Tag Archive for student achievements

Student-Athlete Long ’14 Misses Game to Donate Bone Marrow

Matt Long '14 is a tight end on Wesleyan's Football Team.

Matt Long ’14 is a tight end on Wesleyan’s Football Team.

Matt Long ’14 a tight end on Wesleyan’s Football Team, hopes to make a new friend in about a year. Why would a 6-foot 5-inch, 240 pound scholar-athlete at a prestigious college like Wesleyan who was named an academic all-NESCAC choice in 2011 need to wait 12 months to make a new acquaintance? One very special reason.

This past spring, Long, of Williston, Vt., was coaxed by a schoolmate to enlist in a bone marrow donor program during a drive on campus. It was sponsored by DKMS, the world’s largest bone marrow donor program. Thus, Matt was on a donor matching list after a cheek swab. The general consensus is that any individual donor has less than a one percent chance of being called upon to donate. When is does happen, it could be years after the potential donor is first in the system. For Long, the wait was about four months.

“In late August, just before the start of camp [preseason football training], I received an urgent overnight letter,” Long explains. It said that he was a preliminary match for an anonymous patient. Matt was tested further in his home area and things looked promising.

Shortly thereafter, Long was transported to Georgetown Hospital in Washington, D.C., for more testing,

Astronomy Students Present Research at KNAC Meeting

Seven Wesleyan undergraduates spoke during the annual Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium meeting held at Middlebury College on Sept. 22. They presented the results from their summer research projects.

Seven Wesleyan undergraduates spoke during the annual Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium meeting. They presented the results from their summer research projects.

Seven Wesleyan undergraduates presented research at the annual Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium meeting held at Middlebury College on Sept. 22.

Astronomy major Mark Popinchalk '13 presents his research.

Astronomy major Mark Popinchalk ’13 presents his research.

Pictured above, from left, are: Eric Edelman ’13, astronomy major, who worked with Professor Jay Pasachoff at Williams College; Miche Aaron ’14, earth and environmental studies major, who worked with Associate Professor Martha Gilmore of Wesleyan;  Mark Popinchalk ’13, astronomy major, who worked with Professor Debra Elmegreen of Vassar College; James Dottin ’13, earth and environmental studies major, who worked with Research Associate Professor James Greenwood of Wesleyan; Ben Tweed ’13, astronomy major, who worked with Assistant Professor Seth Redfield of Wesleyan; Kerry Klemmer ’13, astronomy major,  who worked with Professor Kim McLeod of Wellesley College; Lily Zucker ’14, astronomy major, who worked with Professor Tom Balonek of Colgate.

In addition to presenting research talks, the students also wrote research papers that have been published in the 2012 Proceedings of the Undergraduate Research Symposium of the Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium. KNAC is sponsored by a National Science Foundation/Research Experiences for Undergraduates grant at Wesleyan.


MacLean ’14 Helps Ill Children, Supports Students with Disabilities

Catherine MacLean received a $1,000 scholarship from Citizen’s Bank TruFit Good Citizen Scholarship program on Sept. 14.

Q&As with outstanding students is an occasional feature of The Wesleyan Connection. This issue we speak with Catherine MacLean from the Class of 2014.

Q: Catherine, what are you majoring in at Wesleyan, and why?

A: I am a biology and science and society double major. I have been fascinated by biology for quite a long time, so I was pretty sure I wanted to study it when I came to Wesleyan. I am very interested in the way that such basic low-level structures can combine synergistically to give rise to an organism and the complexity of life. The combination of elegant simplicity and endless complexity in biology is really interesting to me. Once I got to Wesleyan, I stumbled upon the Science in Society Program and found that it was a perfect combination of my love of science and social science. In the same way that context is key in studying cells and systems in biology, the context of the historical, political and social conditions in which science is done is key to studying science.

Q: You recently received a $1,000 scholarship from Citizen’s Bank TruFit Good Citizen Scholarship program for your efforts with the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Conn. What is your role with the camp?

A: The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp is a summer camp and year-round center serving children with serious illnesses and their families. In the summer, there is a summer camp program that allows kids with sickle cell disease, HIV, cancer, metabolic and mitochondrial disease, and blood disorders to attend a traditional overnight summer camp.

I’ve been involved at camp for a number of years. I’ve helped out at fundraisers and events held at the camp, and volunteered at both summer and weekend camp programs. My freshman year at Wesleyan, I hosted the camp leadership for an information session at Wes so that other students could get involved. This led to several students volunteering or working at Hole in the Wall and associated SeriousFun Children’s network camps.

I love working at camp. It is an incredibly positive and friendly community where I have made fantastic friends. Being able to provide support, fun and relaxation to parents and children who really need it is very important work to me. 

Video Feature on Matt Donahue ’14

Matt Donahue ’14 is a double major in psychology and neuroscience and behavior, works in several departments on campus, and is the chapter president of Brighter Dawns, a student run non-profit that aims to improve health conditions in the slums of Bangladesh. Learn more about Donahue in the video below:

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Summer McNair Scholars Study Water on Mars, Toxins, Black Political Activists

McNair scholar Lavontria Aaron '14 studied "Mars Brine Mineralogy" this summer. Her research was sponsored by the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program.

McNair scholar Lavontria Aaron ’14 studied “Mars Brine Mineralogy” this summer. Her research was sponsored by the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program.

By looking at high-resolution images captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists are able to see gullies, which are argued to be geologically recent. Because they are most likely formed by water, it is believed that they can answer the question of whether or not there is still “active” water on Mars.

As a summer Wesleyan McNair scholar, astronomy major Lavontria Aaron ’14 used a hyperspectral instrument to determine if the gullies contained minerals (salts) which would be left behind by water brines.

“By examining the spectrum of the brines, we’ll be able to learn more about Mars’ history and possibly man’s future in pursuit of exploring the red planet,” says Aaron, who worked on the project with her faculty advisor Marty Gilmore, chair and associate professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Aaron and her 13 McNair peers are supported by the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program, which serves students in their second, third, and fourth college semesters. It provides career-oriented activities,

Sediment Geochemistry, Children’s Linguistic Studies at Summer Research Poster Session

Students majoring in earth and environmental sciences, biology, molecular biology and biochemistry, chemistry, physics, psychology, environmental health, safety and sustainability presented their summer-long research projects during the Wesleyan Summer Research Poster Session Aug. 2 in Exley Science Center. Quantitative Analysis Center summer fellows, Hughes fellows, and McNair scholars also presented their research. Photos of the event are below (Photos by Olivia Drake):

Psychology major Yan Pui “Angela” Lo ’14 presented “The Role of Linguistic Context in Children’s Acquisition of Number Words.” Her advisor is Anna Shusterman, assistant professor of psychology.

Chemistry major Sarah Hensiek ’13 discussed her research on “Comparative Studies of Transition Metal Complexes of Polyacetate Tetraaza Macrocycles.” Her advisor is T. David Westmoreland, associate professor of chemistry.

Raymond Wong ’14 spoke about his summer-long research on “Are Wealthier States More Successful than Poorer States?: The Impact of Income Packaging on States’ Child Poverty Rates. Wong’s advisor was Wendy Rayack, associate professor of economics, tutor in the College of Social Studies. Wong completed his research through the Quantitative Analysis Center.

Ellen Lesser ’15 presented a poster titled “Estimation Bias in Numerical and Non-Numerical Spatial Tasks in 9- and 10- Year Olds and Adults.” Her advisors are Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, and postdoctoral fellow Emily Slusser.

Molecular biology and biochemistry and chemistry major Laura Nocka ’13 speaks to Francis Starr, associate professor of physics, about her research on “Structure and Function of Holliday Junctions Complexed with Ions and HU Protein. Her advisors are Ishita Mukerji, dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and David Beveridge, the Joshua Boger University Professor of the Sciences and Mathematics, professor of chemistry.

David Shor ’13 presented “Impact of Exposure to Party Mentions in Political Ads and Local News on Ability to Identify Candidates’ Political Party.” His advisor is Erika Franklin Fowler, assistant professor of government. Shor completed his research through the Quantitative Analysis Center and Wesleyan Media Project.

Earth and environmental science major Ariela Knight ’13 presented “Sediment Geochemistry and Laminations of Ballston Lake, N.Y.” Her advisor is Tim Ku, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences. Pictured at right is Dana Royer, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Fellows Explore Black History in School Curricula, Deglaciation, Schooling in Nicaragua, More

Elsa Hardy '14 presents her Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship research on July 26.

Elsa Hardy ’14 presents her Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship research on July 26. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Last summer, Elsa Hardy ’14 worked for a youth enrichment program in New York City. Several of the children came from the Frederick Douglass Academy, a middle school in Harlem where 75 percent of the students are black.

“I asked the students who went there, ‘Do you know who Frederick Douglass was?’ None of them did. They had no idea,” Hardy recalls. “I was shocked to learn that the students didn’t know who the namesake of their school was.”

Hardy, who is majoring in African American studies and Hispanic literatures and cultures, became curious as to why the average middle school student received such a diluted black history lesson in the classroom. As a 2012 participant in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship summer session, Hardy launched a research project on “Middle School U.S. History Curricula, Black National Identity, and Academic Performance.”

“If U.S. history curriculum covers black history minimally, or not at all, what effect does this have on the ways in which black students understand their place in our nation’s history or in contemporary American society,” she asks.

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program is a highly selective mentoring program that prepares students of color and others committed to overcoming racial and ethnic disparities in education for graduate study and careers as university professors in the arts and sciences. Four fellows from Wesleyan and six fellows from Queens College spent six weeks this summer working on their preliminary research. They presented their findings and plans on July 26.

“The summer session is just the beginning of a life-long relationship with these students,” says MMUF coordinator Krishna Winston,

Ribner ’14 Studying Spatial Navigation, Early Number Knowledge

University major Andrew Ribner ’14 is working in the Cognitive Development Lab this summer. He’s also a photographer, a campus tour guide and a baker.

Q&As with outstanding students is an occasional feature of The Wesleyan Connection. This issue we speak with Andrew Ribner from the Class of 2014.

Q: Andrew, you’re a rising junior, working toward a university major in educational psychology and learning theory and biology. Please explain what a university major is and why you chose this degree path.

A: A university major is essentially an interdisciplinary create-your-own major. It’s an option that isn’t very highly publicized, and is completely unique to each student who does it. It’s an intense application process that involves writing a formal proposal and four-year class schedule, finding three advisors who will support and recommend you to the committee, and justifying the necessity of the major. Essentially, it’s creating an entire unique department using classes that are already offered in other departments. For my university major, I’ll be investigating how children learn through a combination of psychology, sociology and neuroscience.

Q: This summer, you’re working in the Cognitive Development Lab with Anna Shusterman, assistant professor of psychology. Why did you want to spend your summer at Wesleyan?

A: I chose to stay at Wes this summer for a number of reasons. Anna is the primary advisor on my university major, and I’m planning to do an experimental thesis through her lab as it intersects with sociology. She recommended I stay this summer to get a start on my thesis research because she’s going to be on sabbatical in the fall and I need to start running participants while she’s out. I also just wanted to see what research was like and whether it’s something I enjoy—which it is.

MINDS Foundation, Students, Featured in Huffington Post

The MINDS Foundation, an organization started by Raghu Appasani ’12, was recently featured in the June 6 Huffington Post. The MINDS Foundation is working to eradicate mental illness stigmas and provide mental healthcare services to patients in rural villages in India.

According to the article, the conditions of many mental health facilities are inexcusable; people lack basic human dignity, and necessities such as clothes, clean water, and food; they are often locked away in prison-like rooms; and lack even the most basic legal protections.

Since 2012, the MINDS Foundation has educated nearly 1,000 individuals, and is currently treating 36 patients suffering from a variety of illnesses ranging from schizophrenia to depression. The Foundation operates in Gujarat, outside the city of Baroda, and works through a close partnership with Sumandeep Vidyapeeth University to reach out to a cluster of 19 villages and 15,000 individuals in the surrounding vicinity. University psychiatrists volunteer their time pro bono to diagnose, treat, and counsel patients.

This summer, Setarah O’Brien ’14 and Simone Hyman ’15 are volunteering with the organization in India.

The Huffington Post article is online here.

Hoskins ’12 Creates Treasure Hunt Installation on Campus

Jack Hoskins '12 spent his senior year creating a permanent Wesleyan Treasure Hunt. The game has more than six clues, and takes treasure-seekers on an adventure across campus. The plaques were installed in May.

Striking clocks gongs per day from Hartford to Middletown.
Silver wedding anniversary years from Laos to Chad.
Squares on a chess board from Warsaw to Kinshasa.

Can you solve this puzzle? If so, you’ve started a treasure hunt, right on Wesleyan’s campus.

The Wesleyan Treasure Hunt, a permanent campus installation, begins at a plaque located in the southeast corner of Usdan University Center near the Huss Courtyard. It encourages students to explore the nooks and crannies of campus, and interact with the buildings as they look for new clues.

“The hunt encapsulates everything I like about Wesleyan,” says its creator Jack Hoskins ’12. “The students I’ve met here are people who love to explore and think and solve puzzles, so not only is the treasure hunt intellectually challenging, it captures the same adventurous spirit and curiosity that makes people at Wesleyan so incredible.”

Hoskins, a government major, warns that although the clues are “elegant,” most are non-verbal and challenging. He suggests going on the hunt in groups, and bringing along a smart phone with internet-searching capabilities. Pre-frosh and first-year-student may need a campus map and be willing to ask the upperclassmen for help.

“This treasure hunt is very, very difficult, and it can’t be done in an afternoon,” he says. “A lot of people give up when they see the second clue. It’s going to take you a while to finish.”

Hoskins, a native of Olympia, Wash., grew up solving puzzles and making treasure hunts for his friends. His spirit for adventure continued throughout high school and college, and in 2011, he suggested the idea of a treasure hunt to his class dean and the Wesleyan Student Assembly. After approving the idea, the WSA’s Student Budget Committee awarded Hoskins with $500 to cover the cost of supplies and installation.

Wesleyan’s Physical Plant designed the wood plaques and coated them with an environmentally-friendly finish to withstand rain, sun, snow and sleet. Hoskins used the Center for the Arts’ wood burning printer for the lettering.

“I think a lot of people might think of a treasure hunt as something childish, but Wesleyan is a place where people don’t think that the curiosity and love of new things that some people call childish is a bad thing,” Hoskins says.

So far, 15 students have completed the treasure hunt, which was installed in May.

But is there really a treasure at the end of the hunt?

“There’s something there … but I cannot say what,” he says, smiling. “But, like at a real treasure hunt, if you get there second, there’s no gold left.”

Students Receive Academic Prizes, Fellowships, Scholarships

Shane Donahue '14 received the Richard A. Miller Summer Internship Grant Business summer internship, and Matthew Donahue '14 received the Social Activist Award during the awards banquet May 9. (Photos by Nam Anh Ta '12)

Students who received academic prizes, fellowships and scholarships, were honored at a reception May 9 in Daniel Family Commons. The awards and the recipients are:

George H. Acheson and Grass Foundation Prize in Neuroscience Neuroscience and Behavior: Jad Donato ’12, Cassidy Mellin ’12

Alumni Prize in the History of Art Senior who has demonstrated special aptitude in the history of art and who has made a substantive contribution to the major: Sarah La Rue ’12, Alyssa Lanz ’12, Katherine Wolf ’12

American Chemical Society Analytical Award Excellence in analytical chemistry: Chinh Duong ’13

American Chemical Society Connecticut Valley Section Award Outstanding achievement by a graduating chemistry major: Rachel Merzel ’12

American Institute of Chemists Award Outstanding achievement by a graduating chemistry major: Charles Baron ’12

Ayres Prize The first-year student who attains the highest academic standing in the first semester: Quinta Jurecic ’15, Rebecca Rubenstein ’15

Baden-Württemberg―Connecticut Sister State Exchange Study abroad in Germany: Lana ’12, Jessica Spates ’12

Bertman Prize Senior physics major who displays a particularly resourceful and creative approach to research: Wei Dai ’12, Zin Lin ’12

Blankenagel Prize German studies: Matthew Alexander ’12

Odede ’12 Featured in Hartford Courant

Kennedy Odede ’12 was featured in a May 5 Hartford Courant article discussing his mother’s impact on all he has done in the last four years. Odede came to Wesleyan from the Kibera slum of Nairobi and has since built a school, a clean water latrine, and a health center back home.

“Work hard and read books. Look around you, but don’t hate,” Jane Achieng Odede told the young son she struggled to feed in Kibera, one of the world’s largest slums next to Kenya’s capital of Nairobi. Residents there are mostly jobless or live on less than a dollar a day, the article says.

He presented the Senior Class Welcome at Wesleyan’s 2012 Commencement.