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Battle for American Bookstores Topic of Faculty Documentary


An image from: “Indies Under Fire: The Battle for the American Bookstore” by Jacob Bricca ’93, adjunct assistant professor of film studies. The film was screened March 6 at the Center for Film Studies.
Posted 03/02/07
Though he loves to read, Jacob Bricca ’93 admits that he was never “a book person,” one of those individuals who have an affinity for books and bookstores. But when he heard that an independent bookstore called Printers, Inc., in his hometown of Palo Alto, California, was closing, he was immediately saddened.

“When I was growing up, even if you weren’t into books, that was the place to hang out,” Bricca, an adjunct assistant professor of film studies, says. “Everyone went there from singles to kids to parents with small children and senior citizens. It was a community place that had a reputation of being cool and welcoming.”

And yet they were closing.

Bricca, pictured at left, a filmmaker and editor who was living in Los Angeles at the time, was curious: what would cause an iconic place so welcomed by the local community to suddenly shut its doors? Camera in hand, he drove up the coast to see if he could find out.

That was in 1999, and the trip became the beginning of what would become a six-year project that culminated in a multi-award-winning documentary film “Indies Under Fire: The Battle for the American Bookstore.” The film was shown March 6 in the Goldsmith Family Cinema at the Center for Film Studies. Admission is free. After the screening Bricca was joined by Stu Hecht, owner, The Book Vault in Wallingford, Conn., and Thomas Talbot ’91, manager, Crawford-Doyle Booksellers in New York City. The event was sponsored by The Friends of the Wesleyan Library, www.wesleyan.edu/library/friends/, and The Center for Film Studies.

“Indies Under Fire” follows the fate of a handful of small independent bookstores located on the peninsula south of San Francisco Bay as they confront the pressures of large chain bookstores such as Borders and the explosion of Internet vendors such as Amazon.com.

The documentary is an engaging 56-minute production that draws in viewers as it explores the personalities and complexities beneath the surface issue of “indie versus big box.” Key players on both sides offer frank assessments of the marketplace as well as their opinions on their adversaries. There are face-to-face encounters between opponents with emotions coming to the fore on more than one occasion.

Bricca, who has edited such films as “Lost in LaMancha,” “Jimmy Scott If You Only Knew,” and “Tell Me Do You Miss Me,” had to handle several jobs on “Indies Under Fire,” in part because the way it came together.

“I was working in L.A. as an editor for most of the process, so I didn’t have time to chase financing or go after grants,” Bricca says. “But I kept at this because I thought it was a dynamic issue that was being played out all over the country. It became a real labor of love. As a result I directed it, edited it and acted as co-producer.”

Still, any film is a collaboration, and for this one, Bricca was able to call on some friends and family to help turn it into a reality. Among them: Jonathan Crosby, a long-time friend, co-produced the film. Josh Ferrar ’93, composed some of the film’s music and his guitar playing is featured on the soundtrack. Bricca’s wife, Lisa Molomot, visiting assistant professor of film studies, served as editorial consultant. His brother David created the film’s Web site, www.indiesunderfire.com, and his sister-in-law Morgan did the painting of Printers, Inc. that appears at the beginning of the film.

Released late in 2006, the movie won the award for “Best New England Film” at the Newberry Port Documentary Film Festival, was screened at the Wine Country Film Festival in Sonoma, and will be shown at the Santa Cruz film festival in April. It also recently made its PBS premier on KTEH in San Jose.

“This isn’t a monolithic film by any means,” Bricca says. “I tried to keep it balanced in its approach, but it does seem to generate some strong emotions with independent booksellers. It’s nice to get some recognition, but I really enjoy the fact that people are finally getting to see it. It was a lot of work. It’s nice to know it’s resonating with audiences.”
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

New Freecycle List Allows Wesleyan Community to Exchange, Reuse Unwanted Items


Posted 03/02/07
A new Wesleyan program will facilitate the opportunity for one person’s trash to become another person’s treasure.

This month, the Wesleyan freecycle program is launching its own electronic mailing list. Staff, faculty and students are eligible to join the freecycle program.

Launched last May by the Wesleyan Recycling Committee with the appearance of the “PODS”, the Wesleyan freecycle program, encourages students, staff and faculty to exchange unwanted items, rather than throwing them away. Wesleyan’s program is part of the national freecycle movement where people give away things that they don’t need, or ask for items they do need.

“Anyone who joins the freecycle program will have the opportunity to exchange items that are still usable,” says William Nelligan, associate director of environmental health and safety and the Wesleyan recycling coordinator. “These items will be free and recycled, hence the name freecycle. If a student has a working TV in her dorm room that she no longer wants, she can post it on the list. Everyone on the list will get this posting, and if someone is interested, they can contact the student and make arrangements to pick it up. The best part is that the TV is going to be reused and not thrown away.”

Leslie Starr, assistant director and marketing manager at Wesleyan University Press, has previously donated unused reams of large-size paper from the Press’s office to another department that used them. She’s also asked for plastic filing tabs and within a week, two departments with extras donated them to her. This email list will make exchanges like this easier.

“It would be wonderful if everyone on the campus joined the new Wesleyan freecycle list, to exchange excess or needed office supplies, furniture and other work-related stuff,” Starr says. “We all have office supplies in the back of our closets that we’re not using. Why not see if another department can use them?”

Personal items can also be exchanged, including clothes, art supplies, cameras, text books, gardening supplies, kitchenware, curtains, even pets. All of them are eligible to be placed on the freecycle list.

“We all come together to the same place everyday, so it would be easy to exchange items,” Nelligan says. “Freecycle can be a nice community builder.”

To join the Wesleyan Freecycle list, e-mail lyris@lyris.wesleyan.edu with a blank subject and one line in the body: join freecycle. Lyris will reply back with a confirmation e-mail link needed to confirm the membership. Once confirmed, users can send messages through freecycle@wesleyan.edu and will receive all messages sent to that list.

“Basically, you can’t play Wesleyan Freecycle if you don’t sign up for the list,” Starr says. “And the list will work much better if lots of folks sign up!”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection Editor

Five to Receive Honorary Degrees at Commencement


Posted 03/02/07
Wesleyan’s 175th Commencement Ceremonies will be held on Sunday, May 27, and will complete the 2007 Reunion-Commencement Celebration that will run from May 24-27. During that ceremony, the following people will receive honorary degrees:

Jim Lehrer, P ’85, who will also give the principal address at commencement, will be awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree during the ceremony. Lehrer has anchored The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on the Public Broadcasting Service since 1995. Lehrer joined PBS in 1972, teaming with Robert MacNeil in 1973 to cover the Senate Watergate hearings. They began in 1975 what became The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, and, in 1983, The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, the first 60-minute evening news program on television. Lehrer has been honored with numerous awards for journalism, including a presidential National Humanities Medal in 1999. In the last five presidential elections, he moderated 10 of the nationally televised candidate debates. Lehrer has written 15 novels, his latest, The Franklin Affair, published in April 2005. He also has written two memoirs and three plays. His daughter, Lucy Lehrer, is a member of Wesleyan’s Class of 1985.

Nobutaka Machimura, former Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, currently serves as a member of the Japanese House of Representatives representing Hokkaido 5th District. As foreign minister of Japan from September 2004 to October 2005, his efforts were directed toward signing a treaty with Russia resolving a border dispute and toward investigating the whereabouts of Japanese hostages who had been kidnapped by North Korean agents during the 1970s and 1980s. Educated in economics at the University of Tokyo, he attended Wesleyan for one year as an exchange student. His career in public service has included appointments to the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the National Land Agency, the Japan External Trade Organization, and the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy (from which he retired as director of the planning division for petroleum). He also served as minister of Education, Science, Sports and Culture and director of the National Defense Division of the Policy Research Council. He has been elected to seven terms in the Japanese House of Representatives.

Alan M. Dachs ’70, P’98 serves as chair of the University’s Development Committee. He served 14 years as a member of the Wesleyan University Board of Trustees and eight years as Board chair. In that role, he led in fund-raising for the Wesleyan Campaign, as well as in strategic planning and in strengthening the University’s finances, operations and reputation for academic excellence. He was elected trustee emeritus and chair emeritus in 2005 upon his retirement from the Board. Dachs is president and CEO of Fremont Group, a private investment company based in San Francisco.

Rosa DeLauro was elected to Congress from Connecticut’s Third District in 1990 and is currently serving her ninth term. She sits on the House Appropriations and Budget committees. In addition to her work on the full committees, Representative DeLauro chairs the House Appropriations Subcomittee on Agriculture, which is responsible for funding the Food and Drug Administration and the Food Stamps program. She also sits on the Labor – Health, Human Services – Education and Commerce – Justice – Science Subcommittees. DeLauro has built a reputation as an advocate for economic development, healthcare and education. She has been a strong proponent for student aid, advocating such measures as increasing the size of Pell Grants in order to restore their purchasing power, allowing the consolidation of student loan debt and cutting interest rates to make student borrowing more affordable, and defending against cuts in programs that help to increase students’ access to college , such as Upward Bound and TRIO. A frequent visitor to Wesleyan’s campus and to Middletown, DeLauro has shown herself eager to meet and talk with faculty and students. She has strongly supported Wesleyan’s efforts to establish and fund the Green Street Arts Center. Since she first came to Congress in 1990, DeLauro has put every pay raise she has received toward a scholarship program she founded in memory of her late father. To date, her scholarships have helped 420 students further their educations.

Jewel Plummer Cobb is renowned as a teacher, a research biologist, and an advocate for the participation of women and members of minority groups in the sciences. A graduate of Talladega College, she earned her Ph.D. in cell physiology at New York University. Her scientific research has centered on factors influencing the growth, morphology, and genetic expression of normal and neoplastic pigment cells and on the changes produced in vitro by chemotherapeutic agents, by hormones, and by other agents known to disrupt cell division. She taught at NYU, Sarah Lawrence College, and Connecticut College before becoming dean of the college at Connecticut, then dean of Douglass College, and finally president of California State University at Fullerton. Currently president and professor of biological science, emerita, at Fullerton, Dr. Cobb continues to be active in promoting science education programs for minority youth and in promoting the greater representation of women in science. In 1993 the National Science Foundation honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributions to the Advancement of Women and Underrepresented Minorities.

Assistant Professor Launches Radio Program on Indigenous Politics


Posted 03/02/07
A new WESU 88.1 FM radio program is gaining a nation-wide audience with its emphasis on indigenous politics.

The show, titled ”Indigenous Politics: From Native New England and Beyond,” was launched Feb. 5 from the Wesleyan-based radio station. J. Kehaulani Kauanui, assistant professor of anthropology and American Studies, is the producer and host of the program.

The multi-media program airs shortly after 5p.m., right after the “Jive at Five” community calendar, and runs until 6 p.m. each Monday with a live streaming Web cast on www.wesufm.org. ”Indigenous Politics” features interviews with political leaders, community activists, filmmakers and artists, and cultural authorities, as well as academic scholars whose work addresses cultural politics and sovereignty struggles.

Kauanui, a Native Hawaiian, says most guest speakers are indigenous or local to Connecticut and the New England area. She opens her show saying “We are here in Middletown, Connecticut, also known as Mattabessett—the traditional homeland of the Wangunk tribe.”

“I really want to privilege the voices of Native New England,” Kauanui says. “The show is also Native New England and beyond but, first and foremost, I think we need to educate local listeners of the struggle going on right here.”

Kauanui’s first show featured an in-depth interview with Suzan Shown Harjo, Cheyenne/Hodulgee Muscogee and a poet, writer and policy advocate who has helped Native peoples recover more than 1 million acres of land. The second program featured Richard Velky, leader of the Kent, Conn.-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation since 1987, who discussed his tribe’s legal battle in response to the Bureau of Indian Affairs reversal of their federal acknowledgement after state officials intervened. The follow week, Kauanui interviewed Randolph Lewis, assistant professor of American Studies at the University of Oklahoma, who discussed his new book, Alanis Obomsawin: The Vision of a Native Filmmaker.

Kauanui hopes to include future shows on Hawaiians and the politics of federal recognition; Native feminisms; same-sex marriage bans in Indian country; indigenous environmental issues; U.S. militarism and indigenous peoples’ service; domestic violence and restorative justice; indigenous language revitalization; sports teams and Indian mascots; the U.S. presidential election and American Indian voters; indigenous peoples and the prison industrial complex; contemporary land rights; Indian gaming and the politics of casinos; and indigenous youth movements.

Ben Michael, WESU 88.1 general manager, expects Kauanui’s new show to be a national success. Already, WESU transmits to sections of Connecticut, Massachusetts and the Long Island area of New York. But, since the scope of Kauanui’s program is regional and national, Michael hopes to eventually syndicate it nationally through the station’s affiliation with Pacifica Radio. This would create a potential audience of millions of people.

“WESU has a mission to serve as a resource for underserved communities by providing access the radio airwaves for mass communication. Kehaulani’s program accomplishes this in an educational and professional format,” Michael says. “It’s very fulfilling to see WESU being utilized in such positive and effective manner. This is why community radio exists and is such an asset.”

Kauanui was tapped for the radio program by Ken Weiner, the station’s public affairs director. Like any other student or community volunteer wanting to be an on-air host, she took a six-week training course. In addition, she completed two internships and community service hours before taking a practical and written exam on the station.

Kauanui said she is motivated by several key issues affecting nations across the country, most notably the fact that many tribes do not have ”basic” federal recognition. Historically, she explains, recognition differed between state-recognized tribes from the original 13 colonies and the ‘treaty tribes’ in the Western states.

“More recently, the backlash against casino development has been instrumental in the opposition to federal recognition. The conflation of federal recognition with the specter of Indian casinos indicates that most non-tribal residents in these states refuse to uncouple questions of tribal economic development – a question of a nation’s political economy – and the social justice issue of honoring the U.S. trust doctrine,” Kauanui says.

The 21st century’s ”most notorious cases” involve two Connecticut tribes – the Eastern Pequot and Schaghticoke tribal nations, Kauanui says.

In addition to hosting the radio show, Kauanui is teaching two courses this year, “US in the Pacific Islands,” and “Methodologies in Ethnic Studies,” and is continuing her research on white settler colonialism and indigenous self-determination. She is currently co-editing a book with Andrea Smith, Native Feminisms: Without Apology, and embarking on two new book monograph projects: one on Native Hawaiian feminist decolonization and the other on Hawaiians in New England in the early 19th century. Her first book, Long Division: Genealogy, Hawaiian Blood Quantum, and the Question of Sovereignty is forthcoming from Duke University Press in 2007.

Her radio program has already had mentions in Hawaiian Independence Blog, Arizona Native Net, and Indian Country Today, an American Indian news source based in Canastota, N.Y.

Kalia Lydgate ‘07, Raffi Stern ’08, Liz Love `07, and Amelia Dean Walker ’07 help Kauanui produce the show.
 

By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor. Segments of this article were adapted from a Feb. 19 article titled “Native Radio/Web Program Launched” by Indian Country Today writer Gale Courey Toensing.

Tuition to Increase by 5.5%, Fees Simplified


Posted 03/02/07
Wesleyan will increase tuition for the 2007-2008 academic year and simplify its fee structure. The new comprehensive fee structure will combine charges that are now billed separately as room and board.

Tuition will increase by 5.5 percent to $36,536 for all students in 2007-2008. For freshman and sophomores, the residential comprehensive fee will be $10,130. For juniors and seniors, the fee will be $11,512. The residential comprehensive fees are based on the current room and board charges experienced by students at these class levels, plus a fee increase of $590 and $550, respectively.

The increases in student charges are attributable to growth in salary and benefits costs, as well as energy and other costs that outpace general inflation. In addition, students voted this fall to increase the Wesleyan Student Assembly’s student activities budget, yielding an increase in the student activity fee to $270. Thus, next year student charges will total $46,936 for first-year students and sophomores and $48,318 for juniors and seniors.

The comprehensive residential fee will make it easier for families to budget by eliminating the variability in room and board rates. It will also enable the university to simplify recordkeeping and to increase grant aid to ensure that financial aid packages take full account of student expenses.

The higher residential comprehensive fee for juniors and seniors reflects the higher cost of the options available to them. Juniors and seniors have access to apartments and houses in addition to residence hall rooms. The university previously has charged a differential room rate according to the accommodation the student chose. In addition, juniors and seniors have greater flexibility in dining options, including the opportunity, in many cases, to cook for themselves. Students have reported to the administration that they value this progressive independence.

Wesleyan remains committed to meeting the full demonstrated financial need of every student. Simplifying the fee structure will enable the Financial Aid Office to ensure that students’ full need is met whatever their housing choices. Wesleyan will increase scholarship grants by $850,000 to cover this change.
 

By David Pesci, director of Media Relations

The Wesleyan Connection: Campus Snapshot

DAY FOR GRADUATES: Yonatan Malin, assistant professor of music; Barbara Juhasz, assistant professor of psychology; and Eric Aaron, assistant professor of computer science and mathematics, speak to Ph.D candidates at a workshop titled Tenure Track Tango during Graduate Career Day Jan. 23 in Exley Science Center. The day-long program offered advice to graduate students on how to prepare for a career after Wesleyan.
Michael Sciola, director of the Career Resource Center, speaks on job searching and networking.
From left, graduate students Hiram Navarrete Ramirez, music; Daniel Bravo Vivallo, mathematics; and Elikem Nyamuame, music, gather during the Graduate Career Day reception.
Chemistry graduate students Ericka Barnes, left, and Andrea Minei mingle with Frank Stellabotte, a graduate student in biology. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Roundtable Meetings Promote Conversation, Sharing of Resources


Mike Sciola, standing, director of Wesleyan’s Career Resource Center, speaks during an Academic (Technology) Roundtable meeting Feb. 8.
Posted 02/16/07
Intellectual property issues, using visual images in the classroom and rock and roll memories are all upcoming topics for the Academic (Technology) Roundtable.

The weekly roundtable meetings aim to promote conversation, cooperation, and the sharing of information and resources among Wesleyan’s faculty and staff.

“This is an informal way for faculty, librarians and staff members to get together and talk about technologies, academic issues and student life,” explains Andy Szegedy-Maszak, director of the Center for Faculty Career Development, the Jane A. Seney professor of Greek and chair of the Classical Studies Department and roundtable moderator.

During the Feb. 8 meeting, some 40 guests came to hear a talk by Mike Sciola, director of Wesleyan’s Career Resource Center. After a presentation on learning styles of “The Millennials,” or the students born after 1988, more than a dozen participants chimed in with questions or stories pertaining to the topic of the day.

Like “The Millennials,” not all topics are entirely technology-focused. The Academic (Technology) Roundtable, which is abbreviated as A(T)R shifted gears about four years ago when Szegedy-Maszak and Michael Roy, director of Academic Computing Services and Digital Projects, took charge of coordinating the meetings.

Rather than discussing technology only, they began welcoming a wide variety of other subjects such as university services, grading practices, publishing in academic journals, and students’ mental health. Most presentations are by Wesleyan staff or faculty members, along with some outside speakers.

“That’s why we put the ‘T’ in parentheses now,” Szegedy-Maszak says. “Although we still include technological topics, our subjects are broader to appeal to faculty and staff with different interests.”

Future A(T)R topics vary. On Feb. 22, Don Moon, dean of the Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Programs and the John E. Andrus Professor of Government, will lead a discussion on public speaking, which has been identified by Wesleyan faculty as one of the academic “essential capabilities.” On March 1, James Neal, vice president for Information Services at Columbia University, will speak on intellectual property issues within higher education; March 5, David Green will speak on a National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education report on visual images in the classroom. Other upcoming topics and presenters can be found at: http://www.wesleyan.edu/atr.

Roy and Szegedy-Maszak encourage the Wesleyan community to suggest a topic of interest, nominate a presenter or volunteer to make a presentation via its Web site at http://www.wesleyan.edu/atr/suggestions.html.

“A(T)R is really the best-kept secret on campus,” says Barbara Jones, the Caleb T. Winchester University Librarian and regular meeting-attendee. “It’s a wonderful resource for our library staff, and it’s a great place to meet new colleagues.”

Sponsors of A(T)R include The Center for Faculty Career Development, Olin Library and Information Technology Services. Meetings take place at noon most Mondays and Thursdays in Olin Library’s Develin Room. Buffet lunch is served and any member of Wesleyan’s faculty and staff is welcome to attend.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Committee Lists Impacts of New Computer Cluster


Posted 02/16/07
Members of the Wesleyan Cluster Computing Committee have listed the impacts on research from the newly-installed computer cluster.

The Cluster Computing Committee members are Eric Aaron, assistant professor of computer science; David Beveridge, the University Professor of the Science and Mathematics; Tsampikos Kottos, assistant professor pf physics; George Petersson, professor of chemistry; and Francis Starr, assistant professor of physics.

The committee is supported by the Information Technology Services staff, who made commitments of space, personnel resources, and developed an upgrade program so that the facility does not become rapidly obsolete.

ITS staff involved include Henk Meij, applications technology specialist; Jolee West, academic computing manager; James Taft, assistant director of technology support services and Ganesan Ravishanker, associate vice president for Information Technology Services.

Among other abilities, the cluster will enable the following:

1. Faculty can produce new science in diverse research projects, including the structure and formation of galaxies, molecular dynamics of proteins, elucidating activity patterns in cortical circuits, DNAs and protein DNA recognition, methods developments and applications in molecular quantum mechanics, complex quantum dynamics and mesoscopic transport phenomena, computer simulations of the clustering of nanoparticles and studies of the assembly and properties of soft materials.

2. Distributed resources currently are maintained by individual faculty who aim to have enough computing resources to meet their peak needs. As a result, computational resources sit idle during non-peak usage periods. A shared facility would allow users to take advantage of computing time that would otherwise go wasted, meaning that the total aggregate computing resources needed not be as large as if they are distributed.

3. A central computing facility and internal computing workshops would provide an environment to bring together researchers from different areas of the sciences and foster collaborative activities. The current distributed model does not encourage collaboration.

4. A centralized cluster facilitates the present computational research and lowers the barrier to initiate new computational projects, permitting faculty and students quicker involvement with projects and the ability to more-easily explore new approaches to their research.

5. Removing the burden of maintaining computational facilities from faculty members will free them to focus on the effective use of resources to strengthen research and educational activities. Moreover, access to such facilities is vital to maintain the competitiveness with larger universities.

6. The cluster serves as a learning tool to develop student scientific computing proficiency both through existing courses and though assisting faculty with research. Such training is invaluable to prepare students for the expanding field of information technology.

7. Computational facilities quickly become obsolete with the furious pace of technological development. Often, individual faculty are not able to keep up with the pace of innovation lacking either the time needed to stay informed about the latest innovations or funds necessary to buy them (or both). Wesleyan’s ITS is committed to the maintenance and regular upgrading of facilities once they are in place. This is a truly major matching commitment and provides a longevity, continuity and stability to research computing that is currently missing in the current model of distributed resources.

8. Six faculty research groups involving postdoctoral research associates, graduate students and undergraduate students pursuing honors thesis research comprise the primary cadre of users of the cluster. Nine additional groups are expected to be involved in significant but smaller scale computer-related research initiatives, as well as a number of inter-group collaborations and projects. In total, there will be roughly 50 regular users of this facility. A centralized cluster computer introduces a new era to the quality and inclusiveness of computationally intensive research at Wesleyan, affecting both faculty programs and the undergraduate and graduate students involve in those programs. Overall, this revision in Wesleyan’s institutional strategy towards information technology fits naturally within the university’s mission of achieving excellence in undergraduate education via the effective integration of teaching and scholarship.

Biophysics Journal Club Encourages Active Learning, Student Teaching


Andrew Moreno, a graduate student in chemistry, teaches a lesson on probability to his peers during a Molecular Biophysics Journal Club class Feb. 7.
Posted 02/16/07
Alicia Every, a graduate student in chemistry, went to class last week not only to learn, but to teach.

She and the other 20 students taking the course, Molecular Biophysics Journal Club II, are expected to prepare a lesson on relevant course material and present a micro-lecture to their peers.

For 20 minutes she spoke, jotting equations on the chalkboard while explaining that heat is in random motion. She drew a gas molecule inside a box, and talked about its behavior at the molecular level, relating it to macroscopic systems such as in proteins and nucleic acids.

“What makes Journal Club different from a typical lecture is that we have some degree of freedom in our discussions,” Every says. “This allows us to not only focus on one particular topic, but to digress to other related topics that the class might feel necessary to cover in more detail. In a way, this allows the students to have control over the lecture.”

The Biophysics Journal Club is open to graduate and undergraduate students, and may be taken repetitively. Enrollment is unlimited, although it’s geared most closely for majors from chemistry and molecular biology and biochemistry. The program will soon include a bioinformatics track in conjunction with the Center for Integrative Genomics and the Biology Department, and students from any Natural Sciences and Mathematics department are welcome.

Faculty participants in the Molecular Biophysics Program attend the class meetings and offer input when necessary; at least one faculty member is always present to lead the class.

“The idea of Journal Club is for students to learn about the cutting edge of science in this area outside of their own research project. This also provides students experience with discussion of diverse subject in the area, and to get some teaching experience by preparing short lectures and giving them to each other and the faculty,” explains one of the class instructor David Beveridge, the University Professor of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and co-coordinator with Ishiuta Mukerji of the program. “Club is not quite the right word but is the local parlance for this kind of thing – a skull session, workshop, brainstorming session. Faculty serve as a resource and offer appropriate feedback. We are aware that various degrees of experience and language capabilities are in the mix so we expect to keep the class atmosphere friendly and constructive for students.”

Molecular Biophysics Journal Club II is a non-exclusive companion to Molecular Biophysics Journal Club I, which is held Fall Semester 2006. Biophysics Journal Club I is not a precursor to Journal Club II; each course has a different focus. In Journal Club I students lead active discussions of a series of current research articles in the field of molecular biophysics and biophysical chemistry. They read articles from the Biophysical Journal, Biopolymers, Current Opinion in Structural Biology, Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics and the Annual Review of Molecular Biophysics and Biomolecular Structure.

Journal Club II focuses its attention on only one book. This semester it’s Biological Physics by Philip Nelson. This book, Beveridge explains, is highly regarded in the field and emphasizes understanding the principles and applications of biological molecules as molecular machines. Each student prepares their presentation based on one chapter, or part of a chapter, from the Nelson text.

“It will possibly take us two semesters to get through the whole book,” he says. “Students will find that preparing lectures is far more time consuming than they expected.”

The Journal Club is part of Wesleyan’s Biophysics Training Program, which is funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, an arm of the National Institute of Health (NIH). As part of this grant, the NIH requires that participating students receive ethical and quantitative training on the nature of their interdisciplinary area.

During the class, Andrew Moreno, a graduate student in chemistry, provided a lesson on probability, to relate the distribution of molecules in their physical states to the likelihood of a molecule being in a specific state.

He took Journal Club I last semester to discuss current research that is outside his field of interest. In addition, he hopes improve his teaching ability.

“It is difficult to get in front of your peers and teach, but at the same time, it’s rewarding because they can give you insight on what was good about your lecture and what was bad,” he says.

While some of the students are less comfortable speaking in front of their classmates, it now comes naturally to Every, who has taken the Journal Club for 10 semesters, her entire graduate career.

“It is not difficult as long as you have some idea of your peers’ background knowledge,” she says. “I prefer Journal Club over a standard lecture course because it forces you to be an active learner. We usually spend 15-20 minutes in lecture and the rest is spent discussing or analyzing the topic. This requires you to learn the information as well as analyze and apply it to different systems.”

After graduating with a Ph.D., Every hopes to continue research in biophysics. She is considering a post-doctoral position. Moreno also plans to continue doing research and eventually wants to teach.

“I have not yet decided if I would like to be a professor, but either way, I think it is important that I have some experience teaching because it has trained me to clearly understand different topics as well as be able to put into words what I have learned,” Every says.

The Molecular Biophysics Journal Club is open to the campus community. Meetings are held 1:10 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays in the NSM Conference Room. For more information e-mail David Beveridge, Ishita Mukerji or Manju Hingorani.

Laure Dykas, a Ph.D candidate in chemistry said student guest lectures Andrew and Alicia did “an excellent job” teaching.

“I hope I can do as well,” Dykas says, smiling. “I give my presentation next week!”
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Student’s Photography Accepted into Juried Show


This image by Ben Rowland ’08 will be on display at the Brooklyn Artists Gym Gallery.
Posted 02/16/07
During winter break, Ben Rowland ’08 traveled to Istanbul for a vacation with his cousins. A hobbyist photographer, he took several photographs. One of these has found a place in a New York gallery.

That image, titled, “The Man and the Mosque,” is now part of a group gallery show called: “Look See: Photographs on Reflection” at the Brooklyn Artists Gym (B.A.G) Gallery in Brooklyn. The opening is from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 24.

In “Man and the Mosque” Rowland captured a scene during a late-afternoon prayer time in the mosque. He wasn’t allowed to take photographs, but Rowland decided to capture the moment anyway.

“I put the camera on the floor and shot secretly,” he explains. “I took the shot on very long exposure – 20 seconds I think, and as a result, the lights inside appear as stars, and everything is in focus because of the enormous depth of field. Also because of the long exposure, the viewer can see through the subject, except for at his knees and feet, which were still as he prayed.”

This is Rowland’s first time exhibiting his work in a major art gallery or in a juried show. Applicants were allowed to submit up to three images; however the B.A.G. jurors were extremely selective.

Once in the show, photographers have the option of putting a price tag on their work. Rowland, pictured at right, has already sold prints to parents of Wesleyan students privately, and is hoping to push more sales form his newly-created Web site.

Rowland, who is pursuing a degree from the College of Social Studies, is the photography editor this semester for the Wesleyan Argus. He attends performing art, sports and general campus events, watching them all behind a lens. Several of his Wesleyan photos are posted on his Web site at http://www.benrowlandphotography.com.

He’s also photographed several bands and concerts, scenes from his travels in Istanbul, America, England, France and The Netherlands, and has done artistic portraits.
Incredibly, Rowland has only been a photographer for six months. He learned camera basics through months of constant practice and trial and error in Brooklyn where he lived over the summer.

The artistic ability to see interesting subjects behind the camera, however, comes natural for Rowland. He continues to experiment with different subjects.

“In the past few months I’ve been shooting, I’ve gone through many stages and I’ve watched and analyzed my progression,” he says. “I used to shoot only objects or things, and yet now I’ve moved almost exclusively to using photography as an anthropological tool. I love studying people in their environments.”

Rowland is still exploring what options to take after college, but he already has a few ideas in mind.

“I would enjoying doing work for The New York Times, while still pursuing personal artistic endeavors,” he says. “I would love to photograph a rock band or a war.”

The exhibit “Look See: Photographs on Reflection” will run from February 24 through March 4. BAG Gallery is located on the third floor of 168 7th Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
For more information on the gallery visit www.brooklynartistsgym.com.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

Part-Time Gym Job Leads to Alumnus’s Career after College


Casey Brown, building supervisor/manager, welcomes people to the Freeman Athletic Center and helps answer any questions they may have.
 
Posted 02/16/07
Q: Casey, what various roles do you have at the Freeman Athletic Center?

A: As a building supervisor/manager, I try to ensure that users of the facility are safe, welcomed, and as content as possible. I try to answer as many questions as possible, and create a friendly environment.

Q: You’re the friendly face that greets everyone when they come into the Freeman Athletic Center during the late afternoon hours. What do you like about this role?

A: You mean the friendly, handsome face, thank you. I enjoy the variety of people I am fortunate to come across everyday. It breaks down stereotypes. Not only that, I enjoy working with the people that I’ve gotten to know, like the student athletes. Some of them are very cool.

Q: You used to be one, yourself?

A: I did play basketball here at Wesleyan in 1996-97.

Q: When were you hired-in?

A:  I was hired in part-time in 1995 while I was an undergrad here at Wesleyan, and went full-time in 1998. I started here as the equipment room assistant, working with Bob Chiapetta, who was the National Equipment Manager of the Year.

Q: What did you study at Wesleyan and when did you graduate?

A: My concentrations were in African-American studies and history. I was living like a rock star on a roadie income, and it was worth every penny. I graduated in 1998 with my bachelor of arts. I wanted to get my master’s too, so I did while I was working here through the Graduate Liberal Studies Program. My concentration was in social studies and I graduated in 2001.

Q: What led you to Wesleyan?

A:  I’m from New York, New York, the metropolis of the world. I spent my first 12 years in Brooklyn and the rest in Queens. I attended New York Public Schools until 10th grade, when I left for Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. I visited Wesleyan twice before attending and felt that is was a good fit for me. Thirteen years later, I am still here.

Q: Has anything changed?

A: Actually, campus is now a lot cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing.

Q: At work, you’ve described your role as “the guy who can help get you what you need.” How so?

A: I’ve been around. I can usually save you time on your search if you just ask. Locations, people, general info, I got you.

Q: Do you know the Freeman Athletic Center building inside and out? Can you give an example of something about the building that no one else may know about? Any secret rooms?

A: I know it pretty well, not as well since the expansion. There is a room rumored to be underneath the deck of the pool. Apparently, you used to be able to set up a camera in there to critique the divers. True? I don’t know.

Q: Do you use the gym? If so, what facilities?

A: Yes, I use the all the facilities except the squash courts. I’m hoping to get out there soon though.

Q: Are you one of those people who live at the gym?

A: No, I don’t live in the gym, but I am here overnights sometimes. That’s another story.

Q: Who are the key people you work with at Freeman?

A: I usually work with Kate Mullen, head coach of women’s basketball; Richard Whitmore, associate athletic director and Bob Chiapetta, manager of intercollegiate operations.

Q: Last question. Red Sox or Yankees?

A: I won’t even dignify such a ridiculous question, or opinion. Boston? They’ve been a joke all my life. Sad really, perennial losers. Even Mets Fans have gotten off on Boston. Did you hear when I said New York is Metropolis of the world, and Gotham too. We are Superman and Batman.
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor

New Computer Cluster Will Improve Research Campus-Wide


From left, Henk Meij, applications technology specialist; Francis Starr, assistant professor of physics; and James Taft, assistant director of technology support services, look over the newly-installed 10-terabyte computer cluster at Information Technology Services.
Posted 02/16/07
It takes 10, 250-volt plugs to power up. It takes 9,000 BTUs to keep it cool. It can communicate 14 times faster than high-speed internet, and it has the potential to store more than 2.5 million MP3s.

But most important, this state-of-the-art high-performance computer cluster will offer both education and research opportunities for the university on a level which has never before been available. The cluster was installed this month, and will be connected to the entire Wesleyan network.

“This is going to change the way Wesleyan conducts research,” explains Ganesan Ravishanker, associate vice president for Information Technology Services. “This powerful computing cluster will offer advanced hardware and software resources for teaching strategies and research not specific to any one department or discipline.”

The high-performance cluster is made up of 288 central processing units from Dell, Inc. that work together as one machine. The unit has two functions – it can either split one computational task across several different computers for a faster result, or it can process dozens of tasks at one time.

Together, these units offer 10 terabytes of storage, equivalent to 10,000 gigabytes. A typical desktop computer has 150 gigabytes of disk space.

“It takes three to four terabytes to store all the information from the entire campus and this unit alone has 10,” explains Henk Meij, applications technology specialist, who is overseeing the cluster’s operation.

The cluster was funded by a $190,000 National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation Program grant, awarded in July 2006. The grant proposal was written by Francis Starr, assistant professor of physics; David Beveridge, the University Professor of the Sciences and Mathematics, professor of chemistry; and Katherine Johnston, formerly an assistant professor of astronomy. Each is involved in computationally-intensive research.

In the past five years, four Wesleyan faculty set-up their own clusters. Of these, one is defunct, one is obsolete, and two are saturated and will soon be out of date. Starr, who is currently conducting research through this older, 80-unit cluster, will use the new cluster to benefit his own research on DNA-based nanomaterials and supercooled liquids. Since his work requires computer simulations that focus on molecular dynamics, the new cluster will drastically increase his ability for scientific computation.

“Now I will be able to get 288 answers in the time it would take to get one,” Starr explains, while rotating a visualization of the molecular structure of water on his Mac. “With the new hardware, I’ll be able to explore the assembly of new molecular structures on a much larger scale, helping the development of nanomaterials with customized properties.”

And since the unit will be maintained by ITS, Starr looks forward to spending less time maintaining his current cluster and more time doing research and spending time with students.

The cluster is a central resource so anyone can connect to it from their office or even home. Several Wesleyan faculty in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics have taken interest in the new computing unit, however it is not exclusive to NSM.

Rex Pratt, the Beach Professor of Chemistry, can use the cluster to make models of small molecules that bind to enzymes. Eric Aaron, assistant professor of computer science, can further his research of tumor development and treatment, using massively computation-intensive geometric computation simulations. Mark Flory, assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, carries out comparative searches of proteomic data with corresponding sequence databases. Cluster facilities will enable him to greatly expand his studies from small samples analyzed on a single workstation.

Several other faculty researchers will immediately benefit as well.

In addition to faculty use, undergraduate and graduate students will have opportunities to conduct research with these machines. There are already established extramurally-funded research programs at Wesleyan in theoretical astrophysics, liquid state chemical physics, nanotechnology, quantum chemistry, molecular biophysics, and the emerging field of neuroinformatics and structural bioinformatics, all of which depend on high-end computing to be competitive. Courses that involve computers are offered in each of these areas.

“Now, students are limited to the computers at their labs,” Starr explains. “We need to teach students how to get access to the cluster and take advantage of what it can offer. There is no end in sight for what we can do.”

The impacts of the new cluster can be seen at : http://www.wesleyan.edu/newsletter/campus/2007/0207cluster2.html
 

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor