Alumni and Donor News from the Arts and Sciences

Sept. 2018

We are a few weeks into the new school year and the energy on campus is contagious. Though autumn semester is busy for everyone in the college — faculty, students and staff alike — it is also a time of new beginnings and for celebration. This is especially true this year, as we have a lot to celebrate!
We have new leadership in the college, including:
  • Morton O’Kelly, Divisional Dean for Social and Behavioral Sciences and research
  • Luis Casian, Divisional Dean for Natural and Mathematics Sciences and graduate studies
  • Wendy Smooth, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Trevon Logan, Faculty Fellow for Special Priorities 

We also have a host of new department chairs and school directors who lead by their example of excellence, advancing the college as the academic heart of Ohio State.
This fall also marks several arts milestones in our college — 50th anniversaries of the Department of Design, the Department of Dance, and the Department of Arts Administration, Education and Policy. We will also be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Barnett Symposium, which was established in 1993 with a generous gift from Lawrence and Isabel Barnett, and the fifth anniversary of the Lawrence and Isabel Barnett Center for Integrated Arts and Enterprise.
And let’s also not forget about the class reunions we will be celebrating at our annual Homecoming Tailgate in October. I am so looking forward to welcoming our alumni and friends back to campus to reconnect with one another, make new memories and revisit the familiar sights and sounds of fall at Ohio State.
Here’s to a fun-filled fall and a successful and productive academic year!

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

In this Issue

Microbiology and history professors co-teach course examining HIV

It’s best to view a topic as expansive and nuanced as HIV through multiple lenses.

The course HIV: From Microbiology to Macrohistory does just that.

The class is co-taught by Associate Professors Jesse Kwiek of microbiology and Thomas McDow of history. The course studies the global and historical expansion of HIV, as well as its evolution at a molecular level.

Beginning in 2014, the College of Arts and Sciences challenged faculty to develop interdisciplinary, team-taught courses. The idea was to take strengths of the college’s wide-ranging academics to shed light on subjects from a variety of angles. Both McDow and Kwiek knew each other socially and had conducted research in East Africa. The idea to form an HIV-related course that drew from both professors’ expertise quickly blossomed.

When formulating the class, transitioning between what Kwiek and McDow both wanted to share was a unique undertaking. They wanted the curriculum to have a balanced feel between HIV’s historical and microbiological perspectives.

We thought we could put a really interesting course together using HIV as an organizational framework to think about the intersection of sciences and the humanities,” McDow said. “It comes from history, which is my field, and microbiology, which is his field. But along the way, it also helps us think about ethical issues, public health, power, equality and empathy.”

McDow approaches the course from an archival perspective, delving into global historical accounts of the HIV epidemic. By studying the social, economic and political conditions of different regions of the world over the years, students explore how the virus’s path has been influenced through time.

Kwiek examines the physical progression of HIV and analyzes the trail of its existence and evolution through a microbiological context. How does the HIV microbe cause disease? What is the virus-host interaction? Why isn’t there an effective vaccine for the virus? Questions like these are asked and discussed.

McDow and Kwiek combine their two approaches, and they intersect seamlessly over the course their lectures. Instead of McDow explaining HIV’s global history one day and then Kwiek delving into HIV’s microbial evolution the next day, both professors work in tandem to present their material harmoniously.

“We’re completely unified on it,” Kwiek said. “We developed the syllabus together. We both go to every single class. When he’s talking about history, I’ll chime in about the microbiological side and vice versa. … Our goal is not to make it half microbiology and half history. It really was to mix them together and use the tools from both disciplines to get a deeper understanding of the epidemic.”


Over its past four iterations, the course has gained in popularity. Originally capped at 60 students, it is now capped at 80, and McDow says it has a waiting list each semester. The integrative nature of the course attracts students from all different walks of academic interests. Course participants hail from a variety of majors, including molecular genetics, microbiology, linguistics and history.

Drawing from multiple arenas of expertise and examining a topic through various contexts isn’t just a viable approach to learning about HIV. The course helps students realize the benefits of approaching other fields with a broader mindset.

“There’s a direct, obvious application of understanding the science, the genealogy, the politics and the healthcare implications of HIV,” said Michael Ibba, chair of the Department of Microbiology. “It’s that kind of knowledge they can apply to other situations. … Employers, I’m sure, would like to see someone who has a rather broad and more integrative knowledge of different fields to solve a particular problem. I think that’s what this class offers.”

Jessica Hoopengardner is a fourth-year microbiology major minoring in leadership studies and Italian. She took the class last spring after a friend of hers who took the class reported back how much she loved it.

Though she’s a microbiology major, she’d always been fascinated by history, and she thought the class was a great bridge between what she was studying and what she was interested in. She enjoyed tackling a topic from two viewpoints and seeing McDow and Kwiek play of each other and switch back and forth during lectures to teach the material.

“My biggest take way from the class is that our world is interdisciplinary and global,” Hoopengardner said.

When in my ‘regular’ microbiology classes, we learn about how bacteria interact with the immune system, but we often don't go into how this affects public health programs or where a specific bacterium came from or stigmas associated with disease. ... I think that so many of my microbiology classes could have a small public health or history component, and that would greatly benefit students by forcing them to think outside the box.”

Students conduct presentations on HIV at the STEAM Factory in downtown Columbus.
Students conduct presentations on HIV at the STEAM Factory in downtown Columbus. Photo courtesy Paul Woo, Wandering Woo Photography

The course concludes with students conducting a group presentation at the STEAM Factory downtown using a PechaKucha-style format, in which 20 PowerPoint slides are shown for 20 seconds at a time, keeping the presentation concise and fast-paced. Hoopengardner’s presentation was about how needle-exchange programs help reduce the transmission of HIV. The event attracts representatives from local health organizations such as the Ohio Department of Health, Columbus Public Health and Equitas Health.

“Our students do good work, and it always feel like a bit of a shame to keep it in the classroom,” Kwiek said. “This gives us a chance to go out and develop good partnerships with the community.”

A study abroad course spun off the original class, and in summer 2017, 15 students traveled to the Tanzanian Southern Highlands, a region with one of the highest rates of HIV in the country. The study abroad course will commence again in the summer of 2019.

Between the course’s curriculum, the event at the STEAM Factory and the corresponding study abroad class, Kwiek and McDow have steadily turned what was once simply an idea into a multifaceted and comprehensive student experience.

“We expect [students] to think across boundaries,” McDow said. “We found that students really appreciate the opportunity to bring these things together within one class.”

Added Kwiek, “We hope to have them appreciate nuance — that things aren’t simple. If you start changing your perspective, you start seeing things differently.”

Art alumnus, glassmaker headed to Finland on Fulbright grant

Handmade glass cloud sculptures by Jonathan Capps
Handmade glass cloud sculptures by Jonathan Capps.

Jonathan Capps’ upcoming Fulbright-funded research trip to Finland is a decade in the making.

Capps, who earned his Master of Fine Arts from Ohio State in 2016 and completed a three-year tenure last June as a lecturer in the Department of Art, is headed to to the historic glass-making town of Nuutajärvi, Finland, for a year-long Fulbright experience where he will assist the Nuutajärvi Glass Village Cultural Foundation, explore and study Finnish glass tradition and transition, and make collaborative works of art with Finnish glass artists.

Capps Fulbright proposal, “Articulating Finnish Glass Culture Through the ‘Integrated Cross-Cultural Series,’” has three components: collaborative design; glassmaking and production; and community engagement that explores the cultural effects of Finland’s changing glass landscape. The proposal is rooted in intercultural collaboration and will contribute to the preservation and scholarship of Finnish glassmaking techniques.

“I get to kind of have an extension of grad school, an international extension. It gives me a year to focus on this proposal, my work, this idea and simultaneously have this very incredible experience of cultural exchange with the Finnish glass community. I hope this Fulbright is the beginning of a lifelong conversation with that community,” Capps said.

Capps is a glass artist who has studied and made glass art for nearly 16 years. After switching his initial major to art during his time as an undergraduate at Centre College in Kentucky, Capps dove headfirst into the glassblowing scene and hasn’t looked back. He went from the Pittsburgh Glass Center to the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina to the University of Louisville’s glass program, honing his craft, learning from more experienced glass artists, and teaching and lecturing at every opportunity.

Capps’ connection with Nuutajärvi started in 2008 during his time as the studio coordinator assistant at the Penland School of Crafts. Sara Hulkkonen, a glass artist and educator who was enrolled in the program, was from Finland and taught at Tavastia Glass School in Nuutajärvi, which had just developed an international artist and residency program. She encouraged Capps to apply to the program, and he was accepted, earning him the distinction of being the program’s first artist in residence.

Capps hit it off with the Nuutajärvi glass community, and the following summer, he was invited back to assist in teaching a class on nontraditional glass sculpting techniques. He continued making connections, which, in 2013, would inform him of the jarring transition the Nuutajärvi glass community was undergoing; his new friends and colleagues were posting on Facebook that the town's glass factory was shutting down. He began wondering about what was happening in the glass village, and the situation opened the door for him to ask questions. 

“The culture of glass is shifting dramatically," he said. "It’s not necessarily all negative, it’s just shifting from industry to fine art, but in that shift you have this traditional way of blowing glass in the industry — this hands-on technique. But you also have this new wave of glass artists and designers — is a crucial piece of glass art history disappearing? My hypothesis is that a certain piece of glass art making is being lost. So, what is being lost and how could we as artists preserve the art and the history of this important Finnish contribution to glass art?”

A glass bowl made by Jonathan Capps

A glass bowl made by Jonathan Capps.

A year after Capps’ learned of Nuutajärvi’s transition, he submitted his first application for the Fulbright award, a grant that encourages cultural relations and increases international understanding between the United States and other countries. His first two Fulbright applications were denied, but his third was accepted last March.

Capps and his family will be in Nuutajärvi for the entire 2018-19 academic year. He hopes his research on the state of the glass-making world in Finland can help bolster their glass community while also gleaning experience that can help the glass artists’ community in the United States. He has also proposed a 24-piece art show of collaborative works with local artists, “The Integrated Cross-Cultural Series,” to show in the Nuutajärvi Glass Museum. He hopes to bring the collection to the glass museum in Helsinki, Finland, and then to the United States before making the collection a permanent collection back in Finland.

“Yes, the factories are shutting down, but the silver lining is what’s this other beautiful glass art evolution that’s happening over there?” Capps said. “I want to be a part of it, and I want to share what’s happening here with the Finnish glass art community to help strengthen them and at the same time bring what’s happening in the Finnish glass community home to strengthen us.”

Area Studies Centers awarded $6.67 million in federal funding

The Center for Latin American Studies, the Center for Slavic and East European Studies and the East Asian Studies Center have been awarded more than $6.67 million in U.S. Department of Education funding for the next four years. The awards will support the centers’ missions of training undergraduate, graduate and professional students and promoting area studies knowledge in the community and throughout the nation.

The centers — all affiliated with the College of Arts and Sciences and Office of International Affairs — each received both Title VI Comprehensive National Resource Center and Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship grants, which will be used to sponsor a wide range of academic activities and outreach initiatives.

“We are thrilled to be able to secure Title VI funding again to promote East Asian studies on campus and beyond,” said Etsuyo Yuasa, associate professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures and director of the East Asian Studies Center.

With this funding, we can support close to 100 student fellowships, about 200 lectures and conferences, numerous courses, and other activities over the next four years.”

Title VI National Resource Center grants are awarded to Area Studies Centers around the U.S. to support foreign language; area; and international studies infrastructure in an effort to ensure a steady supply of graduates with expertise in less commonly taught languages, world areas and transnational trends. FLAS fellowship funding, coupled with matching funds in the form of tuition awards from the Graduate School, allows the centers to provide academic year- and summer-long fellowships to students undergoing training in less commonly taught languages and related area or international studies.

“It's such a privilege to be able to provide enhanced opportunities for students at all levels, as well as for Ohio State faculty, K-12 teachers, and our other partners here and around the country,” said Terrell Morgan, professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and director of the Center for Latin American Studies. “We're particularly excited about expanding instruction in less commonly taught languages, such as Portuguese and Quechua, as we focus students’ attention on Latin America, a region that is enormously relevant to their future.”

Annual National Resource Center and FLAS fellowship grants are as follows:

  • Center for Latin American Studies
    National Resource Center funding: $218,017
    FLAS funding: $303,000

  • Center for Slavic and East European Studies
    National Resource Center funding: $250,000
    FLAS funding: $349,500 

  • East Asian Studies Center
    National Resource Center funding: $233,300
    FLAS funding: $313,500

The Lantern Featured in Columbia Journalism Review

An article published in Columbia Journalism Review on Aug. 10 highlights the efforts of Ohio State students who continued reporting for The Lantern this summer as two national stories broke at the university. Between the Urban Meyer controversy resulting in him being placed on administrative leave and the sexual misconduct allegations of Richard Strauss, a former Ohio State wrestling doctor, student journalists at The Lantern reported on stories with a significant presence in the national media. The article featured interviews with School of Communication students Edward Sutelan, The Lantern’s Editor in Chief, and sports editor Colin Gay.

The Columbia Journalism Review is a leading professional magazine for journalists published by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism since 1961.

2019 Alumni Awards Call for Nominations

The College of Arts and Sciences is seeking nominations for the 2019 Arts and Sciences Alumni Awards: Distinguished Alumni Achievement; Young Alumni Achievement; and Distinguished Service, to be presented at the annual Honoring Excellence dinner and ceremony on April 12, 2019. The deadline for submissions is September 22, 2018. Find out more about the awards here.

New HIGHER Charitable Gift Annuity Rates

Make a gift to the College of Arts and Sciences and receive income for life. With a charitable gift annuity, you can make a gift now while securing fixed payments for your lifetime. Plus, you’ll enjoy great tax benefits. Learn more.


John E. Nance Writer-in-Residence Reception with Kevin P. Keating
Sept. 13, 6:30-8 p.m.
Urban Arts Space, 50 W. Town Street, Columbus, OH

SCIENCE SUNDAYS: Politics With the People
Sept. 16, 3-5 p.m.
Ohio Union, U.S. Bank Conference Theatre

Wind Symphony
Sept. 26, 8 p.m.
Weigel Auditorium

Barnett Symposium 2018: Illuminating Creativity
Sept. 27-28
Sullivant Hall

Arts and Sciences Homecoming Tailgate
Oct. 6, 12:30 p.m.
University Hall Plaza

A Dinosaur for Orton Hall
Oct. 7, 2-4 p.m.
Orton Hall