The Commons awards interdisciplinary research funds

Thursday, June 13, 2013

LAWRENCE — The Commons, a partnership at the University of Kansas that encourages cross-disciplinary research and learning, has awarded $25,000 in the Spring 2013 round of its Interdisciplinary Seed Grant.

Led by Brent Metz, anthropology, and Jodi Gentry, civil, environmental & architectural engineering, a team of researchers will carry out their research project: “Combining Engineering, Public Health, Anthropological Geographic, and Film Knowledge for Sustainable Development among the Ch’orti’ Maya of Guatemala.” Other members of the research group include Belinda Sturm, civil, environmental and architectural engineering; Aida Ramos, doctoral  candidate, geography; and Natalie Mladenov, civil engineering at Kansas State University.

Their applied research project will employ a multidisciplinary approach to develop a model for water management in impoverished indigenous communities. In partnership with the Sunflower Professional Chapter of Engineers Without Borders, these researchers will use knowledge from their respective fields to foster community participation and governance and to teach plumbing and hydraulic engineering skills to members of the Ch’orti’ Mayas of Guatemala. Throughout the instructional process, the model will be documented as an instructional film, which can be used by neighboring communities who share the need for clean water.

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. Interdisciplinary Seed Grants were made possible through the support of KU Research and Graduate Studies and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.