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    STEAM Innovation Grant 2018-2019 Award Recipients

    STEAM Innovation Grant 2018-2019 Award Recipients

    December 21, 2018

    The School of Fine Arts is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018-2019 STEAM Innovation Grant awards. We received a very strong pool of proposals and are grateful to all who applied. Funding support totaling $60,000 will be granted to two exciting faculty projects:


    Ying Lee, Mechanical Engineering & Institute of Material Science

    Heejoo Kim, Digital Media & Design


    Art Advancing Science: Filmmaking Leads to Deep Insights into Nanomedicine

    Many have recognized the potential value of facilitating activities that span the art-science interface for the benefit of human society. Nevertheless, there are few examples that demonstrate how pursuit of an artistic agenda can lead to scientific insights. In this project, we aim to produce an entertaining short film depicting the nanoparticle-mediated drug delivery process within human body. It will not only be used to excite the general public about the science and engineering as a parody of a preview for another Star Wars movie, but also help us to develop a simulation tool for multi-scale modeling of targeted drug delivery. To produce an aesthetic that communicates mechanical continuity across spatial scales, we will develop custom strategies to integrate the physics-based animation software from the entertainment industry with in-house developed simulation tools, using experimental data from research publications. Using this approach, we will be able to depict the targeted drug delivery across multiple spatial scales, from how the drug delivery vehicles circulate with blood flow in the human vasculature network, to how the thermal fluctuation and hydrodynamics influence the transport of these delivery vehicles in tumor stroma. The blood flow simulations, which will be validated by reproducing the results of past simulations and experimental studies, might highlight other potential mechanisms for how the vasculature network can alter local hydrodynamics of blood flow and thereby influence the accumulation of delivery vehicles. Therefore, pursuit of an artistic work not only leads to deep insights into biological system at multiple scales, but also enables the development of a highly generalizable modeling and simulation technology applicable to complex multiscale systems.


    Jennifer Scapetis-Tycer, Dramatic Arts

    Emily Myers, Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences


    Voice Switch, Brain Switch: The Cognitive and Neural Predictors of Vocal Expertise

    Our voices are fundamental to our identities.  We flexibly navigate between different voices, dialects, or speech registers, perhaps adopting “baby talk” with an infant and a “phone voice” in the office. Yet for some, deploying the right voice at the right time carries significantly greater stakes.  Actors are trained to assume a new dialect or speech pattern to convincingly inhabit a role.  For transgender people, adopting a voice that is consistent with gender identity can be a matter of safety.  And for people whose home dialect is tagged as lower-status, code-switching between higher-status and lower-status dialect variants can have educational, professional, and social implications.  Surprisingly little is known about the neural, cognitive, and social traits that allow individuals to smoothly switch between multiple voices. In this proposal, we use behavioral tests, acoustic analysis, interviews, and neuroimaging methods (fMRI) to understand voice switching. We ask why some are natural mimics and/or particularly adept at working across dialects.  Further, by comparing our findings across a diverse set of “voice experts” (actors, trans people, code-switchers), we will search for commonalities in the substrates of voice switching.  This proposal leverages the combined expertise of the two PIs.  Scapetis-Tycer (DRAM) is a theatre voice/dialect coach, while Myers (SLHS) is an expert in the neural correlates of speech. Results of these studies will have pedagogical implications in that they will help identify strengths and weaknesses for dialect acquisition and performance and therefore will suggest specific approaches with students/clients. The products of this project will be research that can be used to launch a large scale (NSF) funding application, audio recordings that will be available for pedagogical and research purposes, and documentary footage on voice and identity that may be used as material for future performance-based or film explorations of the link between voice and identity.


    Alain Frogley (Associate Dean, School of Fine Arts)

    Cathy Schlund-Vials (Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences)

    Kumar Venkitanarayanan (Associate Dean, College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources)

    Mei Wei (Associate Dean, School of Engineering)