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Ohio State showcase celebrates research and innovation

A celebration of innovation at The Ohio State University this week included a ceremony honoring some of the brightest researchers on campus.

The Office of Research and the Corporate Engagement Office held the new Research and Innovation Showcase at the Ohio Union on Wednesday. The event revamped the university’s annual State of Research address.

Senior Vice President for Research Morley Stone helped open the ceremony by highlighting some of the achievements in research at Ohio State. Stone noted research funding from NASA, the Department of Energy and Department of Defense had increased at Ohio State year-over-year.

“When I visit with faculty members and students throughout this campus, always know that my question is going to be ‘Why are you doing that? What are the basic questions you are trying to answer?’” Stone said. “It’s that fundamental insight that drives us all and why we are here at this great institution of higher education.”

Scott Osborne, interim vice president for economic and corporate engagement at Ohio State, said there are currently 88 startups based on Ohio State technology. That’s a record number for the university.

“At Ohio State, discovery is at the core of our academic mission. Our faculty, students and staff live through the innovation they discover,” he said. “As a leading public research university, Ohio State has a responsibility not only to our researchers but also to our state and our country.”

The showcase featured TED-style talks from six university researchers:

Forrest Schoessow, a graduate student in the Department of Geography, discussed the development of an aerial drone to help monitor mountaintop glaciers and better understand the human toll from climate change.

Department of Microbiology professor Matthew Sullivan talked about his work with the sailing research ship Tara and imagining a world in which viruses will fight ailments in humans.

Harmony Bench, associate professor in the Department of Dance, spoke about being prepared for the unexpected during research.

Shahid Nimjee, associate professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery, discussed the importance of listening and learning from others to become a better research partner.

Anna Voelker, coordinator for the university’s Astronomy Accessibility Program and recent undergraduate, spoke about her efforts to make astronomy, and science as whole, more inclusive, particularly for individuals with disabilities.

“I hope that more students and more learners can come out and think to themselves, ‘maybe I, too, can explore the universe,’” she said, “whether it’s traveling to places like the moon and beyond or studying the universe through research and innovation here on the ground.”

Scott Gaudi, Thomas Jefferson Professor for Discovery and Space Exploration, challenged the audience to continue in their efforts in innovation and exploration. He encouraged his colleagues to remember the motto of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory: Dare mighty things.

The evening closed with awards for research and innovation.

Katrina Cornish received the 2019 Innovator of the Year award. Cornish is the endowed chair and Ohio Research Scholar for Bioemergent Materials, and technical director of the Program of Excellence in Natural Rubber Alternatives. Cornish is an internationally recognized expert on alternative natural rubber production and on natural rubber biosynthesis.

Tim Raderstorf, Chief Innovation Officer in the College of Nursing, won the Early Career Innovator of the Year award. Raderstorf founded The Innovation Studio, a mobile workshop to help provide funding, tools and support to innovative ideas.

Two Ohio State graduates received the Next Generation Innovator of the Year award. Wesley Thio and Schoessow were honored for their research on self-powered wearable technologies and the development of unmanned aerial research sensors to study glaciers, respectively.