Students

Shu Tokita Prize Winners Reid ’22, Choi ’22 Use Literature to Cope with POC Experiences

tokita

East Asian studies major Jasmyn Choi ’22, at left, and English and African American studies double major Jada Reid ’22 are the recipients of the 2021 Shu Tokita Prize, established by friends and relatives of Shu Tokita ’84. The prize is awarded annually to a student of color majoring in literature, in area studies, or a language major with a focus on literature, who demonstrates financial need. They received their awards during a virtual reception on June 23. 

Jasmyn Choi ’22 vividly recalls when her Korean-born mother was pulled over by police in Los Angeles 12 years ago. Rather than speaking to the driver, who had broken English, the officer leaned into the vehicle to question 8-year-old Jasmyn instead. Jasmyn, after all, had “perfect” English.

“I’ve always dealt with the particular trauma of strangers diminishing my mother’s intelligence because of her accent,” Choi recalls. “I tremble in anger thinking of the times she’s had her voice stolen from her. We both sat in the car in oppressive silence, yet it was comforting because silence is all we have been trained to know.”

Growing up in a white flight suburb, Choi grew accustomed to overt and covert racism, and most recently, tried to comfort her mother’s insecurities about not feeling safe due to comments made about the “Chinese virus.” As Asian women, Choi says, “the depth of our pain is an immense chasm from which to fall deeper and deeper into. We are trapped in the eternal, isolating birdcage of ourselves.”

Restored Peacock Displayed in Wesleyan’s Science Library

peacock

The entrance to the Science Library in Exley Science Center houses a taxidermied peacock that has been restored by faculty and students in the biology department. The peacock, originally rediscovered in 2018 and put on exhibit in spring 2019, is part of a bird collection that was first displayed at the museum in Judd Hall and now belongs to the Wesleyan Museum of Natural History.

The restoration team, which includes Professor of Biology Ann Campbell Burke, Yu Kai Tan BA/MA ’21, Andy Tan ’21, and Fletcher Levy ’23, recently updated the display to include new signage and fresh peacock feathers from biology professors Stephen Devoto and Joyce Ann Powzyk’s farm.

“It was found in storage alongside a whole bunch of minerals in Room 316 of Exley,” Yu Kai Tan said. “It was sitting way up high on this shelf, and probably since 1970, no one has looked at it or touched it. It was covered in dust and muck.”

When the team first found the peacock, it was in such poor condition that they needed to call for outside help.

73 Seniors Elected to Phi Beta Kappa

Kat Eaton '21

Phi Beta Kappa inductee Kat Eaton ’21 plans to work as an editor at a ghostwriting company while applying to creative writing programs at graduate schools.

During her four years at Wesleyan, Katherine “Kat” Eaton ’21 not only fell in love with creative writing, but she also discovered interests in martial arts, fire spinning, and tabletop roleplaying games—Dungeons & Dragons, Monster of the Week, Masks, and more. “Basically, I’m a storyteller, whether that’s on my own or with other people,” Eaton explained.

Eaton, who graduated on May 26 with honors for her English thesis titled “Myths and Legends of Aetheria: A Study in Worldbuilding,” is also among only 88 students from the Class of 2021 to graduate with Phi Beta Kappa honors.

On May 24, she and 72 of her peers were inducted into the Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa during a virtual ceremony. At Wesleyan, only 12 percent of each graduating class is elected to PBK, the oldest national scholastic honor society. Election is based on fulfilling general education expectations and having a grade point average of 93 or above.

Students are nominated by their major departments or class dean.

Barnes ’22, Du ’22 Receive ASBMB Undergraduate Research Award

Lily Barnes ’22 and Amy Du ’22 are recipients of the 2021 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Undergraduate Research Award. They will each receive $1,000 to support summer project research. Both students are members of Wesleyan’s ASBMB chapter.

Barnes works in the lab of Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Teresita Padilla-Benavides, and Du works in the lab of Fisk Professor of Natural Science and Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Ishita Mukerji.

Following the research Barnes and Du conduct in their respective labs, each will submit a report to the ASBMB summarizing their findings.

Wesleyan Awards the 2021 Hamilton Prize for Creativity

Audrey Nelson ’25 is the recipient of the 2021 Hamilton Prize for Creativity, which comes with a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend Wesleyan University.

Audrey Nelson ’25, of Bainbridge Island, Washington, is the recipient of the 2021 Hamilton Prize for Creativity, which comes with a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend Wesleyan University.

For the fifth consecutive year, Wesleyan University has awarded its prestigious Hamilton Prize for Creativity to three students whose creative written works best reflect the originality, artistry, and dynamism of Hamilton: An American Musical, created by Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 and directed by Thomas Kail ’99.

Audrey Nelson ’25 of Bainbridge Island, Washington, was awarded the grand prize—a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend Wesleyan. Nelson was recognized for her work of prose titled “Complications.”

Nolan Lewis of Washington, D.C., for his collection of songs/spoken word,

Nolan Lewis ’25, of Washington, D.C., received a $5,000 honorable mention stipend.

“Audrey’s ‘Complications’ was delightful and surprising at every turn: in structure, in subject matter, in its evocative language,” Miranda said. “I wanted to read more from this writer immediately.”

Alumni judge Craig Thomas ’97, co-creator of the TV sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” favored the “poignant magical realism” of Nelson’s prose. “The piece was impressionistic, spare, and quite moving, which is hard to do for a writer of any age, much less someone so young,” Thomas said.

In addition, Wesleyan awarded two $5,000 stipends to honorable mentions winners Nolan Lewis ’25 of Washington, D.C., for his collection of songs/spoken word, and Cecilio Munoz ’25 of Worcester, Massachusetts, for a screenplay titled “The Greatest Generation.”

The winning works were chosen from a pool of 345 submissions. Faculty members reviewed the initial entries, after which an all-star selection committee of Wesleyan alumni in the arts, chaired by Miranda and Kail, chose the finalists.

Cecilio Munoz ’25, of Worcester, Massachusetts, received a $5,000 honorable mention stipend.

After reading Lewis’s lyrics, actress Beanie Feldstein ’15 was confident that “this kid is going to be a star one day.” Said Feldstein, “It feels like Nolan’s music seamlessly enters the world, like a magic spell with thought-provoking, clever and impactful lyrics and rhymes.” And marketing guru Bozoma Saint John ’99 found Munoz’s “heart-warming” screenplay “captured the impact and confusion of childhood trauma really well, while relating to the reader.”

The Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity was established in 2016 in honor of Miranda and Kail’s contributions to liberal education and the arts and named for the pair’s hit Broadway musical, which won 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Book, and Best Original Score.

Over the past five years, more than 2,300 students have submitted stories, poetry, songs, plays, and screenplays for consideration for the prize. Read about past winners in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Learn more about the Hamilton Prize.

Students Receive 2021 Academic Prizes, Scholarships, Fellowships

monogramThis month, the Office of Student Affairs presented the 2021 student prizes. The recipients and awards include:

George H. Acheson and Grass Foundation Prize in Neuroscience

Established in 1992 by a gift from the Grass Foundation, this prize is awarded to an outstanding undergraduate in the Neuroscience and Behavior Program who demonstrates excellence in the program and who also shows promise for future contributions in the field of neuroscience.

  • Kian Caplan 2021
  • Ana Finnerty-Haggerty 2021
  • Andrew Northrop 2021
  • Fitzroy “Pablo” Wickham 2021

Alumni Prize in the History of Art

Established by Wesleyan alumni and awarded to a senior who has demonstrated special aptitude in the history of art and who has made a substantive contribution to the major.

  • Nia Felton 2021
  • Riley Richards 2021

American Chemical Society Analytical Award

Awarded for excellence in analytical chemistry.

  • Cole Harris 2021

American Chemical Society Connecticut Valley Section Award

Awarded for outstanding achievement to a graduating chemistry major.

  • Emma Shapiro 2021

American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Inorganic Chemistry

Awarded to an undergraduate student in inorganic chemistry to recognize achievement and encourage further study in the field.

  • Abrar Habib 2021

American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Organic Chemistry

Awarded to a senior who has displayed a significant aptitude for organic chemistry

  • Niels Vizgan GRAD

American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Physical Chemistry

Awarded in recognition of outstanding achievement by undergraduate students in physical chemistry, and to encourage further pursuits in the field.

3 Seniors Awarded Inaugural Wesleyan Global Fellowship

As a one-year pilot program, the Fries Center for Global Studies has created the Wesleyan Global Fellowship with the intention of awarding graduating seniors nominated but not chosen for the Watson Fellowship, a grant for a year of independent exploration outside the United States post-graduation.

The three students who won this new fellowship for the 2021 academic year are William Briskin ‘21, Grace Lopez ‘21, and Indigo Pellegrini de Paur ‘21.

“The Watson is a unique program because it gives the fellow complete freedom in designing their project,” according to the Wesleyan & the World blog. “Since the fellowship involves travel, usually to distant locations, nominees who didn’t win the Watson might not otherwise have the opportunity to pursue any part of their project without institutional support. The Wesleyan Global Fellowship supports their personal growth and affords them invaluable intercultural experience, allowing them to spend up to one month in one or more of the countries they included in their Watson proposal.”

Will Briskin is a double major in government and history who intends to pursue studies in woodworking by traveling to Japan and South Korea to interview woodworkers and participate in their creative process. Briskin hopes to learn more about the way woodworking captures traditions and collective histories, as well as binds communities together.

Grace Lopez is a film major who is also interested in anthropology. Lopez wants to explore the music genre of Cumbia, which originated in Colombia, and plans to travel to Colombia to work with and learn from Afro-Colombian bands who create Cumbian music.

Indigo Pellegrini de Paur is majoring in government and minoring in Middle Eastern studies. She will go to Turkey to observe the integration of refugee communities into Turkish life by working with the Youth and Sports Ministry, which is currently building sports facilities for young refugees. As a lacrosse player, she will use sports to build connections with the children she’ll meet there.

5 Students Honored with First-Year Seminar Writing Prizes

This month, five students were recognized with the First-Year Seminar Writing Prize for essays they wrote in their first-year seminars throughout 2020. A total of 137 first-year students submitted to the contest this year.

Each winner will receive a $100 prize, and each honorable mention will receive a $50 prize. These students will have their work published online along with an audio recording of them reading their essays aloud.

The First-Year Seminar Writing Prize celebrates the work of first-year writers at Wesleyan.

The three winners are:

Nathan Foote ’24, for “Anti-Gospel,” written for Anne Greene’s Place, Character, and Design.

Gissel Ramirez ’24, for “Gissel Not Giselle: Language as an Identity,” written for Lauren Silber’s Why You Can’t Write.

Michelle Seaberg ’24, for “Your Gender, Hand it Over: Imposing Gender Categories as a Means of Control,” written for Margot Weiss’s Social Norms/Social Power: Reading ‘Difference’ in American Culture.

The two honorable mentions are:

Alexis Papavasiliou ’24, for “Was Oxygen the Only Player in the Cambrian Explosion?” written for Ellen Thomas’s and Johan Varekamp’s As the World Turns: Earth History, with Life’s Ups and Downs.

Natalie Shen ’24, for “Critical Analysis of the Defensive Asylum Seeking Process from a Linguistic Perspective,” written for Beth Hepford’s How Language Works: The Beliefs and Bias that Affect our Social World.

Chapbook By Ramos-Jordán ’21 Published by Center for Book Arts

Katerina Ramos-Jordán ’21

Katerina Ramos-Jordán ’21

In 2020, Katerina Ramos-Jordán ’21 won first prize in the Center for Book Arts Chapbook Contest for her chapbook titled “ECHOESISTEMAS /lentos cerramientos.” Now, her work has now been published in book form, designed and produced by book artist Erika Morillo.

Ramos-Jordán, born in Puerto Rico, is a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and a 2020 recipient of the Beinecke Scholarship. She is double majoring in English and dance with a concentration in Caribbean studies.

“This collection is dense in its tenderness, adding tildes (accent marks) to words in English, harboring dialect, and embracing blank space as cavernous,” contest judge Raquel Salas Rivera wrote. “Its rootless branches continue to sound off long after and before origin.”

 

 

Lin ’22 Wins Poster Award for Work on DNA, Chromosomes, and Gene Regulation

Shawn Lin '22

Shawn H. Lin ’22

Shawn H. Lin ’22 is the recipient of a 2021 poster award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s 25th Annual Undergraduate Poster Competition. Lin’s poster took the prize in Category 3: DNA, Chromosomes and Gene Regulation.

This is the second poster award Lin has won this year. In March, he was honored with the Biophysical Society’s Undergraduate Poster Award for his work titled “Elucidation of Interactions Between Integration Host Factor and a DNA Four-Way Junction.”

Lin is a Freeman Asian Scholar from Taiwan and is majoring in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (MB&B). Lin also works in the labs of his advisors, Ishita Mukerji, Fisk Professor of Natural Science and professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics.

Lin, along with four other students, has recently been inducted into the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Honor Society.

5 Students Inducted Into American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Honor Society

ASBMBThis year, five Wesleyan students were inducted into the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Honor Society. Thirty-one students nationwide were given this honor.

Inducted students must be juniors or seniors with a GPA of 3.4 or higher on a 4.0 scale, belong to a student chapter of the ASBMB, and “demonstrate exceptional achievement in academics, undergraduate research and science outreach,” according to the website.

The inducted students include the following:

Nour-Saïda Harzallah ’21, a College of Integrative Sciences student majoring in molecular biology & biochemistry (MB&B) and physics. Harzallah, from Tunisia, works in Professor Francis Starr’s physics lab, belongs to the Wesleyan Women in Science steering committee, and is a STEM intern for the Office of Equity and Inclusion.

“Her involvement in racial and gender equity in STEM has shaped her commitment to work on projects that serve the underrepresented and marginalized outside the lab and from the lab bench,” reads her ASBMB bio. “Her wildest dream is to develop initiatives that translate cutting-edge technologies into accessible and marketable means of diagnosis and therapeutics in her home country of Tunisia.”

Jack Kwon ’21, who works with Professor of Biology Michael Weir to study the ribosome.

“We are aiming to elucidate the function of a highly conserved region of the ribosome called the “CAR interaction surface” through wet lab experiments and dry lab Molecular Dynamics simulations,” Kwon wrote in his ASBMB bio. Kwon intends to graduate with a master’s degree in MB&B through Wesleyan’s BA/MA program before pursuing a PhD in a related field.

Shawn Lin ’22, who is majoring in biology, MB&B, and biophysics. Lin works in the MB&B lab of Professor Ishita Mukerji and the physics lab of Professor Candice Etson.

“His research topic is “Elucidation of interactions between integration host factor and a DNA four-way junction,” reads Lin’s ASBMB bio. “In addition to research, he is also the founder of NORDSAC (National Organization for Rare Disorders Student Association Connecticut). The goal of this organization is to raise awareness of rare disorders among students in Connecticut through fundraising, guest lectures, and rare disease day events.”

Alex Poppel, a master’s student in the MB&B department. Poppell works in Professor Amy MacQueen’s MB&B lab.

“As a member of Wesleyan’s ASBMB Student Chapter, his outreach involvement has mainly focused on improving his school’s community, such as by promoting undergraduate research opportunity awareness and equity and inclusion efforts in the sciences,” Poppel’s ASBMB bio reads.

Maya Vaishnaw ’21, a double major in psychology and MB&B. Vaishnaw works with Professor Erika Taylor in her chemistry lab.

“The Taylor Lab takes a multidisciplinary approach to characterizing enzymes with applied chemical and biomedicinal applications,” Vaishnaw’s ASBMB bio reads. “In the future, Maya hopes to pursue research in clinical genetics.”

 

Bello ’22 Awarded Beinecke Scholarship

Zubaida Bello ’22

Zubaida Bello ’22

Zubaida Bello ’22 is one of 16 people nationwide to win the Beinecke Scholarship in 2021. Bello, who aims to pursue a PhD in history and become a college professor, will receive $4,000 immediately prior to entering graduate school, as well as $30,000 while attending.

Last year, the scholarship was awarded to Mellon Mays Fellow Katerina Ramos-Jordán ’21, who was the first Wesleyan student to receive the award in 13 years.

“The program seeks to encourage and enable highly motivated students to pursue opportunities available to them and to be courageous in the selection of a graduate course of study in the arts, humanities and social sciences,” reads the scholarship website.

At Wesleyan, Bello is a double major in African American studies and history, a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, and a Fall ’21 Center for Humanities fellow. She transferred to Wesleyan from Hampshire College, where she worked on a project that incorporated history, ethnography, and poetry to share the stories of the women in her family. This led Bello to enter and win New York City’s poetry slam, create an open mic collective, and write a manuscript called How to Stop the Burning, later published as her debut chapbook.

On campus, Bello’s Mellon Mays research focuses on the causes of gentrification in Brooklyn. She compares colonization and gentrification and uses archives and ethnography in order to delve into gentrified people’s experiences, as well as those of housing rights activists, redevelopers, and gentrifiers. Bello intends to share her research with Brooklyn nonprofits, such as the Brooklyn Tenant’s Council Inc. or the Housing Rights Initiative.

“Ultimately, I want to become a professor because I want to teach other people with my new understanding of history, build bonds with the communities I research, and publish books that exhibit my interdisciplinary understanding of history,” Bello wrote in her essay for the Beinecke Scholarship.

Bello, quoted in the Wes and the World blog, explained how she wants to use her studies in history to forge new paths for marginalized people and communities.

“I want to develop a pedagogy of history that gives due importance to the rebellious actions of marginalized people, that evades the apathy that often comes with Eurocentric, patriarchal standards of neutrality, and understands diverse modes of storytelling as other forms of history,” Bello said.