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Simone Drake, Michael Neblo, Elisabeth Root, Michael Stamatikos

Community Engaged Scholar Awards, 2021

Four faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences are recipients of the 2021 Community Engaged Scholar Awards, given annually by the Ohio State Office of Outreach and Engagement to faculty whose engaged scholarship impacts communities, contributes to the university’s culture of engagement, and further establishes and strengthens Ohio State’s commitment to supporting communities.

Simone Drake, Professor, Department of English, Department of African American and African Studies

Simone DrakeSimone Drake specializes in and has chaired a field of study that applauds and advances engaged scholarship: Black studies. She has gone beyond disciplinary expectations by personally creating and hosting six nationally viewed summer 2020 webinars in her Black Matters 101 series: "Policing Black Communities;" "Dismantling Structural Inequalities;" "Taking a Knee, Voting, and Making Speech Matter;" "Voices from Generation Z;" "How are the Children;" and "Creativity During the Pandemic." Panelists consisted of Ohio State faculty, students, staff and alumni as well as corporate and nonprofit community leaders.

Drake also has been responsible for several community arts programs along with panels on health and well-being, urban renewal, community development and K-12 education held at the department’s Community Extension Center on Mt. Vernon Avenue. Additionally, she has worked with Columbus City Schools, Olentangy Local School District and the Metro Schools system on ways to broaden inclusive excellence. She is currently working with security and police diversity training in Franklin and Delaware counties.

Michael Neblo, Professor, Department of Political Science, Director, Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability

Michael NebloAs director of the Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability (IDEA), Michael Neblo seeks to mobilize academy resources to serve the public good in local, state, national and international communities. IDEA focuses on three related areas: generating and disseminating knowledge about American political institutions, studying and fostering high-quality political dialogue and deliberation in our communities, and furthering the university's mission announced in its motto: “Education for Citizenship.”

Neblo’s work involves developing citizens’ deliberative and participatory skills to enable them to engage in self-government. IDEA creates opportunities for this skill development not only on-campus (via a First Year Experience offering to participate in online deliberative forums), but also in Ohio and across the country via the Connecting to Congress (C2C) initiative. C2C sponsors Deliberative Town Halls pairing groups of community members with their sitting elected officials to discuss pending policy issues. In 2020, the project rapidly reoriented all of its work to help communities across the country engage their representatives in Congress on all aspects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Elisabeth Root, Professor, Department of Geography

Elisabeth RootElisabeth Root, also a professor of epidemiology in the College of Public Health, has engaged with state and local public health partners on initiatives ranging from infant mortality to the opioid crisis to COVID-19. For the HEALing Communities Study, Root developed partnerships with local opioid coalitions and substance abuse organizations and has used a community-engaged participatory approach to support data-driven decision making around the implementation and expansion of community-based opioid programs and interventions. She also assisted local coalitions negotiating data-sharing agreements with Ohio state agencies to connect local- and state-level organizations with common goals and objectives.

Root also served as a resource for the state of Ohio through partnerships with the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). In early March 2020 when state leadership realized COVID-19 required an unprecedented response, Root served as a faculty liaison between ODH and Ohio State. In this capacity, Root worked at the Ohio Emergency Operations Center through the summer to develop a comprehensive, data-driven surveillance system to monitor the coronavirus, leverage data science techniques such as mathematical modeling to inform policy decisions and advise public health officials to ensure the community's safety and keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. This relationship enabled Ohio State researchers to partner with state leadership on a number of different initiatives throughout the COVID crisis.

Michael Stamatikos, Assistant Professor, Department of Astronomy, Department of Physics

Michael StamatikosIn June 2018, Michael Stamatikos led the opening of the SciDome, a $2.1 million digital theater environment affording an interdisciplinary and comprehensive STEM experience. SciDome facilitates a unique public-private partnership between Ohio State-Newark and The Works Museum, which services 165 schools in 16 counties. This longstanding collaboration has enabled special community events — such as a solar eclipse viewing party in 2017 and the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's lunar landing in 2019 — that expand community engagement in underserved rural communities and underrepresented Appalachian populations.

The SciDome enables systematic access to informal science education beyond the classroom. Through community partnerships and comprehensive programming, the program provides continuing education that fulfills Ohio State's 150-year promise as a land grant university and realizes the motto “Education for Citizenship.” Since June 2018, Stamatikos has served as the Ohio State-Newark founding director of the SciDome and The Works Museum’s first chief science officer.