Granting Meaning

MICA Faculty Awarded Grants by Bureau of Land Management, National Science Foundation

Image courtesy of Bureau of Land Management

Grant-funded research is a cornerstone of MICA's teaching and learning approach. It's an essential tool MICA faculty use to create, enhance knowledge, and facilitate learning. By providing critical fact-finding and problem-solving opportunities to students while also adding to humankind's aggregate body of knowledge, research can lead to new understanding and innovations that helps MICA faculty and students drive economic growth and social change.

As an example of the vibrant research culture that can be found at the College, faculty at MICA have recently received significant grant funding from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) — awards that will advance their ongoing research while providing meaningful educational opportunities for students.


Ecosystems, Sustainability, and Justice faculty member Carissa Aoki along with Katie O’Meara, faculty in Architectural Design, will study sites of major archeological and historical importance using funds from the BLM. The grant — which totals over $200k over three years — will support student participation in community-engaged research and related activities in the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument (CANM), an important archeological site, and present-day Puebloan communities in New Mexico and Colorado.

This is not MICA’s first academic engagement with the CANM. In 2021, MICA assisted the BLM with interpretive products for Painted Hand Pueblo, one of 13 sites within CANM. In 2017, MICA students worked at another site, Lowry Pueblo, to capture landscapes with hand drawings, watercolors, photographs, digitalized drawings, GIS maps, and 3D computer terrain reconstructions.

Ryan Hoover, faculty in Interdisciplinary Sculpture, is co-principal investigator of a multi-institutional research team recently awarded $650k by the NSF’s Convergence Accelerator, which seeks to rapidly bring laboratory research to societal impact.

Led by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), the team will develop and prototype a new biomanufacturing process for making precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) and plant-based compounds that support human health. PPC, which can be found in everything from construction materials to pharmaceuticals, is currently manufactured using methods that contribute to carbon dioxide emissions that plague Earth’s atmosphere.

This new work will expand MICA’s interdisciplinary collaboration with UMCES. It will also extend elements of the Coral Defense Project, where MICA, UMCES, and other partners are working to manufacture synthetic coral habitat to help transform dead coral reefs into robust habitat structures for wildlife while simultaneously capturing carbon dioxide.