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Emily Ryan
Biodiversity Institute
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Interdisciplinary research team to look at land-use change in Mexico

Tue, 04/08/2014

LAWRENCE — An international, interdisciplinary research team will convene a symposium to explore environmental and land-use change to the Valley of Mexico. The event will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday, April 9, in The Commons. The event is open to the public; presentations will extend from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m.-5 p.m.

Led by Town Peterson, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology for the KU Biodiversity Institute, the research group includes scholars from photography, geography, environmental history, art history and biodiversity science. Using 15 paintings by renowned landscape painter José María Velasco (1840-1912), who also served as a scientific illustrator for Mexico’s Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, the research group is creating a side-by-side analysis of the landscape with new high-resolution photographs from the original vantage points around the Valley and elsewhere in Mexico. 

Funded by an Interdisciplinary Seed Grant through The Commons in 2012, this research aims to compare present-day images of the vistas to the original paintings. This viewpoint will offer a century-long perspective on land-use change across the Valley of Mexico, once a biodiversity hotspot and currently one of the most anthropogenically affected regions on Earth.

The Commons is a collaboration of the Biodiversity Institute, the Hall Center for the Humanities and the Spencer Museum of Art. Its mission is to bring together scholars and students from the sciences, humanities and arts to explore the reciprocal relationships between natural and cultural systems. Interdisciplinary Seed Grants were made possible through the support of KU Research and Graduate Studies and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.



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