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Arts & Design Research Incubator Announces New Group of Embedded Researchers

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The Arts & Design Research Incubator (ADRI) has announced its new group of embedded researchers: Ann Clements (School of Music), Elish Clark Halpin (School of Theatre), Aaron Knochel (School of Visual Arts), Cristin Millett, (School of Visual Arts), and Eduardo Navas (School of Visual Arts). Each faculty member has created a project proposal and will spend two academic years conducting research, pursuing funding, and seeing their projects to fruition. As embedded researchers, they will have residency status in the ADRI and access to ADRI resources. The projects are intended to be collaborative and will lead the researchers to broaden their reach and make connections with faculty in other colleges and external organizations. Researchers will give presentations throughout the course of their residencies.

“The visionary projects initiated by these embedded researchers reflect the sort of excitement that we all feel working in the ADRI, which is rapidly becoming a vital engine for multi-disciplinary research at Penn State with artists and designers leading the way. We are looking forward to bringing the work of these brilliant artists and designers in front of the public through our Dialogues and Events series over the next two years,” said Andrew Belser, director of the ADRI and mentor for embedded researchers.

Learn about the researchers and their projects:

Ann Clements, associate professor of music education, School of Music, is changing the way music education students hone their teaching skills through the use of virtual reality classrooms. Clements’ project, “The Virtual Reality Teaching Lab (VRTL): Training Arts Educators for Meaningful Engagement With All Students,” has already generated interest on campus through its initial implementation. The next step is to apply for external funding and find ways in which her project can be used for other types of pedagogy, including within STEM fields and in serving individuals with Autism spectrum disorder. Clements’ partners include the Applied Research Laboratory, College of Engineering, and Teaching and Learning with Technology group. For more information on Clements’ project, visit the First Class website:

Elisha Clark Halpin, associate professor and associate director for instruction, School of Theatre, plans to research trauma and its effects on the body, brain, and lives of those who suffer from it, which will result in a therapeutic movement program of healing and management. Her project, “Releasing Trauma through Movement: A Somatic Approach to Embodied Therapies for Healing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” will benefit movement therapists, social workers, somatic psychologists, trauma workers, and the patients they treat. Halpin will collaborate with the scientific communities at Penn State, including the Hershey Medical Center; Jamie Marich, a trauma specialist and creator of Dancing Mindfulness at Mindful Ohio Institute; Jennifer Stoskus, a doctor of physical therapy who specializes in brain injury and trauma at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation; and fellow School of Theatre faculty member Natalie Griffith Robichaux.

Aaron Knochel, assistant professor of art education, School of Visual Arts, plans to use fabrication techniques, such as 3-D printing, to crowdsource assistive technologies for children with disabilities. His project, “Assistive Technologies and Digital Fabrication,” will pursue design solutions that enable, empower, and destabilize notions of “normal” in built environments, including but not limited to the exploration of prosthetics that enable art making and expanding art education curriculum. Knochel will partner with Joe Julian, ADRI lead investigator in applied neuroscience, and public health and continuing education organizations.

Cristin Millett, associate professor of art, School of Visual Arts, recently returned from a residency at the Digital Stone Project in Gramolazzo, Italy, where she mechanically carved a marble dissecting table and determined the focus of her upcoming research. Millett’s project, “STIFF: Imaging the Body in the 21st Century,” will address our understanding of human anatomy and how new technologies have altered the imaging of the body and the visualization of anatomy through data. Millett plans to work with the Penn State Hershey College of Medicine, the Center for Reproductive Biology and Health, and the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies to engage in a contemporary cultural critique of societal issues surrounding reproduction, gender identity, and sexual taboos.

Eduardo Navas, assistant professor of new media, School of Visual Arts, proposes to develop data-visualization methods that will result in software apps used for the analysis of image, sound, and text, with the goal of creating a substantial theory on patterns of communication across disciplines. His project, “Data-Visualization Methods and Multi-Purpose Apps for Analysis of Cultural Production,” has already earned him a 2016–17 Penn State Center for Humanities and Information (CHI) Fellowship and a College of Arts and Architecture Faculty Research Grant. Navas plans to collaborate with Graeme Sullivan, director of the Penn State School of Visual Arts, and Lev Manovich, director of the City University of New York Software Studies Lab, to develop a user-friendly interface for data interpretation and to analyze how video footage was edited to complement thirty music mashups.

For more information about upcoming projects and events, visit the ADRI website:

Operating within the College of Arts and Architecture Research Office, ADRI provides seed funding, technical support, and workspace to high-impact arts and design research projects that, although often in their initial stages, have a strong probability of attracting future external funding. In keeping with goals outlined in the College’s strategic plan, ADRI projects are typically collaborative and interdisciplinary in nature, push methodological boundaries, link research and teaching, make innovative use of technology, engage with university-wide research initiatives and priorities, and have the potential to garner national and international recognition. ADRI also coordinates and hosts a range of programming designed to foster and support innovative arts research and its broad dissemination.