Biology major Bridget Brennan spent last summer getting a feel for marine biology as an intern at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod. In the deep end: “I’ve always been interested in marine biology, since I was a kid. My parents could never get me out of the ocean. At Wheaton, I took ‘Intro to Marine Mammals,’ and that really sparked my interest in marine biology and inspired me to seek this internship. In class, we discussed all kinds of physiological aspects of marine mammals, and we got to do an autopsy on a seal. The internship allowed me to take everything I learned in class and put it into real life, which was exactly what I was looking for.” Daily catch: “At the oceanographic institute, I did all sorts of work—from data entry to going out and responding to stranded animals. I also got to participate in marine animal necropsies. So some days I would work in the office, some days out in the field, and other days in the lab, which was my favorite part.” The ripple effect: “My internship definitely helped my educational experience. I gained leadership skills. I got to lead my own necropsy, and I had to come up with my own project for a stomach analysis, which required me to be innovative. I’ve found myself applying the same skills in the classroom with my academic projects at Wheaton.” Wait and sea: “After Wheaton I’m hoping to go to grad school for marine biology. I think this internship will provide me with valuable references, and it has helped prepare me for the work ahead.”
Geology professor Geoffrey Collins led a team of researchers, including Wheaton students, in producing the first global geologic map of Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon and the largest satellite in our solar system.
The map, published by the U.S. Geological Survey, is the first complete global map of an outer-planet moon. It will provide critical data to scientists planning future studies and exploration of our solar system, including follow-up missions to Ganymede and other satellites of Jupiter.
The work is particularly significant because the moon offers a good model for understanding icy worlds that appear to be common in our solar system and beyond.
“On icy worlds such as Ganymede, liquid water probably exists below the surface and may be in contact with nutrients from rocky materials,” said Collins, who led the mapping team. “That’s one of the reasons we’re so interested in understanding how icy worlds work, so we can understand the possibility of life beneath the surface and how we should go about looking for it.”
Exhibitions explore interdisciplinary connections
Michele L’Heureux ’88 is a constant observer. As a professional visual artist and gallery director of Wheaton’s Beard and Weil Galleries, she approaches art with the eye of a lifelong learner. So when the college’s Mars Center for Science and Technology opened, inspiration for a fruitful curatorial opportunity took hold.
“I’ve had a long-standing interest in the intersection of art and science,” said L’Heureux. “It’s really fascinating territory, and the presupposition of many people is that artists and scientists are different ‘animals’ that don’t engage in the same kinds of practices and questions.”
In 2012, she invited faculty across all disciplines to bring their students to the galleries and got a great response.
Computer science professors Mark LeBlanc and Tom Armstrong coordinated with L’Heureux to have artist Chris Abrams lead an interactive lecture for students (particularly those interested in computer science and engineering) as part of the galleries’ “New England Animation All-Stars” exhibition. Professor of Chemistry Elita Pastra-Landis took her “Advanced Organic Chemistry” students to “Sitelines,” a nature- and landscape-themed group exhibition that included a drawing by Kysa Johnson utilizing pollutants’ molecular structures.
We all could learn a lesson or two from Mary Louise Miller Spang, Class of 1933.
She overcame great adversity in her life, forging her own path after divorcing her husband in 1946, at a time when divorce was still a damaging social stigma for women, and working to support two young children on her own while pursuing her passion for music at Juilliard.
From 1946 until around 1959, Spang, who was an art major at Wheaton, was a prolific composer and published poet. Her musical career was cut short in 1959 when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, which led to her decline and death in 1975 at age 64.
On Dec. 6, 2013, she had her long-overdue chance in the spotlight. The Great Woods Chamber Orchestra honored her during a concert by performing one of her musical compositions for the very first time. The orchestra debuted Spang’s “The Selfish Giant,” a musical interpretation of the children’s story by Oscar Wilde, in the Weber Theatre.
“Each section in ‘The Selfish Giant’ corresponds to a scene in Wilde’s story,” noted Delvyn Case, assistant professor of music and orchestra director. “The music is very colorful, depicting the giant by using the timpani and brass, and the children with the piccolo and other woodwind instruments. The composition uses beautiful, rich harmonies reminiscent of jazz, though the style of the piece is certainly classical.”