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Announcing the 2024 Arts and Sciences Alumni Award honorees

March 11, 2024

Announcing the 2024 Arts and Sciences Alumni Award honorees

Exterior view of University Hall

Each spring, the College of Arts and Sciences’ Alumni Awards ceremony recognizes a distinguished few of our more than 215,000 living alumni whose accomplishments are tangible evidence of the enduring value of an Arts and Sciences education. Their contributions and achievements in their chosen fields, communities, country and university are creating a lasting impact locally and globally. 

The ceremony features the following honors:

  • The Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes alumni who have demonstrated distinctive and outstanding achievement in their profession and through civic involvement.
  • The Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes the outstanding career achievements and contributions of our alumni in fields that encompass disciplines across the arts and sciences.
  • The Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes exemplary service to the College of Arts and Sciences, its faculty, students and programs.

This year, the April ceremony will celebrate five individuals for their extraordinary successes and service. With backgrounds and careers spanning climatology and entrepreneurship, biotechnology, satellite communications, congressional affairs and law, this year’s group of honorees not only exemplifies the extraordinary pathways provided by an Arts and Sciences education, but also what it means to be a Buckeye for life.  

Emerging Leader Award

This award recognizes alumni who have demonstrated distinctive and outstanding achievement in their profession and through civic involvement.

Wes Haines

Wes Haines

BS, geography, 2008; MS, atmospheric sciences, 2013

Wes Haines has been interested in meteorology since he was four years old, watching thunderstorms from a lawn chair in the garage. Around the same time, he developed a passion for technology, computing and the sciences in general.

In high school, he started weatherUSA as a website to put his weather station and weather cameras online and track hurricanes and winter storms. The site later expanded into a weather information services company, providing custom severe weather notifications, interactive mapping and weather data feeds. He completed a bachelor's degree in the atmospheric sciences program (ASP) from Ohio State’s Department of Geography in 2008 and a master’s in 2013, advised by Dr. David Bromwich. For the next 11 years, he worked at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center. He started out as a student web developer and later an IT systems manager, assisting with myriad projects including managing research group websites, building servers and computer networks, sensor systems and databases, supporting weather models, building equipment to be used in remote field locations and assisting with conferences and seminars in both technical and event management roles.

In 2016, he took a diversion from meteorology and employment at Ohio State to co-found HomeTown Ticketing as its CTO. HomeTown is now the national leader in digital event management and ticketing solutions for the K-12 market, with more than 150 employees and an engineering team spanning the country, supporting more than 5,000 high schools. In 2022, he stepped down from HomeTown to return to weatherUSA to continue to build new capabilities for weather decision support services and modern weather apps and maps. He is also a consultant for the State Climate Office of Ohio and remains on the board of HomeTown Ticketing.

A native of Columbus, Ohio, he now resides in San Diego, California with his wife, Jerry (Xun), who is also an Ohio State atmospheric sciences program alum. 


Leo Qian

Leo Qian

PhD, chemistry, 2014

Ziqing “Leo” Qian, PhD, is co-founder and vice president of discovery research at Entrada Therapeutics, a Boston-based clinical stage biotechnology company dedicated to transforming the treatment of devastating diseases using intracellular biologics. Qian co-founded Entrada Therapeutics just after completing his PhD, basing the company’s endosomal escape vehicle (EEV) platform technology on his dissertation on cyclic cell-penetrating peptides for drug delivery.

He currently leads Entrada’s discovery research, focusing on transforming the lives of patients by utilizing EEVs to unlock the promise of intracellular therapeutics. And he is not alone. After completing two successful venture rounds and an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 2021, Qian and team at Entrada are well on their way. His strong vision to improve drug efficacy while working at Entrada has prompted the company to expand its pipeline, broadening its scope from an initial focus on enzyme replacement therapies to include oligonucleotide therapies for neuromuscular diseases, immunology and diseases of the ocular system.

Prior to co-founding Entrada, Qian received his BS in chemistry from East China Normal University, where he graduated at the top one percent of his class and was awarded multiple national scholarships. He then attended Ohio State, where he received his PhD in chemistry in 2014. Qian worked as a postdoctoral research associate at Ohio State, where he collaborated with physician scientists to develop therapeutics for oncology, pulmonary diseases and heart failure. His work has resulted in more than 30 journal publications, 20 granted and pending patents and 2,500 citations. 

Distinguished Achievement Award

This award recognizes the outstanding career achievements and contributions of our alumni in fields that encompass disciplines across the arts and sciences.

Matthew Desch

Matthew Desch

BS, computer and information science, 1980

Matthew Desch is currently the chief executive officer of Iridium Communications, a global satellite communications provider. He has held that position for more than 17 years and led the company from post-bankruptcy obscurity to becoming one of the most highly valued public companies in the space industry.

Desch started his technology career at AT&T Bell Laboratories in Reynoldsburg, Ohio before moving to Chicago to manage technology organizations while pursuing his MBA at night at the University of Chicago. He was an early pioneer in the wireless industry and ran several large technology equipment companies as wireless technology proliferated around the world before joining Iridium. He has won numerous industry accolades — he has been twice selected the Satellite Executive of the Year, selected for the Satellite Industry Hall of Fame and has been honored as one of the top 100 leaders impacting government contracting in Washington, D.C. for the last decade.

Born in Dayton, Ohio, Desch was an active student leader at Ohio State. He attended on an Evans Scholarship and was president of the Ohio Union Activities Board (OUAB). He was one of the founders of the Student Alumni Council, was president of the Sphinx Senior Class Honorary and was a member of the 1979 Homecoming Court. Passionate about helping support and inspire today’s student leaders, he is the founder and advisory board chair of the Buckeye Leadership Fellows (BLF) program in Ohio State’s Office of Student Life, which has developed and graduated more than 375 student participants in its history. 


Stephanie Peters

Stephanie Peters

BA, political science, 1986

Stephanie Peters is the senior director of congressional affairs at Microsoft. In this role, she represents Microsoft on public policy issues ranging from artificial intelligence, intellectual property laws reform, trade policy, immigration, STEM education, cybersecurity and sustainability. Peters manages fifteen government affairs consultants and a portion of the Microsoft Political Action Committee. She drives collaborative legislative efforts and corporate affairs initiatives across U.S. government and legal affairs teams as well as business divisions. Peters represents the company at technology industry trade association meetings, diversity, equity and inclusion-focused policy efforts and digital equity initiatives. 
Prior to joining Microsoft, Peters was a partner at the law firm Squire Patton Boggs in their Washington, D.C. office, where she represented multi-national corporations, trade associations and foreign sovereign clients. From 1995 to 2000, she worked on Capitol Hill as minority counsel to the Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee. She was responsible for briefing members on laws and policies regarding immigration, refugees, intellectual property and encryption, and served as an impeachment counsel during President Clinton’s impeachment proceedings. 
Peters received her BA in political science and women’s studies from The Ohio State University; she was Senior Class President, a member of Undergraduate Student Government, Ohio Staters, the Zeta Phi Beta sorority and the 1985 Homecoming Court. She earned her JD from the Georgetown University Law Center and her master’s degree in political management from George Washington University.  

Distinguished Service Award 

This award recognizes exemplary service to the College of Arts and Sciences, its faculty, students and programs.

Stephen Habash

Stephen Habash

BA, ancient history and classics, 1974; JD, 1978

Stephen Habash was born in Steubenville, Ohio. He earned his BA cum laude and with distinction in ancient history and classics in 1974. Habash also received his law degree from Ohio State in 1978. His focus in the law was transportation, workers’ compensation and labor law. His professional practice has included serving as associate at George, Greek, King, McMahon and McConnaughey, associate and partner at Baker & Hostetler, founding partner at Habash & Reasoner, and Of Counsel   at Perez & Morris.  He also served as an adjunct professor at the Capital University Law and Graduate Center. 

Habash is a member of Ohio State’s President’s Club and a life member of The Ohio State University Alumni Association (OSUAA). He served as a board member and chair of the Stadium Scholarship Dormitory Society. He served as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Committee for nearly a decade, from 2011 through 2020, and was named as the Arts and Sciences representative to the Alumni Advisory Council of OSUAA, where he served for three years.

Habash has established several scholarship funds in the College of Arts and Sciences. In 2007, he established the Mary Lou and John Habash Fund, which provides material support to the Department of History’s student-centric Museum of Classical Archaeology. In 2010, he established the Habash/Luczkowski World War II Fund, which supports undergraduates enrolled in the Department of History’s World War II study abroad program. In 2015, he established the Luczkowski-Habash Fund for Polish Studies, which supports undergraduate and graduate studies in the field of Polish studies through scholarships and study abroad awards. He also funded a life membership for the history department to the Motts Military Museum in Grove City, Ohio. 

Habash has been a longtime supporter of the Department of History’s World War II study abroad program. He participated in the first two of the department’s tours for alumni and friends in 2011 and 2012 and recruited friends for subsequent tours. Consistent with his commitment to enhancing student experiences, he arranged and sponsored extracurricular Saturday lunches so that past and current students in the World War II program could exchange information, and during the same luncheon could meet and learn firsthand from decorated World War II veteran Donald Dunn. He compiled a history of all Ohio State alumni and students who were buried abroad in World War II cemeteries, advancing the department’s mission to create a lasting database of such students and alumni. 

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