Olympic Connection: Jesus Dapena

hj-profiles

With each Olympics, we are reminded of our own connections to Games and memorable events or openings we may have watched with terrific anticipation. Not only have there been Olympic athletes with ties to IU, but there are Hoosiers involved in other ways. Recently, IU’s Jesus Dapena retired from the Kinesthetics department and his papers were transferred to the University Archives. Over the years, his impressive work has contributed to Team USA in the Summer Olympics.

Dapena studies the biomechanics of human movement completing a variety of activities, from cello playing to hammer throwing. While sports had always been central to his work, Dapena’s studies became more focused when he received a 1982 commission as the biomechanics researcher in charge of the high jump and hammer throw events for two U.S. Olympic Committee projects. His involvement with the high jump in these projects (the Elite Athlete Project and the Scientific Support Services) has continued even into recent years.

Dapena’s interest in track and field events began when he was a high jumper a young man. As he worked on his technique and watched athletes attempt the new Fosbury Flop (debuted at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics), Dapena considered the physics involved. In the 1980s he turned his attention to high jumpers, and he and colleagues studied videos and animations of potential Olympic athletes. The researchers would then produce a full length report on the individual’s technique and give advice on how they might improve. Dapena says that high jumping is part genetics and part technique. Since parentage is not easily changed, he suggests that teaching athletes technique is the best way to improve their chances of winning.

To hear more about the high jump, the Fosbury flop, and Dapena’s work, check out his interview on NPR’s Science Friday during the 2012 Olympics.

The Henry H. H. Remak Collection- Processing Blog #4

Recently, I heard an IU alumnus apply an appropriate description to Professor Remak. She called him a true “renaissance man,” and I hope that my blog posts thus far have shown this to be true. Having taught and, at various points, served in an administrative capacity at IU for just under sixty years, Remak contributed much to IU and the Bloomington community. While most who knew him will remember him best as a caring teacher and friend, Remak was also a dedicated and successful scholar on a variety of subjects.

Since a comprehensive list of his professional interests would be quite extensive I will only mention several of the most prominent to the collection: the modern German novella and novel; German writers Goethe, Fontane and Thomas Mann; Franco-German literary and cultural relations; European Romanticism; and comparative student movements and countercultures of the 1960s and 70s. The collection contains a particularly rich source of information pertaining to the last of these. In addition to publishing several articles about student movements/life in Western Europe and the U. S., Henry Remak also taught an honors course that focused not only on student unrest at the university level but also faculty unrest, which he refers to in his course description as a “much neglected problem.”

The collection contains several files on this topic with German, French and American newspaper clippings, many of which were sent to him by friends living or traveling in Western Europe. Also contained in the files are some interesting ephemera, such as a newsletter from the University of Hamburg which gives a detailed chronology of student protests that occurred between January and February of 1969. Another particularly rare document from an earlier time and a much earlier era of political and educational unrest is a letter written by Ludwig Borne to his friend, Jacob Mass, in 1835. Ludwig Borne, who must have interested Henry Remak for both his relevance to student movements and for the fact that he immigrated to France due to religious persecution, was among a group of German writers who inspired young German liberals, especially students, to protest the rigid authority and Romantic ideology prevalent at the time.

Letter from Ludwig Borne to Jacob Maas, 1835

Professor Remak’s interest in student movements from this time period carried over, in many ways, to his concern for the structure and organization of IU. More specifically, Remak remained constantly watchful of student and faculty welfare, as evidenced by his research, publications and lectures given on topics of concern or needed areas of improvement for the organization and structure of the university, and even the interaction between faculty, students and administrators.

I had meant to deviate from the theme of my previous posts on this collection, but I think I’ve simply reiterated my earlier realization. Even in his scholarly research, Professor Remak seemed bent on safeguarding his beloved university, students and friends.