Research in the Arts and Sciences

Arts and sciences researchers take on today’s big challenges, seeking sustainable solutions for current and emerging problems through multidisciplinary, collaborative investigations with colleagues on campus, across the country, around the world.

Leading experts and rising stars, they are making discoveries and pushing frontiers forward in high-impact areas: climate change and the environment; “smart” materials, energy efficiency and storage; health and wellness; population dynamics and socio-economics; neuro/behavioral science; and much more.

Their proven track records and potential for innovation are recognized and funded by all major granting agencies and attract support from business and industry.   

Key numbers

  • During FY15, Arts and Sciences received 654 awards totaling $94.5 million, an increase of 15% over FY14
  • Research expenditures totaled more than $81 million

Research Grants

Key Research Focus Areas

Smart Materials/Energy Efficiency and Storage

The Center for Emergent Materials (CEM): an NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), received a six-year, $17.9M grant to continue funding Ohio State’s adventurous, long-term studies of forward-looking new materials on the very edge of the possible. These NSF Flagship institutions form a national network of top materials research programs at top research institutions capable of performing complex and ambitious multi-disciplinary sciences by teams of researchers with the ability to address difficult, fundamental problems in science and engineering.  

Energy Innovation in Action

Physics Professor Louis DiMauro leads an international five-year $12.5M Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) collaboration involving Ohio State; University of Texas; University of Arizona; University of Central Florida; Louisiana State University and the Imperial College, London. The project addresses topics of fundamental nonlinear ultrafast physics, production of compact particle accelerators and mid-infrared laser technology; work with enormous potential impact in many areas of science, technology, medicine and national security.

Chemist Yiying Wu and his team developed the world’s first solar battery, the KAir battery, which converts light to electricity using air and creative chemistry. Ultimately, they hope that this technology will be used widely by the power industry, bringing down the costs of renewable energy worldwide.

Chemist Joshua Goldberger’s interdisciplinary team seeks ways to control and modulate germanium and tin’s thermal conductance and thermoelectric properties, manipulating them on the atomic level — work that may net new engineering tools for thermal processes including heat-flow control.

Chemist Hannah Shafaat's new five-year, $520,000 NSF CAREER Award supports work centering on metalloenzymes that carry out valuable reactions important to alternative energy sources and clean energy storage.  

Electrochemist Anne Co’s new, five-year $651,729 NSF CAREER Award for “Control of surface reactivity for catalyzing hydrocarbon formation from CO₂," will allow her to expand her research on advanced electrocatalytic materials for chemical conversion and energy storage.

Chemist Robert Baker, is one of 50 outstanding young researchers nationwide receiving 2015 DOE Early Career Research Awards. The five year, $150,000/year grant supports research on nanomaterials for chemical energy conversion and highly selective catalysis.

Climate and the Environment

The Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center (BPCRC) is internationally recognized as a leader in polar, alpine and climate research conducted throughout the world. The center houses ten research groups, a library, archival, the Polar Rock Repository and support staff. Research focuses on the role of cold regions in the Earth's overall climate system, encompassing geological sciences, geochemistry, glaciology, paleoclimatology, meteorology, remote sensing, ocean dynamics and the history of polar exploration.

Climate Science in Action

With $239,000 from the National Science Foundation’s Geography and Spatial Science program, Byrd Polar researchers Paolo Gabrielli and Lonnie Thompson, are analyzing three ice cores retrieved from the ice field atop Mt. Ortles, (Italy) in 2011 to reveal records of at least four centuries of climatic and environmental history. This study will advance understanding about relationships between the impacts of human-induced atmospheric pollution on climate and factors that may lead to amplification of atmospheric warming and suppression of atmospheric temperatures. Results will help guide policy makers, governmental agencies and resource administrators in assessing appropriate courses of action.

A $758, 208 NSF grant supports plant biologist Andi Wolfe, and statistician Laura Kubatko studies to test adaptive radiation theory in Penstemon. Using next-generation sequencing approaches to estimate phylogeny for up to 90% of Penstemon’s 280 + described species, they will investigate why this species-rich genus diversified so rapidly across North America. Kubatko developed new phylogeny reconstruction analyses methods to handle enormous amounts of data. This new phylogenetic framework benefits scientists studying evolution of morphological and ecological traits, such as pollination ecologists needing a robust, well-resolved phylogeny to better study shifts in pollinator-specificity from insect to bird-adapted morphologies. Methodology developed for the Penstemon project will be applicable to other large phylogenomic datasets, providing a set of scalable tools to infer species trees currently lacking.  

Health and Wellness

The Departments of Anthropology and Economics are leading The Global History of Health project, one of the first — and the largest — international studies on the health of Europeans during the past 10,000 years, focusing on indicators including skeletal remains, stature, dental health, degenerative joint disease, trauma and diet. Understanding how disease and malnutrition spread in the past, we hope to apply those lessons in the future.

The Departments of Psychology and Sociology and the School of Communication are leading several projects in Ohio State’s Center of Excellence in Regulatory Tobacco Science (CERTS), examining tobacco use patterns, industry marketing practices and public perceptions to help the FDA craft evidence-based protocols in regulating tobacco.

One of just eight NSF-funded mathematical institutes around the United States, the Mathematical Biosciences Institute (MBI) is the only one dedicated exclusively to problems that intersect math and biology. MBI researchers are applying innovative mathematical, statistical and computational methods to tackle significant problems in the biosciences, such as cholera dynamics in Haiti, circadian rhythms in sleep disorders, cancer growth and more to make a real impact on health and wellness. 

Health and Wellness Innovation in Action

Research scientists in the Department of Speech and Hearing Science, in collaboration with Ohio State’s College of Engineering; have provided the first demonstration of a processing algorithm capable of improving speech understanding in noise for hearing-impaired listeners. Ongoing work to perfect this so called “hearing aid on steroids” is a partnership with Sun Microsystems, Inc. 

Spanish and Portuguese Professor and Chair Glenn Martinez, and College of Nursing colleague Usha Menon, lead a new, five-year National Institute of Health (NIH) Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disorders $2.6M dollar grant funding their innovative project, Integrated Second Language Learning for Chronic Care. It is designed to change the traditional way that Spanish for the health professions has been taught. They are testing a model to train nurse practitioners to have the language and cultural skills to serve Hispanic patients with diabetes.

Statistician Eloise Kaizar received $148,621 from the National Institutes of Health for her project, "Statistical methods to support a model pediatric traumatic brain injury data bank.” Data repositories, or “banks,” are becoming increasingly common in medical research, but there are a number of important statistical issues that need to be addressed in their development so that analyses based on the data lead to meaningful conclusions. Kaizar’s research is a great step forward. 

For the next five years, a new $2,608,207 NIH grant funds work of an interdisciplinary team led by microbiologist Brian Ahmer to build on earlier research identifying a potential chink in Salmonella’s armor — the bacterium’s reliance on a single food source to maintain fitness in an inflamed intestine. Although only 42,000 cases of salmonellosis — the infection caused by the bacterium Salmonella — are reported each year, the U.S. Center for Disease Control believes cases are grossly underreported and estimates that Salmonella causes 1.2 million illnesses, 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths every year. Also on the team: biochemists Venkat Gopalan, Edward Behrman, Vicki Wysocki, and microbiologist Kelly Wrighton

Earth Scientist Steven Lower’s new five-year grant of just over $3 million dollars ($3,002,203) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) allows him to continue his innovative, long-term, cross-disciplinary research on the potentially deadly blood infection caused by bacterial cells that attach to implanted cardiac devices. This affects approximately four percent of the one million patients receiving these implants each year. 

Molecular geneticist Helen Chamberlin; and Mathematician/molecular geneticist Adriana Dawes, are funded by a unique, new, four-year $1,280,030 NSF/NIH (DMS/NIGMS) grant. This NSF/NIH program, an initiative to support research at the interface of the biological and mathematical sciences, is funding Chamberlin and Dawes’ collaboration on, "Phenotype engineering by a signaling network modification.” Very simply put, they are trying to see what goes wrong during cell division that can cause such things as cancer and what might be done to prevent this from happening. 

Molecular Genetics Professor Hay-Oak Park’s four-year, $1.2 million NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences grant builds on ongoing studies to understand spatial and temporal regulation of cell polarization crucial for cell proliferation and cell movement. Her work has critical implications for better understanding processes affecting both aging and cancer.

Population Dynamics

The Center for Human Resource Research (CHRR) has been awarded $52M from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, to continue to conduct the 1979 and 1997 National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth (NLSY79 and NLSY97), some of the largest and most influential tools available to social scientists. CHRR has helped run the NLS since its inception nearly 50 years ago. Overall, the NLS program has brought more than $400M in funding to Ohio State.

Neuro/Behavioral Sciences

Leading brain science/brain experts in the Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Brian Imaging (CCBBI) and Ohio State Department of Athletics are leading efforts of the new national Concussion Neuroimaging Consortium to increase our understanding of the mechanisms behind concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to develop neuroimaging-evidence based protocols to treat adolescent, high school and collegiate athletes and soldiers suffering from brain injuries.  

Research scientists in the Department of Psychology are conducting one of the largest randomized control trials in the U.S. on effective behavioral interventions with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and are considered among the nation’s leading experts on the study of memory, and genetic and environmental contributions to the development of children’s’ cognitive skills related to reading and mathematics.

An interdisciplinary group of research scientists in the Decision Science Collaborative are at the forefront of research on understanding the basic building blocks of human judgment and decision making and especially how affective, intuitive and deliberative processes help people to make decisions in an increasingly complex world.