From the Publisher

Robert V. Duncan

Dr. Robert Duncan,
Vice Chancellor for Research

Joe Johnson, the superbly talented photographer and assistant professor of fine arts featured on Illumination’s cover, talks about education and discovery in a way I believe all of us here at MU can relate to.

“I think that what a lot of us are trying to do in the art department is to guard against the uniquely contemporary tendency toward passive looking,” Johnson told our reporter. “We want our students to be able to translate visual experience into something that’s meaningful.”

Translating one’s vision into “something that’s meaningful,” whether that vision involves an aesthetic of built spaces or the signaling properties of proteins, is at the core of MU’s teaching, research and service missions. In this edition of Illumination you’ll see that mission at work as our scientists, scholars and students, with both the vigor of their ideas and the purposefulness of their actions, set about laying the groundwork for next-generation solutions to some of today’s most pressing questions and concerns.

Among them are Alan Whittington and Peter Nabelek, globe-trotting geologists whose recent investigation of thermal conductivity is forcing a fundamental reevaluation of, quite literally, the ground beneath our feet. You’ll also meet Deborah Hume, an MU public health scholar who has teamed up with federal, state and local officials to aid the oft-ignored victims of human trafficking in the hinterlands. You’ll learn how MU accounting experts like Jere Francis are working to equip financial professionals with the instruments they’ll need to avert future financial disasters. You will see how psychologist David Geary’s provocative findings on brain evolution shed light on our uniquely human brand of consciousness, and how recently completed research by genomics leader Jerry Taylor and his colleagues has deepened our understanding of what is arguably humankind’s most important domesticated animal.

Like Joe Johnson, these faculty scientists and scholars are not content to simply exercise their ambitions and talents, but are eager to share them with a world hungry for answers. Here at Illumination, albeit in a modest way, we are honored to help that process along.

Robert V. Duncan
Vice Chancellor for Research

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University of Missouri

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