Kevin LaGrandeur, Ph.D. Associate Professor & Director of NYIT Technical Writing Programs
Department: English School: College of Arts and Sciences Campus: Old Westbury
Member of NYIT Since: 1999
The scholarly work of Kevin LaGrandeur, Ph.D., proves that the humanities and sciences have more in common than meets the eye. His new book, published by Routledge, Androids and Intelligent Networks in Early Modern Literature and Culture: Artificial Slaves, was the product of interdisciplinary research that also led to a number of articles over the past several years. His latest research on medicine and literature, in collaboration with two physicians, explores an alternate theory of how Shakespeare and some of his fellow playwrights may have died. The project is funded by an Institutional Support for Research and Creativity grant from NYIT. Dean Olsen, D.O., an adjunct professor in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, is one of the consulting doctors.
LaGrandeur started out as a pre-med student but later changed course to earn degrees in English and economics. He then sought a career unencumbered by disciplinary restraints sometimes found in higher education.
"For someone like me, who has a strong interest in multiple disciplines, especially sciences, philosophy, and English studies, a university like NYIT is a great fit," he says.
In his class, "Artificial Intelligence, Ethics and Literature," LaGrandeur is experimenting with new ways to engage students. They use mobile devices to find and send him links on topics as they're discussed in the classroom, and he posts the most interesting ones on the class syllabus or in a Blackboard discussion area.
His next endeavor is to research the philosophical dimensions of current efforts to build an artificial conscience in robots. He is a fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, an international technology think tank, and a member of The Society for Technical Communication; The Northeast Modern Language Association; and the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts. He served on the executive board of the last organization for two years.
An avid outdoorsman, LaGrandeur enjoys skiing, cycling, hiking, camping, fishing, and birdwatching with his wife. He's a stalwart football and soccer fan who has season tickets for the Green Bay (Wisc.) Packers (though he lives in New York), and traveled to Germany in 2006 to watch the World Cup soccer tournament.
His role models are as disparate as his interestsAlbert Einstein; Sir Richard Burton, the 19th-century explorer and writer; and Packers quarterback Bart Starrand yet they make perfect sense for someone who finds connections in unlikely places.
LaGrandeur says, "The best part of my job is engaging with people and ideas from various disciplines at an intimate, forward-thinking institution."