by Lauren Rubenstein •
Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” In a new article, Associate Professor of Sociology Anthony Hatch writes about troubling ethical questions raised by the emergence of a new type of digital drug, which contains a sensor that communicates back information about the patient to doctors and pharmaceutical companies. Hatch is also associate professor of science in society, associate professor of African American studies.
Digital mental health drug raises troubling questions
Moments after Neo eats the red pill in “The Matrix,” he touches a liquefied mirror that takes over his skin, penetrating the innards of his body with computer code. When I first learned about the controversial new digital drug Abilify MyCite, I thought of this famous scene and wondered what kinds of people were being remade through this new biotechnology.
Otsuka Pharmaceuticals and Proteus Digital Health won Food and Drug Administration approval to sell Abilify MyCite in late 2017. This drug contains a digital sensor embedded within the powerful antipsychotic drug Abilify, the brand name for aripiprazole, which is used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. The goal of the digital sensor is for doctors to monitor their patients’ intake of Abilify MyCite remotely and ensure that the patient is adhering to the correct drug dose and timing.
Pills with embedded sensors mark a new era in digital health and, I believe, herald the arrival of a new kind of digital cyborg identity, which sociologist Deborah Lupton defines as “the body that is enhanced, augmented or in other ways configured by its use of digital media technologies.” Drugs are cybernetic technologies in that we absorb pharmaceuticals through metabolic processes that biochemically recode our brains and bodies.
The figure of the cyborg helps us recognize the potential of digital health technologies for enhancing human health, while at the same time critique how the practices of digital health can work to coerce, marginalize or transform individual people and entire social groups. In my view, having pills that connect us to our doctor and pharmaceutical companies via an app is dehumanizing and reduces patients’ psychic lives to a digital readout.
by Laurie Kenney •
Amy Meyerson ’04 teaches in the writing department at the University of Southern California, where she completed her graduate work in creative writing. While she has been published in numerous literary magazines, The Bookshop of Yesterdays is her first novel. The book has received coverage in both the Washington Post and Philadelphia Inquirer.
by Olivia Drake •
President Emeritus Douglas J. Bennet ’59, P’87, ’94, Hon.’94 passed away on June 10 at the age of 79.
“He believed that Wesleyan gave him so much, and he gave back unstintingly with deep affection,” wrote Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 in a campus email.
Bennet served 12 years as president, retiring in 2007. He oversaw the rejuvenation of the heart of the campus—from Memorial Chapel to Usdan University Center and Fayerweather—as well as the addition of the Freeman Athletic Center and the Film Studies Center.
Bennet set an ambitious strategic direction for Wesleyan with two planning initiatives, the first of which became the basis for the $281 million Wesleyan Campaign—at that time the most successful campaign by far in the University’s history. Under his leadership, Wesleyan saw a 25 percent growth in applications for admission, a doubling of the endowment, and an invigorated relationship with Middletown.
Bennet’s presidency was the culmination of a distinguished career that included service as assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs under President Clinton, chief executive officer and president of National Public Radio, and head of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
When Bennet announced his intention to retire as president, he spoke about the “Bennet family love affair with Wesleyan since 1929,” the year that his father enrolled as a first-year student.
“Doug never stopped showing his love for Wesleyan, and he, in turn, was a beloved member of the Wesleyan community. He will live on in our cherished memories and in Wesleyan history,” Roth wrote. “Please join me in expressing our sympathy to (his wife) Midge, (children) Michael ’87, Holly ’94, James, and the entire Bennet family.”
by Lauren Rubenstein •
In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.
Recent Wesleyan News
- The Washington Post: “Our Graduates Should Answer Cynicism and Insults with Inquiry and Reflection”
In this op-ed, President Michael S. Roth ’78 expresses his hope that this year’s graduates will feel empowered, and their capacity for inquiry, compromise, and reflection will be enhanced by their college educations.
2. The New York Times: “Eleanor Roosevelt’s Love Life, as Fodder for Fiction”
“[Amy] Bloom’s [’75] lyrical novel, laced with her characteristic wit and wisdom, celebrates love in its fiery and also embered phases,” according to this positive review of Bloom’s newest book, White Houses. Bloom is the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing at Wesleyan.
3. Be the Change Venture: “Makaela Trains Leaders to Change the World. This is How.”
Makaela Kingsley ’98, director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, is interviewed about her career path, her goals for the future, and lessons she’s learned along the way.
4. Yahoo! News: “Generation Z Opens Up about the Refugee Crisis”
Ahmed Badr ’20 is interviewed about his experience as a young refugee from Iraq living in the United States. Badr has traveled the world telling his story and runs a project promoting youth storytelling as a means of self-empowerment.
5. American Museum of Natural History Podcast: “Visualizing Planets with Radio Telescopes with Meredith Hughes”
Meredith Hughes talks about how we understand planet formation, and how the relatively new Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is “revolutionizing our view” of planet formation.
6. The New York Times: “Do You Know What Lightning Really Looks Like?”
Associate Professor of History Jennifer Tucker discusses the history of artists and scientists “pitting their fields against one another,” dating back to the emergence of meteorology as a scientific discipline in the 19th century. Tucker is also chair and associate professor of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies; associate professor of science in society; and associate professor of environmental studies.
Recent Alumni News
- The Wrap: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s [’02] ‘In The Heights’ Set for Summer 2020 Release
“Warner Bros. announced on Thursday that it will release the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical “In The Heights” on June 26, 2020.” This is the musical Miranda began writing as a Wesleyan undergrad.
“After an international search, Stephen D. ‘Steve’ Kevan has been named the new director of the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). The ALS produces extremely bright X-ray, infrared, and extreme ultraviolet light for more than 2,000 visiting scientists each year.”
3. Boston Globe—Boston Will Be the Hub of the Biotech Universe Starting Monday; quotes Amy Schulman ’82, P’11 and mentions Agios (David Schenkein ’79, P’08 is CEO)
The article, anticipating the annual early June Biotechnology Innovation Organization convention in Boston, included a quote from Amy Schulman, a partner in the venture capital firm Polaris Partners and CEO of the Watertown-based start-up Lyndra Inc. She spoke to the need for greater diversity in the biotech industry: “Study after study shows that when you have diverse people—people with different perspectives, styles, genders, ethnicities, and orientations—then you have better conversations that translate into better outcomes,” she said. “It’s really important.”
4. NPR’s Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me!: “Not My Job: Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper [’74, MA ’80, Hon. ’10] Gets Quizzed on 2020”
In this NPR show, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is asked introductory questions (“So we researched this—you are the first brewer to be elected to office, elected to be governor, since Sam Adams. You know that?”) that also flirt with his potential interest in running for president in the 2020 election. He is then invited to play a three-question quiz to win a prize for a listener.
5. AdLibbing: Badass Working Moms to Inspire You This Mother’s Day; includes Bozoma Saint John ’99
Profiled as one of “five mothers who are changing the world,” Bozoma Saint John was noted for “her illustrious career, in addition to raising her now 8-year-old daughter, Lael.”
by Cynthia Rockwell •
On May 4, Wesleyan Baseball Coach Mark Woodworth ’94 inducted six new members into the Wesleyan Baseball Wall of Fame. Also inducted was a historical class of eight alums who graduated between 1866 and 1931 who were instrumental in the early years of the program. This year, a new brick backstop was built not only for the field, but to serve as an actual “Wall” for the Wall of Fame.
by Cynthia Rockwell •
On May 26 Eudice Chong ’18, a member of the Wesleyan tennis team, did something that no other collegiate tennis player—in any division—had done before: She won her fourth consecutive National Collegiate Athletic Association Singles Championship. And to add a twist to that already thrilling game, Chong, ranked number one on Wesleyan’s team, played the final match against her teammate, doubles partner, and friend, Victoria Yu ’19, ranked second on the team.
Back on campus following the victory, Coach Mike Fried reflected on the program and the experience. As an undergrad at Brown he had played on their tennis team and then enjoyed a stint as a professional player. Most recently, Fried had spent 10-plus years as a stock trader and asset manager in New York City before signing on as head tennis coach of Wesleyan’s men’s and women’s program in 2013 (“Wall Street allowed me to figure out how I wanted to be spending my time”).
At Wesleyan, he was determined to create a team that drew on his experience at Brown—and built beyond it: “Most important was to create an environment that would allow us to be among the best teams in the country—and to do that in a way that was never at the expense of academics.”
And what was that environment? “Commitment; unwavering support for each other; and camaraderie, friendship.”
Fried recalls that, when recruiting for the team he imagined, Chong was “an incredibly good tennis player—but I’d be lying if I said I saw the full depth of her character or how invaluable a leader she’d be—let alone that she’d win four NCAA singles titles! We were lucky enough to convince her to join the program that we were creating, that Wesleyan was where she wanted to spend her college years—both for academics and tennis. We got very lucky.”
After Commencement, Chong, who majored in psychology with a minor in the College of East Asian Studies, headed home to China. There, she’ll play tennis at the professional level. The Wesleyan Connection caught up with her for a Q&A in New York City, where she was spending a few days before her flight.
Q: Will you talk about the experience of winning that fourth NCAA singles championship? What was it like to compete against your teammate, friend, and doubles partner Victoria Yu?
by Cynthia Rockwell •
On May 27, 2018, Wesleyan lacrosse won its first National College Athletic Association Championship, defeating Salisbury University, 8–6 at Gillette Stadium for the Division III title.
When Lacrosse Head Coach John Raba, a graduate of the University of New Haven, began at Wesleyan in 1997, he was 25 and an assistant coach with the football team. Lacrosse—now his sole focus as head coach—was something additional that first year.
“If someone had told me back then that Wesleyan would win a national championship, I would’ve said, ‘Oh, great. What sport?’ Twenty-one years later, here we are. Congratulations, team!”
In a Q&A, Raba describes the growth of Wesleyan lacrosse—and what was special about the 2018 team.
Q: What words describe the Wesleyan lacrosse program?
A: Wesleyan lacrosse is an extremely disciplined team, focused on progressing each and every day. If we are disciplined and focused on getting better each and every day we feel we can compete with anyone in the country.
Q: And how have you built this team in the years since you started?
by Cynthia Rockwell •
by Cynthia Rockwell •
Final projects for Introduction to Design and Engineering (IDEA 170 in the Integrated Design, Engineering, and Applied Sciences Minor) included a bicycle powered by a chainsaw motor; reusable, lockable shipping boxes requiring no tape; an electricity-producing dance floor; and the “solar rover”—solar panels with storage batteries mounted on wheels and designed for long-term use around the University as a mobile power source for events and solar power education.
Taught by Professor of Physics Greg Voth, who chairs the department, and Assistant Professor of the Practice in Integrative Sciences Daniel Moller, the course offered 16 students the opportunity to work collaboratively on project-based studies at the intersection of design, the arts, and engineering. The course is part of a new interdisciplinary minor, the Integrated Design, Engineering, and Applied Sciences (IDEAS) program, hosted and administered by the College of Integrative Sciences (CIS).
Professor of Physics and Director of the CIS and the IDEAS program Francis Starr noted, “These projects are amazing examples of what Wesleyan students can do when given the skills and opportunity to creatively explore design and engineering. And I think this is why we have already seen about 30 students enroll in the new IDEAS minor in just its first year. I can’t wait to see what next year brings.”
Moller concurs: “IDEA 170 is a great opportunity for students to explore an open-ended design and fabrication environment, to recognize the technical challenges of putting ideas into action, and to learn about themselves as designers.”
(Photos by Cynthia Rockwell and Daniel Moller)
by Cynthia Rockwell •
by Olivia Drake •
For 30 years, musicians such as Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Alice Gerrard, Tom Paley, and Hedy West performed at a small café in upstate New York. The business’s owner, Phil Ciganer, recorded the multiple musical acts on reel-to-reel tape and cassettes, and in 2004, he donated thousands of hours of material to Wesleyan’s World Music Archives in hopes of the University making them available for education and research.
For more than a decade, WMA was able to release small segments of the collection, but now, thanks to a $48,573 grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), more than 240 hours of these recordings will be digitized and available for in-house listening at the World Music Archives.
The targeted content contains 123 audio cassettes and 47 tape reels, recorded by Ciganer during the Great Hudson River Revival Festival and the Bear Mountain Festival of World Music and Dance between 1978 and 1982.