University selects faculty members for Oz to Oz research awards
Friday, June 17, 2016
MANHATTAN — Four Kansas State University faculty have received Oz to Oz Fellowship Awards to conduct research in Australia. Each award includes a $5,000 grant.
Fellowship recipients include Arthur Durband, associate professor of sociology, anthropology and social work; Dorothy Durband, professor and director of the School of Family Studies and Human Services; Dunja Peric, associate professor of civil engineering; and Jennifer Vellenga, associate professor of theatre.
Arthur Durband started teaching at Kansas State University in 2015 after spending a decade working at Texas Tech University. He is a physical anthropologist, with a research focus on the origins of the first Australians. At Kansas State University, he teaches a variety of courses in physical anthropology, including the college's introductory class in physical anthropology, primate behavior, myths and mysteries in physical anthropology, and human paleontology. He was a Fulbright senior scholar to Australia in 2014, and he has published more than 20 articles and book chapters.
Dorothy Durband has been the director of the School of Family Studies and Human Services since July 2014. Before serving in her current administrative role, she was a professor of personal financial planning, founding chair of the community, family and addiction services department, and founding director of the nationally recognized Red to Black® program at Texas Tech University for 14 years. She was recognized as one of the top 25 women professors in Texas and received the Texas Tech University Chancellor's Council Distinguished Teaching Award, the university's highest teaching honor. Her research has focused on understanding and describing the attributes and behaviors of individuals with regard to their personal finances. She is the co-editor of the book, "Student Financial Literacy: Campus-Based Program Development."
The Durbands' fellowships will include working with Mark Darby, general manager of Study Northern Territory and staff member of Tourism NT to explore the development of Kansas State University's study abroad programs to central and northern Australia.
Peric will work with Stephen Foster, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of New South Wales. Peric has been with Kansas State University for 15 years, including the last nine years in her current position. Her research focus is improving the resilience, durability and sustainability of geomaterials and geostructures, such as soils, rocks, concrete and asphalt. Recently her research focus has expanded to include computational and experimental modeling of ultra-high performance of fiber reinforced cementitious composites, which are vitally important for increased resilience, durability and thermal energy of civil infrastructure. Her primary educational focus is geotechnical engineering, but she teaches courses across the civil engineering curriculum, including graduate-level courses emphasizing fundamental theories and computational modeling of various phenomena and processes found in geotechnical engineering. She has received the following awards: a Professional Opportunities for Women in Research and Education grant and another award from the National Science Foundation; an award from the American Association for Advancement of Science; a visiting fellow title from the University of New South Wales; and the Making a Difference Award from Kansas State University. Her work has been published in the International Journal of Plasticity, International Journal of Solids and Structures, Engineering Structures, International Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics, and the American Society of Civil Engineers' Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, and Journal of Engineering Mechanics, as well as proceedings of internationally renowned conferences and symposia.
Vellenga's fellowship includes collaborating with Australian playwright Lachlan Philpott, who was a Fulbright scholar to Kansas State University in 2015. Before joining the university five years ago and taking charge of its theatre program, Vellenga worked at the University of Miami. She has been a professional director for 14 years and a professional actor for 22 years. Her research focus is new play development. As a theatre director at K-State, she works with playwrights to assist in developing their new plays to bring them from the page to the stage. As an educator, Vellenga teaches acting, directing and new play development. She also directs main-stage performances and aims to involve students in the process of developing new plays. With her collaborators at The Arctic Cycle, she received a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Norway to develop a new play on climate change set in Norway, a project that includes a partnership with Akvavit Theatre Company in Chicago. The play, "FORWARD" by Chantal Bilodeau, premiered at Kansas State University in February. Vellenga's productions have been seen across the U.S. in New York City, Chicago, Cape Cod, Memphis and Miami, and in Norway in Oslo and Tromsø. She was also honored in 2015 by being asked to write a published forward to Philpott's play "BUSTOWN."
"The Oz to Oz exchanges are an important program within the internationalization theme of the K-State 2025 strategic plan," said Dorothy Doan, administrative assistant to the dean for the College of Agriculture. "Developing unique study abroad trips that are of interest to our students and building sustainable collaborative efforts with Charles Darwin University and the Government of Northern Territories are important for the success of K-State's Australia Initiative."