The Commons announces interdisciplinary research grant awards

LAWRENCE – The Commons, a partnership at the University of Kansas that encourages cross-disciplinary research and learning, has awarded $40,000 in Seed Grants to two collaborative research projects.

Jay T. Johnson, KU Department of Geography and director of the Indigenous Geographies Research Center; Gene Rankey, KU Department of Geology; Kambati Uriam, I-Kiribati expert in island oral and written history; Johannes Feddema, KU Department of Geography; Michelle Mary, doctoral student, Department of Geology; and Lara O’Brien, master's student, Department of Geography, were awarded $28,950 to begin their study titled “Learning from Indigenous Science: Indigenous Perception and Adaptation to Environmental Change in Kiribati.” Their research will examine human adaptation to climate change in ecologically vulnerable areas of the Pacific through the valuable knowledge of indigenous populations. Through this study, the group seeks to reveal adaptation strategies to climate change impacts through ethnographic interviews, historical documentation, monitoring of coastal dynamics and climate modeling.

For their research titled “Land Use Change over the Twentieth Century in Central Mexico: Modern Photographs and Landscape Paintings from José María Velasco,” $11,050 was awarded to A. Townsend Peterson, KU Biodiversity Institute; Maria Gabriela Torres-Montero, KU doctoral student, Department of History, Investigadora, Coordinación de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, México; Luke Jordan, KU Department of Visual Art; Stephen Egbert, KU Department of Geography; Enrique Martínez-Meyer, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Adolfo G. Navarro-Sigu?enza, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. The research team will visit 10 sites near the Valley of Mexico that served as vantage points for the Mexican painter and scientific illustrator José María Velasco (1840-1912). They will create high-resolution photographs of the landscape today to be used in conjunction with remotely sensed imagery of the Valley in an effort to construct a century-long perspective of the ecological changes to the Valley of Mexico and gain better understanding of a region that was once rich with biodiversity and is today one of the most anthropogenically affected regions on Earth.

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. These grants were made possible through the support of KU Research and Graduate Studies and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.