Tag Archive for Class of 2015

Paper by Dancey, Masand ’15 Focuses on Congress’s Response to Deaths

Logan Dancey, assistant professor of government, and Jasmine Masand ‘15 are the co-authors of “Race and Representation on Twitter: Members of Congress’ Responses to the Deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner,” published in Politics, Groups, and Identities in July 2017.

This paper investigates the public responses of members of Congress to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the subsequent protests and grand jury decisions. To do so, the authors examined members’ engagement with the issue on Twitter, which became a platform for public protest with such hashtags as #BlackLivesMatter and #ICantBreathe.

“We find that a member’s race is a more robust predictor of their engagement on the issue than is the member’s partisanship or the partisan and racial demographics of their district,” Dancey explained. “By showing that descriptive representation may overwhelm more traditional notions of district-based representation in responses to a racially charged issue, we further highlight the role descriptive representation in Congress plays in ensuring that the diversity of voices coming out of Congress reflects the diversity of voices in the public at large.”

Wilkins, Alumni Author Paper on Consequences of Perceived Anti-Male Bias

Clara Wilkins, assistant professor of psychology, has studied perceptions of discrimination against whites and other groups who hold positions of relative advantage in society—such as heterosexuals and men—since she was a graduate student at the University of Washington. She became became interested in the topic of perceptions of bias against high status groups after hearing Glenn Beck call president Barack Obama racist. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Clara Wilkins

Men in the U.S. today increasingly believe themselves to be victims of gender discrimination, and there are a record number of recent lawsuits claiming anti-male bias. In a study published in March in Psychology of Men and MasculinityAssistant Professor of Psychology Clara Wilkins and her co-authors assess the consequences of these perceptions of anti-male bias. Are men who perceive discrimination more likely to discriminate against women? How do beliefs about societal order affect men’s evaluations of men and women?

The article is co-authored by former post-doctoral fellow Joseph Wellman, now an assistant professor at California State University–San Bernardino, Erika Flavin ’14, and Juliana Manrique ’15, MA ’16.

In a blog post on the study, the authors write:

Traditionally men have had higher status than women in the U.S.; they have been better educated, more likely to be employed, and have tended to earn more than women with the same job and qualifications. People vary in the extent to which they believe that this particular ordering of society is fair and the way things should be. Some believe this type of inequality is legitimate, while others believe it should change. We expected that men who believed men should have higher status in society would be most upset about the thought that men now experience discrimination, and that they would react by favoring men over equally-qualified women. This effort would be a way to reestablish men’s perceived rightful place in society.

They conducted two studies to test this prediction. In the first, male participants read an article about increasing bias against men or another group, and then were asked to evaluate the résumé of a man or woman as part of an ostensibly unrelated study. The résumés were identical except for the name and gender. The researchers found that men who believe the social hierarchy is fair tended to give more negative evaluations of the female candidate relative to the male candidate after reading about bias against men. They also showed less desire to help the female candidate. The same effect wasn’t seen after male participants read about bias against an unrelated group. The researchers conclude that beliefs about the legitimacy of the hierarchy and perceptions of bias against men together seemed to disadvantage women.

In a second study, the researchers manipulated participants’ beliefs about society’s fairness by having them create sentences by unscrambling strings of randomly ordered words that suggested system legitimacy. For example, they created sentences like “effort leads to prosperity” – which makes people believe that hard work in society is rewarded. Or, they unscrambled other words to create neutral sentences unrelated to society. Unscrambling system-legitimizing sentences caused participates to believe the social structure is legitimate, and in turn, caused those primed to perceive discrimination against men to more negatively evaluate female targets. They also reported being less willing to help the female targets than male targets.

The researchers gave participants an opportunity to provide feedback on how to improve targets’ resumes. Those primed with beliefs that the social structure is legitimate reacted to perceiving bias against men by providing more constructive feedback to male targets than female targets. They write that these findings are striking, as the resumes were identical – only the names varied.

This research suggests that men who believe that men should be high-status in society react to perceiving bias against men by engaging in efforts to maintain men’s position of power. These individuals may be unaware that they favor their own group or disadvantage women; they may simply perceive that they are righting a perceived wrong. However, this explanation was not supported by other research results. When the researchers primed men to perceive discrimination against women, they did not react by favoring women over men. It seems as though they are uniquely concerned about maintaining their own group’s position in society, they write.

The researchers conclude that when high-status individuals perceive increasing bias against their group, those who endorse the legitimacy of the social hierarchy may perpetuate social disparities. Thus, if men increasingly perceive discrimination against their group, they may be more inclined to discriminate against women and provide other men with an extra boost. They recommend adopting hiring and evaluation processes that mask gender to prevent these potentially deleterious effects of perceiving bias against men.

Read the complete research article here.

NPR Previewed SXSW Performers Elion ’15 and Mitchell ’15 of Overcoats

Hana Elion ’15 and JJ Mitchell ’15 are Overcoats. Recently, the duo performed at South By Southwest Music Festival. (photo credit: Lex Voight)Hana Elion ’15 and JJ Mitchell ’15 are Overcoats. Recently, the duo performed at South By Southwest Music Festival. (photo credit: Lex Voight)

Hana Elion ’15 and JJ Mitchell ’15 are Overcoats. Recently, the duo performed at South By Southwest Music Festival.

NPR’s All Songs Considered featured the former Wesleyan band Overcoats in its preview of the 2016 South by Southwest Music festival in Austin Texas. Overcoats, made up of Hana Elion ’15 and JJ Mitchell ’15, have made the leap from small on-campus concerts to performances in New York City’s Mercury Lounge and the Longitude Festival in Ireland. Currently, Overcoats resides in New York City where they are performing and recording new music in studio.

Overcoats describe their style as “combining electronic backdrops with soaring, harmonic intimacy — a sort of Chet Faker meets Simon & Garfunkel.” Their songs “draw strength from vulnerability, finding uplifting beauty in simple, honest songwriting,“ the duo write.

In their preview, NPR host Bob Boilen wrote, “The charming East Coast duo Overcoats reminds me of [the Scandinavian folk duo] My bubba — the heart of what these two do is in the playfulness of their vocal performances.”

Bevilacqua ’12 and Alam ’15: Translating, Publishing Wiesel’s Night in Indonesian

Max Bevilacqua ’12 spent a year teaching English in Indonesia on a Fulbright. Elie Weisel's memoir, Night, proved a bridge to understanding between cultures.

Max Bevilacqua ’12 spent a year teaching English in Indonesia on a Fulbright. Elie Weisel’s memoir, Night, proved a bridge to understanding between cultures. (photo credit: Sarah Gormley)

It doesn’t seem an obvious choice, publishing one of the most important memoirs to come out of the Holocaust into the language of a country that is home to the world’s largest Muslim population—but that’s exactly the project Max Bevilacqua ’12 and Mansoor Alam ’15 have taken on.
The project is the brainchild of Bevilacqua, who grew up in a Jewish household and studied Christianity as a religion major at Wesleyan. As a Fulbright scholar, he requested placement in Indonesia, which is 88 percent Muslim, and where he taught English. State department officials—as well as family and friends—encouraged Bevilacqua not to reveal his religious identity, since Judaism is not sanctioned there.

“I struggled with that,” he said. “But I came to see it as— I wanted to be ‘Max, the American who is our teacher.’ I didn’t want my religion to be distraction.”
Still, the secret weighed on him. Ten days before his year was complete, he gathered his friends. “You should know that I’m Jewish,” he said.

His announcement was met with some confusion—why hadn’t he told them? It was a time to acknowledge his own fears and biases—and the best way seemed to be with a book: Night, by Elie Wiesel. This memoir recounted Weisel’s horrific experiences as a young boy in the German concentration camps during World War II.

“The book provided an epiphany of the trauma that has been associated with being Jewish,” Bevilacqua said.

Back in the United States, Bevilacqua continued pondering the bridge he’d found. What would it take to share this powerful book with a country that had never had it available to them?

He remembered that he already knew a publisher: Mansoor Alam ’15. The two had met as undergrads. Alam describes Bevilacqua as “very personable—you can sit down and really talk with him.” Bevilacqua calls Alam “humble and brilliant; a true Renaissance man.”

With his own publishing company, Mansoor Alam ’15 was the ideal partner for Bevilacqua. In this 2012 photo, Alam was in Karachi, Pakistan, supporting community educational initiatives.

With his own publishing company, Mansoor Alam ’15 was the ideal partner for Bevilacqua. In this 2012 photo, Alam was in Karachi, Pakistan, supporting community educational initiatives.

Alam had started his own publishing company as a first-year student at Wesleyan. “There are so many good writers and great content that doesn’t make it to readers; I wanted to figure out a way to give authors autonomy and make it cost effective,” he explained. He provides his clients with assistance in copyediting, graphics and marketing.

“When Max talked to me about the project, I knew we absolutely had to do this,” Alam said. “The challenge of it—the ‘what’— was thrilling to me, and Max was so passionate about the ‘why’ of it.”

The “what” began with obtaining rights from the French publishing company, in a series of carefully crafted letters written in French. Next, they lined up a cohort of French/Indonesian translators.

The process is intensive. “It’s such a visceral, personal book,” Bevilacqua said.

Bevilacqua urges us not to forget Indonesia when we, in the West, look to form relationships with Muslim-majority countries.

Bevilacqua urges us not to forget Indonesia when we, in the West, look to form relationships with Muslim-majority countries.

“Max was worried about losing the impact of those details,” Alam said. “To make sure that doesn’t happen, we rely on a network. Translators compare their work—how they rendered this word, that phrase.”

With the translation nearly completed, Bevilacqua is focused on coordinating classrooms in American and in Indonesia who will read Night together. “It’s a book that can bridge cultures,” he said. “When we think about the Muslim world, let’s also look to developing friendships in Indonesia.”

To follow their progress, see http://growingoodfaith.org/.

Loui, Jung ’16, Alumni Authors of Article in Frontiers in Psychology

Psyche Loui

Psyche Loui

Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, assistant professor of integrated sciences, is the co-author of a new study, “Rhythmic Effects of Syntax Processing in Music and Language” published in Frontiers in Psychology in November. The article’s lead author is Harim Jung ’16, and it is also co-authored by Samuel Sontag ’14 and YeBin “Shiny” Park ’15.

According to Loui, the paper grew out of her Advanced Research Methods in Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience course, and is the precursor to Jung’s senior and master’s theses. The study uses a behavioral test to look into how music and language—two universal human functions—may overlap in their use of brain resources. The researchers show that perturbations in rhythm take up sufficient attentional resources to interfere with how people read and understand a sentence. The results support the view that rhythm, music, and language are not limited to their separate processing in the auditory circuits; instead, their structure creates expectations about tempo, harmony, and sentence meaning that interfere with each other in other sensory systems, such as vision, and in higher levels of cognitive processing.

“We think that the role of rhythm in this sharing of brain resources dedicated to music and language is an important finding because it could help people who use music as a therapy to help their language functions,” explained Loui. “For example, people who have aphasia (loss of language) due to stroke are sometimes able to sing, a fascinating paradox that led to the development of Melodic Intonation Therapy—a singing therapy designed to help aphasics recover their language functions. Rhythm is important for this therapy, but its precise role is unclear. By studying how rhythm guides the way the brain shares its processing between music and language, we might be better able to target Melodic Intonation Therapy in the future.”

Bonin Keynote Speaker at Banking Workshop

John Bonin, the the Chester D. Hubbard Professor of Economics and Social Science.

John Bonin is the Chester D. Hubbard Professor of Economics and Social Science.

John Bonin, the Chester D. Hubbard Professor of Economics and Social Science, was the invited keynote speaker at the 5th annual CInSt Banking Workshop, hosted by the Center for International Studies at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia on Oct. 2.

The theme of the conference was “Banking in Emerging Markets: Challenges and Opportunities.” Bonin’s talk was titled, “Did foreign banks ‘cut and run’ or stay committed to emerging Europe during the crises?” Bonin presented research he did together with Dana Louie ’15. They examined the lending behavior of foreign banks during the global financial crisis and at the onset of the Eurozone crisis in eight new EU countries, known as “emerging Europe.”

At the conference, Bonin also served as a discussant on a paper titled “Market Discipline in Russian Regions: In Local Authorities We Trust?”

Barth, Lesser ’15 Co-Author Paper on Spatial Estimation

Hilary Barth

Hilary Barth

Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, is the co-author of an article titled “Spatial Estimation: A Non-Bayesian Alternative,” published in Developmental Science, Volume 18, pages 853-862, in 2015. The paper is co-authored by Ellen Lesser ’15, as well as former Cognitive Development Labs coordinator Jessica Taggart and former postdoctoral fellow Emily Slusser.

A large collection of estimation phenomena (for example, biases arising when adults or children estimate remembered locations of objects in bounded spaces) are commonly explained in terms of complex Bayesian models. Bayesian cognitive models seek to model human mental processes as approximations to ideal statistical inference.

In this study, Barth and her co-authors provide evidence that some of these phenomena may be modeled instead by a simpler non-Bayesian alternative.

Undergraduates and 9- to 10-year-olds completed a speeded linear position estimation task. Bias in both groups’ estimates, they suggest, could be explained in terms of a simple psychophysical model of proportion estimation.

3 Wesleyan Baseball Players Sign Professional Contracts

Three key players in Wesleyan baseball’s fantastic run over the last three years have signed professional baseball contracts this summer. Gavin Pittore ’16 signed a free-agent contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers; alumnus Nick Cooney ’15 signed a contract with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks in the independent American Association; and Donnie Cimino ’15 was drafted in the 37th round by the Chicago Cubs.

“This is a thrilling achievement for Wesleyan baseball,” said Head Coach Mark Woodworth. “For three great young men to achieve at an elite level academically, while simultaneously becoming world-class athletes

Yin ’15 Repeats First-Team Academic All-American Honor

Andrew Yin '15

Andrew Yin ’15

Baseball player Andrew Yin ’15, who helped Wesleyan win two straight NESCAC titles, along with a perfect 12-0 conference record in 2015, was recently named a CoSIDA/Capital One First-Team Academic All-American for the second straight year. He is the only player among the 33 honorees on the three national teams in 2015 to repeat as a first-team choice.

Yin also is the only player among those cited to be a three-time Academic All-American. In 2013, Yin, then a sophomore, made his first appearance as an Academic All-America third-team selection. Sophomores are rare on the squad as only one of the 33 players in 2015 is a sophomore, also a third-teamer. Yin is the only Wesleyan player in any sport to be named an Academic All-American more than once, and is the fifth Cardinal baseball player since 1972 to grace the list.

Yin started 38 of 41 games at second base during Wesleyan’s banner 2015 campaign as the Cardinals posted an overall record of 30-11, just the third 30-win campaign in program history. The 2014 Cardinals set the record for wins in a season, going 31-13. Yin hit .309 with 43 hits in 139 at-bats in 2015. He led the Cardinals in walks with 21 and stolen bases, going 17-for-21. His 32 runs scored were second-highest on the team. He knocked in nine runs, had seven doubles and fielded at a crisp .957 mark. He ended his career on a 10-game hitting streak. Three of his doubles came in one game and keyed Wesleyan to its 4-3, 12-inning victory over Amherst in the NESCAC title game May 10. Yin doubled and scored in both the 5th and 7th innings, then doubled in the 9th inning to drive in the tying run. Wesleyan won the game on Guy Davidson’s (’16) 12-inning solo homer.

Yin is the only Wesleyan player in any sport to be named an Academic All-American more than once,

Andrew Yin is the only Wesleyan player in any sport to be named an Academic All-American more than once.

Davidson was among six Cardinals named all-NESCAC in 2015 as he joined pitcher Sam Elias ’15, also named Pitcher of the Year, and first-baseman Sam Goodwin-Boyd ’15 on the first team. Named to the second team were center fielder Donnie Cimino ’15 and pitchers Nick Cooney ’15 and Gavin Pittore ’16.

Yin was a first-team all-NESCAC choice in 2013 as well as second-team all-ECAC New England Division III.

Yin also was the recipient of Wesleyan’s Roger Maynard Award, given to the top senior male scholar-athlete at the university. Yin, who graduated May 24 with degrees in chemistry, molecular biology and biochemistry, and neuroscience and behavior, held a cumulative GPA of 4.01.

Read more here.

Carr ’15 Explores Concept of “Little” in Children’s Literature

Siri Carr ’15 explored the concept of "little" in children's literature in her thesis, "Little Do We Know: Conceptualizing the 'Little' in Children’s Literature."

Siri Carr ’15 explored the concept of “little” in children’s literature in her thesis, “Little Do We Know: Conceptualizing the ‘Little’ in Children’s Literature.”


In this issue of News @ Wesleyan, we speak with Siri Carr ’15, who double majored in the College of Letters and Hispanic Literatures and Cultures. Carr’s thesis, Little Do We Know: Conceptualizing the “Little” in Children’s Literature, explores the concept of the “little” in children’s literature. The thesis was submitted for honors in the College of Letters.