Wesleyan faculty (from left) Joseph Siry, Brian Northrop, and Erika Franklin Fowler join President Michael Roth before the 187th Commencement ceremony, May 26. During the ceremony, the three professors were honored with Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching. (Photo by Olivia Drake)
Every year at Commencement, Wesleyan recognizes three outstanding teachers with Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching. These prizes, made possible by gifts from the family of the late Frank G. Binswanger Sr., Hon. ’85, underscore Wesleyan’s commitment to its scholar-teachers, who are responsible for the University’s distinctive approach to liberal arts education.
Recommendations are solicited from alumni of the last 10 graduating classes, as well as current juniors, seniors, and graduate students. Recipients are chosen by a selection committee of faculty and members of the Alumni Association Executive Committee.
This year, during the 187th Commencement ceremony, Wesleyan honored the following faculty members for their excellence in teaching:
Erika Franklin Fowler
Erika Franklin Fowler, associate professor of government and director of the Wesleyan Media Project, has taught at Wesleyan since 2009. She has a BA in political science and mathematics from St. Olaf College, and an MA and PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She served as a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan School of Public Health from 2007 to 2009.
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Associate Professor of Chemistry Brian Northrop and Alexander Goldberg ’15 are co-authors of “Spectroscopic and Computational Investigations of The Thermodynamics of Boronate Ester and Diazaborole Self-Assembly,” published in The Journal of Organic Chemistry, January 2016. The article is composed of Goldberg’s undergraduate thesis research.
Synform, a journal of chemistry, recently featured an interview with Associate Professor of Chemistry Brian Northrop through its Young Career Focus series. Within it, Northrop briefly discusses his research and his most important scientific achievements.
“Currently, I think the greatest impact of my group’s research is more a matter of approach than a specific result. By this I mean that we approach research projects working across each of the ‘three M’s’ of chemistry: making, modeling and measuring. This complementary blend of synthesis, analysis, and theory provides my group with a deep, fundamental understanding of the chemical reactions and processes we are interested in…
“It is my hope that our approach to research and our initial published work have laid a solid foundation for a variety of more important scientific achievements in the future,” he said.
Read the full interview here.
Fifth graders from Snow Elementary School in Middletown toured Wesleyan’s astronomy, biology, chemistry, and physics departments on June 8.
Brian Northrop, assistant professor of chemistry, and Snow School students watch chemistry in action during their visit to Wesleyan. This annual program allows local fifth graders to see how science can be exciting as well as educational.
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In its most recent meeting, the Board of Trustees promoted seven faculty members.
The BOT conferred tenure on Lauren Caldwell, associate professor of classical studies; Stephen Collins, associate professor of film studies; Paul Erickson, associate professor of history; Matthew Garrett, associate professor of English; Brian Northrop, associate professor of chemistry; Julia Randall, associate professor of art; and Seth Redfield, associate professor of astronomy.
The promotions are effective July 1, 2015.
Brief descriptions of their areas of research and teaching appear below.
Caldwell’s research focuses on Roman social history, Roman law, and Greco-Roman medicine. Her recent book, Roman Girlhood and the Fashioning of Femininity (Cambridge University Press, 2014) investigates the social pressures
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Brian Northrop, assistant professor of chemistry, is the co-author of several new papers including:
“Preparation and Analysis of Cyclodextrin-Based Metal-Organic Frameworks: Laboratory Experiments Adaptable for High School through Advanced Undergraduate Students,” published in Journal of Chemical Education 92, pages 368-372, 2015. Samantha Angle, a Middletown High School student working in Northrop’s lab, co-authored the paper. (See cover at left.)
“Rational Synthesis of Bis(hexyloxy)-Tetra(hydroxy)-Triphenylenes and their Derivatives,” published in RSC Advances 4, pages 38,281-392 in 2014;
“Vibrational Properties of Boroxine Anhydride and Boronate Ester Materials: Model Systems for the Diagnostic Characterization of Covalent Organic Frameworks,” published in Chemistry of Materials 26, pages 3,781-95 in 2014;
And “Allyl-Functionalized DioxynaphthaleneCrown-10 Macrocycles: Synthesis, Self-Assembly, and Thiol-Ene Functionalization,” published in Chemistry—A European Journal 20, pages 999-1,009 in 2014.
Brian Northrop teaches a student at the Green Street Arts Center how to properly mix the putty’s ingredients.
On Nov. 3, Brian Northrop, assistant professor of chemistry, spoke to students at the Green Street Arts Center about polymers. As part of the hands-on workshop, Northrop taught the participants how to make their own silicone polymer putty with glue, water, Borax and food coloring.
Similar putty was accidentally invented during World War II when an American scientist working for General Electric in New Haven, Conn. was trying to create synthetic rubber using silicone oil and boric acid. The result produced a “solid-liquid” goo that had a high melting temperature, could bounce when dropped, and stretch. The product is most commonly known as Silly Putty, a trademark of Crayola LLC.
Northrop’s workshop is funded through a 2014 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award. This is the second year that he’s taught students at the GSAC.
Photos of the polymer workshop are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)
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This month, the National Science Foundation awarded Brian Northrop, assistant professor of chemistry, with a 2014 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award.
The CAREER awards support junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.
The honor came with a five-year grant totaling $537,561, which Northrop will use on his study titled “Selective Thiol-Ene and Thiol-Yne Chemistry, From First Principles to Organic Materials.”
At Wesleyan, Northrop’s research focuses on the design, synthesis and analysis of new organic materials utilizing molecular recognition and self-assembly, and “click” chemistry. With the CAREER Award, Northrop and his students will continue to investigate new methods for making polymers and nanoscale assemblies.
“Synthetic polymers form the basis of many of the materials we encounter every day, from plastics and adhesives to medical equipment and electronics,” Northrop explained. “One of the primary goals of contemporary polymer synthesis is to be able to fine-tune the physical properties of polymers by exhibiting precise control over their chemical structure. By developing methods that allow such precise control, researchers are able to directly influence whether a given polymer is stiff or flexible, fragile or resilient, insulating or conductive, etc.”
Much of the research in Northrop’s lab focuses on developing a thorough, fundamental understanding of how compounds known as thiols react with alkenes and alkynes.
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Brian Northrop, assistant professor of chemistry, and chemistry graduate student Merry Smith are the co-authors of “Discrete, Soluble Covalent Organic Boronate Ester Rectangles,” published in Chemical Communications, 49, pp. 6167-6169 in 2013.