The Ken Kennedy Institute's December Member of the Month, Farès el-Dahdah, is a Professor and Director of the Humanities Research Center and an Affiliated Professor with the School of Architecture.
An educator, scholar, humanist, and designer, Farès el-Dahdah earned his undergraduate degrees in fine arts and in architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design and went on to pursue his graduate studies at Harvard University where bridging of architecture and literary theory was the subject of his doctoral dissertation and a first manifestation of a lifelong commitment to bridging disciplines.
Following a two decade long professorial track at Rice University's School of Architecture, he was appointed director of the Humanities Research Center (HRC) in 2012 and Professor of the Humanities in 2014. In addition to his academic activities, el-Dahdah has participated in cultural events at museums in Beirut, Paris, Berlin, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Brasilia, including the curation of exhibitions on Lebanon's first constitution and on the 50th anniversary of Brazil's capital. He is published in many countries and regularly lectures in many languages. His current research focuses on developing online geospatial platforms that illustrate the urban evolution of cities as well as on exploring and critiquing how such digital platforms uphold the mission of disseminating knowledge.
At Rice, el-Dahdah's activities extend beyond the HRC, as chair of the Information Technology Council's Research Computing Subcommittee and as a member of the Data Sciences Initiative's Programming and Search Committee. He regularly serves on PhD defense committees in the Humanities and Social Sciences while also acting on the advisory panels of Rice's Digital Education Committee and its Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences (CENHS). As director of the HRC, he is involved in identifying, encouraging, and funding the research projects of faculty, visiting scholars, graduate, and undergraduate students as well as spearheading new ventures in the humanities and beyond.
What is your favorite book?
I haven't touched it in a long time but it remains a favorite - A Lover's Discourse: Fragments by Roland Barthes (1977).
How do you explain your research in one sentence?
Integration and visualization of diverse data formats at the intersection of time and space.
What is your favorite aspect of your research?
The flush of pleasure that new ideas trigger...Making the unseen visible...Traveling back (and forth) in time...
What challenges do you see in your research that you didn't expect?
Chasing after ever-improving (and changing) technologies...
What is a favorite experience with the Ken Kennedy Institute or describe a time the Ken Kennedy Institute supported you in the past?
It was thanks to a Ken Kennedy Institute "ERIT" grant, back in 2013, that I was able to begin developing projects in the area of data visualization.