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College of Humanities and Fine Arts to Host Interdisciplinary Lightning Talks on Dec. 7


The College of Humanities and Fine Arts (HFA) will host Interdisciplinary Lightning Talks from 4-6 p.m., on Thursday, Dec. 7, in the Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall. The event, formerly known as “5 at 4,” will highlight HFA faculty and their collaborators’ ongoing interdisciplinary research. It is free and open to the public.

The goal of the Interdisciplinary Lightning Talks is to highlight existing and emerging interdisciplinary work happening between HFA and the other schools, colleges, and organizations on campus, as a way to inspire and support further collaboration.

Interdisciplinary Lightning Talks

“Automated Analysis of Western Massachusetts Accents in Archived Recordings”
Jeremy Smith, UMass Amherst Libraries Daniel Ellsberg archivist, and Joe Pater, HFA Department of Linguistics

In this project, Smith and Pater use automatic speech recognition to analyze recordings of the speech and accents of western Massachusetts residents and to develop tools for automatic phonetic analysis to study the structure of that speech.

“Does musical culture affect how listeners ‘feel the beat’?”
Christopher White, HFA Department of Music and Dance, and Lisa Sanders, College of Natural Sciences (CNS) Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

This study identifies rhythms that are unique to different world repertoires, and then uses a combination of behavioral tests and brain scans to examine how predictable and consistently listeners from different backgrounds project an underlying meter onto—or “feel the beat in”—those patterns.

“Math, Humanities and Social Justice in Jail”
Annie Raymond, CNS Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and Laura Ciolkowski, HFA Department of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies

They will share insights from a new UMass Prison Education Initiative program that teaches incarcerated students mathematical modeling, data analysis, and visualization practices in conversation with humanistic approaches to addressing inequality and dismantling systems of power.

“Data Science and the New Archaeology of Ancient Pompeii”
Eric Poehler, HFA Department of Classics, and Thomas Bernardin, Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences Center (MCICS) for Data Science

A collaboration between the Pompeii Artistic Landscape Project and the MCICS Center for Data Science, the talk discusses an image-matching problem on a corpus of 70,000 pictures of Pompeii, solved by students from the Center for Data Science.

“The Souls of Black Folk and the Foundations of African American Studies: Assessing the Training of High School Educators”
Keisha Green College of Education Department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies, and Toussaint Losier, HFA Department of W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies

This project will assess the effectiveness of The Souls of Black Folk workshop series, a set of free, in-person workshops for 15 high school educators interested in teaching the new AP African American Studies course that will be offered in 2024-25.

“Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx (LACL) Black, Indigenous and Afro-Indigenous Research Initiatives”
Agustín Lao-Montes, Departments of W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies and Sociology, and Stephanie Fetta, HFA Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

This talk will cover a new field of research at UMass developed by faculty, staff and students.

“Maternity in Crisis: Redressing the Histories and Present of Black Pregnancy and Childbirth”
Charmaine A. Nelson, HFA Department of History of Art and Architecture; Favorite Iradukunda, Elaine Marieb College of Nursing; Lindiwe Sibeko, School of Public Health and Health Sciences Department of Nutrition; Lucinda Canty, Elaine Marieb College of Nursing; and Shannon Roberts, College of Engineering Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

Their interdisciplinary research examines the historical underpinnings of the contemporary Black maternal health crisis and seeks to ameliorate the ongoing differential health care and social impacts.

“Ecology of Student Experience in the post-Covid Campus”
Caryn Brause, HFA Department of Architecture, and Elizabeth Krause, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Department of Anthropology

This interdisciplinary research is centered on questions concerning undergraduate student experience, asking, “Where do students do their best work?” The study sheds light on an ecology of the student experience.