Publications

“You Just Have to Read This…” Books by Wesleyan Authors de Visé ’89, Petre ’06, Rips ’72

In this continuing series, Annie Roach ’22, an English and Italian studies major from Northampton, Mass., reviews alumni books and offers a selection for those in search of knowledge, insight, and inspiration. The volumes, sent to us by alumni, are forwarded to Olin Library as donations to the University’s collection and made available to the Wesleyan community.

Daniel de Visé ’89, King of the Blues: The Rise and Reign of B.B. King, the First Guitar Hero (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2021)

In what is the first comprehensive biography of the legendary blues musician B.B. King, Daniel de Visé takes readers on a fascinating journey through the life of King and the aspects of American culture that grounded his career and launched him into stardom. De Visé pulls off an impressive feat in which his Pulitzer Prize–winning journalism skills shine through. He describes specific scenes with meticulous detail and authority, in large part due to the numerous interviews he conducted with people who were—in all shapes and forms—part of King’s life at various points. De Visé traces King’s roots in the Deep South during the Jim Crow era, revealing how the trauma of his childhood contributed to his doggedness in his career, and follows him through the rest of his life.

Along with relaying the facts and nuances of King’s life, de Visé goes back in time, outlining the lives of King’s ancestors and giving a holistic picture of the world into which King was born. The result is a biography that has a deep interest in familial ties, the history of music as it relates to the African-American experience, and the implications of King’s life for the future of music. As all good biographies must do, de Visé’s book fundamentally brings King back to life, animating him in our collective memory.

Daniel de Visé is a writer and journalist. He has worked at several notable publications, including The Washington Post and The Miami Herald. In addition to King of the Blues, he is the author of I Forgot to Remember, Andy & Don, and The Comeback. He lives in Maryland.

Blumel, Nam Write Paper on Quantum Physics

Reinhold Blumel, Charlotte Augusta Ayres Professor of Physics, recently co-authored a paper in Nature called “Power-optimal, stabilized entangling gate between trapped-ion qubits.” Yunseong Nam, one of the other co-authors, worked with Blumel as a graduate student.

Blumel’s contributions to this paper stem from his connections to IonQ, a technology company for quantum computing. Nam is now the company’s chief theorist.

Papers by STEM Faculty Padilla-Benavides, Bryant Published

Raquel Bryant

Raquel Bryant

Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Raquel Bryant and Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Teresita Padilla-Benavides are two women in STEM whose work has recently been highlighted in national science journals.

Bryant, who will join the Wesleyan faculty in July 2022, co-wrote a paper titled “Microfossil and geochemical records reveal high-productivity paleoenvironments in the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway during Oceanic Anoxic Event 2” that will be in the December volume of Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. Her work has also been featured as a Research Highlight in Nature Reviews Earth and Environment.

Padilla-Benavides recently co-wrote an article titled “The mitochondrially-localized nucleoside diphosphate kinase D (NME4) is a novel metastasis suppressor” alongside Alyssa Carlson ’21. Their work was published in BMC Biology on October 21. Carlson, who graduated in the spring, won the 2021 Wesleyan Butterfield Prize and the 2021 Wesleyan Hawk Prize.

Teresita Padilla-Benavides

Teresita Padilla-Benavides

In addition, Padilla-Benavides worked with students Lily Barnes ’22, Joshua Grajales ’24, and Jocelyn Valasquez Baez ’23 on an article about STEM education. The article, titled “Impact of professional and scientific societies’ student chapters on the development of underrepresented undergraduate students,” was accepted for publication on Oct. 15 by Frontiers.

“Undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups (URG) in institutions of higher education with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers often lack the support, resources, and community necessary to succeed in their desired fields,” the abstract reads. “Through mentoring, webinars, seminars, and various research presentation opportunities, national societies and “locally-based” institutional student chapters provide atmospheres in which URG undergraduates can develop the skills required for academic and professional careers in STEM. In addition, national societies and student chapters contribute to outreach activities aimed towards the public in order to foster interest in STEM, as well as to primary and secondary school students to help them develop competency in skills and areas that lead to successful STEM careers.”

Padilla-Benavides and the students also delve into the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on community building through such societal chapters.

“Though the conditions were challenging, they allowed for new perspectives on problem-solving in the face of adversity,” the abstract reads. “The pandemic promoted the development of creative ways by which institutions and national societies could continue to educate students virtually.”

Poulos Authors 3 New Environmental-Themed Papers

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Helen Poulos recently co-authored three new papers:

Wildfire and topography drive woody plant diversity in a Sky Island mountain range in the Southwest USA,” published in Ecology and Evolution on Oct. 5.

Choked out: Battling invasive giant cane along the Rio Grande/ Bravo Borderlands,” published in River Research and Applications on Sept. 20.

And “Mixed-severity wildfire as a driver of vegetation change in an Arizona Madrean Sky Island System, USA,” written alongside Michael Freiburger ’21 and published in Fire on Oct. 20.

Poulos’s research focuses on plant distribution patterns as a result of the influences of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on the levels of local, landscape, and regional. She also studies these patterns through plant ecophysiology, biogeochemistry, and community ecology.

“You Just Have to Read This…” Books by Wesleyan Authors Gottlieb ’94, Scolnik ’78, Shanok ’98

In this continuing series, Annie Roach ’22, an English and Italian studies major from Northampton, Mass., reviews alumni books and offers a selection for those in search of knowledge, insight, and inspiration. The volumes, sent to us by alumni, are forwarded to Olin Library as donations to the University’s collection and made available to the Wesleyan community.

Uncontrolled Spread book coverScott Gottlieb ’94, Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic (Harper, 2021)

Since March 2020, the news cycle has been riddled with despair, conflicting information, and false theories. Even with vaccines, social distancing, and masking, COVID-19 isn’t going away, and the next pandemic could be around the corner. Since our realities have changed so much, it’s hard to pinpoint where and when exactly the United States (and the world) went wrong in handling the COVID-19 crisis, and what the best steps are moving forward. In his new book Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic, physician and former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb addresses everyone’s most pressing questions concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and consolidates his answers into a strong, cohesive narrative.

Gottlieb offers a path forward that is hopeful yet urgent, compelling his readers and the American government to be proactive about preventing a future crisis that could be even more devastating than the one we’ve already experienced. Using historical knowledge, epidemiology, and political science, Gottlieb forms a strong argument that will leave readers with a clearer understanding of the world we’ve been inhabiting and a more urgent mission to improve its future.

Scott Gottlieb is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He served as the twenty-third commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administrator and is a contributor to CNBC and a partner at New Enterprise Associates. He is a member of Wesleyan University’s Board of Trustees. He is on the board of directors of Pfizer Inc. and Illumina, Inc. He lives in Westport, Connecticut.

Tan Authors Book on Chinese Power Development During Revolution and War

tan book Assistant Professor of History Ying Jia Tan authored a new book titled Recharging China in War and Revolution, 1882-1955, already available as an e-book and soon to be available in hardcover, beginning Oct. 15. The work, published by Cornell University Press, explores Chinese power consumption and electrical development throughout seventy-three years of war and revolution.

According to the book’s abstract:

Tan traces this history from the textile-factory power shortages of the late Qing, through the struggle over China’s electrical industries during its civil war, to the 1937 Japanese invasion that robbed China of 97 percent of its generative capacity.

Along the way, he demonstrates that power industries became an integral part of the nation’s military-industrial complex, showing how competing regimes asserted economic sovereignty through the nationalization of electricity. Based on a wide range of published records, engineering reports, and archival collections in China, Taiwan, Japan, and the United States, Recharging China in War and Revolution, 1882-1955 argues that, even in times of peace, the Chinese economy operated as though still at war, constructing power systems that met immediate demands but sacrificed efficiency and longevity.

At Wesleyan, Tan’s research primarily focuses on the history of energy development in China. He studies this subject in relation to environmental history, technology, and cartography. This semester, Tan is teaching HIST 223: Traditional China: Eco-Civilization and Its Discontents and HIST 362: Issues in Contemporary Historiography.

Feller Pens Article Analyzing New Jewish Museum in Israel

Jeremy Zwelling Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Assistant Professor of Religion Yaniv Feller penned an article over the summer titled “Too Good to be True?” for the Tel Aviv Review of Books.

In the piece, Feller discusses the Museum of the Jewish People (ANU), which first opened March 2021. One of the museum’s main exhibits begins with a segment called “Mosaic: Identity and Culture in Our Times” before moving into the historical roots of Judaism, exploring different forms of Judaism in contemporary and historical contexts, as well as the diversity of the Jewish people and the way they observe their religion.

“The question of whether there is such a singular object of research called Jewish history—indeed, whether the history of the Jewish people is unified—has confronted every historian of the Jews. In implicitly answering it, the new exhibition at ANU offers a different historiography to that of its predecessor,” Feller writes.

He argues that the museum could have been constructed anywhere in the world but its specific location within Israel calls into question the role of Israeli politics in the Jewish faith. Feller cites various Israeli politicians who have fought against the LBGTQ+ community, contending that such people inherently affect the religion of the country they seek to represent.

“It is about who gets to define Jewishness,” Feller states.

Feller then analyzes the relationship between politics and Judaism, concluding that Judaism cannot be defined by any one place or identity.

“ANU is everything its creators hoped it would be. A cutting-edge, beautifully executed, comprehensive museum of the Jewish people. And precisely because of that, it feels at odds with its location. As the Museum of the Jewish People, its permanent exhibition is inspirational, but also aspirational. It is increasingly at odds with the diverging paths of the Jewish people and the State of Israel in which the museum is located.”

Sultan, Waterman ’20 Co-Author Paper on Plant Reproduction

Professor of Biology Sonia Sultan recently co-authored an article titled “Transgenerational effects of parent plant competition on offspring development in contrasting conditions” with BA/MA student Robin Waterman ’20. The article, published in Ecology on Sept. 8, examines the relationship between parent plants and their offspring, especially how competition among such parent plants can alter the next generation.

“Conditions during a parent’s lifetime can induce phenotypic changes in offspring, providing a potentially important source of variation in natural populations. Yet to date, biotic factors have seldom been tested as sources of transgenerational effects in plants,” reads an excerpt from the paper’s abstract.

Rubenstein, Taylor ’68 Collaborate On Essay Collection

ImageProfessor of Religion Mary-Jane Rubenstein recently co-authored an essay in collection titled Image: Three Inquiries in Technology and Imagination alongside Mark C. Taylor ’68, professor of religion at Columbia University.

The book, published in September 2021 by the University of Chicago Press, explores how visual elements function in relationship to humans and technology.

“Modern life is steeped in images, image-making, and attempts to control the world through vision,” the book’s description reads. “Mastery of images has been advanced by technologies that expand and reshape vision and enable us to create, store, transmit, and display images. The three essays in Image, written by leading philosophers of religion Mark C. Taylor, Mary-Jane Rubenstein, and Thomas A. Carlson, explore the power of the visual at the intersection of the human and the technological.”

Rubenstein also is the author of Strange Wonder: The Closure of Metaphysics and the Opening of Awe (2009), Worlds Without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse (2014), and Pantheologies: Gods, Worlds, Monsters (2018). Taylor, too, has written several books, including Disfiguring: Art, Architecture, Religion (1994), Mystic Bones (2007), and Abiding Grace: Time, Modernity, Death (2018).

Papers by Kuenzel, Vásquez Published in Economics Journals

David Kuenzel, associate professor of economics, is the co-author of a new paper published in the European Economic Review titled “Preferential Trade Agreements and MFN Tariffs: Global Evidence.” In the paper, Kuenzel and his co-author, Rishi Sharma from Colgate University, study theoretically and empirically the effects of countries’ import composition on multilateral liberalization using a global tariff database that covers the 2000–2011 period. Kuenzel and Sharma provide evidence that greater preferential trade agreement (PTA) import shares induce tariff cuts on non-member countries. The baseline estimates imply that a 10 percentage point increase in the share of imports from PTA partners lowers most-favored-nation (MFN) tariff rates by about 0.4 percentage points. This effect is driven by countries that negotiate deeper preferential trade deals as they are prone to lead to more inefficient trade diversion, which creates a stronger incentive to subsequently cut MFN tariffs.

Jorge Vásquez, assistant professor of economics, is the co-author of a new paper published in the November 2021 issue of the journal Games and Economic Behavior titled “Co-worker altruism and unemployment.” This theoretical paper, co-authored with Marek Weretka, demonstrates altruism among co-workers may generate downward wage rigidity that creates involuntary unemployment in economic downturns.

Kleinberg Authors New Book on Levinas’ Cultural Legacy

The first time Ethan Kleinberg, the Class of 1958 Distinguished Professor of History and Letters, immersed himself in the world of the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas 20 years ago, he wrote a book.

“It was written as a traditional intellectual history and I found that what that I had done was to completely deactivate the aspects of Levinas’ thought where he believes that there are ethical guidelines that come to us from outside our own history, these transcendent ethical guidelines puncture any historical or contextual moment,” Kleinberg said.

He didn’t like what he’d written, so he took an unprecedented step—he tore it up and started over again over a decade later.

Kleinberg’s new take on Levinas’ cultural legacy, Emmanuel Levinas’s Talmudic Turn: Philosophy and Jewish Thought will be published this October in the Cultural Memory in the Present Series from Stanford University Press. Using a series of Levinas’ lectures on the Torah and the Talmud as the touchpoints, Kleinberg has crafted an exploration of his thinking that encompasses aspects of Western philosophy, French Enlightenment universalism, and the Lithuanian Talmudic tradition.

Levinas, a man of strong convictions and a sense of humor, was born in 1906 in present-day Lithuania. Levinas was the among the first to bring philosopher Martin Heidegger’s work to France, and later wrestled with the German’s turn toward Nazism.

Levinas became a French citizen in 1930 and served in the French military during World War II. He was captured in 1940 and spend the remainder of the war in a German prison camp. He was insulated from the Holocaust because of his status as a prisoner of war. Levinas held a relatively protected position despite his religion. His family in Lithuania did not, and were murdered by the Nazis.

Ethan Kleinberg

Ethan Kleinberg

While a prisoner, Levinas turned to sacred Jewish texts, which prompted an evolution in his thinking. Initially, a philosopher associated with the existentialists, his experience during the war led him to focus on what he called “being-Jewish.” He chronicled his thoughts in a series of notebooks, which were recently published.

Padilla-Benavides Explores How Copper Affects Human Disease in FASEB Journal

Teresita Padilla-Benavides

Teresita Padilla-Benavides

A new paper co-authored by Teresita Padilla-Benavides, assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, is published in the July 2021 issue of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal.

Titled “The molecular and cellular basis of copper dysregulation and its relationship with human pathologies,” the paper explores the role of copper in human disease.

Copper (Cu) is an essential micronutrient involved in critical metabolic reactions and biological functions. In humans, mutations or malfunctions of genes that regulate copper stability in the body may lead to numerous pathologic conditions, severe neurodegenerative conditions, or metabolic diseases.

Copper also plays role in cancer treatment as a component of drugs and a regulator of drug sensitivity and uptake. In this review, Padilla-Benavides and her colleagues provide an overview of the current knowledge of copper metabolism and transport and its relation to various human pathologies.