KU News: Report shows tectonics to be main driver of hillslope ‘connectivity’

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Report shows tectonics to be main driver of hillslope ‘connectivity’
LAWRENCE — Hillslopes are critical landscape features that move water from ridges down to valleys, transport sediments and nutrients, and link terrestrial ecosystems with aquatic ones — facets of a hillslope’s “connectivity.” A new analysis of hillslope connectivity from the University of Kansas gives new understanding of mechanisms that determine how effectively hillslopes drive floods and landslides as well as promote the presence of wetlands. The researchers also worked with water-science advocacy organization CUAHSI to produce a new open-access digital tool to assist researchers, conservationists, policymakers, agricultural land managers and students.

‘The Labyrinth of Desire,’ a cloak-and-dagger rom-com, set to open at KU Theatre
LAWRENCE – University Theatre will open its 2022-23 season with “The Labyrinth of Desire,” by Caridad Svich, offering comedic and romantic hijinks as a multitude of suitors vie for the love of a clever and reluctant young woman. The show opens Oct. 14 in the William Inge Memorial Theatre at Murphy Hall. Cast and crew members include Kansans from Lansing, Lawrence, Lecompton and Overland Park.

KU announces recipients of Keeler Intra-University Professorships for 2022-2023
LAWRENCE – Four University of Kansas professors have been selected to pursue special projects designed to develop their scholarship in a field while also fostering collaboration at KU during the 2022-2023 academic year. The faculty members, from KU’s departments of East Asian Languages & Cultures, Geography & Atmospheric Science, Philosophy and Physics & Astronomy, will pursue interdisciplinary projects with colleagues from across the university.

Full stories below.

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Contact: Brendan Lynch, KU News Service, 785-864-8855, [email protected], @BrendanMLynch
Report shows tectonics to be main driver of hillslope ‘connectivity’
LAWRENCE — Chances are good that most people reading this are situated on a hillslope, as hillslopes cover some 90% of the Earth’s landmass.
Hillslopes are critical landscape features that move water from ridges down to valleys, transport sediments and nutrients, and link terrestrial ecosystems with aquatic ones — facets of a hillslope’s “connectivity.”
A new large-scale analysis of hillslope connectivity at the continental scale from the University of Kansas was recently published in Geophysical Research Letters. The study gives new understanding of mechanisms that determine how effectively hillslopes drive floods and landslides, as well as promote the presence of wetlands.
“’Connectivity’ describes the likelihood that a part of the landscape is linked to a river,” said lead author Admin Husic, Harold A. and Donna R. Phelps Chair’s Council Assistant Professor of Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering at KU. “If you know a certain component of the landscape is highly connected to a river network — well then, that part of the landscape could contribute a lot of water as well as other contaminants to the network. In a way, you can identify some source areas you might want to target for management.
“More basically, ‘connectivity’ describes the movement of water — what compartments of a landscape are efficient at moving water as runoff. Some hillslopes readily convey this runoff quickly. Other hillslopes aren’t,” he said.
The study incorporated data from sources like digital-elevation models created by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Global Earthquake Model, the North American Land Data Assimilation System, the Global Landslide Catalog and the Dartmouth Flood Observatory database.
In seeking to determine what factors most influenced connectivity, Husic, along with co-author and recent KU graduate Alexander Michalek, now at the University of Iowa, report “the dominance of tectonic drivers, like river steepness and seismic activity, over climatic drivers, like precipitation and aridity, in controlling the strength of connectivity for the entire continental United States.”
The researchers found that high connectivity zones are associated with increased propensity for landslides, whereas low connectivity zones promote wetland development. Further, the researchers worked with water-science advocacy organization CUAHSI to produce a new open-access digital tool for researchers and the public, called the “Index of Connectivity Mapper.”
“We created these structural connectivity maps for every 10-meter-by-10-meter square grid for the entire United States,” Husic said. “This required use of supercomputers here at KU, because we did this calculation for about 75 billion locations in the United States.”
Rather than “hoard” the data, the researchers wanted the map, which covers the continental United States, to be freely available to researchers, conservationists, policymakers and students.
“These maps can assist scientists and land managers in their respective domains. An ecologist may want to understand how hillslopes contribute water and nutrients to a river and how that impacts the aquatic ecosystem,” Husic said. “The index of connectivity is a tool that can be used for that purpose. On the other hand, an agricultural land manager may be interested in finding hotspots of soil erosion or deposition, which is also made possible through investigation of our structural connectivity maps.”
The KU researcher said he hoped the digital data gateway could also serve as an educational tool for students working in water science or environmental engineering, for example.
“The math behind the maps isn’t necessarily incredibly complex, but it requires collecting and processing raw data sources as well as implementing many lines of code,” Husic said. “So, we sort of did all that for people. It’ll be convenient for students and other researchers to access the calculated outputs and start working with them right away rather than spending time tracking down all the data sources, writing the code and double-checking that the calculations are correct.”
While the new study of structural connectivity compares hillslope responses to historical climate conditions rather than those projected to occur due to human-driven climate change, this insight will provide a better grasp to predicting how an area may respond to more intense weather events predicted in coming decades.
“If we can understand how hillslopes respond to rainfall inputs, we will be better able to predict potential future responses,” he said. “Here in the Midwest, as climate changes, we anticipate similar amounts of total rainfall, but the rainfall will come down during a shorter timeframe, making events more intense. Looking forward into the future, an important consideration is how the increased intensity of events shifts the amount of rainfall that is absorbed by hillslopes versus how much is transmitted to rivers.”
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Contact: Lisa Coble-Krings, Department of Theatre & Dance, 785-864-5685, [email protected], @KUTheatre
‘The Labyrinth of Desire,’ a cloak-and-dagger rom-com, set to open at KU Theatre
LAWRENCE – This October, fans of the performing arts can escape into a breezy, lighthearted play produced by the University Theatre within KU’s Department of Theatre & Dance. “The Labyrinth of Desire,” by Caridad Svich, offers comedic and romantic hijinks as a multitude of suitors vie for the love of a clever and reluctant young woman named Laura.
Performances are in the William Inge Memorial Theatre at Murphy Hall. “The Labyrinth of Desire” will play at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22 and at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 16. Tickets are available for purchase at kutheatre.com, by calling 785-864-3982, or in person from noon to 5 p.m. weekdays at the box office in Murphy Hall. Additionally, the Oct. 21 performance will be livestreamed. Purchase livestream tickets at kutheatre.com/streaming. The play serves as KU Theatre & Dance’s 2022-23 season opener.
The play relies on cloak-and-dagger intrigue reminiscent of 16th century Spanish commedia. Svich has freely adapted and translated the script from the play “La Prueba de los Ingenios” by the prolific Spanish dramatist Lope de Vega.
The production will be guest-directed by Paris Crayton III of New York City. “The Labyrinth of Desire” asks: What compels us to hide our true self? To what lengths will we go to satisfy desire?
“’Labyrinth’ explores desire from many different angles: How we fall in and out of love and what it looks like when the person we thought we desired is only a ‘steppingstone’ to getting closer to who our heart truly yearns for,” Crayton said. “Working at KU has been a blast. The students are a joy, and they work harder than most professionals.”
Crayton’s staging involves a lot of movement, which makes KU’s production of the play unique, he said. Patrons can expect examples of the anachronistic with props especially.
This is the second time Crayton has been in residency at KU. His play “Chasing Gods” was staged at the university in summer 2019, a collaboration between KU and NewYorkRep.
Crayton is an award-winning playwright, actor, director and educator. He was one of ArtsATL “30 under 30” and Atlanta Journal Constitution’s “Artist to watch.” Creative Loafing named him 2014’s “Best Local Playwright.” Critics have called him “a powerful dramatist” and praised him as “One of the most important playwrights of our time.” His directing credits include “Crumbs from the Table of Joy” at DeSales University, “Chasing Gods” at Davidson College, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” at Pure Artistry and “Mama Bear” at Out of Box Theatre. He is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association. See more at www.ParisCrayton3.com.
In addition to Crayton, the creative team members are Gabrielle Smith, a 2021 graduate of the department and freelance actor from Lansing, as associate director; Lindsay Webster, a third-year MFA student in scenography from Novi, Michigan, as costume and scenic designer; Kelly Vogel, resident artist/academic associate, as lighting designer; Renee Cyr, doctoral student in theatre, from Lawrence, as dramaturg; and Kaitlin Nelke, a freelance stage manager from Kansas City, Missouri, as stage manager.
The cast members include Betsy Armstrong, a senior in film production, as Florela; Cooper Holmes, a freshman in theatre performance from Overland Park, as Ricardo; Farrukhbek Varisov, a senior in theatre performance and political science from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, as Alejandro; Marek Skeeba, a freshman in theatre performance from Lecompton, as Camacho; Allison FitzSimmons, a sophomore in behavioral neuroscience from Lincoln, Nebraska, as Laura; Promita Dey, a junior in aerospace engineering from Overland Park, as Finea; Myles Hollie, a sophomore in theatre performance from Richmond, Virginia, as Paris; Asher Suski, a senior in theatre performance and linguistics from Ames, Iowa, as Estacio; and Basia Schendzielos, a junior in French from Shreveport, Louisiana, as the Duchess of Ferrara.
The University Theatre and University Dance Company are production wings of KU’s Department of Theatre & Dance, offering five to six public productions throughout the academic year. The University Theatre and University Dance Company productions are funded in part by KU Student Senate fees, and the theatre’s season is supported by Truity Credit Union.

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Contact: Evan Riggs, Office of the Provost, 785-864-1085, [email protected], @KUProvost
KU announces recipients of Keeler Intra-University Professorships for 2022-2023
LAWRENCE – Four University of Kansas professors have been selected to pursue special projects designed to develop their scholarship in a field while also fostering collaboration at KU during the 2022-2023 academic year.
The following faculty members were awarded Keeler Intra-University Professorships this academic year:
1. Jay T. Johnson, geography & atmospheric science
2. Kyoungchul “KC” Kong, physics & astronomy
3. Corey Maley, philosophy
4. Kyoim Yun, East Asian languages & cultures

Keeler Intra-University Professorships provide faculty members an opportunity to strengthen their knowledge of an academic specialty, to broaden or achieve greater depth in a defined field of study, or to achieve competence in a new area of scholarly endeavor. Their work should also lead to increased collaboration and synergy across disciplines.

Keeler Professorships have supported faculty development for tenured KU faculty since the 1980s. Faculty members apply for the professorship with the endorsement of their department and dean. Selected faculty are relieved of departmental responsibilities for one semester, and their departments receive financial support to assist with meeting instructional needs. The Center for Faculty Development & Mentoring reviews applicants and selects recipients.
“The center’s mission is to help faculty develop rewarding careers at KU,” said Lou Mulligan, interim vice provost for faculty affairs. “The Keeler Professorship is central to building new and lasting interdisciplinary connections that fuel groundbreaking work after acquiring tenure. This year’s recipients fully embody the center’s mission.”
The program is possible through a gift of the Keeler family in memory of W.W. Keeler, petroleum engineering alumnus and former president of the KU Alumni Association. Keeler served as president and chief executive officer of Phillips Petroleum Co. from 1967-1973, and he was principal chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1949-1975, a position he was originally appointed to by President Harry Truman.
About the recipients
Jay T. Johnson
Jay T. Johnson, professor of geography & atmospheric science, will spend the spring 2023 semester learning from the Spencer Museum of Art issues related to public practice and engagement within the curatorial world to aid in his community-engaged scholarship with Kaw Nation and the Lawrence community surrounding the future of Iⁿ ‘zhúje ‘waxóbe and Robinson Park. His Keeler Professorship will support the practical effort of moving Iⁿ ‘zhúje ‘waxóbe, facilitated workshops and site visits in partnership with the Kaw Nation, and community engagements in Robinson Park in collaboration with Sydney Pursel, curator of public practice at the Spencer Museum of Art.
Johnson joined the KU faculty in 2008.
“Our project opens an unprecedented opportunity to document the unfolding of a reparative process between Kaw Nation and the City of Lawrence,” Johnson wrote in his application. “Understanding its significance, we plan to capture all significant events and record interviews with all core participants and community members to produce a series of edited stories and potentially a feature-length documentary film. We will also be collecting and preserving all relevant documents and photos produced during the project for archiving purposes for publication.”
Kyoungchul “KC” Kong
KC Kong, professor of physics & astronomy, will spend the spring 2023 semester collaborating with faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science to study quantum Shannon theory, solidify theoretical backgrounds on quantum computation and develop teaching materials and research related to quantum computation. He will work with Taejoon Kim, assistant professor of electrical engineering & computer science, and other faculty members at EECS. His Keeler Professorship will support curriculum development for physics classes, including quantum computing and quantum information science; weekly discussion sessions with his collaborators – including Hyunsoo Kim, assistant professor of physics at the Missouri University of Science & Technology – and a research project with Taejoon Kim.
Kong joined the KU faculty in 2010.
“Quantum computation and quantum information are in the intersection of engineering, physics and mathematics,” Kong wrote in his application. “They bring a new dimension into classroom teaching and research. They are important for students’ job perspectives as well. Both engineering and physics and astronomy will gain from the outcome of this proposal. My group and professor Taejoon Kim’s group will benefit from the increased collaboration and synergy in terms of research and potential funding opportunities.”
Corey Maley
Corey Maley, associate professor of philosophy, is spending the fall 2022 semester working with Michael Branicky, professor of electrical engineering & computer science, Jonathan Brumberg, associate professor of speech-language-hearing. Maley’s Keeler Professorship is examining non-digital computation, particularly in the context of contemporary computer science and engineering and furthering the development of an interdisciplinary course in non-digital computation.
Maley joined the KU faculty in 2014.
“Non-digital computation is becoming increasingly important,” Maley wrote in his application, “both as it can be applied in emerging technologies and for understanding the theoretical basis of computation in neural systems. In addition to building computers inspired by the brain, we also need to understand what kind of computation the brain performs.”
Kyoim Yun
Kyoim Yun, associate professor of East Asian language & cultures, will spend the spring 2023 semester developing her book project “Templestay for All: A Wellness Journey amid a Happiness Crisis in South Korea” and a related course titled “Happiness in East Asia.” Yun will work with Kathryn Rhine, associate professor in geography & atmospheric sciences. With additional support from the Hall Center for Humanities and the Center for East Asian Studies, she will explore how the South Korean Buddhist establishment has partnered with the government to address social-emotional well-being through Templestay, a short-term retreat program held for laypersons at Buddhist monasteries, during the global pandemic.
Yun joined the KU faculty in 2007.
“Given the increasingly precarious conditions of life that human beings are collectively facing in the 21st century, grief, anxiety and depression may well be a global condition for which there is no easy remedy,” Yun wrote in her application. “Both my research and teaching projects are particularly timely and relevant given the added stresses caused by two years of the global pandemic.”

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