Lafayette presented with Regan interdisciplinary
prize during dean's advisory council gathering


A prize recognizing an educator's interdisciplinary work, named in honor of a former dean of Texas A&M's College of Architecture, was presented to Carol Lafayette, associate professor of visualization, during the Nov. 11 Dean's Advisory Council.

"While Carol is educated as a fine artist … her research and creative activities are inherently interdisciplinary, bridging the worlds of art, science and technology," said Frederic Parke, professor of visualization, in a letter nominating Lafayette for the J. Thomas Regan Interdisciplinary Faculty Prize.

In an investigation of an atta texana leaf cutting ant colony, Lafayette assembled a collaborative team representing several disciplines, said Parke. She produced an immersive, 3-D representation of the colony displayed on five flat-panel monitors arranged in a semi-circle; users navigated through the colony with a hand-held, motion sensitive video game controller.

"Developing 'portraits' of this underground realm involved the use of ground penetrating radar (GPR) and immersive visualization systems, rather than traditional media," said Parke. "The work illustrates how Carol's research bridges art with science and technology, in this case blending entomology, GPR and visualization technology."

Biophotonics International magazine included an article about the project, and a patent disclosure has been filed for the process of translating the project's GPR data to a three-dimensional surface model.

In another project, Lafayette formed an interdisciplinary team to create an immersive installation enabling participants to explore rain forest environments using the aural and visual senses of various animals, including their infrasonic and ultrasonic hearing and infrared and ultraviolet vision.

Lafayette joined scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), education experts and staff from several museums to use immersive visualization, audio and video technology to extend access to and understanding of the Floral Gardens National Maritime Preserve, an underwater coral site, located off the Texas coast near Galveston.

The collaboration, wrote Parke, has resulted in proposals to NOAA and the National Science Foundation for funding to support the development of immersive informal science education experiences centered on the site.

"Lafayette's research," said Parke, "forms an outstanding body of interdisciplinary work that bridges the worlds of artistic inquiry with those of science and technology."

Lafayette earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1991 from the State University of New York-Buffalo and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design degree in 1981 from the University of Washington.

Regan, the award's namesake, joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1998 as dean of the College of Architecture. During his tenure, the college became the largest college of its kind, with one of the most advanced research agendas of any U.S. architecture school. Regan stepped down as dean in 2008 but continues at the college as a professor of architecture.



- Posted: Nov. 16, 2010 -

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Contact:   Phillip Rollfing, or 979.458.0442.


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