Knochel and Millett receive Huck Institutes joint projects grants

Aaron Knochel and Cristin Millett

Aaron Knochel, associate professor of art education, and Cristin Millett, professor of art, have received 2023 Joint Projects in Life/Medical Sciences, Arts and Humanities Grants from Penn State's Huck Institutes for the Life Sciences. The grants are co-sponsored by the Huck and the College of Arts and Architecture.

The purpose of Knochel's project, a collaboration with faculty in nursing, arts, education and humanities, is to investigate narrative ethics and creative inquiry as methodological and pedagogical opportunities in nursing education and professional development.

“We aim to explore these qualitative methods as vehicles for impacting conceptions of care, combating health professional burnout and building qualitative capacity in healthcare research,” said Knochel, an embedded researcher in the Arts & Design Research Incubator (ADRI).

Targeted outcomes include revision of Art Education 355Q, Show Me Where It Hurts: Healthcare and Creative Inquiry, to incorporate narrative ethics and cross-list with Bioethics 355Q; develop a short-form, high-impact workshop series focused on narrative ethics, creative inquiry and care to be used in academic and professional contexts; and create an exhibition series, symposium and other curated activities involving the Commonwealth Campuses. Knochel's team also plans to develop a research study on the impacts of the workshop series as it relates to professional development and burnout.

Millett's project, “Ex-Utero,” involves scanning, decellularizing and molding a human placenta. It will culminate in an immersive installation comprising multiple elements, including visual documentation of the scientific and artistic process, as well as media and experimental films. The central component will be a sculptural artwork of an artificial uterus using a polyethylene biobag filled with an amniotic-like fluid of nutrient-rich media. The transparent incubator will allow viewers to peer into the interior of the womb, revealing a simulacrum of a placenta seeded with living, growing cells.

“We are extraordinarily fortunate to collaborate with researchers at the Huck Institutes of Life Sciences working on critical, cutting-edge advances in the field of regenerative medicine and reproductive science,” said Millett. “The Joint Projects in Life/Medical Sciences, Arts and Humanities Grant is an unparalleled opportunity to catalyze interconnections at the boundaries of knowledge, the type of innovative support one can only experience at a high-caliber Research 1 institution like Penn State.”

Millett, an embedded researcher in ADRI, is collaborating with Cynthia White, ADRI adjunct research associate. As part of the Huck grant, they will also collaborate with Dan Hayes, head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Dorothy Foehr Huck and J. Lloyd Huck Chair in Nanotherapeutics and Regenerative Medicine; Jonas Rubenson, associate professor of kinesiology; and Thomas Neuberger, associate research professor and director of the High Field Magnetic Resonance Imaging Facility.

Millett and White recently presented the project as part of a panel at ISEA2023, the 28th International Symposium on Electronic Art, in Paris. In July, they will present their research at FEMeeting in Taos, New Mexico, and in November at the Automation Culture conference in Australia. They will also present at the 2023 Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) conference, to be hosted by Penn State in October.

Schools and Departments: School of Visual Arts
Unit Research: Arts and Design Research Incubator