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From the Desk: Provost introduces new Rudy professors

Jan. 22, 2015

Marietta Simpson

Marietta Simpson

I’m writing today to tell you about IU Bloomington’s newly named Rudy Professors: Marietta Simpson, a dazzling mezzo soprano in the Jacobs School of Music, and Sara Skrabalak, a collaboration-building, award-winning chemist in the College of Arts and Sciences. 

By being here and doing what they do best, professor Simpson and associate professor Skrabalak enrich the entire campus community.

On Monday, I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Marietta sing at IU’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Leadership breakfast. I’ll admit that during the crowd sing-along to “We Shall Overcome,” I hesitated to add my voice to her flawless mezzo-soprano, but I did it -- quietly -- because she asked.

This spring, Marietta will be artist in residence for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis' Monsanto Artists Training Program. She’ll be the mezzo soprano soloist in the Felix Mendelssohn realization of Bach's “St. Matthew Passion” with the Mendelssohn Choir of Philadelphia and will serve as guest clinician for the National Association of Teachers of Singing.

Sara Skrabalak

Sara Skrabalak

In addition, she’ll travel to Kenya to begin gathering material for a collection of arrangements titled “Mosaic Melodies of the Diaspora,” one of the first collections of songs that combines the vocal folk music of Kenya with American Negro Spiritual music.

Sara heads a research group appropriately called the Skrabalak group, which consists of talented undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral researchers. The group is enthusiastically entering a new collaboration with researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the largest U.S. Department of Energy science and energy lab, which conducts applied research to find solutions to energy and security issues. This collaboration will allow the Skrabalak group to watch the real-time formation of nanomaterials with defined shapes -- something that will lead to being able to visualize and quantify the processes that account for nanoparticle formation.

These Rudy Professorships are one small step in a multipart, many-layered effort to keep the Bloomington campus moving onward and upward. Throughout the spring, I’ll do my best to keep you updated on the many exciting programs and projects in the works. Thank you for all that you do for Indiana University Bloomington!

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