Professor of Art, Rebecca Kamen, Nominated Professor Emeritus by NOVA, Honored for Contributions Bridging Art Education and Scientific Discovery

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NOVA nominates Rebecca Kamen, Professor of Art, for Professor Emeritus to celebrate 35 years of distinguished service. Kamen's work is recognized for embodying the STEM to STEAM movement, and her approach is celebrated in both the art and scientific communities.

Northern Virginia Community College ( NOVA) recently nominated Rebecca Kamen, Professor of Art, for Professor Emeritus to celebrate 35 years of distinguished service, teaching excellence and research demonstrating a link between art education and scientific discovery. During her tenure at NOVA, Kamen received the Chancellor’s Commonwealth Professorship in July, 2011 This honor enabled Kamen to conduct research and deliver a lecture series that demonstrated her way of visualizing the invisible to scientists researching astrophysics, biodiversity, chemistry, neuroscience and visual learning at the National Institutes of Health, Harvard University, and the National Academy of Sciences.

In all, Kamen delivered more than 40 lectures during the Chancellor’s Professorship. A year ago this month, she delivered the capstone lecture to neuroscientists at the Cajal Institute in Madrid, Spain. This lecture is the most notable in her lecture series because Ramon y Cajal, considered to be the father of modern neuroscience, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1906. Kamen’s unique ability to show audiences across diverse scientific fields the common patterns that can lead to breakthrough discoveries convinced Kamen to retire in May 2013.

“While I have always loved teaching art, the last two years were particularly fulfilling. Through the Chancellor’s Professorship, I was able to demonstrate that experience with the arts, whether visual arts, music, poetic, or any other form, really does enable researchers of all ages to view their results in new and meaningful ways,” says Kamen.

“To prove my hypothesis that art could inform science, I began collaborating with Amy Van Meter, Director of the Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program at George Mason University in 2010. For the past three years, we have challenged the Aspiring Scientists to interpret their research through an artistic lens. Through this program, it has become clear that art education can deepen students’ understanding of their work. By the conclusion of the Chancellor’s Professorship, I knew I had to expose this thinking to a larger audience. I’ve been very fortunate to participate in the STEM to STEAM movement from the very beginning,” concludes Kamen.

Kamen’s work is celebrated by both the art and scientific communities. Earlier this week, Kamen gave a plenary lecture at The National Museum of Health and Medicine as part of Brain Awareness Week.

On March 31, Kamen will attend the official opening of the Porter Building, an expansion of 600,000 gross square feet of the NIH’s biomedical research facilities. Kamen’s work, inspired by her research on site, will be featured at the opening. Pieces include Butterflies of the Soul, Cellular Dialogue, Growth Cone 1, and Energy Landscape. This honor has been extended because of Kamen’s unique relationship with the NIH. She became an Artist in Residence at the NIH during the summer of 2012.

Kamen’s work makes the STEM to STEAM movement tangible for students and research scientists. She plans to continue cross-disciplinary research and take her findings to communities across the United States and abroad. The honor of the Professor Emeritus nomination validates the importance of this work.

About Rebecca Kamen:

Rebecca Kamen, Professor Emeritus and former Professor of Art, has taught more than 300 classes at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) over the last 35 years. In 2011, Kamen was awarded a Chancellor’s Commonwealth Professorship by the Virginia Community College System, which has enabled her to work with leading academic and scientific research institutions in the United States including Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the National Institutes of Health, and George Mason University. This work has contributed significantly to the STEM to STEAM initiative in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Kamen holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

Kamen has exhibited and lectured both nationally, and internationally. She has been the recipient of a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Professional Fellowship, a Pollack Krasner Foundation Fellowship, two Strauss Fellowships, an NIH Artist in Residency, and a Travel Grant from the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Her artwork is represented in many private and public collections.

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Marcia Moran

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