Campus News & Events

Kilgard Explains Why Scientists Are So Excited About Observing Merging Neutron Stars

The Van Vleck Observatory on Foss Hill.

Writing in The Conversation, Roy Kilgard, research associate professor of astronomy, explains the significance of an exciting new discovery in astronomy. For the first time, astrophysicists have observed merging neutron stars using LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) and the Virgo interferometer.

Kilgard writes:

This news may confirm a longstanding theory: that some gamma-ray bursts (GRBs for short), which are among the most energetic, luminous events in the universe, are the result of merging neutron stars. And it is in the crucible of these mergers that most heavy elements may be forged. Researchers can’t produce anything like the temperatures or pressures of neutron stars in a laboratory, so observation of these exotic objects provides a way to test what happens to matter at such extremes.

Astronomers are excited because for the first time they have gravitational waves and light signals stemming from the same event. These truly independent measurements are separate avenues that together add to the physical understanding of the neutron star merger.

Fall Harvest Celebrated at Pumpkin Festival

The College of the Environment hosted its 13th Annual Pumpkin Festival Oct. 14 at Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm to celebrate the fall harvest.

The Pumpkin Festival provides an opportunity for the Wesleyan and local communities to learn about local organic farming and the politics of food. The event included farm tours, a farmer’s market, a bake sale, live music, face and pumpkin painting, free veggie burgers, arts and crafts, bulb planting, and more. Pumpkin Fest was held in conjunction with Campus Sustainability Week.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Caroline Kravitz ’19 and Will Barr ’18)

 

Wesleyan-Middletown Collaborations Strengthen Community

The Wesleyan Upward Bound Math-Science Program is designed to help low-income and first-generation college students recognize and develop their potential, to excel in math and science, and pursue post secondary degrees. The Upward Bound Program is benefiting from new federal funding and is one of many Wesleyan-Middletown collaborations. Pictured are Upward Bound students in 2016. 

A new $1.3 million grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education over five years to Wesleyan’s Upward Bound Math-Science program has brought federal funding for an important collaborative initiative in Middletown that will help provide low-income, historically underrepresented high school students with pathways to success in science and math.

The grant is the latest in a growing list of initiatives that are bringing Middletown and Wesleyan together in projects large and small.

“We don’t often pause to appreciate the full scope of collaborations between Wesleyan and Middletown,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth, “but when we do, the many ways they are contributing to the growth of our strong local community become so apparent. We couldn’t ask for better partners than we have here in Middletown.”

Starr Elected Fellow of the American Physical Society

Francis Starr

Francis Starr

Francis Starr, professor of physics, was elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society in October. This honor is bestowed upon only 0.5 percent of physicists nation wide.

The criterion for election is “exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise including outstanding physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in or service to physics, or significant contributions to physics education.

Starr received the APS fellowship for his simulation studies elucidating fundamental aspects of glass formation in bulk and ultra-thin film polymer materials. At Wesleyan, the Starr group focuses on soft matter physics and biophysics. Starr and his graduate and undergraduate students combine computational and theoretical methods to explore lipid membranes, glass formation, DNA nanotechnology, polymers and supercooled water.

Starr also is professor and director of the College of Integrative Sciences (CIS) and professor of molecular biology and biochemistry. The CIS is dedicated to providing students with translational and interdisciplinary science education through original research. The CIS summer research program hosts around 180 students annually.

Starr is the seventh Wesleyan faculty to receive the honor since 1921. He was nominated by the Division of Polymer Physics.

Loui Co-Authors Article on Human Creativity and the Brain

Psyche Loui

Psyche Loui

Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, assistant professor of integrative sciences, co-authored a new article published in the December 2017 issue of Brain and Cognition.

The paper is titled, “Jazz Musicians Reveal Role of Expectancy in Human Creativity.” Loui and her colleagues found that within one second of hearing an unexpected chord, there is a world of differences in brain responses between classical and jazz musicians.

Oceans and Climate Class Visits D.C. to Learn about Legislation

Pictured, first row at left, Avery Kaplan, Nethra Pullela, Melissa Luna, Ella Caplin, Eric Hagen, Louisa Winchell, Kelly Lam, Suzanne O'Connell. Pictured second row is Ryan Nelson, Ryan Keeth, Miles Brooks, Ciara O’Flynn, Jason Yoo, Matt Butrim, Eduardo Centeno.

On Sept. 26, the Oceans and Climate class traveled to Washington, D.C. Pictured, first row (from left): Avery Kaplan ’20, Nethra Pullela ’20, graduate student Melissa Luna, Ella Caplin ’20, Eric Hagen ’18, Louisa Winchell ’18, Kelly Lam ’19 and Suzanne O’Connell. Pictured second row (from left): Ryan Nelson ’19, Ryan Keeth ’20, Miles Brooks ’20, Ciara O’Flynn ’20, Jason Yoo ’18, graduate student Matt Butrim and Eduardo Centeno ’19.

Students enrolled in the Oceans and Climate service-learning course recently traveled to Washington, D.C., where they had the opportunity to learn how legislation related to climate change is moved through Congress.

The trip, held Sept. 25-26, was led by Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, faculty director of the McNair Program.

After a day of travel and overnight stay, the group took an early Metro ride to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., where they met with representatives of the Congressional Research Service. Later that morning, the class traveled to the Dirksen Senate Building, which houses the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. There, they met with two National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellows.

The students shared lunch with policy staff in the Dirksen building and then traveled to the Rayburn House Office Building to meet with Sarah Laven, a legislative fellow for Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (CT). After touring the U.S. Capitol, the class returned to Middletown.

In the Oceans and Climate class, students are studying the major properties of the ocean and its circulation and changes in climate, including the effects of variations in greenhouse gas concentrations, the locations of continents, and the circulation patterns of oceans and atmosphere. They look at past variations in Earth’s climate and oceans and try to understand the implications for possible climates of the future.

Assistant Professor of Music Sorey MA ’11 Wins MacArthur “Genius” Award

Tyshawn Sorey (Photo Credit: John Rogers)

Tyshawn Sorey (Photo Credit: John Rogers)

Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11, who joined Wesleyan’s faculty this fall as assistant professor of music, has been awarded a fellowship—better known as a “genius” grant—from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The announcement was made Oct. 11.

The fellowship is a “$625,000, no-strings-attached award to extraordinarily talented and creative and creative individuals as an investment in their potential,” according to the MacArthur website. Fellows are selected based on “exceptional creativity,” “promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments” and “potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.”

Jacobsen Speaks at Event on the Economics of Misogyny

Joyce Jacobsen, third from left, with other economists at the Center for American Progress event.

Joyce Jacobsen, third from left, with other economists at the Center for American Progress event. (Photo courtesy of the Center for American Progress)

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Joyce Jacobsen spoke at an event on Sept. 29 at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. The event was on the topic, The Economics of Misogyny. Jacobsen spoke on the topic of feminist economics in conversation with Judith Warner, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. A video recording of the event can be seen here.

Jacobsen also is the Andrews Professor of Economics.

BIOL310 Students Collaborate on Scientific Journal Article

Twenty-three students and one faculty member are co-authors of a forthcoming manuscript in G3.

Twenty-three students and one faculty member are co-authors of a forthcoming manuscript in the journal G3.

More than 20 Wesleyan students — including three former first-years — are co-authors of a research manuscript accepted for publication in a prestigious biology research journal. The paper focuses on a species of fruit fly that has evolved, and has the ability to ingest a toxic plant.

The paper, which is forthcoming in G3: Genes | Genomes | Genetics, is the result of a study completed by BIOL310 Genomics Analysis students. Course instructor and co-author Joseph Coolon, assistant professor of biology, created BIOL310 to provide students a course-based research experience focused on measuring gene expression.

“Because the students in the course and in my lab collaborated on all the analysis, interpretation, and wrote the paper, all 23 students are co-authors of the published manuscript,” Coolon said. “G3 is a well-known and highly reputable journal for publishing in my field and I am honored to have been able to publish there, especially given the number of undergraduates that are now published authors in such a great journal.”

Graduate Student Kiman Awarded Scholarship to Attend Yiddish Festival

Douglas Kiman

Douglas Kiman

Douglas Kiman, a first-year PhD student in ethnomusicology, recently received a scholarship to attend the 2017 Yiddish New York festival held Dec. 23-28. Kiman’s research focuses on contemporary klezmer music in Western Europe.

Yiddish New York celebrates and engages with East European Jewish (and other Jewish and co-territorial) traditions to foster new creativity. Drawing inspiration from the historic cultural riches of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Yiddish New York is an intergenerational gathering featuring daily workshops and a broad spectrum of performances and programming. Yiddish New York evenings feature concerts, dance parties, and jam sessions at clubs.

Kiman, a native of France, spent two years in New York as a visiting scholar conducting research at the Yiddish Cultural Institute (YIVO). He also was a member of the Columbia Klezmer Band under the conducting of Jeffrey Warshauer.

“This scholarship is a unique opportunity to collaborate and study with some of the greatest living exponents of Yiddish folk arts including instrumental klezmer music, Yiddish song, dance and theater,” said Cheryl-Ann Hagner, director of Graduate Student Services. “Douglas will also start fieldwork for his dissertation by meeting and interviewing the most prominent American and international members of today’s klezmer scene.”

Bork-Goldfield Elected to American Association of Teachers of German Council

Iris Bork-Goldfield

Iris Bork-Goldfield

Iris Bork-Goldfield, chair and adjunct professor of German studies, has been elected to serve as the Northeast Region representative to the Executive Council of the American Association of Teachers of German.

The American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) supports the teaching of the German language and German-speaking cultures in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education in the United States. The AATG promotes the study of the German-speaking world in all its linguistic, cultural and ethnic diversity, and endeavors to prepare students as transnational, transcultural learners and active, multilingual participants in a globalized world.

Volleyball Wins First Little Three Title Since 1992

The Wesleyan University volleyball team won its first Little Three title since 1992 on Sept. 30, as it swept arch rival Amherst College by scores of 25-15, 25-16, 25-14. Later in the day, the Cardinals defeated Stevens Institute of Technology in four sets (25-18, 30-32, 25-10, 25-23) to conclude the doubleheader sweep.

The Little Three title is just Wesleyan’s second in program history. Additionally, the win over the Mammoths is the program’s first since 2008, and it’s the Cardinals first sweep against Amherst in exactly 12 years to this day.

“It was great to win the Little Three Championship and meet another goal for the season,” said head coach Ben Somera. “Our execution in the Amherst match was the best it’s been all year, and we were solid in every phase of the game. It’s not easy to play well for a sustained period of time against two quality opponents. At times our focus and intention left us, but we were able to rebound and regain our form.”

Outside hitter Harper Graves ’21 was named the NESCAC Player of the Week for her stellar play during a 3-0 stretch for the Cardinals. In the two NESCAC victories, Graves averaged a .423 hitting percentage. Graves has played a huge factor in the team’s early success, as she ranks third on the squad with 2.50 kills per set.

Wesleyan continues to shine early in the 2017 season and is now 12-1 overall and a perfect 5-0 in the NESCAC. The Cardinals face off against Western Connecticut State on Oct. 5 in Danbury, Conn.

Read more details about the two matched in this Wesleyan Athletics article.