Campus News & Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McNair Program Receives Refunding, Will Continue to Support Underrepresented Students


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

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

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

Wesleyan in the News

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

Recent Wesleyan News

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Connecticut Magazine: “Book Club”

Wesleyan University Press is featured on page 17-18.

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

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

Recent Alumni News

  1. Variety: “Grammy Nominations 2018: Complete List

A number of categories included work by Wesleyan alumni:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Collins, Thomas Honored with Endowed Professorships

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

Karen Collins

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

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

Ellen Thomas

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

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

Newman’s Own Foundation Awards Grant to Support Internships

On Nov. 28, Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship received a $10,000 grant from the Newman’s Own Foundation to support student internships.

“The gift from the Newman Foundation will be used to offer stipends to students doing social impact and entrepreneurship work during the summer,” explained Makaela Kingsley ’98, director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. “We are grateful for the support of Newman’s Own and our other donors who make this work possible.”

Trustee Emeritus Bob Patricelli ’61 P’88 P’90 is a board member for Newman’s Own and has generously encouraged the foundation to support Patricelli Center programs over the past six years. Through the Robert and Margaret Patricelli Family Foundation, Bob and Margaret Patricelli support Wesleyan in many ways including serving on the Patricelli Center Advisory Board.

Newman’s Own Foundation turns all net profits and royalties from the sale of Newman’s Own products into charitable donations. Since 1982, Paul Newman and Newman’s Own Foundation have given more than $500 million to thousands of charities and nonprofit organizations worldwide.

American Political Development Expert Justin Peck Joins Government Department

Justin Peck

Justin Peck, assistant professor of government, joined the faculty in 2017.

In this Q&A, Assistant Professor of Government Justin Peck speaks about his research interests, teaching at Wesleyan, and road tripping across the U.S. (Brandon Sides ’18 contributed to this article.)

Q: Professor Peck, what are your primary areas of research?

A: My dissertation attempts to explain when and why post-WWII Congresses enacted legal constraints on executive authority. And that’s now my primary area of research; the second area of my research concerns when and how the Republican Party’s position on civil rights issues has changed since the Civil War.

Q: What are your current projects?

A: I’m working on a book manuscript with a co-author, Jeff Jenkins, who’s at the University of Southern California, and who was my dissertation chair. Right now, we’re looking at every single legislative proposal – succeeded or failed – addressing black civil rights, and how members of the Republican Party in Congress positioned themselves around these bills. What we see after the Civil War is lots of hope, some successes, more failures, but a progressive narrowing of the ambitions and goals of the Republican Party. Eventually – right around the end of the 19th century – they decided to just ignore civil rights. The idea of the research is to tell the political history of black civil rights from the end of the Civil War to present day. We have two books in progress: one stretches from 1861 to 1918, which we call the first Civil Rights era. The other one goes from 1919 to 2016, and that’s the second Civil Rights era.

17 Seniors Elected to Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society

During an initiation ceremony on Dec. 6, 17 Wesleyan seniors were elected to the Connecticut Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa honor society.

To be elected, a student must first have been nominated by the department of his or her major. He or she also must have demonstrated curricular breadth by having met the General Education Expectations and must have achieved a GPA of 93 and above. During the ceremony, Gamma Chapter PBK President Steven Horst, professor of philosophy, professor of science in society, said this class has a 94.4 GPA and above.

“For students elected this fall, it is an especially exacting selection process because admission is based on a student’s performance at Wesleyan only through their junior year,” Horst said. “These new members’ accomplishments during their years at Wesleyan should be a source of pride for themselves and to their families.”

PIMMS Founder Rosenbaum Dies at the Age of 102

Robert Rosenbaum

Robert Rosenbaum, University Professor of Mathematics and the Sciences, Emeritus, died on Dec. 3 at the age of 102.

Rosenbaum received his AB from Yale in 1936, and his PhD in mathematics from Yale in 1947. He joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1953 and taught mathematics here for 42 years until he retired in 1985.

He was a member of the “Mystic Nine” — a group of faculty in the early 1960s who were instrumental in developing Wesleyan’s graduate programs. He became dean of sciences in 1963, provost in 1965, the first-ever vice president of academic affairs and provost in 1967, and chancellor in 1970, after a brief term as acting president between Edwin Etherington and Colin Campbell. He returned to full-time teaching in 1973.

Wesleyan Community Makes More than 3,300 Gifts on Giving Tuesday

In the past few years, alumni, parents, and others have rallied in support of Wesleyan’s participation in the national Giving Tuesday campaign, and they have unlocked millions of dollars for financial aid for Wesleyan students.

On this year’s Giving Tuesday, Nov. 28, members of the Wesleyan community showed an outpouring of support for financial aid yet again.

Trustee Marc Casper ‘90 thanked everyone who gave as part of the #GivingTuesday challenge and said he is committed to supporting financial aid at Wesleyan now more than ever.

“We received just over 3,300 gifts by the end of Giving Tuesday,” he said. “If you haven’t made a gift as of today, please do.”

“With you,” he added, “Wesleyan is possible. Your support is life changing: not just, for the students Wesleyan educates but for the lives they will impact and the future, they will shape.”

Go, Wes!

Wesleyan in the News

In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we introduce a new feature highlighting some of the latest stories in the media about Wesleyan and our many illustrious alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

The Hartford Courant:

“Chelsea Manning Draws Crowd at Wesleyan, Talks of Community, Resistance”

On Nov. 15, the former intelligence analyst convicted of leaking hundreds of thousands of military documents to WikiLeaks, who is now an activist for gay and transgender rights, spoke to a packed room at Wesleyan in a conversation moderated by Associate Professor Margot Weiss.

2. Boston Review: “An Autobiography of Captivity”

In the Language of My Captor by Shane McCrae, published by Wesleyan University Press, is reviewed. The book was a finalist for the National Book Award this month.

3. The Hartford Courant: “Wesleyan Gets Federal Funding to Strengthen Upward Bound in Middletown”

A new $2.5 million federal grant over five years allows Wesleyan to expand its Upward Bound Math-Science program to help local disadvantaged students gain access to a college education.

4. The Atlantic: “How Racial Data Gets ‘Cleaned’ in the U.S. Census”

This article by Associate Professor of Sociology Robyn Autry explores the messy question of race in the U.S. Census, and how it gets “cleaned.”

5. USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism: “As Trump Guts ACA’s Ad Budget, a Tour of the Evidence on How Advertising Affects Insurance Sign-Ups”

Erika Franklin Fowler, associate professor of government and co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, and Sarah Gollust ’01 share WMP research findings on the impact of this year’s shorter health insurance enrollment period, and drastically reduced advertising, outreach and enrollment assistance budget.

Recent Alumni News

1. Los Angeles Times: “Alexander Chee [’89] on the Life, Work and Loss of his Mentor, Kit Reed

Alexander Chee ’89, a critic at large for the Los Angeles Times is the award-winning author of The Queen of the Night and Edinburgh and a professor at Dartmouth College. In this essay, he recalls the importance of his advanced fiction class with the late Kit Reed as “my first time for so many things” and traces their friendship— her influence on his writing and his admiration for her—throughout her lifetime. Wesleyan Writer-in-Residence Kit Reed died Sept. 24, 2017, in Los Angeles.

2. Vanity Fair: “Ben Platt and Beanie Feldstein [’15], the High-School “Soul Mates” Who Made It to Broadway Together

Beanie Feldstein ’15, who majored in sociology at Wesleyan, has been garnering rave reviews for her roles in Lady Bird, with Saoirse Ronan (currently in theaters) and Hello, Dolly!, with Bette Midler on Broadway. Feldstein’s high school pal, Ben Platt was on Broadway until recently, earning rave reviews for the starring role in Dear Evan Hansen—and the two discuss their friendship, as well as past, present, and future projects.

3.New England News Collaborative; NEXT podcast: Episode 69 “Home Again,” featuring Dar Williams ’89.

In this New England-focused podcast, broadcast on public radio stations, John Dankosky interviews Dar Williams ’89, on her book, What I Found in a Thousand Towns: A Traveling Musicians Guide to Rebuilding America’s Communities, emphasizing her theory that “positive proximity”—people working together on projects that improve their community and provide a meeting place—are at the heart of regrowth in old post-industrial towns.

4. Chicago Tribune: “Pilotlight, a New Shared Kitchen, to Open in Former Le Cordon Bleu School

Nick Devane ’13, Pilotlight CEO and co-founder, describes the new shared-kitchen venture, saying, “Our mission was always to empower anyone to start a food business and create community through food.” Pilotlight will also provide access to mentors and classes to help its members grow their own businesses.

5. Huffington Post: In an article titled “PTSD—Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” author Dr. Sudip Bose, MD, quotes Sebastian Junger ’84

Noting that journalist Sebastian Junger “covered war for almost 20 years,” contributing writer Sudip Bose, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, refers to Junger’s TED Talk for an expert’s perspective in examining the role that brotherhood plays in helping veterans cope with high-risk situations—and why our divided society makes it difficult to return to civilian life. Junger is most recently the author of Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging (Twelve, May 24, 2016).

 

Yohe Speaks on Climate Change at Local Community Center

Gary Yohe spoke about climate change at the Glastonbury Riverfront Community Center on Nov. 15.

Gary Yohe spoke about climate change at the Glastonbury Riverfront Community Center on Nov. 15.

On Nov. 15, Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, delivered a talk on climate change at the Glastonbury (Conn.) Riverfront Community Center. It was sponsored by the Land Heritage Coalition of Glastonbury, Inc.— a non-profit corporation whose mission is to support farming, open space preservation, and water and wetlands protection—as its annual educational initiative.

“As part of our mission, we feel it important to help folks in Connecticut understand the issue of climate change, what the local impacts are, and what we can do in this state,” explained David Ahlgren, LHC co-president. “There’s a lot of hype, spin, misunderstanding, and politics around this very important issue. We’re planning a series of events on this topic, and are starting off with Dr. Yohe, who is eminently equipped to help us understand the science and sift out the spin.”

In the talk, which was free and open to the public, Yohe brought his expertise to address climate change from a scientific perspective, and took questions from the audience.