In the Loop
General News : Feb 23, 2017

a2ru brings science and creativity together at the University of Florida

By Casey Wooster

Over 120 university students and faculty members from across the country congregated together at the University of Florida College of the Arts for the 2017 Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) Emerging Creatives Student Summit. This year’s summit took place between February 8 and February 11 and focused around the theme of WATER: New Directions Through Arts and Sciences.

Being situated less than two hours from the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Ocean as well as numerous freshwater springs, the University of Florida offered a unique setting for this year’s summit. UF professors in the life sciences and arts partnered with water scholars and artists from around the country to collaborate with university students in panel discussions, group projects and field trips centered on issues and problems related to water.

“I would have never come to Gainesville and see all of this amazing stuff if I hadn’t been accepted,” said Tess Torregrosa, a doctoral candidate in chemical engineering at Northeastern University, as she learned about Florida’s aquifer system during a field trip to Gainesville’s Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

Torregrosa and other a2ru participants were brought together by their shared passions for the arts, crossing disciplinary boundaries, developing collaborative projects and most importantly their deep interests in water and the environment.

Undergraduate and graduate students participating in a2ru were encouraged to form interdisciplinary groups in order to tackle water-related challenges in innovative and creative ways over the four-day summit that cumulated in presentations.

Presentations ranged from videos highlighting the sounds of our waterways to mobile applications featuring educational games on recycling. Other projects included public sculptures emphasizing local environments as well as community programs related to water use.

At the end of the summit, Nathan McKee, an undergraduate student in environmental studies, explained that he hoped to take the best parts of the discourse at a2ru home with him to his University of Cincinnati, where he hopes to create a greater dialogue between and within disciplines.

“The success of the humanities will be the success of the sciences,” said McKee.

Learn more about a2ru, visit