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Illumination magazine.
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Interim Vice Chancellor for Research Robert Hall

Missions of Discovery

Sending manned spacecraft beyond the Earth's orbit is one of the defining challenges of our time, an epic pursuit that links our own best and brightest with those of previous generations who have risked all to expand humanity's geographical and intellectual boundaries.

Attempting interplanetary and deep space missions, as NASA administrators recently put it, will for the foreseeable future remain "expensive, difficult and dangerous." Such attributes, while undoubtedly accurate, are likely only to spur enthusiasm for the task among today's engineers and space scientists, a cadre of forward thinkers who are already advancing innovative ideas for exploring this vast new frontier.

Our cover story in this edition of Illumination introduces you to one such scientist, Craig Kluever, an MU aerospace engineer who is using differential evolutionary algorithms -- computer software that mimics a form of natural selection -- to chart the fittest routes for future spacecraft. It's a project that Charles Darwin, himself a veteran of long, difficult voyages, would undoubtedly applaud.

This issue will also introduce you to MU scientists and scholars who are advancing missions of exploration and discovery closer to home. You will meet, for example, a physicist who is using a biological "printing" device to create living tissue, a development that could one day lead to the creation of replacement organs for people in desperate need of transplants. In addition, you'll encounter an economist whose investigations suggest that student performance could be improved through teacher incentive pay, a renowned forestry professor who has turned his attention to preserving an important historical landmark, and a nutritional scientist who offers some surprising insights into fitness and bone health.

Projects and scholarly investigations by these and other MU faculty members represent advanced thinking by some of America's top minds. They also serve to remind us that Missouri's flagship university, built by restless intellects pushing the bounds of knowledge, will remain great only by boldly going wherever the next frontier might take us. I hope you'll join us on the journey.

Rob Hall
Vice Chancellor for Research, Interim.

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