|In back, Hilary Barth, assistant professor of psychology, works with her student, Ariel Ballinger 07, on data resulting from a study on children’s counting ability.|
| So many people have had one of those moments, when a check comes after dinner and theyre having a problem adding it up, and they stop and say, Im just not any good at math! says Hilary Barth, assistant professor of psychology. But they are. We all are. Were born with it.
This isnt just an opinion from an overly-optimistic academic. Barth is one of a growing number of researchers studying intuitive understanding of numbers. So far, theyve established that human beings and even many other species are born with impressive mathematical abilities.
Studies have shown that animals who have no language can think about quantities approximately for example, rats can be trained to press a key about 40 times. And babies, who havent learned a language yet, can tell that adding 5 toys and 5 more toys gives you about 10 toys, Barth says. But animals and babies cant count. Counting takes language.
And counting isnt as simple as you might think. Preschool children quickly learn to count to 10, but it takes them a while to figure out the purpose of counting.
If I asked a child who has recently learned to count to 10 to go to the toy box and get four dinosaurs, the child will probably just give me a handful, Barth says.
Most children learn the concept of one soon after learning to count. Typically, about six months after that, they comprehend the idea of two and about six months later they understand three.
Studies have established that once children understand the concept of three it usually clicks for all the other numbers, Barth says.
So, counting may be tougher than parents realize. But arithmetic, on the other hand, may be easier than you think! Barth confirmed this with a study published in 2005 based on work completed at Harvard University.
The study, titled Abstract number and arithmetic in preschool children, published in an issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that preschoolers can add big sets approximately long before they learn how to add big numbers exactly in school.
In the study, Barth showed pre-school children graphics with blue colored dots, covered them for a few moments, then showed them an array of a similar number of red dots. Then Barth asked the children which set blue or red had more dots. She also showed them two successive arrays of dots and asked them if the aggregate number was larger or smaller than a third array of dots. In another permutation, the dots were replaced by sounds, to make sure children werent just using visual imagery to solve the problem.
The children were consistently able to recognize the differences between the dot sets, even in the tasks that included adding the dots, Barth says. The sets were too big for these kids to count, yet they had no problems recognizing which sets, when combined, would be larger than the third set. And we didnt find any differences in gender: girls were just as adept at this as boys.
One of Barths students, Ariel Ballinger 07, designed a separate study based on Barths work thanks to a Fellowship from the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences. The fellowship provides a stipend so students can undertake full-time research during the summer.
Theres no way I couldve done a study like this without help from the Hughes Program, Ballinger says.
Her study, titled Counting, Estimation and Approximate Nonverbal Addition in Young Children, is a new examination of number approximation in children whove reached different levels of verbal counting ability.
Some previous studies done by Jennifer Lipton and Elizabeth Spelke at Harvard showed that a childs ability to estimate numbers is related to verbal counting range, Ballinger says. Children were shown pictures containing different numbers of dots and asked to quickly guess how many there were, without counting. These studies showed that kids who could count to 100 guessed pretty well. But kids who could only count to 30, for example, could only guess well for sets of up to 30 dots. For bigger sets, they had no idea – they didnt even give bigger estimates for 100 dots than for 40 dots.
But these studies often averaged the performance of large groups of children with very different levels of counting skill. I wanted to test this relationship by looking at more specific groups.
Ballinger divided her children into three groups based on counting ability. She found that although counting ability was related to the accuracy of the guesses, even children who could only count to 30 guessed bigger numbers for bigger sets of dots.
This went against the previous findings, Barth says. Children do seem to understand the rough meanings of big number words like 80 or 90 even before they can count that high.
Ballingers study has been accepted for a presentation at a professional meeting. She will present her research at the annual meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, held in Boston in March. Barth will present another research project completed with Ballinger and AnjaLi Carrasco 07, Rachel Jacobson 08, and Jessica Tsai 07.
Its great to be at a place like Wesleyan where undergrads can get involved with ongoing faculty research, Ballinger says.
Ballinger will continue to work with Barth in the next semester gathering more data for her thesis.
Barth has been working with local children who are rewarded with stickers and prizes for participating, and their parents are compensated for travel expenses and has recently entered into an arrangement with some local schools.
We assure parents that we arent testing the children to see how good they are at math, but rather, finding out how kids in general think about numbers, Barth says. “There are educational implications as well. Understanding these abilities better will help us figure out the most effective ways to teach kids.
|By David Pesci, director of Media Relations. Photo by Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
Campus News & Events
by Olivia Drake •
Professor, Student Study Children’s Ability to Count
Online Incite Magazine Pushes Readers to Take Actions
Students Compete in National Putnam Math Competition
Betty Tishler Celebrates 97th Birthday at Wesleyan
Students Inducted into Scholastic Honor Society Phi Beta Kappa
Wesleyan University Press Receives NEA Grant
Wesleyan Receives State Stem Cell Grants
Grant Targets Treatment of Epileptic Seizures
Wesleyan Students Pedal for Affordable Housing
Scott Plous Named CASE Professor of the Year
Former Wesleyan Professor Burton Hallowell Dies
Faculty Receive Fulbright Scholar Grants
Men’s Soccer Winning Streak Ends at Tourney
Goldsmith Family Cinema to be Dedicated
Residential Life Staff Honored by National Organization
Global Warming Topic of Schumann Symposium
Wesleyan a Top Fulbright Scholar Producer
Former Trainer Walter Grockowski Dies at 86
Scientists Share Research at Biophysics Retreat
Presidential Search Forum Provides Insight
Wes Home Program Teaches Home Maintenance
City of Middletown Honors Wesleyan’s 175th
Presidential Search Committee Formed
Payroll Going Paperless
Voices of Liberal Learning Examine Issues that Shape Our World
Chapel Receives New Seven-Foot Piano
Wesleyan Celebrates 100 Years of Hosting Government Documents
Wesleyan, Science Center Forge Partnership
Presidential Search Committee Forming
Definitive Strength Moves Online with Drew Black
Wesleyan Ranked in Several Top 10 Lists
Faculty, Students offer Reflections at Sept. 11 Memorial
Fall Features Lecture Series on Slavery, Distinguished Presenter
David Titus, Professor Emeritus of Government, Dies
Annual Hughes Poster Session Big Success
Physics Professor Tom Morgan Studies Exotic Atoms
Wesleyan Hires Dean for Diversity
Art Created on Gallery’s Walls
Committee to Prepare Campus for Crisis, Disaster
Memorial Service Planned for David McAllester Sept. 24
Noah Simring ’07 Dies
Research Team Studies Bioluminescent Bays
Kay Butterfield Has 100th Birthday at Wesleyan
Wesleyan Breaks Fund-Raising Record with $35M
Iberian Studies Major Unveiled this Fall
Summer Institute on U.S. Citizenship, Race
Students, Alumni Bring Fatal Fire Story to Life through Play
Summer Programs Extend Learning Year-Round
Athletes Named NESCAC All-Academics
Seniors Start Web Site to Spur Balanced Political Dialogue
Bennet Attends International Forum on Education
Professors, Alumni Rock NYC with Tubas
Wesleyan Busy with Summer Projects
Class of 2006 Receives Degrees
President Bennet Delivers Commencement Address
John Hope Franklin Receives Honorary Doctor of Letter
Higher Education Innovator, Leader Dies at 72
“Wesleyan Through the Years” on Display
Men’s Lacrosse is NCAA Semi-Finalist
Connecticut Math Teachers Attend Leadership Academy
Saving Energy All Summer Long
Service Learning Projects Focus on Community
258 Students Honored at Awards Reception
Digital Images Topic of Workshop for Staff
Students Embrace Jewish Community at Wesleyan B’nei Mitzvah
AIDS Crisis, Disasters Explored in Upcoming CFA Season
Sophie Pollitt-Cohen ’09 is Co-Author of The Notebook Girls
Wesleyan President Bennet to Step Down
Poster Session Celebrates Thesis Projects
John Meerts New Vice President for Finance
Joseph Bruno Promoted to Vice President for Academic Affairs
Wesleyan’s Turf Field Dedicated at Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
More than 10,000 Books on Sale for Library Benefit
Apply for Wesleyan Staff Positions Online
Student, Professor Collaborate on Brain Study
Jeff Maier ’06 Breaks Team Record in Baseball
Breaking Down the Barriers in Middle East
“We Are Family” Theme of Alumni of Color Reunion
Lecture, Food Politics Week Part of Earth Week Celebration
Winter Athletes Honored at Reception
Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm Growing Up and Out
Economics Professor Gary Yohe Testifies Before U.S. Senate
Dana Royer’s Study Gives Teeth to Leaf Activity
Fauver Takes First Place in Building Competition
Honorary Degrees, Medals Awarded during 174th Commencement
Science Explored through Series of Films, Discussion
Campus Safety Upgrades Continue
4 Faculty Awarded Career Grants
WesGuitars Strummin’ Worldly Music
Ellen Thomas Explored Climate Change in Deep Sea Biota
Wrestler Wins NECCWA Championship
Project $ave Finds Savings from Wesleyan Community
Board Approves Tuition, Fee Increases
Local Students Get Taste of East Asian Culture
Recycle Maniacs at Wesleyan
Basketball Players Tutor Students at Green Street
Grant will Support Lecture Series on Ethics, Politics, Society
Provost Steps Down, Will Continue Teaching, Research
Neuroscience and Behavior Alumni Offer Research, Advice
Steven Devoto Finds Fish May Help Unmask Muscle Diseases
President Attends Summit on Education
Wesleyan A Player in Stem Cell Initiative
“Ferocious Beauty: Genome” World Premier Feb. 3 and 4
Diversity, Gender Topic of Affirmative Action Workshop
Trustee Emeritus Richard Couper Dies
Professor William Herbst, Student, Share Star Power
Student, Alumna Help AIDS Orphans
Ergonomics Target Workplace Strain, Pain
Turf’s Up! New Synthetic Field to Open in Spring
by Olivia Drake •
|Rebecca Littman ’08, Thomas Coen ’07, Stacie Szmonko 07 and Aaron Sussman ’07 are the editors of Incite Magazine, which aims to bridge political commentary with the activist community.|
| The power of insight, the power to incite. Thats the motto of a new magazine created by Wesleyan students that links progressive political commentary with action.
Incite Magazine founded by Thomas Coen 07, Aaron Sussman 07 and Rebecca Littman 08, features articles that call for a compassionate and honest world while providing readers with the tools and resources to help fight for it. The magazine is updated online as new content is edited at http://www.incitemagazine.org/ and augmented by a periodically-published print edition.
Launched Nov. 20, Incite was founded by with a grant from Campus Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress. The Wesleyan Student Assembly also supports the not-for-profit publication.
According to the magazines mission statement, Incite Magazine is a collaboration among students at Wesleyan who believe that progressive ends must be realized through free exchanges of ideas, opinions, and critiques that are then applied to action. The editors not only aim to offer incisive, well-researched commentary and bold, responsible reporting, but to provide a network for writers and activists who share progressive principles and to conclude each article with information on how to become active and involved.
We started Incite Magazine because we saw a gap between the political commentary community and the activist community, Coen says. We wanted to bridge that divide so that people dont just analyze what the problems are, but also connect that to what people can do about those problems, how they can work to make the world a better place.
Connecting the article with action is what sets Incite apart from other online magazines, Sussman explains. At the end of every article is a What You Can Do About It segment.
I will often read an article in the progressive press that exposes the truth and evokes anger. But the next step is asking, what can I do about this? Sussman says. Every article in Incite, provides ways for readers to get involved in social action, whether that is writing to Congress, contacting local media or joining a demonstration.
The editors also encourage readers to submit their own views.
Incite has eight sections including Iraq, The Constitution, The Media, Domestic Politics, Foreign Policy, Labor and Economics, Science and Technology and Activism. Under each of these headings, readers will find articles on that topic. For example, under the Science & Technology heading, Leah Katz writes about Arming Women in the Battle Against HIV/AIDS: The Case for Microbicides, and under the Foreign Policy heading, Coen writes about A Life-Long Supply of Genocide and Bushs Democracy Doctrine.
Sussmans article They Hate Our Freedom: The Truth About the Military Commissions Act,” under The Constitution section, was picked up by at least six other publications and was an official source on Google News.
On the magazines online version, readers can listen to several interviews conducted by members of the Incite staff. Coen and Ben Levinger have posted their interviews of Ned Lamont, Connecticuts former democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate and Emily Biuso, internship director for The Nation, and others. Sussman has posted many interviews, including with Cindy Sheehan, an anti-war peace activist and Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU.
In addition, the Web site offers an overabundance of useful links to sites on Iraq, law and human rights, media resources, media activists, government watchdogs, think tanks and other online magazines. It also features an action calendar, which includes upcoming events that involve political activism, advocacy or expression.
Incite wants to be a resource for several activist groups, and be used as a tool to connect them to the Wesleyan, Middletown, and broader community, Littman says.
The editors each have extensive experience with activism and journalism, ranging form working as a page in the U.S. Senate to interning with the ACLU and People for the American Way to studying political policy in Uganda and Cameroon. Additionally, Sussman has had articles published in several publications including alternet.org, the Atlantic Free Press, mediachannel.org, Eat the State! and In Motion Magazine.
Since three of the four editors will be graduating this spring, they are seeking writers, editorial staff, activists, photographers, designers and technology and Web specialists. The editors hope younger members of the Wesleyan community will take over the reigns in future years.
Stacie Szmonko 07 is the publications editor-in-chief. She hopes the experience with Incite will lead her to a career with a political magazine after college. Meanwhile, its an ideal way to gain experience and voice her opinions.
Ive always had a deep interest in progressive politics, critiquing the mainstream media and writing argumentative articles, she says. We hope new writers will join our discussion and help us create a magazine and community that can positively influence the way we see the world and our own potential to change it something that can Incite true progress.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
| Wesleyan University Press will be the recipient of a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The grant was awarded for the publication, promotion and distribution of new collections of poetry.
The press requested support for the publication and promotion of 12 poetry books that will be published in the Wesleyan Poetry Series in 2007 and 2008. Forthcoming titles to be covered by the grant include New and Collected Poems by Barbara Guest, a new edition of Victor Segalens modernist classic Stèles, and Zong by Marlene NourbeSe Philip.
We are delighted that the NEA is recognizing the importance of Wesleyans program, explains Suzanne Tamminen, director of Wesleyan University Press. Their support will not only help us cover publishing costs; it will aid in our marketing efforts,Leslie Starr, assistant director and marketing manager, says a portion of the NEA funds will go towards the presss Web site development. The press hopes to reach a larger student audience, and to increase the course adoption of its poetry books by utilizing the Web.
To this end, new Web pages will be designed for a select group of Wesleyan poetry books, specifically to enhance their usefulness in the classroom setting.
These pages will provide context for the books, links to author interviews, reviews, and audio clips, as well as essay topics and suggested further reading, Tamminen says.
The Presss staff consists of Tamminen, Starr, Stephanie Elliott, publicist; and Eric Levy, senior editor. Their office is located at 215 Long Lane in Middletown, across from the Physical Plant building.
Wesleyan University Press is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2007. The press is best known for its poetry series, which has included such notable poets as James Dickey, James Wright, Robert Bly, Marge Piercy, Ellen Bryant Voigt and Yusef Komunyakaa, among others.
The press has continued the tradition of publishing top-notch poetry, having won the 2004 National Book Award for poetry, for Jean Valentines Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 19652003, and the 2006 International Griffin Poetry Prize, for Kamau Brathwaites Born to Slow Horses.
For more information visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/wespress/.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
At left, Daniel Greengard ’08, Albert Hill ’07 and David Pollack, assistant professor of mathematics, work through problems, which were part of the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition held Dec. 2.
| During a recent mathematics test, which spanned six hours, Daniel Greengard 08 believes he only got one question completely correct out of 12.
But getting only one question correct puts him in the top half of all test-takers, explains David Pollack, assistant professor of mathematics and faculty-advisor for the 67th Annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition held Dec. 2.
The Putnam exam tests originality and technical competence, and contestants are expected to be familiar with formal theories embodied in undergraduate mathematics. All the necessary work to justify an answer and all the necessary steps of a proof must be shown clearly to obtain full credit.
Greengard was one of nine Wesleyan students who competed in the national competition. The annual contest began in 1938 and is designed to stimulate a healthy rivalry in mathematical studies in the colleges and universities of the United States and Canada.
Since the Putman problems come from many different areas of mathematics, occasionally we see a problem that somehow relates to a course that one of us is taking, but rarely do theorems from the course help, says Greengard, a mathematics major who has competed three times. Only basic knowledge of math is needed to solve most of the problems. For solving the Putnam problems, creativity and cleverness are much more helpful than knowledge of math.
Although practicing for the test is not necessary, Pollack ran Putnam practice sessions every Friday afternoon.
The practice sessions allow the students to work through similar problems together and share ideas with one another, Pollack says.
But during the test, they compete as individuals, which involves taking two, three-hour examinations under the supervision of a mathematics faculty member. Since the test grading is extensive, results wont be posted until April 2007.
Prizes are awarded to the institutions with the five winning teams. The top three teams receive cash prizes of $15,000 to 25,000. The five highest ranking individuals are designated Putnam Fellows by the Mathematical Association of America.
Putnam exam-taker Albert Hill 07, who is double majoring in mathematics and music, says most of the problems can be solved without using anything above linear algebra and multi-variable calculus. He recommends anyone who enjoys thinking creatively about intricate math problems would enjoy taking the exam.
These arent problems you find on homework, Hill says. These require multi-level, multi-step thinking and are much more interesting.
The competition is open only to regularly enrolled undergraduates, in colleges and universities of the United States and Canada, who have not yet received a college degree. No individual may participate in the competition more than four times.
The other students who competed this year include Jacob Goldin ’07, Daniel Hore ’07, Surendra Kunwar ’10, Jamie Macia ’07, Isaac Levy ’09, Yudhishthir Kandel ’09 and Nathan Fieldsteel ’10.
The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition is administered by The Mathematical Association of America.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
At left, ethnomusicology students Marzanna Poplawska, Nick Hockin, Amy Ingram and Hae Joo Kim gather during the Society for Ethnomusicologys 51st Annual Conference Nov. 16-19 in Honolulu.
| Nine Wesleyan graduate students studying ethnomusicology ended a recent conference on a high note.
Each student presented papers at The Society for Ethnomusicologys 51st Annual Conference Nov. 16-19 in Honolulu. This years topic was Decolonizing Ethnomusicology.
The annual convention is the focal point of the year; these meetings offer a great chance to network with fellow grad students, eminent senior scholars, and former alums, says Mark Slobin, professor of music. In addition, this is a record-breaking number of graduate students that presented.
Thembela Vokwana presented Can We Sing Together? Performing Nationhood through Choral Festivals in South Africa. Andrew Dewar presented “Sonic Explorations: On the Analysis of Intercultural Experimentalism; Marzanna Poplawska presented Diaspora or not yet–Indonesian Christians in the USA; and Junko Oba presented 280,000 Invisible Men: Music, Identity, and the Story of Nikkei/Zainchi Brazilian Community in Japan, Summer 2005.
Hae Joo Kim presented “Riding the Wave of Nostalgia and Melodrama through Dae Jang Geum; Po-wei Weng presented The Survival of Oral Tradition in a Modernizing Genre: ‘Oral Notation’ in Taiwan’s Peking Opera Percussion Music; Ian Eagleson presented Rural Popular Music and Ethnic Identity: Benga Dance Bands of the Luo Community in Western Kenya; Chris Miller presented “Indonessian Musik Kontemporer and the Issue of ‘Western Influence; Vincenzo Cambria presented Decolonizing the Archive: Documentation and the Production of Knowledge in a Participatory Ethnomusicological Research in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Amy Ingram presented “Parang: Finding a Place for Spanish Creole Identity in the Trinidadian National Calendar; and Nicholas Hockin presented “Drums, Headscarves, and Mothers’ Dances at Weddings in Bamako, Mali: Local Change on the Margins of Globalization;
This was Hockin’s second time presenting a paper at the SEM conference. This year, the Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology, presented segments of his dissertation, which is scheduled to be completed next year.
“Presenting our ideas in paper sessions allows us a chance to get vital feedback from our peers, not to mention developing public speaking skills. Networking is an integral aspect of the conference, enabling members to share personal and professional insightsthat broaden our understanding of the field and of each other,” Hockin says. “And we develop a sense of what the latest trends are by checking out presentations, reading paper topic titles and abstracts, and by browsing and/or buying books.
In addition to the students, Slobin and Su Zheng, associate professor of music and East Asian studies, chaired panels at the conference. Eric Charry, associate professor of music and Rob Lancefield, manager of Museum Information Services and registrar of collections at Davison Art Center presented papers. Sumarsam, chair of the Music Department and adjunct professor of music, attended the conference, along with several students and recent alumni.
The nine graduate students are among 22 current students studying music. They are an unusually varied group, Slobin explains, including students from Brazil, China, South Africa, Ghana, Mexico, Taiwan and Canada. They are part of the 46-year old program’s interest in drawing the widest spectrum of students from among the substantial pool of applicants; selectivity runs at about 20 percent.
The Music Department faculty wants their students to be well rehearsed, so prior to the conference, they drill the students in the skills of preparing a paper abstract, developing a quality 20-mimute presentation, and delivering it in a lively and well-organized way.
Usually our students’ papers stand out for the attentive response they draw from listeners, as opposed to the many droning, rapid-fire, or inaudible papers we sit through at the dozens of panels, explains Slobin, pictured at left, center.
Wesleyan ethnomusicology Ph.D candidate Amy Ingram has attended a few SEM conferences in the past, but this was her first time presenting at the conference, and her first time presenting her dissertational material to her peers.
I think that the conference is certainly a necessary rite of passage for all grad students, Ingram explains. It helps us all to gain the perspective of how our learning experience at Wesleyan compares to other graduate programs. Receiving feedback from peers and committee members certainly reinvigorated my motivation to keep writing, and meeting others during the social moments between panels was really beneficial.
Following the conference, the Wesleyan affiliates held a party to draw the past and present students together.
In 2008, the SEM convention will be held at Wesleyan in the new Susan Lemberg Usdan University Center.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor. Photos contributed.|
by Olivia Drake •
|Wesleyan senior Maggie Arias was one of 15 seniors welcomed to Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest national scholastic honor society during a ceremony Dec. 13. Also pictured, at left, is Gary Yohe, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics and PBK secretary; Mark Hovey, president of the gamma chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and Jane Tozer, assistant to the vice president of University Relations and PBK treasurer and event coordinator.|
| Fifteen Wesleyan students were inducted into the oldest national scholastic honor society, Phi Beta Kappa, during an initiation ceremony Dec. 13.
Election is limited to 12 percent of the graduating class, and based on general education expectations and by having a grade point average of 90 or above. Students are nominated by their major departments.
As individuals and as a group, you have contributed a great deal to Wesleyan through your intellectual engagement in the academic work and residential life of the institution, said President Doug Bennet during the induction ceremony. Recognizing your accomplishments is certainly one of the highlights of my job and while I won’t claim that my delight exceeds your own, it comes pretty close.
Phi Betta Kappa was founded in 1776, during the American Revolution. The students join the ninth oldest Phi Beta Kappa chapter in the United Statesfounded in 1845.
The organizations Greek initials signify the motto, “Love of learning is the guide of life.”
I am struck by the breadth and scope of academic interests, and the depth of study reflected across this group, Bennet said. A number of you have chosen double majors allowing you to combine those interests in your professional goals. You have furthered your varied interests through summer activities and internships and research.
Many students excel at Wesleyan, but those of you here today have taken on the challenge of a liberal arts education by investing yourself in everything you do. In a university where academic excellence is common, you stand out. That’s why membership in Phi Beta Kappa is such a singular honor.
The students include:
OWEN RANDALL ALBIN, a double major in the American Studies Program and in neuroscience and behavior. Albin sings with the Wesleyan Spirits, one of the oldest all-male a cappella groups in the country. He is also a member of the Wesleyan sketch comedy group, Lunchbox, where he writes comedic skits and acts in them. A senior interviewer for the admission office, Albin and has been a teachers assistant for biology and chemistry classes. After graduation he hopes to do a few months of clinical volunteer work somewhere in Africa.
MARGARETTE MAGGIE ADELINA ARIAS, a psychology major, was inducted into Psi Chi last spring, the Psychology Honor Society. As part of a research team during her sophomore year, she worked closely with a local elementary school to implement a peer mediation program to reduce playground violence. Three of her four years here at Wesleyan, she has worked at the Edna C. Stevens School in Cromwell in the after-school program, Kids Korner. Her plans include grad school, and plans to go into counseling or clinical social work.
HYUNG-JIN CHOI, an economics major, has sung with the a cappella group Outside-In for three years and won the intramural basketball championship his sophomore year. A Freeman Scholar, Choi has helped organize events for the Korean Students Association. After graduation Hyung-Jin will return to Korea to serve in the military for two years then plans to go to graduate school and further pursue his studies in economics.
JACK MICHAEL DiSCIACCA carries a double major in mathematics and physics. During his junior year he was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship to fund research during the 2006-2007 school year. DiSciacca plans to attend graduate school to study either pure or applied physics.
CHRISTINA ANN DURFEE is a double major in mathematics and psychology. While at Wesleyan, Christina won the Robertson Prize and Rae Shortt Prize in mathematics. Her plans for the future remain uncertain, but Durfee is currently debating between going into the actuarial sciences and going to graduate school for math.
JACOB STUART GOLDIN is majoring in economics and government. During his sophomore year, Goldin organized a student group that worked with local organizations to push for gay marriage legislation in Connecticut. Eventually he plans to go to law school and/or graduate school in economics.
HANNAH GOODWIN-BROWN, a music major, won the Wesleyan Concerto Competition her sophomore year and performed the Elgar Cello Concerto with the Wesleyan orchestra. She went abroad to the Republic of Georgia, something no one at Wesleyan has done before, and was captain of the womens ultimate Frisbee team. Goodwin-Brown hopes to work with plants in a professional capacity, perhaps getting a degree in either landscape architecture or horticulture.
MAXFIELD WESTGATE HEATH, a music major, is an active composer/pianist in several groups of many genres including jazz, rock, and hip-hop. He has recorded several albums and is in the process of recording a debut studio album of his own songs. He plans on studying composition in grad school in preparation for making a living through some combination of writing/recording/performing and teaching.
CHEUK KEI HO, a math and economics major, is a member of the Wesleyan Spirits and has performed extensively on and off campus for the last four years. He is a Freeman Scholar and studied in Italy during his junior year fall semester. He plans to work in the investment banking division of J.P. Morgan Hong Kong after graduation.
CHEN-WEI JACK HUNG, a double major in economics and French studies, is a native of Taiwan and is a Freeman Scholar. He has learned French as his third language and studied in Grenoble for a semester. Hung was co-chair of the Wesleyan Model United Nations Team representing Slovenia, Hungary, and Malaysia in different MUN (Model United Nation) Conferences. He also served as a resident advisor for a year, taking care of 35 students. After graduation he will go to New York.
GRETCHEN MARLIESE KISHBAUCH carries a double major in psychology and science in society. She served as project director on research co-sponsored by Wesleyans Department of Psychology and the Middletown branch of the State Department of Children and Families. During this time she directed a research team of undergraduate and graduate students investigating child maltreatment. She was awarded membership in Psi Chi, a national psychology honor society. She is currently co-developing and co-leading a student form on Global Health Issues in the Science in Society Department. Kishbauch plans to pursue graduate study in public health.
MANG-JU SHER, a physics major, is a Freeman Scholar. While at Wesleyan she started learning Japanese and violin. She loves cooking and plans to pursue a Ph.D in physics.
BECK LARMON STRALEY is an earth and environmental science major. The bulk of Becks energy is currently focused on Venus. When not studying, Straley can be found at a residential life staff meeting, giving tours on campus to prospective students and their families, destroying the gender binary, or running.
ZHAOXUAN CHARLES YANG, an economics and mathematics major from China is a Freeman Scholar. Yang was captain of the Ping Pong Club for two years, co-chair of the Chinese Students Association, and a resident assistant. After graduation, Yang will be working for J.P Morgan Securities in their Hong Kong Office.
KEVIN ALAN YOUNG is a double major in history and Latin American studies. During his time at Wesleyan, Kevin has taught 6th and 7th graders at Summerbridge Cambridge in two six-week courses in literature and a self-designed social studies class on the Vietnam War. He also served as a faculty advisor and organized a camping excursion for 75 students and 20 teachers. He has been a Big Brother volunteer, mentoring a nine-year-old boy. On campus, Kevin has been active in United Student Labor Action Coalition, Students for Ending the War in Iraq, Nagarote-Wesleyan Partnership, and English as a Second Language. Young studied abroad in Nicaragua, and he received a Davenport Grant to spend nine weeks in Chiapas and Oaxaca in southeastern Mexico conducting research on popular education programs. Youngs future includes graduate school in Latin American history and hopes to teach at the college and/or high school level.
To view additional photos go to the Wesleyan Connection’s Campus Snapshot section at http://www.wesleyan.edu/newsletter/snapshot/2006/1206phibetakappa.html.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
|Five Wesleyan students will participate in the Habitat for Humanity Bicycle Challenge this summer. Each biker is trying to raise $4,000 for the cause.|
| Five Wesleyan students will pedal to help the cause of more affordable home-ownership this summer, raising funds and awareness for Habitat for Humanity coast-to-coast.
The students, led by Jessalee Landfried 07, will bike 70 miles a day, hoping to cross the entire country in two months. Landfried will be accompanied by Elizabeth Ogata 09, Liana Woskie 10, Margot Kistler 09 and Shira Miller 07, along with 90 other students from Yale University.
This is the 13th year Yale has hosted the Habitat Bicycle Challenge (HBC) and Wesleyan came aboard this year.
The trip is essentially a large-scale service project with a strong commitment to supporting Habitat for Humanity, Landfried says.
Before leaving, each rider will raise $4,000 – approximately a dollar for every mile biked – for Habitat for Humanity. Every night, the riders will give presentations and answer questions in churches and community centers, trying to increase Habitat’s visibility, stimulate the formation of new chapters and encourage donations.
The event will generate approximately $430,000 in proceeds, enough to underwrite the construction of eight Habitat homes.
Each year, the Habitat Bicycle Challenge not only raises more money for Habitat than any other student-run fundraiser in the country, it introduces thousands of people to the good work that Habitat for Humanity does. Last year, the students raised $430,000.
Landfried learned about the challenge from a teammate in the Americorps.
My team leader had just finished HBC, and said it was the most exciting, challenging, fun thing she’d ever done, she says. I chose to become a leader this year because I’m excited by the opportunity to have an adventure and do something really amazing for a great organization.
The riders can choose a northern, central or southern route to the west coast. All three routes depart from New Haven, Conn. on June 1, and they end in Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco, respectively.
Landfried and Miller will ride the central route, biking across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho before reaching Portland, Oregon. Kistler will be on the northern trip and Ogata and Woskie will ride the southern trip.
Ogata chose to participate to combine meaningful service work with a journey across the country. This will be her second trek across the U.S.
Several summers ago, I biked across the country for my own enjoyment, she says. Although the trip was amazing, the Habitat Bicycle challenge really excites me because it has the purpose of helping other people in all parts of the country.
The students will sleep in churches and community centers along the way. In every community where they spend the night, the riders will give a short slideshow presentation about Habitat, the trip, and the goal of ending poverty housing. These venues generally supply meals for the riders.
When biking all day long, most people need around 6,000 calories a day – so we’re going to be hungry, Landfried says.
During the ride, every route is accompanied by a support van, which carries the bikers clothing and necessities. When they reach their destinations, the van will bring the riders back to Connecticut along with their bikes.
In exchange for raising $4,000 per rider, the bikers receive a free road bike, deep discounts on gear, and free room and board for the duration of the trip. The bike, gear discounts and food are provided for by corporate sponsorships that the leaders arrange over the course of the year.
Since most of the riders are recreational riders who are excited by the combination of adventure and service, every rider is expected to start training once they receive their bike.
Landfried says she bikes about 50 miles a week now, and is training for the trip by increasing the number of miles every week.
But having the physical ability is minor to having the mental ability.
The prospect of biking across the country is certainly daunting, Landfried says. My parents won’t even drive that far! But I try to keep reminding myself that students have been completing the trip for more than a decade now, and that if they could do it, so can I.
Landfried says her energy is currently too focused on securing corporate sponsorships, individual fundraising, planning the route and arranging housing to get too worried about the biking itself.
The bikers will spend at least one day a week working on various habitat home sites along their journey west.
Miller says the tip may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“I’m doing the trip because I can’t imagine a more unique way to explore the country, or a better time to do it than right after graduating college,” she says. “It is a great personal experience because I know I will be supporting a social cause that is important to me while pushing my limits and having a great time.”
In addition to raising awareness and funds for Habitat, Landfried says she has other goals in mind.
I hope to gain a greater appreciation for the vastness and diversity of our country, to meet interesting new people, to have fun, and to develop quads the size of a football, she says.
The Wesleyan fund-raisers are currently accepting donations to support their efforts. They plan to hold fund-raising events later in the year. For more information on making a donation, visit http://habitatbike.org or email Jessalee Landfried at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
|The men’s cross country team encountered a muddy course at the Division III NCAA National Championships Nov. 18, however finished in the top half. (Photos by Steve Maheu)|
| The Wesleyan Mens Cross Country team overcame an uneven season of performances to finish in the top half of the field at the Division III NCAA National Championships in Ohio on Nov 18.
We started off running instead of racing, Mens Head Coach John Crooke says about the early part of the season. Its quite simply competing. Cross country is not about time, its about place. When you race, you are competing, not running.
The team had three mediocre efforts in its first three tests of the season, dipping from 10th to 14th in the New England Open, coming up short of both Williams and Amherst in the Little Three meet and placing a disappointing fifth of 11 in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) meet.
I would say we had a roller-coaster season, Matt Shea 08 says. I feel like we lost some of our morale in the middle of the season.
Some, but not all. A little more than two weeks after their disappointing showing at the NESCAC meet, the men placed 4th out of 45 teams at the New England Division III Regional Championships in Springfield, Mass. Out of 309 total finishers, the Wesleyan scoring five finished: 17th Alex Battaglino 07; 24th Anda Greeney 07; 34th Sean Watson 08; 43rd Jon King 07; and 47th Mike Brady 07.
We really put our best team race together when it counted at regionals with a 34-second spread from one to five and less than a minute from one to seven, says Brady.
The top two teams at the event, Williams and Bowdoin, received automatic bids to the NCAA National Championship meet. Wesleyans outstanding performance earned the team an at-large bid to the 32-team field. It was the schools second-ever invite to the nationals, the first coming last year.
I was exceptionally proud of how we never gave up and we were able to come together as a team and have great races at both regionals and nationals, says Shea.
Nationals were hosted by Wilmington College in Ohio and held at the Voice of America Park in West Chester on Nov. 18th. Wesleyan athletics director John Biddiscombe, who attended the event, described them as some of the worst conditions for a sporting event I have ever seen. Days of torrential rain had left the ground saturated and muddy with standing water inches deep throughout the course.
Course conditions were nuts, says Anda Greeney. Cross country is about running in all types of weather, but this being Nationals, youd think they would choose a place that wasnt sitting at or under the water table.
Overall, the Cardinal finished 15th – ahead of Bowdoin (17th) and Trinity (31st); Williams (7th) was the only New England school to finish higher than Wesleyan. Watson posted the teams best individual performance, crossing the finish line 67th out of 279 runners.
Running at Nationals is an exciting experience, Brady says. The dinner, the free stuff, flying out to Ohio, the NCAA symbol painted on the grass near the starting area. Its quite an atmosphere.
|By Brian Katten, sports information director|
by Olivia Drake •
|Laura Grabel, the Fisk Professor of Natural Sciences and professor of biology, received $878,348 for her study on embryonic stem cells.|
| Wesleyan and one of its researchers were major beneficiaries of the State of Connecticuts initial round of nearly $20 million in grants to fund non-federally-sanctioned stem cell research.
The awarding of the grants was announced on November 22 in Hartford.
Wesleyan was a co-recipient with the University of Connecticut of $2.5 million dedicated for the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Core Facility, which will be located in Farmington. Laura Grabel, the Fisk Professor of Natural Sciences and professor of biology, also received $878,348 for her study titled Directing Production and Functional Integration of Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Neural Stem Cells.
Grabel will also be co-director of the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Core Facility with Ren-He Xu, associate professor and director of the human embryonic stem cell laboratory at the University of Connecticut Health Center.
The Human Embryonic Stem Cell Core Facility will be a world class facility that will be a tremendous benefit to the states residents as well as our faculty and students, Grabel says. It lets us maximize the available resources and gives researchers a dedicated space to work with the unapproved stem cell lines.
The stipulation regarding unapproved stem cell lines is extremely important to stem cell researchers because of the federal guidelines. It is not illegal to work with these non-approved stem cell lines; in fact, researchers in private industry have been doing so for several years. However, researchers cannot use facilities or resources that have been paid for by federal funds for approved stem cell lines in conjunction with research on non-approved lines.
Most of the researchers involved have received federal funding for their work on approved stem cell lines, says Grabel, who has received NIH funding for her work with these lines. To partition a lab and replicate much of the materials and resources that are dedicated to federally-funded work would be tremendously wasteful and extremely impractical. This facility will eliminate any chance of overlap.
A similar facility will also be created at Yale with an identical $2.5 million state grant.
Grabel adds that use of these facilities will not be limited to the three universities who are being funded by the states stem cell initiative Wesleyan, Yale and UConn.
Students from all the universities and colleges in the state will have the opportunity to be trained there, she says. Thats another great advantage of this facility. Well be training a whole new generation of stem cell researchers.
Grabels work at the facility will be based on the individual grant she received from the state. Her research focuses on how to improve the effect of stem cells can be implanted in the brain to replace damaged neurons.
When Grabel says we she is referring to her co-investigators, Janice Naegele, chair and professor of biology, professor of neuroscience, and Gloster Aaron, assistant professor of biology.
We have some fantastic researchers here, and our capabilities and interests complement each other quite well, Grabel says. Its really the strength of our research abilities that the state responded to by making us a partner in this initiative.
Parts of the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Core Facility in Farmington are already up and running. The rest should be fully operational in early 2007.
|By David Pesci, director of Media Relations.|
by Olivia Drake •
|Gloster Aaron, Janice Naegele and Laura Grabel will study if stem cell-based treatment in mice brains could possibly control epileptic seizures in human brains.|
| A $300,000 grant from the McKnight Foundation will help a Wesleyan University researcher investigate the possibility of using brain transplants of embryonic stem (ES) cells to control epileptic seizures in mice. If successful the study could lay the early groundwork for using similar therapy in human beings.
Janice Naegele, chair and professor of biology and professor of neuroscience and behavior at Wesleyan, is the principle investigator in the study that will bring together the expertise two other Wesleyan faculty Laura Grabel, Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of biology, and Gloster Aaron, assistant professor of biology as well as Gordon Fishell, professor of biology at New York University.
During the three-year study, Naegele and her colleagues will attempt to create GABAergic neurons from mouse ES cells and implant them in the brains of mice that experience epileptic seizures. The hope is that the new neurons derived from the grafted ES cells will be able to restore normal levels of the brains inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA by replacing GABAergic neurons destroyed by the epileptic seizures. GABA is one of the key chemical messengers in the brain that regulates the firing of neurons and prevents seizures.
A lot of the focus in stem cell-based treatment is in treating neurodegenerative disorders, Naegele says. Due to ethical roadblocks in harvesting neural stem cells from human embryos, a preferred course is autologous donation taking an individuals own stem cells and using them to generate neural stem cells for treatment. However, in the case of some forms of inherited epilepsy, there a genetic defect in the neurons that causes the seizures. This defect is likely mirrored in the patients stem cells, which is one reason why we are focusing on using non-autologous cell lines.
From a clinical perspective, animal epilepsy isnt identical in all facets to human epilepsy. However, it is close enough that Naegeles successful use of these GABAergic neurons to control seizures will go a long way to help scientists understand the potential treatment implications in humans.
For the study, the researchers will chemically induce the initial epileptic seizures in the mice. After two to three weeks, the mice develop spontaneous seizures, making the overall effect more similar to the way seizures occur in humans. The stem cell grafts will be made into the brains of transgenic mice that have fluorescent neurons, allowing the scientists to identify interactions between the cells in the grafts and the host brains using a combination of electrical recording and microscopic imaging. The studies will attempt to demonstrate that the grafted stem cells form connections with the host brain, a critical step for functional recovery from epilepsy.
To create the cells needed to potentially suppress the seizures, Naegeles team will use a new method to produce high yield GABAergic neurons.
We plan to use molecular-genetic approaches to get the neural stem cells to express a sequence of transcription factors that will regulate the genes required to produce the GABAergic neurons, Naegele says. They will then be transplanted to the mouse hippocampus and then well see if they have enough genetic information to act properly.
Along with the faculty mentioned, this three-year study will also involve post-doctoral students, graduate, and undergraduate students at Wesleyan who will be assisting with components of the research.
This is really exciting because it is bringing together three labs here and a lab down at NYU, Naegele says. The expertise at each complements the others. Its a more risky study than others in this area, but the potential information we can generate will really be useful as we move forward investigating if this can be an effective treatment for epileptic seizures.
In addition to supporting this collaboration, Naegele will participate in a yearly McKnight Conference on Neuroscience, which fosters interactions among the awardees of all of their programs. This years conference will be held in the June 2007 in Aspen, Colorado and will focus on music, art, and the brain.
According to their Web site, The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience is an independent charitable organization established by The McKnight Foundation to carry out the wishes of its founder, William L. McKnight (1887-1979), who led the 3M company for three decades. McKnight had a personal interest in memory and its diseases. He chose to set aside part of his legacy to bring hope to those suffering from brain injury or disease and cognitive impairment. The Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Awards were established in 2000 as the Memory and Brain Disorders Awards. Each year, up to six awards are given. Awards provide $100,000 per year for three years. For more information go to www.mcknight.org/neuroscience.
|By David Pesci, director of Media Relations. Photo by Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|
by Olivia Drake •
| Scott Plous, professor of psychology, was named the Connecticut Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
This designation means he is among only 43 professors working in the United States, the District of Columbia and Guam to be considered a 2006 U.S. Professor of the Year.
It was quite a surprise, as you can imagine,” Plous says, modestly.
The goal of the U.S. Professors of the Year Program is to increase awareness of the importance of undergraduate instruction. In recognizing faculty members for their achievements as teachers, the award gives institutions an opportunity to celebrate excellence and provide models for faculty and students.
Plous, who joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1990, is an expert on psychology of prejudice and discrimination, decision making, and the human use of animals and the environment.
The CASE-Carnegie award is Plouss second major teaching award. In 1998, he received Wesleyans Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching.
Plous credits Ruth Striegel-Moore, the Walter A. Crowell University Professor of the Social Sciences and professor of psychology, for nominating him while she was chair of the Psychology Department.
Im deeply grateful to Ruth for her support of my teaching, and I also owe a huge debt to the wonderful teaching apprentices and course assistants I work with, he says.
Plous is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and the American Psychological Association, and has been the recipient of several APA division awards, including the William James Book Award, for his book The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making, the Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize, the Otto Klineberg Intercultural and International Relations Award, and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Award for Distinguished Service to the Society. In addition, he is a faculty associate of the Tufts University Center for Animals and Public Policy and is on the editorial board of Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy.
The Professor of the Year program is the only national initiative specifically designed to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.
“One of the things that pleases me about the award is that Wesleyan held its own when compared with large research universities, Plous says. This reflects well on Wesleyan’s Instructional Media Services, library and support staff.”
The Council for Advancement and Support of Education began the program in 1981, and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching became a partner and major sponsor the following year.
Winners of the award must meet the programs demanding criteria. The primary characteristic the judges consider is an extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching demonstrated by the impact on and involvement with undergraduate students; scholarly approach to teaching and learning; contributions to undergraduate education in the institution, community and profession; and support from colleagues and current and former undergraduate students.
For this achievement, Plous was invited to a congressional reception in Washington, DC, and given a framed certificate of recognition.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|