Top 10 #HeartofKU stories of 2019

Top 10 Heart of KU stories of 2019

As the first month of 2020 comes to an end, we’re taking a look back at some of our favorite KU stories of 2019. From bees, beer, and Oscar buzz to research excellence, a Jayhawk Women’s Hall of Famer, and the search for habitable planets outside of our solar system, here are 10 stand-out moments from the past year that highlight just some of the incredible achievements and discoveries of students, faculty, alumni and staff in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the Heart of KU.

1. Busy award season for Kevin Willmott

KU professor of Film & Media Studies Kevin Willmott had a busy awards season in 2019. As a co-writer on Spike Lee’s film, “BlacKkKlansman,” Willmott received numerous industry award nominations for his work on the script.

The biggest recognition Willmott received came during the Academy Awards at the end of February when Willmott took home the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. The award capped off a wild month for Willmott who accepted the award onstage during the telecast with co-writers Spike Lee, Charlie Wachtel, and David Rabinowitz.

2. Go behind the scenes of visual art

Comprising five stories and 130,000 sq. ft. of space, Chalmers Hall provides the perfect home for visual art students to create and learn. In episode four of our video series Habitat, see where students get hands on learning in everything from painting and drawing to textiles and fibers.

3. Meet our Hawks Who Brew

To celebrate National Beer Day on April 7, we profiled six Jayhawk alumni who are applying their KU degrees in the most delicious and refreshingly thirst-quenching ways, working in the beer industry for operations both big and small across the country.

With degrees in microbiology, geography and Latin American studies, chemistry, art history, and atmospheric science, they’re using their diverse talents to create and innovate in their spaces, combining yeast, hops, and water with enthusiasm and a healthy dose of Jayhawk pride at Free State Brewing Company, Ballast Point, Lawrence Beer Company, 23rd Street Brewery, MillerCoors, and Black Stag Brewery. Cheers!

4. For the Love of Bees

Photo by Meg Kumin, photographer at KU Marketing Communications.

You’ve probably heard about the recent boost in popularity for the KU Beekeeping Club (KUBC), who signed up nearly 300 Jayhawks at Hawkfest and Unionfest alone in Fall 2019.

To find out what’s driving the buzz, we asked KU seniors Alex Murray, co-founder and president, and Elizabeth Sundahl, co-founder and club treasurer, who are bringing their creative energy and academic interests to the KUBC to better the environment, connect Jayhawks across disciplines, and build community around beekeeping.

See more of the latest stories about our current students.

5. Unwinding podcast explores the motivations behind new KU discoveries

In new episodes of our podcast Unwinding, we sat down with KU researchers in the College to chat about what they’re working on, why they’re passionate about it, why it matters, and what makes them tick as humans.

Check out some of our latest conversations, including discussions with memory researcher Dave Tell on race, memory and the legacy of Emmett Till, astrophysicist Jennifer Delgado on the search for habitable planets outside our own solar system, and ecologist Joy Ward on how plants respond to rising CO2 levels. Subscribe to Unwinding on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher to get new episodes immediately.

6. Hawks to Watch: Estelle Johnson, professional athlete

Before playing soccer professionally in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France as part of the Cameroonian National Team, Estelle pursued her love of the game on the Kansas soccer team from 2006 to 2009, appearing in all 85 games during her career at KU. At the same time she was building experience as a player with the Jayhawks, Estelle applied her same work ethic to gain complementary skills as a communication studies major in the College.

Learn more about the marks our Hawks are leaving in their industries and communities.

7. Sam Steuart named as KU’s 20th Truman Scholar

Photo by Meg Kumin, photographer at KU Marketing Communications

Sam Steuart couldn’t contain his excitement when a visit to Chancellor Girod’s office in April turned out to be a surprise announcement that he had been named as KU’s 20th Harry S. Truman Scholar, which carries an award of $30,000 for graduate school. Then, in December, Sam received another round of exciting news when it was announced that he had earned a George Marshall Scholarship for graduate study in the United Kingdom.

Sam, a senior from Topeka majoring in American studies and biochemistry and minoring in Spanish, is studying how socioeconomic status affects a person’s ability to receive health care and education, and intends to pursue a degree in comparative social policy at the University of Oxford. Rock Chalk, Sam!

8. Professor Sarah Deer inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame

Photo courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The National Women’s Hall of Fame gained its first Jayhawk in Fall 2019. Sarah Deer, a KU alumna and faculty member who has a joint appointment with the School of Public Affairs and Administration and the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame during a ceremony held on September 14, 2019 in Seneca Fall, New York.

She was recognized in particular for her work on the Violence Against Women Act and the Tribal Law and Order Act and her advocacy around issues of sexual assault and domestic violence in indigenous communities. She is the first woman from the University of Kansas and the fifth Kansan to be inducted into hall.

9. Research Excellence Initiative fosters innovation and student growth

Photo by Earl Richardson.

Discovery starts with the spark of curiosity. Through hands-on, real-world experience and faculty mentorship, the College’s Research Excellence Initiative (REI) fosters innovation and growth among KU researchers. In 2018-2019, the College’s Research Excellence Initiative provided $580,000 in support for faculty and student research. From filmmaking in Garden City to exploring health access on the ground in East Africa, REI funding is driving KU discoveries that impact communities in Kansas and around the world.

Learn more about REI-funded research in the College in KU Giving Magazine from KU Endowment.

10. College alum Gary Woodland wins U.S. Open

It was a big year for KU athletes. PGA Tour professional golfer and KU College alum (B.A. in sociology, 2007) Gary Woodland won the 119th U.S. Open in June, marking the first time that a Jayhawk claimed a major golf championship.

Check out what Gary had to say about his career and time at the University of Kansas in Kansas Alumni Magazine.

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