KU News: KGS scientists collaborate on project to identify unmarked graves in local cemetery

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KGS scientists collaborate on project to identify unmarked graves in local cemetery
LAWRENCE — A joint project of the Kansas Geological Survey, Douglas County Historical Society’s Oak Hill Cemetery Program Committee and Watkins Museum of History aims to uncover and memorialize the stories of hundreds of people interred in Oak Hill Cemetery’s potter’s field from the 1860s through the 1910s. “This project turned out to be a really wonderful opportunity for the KGS to engage with our local community and use the tools and methods that I have to address a problem that disproportionately impacts historically excluded groups,” said Blair Schneider, KGS science outreach manager and associate researcher.

KU receives first TRIO Training Program grant
LAWRENCE – After receiving a perfect score on the grant application, the University of Kansas Center for Educational Opportunity Programs has been awarded a TRIO Training Program for Priority 2, the first of its kind in KU history. The two-year grant will provide professional development on budget management and the statutory and regulatory requirements for the operation of projects funded under the Federal TRIO Programs for 480 TRIO professionals.

12 KU undergraduate students selected for 2022 Millennium Fellowship
LAWRENCE — Out of nearly 32,000 applicants, 12 University of Kansas students have been selected for the 2022 Millennium Fellowship, a leadership development program overseen by the Millennium Campus Network in partnership with United Nations Academic Impact. The students include Kansans from Augusta, Lawrence, Leawood and Overland Park. As part of the fellowship, the students will partner with Friends of the Kaw on two river cleanup efforts this fall.

Full stories below.

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Contact: Julie Tollefson, Kansas Geological Survey, 785-864-2114, [email protected], @ksgeology
KGS scientists collaborate on project to identify unmarked graves in local cemetery
LAWRENCE — A joint project of the Kansas Geological Survey, Douglas County Historical Society’s Oak Hill Cemetery Program Committee and Watkins Museum of History aims to uncover and memorialize the stories of hundreds of people interred in Oak Hill Cemetery’s potter’s field from the 1860s through the 1910s.
The project is funded by a $13,000 grant from the Douglas County Heritage Conservation Council and a $10,000 grant from Humanities Kansas.
A potter’s field was a section of a cemetery set aside for the burial of the poor, the unknown and the marginalized, often without monuments to mark the graves.
During the summer of 2021, a team led by Blair Schneider, KGS science outreach manager and associate researcher, surveyed about an acre, or 4,800 square yards, of the Oak Hill Cemetery’s potter’s field over a period of several weeks. The team, which included 18 community volunteers, used four geophysical research methods, including ground-penetrating radar and techniques that detect differences in electrical and magnetic signatures, to identify objects and materials buried beneath Earth’s surface.
Schneider and her colleagues are now analyzing and interpreting that data to identify individual burial sites.
“This project turned out to be a really wonderful opportunity for the KGS to engage with our local community and use the tools and methods that I have to address a problem that disproportionately impacts historically excluded groups,” Schneider said. “Being able to use my research skills to address issues related to social justice and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is very important to me. I value being able to center the voices of those who have historically not been heard, or even actively ignored.”
Caleb Latas, project director and independent consultant for the Douglas County Historical Society, plans to merge the geophysical survey results with existing but sometimes incomplete cemetery records kept by the city of Lawrence as well as with state and federal census data to develop the most complete picture of the lives of individuals buried in the cemetery’s potter’s field.
“Our hope is to give meaning and a name to the geophysics results and to create a database for descendants to be able to find and connect with their ancestors and relatives,” said Latas, a master’s student at the University of York who received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Kansas.
The project will create interpretive signs that list the names of those buried in potter’s field and, when the information is available, their dates of birth and death, place of birth and residence.
“These signs will also have QR codes that can be scanned, and each sign will have an associated podcast telling their stories, the history of the potter’s field here and what a potter’s field is, along with how the folks here represent an untold history of Lawrence and how their lives are an untold history of many major historical moments and events in Lawrence and Kansas,” Latas said.
Larry Hoyle, a retired research scientist who volunteered with the geophysical site survey, continues to provide research assistance and help finding resources. “For the community, it’s important to remember that, while no markers exist for most of those in potter’s field, they were a part of the community then and our history now,” he said.
In addition to the KGS, the Douglas County Historical Society’s Oak Hill Committee and Watkins Museum staff will oversee the project, coordinate public information and serve as fiscal agent. Lawrence Parks & Recreation owns Oak Hill Cemetery and will work with Watkins Museum to develop interpretation of the site.
“This project will help us tell a more complete story of Lawrence’s past and broaden the diversity of the historical record,” said Steve Nowak, executive director of the Douglas County Historical Society. “The information gathered will complement what we know about Oak Hill Cemetery and the role it has played in the community.”
The grants will fund a series of community discussions about the project and local events called “history harvests” to collect stories from people whose ancestors are buried in potter’s field.
“It’s really important to us that the community is an equal partner in this, that they are directly guiding and shaping this project for what is important to them,” Latas said.
In addition to Schneider, Latas, Nowak, and Hoyle, Donna Rae Pearson, owner of Kitchen Table History and a local historian from Topeka, and Kerry Altenbernd, local historian and member of the Douglas County Historical Society Oak Hill Committee, will aid in research and understanding of the history and context of Oak Hill Cemetery. More information is available on the project’s website.

For more information, contact Schneider by email.

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Contact: Laura Kingston, Center for Educational Opportunity Programs, 785-864-3415, [email protected], @CEOPmedia
KU receives first TRIO Training Program grant

LAWRENCE – After receiving a perfect score on the grant application, the University of Kansas Center for Educational Opportunity Programs (CEOP) has been awarded a TRIO Training Program for Priority 2 (KU TTP2), the first of its kind in KU history.
The two-year grant will provide professional development on budget management and the statutory and regulatory requirements for the operation of projects funded under the Federal TRIO Programs for 480 TRIO professionals.
KU TTP2 will leverage a two-prong approach to create a dual capacity-building framework to empower TRIO professionals and institution/agency teams from across the country to fully understand and successfully operate their TRIO grants.
The U.S. Department of Education has established eight different types of TRIO programs that assist students and learners of all age to overcome economic, social, academic and cultural barriers to higher education. Within KU’s Achievement & Assessment Institute, Ngondi Kamaṱuka is the director of CEOP, which houses each type of TRIO Program: TRIO Educational Opportunity Centers, TRIO McNair Scholars Program, TRIO Supportive Educational Services & STEM, TRIO Talent Search, TRIO Upward Bound, TRIO Upward Bound Math-Science and TRIO Veterans Upward Bound.
“For 50 years, KU’s multiple TRIO programs have helped thousands of students explore college opportunities and receive comprehensive support on their path to earning a degree,” Kamaṱuka said. “Now, with a TRIO training grant, the CEOP legacy expands to create a space for TRIO professionals to become learners and improve their own programs.”
Across the two years of the KU TTP2 grant, CEOP will facilitate four in-person trainings where TRIO professionals can expand their professional support networks, as well as six virtual trainings that will allow TRIO programs to bring their systems teams into the professional development.
This highly competitive grant for $595,202 expands KU’s legacy of being a leader on the national TRIO stage. It is rare to find a university that houses all types of TRIO programs, and the awarding of this grant will allow KU to be among the few.
“We are honored to be one of the two universities selected to receive a TRIO Training grant for Priority 2. It speaks volumes to the decades of experience KU has facilitating TRIO programs,” Kamaṱuka said. “No matter what TRIO program you are, or what state you are in, KU TTP2 looks forward to helping strengthen your program and, in turn, improve educational equity at the national level.”

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Contact: Justin Runge, University Honors Program, [email protected], @KUHonors
12 KU undergraduate students selected for 2022 Millennium Fellowship
LAWRENCE — Out of nearly 32,000 applicants from more than 2,400 institutions worldwide, 12 University of Kansas students have been selected for the 2022 Millennium Fellowship, a leadership development program overseen by the Millennium Campus Network in partnership with United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI).
UNAI’s 10 principles, along with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, or SGDs, inform the student-led community projects that the fellowship’s global network and resources support. Among the program’s more than 3,700 students, who together represent 207 campuses in 36 countries, are a dozen KU fellows:

1. Eleazar Abraham, a junior majoring in chemistry, human biology, and global & international studies from Hayward, California
2. Fatima Asif, a senior majoring in biochemistry and English from Overland Park
3. Samuel Butler, a senior majoring in behavioral neuroscience and political science from Overland Park
4. Eddie Church, a sophomore majoring in environmental studies from Lawrence
5. Ammar Farra, a senior majoring in chemistry and history from Brentwood, Tennessee
6. Brunojoel Hatungimana, a senior majoring in biochemistry from Manzini, Eswatini
7. Soham Kawade, a sophomore majoring in biology from Pune, India
8. Gabriela Ruiz, a senior majoring in economics and English from Overland Park
9. Ian Reddy, a senior majoring in biology and exercise science from Augusta
10. Aarush Sehgal, a sophomore majoring in molecular, cellular, & developmental biology from Chandigarh, India
11. Nasrin Shahlari, a senior majoring in chemical engineering from Leawood
12. Fabiana Salas Valdivia, a junior majoring in global & international studies and political science from Arequipa, Peru.
“We are tremendously proud of our students for being selected to this year’s class of Millennium Fellows,” Chancellor Douglas A. Girod said. “The University of Kansas’ mission is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world. KU’s Millennium Fellows embody KU’s mission and values, and I am confident that their experience with the Millennium Fellowship will further enhance their ability to change the world for the better.”
KU is one of only 28 campuses in the U.S. to host a Millennium Fellowship campus hub. Abraham and Butler, who coordinated the program application, serve as the hub’s campus directors. Both were also the driving forces behind KU earning UNAI membership, which is required for Millennium Fellowship consideration.
Abraham and Butler are now tasked with helping hub members build leadership skills through the MCN Action Toolkit curriculum in preparation for a local project that makes progress on one of the UN’s 17 SGDs, which address global challenges like poverty, health and sustainability.
For their project, KU’s fellows will partner with Friends of the Kaw, an organization dedicated to protecting the Kansas River through education, advocacy and hands-on involvement. The students’ connection with the group stems from a river walk last spring led by Amy Burgin, professor and senior scientist with KU’s Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, and Dawn Buehler, riverkeeper for Friends of the Kaw. The tour was part of the University Honors Program’s Common Cause program, in which students seek solutions to an urgent issue through a symposium and service opportunities.
This fall, KU’s Millennium Fellows plan to participate in two river cleanup efforts as a part of their project. Potential project activities also include research assistance using ArcGIS, a geographic information system, and development of materials to raise awareness of the ecological, environmental and economic issues related to the Kansas River.
The fellowship concludes in November with the presentation of a certificate for fellows who complete their project. KU’s fellows will then incorporate their experience into a session for the 2023 Common Cause symposium in January, which will focus on the intersection of climate and health.
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