October 25, 2018

Research grants support podcasting, AI, robots and more on SIU campus

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — A new podcasting lab, innovative uses of 3D printing, robots and artificial intelligence, and more are all coming to Southern Illinois University Carbondale thanks to the ingenuity of its faculty and support from the SIU Foundation.

Ten faculty members are receiving inaugural research awards through the Foundation. The Faculty Research Award is designed to recognize outstanding work and research of SIU faculty, according to James Salmo, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations and CEO of the SIU Foundation. 

“The foundation wanted to encourage our faculty by offering grants to initiate research at a time when funds were limited,” Salmo said. “It is a strong message from our foundation to our faculty – We support the fine work you are doing.” 

The SIU Foundation Board approved $50,000 to be awarded in the 2018-19 school year. A committee comprised with both foundation board members and academic leadership established award ranges and selection criteria. By early October, 67 grant proposals were received and reviewed. 

Proposals support innovation, leadership and student success 

Meera Komarraju, interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, noted that the criteria for the proposals were innovation, leadership and student success. The research grants generated proposals from tenured and tenure-track faculty from nine colleges on campus. 

“The quality of the submissions was outstanding and awardees were recognized at a joint lunch hosted by the SIU Foundation and SIU Alumni Association. We appreciate the SIU Foundation’s decision to provide a similar grant next year,” she said. 

Winning projects include podcasting, AI, robots and more 

The recipients, listed by name, department and research project title, are: 

  • Pinckney Benedict, English (creative writing) “Podcasting Lab Proposal.”
  • Jason Brown, Zoology, “Molding ecology, evolution and speciation with your hands: sculpting 3D landscapes and simulating ecological and evolutionary process.”
  • Lingguo Bu, Mathematics Education, “Connecting Math and Art through (3D) Design and Making in Mathematics Teacher Education.”
  • Craig Engstrom, Communication Studies, “Using Learning Record Stores (LRSs) and Digital Badges: Do These Increase Student Engagement and Learning Outcomes?”
  • Thomas Fagerholm, Theater, “Just Move It: SIU Scenery Robot.”
  • Scott Hamilton-Brehm, Microbiology, “Establishing Bioinformatics at SIUC.”
  • Robert Lopez, School of Art and Design, “Client-based design research program.”
  • Grant Miller, Curriculum and Instruction, “Educating with Evidence in Espanol: Supporting Language Learners’ Engagement with Primary Source Curricula.”
  • Mark Pease, School of Art and Design, “Setup of a networked render farm.”
  • John Reid Perkins-Buzo, Department of Radio, Television, and Digital Media, “Explore and develop new ways of doing animation, incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning into the animator’s toolset.”