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New award recognizes outstanding research collaborations at IU Bloomington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Two teams of Indiana University Bloomington faculty have been awarded the inaugural Outstanding Faculty Collaborative Research Award, jointly offered by the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research. This new award was created to recognize collaborative faculty teams for their accomplishments in research, scholarship and creative activities.

“These new awards are an example of the immediate steps we are taking as a campus to encourage and support meaningful faculty collaborations,” said IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel. “The faculty members involved with these cross-disciplinary projects are tangibly demonstrating the way shared research and observation from different perspectives leads to innovation and discovery.”

The recognition is accompanied by a $15,000 award to be shared among up to five faculty members on a team. In the inaugural year, awards are being made to two teams. Both teams will give presentations about their projects following a reception on Friday, Dec. 12.

Yves Brun, the Clyde Culbertson Professor of Biology, and Michael S. VanNieuwenhze, associate professor of chemistry, comprise one team receiving the award. The second team is made up of Margaret Dolinsky, associate professor of digital art in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Hope School of Fine Arts; John Gibson, associate professor in the Jacobs School of Music; and Roger Hangarter, Class of 1968 Chancellor’s Professor of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Brun and VanNieuwenhze are collaborating to study the mechanisms of bacterial growth. Bacteria grow in many different shapes, but the function of their shapes and how they are generated remains a mystery. Brun and VanNieuwenhze have created a new method for coloring the cell walls of bacterial cells to determine how they grow. Better understanding of bacterial growth patterns leads to better control of bacterial cell growth, which has important implications for the development of antibacterial strategies such as new antibiotics.

Brun and VanNieuwenhze’s collaborative work has been noted widely in the scientific world, including publication in the leading journal Nature in December 2013.

The second team of Dolinsky, Gibson and Hangarter calls their collaborative research project “Plant Sensibility.” As an artist, musician and scientist, the collaborators have merged imagery, musical score and scientific data to create exhibits that engage public audiences in a deeper appreciation of plants. Earlier collaborative activities include “sLowlife,” a multimedia exhibition that showcases time-lapse movies of plants responding to their environments, and participating in the “Imag(in)ing Science” exhibition at IU Bloomington’s Grunwald Gallery in September 2013.

With the support of the new award, the team will continue to collaborate to bring the intrigue of plant life to audiences in ways that raise awareness of the essential importance of plant life in a sustainable world.

“Interdisciplinary collaborations are essential to addressing our contemporary world’s complex problems,” said Michael J. Wade, interim vice provost for research at IU Bloomington. “We are thrilled to present this first-time award to two such exceptional teams of faculty, who demonstrate so well the ways in which research can be enriched and expanded through collaborative work.”