Tag Archive for student publications

Students’ Essays on Infectious Disease Prevention, COVID-19 Published Nationwide

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More than 25 students in Fred Cohan’s Global Change and Infectious Disease course have had op-eds published in media outlets nationwide. Cohan, professor of biology and Huffington Foundation Professor in the College of the Environment (pictured), assigns the op-ed writing as part of his course and offers students extra credit if they are able to get their work published.

As part of the BIO 173: Global Change and Infectious Disease course, Professor Fred Cohan assigns students to write an essay persuading others to prevent future and mitigate present infectious diseases. If students submit their essay to a news outlet—and it’s published—Cohan awards them with extra credit.

As a result of this assignment, more than 25 students have had their work published in newspapers across the United States. Many of these essays cite and applaud the University’s Keep Wes Safe campaign and its COVID-19 testing protocols.

Cohan, professor of biology and Huffington Foundation Professor in the College of the Environment (COE), began teaching the Global Change and Infectious Disease course in 2009, when the COE was established. “I wanted very much to contribute a course to what I saw as a real game-changer in Wesleyan’s interest in the environment. The course is about all the ways that human demands on the environment have brought us infectious diseases, over past millennia and in the present, and why our environmental disturbances will continue to bring us infections into the future.”

Over the years, Cohan learned that he can sustainably teach about 170 students every year without running out of interested students. This fall, he had 207. Although he didn’t change the overall structure of his course to accommodate COVID-19 topics, he did add material on the current pandemic to various sections of the course.

“I wouldn’t say that the population of the class increased tremendously as a result of COVID-19, but I think the enthusiasm of the students for the material has increased substantially,” he said.

To accommodate online learning, Cohan shaved off 15 minutes from his normal 80-minute lectures to allow for discussion sections, led by Cohan and teaching assistants. “While the lectures mostly dealt with biology, the discussions focused on how changes in behavior and policy can solve the infectious disease problems brought by human disturbance of the environment,” he said.

Based on student responses to an introspective exam question, Cohan learned that many students enjoyed a new hope that we could each contribute to fighting infectious disease. “They discovered that the solution to infectious disease is not entirely a waiting game for the right technologies to come along,” he said. “Many enjoyed learning about fighting infectious disease from a moral and social perspective. And especially, the students enjoyed learning about the ‘socialism of the microbe,’ how preventing and curing others’ infections will prevent others’ infections from becoming our own. The students enjoyed seeing how this idea can drive both domestic and international health policies.”

A sampling of the published student essays are below:

Alexander Giummo ’22 and Mike Dunderdale’s ’23 op-ed titled “A National Testing Proposal: Let’s Fight Back Against COVID-19” was published in the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Conn.

They wrote: “With an expansive and increased testing plan for U.S. citizens, those who are COVID-positive could limit the number of contacts they have, and this would also help to enable more effective contact tracing. Testing could also allow for the return of some ‘normal’ events, such as small social gatherings, sports, and in-person class and work schedules.

“We propose a national testing strategy in line with the one that has kept Wesleyan students safe this year. The plan would require a strong push by the federal government to fund the initiative, but it is vital to successful containment of the virus.

“Twice a week, all people living in the U.S. should report to a local testing site staffed with professionals where the anterior nasal swab Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, used by Wesleyan and supported by the Broad Institute, would be implemented.”

Kalyani Mohan ’22 and Kalli Jackson ’22 penned an essay titled “Where Public Health Meets Politics: COVID-19 in the United States,” which was published in Wesleyan’s Arcadia Political Review.

They wrote: “While the U.S. would certainly benefit from a strengthened pandemic response team and structural changes to public health systems, that alone isn’t enough, as American society is immensely stratified, socially and culturally. The politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic shows that individualism, libertarianism and capitalism are deeply ingrained in American culture, to the extent that Americans often blind to the fact community welfare can be equivalent to personal welfare. Pandemics are multifaceted, and preventing them requires not just a cultural shift but an emotional one amongst the American people, one guided by empathy—towards other people, different communities and the planet. Politics should be a tool, not a weapon against its people.”

Sydnee Goyer ’21 and Marcel Thompson’s ’22 essay “This Flu Season Will Be Decisive in the Fight Against COVID-19” also was published in Arcadia Political Review.

“With winter approaching all around the Northern Hemisphere, people are preparing for what has already been named a “twindemic,” meaning the joint threat of the coronavirus and the seasonal flu,” they wrote. “While it is known that seasonal vaccinations reduce the risk of getting the flu by up to 60% and also reduce the severity of the illness after the contamination, additional research has been conducted in order to know whether or not flu shots could reduce the risk of people getting COVID-19. In addition to the flu shot, it is essential that people remain vigilant in maintaining proper social distancing, washing your hands thoroughly, and continuing to wear masks in public spaces.”

Solomon ’20 is Lead Author on Paper Published in Medical Journal

Eli Solomon ’20 shared a group project for Advanced Research in Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience on “Oscillatory Markers of Neural Entrainment to Rhythm.”

Neuroscience and behavior major Eli Solomon ’20, pictured here presenting research at a poster session, recently co-authored a paper published in the journal Medical Care.

Lack of reliable transportation can prevent patients from making it to medical appointments or accessing other health care services.

In a recently published paper, lead author Eli Solomon ’20 explored and analyzed existing research on nonemergency medical transportation interventions. The article, titled “Impact of Transportation Interventions on Health Care Outcomes: A Systematic Review,” was published in the American Public Health Association journal Medical Care.

Solomon, a neuroscience and behavior major on a pre-med path, wrote the paper based on research he conducted in summer 2018 with peers at the University of California, San Francisco. While at UCSF, Solomon worked for San Francisco General Hospital, tackling social determinants of health with patients in the pediatric primary care clinic.

Solomon and his mentors searched three databases (Embase, PubMed, and Google) for studies of health care sector-sponsored programs that provided patients with assistance with nonemergency transportation, and directly assessed the impact of transportation assistance on health and health care utilization outcomes. Studies meeting inclusion criteria were graded for quality using standard grading criteria.

Genomics Analysis Students Collaborate on Second Published Article

This fall, Assistant Professor of Biology Joe Coolon is teaching Principles of Biology (MB&B181) and Cell and Development Journal Club (BIOL505).

Assistant Professor of Biology Joe Coolon and 26 Wesleyan students are coauthors of a recent paper published in G3.

The second publication by students in Genomics Analysis (BIOL 310) has been accepted by the well-known journal G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. This adds 26 Wesleyan students to the ranks of more than 40 students who have become published authors through the course’s research on Drosophila sechellia, a type of fruit fly evolved to eat a plant that is toxic to most insects.

The recent paper, “Genomics Analysis of L-DOPA Exposure in Drosophila sechellia,” is coauthored by all 20 students in Assistant Professor of Biology Joseph Coolon’s class, and six students in his lab.

“I created my Genomics Analysis course as a way to provide more students with a course-based research experience where students participate in scientific discovery and the generation of new knowledge, and don’t just consume knowledge generated by others,” said Coolon. “This means each year the students taking the course learn material generated and published by the previous iterations of the course.”

Study by Tavernier, Students Published in Sleep Health Journal

oyette Tavernier, assistant professor of psychology, is director of Wesleyan's Sleep and Psychosocial Adjustment Lab housed in Judd Hall. Here, she monitors an individual's nightly sleep patterns. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Royette Tavernier, assistant professor of psychology, is director of Wesleyan’s Sleep and Psychosocial Adjustment Lab.

College-aged individuals are at an increased risk for mental health issues, as well as poor sleep. There is a rich body of research on the negative consequences of poor sleep for cognitive, physical, and mental functioning. Furthermore, several studies provide support for the importance of three basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness) for optimal mental well-being. Less well understood, however, is the issue of “directionality” between basic psychological needs and sleep as students transition across semesters.

“In other words, it is not clear whether an individual’s perceived fulfillment of these basic psychological needs predicts improvements in sleep later on; or whether sleep patterns at baseline might subsequently lead to improvements in these psychological needs over time,” said Royette Tavernier, assistant professor of psychology. “This issue of directionality (the ‘chicken and the egg’ phenomenon) is critical for understanding which factors interventions should target to promote optimal sleep and psychological well-being.”

Tamare Adrien '19 and Grant Hill '20 shared their sleep studies at the Department of Psychology’s Research Poster Presentation on April 25.

Tamare Adrien ’19 and Grant Hill ’20 shared their sleep studies at the Department of Psychology’s Research Poster Presentation on April 25.

In a recently published paper titled “Be well, sleep well: An examination of directionality between basic psychological needs and subjective sleep among emerging adults at university,” coauthors Tavernier, Grant Hill ’20, and Tamare Adrien ’19 examined the relationship between basic psychological needs and sleep quality. Their findings appear in the April issue of the journal Sleep Health.

They find that when University participants perceived that their psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness were met, they reported improvements in sleep duration (slept for longer hours) and sleep quality (reported fewer sleep problems) one semester later. Additionally, they found a significant ‘bidirectional effect’ between perceived fulfillment of the three basic psychological needs and lower daytime dysfunction (i.e., perceived enthusiasm to function during the day), indicating that both these variables mutually predict each other over time.

The authors conclude that while many sleep interventions focus on environmental aspects of sleep, their study highlights the importance of nurturing college students’ psychological needs as a possible approach to improve sleep among this vulnerable sample.

Tavernier is a developmental psychologist and is director of Wesleyan’s SPA Lab.

Paper by Sun ’20 Published in Yale Review of International Studies

Zhaoyu Sun ’20

A paper by Zhaoyu Sun ’20 was published in the April 2019 issue of The Yale Review of International Studies. 

The article, titled “Critical Comments Among Chinese Netizens – Before and After the Cyber Security Law” is based on a research paper he wrote for his CEAS 385/GOVT 391 Legacies of Authoritarian Politics course last fall. The class was taught by Joan Cho, assistant professor of East Asian studies; assistant professor, government.

Sun, a College of East Asian Studies and government double major, explained that despite the growing availability of information within China and the country’s increased linkage to the West, the coercive actions taken by the government following the establishment of the 2017 China Internet Security Law have led to a reduction in comments using confrontational language in sensitive or political documents.

“This behavior indicates that netizens (internet users) are highly conscious of the laws concerning internet use and regulate their behavior accordingly,” Sun wrote. “The censorship system and recent Cyber Security Law therefore seem to have successfully prompted netizens to self-censor their language in accordance with the boundaries established by the regime.”

Sun also was a recipient of a 2018 Consulate General of Japan in Boston Japanese Language Contest prize.

Research by Service-Learning Class Published in Archaeological Society Bulletin

Papers by Professor J. Kehaulani Kauanui and four of her former students are published in the most recent issue of the Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut.

Four former students who enrolled in the service-learning course AMST 250: Decolonizing Indigenous Middletown: Native Histories of the Wangunk Indian People—taught in fall 2015—are now co-authors of articles published in the Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut, No. 79, 2017.

Iryelis Lopez ’17, Tiana Quinones ’17, Abigail Cunniff ’17 and Yael Horowitz ’17 partnered with the Middlesex County Historical Society and spent their semester examining 17th- and 18th-century Middletown records that focused on the Algonquian peoples of the lower Connecticut River known as Wangunks. The Wangunks lived near the Connecticut River primarily in present-day Middletown and Portland, Conn.

In February 2016, self-selected students presented their class research papers to the broader Middletown community at an event held at Russell Library called, “Searching for Indigenous Middletown.” The gathering was organized by course instructor J. Kehaulani Kauanui. Kauanui is professor of American studies, professor of anthropology, chair of the American Studies Department and director of the Center for the Americas.

The Bulletin‘s editor, Lucianne Lavin, was in attendance and heard the students’ presentations. Lavin, who also directs the American Indian Studies Institute in Washington, Conn., later invited the young researchers to have their papers published in the Bulletin.

In addition to being published in the Bulletin, research by the students resulted in the first Wikipedia entry on the Wangunk.

The published papers include “Town Bills of Middletown: Material Histories of Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Erasure” by Yael Horowitz ’17; “Decolonizing Indigenous Middletown” by Iryelis Lopez ’17 and Tiana Quinones ’17; and “Militia, Security, and Smallpox in Middletown Settler Society as Related to the Wangunk People (1754–1785)” by Abigail Cunniff ’17.

The special issue contains five other pieces that emerged from an event Kauanui organized in December 2015 on campus at the Russell House, including “Challenging Settler Colonialism in the Recovery of Wangunk Tribal History” by Kauanui; “Pre-Colonial History of the Wangunk” by Lucianne Lavin; “A Brief History of the Wangunk Reservation” by Timothy Ives; “Indigenous Middletown: Settler Colonial and Wangunk Tribal History” by Reginald Bacon; and “Growing Up Wangunk” by Gary O’Neil.

Kauanui has since retooled the course as a “First Year Initiative” class that was taught last semester as a seminar for first-year students, called “Indigenous Middletown.” Besides focusing on the sparsely documented history of the Wangunk, students are introduced to the fields of settler colonial studies, the rapidly transforming field of critical indigenous studies, along with Native American history and historiography addressing southern New England. “And perhaps most importantly,” Kauanui says, “they learn that the Wangunk people continue to live into the 21st century.”

Othon, Taylor Students Published in Physical Chemistry Letters

Christina Othon and Erika Taylor, along with physics graduate student Nimesh Shukla, Lee Chen ’15, Inha Cho ’15 and Erin Cohn ’15, are the co-authors of a paper titled “Sucralose Destabilization of Protein Structure” published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, March 2015. Othon is assistant professor of physics and was PI on the paper. Taylor is assistant professor of chemistry, assistant professor of environmental studies.

Sucralose is a commonly employed artificial sweetener that behaves very differently than its natural disaccharide counterpart, sucrose, in terms of its interaction with biomolecules. This research suggests that people may need to think about the impact of sucralose (a.k.a. Splenda) on their proteins.

Watch Othon explain associated research in this video. She speaks around the 34 minute mark.

Trammell ’10 Writes Article on Trouble in Lake Baikal

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Elizabeth Trammell ’10 visited Listvyanka, Russia, a small town on the edge of Lake Baikal. Trammell is the author of the article, "Deep Trouble: Baikal, the world’s deepest lake, loses some of its hard-won protection."

Government, Russian and East European Studies major Elizabeth Trammell ’10 is the author of “Deep Trouble: Baikal, the world’s deepest lake, loses some of its hard-won protection,” published in the Feb. 10 edition of Transitions Online and the Feb. 12 edition of Business Week. Trammell is writing an honor’s thesis on Russian environmental policy under Peter Rutland, co-chair of the College of Social Studies, the Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, professor of government and tutor in the College of Social Studies. She interned last year for Great Baikal Trail, a sister environmental organization to BaikalWave in Irkutsk.

In the article, Trammell explains how Prime Minister Vladimir Putin allowed the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill, closed in 2008, to resume production. Environmentalists now fear that the paper mill operation will pollute Lake Baikal, the deepest freshwater lake in the world.

“Why did Putin decide, 15 months later, to allow the mill to reopen without limit to its effluent for the next three years? The technology in BPPM is outdated, and it will take years and substantial investment to bring the plant up to modern standards,” Trammell writes in the article. “Putin has given the factory three years to operate without the closed-loop system and to continue to dump pollutants into the lake, seemingly having decided that a short-term economic fix is worth the long-term ecological damage.”

Heau ’12, Heau P’12 Co-Author Fantasy Adventure Book

heau coverErnest Heau P’12 and his son, Noah Heau ’12, are the authors of a  novel-length fantasy adventure for young teens called The Lost Rubies of Fennwann. Ernest and Noah wrote the book together while Noah was in middle and high school.

The father and son self-published the 268-page book through iUniverse, Inc. in 2009.

According to the website, “Co-authors Ernest and Noah Heau are father and son. Their story-telling career began when Noah was 4, when they made up stories on the spot. Over the years they created many hand-written and hand-illustrated stories. The Lost Rubies of Fennwann is their first collaboration on a novel-length fantasy adventure. Ernest is a retired software engineer, and an editor of book on Buddhism. Noah graduated from the Waldorf School of Garden City, New York. He attends Wesleyan University in Connecticut. He plays the cello, keeps a journal, and is ‘interested in things surreal and ethereal.'”

They’re also featured on the Waldorf School of Garden City website.