Discover research gems in Boatwright's online collection

June 22, 2021

Research & Innovation

Fascinating research and scholarship pour out of UR like water from a cool spring during the summertime. And Boatwright Memorial Library’s digital asset management and preservation administrator Crista LaPrade is right there, inviting us in.

She handles the UR Scholarship Repository, which houses an incredibly wide range of content that faculty, staff, and students produce. Since the repository launched in August 2013 as a collaboration with the Muse Law Library, total downloads from the site surpassed 3.5 million.

She cautioned that the repository doesn’t contain everything, though. Some publishers limit what can be posted and when. Copyright restrictions often prohibit the library from posting an entire book, too.

With these caveats in mind, here’s a sampling of interesting research from last year that grabbed her attention:

Bob Spires, an associate professor of education at the School of Professional & Continuing Studies, wrote an article for The Conversation in late July 2020 analyzing four countries where K-12 schools stayed open during the pandemic or had resumed in-person instruction. “How Other Countries Reopened Schools during the Pandemic — And What the US can Learn from Them” noted that there’s no perfect way to reopen schools, but surfaced several practices and policies that helped.

Biology, geography and the environment associate professor Todd Lookingbill co-authored an article for the cross-disciplinary journal Sustainability. The authors used relatively inexpensive stationary sensors to gather data throughout the city for a year. “Assessing Inequitable Urban Heat Islands and Air Pollution Disparities with Low-Cost Sensors in Richmond, Virginia” concluded that vulnerable communities experienced higher temperatures and levels of particulate matter than suburban neighborhoods.

Jepson School of Leadership Studies professor emerita Gill Robinson Hickman and associate psychology professor Laura E. Knouse dug into an unexplored area with their book When Leaders Face Personal Crisis: The Human Side of Leadership. The duo’s combination of original research and a review of the literature includes leaders’ real-life personal crises such as bereavement, illness, injury, and divorce.

Another Jepson publication that caught LaPrade’s eye is the book Community Wealth Building and the Reconstruction of American Democracy: Can We Make American Democracy Work? edited by Melody Barnes, Corey D. B. Walker, and associate professor of leadership studies and philosophy, politics, economics and law Thad Williamson. “How can we create and sustain an America that never was, but should be?” the editors ask.

Farther afield, German filmmaker Wim Wenders, known for directing cult classics including Wings of Desire and Paris, Texas, is the subject of a book edited by associate French professor Olivier Delers and Arabic Language Program director Martin Sulzer-Reichel. Wim Wenders: Making Films That Matter presents a dozen essays arguing that he “remains a true innovator in both his experiments in 3D filmmaking and his attempts to define a visual poetics of peace.”

The UR Scholarship Repository goes beyond text-based publications. For example, LaPrade recently added a YouTube video and posters to the Amazon Borderlands Spatial Analysis Team, an ongoing project led by Department of Geography and the Environment associate professor David S. Salisbury and assistant professor Stephanie Sphera. Their NASA-funded research seeks to understand how factors like deforestation and road construction affect the Southwestern Amazon — and develop tools for improving sustainable development in the region.

LaPrade also highlighted the opportunities students have at UR to pursue advanced academic work. A live world map for student collections in the repository rapidly fills with pins representing visitors accessing honors and master’s theses. “Right now there’s somebody in Hawaii downloading a master’s thesis on Shakespeare and astrology,” she said. “It shows you how wide-reaching the content can be.”