Olivia Drake

Best of Wes: Alumni-Produced Podcasts

Plug in those earbuds, crank those dials, and tune into some of the many podcasts written, produced, and hosted by Wesleyan alumni. These are the best of Wes!

castroMarysol Castro ’96, broadcast journalist and New York Mets PA announcer, is the host of CTbites Hot Dish! (2020). The podcast, now with 13 episodes, sizzles with Connecticut chefs, farmers, bartenders, food writers, and local food activists. Guests have included Food Network Star winner Chef Christian Petroni, Connecticut Chef of the Year Tyler Anderson, and Westport Farmers Market Director Lori Cochran.

Adam Peltzman ’96 and Koyalee Chanda ’96 are co-writers of the six-episode scripted comedy for kids titled This Podcast Has Fleas (2017). Fleas features rivals Jones the cat and Waffles the dog, who are each creating their own podcast. They’re joined by other household pet characters Benny the gerbil and Mr. Glub the goldfish. In each episode, Jones and Waffles navigate a daily drama, such as a chaotic sleepover party, a trip to the vet, and the dreaded cone of shame. Read more in this past News @ Wesleyan article.

99invisible-logo-zag V2Avery Trufelman ’13 is a host and producer of three podcasts:
99% Invisible (2020), now at 385 episodes and counting, is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about—the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world. Trufelman serves as a producer of the show, which has more than 400 million downloads.

Articles of Interest (2019), a seven-episode podcast based off 99% Invisible, investigates the stories behind many clothing styles. Hosted by Trufelman, the show addresses punk style, blue jeans, kids’ clothing, fake pockets, Hawaiian shirts, and more.

Bashir, Lezhanskyy Receive Watson Fellowships

As recipients of the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, two Wesleyan seniors will explore their academic aspirations internationally through a yearlong personal project.

Inayah Bashier

Inayah Bashir ’20

Inayah Bashir ’20 and Luka Lezhanskyy ’20 are among 47 Watson Fellows selected from 153 finalists. This year’s class comes from 20 states and eight countries, and exhibits a broad range of academic specialties, socio-economic backgrounds, and project diversity.

Bashir, a College of Social Studies major with a Writing Certificate, plans to explore the histories, stories, and teachings of African spirituality through her project titled “African Spirituality: Obscured Foundations of the Diaspora.”

“In a world dominated by Abrahamic religions, African spirituality has been stigmatized by tropes of demonic practice, witchcraft, and black magic. Yet African spirituality has always served as a form of healing, protection, and resistance across the African diaspora,” Bashir explained in her project proposal. “Ultimately, I hope to understand the spiritualities that served as the foundation of my ancestors’ cultures and traditions.”

Bashir hopes to travel to South Africa, Ghana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago; however, due to the coronavirus pandemic, travel may be restricted.

Luke Lezhanskyy

Luka Lezhanskyy ’20

Lezhanskyy, an English major, hopes to spend his Watson year studying how NGOs and communities combat child trafficking in hot spots around the world through his project “The Global Campaign Against Child Trafficking.”

“An estimated 5.5 million children are trafficked worldwide. I will collaborate with NGOs engaged in anti-trafficking work in nations with a high prevalence of child trafficking,” Lezhanskyy explained in his project proposal. “In so doing I hope to understand the causes of this pernicious business, and the solutions devised to counter it.”

Lezhanskyy had planned to travel to Nepal, Romania, Senegal, and Brazil for his study, but also due to the coronavirus pandemic his travel may be restricted.

Through one-of-a-kind programs and over 100 global partnerships, the Watson Fellowship provides students with personal, professional, and cultural opportunities that expand their vision, test and develop their potential, and build their confidence and perspective to be more humane and effective leaders on a global scale.

Watson Fellows are selected from 40 private colleges and university partners across the United States. They receive $36,000 for 12 months of travel and college loan assistance as needed. Afterwards, they’ll join a community of peers who provide a lifetime of support and inspiration. Nearly 3,000 Watson Fellows have been named since the inaugural class in 1969.

Watson Fellows have gone on to become leaders in their fields, including CEOs of major corporations, college presidents, Emmy, Grammy and Oscar Award winners, Pulitzer Prize awardees, artists, diplomats, doctors, entrepreneurs, faculty, journalists, lawyers, politicians, researchers, and inspiring influencers around the world.

In 1961, the Watson Foundation was created as a charitable trust in the name of Thomas J. Watson Sr., best known for building IBM.

Wesleyan Resource Center Collecting Donations for Pantry

resource center

The Wesleyan Resource Center has set up a temporary pantry, which is open to any student in need. The pantry will be open for the duration of the spring semester.

The Wesleyan Resource Center is collecting food and other items to support low-income and food-insecure students who continue to reside on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The center will be open seven days a week. Items can be dropped off or picked up between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Suggested donations include:

  • Pasta kits (microwaveable mac and cheese, rice meals, ramen, etc.)
  • Canned food with pull tabs (vegetables, beans, pasta, etc.)
  • Food in sealed individual serving cups (applesauce, vegetables, fruits)
  • Toiletries (shampoo, body wash, soap, mouthwash, tissues)
  • Cleaning supplies (disinfecting products, paper towels, dish soap, sponges)
  • Candy, chips, snacks
  • Kitchenware (pots and pans, cookware, cooking utensils, cups)

For those who would like to donate and are sheltering in place or residing off campus, products can be purchased online and delivered to the Resource Center at 167 High Street, Middletown, CT 06459.

For more information, contact Demetrius Colvin, director of the Resource Center.

Earth and Environmental Science Seniors Conduct Research in Hawaii

Sixteen earth and environmental science majors from the Class of 2020 recently conducted field research in Hawaii as part of their Senior Field Research course.

The class, E&ES 498, is taught by Tim Ku, chair and associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences. The course is open to students who completed E&ES 497: Senior Seminar, and focuses on improving scientific research skills.

Past classes have conducted research in Death Valley, Calif., the main island of Puerto Rico, the Connecticut River Valley, and the Big Island of Hawaii. The field research took place on the Big Island of Hawaii on Jan. 5-12 and the course concluded with student group presentations on March 3 and 5 and written reports.

The trip was funded by the Lawrence H. Davis ’76 Fund.

The students and their project titles are below:

Emmy Hughes, Avery Kaplan, Haley Brumberger, and Shuo Wang worked on a project titled "Assessing Microplastic Accumulation and Distribution on Four Beaches in Hawaii.

Shuo Wang, Haley Brumberger, Emmy Hughes,and Avery Kaplan worked on a project titled “Assessing Microplastic Accumulation and Distribution on Four Beaches in Hawaii.”

Emily Litz, Jackie Duckett, Miles Brooks, Katie Toner, and Allegra Grant worked together on a project titled "Coffee Soils: Carbon Source or Sink?"

Emily Litz, Jackie Duckett, Katie Toner, Miles Brooks, and Allegra Grant worked together on a project titled “Coffee Soils: Carbon Source or Sink?”

Grant, Naegele to Lead Arts and Humanities, Natural Sciences and Mathematics as New Deans

Beginning May 4, 2020, Roger Mathew Grant will succeed Nicole Stanton as Dean of the Arts and Humanities division, and beginning July 1, 2020, Janice Naegele will succeed Joe Knee as Dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics division.

The announcement was made by Rob Rosenthal, interim provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

Roger Mathew Grant

Roger Mathew Grant

Roger Mathew Grant, associate professor of music, received his undergraduate degree from Ithaca College and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. In his recent book, Peculiar Attunements: How Affect Theory Turned Musical (Fordham University Press, 2020), he considers contemporary affect theory in relation to European music theory of the 18th century. He is also the author of Beating Time & Measuring Music in the Early Modern Era (Oxford University Press, 2014), which combines music theory, music analysis, and philosophy to trace the history of meter from the 16th century to the 19th century, and for which he received the Emerging Scholar Award from the Society for Music Theory.

Redfield Receives NASA Grant to Study the Properties of Outer Space

Seth Redfield

Associate Professor of Astronomy Seth Redfield will use the Hubble Space Telescope to measure composition, density, temperature, motion, and the spectroscopic signatures of gas and dust.

If a spacecraft were to quickly travel outside the solar system—potentially en route to a nearby exoplanetary system—it would need to pass through an atmosphere unfamiliar to scientists on Earth.

As a recipient of a $415,000 grant from NASA, Seth Redfield, chair and associate professor of astronomy, hopes to learn more about the mysterious makeup of this “outer space.”

“There are several very early designs for an interstellar probe, but first, we need to understand the properties of the space in between the stars if you are traveling through it, especially at high speed,” Redfield said. “Given the vastness of space, even in our nearest cosmic neighborhood of the closest stars, very high speeds are needed. The designs for an interstellar probe involve speeds that range from 11,000 miles per hour to 6 million miles per hour! These require the biggest rockets that NASA has ever built and new propulsion ideas that are still in very early design phases.”

Middletown Public School Students Display Artwork at Wesleyan

The 39th annual Middletown Public Schools Art Exhibition was on exhibit from March 7-15 at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. The show featured a wide variety of visual art from children in Kindergarten through 12th grade.

The 39th annual Middletown Public Schools Art Exhibition was on view from March 7–15 at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. The show featured a wide variety of visual art from children in Kindergarten through 12th grade.

The exhibition was sponsored by the Middletown Board of Education, Middletown Public Schools Cultural Council, and Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts. Due to the threat of the coronavirus, the show was closed to the public on March 13-15.

The exhibition was sponsored by the Middletown Board of Education, Middletown Public Schools Cultural Council, and Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts.

7 Faculty Conferred Tenure, 1 Promoted

Seven faculty were conferred tenure by the Board of Trustees at its most recent meeting. Their appointments will be effective on July 1. They are:

  • Ren Ellis Neyra, associate professor of English
  • James Greenwood, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences
  • Cameron Donnay Hill, associate professor of mathematics
  • Daniel Licata, associate professor of computer science
  • Rashida Shaw McMahon, associate professor of English
  • Laura Ann Twagira, associate professor of history

In addition, one faculty member was promoted:

  • Naho Maruta, associate professor of the practice in East Asian studies

Brief descriptions of their areas of research and teaching appear below.

Ren Ellis Neyra is a theorist and practitioner of poetics of the Americas, whose work complicates boundaries between critical and creative practices, as well as in modes of public engagement. Their book, The Cry of the Senses: Listening to Latinx and Caribbean Poetics (Duke University Press, forthcoming November 2020), is “a paradigmatic disturbance built around the cry in the Caribbean Americas. The cry’s waywardness with the binary of being/non-being moves in the book’s method of multi-sensorial, poetic listening, which attunes readers of Latinx and Caribbean poetics and aesthetics to how abnormal insurgencies go off.” They offer a wide range of courses, including The Senses and the Subject in Poetry and Cinema; Brown, Black, and Queer Forms and Feelings; and Law, ‘Savage,’ and Citizen in Contemporary Literary and Cinematic Imaginations.

James Greenwood is a planetary geochemist and cosmochemist whose primary research focuses on the origin of the Earth’s water.

Livingston ’21 a Finalist in a Worldwide Writing Contest

Katie Livingston

Katie Livingston ’21

Wesleyan English major Katie Livingston ’21 is one of 12 young writers around the world who will be honored at the 36th Annual L. Rob Hubbard Achievement Awards on April 3 in Hollywood, Calif.

She’s a finalist for the Writers of the Future Contest, which was initiated by Hubbard in 1983 to provide “a means for new and budding writers to have a chance for their creative efforts to be seen and acknowledged.” Based on its success, its sister contest, Illustrators of the Future, was created five years later to provide that same opportunity for aspiring artists.

The grand prize winners will each receive $5,000. Quarterly winners also receive cash prizes from $500 to $1,000. Their winning stories and illustrations will appear in the annual anthology L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers and Illustrators of the Future Volume 36 (Galaxy Press, April 2020).

Oklahoma native Livingston spent her high school years tending chickens and writing speculative fiction novels. She’s a fan of Stephen King novels, ’80s horror flicks, rural living, and cats—all of which inspire her work. Her submission for the Writers of the Future Contest addresses the themes of rural living and religion.

At Wesleyan, she’s the assistant opinion editor for The Wesleyan Argus; a thesis mentor in the Shapiro Writing Center; a teaching assistant for the course, American Literature 1865-1945; the design editor for Sthoscope Press; an assistant in the Writing Certificate Program; and assists with grant-funded work in the writing center. On weekends, she works in the Usdan Café.

Livingston hopes to attend graduate school for American literature so that she can continue learning, reading, and writing.

Watch a video about Livingston online here.

Students Engage with Google Employees through Career Virtual Panel

On Feb. 27, the Gordon Career Center hosted a Google Career Virtual Panel featuring Wesleyan alumni who offered insight on their roles in sales, business, product management, marketing, legal issues, and other roles at Google.

The panel was assembled by Sherry Liang ’20, who completed a WEShadow at Google last winter, and Peer Career Advisor Esmye Lytle ’21.

Speakers included:

Aaron Stoertz '03

Aaron Stoertz ’03

Aaron Stoertz ’03: Stoertz graduated with a BA in English. Since then he worked in conservation biology, public health, and international health policy at the World Health Organization before landing in tech, where he’s worked his way into a position as a product manager at Google Health.

Terry Wei ’07: Wei has 13 years of experience in public relations and communications. She currently leads communications for Waze, the world’s leading crowdsourced navigation app. Previously, Wei was head of public relations at Squarespace and managed product communications at Mercedes-Benz. Originally from California, Wei studied English at Wesleyan and graduated in 2007.