Tag Archive for student achievements

Physics Faculty, Students Published in Physical Review

A paper written by two faculty members and three undergraduates was published in the American Physical Society’s Physical Review A, Volume 84, on Oct. 13.  Their paper was one of six highlighted in the publication’s Physics Focus and This Week in Physics. The paper is titled “Experimental study of active LRC circuits with PT symmetries.”

The authors include Tsampikos Kottos, associate professor of physics; Fred Ellis, professor of physics, Joseph Schindler ’12, Ang Li ’13 and Mei Zheng ’10.

The abstract of the paper is online here.

Daniels ’13 Introduces Costa Rican Youth to Lacrosse

Emma Daniels ’13, in center, spent six weeks this summer teaching kids about the sport of lacrosse.

Most Wesleyan student-athletes spend their summers training for the upcoming season, but this past July, women’s lacrosse standout Emma Daniels ’13 took it a step further. Daniels, a College of Letters major, was one of 28 students selected for Beyond Study Abroad, a program that “aims to connect the world through sports,” according to its mission statement. She spent six weeks in Costa Rica taking courses, training and introducing local youths to the sport of lacrosse.

Daniel, pictured in back, was one of 28 students selected for Beyond Study Abroad, a program that “aims to connect the world through sports."

“I went down because I had to go abroad for COL, and summer was the only option because I wanted it to be a service trip,” Daniels explains. “I’ve always loved to coach. I think the values that lacrosse instills—its discipline, its teamwork, being able to communicate with your teammates—those values transcend the field. Coaching is not so much about teaching a new sport

Vallo ’13 Studies Seizure Suppression, Teaches Local Students about Science

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This summer, Mary Vallo '13 developed a needs assessment for the Epilepsy Foundation of Connecticut. She also volunteers in the Wesleyan Science Outreach club and plays intramural soccer. (Photo by Bill Tyner '13)

Q: Mary, what is your class year, and what are you majoring in?

A: I’m a junior, and I’m double-majoring in neuroscience and behavior and English.

Q: You’re currently working in the lab of Jan Naegele, professor of neuroscience and behavior, professor of biology. Can you tell us a bit about your research in the Naegele Lab?

A: The Naegele Lab studies temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), which involves instances of elevated electrical activity in the brain called seizures. In cases where medication does not alleviate seizures, TLE patients experience cell death and damage in the dentate gyrus, part of the hippocampal region of the brain. Using a mouse model of TLE, our goal is to replenish the damaged neurons via stem cell injections. And since seizure-related cell death especially affects a type of interneuron that normally inhibits electrical impulses, we hope that restoring those interneurons will help to suppress seizure activity.

Q: This summer, you participated in the Wesleyan University Hughes Program, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. What was your summer-long research project?

A: The project that I began over the summer analyzes brain sections from epileptic mice that have received stem cell transplants. I stain for a protein that marks transplanted cell axons and another protein called gephyrin that is found at inhibitory synapses. So far, I have found several instances where transplant axons overlap with gephyrin. These findings suggest that the stem cells form inhibitory connections that may contribute to seizure suppression.

Small ’13, Byer ’12 Educate Rural Communities about Mental Health Care

Alexander Small ’13 (at left) and Lennox Byer '12 (pictured in the insert) met with MINDS Foundation social worker Mehulkumar Solank (pictured in the center) during their visit to India this summer.

(Article submitted by Raghu Appasani)

Many Wesleyan students have ambitions to create positive social change and make an impact. This summer, two Wesleyan undergraduates, Lennox Byer ’12 and Alexander Small ’13, travelled to the state of Gujarat in India. Specifically, they travelled to the district of Vadodara where they resided at the Sumandeep Vidyapeeth University (MINDS collaborator) as MINDS Ambassadors.

Lennox and Alex have been core members of The MINDS (Mental Illness & Neurological Disorders) Foundation since its incorporation in 2010. The MINDS Foundation is an organization founded by Wesleyan undergraduate Raghu Appasani ’12.

The organization has a persistent commitment to taking a grassroots approach to eliminating stigma and providing educational, financial, medical, and moral support for patients suffering from mental illness in developing countries.

The volunteers implemented Phase I of the organization’s four-phase grassroots program. Phase I involves educating the rural communities about mental health care, how to pick up on symptoms, various disorders, and where to go for resources. Byer and Small travelled to three villages during their time in India and screened a documentary informing ~100 people in each village about mental health. The screening was followed up with a short lecture by a psychiatrist and surveys taken by the volunteers.

The program reached a large number of people, especially relative to the size of the village.

“Many of the residents were attentive and curious, and everyone went home with a pamphlet on mental illness,” Small says. “Hopefully this initial program will result in a tangible difference for the perceptions of the village’s population and therefor an improvement in the quality of treatment and life for those suffering from mental illness in Gamdi.”

According to Byer, “the most assuring things was knowing that as we increased awareness we would be able to treat even those who lived in the tents along the side of the roads. Knowing that I live such a comfortable life in the USA has really alerted and motivated to give back, and in the context of MINDS, especially to those suffering with mental illness who have so much more to deal with than just their sickness.”

Phase I continues to run and data continues to be analyzed by a MINDS-hired local social worker. This upcoming winter break, another group of MINDS Ambassadors will travel to India to implement Phase II, which involves diagnostic screening camps in the villages. If you would like to get involved with The MINDS Foundation or volunteer, visit www.mindsfoundation.org.


Students, Alumna Mentor Children in Summer Institute in Kenya

Emily Weitzman ’14 hugs one of her students at the Shining Hope for Communities Summer Institute. Weizman says many of the girls want to be teachers, pilots and doctors when they grow up.

Six Wesleyan students and one alumna spent part of their summer in Nairobi, Kenya as volunteers in Shining Hope for Communities Summer Institute. The institute brings college undergraduates and recent graduates together with students from the Kibera School for Girls.

Institute participants provided tutoring and mentoring during the mornings and helped run a summer camp at the school in the afternoon. The volunteers also worked on other Shining Hope projects, including the Johanna Justin-Jinich Community Clinic, a clean water project, toilet access project, community center, and a garden project.Shining Hope for Communities was founded three years ago by Kennedy Odede ’12 and Jessica Posner ’09.

Their inaugural project was the Kibera School for Girls (KSG), a day school set in the Kibera slum in Nairobi,

Student CHUM Fellows to Explore Fact and Artifact, Civic Life

The Center for the Humanities advisory board awarded eight Wesleyan seniors with a Student Fellowship for 2011-12. These fellows will explore the themes “Fact and Artifact” and “Visceral States: Affect and Civic Life.”

Four Student Fellowships are awarded by the center’s advisory board each semester.

Alexandra Wang ’12

During the fall semester, fellows Conan Cheong, Kevin Donohoe, Bridget Read and Alexandra Wang will will explore the theme “Fact and Artifact.” They will examine the career of the modern fact and its uncomfortable companion, the artifact. The fellows will question, “Under what conditions can facts be created?” “How do efforts to pin down empirical reality gain access to the material world?” “How do they depend upon symbolic or aesthetic logics of representation or produce such representations?” “What light can the study of artifacts shed on the status and function of facts in our world?”

Wang is using the “Fact and Artifact” theme as a springboard for her senior thesis on diabetes.

“I’m researching how the facts we now know of the manifestations, complications, and treatment of the disease can be considered artifacts of societal and cultural influences on scientific research,” she explains. “From the other student fellows, lectures and professors, I hope to develop existing ideas and gain new perspectives on my research.”

Read hopes to complete her honors thesis in English as a CHUM Fellow. During the fall semester, she will write a biography of the late Fred Millett, professor of English, emeritus, who taught at Wesleyan from 1937 to 1958. From childhood to his death in 1979, Millett kept meticulous written records, assembling his correspondence as well as self-publishing small books that chronicled different times in his life, including his years as a teacher and retiree. Read will use materials arrived at Wesleyan’s Special Collections and Archives as primary sources for her project.

“Throughout his life, Millett existed in a delicate balance between propriety and passion, restraint and expression, and his navigation of this tension provides valuable insight into mid 20th century social upheaval in the United States,” Read says.

Bridget Read ’12

“Yet it is what Millett omitted in the recording of his life that intrigues me as much as what he did include, and what inextricably ties my project to the theme of ‘Fact and Artifact. According to those close to him, Fred Millett was gay, but he left no trace of his sexuality in the archive except for a collection of magazines that was destroyed by his family.”

Millett’s archive, including the undocumented story of his sexual orientation, call into question the very nature of “fact” inherent in the dissection and study of an “artifact,” and begs a question of what can we actually learn from artifacts of the past, when the indisputable or objective “facts” they point to may or may not exist at all, Read explains.

“I hope to challenge conventions about the materiality of a human life that posit a single, unidirectional line between ‘artifact’ and ‘fact,’ the written word and the objective reality it explains,” she says.

Geyer Awarded Wickham Scholarship

Guy Geyer '13.

Guy Geyer ’13 received the General John A. Wickham Scholarship, awarded by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association’s Educational Foundation.

Geyer, a physics major, will receive a $2,000 scholarship.

Candidate must be a U.S. citizen and working toward a degree in electrical, computer, chemical, systems or aerospace engineering; computer science; physics; mathematics; science or mathematics education; technology management; or management information systems. An overall GPA of 3.5 on 4.0 scale or better is required.

General John A. Wickham, born June 25, 1928, was United States Army Chief of Staff from 1983 to 1987.

Geyer also received honorable mention for a Goldwater Scholarship in 2011. He studies an antimatter called antihydrogen.

Honor Society Phi Beta Kappa Inducts 87 Students

Phi Beta Kappa members pose for a group photo following the initiation ceremony May 21 in Memorial Chapel. (Photo by Nam Anh Ta '12)

The Society of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society, welcomed 87 members to the Gamma of Connecticut Chapter May 21.

Election to the society is based on fulfillment of eligibility requirements, including a grade point average of 90 or above and the satisfactory completion of general education requirements prior to commencement. Phi Beta Kappa was founded in 1776, during the American Revolution. The organization’s Greek initials signify the motto, “Love of learning is the guide of life.”

The students join the ninth oldest Phi Beta Kappa chapter in the United States—founded in 1845.

During the ceremony, Wesleyan president Michael Roth made welcoming remarks and Alberto Ibargüen ’66, HON ’11 CEO of The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, delivered the keynote address. Chapter President Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, initiated the members.

Sally Bachner, assistant professor of English, is the chapter’s vice president and Anna Shusterman, assistant professor of psychology, is the chapter treasurer.

Fifteen seniors from the Class of 2011 were elected to Phi Beta Kappa during the 2010 fall semester. These students and their majors are:

Arion Blas – economics

Wei Dai – physics, mathematics

Elizabeth Dalton – art and art history

Teutsch ’11 Receives Fellowship from Tony Blair Faith Foundation

Nomi Teutsch '11 (Photo by Zach Subar)

Nomi Teutsch ’11 received a Faiths Act Fellowship from the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. This year-long, paid international fellowship brings together exceptional future leaders inspired by faith to serve as interfaith ambassadors for the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with particular focus on malaria. Fellows build partnerships across faith lines in their home countries to show the world how faith can be a positive global force in the 21st century, and they work in local NGOs to mobilize communities to take part in malaria-focused, multi-faith action.

Teutsch grew up in a vibrant, diverse neighborhood in Northwest Philadelphia. A progressive Jewish activist who is fluent in Hebrew, she majored in philosophy at Wesleyan. She has worked with a number of nonprofit organizations including the Center for Constitutional Rights, Encounter, J Street, and Shining Hope for Communities. As a volunteer, she has worked with incarcerated women in Connecticut and has led campus activism around issues of violence against women.

Cottier ’12 Explores Tales from a Middletown Historic House

Charlotte Cottier ’12 spent the week hanging posters for her exhibit at the General Mansfield House on Main Street. (Photo by Olivia Drake MALS ’08)

While the rest of her classmates finished exams and headed for Foss Hill, Charlotte Cottier ’12 spent the sunny days of Finals Week inside the General Mansfield Home, getting ready to reveal excerpts from personal letters documenting a husband’s Western frontier travel to his wife at home, a nearly-failed courtship, and a myriad other stories that a nearly 200-year-old house can hold.

Cottier, an American studies and sociology major, is a guest curator for the Middlesex County Historical Society, hanging her exhibit “Within These Walls: One House, One Family, Two Centuries,” which opened May 20.

“The main theme is the social history of the house—showing the changing landscape of people and ideas that have marked a steadfast building so that it really comes alive,” she says.

The exhibit is culmination of a year-and-a-half of work and was sparked by the anthropology course, Middletown Lives, which she took in the spring of her first year. It was in the context of this service-learning course that Associate Professor Gina Ulysse “framed for me the idea of doing a public service by documenting history that hadn’t been recorded.”

Khan ’12 Named Dell Semi-Finalist Fellow

Tasmiha Khan ’12, founder of the student organization Brighter Dawns, is a recipient of the Dell Social Innovation Competition Semi-Finalist Fellowship. Brighter Dawns applied for the Dell Social Innovation Award in January. Their project is titled “Brighter Dawns: Clean Water for Humanity.”

“Tasmiha was selected from a very strong applicant pool to join 14 other innovative fellows that represent and work with communities around the world,” says Betsy Loucks, director of the DSIC Semi-Finalist Fellowship. “The Semi-Finalist Fellowship is a cohort of students from around the world who have some of the most exciting and innovative ideas for social and environmental change.”

Developed to leverage the power of the group, the fellowship program provides students with mentorship, training and a small financial award to advance the development of their social innovation. The fellowship provides students with the skills, networks and experience needed to realize the potential of their social venture.

At the core of the DSIC Fellowship is the practice of peer critique. The peer critique is a forum for student entrepreneurs to seek feedback from other students, faculty, alumni and experienced professionals/entrepreneurs. Meeting around a common table, the participants generously and respectfully share their questions, advice, networks and encouragement in a spirit of collegial collaboration.

In addition to the fellowship, the DSIC also provides a travel stipend to Rhode Island for the Summer Institute on Social Entrepreneurship, Aug. 15-19.

Brighter Dawns also received a Davis United World College Project for Peace grant worth $10,000.

EE&S Students Develop Research, Observational Skills through Puerto Rico Fieldwork

Laura Anderson '11 (center) and fellow earth and environmental science majors and faculty kayak off the coast of Puerto Rico in January. The students worked on research projects on the island, and presented their findings in April.

This semester, 18 earth and environmental sciences majors explored dwarf mangrove forests, studied landslide susceptibility in a rainforest, examined if cave rocks record bat inhabitation, and analyzed the chemistry of coastal seagrass – all in Puerto Rico.

The students, who are enrolled in the E&ES 398 course Senior Seminar, developed observational, interpretative and research skills through their island studies. The seniors traveled to Puerto Rico in January for fieldwork, and spent the past few months analyzing their findings.

They presented their Senior Seminar Presentations on April 19 and 21 as part of the Stearns