11 Top 2021 KU College Moments

2021 Top KU College Moments

2021 was a year full of excitement in research advancements, plenty of student and faculty awards, and just trying to get used to our “new normal” after the previous year taken over by a pandemic. As we say goodbye to 2021 and look ahead to a year full opportunities, we’re recapping 2021 with 11 moments that impacted and inspired us. These moments represent the endless possibilities students, faculty and alumni of the College can experience. Here are the top moments of our year in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

1. Researchers Pave the Way in Revealing Radiation 

Man wearing red sweater looking at radiation equipment.

Chris Royon, Foundation Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy and his team are leading the way in developing new detectors to measure the time of passage of a single particle with picosecond precision. He’s featured in an Innovation News Network article where he explains his findings, the additional topics he’s working on, and the impact the results can have.  

He explains that the impact of the Agile experiment he’s worked on could lead to numerous exciting applications such as measuring the amount of radiation with high accuracy that astronauts will receive when they go to Mars, which is obviously a very high priority. 

2. A Rare Corpse Flower Blooms on Campus

In the KU Greenhouses, a unique sighting was seen – a corpse flower (titan arum) bloomed. The Corpse Flower can go up to 10 years between blooms, so this was a big deal. Known for smelling like rotting flesh, many students and faculty got the opportunity to check it out for themselves.

The greenhouse on campus is located on a rooftop terrace on Haworth Hall, home to hundreds of plants, including the corpse flower. In the video above, you can learn more about the greenhouse and the research conducted right on campus.

3. Students Share Their Story 

Student Stories

This year, College students from a wide variety of majors shared their experiences, research, and future plans with us. Some of the stories include Sam Glaser who described how he created his own major, Lourdes Kalusha-Aguirre who explained her path to winning several film awards and Joseph Hartung on his journey to interning in Kenya. These students are prime examples of the fascinating opportunities students can have when studying in the College.

4. College Alum Courtney Shipley to Be Lawrence’s New Mayor 

Courtney Shipley, pictured outside City Hall wearing a blue and black striped shirt and black jacket.

College alum Courtney Shipley was chosen as the new mayor of Lawrence. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Slavic languages and literatures. Paving the way for other students, she serves as an inspiration of what you’re capable of doing with a College degree at KU.

Her appointment as mayor will likely be the first time a person of Hispanic background has held the office in recent decades, and potentially longer. In a Lawrence Journal-World article, Shipley says she’s looking ahead to several key issues in the upcoming year including “getting a lot more movement” in addressing homelessness and getting a better handle on how to help people by working with community partners.

5. College Professors Featured in Unwinding Podcast

unwinding a podcast graphic

KU College Professors shared their opinions and research on a plethora of topics on the Unwinding podcast. Brandon Davis, assistant professor in the School of Public Affairs & Administration is one of the professors who spoke on the podcast. Davis discussed the idea of police reform, how we can better discuss race and policing in America, and his past as a cook at a James Beard Award-winning restaurant. We also heard from Distinguished Professor in the Department of Economics Donna Ginther. She shared her work on COVID economic recovery and how she used her background as an economist to study how mask mandates improved COVID rates.

6. Outstanding College Jayhawk Nominees for Prestigious Awards 

Four student pictures in a collage

Four outstanding KU College Jayhawks were named as the 2021 University of Kansas nominees for prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarships. The national awards provide up to $30,000 for graduate study. The awards are given to college juniors for leadership in public service. They are highly competitive, with only about 60 Truman Scholars named nationwide each year.

The 2021 nominees were:

Radhia Abdirahman, majoring in global & international studies and human biology (applied behavioral sciences) 

Rachel Hall, majoring in global & international studies and political science and minoring in intelligence and national security studies

Gustavo Murillo-Espinoza, majoring in molecular, cellular & developmental biology and a minor in Latino/a studies

Leah Stein, majoring in sociology and minoring in social justice in the United States

7. A year in Instagram Photos 

Nine pictures in a collage

We’re hopping on the popular trend of looking at our top nine Instagram photos of the year. This year, some of our top photos include beautiful pictures of campus, a celebratory post for the four College students who were nominees for the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarships, graduation, a KU College pup, and of course, the meme “starter pack” graphic.

Check out more of our posts and follow along for another great year!

8. KU CLACS Faculty Member Selected as a Top Climate Change Scientist 

Aerial image of campus.

One of our own, Dr. Andrew Townsend Peterson, University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Curator in the Biodiversity Institute, was selected as a top climate change scientist. His research focuses on the ecology and evolution of species’ geographic distributions in time and space. 

To identify the 1,000 most influential scientists, Reuters used a series of rankings based on how many research papers scientists have published on topics related to climate change; how often those papers are cited by other scientists in similar fields of study; and how often those papers are referenced in the press, social media, policy papers and other outlets. We’re proud of Dr. Andrew Townsend Peterson for making the list, as it’s a great accomplishment for him and the College.

9. Hawks to Watch: Alumni Making a Difference  

Vanessa Delnavaz looking into a microscope with seashells on the table next to her.
Vanessa Delnavaz, one of our Hawks to Watch.

Our Hawks to Watch include stories from alumni all over. We caught up with a few this year to learn about their work and plans for the future. Meet these Hawks, who portray the endless possibilities of a KU degree in the College of Liberal Arts and Science. From managing an Invertebrate Zoology Collection to investigations into chemical weapons attacks, our Hawks to Watch, well, are pretty awesome.  

10. Optimism in Art After Pandemic 

Image: Detail from Michael Krueger’s “Fire (Say You're Gonna Leave Me),” colored pencil and acrylic on paper, 20 x 24 inches, 2021. Credit: Courtesy of the artist
Detail from Michael Krueger’s “Fire (Say You’re Gonna Leave Me),” colored pencil and acrylic on paper, 20 x 24 inches, 2021. Credit: Courtesy of the artist

The pandemic left a mark on Visual Art professor Michael Krueger’s creations. Krueger, said most of the colored pencil drawings, watercolors and prints in his exhibition, “(Just Like) Starting Over” at Haw Contemporary in Kansas City, Missouri, were made during the year of pandemic lockdown, and many of them reflect upon that. 

One of his drawings place the viewer inside a cave, with golden sunlight shining through the entrance. The light shining through was referred to as a more generalized hope that things will get better. As seen in his work above, you can also see the light shining through the trees. He expresses that he, like many others in 2021, tried to figure out how to “begin again” after a year of covid and for him, that was through art.

11. College KUdos

Fraser Hall with a dark blue sky behind it

With the largest population of faculty, students, staff and alumni at KU, we have a lot of good news to share. From honor society inductees and undergraduate research awards, an alum named as a Biden-Harris Administration U.S. Department of Energy appointee and faculty awards. Stay up to date with all of the good news by following our Twitter.  

Keep up with the latest news from the Heart of KU. Check out recent stories on the College blog, follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn, and explore our website.