News

John Rapson sitting at the piano

John Rapson: Looking Back at a Generous Collaborator

In the summer of 2014, it wasn't uncommon to find two faculty members padding around the Obermann Center in bare feet as they dashed from their upstairs offices to the downstairs library to watch movies. While it appeared to be a scholarly form of summer camp, John Rapson (School of Music) and Paul Kalina (Theatre) were deep in research as they broke down how music and movement interacted in old...
Virtual Reality Screenshot

Using Virtual Reality to Train Math Teachers

Most children in the U.S. struggle to learn mathematics, with 50 to 75% of students scoring below proficient on achievement tests in grades 4 through 12. Children with disabilities such as autism tend to fare even worse. Clearly, math teachers must be equipped to educate students who require varying levels of support—but, for the most part, they aren’t. Logistical issues inherent in conventional...
Dominic Dongilli at his internship

Summer Interns at the Halfway Mark: A growing tomato, a gift from Brokaw, and nudity in the archives

It is around the halfway point of so many projects when the work is most difficult. The newness has worn off; the end is still out of reach, but close enough to give us an uneasy reminder of how much is yet to be completed. This is the experience of the ten UI graduate students who are at the midway point of their Humanities for the Public Good (HPG) internships. For eight weeks, they are working...
Teachers and children in classroom

A Thousand Prospects for Research: A Spelman Rockefeller Community Scholar Reflects

In late summer 2020, a new community initiative was formed in response to the impact of the pandemic on K12 students: Neighborhood NESTS. The Obermann Center responded by creating a new graduate research position, the Obermann Spelman Rockefeller Community Scholar, to work with the initiative, providing program management and deepening the project through disciplinary research. In this article...

Brain Time: Rodica Curtu, Mathematical Biology, and the Perception of Time

Math, for Rodica Curtu, is a balm. In high school, when she’d get a headache, she’d sit down and solve math problems—“The opposite of what my friends would do!” she laughs. Now, as a professor in the Department of Mathematics (CLAS) and a member of the Iowa Neuroscience Institute, she uses mathematical analysis to help find treatments for people with debilitating brain disorders—specifically...

Rural life, capitalism, and solidarity: Eric Hirsch on the challenges of climate change & entrepreneurship in highland Peru

Climate change is nothing short of a disaster for farmers in the Peruvian Andes. As one put it in a 2017 interview, “If the glaciers disappear, we’ll have to die.” With droughts becoming more frequent, Andean farmers are struggling to irrigate their crops and water their livestock; unpredictable weather has changed once-reliable patterns of plant growth; and occasionally, a “glacial lake outburst”...
participants in 1950s racial justice institute

Planning the UI College of Education Annual Summer Racial Justice Institute

In 1944, sociologist Charles S. Johnson launched the Fisk University Race Relations Institute (RRI), which ran until 1969. His goal was to identify the social, political, and economic policies and practices that limited opportunities for Blacks and other marginalized racial groups and contributed to racial unrest in the U.S. The RRI differed from the other estimated 400 organizations working to...

Heart Attack or Takotsubo Syndrome? An AI project seeks to differentiate

Chest pain, shortness of breath, and an irregular EKG are hallmarks of a heart attack. However, some people exhibiting these symptoms may actually be experiencing takotsubo syndrome (TTS), a weakening of the left ventricle. The majority of cases of TTS, which is more prevalent in women, are caused by acute stress, such as unexpected loss, serious illness, intense fear, or a violent interaction...
The Anne Frank Tree: Taking Root in Iowa, 2021-22

The Anne Frank Tree: Taking Root in Iowa

On April 29, 2022, the University of Iowa will welcome a remarkable new tree to the Pentacrest: a sapling propagated from the old chestnut tree that grew behind the Amsterdam annex where Anne Frank and her family hid during World War II. Although the tree died a number of years ago--at an estimated 170 years old--it lives on through saplings that have been planted in such as places as the Boston...
Tracie Morris

Black Spring: Tracie Morris asks, "How did we get to here and where do we go from here?"

As the culminating event in the Black Lives on Screen series that has spanned the spring semester, Tracie Morris (Iowa Writers' Workshop) is presenting a short filmic work with performance voice-over. Black Spring (in 5 parts) is cultural theory, cinema, poetry, protest art, and elegy. Like much of Morris's work, it is a hybrid that is not easily categorized. Resisting categories Morris is a poet...