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Steve ScarpaSeptember 17, 20213min
The first time Ethan Kleinberg, the Class of 1958 Distinguished Professor of History and Letters, immersed himself in the world of the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas 20 years ago, he wrote a book. “It was written as a traditional intellectual history and I found that what that I had done was to completely deactivate the aspects of Levinas’ thought where he believes that there are ethical guidelines that come to us from outside our own history, these transcendent ethical guidelines puncture any historical or contextual moment,” Kleinberg said. He didn’t like what he’d written, so he took an unprecedented step—he…

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Olivia DrakeSeptember 16, 20214min
Nineteen visiting faculty, including fellows, scholars, and postdoctoral researchers, join Wesleyan for the 2021-22 academic year. Their academic interests include high altitude ecosystems, Muslim political masculinities, Indigenous cultural studies, epidemiology and public health, 20th-century continental philosophy, pharmacoengineering, social media's effects on adolescent development, and more. Their bios are below: Alisha Butler, Provost Equity Fellow in the College of Education Studies, is a mixed-methods researcher whose work draws on interdisciplinary perspectives to interrogate the overlapping ecologies of schools, neighborhoods, and cities that shape students’ and families’ experiences in schools. This work includes studies of school-family and school-community partnerships. Her dissertation leveraged…

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Olivia DrakeAugust 31, 20213min
After an unusual 18 months of hybrid teaching, working remotely, and navigating university life during a pandemic, Wesleyan's faculty and staff are eager for some normalcy this fall. In this News @ Wesleyan piece, we speak to several employees about what they are most looking forward to during the fall 2021 semester. Morgan Keller became director of international student affairs on Aug. 23 after stints at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of California-Santa Cruz, and Clemson University. He learned of Wesleyan through his cousin, Adam Keller '14, who spoke favorably of the university during his time here as a film…

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Steve ScarpaAugust 31, 20218min
Edward Torres, an assistant professor of the practice in theater, can’t help but be moved when he performs the words of L.D. Barkley, a prisoner who played an important role during the 1971 Attica Prison riot, raising morale for incarcerated men protesting their mistreatment.  “We are men! We are not beasts and we do not intend to be beaten or driven as such,” Barkley said in 1971 shortly before he was killed by police.  For Torres, the most devastating part of performing the new play Echoes of Attica is to know that every word is real. “This is a piece…

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Olivia DrakeAugust 24, 20213min
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…

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Olivia DrakeAugust 19, 20212min
A new paper co-authored by Teresita Padilla-Benavides, assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, is published in the July 2021 issue of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal. Titled "The molecular and cellular basis of copper dysregulation and its relationship with human pathologies," the paper explores the role of copper in human disease. Copper (Cu) is an essential micronutrient involved in critical metabolic reactions and biological functions. In humans, mutations or malfunctions of genes that regulate copper stability in the body may lead to numerous pathologic conditions, severe neurodegenerative conditions, or metabolic diseases. Copper also plays…

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Steve ScarpaJuly 26, 20213min
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…

Rachel Wachman '24July 17, 20212min
Nina Hagel, assistant professor of government, is a political theorist whose research focuses on questions of freedom, recognition, resistance, and democratic belonging. She often teaches courses on contemporary political theory, the history of political thought, and feminist political theory. She is working on a book manuscript on the meanings and political value of authenticity claims. In March 2021, she gave a virtual talk called “Right-Wing Populism and the Dangers of Authenticity” at the University of Alabama as part of the Political Science Department’s Colloquium. She also presented at the Conference on Philosophy and Social Science in Prague, Czech Republic in…

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Olivia DrakeJuly 15, 20214min
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…

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Olivia DrakeJuly 1, 20217min
When launching spacecrafts and missiles, small navigational mistakes could lead to catastrophic results. A satellite could spin completely out of orbit, a missile could mistakenly strike a civilian territory, or a spaceship could end up at another planet altogether. Three Wesleyan researchers are collaborating on the development of a novel sensor that would benefit navigation and several other applications. The new, hypersensitive acceleration sensor is based on a principle borrowed from nuclear physics and has been developed at Wesleyan. It provides enhanced sensitivity and precision compared to conventional sensors. "Our underlying concept can be applied in a variety of sensing…

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Rachel Wachman '24June 28, 20213min
Erika Taylor, associate professor of chemistry, recently co-authored three papers and a book chapter related to (1) biomass to biofuel production and (2) development of new therapeutics to treat Gram-negative bacterial infections. Taylor's work investigates problems at the biological chemistry interface and seeks to find applications of her work to the fields of medicine and sustainable energy. Her chapter called “Lignin Enzymology – Recent Efforts to Understand Lignin Monomer Catabolism” in the book Comprehensive Natural Products III: Chemistry and Biology, and her paper “Identifying Metabolic Pathway Intermediates that Modulate Enzyme Activity: A Kinetic Analysis of the DesB Dioxygenase from Sphingobium…

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Olivia DrakeJune 18, 20218min
In recognition of their career achievements, the following faculty members are being appointed to endowed professorships, effective July 1, 2021: Erik Grimmer-Solem, professor of history, is receiving the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Professorship in the College of Social Studies, established in 2008. Abigail Hornstein, associate professor of economics, is receiving the Woodhouse/Sysco Professorship of Economics, established in 2002. Edward Moran, professor of astronomy, is receiving the John Monroe Van Vleck Professorship of Astronomy, established in 1982. Suzanne OConnell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, is receiving the Harold T. Stearns Professorship of Earth Sciences, established in 1984. Francis Starr, professor…