February 3rd, 2014


Sitting down to dinner with the bloggers of and their mentor, political cartoonist and IRC artist-in-residence Kevin “Kal” Kallaugher, is a bit intimidating. These 14 UMBC students are, Kal reminds me, among the busiest on campus – honors students, double-majors, club presidents, and nonprofit volunteers. They’re also carving out time to follow current events in the news, digest and reflect on them, and produce at least one article for the blog each week. But for tonight, they’re hanging out, as friends and colleagues, warming a cold evening with savory stew and conversation about what they’ve achieved and where they want the project to go in the next semester.


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Meet the IRC: Wallace Brown

January 18th, 2014


Wallace Brown is a senior computer science major, specializing in interactive graphics. He joined the IRC as an intern in 2011, when he was introduced to the center by a professor. In the three years since, Wallace has become the IRC’s “iGuy,” designing interactive experiences for numerous iterations of the iPad, iPhone, and iOS. His main project has been programming the Symphony Interactive app, which delivers supplemental information and media to an iPad in real-time for audiences attending live musical performances. He’s currently also at work on creating the Hoarder Crab game, a real-time digital puppet tool for telling stories about the marine environment.

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Symphony Interactive Live Performance

December 20th, 2013

Symphony Interactive was used during a live performance of Dvorak’s Symphony #9 “From the New World” by the UMBC Orchestra on November 24th, 2013 in the Fine Arts Recital Hall at UMBC.

Symphony Interactive is an app that enhances audience engagement at orchestral events by providing real-time program notes during performances. Designed as an unobtrusive technology, Symphony Interactive functions as a knowledgeable companion, releasing information when it matters most, in the moment.

And you can click here for more information about the Symphony Interactive project.



December 18th, 2013

The IRC is experiencing SUCCESS! Having Bianca Bouknight intern with us this year, we are literally working with Students United for Campus-Community Engagement for Post-Secondary Success (SUCCESS).

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Water Falls Video

December 17th, 2013

Here’s a three-minute video by IRC Technical Director Ryan Zuber, explaining the Science on a Sphere project Water Falls, recently completed to illustrate NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement mission.


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Happy Birthday, Claribel Cone!

November 14th, 2013

Born on November 14, 1864, Baltimorean Claribel Cone, together with her sister Etta, amassed one of the most impressive collections of French Modern art in the United States, which was donated after their deaths to the Baltimore Museum of Art. In 2001, the IRC collaborated with the BMA to develop a virtual tour of the Cone sisters’ Eutaw Place apartment, where they lived for years with works by Matisse (who sketched the portrait displayed below), Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne, and van Gogh. You can click here to learn more about  the Cone Sisters Virtual Tour.

Happy birthday, Claribel! Time goes by, but good taste never goes out of style.

Dunbar High School “Dreamers & Achievers” Visit

November 12th, 2013

The IRC got a visit today from Dunbar High School‘s “Dreamers and Achievers.”

42 students interested in careers in science, technology, creative arts, engineering, and medicine, accompanied by teachers Elena Fedyszyn-Walsh and Werner Garben, and Harbor City Links, Inc. volunteers Jackie Hrabowski and Merry Macer, toured our facilities, getting a look at some of our projects.

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In development: the “Brick Garden” Online Media Series

November 1st, 2013

Three years ago the IRC started a project called Who We Am to begin a conversation among researchers from numerous disciplines about why we humans do the things we do. Through earlier projects we’ve done, we’ve become aware that the common belief that people rationally pursue their best interests has been called into question by decades of research findings to the contrary. Based on those discussions, we are now developing an online media series tentatively called Brick Garden, to explore the surprising notion that the arts might be a key to effectively helping individuals and communities alike make decisions that might lead them to living the lives they aspire to.

Header image for the Brick Garden website

The theory is as follows: Culture might be much more important than most of us thought, because we now know it shapes socially “normal” ways of thinking and acting. (Normal is huge for human beings because we are social animals.) Further, culture is quite flexible, and its levers are the arts—the traditional languages of culture (stories, images, literature, music, architecture and more recently, electronic media). Therefore, arts-based interventions seem promising.

At the same time, nationally, internationally, and in a big way, in Baltimore, there is a growing movement of artists engaging in what they call “social practice” —in other words, using their art work to help people. Agencies and organizations charged with improving the quality of life for people are suddenly focusing more and more on culture, identity and place, all of which can be powerfully shaped through the arts.

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A Salon in the IRC

October 31st, 2013

In celebration of our 25th anniversary, the IRC and UMBC recently put on the ritz and hosted the second in an ongoing series of Salons at UMBC. These Salons are arts and humanities events designed to develop and strengthen relationships with cultural leaders and donors in the greater Baltimore area.



The IRC Salon focused on the cross-disciplinary intersection between art and science, highlighting the interdisciplinary conversation and collaboration among artists, researchers, industry partners, and students facilitated by our program.  It was co-hosted by UMBC president Freeman Hrabowski and his wife, Jackie, Elizabeth and John Linehan, and Elaine and Solomon Snyder.

“Our space and our brains are totally transformed; it’s like a science fair,” IRC associate director Lee Boot remarked, pointing to the eighteen past and present IRC projects on display, filling the IRC labs and lining the halls. Guests mixed and mingled among them, discovering, exploring, and interacting with SeeIntuit,, Zoetrope Tunnel, NAS Dome Explorer, Symphony Interactive, Mapping Baybrook, and Visualizing Early Baltimore, to name a few, with IRC staff and students on hand to demonstrate and provide context for the projects.

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Why Baltimore?

October 31st, 2013

Visualizing the Early City of Baltimore:

What was so important about Baltimore two hundred years ago? Over a few decades in the early nineteenth century, Baltimore’s population exploded, and it grew from a small town to the third largest city in the young United States. What was the draw? After the British set fire to the city of Washington in 1814, they set their sights on Baltimore, which they considered a particular thorn in their side. Why?

The bicentennial of Maryland’s role in the War of 1812 has provided a catalyst for asking these historical questions as well as an opportunity for the IRC to use the experience gained from our ‘Visualizing Early Washington, DC’ project to work on developing an accurate map and 3D depiction of the Baltimore cityscape circa 1815, shortly after the famous bombing of Fort McHenry that inspired the words of the U.S. National Anthem. With fundamental support from the Maryland Historical Society and its network of historical scholars, the IRC has been able to collect the data necessary to initiate the visualization.



To create the topography, Joshua Cole, Environmental Data Manager at the UMBC Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education (CUERE), led a group of students and a GIS specialist in the IRC, digitizing historic topographic maps and deducing how the early landscapes of Baltimore and nearby watersheds appeared.  The resulting Digital Elevation Model and archival materials will be valuable to historians, hydrologists, and biophysical researchers interested in historical Baltimore.  IRC Director, Dan Bailey, has already used this information to create an accurate base map of Baltimore at the end of the War of 1812.

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