In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.
Wesleyan in the News
1. Inside Higher Ed: ‘Safe Enough Spaces’
President Michael Roth is interviewed about defending free speech, inclusion on campus, and affirmative action, among other topics, in connection with the forthcoming publication of his new book, Safe Enough Spaces: A Pragmatist’s Approach to Inclusion, Free Speech, and Political Correctness on College Campuses, due out Aug. 20 from Yale University Press.
2. The New York Times: “The World’s Smartest Chimp Has Died”
William Griffin Professor of Philosophy Lori Gruen writes in this op-ed about the legacy of the “world’s smartest chimp” Sarah, who died recently in her 50s after a long career working with researchers. Sarah taught the world about animal cognition, including chimps’ understanding of the thoughts and desires of others. Her career showed us that “not only do chimpanzees have complex thoughts, but also distinct personalities with strong preferences and prejudices,” Gruen writes.
3. Hartford Courant: “At Wesleyan’s Girls in Science Camp, Women Are the Scientists of the Future”
The week-long Girls in Science Camp, a partnership between Wesleyan and the Middletown Public Schools now in its sixth year, gives local schoolgirls an opportunity to learn about women scientists, participate in hands-on learning activities, and tour Wesleyan’s scientific facilities. The camp is run by female Wesleyan faculty members in the sciences with assistance from undergraduates. “The camp started in the hope that it would help women stay involved in science,” said Associate Professor of Chemistry Erika Taylor. “We see a bottleneck in Middle School. In elementary school girls still love science, but in Middle School they aren’t connecting with it as much. We want to expose them not only to the science, but to role models.”
4. Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Son of Capiz Farmer Wins $300K Scholarship to Wesleyan University, USA”
Incoming student and Freeman Asian Scholar Aldrean Alogon ’23 is featured in this profile, written by Rama Co ’21. The son of a farmer and an elementary school principal, Alogon twice represented the Philippines in the International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics. He is passionate about studying astronomy and serving his community.
5. Los Angeles Review of Books: “Women Storming the Heavens?: On Soviets, Space, and Emancipation”
Associate Professor of History Victoria Smolkin writes in this essay about the Soviet myth of “social mobility that transcended gender, ethnicity, and social origins” in the exploration of space. In reality, she writes, “the Soviets were more concerned with showcasing their political power by performing equality [through token examples of diversity] than with actually ‘enacting progress.'”
Alumni in the News
Describing Wipro as an IT “behemoth” that Azim Premji built from “a small hydrogenated cooking fat company,” the article observes that Rishad Premji has “the right credentials to lead Wipro, with an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in Economics from Wesleyan University in the US.”
2. Hartford Courant: “One Man, 33 Characters: Jamison Stern Is ‘Fully Committed’ To Manic Theaterworks Comedy”
“There’s heart and soul on the menu at TheaterWorks,” writes critic Christopher Arnott, describing the work of Jamison Stern in this one-act play featuring a crucial day in the life of Sam, a restaurant worker who handles the reservation line at a very busy restaurant. “The play, by Wesleyan University grad Becky Mode [’86], was a regional theater hit in the early 2000s. The script was heavily revised for a Broadway production just a few years ago,” Arnott notes.
3. HUB (Johns Hopkins University News): ”Her List Gives A Lift to Minority in Stem”
Rachel Wallach writes about Lavontria Miché Aaron ’14, Johns Hopkins PhD candidate in earth and planetary sciences who created a list of fellowships, internships, and other resources for underrepresented minority and low-income graduate students and tweeted it. “Her original tweet has been retweeted more than 2,400 times and liked 4,000 times, and a follow-up tweet posted after the Google doc went live has been retweeted almost 200 times. Peers and faculty have been adding their own resources to the list, which is open to collaborators,” writes Wallach, who notes that Aaron was recently profiled in Nature for providing this resource.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology news office reported: “Daniel Z. Freedman [’60], professor emeritus in MIT’s departments of Mathematics and Physics, has been awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. He shares the $3 million prize with two colleagues, Sergio Ferrara of CERN and Peter van Nieuwenhuizen of Stony Brook University, with whom he developed the theory of supergravity.“ Freedman was a physics major at Wesleyan and earned his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
The interview, by Jenni Miller appeared in the July August 2019 issue of BUST: “It’s been quite a ride for Feldstein, who went to Wesleyan in Connecticut before making her Lady Bird-style leap to New York City,” Miller observed, noting Feldstein’s response: “‘I always felt like an East Coast person living in L.A. when I was growing up, so then when I finally got to move here it felt like this lifelong wish fulfillment.’” Feldstein talks about working with actor Saoirse Ronan, directors Greta Gerwig and Olivia Wilde, and writer Caitlin Moran.
6. Washington Post: “Scott Gottlieb [’94 ]: The CBD Craze is Getting Out of Hand. The FDA Needs to Act”
Gottlieb, now a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, previously served as the Food and Drug Administration commissioner. In this op-ed, he notes the proliferation of cannabidiol, or CBD, often marketed illegally, and expresses concern about whether it is safe to consume. He also offers suggestions for potential pathways to its legal sale as a food ingredient, noting, “Any path to allow CBD to be added to food products needs to preserve the incentive to study the compound in rigorous clinical trials to prove its therapeutic potential as a medicine. It’s not appropriate or legal to make such claims otherwise.” He also adds, “The Food and Drug Administration must act to make sure commercial interests don’t strip away any legitimate value that the compound might have.”