Professor Gunalan Nadarajan, Dean of University of Michigan visited FREAK Lab


December 20, 2018

Professor Gunalan Nadarajan, Dean of Stamps School of Art and Design University of Michigan visited FREAK Lab

‘I was delighted to visit FREAK Lab in December 2018 to meet with the director, Prof Werasak Sureungchai and his research colleagues and students there. In my many years of working at the intersection of art, science and technology I have had the good fortune to visit many research labs engaged in exemplary interdisciplinary work and FREAK Lab certainly lived up to this mission. The combination of facilities and researchers with expertise in computational and biological media, FREAK Lab seems to have carved out a rather unique research niche in Thailand and one could argue, in the South East Asian region. The projects in the lab showed an ability to engage in culturally-specific and located research issues and the researchers seemed to possess a capacity to bring quirky and novel perspectives to these questions. The projects range from sensors to detect and more objectively measure the heat of spicy foods to using the emotional vocabulary of Khon masks to codify and challenge facial recognition systems to the use of freshwater clams as biosensors through their movements responding to pesticide levels in rice fields. The lab also seems to have successfully enacted an open system to connect students (both undergraduate and graduate) with the relevant research projects with non-hierarchical ease; and this is an especially difficult problem that many research labs of this nature and size struggle with. I was very impressed also with the various ways in which the lab seemed to function in the university – as a clearing house, springboard and open platform at different times for innovative and out-of-the-box research questions. The lab and its structure is indeed a great model for adoption and adaptation elsewhere.’