Tag Archive for Class of 2012

Lin ’12 Honored with NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Zin Lin '12

Zin Lin ’12

Zin Lin ’12 received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for his research on PT-symmetric systems performed while a student at Wesleyan. Lin’s advisor was Tsampikos Kottos, the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Physics.

Lin was selected for his “outstanding abilities and accomplishments, as well [his] potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise. He’s currently studying quantum nonlinear photonics as a second-year graduate student at Harvard University.

As a fellow, Lin will receive a $32,000 stipend for 2014-15. Fellows are expected to make satisfactory academic progress towards completion of their graduate degrees, as defined and certified by the Fellow’s GRFP institution. Upon completion of his fellowship, Lin is required to provide an Annual Activities Report that documents his activities, accomplishments, progress and productivity.

At Wesleyan, Lin double majored in physics and mathematics and graduated with high honors. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and received the Robertson Prize, awarded during his sophomore year for “excellence in mathematics.”

Odede ’12 Calls for ‘New Systems of Urban Promise’

In the lead op-ed in The New York Times Jan. 9, Kennedy Odede’12 described the despair and desperation of growing up in Kibera, one of Africa’s largest slums. He writes movingly of his childhood friends succumbing to lives of crime and terror as they sought a way out of crushing poverty.

“These are more than singular tragedies; they contribute to the psyche of being poor,” Kennedy writes. “This psyche inculcates hopelessness, dispels a belief in the possibility of tomorrow’s being better than today, compels a resignation to the fact that you may suffer the same tragic fate as your peers, and fuels anger because there is no escape and you did not choose this — you simply drew life’s short straw.   This, perhaps, is terrorism’s fertile ground. Because if you grew up as I did, self-protection requires coming to terms with violence and terror. Violence becomes a vehicle of survival. ”

Terrorism is bred  in places like Kibera, he argues, calling for “new systems of urban promise” in Nairobi and elsewhere.

Odede is the founder of Shining Hope for Communities, and was a 2013 New Voices fellow at the Aspen Institute.

Olson, Levan ’12 Published in Molecular Biology Journal

A paper co-authored by Rich Olson, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Sophia Levan ’12 was published in The Journal of Molecular Biology, March 2013. The article is titled, “Vibrio cholerae Cytolysin Recognizes the Heptasaccharide Core of Complex N-Glycans with Nanomolar Affinity.”

The human intestinal pathogen Vibrio cholerae secretes a pore-forming toxin, V.cholerae cytolysin (VCC), which contains two domains that are structurally similar to known carbohydrate-binding proteins. Olson and Levan used a combination of structural and functional approaches to characterize the carbohydrate-binding activity of the VCC toxin.

At Wesleyan, Levan was the recipient of the Butterfield Prize, the Graham Prize and she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She’s currently a student at Harvard University.

Rodriguez Mosquera Co-Authors Article on Muslim’s Emotions after 9/11 Anniversary

Assistant Professor of Psychology Patricia Rodriguez Mosquera, together with Tasmiha Khan ’12 and post-doc Arielle Selya, recently published an article in Cognition & Emotion titled, “Coping with the 10th anniversary of 9/11: Muslim Americans’ sadness, fear, and anger.’

A decade after the events of Sept. 11, 2001—which prompted an increase in prejudice, discrimination and other forms of unfair treatment toward Muslim Americans—the researchers examined the emotions of Muslim Americans in the days preceding the 10-year anniversary. They found that the anniversary precipitated intense concerns with loss and discrimination, and feelings of fear, anger and,  most intensely, sadness. They also measured three coping responses—rumination, avoidance of public places, and religious coping—and found that participants engaged in all three, but especially sought solace in religion.  The researchers write: “…rumination and avoidance were psychologically as well as socially harmful for the participants. Yet, participants also tried to seek solace in their religion, with religious coping being the most frequent coping response. Religious coping involved engaging in solitary practices, like reading religious texts, or more socially oriented practices, like seeking guidance from a religious authority. Because of these communal practices, religious coping probably acted as a form of social support for the participants.”

In addition, the researchers found that specific emotions explained the different coping responses. That is, sadness accounted for the association between concern with loss and rumination; fear explained the association between concern with discrimination and avoidance; and anger accounted for the association between concern with discrimination and religious coping. This study’s examination of the mediating role of sadness, fear and anger in the relationship between psychological concerns and diverse coping responses is novel, and has important implications for future research on stigma.

The article can be read online here.

Fellow Pellegrino ’12 Encourages Wesleyan Community to Become Civically Engaged

Dana Pellegrino '12 is the Civic Engagement Fellow for the Center for Community Partnerships and the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Dana Pellegrino ’12 is the Civic Engagement Fellow for the Center for Community Partnerships and the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Q: Dana, you’re Wesleyan’s first Civic Engagement Fellow. How do you describe your role?

A: As the Civic Engagement Fellow, I focus on promoting civic engagement throughout the entire university, with students, faculty and staff. While the focus may be broad, I mainly work with two specific centers: the Center for Community Partnerships, under Director Cathy Lechowicz, and the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, under Director Paul Gagnon. At CCP, I’m primarily involved in informing students about the many opportunities for immediate impact here in Middletown, and in assisting student coordinators of the Office of Community Service’s programs. We’re also developing ideas for tapping into other networks and social media platforms to increase awareness and communication among CCP, students, and the Middletown community. With the Patricelli Center, I help students with more global-minded engagement, including opportunities for grants, workshops in entrepreneurial skills, and networking with alumni. Both offices offer an incredible amount of resources.

Q: What are some recent ways you’re helping Wesleyan students become “civically engaged?”

A: Just before Thanksgiving, my director, Cathy, and I rounded up students from all different groups on campus — fraternities, athletic teams, program houses — to assist in the Middletown Community Thanksgiving Project. Students came by throughout the day to help assemble Thanksgiving Dinner baskets for over 500 families in our community. Not only were Wesleyan students presented with the opportunity to civically engage in combatting food insecurity,

Muellers ’12, Khan ’12 Help Bangladesh Village Access Clean Water

Kimberly Muellers ’12 in India.

Kimberly Muellers ’12 in India.

Kimberly Muellers ’12, communications director for the nonprofit Brighter Dawns, spent part of her post-graduation summer in Bangladesh, helping provide a village with access to clean water.

The Boston Globe highlighted the work of Massachusetts native Muellers in a recent article titled “Westwood Woman Helping in Bangladesh.”

“There are so many preventable diseases that can be solved so easily just by having clean water and good hygiene,” Muellers told The Globe. “Our main focus is on sanitation issues.”

Muellers was joined this summer in Bangladesh by Tasmiha Khan ’12, Brighter Dawns CEO, as well as Fahim Zaman, Brighter Dawns director of media and strategy, and a Harvard graduate. They were there to assess a pilot project and work with a local partner, the World Peace and Cultural Foundation. Brighter Dawns has chapters at Wesleyan and Harvard universities and Trinity College.

Muellers stresses the importance of involving young people in international development projects like Brighter Dawns, which provide lifesaving services. Additionally, the youth from the more privileged culture receive an important lesson in empowerment, as they use their energy to effect real and positive change in the world.

Are you a Wesleyan alumnus? For more alumni stories, photo albums, videos, features and more, visit Wesconnect, the website for Wesleyan alumni.

 

Thesis Research: Ocean Fish Consumption, Not Volcanoes, Cause High Mercury Levels in Costa Rica

Audrey Haynes '12 stands on the rim of the Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica. When she tested samples of human hair from 53 residents in the area, she discovered high levels of mercury in more than half of the samples.

Audrey Haynes ’12 stands on the rim of the Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica. When she tested samples of human hair from 53 residents in the area, she discovered high levels of mercury in more than half of the samples.

(Story contributed by Jim H. Smith)

Senior thesis research conducted last spring by Audrey Haynes ’12 at Costa Rica’s National University, under the tutorship of Johan “Joop” Varekamp, has shown that many residents of the Central American nation have levels of mercury in their hair that far exceed those recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Varekamp, whose student made the discovery as part of a broad evaluation of environmental mercury in Costa Rica, says the elevated mercury levels are probably a consequence of over-consumption of large ocean fish, not exposure to mercury in the air emitted by volcanoes, as a controversial 2011 study suggested.

The research was done in collaboration with Maria del Mar Martinez of the volcanology and seismic monitoring center (OVSICORI/UNA).

Varekamp, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, and his student were invited last spring to test Costa Rica’s mercury levels because research conducted by another team of scientists had found levels of mercury in Costa Rican air that were dramatically higher than those documented anywhere else in the world. While the average environmental mercury concentrations worldwide are in the neighborhood of two or three nanograms (billionths of a gram) per cubic meter of air, the 2011 study reported extraordinarily high concentrations of 600-800 nanograms Hg per cubic meter.

“This was puzzling because many small and remote countries that are less industrialized, like Costa Rica, report modest levels of airborne mercury from coal-fired power plants. Costa Rica doesn’t have any coal fired power plants, though, nor does it have any major mercury-emitting industries,” Varekamp explains.

Barsotti ’12 Signs Pro Baseball Contract

Michael Barsotti ’12

Michael Barsotti ’12, signed a contract to pitch for the minor league Joliet Slammers of the independent Frontier League. Barsotti, a government major, is Wesleyan’s all time strike-out leader. In his first appearance for Joliet he threw a scoreless inning in relief and did not allow a batter to reach base.

On July 14, he was named the M&M Bank Player of the Game for the Slammers after inducing a ground out, a fly out and a pop out while throwing just nine pitches, seven of them strikes.

Barsotti was twice named the NESCAC pitcher of the week during his Wesleyan career, including in March 2012 after throwing a three-hitter with 13 strikeouts, no walks and no earned runs allowed against Bowdoin, a team that went on to qualify for the NCAA Division III tournament.

“The entire Wesleyan baseball family is so proud of Mike,” said Wesleyan baseball coach Mark Woodworth. “This is a great accomplishment and a credit to his desire and work ethic. He was a great teammate and he improved so much over four years. This affirms that he is one of the all-time greats in Wesleyan baseball’s long and tradition-rich history.”

More on Barsotti can be found here.

Khan ’12, of Brighter Dawns, Attends White House Event

Tasmiha Khan ’12, founder of Brighter Dawns, a charitable organization committed to improving health in the slums of Bangladesh, was invited to the White House to participate in a forum to discuss the important role that faith-based social innovators play in expanding opportunity and addressing social issues. Khan, who was selected by DoSomething.org as one of 11 Young Women To Look Out For, founded Brighter Dawns in the fall of 2010 after working on a health and hygiene project in Bangladesh with the World Peace & Cultural Foundation that summer. Back on campus, she convinced other students to join her in addressing the concerns she’d observed.

The White House event, arranged by the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, in coordination with the Office of Public Engagement, brought together leading faith-based social innovators from around the country.

The afternoon offered briefings, panels, and small-and-large group discussions to explore the ways that these faith-based organizations are creating entrepreneurial ventures. They offer innovative models to create positive change in our economy, and they frequently serve at-risk communities.

“I was able to meet with senior officials such as Mr. Jonathan Greenblatt [executive director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation] and Mr. Joshua DuBois [executive director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships] and had an exclusive opportunity to present our work,” Khan says. “Of course, Wesleyan was mentioned—how could it not? It was a phenomenal event.”

Khan and members of the Brighter Dawns team are planning to return to Bangladesh later this summer.

MINDS Foundation, Students, Featured in Huffington Post

The MINDS Foundation, an organization started by Raghu Appasani ’12, was recently featured in the June 6 Huffington Post. The MINDS Foundation is working to eradicate mental illness stigmas and provide mental healthcare services to patients in rural villages in India.

According to the article, the conditions of many mental health facilities are inexcusable; people lack basic human dignity, and necessities such as clothes, clean water, and food; they are often locked away in prison-like rooms; and lack even the most basic legal protections.

Since 2012, the MINDS Foundation has educated nearly 1,000 individuals, and is currently treating 36 patients suffering from a variety of illnesses ranging from schizophrenia to depression. The Foundation operates in Gujarat, outside the city of Baroda, and works through a close partnership with Sumandeep Vidyapeeth University to reach out to a cluster of 19 villages and 15,000 individuals in the surrounding vicinity. University psychiatrists volunteer their time pro bono to diagnose, treat, and counsel patients.

This summer, Setarah O’Brien ’14 and Simone Hyman ’15 are volunteering with the organization in India.

The Huffington Post article is online here.

713 Undergraduates Receive Wesleyan Degrees at Commencement (with photos, videos)

Seven-hundred-and-thirteen undergraduates received degrees during Wesleyan’s Commencement Ceremony May 27.

The world is changing at a dizzying pace and uncertainty is rising, but luckily, “Wesleyan has prepared you to live and thrive in this unpredictable world,” U.S. Senator Michael Bennet ’87 told the Class of 2012 in his Commencement Address. “This is a school that rewards curiosity. It challenges you to test [your] assumptions. It encourages flexibility—of mind, of approach, even of body, if you took that class in acrobatic yoga. Wesleyan has taught you that having a plan counts for less—a lot less—than having your bearings when that plan falls apart.”

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet ’87.

An honorary doctor of laws was conferred upon Bennet at the 180th Commencement Ceremony at Wesleyan University on Sunday, May 27. The ceremony took place on Andrus Field under sunny skies. This year, Wesleyan awarded 713 Bachelor of Arts degrees; 22 Master of Arts degrees; 44 Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degrees; three Master of Philosophy degrees; and 13 Doctor of Philosophy degrees.

Bennet—son of Wesleyan President Emeritus Douglas Bennet ’59, P’87, P’94—was elected to his first full term in the U.S. Senate in November 2010. Formerly as the Denver Schools Superintendent, and now as a member of the Senate Education Committee, he has been a tireless advocate for bold, locally driven changes to public education that would ensure every child is prepared to compete in a rapidly changing economy. Senator Bennet also previously served as chief of staff to then-Denver Mayor, now Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper ’74, where he helped balance a historic budget deficit and make city government more responsive to Denver residents. After graduating from Wesleyan, Bennet earned a law degree from Yale Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal.

In his Commencement Address, Bennet described his experiences with two critical institutions—the U.S. education system and political system—that are overdue for “disruptive, transformative change, and reinvention.”

“You generation has so many more opportunities to lead, to make change, than the Class of 1987 ever did. So many more means to uproot entrenched interests… to discard worn-out assumptions… to overcome obstacles to progress,” he told the graduates. He urged them to channel their “Wesleyan impatience […] with the silliness and downright cruelties of the status quo” to address such pressing issues as energy, education, poverty and inequality in America.

Happy graduates.

“…some period of public service—teaching might be a good idea—is the debt you owe our country for the privilege of attending this remarkable university,” Bennet said.

Honorary degrees also were conferred upon Glenn Ligon ’82—an artist known for his series of text-based paintings, which draw on the writings and speech of individuals such as Jean Genet, Zora Neale Hurston, Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin and Richard Pryor—and Cecile Richards P’13, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

At the ceremony, two individuals were presented with the Raymond E. Baldwin Medal: Bruce C. Corwin ’62, chairman and CEO of Metropolitan Theatres Corporation, and William “Bill” Wasch ’52, P ’84, formerly Wesleyan’s director of development and director of alumni programs, and founder of a consulting firm that specializes in customized housing options and personalized services for older adults. The Baldwin Medal, named for the late Judge Raymond E. Baldwin ’16, is the highest honor Wesleyan’s alumni body presents for extraordinary service to the school, or for careers and other activities which have contributed significantly to the public good.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth, second from left, congratulates Binswanger Prize recipients, from left, Richard Adelstein, Nathanael Greene and Tula Telfair.

In addition, the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching was awarded to Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics Richard Adelstein, Professor of History Nathanael Greene, and Professor of Art Tula Telfair. Also recognized at the ceremony were retiring faculty members John Biddiscombe, director of athletics; Joseph Bruno, professor of chemistry; Howard Needler, professor of letters; and Wallace “Pete” Pringle, professor of chemistry.

In his remarks, Wesleyan President Michael Roth pointed to a number of remarkable accomplishments by Wesleyan students—both in the classroom and out in the world. “We want you to remember the pleasure of the camaraderie and openness that have characterized the Wesleyan community to which you will always belong. We want you to remember these pleasures, the feelings of freedom and accomplishment, because we believe that these will stimulate you to continue to be bold, to be rigorous, and to nurture your practical idealism,” he said. “This may not be as easy as you imagine. From all around you will come calls for a practicality that is not so idealistic—calls to be more serious, more attentive to ‘the real world.’ Make no mistake: these are really calls for conformity, demands for conventional thinking that, if heeded, will impoverish your, and our, economic, cultural and personal lives.”

Yet Roth said he has faith that the graduates will “gratefully acknowledge those who have sacrificed to nurture you, to guide you, and to protect your freedoms. I trust you will act to reduce violence in the world around us, especially those forms of violence that target the most vulnerable. I trust that you will practice forms of thinking that create opportunity rather than defend inequality and privilege. I trust you will resist the temptations of conformity even as you reject puerile and narcissistic displays of separateness. I have this trust because I have seen what you can do.”

Kennedy Odede ’12 delivered the Senior Class Welcome.

In his Senior Class Welcome, Kennedy Odede ’12 described his journey from growing up very poor in Africa’s largest slum, Kibera, to Wesleyan. He recalled his puzzlement early on over things other students take for granted: how to work a printer or use a shower, how money could be stored on a little piece of plastic known as a “Wes Card.” He used to sprint from class to the dining hall to ensure he would get something to eat before the food ran out. One day, a classmate explained to him that his concern was unfounded; food would be available until the lunch period was over.

“What struck me most about the class of 2012 was the kindness exhibited in explanations like this. Never before in my life had I felt valued. I always felt that growing up poor was something to be ashamed of, and at first I was scared to talk about my past. But then the class of 2012 showed me this kindness on many occasions,” Odede reflected. “I had arrived at an incredible place.”

Since his start at Wesleyan, Odede founded the nonprofit Shining Hope for Communities with Jessica Posner ’09, and built the tuition-free Kibera School for Girls.

“I believe we will only live in a better world if we are willing to take risks to make it a reality, only if we are willing to say, ‘Yes.’ My fellow graduates, I hope that we continue to say ‘Yes’ today, tomorrow and throughout our lives.”

The text of President Michael S. Roth’s address to the Class of 2012 graduates can be found here.

The text of the senior class welcome by Kennedy Odede ’12 can be found here.

The text of Senator Michael Bennet’s address can be found here.

Information on the Binswanger recipients can be found here.

Information on the Honorary Degree Recipients can be found here.

Information on the Baldwin recipients can be found here.

The entire Commencement 2012 photo gallery is online here and videos of the 180th Commencement Ceremony are online here.

The weekend also saw more than a thousand alumni converge on campus for Reunion. They were kept busy with more than 150 events, including such highlights as an Eclectic party featuring The Rooks; an all-college picnic and festival on Foss Hill; a 50th Reunion and President’s Reception for the Class of 1962; the traditional All-College Sing; and an Andrus Field Tent party featuring Kinky Spigot and the Welders. A number of WESeminars also provided alumni with opportunities to revisit Wesleyan’s excellent academic experience with presentations by scholars, pundits and other experts. Topics included mindfulness-based stress reduction; a sampling of Wesleyan alumnae performance artists; music and literature of the ‘60s; the Beman Triangle Archaeology Project; money, marketing and the media; the environment; highlights of the Israeli Film Festival, and much more.

Seth Davis ’72 of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., who is secretary of his class, attended his 40th reunion this year.

“One of my best friends from my college days was attending his first reunion,” Davis said. “ ‘Are they always this good?’ he asked. ‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘they are.’”

The entire Reunion 2012 photo gallery is online here.

The parent paparazzi and graduates.

Kennedy Odede ’12 delivered the Senior Class Welcome.

Michael McAlear, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, served as Marshal of the Faculty. At right is Kennedy Odede ’12.

Ellen Jewett ’81, vice chair of the Board of Trustees, delivered the Board of Trustees Welcome.

The hat toss.

The Class of 2012.

The Class of 2012 parades onto Andrus Field from Foss Hill.

Wesleyan faculty members Wai Ku Chan, professor of mathematics, and Lori Gruen, chair and professor of philosophy.

Congratulations Class of 2012!

Hoskins ’12 Creates Treasure Hunt Installation on Campus

Jack Hoskins '12 spent his senior year creating a permanent Wesleyan Treasure Hunt. The game has more than six clues, and takes treasure-seekers on an adventure across campus. The plaques were installed in May.

Striking clocks gongs per day from Hartford to Middletown.
Silver wedding anniversary years from Laos to Chad.
Squares on a chess board from Warsaw to Kinshasa.

Can you solve this puzzle? If so, you’ve started a treasure hunt, right on Wesleyan’s campus.

The Wesleyan Treasure Hunt, a permanent campus installation, begins at a plaque located in the southeast corner of Usdan University Center near the Huss Courtyard. It encourages students to explore the nooks and crannies of campus, and interact with the buildings as they look for new clues.

“The hunt encapsulates everything I like about Wesleyan,” says its creator Jack Hoskins ’12. “The students I’ve met here are people who love to explore and think and solve puzzles, so not only is the treasure hunt intellectually challenging, it captures the same adventurous spirit and curiosity that makes people at Wesleyan so incredible.”

Hoskins, a government major, warns that although the clues are “elegant,” most are non-verbal and challenging. He suggests going on the hunt in groups, and bringing along a smart phone with internet-searching capabilities. Pre-frosh and first-year-student may need a campus map and be willing to ask the upperclassmen for help.

“This treasure hunt is very, very difficult, and it can’t be done in an afternoon,” he says. “A lot of people give up when they see the second clue. It’s going to take you a while to finish.”

Hoskins, a native of Olympia, Wash., grew up solving puzzles and making treasure hunts for his friends. His spirit for adventure continued throughout high school and college, and in 2011, he suggested the idea of a treasure hunt to his class dean and the Wesleyan Student Assembly. After approving the idea, the WSA’s Student Budget Committee awarded Hoskins with $500 to cover the cost of supplies and installation.

Wesleyan’s Physical Plant designed the wood plaques and coated them with an environmentally-friendly finish to withstand rain, sun, snow and sleet. Hoskins used the Center for the Arts’ wood burning printer for the lettering.

“I think a lot of people might think of a treasure hunt as something childish, but Wesleyan is a place where people don’t think that the curiosity and love of new things that some people call childish is a bad thing,” Hoskins says.

So far, 15 students have completed the treasure hunt, which was installed in May.

But is there really a treasure at the end of the hunt?

“There’s something there … but I cannot say what,” he says, smiling. “But, like at a real treasure hunt, if you get there second, there’s no gold left.”