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Faculty Appointed Endowed Professorships, Chair Appointments

monogramIn recognition of their career achievements, the following faculty members are being appointed to endowed professorships, effective July 1, 2021:

Erik Grimmer-Solem, professor of history, is receiving the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Professorship in the College of Social Studies, established in 2008.

Abigail Hornstein, associate professor of economics, is receiving the Woodhouse/Sysco Professorship of Economics, established in 2002.

Edward Moran, professor of astronomy, is receiving the John Monroe Van Vleck Professorship of Astronomy, established in 1982.

Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, is receiving the Harold T. Stearns Professorship of Earth Sciences, established in 1984.

Francis Starr, professor of physics, is receiving the Foss Professorship of Physics, established in 1885.

Tracy Heather Strain, associate professor of film studies and co-director of the Wesleyan Documentary Project, is receiving the Corwin-Fuller Professorship of Film Studies, established in 1986.

Also, in recognition of his outstanding research and teaching, Ilesanmi Adeboye, associate professor of mathematics, has been awarded the inaugural Faculty Equity Fellowship for 2021-2022.

Brief biographies appear below:

Ilesanmi Adeboye received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and MS from Howard University. He taught at the University of Southern California and the University of California, Santa Barbara, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, before arriving at Wesleyan in 2011. Adeboye’s scholarship is at the intersection of geometry, topology, and analysis, with a focus on the study of volume in non-Euclidean geometries. He has published articles on hyperbolic geometry, complex hyperbolic geometry, and projective geometry. Ilesanmi received the 2010 Mochizuki Memorial Fund Award at UC Santa Barbara in recognition of outstanding achievement in mathematics instruction.

Erik Grimmer-Solem was a Harper Fellow at the University of Chicago before joining the history department in 2002. He received his D.Phil. from Oxford University, M.Phil. from Cambridge University, M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and BA from Brigham Young University. Grimmer-Solem has published two books on the history of German social reform and imperialism, along with many articles and reviews in leading journals. He has received numerous awards, including the Binswanger Prize and a recent fellowship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). His scholarship on the Holocaust was covered widely in the German media and discussed by the Bundestag in 2014.

Abigail Hornstein joined the economics department after completing her Ph.D. and M.Phil. from Stern School of Business, New York University, and her AB from Bryn Mawr College. Her scholarship focuses on corporate finance, multinationals, business strategy and governance, and legal institutions, with particular expertise in the Chinese financial markets. Hornstein’s work has been published in many prestigious journals, including Journal of Empirical Finance, Journal of Comparative Economics, Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Journal of Corporate Finance, and China Economic Review.

Edward Moran arrived at Wesleyan in 2002 after serving as a Chandra Fellow at University of California, Berkeley, and an IGPP Postdoctoral Fellow at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and receiving his Ph.D. and MA from Columbia University. Moran studies black holes in the nuclei of dwarf galaxies to gain insights into galaxy evolution, and the history of black hole activity in the universe via investigations of the cosmic X-ray background radiation. He has received grants from the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

Suzanne O’Connell arrived at Wesleyan in 1989 after receiving her Ph.D. from Columbia University, her M.Sc. from State University of New York at Albany, and her AB from Oberlin College. O’Connell studies marine sediment cores recovered through scientific ocean drilling (DSDP, ODP, IODP) to understand past climate change, which helps to understand and model future climate change. She is the 2001 recipient of the Association for Women Geoscientists Outstanding Educator Award and a Fellow of the Geological Society of America (GSA). Currently, OConnell serves on the United States Science Advisory Program committee for the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) and on the governing council for GSA.

Francis Starr joined the physics department in 2003 after serving as the deputy director of the Center for Theoretical and Computational Materials Science at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). His research focuses on the emergent complexity of soft matter physics and biophysics. Starr has authored or co-authored over 120 refereed publications and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He is the former director of the College of Integrative Sciences and currently directs the Integrated Design, Engineering, & Applied Science (IDEAS) program.

Tracy Heather Strain received her Ed.M. from Harvard University and her AB from Wellesley College, and is currently an MFA candidate at the Vermont College for the Arts. Strain is an award-winning documentary film director, producer, and writer whose work tells stories with a goal of advancing social justice, building community, and empowering the marginalized. Her films have received two Peabody Awards and have been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Ford Foundation, Independent Television Service, and LEF Foundation, among other funding organizations. Her most recent work is American Oz, which premiered April 19, 2021.

Naegele’s Neuroscience Research Published in Journals 

Jan Naegele

Jan Naegele

Janice Naegele, Alan M. Dachs Professor of Science, dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division, and professor of biology, is the co-author of three recent publications. Naegele’s work focuses on stem cells and finding new treatments for epilepsy and brain damage.

Naegele’s articles include the following:

Induction of temporal lobe epilepsy in mice with pilocarpine,” published by BioProtocol in February 2020.

Development of electrophysiological and morphological properties of human embryonic stem cell-derived GABAergic interneurons at different times after transplantation into the mouse hippocampus,” published by PLoS One in August 2020.

Optogenetic interrogation of ChR2-expressing GABAergic interneurons after transplantation into the mouse brain,” published by Methods in Molecular Biology in September 2020.

Johnston, Otake Explore Fukushima Disaster in New Book

Body in FukushimaA new book written by two Wesleyan faculty explores the experience of two travelers in the land destroyed by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.

William Johnston, John E. Andrus Professor of History, and Eiko Otake, visiting artist in dance, are the co-authors of A Body in Fukushima, published June 1 by Wesleyan University Press.

Johnston, a historian and photographer, accompanied Japanese-born performer and dancer Otake on five explorations across Fukushima, creating 200 photographs that document the irradiated landscape, accentuated by Eiko’s poses depicting both the sorrow and dignity of the land.

Johnston elaborated on the process of creating the book.

“By witnessing events and places, we actually change them and ourselves in ways that may not always be apparent but are important,” Johnston said. “Through photographing Eiko in many places in Fukushima, we are witnessing not only her and the locales themselves but the people whose lives inhabited these places. I do not consider my photographs as documents of Eiko’s performance. Rather, each photograph becomes a performance of its own when placed in front of a viewer.”

The book also includes essays and commentary reflecting on art, disaster, and grief.

Johnston and Otake were interviewed about their work on the book by the Gagosian Quarterly for the Summer 2021 Issue.

On June 27, 2017 Eiko performed near the wreckage of a home four miles north of the Fukushima Daiichi Disaster. The home, and the surrounding vibrant neighborhood, was destroyed by the tsunami and then inundated with radioactivity from the Daiichi plant.

On June 27, 2017 Eiko performed near the wreckage of a home four miles north of the Fukushima Daiichi Disaster. The home, and the surrounding vibrant neighborhood, was destroyed by the tsunami and then inundated with radioactivity from the Daiichi plant.

Eiko performed at the Tomiko Municipal Sanitation Plant June 26, 2017. The plant is located 4.3 miles south of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors and was damaged by the earthquake. Most Tomioka residents had left the community due to radiation caused by the Daiichi disaster and the plant closed.

Eiko performed at the Tomiko Municipal Sanitation Plant June 26, 2017. The plant is located 4.3 miles south of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors and was damaged by the earthquake. Most Tomioka residents had left the community due to radiation caused by the Daiichi disaster and the plant closed.

Read more:

A Body in Fukushima: Recent Work Exhibition on Display in Zilkha Gallery (February 2018)

Otake, Johnston ‘Fukushima’ Project Culminating Events in NYC on March 11 (March 2017)

Johnston, Otake Exhibit A Body in Fukushima in Manhattan (September 2016)

A Body in Fukushima: Photo, Video Exhibit on Display at 3 CFA Galleries (February 2015)

Faculty, Alumni Rated Among World’s Top 1% of Scientists

Thirteen Wesleyan faculty are rated among the top 1% most-cited researchers worldwide, according to a recent study by PLOS Biology.

The study, led by Professor John Ioannidis from Stanford University, combines several different metrics to systematically rank the most influential scientists as measured by citations. More than six million scientists, who were actively working between 1996 and 2018, were analyzed for the project.

The faculty include:
David Beveridge, Joshua Boger University Professor of the Sciences and Mathematics, emeritus
Fred Cohan, Huffington Foundation Professor in the College of the Environment, professor of biology
Mark Hovey, professor of mathematics, associate provost for budget and personnel
Tsampikos Kottos, Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, professor of physics
Matthew Kurtz, professor of psychology
Herbert Pickett, research professor in chemistry, emeritus
Dana Royer, professor of earth and environmental sciences
Francis Starr, professor of physics
Steve Stemler, professor of psychology
Ruth Striegel Weissman, Walter Crowell University Professor of Social Sciences, emerita
Sonia Sultan, professor of biology
Johan Varekamp, Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, emeritus
Gary Yohe, Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, emeritus

In addition, at least eight Wesleyan alumni are rated in the top 0.1% of all scientists in the world including Gene Stanley ’62, Philip Russell ’65, Jay Levy ’60, Nick Turro ’60, Michael Greenberg ’76, Jerry Melillo ’65, John Coffin ’67, and Hugh Wilson ’65. (Know of any others? Let us know at newsletter@wesleyan.edu!)

The study reinforces Wesleyan’s reputation as an exceptional liberal arts institution, said Wilson, who is professor emeritus of spatial and computational vision at York University.

“It is sometimes questioned whether a liberal arts education is really optimal for an aspiring scientist. After all, wouldn’t it be better to take just science and math courses rather than spending part of one’s time with literature, philosophy, history, or art,” he said. “So, [this study shows that] liberal arts continue to attract outstanding scientists as dedicated faculty members who espouse both teaching and research.”

Stern ’80 Hosts Retrospective Art Show “Stronger Than Dirt”

Friends (detail). 2002. Pastel, graphite. 42x26 inches.

Friends (detail). 2002. Pastel, graphite. 42×26 inches. By Melissa Stern ’80.

Melissa Stern ’80, an artist and journalist, is hosting a retrospective art show at the Lockwood Gallery in Woodstock, New York. Stern’s show is called “Stronger Than Dirt” and looks back at her past 20 years of work. A live opening took place from 5 to 7 p.m. June 12, and the exhibition will run until July 11.

Over the past year, Stern has served as a visiting lecturer and guest critic through Zoom. She has virtually visited The Everson Museum of Art, Pratt Institute, NYU, The Pelham Art Center, and Indiana University, among others.

In describing her art, Stern said on her website, “I work like a handyman cobbling together drawings and sculptures from elements found, borrowed, and imagined. I use a wide range of materials from encaustic to clay, pastel to steel. The drawings and sculptures, often made in tandem, resonate with one another, the ideas in one reinforcing the themes of the other. All of my pieces share a thematic thread. Childlike and goofy my figures live in a dream world, cower in relationships or stand tall in the face of adversity. They are at once dark and funny, expressive of the absurd world around them.”

Rutland Writes Of Russia, Politics, COVID-19 in Recent Publications

peter rutland

Peter Rutland

Peter Rutland, Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, professor of government, has recently authored and co-authored many scholarly articles and book chapters. His research focuses on contemporary Russian politics, the political economy, and nationalism.

His works include:

A chapter titled “Looking back at the Soviet economic experience,” published in 100 Years of Communist Experiments in June 2021.

Dead souls: Russia’s COVID Calamity,” published in Transitions Online in March 2021.

Workers Against the Workers’ State,” published by the NYU Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia in February 2021.

Poverty, Politics and Pandemic: The Plague and the English Peasant’s Revolt of 1381,” published in History News Network in January 2021.

Timeline: Wesleyan Reflects on the COVID-19 Pandemic

For nearly a year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably affected our lives in varying magnitudes. In this timeline, we explore the evolution of the pandemic through Wesleyan’s lens via public health advisories, photographs, and news stories.

Jan. 22, 2020:  Wesleyan’s Medical Director Dr. Tom McLarney issues a public health advisory to the campus community. “As many of you know from news reports, there is a viral illness that has affected the Hubei Province (mainly in Wuhan) China,” he wrote. “This virus is a novel (new) strain of the Corona virus … At this time, there is no threat to the Wesleyan community but the University will be monitoring this and will keep the community apprised of any developments.” Read the post.

Feb. 2, 2020: In response to the World Health Organization announcing an outbreak of a novel coronavirus, or “COVID-19 (coronavirus disease of 2019)”, Wesleyan’s Chinese community (particularly students and parents) bands together to help their fellow citizens. The student-initiated group WesInAction raises more than $23,000, which is used to purchase medical equipment for hospitals in the pandemic’s epicenter in Hubei province, China. Read the story.

On Feb. 16, WesInAction delivered seven sets of oxygen concentrators and ventilators and 26,000 pairs of medical gloves to the First People’s Hospital of Xiaochang County and the People’s Hospital of Dawu County in Xiaogan, Hubei province.

On Feb. 16, WesInAction delivered seven sets of oxygen concentrators and ventilators and 26,000 pairs of medical gloves to the First People’s Hospital of Xiaochang County and the People’s Hospital of Dawu County in Xiaogan, Hubei province.

Restored Peacock Displayed in Wesleyan’s Science Library

peacock

The entrance to the Science Library in Exley Science Center houses a taxidermied peacock that has been restored by faculty and students in the biology department. The peacock, originally rediscovered in 2018 and put on exhibit in spring 2019, is part of a bird collection that was first displayed at the museum in Judd Hall and now belongs to the Wesleyan Museum of Natural History.

The restoration team, which includes Professor of Biology Ann Campbell Burke, Yu Kai Tan BA/MA ’21, Andy Tan ’21, and Fletcher Levy ’23, recently updated the display to include new signage and fresh peacock feathers from biology professors Stephen Devoto and Joyce Ann Powzyk’s farm.

“It was found in storage alongside a whole bunch of minerals in Room 316 of Exley,” Yu Kai Tan said. “It was sitting way up high on this shelf, and probably since 1970, no one has looked at it or touched it. It was covered in dust and muck.”

When the team first found the peacock, it was in such poor condition that they needed to call for outside help.

Rutland Writes about Russia, Politics, COVID-19 in Recent Publications

Peter Rutland, Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought and a professor of both government and Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, has recently authored and co-authored many scholarly articles and book chapters. His research focuses on contemporary Russian politics, the political economy, and nationalism.

His articles include:

Transformation of nationalism and diaspora in the digital age,” published in Nations and Nationalism in December 2020.

Russia and ‘frozen conflicts’ in the post-soviet space,” published in Caucasus Survey, in April 2020.

Do Black Lives Matter in Russia?,” published in PONARS Eurasia policy memo in July 2020.

Raynor’s Study Suggests Wolves Help Decrease Vehicle Collisions with Deer

Raynor

Jennifer Raynor

Can wolves help prevent deer-vehicle collisions?

According to a new study by Assistant Professor of Economics Jennifer Raynor, areas with wolf populations are seeing a 24 percent decline of car vs. deer accidents due to the canines creating a “landscape of fear” in ways human deer hunters cannot.

Her study, titled “Wolves make roadways safer, generating large economic returns to predator conservation” was published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on June 1. Raynor and her co-PIs investigated the potentially positive presence of wolves in relationship to roadways by examining 22 years of data from Wisconsin.

The researchers determined that for the average county, the wolves’ effect on deer collisions yielded an economic benefit that is 63 times greater than the costs of verified wolf predation on livestock.

14 Faculty Promoted, 2 Conferred Tenure

monogramThe following faculty were conferred tenure, effective July 1, 2021, by the Board of Trustees at its most recent meeting:

  • Ioana Emy Matesan, Associate Professor of Government
  • Michael Meere, Associate Professor of French

Ioana Emy Matesan, Associate Professor of Government
Professor Matesan’s scholarship focuses on the study of political violence with an emphasis on the Middle East. Her recent book, The Violence Pendulum: Tactical Change in Islamist Groups in Egypt and Indonesia (Oxford University Press, 2020), addresses what determines the appeal and spread of violent and nonviolent resistance. She has published several peer-reviewed articles and a book chapter and helped create and administer the Muslim Studies Certificate. She has received the Carol A. Baker ’81 Memorial Prize through the Public Affairs Center and served as a tenure-track representative to Academic Council. She offers courses on Democracy and Dictatorship, Comparative Politics of the Middle East, and Terrorism and Film.

Michael Meere, Associate Professor of French
Professor Meere is an expert in 16th- and 17th-century French drama. He is the author of the forthcoming monograph Onstage Violence in Sixteenth-Century French Tragedy: Performance, Ethics, and Poetics (Oxford University Press, 2021), editor of French Renaissance and Baroque Drama: Text, Performance, Theory (University of Delaware Press, 2015), and co-editor with Valérie M. Dionne of Staging Justice in Early Modern France, a special issue of Early Modern French Studies (2020). He has served on the Fulbright committee, the Watson Fellowship committee, and the Advisory Board of the Fries Center for Global Studies. His courses include French and Francophone Theater in Performance, Elementary French, and Love, Sex, and Marriage in Renaissance Europe.

They join three other faculty members who were awarded tenure earlier this spring.

In addition, 14 faculty members are being promoted.

  • Jane Alden, Professor of Music
  • Sarah Carney, Associate Professor of the Practice in Psychology
  • Sonali Chakravarti, Professor of Government

73 Seniors Elected to Phi Beta Kappa

Kat Eaton '21

Phi Beta Kappa inductee Kat Eaton ’21 plans to work as an editor at a ghostwriting company while applying to creative writing programs at graduate schools.

During her four years at Wesleyan, Katherine “Kat” Eaton ’21 not only fell in love with creative writing, but she also discovered interests in martial arts, fire spinning, and tabletop roleplaying games—Dungeons & Dragons, Monster of the Week, Masks, and more. “Basically, I’m a storyteller, whether that’s on my own or with other people,” Eaton explained.

Eaton, who graduated on May 26 with honors for her English thesis titled “Myths and Legends of Aetheria: A Study in Worldbuilding,” is also among only 88 students from the Class of 2021 to graduate with Phi Beta Kappa honors.

On May 24, she and 72 of her peers were inducted into the Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa during a virtual ceremony. At Wesleyan, only 12 percent of each graduating class is elected to PBK, the oldest national scholastic honor society. Election is based on fulfilling general education expectations and having a grade point average of 93 or above.

Students are nominated by their major departments or class dean.