Professor’s work headed for the Big Apple

Until recently, Robert Lawrence had only known the difficulties associated with applying for a scholarship grant. But a month ago, he felt the joy that comes with receiving one.

Lawrence, an assistant professor and director for the Electronic Media Program in the school of art and art history at USF, received a creative scholarship grant of $7,156 for his current art project, “Genetic Transit History: A Public Interactive Artist’s Installation Engaging NYC Public Transit, The Human Genome Project and Innovation and Innovative Use of the World Wide Web.”

The USF Research Council awarded the grant to Lawrence at the beginning of the spring semester.

Although the grant is relatively small, Lawrence said it will help him complete the project. The project is expected to cost about two to four times the amount of the grant he received.

“It’s not enough to fund the project, but it’s enough to do the rest one way or another,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said he applied for several other grants during a period of two years before he finally received this grant. Two of the grants were through external funding sources out of New York and London.

The project deals with the human genetic code and New York City’s subway system. Lawrence takes a map of human DNA and overlaps it onto a map of the N line of the New York City subway. Billboards located throughout New York City subway stations will show subway riders how to access a Web site that will host his work. The Web site will also address the topic of genetics compared to environmental determination of human character and behavior.

“This is a major project and could potentially do a lot for me,” Lawrence said.

Wallace Wilson, director for the school of art and art history, said the university is excited about Lawrence’s project and is glad to be able to support it.

“I think his ideas are very fresh,” Wilson said.

The Art Institute in New York has partnered with Lawrence to provide funding, publicity and visibility, Lawrence said. The project will showcase at a venue in New York when completed.

To view other works by Lawrence or to find more information about the “Genetic Transit History,” go to