Alumni and Donor News from the Arts and Sciences

October 2018

The college is still buzzing with excitement from an outstanding Homecoming week earlier this month. In addition to the victory over Indiana, we had more than 500 alumni and friends on campus at various points for tours, talks, and of course, our tailgate! 
As interim dean, I appreciate opportunities like Homecoming, where I am able to connect with our network of more than 205,000 living alumni —a network that grows larger and stronger each year as factions of the nearly 20,000 students who call the Arts and Sciences their academic home receive their diplomas.

The college’s mandate does not end, however, with merely our students and our alumni. The Arts and Sciences serves as the hub for the whole of Ohio State — a hub for groundbreaking research, creative inquiry, innovative teaching and general education — as our world-class faculty prepare students from across colleges and disciplines to advance scholarship and solve critical and complex problems.

I thank you for being a part of this robust and vibrant Arts and Sciences community, and look forward to future opportunities to connect.

Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier
Interim Executive Dean and Vice Provost
Vernal Riffe Professor of Political Science

In this Issue

American Religious Sounds Project awarded $750,000 grant

The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded a three-year, $750,000 grant to The Ohio State University Foundation in support of the American Religious Sounds Project (ARSP), which is co-directed by Isaac Weiner, associate professor of comparative studies and associate director of the Center for the Study of Religion, which houses the project. This award was approved in conjunction with a request for proposals issued by the Luce Foundation’s Theology Program.

The ARSP is a multiyear, collaborative initiative spearheaded by Weiner and co-director Amy DeRogatis, professor of religious studies at Michigan State University. The project aims to study religious diversity by documenting and interpreting the auditory cultures of the various religions in the United States.

The project took shape with support from a 2015 grant awarded by Humanities Without Walls. That award gave way to the Luce Foundation awarding an earlier 2016 grant, which allowed the ARSP to complete its first two phases: the beginning of the construction of a digital sonic archive documenting the diversity of American religious practice through originally produced field recordings, and the development of a digital platform that organizes and presents the digital materials to users. The ARSP website was designed and built by the College of Arts and Sciences Technology Services Application Development team, led by Michael Hardesty.

The website remains under development and will launch later this fall. It invites users to explore the ARSP audio archive, discover connections among recordings, plot them on a map according to the geographical location where they were produced and listen to short, edited clips. The website also will include a digital gallery with multimedia exhibits on selected themes, sounds and communities, featuring images, explanatory texts and interpretive audio collages and essays.

The new, $750,000 grant allows the ARSP to hire more staff to support the project and expands its leadership structure. The grant also supports four areas of development and expansion:

  • Geographic expansion: The ARSP has so far concentrated its efforts on the local communities in which Weiner and DeRogatis are based — central Ohio and central Michigan. The grant allows the project to spread its procedures and methods to partners and colleagues at other universities around the country.
  • Long-term preservation and accessibility: Weiner will work with a team at Michigan State to develop the front and back ends of the digital archive to make it accessible to the public, researchers and educators.
  • Interpretive scholarship: The ARSP will offer mini-grants to support the work of other scholars researching the intersection of religion and sound in the United States.
  • Community engagement: The ARSP will pursue more robust partnerships with religious communities regarding the production of field recordings, as well as working on development of a traveling museum exhibit that will use sound as a way of teaching about religious diversity throughout the United States.

Weiner emphasized the ARSP’s collaborative nature between scholars at Ohio State and Michigan State.

“We’re proud of all the ways we have been able to make that collaboration a real partnership between the two institutions,” Weiner said. “This is a project that, from its inception, has really brought together a commitment to scholarship teaching and community engagement, and that’s something we’re very proud of as well.”

“This additional support from the Henry Luce Foundation for the American Religious Sounds Project highlights our shared commitment to strengthening public and community partnerships through engaged scholarship,” said Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier, interim executive dean and vice provost of the College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio State. “By documenting, interpreting, preserving and sharing the diversity of religious sounds, this project will enhance the public’s understanding of American life.”

Weiner also highlighted two individuals critical in getting the ARSP off the ground: multimedia content producer Lauren Pond, and comparative studies graduate student Caroline Toy.

“They’ve been working on our teams the last two years and will continue working with us,” Weiner said. “Their work has been instrumental to our success.”

For more information and to follow updates on the ARSP’s progress and development, see the project’s blog.

Sharpe Geography Innovation Commons opens in Derby Hall

Where does innovation occur?

Gary Sharpe (BA, geography, 1970) will tell you just about anywhere. After all, his multimillion-dollar enterprise Health Care Logistics got its start in a spare bedroom in 1978.

But Gary and his wife, Connie Sharpe (BS, nursing, 1969), wanted to foster a space at Ohio State where new ideas could not only blossom, but thrive — where students could engage with new technology and cross-disciplinary partnerships could form.

So in 2016, the Sharpes made a generous gift to the Department of Geography, marking the beginning of the department’s journey to bring hands-on learning and critical thinking to students through the Gary and Connie Sharpe Geography Innovation Commons, which opened Sept. 20 in Derby Hall.

The multipurpose room includes state-of-the-art technology for broadcast recording, two 3D printers, breakout space for collaboration and integrated equipment to engage with colleagues across universities.

Dedication and ribbon cutting of the Gary & Connie Sharpe Innovation Commons held Thursday, September 20, 2018 at Derby Hall on The Ohio State University Campus in Columbus, Ohio.(© James D. DeCamp of Rob McCormick photography)

Broadcasting room, Sharpe Innovation Commons (© James D. DeCamp of Rob McCormick photography)

A quote from Gary Sharpe hangs in big, bold letters on one wall: “Every day, do something to make the world a better place.”  

“This space provides a center for students and faculty to engage in research,” said Morton O’Kelly, dean of social and behavioral sciences and former chair of the Department of Geography, at an opening ceremony for the commons. “There’s a tremendous amount of useful technology in this room that is going to pay off in years to come.”

The ceremony also included a welcome from Darla Munroe, professor and chair of the Department of Geography, and presentations from geography doctoral student Forrest Schoessow and undergraduate student James White, who both received seed grants from the Sharpes for their research.

When asked what long-term impacts he’d like the new Innovation Commons to have, Gary Sharpe said: “Progress. Collaboration. It’s never an inventor or a scholar sitting on a mountaintop coming up with an idea. When you bring in various people with various skills — that’s when exciting things happen.”

Forget about the box — get out of the box; smash it. Think different. Keep going,” he added.

In 2010, the Gary L. Sharpe Scholarship for Outstanding Undergraduates was established with funds from the Gary L. Sharpe Scholarship Fund in Geography. The scholarship program provides support to undergraduate geography students who excel academically and/or professionally, with preference given to students from Ohio who demonstrate financial need.

Gary and Connie Sharpe

“What a great legacy,” Munroe said of the Sharpes’ collective impact. “I can’t imagine anything better that [Gary and Connie] could have done for our students and for us.”

$20 million NSF grant continues groundbreaking climate change research

Wave tank used by CAICE at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. Image courtesy NSF Center for Aerosol Impacts on Chemistry of the Environment at UC San Diego." title="Wave tank used by CAICE at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego

What impacts do aerosols have on cloud formation, critical atmospheric processes and global climate change?

The Center for Aerosol Impacts on Climate and the Environment (CAICE) and its interdisciplinary team of researchers from universities around the U.S. are working hard to find the answers. And with a new five-year, $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), CAICE is set to continue shedding light on how sea-spray aerosols interact with the atmosphere. The grant is a renewal of an initial five-year, $20 million grant awarded by NSF in 2013.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has for years considered aerosols the biggest uncertainty in climate change modeling. CAICE researcher Heather Allen, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, conducts research that is vital in unraveling the complex climate change equation.

CAICE, which consists of a group of scientists that include chemists, oceanographers and biologists and is led by the University of California, San Diego, works to understand aerosols that are ejected from the ocean, one of Earth’s largest natural aerosol resources. The miniscule liquid particles, which have a wide range of chemical variability based on an array of oceanic and atmospheric factors, react in various ways with gases already present in the air. By studying these interactions, scientists can better understand how aerosols influence temperature variation, extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, and climate change.

“The theme is bringing together very fundamental chemistry all the way to very applied chemistry and tackling very specific questions that we hope to make a difference for climate change modeling,” Allen said.

Allen joined CAICE in 2013. Her specific research focuses on using specialized laser equipment that gathers molecular properties from the water surface to understand the surface’s structure. The structure and chemical makeup of the ocean surface, which is micrometers (or thousandths of a millimeter) thick, is vastly different than that of the ocean’s whole. Understanding chemical activity of the surface of the ocean and the surface of individual aerosol particles is key to deciphering the profound impacts aerosols as a whole have on climate.

One primary contribution Allen and her team of graduate students discerned was discovering that the surface layers of both aerosols and the ocean were less acidic than their bulks. The team also discovered that surface molecules bond strongly to metals like zinc and iron, which leads to a higher concentration of trace metals present in surface layers.

What kind of implications do these relationships and interactions have? Allen routinely collaborates with other CAICE researchers to brainstorm and form questions based on their findings.

“I’m learning from everyone else,” she said. “Collaboration really does stimulate how you think about an experiment to answer a question.”

This latest NSF grant will help develop queries and the experiments to resolve them. The next phase of CAICE research includes reproducing realistic sea-spray aerosols, including the biology, and introducing them to sunlight, high winds and air pollution to determine how the resulting interactions change the atmosphere’s chemical composition. CAICE utilizes a state-of-the-art, 3,400-gallon wave tank at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego to replicate the ocean and its conditions. A new wind-wave channel coupled with a specialized smog chamber is currently under construction and will be completed in 2020. Upon its completion, CAICE scientists will be able to introduce outside pollutants, generate high winds and control air and water temperature to mimic real-world ocean-atmosphere dynamics as closely as possible.

“With climate change, there’s been a subset of researchers that have been trying to understand the aerosol contribution — whether it be positive or negative,” Allen said. “If you start out with very molecular level processes, you can imagine all kinds of experts in lots of different areas can contribute.”

Thank you for another successful Homecoming Tailgate!

On October 6, the College of Arts and Sciences welcomed more than 500 alumni and friends back to campus at our annual Homecoming Tailgate event. With performances by Ohio State’s All Girl Cheerleading Team and the Men’s and Women’s Glee Clubs, all were entertained — President Drake even dropped by to say hello and sing “Carmen Ohio” with the Men’s Glee Club. The silent auction raised more than $7,000 for the 100% TBDBITL campaign to provide scholarships for every member of the marching band. We enjoyed seeing so many alumni back at on the Oval at University Hall, and hope you’ll join us again year on Saturday, October 5, 2019. Not only will Ohio State take on Michigan State, but it'll be a special time on campus, as we'll be celebrating the university's sesquicentennial anniversary. Look for additional details coming this summer.

2018 Homecoming Tailgate

You can view photos from the event on the Arts and Sciences website or our alumni Facebook page.

A new Arts and Sciences podcast

The College of Arts and Sciences has launched a new podcast highlighting the research of its faculty and staff: Voices of Excellence from the College of Arts and Sciences. Hosted by David Staley, associate professor of history, Voices takes listeners into the research labs, classrooms, and studios of Ohio State researchers — from the laser hum of Department of Energy Award winner Hannah Shafaat’s lab to the quiet solitude of Frederick Aldama’s writing space.

Voices of Excellence from the College of Arts and Sciences is available to listen at and on iTunes.

Skull Session on the road in New York City

Are you looking for some Ohio State spirit in the New York City area for Thanksgiving? Please join fellow Buckeyes and Ohio State supporters in celebrating The Ohio State Marching Band as they prepare to march in the 2018 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! TBDBITL will be hosting a Skull Session on the Road from 2:30–5 p.m on. Wednesday, November 21. We are marching toward the end of our 100% TBDBITL scholarship campaign. The $20 registration fee goes directly to the band to help secure the university scholarship match. Read more

Maximize the power of your gift with appreciated stock

Gifts of appreciated stock are one of the most tax-efficient ways to make a donation to the College of Arts and Sciences. You pay no capital gains tax on the transfer, and because the university is a tax-exempt organization, 100 percent of your gift will support your area of choice. Learn more.


The Neuroscience of Self-Control
Nov. 1, 6-7:30 p.m.
Ohio Union, U.S. Bank Conference Theatre

Legally Blonde, the Musical
Nov. 8-18
Thurber Theatre

Department of Dance 50th Anniversary Performances
Nov. 8-17
Sullivant Hall

Marching Band Hometown Concert
Nov. 16, 7 p.m.
Celeste Center, Ohio Expo Center & State Fair, 717 E. 17th Ave., Columbus, OH 43211

SCIENCE SUNDAYS: What Do We Really Know About the Origin of the Cell's Powerhouse?
Nov. 18, 3-5 p.m.
Ohio Union, U.S. Bank Conference Theatre

26th Annual Music Celebration Concert
Nov. 30, 8 p.m.
Mershon Auditorium