Rachel Wachman '24

OConnell, Dann ’17 Join 2021 Voices for Science Cohort

Suzanne O'Connell

Suzanne OConnell

Suzanne OConnell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, and Julian Dann ’17, a graduate student at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, were both selected to be part of the American Geophysical Union’s 2021 Voices for Science Cohort.

Hosted by the American Geophysical Union, Voices for Science aims to train scientists “to address the critical need for communicating the value and impact of Earth and space science to key decision makers, journalists, and public audiences,” according to the union’s website. Each cohort receives specialized training and mentoring throughout a 12-month period to hone their skills in communication and outreach.

Throughout the coming year, OConnell and Dann will participate in science communication workshops and work to promote the geosciences.

 

 

Tan ’21 Presents Mussel Collection at Northeast Geobiology Symposium

Yu Kai Tan BA/MA ’21 presented his recent 3D scanning models during the 2021 Northeast Geobiology Symposium, which took place virtually on April 9-10.

Tan’s presentation was titled “Orphaned Freshwater Mussel Collection Reveals Biogeography of Sculptured Sciences.” During the event, Tan showcased several 3D-scanned models of the mussel collection he is currently studying for his master’s degree.

The symposium, which is organized by students and postdocs, provides an inclusive environment for researchers at various stages of their development to learn from their peers and develop collaborative relationships for future work.

Tucker Lectures on Victorian Aeronauts and the History of Ballooning

Photo of Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history and chair of the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department, gave a virtual talk titled “Adventures of Victorian Aeronauts” on March 28. The lecture focused on the way balloon travel changed the landscape of Victorian aviation.

The talk was hosted by Profs & Pints, an online platform for professors to give lectures that reach a wide virtual audience.

Tucker began with a historical panorama of ballooning from its origins in Enlightenment science and Romanticism, to its uses for various purposes in the 19th century. She also explored balloon fashion and follies, accidents and mishaps, deaths and discoveries, personalities and scientific uses, as well as the technologies involved.

Tucker first wrote about aeronauts after the 2019 release of the Tom Harper-directed film “The Aeronauts.”

She also was featured in a radio podcast with comedian and regular NPR host Helen Hong and history teacher Matt Beat for iHeartRadio’s new podcast series, “Jobsolete.”

At Wesleyan, Tucker’s work focuses on the varied visual worlds of photographic and cinematic evidence in the fields of science, law, forensic medicine, news reporting, public trials, history, environment, as well as scientific discovery.

This spring, she’s teaching a sophomore history tutorial, CSS 240: The Emergence of Modern Europe.

baloon

Tuckers’ talk relates to the 2019 film “The Aeronauts,” directed by Tom Harper.

Students Gather to Honor Atlanta Victims, Combat Anti-Asian Violence

vigil

Students organized a vigil on March 30 to reflect on a recent attack against Asians and Asian Americans. (Photo by Nathaniel Pugh ’21)

On March 30, more than 150 students gathered outside Usdan University Center for a community vigil to mourn the victims of the March 16 Atlanta spa shootings and to create a safe space for Asian and Asian-American students to discuss the rise of anti-Asian violence and be heard by the community.

The vigil was organized by Emily Chen ’23, Kevin Le ’22, and graduate student Emily Moon, in conjunction with members of the Asian American Student Collective.

Students read poems, played music, and shared their reflections during the event. Towards the end, the organizers gave anyone moved to speak the opportunity to do so.

Warren ’13 Talks Virtual Advice, Cartoons, Creativity

sofia warren

The New Yorker cartoonist Sofia Warren ’13 recently created an online advice column titled “You’re Doing Great.” (Art provided by Sofia Warren)

Sofia Warren ’13 has always loved to draw, but she didn’t know she could make a career out of it until graduating from Wesleyan and entering the world of animation. Now she works as a cartoonist for The New Yorker and recently launched a virtual advice column called “You’re Doing Great.”

“It feels like a really fun fusion for me of art, which I love to do, and listening to people and figuring out how to help them,” Warren said about the column.

She originally began posting doodles on her Instagram stories around the time of the election and asking people what they wanted her to draw. The virtual advice took off from there.

warren

When Warren needs to come up with ideas, she takes walks to clear her head. “That’s a really good way for me to start making connections between things that I’m looking at, just get the juices flowing,” Warren said. “That’s been my most successful practice for coming up with stuff.”

“I love doing [the column],” Warren said. “It’s primarily there because it brings me joy right now. And I don’t need to put the pressure on for it to be something else at the moment. In some ways, [the column] feels so loose and kind of off the cuff in a way, whereas some of my other work is more labored over. In some ways I feel the most connected to it and it feels like the most representative of my voice and myself.”

Warren also expressed hope that the virtual advice brings other people joy in this time of isolation.

At Wesleyan, Warren double majored in psychology and film studies. She also worked for the Eight-to-Eight student listening service.

Östör Celebrates 6 Films Featured at Smithsonian Festival

Ákos Östör, professor of anthropology, emeritus, and his wife, Lina Fruzzetti, a professor of anthropology at Brown University, co-produced six films that are now being included in a retrospective hosted by the Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices Initiative for the annual Mother Tongue Film Festival.

The festival features diverse films which explore language and knowledge around the world. This year’s theme is “The Healing Power of Storytelling.” While the festival must take place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, each film is available to stream throughout the spring for a certain window of time. Östör and Fruzzetti also participated in a virtual roundtable discussion on March 19 to discuss their films through an anthropological lens.

Of Östör and Fruzzetti’s six films in the festival, one is a documentary feature and the other five are documentary shorts.

mother's house The feature film, titled In My Mother’s House (2017), follows Fruzzetti as she uncovers the history of her Italian father and her Eritrean mother after receiving a letter from a long-lost relative. The film is set in the United States, Italy, and Eritrea as Fruzzetti learns more about the intersection of her family’s past and the history of these countries through her travels.

At the roundtable discussion, Fruzzetti spoke about the process of telling her mother’s story.

“Here is a story of a woman that gets appropriated across generations of people [who] come to see it,” Fruzzetti said. “But most people…tell us how the film affected them. We had no idea that’s what [would] happen to the film. My interest in the film isn’t in the technicalities of the filmmaking itself, but in the ethnography of it, in the stories that it tells. And every film, I think, has a powerful story that it can tell.”

Östör mentioned how working on In My Mother’s House combined different aspects of his and Fruzzetti’s professional work.

“Even in this film, very personal, the extraordinary thing was how much our work in publication and films and anthropology…coincided and brought together what I like to call the ethnographer’s knowledge with the filmmaker’s art and craft, and then developed these to the betterment of both,” Östör said.

He added that the intersection of anthropology and filmmaking happened naturally for himself and Fruzzetti.

“We never made a decision about whether we were doing film or anthropology. It was, again, because of this ethnographic critical knowledge… we had in the background [that] allowed us to respond,” Östör said.

Östör also spoke about his collaboration with Fruzzetti.

“The first few films in Bengal in fact gave a basis for what we did later,” Östör said. “But the pivotal film that we came to work on together was Seed and Earth, and this one was the product of various circumstances and unexpected developments in the field. But again, the background of fieldwork allowed us to…adapt and deal with what was the reality in front of us.”

Fruzzetti talked about the motivations for making such documentary films.

“All of these films we worked on, we didn’t think that we were doing them to get across [that] this is about change,” Fruzzetti said. “The person seeing them has to decide for himself or herself.”

She emphasized that such films hold the power to change people’s thought processes.

“[Ethnographic films] do change how we think about other people,” Fruzzetti said. “But [they] also change the people themselves who are a part of these films. It’s not like we went thinking ‘this is what’s going to happen.’ You don’t really know.”

Östör highlighted that the films were not intended to change situations, rather, he said they were made to hold up a mirror to life.

“We didn’t set out to make a film that was an intervention or that was investigative reporting, Östör said. “There are a lot of films today that are just that. Some of these films have been recently criticized, for example that they don’t interfere enough, that they don’t instigate. Our answer is that we try to be true to the truth and to the reality.”

The other five of Östör and Fruzzetti’s films are the following documentary shorts:

Seed and Earth (1995), set in India, follows the lives of two brothers and their families in West Bengal through a lens of age and gender.

Khalfan and Zanzibar (2000), set in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The film showcases Khalfan Hamid Khalfan, who runs the Association of the Disabled in Zanzibar, while exploring the island’s history and culture, as well as following members of its disabled population.

Fishers of Dar (2001), set in Tanzania, follows fishermen in Dar es Salaam for a day as they travel to the market and the harbor to carry out their work. Steven Ross ’75 directed the film.

Singing Pictures (2005), set in India, follows a group of women in the village of Naya who formed a cooperative focused on scroll-painting, which they learn and then practice. Their work changes to include contemporary concerns such as women’s issues and other concerns in their society.

Songs of a Sorrowful Man (2009), set in India, centers around Dukhashyam, an artist whose work focuses on Sufism, community engagement, and passing down the knowledge of art history and techniques with future artists.

 

Gilmore, Alumni Author Papers in 7 Journals

Martha Gilmore, George I. Seney Professor of Geology and professor of earth and environmental sciences, is the co-author of seven new papers and articles. These include:

Distinct Mineralogy and Age of Individual Lava Flows in Atla Regio, Venus Derived From Magellan Radar Emissivity,” published in the March 2021 issue of JGR: Planets. Gilmore’s former postdoc Jeremy Brossier, Katie Toner ’20 and Avi Stein ’17 co-authored this paper.

The Venus Life Equation,” published online in the January 2021 issue of Astrobiology.

Variations in the radiophysical properties of tesserae and mountain belts on Venus: Classification and mineralogical trends,” published in the February 2021 issue of Icarus.

Venus tesserae feature layered, folded, and eroded rocks,” published in the January 2021 issue of Geology.

Long-duration Venus Lander for Seismic and Atmospheric Science,” published in the October 2020 issue of Planetary and Space Science.

Low radar emissivity signatures on Venus volcanoes and coronae: New insights on relative composition and age,” published in the June 2020 issue of Icarus. Gilmore’s former postdoc Jeremy Brossier and Katie Toner ’20 co-authored this paper.

Present-day volcanism on Venus as evidenced from weathering rates of olivine,” published in the January 2020 issue of Science Advances.

In addition, “Felsic tesserae on Venus permitted by lithospheric deformation models,” written alongside and Beck Straley ’07 and Phillip Resor, professor of earth and environmental sciences, is scheduled for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research later this year.

OConnell Talks Ocean Exploration in Vox Podcast

Suzanne O'Connell

Suzanne OConnell

Suzanne OConnell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, is featured on Vox Media’s podcast Unexplainable in a March 17 episode titled “Journey Toward the Center of the Earth.”

The podcast explores unanswered scientific questions about mysterious aspects of the world and examines what scientists are doing to find answers. The episode with OConnell delves into a 20th-century quest to drill into the Earth’s layers through the ocean, specifically to learn more about a very dense region between the crust and the mantle called the Mohorovičić discontinuity, or the Moho.

“Project Moho was a bust, but it lay a foundation for exploring the ocean, which hadn’t been done before,” OConnell said in the podcast. “We still don’t know that much about it, and every day, almost, we learn something so exciting and so important about our planet.”

OConnell explained that drilling into the ocean allowed scientists to learn about past life and climate on Earth and discover life in the remotest depths of the ocean floor.

“Drilling into the surface sediment, we had no idea what the surface sediment of the ocean was like, and it defined a whole new field of geoscience: paleoceanography,” OConnell said. “And there could be a whole new field of mantle rheology that could be discovered with more pieces of mantle material.”

Read an accompanying Vox article titled “How an ill-fated undersea adventure in the 1960s changed the way scientists see the Earth” online here.

 

Volcanic Lake Study by Varekamp, Former Students, Published in Geology

Joop Varekamp

Joop Varekamp

Johan “Joop” Varekamp, Harold T. Stearns Professor in Earth Science, professor of earth and environmental studies, is the co-author of an article published in Geology, March 2021.

The study, titled “Volcanic Carbon Cycling in East Lake, Newberry Volcano, Oregon,” focuses on the bubbling East Lake, the site of the Newberry Volcano, and the geological implications of the carbon reactions happening there.

Varekamp co-authored the article with graduate student Christina Cauley and former students: Hilary Brumberg ’17, Lena Capece ’16, Celeste Smith ’19, Paula Tartell ’18, and Molly Wagner MA ’19. The team researched this geological phenomenon from 2015 to 2019, and they are currently preparing several longer papers on their Newberry lakes findings.

Varekamp’s research centers around volcanic lakes, mercury pollution, and rising sea levels.