Designlife magazine Fall 2017

Page 28

It’s only a year old, but already the Visual Narrative faculty cluster has come together as a team to find new ways of telling stories—and to offer their resources to community members. Its members are physically spread across campus, hailing from four departments. Of the 20 clusters hired so far by the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program, it is perhaps the most diverse. The cluster includes Todd Berreth, assistant professor of design; Frederico Freitas, assistant professor of history; Tianfu Wu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; and is coordinated by Matthew Booker, associate professor of history; Helen Burgess, associate professor of English; and Arnav Jhala, associate professor of computer science. Jhala explains that the cluster concept was developed to give faculty members a structure that would support

interdisciplinary research in teams that could encourage and support each member’s ideas. By spanning several colleges, a cluster offers each member access to far more knowledge and approaches than if they were working alone. Berreth notes, “We each have our projects and our lines of research, including some problems we think are intractable. Someone from another discipline might say, ‘I have this technique that might apply to that to solve your problem.’ You know your own domain, but someone else’s domain might have an application that might help yours.” “We all were committed to that kind of research already in the institutions we were at,” he adds, “but here we want to take it to the next level. Rather than saying, ‘Here’s my project; I want someone to consult me on technology,’ we are building a project that has a technological research component at

Introducing the VISUAL NARRATIVE FACULTY CLUSTER by Julie Steinbacher

L to R: Chris Martens (affiliate), Matthew Booker, Todd Berreth, Arnav Jhala, Tianfu Wu, and Frederico Freitas (not pictured: Helen Burgess)