Charles Linn
School of Architecture, Design & Planning

Professors recognized with SADP Research Impact Awards

Fri, 02/01/2013

LAWRENCE — The work of two School of Architecture, Design and Planning faculty members was recognized recently when they received the School’s first-ever Research Impact Awards. 

“Even in a relatively small school like ours we felt we could do a much better job of recognizing our peers,” said KeithGreg Thomas, left, and Kirk McClure Diaz Moore, the school’s associate dean for graduate studies. “So last year we started the Research Impact Award. We wanted to make our own faculty and students appreciate the great work that is done right here.”

Professor Kirk McClure of the Department of Urban Planning (right in photo) was recognized for his affordable housing research. Greg Thomas, director of the Center For Design Research and professor of design (left), was recognized for a variety of projects that use design to improve such things as driver safety and the way health care products are used.

Nominations were solicited from the faculty and vetted by the School’s Graduate Studies and Research Committee. 

“Issues like affordable housing and the design of products that attack diabetes and make driving safer somehow touch the lives of almost everyone,” said Diaz Moore. “The dedication to high-quality inquiry that Greg and Kirk have displayed demonstrates the societal importance of what we do at the School of Architecture, Design and Planning.”

McClure explained that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds much of his affordable housing research. HUD and members of Congress consider his assessments of whether the billions of dollars spent on affordable housing create positive outcomes.

“Congress is no longer interested in supporting housing programs that just provide shelter,” McClure said. “If we are helping someone gain affordable housing, are they also locating so they can gain access to safer neighborhoods? If they have kids, are they getting in better schools? If they are unemployed, do they have access to equal opportunity?”  

Thomas presented outcomes from a wide variety of projects he and his students have been doing at the Center for Design Research. In the past year alone he has partnered with Voice Assist, Bayer HealthCare and Garmin International.

Center for Design Research is on KU’s West Campus. It is composed of the Chamney Farm’s recently renovated house and barn, and a conference center built by Studio 804, went into full operation last year. “In the past year the CDR has done even more than we anticipated it would do,” Thomas said.

“Our students are using these spaces as a laboratory to work on health and wellness initiatives, smart grid building technology, vehicular transportation safety, connected vehicles, adaptive information displays and distracted driving.

“Ford even provided the front half of a car for the project we’re doing this semester, so we can conceptualize new internal controls, which is in the Chamney Barn,” he said.

The event was last month at the Center for Design Research.

Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner. See it here:
Rock Chalk! Junior Ashlie Koehn named KU's 18th Truman Scholar
Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening.

.@KU bschool 's KIP team includes @KU _SADP students in all-ages housing project. #KUworks
Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner From KU News Service: Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening. To her surprise, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end of the call letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar. And in spite of a distance of more than 10,800 kilometers and 11 time zones, Koehn’s thrill from hearing the news from the chancellor came through loud and clear. “Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience. She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects,” Gray-Little said. “This is quite a year for Ashlie. Her hard work is a wonderful reflection on her and also a great reflection on the university, and we all congratulate her.” Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Koehn, a member of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program, is majoring in environmental studies, economics and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change. In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing the Coalition against Slavery and Trafficking. Her involvement with the issue was sparked by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago. “Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “After a year as president, Ashlie successfully handed the organization over to the next student leader. She demonstrated her strong leadership qualities by setting a unique goal and then pursuing it with her sense of passion, engagement and dedication. No matter the country or context, her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.” The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process. Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships, noted it was an amazing ruse to pull off the surprise. Originally, the call was set up to be between Wallen and Koehn. “I was totally not prepared to be greeted by Chancellor Gray-Little, but it was an amazing surprise for sure,” Koehn said. “As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system, but my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age and KU and the Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with the opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career. I plan to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career as an environmental economist helping to shape future trade agreements and leverage action on important international environmental issues, particularly concerning climate change.” Koehn also had a surprise of her own for the chancellor — the meal she was helping to prepare was not exactly typical Kansas dinner fare. On the menu with her host family in Kyrgyzstan on Monday was a traditional Kyrgyz meal called Beshbarmak, or “five fingers,” because you eat it with your hands. The dish is made of horse and sheep and was being prepared as a birthday celebration for Koehn’s host mom. Chancellor Gray-Little, as she signed off from Skype, made sure to encourage Koehn to enjoy her Beshbarmak. Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. She graduated from Fredric Remington High School in Moundridge. She is an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard and currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate. In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.

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