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Woodcarver Yorburg ’77 to Speak on Jewish Immigrant Carvers

In his workshop, he carves a new leg and hoof for an antique carousel horse. (Photo by Melissa Rocha)

In his workshop, Bob Yorburg ’77 carves a new leg and hoof for an antique carousel horse. Yorburg will be speaking on “Coney Island Jewish Immigrant Carvers” at the Bushnell Park Carousel on April 28. (Photo by Melissa Rocha)

Bob Yorburg ’77, a master woodcarver renowned for his antique restorations of turn-of-the-20th-century carousels and calliopes, notes that the Jewish immigrant carvers of that era “raised the art of carousel carving to a new level.”

“Their realism and extraordinary ornamentation defined the Coney Island style of carousel carving,” he writes.

Additionally, these brilliant carvers translated their secular art into ornamentation that graced the historic synagogues of Brooklyn.

Offering a photographic journey into the workshops of some of these artists—Marcus Charles Illions, Charles Carmel, along with Solomon Stein and Harry Goldstein—Yorburg will be speaking on “Coney Island Jewish Immigrant Carvers” at the Bushnell Park Carousel in Hartford, Conn., at 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 28. Tickets are $10 by reservation only and may be purchased by calling 860-585-5411.

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.

Wesleyan in the News

1. The Middletown Press“Wesleyan Students Helping Former Prisoners to Gain Job Skills”

Wesleyan Students for Ending Mass Incarceration (SEMI) is a group of students working to help formerly incarcerated individuals acclimate back into society by providing them with job skills. The goal, according to member Asiyah Herrero ’22, is “making re-entry into the workforce a little bit easier. There are usually a lack of resources when people get out of prison, and starting to look for work, especially because there are a lot of jobs that do discriminate or have discriminatory ideas about people who have been in prison.”

Wesleyan Wins “Best in Show” at 2019 DataFest

 Anna Zagoren '20, Frederick Corpuz '20, Joseph Cutler '21, Arianna Sang '20 

Anna Zagoren ’20, Frederick Corpuz ’20, Joseph Cutler ’21, and Arianna Sang ’20 won “Best in Show” during the 2019 DataFest.

A Wesleyan team took the top award—“Best in Show”—during DataFest on April 7.

DataFest is a data analysis competition where students are presented with a large, complex, surprise data set and work over the weekend to explore, analyze, and present their findings to a panel of judges. Teams of 3–5 students work together and compete against other teams. This year, students from Wesleyan University, Yale University, the University of Connecticut, and Bentley University participated.

Under the auspices of the American Statistical Association, the event is organized by Wesleyan’s Quantitative Analysis Center

The winning team was made up of Anna Zagoren ’20, Frederick Corpuz ’20, Joseph Cutler ’21, and Arianna Sang ’20.

Winners were honored with a $50 cash prize, a medal, a certificate, and a yearlong membership to the American Statistical Association.

“You Just Have to Read This…” 3 Books By Wesleyan Authors

In the first of a continuing series, Sara McCrea ’21, a College of Letters major from Boulder, Colo., reviews alumni books and offers this selection for those in search of insight and inspiration. The volumes, sent to us by alumni, are forwarded to Olin Library as donations to the University’s collection and made available to the Wesleyan community.

In 2004, Susan Lanzoni ’85 read an O Magazine interview of then U.S. Senator Barack Obama, in which he said that, more than America’s budget or trade deficit, he was concerned about an “empathy deficit” in our country. The use of the word “empathy” has only increased over the past 15 years, and many would say for good reason. In Empathy: A History (Yale University Press, 2018), Lanzoni explores empathy as a tool, a technique, a practice, and an aspiration, involving the body, the mind, and the imagination. She tracks the word from its early conception as a translation of the German word Einfühlung (“in-feeling”)—a psychological term used to describe how spectators projected their own feelings into objects of art and nature—to its current usage, which more closely resembles the opposite of projection. In addition to her discussion of the etymology of empathy, Lanzoni investigates the limits and possibilities of empathy in art, science, psychology, popular culture, and politics to present an all-encompassing look at the evolution of how we understand what it means to place ourselves in the world around us.

Students of Color Present Annual Fashion Show

Wesleyan’s students of color presented their annual SOC Fashion Show April 11 in conjunction with WesFest 2019. Models worked with designers to create styles that showcase their bodies of color.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)

Class of 2023 Admitted Students Experience All-Things-Wes at WesFest 2019

All Class of 2023 admitted students and their families were welcomed to Wesleyan April 10-12 for WesFest.

More than 500 Class of 2023 admitted students and their families participated in WesFest 2019 activities.

For three days, Class of 2023 admitted students and their families had the opportunity to learn all about Wesleyan during the 2019 WesFest.

Held April 10-12 on campus, WesFest provided campus visitors with multiple information sessions, campus tours, department open houses, attend-a-class opportunities, keynote speakers, meet-and-greets, student performances, a student activity fair, a concert on Foss Hill, and more.

Wesleyan received a record 13,358 applications for its Class of 2023, offering admission to 2,114 students (15.8%) from one of the most competitive, diverse applicant pools in the University’s history. Of those who were admitted, more than 500 attended WesFest. An additional 375 family members and guests accompanied them.  

Paper by Sun ’20 Published in Yale Review of International Studies

Zhaoyu Sun ’20

A paper by Zhaoyu Sun ’20 was published in the April 2019 issue of The Yale Review of International Studies. 

The article, titled “Critical Comments Among Chinese Netizens – Before and After the Cyber Security Law” is based on a research paper he wrote for his CEAS 385/GOVT 391 Legacies of Authoritarian Politics course last fall. The class was taught by Joan Cho, assistant professor of East Asian studies; assistant professor, government.

Sun, a College of East Asian Studies and government double major, explained that despite the growing availability of information within China and the country’s increased linkage to the West, the coercive actions taken by the government following the establishment of the 2017 China Internet Security Law have led to a reduction in comments using confrontational language in sensitive or political documents.

“This behavior indicates that netizens (internet users) are highly conscious of the laws concerning internet use and regulate their behavior accordingly,” Sun wrote. “The censorship system and recent Cyber Security Law therefore seem to have successfully prompted netizens to self-censor their language in accordance with the boundaries established by the regime.”

Sun also was a recipient of a 2018 Consulate General of Japan in Boston Japanese Language Contest prize.

Varekamp Presents Papers at Volcanic Lakes Meeting in New Zealand

Johan (Joop) Varekamp

Joop Varekamp

Johan (Joop) Varekamp, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, presented three papers during the Commission on Volcanic Lakes (CVL) program held March 18-20 in Taupo, New Zealand. The papers were coauthored by Wesleyan students, graduate students, recent alumni, and faculty.

The CVL is a scientific, nonprofit organization of the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI), connecting researchers that seek to understand how volcanic lakes relate to volcanic activity and their hazards.

Varekamp, who also is the Smith Curator of Mineralogy and Petrology of the Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History and professor of earth and environmental studies, is a former leader of the CVL organization. In addition to delivering a keynote address, Varekamp was named the recipient of the 2019 IAVCEI Kusakabe Award.

Fish Species Named After Professor Barry Chernoff

Bryconops chernoffi

Bryconops chernoffi

A new species of fish discovered in Brazil was recently named in honor of Wesleyan Professor Barry Chernoff.

Barry Chernoff

Scientists encountered the Bryconops chernoffi in Rio Ipixuna—a small tributary of the Rio Maicuru, which feeds into the lower Amazon River in Pará, Brazil. Samples of the fish were collected by researchers on four trips in 2014–15, and in March 2019, Zootaxa released an article describing the new species.

Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, focuses his research on freshwater fishes in North America and the Neotropical region, primarily those in South America in the Amazon.

He’s also professor of earth and environmental sciences; professor of biology; chair, Environmental Studies Program; and director of the College of the Environment.

The Zootaxa announcement explains that Bryconops chernoffi’s specific epithet honors “Barry Chernoff, and is in recognition for his contributions to the taxonomy of Bryconops, as well as for ichthyology as a whole.”

Chernoff has published 89 peer-reviewed scientific works, including six books and edited volumes. He has led international teams on expeditions designed to conserve large watersheds of the world, having made more than 34 expeditions in 13 countries.

The Zootaxa abstract describes Bryconops chernoffi as differing from all its congeners “by the presence of an elongated dark patch of pigmentation immediately after the posterodorsal margin of the opercle, running vertically from the supracleithrum to the distal margin of the cleithrum (vs. absence of a similar blotch), and by a dark dorsal fin with a narrow hyaline band at middle portion of dorsal-fin rays (vs. dorsal fin hyaline or with few scattered chromatophores). It differs further from all its congeners, except B. colanegra, by the presence of a blurred black stripe at the anal fin.”

“It doesn’t really resemble my friend Barry, who in addition to being a fish scientist and environmentalist is also a guitar player and songwriter,” wrote Wesleyan President Michael Roth in a recent blog post. “And now he has fish named in his honor. A true species of Wesleyan.”

Chernoff is the third Wesleyan faculty, in recent years, to have a species named in his or her honor.

In 2010, a dinosaur from the Cretaceous Period (about 110 million years ago) was named Brontomerus mcintoshi for John S. “Jack” McIntosh, Foss Professor of Physics, Emeritus. The fossil, discovered in Utah, is marked by its large, powerful thighs, which may have been used to kick predators and travel over rough terrain. The American-British team of scientists who discovered the remains named the dinosaur for McIntosh, “a lifelong avocational paleontologist.”

Two species of benthic foraminifera are named after Ellen Thomas, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Integrative Sciences, research professor, earth and environmental sciences; the Smith Curator of Paleontology of the Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History.

Globocassidulina thomasae, discovered in the northeastern Indian Ocean, was named in 1999, and Ossaggittia thomasae, discovered in the eastern Indian Ocean, was named in 2012. They were named in honor of Ellen Thomas, “a well-known specialist on deep-sea benthic foraminifera, who was one of the first micropaleontologists to document the disappearance of Stilostomellidae and Pleurostomellidae in the Pleistocene of the North Atlantic Ocean.”

Case, Hingorani Coauthor Study on Repair of DNA Damaged by Sunlight

Brandon Case

Molecular biology and biochemistry graduate student Brandon Case and Professor Manju Hingorani are coauthors of a study published in Nucleic Acids Research in March 2019.

The paper, titled “The ATPase mechanism of UvrA2 reveals the distinct roles of proximal and distal ATPase sites in nucleotide excision repair,” reports new findings on how the UvrA2 protein uses its ATPase activity to probe DNA for damage lesions, such as those caused by UV radiation, and initiate nucleotide excision repair (NER). This DNA repair process corrects tens of thousands of lesions introduced daily into the human genome by UV rays and chemical agents.

3 Students Awarded Summer Research Grants in India

Three Wesleyan students will conduct laboratory research in India this summer as recipients of the U.S. Department of Education’s Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program (UISFL) grant.

Claire Glickman ’21, Guadalupe (Lupita) Sanchez ’20, and Jaye Jeong ’20, will work at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai. Their grants are being administered by the College of Integrative Sciences, with support from the Fries Center for Global Studies.

Wesleyan received the two-year $165,699 grant to support the teaching of Hindi and Urdu, the research of STEM faculty and students in India, and the increase of cultural programming related to South Asia. The grant funds 50% of the total expenditures to which Wesleyan is committed over the two-year life of the grant, with the remaining 50% ($165,699) coming from nongovernmental sources.

Naegele Lab Releases New Study on Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

Jyoti Gupta, who earned her PhD in biology in 2018, is pictured presenting her dissertation defense at Wesleyan. Gupta is the lead author on a recently published study that investigates abnormal neuron growth in mice that have temporal lobe epilepsy.

Adult neurogenesis, a process whereby new neurons are added to the brain, is thought to be confined in mammals to just a few regions, including the hippocampus, a structure important for learning. Whether this process occurs in the adult human brain is controversial, but in most other mammals that have been studied, adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus appears to be essential for forming memories.

Producing new neurons in the adult hippocampus is regulated by the environment, mood, exercise, diet, and disease. In some forms of epilepsy, the production of new cells in the hippocampus, called granule cells, becomes highly abnormal and the altered neurogenesis is thought to increase over-excitation and exacerbate seizures.