Rebecca Gordon 06 and her thesis advisor, John Seamon, professor of psychology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, pose with brain scans used in a recent study.
| For psychology major Rebecca Gordon 06, developing a research project idea was practically a no-brainer. Well, except for the fact that she had to study brains.
By examining functional magnetic resonance images, known as fMRIs, Rebecca Gordon 06 was able to see how the brain reacted on a cognitive and emotional level with healthy subjects and subjects diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Her study The Mere Exposure Effect and Schizophrenia: An fMRI Study was completed April 11 after nine months of research. The mere exposure effect is a psychological way of saying people express likeness for things merely because they are familiar with them.
“There have been no published fMRI studies of the mere exposure effect so I wanted to do a study that would contribute something new and important to several fields of psychology, says Gordon, who will graduate this year with a dual degree in psychology and music.
Gordon, whose father is a clinical psychologist, coordinated her own research projects throughout high school including working with Parkinson Disease patients at a lab in New York. During her first year at Wesleyan, Gordon excelled in Psychology 101, taught by John Seamon, professor of psychology, professor of neuroscience and behavior.
Knowing that his student already had research experience, Seamon suggested that she follow up on procedures he and other students conducted in the 1980s and 1990s on explicit and implicit memory. Explicit memory is a form of memory that involves conscious retrieval of past events; implicit memory is a nonconscious retrieval of past events.
I encourage students who do well in my classes to get involved in research, either in my own lab or with others in psychology, and Rebecca was one of those special students, says Seamon, who became Gordons thesis advisor on the study.
Gordon, who was working at the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center at the Institute of Living in Hartford last summer, had access to fMRI technology. Seamon suggested that she look for brain differences in explicit and implicit memory by measuring blood flow changes using the fMRI scanner.
Since July 2005, Gordon has spent her summer, winter and spring breaks immersed in conducting research, as well two to three days a week during the school year. She continually sought research advice from Seamon and technical advice from Godfrey Pearlson, director of the Neuropsychiatry Research Center and professor of psychiatry at Yale University.
By studying patients at the center in Hartford, she was able to perform two tests on 10 healthy control subjects and 10 schizophrenia patients. The subjects were placed inside the fMRI scanner during the study so she could monitor their brain activity.
Using an assessment method called the recognition memory test to measure explicit memory, Gordon projected a series of novel objects, each for a few seconds. Subjects were then asked to answer the question: Is this a possible or impossible object? After viewing these novel objects several times and recording the decisions, Gordon collected her results. She then resented pairs of objects, one old and one new, and asked the subjects to select the object in each pair that they previously viewed. When she analyzed the neurological activity during this explicit recognition test, she found memory accuracy was correlated with activation of the hippocampus, the part of the brain used for new learning.
In another test, called the affective preference test, Gordon measured implicit memory by asking the subjects which shape they preferred without asking them which one they remembered. During this test she found that there was still hippocampus activity along with a strong response from the amygdala, the almond-shaped neural structure in the brain that processes emotion.
Gordon and Seamon were thrilled with the new discovery.
This is a remarkable achievement for an undergraduate to go from a discussion with her advisor, take an idea and turn it into a tangible experiment that she then performed over a period of months, learn about this state of the art technology, collect and analyze data with technical help from the staff at the Institute of Living and produce new and interesting findings, Seamon says.
Gordons report was submitted for partial fulfillment of the requirements for the bachelors of arts degree with departmental honors in psychology. She hopes to get her study published in a professional psychology journal.
In addition, she will present her study during the Psychology Department Poster Session April 18.
“I can’t believe that even as I got to the very end of my project, I never got tired of it. I was always excited about the idea of finding something completely new,” she says, holding two gray brain scans, speckled with colors. The colors illustrate where in the brain activity was happening during the subjects tasks.
Gordon will return to the Institute of Living this summer for continued research, this time focusing on autistic children and people diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Next fall, she will begin graduate school at Yeshiva University in New York where she plans to continue her studies in psychology.
|By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
| Pictured at top, Wesleyan students and staff walk down a street in Istanbul on their way to the mosque during a trip to Turkey and Israel March 12-23.
Pictured at right, the group takes a break in the Teldan Nature Preserve in Golan Heights, Israel with their tour guide. The Wesleyan students are Ben Sachs-Hamilton, Avi Smith, Phil Zegelbone, Jamal Ahmed, Mike Figura, Kulsoom Hasan, Maggie Mitchell, Tussy Alam, Rachel Berkowitz, Aaron Tabek, Jessica Eber and Joel Bhuiyan. Wesleyan Rabbi David Leipziger Teva and Abdullah Antepli, pictured in center in purple and black shirts, coordinated the overseas trip.
| Wesleyan Jewish Chaplain Rabbi David Leipziger Teva, wanted to prove to his students that Jews and Muslims can peacefully coexist with one another.
But Leipziger Teva, who also goes by Rabbi David, admits that for students to understand this complex co-existence, they must couple classroom knowledge with real life, personal experiences.
So Leipziger Teva and former Wesleyan Muslim Chaplain Abdullah Antepli chose five Wesleyan Muslim students and six Jewish students, out of 23 who applied, and set out for an 11-day spring break excursion of Istanbul, Turkey and Jerusalem, Israel.
The trip was very intense, admits Leipziger Teva, who says he was most moved after seeing Palestinian and Israeli Christian, Muslim and Jewish children learning together in one classroom at the K-6 Hand-in-Hand School in Jerusalem.
The group also visited Kibbutz Metzer, an Israeli socialist commune, where member Dov Avital shared his story about living peacefully, just yards away, from a Palestinian-Arab village.
In November of 2002, suicide bomber from a radical Palestinian terrorist group broke into this Israeli Kibbutz and killed five people. Leipziger Teva says that despite the terrorist attack the two communities remain committed to dialogue and friendship.
Dov told the story with tears in his eyes and we were all moved by it, says Leipziger Teva. This is just one hopeful example, despite the violence of how Jews and Muslims are trying to co-exist with each other in peace and we wanted the students to see this.
Jamal Ahmed, a Pakistani freshman from New York City, was also moved by Avitals story.
On the trip, we learned that there was a sense of hope, a hope for peace, says Ahmed. Despite terrible hardships, there are still great strives towards peace and beautiful co-existence. I learned more about the Jewish culture, religion, and Israeli society than I thought possible in such a short time.”
The group also met with journalists, lobbyists, human rights activists and political leaders,including Vatican Representative of Istanbul, George Marovitch and Chief Rabbinate and Rabbi of Turkey Isaac Halevo. They also visited popular landmarks including the Temple Mount, the Western Wall as well as other mosques, synagogues and visited with Jewish and Muslim religious leaders and families.
Rabbi David says that during their trip, he witnessed a progressive transformation among the students.
I saw a deepening of their individual religious spiritual identities, he says. They were all challenged and I was constantly motivated by the dialogue that was happening.
Rachel Berkowitz a freshman from Trumansburg, NY, says the trip helped her gain a strong desire to learn more about Islam, Judaism, interfaith dialogue and about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
I think the difference I have made has been internal, rather than external, says Berkowitz. I have learned and changed so much. I feel I now have a broader perspective.
Leipziger Teva hopes that one day this Spring break trip will spark these students into making strides towards peace in the Middle East.
Someone from this trip might one day become a senator, a Fulbright Scholar, or eventually may help draft future peace plans for Israel, says Leipziger Teva, who feels that both the Israeli and Palestinian sides need to demonstrate compromise before real peace is established.
Next month Leipziger Teva, who is hoping to raise more funds in order to repeat the trip next year, will start showcasing a DVD documentary of the trip to mosques, churches, synagogues, and to high schools. He also plans on introducing the documentary at the Muslim Student Association Annual Conference and Hillel, the conference of Jewish College Communities later this year.
No other school has ever taken Jews and Muslims together in one group to the Middle East, says Leipziger Teva. Wesleyan is unique and we hope we can help jumpstart dialogue and peace among all the children of Abraham Jews, Muslims and Christians.
|By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations|
by Olivia Drake •
Gary Yohe, the John E. Andrus Professor of Economics, suggests that the government place a growing tax on the cost of carbon during a hearing March 30 in Washington D.C.
| When Gary Yohe, the John E. Andrus Professor of Economics, received a call from Senator Joseph R. Biden’s office to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., he didn’t hesitate. In fact, he hurried.
Yohe, who was the sole expert, recommended by both the Environmental Defense Fund and Pew Center on Global Climate Change to Senator Biden’s office, had only a few days in which to prepare his brief testimony on “The Hidden (Climate Change) Costs of Oil.”
In a five-minute prepared opening statement, Yohe called attention to the sources of economic cost attributed to climate change and suggested that government respond by placing a permanent and growing tax on the cost of carbon. The point of such a tax (or any policy that would add the climate cost of carbon to the price of oil) is to hedge against, or reduce the likelihood, of the extreme consequences of global warming.
“We don’t have to go overboard,” Yohe explained, but “adopting a risk-management (hedging) approach to minimize the cost of future policy adjustments would be appropriate and economical over the long run.
Yohe says he believes Senators Biden and Richard G. Lugar seemed to agree with his testimony.
“We were there for almost two-and-one-half hours and the two senior members of the Foreign Relations Committee were fully engaged and almost thinking out loud with us, says Yohe. The staffers were incredulous that they spent so much time with us.”
According to Yohe, Senator Biden said that people might get used to paying a persistent tax on petroleum. Biden was particularly interested, though, in how such a charge might be factored into the investment decisions of American businesses as they frame the energy infrastructure for the next half-century.
Senator Lugar, on the other hand, was specifically interested on how best to implement an
“I had a short amount of time to get in front of two people who essentially could take my research and make a difference,” says Yohe. “After generating pages of points that I wanted to raised, I picked out what I thought was the most important information and tried to tell a
To read the full transcript of Yohes testimony, please refer to the following link:
|By Laura Perillo, associate director of Media Relations|
by Olivia Drake •
| The Wesleyan community will celebrate Earth Week April 16-April 22 with a series of activities, lectures and observations. Events include:
Lecture on “The Purpose of Nature”
Verlyn Klinkenborg, a writer and professor of literature and creative writing at Fordham University and Harvard University, will deliver the Earth Day address The Purpose of Nature at 8 p.m. April 20 in Memorial Chapel. A reception and book signing immediately follow in the Zelnick Pavilion.
Verlyn Klinkenborg is the author of Making Hay, The Last Fine Time, The Rural Life, and Timothy: Or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, and many magazine and newspaper articles. A modern Thoreau, his lyrical portrayals of rural living and nature captivate our imagination while delivering a critical message. He is a member of the editorial board of The New York Times.
Food Politics Week
Brooke Duling 08 says the group aims to raise awareness about the political implications people take simply by choosing to eat certain foods. They willhighlight the consumption of local, organic, vegetarian/vegan food and open a dialogue about how to access these foods.
For additional information, visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/earthweek/ or contact Kathleen Norris, administrative assistant, Environmental Studies Certificate Program at 860-685-3733 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
|By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
Rachel Ostlund 08 sprinkles seedlings inside a shelter at Long Lane Farm. The farm is expanding this spring to a full acre. Pictured below are vegetables grown last year by the Long Lane Farming Club.
| Although Wesleyans Long Lane Farm Club uses organic methods to grow its produce, a little Miracle Grow has been sprinkled on one aspect of their garden: its progress.
The Long Lane Farm Club was created in 2004 so students would have a place to come together and learn about food security issues. What began as a 50-foot plot of flowers and vegetables will be expanded into a full acre this spring. The expanded cultivation area will increase the clubs produce, which is shared by Wesleyan students and the local community.
Maddie Thomson 08 got involved in the farm last spring, favoring the idea of organic farming. When a person buys a tomato at the grocery store, chances are, it was not locally grown, she says.
So much of our food is grown halfway across the world and shipped here using enormous amounts of fossil fuels, Thomson says. I think it’s really important to think about where our food comes from, and whether it’s produced sustainability. There is a growing movement to rethink the way we produce food, and at Long Lane we’re part of that movement, which is really exciting.
The 50 members of the Long Lane Farming Club are thrilled to expand to a full acre. Knowing it will take extra helping hands, about 15 volunteers from the Wesleyan community have been recruited to help out with watering, weeding, pruning, mixing soil and other gardening duties. Almost all the work is done by hand.
In addition, the club’s Community Supported Agricultural Project will have 10 members this year. These members support the garden by paying a fee, and every week for 10 weeks, they receive a share of the produce. Each pays $350, of which $150 is a donation to make produce available to food-insecure people. Members also participate in the distribution process by manning the tables every week to help pass out food to the other members.
The club will have a farm stand in low-income areas of Middletown and can accept food stamps. Everything that doesn’t sell will go to soup kitchens.
The Long Lane Farm has more than 80 vegetables and herbs grown in the two-year-old organic garden. This includes tomatoes, broccoli, kale, carrots, lettuce, kohlrabi, beets, corn, beans, eggplants, zucchini, pumpkins, squash. New this year will be a garlic crop.
The Wesleyan students have already planted seedlings inside their student residences. Once its warm enough, they will replant the seedlings into the garden.
This summer the student farmers plan to hire four interns to work on the farm. Since the farm doubles as an educational tool for the community, the Long Lane Farm has partnered with Snow Elementary School in Middletown to get kids out in the farm to work, play, learn about farming and plants, and taste-test a few vegetables.
In 2004, Rachel Lindsay 05 planted the first crops in a circular-shaped plot. Local residents rounded out the corners with garlic and potato gardens, among several flower beds. Lindsay, Rachel Ostlund 06 and other Wesleyan students later planted a tomato and broccoli garden, among rows of Swiss chard, pumpkins and squash.
I just love that Long Lane Farm is a totally student-run farm, so that we get a chance to see and participate in all of the aspects of running it, Thomson says.
The Long Lane Farm is funded by the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department, the Rockfall Foundation and personal donations. It relies on donations to pay summer interns and make the garden possible.
For more information or to make a donation to the Long Lane Farm, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
|By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
| In an ongoing initiative to increase connections between science and film at Wesleyan, a series of programs will be presented in April. This part of the series, arranged by Film Studies and Natural Sciences and Mathematics, is the last in the “Celebrating the Liberal Arts Tradition Through Film” program in which over 18 departments have participated.
This is the fifth semester the Film Studies Department has hosted the series of seminars, lectures, screenings and discussions.
|By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
| Wesleyan will commemorate its 175th anniversary of its institutional charter during the 174th Commencement Ceremonies May 25-28. Wesleyans charter was granted on May 26, 1831.
John Hope Franklin, professor of history, emeritus at Duke University will give the principal address at commencement and will be awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree during the ceremony.
In addition, Wesleyan will award honorary doctors of letters to Mary O. McWilliams ’71, president of Regence BlueShield, pioneering alumna and trustee emerita.
Franklin is an internationally-renowned historian, intellectual leader and lifelong civil rights activist. He has served on the National Council on the Humanities, as well as the President’s Advisory Commissions on Public Diplomacy and on Ambassadorial Appointments. Franklin’s numerous publications include The Emancipation Proclamation, The Militant South, The Free Negro in North Carolina, Reconstruction After the Civil War, and From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans. Franklin has received honorary degrees from more than 100 colleges and universities.
McWilliams ’71 previously served as president of PacifiCare of Washington where she converted the provider network into groups, expanded statewide, and launched Secure Horizons as a Medicare-Risk plan. She also served as founding chief executive officer for the Sisters of Providence Health Plans in Oregon. She received a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Wesleyan.
Wesleyan will also award the Baldwin Medal to Jean Shaw P79 and Biff Shaw 51, P79. As an alumni leader, Biff Shaws diligent effort on behalf of Wesleyan underscores his commitment to public service. Jean Shaw has served Wesleyan since 1969 in many roles including director of the Center for the Arts, coordinator for exhibitions, events manger and coordinator of University Lectures. She has worked tirelessly to enrich the relationship between Wesleyan and Middletown. She played a key role as Reunion and Commencement coordinator and oversaw the joining of Reunion and Commencement into one weekend.
This initiative was introduced at the 1997 commencement and is becoming a much-beloved tradition at Wesleyan, Bennet says. I look forward to welcoming everyone to Wesleyan on this wonderful occasion.
Academic regalia will be worn by all who participate in the procession and can be ordered through the campus bookstore.
The Office of the Dean of the College will contact graduating seniors with information regarding graduation announcements and activities for Reunion and Commencement Weekend.
by Olivia Drake •
|Roslyn Carrier-Brault, administrative assistant for the Chemistry Department, also works as a digital photography instructor at Green Street Arts Center.|
|Q: What keeps you busy in the Chemistry Department?
A: I never have two days that are the same and I enjoy the variety of my work. I work directly with the professors and students, and I have many skills and abilities that aid me to be flexible and detail oriented to whatever tasks comes my way. I work a lot with my computers and keep in touch with all that happens here at Wesleyan University through emails and memorandums. I work with an open door policy, people come first and paperwork second, so I tend to work longer hours at the end of the day to stay on top of deadlines, campus and departmental projects, and coordinating departmental events.
Q: What led you into this position?
A: I first came to Wesleyan in November of 2000 as a temp. I returned to Wesleyan in March 2001 as a floating temp, and in July, I was hired to work in the Department of Finance and Administration as an administrative assistant. I became a permanent employee in December 2001, when I was hired by Philippa Coughlin, director of the Office of Behavior Health as the departments secretary. It was by Dr. Coughlins suggestion that I apply for the full-time opening in the Chemistry Department and my first day at my current position was August 3, 2003. I totally, love my position as the AA for chemistry. It offers me a wide variety projects and I enjoy working with the faculty and students.
Q: What are some of your job duties?
A: My responsibilities include preparing the agenda for the monthly meetings between the Chemistry department staff, the building manager, the stockroom support staff and the chair of the Chemistry department; overseeing the department budget; working with Payroll and Human Resources to oversee employee payroll; scheduling the workload of two undergraduate student workers; maintaining the Chemistrys Web site, providing administrative support to faculty for grant applications; among several other duties in the office. Also, I designed an Access database that assists me in managing important departmental records and budget reports. Overall, I provide support for 16 professors, four staff, 31 student teaching assistants, 27 chemistry majors, 39 graduate students and a few research associates and postdoctoral fellow.
Q: You also coordinate the annual Peter Anthony Leermakers Symposium.
A: The 34th Leermakers Symposium is planned for May 11 this year, and the program title is “Challenges to Chemistry from Other Sciences.” Michael Frisch, visiting scholar in chemistry, is the 2006 chairman. Also, this year I am facilitating a new event. The Department of Chemistry is hosting the Student Awards for the Connecticut Valley Section of the American Chemical Society on April 29.
Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?
A: The long learning curve. It took me one academic year to learn all the various aspects and job responsibilities of being an administrative assistant in an academic department. I have a passion for learning and this position keeps me on my toes, there never is time to feel bored, and I enjoy working with my faculty, students, co-workers and the Wesleyan community at large.
Q: Do you have a personal interest in chemistry?
A: In 2005, I audited David Westmorelands Introduction to Chemistry and it opened my mind to the vast subject called, chemistry. Finally, I can understand the periodic table. I am amazed and inspired by the dedication that the professors and students have to excellence in their research and teaching assignments.
Q: What were you doing before you came to Wesleyan?
A: I worked for the San Diego Symphony, as the assistant to the director of Copley Symphony Hall. I coordinated events and rentals for the San Diego Symphony and Symphony Hall Promotions.
Q: Where did you attend college?
I have an associates degree in liberal studies and fine art from Middlesex Community College, an associates in photography/art from Grossmont Community College in El Cajon, California. I plan to complete a masters in art from the Graduate Liberal Studies Program.
Q: Youre also a teaching artist for Wesleyans Green Street Arts Center.
A: Anna Milardo, administrative assistant in physics, knew that I am a photographer asked me to photograph Green Streets open house/reception for the Saint Sebastian School. It was in the planning committee for this event, that Ricardo Morris asked if I would be interested in teaching at GSAC. This resulted me teaching a digital photography classes for the After School Program, photo club for the After School Program and introductory to digital photography for adults.
Q: Tell me about your recent photo exhibition, Divine Intersections, at Green Street?
A: My current exhibition presents images that are essentially inspired by intuitive guidance and inner reflection upon the things that are familiar to me from my childhood and adult experiences. I have been intertwining photographic images taken of the natural world with scanned images of other forms of life such as plants and animals. My favorite images are restful, reflective, and build a sense of union between the mind, body and spirit connection (an example of Roslyn’s photography is seen in the image above-right).
Q: I take it this wasnt your first show.
A: My first show was in 1996 and I have had several exhibitions in San Diego. In Connecticut, I have exhibited various art and photography shows through the Shoreline Artist Association, the Tracy Arts Center and the Essex Artist Association, and Face Arts Music in Deep River, Connecticut. My husband, William Brault is a gifted sculpture and painter and co-curates all of my photographic exhibitions. He is a talented custom framer and trained exhibition designer so it a perfect creative partnership.
Q: Have you volunteered your artistic abilities at any other non-profits?
A: In Connecticut, I have volunteered for arts organizations such as the Shoreline Arts Association, Images 2000 and 2001; Tracy Art Center in Old Saybrook and I am an active board member of the Friends of the Davidson Arts Center. In San Diego, I was an active volunteer for the Museum of Photographic Arts, the Holistic AIDS Response Program, The AIDS Foundation and with Grossmont College Student Exhibitions and Workshops.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
Guitarist Brings Musicians from around the World to Expose Wesleyan Students to New Styles, Cultures
by Olivia Drake •
|Cem Duruoz, private lessons teacher, just released his third CD, Desde El Alma Tango Classics.” The Turkey native performs internationally. (Photo contributed by Steve Savage)|
|Q: Cem, how long have you been a private lessons teacher of guitar for Wesleyans Music Department?
A: I started to teach at Wesleyan in September 2003 right after finishing my advanced studies at The Juilliard School.
Q: How many student guitarists do you teach at Wesleyan?
A: I have about 10-12 students each semester. I am trying to increase the number of students, especially by encouraging good players to come to Wesleyan to begin with. I am proud of my students; they are all talented. Some of my current students will perform on April 7 at the Chapel Concert Series at noon.
Q: In addition to private lessons, what opportunities are there for budding guitarists on campus?
A: The most important one is our student guitar organization called WesGuitars“, established last semester. We get together once every two weeks, play guitar and socialize. I encourage our guitarists to perform on various occasions such as the Chapel Series. Soon I will find venues in downtown Middletown are and other towns for concerts.
I am also working to bring guitarists from around the world to the campus so that all the guitarists at Wesleyan community could be exposed to their style and their cultures. Last year we had Carles Pons from Spain and Uros Dojcinovic from Serbia. This year so far we had a visit by Marcos Puña from Bolivia. The first guest invited by WesGuitars itself will be Spanish guitarist Juan Jose Saenz. He will give a concert of Spanish Music in Crowell Concert Hall on April 9.
Q: When did you first take an interest in classical guitar? At what age did you know you had a knack for the instrument?
A: I first heard the instrument at the age of 10. My cousin had already been playing it. Each time I would visit, he would let me try his guitar and show me techniques. I fell in love with the guitar the moment I touched it. I did not really have to hold and play; just touching the strings, making a sound and listening to it one by one was magical for me. Soon after, I started to take lessons. I remember asking my cousin to make copies of some difficult pieces and him saying they are too difficult for you now. During one of our family visits, I took the opportunity to hand copy them and surprised him few months later by playing them to him. Afterwards we did many concerts as a duo together.
Q: What is the classical guitar?
A: Classical guitar refers to a nylon string acoustical guitar. In most cases this name seems to imply wrongly- that it is used for classical music only. With this instrument one can play almost any type of music from anywhere in the world in addition to the Western Classical Music, which is the source of its name. However, in most places outside the U.S., when someone mentions the word guitar alone, they usually refer to the classical guitar. This is, after all, the original instrument just like violin and piano. I started directly with the classical guitar unlike many of my students and professional performers that I have met in the U.S. who first learned to play other types of guitar.
Q: Please elaborate on the guitars sound. Why does it appeal to you?
A: I think the main aspect of classical guitar sound is its warmth because of which the instrument lends itself to the performance of emotionally elaborate polyphonic music. The warmth comes from the nylon strings and the right hand fingernails. This combination provides the optimum sound and technique for bringing out the human emotions in almost any type of music in the world, as a soloist. Another peculiarity of the classical guitar is the way it is held. I think it is the only instrument that is embraced and held directly on ones heart. No wonder many classical guitarists are in love with their instruments!
Q: In 1990, you came to the United States from your native country, Turkey. What led you to the States?
A: The U.S. graduate education system is the best in the world. After staying in Turkey I wanted to get advanced degrees here and was able to get full scholarships in California. It is also important to get exposure to new repertoire, different approaches to music and participate in the classes of well-established musicians. All these opportunities widely exist in the U.S. At first I did not intend to stay, but after about six years, San Francisco started to feel like home as much as my home in Turkey.
Q: You recently released your third CD, Desde El Alma Tango Classics, which is quite a style change from your first album, “Pièces de Viole”, which consists of gamba music by French baroque composer Marin Marais; and your second CD “Contemporary Music for Guitar. What inspired you to change your musical interest for the third CD, and what type of audience is attracted to your music?
A: When making CDs I concentrate on a project and spend most of my energy to do the necessary research to understand the music and the culture that created it. Having studied at a French school for seven years in Turkey and having learned the language at the age of 11, I had a natural interest in the French Baroque music. This background and the music of the famous movie Tous Les Matins du Monde led to the first CD. The second CD is a reflection of my interest in supporting the creation of new music by playing works of emerging composers.
Q: Youre an international artist. Where have you performed recently?
A: Ive recently performed at the Weill Recital Hall/Carnegie Hall in New York, and in countries such as Peru, Bolivia, France, Poland, Greece, Turkey, Serbia-Montenegro and the U.S. in various guitar festivals and concert series. I have also appeared as soloist with the Presidential Symphony Orchestra in Turkey, the equivalent of New York Philharmonic there. Last year I was invited to the Istanbul Festival in Turkey, one of the biggest and most prestigious in Europe. There I collaborated with gamba player John Dornenburg and harpsichordist Yuko Tanaka to play the music of the 14th Century French Court.
Q: Youve received critical acclaim in international magazines such as American Record Guide, Fanfare, Classics Today, Classical Guitar and BBC Music. The students you teach must feel honored to work with a famous musician!
A: I sometimes do feel famous! Nowadays, due to globalization it is ever more difficult to be individually recognized; there are so many musicians, so many CDs. However I have been working very hard to increase my output, and contribute to the music world. My students appreciate it; it is always exciting and inspiring to work with someone who has international experience and is a role model. I have to say it feels really good all of a sudden to hear your own CD played on NPR when driving, and felt very strange first time, when someone recognizes you having read an article or when someone stops you on the street and says he was at your concert. I think this aspect of music is very rewarding.
Q: Where are your degrees from?
A: I have a masters of arts in composition from Stanford University, and another masters degree in guitar performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. I later completed my graduate guitar studies at The Juilliard School with Sharon Isbin, a Grammy award winner.
Q: Do you write your own music?
A: Although I have extensively studied composition, I enjoy performing much more. Therefore I dont compose much at all nowadays. However my compositional skills come very handy for arranging music to the guitar. Prime examples are on my French Baroque CD and the Tango CD. I have various collaborations with other composers. Some of them send their music to me, and I try to feature a new composer in every recital I play. I also commission music particularly written for me. One of these is a guitar concerto called In and Out of Blue by Robert Strizich. With Angel Gil-Ordonez, his Ensemble of the Americas and I are planning to perform this in the fall.
Q: You have an upcoming recital in Hartford on April 15 in conjunction with the Connecticut Classical Guitar Society, and another performance in New York May 27. What will you perform at these concerts?
A: The Connecticut Classical Guitar Society is one of the biggest in the U.S. I will be playing in their concert series on April 15. This program will include selections from my tango and baroque CDs as well as music from Rodrigo, Tárrega, Bach and Giuliani, composers well known to guitar audiences.
The concert in Merkin Hall/New York is part of an annual Turkish Cultural Festival organized by the Moon and Stars Project. It is titled A Mediterranean Journey and will include music from Turkey, Greece, Israel and Spain as well as tangos and Broadway favorites. In this performance I will be collaborating with a wonderful Greek/American soprano Demetra George.
Q: What are your interests and hobbies aside from music?
A: My main hobby has been dancing tango for many years. After I did my first tango lesson in San Francisco I studied with most of the well-known Argentine Tango dancers. In San Francisco, I used to go dancing three nights a week. In Connecticut there are some venues for dancing tango, but many more are in New York and I go there every now and then to dance.
Q: For more information, where can people find you online?
A: My Web site is http://www.duruoz.com/
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor.|
by Olivia Drake •
Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, researched why pointy-leafed plants are more common in colder climates.
| Smooth or pointy is there a reason?
If that question refers to a leaf, a study by a Wesleyan researcher may have an answer that includes some cold facts about sap flow and the weather.
The study by Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Dana Royer and featured in a recent issue of the International Journal of Plant Sciences looks at the characteristics of plants with pointy leaves versus smooth-leafed plants and finds the difference is more than just cosmetic.
The pointy or toothed leaves contain high concentrations of xylem, a type of tissue that facilitates the transportation of the plants sap, which is rich with nutrients and water. The water then evaporates from the leaves causing the plants to draw up even more sap.
The result is a greater rate of sap flow earlier in the spring, says Royer. The process apparently helps to jumpstart the plants photosynthetic season.
This may explain why so many trees and other plants in colder climates have pointy leaves.
The colder the climates generally have shorter growing seasons so the greater rate of sap flow is very beneficial to these plants, says Royer. The trade-off is that there is a higher rate of water loss among these plants. So there still needs to be sufficient rain during the growing season.
Royer and co-author Peter Wilf from Pennsylvania State University performed the study by analyzing the moisture transpiration and photosynthesis activity of more than 60 woody species in two decidedly different regions: Pennsylvania and North Carolina. They found that photosynthesis and transpiration activity increased by as much as 45 percent among toothed-leafed plants during the first 30 days of the growing season. The analogous rates of smoothed-leafed plants in the same regions were significantly less.
The findings, while not definitive, certainly provide yet another example of natures ability to adapt to varying conditions. However, Royer adds that, in this case, there could be negative implications with climate change.
Its very speculative, but most of these toothed leaf trees are hardwoods that, along with their environmental benefits, also carry economic value, Royer says. It would not take a large rise in average temperatures during the growing season to put point-leaf plants at a competitive disadvantage.
|By David Pesci, director of Media Relations|
by Olivia Drake •
At right, Jessica French Smith 09, paints a mural with students from Nagarote, Nicaragua. She was one of more than 100 Wesleyan students who volunteered their spring break time to help others around the nation and world.
| Jane Maxson 06 spent her spring break on the gulf coast; however she wasnt sporting a sun hat and flip-flops on the beach. Equipped with a hammer, nails and tool belt, Maxson spent her time-off school volunteering for hurricane relief efforts.
Maxon was one of over 100 Wesleyan students and faculty volunteering world-wide during break.
Helping the Hurricane Victims
Maxon and 50 other students, many of whom are Wesleyan Christian Fellowship members, teamed up with Willing Hearts, Helping Hands, a Christian ministry aiming to rebuild 200 houses in hurricane-affected areas. The students left March 11 and returned March 18. They aided victims on the Mississippi coast.
As part of their project, the Christian Fellowship members sought to explore the intersections of faith and service, specifically how faith motivates service.
We spent the days doing relief work and the evenings discussing the Christian motivation for serving the poor, the idea of meeting needs in a holistic way and the specific cases and challenges associated with Hurricane Katrina, explains Jane Maxson 06. I had a fantastic time, and I don’t think I could have had a more enjoyable time doing anything else.
Another 50-plus students went directly to the hurricanes path of wrath in New Orleans. They were housed in and around a Catholic school in the hardest-hit Upper Ninth Ward that had been converted into a base of operations for the organization they worked for, Common Ground Relief. Some students slept in classrooms, while others slept in tents outside.
Brian Thorpe 07 spent nine days in the shattered city armed with crowbars, shovels,
Untold amounts of people in neighborhoods are still suffering from the effects of Katrina, Thorpe says. The raw truth is that seven months after the hurricane there is still precious little being done by the state, local, and especially federal government to rebuild the city and help the poorer citizens of the area to get back on their feet. Yet while I came back from New Orleans frustrated and disheartened, I still felt hopeful to see so many people my own age giving up their time and money to go down and help.
Developing Wesleyan Partnership in Nicaragua
Jessica French Smith ’09, Kevin Young ’07, and Octavio Flores, adjunct associate professor of Romance Languages and Literatures went to Nagarote, Nicaragua as part of Wesleyan in Nicaragua (WIN) organization for 10 days. WIN is partnered with The Norwalk-Nagarote Sister City Project and together, the groups planned and to participated in community service activities which benefit the people of Nagarote.
The trio stayed for 10 days, living with local families, researching for future Wesleyan initiatives, meeting with teachers, members of the Ministry of Education and the Norwalk/Nagarote
This was French Smiths third time going to Nicaragua to do service work, and shes already promised to return next year.
Knowing that there are people all over the world living in horribly unjust conditions keeps me working hard to take advantage of the resources available to me and to use these resources to help others as much as possible, she says. Besides, its a much more satisfying alternative to Cancun. I don’t think anyone cries when they leave Cancun because they are going to miss their host family, or because they couldn’t stay longer and work harder.
French Smith says there is a lot of potential for other Wesleyan students to work in help, even remotely. The group met with met with community leaders, teachers and members of the Board of Education and found that in the future there is a definite need for both didactic and consumable teaching materials. She hopes students can help with the development/fundraising for these materials.
French Smith says this was not a one-time kind of trip, but rather one designed toward building an ongoing relationship necessary to successful service work.
I met so many incredible and loving people in Nicaragua and I learned a lot about myself and my personal philosophies concerning service-work, French Smith says. I definitely know that it is something all Wesleyan students should have to opportunity to get involved in, work for, and experience in the future and this is something I’m going to be working toward back on campus.
Building Homes in South Carolina
A dozen students involved with Wesleyan Habitat for Humanity went to Georgetown, South Carolina to help build a Habitat House for nine days. Georgetown is a rural, poor area on the South Carolina coast with a large population of people living in substandard housing.
Mark Purser 08 says the tip allowed several students who had never been to the South to experience its unique culture.
The trips purpose was to give students an opportunity to spend their spring break participating in community service as well as learn about substandard housing and poverty in America, he says.
The student worked on two Habitat houses, constructing and raising interior walls, sheeting the exterior walls and installing insulation.
Improving Childrens Lives in Mexico
In addition, nine students traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico over spring break to participate in a community service project. The helped build a structure that will house Cala y Emes, a group in Oaxaca whose mission is to help young people with special needs develop skills to enter the work force. This is a brand new organization that hopes to not only improve the lives of the kids they support, but also to educate/re-program the Oaxacan community about people with special needs.
The Wesleyan students helped clear donated land, poured the buildings foundation, and installed sinks, drainage and other necessities.
Cathy Crimmins Lechowicz, director of the Office of Community Service and Volunteerism at Wesleyans Center for Community Partnerships is impressed by the diverse range of projects dealing with economic development, hurricane relief, housing and long-term partnership building. She hopes to work with the students to share their experience for the entire Wesleyan community.
I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the interest, motivation and dedication of the students organizing and going on the trips, Crimmins Lechowicz says. These immersion experiences can have a powerful impact on student’s perspective on issues.
|By Olivia Drake, Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
|Walter Curry, head track and field coach, says he loves to make a difference in his student-athletes’ lives.|
|Q: When did you become the head mens and womens track coach?
A: I started coaching at Wesleyan in December of 2002.
Q: You are a U.S.A. Track and Field Level II certified coach in sprints, hurdles and jumps. At Wesleyan are these what you specialize in?
A: My first three seasons with the team I coached just the sprints, long, triple and high jumps. I was lucky enough to have a really good part-time hurdle coach and a very good parttime pole vault coach.
Q: Prior to Wesleyan, you worked for eight years as an assistant track and field coach at Boston College. There, you had success coaching three Division I All-Americans and numerous Big East all-conference and all-New England athletes. What led you to Wesleyan?
A: I landed at Wesleyan because I was given a chance to be a head coach and lead a track program. I learned a great many things about track; coaching; administration; people; and just life while I was at Boston College. I really loved it there and I had some wonderful experiences, but it was time for me to see if I could do things on my own.
Q: Where did you go to college and what did you major in? Were you a track star there?
A: I got my degree in journalism from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Go Cyclones! I worked in TV for five years before I got into coaching. And yes, I was a student-athlete on the track team at ISU. I was pretty good, not what you would call a superstar but my name is still on the top 10 list in the hurdle events. And its been a while since I graduated.
Q: Why did you decide ultimately to become a track coach? Is your position rewarding?
A: It is what I think I was meant to do. What can you say about being able to do something you love with people who feel the same way you do, like the coaching staff and athletes, and get to mentor and share in the growing experience of all the student-athletes that come through your program? The best part is having these young people call me up or come and visit and tell me that something I told them or they learned from their relationship with me, and the rest of their teammates made a difference in their life. That makes me feel like what I do is very important.
Q: What classes do you teach, or have you taught, as an adjunct professor?
A: I teach Beginning Strength Training and Beginning Fitness. I enjoy helping students here on campus improve their health and fitness.
Q: When did you begin running and when did you realize you wanted to pursue racing? Were you ever a cross-country runner or are you more of a sprinter?
A: I started running track in the seventh grade and started hurdles in eighth grade. As for cross-country, no way. I will run no farther than the 800-meter!
Q: Who are your key student-athletes this season?
A: Distance runner Ellen Davis. Our best steeple chaser is Owen Kiely. The 400m runner would be Stephanie OBrien. The triple jumper is Sam Grover. These are just some of the athletes who we depend on.
Q: What lessons do you stress to the students?
A: We ask all of our athletes to first, commit to our program; second, work hard; third, be accountable to the coaching staff and your teammates; fourth, manage their time well; and fifth, they need to have a love for track and field.
Q: I understand that you have produced an instruction video on hurdling?
A: My college track coach, Bill Bergan called me up and asked me if I could do him a favor. Coach Bergan was, and is still, a wonderful person and mentor. I jumped at the chance to help him out. His favor was to conduct a video clinic on the common errors and mistakes that happen when young track athletes are learning to hurdle. To make a long story short, everything turned out great and today I still have people tell me that they used my tape or have heard about it. Yes, I am in the video, but only as a coach.
Q: You have been a clinician for hurdle events at the Brown University Track and Field Camp, and you worked with the New England High School Track and Field Coaches Clinic. Why do you do this, and what do you hope participants get out of your teaching?
A: My answer is the same as before; the best part is having these young people call me up or come and visit and tell me that something I told them made a difference in their life. That makes me feel like what I do is very important and I was able to help them reach a personal goal.
Q: You have three children. Do you encourage them to get involved in athletics?
A: At this point in my life, my main interest is in my family. My kids are involved in lots of activities so my wife and I try to go and support their interest. My daughter is on her high schools dance team. I coach my oldest sons Pop Warner football team. My youngest child is a pretty good little soccer player. Plus there is baseball, dance class, summer camp, family trips, and other things. So all I do is try to be positive and help them find the joy in sports. I stress fun, hard work, commitment, sacrifice and pride.
Q: What is your coaching strategy for your own children?
A: I do have one rule for my kids when it comes to activities. If you start it, you finish it! No quitting in the middle of anything. If you really dont like what youre doing, once you are finished with it, you dont have to do it again.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|