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Institute awards grants to foster interdisciplinary study

By Tim O'Keeffe on March 16, 2011
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The Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute recently awarded grants supporting collaborative research teams led by Colgate faculty members who will combine their expertise from across disciplines to address questions in science and mathematics.

“I continue to be impressed by the breadth of inquiry and caliber of
proposals from our Colgate faculty,” said Damhnait
McHugh, director of the institute.

The grants were awarded to:

Janel Benson, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology, who will collaborate with Brandon Yoo, assistant professor of psychology (Arizona State University), to examine the mental-health trajectories of race-ethnic minority youths who exhibit lower levels of mental health compared to white youths. Existing explanations cannot account for these disparities. Benson and Yoo plan to fill this major gap in the field by investigating the link between adolescent developmental contexts and mental health in young adulthood.

They will focus on two understudied sources of stress and vulnerability: maturational timing and racial stressors. Their results will draw on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and an extensive quantitative survey of 1,000 race-ethnic youths in Phoenix, Ariz., and will improve our understanding of risk factors associated with poor mental health.

DeWitt Godfrey, associate professor of art and art history, and Tom Tucker, professor of mathematics, have teamed up with Tomaž Pisanski, a mathematician at the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), and architect and engineer Daniel Bosia of London-based Expedition Engineering, to apply mathematical methodologies to art and design.

Dewitt GodfreyThe springboard for their project is a body of work developed by Godfrey — a loose grid configuration that can be folded to produce continuous surfaces, in which Pisanski detected certain symmetrical properties.

Building on this initial discovery, the group will apply the analytical and creative power of mathematics and computer science in innovative ways to generate new forms and sculptural objects, which in turn will provoke new mathematical observations and analyses.

In addition to publication of their mathematical findings, they ultimately will present the outcome of their work as a sculptural installation at Colgate.

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