Tag Archive for student achievements

Afelin ’19, Kim ’19 Awarded Watson Fellowships for International Exploration

Momi Afelin '19 (aafelin) and Justin Kim '19 .  (wkim). Thomas J. Watson Fellows.

Momi Afelin ’19 and Justin Kim ’19 are recipients of the 2019 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship.

Two Wesleyan seniors will spend a year abroad working on purposeful international discoveries as 2019 Thomas J. Watson Fellows.

Momi Afelin ’19 and Justin Kim ’19 are among 41 students from 40 partner institutions across the country to receive the prestigious fellowship. The Watson Fellowship is a rare window after college and pre-career for students to engage their deepest interests on a global scale. Fellows conceive original projects, execute them outside of the United States, and gain personal insight, perspective, and confidence.

Afelin, a biology and neuroscience and behavior double major, will spend her fellowship year working on a project titled “Island Innovation: Embodiment through Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation.” She will embed herself in five island countries in the Pacific and Caribbean including Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago and observe how geographic isolation and unique social structures of island communities demand innovation for survival and success.

Her curiosity in island innovation comes from growing up in Molokai, Hawaii.

“To grow up on an island is to grow up a problem solver,” she said. “I would like to explore how other islanders like myself are harnessing their innovation through social entrepreneurship or social innovation endeavors that address community issues.”

2 Students Inducted into the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Honor Society

Mackenzie Mitchell '20 and Edelina (Lina) Marzouk '19

Mackenzie Mitchell ’20 and Lina Marzouk ’19 were inducted into the ASBMB Honor Society. (Photo by Olivia Drake MALS ’08)

Two Wesleyan students were inducted into the 2019 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Honor Society in March. They are among only 33 students from around the country who were eligible to join the society this year.

The inductees, Mackenzie Mitchell ’20 and Edelina (Lina) Marzouk ’19 are both majoring in molecular biology and biochemistry and the Science in Society Program. They are both members of the ASBMB Student Chapters, have a GPA of over 3.4 on a 4.0 scale, and have demonstrated exceptional achievement in academics, undergraduate research, and science outreach.

The students were recognized by the Molecular Biology & Biochemistry Department during a reception on March 27.

Mackenzie Mitchell says the “dynamism of scientific study, as well as the complete integration of problem-solving,” have been the greatest influences over her decision to study science. Since enrolling at Wesleyan, Mitchell has furthered her interests by participating in research with Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Amy MacQueen’s research group.

Students, Faculty, Alumni Present Research at 50th Annual Planetary Science Conference

Jeremy Brossier presented a talk titled "Radiophysical Behaviors of Venus’ Plateaus and Volcanic Rises: Updated Assessment." He also presented a poster titled "Complex Radar Emissivity Variations at Some Large Venusian Volcanoes."

At left, earth and environmental sciences postdoctoral research associate Jeremy Brossier presented a poster titled “Complex Radar Emissivity Variations at Some Large Venusian Volcanoes” during the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas.

Several Wesleyan students, faculty, and alumni attended the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) March 18-22 in The Woodlands, Texas. Members of the Wesleyan Planetary Sciences Group presented their research on a range of planetary bodies.

This annual conference brings together international specialists in petrology, geochemistry, geophysics, geology, and astronomy to present the latest results of research in planetary science.

Earth and environmental studies major Emmy Hughes ’20 presented a poster titled “Observations of Transverse Aeolian Ridges in Digital Terrain Models” during a session on “Planetary Aeolian Processes.”

Earth and environmental science graduate student Reid Perkins MA ’19 presented a talk titled “A Reassessment of Venus’ Tessera Crater Population and Implications for Tessera Deformation” and a poster titled “Volumes and Potential Origins of Crater Dark Floor Deposits on Venus.”

Shumway ’20 Wins TEDxWesleyanU Student Speaker Competition

Dylan Shumway '20 will share his talk titled, "Small Moments" during the April 27 conference.

Dylan Shumway ’20 will share his talk titled “Small Moments” during the TEDxWesleyanU conference on April 27.

During Wesleyan’s second annual TEDxWesleyanU in April, a Wesleyan junior will have the opportunity to deliver a 10-minute talk alongside numerous distinguished alumni and guest speakers.

As the inaugural TEDxWesleyanU Student Speaker Competition winner, Dylan Shumway ’20 will share his talk titled “Small Moments” at the April 27 conference.

“My talk focuses on how small interactions we have on a daily basis can impact our lives on a larger scale, and that we should utilize their impact to foster positive change,” Shumway said. “Developing a TED talk was a fun and engaging challenge because it has allowed me to synthesize my life experience into something that could potentially help others! The topic is one that I often discuss and share with friends and family.”

TEDxWesleyanU was founded by a team of students on the principle of broadening thought diversity on campus and beyond. During the inaugural conference, the TEDxWesleyanU team invited changemakers and thought leaders from medicine, art, music, business, and more, to present.

“For the second annual conference, the team thought that featuring a student perspective in addition to the other innovative thinkers would be critical in furthering our mission,” said TEDxWesleyanU cofounder and lead organizer Eunes Harun ’20.

Wesleyan Team Places in Top 5 Percent of Putnam Math Competition

“Consider an icosahedron with every edge labeled from 1 to 30. Color these edges red, white, or blue, such that no face has all three edges the same color or all three faces the same color. How many ways are there to do this?”

If you can solve this problem, you might have what it takes to participate in the annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, a preeminent mathematics competition for undergraduate college students.

“The problems themselves are very difficult, often asking us to demonstrate that a general statement is true rather than to solve a specific problem, or if we do solve a specific problem, it is often a very complicated problem,” said competitor Sam Bidwell ’21. “For this particular question, which appeared on last year’s test, the solution involves complicated mathematics that I do not have the experience to properly explain within even five paragraphs to anyone who had not taken the prerequisite class, which was, as I recall, Abstract Algebra 2.”

Bidwell, along with Di Chen ’20, Haochen Gao ’21, Joe Cutler ’21, Morgan Long ’22, and Yaqian Tang ’21 were among 4,623 students from the U.S. and Canada to participate in the 2018 competition. Chen and Gao ranked in the top 500 individual competitors; and a team consisting of Bidwell, Chen, and Gao was ranked 27th out of 568 institutions (within the top 5 percent).

6 Students Honored for Creative Writing, Poetry, Essays

Caridad Cruz, Oriana Ullman, Doc Polk, Nic Guo, Natalie Ruby, and Sahara Sidi.

Caridad Cruz ’21, Oriana Ullman ’21, Doc Polk ’19, Nic Guo ’20, Natalie Ruby ’19, and Sahara Sidi ’22 presented readings at Russell House on Feb. 13. All six students are recipients of creative writing and English Department Prizes. (Photo by Douglas Martin, assistant director of creative writing)

Six Wesleyan students were recently honored by Creative Writing at Wesleyan and the English Department.

Caridad Cruz ’21 is the recipient of the Sophie and Anne Reed Prize. Established by Leon Reed; his sons, S. Chadwick ’41 and Dr. Victor Reed; and his grandson Ted Reed ’70, the prize is named in memory of Sophie Reed and Anne Reed, for the best poem or group of poems.

The Next New Things: Presenting Final Projects in IDEAS 170

In December, the students of IDEAS 170: Introduction to Design and Engineering presented inventions of their own design. These final group projects are possibly the next new life hacks everyone will crave: a projector that doesn’t rely on electricity (great for watching movies when the power is out), a chair that folds flat (packs easily and saves space), or a dorm room light that mimics the sun (helps set your sleep/wake cycle naturally).

Additionally, one group of Wesleyan students collaborated with students from Renbrook School in West Hartford. Betsy Flynn, Lower School Learning Specialist at Renbrook, explained: “The Renbrook students brought their accessible playscape design to Wesleyan and pitched their idea to the class on the same day that other project ideas were pitched. Then the Wesleyan team came to Renbrook with several elements of their inclusive playground to get feedback from Renbrook students. They spent an hour together getting to know each other and had a spirited discussion of what each had in mind in their designs.”

On the day the final projects were presented, the Wesleyan students set about creating a one-inch scale prototype of the playscape, inviting their younger collaborators to visit the University to see how their initial ideas had taken physical (albeit miniature) form.

The two IDEAS sections of the fall 2018 semester, taught by Professor of Physics Greg Voth and Assistant Professor of the Practice in Integrative Sciences Daniel Moller, offered 32 students the opportunity to work collaboratively on project-based studies at the intersection of design, the arts, and engineering. The course, part of a new interdisciplinary minor, the Integrated Design, Engineering, and Applied Sciences (IDEAS) program, is hosted and administered by the College of Integrative Sciences (CIS).

Wesleyan (issue 3, 2018) featured the course in its cover article, Putting the Art in Smart Design, following the students through the first half of the course as they worked on individual devices that would hop after a timing mechanism released. A video, “The Big Hopper Reveal,” illustrated their design and engineering work at the semester’s midpoint. The photos and video below, taken at the end of the fall 2018 semester, show the group inventions. (Remember: You saw them here first). (Photos by Cynthia Rockwell)

Trevor Devanny ’20, Joe Clayton ’20, Liam Murray ’20, and Mauricio Bailleres ’21 ready their go-cart, complete with fully functional steering mechanism, for its outdoor trial run.

Professor and Chair of the Physics Department Greg Voth examines the steering mechanism for stability.

Students Win Entrepreneurship Foundation Business Pitch Competition

Eunes Harun ’20, Sanya Bery ’21, Joey Ellis ’19, and Marcia Saetang ’19 recently won the Entrepreneurship Foundation’s Business Pitch Competition for their project, MakingCents$. Making Cent$ is a mobile platform that brings needed innovation to financial literacy.

For four Wesleyan students, creating a mobile platform–based business that helps people with financial literacy just made sense.

Their business pitch for “MakingCent$: Creating [in]Dependence” landed them the grand prize the Entrepreneurship Foundation’s Best Online Submission competition. The Entrepreneurship Foundation is a Connecticut-based organization that provides resources to help both educators and entrepreneurs.

Eunes Harun ’20, Sanya Bery ’21, Joey Ellis ’19, and Marcia Saetang ’19 created the app during their GOVT 326: Political Consulting for International Business course last spring.

“We found that financial illiteracy is, unsurprisingly, rampant in underdeveloped areas; however, what astounded us is that it’s even common within developed communities as well,” Harun explained. “The lack of financial literacy is causing individuals to face mountains of debt and can cause a spiral into even worse.”

As part of their classwork, the group compiled a business plan, which evolved into developing an app that tackles this issue. They entered the project in the Entrepreneurship Foundation’s Business Pitch Competition, which had two rounds. First, the students presented a written pitch, advocating for funds for their business. Those selected moved on to complete a 60-90 second video pitch. In the end, MakingCents$ won and garnered a $500 cash prize.

The Political Consulting course, taught by Professor of Government Giulio Gallarotti, bridged the gap between theoretical learning and real-world training, touching on project-based learning, honing presentation skills, and learning to communicate a message effectively. Gallarotti also is co-chair and tutor, College of Social Studies; and professor, environmental studies.

“Professor Gallarotti guided us through the process of understanding everything an entrepreneur or business leader needs to know when working in both domestic and international business,” Harun said. “Some components that I found most interesting are the cultural landmines that a business leader must be conscious of when doing business in a different country—from avoiding pork when catering business meetings in Dubai, to taking a business card with the right hand when meeting leaders in Japan.”

The course, Harun said, “is a fantastic exemplification of what Wesleyan stands for.”

In addition, at another Endeavor Foundations contest in December, Inayah Bashir ’19 won a $3,000 award for her mental wellness program, Level Head, Level Up. And Aaron Stryker ’19 won $500 for his venture Dharma Gates, which connects young people to monastic practice and challenges existing notions of what it means to be human. 

8 Undergraduates Make Presentations at Arts and Humanities Symposium

Eight Wesleyan students participated in the CTW Undergraduate Symposium in the Arts and Humanities held at Trinity College in November.

Eight Wesleyan students presented papers during the inaugural CTW (Connecticut College, Trinity College, Wesleyan University) Undergraduate Symposium in the Arts and Humanities on Nov. 10.

This symposium, hosted at Trinity, provided undergraduate students from the three partner institutions, as well as other institutions in the region, an opportunity to present their original scholarly work in a professional setting. Topics included languages and literatures, philosophy, theater and dance, art history, women’s studies, cultural studies, ethnic studies, religious studies, film studies, and more.

Paper submissions were accepted by a committee of faculty members.

During a panel on The Construction of Spaces, Teresa Naval ’19 spoke on “Corrugated Cartographies: Performing the Balikbayan Box” and Asa Spurlock ’20 presented his paper titled “Nature and Stone: A Mythology of Central Park.”

Aviv Rau ’19 presented his paper titled “Queering the ‘Quails’: The Making of White Womanhood at Wesleyan University 1872–1912” during a Considering Gender panel.

Visiting international student Victoria Bianchi spoke on “Sicily and the Dar-al-Islam: Multiculturalism in the pre-Crusading Mediterranean,” during a panel on Culture, Identity, Nation, and State.

As part of a panel on Negotiating Identity in France and the Francophone World, Sophie Tulchin ’20 presented her paper titled “Performing Diaspora: Mohamed Kacimi’s Babel Taxi (2005).”

Tomas Rogel ’19 presented a talk on “These Are Not People, These Are Animals: An Analysis of the American Perception of Salvadorans” during a panel focusing on Giving Voice to the Voiceless.

Lizzie Whitney ’19 spoke on “Refugee Crisis in German Literature” during a panel on The Production of Culture across Borders.

And during a panel on Ancient Texts, Benjamin Sarraille ’19 shared his paper titled “Measure for Measure: Translating the Illiad of Homer.”

In addition to sharing their own work, the students had the opportunity to participate in 16 different panels and attend a keynote lecture by Maurice Samuels, the Betty Jane Anlyan Professor of French and Chair of the Department of French at Yale University.

Support for this symposium was provided in part by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Submission guidelines and further information are online here.

5 Students Attend Clinton Global Initiative University Conference in Chicago

Katie Shewfelt '20, Makaela Kingsley '98, Anthony Price '20, Momi Afelin '19, Frederick Corpuz '20 and Ferdinand Quayson '20 attended the 11th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) conference, held Oct. 19-21 in Chicago, Ill.

Katie Shewfelt ’20, Makaela Kingsley ’98, Anthony Price ’20, Momi Afelin ’19, Frederick Corpuz ’20, and Ferdinand Quayson ’20 attended the 11th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) conference, held Oct. 19-21 in Chicago, Ill.

While 94 percent of children from wealthy Filipino households attend high school, only 69 percent from poor households continue to get a high school education after graduating from grade school (UNESCO).

Through a nonprofit venture called SALIN Ed., Frederick Corpuz ’20 is working to create an inexpensive, sustainable alternative to classroom learning that enables 10- to 12-year-olds in the Philippines to become independent, successful learners through an online program.

To advance his social entrepreneurial skills and better his venture, Corpuz applied to participate in the 11th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) conference, held Oct. 19–21 in Chicago, Ill.

3rd Annual Scientific Imaging Contest Winners Announced

A magnified image of a fruit fly’s eye took first place in the third annual Wesleyan Scientific Imaging Contest in August.

The Wesleyan Scientific Imaging Contest recognizes student-submitted images—from experiments or simulations done with a Wesleyan faculty member—that are scientifically intriguing, as well as aesthetically pleasing. This year, 21 images were submitted from eight departments. The contest is organized by the College of Integrative Sciences as part of the summer research program.

The entries were judged based on the quality of the image and the explanation of the underlying science. The judges, a panel of four faculty members, were Brian Northrop, associate professor of chemistry; Ann Burke, professor of biology; Seth Redfield, associate professor of astronomy; and Renee Sher, assistant professor of physics.

The first-place winner received a $200 prize, the second-place winner received $100, and the two third-place winners received $50 each. Prizes were funded by the Office of Academic Affairs.

The winning images are shown below, along with scientific descriptions written by the students.

Emily McGhie ’20 took first prize with an image that depicts a mispatterning phenotype in the Drosophila (fruit fly) pupal eye at 40 hours after pupariation. “Such a phenotype was produced in the eye tissue by utilizing an RNA interference transgene to reduce the expression of hth—a gene that encodes the transcription factor Homothorax. Interommatidial pigment cells are shown in yellow and purple, and primary cells are shown in green and blue. In one image, incorrectly patterned cells are compared to correctly patterned cells: the mispatterned cells are highlighted in yellow and green, while correctly patterned cells are highlighted in purple and blue,” she said.

Paterson’s Senior Thesis Explores Urban Farming, Communal Activity, Performance

Theater and earth and environmental studies major Katherine Paterson ’18 moves a bin of radishes into a greenhouse she constructed on the Center for the Arts green on April 16. The greenhouse build was part of her senior thesis, which was accompanied by a performance and harvest on Earth Day. Paterson also is minoring in German studies.

Senior Katherine Paterson’s passion for theater and environmental studies has grown over the past two months while she constructed a greenhouse for an honors thesis that explores and links together urban farming, communal activity, and theater.

On Earth Day, April 22, Paterson presented (at)tend, a durational performance of song, poetry, and spoken word, which unfolded over the course of the spring semester. The project involved the collective construction, seeding, and tending of a greenhouse by students and community members, and culminated with a spring harvest.

“The goal of the project was to serve as an experiment in creative place-making—in creating a space that the larger Wesleyan community helps to build and maintain,” she said. “A greenhouse containing living plants brings people together and links them with one another and their environment.”

The thesis also explored the questions, “Where does our food come from? How does it grow? How does changing our relationship to food affect our interactions with one another and with our environments?”

Paterson’s advisor is Katherine Brewer Ball, assistant professor of theater. The project was sponsored by the Wesleyan Green Fund, the Department of Theater and the College of the Environment.

A photo essay of the thesis project is below (photos by Olivia Drake MALS ’08):

Feb. 29: Paterson kicked off the project inside a cold frame at Long Lane Farm. Cold-frame structures allow gardeners to get a head start on the growing season. Students broke up compacted soil and filled large bins. Paterson taught fellow students how to plant seeds and mark containers.

During the summer of 2017, Paterson conducted field research in New York City (funded by a College of the Environment grant). She interned at Harlem Grown, an urban farm, and visited Swale, a floating food forest. The experiences helped shape and inform her thesis project.