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Interdisciplinary Advances

Dean with group of students

Dean Joy K. Ward meeting with first-year students at a welcome event in August that the College of Arts and Sciences hosted.
Photo by Angelo Merendino

In this issue of art/sci, you will meet scientists, humanists and creative artists engaged in what may strike you as unlikely collaborations. A physicist and a composer have developed algorithms that generate a musical score in the midst of a live performance. An art historian and a new media artist are enabling Cleveland teenagers to explore themes of social justice through printmaking. A psychologist and an actor will deploy techniques from improvisational theater to help young people cope with anxiety and depressive symptoms.

These are just a few examples of the innovative projects included in our cover story. As diverse as they are, the projects have one feature in common: All of them received seed funding from the college’s Expanding Horizons Initiative (EHI), which has awarded 39 grants to members of our faculty during the past two years. With support from some of our most generous donors, I created EHI to foster the kind of interdisciplinary advances our College of Arts and Sciences is exceptionally capable of producing.

I want to call special attention to the role that undergraduate and graduate students—more than 115 of them so far—have played in EHI-funded projects. One of our first grants made it possible for students in a biology lab to isolate, sequence and categorize previously unidentified phages—viruses that can destroy multi-drug-resistant bacteria. Other students have taken to the stage at Mather Dance Center, premiering a work in which their movements set off dazzling special effects. Reading the students’ own comments about each project, you can tell how rewarding, and even transformative, such experiences can be.

Elsewhere in this issue (see the College News section), we celebrate this fall’s entering class—the second-largest and the most diverse in our university’s history. During orientation week in August, I had the pleasure of speaking with several first-year students intending to pursue majors in the college, and I was proud to tell them about the remarkable opportunities they will enjoy as members of our academic community. I want to express my profound thanks to the supporters of EHI and other initiatives that enable us to challenge, mentor and inspire the future leaders and innovators who choose our university as the place to pursue their dreams.

Finally, I want to congratulate the new editor of art/sci, Sandra Livingston, on her debut issue. Sandra, previously an award-winning, veteran journalist, is also the editor of Think, the university’s flagship publication. She succeeds our founding editor, Arthur Evenchik, who produced this magazine for 17 years (see the story about him). Arthur will continue working closely with me, and I am most grateful for his vital contributions to the college, reflected both in this magazine and in the amazing success of the students in our Emerging Scholars Program. One of the glories of this institution is that there are always new and exciting stories to tell, and we look forward to sharing them with you.

Joy K. Ward, PhD
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Professor, Department of Biology

Page last modified: March 17, 2023