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Funds for Diverse Research

May 4, 2015

Sixteen Westphal faculty from a range of programs recently received ‘mini-grant’ funding to support the launch, continuation, or completion of innovative research in their fields. The funds support ongoing creative, scholarly or traditional research as well as educational and training experiences for faculty. Funded projects range from Digital Media professor Dr. Stefan Rank’s research into the correlation between physiological data and video game player emotions to Photography professor Stuart Rome’s completion of Eye and Sky, a book of photographs taken from inside giant California redwoods and sequoias. John Berton, Digital Media professor, will establish an Extreme High Frame-Rate Lab to study the effects of how audiences perceive details and overall realism in films, and Design & Merchandising professor Anne Cecil will attend a week-long shoemaking intensive in Oregon in order to merge an understanding of custom shoe components with modern fabrication.

Interior Design professors Debra Ruben and D.S. Nicholas will continue collaborative work with the West Philadelphia McMichael Elementary school community through an art installation at Drexel’s Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. Fashion Design professor Renee Weiss Chase will participate in a two-week soda firing immersion course in order to better integrate clay into her sculptural works. Art & Art History Professor Dr. Charles Morscheck will translate into Italian his 500-page monograph, An Almost Hereditary Genius, The Solari Family of Milanese Renaissance Artists, for publication in Italy as the culmination of 20 years of research; and Art & Art History professor Sarah Steinwachs will fund materials for the generation of four new pieces inspired by the techniques of historic Islamic art.

In an interdisciplinary collaboration, Fashion Design professors Kathi Martin and Clare Sauro and Digital Media professors Nick Jushchyshyn, Dave Mauriello (both Animation & Visual Effects), and Jeremy Fernsler (Game Art & Production), will develop a historically accurate digital character model for an interactive, 3D digital experience of the Fox Historic Costume Collection’s holdings.

Dr. Joe Gregory, Art & Art History Department Head, will travel to Paris to continue his interpretation of the iconography in da Vinci’s famous High Renaissance work, Virgin of the Rocks (ca. 1483-85, Louvre). Design & Merchandising professor Dr. Joe Hancock received support for the development of two book projects centered on global contexts of fashion, and Photography professor Amanda Tinker will continue work on her ongoing photography project, I Am Your Flower Garden. Entertainment & Arts Management professor Brannon Wiles will commission a new solo musical from HBO actress/comedian Lauren Weedman, and Cinema & Television professor Dr. Gregory Wolmort will conduct research for his book at the Stanley Kubrick Archive at the University of the Arts London.

Dr. Jichen Zhu, Digital Media professor, will develop a wearable adaptive “exergame,” based on a student-designed device, that will motivate users who would normally not exercise to do so; and Arts Administration professor Dr. Andrew Zitcer will attend a series of training workshops to learn the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which allow for closer analysis of special data in visual maps and which he’ll apply to his study of arts and culture access in Philadelphia neighborhoods.

Among projects funded, Interiors professor Nicole Koltick received this year’s Westphal College Creativity Award for her Synthetic Ecologies project. Developed with students in the Design Futures Lab, which Professor Koltick directs, the project’s objective is to deploy robots in more empathetic and aesthetic ways, exploring the balance of natural and artificial life.

The Westphal Mini Grant provides modest financial support to full-time faculty. Grants must have a finished outcome that also enhances or promotes the visibility of the college as an academic institution, including through peer-reviewed published works, research competitions, performances and exhibitions. For more information please contact Karin Kuenstler, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, at