Tag Archive for student achievements

Graduate Student Blasser Hand Crafts Analog Instruments

Graduate student Peter Blasser tunes one of his hand-crafted analog instruments. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Graduate student Peter Blasser tunes one of his hand-crafted analog instruments. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

#THISISWHY
In this Q&A, we speak with Peter Blasser, a music graduate student. 

Q: What was your first experiences with music? When did you decide that music would be your life work?

A: I was in elementary school in the 1980s when music programs were still part of the public school curriculum. I remember that those music classes were not very noteworthy at the time. In middle school I took a wood shop class and liked working with the tools. After taking classical civilization classes, I started to triangulate all three — I wanted to work with wood to make ancient Greek instruments to see what they sounded like. The first instruments I decided to recreate were ancient stringed instruments.

Blasser changes where the transistors are connected in order to tune the instrument.

Blasser changes where the transistors are connected in order to tune the instrument.

Q: Where did you complete your undergraduate studies?

A: I went to Oberlin College. I initially went as a classics major, but still had a passion for making classical instruments. Oberlin had a conservatory for music, and they offered introductory courses in electronic music. I started to use electronic music to model and tune classical instruments. I also was able to take a course in analog music, learning about transistors and electronics, and how they could be used to make music. This caused me to combine wood and analog electronics, which is all about the flow of the transistors.

Q: What did you do after graduating?

A: I purchased a home in Baltimore about 10 years ago as a space to work on my art. Fixing up the house was an artistic experience in of itself. I also started my own business where I sold analog instruments. I wasn’t making much money, so I spent a lot of time working on poetry, thinking of ideas for my business and exploring my philosophy. I also toured with my instruments, but didn’t like how much I had to promote myself and push my brand.

Q: Why did you choose Wesleyan for your graduate school?

Blasser likes to work with wood, which is frequently used in his instruments.

Blasser likes to work with wood, which is frequently used in his instruments.

A: I decided to attend Wesleyan after developing a friendship with Ron Kuivila, chair of the Music Department. After graduating from Oberlin I never thought I would return to school, but I found that I enjoyed giving lectures and helping other students make their instruments. I also like how Wesleyan’s music program, and art program in general, is experimental — there are no prejudices from students about what music should “be” like. The different departments are porous, there is mixing between different mediums and styles. This enables me to sit with undergraduates and help them make a piece that the student will own, with a shared experience. This made me realize that I enjoy teaching, and in order to become a professor, formal education is required.

Q: What are your plans after Wesleyan?

A: Right now my analog electronics business,

McLaughlin ’15 Helps Students Discover Body-Mind Awareness through WesBAM! Classes

Katie McLaughlin '15 teaches a WesBAM! class called Vinyasa Flow Fusion, which combines meditation, breathing techniques and traditional asana practice for whole body health and happiness.

Katie McLaughlin ’15 teaches a WesBAM! class called Vinyasa Flow Fusion, which combines meditation, breathing techniques and traditional asana practice for whole body health and happiness.

In this Q&A we speak with Katie McLaughlin from the Class of 2015. (Story and photos by Hannah Norman ’16)

Q: Katie, what are you majoring in?

A: I’m majoring in French and environmental studies with the certificate in international relations. For my capstone project in the environmental studies major, I am researching the academic justifications of contemplative pedagogy and developing a curriculum which integrates it and movement-based learning into elementary school, high school and adult education. The goals of the curriculum are to explore the environment through physical inquiry and embodiment, reevaluate the ways we perceive ourselves as a part of, or apart from nature and reexamine how we interact with ourselves, our communities and the spaces we inhabit.

Q: You are a WesBAM! manager and yoga instructor on campus. Please explain what WesBAM! is all about.

A: Started by Renee Dunn ’14 and Shira Engel ’14, Wesleyan Body and Mind (WesBAM!) is a student-run organization that makes mind-body awareness and fitness accessible at Wesleyan by offering a wide variety of daily classes, free community classes every weekend, and free workshops throughout the semester. WesBAM! instructors are students certified in a variety of athletic disciplines.

Israeli ’17 Speaks at Awards Gala Hosted by the Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights

Ella Israeli '17 mingled with entertainer/philanthropist Robert De Niro at the Ripple of Hope Gala and Awards Dinner, held Dec. 16 in New York City.  The event was supported by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

Ella Israeli ’17 mingled with entertainer/philanthropist Robert De Niro at the Ripple of Hope Gala and Awards Dinner, held Dec. 16 in New York City.

Two Wesleyan students and two alumni participated in the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala and Awards Dinner in New York City in December.

Ella Israeli '17, Kennedy Odede '12 and Kiley Kennedy '16 shared a group hug at the Ripple of Hope Gala. 

Ella Israeli ’17, Kennedy Odede ’12 and Kiley Kennedy ’16 shared a group hug at the Ripple of Hope Gala.

During the event, Ripple Awards were presented to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, entertainers/ philanthropists Robert De Niro and Tony Bennett, and Physicians Interactive Chairman Donato Tramuto.

Ella Israeli ’17, a government major minoring in film studies film studies, was chosen to introduce New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who presented the Ripple of Hope Award to De Niro. Israeli also spoke about her involvement in the center’s film contest. Her speech is online here.

Kennedy Odede ’12, founder of Shining Hope for Communities, was honored as a defender of human rights. Kiley Kennedy ’16 and Edward “Ted” Kennedy Jr. ’83, P’16 also attended the event.

View Israeli’s website, with links to her videos, here.

Everett ’15 Co-Authors Paper Published in Nature Communications

Holly Everett '15

Holly Everett ’15

A paper co-authored by molecular biology and biochemistry major Holly Everett ’15 is published in the December 2014 issue of Nature Communications. The article, titled “High-throughput detection of miRNAs and gene-specific mRNA at the single-cell level by flow cytometry,” describes a novel approach to visualizing RNA and protein simultaneously at the single cell level.

Everett has been working on the accompanying research at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.

This new technology uses gene-specific probes and a signal amplification system based on a “branched DNA” principle. The authors show that this novel flow-FISH (for “Fluorescent in situ hybridization”) technique is sensitive, specific and can be multiplexed with simultaneous detection of three different gene-specific RNAs. The results further demonstrate their ability to measure expression of genes critical for immune cells, such as cytokines, in white blood cells specifically targeting the HIV or CMV viruses. The authors also demonstrate the capacity to detect mRNAs for which flow antibodies against the corresponding proteins are poor or are not available. Read more about the study online here.

Everett, who is completing her degree in three years, worked on this study between her sophomore and senior (gap) year, starting in 2013. She hopes to continue this research next year at a HIV and TB research institute in Durban, South Africa.

Everett’s advisor is Don Oliver, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, the Daniel Ayres Professor of Biology.

15 Elected Early Decision to Phi Beta Kappa

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On Dec. 3, Wesleyan welcomed 15 students elected to early decision membership in Phi Beta Kappa.

Fifteen Wesleyan students were elected to early decision membership in Phi Beta Kappa during an initiation ceremony Dec. 3.

To be elected, a student must have demonstrated curricular breadth by having met the General Education Expectations, and must have achieved a grade-point average of 93 and above. For students elected in the fall, it is an especially exacting selection process because admittance is based on a student’s performance at Wesleyan only through their junior year.

Posse Scholar Foley ’18 Recipient of Quilt of Valor

Kyle Foley '18 received a Quilt of Valor Dec. 3 at the Emblem Club in Middletown. She's pictured here with several Wesleyan students and at left, Professor Andy Szegedy-Maszak.

Pictured sixth from left, Kyle Foley ’18 received a Quilt of Valor Dec. 3 at the Emblem Club in Middletown. She’s pictured here with several Wesleyan students and at left, Professor Andy Szegedy-Maszak. The quilt pattern is sawtooth star blocks representing the American Flag. The center eagles represent patriotism.

For her six years of service to the nation, Afghanistan veteran Kyle Foley ’18, a Posse Scholar at Wesleyan, received a quilt from the local Quilts of Valor Foundation during a ceremony Dec. 3 at the Emblem Club in Middletown.

Kyle Foley receives the Quilt of Valor from Jane Dougherty, the Connecticut Quilt of Valor representative, and Deborah Sierpinski, administrative assistant at Wesleyan.

Kyle Foley receives the Quilt of Valor from Jane Dougherty, the Connecticut Quilt of Valor representative, and Deborah Sierpinski, administrative assistant at Wesleyan.

Since 2003, Quilts of Valor have become a national community service effort to bring the home front to wounded soldiers and to honor returning Veterans. Quilts of Valor members pay tribute to those who have been touched by war by giving them a symbol of comforting and healing.

During her six years in the Navy, Foley was a Seabee, specifically a construction mechanic, and was attached to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4. Within the battalion she worked as a mechanic on both construction equipment and combat vehicles, and also served as a fire team leader, squad leader, and 240Bravo gunner, at different times.

Kyle Foley met with Laurine Sierpinski, a local WWII veteran.

Kyle Foley met with Laurine Sierpinski, a local WWII veteran.

On Foley’s second deployment, she served as the lead mechanic on a detachment to Camp Marmal Afghanistan. At that time, she was the first female mechanic during her tenure to be put in charge of the mechanical shop of a detachment. At the end of her second deployment she re-enlisted to “cross-rate,” or change her job. She cross trained at Corps school in Great Lakes, Ill., and became a Hospital Corpsman (Navy Medic).

After she had finished training she was re-assigned to Naval Hospital Bremerton, where she worked as a general medic, one of the hospital’s three primary phlebotomists, a command mentor — mentoring foru junior personnel — and as a command fitness leader, and as a member of the auxiliary security forces team. Foley also volunteered as the strength and conditioning coach for a women’s lacrosse team at a local high school.

Kyle Foley, center, is one of 10 Posse Foundation Veteran Scholars at Wesleyan this year. The  scholars are funded by The Posse Foundation, which supports students with a four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarship.

Kyle Foley, center, is one of 10 Posse Foundation Veteran Scholars at Wesleyan this year. The scholars are funded by The Posse Foundation, which supports students with a four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarship.

Foley, 29, ended her service Oct. 9, 2012 and enrolled at Wesleyan in fall 2014 as a result of the university’s partnership with the Posse Foundation. Posse Foundation identifies talented veterans who are interested in pursuing bachelor’s degrees at top tier universities.

Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek and Professor of Classics, a mentor for Foley, recommended her as a candidate for a Quilt of Valor.

Students enrolled in a quilting class at Middletown Adult Education and The Quilting Queens, a club in East Hartford, came together to sew patriotic star blocks for the Quilts of Valor. Under the direction of Deborah Sierpinski, instructor at Middletown Adult Education and administrative assistant at Wesleyan, the talented group of women pieced the red, white and blue quilt top.

The Emblem Club, an organization that celebrates Americanism, donated funds toward the cost of the quilt. Representatives from Wesleyan, Middletown Adult Education, the Emblem Club, and the Quilts of Valor Foundation attended the ceremony to pay tribute to Foley.

Students Represent Wesleyan at Keck Astronomy Consortium

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Conor Hunt ’16, pictured in the back, left corner, and Trevor Dorn-Wallenstein ’15, pictured in the center, represented Wesleyan as student speakers at the 2014 Undergraduate Research Symposium of the Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium.

Conor Hunt ’16, Trevor Dorn-Wallenstein ’15, Girish Duvvuri ’17, Coady Johnson ’15 represented Wesleyan as student speakers at the 2014 Undergraduate Research Symposium of the Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium held at Swarthmore College on Nov. 8.

A total of five faculty members and eight students from the Astronomy Department, including Greg Schulman ’17, currently at Clark University, joined colleagues from around the northeast at this annual event.

Wang ’16 Advocates for Asian American Civil Rights

Alton Wang '16 is a sociology and government double major who plans to enter public service after graduation, advocating for the rights of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Alton Wang ’16 is a sociology and government double major who plans to enter public service after graduation, advocating for the rights of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. He’s currently a member of the Asian American Student Collective. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

#THISISWHY
In this Q&A, meet Alton Wang from the Class of 2016. 

Q: Hi Alton! Please tell us about where you grew up and your high school experience.

A: I grew up in Arcadia, Calif., which is about 40 minutes outside of downtown Los Angeles. The community in my high school was predominantly Asian and Asian American, so most people looked like me. I personally wanted to break out from that mold and try something completely different for college. So not only was Wesleyan was far away from home, it was not a place I’d ever previously considered going to college.

Q: So how did you wind up coming to Wesleyan?

A: I discovered it by chance. A guidance counselor suggested that I might be interested in Wesleyan, so I said, “Sure, I’ll add it to my list.” I didn’t give it another thought until the acceptances were in and I had to choose a school. When I visited Wesleyan in the spring of my senior year of high school, I fell in love with the campus. I just felt really comfortable here.

Scholarship Helps Lieman-Sifry ’15 Study Gas Planet Formation

Jesse Lieman-Sifry '15 visited the Sub Millimeter Array in Hawaii this summer to help observe, learn about how radio astronomy data is collected, and see the array of antennas up close. Lieman-Sifry recently received a $5,000 Undergraduate Directed Campus Scholarship from the Connecticut Space Grant Consortium to support his ongoing research on gas planet formation.

Jesse Lieman-Sifry ’15 visited the Sub Millimeter Array in Hawaii this summer to help observe, learn about how radio astronomy data is collected, and see the array of antennas up close. Lieman-Sifry recently received a $5,000 Undergraduate Directed Campus Scholarship from the Connecticut Space Grant Consortium to support his ongoing research on gas planet formation.

 #THISISWHY

For the past year and a half, Jesse Lieman-Sifry ’15, an astronomy and physics double major, has focused his undergraduate research on understanding the formation of gas planets. This month, Lieman-Sifry received a $5,000 Undergraduate Directed Campus Scholarship from the Connecticut Space Grant Consortium, funded by NASA. The award will be applied to his financial aid package and support his ongoing research in the Astronomy Department.

Jesse Lieman-Sifry uses data to model the dust and gas on a specific star system called 49 Ceti.

Jesse Lieman-Sifry uses data to model the dust and gas on a specific star system called 49 Ceti. 49 Ceti is visible to the naked eye.

Planets form in disks of gas and dust left over from the formation of a star. For gas planets, such as Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, a massive rocky core must solidify before accumulation of gas can begin.

“In the 10 million years we assume it takes this rocky core to form, most of the gas has been blown away by the energy from the hot central star. This would suggest that it is very hard to form gas planets, as the timeline for these processes don’t line up,” Lieman-Sifry explained. “Something about this picture isn’t quite right though, as the planet-hunting Kepler mission has revealed that gas planets are actually very common around other stars in the Milky Way.”

Lieman-Sifry is working with high-resolution data collected by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. The data, provided from radio interferometers, 

Students, Alumni Attend Neuroscience Meeting, Reunion Dinner

A Wesleyan group gathered for a neuroscience/biology reunion dinner Nov. 19 in Washington, D.C.

A Wesleyan group gathered for a neuroscience/biology reunion dinner Nov. 15 in Washington, D.C.

Eighteen Wesleyan students, research assistants, alumni and one professor attended the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting, held Nov. 15-19 in Washington D.C.

The student group included Wesleyan lab technicians/research assistants Felicia Harrsch and Adam Lombroso and biology graduate students Kemal Asik, Jyoti Gupta, Swechhya Shrestha, Chris Chen, Nickesha Anderson, Meghan van Zandt, Chelsea Lassiter, Samantha Maisel, Julian Gal and Chris Suriano.

The alumni group included XiaoTing Zheng ’14, Eniola Yeates ’10, Efrain Ribiero ’10, Michaela Tolman ’13 and lab tech/research assistant Katharine Henderson. Most of these alumni are enrolled in Ph.D. or MD/Ph.D neuroscience programs at other universities.

Jan Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, director of the Center for Faculty Career Development, organized a reunion dinner that included 14 students and alumni.

The Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting is the premier venue for neuroscientists to present emerging science, learn from experts, forge collaborations with peers, explore new tools and technologies and advance careers. More than 31,000 people attended the SfN meeting.

Football’s Fuchs ’17 Receives Regional Honors, Gold Helmet Award

Placekicker Ike Fuchs '17. (Photo by Brian Katten)

Placekicker Ike Fuchs ’17. (Photo by Brian Katten)

Placekicker Ike Fuchs ’17 (#10) accounted for 16 of the Cardinals’ 22 points during a 22-0 football victory at Williams College Nov. 1, raising Wesleyan’s record on the season to 6-1.

For his performance, Fuchs received three regional awards and one national honor. Fuchs was named NESCAC Special Teams Player of the Week as well as ECAC Division III Northeast Special Teams Player of the Week. He also was the recipient of the New England Football Writers’ Association weekly Gold Helmet Award for the top effort by a regional Division II/III player during the week.

Ike Fuchs '17

Ike Fuchs ’17

He is the first Cardinal to earn this coveted honor since Shea Dwyer ’10 was recognized for his 213-yard rushing performance with five TDs in a win over Hamilton in 2010. Fuchs also was named USA College Football’s Placekicker of the Week, a national honor.

Fuchs went 5-for-5 on field goals including a career-best 39-yarder and added an extra point on Wesleyan’s lone touchdown, that by running back Lou Stevens ’17 in the second quarter. Fuchs’ other three-pointer came from 31 yards, 35 yards, 23 yards and 25 yards. He entered the game 3-for-6 on field goals but had made his last two before the Williams game. As a result, Fuchs established a pair of school records as he broke the mark for field goals in a game, set by Greg Zlotnick ’86 when he booted four field goals against Coast Guard in 1983. Fuchs has now made seven straight field goals, breaking Zlotnick’s season record of six in a row, also set in 1983.

Tennis Star Chong ’18 Represents Hong Kong at the 17th Asian Games

Eudice Chong '18 hails from Sai Kung, Hong Kong.

Eudice Chong ’18 hails from Sai Kung, Hong Kong.

Eudice Chong ’18 has blossomed as the top player on Wesleyan’s women’s tennis team in her first season. Recently in action during a tournament at Conn. College (Oct. 5), she defeated Trinity’s #1 player and Amherst’s #2 player, both in straight sets.  Each opponent was a top-eight seed in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) New England fall championship, which Eudice missed in September in order to traveled to South Korea for nearly two weeks to represent her native Hong Kong at the 17th Asian Games.  Here is a bit about Eudice and her experience:

Q: You just finished playing the the 17th Asian Games in South Korea, essentially the regional Olympics for some 45 nations. How would you describe the experience and nature of the competition?

A: The Asian Games was definitely one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, playing players ranked in the top 100 World Tennis Association (WTA) and getting to meet some people up close I’ve only seen on TV. Everyone in the tournament is very good — everyone was chosen to play in the Asian Games because they are the best in their country.

Q: In what events did you participate? How well did you do?

A: I played in the Team, Mixed Doubles and Women’s Doubles Events. During the Team Event, Hong Kong lost to China in the quarterfinals as my teammates and I lost to players all ranked in the top 200 WTA. In the Women’s Doubles Event, my partner and I won one round, but lost to a Thai pair which had a player who was ranked as high as 20 and another who is currently ranked top 200. Lastly, for the Mixed Doubles Event, my partner and I advanced to the round of 16, losing to a Taiwanese pair with the woman reaching the finals of Mixed Doubles in Wimbledon this year.

Q: You’ve been living in Hong Kong since you were about a year old. How wide-spread is the interest in tennis in the region and when did you figure out you were hooked on the sport?

A:  Well, I’d say tennis is more of a social game in Hong Kong. If you walk around the city, you’ll tend to see older adults playing