Tag Archive for Class of 2013

Kopac, Herbst, Martinez MA ’13 Attend Space Telescope Science Institute Symposium

Biology Ph.D candidate Sarah Kopac was invited to speak at the 2014 Spring Symposium of the Space Telescope Science Institute on the campus of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, M.D. on April 29. Kopac spoke on “Specialization of Bacillus in the Geochemcially Challenged Environment of Death Valley.” Watch a video of her 20 minute presentation online here.

Kopac’s talk was part of a four-day interdisciplinary meeting titled “Habitable Worlds Across Time and Space” featuring speakers from around the world working in such diverse fields as biology, geology and astronomy. The focus of the seminar was on identifying places within our Solar System and Galaxy where we can most profitably search for life beyond the Earth.

Astronomy major Raquel Martinez, MA ’13 and William Herbst, the John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy, director of graduate studies, also attended the conference.

Both Kopac and Martinez were active active participants in Wesleyan’s Planetary Science Group seminars and activities. Kopac’s advisor is Fred Cohan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies. Martinez’s advisor was Seth Redfield, assistant professor of astronomy.

Biology Ph.D candidate Sarah Kopac speaks at the the Space Telescope Science Institute's Spring Symposium.

Biology Ph.D candidate Sarah Kopac speaks at the the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Spring Symposium.

Raquel Martiniz MA '13 poses with her research poster and conference organizer John Debes. Raquel is currently working in NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center and has been accepted to the Ph.D. program at the University of Texas where she will begin studies in the fall.

Raquel Martiniz MA ’13 poses with her research poster and conference organizer John Debes. Raquel is currently working in NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center and has been accepted to the Ph.D. program at the University of Texas where she will begin studies in the fall.

Oliphant ’13 on the Sense of Community at Wesleyan

Melody Oliphant ’13, who double majored in neuroscience and behavior and history at Wes, is now a research associate in a neurogenetics lab at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City.

“I’m often awestruck at the seemingly limitless answers to the question, ‘What makes Wesleyan special?’ or ‘What excited me about Wesleyan?’ Yet, in some form or fashion, the answer always remains the same: the people, the sense of community.

Throughout my Wesleyan experience, I participated in a disparate array of activities and academic pursuits ranging from environmental activism to my double major, from founding a sorority to participating in the Wesleyan Student Assembly, from playing Ultimate Frisbee to serving as a women’s center escort to help women pass center protesters. I worked as an archivist at the Middlesex County Historical Society, as a student manager for the Red and Black Calling Society, as a sustainability intern working to remove bottled water from campus, and as an intern for the Senior Gift.

Someone unfamiliar with Wesleyan might wonder what unites such supposedly divergent interests. But the answer is simple: community. Even in my academics, I learned not to take courses according to my own purported interests, but rather by following professors who ignite a sense of intellectual curiosity and foster a holistic understanding of the world, uniting the humanities with the technoscientific realm.”

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View this video and others at the Video @Wesleyan site.

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BA/MA Astronomy Student Edelman Researching Winds around Stars

Graduate student Eric Edelman is writing a master's thesis on the process of measuring the winds of stars. He's focusing on stellar systems that have known planets orbiting them, with the aim of trying to decipher how the measured winds of these stars may affect or potentially even dissipate the atmospheres of their host planets. (Photos by Hannah Norman '16)

Graduate student Eric Edelman is writing a master’s thesis on the process of measuring the winds of stars. He’s focusing on stellar systems that have known planets orbiting them, with the aim of trying to decipher how the measured winds of these stars may affect or potentially even dissipate the atmospheres of their host planets. (Photos by Hannah Norman ’16)

In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we speak with astronomy graduate student Eric Edelman ’13, who is one of 16 BA/MA students at Wesleyan. 

Q: You’re one of only a few who pursue the BA/MA option — it seems like a lot of work. But it seems tailor-made for work in the sciences… Are you still happy with your choice?

A: Absolutely. The BA/MA program provided me with the possibility to realistically pursue astronomy as a late bloomer in the field. I entered Wesleyan with the plan to major in English, and focused my efforts on that path for my first two years here. I took my first introductory course in astronomy and physics as a junior, switched into the astronomy major that semester, and was barely able to complete the bare minimum requirements to receive a BA degree.

Eric Edelman applauds the Astronomy Department's student-to-faculty ratio.

Eric Edelman applauds the Astronomy Department’s student-to-faculty ratio.

Even though I was able to get a degree, the amount of classes I had taken in astronomy and physics in only those two years would not have made me very competitive for Ph.D. programs, which tend to be the next logical step when pursuing a career in astronomy. With the flexibility provided from the BA/MA program, I have been able to stick around for an extra year and really sink my teeth into some incredibly difficult and worthwhile upper level physics and astronomy courses.

Q: The Class of 2018 is getting their admission letters this week. If a prospect is interested in studying sciences, what would you say are the bonuses of studying at Wesleyan?

A: My answer when it comes to physics and particularly astronomy is the student to faculty ratio. It really does literally approach the golden ratio over here. There tend to be around a total of 10-15 graduate and undergraduate majors in the astronomy department per year, with five professors and one postdoc to go around. While trying to land a research position with a professor at larger universities can sometimes feel like being part of a crazy rat race, the astronomy department here at Wes has more than enough space to accommodate any and all students who want to invest themselves in a worthwhile research project. It is an incredibly open and welcoming department.

Gilmore, Greenwood, Martin ’14, Dottin ’13 Attend Planetary Science Conference

At left, James Dottin '13 and Peter Martin '14 reunited at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in March. Both presented papers at the annual conference.

At left, James Dottin ’13 and Peter Martin ’14 reunited at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in March. Both presented papers at the annual conference.

Two faculty, one student and one alumnus made paper presentations at the 45th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Tex., March 17-21.

The Planetary Science Conference brings together international specialists in petrology, geochemistry, geophysics, geology and astronomy to present the latest results of research in planetary science. The five-day conference included topical symposia and problem-oriented sessions. During the conference, Marty Gilmore, chair and associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, presented a paper on the “Venus Exploration Roadmap to the Venus Exploration Analysis Group (VEXAG)” on March 20.

James Greenwood, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, presented “Hydrogen Isotopes of Water in the Moon: Evidence for the Giant Impact Model from Melt Inclusion and Apatite in Apollo Rock Samples,” on March 19.

Peter Martin '14 presented a poster titled "Modeling and Mineralogical Analyses of Potential Martian Chloride Brines."

Peter Martin ’14 presented a poster titled “Modeling and Mineralogical Analyses of Potential Martian Chloride Brines.”

Peter Martin ’14 presented his research on “Modeling and Mineralogical Analyses of Potential Martian Chloride Brines” on March 20.  Martin’s travel to the conference was funded by a Connecticut Space Grant and a USRA Thomas R. McGetchin Memorial Scholarship Award. Gilmore is Martin’s advisor.

James Dottin ’13, who is currently a Ph.D. student in geology at the University of Maryland,  spoke on “Isotope Evidence for Links between Sulfate Assimilation and Oxidation of Martian melts from Meteorites MIL 03346, MIL 090030, MIL 090032 and MIL 090136” on March 21.  While at Wesleyan, Dottin participated in the McNair Program. Greenwood was Dotton’s advisor.

Gilmore also presented a paper on “Are Martian Carbonates Hiding in Plain Sight? VNIR Spectra of Hydrous Carbonates,” which was co-authored by Patrick Harner MA ’13. Harner is a Ph.D. student at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona. Harner completed this research while a student at Wesleyan.

Sociology’s Long, Coven ’13 Present Teacher Evaluation Research

Assistant Professor of Sociology Daniel Long and Rebecca Coven ’13 presented their research on teacher evaluations at a press conference held by the Connecticut Education Association March 6 in Hartford, Conn.

Assistant Professor of Sociology Daniel Long and Rebecca Coven ’13 presented their research on teacher evaluations at a press conference held by the Connecticut Education Association March 6 in Hartford, Conn.

When Rebecca Coven ’13 decided to dedicate herself to the arduous task of completing a senior honors thesis, she was concerned that no one would ever read her work beyond the few professors grading it. So she was excited to have the opportunity to conduct relevant, timely research on teacher evaluations in the state of Connecticut, and share her findings at a press conference held in Hartford March 6 by the state’s largest teachers union.

Together with her advisor, Assistant Professor of Sociology Daniel Long, Coven spent her senior year conducting a review of a teacher evaluation pilot program run by the Connecticut Education Association in the Hamden, Conn. public schools. The CEA, which was looking to promote an alternative model of teacher evaluation to the one embraced by the state Board of Education in guidelines passed in June 2012, asked Long to conduct the external review of the pilot. Long invited Coven to help conduct the review as part of her senior honors thesis. Coven’s interest in education reform was sparked when she took Long’s Sociology of Education course during her sophomore year. She served as Long’s research assistant, collaborating with him on a study about the impact of increased instruction time on the achievement gap, including an apprenticeship in the Quantitative Analysis Center the summer after her junior year.

Coven’s thesis, titled, “No Teacher Left Behind: A Look at Alternative Systems of Educator Evaluation,” can be read on WesScholar here.

“It was exciting to know that my senior thesis would be read by other people, and was relevant to an important education debate going on in Connecticut,” said Coven. 

Mueller ’13 Speaks about Landing GIS Jobs, GIS Applications

Zoe Mueller '13 returned to campus Nov. 20 to teach current students about geographic information system careers.

Zoe Mueller ’13 returned to campus Nov. 20 to teach current students about geographic information system careers.

On Nov. 20, Zoe Mueller ’13 spoke about “GIS in the Real World: How to Land a GIS Job” during National Geography Awareness Week celebrations at Wesleyan. GIS (geographic information systems) allow users to visualize, question, analyze, interpret, model and understand data to reveal relationships, patterns and trends.

Mueller spoke to current students about careers in GIS, differences between non-profit and for-profit work, and applications of GIS outside of academia.

Wesleyan’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences also sponsored multiple events in honor of National Geography Awareness Week, including a crowdsourced GIS map and geocaching scavenger hunt.

 

 

Cheng ’13 is Detroit Challenge Fellow

Meiyi Cheng ’13

Meiyi Cheng ’13

Meiyi Cheng ’13 was selected as one of 32 fellows, from a pool of 700 applicants, to participate in Challenge Detroit, an urban revitalization program focused on attracting and retaining talent in Detroit in an effort to spur revitalization.

Challenge Detroit, a one-year program, provides the opportunity for fellows to work at top regional companies while spending one day a week collaborating with area non-profits to address regional challenges and opportunities, including multi-modal transportation, homelessness, and community development. During her year with Challenge Detroit, Cheng will be working with partnering host company, Mango Languages.

Challenge Detroit’s executive director, Deirdre Greene Groves, calls the program, “…[T]ruly a community-wide effort that brings together amazing companies, non-profits, leaders and, of course, the next-generation of talent to reinvigorate this great city.”

“I’m excited to be part of this great city and to work with and learn from many talented and passionate people,” said Cheng, year two Challenge Detroit Fellow, who majored in economics at Wesleyan. She cites past leadership experiences that range “from successfully managing 45 performances as a house manager at Center for the Arts of Wesleyan University to serving as a summer camp counselor in Sichuan, China, after the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake.

During their year in Detroit, participants will share their stories through regular blogging, video logging and social media updates. Follow Cheng on her blog.

Lichtash ’13, Weber ’13 Offer “The Plan” to Combat Global Warming

Matt Lichtash ’13

Matt Lichtash ’13

Matt  Lichtash ’13 was co-author of an op-ed published in U.S. News and World Report titled “Five Steps America Must Take Now to Combat Climate Change.”

Lichtash is working with Evan Weber ’13 and Michael Dorsey, who served as visiting scholar for Wesleyan’s College of the Environment for the 2012–13 academic year. The three, concerned that the United States adopt an effective national energy strategy, have developed “The Plan,” which they propose can “set our nation on a promising path towards ensuring a safer, more prosperous, and more just future for ourselves and our posterity.” The Plan is available for download at http://www.usclimateplan.org/

In the op-ed, Lichtash insists that the U.S. “must propose a bolder plan to position the world to hold a temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius, the widely agreed ‘safe-zone’ that prevents climate catastrophe.”

Lichtash and co-author Michael Shank offer “five market-based solutions,” starting with a greenhouse gas fee and finally urging the country to “scrap fossil fuel subsidies.”

Evan Weber ’13

Evan Weber ’13

Weber majored in economics and environmental studies; his thesis focused on the social justice implications of U.S. climate policy. Lichtash, who also majored in economics and environmental studies, uses data analysis to explore the quantitative side of sustainability and energy policy,. Dorsey, now an assistant professor in Dartmouth College’s Faculty of Science in the Environmental Studies Program, as well as director of Dartmouth’s Climate Justice Research Project. The three hope to foster national dialog on both challenges of and solutions for national climate change. They further explain their vision in this video.

Learn more about them in this WesConnect feature.

 

Callaghan ’13 Playing for Professional Irish Basketball Club

Mike Callaghan '13 is in Galway, Ireland playing for the professional SSE Renewables Moycullen basketball club.

Former Wesleyan basketball player Mike Callaghan ’13 is in Galway, Ireland playing for the professional SSE Renewables Moycullen basketball club.

Mike Callaghan ’13 seized an opportunity to play professional basketball abroad, and it has paid off. A two-time second-team all-NESCAC selection, Callaghan is now playing for SSE Renewables Moycullen in Galway, a member of the Irish Premier League. He’s the only American on a team of 11 players and three games into the 18-game regular season, Callaghan leads his squad in both scoring and rebounding while playing 34 of 40 minutes per game.

“The competition is tough,” Callaghan said. “The one American for the other team is often a former Division I player and the Irishmen who play are good players as well. It is a bit of a step up from Wesleyan in terms of what I have to do individually (shoot a lot more, score, rebound).”

As a Cardinal senior, Callaghan averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds in 2012-2013. He made the connection to Irish basketball through former Hamilton College standout Pat Sullivan, who played professionally in Ireland in 2012. Callaghan submitted a highlight tape and was given a shot.

” I’m really focused on helping my team this year and doing my best for them. After the season, I will reevaluate whether I want to continue my pro career,” he said. “The experience has been great so far, Ireland is a beautiful country and Galway (the city I live in) is full of friendly people and fun activities. My team is full of great people, from the executives of the club to the coaches to the players. I am really grateful for the opportunity and will continue to do my best.”

Callaghan’s Wesleyan coach, Joe Reilly, praised his former player. “We’re extremely excited for Mike. His improvement over four years was recognized by our peers as he was a two-time all-conference player. He has a great attitude and a tireless work ethic. It’s great to see it rewarded to have him play on the professional level. Mike will have a great impact on the court but he also will have a tremendous impact on their community.”

Callaghan said  that in addition to his commitment as a player, he “also helps with coaching the youth teams affiliated with the club, which has been awesome.”

 

 

Applebaum ’13 Helps Internet Users Remain Anonymous

Julian Applebaum ’13, a computer science major, won honors for his thesis titled, “A Model of Outbound Client Behavior on the Tor Anonymity Network." (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Julian Applebaum ’13, a computer science major, won honors for his thesis titled, “A Model of Outbound Client Behavior on the Tor Anonymity Network.” (Photo by Olivia Drake)

If you’ve ever spent an evening looking up old flames on Facebook, shopping online and watching questionable YouTube videos, you may have wished there were a way to preserve your anonymity on the World Wide Web. It turns out there is a way; and a Wesleyan senior’s capstone work explored how to make that way faster and better.

Julian Applebaum ’13, a computer science major, spent the year working on a simulation of Tor, a global network run by volunteers, that allows internet users to remain anonymous. There is one problem: Tor is painfully slow.

His work attempts to simulate actual activity on the network as a way to test and improve Tor, by collecting a sample of data from the network and creating a mathematical model trained on the patterns he observed.

“If you’re looking for ways to make it run faster or that much more resilient, what you need is a good simulation of the network,” Applebaum said. “This is our own simulation, which we hope to show works better (than existing models).”

There’s a significant social-justice aspect to Tor, which isn’t just for average internet users, but could be critically important to activists and bloggers worldwide, many of whom may work in repressive societies and whose internet use is tracked by governments. For them, Web anonymity could mean the difference between freedom and jail.

“They may be able to hide their blog posts, but just the fact that they are on a blog could have serious consequences,” Applebaum said.