back to news Dec. 29, 2020

2020 High Points

Though 2020 was challenging, there was no shortage of triumph in the College of Arts and Sciences community. We are proud to curate some of this year’s high points, and whatever 2021 brings, we look forward to another year of excellence, innovation and distinction.

Kent State CoverJournalism alum to release graphic novel as 50th anniversary of Kent State shooting nears

Before journalism alumnus John “Derf” Backderf became an award-winning graphic novelist, he drew biting and controversial political cartoons for The Lantern. His latest work, Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio, which was released in September and was named one of NPR’s “Best Books of 2020,” retells the tragic story of the four Kent State University students who were shot and killed by Ohio National Guard troops during on-campus protests 50 years ago. Read more >

Marla BerkowitzBerkowitz raises profile of interpreters at coronavirus briefings

As Ohioans fixated on Gov. Mike DeWine’s televised briefings on the coronavirus, one person in particular caught their eye: certified deaf interpreter Marla Berkowitz. Berkowitz, a senior lecturer in Ohio State’s American Sign Language program and the only certified deaf interpreter in Ohio, makes ASL more accessible for the deaf community, and her demonstrative facial expressions and sharp gestures made her famous in Ohio households. Read more >

Elisabeth RootBuilding bridges between Ohio State and the state health department

As the pandemic made its way through Ohio, state health officials called upon Ohio State experts to assist. Elisabeth Root, an associate professor the Department of Geography and the College of Public Health’s Division of Epidemiology, leveraged her role at the university and her experience with government agencies to establish vital connections that were key in the state’s coronavirus response. Read more >

Climate Change campus photo illustrationClimate change’s effects are already being felt in Ohio

When you think about climate change, what comes to mind? Glaciers melting? Coral bleaching? Record-setting temperatures in the Antarctic? Those far-flung examples are real, but the impacts are felt in our own backyards as well. Professor of geography Brian Mark and Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center senior research associate Aaron Wilson break down how the Buckeye State is experiencing climate change. Read more >

Medical personnel 1918 pandemicWhat history can teach us about pandemics and health crises

COVID-19 is far from the first pandemic humanity has ever struggled through, yet navigating such a historical, life-changing event leaves us yearning for understanding. By exploring pandemics and health crises of the past, such as the influenza pandemic of 1918, associate professor of history Nicholas Breyfogle is working to develop a series of publicly available materials that place our current coronavirus pandemic in historical context. Read more >

Climate Gathering performanceHow the arts and humanities are confronting climate change

Climate change is an issue that refuses to be contained strictly within scientific disciplines. By grappling with the climate crisis in other arenas such as the arts and humanities, we allow ourselves to express complicated feelings about global warming, attaching narrative and emotion to the science and amplifying realities about environmental inequities in new, profound ways. Read more >

Man in grocery store wearing maskUsing psychology to encourage long-term COVID-19 compliance

For nearly as long as the coronavirus has been a part of everyday life, a severe divide has existed between those who agree with and adhere to government administered health guidelines and those who do not. Richard Petty, Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Psychology, is exploring more effective methods of communicating public health recommendations and accurate information about COVID-19. Read more >

Hasan JeffriesTeaching the “hard history” of slavery and racism in America

Associate professor of history Hasan Jeffries teaches children “hard history,” a more complicated — but complete — understanding of America’s past regarding issues such as slavery, racism and civil rights. He hopes this way of teaching encourages a more nuanced, critical understanding of America and leads to more comprehensive discussions about race — which have not fundamentally changed in recent decades. Read more >

Timashev Family Music Building renderingLargest donation by an individual in college’s history supports College of Arts and Sciences

This summer, Ohio State alumnus Ratmir Timashev MS ’96 and his wife, Angela Timashev, committed their charitable foundation to provide $17 million to the College of Arts and Sciences. The gift is the largest philanthropic contribution made by an individual or foundation in the history of the college. It will support construction of a new music building, to be named the Timashev Family Music Building, as part of the university’s emerging Arts District. Read more >

Hadad and Ohio State team seek deadly chemical nerve agent antidotes

Antidotes to chemical nerve agents remain as elusive as ever. With over $5.3 million in funding from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, an agency within the U.S. Department of Defense, professor of chemistry and biochemistry Christopher Hadad is leading a team of researchers in an effort to discover medical countermeasures to some of the world’s deadliest toxins. Read more >

Students dance during a hip hop dance class in a specialized outdoor tent on the South Oval. On-campus tents accommodate the arts and encourage healthy and safe behavior

Three arts tents were erected on campus this fall to accommodate safe and socially distant in-person classes. The tents — one on the South Oval, one by Stillman Hall and one at Browning Amphitheatre near Mirror Lake — allowed for rehearsals, classes and exhibitions in the College of Arts and Sciences to be showcased on campus in new and innovative ways. Read more >

Quantum science illustrationOhio State-led QuSTEAM initiative to transform U.S. quantum education

To properly engage with the rapidly evolving field of quantum information science, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from five universities across the Midwest and led by Ohio State is spearheading an effort to redesign quantum science education to develop a diverse and effective quantum workforce. Professor of physics Ezekiel Johnston-Halperin is lead investigator on the project. Read more >