Unexpected Intersections

Far-flung collaborations flourish at Stanford: Physicists create dance performances, biologists and musicians expand our understanding of epilepsy, and engineers speed environmental research. This interdisciplinary environment springs from having strong science and humanities departments adjacent to a thriving arts district and is aided by research institutes that cross school and department lines. These collaborations blur traditional boundaries and open new avenues for discovery and expression.


Three-dimensional scanning technology used on Rodin's hand sculptures

Rodin's sculptures diagnosed at the Cantor

A hand surgeon diagnoses malformations and diseases in the hands of sculptures by Auguste Rodin, uniting medical science with the artistry of sculpture.

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coral reef

Drones map the oldest coral

Camera-equipped flying robots promise new insights into the effects of climate change on ancient and important coral colonies.

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This map shows the dispersal of phonemes compared with dispersal of genetic traits

Migration and language linked

Comparisons of populations' genetic differences and linguistic changes reveal a link between human migration out of Africa and the evolution of languages.

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Chocolate Heads dancer at Cantor Arts Center

Dancing around 'synesthesia'

Dancers, musicians and spoken word artists learn to put their talents together with jazz master William Parker and each other.

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Leslie Wu presents her code poem

Poetry slam for computer code

A high-tech poetry competition explores the creative aspects of computer programming with multimedia, poetry and executable code.

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A detail from the edition of Pliny’s Naturalis Historia printed in 1582

Animals in literature

The Western world's changing relationship with animals, as seen in a literature exhibit, could explain our stewardship of the natural world.

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Carleton Watkins

Carleton Watkins photo exhibition

Cartographic visualizations provide dynamic context for the geography and natural history behind the 19th-century photos.

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Scene from student production of Hairspray

Students explore civil rights movements in Hairspray

A student-run theatrical society explores racial integration against the background of an inventive LED set.

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screenshot from Geography of the Post website

Map of the West

An interactive digital model of post offices in the U.S. West paints a dynamic picture of the region's changing population density and distribution.

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Lauren Smith stands by a replica of the entrance kiosk to Searsville Lake Recreation Park

Performance at the preserve

Visiting artist Ann Carlson brings dance, choreography, theater, visual art and performance art to an unlikely stage – Stanford's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve.

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Anne Austin holding an ancient bone.

Ancient medical care

An analysis of written artifacts combined with a study of skeletal remains creates a detailed picture of care and medicine in the ancient world.

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Physics faculty members and graduate students use tetrahedra in a construction performance, accompanied by four members of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.

'Drawing orchestra' and a frustrated icosahedron

Stanford physics community artfully uses tetrahedra to create a less-than-perfect structure that explores the connection between shape and sound.

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Portrait of Paul Kunz in front of a computer

Earliest US Website

Stanford University Libraries has restored some of the earliest web pages, making them available again for the first time since the early 1990s.

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Mexican flag and parched earth

Politics of groundwater

A historical analysis of agrarian reform and hydraulic technology reveals how business interests put Mexico's groundwater supply on a path of unsustainability.

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Stanford researcher Sebastian Alvarado explains the science behind Captain America

Science of superheroes

A biologist explains how the iconic comic book characters Captain America and the Incredible Hulk came to possess their superpowers.

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Dancers with Parkinson's disease

Dancing with Parkinson's

Faculty and students explore approaching Parkinson's disease with intentional movement.

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photo of ocean

Telling stories about oceans

'Visualizing the Oceans' project underscores the importance of narrative in creating connections between humans and fragile ocean environments.

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Alvan Ikoku speaking in a classroom

Literature shapes medicine

Novelists have played a crucial role as advocates-in-fiction in the development of tropical medicine and global health.

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Feldman and Garcia-Garcia

Evolutionary theory for language

The combination of data mining, literary analysis and evolutionary biology reveals the literary roots of Portuguese language evolution in 19th-century Brazil.

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Coral reef at Ofu Island, American Samoa

Marine biologists search for the world's strongest coral

Computer-controlled stress tanks help identify hardy coral that will be able to survive the planet's increasing temperatures.

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illuminated light bulb

Addiction policies from neuroscience

Better policies for treating and preventing addiction may come from what neuroscientists are learning about how the brain makes decisions.

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Medical student art observation course

Honing the art of observation, and observing art

Medical school course brings students to campus museums and galleries to practice close observation of art, and to learn how to translate those skills to a clinical setting.

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female avatars

Sexual avatars alter perceptions

After women wear sexualized avatars in a virtual reality world, they feel objectified and are more likely to accept rape myths in the real world.

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dancers in foreground with faculty members Michael St. Clair and Camille Utterback

Molecular physics through movement

Stanford collaborators fuse cutting-edge art with research-grade science.

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Matt Lathrop portrait in front of theater lighting fixtures

Groundbreaking theater technology in the making

A student develops a digitally operated remote control follow spot for Les Misérables.

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