM education,” says Ricci, who spoke by phone from a salmon fishing boat in Ketchikan, Alaska, where he is working this summer. “I am hopeful that I am all of those things.”

At Wesleyan, Ricci did research on number theory, with a primary focus on the arithmetic theory of quadratic forms. In April 2014 he was chosen as graduate student of the year. Since finishing his PhD, he has been working as an assistant professor of mathematics at Daemen College, near Buffalo, N.Y.

At Daemen, Ricci has worked on a team working to improve retention of students entering with weaker math backgrounds. This included reworking a computer science course he teaches adding in engaging current topics including cybersecurity, cryptocurrencies, artificial intelligence and net neutrality.

Doris Duke Foundation Supports ICPP’s Performing Artist Case Studies

This summer, students seeking a master’s degree in performance curation from Wesleyan’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP) are working on six performing artist case studies funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

On July 16, the ICPP Entrepreneurial Strategies class discussed their first artist — Becca Blackwell, an award-winning trans actor, performer and writer based in New York City. Blackwell is working with consultants and mentors at ICPP to develop a strategic framework for the next two to five years of their career. Blackwell will also be presenting their work at Wesleyan on October 5.

Photos of the class are below: (Photos by Richard Marinelli)

This summer, students seeking a master's degree in performance curation from Wesleyan's Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance are busy taking classes. 

Sarah Wilbur and Paul-Bonin Rodriguez are teaching the Entrepreneurial Strategies course this summer.

Students Inducted into Honor Society, Present Research at American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Meeting

Undergraduates from the Biology, Chemistry, and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry majors showed off their science at the 2018 meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. From Left, Alex Shames '18 (MacQueen Lab), BA/MA student Arden Feil (MacQueen Lab), Will Barr '18 (Weir Lab), Christine Little '18 (Mukerji Lab), Cody Hecht '18 (Taylor Lab), and Emily Kessler '18 (Hingorani Lab).

Undergraduates from the biology, chemistry, and molecular biology and biochemistry majors showed off their science at the 2018 meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. From left, Alex Shames ’18 (MacQueen Lab), Arden Feil BA/MA ’18 (MacQueen Lab), Will Barr ’18 (Weir Lab), Christine Little ’18 (Mukerji Lab), Cody Hecht ’18 (Taylor Lab), and Emily Kessler ’18 (Hingorani Lab).

Seven Wesleyan students recently were inducted into the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Honor Society, and many of them presented research posters at the ASBMB annual meeting in San Diego, April 21–25.

The ASBMB Honor Society recognizes exceptional undergraduate juniors and seniors who are pursuing a degree in the molecular life sciences for their scholarly achievement, research accomplishments, and outreach activities. The Wesleyan students inducted were Will Barr ’18, Alexa Strauss ’19, Emily Kessler ’18, Christine Little ’18, Julie McDonald ’18, Rubye Peyser ’18, and Alexander Shames ’18.

The following students attended the annual meeting:

• Kessler, whose poster was titled, “Investigating the Mechanistic Basis of Mutant MutS DNA Repair Protein Malfunction in Lynch Syndrome”
• Barr, “An mRNA-rRNA base pairing model for efficient protein translation”
• Little, “Investigation into the Binding Interactions of Saccharomyces cerevisiae Histone H1 with Holliday Junction”
• Shames, “The Long and Short of Synaptonemal Complex Assembly: Investigating the genesis and functional relevance of a smaller Zip1 isoform”
• Cody Hecht ’18, “Escherichia coli Heptosyltransferase I: Examining Protein Dynamics with Pyrene Excimer Fluorescence and Tryptophan-Induced Quenching”
• Arden Feil BA/MA ’18, “Scraping the Tip of Zip1’s Role in Meiotic Chromosome Dynamics: Using lacO/LacI corecruitment to identify crossover promoting factors that interface with the N-terminus of a synaptonemal complex protein”

“It was a joy to present the research that I’ve been working on for the past two years as a part of Wesleyan’s Beckman Scholars Program,” said Barr. “Science research can seem like a roller coaster at times, and presenting my research in the company of scientists at all levels of their careers helped me remember just how thrilling this process has been.”

The mission of ASBMB is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology through organization of scientific meetings, advocacy for funding of basic research and education, support of science education at all levels, promotion of the diversity of individuals entering the scientific workforce, and publication of a number of scientific and educational journals, including the Journal of Biological Chemistry and the Journal of Lipid Research.

PhD Candidate Case Speaks on DNA Repair

On March 7, Brandon Case, a PhD candidate in molecular biology and biochemistry, delivered a talk titled "Just Another Day Fixing the Double Helix" as part of the Graduate Speaker Series.

On March 11, Brandon Case, a PhD candidate in molecular biology and biochemistry, delivered a talk titled “Just Another Day Fixing the Double Helix” as part of the Graduate Speaker Series. Case’s advisor is Manju Hingorani, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, professor of integrative sciences. 

Song, Hingorani Coauthors of 2 Papers in The Journal of Biological Chemistry

Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Professor Manju Hingorani and graduate student Bo Song are coauthors of two studies published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry and Nucleic Acids Research in February 2018.

The papers are titled “Positioning the 5′-flap junction in the active site controls the rate of flap endonuclease-1-catalyzed DNA cleavage” and “Missed cleavage opportunities by FEN1 lead to Okazaki fragment maturation via the long-flap pathway.”

The research is related to Song’s PhD dissertation, which he plans to defend in April 2018. Song examined the mechanism of action of human FEN1, an enzyme that cleaves extra single-stranded segments of DNA before they can damage the genome, and thus serves as a guardian of genome stability. Song’s major findings were published in JBC, and he contributed to a study led by Dr. Samir Hamdan’s laboratory at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, which was published in NAR.

“Bo initiated research on FEN1 in my laboratory, and his interest in FEN1 sparked an exciting collaboration with Dr. Hamdan, halfway around the world. We look forward to furthering investigation of this critical enzyme whose malfunction is associated with many human cancers,” Hingorani said.

The research at Wesleyan University was supported by NIH grant R15 GM114743 awarded to Manju Hingorani.

Graduate Student Khan Performs at 2 International Music Festivals

Yorkston/Thorne/Khan album

In March, the group Yorkston / Thorne / Khan, featuring Wesleyan graduate student Suhail Yusuf Khan (at right), performed in Spain and the United Kingdom.

Graduate student Suhail Yusuf Khan recently performed at two international music festivals with his group Yorkston / Thorne / Khan. The band comprises James Yorkston, a folk singer and guitarist; Jon Thorne, a jazz bassist; and eighth-generation musician Khan, a sarangi violinist and a vocalist of Indian classical music. The sarangi is a short-necked bowed string instrument from northern India, regarded as sounding similar to the human voice.

On March 19, Yorkston / Thorne / Khan performed at the International Sacred Art Festival in Madrid, Spain. The festival included 39 concerts held over five weeks.

And on March 23, Yorkston / Thorne / Khan dazzled a sold-out theater at the Science Museum in London. The concert served as part of the museum’s Illuminating India series, which commemorated 70 years of independence and was part of the British Council’s U.K./India Year of Culture. “Yorkston / Thorne / Khan is one of the most inspired and inspirational cross-cultural acts to emerge this decade,” wrote Ken Hunt in a concert review published by Pulse Connects. “Their melding of, in order, Scottish and British folk music, jazz and electro, and sarangi lore, Hindustani classical and Sufi devotional music sings of a powerful musical alchemy.”

In this video, watch Yorkston / Thorne / Khan perform the song “False True Piya” from their newest album, Neuk Wight Delhi All-Stars. “Piya is a word in the Hindi language, meaning beloved,” Khan explains on his band’s website. “The Hindi lyrics of the song were composed and written by me. They talk about a lover who is longing for a beloved, devastated by pain. A point comes when the lover starts hallucinating that the beloved has arrived and starts having conversations with this hallucination. There is a strange feeling of dark happiness: the beloved is there, but only as a hallucination.”

Alumni, Faculty, Graduate Students Make Presentations at Planetary Science Conference

Melissa Luna E&ES MA ’18, Jordyn-Marie Dudley E&ES MA ’18, Keenan Golder MA ’16, Reid Perkins E&ES MA ’19, Ben McKeeby MA ’17, Kristen Luchsinger MA ‘17

Graduate student Melissa Luna; graduate student Jordyn-Marie Dudley; Keenan Golder MA ’13; graduate student Reid Perkins; Ben McKeeby MA ’17; and Kristen Luchsinger MA ’17 recently attended the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas.

Faculty, graduate students, and alumni attended the 49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference March 19–23 in The Woodlands, Texas.

Graduate student Reid Perkins

Three graduate students were awarded funds from the NASA Connecticut Space Grant that allowed them to travel to this meeting.

Earth and environmental sciences graduate student Reid Perkins presented a research poster titled “Where Are the Missing Tessera Craters on Venus?” Perkins’s advisor is Martha Gilmore, the George I. Seney Professor of Geology, professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Earth and environmental sciences graduate student Melissa Luna presented a poster titled “Multivariate Spectral Analysis of CRISM Data to Characterize the Composition of Mawrth Vallis.” Her advisors are Gilmore and Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Earth and environmental sciences graduate student Jordyn-Marie Dudley presented a poster titled “Water Contents of Angrites, Eucrites, and Ureilites and New Methods for Measuring Hydrogen in Pyroxene Using SIMS.” Dudley’s advisor is Jim Greenwood, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences.

“At their poster presentations, our graduate students were engaging with the top scientists in our field, who were very interested in their work,” Gilmore said. “I was very proud to see them attending talks across a range of disciplines, asking questions of speakers and making such solid scientific contributions.”

Gilmore also presented a study at the conference titled “Formation Rates and Mechanisms for Low-Emissivity Materials on Venus Mountaintops and Constraint on Tessera Composition.” In addition, she worked with NASA scientists on issues related to Venus exploration.

The following alumni authored abstracts presented at the conference: Avram Stein ’17; Jesse Tarnas ’16; Peter Martin ’14Nina Lanza MA ’06; Ian Garrick-Bethell ’02Robert Nelson MA ’69; and William Boynton ’66. Keenan Golder MA ’13; Ben McKeeby MA ’17; and Kristen Luchsinger MA ’17 also attended.

Wesleyan Named a Top Producer of Fulbright U.S. Students

For the second year in a row, Wesleyan is proud to be included on the list of U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most 2017–2018 Fulbright Students, as recently announced by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. Top-producing institutions are highlighted annually in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

For academic year 2017–2018, six recent alumni and one graduate student from Wesleyan received Fulbright awards. Those who accepted and are currently participating in Fulbright are:

  • Kate Cullen ’16, academic Fulbright in Chile. Cullen is researching innovative ways to monitor glacial retreat and effective climate change adaptation strategies, focusing on Mocho Glacier in the Chilean Lake District. She has partner with local experts in Santiago and Valdiva to evaluate local vulnerability and hazards from rapid glacier melt.

McKee Leads Graduate Series Discussion on Fossils, Climate’s Effect on Leaves

BA/MA student Melissa McKee, who is pursuing a MA in earth and environmental sciences, delivered a talk during the Graduate Student Speakers Series on Nov. 29. McKee’s talk was titled “Looking to the past to predict the future: Restoring the fossil collections at Wesleyan’s Joe Webb Peoples Museum and testing the accuracy of using fossil leaves to estimate past temperatures.” McKee spent the summer working on restoring and cataloging a fossil collection for Wesleyan’s Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History. “This work paired perfectly with my research, which tests the assumptions of models that use the size and shape of fossilized leaves to reconstruct the mean annual temperature of ancient environments,” she said.

BA/MA student Melissa McKee, who is pursuing a MA in earth and environmental sciences, delivered a talk during the Graduate Student Speakers Series on Nov. 29. McKee’s talk was titled “Looking to the past to predict the future: Restoring the fossil collections at Wesleyan’s Joe Webb Peoples Museum and testing the accuracy of using fossil leaves to estimate past temperatures.” McKee spent the summer working on restoring and cataloging a fossil collection for Wesleyan’s Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History. “This work paired perfectly with my research, which tests the assumptions of models that use the size and shape of fossilized leaves to reconstruct the mean annual temperature of ancient environments,” she said.

Case, Kessler ’18 Honored for Outstanding Poster Presentations

PhD candidate Brandon Case and Emily Kessler '18 attended the North Eastern Structural Symposium at the University of Connecticut.

PhD candidate Brandon Case and Emily Kessler ’18 attended the North Eastern Structural Symposium at the University of Connecticut.

Molecular Biology and Biochemistry PhD candidate Brandon Case and Emily Kessler ’18 recently won poster awards at the North Eastern Structural Symposium (NESS) at the University of Connecticut on Oct. 28.

Both students research the mechanisms of action of DNA replication and repair proteins with Manju Hingorani, chair and professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, professor of integrative sciences. Hingorani’s DNA Lab investigates proteins responsible for DNA replication and repair. These proteins maintain genome and cell integrity, and their malfunction leads to cancer and other diseases.

Case received an Outstanding Poster Award for his work, “Coordinated Actions of Four ATPase Sites on UvrA2 During Initiation of Nucleotide Excision Repair.”

Kessler, who is a Wesleyan Beckman Scholar, received an Outstanding Undergraduate Poster Award for “Investigating the MutS Conformational Dynamics During MMR Initiation of Lynch Syndrome-Linked MutS Mutants.” The NESS created this undergraduate award only for Kessler after hearing her presentation.

Students, Alumni Present Papers, Attend Roundtables at Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting

Several students and recent alumni attended and presented at the 62nd Annual Meeting for the Society for Ethnomusicology, Oct. 26-29, 2017, in Denver, Colo.

Founded in 1955, the Society for Ethnomusicology is a global, interdisciplinary network of individuals and institutions engaged in the study of music across all cultural contexts and historical periods.

Ellen Lueck, MA ’12, PhD ’17, presented her paper, “Proposing a Theory for a New Space, the Affinity Interzone.”

PhD candidate Gene Lai presented his paper, “Uniquely Singapore: Revitalizing a Tamil Folk Music Tradition in the Lion City.”

PhD candidate Sean Sonderegger MA ’14 presented “None of That is a Trend: Three Studies in Intertexuality and the Merging of Jazz and Hip-Hop Traditions.”

PhD candidate Huan Li presented her paper, “Roses and Thorns: Mass Media, Chinese Cultural Market, and Qinshi’s Creativity in Reform China.”

PhD candidate Andrew Colwell MA ’11 participated in a roundtable titled “Music and Mobility in Inner Asia: Experience and Theory.” Cowell, who is expected to earn his PhD in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan in 2018, also won the student prize for best paper from the Society for Asian Music.

PhD candidates Ender Terwilliger and Christine May Yong organized a panel discussion on “Performing within Parameters: Government Policy and the Performing Arts in Taiwan, Malaysia and Venezuela.”

In addition, Visiting Assistant Professor Kate Galloway chaired a panel at the event.

PhD candidates, Ender Terwilliger and Christine May Yong, presented their papers as part of an organized panel. Christine’s talk was called Angin Wayang: Framing Wayang Kulit Kelantan Practice Within and Beyond the State, and Ender’s talk was titled From The Capital to the Rice Paddies: Adjusting Performances across Taiwan’s (Political) Landscape.

Gene Lai presented his paper, “Uniquely Singapore: Revitalizing a Tamil Folk Music Tradition in the Lion City.”

Ender Terwilliger, Elaine Sandoval (CUNY Graduate Center), Christine May Yong, and Margaret Sarkissian (Smith College) organized a panel titled "Performing within Parameters: Government Policy and the Performing Arts in Taiwan, Malaysia, and Venezuela."

Ender Terwilliger, Elaine Sandoval (CUNY Graduate Center), Christine May Yong, and Margaret Sarkissian (Smith College) organized a panel titled “Performing within Parameters: Government Policy and the Performing Arts in Taiwan, Malaysia, and Venezuela.”

Assistant Professor of Music Sorey MA ’11 Wins MacArthur “Genius” Award

Tyshawn Sorey (Photo Credit: John Rogers)

Tyshawn Sorey (Photo Credit: John Rogers)

Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11, who joined Wesleyan’s faculty this fall as assistant professor of music, has been awarded a fellowship—better known as a “genius” grant—from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The announcement was made Oct. 11.

The fellowship is a “$625,000, no-strings-attached award to extraordinarily talented and creative and creative individuals as an investment in their potential,” according to the MacArthur website. Fellows are selected based on “exceptional creativity,” “promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments” and “potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.”