Tag Archive for faculty publications

Taylor, Alumni, Students Co-Author 3 Journal Articles

Erika Taylor

Erika Taylor, associate professor of chemistry, is the recent co-author of three articles. Two publications are related to disrupting the formation of Lipopolysaccharides (LPSs), a cell surface component that is important to Gram-Negative bacteria’s ability to form biofilms and become resistant to hydrophobic antibiotics. These papers describe inhibition of enzymes from E. coli, as well as enzymes from related pathogens including Vibrio cholerae (the bacteria that causes cholera), and Yersinia pestis (the bacteria that causes plague). Understanding how enzymes can be inhibited opens up possible new strategies for fighting diseases.

The third paper builds on her prior work investigating the ways in which sucralose (an artificial sweetener known primarily as Splenda) interacts with proteins, in comparison with its natural disaccharide counterpart, sucrose (common table sugar). She and her co-authors present data showing that sucralose interacts more strongly with hydrophobic patches on protein surfaces than does sucrose, which may be part of the way in which it causes destabilization of proteins.

These papers include alumni authors Noreen Nkosana B.A. ’11, MA ’13, Daniel Czyzyk PhD ’15, Zarek Siegel BA ’16 and current student authors Joy Cote Chemistry PhD ’18, Nimesh Shukla Physics PhD ’18, Cody Hecht ’18, in addition to Taylor’s longtime collaborator, Christina Othon, associate professor of physics at Ripon College.

Taylor also is associate professor of environmental studies and of integrative sciences.

The papers are:

Synthesis, kinetics and inhibition of Escherichia coli Heptosyltransferase I by monosaccharide analogues of LipidA,” published in Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 2018, in press.

The Glycosyltransferases of LPS Core: A Review of Four Heptosyltransferase Enzymes in Context,” published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2017, 18(11), 2256. This article belongs to the Special Issue Lipopolysaccharides.

Hydrophobic Interactions of Sucralose with Protein Structures,” published in the Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 2017, 639, pages 38-43.

Ulysse’s Book Long-Listed for PEN Open Book Award

A book by Professor of Anthropology Gina Athena Ulysse was long-listed for the PEN Open Book Award.

The PEN Open Book Award confers a $5,000 prize upon an author of color to celebrate racial and ethnic diversity within the literary and publishing communities.

Ulysse’s first poetry collection, Because When God Is Too Busy: Haiti, me & THE WORLD, was published in 2017 by Wesleyan University Press. The lyrically vivid meditative journey embraces and reclaims a revolutionary Blackness that has been historically stigmatized and denied. Ulysse crafts experiments with “ethnographic collectibles” of word, performative sounds and imagery to blur genres and the lines between the geopolitical and the personal. These poems, performance texts and photographs gather fractured memories—longings laced with Vodou chants confronting a past that looms in the present.

Ulysse also is professor of anthropology and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

Read “I am a Storm” from Because When God Is Too Busy in this Wesleyan Magazine Backstory.

Olson Lab Explores How Cholera Infection Spreads

Rich Olson

Rich Olson

Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Rich Olson and members of his lab have uncovered the structural basis for how the bacterial pathogen responsible for cholera targets carbohydrate receptors on host cells—an important finding for the future development of treatment strategies against infectious bacteria.

In their paper “Structural basis of mammalian glycan targeting by Vibrio cholerae cytolysin and biofilm proteins,” published in the Feb. 12 issue of PLoS Pathogens, Olson and his team—Swastik De PhD ’16; graduate students Katherine Kaus and Brandon Case; and Shada Sinclair ’16—looked at Vibrio cholerae, an aquatic microbe responsible for cholera, a potentially life-threatening disease for populations with limited access to health care.

The team studied two of the virulence factors that this particular bacterial pathogen uses to help spread infection: a toxin that creates pores in the membranes of target cells (such as immune cells) and a protein that helps form a protective sheath around the bacterial colonies as they grow.

Study results showed that both of these factors use similar carbohydrate receptors to recognize and target cell surfaces, suggesting that strategically disrupting carbohydrate interactions could affect how V. cholerae and other organisms like it are able to infect human hosts and spread disease.

“Understanding how pathogens specifically recognize targets on human cells is essential for the development of effective drugs and vaccines to fight pathogenic bacteria and prevent outbreaks,” Olson explained.

Read the full paper here.

Kus’s Article Explores the Myths about Immigration’s Negative Impact on the Economy

Basak Kus

Basak Kus

Basak Kus, associate professor of sociology, is the author of “Blaming Immigrants for Economic Troubles,” published in Social Europe on Feb. 6.

In her article, Kus provides evidence that the inflow of immigrants contributes to U.S. economic growth and is not the cause of American workers’ plight. She discusses the arguments that immigration has suppressed wages, discouraged unions, and exerted fiscal pressure on the welfare state.

“It is argued immigrants make demands on the welfare state, while not paying enough taxes to cover the cost of the benefits they receive. This is not accurate,” she writes. “America’s welfare system is facing pressure; there is no dispute about that. However, immigration is not the cause. Non-citizens’ use of welfare benefits has declined significantly since the 1996 Welfare Reform…. At the same time, there is evidence that, in urban areas, immigrant households are paying taxes at nearly the same rate as native households.”

Minimum wage, she says, hasn’t changed since 2009.

“As of writing, the federal minimum wage is $7.25. According to EPI’s estimations, had the federal minimum wage kept pace with productivity it would be over $18 today. Tackling this issue alone would help improve the economic fortunes of working class folks…. If a country’s laws allow for a race to the bottom, then a race to the bottom there will be. Instead of reforming the policies that make this possible, instead of making use of distributive and redistributive channels to improve the lives of workers, some find it easier to blame the immigrants.”

Kus serves on the editorial boards of Socio-Economic Review and International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

Scheibe Explores “Wisdom of Hamilton,” Psychological Depth, in Talk, New Books

Professor Emeritus Karl Scheibe joins his former students Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 and Owen Panettieri ’01, both playwrights and alumni of his Dramaturgical Approach to Psychology, at a production of Hamilton in New York City. Scheibe will speak on “The Wisdom of Hamilton,” at the Wasch Center for Retired Faculty on Feb. 14 at 4:30 p.m.

Professor of Psychology Emeritus Karl Scheibe recently published two new books, The Storied Nature of Human Life: The Life and Works of Theodore R. Sarbin (co-written with Frank J. Barret), which, he says, “sets the tone” for the second, Deep Drama: Exploring Life as Theater, a collection of recent essays. The latter book’s final piece, “The Wisdom of Hamilton,” recalls Scheibe’s first meeting with Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, his advisee in the autumn of 1998, and then explores the psychological depth and truth within Miranda’s award-winning Broadway musical. Miranda had been a member of Scheibe’s course, A Dramaturgical Approach to Psychology, in the spring of his junior year.

Scheibe also presented a talk on “The Wisdom of Hamilton” at the Wasch Center for Retired Faculty on Feb. 14.

In a Q&A, he further discusses the two books in context to each other and his work:

Q: You’ve said that your intellectual formation as a psychologist owes so much to Sarbin and the intellectual positions that he taught you to honor and value. How would you describe this intellectual stance that you owe to Sarbin, your mentor?

Shapiro Translates Coran’s Fables of Town and Country

Norman Shapiro, the Distinguished Professor of Literary Translation, is the editor and translator of Fables of Town and Country, published by Black Widow Press in October 2017. Fables of Town and Country is the English version of poet-novelist Pierre Coran’s Fables des Villes et des Champs.

Supported by a grant from the Belgian Ministry of Culture, Fables of Town and Country is the second of three works by Coran that Shapiro is translating. The first was Fables in a Modern Key in 2014, and the third, Rhymamusings is scheduled to appear in 2019. Coran, Shapiro explains, “is a whimsical octogenarian celebrated throughout his native Belgium as a preeminent ‘children’s poet’—though only, in truth, for the most precocious of children!”

The 200-page book is illustrated in full color by Olga Pastuchiv.

Shapiro also is Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la République Française and a member of the Academy of American Poets.

Juhasz Authors Eye Movement Study on Compound-Word Processing

Barbara Juhasz

An article by Barbara Juhasz, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, has been published in the January 2018 edition of the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. The study, titled “Experience with compound words influences their processing: An eye movement investigation with English compound words” appears in Issue 71, pages 103–12.

Recording eye movements, Juhasz explains, provides information on the time-course of word recognition during reading. Eye movements also are informative for examining the processing of morphologically complex words such as compound words.

In this study, Juhasz examined the time-course of lexical and semantic variables during morphological processing. A total of 120 English compound words that varied in familiarity, age-of-acquisition, semantic transparency, lexeme meaning dominance, sensory experience rating and imageability were selected.

The impact of these variables on fixation durations was examined when length, word frequency and lexeme frequencies were controlled in a regression model. Juhasz discovered that the most robust effects were found for familiarity and age-of-acquisition, indicating that a reader’s experience with compound words significantly impacts compound recognition. These results provide insight into semantic processing of morphologically complex words during reading.

In 2003, Juhasz and her former graduate mentor, Professor Keith Rayner, co-authored a related study on “Investigating the effects of a set of intercorrelated variables on eye fixation durations in reading,” published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition. This study examined the impact of five-word recognition variables, however focused on relatively short, morphologically simple words.

Juhasz’s new article is published in a special issue devoted to honoring Rayner, who passed away in 2015. Rayner, the Atkinson Family Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, San Diego, oversaw an Eyetracking Lab at the university.

“Keith was a very well-respected cognitive scientist who was a pioneer in using eye movements to study reading processes,” Juhasz said. “I’m honored that I could follow up on research that we worked on together more than a decade ago and have it published in this special issue.”

Khamis Co-Authors Article on Effects of Historical Labor Policies on Women

Melanie Khamis

Melanie Khamis

Melanie Khamis, assistant professor of economics and assistant professor of Latin American studies, has co-authored a new paper published in the December 2017 issue of Labour Economics. The paper, titled “Women make houses, women make homes,” examines the effects of historical labor market institutions and policies on women’s labor market outcomes.

To conduct the research, Khamis and her colleagues studied the “rubble women” of post–World War II Germany, who were subject to a 1946 Allied Control Council command that required women between the ages of 15 and 50 to register with a labor office and to participate in postwar cleanup and reconstruction.

The study showed that this mandatory employment had persistent longstanding adverse effects on German women’s overall participation in the labor market. Possible reasons for this include physical and mental exhaustion associated with the demanding manual labor involved in removing war debris; an increase in postwar marriage and fertility rates; and a reversion to traditional gender roles as men returned from war.

The findings highlight how important it is for countries—especially those recovering from conflict—to develop labor market institutions and policies that support women’s participation in the workforce. In addition, the paper concludes, “Our results also provide suggestive evidence that work-contingent income support programs may have limited positive effects on female future labor market outcomes and welfare dependency unless such policies are further backed up by the provision of quality child care and labor market institutions at large.”

Thayer, Galganov ’17, Stein ’17 Publish Article on Allosteric Signaling

A new article by Visiting Assistant Professor in Computer Science Kelly Thayer and students in her Spring 2017 Scientific Computing class is challenging conventional metrics used in allosteric signaling—the regulation of an enzyme by a binding molecule at a site other than the enzyme’s active site.

“What’s special about allostery is that a molecule called an allosteric effector binds at one location, and the change happens somewhere else,” Thayer explained. “What we were trying to understand was: How does that signal get across?”

Paige’s Short Stories Published in Literary Magazines

Paula Paige, adjunct professor of romance languages and literatures, emerita, is the author of five short stories published in literary magazines in 2016-18. These include:

Flu Story” published in Newfound, Vol, 8, Issue 2, 2018. 

Daddy,” published in The Umbrella Factory, Issue 29, September 2017.

“Roman Ruins:  an Update on a Once Great Beauty,” published in Artes Magazine, May 26, 2017.

The Baby Sitter,” published by the Diverse Arts Project, August 2016.

Gluten and Other Abominations,” published by Sundress Publications, June 2016.

Paula Paige taught at Wesleyan for 30 years. She is the recipient of the 2010 Our Stories Gordon Award for her flash fiction piece “Mosiach is Here.” Most recently, she was shortlisted for Glimmer Train’s February 2014 Short Story Award for New Writers, and First Runner-up in Red Hen Press’s 2015 Short Story Award. Paige also has translated two 19th century Italian literary fiction pieces with Northwestern University Press.

E&ES Faculty, Alumni Author Article on New Method for Saharan Dust Collection in the Caribbean

Earth and Environmental Sciences faculty and senior seminar students have identified a potentially fast and inexpensive method for collecting and measuring Saharan dust in the Caribbean.

E&ES faculty members Dana Royer, Tim Ku, Suzanne O’Connell, and Phil Resor, and students Kylen Moynihan ’17, Carolyn Ariori ’09, Gavin Bodkin ’09, Gabriela Doria MA’09, Katherine Enright ’15, Rémy Hatfield-Gardner ’17, Emma Kravet ’09, C. Miller Nuttle ’09, and Lisa Shepard ’17 have coauthored an article published in the January 2018 issue of Atmospheric Environment. The paper, titled “Tank Bromeliads capture Saharan dust in El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico,” summarizes student research performed in three senior seminar capstone projects conducted over an eight-year period starting in January 2009.

Saharan Africa produces approximately 800 billion kilograms of dust each year, a significant portion of which is carried via wind across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean. These dust particles provide critical components for Caribbean ecosystems, including viable fungi and bacteria, but current methods for measuring the dust can be either expensive or limited in the amount and purity of samples collected.

Royer and his team sought to test whether Saharan dust could be detected within the bromeliad tanks of the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico, and “to test how well tank bromeliads serve as a natural vessel for distinguishing the regional sources of atmospheric deposition.”

The team theorized that the overlapping structure of the bromeliad’s leaves, which is used to capture rainwater and nutrient-rich debris, could provide a feasible way to measure and trace Saharan dust in the Caribbean. Over the course of three field campaigns, the team sampled the bromeliad tanks, soil, and bedrock at three different sites in the El Yunque dwarf forest. Their findings confirmed that the contents of the tested tanks could be analyzed to identify the source of atmospheric dust inputs, thus providing a potentially simpler and lower-cost alternative to existing methods of collection and measurement.

Elphick Edits Late Professor’s Book on the History of South Africa’s Racial Segregation

Book by Jeffrey Butler

Book by Jeffrey Butler

The late Jeffrey Butler, professor of history, emeritus, is the author of Cradock: How Segregation and Apartheid came to a South African Town, published by the University of Virginia Press, December 2017. Richard “Rick” Elphick, professor of history, emeritus, co-edited the book with the late Jeannette Hopkins, a former director of Wesleyan University Press.

According to the book’s abstract, Cradock, the product of more than 20 years of research by Butler, is a vivid history of a middle-sized South African town in the years when segregation gradually emerged, preceding the rapid and rigorous implementation of apartheid. Although Butler was born and raised in Cradock, he avoids sentimentality and offers an ambitious treatment of the racial themes that dominate recent South African history through the details of one emblematic community. Augmenting the obvious political narrative, Cradock examines poor infrastructural conditions that typify a grossly unequal system of racial segregation but otherwise neglected in the region’s historiography. Butler shows, with the richness that only a local study could provide, how the lives of blacks, whites, and mixed-race individuals were affected by the bitter transition from segregation before 1948 to apartheid thereafter.