Team

Our project team consists of students, faculty, and staff at Wesleyan University and members of the Astronomical Society of Greater Hartford.  Together, we have been working to explore, document, and interpret the history of the Van Vleck Observatory and the communities to which it has belonged over the past century.


Faculty and Staff

Jessie Cohen manages Wesleyan’s Anthropology and Archaeology collections and has been an invaluable resource in exhibition planning.

Paul Erickson is Associate Professor of History, Science in Society, and Environmental Studies at Wesleyan University, where he teaches courses on the history of science.

Bill Herbst is the John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy at Wesleyan University.

Leith Johnson is the Wesleyan University Archivist. He is helping us develop a digital collection of materials related to the history of Van Vleck.

Roy Kilgard is Research Associate Professor of Astronomy at Wesleyan University.

Seth Redfield is Associate Professor of Astronomy at Wesleyan University. He is also working on a project to research and digitize Van Vleck’s historic guestbook.

Amrys O. Williams is a historian of science, technology, and the environment and the project coordinator for Under Connecticut Skies. As a Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Wesleyan University, she teaches courses on environmental and agricultural history, 20th-century U.S. history, and public history.


Student Researchers

Michaela Fisher is a member of the class of 2017 and a History major at Wesleyan. She is from San Diego, California and transferred to Wesleyan in January 2015. Michaela loves reading, writing, and storytelling. Her favorite source for this project has been the university newspaper, The Argus. She loves seeing how life on campus has changed in the past 100 years. As one of our summer 2015 students, she researched the history of astronomy during the Cold War, reached out to other college observatories, and helped plan events and publicity.

Emily Furnival is a College of Letters major and a member of the Wesleyan University class of 2018.  She is interested interest in museums, education, and especially museum education. She loves interesting factoids.

Josephine Ho is a member of the class of 2016 and a Science in Society major at Wesleyan. She considers herself a modern-day hermit who likes to travel. She sometimes works from trains. During the summer of 2015, she researched the history of the observatory building.

Melissa Joskow is a prospective Studio Art and Government double major with a minor in Art History, and a member of the Wesleyan University class of 2018. As a student in the fall 2015 Public History course, she has been working to develop plans for our exhibition.

Rachel Kaly is an English major and a member of the class of 2017 at Wesleyan University. As a student in the fall 2015 Public History course, she has been working to develop plans for our exhibition.

Julia Lighter is a Film and College of Letters Major and a member of the Wesleyan University class of 2016. She did heroic work in the summer of 2015 on the Van Vleck Observatory Guestbook.

Stephanie Ling is a Mathematics major and a Data Analysis minor and a member of the Wesleyan University class of 2016.As a student in the fall 2015 Public History course, she has been working to develop plans for our exhibition.

Max Lee is an English major and a member of the Wesleyan University class of 2016. In addition to working with us over the summer and building our objects database, he is also involved with the guestbook project and working to design our exhibition as a part of the fall 2015 Public History course.

Rachele Merliss is a member of the Wesleyan University class of 2019. She researched the Van Vleck Observatory for a class project in the fall 2015 Environmental History course.

Karmenife Paulino is an English major with a concentration in creative writing. She has published one memoir entitled Sea Salt and Sandalwood through Wesleyan’s Gorilla Publishing Collective. Karmenife has also founded Wesleyan’s Survivor Support Network, a group focused on caring for and assisting survivors of sexual assault on campus.

Matt Shelley-Reade is a Film and History major at Wesleyan and a member of the class of 2017. As one of our summer 2015 students, he researched the history of instrumentation at Van Vleck, conducted oral histories, and coordinated film shoots.

Abby Shneyder is a History major at Wesleyan and a member of the class of 2017. As a summer 2015 student researcher, she researched the observatory’s connections to the wider world, recorded radio promos, conducted oral histories, and coordinated film shoots.


Community Partners

Ray Zywno is the president of the Astronomical Society of Greater Hartford. He has been coming to Van Vleck since the 1950s.


At the top: Wesleyan students at work in the library of the Van Vleck Observatory in the mid-20th century. This space will house the exhibition that the Under Connecticut Skies team is developing for the spring of 2016. Vertical Files Photograph Collection, Box 38, Special Collections & Archives, Olin Library, Wesleyan University.