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Students Prepare for Final Exams, Winter Recess

On Dec. 11, Caroline Kravitz '19 studied for her HIST 203 Modern Europe exam at Exley Science Center. "My finals aren't until next Saturday, but I want to get a good head start," she said. "I like to study alone at first to prepare, but then I prefer to study in groups because you can learn so much more from your peers."

On Dec. 11, Caroline Kravitz ’19 studied for her HIST 203 Modern Europe exam at Exley Science Center. “My finals aren’t until next Saturday, but I want to get a good head start,” she said. “I like to study alone at first to prepare, but then I prefer to study in groups because you can learn so much more from your peers.”

This week, in preparation for final exams, hundreds of students are flooding Olin Library, Science Library, Exley Science Center, Usdan University Center and other quiet spots seeking an area to study in solitude, while others are collaborating with classmates in groups.

Undergraduate and graduate classes ended on Dec. 8. Reading Period was held Dec. 9-12 and final exams end at 5 p.m. Dec. 16.

University housing closes on Dec. 17 and re-opens on Jan. 23, 2018, and spring semester classes for Wesleyan undergraduates and graduates begins on Jan. 25. Graduate Liberal Studies courses begin on Jan. 29.

Contemporary Physics Class Takes Virtual Tour of World’s Largest Particle Accelerator

Foss Professor of Physics Tom Morgan (right) and his contemporary physics class enjoy a morning “virtual visit” to the CERN laboratory in Geneva, via Skype, with images of the Hadron Collider projected on a screen in Exley along with real-time conversations with physicists working there.

On Dec. 11, Foss Professor of Physics Tom Morgan invited his class, Introduction to Contemporary Physics, to join him in Exley Science Center for a virtual visit to the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, located in Geneva. With Senior Instructional Media Specialist Heric Flores-Rueda projecting images on a classroom screen through video conferencing, Morgan’s students enjoyed a real-time view of the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) laboratory and an on-screen peek inside the collider. Physicist Steven Goldfarb—a member of the team that discovered the Higgs Boson Particle—led the tour, explaining the experiments underway, as well as offering a question/answer period.

This course, a sophomore-level gateway to the physics major, is new to the department in this format, said Morgan, and slated to become part of the curriculum, due to its popularity. This semester five seniors, six juniors, six sophomores, and what Morgan calls “one lucky first-year student”—admitted after an interview—make up the class.

Wesleyan to Offer Second Annual ‘Hamilton Prize for Creativity’ to Recognize Outstanding Written Work by an Incoming Student

For a second consecutive year, Wesleyan will offer a four-year, full-tuition scholarship worth as much as $200,000 to the incoming student who submits a creative written work judged to best reflect the originality, artistry and dynamism embodied by the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Hamilton.

Submissions are due Jan. 1, 2018, the regular decision application deadline for Wesleyan’s Class of 2022. Learn more on this website.

The prize was established to honor alumni Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 and Thomas Kail ’99, who created and directed the hit broadway musical Hamilton. In 2016-17, the inaugural year of the Hamilton Prize, Wesleyan received over 600 creative entries, ranging from short stories to slam poetry, from screenplays to songs. The prize was awarded to Audrey Pratt of Needham, Mass., for her short piece of fiction titled, “Thorns, Black and White.” Read more about Pratt in the Wesleyan magazine and in The Boston Globe.

Ganbarg ’88 Co-Produces Another Grammy Nominee with Dear Evan Hansen

The Broadway cast recording of the Tony Award–winning musical Dear Evan Hansen earned a Grammy nomination for Best Musical Theater Album on Nov. 28. Produced with Atlantic Record’s President of A&R (artists and repertoire) Pete Ganbarg ’88, along with music supervisor and orchestrator Alex Lacamoire, creators Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and Broadway producer Stacey Mindich, the album had debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 when it came out last February.

Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore Decorates, Hosts Events for the Holidays

This December, the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore is decorated for the holidays and has a festive line up of activities and gifts for sale.

Santa Claus will read How the Grinch Stole Christmas! at the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore on Dec. 16.

Santa Claus will read How the Grinch Stole Christmas! at the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore on Dec. 16.

“Some of the most popular gifts this season are ‘Wesleyan’ embroidered fleece and sherpa jackets and the adorable knit Cardinal scarf with matching hat,” said RJ Julia Events Manager Liz Bartek. “Sweatshirts are always popular and students are buying W mugs and Moleskin journals to help prepare for exams.”

The bookstore hosted a Santa Letter Writing Workshops on Nov. 25 and Dec. 2. And on Dec. 7, the bookstore hosted a Holiday Appreciation Day for Wesleyan faculty and staff. Employees enjoyed refreshments while browsing the bookstore’s holiday catalog selections.

On Dec. 9, children were treated to a visit by City of Middletown Police Chief Bill McKenna and Don Freeman’s classic character, Corduroy the Bear. McKenna read stories, and at the end of the reading, Corduroy hosted a book signing party. Since 1968, this story of a small teddy bear waiting on a department store shelf for a child’s friendship has appealed to young readers generation after generation.

On Dec. 16, Santa Claus will read Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, and at the end of the reading, The Grinch will hold a book signing Read more.

Photos of the bookstore are below: (Photos by Caroline Kravitz ’19 and Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)

Panel Addresses “Islamophobia in the Age of Trump”

The Wesleyan Refugee Project hosted a faculty panel on "Islamophobia in the Age of Trump" Dec. 7.

The Wesleyan Refugee Project hosted a panel discussion on “Islamophobia in the Age of Trump” on Dec. 7 in Usdan Univesity Center. Speakers included Peter Gottschalk, professor of religion, professor of science in society, director of the Office of Faculty Career Development; Patricia Rodriguez Mosquera, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies; and Muslim Chaplain Sami Aziz.

McNair Program Receives Refunding, Will Continue to Support Underrepresented Students


Wesleyan McNair fellows Eduardo Centeno ’18, Lorena Fernandez ’18 and Daniel Lee ’18 gather at the 25th Annual Ronald E. McNair Scholars Symposium at the University of California – Berkeley in July 2017 with Carl McNair, pictured second from left. Carl McNair is the brother of the program’s namesake, Ronald McNair.

This semester, Wesleyan’s Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, which assists students from underrepresented groups in preparing for, entering and progressing successfully through post-graduate education, received a five-year renewal grant from the U.S Department of Education. Wesleyan’s program will receive $232,265 annually, for a total award of $1,161,325. The federal money is supplemented with an additional $50,000 per year from the President.

Since 2007, the program has supported 135 students all of whom were first-generation college and low-income and/or from groups underrepresented in graduate school. The program provides research opportunities and funding, mentoring, graduate school admissions assistance and academic support to students planning to pursue PhDs and focuses on students in STEM.

E&ES Faculty, Alumni Author Article on New Method for Saharan Dust Collection in the Caribbean

Earth and Environmental Sciences faculty and senior seminar students have identified a potentially fast and inexpensive method for collecting and measuring Saharan dust in the Caribbean.

E&ES faculty members Dana Royer, Tim Ku, Suzanne O’Connell, and Phil Resor, and students Kylen Moynihan ’17, Carolyn Ariori ’09, Gavin Bodkin ’09, Gabriela Doria MA’09, Katherine Enright ’15, Rémy Hatfield-Gardner ’17, Emma Kravet ’09, C. Miller Nuttle ’09, and Lisa Shepard ’17 have coauthored an article published in the January 2018 issue of Atmospheric Environment. The paper, titled “Tank Bromeliads capture Saharan dust in El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico,” summarizes student research performed in three senior seminar capstone projects conducted over an eight-year period starting in January 2009.

Saharan Africa produces approximately 800 billion kilograms of dust each year, a significant portion of which is carried via wind across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean. These dust particles provide critical components for Caribbean ecosystems, including viable fungi and bacteria, but current methods for measuring the dust can be either expensive or limited in the amount and purity of samples collected.

Royer and his team sought to test whether Saharan dust could be detected within the bromeliad tanks of the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico, and “to test how well tank bromeliads serve as a natural vessel for distinguishing the regional sources of atmospheric deposition.”

The team theorized that the overlapping structure of the bromeliad’s leaves, which is used to capture rainwater and nutrient-rich debris, could provide a feasible way to measure and trace Saharan dust in the Caribbean. Over the course of three field campaigns, the team sampled the bromeliad tanks, soil, and bedrock at three different sites in the El Yunque dwarf forest. Their findings confirmed that the contents of the tested tanks could be analyzed to identify the source of atmospheric dust inputs, thus providing a potentially simpler and lower-cost alternative to existing methods of collection and measurement.

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

  1. WNPR’s Where We Live: “A Life with Food Allergies and Intolerances”

Associate Dean for Student Academic Resources Laura Patey is a guest on the show to talk about how Wesleyan works with and supports students and other community members with food allergies. Patey comes in around 40 minutes.

2. The Middletown Press: “Colleague Picks Up Mantle of Late Wesleyan Professor’s 20-Year Book Project on South African Hometown Under Apartheid”

Professor of History, Emeritus Richard Elphick completed an unfinished book by his late colleague, historian, author and Wesleyan professor Jeffrey Butler.

3. The New York Times: “Book Review: Weird Christmas”

Amy Bloom ’75, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, reviews Christmas: A Biography by Judith Flanders.

4. Connecticut Magazine: “Book Club”

Wesleyan University Press is featured on page 17-18.

5. WUNC: “Why Learning Is So Much Bigger Than School”

Steve Stemler, associate professor of psychology, discusses how the purpose of school in our country has evolved over time. He comes in around 11 minutes.

Recent Alumni News

  1. Variety: “Grammy Nominations 2018: Complete List

A number of categories included work by Wesleyan alumni:

Best Musical Theater Album: Dear Evan Hansen is co-produced by Pete Ganbarg ’88; Hello, Dolly! includes cast member Beanie Feldstein ’15 as Minnie Fay.

Best Recording Package: Singer-songwriter Jonathan Colton’s Solid State, by art director Gail Marowitz ’81

Best Song Written For Visual Media: “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana by Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02.

Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual MediaMoana: The Songs, (Various artists—including Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02).

2. CT Now—“Write Stuff: Beverly Daniel Tatum [’75, HON ’15, P’04] to Speak at Hartford Seminary”

The author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race (initially published in 1997 and revised for its 20th anniversary) was the featured speaker for Hartford Seminary’s Michael Rion Lecture on Thursday, Dec. 7. Tatum, who is president emerita of Spelman College and a clinical psychologist and racial identity expert, earned a master’s from Hartford Seminary in 2000. She spoke on “Listening to the Still, Small Voice: The Call To Lead.”

3. Tablet Magazine: “Cartooning’s Jewish Je Ne Sais Quoi: An Interview with Jason Adam Katzenstein [’13]

Cartoonist and illustrator of the graphic novel, Camp Midnight (Image Comics, 2016), Katzenstein is a regular contributor to the New Yorker, as well as a member of the Brooklyn-based band Wet Leather.

In a broad-ranging interview that begins with Katzenstein discussing his favorite fictional representation of his hometown, Los Angeles, he traces his childhood love of comics, noting, “There’s a kind of Jewish je ne sais quoi about a lot of the comics I grew up with.”

4. Refinery29: The 67%: “Please Stop Complimenting Me on My Body” by Beanie Feldstein ’15

The actor, who currently is in the Broadway production of Bette Midler’s Hello, Dolly! as well as the newly released feature film Lady Bird, asks the readers to consider the inappropriate nature of remarking on someone’s appearance—even with ostensibly positive comments. “All I am saying is I don’t want anyone to feel that a change in appearance is an open invitation to comment on someone’s body — even if they believe they are being kind,” she says.

5. MusicInSF: “Q&A: Overcoats”—JJ Mitchell ’15 and Hana Elion ’15;

Nylon: “A Guide To All The Brooklyn Bands You Should Be Listening To Right Now” (number 15 in the slideshow); and

m.axs.com“Interview: Overcoats Break Down Their Electro-Folk Sound

The Overcoats, duo JJ Mitchell ’15 and Hana Elion ’15, have been touring and writing new music. They’ve been highlighted recently in a number of media outlets, discussing their history (beginning at Wesleyan) and songwriting technique. See information on their January tour schedule:

 

 

 

 

Chanda ’96, Peltzman ’96 Podcast With WNYC Studios Has Fleas

Official Logo of the podcast by Koyalee Chanda ’96 and Adam Pelzman ’96 in conjunction with WNYC Studios.

On Dec. 4, This Podcast Has Fleas, a partnership between WNYC Studios and kids’ television veterans Adam Peltzman ’96 and Koyalee Chanda ’96, joined that studio’s roster of innovative audio programming and signaled its foray into children’s podcasting.

This Podcast Has Fleas is six-episode scripted comedy series about a dog, Waffles (Emily Lynne), and a cat, Jones (Jay Pharoah), who live in the same house, each hosting their own competing podcasts. Additional household pets are a goldfish played by Alec Baldwin and a gerbil played by Eugene Mirman.

Chanda and Peltzman, whose television credits include Blue’s Clues, Wallykazam! and the Emmy-winning Odd Squad, The Electric Company and The Backyardigans spoke with The Wesleyan Connection about their path from Wesleyan into children’s television programming, and now into their newest audio project.

Artist/Designer Marowitz ’81 Rocks A Grammy Nomination with Best Recording Package

Independent designer for music Gail Marowitz—here with singer-songwriters Jonathan Coulton and Aimee Mann—says that with its resurgence, vinyl recordings have brought “a little kick” to her schedule. “I recently spoke at a conference about vinyl and I pointed out that nobody really invited anyone over to listen to iTunes on your laptop, but you will invite friends over to hear a record on your turntable and pass around the album jacket. Kids are seeing value in what I saw when I was their age. I say that I have a misspent youth in record stores—but I guess it wasn’t misspent. I guess it panned out.” (photo by Sheryl Nields.

This year the list of Grammy nominations includes work by Gail Marowitz ’81. Founder of The Visual Strategist, a company devoted to designing for music, Marowitz is not a first-timer on the coveted list. Her work has garnered her three nominations in the Best Recording Package category, with a win in 2006.

Now in the running is Marowitz’s work on Jonathan Coulton’s Solid State.

Marowitz, who claims “a misspent youth, looking at albums in record stores” and sends e-mails under the name “childorock,” says that her fascination with album covers began when she was 6 and her older brother brought home the Beatles’ Revolver. “There was so much to look at—drawings and collage. I remember staring at it for long periods of time.”

Collins, Thomas Honored with Endowed Professorships

In recognition of their career achievements, faculty members Karen Collins and Ellen Thomas were appointed to endowed professorships.

Karen Collins

Karen Collins, professor of mathematics, received an Edward Burr Van Vleck Professor of Mathematics, established in 1982.

Collins joined Wesleyan’s department of mathematics in 1986 after receiving her BA from Smith College and her PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on graph theory, enumerative combinatorics, and algebraic combinatorics. Her most recent publication was “Split graphs and Nordhaus-Gaddum graphs” (Discrete Mathematics, 2016). She has served on several prize committees, most recently the committee for the 2016 George Polya Prize in Combinatorics. She is a long-time member of the steering committee for the Discrete Mathematics Days of the Northeast, and served as both vice-chair and chair of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics Discrete Mathematics Activity Group. At Wesleyan, she has directed many PhD and MA theses, and served as the chair of her department and on the Review and Appeals Board, the Faculty Committee on Rights and Responsibilities, and the Faculty Executive Committee.

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas, University Professor in the College of Integrative Sciences, received a Harold T. Stearns professorship, established in 1984.

Ellen Thomas received her BSc, MSc, and PhD from University of Utrecht, Netherlands. She has received the 2016 Brady Medal from the Micropalaeontological Society; the 2013 Professional Excellence Award from the Association for Women Geoscientists; the 2012 Maurice Ewing Medal from the American Geophysical Union and Ocean Naval Research; and she is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her research focuses on quantitative studies of benthic foraminifera as indicators of global, regional, and local natural and anthropogenic environmental changes, and geochemical and trace element analysis of their shells as proxy for environmental change. She has published extensively and received grants from numerous institutions, including the National Science Foundation, the Leverhulme Foundation, and the Yale Climate and Energy Institute.