AARON K. THALER, a social services case manager and avid musician, died of a brain tumor on Apr. 24, 2011. He was 28. Despite being diagnosed with a brain tumor during his junior year abroad in South Africa, and all the treatments that followed, he managed to travel to Africa, Israel, South America, and all over America with his family and friends. Within weeks following major surgery in 2009, he hiked to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. As a case manager, he assisted clients disabled by HIV/AIDS. He is survived by his parents, his brother, his paternal grandfather, and a large extended family.
ALEX OKRENT, 29, a political organizer who had worked in presidential campaigns since 2004, died July 13, 2012. Survivors include his parents, Michael Okrent and Lynn Pollack, his sister, his grandmother, and a large extended family.
IAN H. E. HANKS, the co-founder of Hanks Brothers Chinese Trading Company, which sources Chinese products, died Dec. 23, 2011. He was 30. A lymphoma survivor in his teens, he was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2005. He was an East Asian Studies major who had been inspired first by a Wesleyan course in Buddhism that piqued his interest in Asia and then by his courses in Mandarin Chinese, in which he became fluent. A Princeton in Asia scholar, he worked as a consultant in Shanghai with Tractus Asia, a management consulting firm, and later moved to Hangzhou, where he and his brother founded their company. He and his wife also provided heart surgery for seven Chinese school children through Project Hope. Among those who survive are his wife, Sandra Hanks; his mother and father; his brother and sister; his grandmother; and his other mother, Tita Dueñas.
Heather Olins is still in grad school, studying microbes that live in underwater volcanoes. Recently she met up with Emily Kachergis, Kathryn Flynn ’03, and a bunch of other Wes E&ES alumni, current students, and faculty at the Geological Society of America meeting in Denver, Colo., and had a great time catching up, nerding out over geology, and remembering how awesome Wesleyan was!
A year ago, Adam Poswolsky left Washington, D.C., to follow his dream since Wes graduation to move to San Francisco. He recently ran The Bold Academy, an entrepreneurial leadership development program for 20-somethings in career transition. He is currently writing his first book, The Quarter-Life Breakthrough, a guide for millennials looking for meaningful work. After a successful Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the book, it is due to be released in March 2014.
About a year ago, Dan Bobkoff moved back to New York after spending five years in public radio in Ohio. He is now reporting on business for NPR and living in Brooklyn.
Since leaving Wesleyan, Wil Renderos has continued to pursue his passion for music. He studied audio production in a program at Boston University, and has recorded and produced records for artists and bands throughout the Boston area. In early 2013, Wil opened a music studio in a renovated warehouse located in Everett, Mass., where he continues to engineer and mix records, produce audiobooks, and direct audio post-production efforts for video projects. In addition, he has established the Audio Chemists Institute, a music technology and audio production training program that aims at making music more accessible to everyone, and promoting long-term engagement in the arts.
Best-selling author and visiting professor at Wesleyan Sam Wasson ’03 has written Fosse, a biography about the entertainment icon. This book is ushered into the world with a riveting book trailer, directed by Max Goldblatt, and shot by Dan Adlerstein ’03, on how Sam becomes Fosse.
Artist Evan Bissell collaborated with Erik Loyer on the creation of Freedom’s Ring, a multimedia experience of Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Evan was invited to create the animation by Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute.
Postdoctoral Associate Intan Suci Nurhati ’05 and others from the Center for Environmental Sensing and Modeling at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) are the first team to drill for coral samples in Singapore waters. Nurhati is a climate scientist but she works alongside a marine biologist and a professor of ocean geochemistry, creating “an interesting synergy where [they] work on different topics” but use the same material—corals.