College hires Discovery Themes faculty

Slide that says Discovery Themes with three pictures

Ohio State launched the Discovery Themes initiative to position the university to tackle the world’s grand challenges in eight areas of focus within the four Discovery Themes: Humanities and the Arts, Health and Wellness, Food Production and Security, and Energy and Environment. The college has faculty leading three of the areas of focus: Casey Hoy, Initiative for Food and Agricultural Transformation; Elena Irwin, Sustainable and Resilient Economy; and Mark Failla, Foods for Health. Discovery Themes funding is expected to allow for an 8 percent to 10 percent net increase in the tenured/tenure-track faculty.

The college is benefitting from the increase in Discovery Themes faculty. By August 2017, the college will have 28 new faculty serving in five of the areas of focus. To date, 15 faculty have joined the college with nine units having one or more of the new Discovery Themes faculty. Of those new hires, 53 percent are from underrepresented populations. The 15 new faculty along with a description of their work are highlighted below.

Ingrid Adams
PhD: Iowa State University, Ames Iowa.

I am an Extension Specialist in Food, Health, and Human Behavior with a dual appointment in the Department of Extension in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and the Division of Medical Dietetics in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

My research interests include the development of evidence-based, critical thinking programs and practices related to food security and health of individuals and communities; and understanding and decreasing health disparities among underserved and minority populations (African Americans, Hispanics, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders).

Leah Bevis
PhD: Cornell University (Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management) in the spring of 2016.

My research focuses on linkages between human welfare and biophysical systems in poor countries --- for instance, I'm examining the role of soil fertility in shaping smallholder farmer productivity, and how soil minerals drive crop minerals and human micronutrient malnutrition. I also examine intergenerational income, education, and health transmission, a subject key to understanding socio-economic mobility in the US and abroad. I plan to continue work in both of these areas in the near future, perhaps expanding to new work regarding poverty in the US, and collaborating with nutritionists and crop scientists at OSU as I continue research on food systems and development.

Yongyang Cai
PhD: Computational and Mathematical Engineering in 2010 from Stanford University. Prior to joining Ohio State, Senior Research Scientist at the Becker Friedman Institute, University of Chicago, and a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

I am an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics. My current research focuses on dynamic stochastic integration of climate and the economy, as well as decision making under uncertainty in environmental and resource economics.

Scott Demyan
PhD:  University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany in 2013. I continued to work there as a post doc before coming to OSU.

I will be starting at OSU as an assistant professor in the area of soil and environmental mineralogy with a focus on carbon permanence. I intend to pursue research in the areas of soil organic matter and mineral stabilization mechanisms, inorganic carbon dynamics, and ex situ mineral carbonation as a sequestration method.

John Fulton
PhD: University of Kentucky; on faculty at Auburn University for 10.5 years before joining the Ohio State faculty ranks.

Research focuses on machinery automation and digital agriculture with efforts around collecting field level data and synthesizing to drive farm decisions.

Emmanuel Hatzakis (Emmanouil Chatzakis in Ohio State directory)
PhD: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy/food analysis in 2007 at the University of Crete in Greece and before coming to Ohio State was the NMR Director in Pennsylvania State University.

Assistant Professor at the department of Food Science and Technology at The Ohio State University. Research interests include applications of liquid and solid state NMR Spectroscopy in Food Science and Nutrition. Developing novel analytical tools for food evaluation and applying NMR spectroscopy for the discovery and characterization of compounds with high commercial and nutritional value that can be produced from low cost sources, such as food industry waste.

Douglas Jackson-Smith
PhD: University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1995, worked as a faculty member at the UW until 2001, then spent the last 15 years at Utah State University.

I am trained as a sociologist, and will be working to integrate social science perspectives into interdisciplinary research on complex Ag-Food-Water puzzles. Among other topics, I will be exploring social, economic, and policy drivers of behaviors by farmers and other actors that shape water quality outcomes in Ohio and the Great Lakes Region. I am keen to draw attention to the social dimensions of sustainability when assessing food and agricultural systems. I will continue to promote more participatory and collaborative models that engage key actors and stakeholders in designing, implementing, and interpreting scientific research.

Margaret Kalcic
PhD: Purdue University in 2013, in Ecological Sciences and Engineering, and the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.  Most recently I completed a 3-year postdoc at the University of Michigan, in the Graham Sustainability Institute (2013-2016).

New assistant professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Research is in the area of watershed hydrology with a particular focus on water quality in agricultural regions. One main goal is to provide producers in the western Lake Erie watersheds, as well as their advisors, information that encourages adoption of appropriate conservation measures to tackle Lake Erie’s nutrient goals. This involves not only scientific and modeling challenges, but engaging stakeholders and working across disciplines in the social sciences, economics, and policy domains.

Scott Kenney
PhD: Microbiology & Immunology from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. Comes to Ohio State after completing postdoctoral research in the laboratory of XJ Meng at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech).

The Kenney lab focuses on the molecular virology of positive stranded RNA viruses, setting up reverse genetics systems to manipulate the viral genome, creating targeted mutations and observing the effects of mutations on the virus lifecycle in cell culture and on pathogenesis within the host. The lab is currently focusing on mechanisms of cross species transmission of hepatitis E virus (HEV) along with factors contributing to enhanced mortality of HEV and Zika virus during pregnancy.

Daniela Miteva
PhD: Duke University (NC) in 2013. Prior to coming to Ohio State, was a postdoctoral associate at the Nature Conservancy.

I am an environmental economist working on conservation and sustainability issues in developing countries. Combining a microeconomic framework with theory and tools from ecology and biogeography, my research focuses on understanding the drivers of landscape change, quantifying the impacts on ecosystems and human welfare, and evaluating policies like protected areas and Forest Sustainability Council (FSC) certification. In terms of my research, my most high-profile one currently is a multi-country effort I am leading; the goal is to provide consistent evidence of the effectiveness of common native forest conservation interventions in the Tropics.

Tony Parker
PhD: James Cook University in Queensland, Australia. I was employed at James Cook University’s School of Veterinary and Biomedical Science before coming to Ohio State.

The position that I have been employed to undertake is in Sustainable Animal Agriculture. My research interests cover a broad range of animal species but have largely focused on ruminant animals in extensive and intensive production systems. Many factors can impact the sustainability of animal agriculture. An initial approach I have taken is to investigate the health and welfare of grazing ruminants in Ohio.

Devin Peterson
PhD: University of Minnesota, I was also a Professor at the University of Minnesota prior to coming to Ohio State.

My research efforts focus on food flavor and related chemistry, with emphasis on identification of flavor stimuli (taste, aroma, chemesthetic, mouthfeel), characterization of flavor formation/degradation pathways, and mechanisms of flavor delivery. In general, my research program strives to understand, on a molecular level, drivers that influence food acceptability and govern food choice, ultimately to support health and wellness initiatives. As part of our research platform, we use metabolomic-based analytical methods (flavoromics) to advance our understanding of the complex chemical sensation, flavor perception.

Jonathan Fresnedo Ramirez
PhD: University of California, Davis in 2014. Prior to joining Ohio State, I worked in the Institute of Biotechnology at Cornell University. 

I have been hired to pursue research on plant domestication and germplasm improvement of outcrossing species. I am interested in the use of genetics, omics and engineering for the domestication and optimal genetic improvement of new and neglected crops, which may be used for the sustainable and resilient production of biomaterials.

Nicole Sintov
PhD: University of Southern California, Dept. of Psychology. Before joining Ohio State, worked as assistant professor of research at USC Price School of Public Policy.

Now Assistant Professor of Behavior, Decision-Making, and Sustainability in the School of Environment and Natural Resources. As an environmental psychologist, research focuses on intervening with human behavior and understanding the processes of behavior change, particularly with respect to the human interface in smart energy systems and wildlife crime.

Anastasia Vlasova
DVM: Moscow State Academy of Veterinary Medicine and Biotechnology, Moscow, Russia, 2000, Biotechnology/Biochemistry; Ivanovsky Institute for Virology, RAMS, Moscow, Russia, Ph.D., 2004,  Virology, Molecular Epidemiology; 2009, Postdoctoral researcher, Virology, Immunology, The Ohio State University, OARDC, FAHRP, Wooster, OH.

My research is focused on the pathogenesis, epidemiology and immunity to enteric viruses including corona- (CoVs) and rotaviruses (RVs). Rotavirus is the leading cause of childhood diarrhea and mortality worldwide and an important pathogen in young animals; while CoVs represent a continuous public health threat evidenced by recent transboundary spread and pandemics of animal (porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, deltacoronavirus) and human (severe acute respiratory syndrome CoV, SARS-CoV, and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome CoV, MERS-CoV) CoVs.