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Dartmouth's Design Initiative Funds Five New Interdisciplinary Projects

Oct 04, 2022

The Design Initiative at Dartmouth (DIAD) announced a second round of grants to support using design methodology for a range of collaborative projects this time involving student wellness, anti-racism in both music and dermatology, physical computing, and sustainable hands-on education. Although this is the second year of DIAD's faculty project grants, it's the first time staff have also been invited to apply.

"These grants reflect the exceptionally innovative and interdisciplinary work happening all across the Dartmouth community. We are delighted to support these projects and to showcase the possibilities that are unlocked when design becomes a bridge for boldly creative, inclusive, and impact-driven scholarship."

Elizabeth Murnane, Chair of DIAD Faculty Steering Committee

MShop Operations Manager and Technical Instructor Lee Schuette will co-develop a new course called "Sustainable Methods of Design Prototyping." (Photo by Robert Gill)

Sustainable Prototyping

MShop Operations Manager and Technical Instructor Lee Schuette and Director of Sustainability Rosi Kerr will use their DIAD grant to develop a nine-week engineering sciences co-curricular non-credit course titled Sustainable Methods of Design Prototyping. The course will teach fabrication skills that integrate hand tool use, material properties, process, and sustainable practices, and help students build conceptual skills with a vision for "upcycling" or creative reuse of materials. The project integrates design, technology, craft, engineering, and sustainability in order to expand student's ability to design and build in an environmentally reflexive manner.

Tools for Wellness

Sid Babla and LB White at the Student Wellness Center (SWC) will use their grant to implement an accessible digital tool that highlights available wellness resources and encourages students to reflect on their own well-being. The idea was developed by students in Design Corps—a DIAD initiative in which students work with campus partners to solve complex problems—who helped identify communication and accessibility as barriers to using the resources available through SWC. The tool, called the Student Wellness Action Plan (SWAP) Quiz, will be refined and tested—an effort already underway by Dakota Ma '22—with the aim to launch by May 2023 during Mental Health Awareness Month.

Documenting Black Voices

Cultural Heritage Technical Developer Richel Cuyler in collaboration with the Hood Museum, Dartmouth Library, and the Black Sound Lab, will use her DIAD grant to design a Black Melisma Database. "Melismatic" means singing multiple notes for a single syllable. In American popular music, African American genres have both informed and helped transform how singers use melisma to show dynamism, emotion and virtuosity. The appropriation of Black vocal techniques has been well documented by music historians and ethnomusicologists. The Black Melisma Database will: document melismatic singing patterns; enable the creation of a new taxonomy for patterns and sounds; allow analysis of artists' original melismatic output as a form of intellectual property; help Black music historians, scholars, and artists reclaim and acknowledge the brilliance and ingenuity of the original work; and garner inspiration for more innovation.

Educating for Dark Skin Care

Geisel Professors Lynn Foster-Johnson and Alicia Dagrosa, and medical students Chiamaka Okorie '24 and Shahin Shahsavari '25 will use their DIAD grant to address the limited diagnostic tools and training for dermatologic conditions in intermediate and dark skin types. A web-based resource called "Dart Derm" will provide more diverse dermatology instructional materials for medical student course curriculum. Most dermatology education websites present diseases on only lighter skin tones. The lack of comparative examples on darker skin can result in missed or incorrect diagnoses, insufficient knowledge of unique skin presentations, poor dermatological health outcomes, and increased overall health disparities for people of color. Foster-Johnson and Dagrosa will partner with the Data Experiences and Visualizations (DEV) Studio to develop a prototype and educational research plan for further NIH and NSF funding to bring "Dart Derm" to fruition.

Knitting Innovation Together

Molly Morin in The Digital Justice Lab and Department of Film and Media Studies, along with Nikki Stevens and Professor Jacque Wernimont, will use their DIAD grant to help tie the innovative potential of knit textiles to their environmental impact and cultural history. Funding will enable the first phase of "KnitLab": a programmable knitting machine that runs on contemporary graphics software; documentation for its future use; and a library of knit textiles from new and traditional fibers. Bringing together engineering, design, information theory, art and history, "KnitLab" will facilitate thinking about information theory, code, and data visualization/visceralization, and offer a material resource for design, studio, and experimental projects.

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