KU News 2/22: New NSF grant to fund water management data ecosystem in Kansas

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New NSF grant to fund water management data ecosystem in Kansas

LAWRENCE — The U.S. National Science Foundation Convergence Accelerator has awarded $650,000 to a team led by University of Kansas scientists working with partners from Viaanix, an Internet of Things technology company, and officials from the Kansas Water Office for their project “Improving Water Quality and Equity through Sensor Data and Machine Learning Models.” The project will develop a water management data ecosystem that collects water quality and quantity data, models it with machine learning algorithms, and makes insights available on a dashboard for local government officials and state government agencies.

KU Law students offer local assistance with free tax preparation

LAWRENCE – This spring, University of Kansas Law students can prepare returns for taxpayers who are residents of Douglas County, make less than $72,000 per household per year and do not itemize their deductions. The VITA sessions began Feb. 19 and will run through April 15, excluding KU’s spring break. KU’s Legal Services for Students also offers free tax filing assistance through a VITA grant from the Internal Revenue Service.

Portraits reveal insight into gender-ambiguous luminaries of early modern Europe

LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas professor’s new article, “Trans Visual Narratives: Representing Gender and Nature in Early Modern Europe,” studies the portraits of two renowned gender-ambiguous individuals: the 17th century Spanish soldier Antonio/Catalina de Erauso and 18th century French diplomat the Chevalier d’Eon. Their paintings appear as part of the artistic and scientific explorations that negotiated changing concepts of nature during this period. The research appears in the Journal of Women’s History.

Full stories below.

 

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Contact: Carrie Caine, Institute for Policy & Social Research, 785-864-9102, [email protected]

New NSF grant to fund water management data ecosystem in Kansas

 

LAWRENCE — Most of the water in Kansas, especially in the western part of the state, comes from a vast network of underground aquifers. In an agriculture-heavy state suffering from years of prolonged drought, it is crucial that the water available is used sustainably. A necessary piece of that sustainable use is having good monitoring data to understand water quality, water quantity and water use.

The U.S. National Science Foundation Convergence Accelerator has awarded $650,000 to a team led by University of Kansas scientists working with partners from Viaanix, an Internet of Things technology company, and officials from the Kansas Water Office for their project “Improving Water Quality and Equity through Sensor Data and Machine Learning Models.”

The project will develop a water management data ecosystem that collects water quality and quantity data, models it with machine learning algorithms, and makes insights available on a dashboard for local government officials and state government agencies.

“This project focuses on a technical solution to the pressing water sustainability challenges Kansas faces,” said William Duncan, principal investigator on the project and assistant research professor of data science at KU.

Over the first year of the project, the team anticipates creating a data dashboard for real-time public reporting on water quantity, water quality and water equity.

“While one can view water equity in several ways, our project explores how the water-related actions of one group of Kansas community members undermine the ability of another group to use water in Kansas. The dashboard that our project is developing will help to mitigate this problematic interaction, thus improving water equity,” said Dietrich Earnhart, director of the Center for Environmental Policy and professor of economics at KU.

One aspect of the project will bring students’ skills to bear on the complex challenges of tracking Kansas water. KU mechanical engineering students will design a sensor that will remotely detect the existence of harmful algal blooms and broadcast the data to the network. In addition, students in the Kansas Data Science Consortium Community Data Labs course will work to build the dashboard and collect water data from the many different sources available, including the Kansas Geological Survey.

This award funds the first phase of this project. In August 2024, the team will apply for Phase 2 funding to expand its work.

“The research aligns with the guiding principles of the 2022 Governor’s Water Plan, and KU researchers will team with industry, state agencies and Kansas community partners to help sustain water resources in Kansas,” said Belinda Sturm, director of the Kansas NSF EPSCoR program and interim vice chancellor for research.

The NSF Convergence Accelerator funds teams who seek to apply basic research to pressing social issues. Teams work across disciplines and industries to find solutions that will have long-term social effects. A key part of this program is that teams work through the program with a cohort of other teams, with hands-on education and mentorship.

“The Convergence Accelerator’s curriculum, consisting of human-centered design, user discovery, team science, early-stage prototyping and pitch preparation, is designed to provide our funded teams the tools to transition their solutions into practice,” said Douglas Maughan, head of the NSF Convergence Accelerator program. “Phase 1 teams are expected to apply the curriculum, as well as focus on cross-cutting partnerships as most large-scale challenges cannot be solved with a single discipline and expertise.

At the end of Phase 1, teams will participate in a proposal and pitch competition, Maughan said. That will be used in selecting teams for Phase 2.

Millicent Coil, associate professor of the practice in mechanical engineering at KU, will also lead work on the project. Other team members include Bruce Fritz and Jay Talreja from Viaanix, and Wes McCary from the Kansas Water Office.

The Institute for Policy & Social Research supported the proposal and will manage the project.

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The official university Twitter account has changed to @UnivOfKansas.

Refollow @KUNews for KU News Service stories, discoveries and experts.

 

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Contact: Emma Herrman, School of Law, [email protected], @kulawschool

KU Law students offer local assistance with free tax preparation

 

LAWRENCE – Tax season is underway, and University of Kansas School of Law students will once again assist eligible community members with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

This spring, KU Law students can prepare returns for taxpayers who are residents of Douglas County, make less than $72,000 per household per year and do not itemize their deductions. The VITA sessions began Feb. 19 and will run through Tax Day, which is April 15. No sessions will take place March 9-17 during KU’s spring break.

Sessions are 6-8:45 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 9-11:45 a.m. Saturdays at Green Hall. A satellite location is offered 5-7 p.m. Thursdays at Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority, 1600 Haskell Ave.

This year’s clinic is coordinated by third-year law student Shannon Greene.

“The VITA program is a great way to help people in our community,” Greene said. “This is my third year participating in the program, and I have enjoyed my experience in it.”

Last year, the VITA clinic filed 118 returns, which almost doubled the amount the clinic filed in the previous year. Greene said she hoped to see continued growth of the program in the 2024 tax season.

“I’m excited to see how many returns we file this year and to see the positive impact we have on individuals’ lives in our community,” Greene said.

The law school’s VITA program operates on a first-come, first-served basis, and the number of preparers varies by site. Those seeking assistance are encouraged to arrive near the start of each session.

Taxpayers should bring proof of identification and all relevant documentation, including proof of income and expenditures.

For more information, contact the VITA program at 785-864-9227 or by email.

Legal Services for Students (LSS) also offers free tax filing assistance through a VITA grant from the Internal Revenue Service. U.S. resident taxpayers who earned less than $79,000 in 2023 can prepare and file their returns electronically for free with software provided by LSS. International students, faculty and staff at KU filing as nonresident aliens can file their taxes for free with LSS assistance with no income limit. LSS also offers in-person tax filing assistance workshops during the spring filing season. For more information about tax programs provided by LSS visit the LSS website or by email.

“We know tax filing can feel complicated and even overwhelming for taxpayers,” said Jo Hardesty, director of Legal Services for Students. “That’s why at LSS our goal is not only to help taxpayers get their returns filed but to educate taxpayers about the tax system. We want to demystify the process and for our tax clients to feel confident when approaching their tax returns the following year, and every year going forward.”

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Don’t miss new episodes of “When Experts Attack!,”

a KU News Service podcast hosted by Kansas Public Radio.

 

https://kansaspublicradio.org/when-experts-attack

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Contact: Jon Niccum, KU News Service, 785-864-7633, [email protected]

Portraits reveal insight into gender-ambiguous luminaries of early modern Europe

 

LAWRENCE — The continual attention on the transgender community implies this is a modern cultural issue. But as a new article attests, transgender individuals have been around for centuries.

“Part of what I’m interested in seeing is how the concept itself is used through human history,” said Marta Vicente, professor of history and of women, gender & sexuality studies at the University of Kansas.

Her article “Trans Visual Narratives: Representing Gender and Nature in Early Modern Europe” studies the portraits of two renowned gender-ambiguous individuals: the 17th century Spanish soldier Antonio/Catalina de Erauso and 18th century French diplomat the Chevalier d’Eon. Their paintings appear as part of the artistic and scientific explorations that negotiated changing concepts of nature during this period.

The research appears in the Journal of Women’s History.

She chose to focus on these two particular personalities because of their many similarities.

“They both came from nobility. They were both wealthy. But their real connection was they were early modern celebrities. People knew them everywhere. People would even imitate them. This gives us a privileged angle to examine gender ambiguity in a way we couldn’t do with ordinary people,” she said.

One notable contrast was d’Eon dwelled in France and England, whereas Erauso resided in the Spanish world.

“Because historians tend to still be very geographically based, if you study Spain or Latin America, you don’t study anything else. Bringing them together taught me how there are some gender perspectives in the early modern world that are if not universal then at least characteristic of western societies,” she said.

Vicente addresses a key question that reverberated throughout both of her subjects’ societies: “Do we see them as part of nature’s diversity or nature’s monstrosity?”

“In the early modern period — and I think it’s still true now — people were interested in those who did not fit the expected gender because they were sort of ‘troubling nature,’” she said. “How the human being fits within the natural world is a curiosity that people have always had. And ambiguous gender makes people question the predictability of nature and the order of things.”

She revealed why Erauso and d’Eon were careful in trying to portray themselves as a wonder of nature.

“Otherwise there can be consequences, as in criminal cases or Inquisition trials. If a trans person is condemned of crimes like sodomy, suddenly, the wonder of nature becomes a monstrosity. Then it’s perceived as a sin against nature,” she said.

The professor chose to refer to both subjects by the pronoun “they,” even though that was not the contemporary method in their respective eras.

“Pronouns are important now because they are a verbal translation of gender. They serve as a bridge that translates gender for us. Pronouns are anchors of identity,” she said.

“But it’s funny because Erauso spoke Basque, which has no pronouns. Yet in Spanish there are. So the ambiguity of language is reflected in this.”

How would she envision a meeting between Erauso and d’Eon?

“Oh, they would probably hate each other,” she said, laughing.

“Chevalier d’Eon was a quintessential feminist. An avant-garde by all means. They wrote an entire essay on the genealogy of women in theology. They wanted women to be ordained as priests. But Erauso, as portrayed in their autobiography, is the quintessential misogynist: a macho, masculine soldier. Women are subhuman to Erauso. They could not have been in the same room for more than five seconds.”

A native of Barcelona, Vicente is the author of “Debating Sex and Gender in Eighteenth-Century Spain” (Cambridge, 2017) and of the articles “Rethinking Identity: Transgender Studies and Catalan Independence” and “Transgender: A Useful Category? Or, How the Historical Study of ‘Transsexual’ and ‘Transvestite’ Can Help Us Rethink ‘Transgender’ as a Category.” Her expertise focuses on queer studies, queer theory, feminist history and sexuality.

“‘Trans Visual Narratives’ offers yet another layer to the complexities of the construction of gender from a historical perspective and therefore also for us today,” Vicente said. “Through these two individuals, we can see what may have been very normal for a lot of people in early modern Europe who were not fitting into the gender that they were assigned at birth.”

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Lawrence KS 66045

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http://www.news.ku.edu

 

Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, director of news and media relations, [email protected]

 

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