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Ohio University announces Baker Fund Awards

ATHENS, Ohio (April 13, 2006) -- Ohio University has awarded $66,365 to researchers through the Baker Fund Awards. The Ohio University Foundation made available $54,936 from the John C. Baker Fund with the additional $11,429 coming from the Office of the Vice President for Research. These funds will support the research, scholarship and creative activity of seven faculty members. Projects receiving awards during the 2006 funding cycle range from sub-Saharan African music and dance in the School of Music to the processing of aluminum alloy parts in the School of Mechanical Engineering.

"I am very pleased to receive the Baker Award," said Catherine Taylor, a professor of English whose project involves the completion of her novel "Truth and Reconciliation: A Personal and Political History of Apartheid." "This is a political and personal history of South Africa that uses both documentary and literary forms to investigate questions about racism, nationalism and family."

Taylor will use her award to travel to South Africa to conduct interviews, to make observations, and to complete archival research at a number of facilities including the University of Cape Town. "This grant makes possible a trip I could never have afforded on my own," she said. "I am very grateful."

The John C. Baker Fund was endowed in honor of Ohio University's 14th president in 1961 by a generous gift of more than $612,000 from 1926 College of Arts and Sciences graduate Edwin L. Kennedy and his wife, Ruth, a 1930 graduate of the College of Education. The Kennedys were extraordinary philanthropists who contributed more than $10.5 million to Ohio University - including a significant collection of Southwest Native American artwork that resides in Ohio University's Kennedy Museum of Art.

"More than anything else John Baker stands for quality, and his period of service can be described as a constant search for ways to attain advancing standards of excellence," wrote Edwin Kennedy in 1961. "It is fitting, therefore, that a fund whose purpose is to seek these same objectives should be named in his honor."

Hector Perla Jr., a professor of political science whose project focuses on the role of Central American social movements in Cold War Latin America, will use his Baker Award grant to travel to Central America and several U.S. cities to conduct interviews with political actors whose voices have not been heard in the retelling of historic U.S./Central American relations.

"I am really thrilled about getting the Baker Award, especially as a first-year faculty member," Perla said. "This transnational study would not be possible without this funding. I am confident that this research will make a strong contribution to Latin American Studies, International Relations/Transnational Studies and social movement theory. I also hope that it contributes at least in a small way to raising OU's visibility as a nationally recognized research institution."

In its 45 years, the John C. Baker Fund has supported the Kennedy Lecture Series, the Distinguished Professor Awards and the Baker Fund Awards. Today, the endowment that supports the fund is valued at more than $1.5 million.

Each year the Baker Fund Awards Committee - a group coordinated by the Office of the Vice President for Research and selected by Faculty Senate - invites proposals for support of research, scholarship and creative activity at Ohio University. This year the BAC received 21 applications. The scholarly, technical or artistic merit of proposed projects is the primary criterion for evaluation.

"The Baker Award will allow us to finish up some crucial research that will enable us to publish three years of data and pursue additional external funding," said Sarah Wyatt, a professor of environmental and plant biology whose research explores the gravity stimulus governing plant growth and development. "It gives us the funding we need to bridge a gap. Without it our progress would be significantly slowed if not halted."

A list of all Baker Fund recipients for 2006 follows. Faculty and staff interested in applying for the 2007 award cycle should visit www.ohiou.edu/research/baker.html.

2006 recipients of Baker Fund Awards:

Project: "Women's Work" (a documentary exploration of the human reality of HIV/AIDS in South Africa)
Recipient: D. Thomas Hayes, School of Film
Amount: $12,000

Project: "Musical Traditions of Ghana: A Guide to Multicultural Music Education" (a book and DVD/CD project)
Recipient: Paschal Yao Younge, School of Music
Amount: $12,000

Project: "Challenging Reagan: Interviews with Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN) & Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) Leaders & US-Central American Peace & Solidarity Movement (CAPM) Activists"
Recipient: Hector Perla, Department of Political Science
Amount: $11,997

Project: "Rapid Infrared Superheating for Aluminum Alloy Heat Treating"
Recipient: Frank Kraft, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Amount: $11,972

Project: "Genetic Complementation of the Gravity Persistent Signal (GPS) Mutants of Arabidopsis" (Arabidopsis is a small flowering plant widely used as a model organism in plant biology)
Recipient: Sarah Wyatt, Department of Environmental and Plant Biology
Amount: $10,170

Project: "Truth and Reconciliation: A Personal and Political History of Apartheid"
Recipient: Catherine Taylor, Department of English
Amount: $5,570

Project: "Phylogeography of the Stonecat, Noturus flavus (Ictaluridae)" (phylogeography is the study of the processes controlling the geographic distributions of lineages)
Recipient: Joseph Faber, Ohio University Lancaster Campus, Department of Biological Sciences
Amount: $2,656

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Media Contact: Director of Development Communication Jennifer Bowie, (740) 597-2987 or bowiej@ohio.edu

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