Archive for Thursday, March 3, 2011

Heard on the Hill: Natural History Museum getting new exhibits; Lied Center lobby expansion is done; Slavic nations have Pancake Week figured out

March 3, 2011


Your daily dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.

• The KU Natural History Museum is a bit noisier these days as its sixth floor is undergoing some renovations.

And that means the floor will be closed for about a year.

What will it look like after it’s done?

I’m glad you asked. We’ll see several new exhibits, including one devoted to mammals, with skulls in all shapes and sizes.

Another one will be devoted to the biodiversity research done at KU, and another will focus on biodiversity in general, with a display featuring a number of different specimens.

But the real kicker to me is a display on something I had never heard of called clearing and staining.

Scientists use a digestive enzyme to turn the specimens translucent, and add colored dyes to study the bones and soft tissues. A new display will highlight this process.

The result is a little freaky, but still pretty interesting, as this photo shows (be sure to click on the photo to enlarge it).

You can read more about this and other happenings online at the Biodiversity Institute’s set of pretty spiffy blogs.

• A new, expanded lobby space is ready to be unveiled at the Lied Center.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for next Tuesday for a new 1,800-square-foot lobby expansion at the Lied Center.

The expanded space is to the left of the main entrance to the Lied Center, visible in the photo accompanying an earlier story I did on the topic.

It’s part of a project funded by a $2.5 million gift from the Lied Foundation that will also create an educational pavilion. The William T. Kemper Foundation also contributed $300,000 for the work.

As I was driving by the Lied Center this week, it looked like the pavilion, being constructed in a former outdoor garden, still had some time to go before it was completed.

• Here's a quick goodbye and good luck to Diana Carlin, a communication studies professor and former dean of graduate studies, who has accepted a post as associate vice president for graduate studies at St. Louis University.

She'll finish teaching her classes this semester here, but will be spending some time in St. Louis, too. She also won't be leaving behind any graduate students who are almost ready to graduate, either, she said.

She was always kind to me in our interactions, which stretched all the way back to my time at the University Daily Kansan in 2004, when I leaned on her knowledge of presidential debates in covering the Bush-Kerry race.

• KU’s department of Russian, East European and Eurasian studies’ Spring Festival is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the Ecumenical Christian Ministries building. It’s open to the public.

I have no idea what Russian music sounds like, but the Russian band Apollo-Soyuz probably does. They’ll be performing at the event.

A potluck dinner will commemorate a variety of Slavic holidays, including one called Maslenitsa or “Pancake Week.”

• We need a Pancake Week. Seriously, can’t we write or Tweet our legislators, or something? Tell Congress about how awesome Pancake Week would be, and tell me awesome tips for Heard on the Hill at


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