Funded Research

SMTD Faculty Grant Awardees

Danielle Belen (Strings)

Recital Music Rental and Recording
As an active recitalist, I am always looking for new and engaging ways to present interesting programming that speaks to a large audience, as well as satisfying the rigorous academic expectations of our great school. I have spent a number of years getting to know the works of the great Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla, particularly his interpretations of the Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi. These works exist in their most commonly performed form as piano trio arrangements, although they were originally played by Piazzolla’s own ensemble with him on the bandoneon. The living composer Leonid Desyatnikov has created an extraordinary arrangement of these Four Seasons of Buenos Aires for solo violin and string orchestra, Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas. I obtained the rental parts from EAM and organized an ensemble of top students from SMTD. Together, we performed this work as a virtuoso, conductorless ensemble in Britton Recital Hall on February 19th 2018.

Aaron Berofsky (Strings)

String Quartet Project: Joint Venture Between SMTD and Detroit Symphony
This project was a collaboration of University of Michigan SMTD faculty and Detroit Symphony orchestra principal players performing together as a string quartet. The group consisted of myself, Kathryn Votapek (SMTD assistant professor of violin), Eric Nowlin (Detroit Symphony Orchestra principal viola), and Wei Yu (DSO principal cello).  The concert took place on Friday, October 19, 2018 in Britton Recital Hall.  I had previously performed chamber music with these musicians at other chamber music venues in Michigan and loved to be able to support Eric and Wei coming to U-M to perform.

Jerry Blackstone (Conducting)

We Are the Music Makers
This documentary film project, titled We are the Music Makers, was proposed in Fall 2017 by Brian Gaukel, videographer and alumnus of both the U-M All-State at Interlochen program for high school singers and the MI Youth Chamber Singers, an academic-year program for talented Michigan singers, both of which were led by Prof. Blackstone. The film takes an in-depth look at the life and impact of Jerry Blackstone’s long and illustrious career in the field of choral music. The film follows him through several milestone moments during the 2017-2018 academic year, his final year of teaching at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance.  Featuring interviews with current and former students and colleagues who now hold influential positions all over the world, Blackstone’s significant impact on the lives of those he has taught and on the field of choral music itself, becomes evident. Video recordings of University of Michigan rehearsals, classes, and performances are interwoven with interviews of faculty colleagues and current and former students.

Daniel Cantor (Theatre)

Three Sisters Ragdale Residency
Over the past three summers I have been awarded artist residencies at the renowned Ragdale Foundation artist residency in Lake Forest, Illinois. I pursued these residencies with a company of theater artists I founded, named the UV Theater Project.  The company has been a combination of some of Chicago’s most accomplished performers, and recently graduated or current Michigan BFA actors.  At Ragdale we have created “immersive” productions of the plays of Anton Chekhov: In 2015 Uncle Vanya, in 2016 The Seagull, and in 2017 The Cherry Orchard.  Because of the success of these residencies Ragdale invited us back in summer 2018 to create a site-specific production of Three Sisters.

Evan Chambers (Composition)

Piano Trio Recording of A Hundred Ways
In the summer of 2016 the Green Mountain Chamber Music festival in Burlington Vermont premiered my piano trio A Hundred Ways, which was commissioned by violinist Kevin Lawrence and the festival. The work was performed by Lawrence with different collaborators three additional times since then, including in China. These funds brought performers to Ann Arbor to do audio and video recordings of the piece for release on YouTube and for eventual commercial release on a chamber music compilation recording.

Timothy Cheek (Voice)

Naxos Recording Submission
The 2015 University of Michigan Kaprálová Festival, celebrating the life and works of Czech female composer Vítězslava Kaprálová (1915–1940), was the most comprehensive celebration of the composer’s 100th birthday in the world – more so than the events held in Prague, or even in Brno, the city where she was born and grew up. Almost all of her works were performed in September 2015 at the University of Michigan, including several world premieres, and our festival received attention and praise in articles and radio shows featured in London’s The Daily Telegraph, the Czech Republic’s Harmonie, Czech Radio, and others. Kenneth Kiesler programmed orchestral works by Kaprálová on three of the University Symphony Orchestra’s concerts during the Kaprálová Festival and throughout the 2015–2016 academic year: the Piano Concerto in D Minor, op. 7 (American premiere), the orchestral song Sad Evening (world premiere), the orchestral song Waving Farewell (American premiere), Prélude de Noël, Suite miniature (American premiere), and Military Sinfonietta (American premiere). With Jason Corey as recording engineer/editor and Oriol Sans as recording producer/editor, Maestro Kiesler decided to record all of these works with the USO, providing an additional educational experience for the students, and with the goal of submitting an edited, complete project to Naxos for worldwide distribution.

Joseph Gascho (Organ)

Video Recording of Baroque Orchestra Production
On April 7 and 8, 2018, the Baroque Chamber Orchestra and SMTD Opera Studio produced two fully staged performances of Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s opera La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers. This collaborative performance was the culmination of a semester’s work in which students studied historical performance, worked in masterclasses with early music luminaries Ellen Hargis and Paul O’Dette, and were led in musical and dramatic rehearsals by Professors Joseph Gascho and Matthew Ozawa.

Anita Gonzalez (Theatre)

Staging Chippewa Stories
These funds supported collaborative research in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. During May 2018, I brought three collaborating artists to the Sault Ste. Marie region to conduct meetings and work sessions with community members. Together we investigated techniques for telling local stories, with the goal of developing new theatre performances.

Caroline Helton (Voice)

International Performance
Dr. Kathryn Goodson and I were happy to have been invited to perform in Italy as the closing program of a series of events in honor of the composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968), commemorating the 50th anniversary of his death. Assonanze, the Association of Young Musicologists at the University of Rome “Sapienza” and ICAMus, the International for Center for American Music, Inc., hosted the conference in Rome from June 11-14, 2018. We performed in the historic Gipsoteca-Sala Odeion of the University of Rome “Sapienza,” as the culminating event of the conference. All the specialists in this musicological field of study were in attendance, including Diana Castelnuovo-Tedesco (the composer’s granddaughter and copyright holder for the estate), who coordinated all events commemorating her grandfather’s work for this important anniversary year.

Nathan Martin (Music Theory)

The Philosphers’ Rameau: Music Theory in the Encyclopédie
How and why did Jean-Philippe Rameau’s abstruse music-theoretical writings come to seem a matter of pressing general intellectual concern to the philosophes at the height of the French Enlightenment, so much so that they promoted his bid for membership in the Académie des Sciences, ghost-wrote treatises for him, and championed his views in the Encyclopédie? My book-in-progress, The Philosophers’ Rameau, argues that Condillac, Rousseau, Diderot, and d’Alembert at first claimed to find in Rameau’s writings a direct reflection of their own scientific epistemology; yet over the course of the Encyclopédie’s elaboration, all four became progressively disillusioned with Rameau’s theorizing, and that disillusionment eventually redounded on their broader project itself. Thus the failure of Rameau’s system, as they increasingly saw it, to constitute a true science of harmony began to threaten the larger program of the Encyclopédie. The Philosophers’ Rameau tracks these shifting dynamics over the decade spanning 1749 to 1759 – from the completion of Rousseau’s articles on music, to d’Alembert’s defection from the Encyclopédie’s editorship and the suppression of the text. It is addressed both to historians of music theory and to intellectual historians more generally. Indeed, my book’s chief methodological novelty lies in showing how technical debates over questions of music theory impinged on broader issues of scientific method and philosophical psychology, and vice versa.

Marie McCarthy (Music Education)

Transmission of Music in Contemporary Irish Culture
The primary purpose of the project was to conduct a comprehensive study of diverse forms of music transmission in Ireland in the period 1997-2017. My book Passing It On: The Transmission of Music in Irish Culture (1999) documented a narrative of music education in Ireland in colonial and post-colonial since the early 1800s. The book is used widely in music teacher education courses and by researchers in post-graduate degree programs. In the twenty or so years since I completed research for the book, the transmission of music in schools and communities in Ireland has developed in significant ways. The goal of this research project was to collect documentary evidence and oral histories in Ireland during my sabbatical in the fall 2018 semester.

Ellen Rowe (Jazz)

Momentum: Portraits of Women in Motion
“Momentum – Portraits of Women In Motion” is a collection of musical portraits of women heroes of mine in the areas of music, sports, social justice, environmental advocacy and politics. The pieces are orchestrated for varying sizes of chamber jazz ensemble, ranging from quintet to octet.

Daniel Washington (Voice)

Black Music of the Roaring 20’s: Songs of My People
This funding helped complete a project focused on the production and dissemination of a recording that represents the works of African-American composers. “Black Vocal Music of the Roaring 20s” features the repertoire of the early 20th century, a period that included some of the first black musical productions in New York City, as well as the songs made famous by Will Marion Cook and Bert Williams. The River Raisin Ragtime Revue (R4) was the accompanying ensemble to add authenticity to these songs.

Kate Fitzpatrick (Music Education)

Nurturing Ohana: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy in Hawaiian Music Classrooms
This project is a qualitative collective instrumental case study exploring the uses of culturally relevant pedagogy within Hawai’ian schools. Specifically, the project included: 1) preliminary qualitative data collection via computer mediated communication with Hawai’ian school music teachers as identified through my current teaching contacts on the islands of O’ahu and Maui; 2) a 4-week visit to the islands to collect observation and interview data at multiple school sites; 3) upon my return, the analysis of data with a goal of writing a draft of an article on the topic for submission to a major music education research journal.

Amy Chavasse (Dance)

Arthur Miller Theatre Performance
Amy Chavasse, associate professor in the Department of Dance, in collaboration with Department of Theatre & Drama professors Tzveta Kassabova and Malcolm Tulip, and with Raja Feather Kelly, Sarah Konner, and Austin Selden – New York based dance/theater professionals and University of Michigan alumni – boldly enjoined the University of Michigan community to contribute to events celebrating the Bicentennial year with an evening of cutting-edge dance and theater at The Arthur Miller Theater. Chavasse and a team of distinguished faculty and professional artists presented two evenings of original dance and theater on September 9th and 10th, 2017. Presenting our choreography and performing at The Arthur Miller Theater offered an auspicious occasion to share our research and artistic scholarship with the university community after recent engagements in New York, Uppsala, Sweden, and beyond. The project celebrated our ongoing commitment to our roles as artist/educators and engaged citizens.

Matthew Thompson (Piano)

5th Annual North American Conference on Video Game Music
The North American Conference on Video Game Music (NACVGM), the only scholarly conference on game music in North America, is an international conference that has been held annually since 2014.  The conference draws together scholars and industry experts in the fields of musicology, music theory, ethnomusicology, media studies, sound studies, composition, and more to discuss all aspects of music in video games.  U-M was chosen to host NACVGM 5 on January 13-14, 2018.

Mbala Nkanga (Theatre)

Performance, Rumor and Audience: The Theatre of Resistance in Central Africa
I was selected for a 2017-2018 Fulbright US grant to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in order to continue research in that country. First I updated information and data that I collected few years ago about the contribution of particular artists, writers, and performers in expressing the unspoken feelings and attitudes about the oppression and desperation of the common people. This is the object of my first manuscript titled Performance, Rumor, and Audience: The Theatre of Resistance in Central Africa. Being drawn from my dissertation thesis, its publication in the book form has been delayed due to many circumstances. Many parameters have changed in the region of Central Africa. However the political situation of oppression and censorship along with the consequential artistic dynamics have remained equally the same. Thus, I determined that there is a strong necessity to revisit this work, and update the data to finally publish it. The second part of my research trip was to initiate a preliminary project exploring the memory of the violent history of the Congo as portrayed and remembered in contemporary performance and plays, and the ways in which they socially and artistically affect today’s life in the region. Additionally, I explored the ways in which artists, performers in particular, portray memory as an approach to dealing with the realities of the failed state unable to assume its history.

Logan Skelton (Piano)

New Songs of Logan Skelton: A CD Recording Project
This recording project resulted in a compact disc of three newly composed song cycles of mine, plus one individual song for piano and voice. Each of these musical settings are of highly different English texts written by various people including New Orleans author John Biguenet, American poet E. E. Cummings, adaptations of various children’s letters drawn from the past century as well as short fragments by various authors, and one of my own poems. The songs had all been premiered and performed in different locations in the previous year including Lyric Fest in Philadelphia, Loyola University in New Orleans, and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. This project included two University of Michigan faculty members (Scott Piper and Logan Skelton), one current University of Michigan doctoral student (Kelly Ann Bixby), one alumna and former faculty member of the University of Michigan (Jennifer Goltz), and one New York-based freelance singer (Emma Grimsley). This project showcased the talents and accomplishments of musicians connected in various ways to the University of Michigan in terms of piano, composition, and voice.

Michael Haithcock (Conducting)

Audio Recording of Bolcom & Friends
This recording project was designed to honor William Bolcom’s 80th birthday (May 26, 2018).  The project resulted in a CD showcasing three of Bolcom’s luminary works for band as well as the collaborative contributions of faculty members Matt Albert, Chad Burrow, William Campbell, Paul Dooley, Joan Morris, and Logan Skelton.  Joseph Alessi, principal trombone of the New York Philharmonic, also joined this outstanding collection of artists and the University of Michigan Symphony Band.

James Kibbie (Organ)

Trailblazers: Women’s Impact on Organ, Harpsichord and Sacred Music
This grant supported an international conference in Hill Auditorium, Blanche Anderson Moore Hall and Burton Memorial Tower on September 30 through October 2, 2018.  U-M faculty, students, alumni and guests presented a series of workshops, lectures, and performances addressing issues and themes relating to women’s impact on the related fields of organ, harpsichord, carillon, and sacred music.  Evening concerts in Hill Auditorium were open to the public at no charge. Daytime events were attended by conference registrants, including alumni and other professional colleagues; U-M faculty, staff, and students; and interested members of the community.  A summary of the conference proceedings will be published in the national professional journals The American Organist and The Diapason.

Andy Kirshner (Performing Arts Technology/Art & Design)

The Last Words of Henry Ford
Over the next three years, I plan to create an experimental documentary film based on the complex historical and cultural legacy of Henry Ford.  A feature-length musical documentary, my film will weave archival footage, original music, sound recordings, period songs, poetic monologues, and performed interpretations of historical documents into a musical-audio-visual tapestry of Ford’s life and times.  The work will consider Ford both as a man and as a complex embodiment of enduring conflicts in American culture and society – conflicts between democracy and autocracy, pluralism and nativism, city and country, cultural innovation and reactionary conservatism.  That is to say, my film, tentatively titled The Last Words of Henry Ford, will consider Ford both as man and as metaphor.

Priscilla Lindsay (Theatre)

You For Me For You
The aim of this project was to enhance/expand the impact of the live performances of You For Me For You across the University, and to fund ancillary events surrounding this production. The themes of this play are in the news daily: the tensions between “The Best Nation in the World” and “The Land of the Free”, and the danger and personal price of defection from North Korea. In addition, there is a strong desire on my part to celebrate the culture and performing arts of both Koreas, through the words of Mia Chung, through the music of our Korean students, and through the artistry of our actors and artisans. Through this project, an interdisciplinary group of University faculty and staff worked jointly to bring Korean scholars and artists together, creating a colloquium around the themes of this play. We felt that we had an opportunity to create a wider audience for this relatively new play by an exciting woman dramatist.  Furthermore, I was thrilled to be able to build bridges across our campus on topics of mutual interest, and to be intentional about opening up dialogues that foster understanding and empathy.

Michael Daugherty (Composition)

This Land Sings
The Grammy Award-winning Albany Symphony, conducted by music director David Alan Miller, recorded Michael Daugherty’s This Land Sings: Songs of Wandering, Love and Protest inspired by the life and times of Woody Guthrie on June 4, 2017 at the American Music Festival in Albany, New York. The recording of the 70-minute work for soprano, baritone and small chamber ensemble is scheduled for release by Naxos in 2019. Grammy Award-winning producer Silas Brown edited, mixed, and mastered the recorded material at Legacy Sound studios in New Rochelle, NY.  This laborious process, which requires expertise at the highest level to accomplish, took dozens of hours by the producer including weeks of consultation and feedback from the composer.

José Casas (Theatre)

14: A Night of Teatro and Dialogue
Throughout my academic career, it has been my goal to help facilitate and nurture spaces that exemplify the ideals of diversity, equity, and inclusiveness. Last year I created an Artists Diversity Residency for theatre artists of color whose work specifically speaks to pressing social and political issues in our society. The main focal point of the residency was to produce a performance of the artists’ work, including a talkback to discuss the performance but also the issues being explored in the performance. In addition, outside activities including guest lectures and workshops connected the artists with students on a more personal level. This year’s event was titled 14: A Night of Teatro and Dialogue. The playwright/director for this event was myself. The play is a series of monologues/fictional interviews exploring the narratives of people dealing with politics, race, and immigration in Arizona and the Southwest. This piece has been performed across the country in professional theatres as well as a number of universities, including Cornell, Stanford, and New York University. It has won a number of awards and is included in two book anthologies: Border on Stage: Plays Produced by Teatro Bravo and Ethnodrama: An Anthology of Reality Theatre. It was published in 2018 by Dramatic Publishing.

Christian Matijas-Mecca (Dance)

An Evening of Doris Humphrey and J.S. Bach: Romantic Modernism in Dance and Music
We sought funding to support our collaborative research project/faculty recital, An Evening of Doris Humphrey and J.S. Bach: Romantic Modernism in Dance and Music that culminated in a public performance in collaboration with the U-M Department of Organ’s annual Organ Conference, Trailblazers: Women’s Impact on Organ, Harpsichord, Carillon and Sacred Music, at Hill Auditorium on October 2, 2018. Doris Humphrey (1895-1958), the American dance artist, was both a trailblazer and an innovator in the field of modern dance. The staging of three  of her iconic dances involved both students and faculty from across the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, in collaboration with two internationally recognized guest artists who assisted in staging two of the three dances.

Clare Croft (Dance)

Experiment in Coalition: Dancing Future
This project, “Experiments in Coalition: Dancing Futures,” brought the performance collective Skeleton Architecture to collaborate with U-M Asst. Prof. Clare Croft in Fall 2018 and Winter 2019. Skeleton Architecture is a New York City-based improvisational dance collective who focuses on the relationships between Black feminism and performance. Skeleton Architecture came to Michigan in order to collaborate with Croft on her project “Difficult Dances,” in which she sought to create performance-based dialogues with groups from around the U.S. “Experiments in Coalition,” a portion of “Difficult Dances,” explored the relationship between dance and coalition-building through two primary research questions: 1) what role can dance play in enacting conceptions of coalition presented by Black feminist and queer theories, and 2) when does coalition-building through dance require emphasizing shared identity, and when does coalition-building through dance require emphasizing difference? These questions were explored through dance workshops and rehearsal settings that taught participants to identify and shift the underlying power dynamics that structure collaborative dance-making. These collaborations resulted in archival-based documentation, a public performance, and written publications co-authored by dance scholar Clare Croft and dance artist Jennifer Harge, the artistic director of Harge Dance Stories.

Bright Sheng (Composition)

Orchestral Music Recording of Bright Sheng
This funding assisted with costs for a studio recording of orchestral music by Bright Sheng, The Leonard Bernstein Distinguished Professor of Music Composition at U-M. The recording featured violin soloist Dan Zhu and the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Bright Sheng. It was released worldwide by Naxos International Records and produced by a three-time Grammy-nominated producer, Philip Rowlands.

Ann Evans Watson (Theatre & Drama)

The Belt Book: Searchable Database for Music Theatre Literature
The research and development for this project took place in multiple phases, including revisions and enhancements to the current website for The Belt Book, which allows students, teachers, and professionals an in-depth and effective way to research musical literature. Phase One updated the existing database and made the information available to sort/organize in a variety of ways, allowing the user/member to find the information they need, in the way they need it.  For example, if one is wanting a ballad for a young male with a high tessitura, one could sort songs in that manner. Or the information could be sorted to find an up-tempo song for a character actor that was written before 1965. The site will include definitions of each of the category headings, and detailed information on every song in the database. There will also be the addition of several social media components to keep the user/members engaged.  Phase Two will add Pop/Rock songs to the website.

Mcubed stimulates innovative research and scholarship by distributing real-time seed funding to multi-unit, faculty-led teams. Through this revolutionary research funding program, faculty from at least two different campus units can form a collaborative trio, or “cube,” and request either $60K (classic cube) or $15K (mini-cube) to advance their idea right away.

Classic Cube

Blending Science, Art and Public Engagement

Deborah L Gumucio, Medicine
Santiago Schnell, Medicine
Christianne Myers, SMTD (Theatre & Drama)

The BioArtography Project collects images taken during the course of research from researchers across the UM. BioArt staff manipulate the images in Photoshop and professionals in the Arts school select the best of the best, which are then framed and sold at the Ann Arbor Art Fair or on a website ( BioArtography serves an important public outreach function: each image is sold with a description of the research it represents, written in lay language. During the fair, booth workers (faculty, students, postdocs, and staff) tell the stories behind the images to the fascinated public. This discourse also teaches our trainees and faculty how to effectively communicate the importance of their work to the public. The BioArtography2.0 Project proposes to go beyond photographic images, to create textile designs as well as a display book inspired by BioArt. This will expand the reach of the project, further engaging public interest and fostering public education in scientific research.


Deepening Public Engagement with Chronic Pain Research: an interdisciplinary approach combining art, science and communities

Jane Prophet, Art & Design
Afton Hassett, Medicine
Andy Milne, SMTD (Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation)

Chronic pain affects 20% of adults globally, about 1.5 billion people, with 10% newly diagnosed each year. Moreover, with the aging of the population, the prevalence of chronic pain is only expected to grow exponentially in the coming decades. Though research over the last twenty years has significantly increased understanding of the physiological mechanisms and psychosocial impact of chronic pain, pain researchers  have argued that there is a need for more knowledge translation from experts to those suffering from chronic pain with the goal of reducing the burden of chronic pain for sufferers, their families and the community. Cultivating public engagement in medical and health science, such as chronic pain, is not simply a matter of educating and presenting factual data. Interdisciplinary art-science partnerships focusing on chronic pain have been shown to help articulate ambiguity and uncertainty, to reveal that, for example, the benefits and downsides to many health-science innovations are contingent, situated and personal. This pilot study will bring together artists, designers, chronic pain researchers, and people suffering from chronic pain to collaboratively co-design translational projects.

The Generative Linguistics and Music (GLAM) Project

Somangshu Mukherji, SMTD (Music Theory)
Jun Zhang, LSA: Social Sciences
Samuel D Epstein, LSA: Humanities

The belief that “music is the universal language of humankind,” has recently been seen as increasingly outdated, given the sheer diversity of the world’s musical and linguistic cultures. However, some exciting new work in contemporary generative theories of music and linguistic theory suggests that there might be a closer connection between music and language than previously believed. These “internalist science” theories understand both music and language as aspects of the human mind, subject to internal principles of how the mind works: the way people across cultures express themselves through grammatically structured sentences seems to be identical to how we make music around the world. This research project explores the connections between generative linguistics and music (GLAM), and how this reveals the deep, but often misunderstood or ignored, connections between music, language, and human nature. The project will bring together linguists, music theorists, and other cognitive scientists, to continue exploring such connections, through both theoretical and experimental work.

Tangle – Overridden Urban Spaces

Tzveta Kassabova, SMTD (Theatre & Drama)
Holly Hughes, Art & Design
Paul J Draus, LSA: Social Sciences – U-M – Dearborn

This project aims to engage and bring together community with a multimedia-based artistic intervention at Andy, a newly developed art center in Northwest Detroit. The first stage of the project is to create an immersive installation that transforms interior and exterior areas at the 20,000-sq. ft. space and link it with an environment that has been entirely overridden  by vegetal flora. The image is evocative of Detroit, but by abstracting it, we aim to dissolve boundaries between reality and fiction, between nature and urban space, and thus to create a fantastical, disorienting space, into which the audience can disappear. In the second stage of the project this meandering floral garden sets the stage for further programming of music, dance, theater, performance, and spoken word curated in close partnership with the local community.

AlarmVR: Investigating Alarm Fatigue in Clinical Environments Using Immersive Audio and Virtual Reality

Anil Çamcı, SMTD (Performing Arts Technology)
Patricia Abbott, Nursing
Deborah Rooney, Medicine

Extended exposure to alarm sounds in clinical environments can cause clinicians to become desensitized to alarm events. This is due to a form of perceptual overload called “alarm fatigue”, which can lead to many patient safety risks linked to unattended symptoms. Efforts to address alarm fatigue include the implementation of new computational methods to eliminate nuisance (i.e. false-positive) alarms, the standardization of patient care processes, and the training of healthcare professionals on efficient uses of monitoring systems. Despite these efforts, alarm fatigue remains a major patient safety hazard. On the other hand, perceptual factors that contribute to alarm fatigue, which itself is a perceptual phenomenon, are relatively understudied. In this project, we propose AlarmVR as a platform to investigate auditory cognitive factors that can lead to alarm fatigue, and to evaluate new alarm designs informed by these factors. We will use photogrammetry, room-scale virtual reality, and immersive audio to create a realistic and customizable virtual clinic, where we will conduct studies using existing and hypothetical alarm sounds. These studies will not only help us assess existing theories on the impact of auditory factors on alarm fatigue but provide us with acoustic parameter spaces for the design of new alarm sounds. This project will also yield a new immersive simulation platform for instruction and research in healthcare.

Impolite Birth: Theatre Voice Training and The Experience of Childbirth

Kris Danford, SMTD (Theatre & Drama)
Ruth Zielinski, Nursing
Lisa Harris, Medicine

Voice work for actors shares many similarities with childbirth preparation courses. Mutual themes often include a focus on release of physical tension and breath awareness but there is also, naturally, an additional focus on the expression of sound in voice work. In a recent pilot inquiry, interviews with mothers who had a strong background of theatre voice training suggested that their uninhibited and diverse use of sound aided them in a variety of ways from pain relief to gaining a sense of empowerment and ownership of the experience. This project is a mixed-methods study exploring the effect of voice training on a woman’s experience of childbirth. The study will involve providing voice training for expectant mothers as a unit within a childbirth preparation course. They will learn how to use their voices with maximum ease and will also explore making sounds that might be unusual or vulnerable for them. We plan to evaluate the impact of this kind of preparation by collecting feedback from the mothers via questionnaires and focus groups. We will also have a control group of women who do not go through the voice training as a point of comparison. The results of this study could shed light on a valuable approach to birth. It could also be the start of a larger education initiative aimed to shift the institutional culture surrounding childbirth and to broaden the kinds of expression that are acceptable or encouraged from women during this process.

Belle Isle and Beyond

Jessica Fogel, SMTD (Dance)
Robert Grese, SEAS
Sara Adlerstein-Gonzalez, SEAS

This project is composed of several components, at the center of which is a collaborative site dance and music performance and exhibit on Belle Isle in Detroit, created in collaboration with Detroit-based community members. The performance and exhibit will be inspired by habitat restoration efforts underway on Belle Isle, and will be presented on the environs of the Belle Isle Nature Center. A series of arts workshops will be conducted with Detroit middle school and high school students, in which students will create dance materials, make visual art projects, collect sounds from the environment, and generate reflective writing, encouraging their engagement with place and deepening their understanding of efforts to build a sustainable future for Detroit’s natural and built environment. The particular focus of the workshops will be water quality and use. Materials generated in the workshops will be showcased in an exhibit celebrating the students’ creative voices and sensory engagement with the environment. In addition, U-M choreographers, dancers, composers, aquatic ecologists, and sound engineers will collaborate with Detroit dancers to develop and produce the performance. The project aims to encourage an embodied, qualitative, imaginative, and reflective engagement with environment through arts activities and to increase environmental literacy in youth, particularly awareness of how daily actions and choices impact water quality.