Tag Archive for student achievements

Shu Tokita Prize Winners Reid ’22, Choi ’22 Use Literature to Cope with POC Experiences

tokita

East Asian studies major Jasmyn Choi ’22, at left, and English and African American studies double major Jada Reid ’22 are the recipients of the 2021 Shu Tokita Prize, established by friends and relatives of Shu Tokita ’84. The prize is awarded annually to a student of color majoring in literature, in area studies, or a language major with a focus on literature, who demonstrates financial need. They received their awards during a virtual reception on June 23. 

Jasmyn Choi ’22 vividly recalls when her Korean-born mother was pulled over by police in Los Angeles 12 years ago. Rather than speaking to the driver, who had broken English, the officer leaned into the vehicle to question 8-year-old Jasmyn instead. Jasmyn, after all, had “perfect” English.

“I’ve always dealt with the particular trauma of strangers diminishing my mother’s intelligence because of her accent,” Choi recalls. “I tremble in anger thinking of the times she’s had her voice stolen from her. We both sat in the car in oppressive silence, yet it was comforting because silence is all we have been trained to know.”

Growing up in a white flight suburb, Choi grew accustomed to overt and covert racism, and most recently, tried to comfort her mother’s insecurities about not feeling safe due to comments made about the “Chinese virus.” As Asian women, Choi says, “the depth of our pain is an immense chasm from which to fall deeper and deeper into. We are trapped in the eternal, isolating birdcage of ourselves.”

Restored Peacock Displayed in Wesleyan’s Science Library

peacock

The entrance to the Science Library in Exley Science Center houses a taxidermied peacock that has been restored by faculty and students in the biology department. The peacock, originally rediscovered in 2018 and put on exhibit in spring 2019, is part of a bird collection that was first displayed at the museum in Judd Hall and now belongs to the Wesleyan Museum of Natural History.

The restoration team, which includes Professor of Biology Ann Campbell Burke, Yu Kai Tan BA/MA ’21, Andy Tan ’21, and Fletcher Levy ’23, recently updated the display to include new signage and fresh peacock feathers from biology professors Stephen Devoto and Joyce Ann Powzyk’s farm.

“It was found in storage alongside a whole bunch of minerals in Room 316 of Exley,” Yu Kai Tan said. “It was sitting way up high on this shelf, and probably since 1970, no one has looked at it or touched it. It was covered in dust and muck.”

When the team first found the peacock, it was in such poor condition that they needed to call for outside help.

Students Receive 2021 Academic Prizes, Scholarships, Fellowships

monogramThis month, the Office of Student Affairs presented the 2021 student prizes. The recipients and awards include:

George H. Acheson and Grass Foundation Prize in Neuroscience

Established in 1992 by a gift from the Grass Foundation, this prize is awarded to an outstanding undergraduate in the Neuroscience and Behavior Program who demonstrates excellence in the program and who also shows promise for future contributions in the field of neuroscience.

  • Kian Caplan 2021
  • Ana Finnerty-Haggerty 2021
  • Andrew Northrop 2021
  • Fitzroy “Pablo” Wickham 2021

Alumni Prize in the History of Art

Established by Wesleyan alumni and awarded to a senior who has demonstrated special aptitude in the history of art and who has made a substantive contribution to the major.

  • Nia Felton 2021
  • Riley Richards 2021

American Chemical Society Analytical Award

Awarded for excellence in analytical chemistry.

  • Cole Harris 2021

American Chemical Society Connecticut Valley Section Award

Awarded for outstanding achievement to a graduating chemistry major.

  • Emma Shapiro 2021

American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Inorganic Chemistry

Awarded to an undergraduate student in inorganic chemistry to recognize achievement and encourage further study in the field.

  • Abrar Habib 2021

American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Organic Chemistry

Awarded to a senior who has displayed a significant aptitude for organic chemistry

  • Niels Vizgan GRAD

American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Physical Chemistry

Awarded in recognition of outstanding achievement by undergraduate students in physical chemistry, and to encourage further pursuits in the field.

3 Seniors Awarded Inaugural Wesleyan Global Fellowship

As a one-year pilot program, the Fries Center for Global Studies has created the Wesleyan Global Fellowship with the intention of awarding graduating seniors nominated but not chosen for the Watson Fellowship, a grant for a year of independent exploration outside the United States post-graduation.

The three students who won this new fellowship for the 2021 academic year are William Briskin ‘21, Grace Lopez ‘21, and Indigo Pellegrini de Paur ‘21.

“The Watson is a unique program because it gives the fellow complete freedom in designing their project,” according to the Wesleyan & the World blog. “Since the fellowship involves travel, usually to distant locations, nominees who didn’t win the Watson might not otherwise have the opportunity to pursue any part of their project without institutional support. The Wesleyan Global Fellowship supports their personal growth and affords them invaluable intercultural experience, allowing them to spend up to one month in one or more of the countries they included in their Watson proposal.”

Will Briskin is a double major in government and history who intends to pursue studies in woodworking by traveling to Japan and South Korea to interview woodworkers and participate in their creative process. Briskin hopes to learn more about the way woodworking captures traditions and collective histories, as well as binds communities together.

Grace Lopez is a film major who is also interested in anthropology. Lopez wants to explore the music genre of Cumbia, which originated in Colombia, and plans to travel to Colombia to work with and learn from Afro-Colombian bands who create Cumbian music.

Indigo Pellegrini de Paur is majoring in government and minoring in Middle Eastern studies. She will go to Turkey to observe the integration of refugee communities into Turkish life by working with the Youth and Sports Ministry, which is currently building sports facilities for young refugees. As a lacrosse player, she will use sports to build connections with the children she’ll meet there.

5 Students Honored with First-Year Seminar Writing Prizes

This month, five students were recognized with the First-Year Seminar Writing Prize for essays they wrote in their first-year seminars throughout 2020. A total of 137 first-year students submitted to the contest this year.

Each winner will receive a $100 prize, and each honorable mention will receive a $50 prize. These students will have their work published online along with an audio recording of them reading their essays aloud.

The First-Year Seminar Writing Prize celebrates the work of first-year writers at Wesleyan.

The three winners are:

Nathan Foote ’24, for “Anti-Gospel,” written for Anne Greene’s Place, Character, and Design.

Gissel Ramirez ’24, for “Gissel Not Giselle: Language as an Identity,” written for Lauren Silber’s Why You Can’t Write.

Michelle Seaberg ’24, for “Your Gender, Hand it Over: Imposing Gender Categories as a Means of Control,” written for Margot Weiss’s Social Norms/Social Power: Reading ‘Difference’ in American Culture.

The two honorable mentions are:

Alexis Papavasiliou ’24, for “Was Oxygen the Only Player in the Cambrian Explosion?” written for Ellen Thomas’s and Johan Varekamp’s As the World Turns: Earth History, with Life’s Ups and Downs.

Natalie Shen ’24, for “Critical Analysis of the Defensive Asylum Seeking Process from a Linguistic Perspective,” written for Beth Hepford’s How Language Works: The Beliefs and Bias that Affect our Social World.

Chapbook By Ramos-Jordán ’21 Published by Center for Book Arts

Katerina Ramos-Jordán ’21

Katerina Ramos-Jordán ’21

In 2020, Katerina Ramos-Jordán ’21 won first prize in the Center for Book Arts Chapbook Contest for her chapbook titled “ECHOESISTEMAS /lentos cerramientos.” Now, her work has now been published in book form, designed and produced by book artist Erika Morillo.

Ramos-Jordán, born in Puerto Rico, is a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and a 2020 recipient of the Beinecke Scholarship. She is double majoring in English and dance with a concentration in Caribbean studies.

“This collection is dense in its tenderness, adding tildes (accent marks) to words in English, harboring dialect, and embracing blank space as cavernous,” contest judge Raquel Salas Rivera wrote. “Its rootless branches continue to sound off long after and before origin.”

 

 

Lin ’22 Wins Poster Award for Work on DNA, Chromosomes, and Gene Regulation

Shawn Lin '22

Shawn H. Lin ’22

Shawn H. Lin ’22 is the recipient of a 2021 poster award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s 25th Annual Undergraduate Poster Competition. Lin’s poster took the prize in Category 3: DNA, Chromosomes and Gene Regulation.

This is the second poster award Lin has won this year. In March, he was honored with the Biophysical Society’s Undergraduate Poster Award for his work titled “Elucidation of Interactions Between Integration Host Factor and a DNA Four-Way Junction.”

Lin is a Freeman Asian Scholar from Taiwan and is majoring in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (MB&B). Lin also works in the labs of his advisors, Ishita Mukerji, Fisk Professor of Natural Science and professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics.

Lin, along with four other students, has recently been inducted into the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Honor Society.

5 Students Inducted Into American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Honor Society

ASBMBThis year, five Wesleyan students were inducted into the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Honor Society. Thirty-one students nationwide were given this honor.

Inducted students must be juniors or seniors with a GPA of 3.4 or higher on a 4.0 scale, belong to a student chapter of the ASBMB, and “demonstrate exceptional achievement in academics, undergraduate research and science outreach,” according to the website.

The inducted students include the following:

Nour-Saïda Harzallah ’21, a College of Integrative Sciences student majoring in molecular biology & biochemistry (MB&B) and physics. Harzallah, from Tunisia, works in Professor Francis Starr’s physics lab, belongs to the Wesleyan Women in Science steering committee, and is a STEM intern for the Office of Equity and Inclusion.

“Her involvement in racial and gender equity in STEM has shaped her commitment to work on projects that serve the underrepresented and marginalized outside the lab and from the lab bench,” reads her ASBMB bio. “Her wildest dream is to develop initiatives that translate cutting-edge technologies into accessible and marketable means of diagnosis and therapeutics in her home country of Tunisia.”

Jack Kwon ’21, who works with Professor of Biology Michael Weir to study the ribosome.

“We are aiming to elucidate the function of a highly conserved region of the ribosome called the “CAR interaction surface” through wet lab experiments and dry lab Molecular Dynamics simulations,” Kwon wrote in his ASBMB bio. Kwon intends to graduate with a master’s degree in MB&B through Wesleyan’s BA/MA program before pursuing a PhD in a related field.

Shawn Lin ’22, who is majoring in biology, MB&B, and biophysics. Lin works in the MB&B lab of Professor Ishita Mukerji and the physics lab of Professor Candice Etson.

“His research topic is “Elucidation of interactions between integration host factor and a DNA four-way junction,” reads Lin’s ASBMB bio. “In addition to research, he is also the founder of NORDSAC (National Organization for Rare Disorders Student Association Connecticut). The goal of this organization is to raise awareness of rare disorders among students in Connecticut through fundraising, guest lectures, and rare disease day events.”

Alex Poppel, a master’s student in the MB&B department. Poppell works in Professor Amy MacQueen’s MB&B lab.

“As a member of Wesleyan’s ASBMB Student Chapter, his outreach involvement has mainly focused on improving his school’s community, such as by promoting undergraduate research opportunity awareness and equity and inclusion efforts in the sciences,” Poppel’s ASBMB bio reads.

Maya Vaishnaw ’21, a double major in psychology and MB&B. Vaishnaw works with Professor Erika Taylor in her chemistry lab.

“The Taylor Lab takes a multidisciplinary approach to characterizing enzymes with applied chemical and biomedicinal applications,” Vaishnaw’s ASBMB bio reads. “In the future, Maya hopes to pursue research in clinical genetics.”

 

Bello ’22 Awarded Beinecke Scholarship

Zubaida Bello ’22

Zubaida Bello ’22

Zubaida Bello ’22 is one of 16 people nationwide to win the Beinecke Scholarship in 2021. Bello, who aims to pursue a PhD in history and become a college professor, will receive $4,000 immediately prior to entering graduate school, as well as $30,000 while attending.

Last year, the scholarship was awarded to Mellon Mays Fellow Katerina Ramos-Jordán ’21, who was the first Wesleyan student to receive the award in 13 years.

“The program seeks to encourage and enable highly motivated students to pursue opportunities available to them and to be courageous in the selection of a graduate course of study in the arts, humanities and social sciences,” reads the scholarship website.

At Wesleyan, Bello is a double major in African American studies and history, a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, and a Fall ’21 Center for Humanities fellow. She transferred to Wesleyan from Hampshire College, where she worked on a project that incorporated history, ethnography, and poetry to share the stories of the women in her family. This led Bello to enter and win New York City’s poetry slam, create an open mic collective, and write a manuscript called How to Stop the Burning, later published as her debut chapbook.

On campus, Bello’s Mellon Mays research focuses on the causes of gentrification in Brooklyn. She compares colonization and gentrification and uses archives and ethnography in order to delve into gentrified people’s experiences, as well as those of housing rights activists, redevelopers, and gentrifiers. Bello intends to share her research with Brooklyn nonprofits, such as the Brooklyn Tenant’s Council Inc. or the Housing Rights Initiative.

“Ultimately, I want to become a professor because I want to teach other people with my new understanding of history, build bonds with the communities I research, and publish books that exhibit my interdisciplinary understanding of history,” Bello wrote in her essay for the Beinecke Scholarship.

Bello, quoted in the Wes and the World blog, explained how she wants to use her studies in history to forge new paths for marginalized people and communities.

“I want to develop a pedagogy of history that gives due importance to the rebellious actions of marginalized people, that evades the apathy that often comes with Eurocentric, patriarchal standards of neutrality, and understands diverse modes of storytelling as other forms of history,” Bello said.

4 Students Win Case for a Cause Competition

elebrating the win outside of the Butterfields dorm. April 9, 2021. Left to right: Ransho Ueno, Pim Wandee, Sarah Rizky Ardhani, and Asa Sakornpant

Ransho Ueno ’23, Pim Wandee ’23, Sarah Rizky Ardhani ’23, and Asa Sakornpant ’23 celebrate their Case for a Cause competition victory near the Butterfields Residences on April 9.

Four Wesleyan sophomores won consulting company Roland Berger’s annual Case for a Cause competition on Friday, April 9.

The competition, which raises money for the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, gives students a space to apply their practical skills and simulate strategy consulting work.

Asa Sakornpant ’23, Natchanok (Pim) Wandee ’23, Sarah Rizky Ardhani ’23, and Ransho Ueno ’23 belong to the Consulting Pathways Club and are all pursuing the data analysis minor through Wesleyan’s Quantitative Analysis Center.

Sakornpant, Ardhani, and Ueno are Freeman Asian Scholars and were sponsored by the Gordon Career Center to take part in the competition.

McEvoy ’22 Named 2021 Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow

Emily McEvoy

As Newman Civic Fellow, Emily McEvoy will join 211 other community-committed students from the U.S. and Mexico for access to a variety of virtual and in-person learning opportunities during the 2021–2022 academic year. McEvoy has a deep-rooted interest in town-gown relations with the City of Middletown. (Photo by Willow Saxon ’24)

When Emily McEvoy ’22 began her college career at Wesleyan in 2018, she felt a deep sense of detachment from the local environment. At a campus in the middle of her home state, how could this be? The insularity, she says, was jarring, and she decided to dedicate her time to combat this issue.

McEvoy immediately became involved with several local organizations, including Middletown’s North End Action Team, and the student cohort of volunteers who helped staff their office. Most recently, McEvoy has been an organizer with the Middletown Mutual Aid Collective, which has raised close to $70,000 to support Middletown residents in need.

“I developed a love for canvassing the neighborhood,” McEvoy said. “I like personal conversations with people, and I like deeply understanding the histories and issues at the table . . . before I do anything else.”

McEvoy’s leadership efforts hadn’t gone unnoticed, and in March, she was named a Campus Compact 2021 Newman Civic Fellow.

Lin ’22 Wins Biophysical Society Poster Award

Shawn Lin '22

Shawn H. Lin ’22

During the 65th Biophysical Society Annual Meeting held virtually Feb. 22–26, Shawn H. Lin ’22 was honored with an Undergraduate Poster Award for his work on “Elucidation of Interactions Between Integration Host Factor and a DNA Four-Way Junction.”

Lin, a Wesleyan Freeman Scholar, is among only six undergraduate students internationally to receive the award.

Lin’s advisors are Ishita Mukerji, Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics.

Lin’s poster is below (click to enlarge):

Shawn Linn poster