North Central College - Naperville, IL

Summer Grants Encourage Scholarship

Wendy Koenig, associate professor of art, has long been interested in Holocaust studies and found a new dimension to research as she visits museums: the atmosphere created by sound and sound design. "I realized I'd never read anything about sound in this field," she says. That inspired her to spend the past two summers experiencing and evaluating the use of sound in Holocaust museums in Skokie, IL, Washington, D.C., Augusta, ME, Detroit and at the Holocaust Tower at the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Germany.

Her 2010 summer grant allowed her to go to Maine, along with a more local visit to Skokie. "At a conference I attended on Holocaust Studies, I heard a presentation about the sophisticated acoustic design in the museum in Maine," she says.

At the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, she studied the recordings of voices and other sounds that were carefully orchestrated to enhance the visitors' experiences. Sounds of breaking glass, Hitler's voice addressing a youth rally, chants, the screeching of railroad tracks, a flamethrower and ringing bells all added another layer to the museum visit, says Koenig. "I compared this to my visit to the Illinois Holocaust and Education Center in Skokie, where you could tell that the sounds were added as an afterthought," she says. "And in all the museums I visited, I considered how silence was used, since that's another dimension of sound."

Koenig has written an extensive article about her findings that she has submitted for professional review and publication. She hopes to continue her sound research in other museums that commemorate atrocities. "As I develop the art history program at North Central, I'd like to offer more opportunities for museum studies," she says."And I hope to include students in the future."

Doh-Khul Kim, associate professor of economics and finance, used his summer research grant to better understand how the Federal Reserve's monetary policy affects the housing markets in various regions of the United States. He started his research before the current housing crisis and analyzed data that details market activity through 2005.

"This is an area of great interest because the housing market accounts for 15 to 20 percent of the entire economy," he says.

Kim analyzed data from four regions: West, South, Midwest and Northeast. He found that the markets most responsive to lower interest rates were those in the West and South. "Population growth in these regions played an important role and was key to housing activity," he says. "My findings confirm earlier studies, although I have used different statistics in my research."

Kim has also submitted his work for publication and now wants to involve students in studying the role of equity markets in reviving the economy.