Thomas Uses CT Scans, Computer-Aided Visualizations to Study and Teach Microfossils

Ellen Thomas at Wesleyan University.

Ellen Thomas, Research Professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, is featured on the News @ Wesleyan blog.

“Up until recently, Thomas taught students about microfossils through microscope studies and by showing text book illustrations and images embedded in slide presentations. But with support from the National Science Foundation, Thomas and her peers were able to use cutting-edge technology to create high-resolution images and 3-D models of more than 40 microfossils in the phyla Foraminifera and Ostracoda.”

Read the full article here.

Faculty Manhattans & Martinis


Part of the goal of the Digital and Computational Knowledge Initiative is to get faculty to enrich their knowledge of techniques and concepts so we can then share it with a wider audience. Over the last couple of years, we have been keen to push network analysis to the forefront. This fall a group of faculty and students–undergraduate and graduate–have met weekly as part of a proseminar on networks (QAC 239) and we’d like to show and tell a bit about network theory and analysis, especially now that our first course introducing students to networking—is heavily subscribed and ready to launch this January. (QAC 241)

So please come join us for a Manhattans & Martinis seasonal fête, featuring good drinks, satisfying snacks, and easygoing discussion. We’ll meet on Monday, December 15th at 4PM in Allbritton 311.

You’ll be able to hear your colleagues give glimpses of the power and grace of network analysis. We’ll learn from David Beveridge, Psyche Loui, Francis Starr, and Pavel Oleinikov about what network analysis is, what it’s good for, and how you and your students can learn a little more about it.

By December 15th, the term will be over, the grading marinading, and the bartender will be tending her bar, from 4PM.

“NSA Spying, Digital Privacy, and Your Rights Online” with April Glaser




DaCKI/ATTLaS Speaker Series 

NSA Spying, Digital Privacy, and Your Rights Online


Staff Activist, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) 

TUESDAY, APRIL 8, 2014, 7 P.M. 

Downey House, Room 113 

The U.S. government, with assistance from major telecommunications carriers, has engaged in a massive illegal dragnet surveillance of domestic communications and communications records of millions of ordinary Americans and people all over the world. Since this was first reported by the press and discovered by the public in late 2005, EFF has been at the forefront of the effort to stop illegal activities and bring government surveillance programs back within the law and the Constitution.

Glaser will talk about two cases in which EFF is suing the NSA for violating the First and Fourth Amendment rights of their clients. She also will consider some of the spying programs that have been revealed since Edward Snowden began to disclose details about government spying last summer. Glaser will discuss what is happening in Congress and the White House in response to the ongoing revelations of mass government surveillance. She will provide an overview of digital rights activism mounting worldwide against mass surveillance and talk about how to engage in the growing movement to protect our rights in the digital age.

DaCKI presents Manhattans & Martinis, II

On March 27th starting at 4:15, DACKI—the Digital and Computational Knowledge Initiative–will hold its second Manhattans & Martinis event. I can report that the first was fun. This is a sort of technology happy hour:  classic drinks, sharp snacks, clever people.

As with the first on 3D printing, our focus will be on showing what we’re doing at Wesleyan.  This year, we’ve launched a few innovative courses in modelling, data analysis, GIS and digital history, and collaborative computer science courses linking CS and non-CS students. Other colleagues are developing additional courses across the three divisions for coming years. These courses are accessible to most all Wesleyan students. We’ll hear about these but we’ll want to think especially about technologies and pedagogical practices that might improve what we’ve done and make it easier for other faculty to develop such courses.

So, we’ll have colleagues from ITS and elsewhere show us new tricks; we’ll take a look at how people are innovating elsewhere, but we’ll also raise questions about how best to collaborate on campus to make digitally enhanced, visually powerful, and computationally precise courses attractive to teach and to take. What spaces, what sorts of collaboration, what sorts of software and in-class support needed are some of the issues we’ll approach. 

If you’re wondering what’s going on—what DACKI is, for instance—come and see. If you have been testing out techniques and technologies in your courses, come and help. In any event, come and have a snack.

We’ll meet in Exley 509A/B.

Digital and Computational Knowledge Initiative – Philip Stern Workshop

As part of the Digital and Computational Knowledge Initiative, we’re going to have a workshop on May 13th starting at 3:30 in Allbritton 311.

The focus will be on how tools like GIS (Geographic Information Systems) among others can help us to analyze and visualize complex data, whether derived from texts or physical spaces.

Philip Stern, Assistant Professor of History at Duke University, and a graduate of the Wesleyan class of 1997, will anchor the workshop by discussing his first attempts at coping with this complex subject. His remarks are called “Seeing the Past, Visualizing the Future: Possibilities (and Challenges) of Digital Mapping for the Humanties, Social Science, and Beyond”. Phil has a strong interest in cartography for his next current book project, but is very interested as well in the use of network models and the analysis of political and legal texts, all of which he’s been exploring at the Humanities Center at Duke, where he co-directs one of their experimental Humanities Labs, called Borderworks. Within that Lab, research and teaching are tightly knit and the teaching possibilities of digital methods are clear.

Here are some links he considers useful to see what he’s playing at:

Philip Stern has just won a sizeable three-year grant from the Mellon Foundation as part of their New Directions initiative for developing his skills and work in this direction and the workshop is imagined as way we can help him as much as he help introduce us to his project and the techniques he’s considering bringing to his questions. Wesleyan expertise on early modern geography and GIS will be on hand to contribute to our conversation about what’s possible.

Phil received his PhD from Columbia University and his first book, The Company-State: Corporate Sovereignty and the Early Modern Origins of the British Empire in India (Oxford University Press, 2011) won a major prize from the American Historical Association. The substance of his work consistently engages legal, geographical, intellectual, and economic issues within the historical framework.

I hope you can come out to discuss his ideas, our own ideas about how best to advance methods of visualization across the university and within the curriculum, and even if you just were wondering a bit about what GIS is and what it might do for you.