Ahmanson Lab Collaboratories: 2019-2020

Building a Virtual Renaissance Library: Julius II’s Stanza della Segnatura

Julius II (b. 1443-d. 1513) was known as the “Warrior Pope,” who told Michelangelo to depict him with sword rather than book in hand. Yet Julius also built his own library, specially housed in the Vatican Palace room, now known as the Stanza della Segnatura, that he had painted by Raphael. The main frescoes depict gatherings of great polymaths from Greek antiquity to the Julius’ time, from Homer and Plato to Gregory the Great and Raphael himself. The frescoes' themes—Philosophy, Poetry, Theology, and Jurisprudence—pictorially synthesize relationships between these four major disciplines from the period. Julius owned books in all these disciplines, and some of his manuscripts survive today.

Students in this Collaboratory will reconstruct a digital version of the “Julian Library” in virtual reality. In doing so, they will analyze Renaissance books in USC Libraries' Special Collections; research the paintings, the collected manuscripts and their authors; and consider Renaissance linear perspective in connection to today’s digital constructs.

Faculty Coordinator:

Lisa Pon, Art History

Outside Advisors:

Andreas Kratky, Associate Professor of Cinematic Arts, USC
Tracy Cosgriff, Assistant Professor of Art and Art History, The College of Wooster
Melinda Hayes, Rare Books Librarian, USC Libraries
Suzanne Noruschat, Southern California Studies Specialist, Special Collections, USC Libraries

Special Guests:

Joseph Monteyne, Associate Professor of Art History, Visual Art & Theory, University of British Columbia
Carolyn Yerkes, Assistant Professor of Art and Archeology, Princeton University

Full Description:

Download the full description here.


Distant Destinations Prototype Exhibit

Students in this exciting Collaboratory will develop a prototype multi-player, multi-media exhibit that allows the public to plan and execute a human-piloted mission to one of several Distant Destinations including the lunar surface, Mars or an outer planetary moon. In developing this multi-player experience students will conduct research across multiple disciplinary fields including planetary geology, orbital mechanics, rocketry and human biology. The students’ research will involve visits to the spacecraft galleries at the California Science Center and the prototype exhibit will be floor tested with Science Center guests.

Faculty Coordinator:

Kenneth E. Phillips, Physics and Astronomy
Curator for Aerospace Science, California Science Center

Outside Advisors:

Curation and Exhibit Developer Team, California Science Center

Full Description:

Download the full description here.


Climate Change, Natural Resources, and Pathways to Conflict

What is the connection between climate, resources, and conflict? Many journalistic accounts assume resource scarcity caused by climactic change leads to conflict and that resource abundance from natural resources does the same; researchers, however, have not reached a consensus. Finding solutions to the impacts of environmental change is a Wicked Problem, unlikely to be achieved within the context of a single academic discipline.

Students in this Collaboratory will build a website that will bring together current research and data on environmental issues and societal (non-violent and violent) conflict, create a video to highlight important concepts, and design an interactive game (to be played on the website) that asks players to put themselves in the place of either a citizen activist or government official trying to make decisions about how to respond to environmental change.

Faculty Coordinator:

Megan Becker, School of International Relations
Co-PI, Security and Political Economy (SPEC) Lab

Full Description:

Download the full description here.


Please email Curtis Fletcher at cfletche@usc.edu with any questions.