March 28, 2012

"39 Trails" Highlights Rain Forest Research

A new exhibition at the Spencer Museum of Art features creative projects made by University of Kansas researchers who traveled to the Peruvian Amazon last summer.

Co-sponsored by KU's Biodiversity Institute, 39 Trails is on view through July 22 in the Museum's Gallery 318 South, and shares the work of a research team that included seven undergraduate students and two graduate students under the direction of KU curator/professors Caroline Chaboo, entomology, and Steve Goddard, Spencer Museum of Art.



"Everyone involved relied heavily on a small map of the base of their activity, the Los Amigos Biological Research Station," Goddard says. "The map detailed 39 trails, underscoring the human presence in the rain forest, as well as the difficulty of navigating it."

A full description of the exhibition is available on the Spencer's exhibition page.

Three of the undergraduate students were part of a pilot program: the Rudkin Undergraduate Scholarships for International Interdisciplinary Research Experiences. This new scholarship strives to give the students an arena for integrating disciplines and synthesizing knowledge across the sciences, arts and humanities in a global setting.

In addition to sharing the creative work by the three Rudkin Scholars, Goddard says the goal of the exhibition is to include contributions from all members of the cohesive research team to give a fuller account of the different ways the rain forest experience touched everyone involved.

The installation consists of small acrylic cases — one for each team member — that the researchers have individually curated to summarize their experiences.  In addition to the items in these cases and the written and pictorial creative work of the Rudkin Scholars, the exhibition includes printed leaves, photographs, insect specimens and audio recordings made at the Los Amigos Biological Research Station where the group spent 10 days in focused work.

Blog posts from the research trip are archived here.