Students

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.

Banka ’22 Co-Authors Article on Pandemic Food Insecurity for COVID-19 Action Coalition

Darshana Banka ’22

Darshana Banka ’22

Darshana Banka ’22 volunteers with the COVID-19 Action Coalition (COVAC-MA) a group of over 25 students and alumni (led by Amy Fogelman ’97) who advocate alongside Massachusetts physicians for public health measures that will reduce the spread of the virus and save lives. Currently, Banka leads COVAC-MA’s Medium Research Team.

Banka recently co-wrote an article about food insecurity during the pandemic as part of COVAC-MA’s outreach titled, “Hungry for Change: Food Insecurity During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity for low-income individuals and changed eating behaviors for many Americans of different socioeconomic levels,” Banka wrote. “Because these changes have harmful health implications, action must be taken at both the individual and governmental/policy levels to mitigate food insecurity and the disruptive effect of pandemic-related guidelines on our eating behaviors.”

Banka’s article also discusses the disparity of access to food among different populations in the United States, and how this disparity impacts eating behaviors and overall health. Banka also outlines the potential dangers of letting this problem go unaddressed.

“Given the significant negative impacts of pandemic-driven food insecurity on eating behaviors and poor health outcomes, it is important to address this issue at both the government/policy and individual levels,” Banka wrote. “Programs currently exist to support families struggling with food insecurity; however, they are not sufficient. Recent research has found that while programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) make food more affordable, the cost of food in states like Connecticut was 40–50% higher than these benefits in 2015. This emphasizes how policies fall short in providing access to basic nutrition needs to low-income communities that are disproportionately affected by rising food costs. New policies need to be implemented in tandem with community-based organizations that work to boost economic opportunities and access to food.”

At Wesleyan, Banka is double majoring in neuroscience and behavior, and psychology, with a minor in chemistry. She’s also an Academic Peer Advisor.

4 Students Win Case for a Cause Competition

elebrating the win outside of the Butterfields dorm. April 9, 2021. Left to right: Ransho Ueno, Pim Wandee, Sarah Rizky Ardhani, and Asa Sakornpant

Ransho Ueno ’23, Pim Wandee ’23, Sarah Rizky Ardhani ’23, and Asa Sakornpant ’23 celebrate their Case for a Cause competition victory near the Butterfields Residences on April 9.

Four Wesleyan sophomores won consulting company Roland Berger’s annual Case for a Cause competition on Friday, April 9.

The competition, which raises money for the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, gives students a space to apply their practical skills and simulate strategy consulting work.

Asa Sakornpant ’23, Natchanok (Pim) Wandee ’23, Sarah Rizky Ardhani ’23, and Ransho Ueno ’23 belong to the Consulting Pathways Club and are all pursuing the data analysis minor through Wesleyan’s Quantitative Analysis Center.

Sakornpant, Ardhani, and Ueno are Freeman Asian Scholars and were sponsored by the Gordon Career Center to take part in the competition.

JCCP Awards 13 Student-Led Groups with Innovation Funds

Thirteen student-led groups are the recipients of Jewett Center for Community Partnerships Student Innovation Fund awards.

These awards support community engagement projects with grants up to $750 each.

“The common theme is that they all want to positively impact the greater Middletown community,” said Rhea Drozdenko, JCCP community participation coordinator. “There is no one right way to do community engagement, and the Innovation Fund supports nontraditional ideas. It’s important that our grantees are grounded in the ideas of mutual respect and collective responsibility as they go out into the community.”

All applicants are required to read the Cardinal Community Commitment —the University’s collective approach to civic engagement—before starting their work.

“Students also must become familiar with the community they wish to serve, practice ongoing self-reflection, embrace a spirit of humility with their work, and be an adaptable collaborator and partner,” Drozdenko said.

Admitted Students Explore Wesleyan during Virtual WesFest

As part of Wesleyan’s Admitted Student Events, the Office of Admission hosted its 2021 WesFest in a virtual platform April 7-9.

Class of 2025 admitted students and their families were able to log into 121 events and informational sessions on topics such as financial aid, academic resources, student activities, studying abroad, student technology, residential life, and religious life.

Of the 13,145 applications received for a spot in the Class of 2025, 2,544 were admitted. View the full Class of 2025 profile online here. During WesFest, more than 890 of the admitted students attended at least one session.

In addition to virtual tours and academic open houses, admitted students attended a student-to-student panel discussion to meet current students and learn about campus life, academics, and extracurricular academic activities at Wesleyan in an informal conversation.

On April 8, Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez ’96, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, welcomed guests to WesFest and spoke to admitted students and their families about the reason he decided to say “Yes to Wes!”

“I found myself attracted to Wes because of its size, because of the dynamic diversity, because of the balance, and all the ways that matter to me—not being too big or too small, not being urban but neither rural…” Gonzalez said. “I came here as an undergrad back in the early ’90s, spent my four years here, and had a transformative experience.”

Some of WesFest’s highlighted sessions are featured below:

activities fair

Student Activities & Leadership Development (SALD) student staff presented a guide to student organizations during a virtual Student Activities Fair. In addition to highlighting various student organizations at Wesleyan, the student staff offered an introduction to WesNest, the main platform of information for and about student groups.

Jonesy Moore '21

During a student-to-student panel discussion, Jonesy Moore ’21 spoke about changing academic directions after exploring the open curriculum. “I was completely clueless [about] what I was doing, so I came in as a neuro major [and] did not end up being a neuro major,” Moore said. Moore added that in addition to academics, students have the opportunity to try new extracurricular activities, regardless of prior experience. When first on campus, Moore became involved with Second Stage theatre company and Cardinal Pictures, a student-run film production group. “The first day we filmed, I had to learn how to focus the camera, like I was completely in the dark for that,” he recalled.

At the discussion, Tashfia Jilu ’22 offered advice to prospective students. “If you're feeling intimidated, it's okay,” Jilu said. “I remember my WesFest. I was listening to this whole panel for people saying I'm involved in this, I'm involved in [that], I'm double majoring, triple majoring…. it just sounded so intimidating. Jilu, who is pre-med and majoring in Science and Society, emphasized that the open curriculum makes it easier for students to explore multiple academic disciplines. You'll probably end up doing [multiple majors] just because it's the nature of Wes,” Jilu added. “You'll end up doing it even if you think you can't or you're intimidated right now. I just want to throw that out there.”

Tashfia Jilu ’22, who is pre-med and majoring in science in society, also offered advice to prospective students. “If you’re feeling intimidated, it’s okay,” Jilu said. “I remember my WesFest. I was listening to this whole panel of people saying I’m involved in this, I’m involved in [that], I’m double majoring, triple majoring…. It just sounded so intimidating, but the open curriculum makes it easier for students to explore multiple academic disciplines. You’ll probably end up doing [multiple majors] just because it’s the nature of Wes,” Jilu added.

6-7pm All-Star Alumni Panel Mark your calendars and cancel your plans! You're definitely going to want to join us for this all-star alumni panel moderated by Bradley Whitford '81 with Santigold '96, Angela Yee '97, and Beanie Feldstein '15! Come learn about their journeys to, through and post-Wesleyan! https://wesleyan.zoom.us/j/92233082126

WesFest’s All-Star Alumni Panel featured (clockwise from top left) Beanie Feldstein ’15, Bradley Whitford ’81, Angela Yee ’97, and Santigold ’96.

beanie

“I feel like my brain [was] cracked open. I think I said that 50 times during my first two years at Wesleyan,” Feldstein said. “Knowing that to be your best at whatever you want to do you have to use the people around you and learn from the people around you versus trying to push people out of the way to get where you want to go. That Wesleyan spirit is something that really sticks with me.”

“I just realized there was a huge difference between the way that my brain worked and the way that I approached a lot of things versus people who didn't have this broad exposure in education. I was an African American studies major and a music double major, but I had never learned anything about African American studies until I got Wesleyan.

After graduating from Wesleyan with a double major in African American studies and music, Santigold “realized there was a huge difference between the way that my brain worked and the way that I approached a lot of things versus people who didn’t have this broad exposure in education.”

Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez '96, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, hosted a "Chat with your Admission Dean." "Our students learn to push beyond the boundaries and to not accept limitations, whether their self-imposed or imposed on them by others," he said. "That's the thing about Wes—you can't reduce us to a single adjective."

Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez ’96, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, hosted a “Chat with your Admission Dean.” “Our students learn to push beyond the boundaries and to not accept limitations, whether they’re self-imposed or imposed on them by others,” he said. “That’s the thing about Wes—you can’t reduce us to a single adjective.”

Emily Moon '21 "My experience at Wesleyan has allowed me to pursue everything I wanted to—ranging from language to academics at a very high level—to really in-depth research and having all those opportunities in a community where I felt so welcomed and so accepted," Moon said. "I think there's something super unique about Wesleyan, and so I think this place has given me so much in the way of academic growth and the way of personal growth."

During the WesFest welcome on April 9, Emily Moon ’21 spoke about her Wesleyan experience. “Wesleyan has allowed me to pursue everything I wanted to—ranging from language to academics at a very high level to really in-depth research—and having all those opportunities in a community where I felt so welcomed and so accepted,” Moon said. “I think there’s something super unique about Wesleyan, and so I think this place has given me so much in the way of academic growth and the way of personal growth.”

long lane farm tour

Charlotte George ’24 offered a virtual tour of Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm and answered questions from admitted students.

During a "Hot Topics for Parents" panel discussion, parents of admitted students were able to ask current Wesleyan students about campus life. "We hype up college as like this incredible experience that should be perfect, but it's also real life so problems happen, things will go wrong, and it won't be exactly as you think it will be.
 But just enjoy it for what it is," said panelist Becca Baron '23. "It's a super unique experience that your child is going to get to have at a super amazing place like Wesleyan. I just to like take it one day at a time, and it'll all be okay."

During a “Hot Topics for Parents” panel discussion, parents of admitted students were able to ask current Wesleyan students about campus life. “We hype up college as this incredible experience that should be perfect, but it’s also real life so problems happen, things will go wrong, and it won’t be exactly as you think it will be.
 But just enjoy it for what it is,” said panelist Becca Baron ’23. “It’s a super unique experience that your child is going to get to have at a super amazing place like Wesleyan. I just like to take it one day at a time, and it’ll all be okay.”

wesfest film

Logan Ludwig, assistant director of events and programs for the College of Film and the Moving Image, and Scott Higgins, Charles W. Fries Professor of Film Studies, offered a live informational session about the College and the film studies major.

12-1pm Virtual Tour: College of Film and the Moving Image Join CFILM staff for a live tour

Higgins also provided a pre-recorded virtual tour of the College of Film and the Moving Image.

ResLife Q&A Join ResLife staff and students for a discussion about living on campus! Bring your questions about roommate selection, picking your dorm, what you can and can't have in your room and more!

Residential Life staff hosted a discussion about living on campus and answered questions about housing options, roommate selection, and more.

Physics Drop-In Meet a Physics Professor, see them do a cool Physics demo, or both! Each day will feature different hosts.

Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics, led a “Meet a Physics Professor” event during WesFest.

The 41st Annual Philip B. Brown ’44 Memorial Lecture was held in conjunction with WesFest. Speakers included President Michael Roth ’78, Senator Michael Bennet ’87, Hon.’12, and Senator John Hickenlooper ’74, MA’80, Hon ’10. Maria Santana-Guadalupe ’98, anchor and correspondent for CNN en Español served as moderator.

The 41st Annual Philip B. Brown ’44 Memorial Lecture was held in conjunction with WesFest. Speakers included President Michael Roth ’78, Senator Michael Bennet ’87, Hon.’12, and Senator John Hickenlooper ’74, MA’80, Hon. ’10. Maria Santana-Guadalupe ’98, anchor and correspondent for CNN en Español served as moderator.