Tag Archive for faculty achievements

Glick Wins Book Prize from National Women’s Studies Association

Megan Glick

Megan Glick

Megan Glick, associate professor of American studies, is the recipient of the Alison Piepmeier Book Prize for her book, Infrahumanisms: Science, Culture, and the Making of Modern Non/personhood (Duke University Press, 2018).

Awarded by the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), the Piepmeier Book Prize honors the author of a groundbreaking monograph in women, gender, and sexuality studies that makes significant contributions to feminist disability studies scholarship.

The award comes with a $1,000 prize and honors Alison Piepmeier, an active member and leader of NWSA whose scholarship examined the intersection of feminist and disability studies, with a particular emphasis on reproductive decisions and disabilities and parenting and disabilities.

At Wesleyan, Glick’s research and teaching focus on representations of difference along lines of race, gender, disability, and speciation, from both cultural and scientific perspectives. This fall, she is teaching Introduction to American Studies and a Junior Colloquium.

Papers by Barth, Patalano, Others Published in Psychology Journals

Hilary Barth, professor of psychology; Andrea Patalano, professor of psychology; Joanna Paul ’18; and former postdoctoral fellow Chenmu (Julia) Xing are co-authors of a paper titled “Probability range and probability distortion in a gambling task,” published in Acta Psychologica in June 2019.

Barth and Emily Slusser, a former postdoctoral fellow, are the co-authors of a paper titled “Spontaneous partitioning and proportion estimation in children’s numerical judgments,” published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology in September 2019.

Barth; Patalano; Slusser; Alexandra Zax, visiting scholar in psychology; and Katherine Williams, lab coordinator; are the co-authors of a paper titled “What Do Biased Estimates Tell Us about Cognitive Processing? Spatial Judgments as Proportion Estimation,” which was published in the Journal of Cognition and Development in August 2019.

Tölölyan Honored as Preeminent Scholar of Diaspora Studies

Khachig Tölölyan

Khachig Tölölyan was named a preeminent scholar of diaspora studies. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

Khachig Tölölyan, professor of letters, professor of English, was honored as the preeminent scholar of diaspora studies in general, and the Armenian Diaspora in particular, at the International Conference for the Society of Armenian Studies held at the University California, Los Angeles, on Oct. 12–13.

The conference, titled “Diaspora and ‘Stateless Power’: Social Discipline and Identity Formation Across the Armenian Diaspora During the Long Twentieth Century” marked the association’s 45th anniversary, and drew scholars from Italy, Mexico, France, Armenia, England, Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany, and around the United States. They came to present new papers and to hear Tölölyan’s keynote address, “From the Study of Diasporas to Diaspora Studies.”

Introducing Tölölyan before his keynote, UCLA Associate Professor Sebouh Aslanian, who holds the Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History said, ”Khachig’s enduring legacy should not be limited to his scholarly contributions and accomplishments . . . . More than publishing journals and influencing an entire field of scholarly inquiry known as diaspora studies, Khachig has also been a remarkable mentor to scholars whose essays he has remolded and published. . . .  I can say unequivocally that I know of no other Armenian scholar who is as well-read and nimble in his thinking and who has helped me become the scholar I am today.’

Also presented at the conference were the results of pilot research of the Armenian Diaspora Survey (ADS) in 2018; Tölölyan was a member of the ADS Advisory Committee.

Director of the ADS, Hratch Tchilingirian, associate of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University, thanked Tölölyan for his service on the project, noting  In addition to his brilliant scholarship and numerous academic accolades, Khachig Tölölyan is a wonderful human being. He shares his enormous, accumulated wisdom with intellectual humility; engages with everyone with grace and empathy; and empowers others with generous and sincere acknowledgment and encouragement.”

Additionally, more than 130 people attended the society’s 45th-anniversary banquet, where Bedross Der Matossian, president of the Society for Armenian Studies and associate professor and vice chair of the department of history at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, presented Tölölyan with a lifetime achievement award.

Tölölyan is the founding editor of Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, an award-winning publication that he has been editing since 1991.

At Wesleyan, Tölölyan teaches a range of courses in literature and critical and cultural theory. Both his research and his teaching ask (as he puts it) “how the increasing level of migration and dispersion brings new populations to the West, how these dispersions assimilate or become ethnic, diasporic, and transnational, and how these, in turn, reshape the literature, culture, and politics of the nations/states that host them.”

NASA Funds Study of Gilmore’s Venus Mission Concept

Martha Gilmore

Martha Gilmore, the George I. Seney Professor of Geology, professor of earth and environmental sciences, believes we have a lot to learn from studying Venus—yet the United States has not sent a mission to the Earth-sized planet since the early 1990s. That’s why Gilmore has proposed a major flagship mission concept study to assess whether Venus was ever a habitable planet by looking at its rocks and atmosphere.

In October, NASA agreed to fund the planetary mission concept on Venus submitted by Gilmore, a planetary geologist, and colleagues at several other institutions, who come from varied disciplines. Gilmore, who is the principal investigator, said NASA received 54 proposals and selected 10 to feed into the next Planetary Decadal Survey. Theirs was the only proposal on Venus to receive funding.

In 2020, the National Academy of Science will convene a panel of scientists and engineers to determine the scientific priorities for Planetary Science over the period 2023–2032. This Planetary Decadal Survey is conducted every 10 years and is tasked with recommending a portfolio of missions to NASA. The mission concepts that were funded will be developed for consideration by the Decadal Survey. In the coming months, Gilmore will be meeting and communicating regularly with her science team and conducting mission design runs at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Final reports are due to the Decadal Survey in June 2020, and will describe mission architecture, cost, and how the mission will address the scientific priorities of the Decadal Survey and NASA.

Gilmore’s expertise is on the surface morphology and composition of Venus, Mars, and Earth, and her PhD focused on Venus during the United States’ Magellan mission. She explained that all three planets are rocky, and there is evidence that they all had oceans early in solar system history. Scientists believe that Mars’s ocean dried up first—within about one billion years—and that Venus’s ocean may have lasted for two or three billion years.

“Thus, for most of solar system history, there were two Earth-sized planets with oceans,” said Gilmore. “Was Venus habitable like the Earth and if so, what changed?”

Grossman Discusses Latest Unemployment Trends on WTIC Radio

Grossman

Richard Grossman

On Oct. 16, Richard Grossman, chair and professor of economics, discussed the latest unemployment numbers and current state of the economy with Todd Feinburg at WTIC in Hartford. This month, the national unemployment rate has fallen to a new low—3.5%.

“Historically, and certainly for the last 10 years, the number peaked at 10% after the financial crisis, and it’s been working its way down ever since,” Grossman said. “That doesn’t mean all is wonderful if you’re in the labor force. There’s a lot of other things going on … people working part-time who would like to be working full-time … people who are doing contract work that would like to be having full-time jobs with benefits.”

Economists generally see an uptick in wages when unemployment goes down.

“Last month, the wage rate went up, but it went up by less than it had gone up in the previous month, so it suggests that even though the employment rate is low, that still hasn’t had an effect on wage. Normally we’d expect a really strong labor market to have some positive impact on wages.”

Grossman is an expert on economic history and current policy issues in macroeconomics, banking, and finance.

Hogendorn Presents Economics Papers in New York and Portugal

Christiaan Hogendorn

Christiaan Hogendorn

On Oct. 3, Christiaan Hogendorn, associate professor of economics, presented a paper titled “Unequal Growth in Local Wages: Rail versus Internet Infrastructure” for the City College of New York’s Economics Department. David Schwartz ’17 co-authored the paper.

And on Oct. 12, Hogendorn presented a paper titled “The Long Tail of Online News Visits” at the 17th Media Economics Workshop in Braga, Portugal. The paper was co-authored by Hengyi Zhu ’15 and Lisa George of Hunter College. He also served as a discussant for a panel on Network-Mediated Knowledge Spillovers in ICT/Information Security.

Abrell to Speak on the Future of Meat During 92nd Street Y’s Inaugural Food Summit

Elan Abrell, a fellow in animal studies and philosophy, will be a panelist at 92nd Street Y’s first-ever Food Summit on Nov. 9.

The Summit will explore the future of what and how we eat and will include some of the most dynamic and influential figures in the culinary world. Guests will discuss how food brings us together, the future of cookbook publishing, mental health in the food industry, how immigrant chefs continue to transform American cuisine, and much more.

Abrell’s panel will focus on the topic of “Meat: The Future.” He will join experts from the fields of anthropology, nutrition, and the emerging industry of cellular agriculture to explore the science, the implications, alternate sources of animal protein, and life after meat.

This fall, Abrell is teaching a course on Liminal Animals: Animals in Urban Spaces, which examines the major ways in which nonhuman animals influence and are influenced by human-built environments, with specific attention to the ethical, political, and social dimensions of human-animal interactions in these spaces.

For 145 years, 92nd Street Y has been serving its communities and the larger world by bringing people together and providing groundbreaking programs in the performing and visual arts; literature and culture; adult and children’s education; talks on a huge range of topics; health and fitness; and Jewish life.

Tickets are available online.

Sultan to Lead $2M Evolutionary-Developmental Biology Project

Sonia Sultan

In the Wesleyan Research Greenhouse, Professor of Biology Sonia Sultan studies how Polygonum plants develop and function differently in response to contrasting environmental conditions. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

With support from a $2 million John Templeton Foundation National Sciences grant, Professor of Biology Sonia Sultan will spearhead a multi-institution evolutionary biology research project over the next three years.

The project, titled “Agency in Living Systems: How Organisms Actively Generate Adaptation, Resilience and Innovation at Multiple Levels of Organization,” developed from Sultan’s research on how individual organisms respond to their environments. Sultan and her Wesleyan research group study this question through experiments with the common plant Polygonum.

Sultan's data on Polygonum plant have broader implications for understanding evolution.

Sultan’s data on Polygonum plant have broader implications for understanding evolution.

Sultan’s previous findings have shown that genetically identical Polygonum plants can develop very differently depending on their growth conditions, allowing adaptive adjustments by individual plants without any genetic change. Because these adjustments are made actively by plants, rather than pre-scripted by their DNA sequence, this insight poses challenges to prevailing conceptual models for development and evolutionary adaptation.

“Scientists are particularly keen to understand these types of induced changes because they may help populations to very rapidly adapt to novel environmental stresses caused by human activities,” Sultan said.

The Templeton Foundation grant supports a consortium to investigate more broadly this property of biological agency—the ways in which active, real-time responses by living organisms influence the organisms’ own features. Sultan and her international team of co-investigators will focus on the active response mechanisms produced by evolution that grant organisms a degree of agency in shaping their own development, behavior, and subsequent evolution.

“New findings over the past decade about gene expression, development, the nature of inheritance, and the basis of adaptation, have led developmental and evolutionary biologists to re-examine some fundamental and long-standing ideas,” Sultan said. “The concept of agency may provide a unifying framework at a time when many scientists are seeking to update and expand those ideas. This project gives us the opportunity to help move the field forward and hopefully contribute to a more nuanced understanding of organisms.”

President Roth Discusses New Book, Higher Education

On Sept. 26, the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore hosted a public discussion between Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 and Roxanne Coady, founder of RJ Julia Booksellers, on Roth’s new book and the crises facing higher education today.

Roth’s new book, Safe Enough Spaces: A Pragmatist’s Approach to Inclusion, Free Speech, and Political Correctness on College Campuses, was published Aug. 20 by Yale University Press. In the book, Roth takes a pragmatic and empathetic approach to the challenges facing higher education. He offers important historical, sociological, and economic context, as well as firsthand observations from his decades as a higher ed administrator, to debates over free speech, political correctness, safe spaces, affirmative action, and inclusion. As the book’s title suggests, he envisions a higher education space that is “safe enough” for students to openly explore new ideas and perspectives—even those that are unpopular or cause discomfort—and where no idea is protected from reasoned challenge.

Roth also is the author of Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters (Yale University Press, 2014).

The discussion concluded with a Q&A, reception, and book signing. (Photos by Nick Sng ’23)

Roth booktalk

O’Connell Works with International Scientists to Collect Sediment Cores from Scotia Sea

JOIDES

The JOIDES Resolution at the pier in Punta Arenas, Chile. (Credit: Thomas Ronge & IODP)

Suzanne O'Connell

Suzanne O’Connell

As campus was winding down for spring break last semester, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Suzanne O’Connell was packing her bags for a two-month expedition in the Scotia Sea, just north of the Antarctic Peninsula, to drill for marine sediment miles below the ocean waves.

On her ninth expedition since 1980, O’Connell was one of 30 international scientists working 12 hours a day, seven days a week, navigating “Iceberg Alley” aboard the JOIDES Resolution research vessel. It is the only ship in the world with coring tools powerful enough to extract both soft sediment and hard rock from the ocean floor.

At five carefully selected sites the ship stopped, and—provided the vicinity was iceberg-free—scientists lowered coring equipment through an opening in the floor of the ship to drill 0.5 to 2.5 miles down through the water and into the ocean sediment. After two hours, the equipment (which uses an action similar to that of coring an apple), would bring back the 31-foot-long core. Back on board, the cores were cut into 1.5-meter segments and then split lengthwise to reveal a layer cake of preserved mineral and organic sediment, each layer representing a snapshot of the ocean floor from a moment in geologic history.

Wesleyan String Ensemble Performs Eclectic Mix

The Mattabesset String Collective, a five-piece Wesleyan-affiliated acoustic ensemble, performed at a venue in Higganum, Conn., on July 29. The group plays an eclectic mix of bluegrass, blues, folk, mountain, country, and rock, all in a string band style. (Photos by Olivia Drake and Bill Burkhart)

Barry Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies and director of the College of the Environment, plays guitar, harmonica, and writes his own songs.

Gil Skillman, professor of economics, plays the banjo, cuatro and dobro.

Gil Skillman, professor of economics, plays a dobro—an acoustic guitar with a metal resonator that serves as an amplifier. Skillman also plays the banjo and cuatro, a Latin-American string instrument.

Wesleyan Welcomes 48 New Faculty, Postdocs, Scholars

2019 faculty

New faculty gathered for a group photo during New Faculty Orientation on Aug. 26. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

This fall, Wesleyan welcomes 48 new faculty to campus.

Of those, there are 16 tenure-track, 10 professors of the practice, one artist-in-residence, one adjunct, and 20 new visiting faculty members.

The new faculty bring a diverse skill set to campus. Among them are experts in international political economy; Indian cinema and film; environmental archaeology and ancient DNA; German poetry and aesthetic theory of the 18th century; music and expressive culture in Kazakhstan; politics in the African diaspora; Russian and Anglo-American literature; physiological and psychological effects of alcohol; and digital video production.

In addition, three are Wesleyan alumni.

Bios of the new ongoing faculty are below:

Joseph Ackley

Joseph Ackley

Joseph Ackley, assistant professor of art history, is a specialist in precious metalwork of the European Middle Ages, circa 800–1400. He received his BA from Dartmouth College (2003) and both his MA (2008) and his PhD (2014) from New York University’s Institute for Fine Art. His dissertation focused on portable, liturgical objects such as chalices, reliquaries, figural statuettes, and jewelry. He has investigated the symbolic associations of gold and gilding, the preferred media for these works, and has theorized “the radiant aesthetic” that underlies and informs them. His work not only expands the corpus of medieval art, but also deepens our understanding of the “multi-media glory” that would have characterized medieval architectural spaces, draped with silks and enlivened by processional objects.