The Earl and Brenda Shapiro Center for Research and Collaboration develops mutually rewarding partnerships between SAIC and external organizations, including civic organizations, academic institutions, and industry partners. Projects come to the Shapiro Center in two ways:

  1. Faculty members initiate projects
  2. The Shapiro Center identifies and brokers projects to the SAIC community.

We welcome open inquiry about projects posted here as well as new project opportunities.

To discuss research and collaboration partnership opportunities for SAIC faculty and the Shapiro Center, please contact the Shapiro Center at


One goal of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's (SAIC) Earl and Brenda Shapiro Center for Research and Collaboration is to aggregate information about faculty research and collaboration projects from across the school. This includes projects that are directly supported by Shapiro Center resources and programs, as well as other SAIC projects that are synergistic with the Shapiro Center research initiatives.

Sony Digital Media Academy (SDMA)

Sony Digital Media Academy logo

Sony Digital Media Academy (SDMA) has granted cutting-edge Sony equipment to two SAIC projects, impacting both undergraduate and graduate curricular opportunities.

View the full press release


SDMA Funded Project: Master of Science Historic Preservation Program
Anne Sullivan, Chair of Historic Preservation

SAIC's Master of Science Historic Preservation program will utilize equipment including Sony 3D Digital Recording Binoculars and Sony's HD 3D Camcorder to create stereoscopic documentation of architectural features on some of Chicago's landmark buildings under the leadership of Anne Sullivan, Chair of the Historic Preservation program. A studio class will experiment with generating archival photographs of historic architectural structures for this project, with the ability to focus on details at great heights not visible to the naked eye from the street. The goal is to make resources available to fellow researchers at organizations including Landmarks Illinois and the Chicago Architecture Foundation.


SDMA Awarded Project: Augmented Reality and Three Dimensional (AR3D) Study Lab

Geoffrey Alan Rhode, Visual Communication Design
Adam Trowbridge, Contemporary Practices
Jessica Westbrook, Contemporary Practices

An unprecedented collaboration between SAIC's department of Visual Communication Design and the first-year Contemporary Practices curriculum will create SAIC's Augmented Reality and Three Dimensional (AR3D) Study Lab. Sony's support of the AR3D Lab will facilitate both the production and presentation of projects as students employ the uncomplicated interfaces of consumer electronics to focus on expression and invention while exploring virtual and 3D spaces. Geoffrey Alan Rhodes, assistant professor and director of 4D curriculum in the Visual Communication Design department, will lead the AR3D lab with assistant professors Adam Trowbridge and Jessica Westbrook in the Contemporary Practices department.

Young Cultural Leaders Forum - Salzburg Global Seminar

Kate Zeller, Assistant to the Curator, SAIC Exhibitions Program

Salzburg Global Seminar (SGS) Organization offered a generous scholarship of $2,500 for a member of the SAIC faculty, staff or graduate student body to participate in the “Young Cultural Leaders Forum” to be held Fall, 2012 in Salzburg, Austria. The Shapiro Center and the Office of the Provost awarded this opportunity to Kate Zeller, Assistant to the Curator, SAIC Exhibitions Program. The Shapiro Center goal for the partnership is to be a catalyst for the involvement of SAIC community in global conversations about the impact of the Arts and Design on Cultural and Economic Development.

Association for Computing Machinery

Association for Computing Machinery 2012 Computer Human Interaction Conference

2012 Computer Human Interaction Conference (CHI2012) Austin, Texas

CHI2012 Workshop: Food and Interaction Design: Designing for Food in Everyday

Designing a Next Generation Public School Cafeteria
George Aye, Assistant Professor, Designed Objects
Sara Cantor Aye, Instructor

George and Sara Aye presented the Next-Generation Public School Cafeteria project, a thoughtful redesign of the cafeteria and mealtime experience in Chicago Public Schools at the 2012 ACM Computer Human Interaction conference “Food and interaction Design: Designing for Food in Everyday” workshop. The project was conceived for its ability to demonstrate how innovation can impact every aspect of a user’s experience, promote positive behavior change, and bring together design and public policy. The primary goal of the Next-Generation Public School Cafeteria is to design a new mealtime experience that brings positive change to Chicago Public School (CPS) students. Positive change starts with small-scale behavior change, like a third-grader finishing her carrots at lunch, and ends with a design framework for food understanding, respect and engagement. George and Sara Aye are piloting the concept with the Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) charter school. Their goal is to create a blueprint that can be scaled across the Chicago Public Schools.

Exhibition in the CHI2012 Interactivity Program

Christopher Baker, Assistant Professor, Art and Technology

Murmur Study is an installation that examines the rise of micro-messaging technologies such as Twitter and Facebook’s status update. One might describe these messages as a kind of digital small talk. But unlike water-cooler conversations, these fleeting thoughts are accumulated, archived and digitally-indexed by corporations. This installation consists of 30 thermal printers that continuously monitor Twitter for new messages containing variations on common emotional utterances. Messages containing hundreds of variations on words such as argh, meh, grrrr, oooo, ewww, and hmph, are printed as an endless waterfall of text accumulating in tangled piles below. The printed thermal receipt paper is then reused in future projects and exhibitions or recycled.

National Science Foundation Funded Projects

National Science Foundation logo

The Art of Science Learning-Phase 2

Funded by the National Science Foundation, Division of Research on Formal and Informal Education
In collaboration with The Shapiro Center and Harvey Seifter, Art of Science Learning, Lead Principal Investigator

Incubator Hosts:
Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago)
Balboa Park Cultural Partnership (San Diego)
EcoTarium (Worcester, MA).

Local/regional partners:
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Shedd Aquarium, Google (Chicago)
San Diego Science Alliance
Fleet Science Center
CALIT2/ UCSD (San Diego)
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Clark University
Worcester Public Schools. (Worcester)

The Art of Science Learning – Phase 2 will develop, implement and evaluate a new curriculum for conducting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) innovation training with adolescent and adult learners in informal settings.

Drawing on experience using arts-based learning to strengthen STEM innovation in business and education, the project team will develop a new Informal Science Education curriculum that uses artistic skills, processes and experiences as learning tools for a comprehensive STEM innovation process. The curriculum will integrate Arts Based Learning into the teaching and practice of creative thinking, ideation, collaboration, communication, visualization, modeling and prototyping. It will be taught to and applied by interdisciplinary teams working in 3 specially developed yearlong regional incubators for innovation in STEM education, hosted by Balboa Park Cultural Partnership (San Diego), Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago) and EcoTarium (Worcester). The teams (comprised of science educators, STEM professionals, teaching artists, corporate innovators, museum professionals, classroom teachers, researchers and students) will apply the curriculum to STEM-related civic innovation challenges and the development of new collaborative projects integrating the arts into science learning.


An Urban Sciences Research Coordination Network for Data-Driven Urban Design and Analysis

Funded by the National Science Foundation, Social, Behavioral, and Economic Directorate

In collaboration with Doug Pancoast, M-Arch Program Director and Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture & Designed Objects (AIADO); Charlie Catlett, University of Chicago; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

This project will build on inter-disciplinary currently underway at The University of Chicago relative to the challenges of the contemporary cities. In collaboration with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Skidmore Owings & Merrill, the team will introduce social and behavioral sciences to art, design and urbanism education and practice, and will explore how the social and behavioral sciences can more directly contribute to both the academic and applied worlds relative to people, places, and the environment. The project team will engage the City of Chicago and the Urban Systems Collaborative to provide input to curricula related to the creation of urban data analysis expertise at The University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute. The team will also integrate urban data collection, visualization and analysis strategies and processes into the Master of Architecture curricula, with the specific purpose of developing data literacy and process fluidity in design project development at multiple scales: object, person, room, building, system, landscape, city; and forms of delivery: services, tools, strategies and built, prototypical works.


Conversations on Art and Science

Kathryn Schaffer, Liberal Arts/Science (coordinator and moderator)

SAIC Presenters:

Special welcome by President Walter Massey
Ken Fandell, SAIC Alumnus
Pamela L. Jennings, Director of the Shapiro Centers
Eduardo Kac, Art and Technology Studies
Anke Loh, Fashion Design
Doug Pancoast, Architecture
Alison Ruttan, Contemporary Practices
Andy Yang, Liberal Arts/Science

SAIC Conversations on Art and Science: A lecture and event series launched in 2011-2012 school year, exploring cross-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and critical perspectives on art, science, design, and technology. The series was coordinated by SAIC Assistant Professor Katheryn Schaffer with sponsorship from the SAIC President's office.