Congratulations to doctoral candidate Alex Challenger, who has received the Graduate Student Research and Creativity Award from the Graduate School at Florida State University. The award is conferred to just eight FSU students each year in recognition of outstanding contributions to research and creative endeavors. Winners of the award receive a $1000 stipend and will be honored at the Celebration of Graduate Student Excellence on Wednesday, April 18. In their notice to Alex, the awards committee members wrote that they were “truly impressed with her outstanding record and achievements.”
Alex joined FSU in 2011 as an MA student. Since then she has participated in many academic conferences, including the interdisciplinary colloquium Knowing Nature in the Medieval and Early Modern Worlds (University of Maryland, 2014), for which she received the departmental Helen J. Beard Conference Travel Grant. At this conference she presented insights on illustrated cosmography texts based on her preliminary dissertation research.
In the summer of 2016 Alex was awarded the Friends of Art History Dissertation Research Award and the Graduate School’s Dissertation Research Grant to continue her investigation of printed cosmography and astronomy books. She also received an award from the Verband der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Clubs to study at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich during the 2017–18 academic year, and a grant from the Herzog August Bibliothek to study that spring in Wolfenbüttel, Germany. While in Wolfenbüttel Alex presented the paper “Creativity and Innovation: Printed Instruments and Illustrations in the Works of Peter Apian” in a colloquium at the Herzog August Bibliothek. Recently she also traveled to Tel Aviv University in Israel, where she presented “Networks of Scientific and Artistic Knowledge in Peter Apian’s Astronomicum Caesareum” at the Art and Artists in the Republic of Letters conference.
These most recent papers derive from her dissertation research on the sixteenth-century printed mathematical works of Peter Apian. Her dissertation, “Measuring the Heavens: Printed Instruments, Illustrations and the Construction of Experimental Science,” under the direction of professor Stephanie Leitch, explores the concept of printers and artists engaging non-specialized readers through printed replicas of mathematical instruments.
An interview with Alex is featured in the following short promotional film about the the Günther Findel Stiftung, the foundation that supported her recent research in Wolfenbüttel.