KU News Release

Feb. 17, 2011
Contact: Emily Ryan, The Commons, 785-864-6293

The Commons bestows funding for research, artist projects

More Information

LAWRENCE — The Commons, a partnership at the University of Kansas that promotes learning across disciplines, has awarded more than $20,000 to faculty, staff and students in support of their research in the 2010-11 academic year.

The awards have been granted to three seed grant projects and two artist collaborations, which collectively represent more than 13 departments at KU.

Seed grant awards were given to initiate projects, which will seek subsequent funds as they expand in scope. Mary Dusenbury, research curator at the Spencer Museum of Art, received $4,200 to conduct a study titled “Color as Power in Ancient and Medieval East Asia,” which investigates the role of color in social and political life in ancient and medieval East Asia. Amy McNair, professor of art history, and several outside experts also are working with Dusenbury.

Paul Atchley, associate professor of cognitive psychology, and Gregory Thomas, professor of design, received $6,875 to pursue their study “SmartGrid/SmartHome/SmartCar: The New American Dream,” a model for communication across disciplines with regard to alternative energy research. As part of their efforts, they will hold a conference May 6-7 to organize researchers at KU for a more unified approach to grid, home and vehicle design. The conference will feature Atchley; Thomas; Chris Depcik, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; and Dennis Domer, director of graduate studies for the Department of American Studies.

Five researchers are collaborating on “The Texture of Desert Landscapes: visualizing interactions between humans and their environments,” an undertaking that aims to monitor human land-use history by mapping mesquites in the Sonoran Desert. Project leaders include Ford Ballantyne IV, courtesy professor in environmental studies; Patrick Dermyer, senior in mathematics and computer science; Andrés Lira-Noriega, a doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology; Jorge Soberón, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and senior research scientist at the Biodiversity Institute; and Donald Worster, Hall Distinguished Professor of American History. The team seeks to find commonalities between documentation taken on land and through statistics by the implementation of historic photographs and remote sensing data. They received a grant for $6,900.

Two artist collaborations will receive funding for their works developed in response to the theme “Mind, Body, Machine: Human Design Space.” Kip Haaheim, associate professor of music; Nolan Lem, sophomore in electrical engineering; and Tristan Telander, graphic designer at the Spencer Museum of Art, have received $1,953 to create their installation “Mutatis Mutandis,” an endeavor that will feature recorded sounds of glaciers melting and calving, through the employment of a computer program that interprets glaciological data into audible effects. “Mutatis Mutandis” will open to the public April 16 at the Commons.

Jeremy Shellhorn, assistant professor of design, and Shannon Criss, associate professor of architecture, received $775 to create an installation with the students in their Motion Graphic Design class. For their project, “An Experimental Provocation about the Screens We Use Every Day,” the class will generate a screen-based experience for public audiences, which will be on view at the Commons beginning May 13.

The Commons is a collaboration of the Biodiversity Institute, the Hall Center for the Humanities and the Spencer Museum of Art. Its mission is to bring together scholars and students from the sciences, humanities and arts to explore the reciprocal relationships between natural and cultural systems. All grants were made possible through the support of the KU Center for Research.

Students who received grants are listed below by hometown, level in school, major, parents’ names (when available) and other schools attended or degrees earned.

From Leawood
Nolan Lem, sophomore in electrical engineering; bachelor’s in saxophone performance from the University of Miami; Shawnee Mission East High School.

From Hutchinson
Patrick Dermyer, senior in mathematics and computer science; Linda and Thomas Dermyer; Hutchinson Senior High School.

From Zamora, Michoacán
Andrés Lira-Noriega, doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology; master’s in environmental biology and bachelor’s in biology, both from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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