Heard on the Hill: KU unveils 2012 Women of Distinction calendar; KU prof gets NYTimes mention in article on aging; musical instrument used in research available to try out

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

• A Rhodes Scholar recipient, a basketball player and several other students, alumnae, faculty and staff members have been recognized as 2012 KU Women of Distinction, and have earned a spot on the annual calendar.

It’s always interesting to see the wide array of experiences recognized on the calendar. For example, Jamie Branch, a Topeka senior majoring in mechanical engineering, presented at the 2011 Harvard Research Experience for Undergraduates and helps out as a Special Olympics coach.

Charity Phillips Lander, a graduate students in geology, was nominated for Military Spouse of the Year by the U.S. Navy in 2010.

Kelsey Murrell, who won the Rhodes Scholarship, and basketball star Angel Goodrich are also recognized.

You can look at the complete list here.

The annual calendar has been around since 2003, and here’s a look at calendars past.

• A KU professor who studies aging issues got a mention in a blog post from New York Times recently. The post talked about the “surprising optimism” from Americans over the age of 70.

The article said many such Americans expected that their overall quality of life (including finances, mental and physical health, recreation and family situation) would stay the same or improve over the next five to 10 years.

David J. Ekerdt, a KU gerontologist (and apparently a “favorite” of Times reporter Paula Span), didn’t seem surprised at all by the findings.

He talked about how aging Americans often become happier after freeing themselves from work stress and child-rearing stress.

“You’re seeing resilience,” Ekerdt said. “You’re seeing the way we adjust our frames of reference to continue to assert, ‘I’m the kind of person who’ll be OK.'”

• Here’s an update on a bit of research I brought you earlier in the week, dealing with something called the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument.

That’s an instrument that can be played with people with a variety of abilities. I believe it works something like this.

It’s being used in some new KU research, but also there’s an opportunity for members of the public to use it for free.

The workshops will demonstrate the instrument, which is a free software interface that can take a computer with a webcam and turn it into an instrument that can be played with even slight movements.

Workshops are scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. Sept. 28 at Independence, Inc., 2001 Haskell Ave.; and from 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 29 at the Courtside Room in the Burge Union, 1601 Irving Hill Road, on the KU campus.

Two hours of advanced instruction will follow the regular sessions.

• I agree with David Ekerdt. You’re the kind of person who will be OK. As long as you keep sending me tips for Heard on the Hill to ahyland@ljworld.com.