Tag Archive for faculty achievements

Hingorani Receives State Award for Tobacco-Related Illness Research

At left, State Senator Joseph Crisco awarded Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, with a Department of Public Health grant to fund her research titled "Role of DNA Mismatch Repair in Tobacco Smoke-Mediated Carcinogenesis.”

A Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) award will fund a biomedical research project on tobacco-related illnesses.

On Oct. 26, Senator Joseph Crisco (D-Woodbridge) presented Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, with one of the eight awards, supported by the Connecticut DPH Biomedical Trust Fund. Hingorani received a $165,083 grant to promote understanding of the mechanisms whereby DNA mismatch repair suppresses carcinogenesis and development of refractory cancers.

“While we have made considerable progress in the area of tobacco use prevention, tobacco-related illnesses continue to be the leading causes of disability and death,” said Senator Crisco, sponsor of legislation in 2005 creating the Biomedical Trust Fund in a state press release. “This research is helping to shine new light on how tobacco use contributes to chronic diseases, and moves us forward in the effort to save lives of those stricken with cancer, heart disease, and other smoking-related diseases, which are leading causes of death in Connecticut.”

Hingorani’s study was selected from 17 highly-competitive applications. This is the first time Wesleyan has received a grant from the Biomedical Research Trust Fund.

The grant will fund a post-doc and research associate’s projects through September 2012.

The funding “is a positive indication that Connecticut is moving forward with a strong commitment to carrying out the goals of the biomedical research bill, and that is to use a portion of the tobacco settlement funding to provide funding for research efforts to help fight cancer, heart disease, and other diseases that may be linked to smoking,” Senator Crisco said in the press release.

According to state health officials, tobacco is the single most preventable cause of mortality and morbidity in our society. In Connecticut, tobacco use is associated with over 5,000 deaths per year. These deaths are primarily caused by cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Tobacco also causes secondary adverse health effects to nonsmokers exposed to environmental tobacco smoke. Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is a significant cause of morbidity in children that manifests itself in diseases such as asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia.

Royer Receives Donath Medal at Geological Meeting

Dana Royer.

Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, assistant professor of environmental studies, accepted the gold Donath Medal at the Geological Society of America’s (GSA) annual meeting in Denver, Colo. Nov. 1.

The award came with a cash prize of $10,000.

The award recognizes a scientist, aged 35 or younger, for outstanding original research marking a major advance in the earth sciences.

On a GSA press release, Peter D. Wilf of Pennsylvania State University said, “Dana is a true innovator who successfully tackles extremely important questions in paleoclimatology and paleoecology, in part using paleobotanical proxies calibrated with a remarkable series of careful modern analog studies. He often connects the deep-time climate and CO2 record to the present day in highly societally-relevant ways that are widely cited in the ‘modern’ climate change literature.”

“Without Dana’s contributions we would know much less about Earth’s climate history and its great importance to today’s world,” Wilf said.

Leo Hickey, professor of geology and Curator of Paleobotany at Yale University, said, “In the rapidly developing field of plant paleoecology and ecophysiology, Dana Royer stands out in terms of innovation and sheer breadth and depth of knowledge. He is truly an emerging leader in the geological sciences.”

Phil Resor, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, also attended the annual GSA meeting, which focused on “Reaching New Peaks in Geoscience.”

Gus Seixas ’10 and Greg Hurd ’10 also presented results of their Wesleyan thesis research at the meeting.

Rubenstein Guest Panelist at Global Politics of Sexuality Conference

Mary-Jane Rubenstein, assistant professor of religion, assistant professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, was a guest panelist at a conference titled “Christianity and the Global Politics of Sexuality” held Oct. 21 at the Barnard Center for Research on Women, New York University.

Focusing specifically on sexuality, Rubenstein and other panelists discussed the ways in which transnational and non-governmental Christian organizations have an impact on legal and social policies in different areas where Christians may comprise a small minority or a larger percentage of the population. In addition, sexuality continues to rankle and even divide Christian churches themselves, as evidenced by the recent tensions in the Anglican Communion over LGBT clergy members. This panel explored debates about sexuality within Christian churches and the global reach of Christian claims about sexuality.

Rubenstein is the author of Strange Wonder: The Closure of Metaphysics and the Opening of Awe, and of numerous articles and chapters on continental philosophy, negative theology, and the crisis over sex and gender in the global Anglican Communion.

Taylor, Bonfert-Taylor, Bodznick Awarded NSF Grant

Edward Taylor, associate professor of mathematics; Petra Bonfert-Taylor, associate professor of mathematics; and David Bodznick, dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, received a grant worth $199,924 from the National Science Foundation for their “Collaborative Research: Analytic and Geometric Methods in Limited Angle Tomosunthesis.” The grant expires Aug. 27, 2011.

Nature Conservancy Awards Chernoff Funds for Fish Study

Barry Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, professor of biology, chair of the Environmental Studies Program and director of the College of the Environment, received a $13,000 grant from The Nature Conservancy for his research titled “Fish and Benthic Invertebrate Assemblages-Zemko Dam.” The grant expires Aug. 15, 2011.

Stark’s Medical Research Ethics OpEd Published in L.A. Times

In an Oct. 8 The Los Angeles Times OpEd titled “Gaps in medical research ethics,” Laura Stark, assistant professor of science in society, assistant professor of sociology, assistant professor of environmental studies, explains flaws in the current research review system in the United States. On the heels of a U.S. apology for medical research in Guatemala, the U.S. now has on opportunity to overhaul ethics rules.

Stark shows how the ethics review process enabled the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to use federal prisoners in experiments during the 1960s. The prisoners were infected with “pneumonia, influenza and the common cold, as well as simian-virus 40, which had contaminated batches of polio vaccine given to millions of Americans.” Attention to where our present-day ethics came from shows the flaw in our current system.

Degiovanni Honored for His Latin-American Scholarly Book

Fernando Degiovanni

Fernando Degiovanni, associate professor of romance languages and literatures, associate professor of Latin American studies, was awarded the prestigious Alfredo Roggiano Prize for his Los textos de la patria: Nacionalismo, politicas culturales y canon en Argentina (2007). This prize is awarded every three years by the International Institute of Ibero-American Literature to the author of an outstanding scholarly book on any phase of Latin American literature or culture.

The International Institute of Ibero-American Literature is the oldest association of scholars devoted the study of Latin American literature and culture in the United States.

Curran Elected Fellow by N.Y. Academy of Medicine

In July 2010, the board of the New York Academy of Medicine elected Andrew Curran, professor of French, Department of Romance Languages, a Fellow of the Academy in the history of medicine. Curran had previously received the Paul Klemperer fellowship in the history of medicine at the Academy and had given a lecture there on “natural history and slavery.” While at the Academy, Curran finished a book on 18th-century life sciences, The Anatomy of Blackness: Science and Slavery in an Era of Enlightenment (Johns Hopkins University Press, forthcoming 2011).

Östör Receives Highest Appointment at Portuguese University

Ákos Östör

Ákos Östör, professor of anthropology, emeritus, was appointed to “Professor Catedratico”  for the fall semester at the Instituto Superior de Ciencias do Trabalho e  da Epresa – Lisbon University Institute. This is the highest appointment offered in the Portuguese University system.

There, Östör is teaching a course on the “History of Visual in Anthropology” for the new master’s program in Visual Anthropology.

“Lisbon is a delightful place, deep histories and memories of ages and ethnicities, well reflected in the cuisine (the wine and seafood are superb and affordable in the numerous tascas, neighborhood eateries, throughout the city) definitely a place to visit and a people to spend time with,” Östör says.

McAlear Teaches Children in Kibera, Kenya

Michael McAlear teaching at the Kibera School for Girls.

In August, Michael McAlear, chair and associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, presented an interactive lecture about Africa’s water cycle to the Kibera School for Girls.

Kennedy Odede ’12 and Jessica Posner ’09 operate the school and the non-profit organization Shining Hope for Communities in Kibera, Kenya.

McAlear’s lecture included an experiment with test tubes he brought for the school. His sons, Matthew and Thomas, donated time in the school’s library.

“We cannot thank Professor McAlear and his sons enough for their generous donation of supplies, time, and energy,” Posner says in her blog.