Alumni News

October 25, 2017 at 6:17 pm

Notable Alumni | Professor Michael Kukral Leads Africa Field Studies at Rose-Hulman

Graphic for College of Arts & Sciences Notable Alumni Award

Editor’s Note: The College of Arts & Sciences launches the Notable Alumni Awards, honoring 37 Notable Alumni in 2017 for broad accomplishments in their careers, a commitment to community service, and valuable contributions to Ohio University, the College of Arts & Sciences, and its students.

From left, Dean Robert Frank, Dr. Michael Kukral, and President M. Duane Nellis at the 2017 Notable Alumni dinner.

From left, Dean Robert Frank, Dr. Michael Kukral, and President M. Duane Nellis at the 2017 Notable Alumni dinner.

 

Michael Kukral ’82 Geography, ’86M Political Science, ’97M Environmental Studies

Ohio University alum Dr. Michael A. Kukral is Associate Professor of Geography & Africa Field Studies at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind.

At Ohio University, Kukral earned a B.S. in Geography in 1982 and an M.A. in Political Science in 1986 from the College of Arts & Sciences, along with an M.Sc. in Environmental Science in 1987. He earned a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Kentucky in 1995.

During his graduate studies at OHIO, Kukral received an Ohio University Provost’s Summer Pool Grant Award ($3,700) for his project on “Sea, Land, & Home: Coastal Geography of the Outer Banks, N.C.,” as part of the Geography field methods camp.

Kukral also received a Fulbright Fellowship to Prague, Czechoslovakia, where he studied from 1989 until 1990.

Dr. Michael Kukral

Dr. Michael Kukral

Kukral joined Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 1999, and his early teaching career included visiting professor positions at Ohio University and Ohio Wesleyan University.

During his appointment at OHIO, Kukral taught Geography of Europe, Geography of U.S. and Canada, Geographic Thought, Environmental Geography, Global Issues, Regional: Third World, Seminar: Political Geography, Introduction to European Studies, and Field Methods (Workshop: Coastal Geography on North Carolina).

Kukral has published 24 articles, book chapters, and study guides in national and international publications. Titles range from “Automatic Music for the Huddled Masses” to “Student Field Studies in Kenya,” from “Perpetuating Prague: Simulacra of Place” to “Czech Settlements in 19th century Cleveland, Ohio.” He says his most important book is Prague 1989: Theater of Revolution : a Study in Humanistic Political Geography.

His credentials also include 43 speaking engagements and presented papers. He has presented his work in Maryland, Kentucky, Florida, California, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Nevada, Iowa, Washington, Illinois, New York, Czechoslovakia, and here at Ohio University.

Experiences around the World

Michael Kukral leaning on guardrail, alongside a sign that says Perkeera Water Resource Users Association

At Rose-Hulman, Kukral coordinates multiple field study programs, including Africa Field Studies at Rose-Hulman. Recent trips included study of urban topography in Western Turkey, field studies in Kenya, and a map translation project with Ishikawa Prefectural University in Kanazawa, Japan.

Michael Kukral in Kenya, posing here with a carving of a lion.

Michael Kukral in Kenya.

Additionally, Kukral has  received many grants and awards, most recently in 2013, when he was named “Outstanding Professor of the Year,” from Triangle Fraternity (Engineers, Architects, Scientists) at Rose-Hulman.

Michael Kukral in Prague during the Velvet Revolution.

Michael Kukral in Prague during the Velvet Revolution

“In Prague in 1989 I took part in the Velvet Revolution, and as a Fulbrighter my boss was Ambassador Shirley Temple Black,” Kukral says. “She invited us three Fulbrighters  to her house and to movies with her. She was an extremely intelligent lady.”

Life as an OHIO Student

Michael Kukral in the Marching 110, shown here looking over his shoulder.

Michael Kukral in the Marching 110.

Michael Kukral poses with Darren McGavin during filming of The Christmas Story.

Michael Kukral poses with Darren McGavin during filming of The Christmas Story.

Kukral worked as an extra in the movie A Christmas Story when he was a student. “You can see me looking over Darren McGavin’s shoulder in the leg lamp scene,” he says for those who want to spot him in the movie.

‘My Friend Dahmer’

Kukral would find himself back in the movies in 2017 when the movie My Friend Dahmer is made based on a graphic novel by the same name by cartoonist (and Kukral’s best friend) John “Derf” Backderf. Backderf and Kukral went to high school with Jeffrey Dahmer, a serial killer who eventually murdered 17 men and boys in the Midwest.

“This is the story before that story,” says the movie website. “Jeff is an awkward teenager struggling to make it through high school with a family life in ruins. His bizarre behavior at school attracts unexpected friends, a group of band-nerds who form The Dahmer Fan Club, headed by Derf Backderf…. But as they near graduation, Jeff’s depravity continues to take hold, and he spirals further out of control.”

Michael Kukral in prom scene in My Friend Dahmer, posing here with actor Ross Lynch, who played Jeffery Dahmer.

Michael Kukral in prom scene in My Friend Dahmer, posing here with actor Ross Lynch, who played Jeffery Dahmer.

While an actor play Kukral in the movie, he landed a bit part in the prom scene.

“When the movie was being filmed in Dahmer’s house in Bath, Ohio, I went to watch and was welcomed by cast and crew,” he says. “It was surreal to be in the Dahmer house again. They put me in my prom scene as an extra in a blurry background.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*