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Presidential Fellow Basar Ozbilen dedicated to sustainability research

Awards recognize graduate students’ academic excellence, potential

Basar Ozbilen, a fifth-year candidate in The Ohio State University’s Knowlton School of Architecture’s City and Regional Planning program, is among the recipients of the 2021-22 Presidential Fellowships. The Presidential Fellowship is the most prestigious award given by Ohio State’s Graduate School to recognize outstanding scholarly accomplishments of graduate students entering the final phase of their dissertation research or terminal degree project. 

The Presidential Fellowship provides financial support in the form of a $3,000 monthly stipend and a tuition and fee authorization for fellows to dedicate time to complete their dissertation research or terminal degree projects, said Anika Anthony, associate dean of academic affairs and an associate professor, Department of Educational Studies, in the Graduate School. Other benefits include up to a $500 travel allowance, which students use to present their research at a national conference.

“Because programs are limited to six nominees per academic year, this encourages graduate studies committees to put forth nominees who are conducting advanced projects that reflect the highest standards of rigorous research,” Anthony said. “Activities that faculty and graduate studies committees carry out to evaluate application materials help facilitate communication about students’ engagement in innovative research and projects, which, in turn, reinforces a culture of scholarly excellence within and across graduate programs.”  

Basar OzbilenOzbilen received his fellowship to assist with his research in sustainable development and planning methods. A native of Turkey, Ozbilen, 31, said he became interested in sustainability after earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in city and regional planning from Middle East Technical University in Ankara.

“I’m interested in issues that are related to disadvantaged communities,” he said. “There were many refugees in Turkey and there were many low-income households that were not able to meet their basic needs.”

Ozbilen said when he was an undergraduate student, a mentor suggested that he could make the biggest impact in helping disadvantaged communities by dedicating his career to addressing climate change. His doctoral dissertation explores different aspects of sustainable development, with an emphasis on sustainability assessment methods and the implications of new mobility technologies.

“There are three chapters of my dissertation. The first chapter mainly focuses on the sustainable development concept, in general, so I’m trying to identify the main indicators or metrics that we can use in different parts of the world to identify the process of sustainable development,” he said. “In my second and third essays, I decided to focus on the mobility issues, because urban mobility is a cross-cutting thing that is between environmental sustainability, economic sustainability and social equity issues.”

One aspect of Ozbilen’s research explores why usage varies across socioeconomic and demographic groups of micro-mobility devices such as electronic scooters, skateboards and bike-share services, said Maria Manta Conroy, a Knowlton School professor and Ozbilen’s co-adviser along with professor Gulsah Akar.

“In order to understand these reasons, Basar led part of the survey questionnaire development of the 2019 Ohio State Campus Travel Survey together with Transportation and Parking Services,” Conroy said. “He is now using these survey data to assess the impacts of spatial characteristics of use cases and other built environment attributes that contribute to these disparities.”

Ozbilen is also researching the effects of COVID-19 on individual travel decisions. 

“While we were in the pandemic, I realized that the impacts of climate change are growing and growing,” he said. “In my future career, I would like to focus on the potential impact of future pandemics and how we can reverse the impact of climate change by promoting walking, riding scooters and, of course, public transit.”

The other 2021-22 Presidential Fellows are:

Coralia Balasca
Adviser: Reanne Frank

Deb Banerjee
Mechanical Engineering
Adviser: Ahmet Selamet

Andrew Bishop
Adviser: Elizabeth Hewitt

Michael Braunagel
Earth Science
Adviser: W. Ashley Griffith

Fiona Brown
Biomedical Sciences
Adviser: Rob Baiocchi

Suryapratim Chakrabarti
Aerospace Engineering
Adviser: Datta Gaitonde

Junao Cheng
Electric and Computer Engineering
Adviser: Wu Lu

Soohyun Cho
Political Science
Adviser: Sarah Brooks

Gonzalo Constante Flores
Electric and Computer Engineering
Adviser: Antonio Conejo and J.K. Wang

Julio De Lima Nicolini
Electric and Computer Engineering
Adviser: Fernando Teixeira

Adrienne DiTommaso
Public Administration
Adviser: Stephanie Moulton

Daniel Dodd
Biomedical Sciences
Adviser: Daniel Gallego

Kevin Fanning
Adviser: Klaus Honscheid

Keira Hambrick
Adviser: Kay Halasek

Heather Hansen
Adviser: Andrew Leber & Zeynep Saygin

James Johnson
Adviser: David Weinberg

Christopher Kinley
Adviser: Theodora Dragostinova

Taylor Klass
Plant Pathology
Adviser: Jonathan Jacobs

Sungsik Kong
Evolution, Ecology & Organismal Biology
Adviser: Laura Kubatko

Emma Lagan
Adviser: Debra Guatelli Steinberg

Suzanne Lewis
Teaching and Learning
Adviser: Caroline Clark

Luyu Liu
Adviser: Harvey Miller

Allison Londeree
Adviser: Dylan Wagner

Bhawesh Mishra
Adviser: Vitaly Bergelson

Clinton Morrison
Adviser: Karen Winstead

Laura Moses
Political Science
Adviser: Janet Box-Steffensmeier

Andrew Ochs
Adviser: Josh Goldberger

Rafael Quijada Landaverde
Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership
Adviser: Mary Rodriguez

Kelly Rich
Adviser: Stephen Kolb

Romy Rodriguez Martinez
Adviser: B. Scott Gaudi

Ana Salazar Puerta
Biomedical Engineering
Adviser: Natalia Higuita Castro

Brian Scarpitti
Adviser: Zac Schultz

Shirley Tang
Biomedical Engineering
Adviser: Davina Walter

Nishchhal Verma
Adviser: Mohit Randeria

Jian Wang
Adviser: Desheng Liu

Xinayao Xiang
Adviser: Rafael Bruschweiler

Jingyue Yan
Adviser: Yizhou Dong

Simin Zhan
Materials Science Engineering
Adviser: Enam Chowdhury

Menglin Zhu
Materials Science Engineering
Adviser: Jinwoo Hwang

Presidential Fellowship guidelines

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