KU News: Google Earth creator Brian McClendon is KU’s newest National Academy of Inventors Fellow

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Google Earth creator Brian McClendon is KU’s newest National Academy of Inventors Fellow

LAWRENCE — The National Academy of Inventors has added another Jayhawk to its fellows. Brian McClendon, research professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, was named among the 162 academic inventors in the 2023 Class of Fellows on Dec. 12. Election as an academy fellow is the highest professional distinction awarded solely to inventors.

 

$1M Mellon Foundation grant will boost transgender studies at KU

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies has received a $1 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to deepen the department’s work in transgender studies. The grant will allow the department to hire a faculty member next year, increasing KU’s number of transgender studies scholars. In addition, funds will be allocated to the greater community through public programming, community grants and scholarly events.

 

KU architecture class partners with Lawrence elementary school to construct shade structure

LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas architecture class is bringing a slice of shade to a playground at Lawrence’s Hillcrest Elementary School that’s billed as the first fully accessible playground in Kansas. Third-year students in Keith Van de Riet’s design-build studio course designed and fabricated an 800-square-foot pavilion and companion rain garden with native plantings to provide shade and ecological benefits for the Ryan Gray Playground for All. A ribbon-cutting for the new structure is planned for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 15.

 

Full stories below.

 

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Contact: Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, KU News Service, 785-864-8858, [email protected], @ebpkansas

Google Earth creator Brian McClendon is KU’s newest National Academy of Inventors Fellow

LAWRENCE — The National Academy of Inventors has added another Jayhawk to its fellows.

Brian McClendon, research professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, was named among the 162 academic inventors in the 2023 Class of Fellows on Dec. 12. Election as an academy fellow is the highest professional distinction awarded solely to inventors.

“Inventions represent the culmination of a long research timeline — from idea creation, to hypothesis testing, to translation of results, to application. Becoming a nationally recognized fellow is a tremendous honor that we can all celebrate,” said Belinda Sturm, interim vice chancellor for research. “We are also proud that Brian is an alum of KU and has chosen to continue his career at KU as a research professor in the School of Engineering.”

McClendon earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from KU in 1986. He spent eight years at Silicon Graphics developing high-end workstation 3D graphics.

In 2001, he was one of the original investors in Keyhole Inc., a software visualization application, where he was the vice president of engineering. Google acquired Keyhole in 2004, and its main application suite, Earth Viewer, formed the basis of Google Earth.

McClendon served as vice president of engineering at Google for 10 years. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2015 for his strategic, technical and managerial leadership resulting in widespread geographic information.

McClendon holds 40 patents.

“Brian McClendon is a brilliant thinker and a great Jayhawk engineer,” said Arvin Agah, dean of the KU School of Engineering. “This well-deserved recognition — and his outstanding overall career — are a source of pride for the entire KU Engineering community.”

Since its inception in 2012, the NAI Fellows program has grown to include 1,898 exceptional researchers and innovators, who hold more than 63,000 U.S. patents and 13,000 licensed technologies. NAI Fellows are known for the societal and economic impact of their inventions, contributing to major advancements in science and consumer technologies. Their innovations have generated more than $3 trillion in revenue and generated 1 million jobs.

KU was named a member of the National Academy of Inventors in 2013. Since then, six faculty members have been named fellows while at KU:

2023 — Brian McClendon
2018 — Mark Shiflett, Foundation Distinguished Professor of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering
2017 — Cory Berkland, Solon E. Summerfield Distinguished Professor in KU’s departments of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Chemical & Petroleum Engineering
2016 — Raghunath Chaudhari, Deane E. Ackers Distinguished Professor of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering
2015 — Val Stella, distinguished professor emeritus in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and Bala Subramaniam, the Dan F. Servey Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering
The 2023 class of fellows will be honored and presented their medals at the National Academy of Inventors 13th Annual Meeting in June 2024.

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Contact: Heather Anderson, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, 785-864-3667, [email protected], @KUCollege

$1M Mellon Foundation grant will boost transgender studies at KU

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies has received a $1 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to deepen the department’s work in transgender studies.

The grant will allow the department to hire a faculty member next year, increasing KU’s number of transgender studies scholars. In addition, funds will be allocated to the greater community through public programming, community grants and scholarly events.

“This grant is a remarkable achievement for an outstanding department,” said Arash Mafi, executive dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at KU. “The Mellon grant is a reflection of their outstanding contributions in this area, and we look forward to witnessing the continued impact of their research on shaping the future of transgender studies.”

The grant will enable the department to build a curriculum that will allow students to access and explore transgender studies as an academic field, to aid the larger community in making Lawrence and Kansas at large a more trans-friendly and trans-flourishing landscape and to catalyze further research in this field across the country in ways that will have great influence on the discipline and the larger society.

“Trans studies is an exciting and innovative scholarly branch of WGSS that is producing some of the most exciting theoretical frameworks and real-world applications,” said Katie Batza, professor and chair of the women, gender & sexuality studies department. “We are thrilled to be at the heart of this generative and impactful scholarly area.”

Beyond a new hire and community outreach work, the department also plans to use grant money to dedicate a graduate teaching assistant line to developing various classes in the program, which has been requested by students. A cohort of transgender studies scholars from across the country will be brought together for a weeklong retreat, also funded by the grant.

“The retreat will generate community, scholarship and a strong trans studies network across the country that will allow this relatively young academic subfield to grow,” Batza said.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was founded in 1969 with a mission to strengthen, promote and defend arts and humanities work crucial to democratic societies. Through grants, the foundation works to build communities by enhancing critical thinking. At the end of 2022, Mellon’s total endowment reached approximately $8.1 billion since the establishment of the foundation.

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Contact: Dan Rolf, School of Architecture & Design, 785-864-3027, [email protected], @ArcD_KU

KU architecture class partners with Lawrence elementary school to construct shade structure

LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas architecture class is bringing a slice of shade to a playground at Lawrence’s Hillcrest Elementary School that’s billed as the first fully accessible playground in Kansas.

Third-year students in Keith Van de Riet’s design-build studio course designed and fabricated an 800-square-foot pavilion and companion rain garden with native plantings to provide shade and ecological benefits for the Ryan Gray Playground for All and are spending the last few weeks of the semester on site for construction and installation. Van de Riet, associate professor of architecture, said this is one of the largest projects ever undertaken by one of his classes.

“These projects are so rich with real-world content for the students,” he said. “I can’t imagine a better experience for them to get the holistic picture of what it takes to build even a relatively simple structure. We have only four months to complete the project, which includes obtaining a construction permit from the city of Lawrence. The weather can sure throw a wrench into our plans, as it did this year with the snow and heavy rains around Thanksgiving week.

“I’m completely impressed with my students’ resilience in the challenges we’ve faced, from re-digging our footings after heavy rainfall to snow and mud removal across the site,” Van de Riet said. “Hillcrest is certainly exposed to the elements — the windy, cold weather has only added to the challenge. Not to mention the tornado sirens located adjacent to the playground – we’ve had to literally cover our ears in pain because of the proximity to it. The students have persevered through it all this semester.”

The students on the project are third-year architecture majors who bring prior experience with drawings, conceptual development, computational design and model making, according to Van de Riet. He said the goal is to advance the student’s education in these areas with the project serving as a case study.

“These projects bring about a collaborative vibe that is always great to see, but the Hillcrest Elementary children on the playground have made the project so memorable – they make signs, chant and cheer for us and even bring treats for the KU students. I’m watching the KU students become role models in front of the children – it’s about all you could ask for as an instructor.”

Van De Riet said he expects the project to be complete by the end of the finals week in December.

Initially opened in 1993, the playground honors Ryan Gray, a former Hillcrest student with disabilities who served as a good luck charm of sorts for the 1988 KU men’s basketball national championship team. He died in 1990. In 2016, the playground underwent a $375,000 renovation and at the time was considered the first fully accessible playground in Kansas.

A ribbon-cutting for the new structure is planned for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 15, which is also Gray’s birthday.

In addition to the in-kind and donated materials from KU, the Hillcrest Elementary PTO and Lawrence Community Foundation raised around $40,000 in private funds to support the project.

 

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KU News Service

1450 Jayhawk Blvd.

Lawrence KS 66045

Phone: 785-864-3256

Fax: 785-864-3339

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http://www.news.ku.edu

 

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

 

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