Alumni in the News: Black Leaders Shaping Dallas, Making Sense of COVID-19 Data, Artist Turned Curator

By Jill Blevins  |  August 20, 2020

University supporters John Olajide BS’04, founder and CEO of Axxess, and Fred Perpall, CEO of The Beck Group, are working in tandem to lead the Dallas business community’s response to inclusion and the COVID-19 pandemic. Olajide, a 2016 recipient of the UT Dallas Distinguished Alumni award, currently serves as chair of the Dallas Regional Chamber, while Perpall, whose company recently announced a gift to support students in the Naveen Jindal School of Management, chairs the Dallas Citizens Council. Read more about their collaboration in the first in a series of articles from The Dallas Morning News.

When Wade Fagen-Ulmschneider BS’05, MS’06 looks at the data attached to the coronavirus pandemic, he knows there are questions, answers and themes waiting to be told. Following that line of questioning, he created the 91-DIVOC interactive visualization tool to dive into the details and unearth the stories behind the data. Fagen-Ulmschneider, a teaching associate professor of computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, shared his concepts and innovative tool with students at the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science earlier this year, and his work has been featured in Popular Mechanics.

Dallas-based artist Ciara Elle Bryant BA’16 curated an exhibition for the new 500X Gallery in Dallas that runs through Sept. 6. Available for virtual viewing, the “Vivrant Thang” show features 12 Black artists in an effort to showcase Black art. Bryant’s multimedia installation “Server: A Streamed Revolution” was displayed at the Nasher Sculpture Center earlier this month, and the artist and her work were recently highlighted by D Magazine.

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