Science & Technology

Northrop Awarded Prestigious NSF CAREER Award

Brian Northrop

Brian Northrop

This month, the National Science Foundation awarded Brian Northrop, assistant professor of chemistry, with a 2014 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award.

The CAREER awards support junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

The honor came with a five-year grant totaling $537,561, which Northrop will use on his study titled “Selective Thiol-Ene and Thiol-Yne Chemistry, From First Principles to Organic Materials.”

At Wesleyan, Northrop’s research focuses on the design, synthesis and analysis of new organic materials utilizing molecular recognition and self-assembly, and “click” chemistry. With the CAREER Award, Northrop and his students will continue to investigate new methods for making polymers and nanoscale assemblies.

“Synthetic polymers form the basis of many of the materials we encounter every day, from plastics and adhesives to medical equipment and electronics,” Northrop explained. “One of the primary goals of contemporary polymer synthesis is to be able to fine-tune the physical properties of polymers by exhibiting precise control over their chemical structure. By developing methods that allow such precise control, researchers are able to directly influence whether a given polymer is stiff or flexible, fragile or resilient, insulating or conductive, etc.”

Much of the research in Northrop’s lab focuses on developing a thorough, fundamental understanding of how compounds known as thiols react with alkenes and alkynes.

After Studying Abroad, Mummini ’14 Hired as Health Programs Assistant in Denmark

Swetha Mummini ’14

Swetha Mummini ’14 is a biology and neuroscience and behavior double major.

In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we speak with Swetha Mummini ’14 who studied abroad last spring through the Danish Institute for Study Abroad Program. Her study abroad program hires two graduating past participants to be paid interns for the year after graduation and Mummini received the internship for the science and health programs assistant. 

Q: What prompted you to study abroad in Copenhagen?

A: Macaroni and cheese. I know that sounds a bit ridiculous, but the first time I seriously considered going abroad was at the very beginning of junior year when my friend Catherine invited her friends over for baked macaroni and cheese. Over the course of the meal, her friends talked about their plans to go abroad during spring semester of junior year, and that moment served as my personal eureka moment. I realized what a unique opportunity studying abroad was and how I should take the opportunity to pursue it. That night, I was up until 4 a.m. researching programs and trying to find the perfect fit. Denmark has always fascinated me, especially because of its status as the happiest country in the world and its welfare state. The program that I chose, the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS), also offered a wide variety of health science and public health classes that appealed to me.

Q: What did you like about the DIS program in particular?

A: For premedical students, DIS has a unique program called Medical Practice and Policy. It’s a very hands-on program that exposes students to the fundamentals of clinical medicine and the European healthcare system. By participating in the program, I was able to get clinical exposure that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to experience in the U.S. I learned how to take a patient’s case history and formulate a diagnosis. I also learned how to perform basic medical procedures, such as taking an ultrasound and drawing blood. To give students a broader understanding of healthcare policy, our class also took a weeklong trip to Vienna and Budapest where we heard from physicians and other medical specialists about the challenges in their healthcare systems.

Psychology Majors Present Research at Poster Session April 24

More than 45 students presented their research or thesis research at the Psychology Research Poster Presentation April 24 in Beckham Hall. Oluwaremilekun Ojurongbe ’14 presented her study, “Illegality, Criminality and the Taxpayer’s Burden: The Incomplete U.S. Immigration Narrative.” Her advisor was Sarah Carney, visiting faculty with the Psychology Department.

More than 45 students presented their research or thesis research at the Psychology Research Poster Presentation April 24 in Beckham Hall. Oluwaremilekun Ojurongbe ’14 presented her study, “Illegality, Criminality and the Taxpayer’s Burden: The Incomplete U.S. Immigration Narrative.” Her advisor was Sarah Carney, visiting faculty with the Psychology Department.

Victoria Mathieson ’14 presented her research on “Identity, Appraisal, and Emotion: The Role of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy among Latino/a Middle School Students.” Her advisor was Patricia Rodriguez Mosquera, associate professor of psychology.

Victoria Mathieson ’14 presented her research on “Identity, Appraisal, and Emotion: The Role of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy among Latino/a Middle School Students.” Mathieson’s advisor was Patricia Rodriguez Mosquera, associate professor of psychology.

McNair Fellows Research Plasma Underwater, Serpentine Soil Plants in Puerto Rico

Two Wesleyan students presented their research at the McNair Research Talks April 17 in Exley Science Center. The Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program is one of the federal TRiO programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

The program’s mission is to create educational opportunities for all Americans regardless of race, ethnic background, or economic circumstance. It assists students from underrepresented groups prepare for, enter, and progress successfully through postgraduate education.

First generation college students from low-income families or African-American, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian, Native American Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaskan Natives qualify as McNair Fellows. Since 2007, four McNair fellows have entered Ph.D. programs and 15 are working in research fields.

McNair Research Talks are designed for interested, non-expert students.

Rashedul Haydar '14 presented his study on "Laser Induced Plasmas Under Bulk Water: Spatiotemporal Characteristics and Spectral Analysis."

Rashedul Haydar ’14 presented his study on “Laser Induced Plasmas Under Bulk Water: Spatiotemporal Characteristics and Spectral Analysis.”

Lavontria Aaron '14 presented her research on "The Remote Sensing and Mapping of Serpentine Soil Plants in Puerto Rico."

Lavontria Aaron ’14 presented her research on “The Remote Sensing and Mapping of Serpentine Soil Plants in Puerto Rico.”

Honors, Graduate Students Present Posters at Celebration of Science Theses

Honors and MA students in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division presented their research at the Celebration of Science Thesis, April 18 in Exley Science Center. Xi Liu '14 presented her study on "Consequences of Priming Status Legitimizing Beliefs in Whites: An Investigation of Perceived Anti-White Bias, Zero-Sum Beliefs and Support for Affirmative Action." Liu's advisors are Clara Wilkins, assistant professor of psychology, and Joseph Wellman, postdoctoral fellow in psychology.

More than 20 honors and MA students in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division presented their research at the Celebration of Science Theses, April 18 in Exley Science Center. Xi Liu ’14 presented her study on “Consequences of Priming Status Legitimizing Beliefs in Whites: An Investigation of Perceived Anti-White Bias, Zero-Sum Beliefs and Support for Affirmative Action.” Liu’s advisors are Clara Wilkins, assistant professor of psychology, and Joseph Wellman, postdoctoral fellow in psychology.

Graduate student Caleb Corliss ’13 presented his study, “High-Performance Genotypes of Polygonum cespitosum Show Greater Competitive Ability.” His advisor was Sonia Sultan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies.

Graduate student Caleb Corliss ’13 presented his study, “High-Performance Genotypes of Polygonum cespitosum Show Greater Competitive Ability.” His advisor was Sonia Sultan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies.

Honors, MA Students Present Research at Celebration of Science Theses

Honors and MA students in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division presented their research at the Celebration of Science Theses, April 18 in Exley Science Center.

Xi Liu ’14 presented her study on “Consequences of Priming Status Legitimizing Beliefs in Whites: An Investigation of Perceived Anti-White Bias, Zero-Sum Beliefs and Support for Affirmative Action.”eve_postersession_2014-0418130015

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Oliphant ’13 on the Sense of Community at Wesleyan

Melody Oliphant ’13, who double majored in neuroscience and behavior and history at Wes, is now a research associate in a neurogenetics lab at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City.

“I’m often awestruck at the seemingly limitless answers to the question, ‘What makes Wesleyan special?’ or ‘What excited me about Wesleyan?’ Yet, in some form or fashion, the answer always remains the same: the people, the sense of community.

Throughout my Wesleyan experience, I participated in a disparate array of activities and academic pursuits ranging from environmental activism to my double major, from founding a sorority to participating in the Wesleyan Student Assembly, from playing Ultimate Frisbee to serving as a women’s center escort to help women pass center protesters. I worked as an archivist at the Middlesex County Historical Society, as a student manager for the Red and Black Calling Society, as a sustainability intern working to remove bottled water from campus, and as an intern for the Senior Gift.

Someone unfamiliar with Wesleyan might wonder what unites such supposedly divergent interests. But the answer is simple: community. Even in my academics, I learned not to take courses according to my own purported interests, but rather by following professors who ignite a sense of intellectual curiosity and foster a holistic understanding of the world, uniting the humanities with the technoscientific realm.”

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Kogan ’98 Speaks on the Secret of Happier

Nataly Kogan ’98 is the co-founder and “chief happiness officer” of Happier.com, a Boston-based happiness company. Kogan immigrated to the United States with her parents from the former Soviet Union when she was thirteen and spent two decades “chasing the big happy,” as she calls it. But when even her achievements failed to make her truly happy, Nataly turned to science and became inspired to stop saying “I’ll be happy when…” and start thinking “I’m happier now because…”

Kogan was a student in the College of Social Studies and met her husband, Avi Grossman Spivack ’99, while they were working at Russell House.

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Alumni, Friends Attend Food Waste Conversation with Pollan ’15, Bloom ’99

On Oct. 22, 2013, in a historic San Francisco industrial space that once housed the printing plant of William Randolph Hearst, nearly 100 Wesleyan alumni and friends enjoyed an intimate and thought-provoking conversation with two of the nation’s foremost voices on food and the food industry: Michael Pollan P’15 and Jonathan Bloom ’99.

The occasion was “Table Talk,” an event underwritten by generous Wesleyan donors to help support financial aid; the place was The Box San Francisco, in the South of Market district. President Michael Roth welcomed guests to the event and introduced Pollan and Bloom.

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