Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College

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Enriching scholarship

Fellowships support further study by two professors.

Two Wheaton College faculty members have won fellowships that will further their scholarship and support enriching the classes they teach.

The Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation has awarded fellowships to computer science professor Tom Armstrong and art history professor Sean McPherson.

The foundation aims to support scholarship and travel that improve and enhance the quality of their instruction.  Most grants are primarily for travel and related expenses.

For Professor Armstrong, the Whiting Fellowship will allow him to develop new courses as well as a laboratory for scholarly work in the growing area of robotics, which lends itself to the interdisciplinary study encouraged through the Wheaton curriculum.

"Students and faculty ranging from neuroscience to philosophy to mechanical engineering to the visual arts find homes under the robotics umbrella," he wrote in his proposal to the foundation. "Now, more than ever, robots for use in the classroom and in student research projects are available and affordable."

The support of the fellowship will allow Professor Armstrong to travel to Odense, Denmark for the event RoboDays, which brings together international engineers and industry experts in robotics to focus on using robots in creative enterprises,  how humans interact with robots and the utility of robotics in assisting learning. In addition, he will attend RoboCup 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey, to learn from other colleges and university teams participating in this international competition.

Professor McPherson's Whiting Fellowship will support his scholarship on the transition to modern, international influences in the architecture of Japan, and it will bolster the resources available for classes he teaches on this and related topics.

In his proposal to the founation, McPherson noted the "paucity and poor-quality of English-language scholarship on Japanese architecture, the lack of visual resources on early Meiji-period architecture" and the difficulties in providing students with a deep understanding of the qualities of modern buildings and landscapes in Japan.

Through archival research, field studies and collaboration with other scholars in Japan, McPherson plans to develop resources that better tell the story of how Japanese architects and builders embraced international influences while reflecting the country's traditional building styles. The work also will lay the groundwork for future research and publications on Japanese modern architecture.