Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Congratulations, Class of 2013!

Smiles, tears of joy, and great advice filled the day on Saturday, May 18, as members of the Class of 2013 ended their journeys at Wheaton and prepared to start new ones out in the awaiting world.

At Wheaton’s 178th Commencement ceremony, former federal judge and attorney Nancy Gertner offered the graduates sound advice during her witty and thoughtful keynote address. In a rapidly changing world in which the best way forward is not always clear, take responsibility, she told them, do something rather than nothing, and create your own path.

Referring to the title of renowned historian Howard Zinn’s memoir, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, Gertner encouraged the 372 graduating seniors to view the world as a moving train that we are all responsible for directing, and to remain flexible about how they go about meeting that obligation. [Read more...]

Out of Wheaton, into the world of work

The members of the Class of 2013 left the campus headed for various opportunities, including internships and graduate studies. Many of them headed straight into full-time jobs. [Read more...]

Developing opportunities

Senior wins award for Peruvian development effort

650_Molly Skaltsis 13Molly Skaltsis ’13 spent her summer working to help a small village in the Peruvian Andes to develop an ecotourism business centered around one of the world’s largest waterfalls.

After graduation, she joined a nonprofit organization in working with the community of Cuispes to develop the trails and other amenities needed for tourists to trek to the Yumbilla waterfall in northern Peru.

Skaltsis was awarded a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant to purchase materials and to hire skilled labor needed to complete the trail, a native plant nursery and a lodge to enable two-day treks through the region’s pristine cloud-forest environment. [Read more...]

Focusing on fruit flies, seeking insight

Wheaton College students Jeffrey Paer, Michaela SupersonWheaton College students Jeffrey Paer, Michaela SupersonFor most people, fruit flies are just annoying visitors in the kitchen. We don’t usually think about fruit flies learning or fighting over mates, but Michaela Superson ’13, a neuroscience major, and Jeffrey Paer ’15, a biology major, have been looking at these complex behaviors in fruit flies to study brain chemistry and memory.

Superson, who spent the past two semesters working on a senior honors thesis project, was interested in neurotransmitters, chemicals that relay messages between different cells in the brain. In particular, she worked with dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward.

“My senior thesis provided an excellent introduction to medical research I may conduct in the future,” said Superson, who plans to go to medical school. “It solidified my love of neuroscience and my desire to pursue medicine.”

Wheaton College students Jeffrey Paer, Michaela SupersonHer experimental fruit flies were mutants that produce either too little or too much dopamine. She observed the effects that changes in dopamine can have on courtship behavior, compared to the courtship behavior of “normal” flies. Then, she “rescued” the mutant flies, by adding dopamine or a dopamine inhibitor to restore their dopamine levels to normal.

Paer, who is also interested in a medical career, started out as an assistant for Superson’s thesis project and was soon inspired to start  his own research testing memory in fruit flies. [Read more...]