March 24, 2017

‘Da Vinci Days’ highlight research, creative activity

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois University Carbondale will honor the spirit of research and creativity next month when Da Vinci Days arrive again on campus.

Da Vinci Days is a celebration of SIU’s innovation and creativity in the sciences, humanities, and arts, organizers said. It is administered by the vice chancellor for research office and features a variety of faculty, students and staff members presenting their research and creative work.

The weeklong event takes its name from Renaissance-age inventor, artist, scientist and architect Leonardo da Vinci, who epitomized this rebirth in education, art, science, philosophy and literature, and helped usher in the Modern Age. The event runs April 3-7, with each day highlighting various activities around campus with lectures, keynote addresses, music, demonstrations and more.

H.D. Motyl, interim chair of the Department of Radio, Television and Digital Media at SIU, said SIU recognizes the work of all dedicated students, whether they are involved in sciences, engineering, mass communications, arts, education or technology studies. When tapped to coordinate this year’s events, Motyl said he thought about da Vinci himself, and how he combined art and science in his work.

“We worked to focus on that aspect of research and creative communities on campus,” Motyl said. “So, what the aim is, specifically, is to highlight some of the most innovative and creative research done on campus.  We are maintaining some of the traditional aspects of the research week with a wider cast of the celebration to include more humanities and arts, and even to include the intersection of all of the areas of research.  We want to really bring together the art and sciences and see how they complement one another or feed off of one another.”

A prime example of synergistic approaches, Motyl said, is the event titled “A Bard and Some Beer.”

It will feature Matt McCarroll, director of the SIU Fermentation Institute and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, who will discuss the history of beer and beer-making (including a tasting) while Ryan Netzley, professor in the Department of English,  reads poems of Robert Herrick, whose own work talked about beer as a catalyst for collective creativity. The event is set for 4:30-6 p.m. Tuesday, April 4, in the John C. Guyon Auditorium in Morris Library. 

In another presentation, Angela Aguayo, associate professor of cinema and photography, and Bruce DeRuntz, professor of technology, will talk about leadership in the two very distinct communities, Motyl said. The event begins at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 5, in the Guyon Auditorium.

A major part of Da Vinci Days features the 15th Annual Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Forum, set for the Student Center Ballrooms on Monday, April 3. Poster judging will run in two sessions: 8:30-10:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by an open session for the public that runs 1-3 p.m.  The awards presentation is scheduled to start at 3 p.m.

Other events will feature the nationally award-winning SIU robotics team and its inventions along with the SIU Concert Choir, which will serenade the contestants of Morris Library’s Edible Book Contest. Student filmmakers will be feted during Friday night’s Little Muddy Film Festival. 

Motyl said while the week of events will showcase an impressive swath of activities, it only covers a small portion of the work that goes on at SIU each day. 

“We’re hoping that the spirit of Da Vinci Days becomes infectious and that other folks will want to be part of the event, and that the week will grow to be almost too full of events,” Motyl said. “So full, maybe, that we’ll have to go to two weeks, or a month. We know the innovation and creativity is out there, and we’re ready to celebrate it, year after year.”