2019 Bridging the Divide grant recipients seek to improve lives, uncover architectural mysteries

By Paula Van Brocklin, Office of the Vice President for Research

Two interdisciplinary research teams have been selected to receive funding from Iowa State University’s 2019 Bridging the Divide internal funding opportunity, a program that aims to solve complex challenges at the interface between disciplines through new convergent collaborations among university researchers and scholars in design, art, humanities and social sciences with those from science, engineering and data-science disciplines.

Grant recipients

The research team of Daejin Kim, assistant professor of interior design; Carl Chang, professor of computer science and director of the smart home lab; and Jennifer Margrett, director of the gerontology program and associate professor of human development and family studies, seeks to enhance older adults’ optimal aging and ability to live in their own homes and/or senior housing longer and more safely by creating new smart home lighting solutions. As individuals age, the clarity of their vision is reduced due to smaller pupil size and lens changes. This leads to increased glare and difficulty seeing in low light. The research team intends to address this issue by creating a lighting technology platform that will automatically maintain proper lighting levels throughout the day and also measure the effectiveness of the light.

Researchers Jelena Bogdanovic, associate professor of architecture, and Charles Kerton, associate professor of physics and astronomy, have formed an interdisciplinary team that will study the dome of the Studenica Monastery, a medieval church in Serbia and a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) heritage site. They intend to prove that ancient architects had expertise in physics and optics long before current scholarship recognizes. They will use a cutting-edge approach of data-based parametric and reverse architectural design to determine how the church’s original builders constructed the dome. The team will then apply the knowledge they gain from this research and use it as a prototype to study other medieval domed churches.

“The Bridging the Divide funding is a critical enabler of one of Iowa State’s research goals – to unite teams of researchers across disciplines to help solve the complex problems of the world,” said Sarah Nusser, vice president for research. “We are pleased to fund these interdisciplinary collaborations and look forward to learning about their teams’ scholarly achievements.”

The next call for Bridging the Divide grant proposals will take place in early 2020.