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Two architecture students receive Erickson Discovery Grants

Undergraduate architecture students Katie McRury and Natalie Walter have each been awarded Erickson Discovery Grants to advance their architecture research and development.

The Erickson Discovery Grant Program, named in honor of Rodney A. Erickson, the 17th president of Penn State, helps to cover the costs of research such as supplies, materials, books, software and travel for the purposes of data collection. The grant can be used for all facets of scholarship and the creative process, including conceptualization, proposal writing, identification and implementation of methods and communication of results.

McRury, a fourth-year student, is exploring a new branch of sustainable architecture that rejects both the systems that created the climate crisis and half-measures based on complex technological solutions or offsetting carbon footprints.

She is working with Katsuhiko Muramoto, associate professor of architecture, on her project, “Living with Nature: An Ethical Model for Place-Sustaining Architecture,” and will present her work at Monash University’s 2021 International Conference of Undergraduate Research and Penn State’s 2022 Undergraduate Exhibition.

Walter, a fifth-year architecture student, focuses her research on further understanding the characteristics of mycelium-based composites and the potentials for implementation as acoustic architectural components.

Her research begins with systematic material tests and then assesses the acoustic properties of mycelium-based components grown only on paper-based waste products. The material tests inform the development of mycelium-based sound absorption panels. Using mycelium spawn, Pleurotus Ostreatus, commonly known as the Oyster Mushroom, this research will test how substrate variants and fabrication methods affect acoustic absorption.

Walter is working with Benay Gürsoy Toykoç, assistant professor of architecture, and will present her project, “The Architecture of Decay,” during the 2021-2022 academic year. Details on the Erickson Discovery Grant can be found at the Undergraduate Research and Fellowships Mentoring website. Applications typically open in October and close in February. Grant awardees are notified late in the spring semester.