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Research & Innovation Week set to dazzle, inspire the first week of April

Findings Staff Report | March 19, 2019

Louder Than A Bomb, a youth poetry slam contest, may seem somewhat out of place in a list of events for UC Research & Innovation Week, coming up the first week of April. But, trust us, it fits right in.

The spoken word competition, now in its fifth year, embodies the impactful, imaginative and innovative work being driven by UC today, says UC Vice President for Research Patrick Limbach. It’s proof, too, that Research & Innovation Week has evolved from its origins within the College of Medicine to an expanded showcase of research, scholarship and the creative and performing arts in every corner of campus.

This year—for UC’s 200th anniversary—R&I Week is about honoring the past and celebrating the future. It highlights inclusivity and the positive impacts that UC research and community engagement has on Cincinnati, our region and beyond, says Jennifer Krivickas, Assistant Vice President for Integrated Research.

Louder Than A Bomb ticks all the boxes. It provides a space for young people to express themselves and their experiences and is a collaboration between several UC offices and colleges. In 2015, Dr. Adrian Parr, then director of UC’s Taft Research Center, brought the concept to Cincinnati from Chicago, where she witnessed a Louder Than A Bomb competition. LTAB originated from a nonprofit group called Young Chicago Authors and Parr thought Cincinnati youth could benefit from it. 

“Cincinnati has one of the highest poverty rates in the country,” Parr says in a 2016 documentary on LTAB Cincinnati. “That also influences literacy rates.” With LTAB Cincinnati, Parr hoped to address some of those issues in a modest way. Taft is now led by Director Amy Lind. "LTAB empowers youth to speak out about their experiences and gives them agency," Lind says. "The energy is palpable!"

Cincinnati put its own spin on LTAB with the help of UC’s MetroLAB, a design-build program within the School of Architecture and Interior Design. MetroLAB focuses on projects in the public interest and created a special performance space for the young poets. Associate Professor Terry Boling guided the group of students that built the set, complete with a wooden stage with a burned center—giving the impression that the poets’ words were so powerful, they scorched the earth. MetroLAB wanted to give the students a space that was theirs, where they felt empowered. It’s an incredible thing to see, says Program Director Sean Keating-Crawford. 

“The real beauty of LTAB is in the performances—in the artistry and insight of our city's youth,” Keating-Crawford says. “Every year we see the current social and political landscape laid bare, as students grapple with new, complex visions of current and future states of affairs.”

The partnership thrives on the relationships with local high schools and Elementz, an urban arts center in Over-the-Rhine. This year’s contest will be held 7:30-9 p.m. April 6 at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

It’s one of the many unexpected events that await in R&I Week.

“Part of the strength of the entire R&I week program is that it spans the range of the Urban Impact platform,” Limbach says. It includes work in the humanities, technology and medicine. “Together, the sum of those parts,” Limbach says, “is greater than they are by themselves.”

So, if you haven’t checked out R&I Week, this is the year to do it. Beyond thought-provoking lectures, a book release and savvy tech demonstrations, there are events that will entertain the whole family, such as a projection-mapping light show Saturday celebrating UC’s 200 years by Brave Berlin, the makers of Lumenocity and BLINK. 

Follow this link (will add) to a full list of events, but here are a few more to consider. 

Bending the arc of a devastating epidemic

On Thursday, UC promises a panel discussion like no other on the regional opioid epidemic. Special guest J.D. Vance, a New York Times columnist and author of best seller “Hillbilly Elegy,” joins two UC faculty working tirelessly to address the impacts of this public health crisis, Lizbet Portman from the Addiction Policy Forum and Lori Criss, Ohio’s newly appointed director of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

The Cincinnati Enquirer’s heroin beat reporter Terry DeMio will moderate. Her work led the Enquirer to win the Pulitzer Prize in Local Reporting for 2018, with its project “Seven Days of Heroin.” 

“We want the entire state to know about the research we are doing at UC and the new medical treatments,” Krivickas says. Register to attend the panel, here. It will be held from 3:30-5 p.m. at the new 1819 Innovation Hub.

Autonomous vehicles and other demonstrations

This should be interesting. On Tuesday, Research and Innovation Week takes over the Nippert West Pavilion to show off its research prowess.

Throughout the day there will be demonstrations by various UC researchers. Jiaqi Ma, director of the Greater Cincinnati Advanced Transportation Collaborative and his own lab, the Next Mobility Lab, will present the work of his team on autonomous vehicles at 9:15 a.m. Later, Mark Godsey, director of the Ohio Innocence Project will talk about the national problem of wrongful convictions a lunch at 12:30 p.m., where Nancy Smith and Rickey Jackson, will tell their stories. Combined, the two spent more than 50 years in prison for crimes they didn't commit. The Cincinnati Opera will perform excerpts from its upcoming sold-out opera, “Blind Injustice,” which is about the work of the Ohio Innocence Project. 

The work showcased on Tuesday has “the potential to inform policy, level the socio-economic playing field and improve the lives of people in our community—and beyond—for the better, Krivickas says. Learn more about all the sessions at Nippert West that day and register here.

Finally, a party

Calling all Bearcats to UC Bicentennial Community Day, a free family-friendly event, presented by The University of Cincinnati Foundation. 

Community Day features special academic experiences, health screenings and entertainment from 15 UC colleges and units spanning from engineering to law to arts and sciences. There is sure to be something for everyone.
Don’t miss the grand finale, MOMENTUM, a mind-bending media projection experience celebrating UC spirit and pride by Brave Berlin, the creative force behind Lumenocity and Blink. Learn more, here.