February / March 2017

Highlighting the Discovery Themes, a catalyst of interdisciplinary collaboration

Research on driverless vehicles shifting gears
The state of Ohio and Ohio State have committed $45 million to support the university's research in automated-vehicle testing and research. Gov. John Kasich and President Michael V. Drake announced the funding, which will be used to expand the Ohio State-affiliated Transportation Research Center, the nation’s largest independent test track. In addition, the College of Engineering has committed $24 million over five years to hire faculty and staff to support research into autonomous vehicle technology. Ohio State is the lead research partner in the Smart City challenge awarded to Columbus last year by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Smart Columbus will integrate innovative technologies—including self-driving cars, connected vehicles, and smart sensors—into the transportation network to improve residents' access to jobs, food and health care. 

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in U.S. livestock
For the first time, bacteria containing a gene that offers resistance to carbapenems—a class of antibiotics considered a last line of defense in hospitals—have been found in livestock in the United States. The research team was led by Dr. Thomas Wittum, professor and chair of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and an affiliate of the Discovery Themes Infectious Diseases program. The research, widely reported nationally and internationally, was published in December in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.
Ohio State joins national manufacturing consortium
Ohio State is joining forces with more than 100 members of a new nationwide consortium focused on reducing manufacturing waste materials and emissions, and creating clean-energy businesses—steps deemed critical in keeping U.S. manufacturing competitive. The consortium, established in January and based at Rochester Institute of Technology, is supported by $70 million from the Department of Energy and $70 million in private cost-share commitments, including $2 million from Ohio State. The university’s contribution was shared by four colleges and two Discovery Themes programs. Joseph Fiksel, executive director of Sustainable and Resilient Economy, will oversee Ohio State’s role. 
Big Data for Good: Results that make a difference
In the latest Big Data for Good videos produced by Translational Data Analytics, Laura Kubatko discusses how she and her collaborators are trying to stop white flies from wiping out the cassava plant, an essential food source in east Africa, and Rongjun Qin explains how he is working with satellite data to help save lives. 
An important message, a big stage
Infectious disease specialist and clinical pharmacist Dr. Debra Goff told a sold-out crowd of 900 at TEDx Columbus that the misuse of antibiotics threatens to radically restrict the ability of doctors to treat bacterial infections. Goff was trained in TED-style presentations through a pilot program created by the Infectious Diseases program area. In late January, an article she wrote about antibiotic stewardship—"Three Ways You Can Just Say No to Antibiotic Drug Abuse"— appeared in The Conversation. (Information on how to pitch story ideas to The Conversation can be found at the bottom of this newsletter.)
Toward a green and circular economy in India
The Sustainable and Resilient Economy program will bring together experts from business, government and academia to examine waste-management challenges limiting India’s economic growth. The conference, sponsored by the U.S. Consulate General and organized with the help of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, will be in Mumbai on April 17-18. Speakers from Ohio State will include Dean David Williams of the College of Engineering, SRE Executive Director Joseph Fiksel, and Dr. Nicholas Basta from the School of Environment and Natural Resources.
Making good on a commitment to sustainability
One year after Ohio State announced sustainability goals, the university's accomplishments in the areas of operations, teaching, research and outreach are numerous. They include the hiring—through the Discovery Themes—of more than 23 faculty members with expertise in sustainability in areas that cut across the university.  A full list of accomplishments is available from the Office of Energy and Environment.
Coming soon: Infectious Diseases Institute
A longer term goal of the Infectious Diseases Discovery Themes program area has been the creation of a single organization to maximize synergy among research networks, and that goal is now being realized with the creation of the Infectious Diseases Institute at Ohio State. The successor to the Center for Microbial Interface Biology (CMIB), the institute will join the Office of Research and be led by current CMIB Director Dr. Larry Schlesinger. The Institute will integrate faculty and leadership positions from the Public Health Preparedness in Infectious Disease program as well as the Discovery Themes program, including leadership roles for the DT co-leads Michael Oglesbee and Cathie Smith. The Infectious Diseases Institute is scheduled to open in spring 2017.
Picture this: an app to measure food waste
Brian Roe and his team at Ohio State's Food Waste Collaborative are developing a smartphone app that uses photos to measure food waste. A joint project with Louisiana State University, the app compares photos of a dinner plate before and after a meal and could be used to measure how much food is left and tossed in the trash. Roe, an InFACT faculty affiliate and professor of agricultural marketing and policy, has been featured in National Geographic, Newsweek and Bloomberg News.
Panel responds to 'sustainable food' challenge
As part of its overarching sustainability plan, Ohio State is taking steps to ensure that, by 2025, at least 40 percent of food served in dining halls and other campus venues is locally and sustainably sourced. A panel commissioned by the Ohio State administration has proposed an eight-step plan that is expected to take two years to fully implement. Details are available at the Panel on Food Sustainability website. Casey Hoy and Brian Snyder, co-leads for the Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT), are helping direct the panel.
Plotting a path to innovation
The Institute for Materials Research recently completed renovation of 2,500 square feet in Nanotech West Laboratory to be used as an innovation greenhouse. Jay Sayre, IMR’s director of innovation, realized the space wouldn’t be complete, however, without a “wow factor.” He got it thanks to three second-year students—from left, Phillip Merz, Tyler Bair and Andrew Merz—who created an interactive display that draws artwork using a wall plotter. The new Materials Innovation space is a central component of the Materials & Manufacturing for Sustainability program.
Wexner Medical Center joins spinal injury system
The Wexner Medical Center has been awarded a five-year, $2.2-million grant to build the Ohio Regional Spinal Cord Injury Model System. It joins 13 other institutions in a federally financed system that maintains the world’s largest longitudinal database of spinal cord patients. The national database tracks patients throughout their lives, allowing big-data analysis of long-term outcomes. Ohio State’s project—led by neurologist Dr. Jan Schwab, a Discovery Themes faculty affiliate—focuses on immune deficiency after spinal cord injury, a complication that leads to poor neurological recovery and sometimes death. 

4 interdisciplinary teams awarded TDA seed grants
Translational Data Analytics has awarded a total of $116,260.75 to four teams selected for the program's fall 2016 seed grants. The teams are made up of 21 faculty, staff and students from 11 Ohio State departments and four colleges. The projects will explore childhood speech patterns, agricultural conservation, smartphone interactions, and the impact of war on crop yield. TDA will release its next seed grant RFP in spring 2017.

$125,000 in grants awarded for work in metabolomics
The Foods for Health program funded a total of $125,000 in seed grants to five interdisciplinary teams representing seven departments and four colleges in autumn 2016. An RFP for spring 2017 seed grants will be issued in late January.

Research workshop offers Intro to Metabolomics
Unprecedented insights come from our ability to measure the small-molecule fingerprint of foods, plants or biological samples. The Foods for Health program is developing a team-taught Introduction to Metabolomics workshop to educate a wide range of researchers about ways metabolomics can enhance their research methods. The workshop will be presented immediately preceding the Joint Meeting of the Inaugural Conference on Food and Nutritional Metabolomics and 14th Annual Ohio Mass Spectrometry Symposium, to be held May 17-18 at Ohio State. 

Next generation PhD for humanists
The Humanities and the Arts Discovery Themes program has provided a $50,000 grant this year to a planning group committed to re-articulating the importance to institutions and to society of humanities PhDs, while making changes that will prepare those PhDs for careers beyond the academy. This planning process was inspired by the NEH’s “Next Generation Humanities PhD” program.
Award recognizes importance of food security article
An article on food security by Dr. Rattan Lal (InFACT and SRE) has won the Elsevier Atlas Award, given each month for research that could significantly impact people's lives around the world. The article, “Food Security in a Changing Climate,” was chosen from thousands across more than 1,800 journals. It was published in the journal Ecohydrology & Hydrobiology. Lal is a professor of soil science in the School of Environment and Natural Resources and the director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center.
Neural bypass article among most-read in 2016
An article about a ground-breaking neural bypass procedure at Ohio State was ranked 24th among the 100 “most talked about articles” in 2016, according to a list compiled by Altmetric, which tracks online activity surrounding scholarly content. In April 2014, Dr. Ali Rezai (CBI) and colleagues implanted a computer chip onto the brain of a paralyzed man, enabling him to move his hand with his own thoughts. The article, written by Rezai and his colleagues, appeared in the journal Nature.
Video spotlights threat of antibiotic resistance
The Infectious Diseases program has produced a video addressing the burgeoning global threat of antimicrobial resistance and Ohio State’s distinctive ability to tackle the problem across multiple disciplines. The video was used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support its annual Get Smart About Antibiotics Week. It was created in partnership with Angus Fletcher and James Phelan, professors of English, with support from the Humanities and the Arts Discovery Themes program and cooperation from The Wexner Medical Center.
DT lecture: Richard Florida
and the 'New Urban Crisis'
Richard Florida, author of the best-selling The Rise of the Creative Class and a former Ohio State faculty member, will speak April 19 at Mershon Auditorium as part of the Provost’s Discovery Themes lecture series. In his upcoming book, The New Urban Crisis, Florida argues that as the middle class continues to shrink, cities are becoming small areas of privilege surrounded by vast swaths of disadvantage. His talk comes as Ohio State—a founding member of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities—is re-examining how it can best address its urban mission and the needs of Columbus. Registration information for Florida’s lecture will be available in early 2017. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Smart City, Healthy City? A panel discussion
Smart Columbus is a $140 million public-private technology project designed to address some of the city's most-pressing transportation challenges, including access to prenatal health care. Of particular concern is the staggering infant mortality rate in the Linden neighborhood—four times the national average. CURA, the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis, will take a closer look at the potential health impact of the project when it hosts a panel discussion on March 24 with experts from industry, Ohio State, and Smart Columbus. Details and registration information are available here.
Ohio State is a founding university partner with The Conversation, a website that publishes articles by academics with expert knowledge of important topics in the news. The Conversation develops articles two ways: by soliciting specific subject-matter experts through its newsletter, and by encouraging academics to pitch their ideas directly to the editors. Once an idea is accepted, The Conversation works with faculty to produce the story, typically 800 to 1,000 words. Ohio State professors have seen their work republished in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Time, Newsweek and other major outlets.
The following focus areas in Discovery Themes publish their own newsletters. Be sure to check them out.
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