At a performance by the University of South Florida Symphonic Band & Wind Ensemble of a new work based on research about the economic impact of algae blooms, music and science instructors Matthew McCutchen, Heather O'Leary, and Hunter Pomeroy meet at USF Concert Hall. Photo by Aiden Michael McKahan/University of South Florida.

In last Thursday’s (4/4) “All Things Considered” on NPR, Neda Ulaby reports, “An anthropology professor at the University of South Florida recently published a paper she knew barely anyone would read. At least, not outside her field. The paper, co-authored with three other professors, had to do with the impact of algae blooms and depletion of coral reefs on the region’s tourism industry. The work was glum, says Heather O’Leary…. But attending concerts at USF’s School of Music inspired and gladdened her. So she reached out to its director of bands, Matthew McCutchen…. Composition professor Paul Reller worked with students to map pitch, rhythm, and duration to the data. It came alive, O’Leary says, in ways it simply does not on a spreadsheet. ‘My students were really excited to start thinking about how the other students, the music students, heard patterns that we did not see in some of the repetitions,’ she says…. A group of faculty and students are working to bring together music and the environment in related projects, such as an augmented reality experience based on this composition. The group, which calls itself CRESCENDO (Communicating Research Expansively through Sonification and Community-Engaged Neuroaesthetic Data-literacy Opportunities) wants to spread awareness about the algae blooms, data literacy, and democratizing science.”