Rachel Wachman '24

Chapbook By Ramos-Jordán ’21 Published by Center for Book Arts

Katerina Ramos-Jordán ’21

Katerina Ramos-Jordán ’21

In 2020, Katerina Ramos-Jordán ’21 won first prize in the Center for Book Arts Chapbook Contest for her chapbook titled “ECHOESISTEMAS /lentos cerramientos.” Now, her work has now been published in book form, designed and produced by book artist Erika Morillo.

Ramos-Jordán, born in Puerto Rico, is a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and a 2020 recipient of the Beinecke Scholarship. She is double majoring in English and dance with a concentration in Caribbean studies.

“This collection is dense in its tenderness, adding tildes (accent marks) to words in English, harboring dialect, and embracing blank space as cavernous,” contest judge Raquel Salas Rivera wrote. “Its rootless branches continue to sound off long after and before origin.”

 

 

Lin ’22 Wins Poster Award for Work on DNA, Chromosomes, and Gene Regulation

Shawn Lin '22

Shawn H. Lin ’22

Shawn H. Lin ’22 is the recipient of a 2021 poster award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s 25th Annual Undergraduate Poster Competition. Lin’s poster took the prize in Category 3: DNA, Chromosomes and Gene Regulation.

This is the second poster award Lin has won this year. In March, he was honored with the Biophysical Society’s Undergraduate Poster Award for his work titled “Elucidation of Interactions Between Integration Host Factor and a DNA Four-Way Junction.”

Lin is a Freeman Asian Scholar from Taiwan and is majoring in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (MB&B). Lin also works in the labs of his advisors, Ishita Mukerji, Fisk Professor of Natural Science and professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics.

Lin, along with four other students, has recently been inducted into the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Honor Society.

Lennox Discusses History on Podcast “Getting Curious With Jonathan Van Ness”

Jeffers Lennox

Jeffers Lennox

Associate Professor of History Jeffers Lennox was featured on a May 4 episode of the podcast Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness. In an episode titled  “What Was Canada Up To During The American Revolution? with Professor Jeffers Lennox,” Lennox spoke about Canada and the American Revolution.

The podcast, which is hosted and created by Van Ness, an Emmy-nominated television star and New York Times bestselling author, focuses on different topics each week. Van Ness interviews experts in various fields and delves into the subjects in which they specialize.

The episode began with Van Ness asking an overarching question: “What’s the deal with Canada’s origin story?”

Lennox spoke about how parts of Canada were originally colonies at the time of the American Revolution, though they did not choose to join the fight. However, these were not the first people to live on the land.

“Like all of North America, the territories that become Canada were just indigenous homelands. There had been indigenous people living in the Northeast for 12,000 years before settlers arrived,” Lennox explained.

He also expanded on the history of French influence in Canada.

“The French settlers stayed [on the land],” Lennox said. “That’s why if you go to Montreal or Quebec City, or anywhere in Quebec and lots of places in Nova Scotia, it’s primarily French speakers, but the administration leaves, and now the British are governing this French population of like 70,000 settlers, plus trying to deal with indigenous allies and indigenous enemies.”

Towards the end of the episode, Lennox elaborated on how Canada tends to be overlooked in contemporary culture.

“That is a fairly recent thing,” he said. “Canada at the time of the American Revolution and through the 19th century was certainly on the minds of most Americans because it was developing this sort of parallel track that was so similar in so many ways but demonstrated an alternative way of maintaining ties to Britain. Different ways of handling slavery and enslaved peoples, indigenous relations — all this kind of stuff that Americans paid attention to.

Lennox emphasized the interconnectedness of the relationship between the United States’ origins and the development of Canada.

“What I want people to understand is that the creation of the United States wasn’t a United States project,” Lennox explained. “It was a continental project. And those who did not participate in the revolution played a fundamental role in the way that Americans came to think about themselves and then how they established a country that could then foster that identity.”

Lennox’s work focuses on Early North America, from the 17th century to the 19th century. This semester, he is teaching Intro to History: Resistance and Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1500-1850 and Oh Canada: Indigenous Resistance and Settler Colonialism, 1776-1896.

Thesis by Krotinger ’19 Published in PLOS ONE

Anna Krotinger ’19 wrote an undergraduate thesis examining a dance intervention for Parkinson’s disease (PD) and underlying cognitive mechanisms relating to rhythm that was published on May 6 at the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

Krotinger’s thesis, titled “Rhythm and groove as cognitive mechanisms of dance intervention in Parkinson’s disease,” builds off her studies in neuroscience and behavior, in which she majored at Wesleyan.

“Music and dance encourage spontaneous rhythmic coupling between sensory and motor systems; this has inspired the development of dance programs for PD,” the abstract reads. “Here we assessed the therapeutic outcome and some underlying cognitive mechanisms of dance classes for PD, as measured by neuropsychological assessments of disease severity as well as quantitative assessments of rhythmic ability and sensorimotor experience.”

5 Students Inducted Into American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Honor Society

ASBMBThis year, five Wesleyan students were inducted into the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Honor Society. Thirty-one students nationwide were given this honor.

Inducted students must be juniors or seniors with a GPA of 3.4 or higher on a 4.0 scale, belong to a student chapter of the ASBMB, and “demonstrate exceptional achievement in academics, undergraduate research and science outreach,” according to the website.

The inducted students include the following:

Nour-Saïda Harzallah ’21, a College of Integrative Sciences student majoring in molecular biology & biochemistry (MB&B) and physics. Harzallah, from Tunisia, works in Professor Francis Starr’s physics lab, belongs to the Wesleyan Women in Science steering committee, and is a STEM intern for the Office of Equity and Inclusion.

“Her involvement in racial and gender equity in STEM has shaped her commitment to work on projects that serve the underrepresented and marginalized outside the lab and from the lab bench,” reads her ASBMB bio. “Her wildest dream is to develop initiatives that translate cutting-edge technologies into accessible and marketable means of diagnosis and therapeutics in her home country of Tunisia.”

Jack Kwon ’21, who works with Professor of Biology Michael Weir to study the ribosome.

“We are aiming to elucidate the function of a highly conserved region of the ribosome called the “CAR interaction surface” through wet lab experiments and dry lab Molecular Dynamics simulations,” Kwon wrote in his ASBMB bio. Kwon intends to graduate with a master’s degree in MB&B through Wesleyan’s BA/MA program before pursuing a PhD in a related field.

Shawn Lin ’22, who is majoring in biology, MB&B, and biophysics. Lin works in the MB&B lab of Professor Ishita Mukerji and the physics lab of Professor Candice Etson.

“His research topic is “Elucidation of interactions between integration host factor and a DNA four-way junction,” reads Lin’s ASBMB bio. “In addition to research, he is also the founder of NORDSAC (National Organization for Rare Disorders Student Association Connecticut). The goal of this organization is to raise awareness of rare disorders among students in Connecticut through fundraising, guest lectures, and rare disease day events.”

Alex Poppel, a master’s student in the MB&B department. Poppell works in Professor Amy MacQueen’s MB&B lab.

“As a member of Wesleyan’s ASBMB Student Chapter, his outreach involvement has mainly focused on improving his school’s community, such as by promoting undergraduate research opportunity awareness and equity and inclusion efforts in the sciences,” Poppel’s ASBMB bio reads.

Maya Vaishnaw ’21, a double major in psychology and MB&B. Vaishnaw works with Professor Erika Taylor in her chemistry lab.

“The Taylor Lab takes a multidisciplinary approach to characterizing enzymes with applied chemical and biomedicinal applications,” Vaishnaw’s ASBMB bio reads. “In the future, Maya hopes to pursue research in clinical genetics.”

 

Murillo Awarded Four Quartets Prize For Poetry

John Murillo

John Murillo

John Murillo, director of creative writing and assistant professor of English and African American studies, is the recipient of the 2021 Four Quartets Prize for his poem “A Refusal to Mourn the Deaths, by Gunfire, of Three Men in Brooklyn” from his poetry collection Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way Books, 2020).

The prize, awarded by the T.S. Eliot Foundation and the Poetry Society of America, will bestow Murillo with $21,000. It was launched in 2018 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets being published in a single volume of work and is given to a “unified and complete sequence of poems published in America in a print or online journal, chapbook, or book in 2020,” according to the prize’s website.

The judges’ citation says the poem “lights a match and holds us in the flame.”

“In this extraordinary fifteen-sonnet redoublé, the speaker meditates on the recent history of murderous racism in America that makes of Black men targets, and centers in the lyric space Black anger and Black pain,” the citation reads. “Murillo reminds us that his is a long lineage and each sonnet’s epigraph marks the genealogy of resistance Black poets continue to enact. Murillo’s anti-elegy demonstrates a lyrical virtuosity, passion, and command of language that makes this work urgent, essential, and enduring.”

Murillo has gained much recognition for his work this year alone, including winning the Tufts Kingsley Award for Poetry in April and being nominated for an NAACP Images Award for Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry in February. His collection was also longlisted for both the PEN/Voelcker and Believer Book Awards in January, and his poetry has been featured in American Poetry Review

This semester, Murillo is teaching Techniques of Poetry and Intermediate Poetry Workshop.

To view a video of Murillo reading from his winning poem, click here.

Bello ’22 Awarded Beinecke Scholarship

Zubaida Bello ’22

Zubaida Bello ’22

Zubaida Bello ’22 is one of 16 people nationwide to win the Beinecke Scholarship in 2021. Bello, who aims to pursue a PhD in history and become a college professor, will receive $4,000 immediately prior to entering graduate school, as well as $30,000 while attending.

Last year, the scholarship was awarded to Mellon Mays Fellow Katerina Ramos-Jordán ’21, who was the first Wesleyan student to receive the award in 13 years.

“The program seeks to encourage and enable highly motivated students to pursue opportunities available to them and to be courageous in the selection of a graduate course of study in the arts, humanities and social sciences,” reads the scholarship website.

At Wesleyan, Bello is a double major in African American studies and history, a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, and a Fall ’21 Center for Humanities fellow. She transferred to Wesleyan from Hampshire College, where she worked on a project that incorporated history, ethnography, and poetry to share the stories of the women in her family. This led Bello to enter and win New York City’s poetry slam, create an open mic collective, and write a manuscript called How to Stop the Burning, later published as her debut chapbook.

On campus, Bello’s Mellon Mays research focuses on the causes of gentrification in Brooklyn. She compares colonization and gentrification and uses archives and ethnography in order to delve into gentrified people’s experiences, as well as those of housing rights activists, redevelopers, and gentrifiers. Bello intends to share her research with Brooklyn nonprofits, such as the Brooklyn Tenant’s Council Inc. or the Housing Rights Initiative.

“Ultimately, I want to become a professor because I want to teach other people with my new understanding of history, build bonds with the communities I research, and publish books that exhibit my interdisciplinary understanding of history,” Bello wrote in her essay for the Beinecke Scholarship.

Bello, quoted in the Wes and the World blog, explained how she wants to use her studies in history to forge new paths for marginalized people and communities.

“I want to develop a pedagogy of history that gives due importance to the rebellious actions of marginalized people, that evades the apathy that often comes with Eurocentric, patriarchal standards of neutrality, and understands diverse modes of storytelling as other forms of history,” Bello said.

President Roth, Kolcio Speak at International U.N. Ukraine Roundtable

donbasAssociate Professor of Dance Katja Kolcio and Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 recently participated in an international virtual roundtable discussion hosted by the United Nations Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme. The roundtable, titled “Implementing a Somatic Methodology in the Ukrainian Rehabilitation System: Developing Stress Resistance in Ex-combatants, IDPs, and Residents of Eastern Ukraine” was held virtually on April 28.

The purpose of the roundtable was to develop a resolution of joint coordination between the various ministries in Ukraine responsible for the psychological health of veterans.

Kolcio and Roth spoke about the importance of the Vitality Project Donbas, a collaboration between Wesleyan and the NGO Development Foundation which uses innovative, somatic, integrating practices to help people overcome the psychological effects of exhaustion, depression, and social isolation in communities in eastern Ukraine and help military veterans transition to civilian life. Kolcio is the principal U.S. researcher for the project.

Kolcio spoke about civic engagement through somatics, a practice that highlights the connection between the mind and the body.

“Although trauma affects a large number of people around the world, mental health care is inhibited by barriers, including stigma, cost, and education,” Kolcio said. “Somatic methods, which work with the physical manifestations of trauma, address each of these barriers.”

Kolcio explained that somatics combine physiological and physical aspects of health and can be used to treat stress and trauma.

“Supporting and building the psychosocial resilience and integration of those impacted by the current conflict in Ukraine is the most important step towards social and economic stability and security in our future,” Kolcio said. “Investing in people is the number one priority in ensuring our future, which depends on the vitality, engagement, sense of belonging, sense of personal value, and creative energies of each person in public life.”

Roth emphasized the importance of civic engagement in building a better society at the University level and beyond, building context for the work done at Wesleyan and through Vitality Project Donbas.

“Universities can only prosper, inquiry and education can only thrive, when the civic environment around the university is healthy,” Roth said. “And so we, at Wesleyan University … are dedicated to creating strong relationships with civic organizations to foster engagement with public life to improve the community in which we live, and thereby improving our own University’s practices.”

Roth also stressed the importance of somatics in civic engagement and overall well-being.

“Somatics is an approach that fosters resilience, engagement, critical thinking, and creativity by focusing on the integration of mind and body,” Roth said.

Kolcio led the virtual audience in a breathing exercise to release stress and build feelings of security, demonstrating the efficacy of somatic practices, explaining how the analysis of somatic methods will advance the project.

The work carried out in Vitality Project Donbas will contribute to worldwide advances in mental health and to the Donbas community in Ukraine.

To watch the full roundtable, click here.

Banka ’22 Co-Authors Article on Pandemic Food Insecurity for COVID-19 Action Coalition

Darshana Banka ’22

Darshana Banka ’22

Darshana Banka ’22 volunteers with the COVID-19 Action Coalition (COVAC-MA) a group of over 25 students and alumni (led by Amy Fogelman ’97) who advocate alongside Massachusetts physicians for public health measures that will reduce the spread of the virus and save lives. Currently, Banka leads COVAC-MA’s Medium Research Team.

Banka recently co-wrote an article about food insecurity during the pandemic as part of COVAC-MA’s outreach titled, “Hungry for Change: Food Insecurity During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity for low-income individuals and changed eating behaviors for many Americans of different socioeconomic levels,” Banka wrote. “Because these changes have harmful health implications, action must be taken at both the individual and governmental/policy levels to mitigate food insecurity and the disruptive effect of pandemic-related guidelines on our eating behaviors.”

Banka’s article also discusses the disparity of access to food among different populations in the United States, and how this disparity impacts eating behaviors and overall health. Banka also outlines the potential dangers of letting this problem go unaddressed.

“Given the significant negative impacts of pandemic-driven food insecurity on eating behaviors and poor health outcomes, it is important to address this issue at both the government/policy and individual levels,” Banka wrote. “Programs currently exist to support families struggling with food insecurity; however, they are not sufficient. Recent research has found that while programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) make food more affordable, the cost of food in states like Connecticut was 40–50% higher than these benefits in 2015. This emphasizes how policies fall short in providing access to basic nutrition needs to low-income communities that are disproportionately affected by rising food costs. New policies need to be implemented in tandem with community-based organizations that work to boost economic opportunities and access to food.”

At Wesleyan, Banka is double majoring in neuroscience and behavior, and psychology, with a minor in chemistry. She’s also an Academic Peer Advisor.

4 Students Win Case for a Cause Competition

elebrating the win outside of the Butterfields dorm. April 9, 2021. Left to right: Ransho Ueno, Pim Wandee, Sarah Rizky Ardhani, and Asa Sakornpant

Ransho Ueno ’23, Pim Wandee ’23, Sarah Rizky Ardhani ’23, and Asa Sakornpant ’23 celebrate their Case for a Cause competition victory near the Butterfields Residences on April 9.

Four Wesleyan sophomores won consulting company Roland Berger’s annual Case for a Cause competition on Friday, April 9.

The competition, which raises money for the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, gives students a space to apply their practical skills and simulate strategy consulting work.

Asa Sakornpant ’23, Natchanok (Pim) Wandee ’23, Sarah Rizky Ardhani ’23, and Ransho Ueno ’23 belong to the Consulting Pathways Club and are all pursuing the data analysis minor through Wesleyan’s Quantitative Analysis Center.

Sakornpant, Ardhani, and Ueno are Freeman Asian Scholars and were sponsored by the Gordon Career Center to take part in the competition.

JCCP Awards 13 Student-Led Groups with Innovation Funds

Thirteen student-led groups are the recipients of Jewett Center for Community Partnerships Student Innovation Fund awards.

These awards support community engagement projects with grants up to $750 each.

“The common theme is that they all want to positively impact the greater Middletown community,” said Rhea Drozdenko, JCCP community participation coordinator. “There is no one right way to do community engagement, and the Innovation Fund supports nontraditional ideas. It’s important that our grantees are grounded in the ideas of mutual respect and collective responsibility as they go out into the community.”

All applicants are required to read the Cardinal Community Commitment —the University’s collective approach to civic engagement—before starting their work.

“Students also must become familiar with the community they wish to serve, practice ongoing self-reflection, embrace a spirit of humility with their work, and be an adaptable collaborator and partner,” Drozdenko said.

Carleo Co-Authors Paper in Nature on Molecular Discovery in Space

Ilaria Carleo, a postdoc working with Associate Professor of Astronomy Seth Redfield, co-authored a paper called “Five carbon- and nitrogen-bearing species in a hot giant planet’s atmosphere,” which details the discovery of six different molecules in the atmosphere of a hot, gas giant exoplanet called HD209458b.

The paper, published in Nature on April 7, discusses known information about the exoplanet, as well as the process by which these molecules were discovered using observations from the Galileo National Telescope.

“Now that the analysis technique has been optimized, we are investigating the presence of these molecules in the atmosphere of other hot-Jupiters and this will help to understand whether all these planets have common formation and evolution history,” Carleo said.