Celebrating Achievement

This past week I had the pleasure of welcoming students, faculty and their guests to the Fall Initiation of our Phi Beta Kappa chapter. One of the oldest honor societies in America, PBK acknowledges great student academic achievement. Good grades aren’t enough though; the undergrads must satisfy the General Education expectations and be nominated by their home department.

Most of the Phi Beta Kappa members of the class of 2010 will be inducted in the spring semester, and it is a special honor to be asked to join during the fall. This semester the initiates are:

Sue Hyun Chung
Alexis Horan
Megan Hughes
Peter Hull
Samuel Kurtis
Elias Leight
Rebecca Loomis
Anna Mageras
Mark McCloughan
Juan Pablo Mendoza
Anne Merley
Ari Tolman
Rebecca Turkewitz
Chan-young Yang
Jake Zuehl

The research and co-curricular projects of this year’s group are as varied as they are impressive, ranging from sophisticated research in microbiology, economics and political philosophy to worthy efforts in the realms of education and public health, theater and the Peace Corps. Some of the PBK students are headed to Kenya, others to Ecuador, and I bet a few wind up in Brooklyn.

Yesterday, Provost Joe Bruno and I joined the Chemistry Department and Board Chair Joshua Boger in celebrating Betty Tishler’s 100th birthday with her family and friends. Max Tishler, Betty’s late husband, was a great Wesleyan scientist, and she has been a beloved member of our community for four decades. One of the very special guests was Dr. Satoshi Omura, who came in from Tokyo for this event. Dr. Omura, one of the world’s leading bioorganic scientists, discovered and developed the drug ivermectin, which is on track to eradicate onchocerciasis, or River Blindness. Millions of people across the globe have been taking ivermectin, and the results have revolutionized public health.

Dr. Omura was at Wes in the early 1970s, and as we stood together looking across Andrus Field yesterday, he grew wistful. He told me that he was so happy to be back at Wesleyan since this was the place where he first developed his scientific ideas. It was in our Chemistry Department that he began the work that would change the lives of millions of people around the world.

Maybe some of our Phi Beta Kappa students will have similar stories to tell one day!

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2 thoughts on “Celebrating Achievement”

  1. Thanks for recognizing the fall Phi Beta Kappa inductees. It would be nice to tell readers the departments and programs in which they are majors. Rebecca Loomis, for example, is a double major in Psychology and Russian East European Studies, and we are very proud of her.

  2. Susanne,
    Thanks for the suggestion.

    Sue Hyun Chung – Mathematics
    Alexis Horan – African-American Studies; Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
    Megan Hughes – Biology, Environmental Studies
    Peter Hull – Mathematics-Economics
    Samuel Kurtis – Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Elias Leight – Economics
    Rebecca Loomis – Psychology; Russian & Eastern European Studies
    Anna Mageras – History
    Mark McCloughan – Science In Society; Theater
    Juan Pablo Mendoza – Computer Science; Physics
    Anne Merley – Biology
    Ari Tolman – Neuroscience & Behavior; Sociology
    Rebecca Turkewitz – English; Psychology
    Chan-young Yang – College of Social Studies
    Jake Zuehl – College of Social Studies

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