Campus News & Events

Scientific Images of Nanoparticles, Colliding Stars, Learned Words Win Annual Contest

We had 13 submissions this year.

Thirteen students, majoring in chemistry, physics, astronomy, molecular biology and biochemistry, biology, neuroscience and behavior, psychology, and quantitative analysis submitted images for the 2021 Scientific Imaging Contest.

At first glance, a viewer sees a single image of pink-tinted cubes, resembling a bacteria culture from high school biology.

But upon closer examination, the viewer begins to see a series of other shapes—triangles to hexahedrons to tetahexahedraons (cubes with four-sided pyramids on each face).

“If you stare at this image for a while, you can see that it’s actually a series of five images in the top row, and five images on the bottom row, and each of these images show us nanoparticles that are made of gold and copper,” said Brian Northrop, professor of chemistry. “It’s intriguing, captivating, and visually very interesting.”

The image, which depicts bimetallic gold-copper (Au-Cu) nanoparticles synthesized with varying concentrations and amounts of sodium iodide, was created by Jessica Luu ’24 using a scanning electron microscope. It also was the first place winner in Wesleyan’s 2021 Scientific Imaging Contest.

Jessica Luu

Jessica Luu ’24 took first place with a series of 10 images of bimetallic gold-copper (Au-Cu) nanoparticles synthesized with varying concentrations and amounts of sodium iodide. They were imaged using a scanning electron microscope (SEM).

The annual contest, spearheaded by Wesleyan’s College of Integrative Sciences, encourages students to submit images and descriptions of the research that they’ve been conducting over the summer.

Liu Explores Racial Equity in School Funding as NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow

Roseann Liu

Roseann Liu

While teaching in New York City public and charter schools that served low-income, students of color, Roseann Liu and her fellow educators would frequently purchase basic resources such as paper, books, and classroom manipulatives for their students out of their own pockets. Students learned from outdated textbooks and teachers hungered for professional development opportunities.

Teachers and parents alike understood these conditions as the norm.

“Having less became natural,” said Liu, assistant professor of education studies. “Most students, parents, and teachers were unaware of how sharp the disparities were between underfunded and well-funded schools.”

As a newly-selected National Academy of Education (NAEd)/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow, Liu is exploring the topic of racial equity in school funding through an ethnographic book project, tentatively titled “Designed to Fail.” She’s among only 25 fellows selected for the $70,000 fellowship from a competitive pool of 249 scholars of education.

“‘Why is racial equity in school funding so hard to achieve?’ That’s what I hope to answer,” Liu said.

For “Designed to Fail,” Liu is focusing her study specifically on the State of Pennsylvania, which has one of the widest gaps in the country between educational opportunities for white students and students of color. In a recent study by the Education Law Center, Pennsylvania was cited for providing school districts with the most white students $10,175 in state aid, whereas districts with the least white students received only $7,270—or $2,904 less per student.

While some scholars have already focused on finding the best models for school funding (for example, using performance-based systems), few studies have focused on the actions of school funding influencers— such as lawmakers, advocates, and lawyers—including the strategies they deploy to change school funding systems and the impact of their work.

Wesleyan Facilities, Custodial Staff Celebrated through Performance

Rivera and Porquillo worked together, wiping down tables and vacuuming floors. They began with just introducing themselves

Last spring, Tamara Rivera ’21 job shadowed SMG employee Maria Porquillo, who has worked for more than two decades at Olin Library. Once a week, Rivera met Porquillo at the library to observe her movements and rhythms, and ultimately choreographed a piece for Porquillo to perform on stage. This fall, students will participate in a similar multidisciplinary dance project titled “WesWorks.”

Every day the workers of Wesleyan’s facilities staff labor to keep the University going in the most fundamental ways. Their work can often be invisible but without properly ventilated performance spaces, clean laboratories, and functional classrooms, just to give a few examples, the University would grind to a halt.

An upcoming multidisciplinary dance project titled “WesWorks” takes the rituals and movements of their days and creates choreography that transforms the ordinary, mundane, and skillful movements of work into a performance accompanied by live, original music and stories told in the workers’ voices. The performance will take place outdoors on Andrus Field in mid-October.

“I hope the community leaves with an elevated understanding of what our staff does. This is a celebration of our employees and a recognition of a workforce that’s often not recognized,” said Jennifer Calienes, interim director of Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts.

“Wesworks” builds on seven years of Forklift Danceworks’ engagement with Wesleyan through the College of the Environment and the Center for the Arts and was developed through a series of residencies and intensive course collaborations over the past year and a half.  During the Spring 2021 semester, students job shadowed facilities workers, learning just what it took to the keep the campus running smoothly.

Mikaela Marcotullio ’23 job shadowed SMG employee Lloyd Jones in Usdan University Center.

This fall, Allison Orr, the choreographer and artistic director of Forklift Danceworks, distinguished fellow in the College of Environment, will teach her ENVS376 course—The Artist in the Community: Civic Engagement and Collaborative Dancemaking from which students will learn techniques of community art practice and help develop and support the “WesWorks” performance.

Wesleyan in the News

NewsWesleyan’s intellectually dynamic faculty, students, alumni, staff, and parents frequently serve as expert sources for national media. Others are noted for recent achievements and accolades. A sampling of recent media hits is below:

In The Washington Post, William Griffin Professor of Philosophy Lori Gruen is quoted in a story about neutering. In her early career, Gruen, who specializes in animal ethics, worked in shelters where she witnessed “perfectly healthy dogs destroyed” and the toll it took on employees. “The overpopulation issue sounds abstract,” she said. “But these are dogs whose lives end and the people who have to bring those dogs’ lives to an end often can’t get certain dogs out of their minds.” (Aug. 5)

In The Hartford Courant, Jhanelle Oneika Thomas ’18, MA ’19 and Royette Dubar, assistant professor of psychology, are featured for their investigation of the motivation and psychological impact of ghosting in the age of social media and hypervisibility. “From the ghoster’s perspective, choosing to ghost was a little bit nicer than a more blatant rejection approach,” Dubar said. ”Individuals may choose to ghost out of concern for the ghostee—that is, to shield them from hurt feelings.” (Aug. 8)

Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 reviews Charles King’s Gods of the Upper Air in Los Angeles Review of Books. Gods of the Upper Air explores the career of Frank Boas, “the father of 20th-century anthropology” in America. “Gods of the Upper Air is gracefully written, and it succeeds beautifully both as intellectual history and group biography,” Roth writes in the review. (Aug. 13)

Wesleyan University’s Center for Film Studies is mentioned in The Hollywood Reporter for being one of 2021’s top 25 American film schools. The article states “in keeping with this institution’s liberal arts identity, its film curriculum is focused on formal analysis and theory. And what it doesn’t provide in production experience, it makes up for in strong industry connections, with a network that includes 2006 grad and Nomadland producer Dan Janvey [’06].” (Aug. 13)

New Access-to-Justice Class Helps Students Enact Changes in Civil Law

In-person members of Assistant Professor of Government Alyx Mark’s access-to-justice course, with class mascot Smudge the corgi in the arms of the course’s community partner liaison, Zach Zarnow of the National Center for State Courts. Photo courtesy of Armando Alvarez.

Assistant Professor of Government Alyx Mark’s aspiring law students arrived at her new service-learning class with a typical set of assumptions about how American courts work: Lawyers do most of the talking, decisions by the Supreme Court are followed to a tee by lower courts, and people who have legal problems tend to resolve them.

However, most individuals’ interactions with the law come through small civil actions—lawsuits, traffic court, and evictions, for example. For many people who live in low-income neighborhoods, not only is finding legal assistance difficult, but when they do access the law, often representing themselves in court, it might make their problem worse.

Assistant Professor of Government Alyx Mark

Alyx Mark

Thanks to Mark’s new access-to-justice course, offered last spring and planned for every two years, Wesleyan students got a new perspective and a chance to help enact real change. “Wesleyan has a lot to offer to the local community, as well as more globally. We have these entrepreneurial, enthusiastic, and sharp students who want to do good things in the world. So, it’s not a hard sell to go to a community partner and say, ‘Do you want a team of researchers to help you solve this problem?’” Mark said.

After a year of planning, Mark partnered with a civil justice funder, a national civil justice advocacy organization, and a local provider of legal services to offer students practical opportunities to wrestle with systemic issues. Mark also recruited a subject-matter expert, Zach Zarnow of the National Center for State Courts, to provide students with a practitioner’s perspective in their weekly meetings. Mark published her thoughts on the project recently in ABA Journal.

“The community partners articulated what they needed, like a wish list of different types of projects that will help them advance their work. What was nice about the projects is that they all required a different set of research skills,” Mark said. “The community partners loved talking to the students.”

Students Study Exoplanets, Bird Viruses, Chinese Immigration, Bacteria during the Summer

Scientists have already discovered more than 3,500 exoplanetary systems (planets orbiting around stars) in the universe, with the number continually expanding.

By using Wesleyan’s new 24-inch telescope, Kyle McGregor ’24 is on the hunt for more, specifically systems involving two planets. To find them, he measures the light from stars over time, noting that the light will decrease when an exoplanet passes in front of a star, blocking the radiated light to Earth.

“The measuring of this change in light, known as the ‘transit method,’ allows us to detect the presence of these distant worlds and to study their properties,” McGregor says. “It’s really cool, and I love using the new telescope to do it!”

Kyle McGregor '24

Kyle McGregor ’24 of Canton, N.Y. shared his research project titled “Building a Predictive Model for the Detection of Possible Outer Planets in Known 2-body Resonant Systems.”

On July 29, astronomy, physics, and Italian studies major McGregor shared his exoplanet studies during the 2021 Summer Research Poster Session, where students showcase their projects with peers, faculty, and the public. The annual event brought together more than 180 student researchers— half of whom worked remotely this summer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re still very interested in celebrating our students’ work and emulating the excitement and activity of the in-person poster session,” said poster session coordinator Ishita Mukerji, Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and director, College of Integrative Sciences.

McGregor, who has worked with his advisor Seth Redfield, professor of astronomy, since spring 2021, spent the past year conducting research meetings over Zoom. During this time, he developed a predictive model that can be applied to all known two-planet systems. “That [remote research] process went well and helped me prepare for a proper summer doing research in person. Now that I’m [back on campus] I’m most excited about continuing my use of the new telescope and developing this model further to make it more robust and more accurate.” (View McGregor’s research poster online here.)

The Poster Session included studies conducted under the auspices of the College of Integrative Sciences (astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer science, earth and environmental sciences, mathematics, molecular biology and biochemistry, neuroscience and behavior, psychology, physics), Research in the Sciences Program, the Quantitative Analysis Center, College of the Environment, the McNair Program, the WesMaSS Program, and students who are funded by their individual mentors or departments.

Schuyler Sloman '22 and biology and psychology double major Rachel Hsu '23

Schuyler Sloman ’22 of Brooklyn, N.Y. and Rachel Hsu ’23 of Shanghai, China shared their summer-long research project titled “Delving Below the Species Level to Characterize the Ecological Diversity in the Global Virome: An Exploration of Avian Influenza.”

Computer science major Schuyler Sloman ’22 and biology and psychology double major Rachel Hsu ’23 shared their collaborative research on diversity within the H3N8 serotype of avian influenza. Their results suggested that there are at least seven lineages of H3N8 that appear specialized to different waterfowl species. They note that these ecological differences among H3N8 virus lineages could impact the likelihood of spillover to humans.

After using the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) database to locate roughly 1,500 full-genome sequences of the H3N8 subtype of avian influenza from multiple host species of ducks, Sloman wrote programs in Python and Biopython to “clean” the content and pinpoint 103 complete strains of H3N8 within a 60-mile radius of each other in Minto Flats, Alaska. From there, the students continued to align these sequences with a software called MEGAX, and used the EcoSim2 algorithm (developed by their faculty advisors Fred Cohan and Danny Krizanc), which rapidly analyzes large sequence datasets to demarcate individual viruses into lineages that are ecologically distinct.

Sloman and Hsu will contribute their findings to the Global Virome Project, a strategic response to better predict, prevent, and respond to future viral pandemic threats. GVP estimates that more than 500,000 undiscovered animal viruses are capable of transmission to people.

“A year ago I may not have appreciated the importance of The Global Virome Project, but after experiencing the reality of a pandemic I feel truly connected to this work,” Sloman said. “While working remotely with our lab during COVID-19 was difficult for all of us, we’re grateful to contribute to the prevention of future disasters. The significance of a project like this is enormous. It’s been a really rewarding experience to work on a research project which is so relevant.” (View Sloman’s and Hsu’s research poster online here.)

In addition to the ongoing research throughout the summer, students could attend more than 25 in-person and virtual workshops and minicourses focusing on lab safety, science writing, programming languages, data analysis, resume writing, molecule imaging, and more. They also could attend the Summer Seminar Series, with worldwide experts discussing topics on ancient Chinese artifacts, space radiation on cognitive performance, molecular probes for SARS-CoV-2, and even dung beetles. In addition, Saray Shai, assistant professor of computer science, led the Summer Research keynote lecture titled “Topology and Geometry of Urban Road Networks” prior to the poster session.

“Even under our somewhat constrained COVID-19 circumstances, we’re thrilled that we were able to continue our rich summer research projects and programs, which are so vital to our students,” Mukerji said.

Students shared their posters in virtual “Zoom rooms” and breakout sessions. All of the student ‘poster sites’ will live on and serve as an institutional repository of student accomplishments this summer.

Samples of other student research projects are below and on this website.

Anissa Findley '22

Anissa Findley ’22 of Kingston, Jamaica, shared her summer research project titled “Optimising Sample Preparation for the Investigation of Bottom Current Strengths of the Scotia Sea during the Pliocene.”

This summer, chemistry and molecular biology and biochemistry double major Anissa Findley ’22 of Kingston, Jamaica, explored the best ways to prepare 5.3 million-year-old Scotia Sea silt samples for analysis, which can help determine what the weather and ice cover of Antarctica looked like during that time. By testing three different methods of sample preparation, which involve sample crushing, wetting, drying, and particle analyzing, Findley determined that a specific “dry and re-wet method” showed the most consistent way to sort the silt samples by size.

“The more accurate the silt [sizes] are, the better the conclusions can be made about ice cover and the glacial and interglacial periods, during the Pliocene [period],” she said. (View Findley’s research poster online here.)

Findley’s advisor is Suzanne OConnell, Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science.

Ken Wu '23

Ken Wu ’23 of Shenzhen, China shared his summer research titled “GIS Visualization of Chinese Demographic Shifts between the 1970s and 1990s.”

By using U.S. census data and visualizations, film studies and environmental studies double major Ken Wu ’23 built an interactive ArcGIS map to show the correlation between the decline of Chinese Language Theaters in New York City and the outward shifts of Chinese immigrant enclaves. His project also includes more granular census tract data as well as including more diverse demographic indicators, such as average income, racial composition, and household information.

“My project is not just about films or cinemas but really, more broadly, about the story of Chinese immigrants in general,” Wu explained. “This summer, [it was] very exciting that I was able to use a more non-traditional method of studying this topic, namely using statistics and census data to map out how Chinese immigrants lived and moved in New York City. I hope this research can fill some of the gaps left vacant in the narrative of Asian American identities.” (View Wu’s research poster online here.)

Wu’s advisor is Lisa Dombrowski, professor of East Asian studies.

Savanna Goldstein '22 of Philadelphia, Pa.shred her study titled "Parent-Child Conversation Facilitates Number Talk During Shared Storybook Reading"

Savanna Goldstein ’22 of Philadelphia, Pa. shared her study titled “Parent-Child Conversation Facilitates Number Talk During Shared Storybook Reading.”

Savanna Goldstein ’22, who’s majoring in education and psychology with a concentration in cognitive science, is a member of Wesleyan’s Cognitive Development Lab. Her summer research project focused on how shared storybook reading can help children understand numbers in a deeper way. “Storytime can be a great opportunity for parents to weave math talk into their daily routine, but most picture books focus solely on literacy development and social skills. That’s why we chose to investigate how parents supplement stories with their own math talk,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein asked parents to read two stories to their children, one explicitly related to numbers, and one implicitly providing an opportunity to discuss quantity. By recording these reading sessions and encoding the transcripts for different types of number talk—such as parent counting, encouraging labeling, tandem counting, and corrected feedback—she was able to determine which conditions inspired the most effective number talk.

“If parents begin story time with the intent of helping their child learn about math, they will likely produce more number talk and the interaction will be more meaningful,” she said. (View Goldstein’s research poster online here.)

Goldstein’s advisors are Anna Shusterman, associate professor of psychology, and Sierra Eisen, postdoctoral fellow in psychology.

Elizabeth Ouanemalay '23

Elizabeth Ouanemalay ’23 from Long Beach, Calif. shared her study titled “Evolvability of Sporulation and Germination in Bacillus Subtilis Batch Culture.”

Biology and Science in Society double major Elizabeth Ouanemalay ’23 and Biology PhD student Kathleen Sagarin studied Bacillus subtilis to determine whether two traits essential to the bacterium’s survival could easily evolve. B. subtilis is able to tolerate extreme environmental conditions by virtue of its ability to form desiccation- and heat-resistant spores and its ability to germinate from these spores. Elizabeth and Katie challenged B. subtilis to evolve changes in both its sporulation and germination abilities.

They challenged a B. subtilis lab strain in “serial batch culture,” where they cultured the bacteria past the point that they exhausted their resources, and then they transferred the bacteria to fresh medium, either with or without heating the culture to kill non-spores, over 11 growth cycles. Under these conditions, they found that when the cultures were not heated at transfer, the bacteria quickly declined in their ability to sporulate. This was probably because spores undergo the slow process of germination before they can resume growth in fresh medium; on the other hand, bacteria that fail to produce a spore can start growing more quickly in the fresh medium. It was surprising that after just two weeks, the cost of germination would cause the bacteria to become much less efficient at producing spores.

A complementary result was found in the cultures which were forced to go through a spore stage by the end of each growth cycle. Ouanemalay and Sagarin are now isolating individual bacteria strains from each of these evolved found that when every individual had to germinate to begin growth in fresh medium, the bacteria evolved to germinate more quickly. It was again surprising to them that germination ability could evolve so quickly.

(View their research poster online here.)

Her advisor is Fred Cohan, Huffington Foundation Professor in the College of the Environment, professor of biology.

Wesleyan in the News

NewsWesleyan’s intellectually dynamic faculty, students, alumni, staff, and parents frequently serve as expert sources for national media. Others are noted for recent achievements and accolades. A sampling of recent media hits is below:

In The New Yorker, screenwriter, director, and actor Mike White ’92 discusses his latest work, money and status, and his time on Survivor. “Instead of just focusing on one couple’s honeymoon, I constellated [the new show The White Lotus] with many people grappling with ideas about money,” he says. “Who has the money can really create the dynamic of a relationship, the relationship itself, the sense of self. Money can really inform and pervert our most intimate relationships, beyond just the employee-guest relationship at the hotel.” (July 18)

On NPR’s Ted Radio Hour, Wikipedian Jake Orlowitz ’05 describes how volunteers update the world’s largest encyclopedia. “Writing a new article—it’s a lot of fun, because you get to shape what comes next,” he says. “Wikipedians build in layers. And if you put down that first layer, put down that scaffolding, someone else will come by and put up a wall there or window there.” (July 23)

In El País, Robert Conn, professor of romance literature and languages, discusses the legacy of Simón Bolívar. “In each national tradition in the Americas, including the United States, the way in which Bolívar is remembered is different and depends on the figures to which he is compared,” Conn says. The article also sites Conn’s book, Bolívar’s Afterlife in the Americas (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020). (July 24)

Alex Kurtzman ’95 is featured in The New York Times for renegotiating his deal at CBS Studios. Under a new five-and-a-half-year agreement, he will continue to shepherd the growing “Star Trek” television universe for ViacomCBS’s Paramount+ streaming platform.

Also:

An obituary describing the work of Dr. J. Allan Hobson ’55, who studied the dreaming brain, is in The New York Times. Hobson, who died at the age of 88, disputed the Freudian view that dreams held encrypted codes of meaning, believing instead that they resulted from random firings of neurons in the brain. (July 28)

In EOS, Girish Duvvuri ’17 is credited for coining the term “necroplanetology”—the newest branch of exoplanet studies that involves intrinsically rare targets. “We’re proud of the name,” said Seth Redfield, professor of astronomy. “It’s a great way to describe the systems we’re studying. It has a small number of practitioners, but the larger community is just starting to look into this topic.” (July 26)

Greg Voth, professor of physics, is featured in Live Science for testing a 150-year-old theory proposed by Lord Kelvin. (July 28)

Hannah Bolotin ’19, director of development and policy for the Post-Prison Education Program, shares an op-ed in South Seattle Emerald regarding Washington’s Department of Corrections “trapping” incarcerated men in solitary confinement. “There should no longer be debate over the ethics of solitary confinement: It is both proven to be ineffective, and periods of longer than 15 days are considered unacceptable from a global human rights perspective as a form of torture,” she writes. “Until the DOC finds a viable solution, over 200 incarcerated men remain on an ever-growing waitlist, surviving in conditions known to inflict them with more trauma, intensified mental health issues, and increased behavioral issues, all of which they will carry with them as they return to the main prison setting—and eventually, return to society.” (July 28)

On tucson.com, former Wesleyan provost Shelia Tobias, who died at the age of 86, is remembered for advocating for women’s equality. (July 21)

In Gold Derby, Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 admits that he was homesick when he started writing In the Heights. “I was a sophomore at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut,” he noted. “I was, for the first time, living in a Latino Program house with other kids my age. We all had to write an essay to get into the house of how we were going to be Latino leaders on campus.” (July 27)

Leela Narang-Benaderet ’92, MA’93 is mentioned on Golf Content Network for making her U.S. Senior Women’s Open debut. Narang-Benaderet is a partner in a sports marketing and athlete management company and has served as tournament director for a number of Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) events. (July 29)

Ospina Explores the Struggle of Searching for Community in New Book

María Ospina, associate professor of Spanish

María Ospina, associate professor of Spanish, recently authored a book of short stories titled Variations on the Body. (Photo by Simon Parra)

María Ospina, associate professor of Spanish, believes that writing fiction is another powerful way to engage the subjects that have driven her academic work—memory, violence, and culture.

“Right now, I think that this is the way that I am going to continue exploring intellectual issues that interest me, including those related to history and politics,” said Ospina, who previously published a book of cultural criticism.

Her debut book of short stories, Variations on the Body, has been translated into English from Spanish by Heather Cleary and was published in the United States in July by Coffee House Press. The book (Azares del Cuerpo) had been previously published in Colombia (where is it already in its third edition), Chile, Spain, and Italy, receiving raves from critics.

In six loosely connected stories, Ospina, who was born in Bogotá and is also associate professor of Latin American studies, follows women and girls from different parts of Colombian society. Through meticulous prose, characters struggle with searching for a community after migrating and with the marks that that voyage leaves on the body. It’s a book filled with tactile imagery and almost a journalistic approach in how it documents the lives of its characters.

Davison Art Center Lends Rare 16th-Century Print to the Met

Martino Rota, Alessandro de Medici and Grand Duke Cosimo I de Medici of Tuscany

The Davison Art Center is loaning the print, “Alessandro de’ Medici and Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici of Tuscany,” to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a recent Medici exhibit.The print, engraved by Martino Rota, was donated to Wesleyan by art collector and Davison Art Center namesake George W. Davison (BA 1892) in 1943. (Open access image courtesy of the Davison Art Center. Photo by M. Johnston)

It’s common today to speak of building one’s brand—everyone from world leaders to precocious teens are worried about their image, shaping their personalities online, creating a persona that straddles reality and the imagined.

For the Medici family, the 16th-century rulers of Florence and Tuscany and patrons of some of the most famous Renaissance artwork, the tools to accomplish this were very different from those of today. However, the objective was the same.

Wesleyan’s Davison Arts Center (DAC) is participating in an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art called “The Medici: Portraits and Politics, 1512-1570,” currently on display through October 11. The exhibition pulls together more than 90 works, including portraits, engravings, busts, medals, and armor, to describe the rise to power of the Medici family after a period of exile, and to show how they used culture to shape public perception.

The DAC is lending a rare 16th-century print commemorating Medici rule over Tuscany. The Met requested the work in early 2020.

“I find this stuff endlessly fascinating. It’s amazing how these fragile pieces of paper, and all art work, survive across the centuries. To be able to work with these [works] and share them with students and the public is something I am really grateful for,” said Miya Tokumitsu, curator of the Davison Art Center.

Wesleyan in the News

NewsWesleyan’s intellectually dynamic faculty, students, alumni, staff, and parents frequently serve as expert sources for national media. Others are noted for recent achievements and accolades. A sampling of recent media hits is below:

On ABC News via the Associated Press, Alex Dupuy, John E. Andrus Professor Emeritus of Sociology, suggests Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph is likely to lead Haiti following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Dupuy also notes that the situation in Haiti is “dangerous and volatile,” with Haiti’s police force already grappling with a recent spike in violence in Port-au-Prince that has displaced more than 14,700 people. (July 7). And in Reuters, Dupuy says foreign intervention is not the solution to preserving Haiti’s democracy. “The solution is a more accountable system of government but also greater economic opportunities and the creation of a better economy,” he says. (July 13)

In the American Bar Association’s ABA Journal, Alyx Mark, assistant professor of government, discusses her Access-to-Civil Justice course at Wesleyan. This course “delved beneath the surface to investigate the path justiciable problems take from the bottom of the civil justice iceberg to the top, studying the actors, rules, and processes people with justice problems encounter as they identify and resolve them,” she explains. (July 8)

Vogue shares the story of In the Heights, which was first drafted by Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 when he was a sophomore at Wesleyan in 1999 and then staged by a student-run theater group. “After hearing about the production (and obtaining a CD of the music), Thomas Kail [’99], approached Miranda with the idea of preparing it to be shown off-Broadway. (July 8)

Greg Voth, associate professor of physics, is cited in Physics magazine for testing a hydrodynamics prediction made by Lord Kelvin in 1871. Kelvin questioned if an object that looks the same from any direction would naturally rotate when it moves through a fluid. Voth created an “isotropic helicoid” using a 3D printer and let the object fall under gravity through a viscous fluid and observed no rotation. (July 13)

Also:

Former CEO of athenaHealth Jonathan Bush ’93 is featured in The Boston Globe for Life continuing his quest for the elusive ‘health care Internet’ and unveils his new venture, Zus Health. (July 14)

The New York Times features the artwork of Tammy Vo Nguyen, assistant professor of art. Nguyen is exhibiting portraits of Forest City. (July 14)

In The Hartford Courant, Wesleyan is noted for being “another school well represented” on a new jazz album, “Straight from the Hart.” The CD includes tracks from Wesleyan’s Jazz Ensemble Director and pianist Noah Baerman, and Professor of Music and vibraphonist Jay Hoggard. (July 15)

Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm(ers) are featured in The Middletown Press for their efforts harvesting crops and selling them to the public at a farm stand every Wednesday. (July 8)

On johnnyjet.com, Frommer Media LLC Co-President Pauline Frommer ’88 answers 39 travel questions including her favorite island (Barbados) and worst travel moment (when her 8-year-old daughter was stuck on a zipline in Costa Rica). (July 15)

Institutional Investor reports that Columbia Investment Management Company Chief Kim Lew P’22 will be recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the fourth annual Allocators’ Choice Awards on Sept. 22 in New York. (July 15)

Mary Robertson ’01 is the executive producer of Framing Britney, which was recently Emmy-nominated for outstanding documentary or nonfiction special according to emmys.com. (July 18)

Wesleyan’s Upward Bound Helps Local Students Prepare for College

upward bound

Several high school seniors from Middletown, Meriden, and New Britain, Conn. recently gathered to celebrate their graduation from Wesleyan’s Upward Bound Math-Science program. Ninety-four percent of those who participated in the program are planning to attend college next fall. Wesleyan’s Upward Bound program was co-founded by the university’s first black dean of the college Edgar Beckham ’58 who hoped local, low-income students could have the opportunity to consider attending college.

For many first-generation and low-income students, simply the idea of attending college can be daunting. The cost of higher education might be prohibitive. The application process can be complicated and overwhelming.

Even with a committed support network, it can all be too much.

“Oftentimes for first-generation students, college is not something that’s expected … It is now starting to be a little bit more like ‘hey, you should go to college’ but it is not as widespread as in more affluent communities,” said Miguel Peralta, director of Wesleyan’s Upward Bound Math-Science program.

The Upward Bound Math-Science program is pulling down those barriers for high school students in Middletown, Meriden, and New Britain, Conn. In 2021, 30 of the 32 students who graduated from the program are moving on to higher education. Twenty-six of those students are bachelor-degree bound. Over 100 students participate in the program in the three towns, with most joining after their first year of high school and staying through graduation.

It’s part of a continued successful trend, with approximately 90 percent of Upward Bound participants over the past five years continuing their education. “This is the level of success we are accustomed to,” Peralta said. “We are trying to help students not just go to college but to thrive there as well.”

“We have had students at Wesleyan who took part in Upward Bound here in the local area (and have done very well here!), and—since it’s a federal program with chapters across the country—we have also had Wesleyan students who took part in Upward Bound programs in their own home areas,” said April Ruiz, dean for academic equity, inclusion, and success. “Upward Bound does a wonderful job helping students to feel informed and empowered as they consider pursuing higher education.”

Dubar, Thomas ’18, MA ’19 Explore the Psychological Effects of Social Media Ghosting

Royette Dubar

Royette Dubar, PhD, assistant professor of psychology

Jhanelle Oneika Thomas '18, MA '19

Jhanelle Oneika Thomas ’18, MA ’19

So long are the days of slipping out the back door of a party to avoid confrontation with a date gone bad. Through social media, one can easily “ghost”— that is, cut off all communication without giving a reason.

In a new qualitative study titled “Disappearing in the Age of Hypervisibility: Definition, Context, and Perceived Psychological Consequences of Social Media Ghosting,” lead researcher Royette Dubar, assistant professor of psychology, and her former master’s student Jhanelle Oneika Thomas ’18, MA ’19 investigated both the motives and psychological consequences of the act of ghosting.

Dubar and Thomas discovered that this modern-age disappearing act has both negative consequences for the ghostee (i.e. the person being ghosted), and the ghoster (i.e. the person committing the act).

The study, which appears in the June 2021 issue of the American Psychological Association’s journal Psychology of Popular Media, is based on a sample of 76 college students who participated in a focus group session.

Ghosting has an overwhelmingly negative effect on the person being ghosted and can have both short-term and long-term consequences. In the short-term, ghosting may lead to internalized feelings of self-criticism and self-doubt, Dubar explained. Over time, these feelings may hinder the development of trust and vulnerability in future relationships, “which are key ingredients for developing intimacy.”

“Because ghosting does not provide any closure to the ghostee, it robs the individual of an opportunity to address any personal issues that may actually promote growth within that individual,” she said.

A 19-year-old female participant in the study described her own experience of being ghosted: “It becomes a lot of self-doubt at first. I think a lot of personal insecurity comes out when you get ghosted because you begin to question because you don’t have answers. So you question yourself, you question what you know about yourself and you blame yourself. You say that it’s because ‘I’m not pretty enough,” or ‘I’m not smart enough,’ or ‘I said the wrong thing,’ or ‘I did the wrong thing,’ or whatever. And at least for me, that’s really harmful and can really affect my mood for a long period of time.”