By Jennifer Bowie and Monica Chapman
It's like comparing apples and dinosaurs. That's how Baker Fund Awards Committee Chair Roger Shelor describes the selection process for the 2008 Baker Fund Awards.
The Ohio University Foundation provided the awards, totaling $49,701, to support the research, scholarship and creative activity of eight faculty members working on six projects. From music and art to geological sciences, the award-winning projects covered a broad range of topics, encapsulating the diverse passions of the Ohio University faculty.
"It is so difficult comparing something in, say, film with something in, say, medicine. They're just so different," said Shelor, a professor of finance. "There are no two projects that are similar." But according to Shelor, each of the six projects will achieve similar ends -- making meaningful contributions to their field and bringing recognition to the university's research.
For Alycia Stigall, an assistant professor of geological sciences, the award will enable a detailed study of fossils in the Cincinnati region, where she will unearth the long-term effects of invasive species on ecosystems. "This type of work requires a large dataset that we would not be able to acquire without the support of this grant," Stigall said.
For William Owens, associate professor of classics and world religions, the award paves the way for a one-year fellowship aimed at researching and understanding the representation of slavery in ancient fictional prose narratives, especially the stereotypes of slaves and masters. Owens hopes to use his findings as a premise for future publications.
The funding also will be used to support various creative projects, such as recording a CD of rarely heard works by 20th century composer Miklos Rozsa -- a project Michael Carrera, Marjorie Bagley and Steven Huang are undertaking in the School of Music.
"Any time we want to do a recording project, it becomes very expensive," Huang said. "With this Baker grant, we are able to complete the project in Eastern Europe."
According to Huang, the benefits of the experience will outlast the project's duration.
"I think that any kind of experience outside of the classroom gives us another viewpoint on how to make better music and interact with musicians from other cultures as well. And we can bring some of that back to our teaching," Huang said.
Awards of up to $12,000 were granted to faculty members who have started a research project but need additional funding to bring it to completion. Projects in all disciplines from faculty on the Athens and regional campuses are given equal consideration.
"Each year, I am impressed by the high-quality and distinctive research and creative activity being undertaken at Ohio University," Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl said. "This internal grant program provides exciting opportunities for our faculty to complete scholarly and creative projects, to compete for external grants and to be recognized by the university for their efforts."
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. The scholarly, technical or artistic merit of proposed projects is the primary criterion for evaluation.
The John C. Baker Fund was endowed in 1961 in honor of Ohio University's 14th president by a gift of more than $612,000 from Edwin L. and Ruth Kennedy, who graduated from the university in 1926 and 1930, respectively. The Kennedys 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," Kennedy wrote in 1961. "It is fitting, therefore, that a fund whose purpose is to seek these same objectives should be named in his honor."
In its 46 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.
A list of all Baker Fund recipients and their projects for 2008 appears at right. Faculty and staff interested in applying for the 2009 award cycle should visit Baker Fund Award site to view the 2008 guidelines.
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