NAS Dome Explorer Phase 2: Interviewing the Top Scientists

December 1st, 2014

Phase 2 of the NAS Dome Explorer project, which aims to update the classically illustrated dome of the NAS’s Great Hall with a media experience intended both to describe, and to give people a sense of, the current state of the sciences, presents significant challenges, conceptual as well as technological. In the minute or two that a visitor to the NAS might spend interacting with an iPad app, what can be said about the enterprise of science? The application, currently in development, will provide visitors with an experiential snapshot of the nature of science today that is compelling, thoughtful, and accurate.


Lee Boot and J.D. Talasek prepare for an interview.


As a starting point, the IRC’s Lee Boot and J.D. Talasek, Director of Cultural Programs at NAS, have spent the last year interviewing some of the nation’s top scientists, asking them how their disciplines, and the sciences in general, have changed since 1924 when the original NAS building on the National Mall in DC was completed, and its now famous ceiling was painted. How would they characterize science’s grand challenges and triumphs? This ethnographic process, utilizing a survey drafted collaboratively by Lee and J.D., fielded exciting, eye-opening, sobering responses. Science and mathematics are no longer the static, discreet, and orderly taxonomy of disciplines depicted in Hildreth Meiere’s 1924 dome painting. The “action” in contemporary science is happening almost entirely at the intersections and dynamically shifting edges of disciplines.

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2015 IRC/CAHSS Summer Faculty Research Fellowship

November 24th, 2014

The Office of the Vice President for Research, the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS), and the IRC are pleased to announce an opportunity for tenured and tenure-track CAHSS faculty to conduct aspects of their research in the IRC. The 2015 IRC/CAHSS Summer Faculty Research Fellowship is now open for applications; the deadline to apply is February 15, 2015.

Past IRC/CAHSS SFRF projects have included Professor Cathy Cook’s Cranes in Motion, Professors Nicole King and Stephen Bradley’s Mapping Baybrook, and Professor Eric Dyer’s Zoetrope Tunnel.

A complete description of the SFRF program, application materials and instructions, and FAQs can be accessed by clicking here.

And please consider attending the CAHSS Centers Fellowship Proposal Workshops to be held on Friday, December 5, 2014 from 11AM-12:30PM in ITE 456.  More information on the workshop is available by clicking here.

A Room-Sized 3D Scanner

November 11th, 2014


The IRC will soon be home to a new room-sized 3D scanner, made possible by a Major Research Instrumentation grant from the National Science Foundation. The scanner will use 90 digital cameras to capture an object photographically from many angles, while information about each camera’s placement in space will enable the scanner’s software to stitch the images together into a 3D model. This relatively recent development in 3D scanning allows the creation of virtual models with accurate surface texture and color, which older laser-scanning techniques couldn’t do, and has so far been used most prominently in Hollywood for CGI special effects. Dan Bailey, director of the IRC, and Principal Investigator Professor Marc Olano, of the Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, intend for the scanner to be used by investigators and researchers from many disciplines across the university. You can read more about the project in the University’s official announcement here.

The scanner will be large enough to capture a horse, but sensitive and detailed enough for objects down to the size of a quarter. This is a very exciting development for us here in the IRC. We’ll keep you posted as the parts arrive and assembly begins!

Bringing Liz Lerman to UMBC and Her Toolset to the World

November 5th, 2014


The IRC has been given a grant to bring dancer, choreographer, educator, and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Liz Lerman to campus. As a visiting scholar, Ms. Lerman will engage with UMBC students, faculty and staff around the campus in multiple ways over the course of academic year 2014-15. The core of the funding from Surdna Foundation, however, is for the planning of an online “toolset” of techniques Ms. Lerman has developed over her extraordinary career as an innovator in dance, interdisciplinarity, inclusivity in the arts, and education, and tested in collaboration with artists, scientists, activists, and administrators. Some of the tools have already become popular in book form, such as her lauded Critical Response Process, while others have yet to even be fully formulated. We are delighted to have this opportunity to bring Liz Lerman and her valuable knowledge to UMBC.

“After decades of work, I have many tools, of which only a few have been put to paper. It has long been a dream of mine to make a more complete compilation of these methods that have emerged from practice, giving context and multiple uses for each one.” – Liz Lerman

You can click here to read more about the grant on UMBC’s Insights page.

“BEARINGS of Baltimore” Debuts at MD Historical Society

October 31st, 2014



The IRC has been working for over 2 years on Visualizing Early Baltimore, combining historical research with cutting-edge visualization technology to recreate how Baltimore would have looked in the early 1800s. Our long-term goal is to create an accurate 3D model of the city, its terrain, land use, and buildings. In September of 2014, the first and major phase of this effort opened to the public at the Maryland Historical Society during their bicentennial celebration of the War of 1812 and Baltimore’s pivotal role in it. BEARINGS (Bird’s Eye Annotated Representational Image/Navigable Gigapixel Scene) of Baltimore, Circa 1815 made its debut in September as a part of the exhibit “In Full Glory Reflected: Maryland during the War of 1812.”

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Brick Gardens at the Imagining America Conference

October 15th, 2014


IRC Associate Director and Research Associate Professor Lee Boot, New Lens Executive Director Rebecca Yenawine, UMBC IMDA graduate student Jason Hughes, and MICACuratorial Practice graduate student Marnie Benney traveled to Atlanta, GA in October to present the Brick Gardens (working title) project at the 2014 Imagining America Conference. IA is a consortium of over a hundred universities, publicly engaged artists, designers, scholars, and community activists working toward a democratic transformation of the role of higher education in civic life.

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Cathy Cook’s “Prehistoric Flight” Premieres

October 1st, 2014


Cathy Cook, Associate Professor of Visual Arts, debuted her animation Prehistoric Flight on September 6 as part of “Temporary Resurfacing,” an outdoor multi-projection video event in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The short film, which she created with the assistance of IRC undergraduate intern Deborah Firestone, was projected on a storefront in one of the city’s historic shopping districts. Prehistoric Flight is the first part of Cranes in Motion, a larger series that Cathy continues to develop with financial and technical support from the IRC.

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Eric Dyer’s “Copenhagen Cycles” at Ronald Feldman Gallery

September 15th, 2014


In September, Associate Professor of Animation and Interactive Media and IRC collaborator Eric Dyer mounted a solo exhibition at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts in New York. “Copenhagen Cycles:2006-2014″ pairs Dyer’s kinetic zoetrope sculptures with a suite of prints and animated films he has created using them.

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Meet the IRC: Boris Boiko

June 21st, 2014


Student programmer Boris Boiko joined the IRC team in May 2014 to work on maintaining and updating web applications for the IRC and our clients. He is currently pursuing his degree in Computer Science, and feels that the experience he will gain at the IRC will serve him well in the future. “Every project involves a brand new concept, a brand new approach,” he says. “It’s all a huge learning experience and a chance to work on amazing projects with amazing people.”

A passionate learner, Boris has been studying computer science since high school. “I’ve always loved working with computers and programming. Experimenting and try to solve a problem in the best way you can; it’s just so much fun.” He spends his IRC time darting back and forth between his computer and the whiteboard, constantly adding new scribbles and diagrams as he works on his projects.

Meet the IRC: Jeremy Neal

June 14th, 2014


Jeremy Neal is pursuing a B.S. in Computer Science at UMBC. He joined the IRC in May 2014 as a student programmer, working on various web and mobile applications. He enjoys learning new things constantly, rarely for practical reasons, and almost always to the mild annoyance of friends.

When he isn’t doing something computer-realated, Jeremy likes to cook, run, play music, climb trees, and dance terribly.