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Dec 01

Allie Lenyo.JPG

If third-year Honors student Allie Lenyo could design her own class, it would involve going around the city and sampling food from local restaurants, ultimately compiling a list of winners for each category of food (such as "best chicken wings" or "best pancakes").  This course does not exist yet (we're looking at you, Food Sciences program!), but that has not stopped Lenyo from experiencing the local cuisine at places such as the North Market, one of her favorite Columbus destinations. Some of her other ideal Columbus activities include spending a day learning from the interactive science exhibits of COSI and walking among the Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo. Though she is from Huron, Ohio, a few hours north of OSU, it seems as though Columbus was  destined to become a second home from the beginning, as she had hoped to be a Buckeye nearly all her life.

Lenyo has fun playing golf and guitar, but is just as passionate about giving others the chance to have fun-- particularly children suffering from life-limiting illnesses. She has participated in Buckeyethon, OSU's annual 24-hour dance marathon to raise money for children with cancer, since freshman year. For the past two years, she has served as team captain for the Biomedical Sciences team. On a similar note, she is on the executive board for the OSU chapter of an organization called a Kid Again. A Kid Again organizes free events and hospital visits for children and families affected by severe illnesses. Events could be anything from a get-together at a restaurant with other families to a trip to an amusement park or sports event. Lenyo also volunteers for the Wexner Medical Center, something she has done for three years now. Finally, she is a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta, a pre-health honorary.

Aside from being an OSU enthusiast growing up, part of what drew Lenyo to the university was the strong Biomedical Science program. There are only 23 students in her graduating class, which means students have gotten to know each other very well and are able to receive even more individualized attention from professors and mentors. The program's coursework prepares students to engage in further research and/or to pursue a medical career, two things that are essential for Lenyo her path toward becoming an oncologist/hematologist. Even after medical school, she  hopes to incorporate cancer research in her career as a medical professional. She describes her research experience as full of both setbacks and very worthwhile breakthroughs.To avoid burnout and frustration, she recalls the advice of her program's director, Dr. Gunn. Putting his own spin on the (rather questionable) platitude that "good things come to those who wait," Dr. Gunn insists that "great things come to those who work hard for them."

Based on Lenyo's work ethic, great things will, indeed, continue to come. She has made sure to challenge herself by pursuing Honors coursework and has been particularly drawn toward classes with a service-learning component. Through these classes, she has the chance to apply what she learns in tangible ways such as working with organizations like the Red Cross. Though Honors classes make school more interesting all semester long, Lenyo's favorite time of year for H&S is the beginning of the autumn semester.  "I love going to the Kuhnival and the Meet and Sweet at the beginning of each school year, and I think it's so much fun to go to events where everyone is so excited to be back after summer," she says. She also attends as many of the Dinner and Dialogues as possible, feeling she has learned valuable information from every professor and community member she has heard give a talk at Kuhn.

In addition to exposing her to a variety of fields, the Honors program has allowed her to pursue her own field in greater depth. For example, she received an H&S enrichment grant for the summer of 2016 that allowed her to continue living in Columbus and work in the Precision Cancer Medicine Laboratory of Dr. Sameek Roychowdhury. "Precision Cancer Medicine involves using genomics to study cancer not only by the basis of cancer type, but looking at what specific mutations a cancer patient's tumor has and using that information to treat the cancer," she explains. It is something she had specifically been hoping to work on. By covering rent and other living expenses, the grant made her involvement with the lab possible.

Lenyo spent the summer learning the basics of the research project and the lab skills she would need to conduct it, and it did not take her long to settle into her role. In fact, during last school year, she started an independent project focused on why and how acquired resistance to targeted therapies develops. Lenyo explains that this resistance can appear months or even years after a patient starts receiving the therapy, and eventually the patient may become resistant to all available options. "In order to help give patients the best possible outcomes, we need to understand more about why acquired resistance to targeted therapies occurs," she says. From there, she can use her findings to begin developing more resilient therapeutic techniques. ​

Lenyo's volunteer work with children and the focus of her coursework and research have reinforced her passion for making the lives of cancer patients easier in any way possible. This goal is in the back of her mind whether she is spending a few hours in the lab or spending 24 hours dancing in a color-themed outfit at the Union. Her next step will be applying for medical school; however, she adds that there is still one more thing she needs to accomplish before she graduates. " I'd like to take a picture with all of the Brutus statues around campus!"  

By Christina Szuch, H&S Student Staff Writer​

Nov 17

Sydney.jpgSydney Hosford is a 4th year Honors student majoring in Strategic Communications with a minor in Business. The Honors program appealed to her because it offered a challenge and gave her edge after college. "I thought it would be a great way to set me apart in my future whether it is in graduate school or in my future career."

A native of Centerville, Ohio, Sydney never thought she would even consider the Ohio State University. However, by her senior year in high school, her choices included OSU, Belmont University, and Miami-Oxford. Although it seemed like a difficult decision, it became easier for her when she toured OSU for the second time. "I could see myself here, I felt comfortable here, I felt like I would be challenged here and never run out of opportunities."

Sydney describes herself as a passionate, dedicated, and hardworking individual. She is involved in many activities on campus and beyond. On campus, Sydney is involved in the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) where she served on the executive board as the Financial Director. She is also an Account Supervisor in The PRactice, where she leads a team of eight associates who all serve a paying client. Her most memorable experience at OSU is being a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority. "I never in a million years thought of myself as Greek, but come freshmen year, recruitment seemed like a memorable experience that I didn't want to miss out on." To Sydney, Gamma Phi was unique in their dedication to building strong girls. Their philanthropic focus is the Franklin County Girls on the Run program. Her favorite memory from Gamma Phi was when she was introduced to her "little" sister—who has become one her best friends—during the Big-Little Reveal. "She has shown me a love that I am forever grateful for."

Beyond campus, she's had internships with E.E. Ward Moving and Storage where she was in charge of planning their largest charity event, Laps for Lunches. Sydney has also worked for VARtek Services, The King Arts Complex and Nationwide. Her ultimate goal—which she will be achieving in December—is to graduate early knowing she has created a strong professional network and Buckeye friendships to last a lifetime. "I believe I will leave college knowing I tried my best in everything that I've done, and I've made strong friendships that will last for years to come."

By Christina Szuch, H&S Student Staff Writer​

Nov 08
STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Audrey Montgomery

Audrey.jpgAudrey Montgomery is a "people person". As a first-year in International Affairs Scholars, Montgomery says her floor unanimously decided her personality resembles Buddy the Elf. She is bubbly, always laughing, and tends to introduce herself to everyone. "Sometimes I'm more outgoing than I should be," jokes Montgomery. Like Buddy the Elf, Montgomery has four main food groups: nuts, avocados, pumpkin, and chai lattes.

Montgomery grew up in Columbus but moved to Lexington, Kentucky after her freshman year of high school. Because she missed her hometown so much, she decided to come back for college.

A die-hard Buckeye fan since birth, Montgomery never thought she'd end up at OSU. She was skeptical about its size, but when she toured campus, she fell in love. She remembers that almost every student she passed was wearing some form of Buckeye apparel, and that wasn't something she found at other schools. The Ohio State spirit won her heart.

Montgomery shares that her favorite OSU Traditions is Scott because of their omelettes. However, her favorite OSU tradition is singing "Carmen Ohio" at the end of every football game. The recent nail-biting victory over Penn State is one of her favorite OSU memories so far. She even spent the night before the game outside in the cold and freezing rain to camp out for ESPN College GameDay. "It was epic," Montgomery says.

One of Montgomery's favorite places in Columbus is the Short North Coffee House. She goes there every week to study and get a "dirty chai" (a chai latte with a shot of espresso). Now a regular, she's gotten to know the owner, Iniat. "He's just the coolest person I think I've ever met, and we are best friends," says Montgomery.

Another person Montgomery has enjoyed getting to know is the housekeeper on her floor. Because Montgomery moved in for the R-LEAD early-arrival program, she was the only person living on her floor for almost a week. "My housekeeper talked to me for an hour one night because I looked so lonely and in need of a friend. We still talk every morning now, and she keeps me updated on her life and family," Montgomery says.

Of course, Montgomery was not lonely on her floor for long. International Affairs Scholars has already had a huge impact on her life, as she has met many of her best friends through the program. She loves living with people who share her interests and says they all get along well. The Sunday after the Penn State game, Montgomery woke up early to cook brunch for her entire floor.

Montgomery has loved growing in community with her fellow buckeyes. As she is already involved in nearly every aspect of the H&S G.O.A.L.S., Montgomery's first semester of college has been busy. She is a part of Global Health Initiative, Buck-I-SERV, International Justice Initiative, and Cru's Freshman Leadership Team.

A girl with a passion for others, Montgomery recently declared her major as Social Work. She's excited to start taking classes that will apply to her future career and says she is already highly impressed with the College of Social Work. In the future, she hopes to work for a nonprofit organization and support women who have been victims of sex-trafficking. Her life goals are simple: be happy and help others.

In the meantime, Montgomery aspires to study abroad and learn about different people and cultures. Another thing she wants to do before graduation is stand in front of a crowd of people and yell, "O-H-!" so they can scream back, "-I-O!".

When she's not meeting new people or preparing to save the world, Montgomery loves to watch Grey's Anatomy and juggle (but not necessarily at the same time). She also finds Amish culture fascinating. Her biggest pet peeve is when people say "blesh you" instead of "bless you." Holding some strong opinions about the OSU dining experience, she shares her personal motto: "A boy takes you to KComm, but a real man takes you to Scott."

One final fun fact is that ever since junior year of high school, each of Montgomery's Instagram captions contain a pun. Her favorite is one from a senior retreat: "We may have slept in cabins, but senior retreat was still in tents." Montgomery admits sometimes it takes a long time to think of a witty captions, but she also believes she's "punstoppable." You can check out more of her puns on Instagram @audreymontgomery99.​

By Eleanor Kapcar, Honors & Scholars Media Team

Nov 01

Robert McKay.jpgFourth-year Honors student and STEM EE Scholar Robert McKay recalls a Civil War legend about generals and their iconic beards. Apparently, the generals urged soldiers to enlist by insisting that the war would be over by the time they had to shave. In saying this, they assumed they would only be growing their facial hair for a few months at most. The generals—as well as soldiers who followed suit—refused to go back on their word and therefore spent four years without a single shave. McKay took inspiration from this story and decided to begin his own journey of beardedness when he arrived at OSU as a freshman. Of course, McKay's path to clean-shaven greatness involves getting a degree rather than fighting in one of the bloodiest wars of American history. He notes that looking in the mirror each morning provides him with a reminder of how far he has come toward reaching his goal of graduation. Pretty soon, he will be able to shave—that is, if the look hasn't grown on him (pun absolutely intended).

McKay is from Cortland, Ohio and is an avid fan of the outdoors. He has a hobby for every variation of Ohio's unpredictable weather: hiking, scuba diving, camping, snowboarding, etc. He hopes to become involved with the Boy Scouts of American again soon, noting that it was a character-shaping experience that also gave him opportunities to go on some memorable camping adventures. If there was a soundtrack playing in the background of his outdoor undertakings, it would probably include classic rock by bands such as Queen, Kansas, Rolling Stones, and The Who.

In fact, Queen was part of McKay's inspiration for becoming a physics major. Sure, maybe not all of us hear "Under Pressure" and immediately think about force divided by area, but there is actually a logical reason for McKay's association between his field of study and one of his favorite bands. Queen's guitarist, Brian May, has an astrophysics degree and wrote a book called Bang!: The Complete History of the Universe, which McKay read several years ago. Star Trek sparked further interest in astrophysics; though many of the concepts are science fiction, there are plenty of strange and fascinating things in real-life space to learn about. If McKay could invent any class, it would be Klingon as a foreign language course. "I know the basics, but I think it would be cool to go more in depth," he says. "The history surrounding the formation of the language is also fascinating; it was developed by an actual linguist for the Star Trek movies."

McKay is a member of Sigma Phi Sigma (a physics honorary) and the Chess Club. He is also the current president of the Society of Physics Students (SPS), and has already made a lasting impact by putting refrigerators in the physics lounge. Additionally, he is planning this year's trip to a national lab. As much as he values improving the lives of his fellow physics students, McKay is very focused on improving the lives of aspiring scientists in the community. During his presidency, he intends to get SPS involved with more outreach. For example, SPS has partnered with a group called Scientific Thinkers, which provides interactive science lessons at Innis Elementary School. SPS members are also planning to volunteer at the physics department's annual Science Olympiad. Finally, they have been helping out with an emerging organization called Polaris, which provides mentorship and professional opportunities to undergraduate female, minority, and transfer students in physics. A unique attribute of Polaris is that it involves both the graduate and undergraduate community.

Speaking of mentorship and professional opportunities, McKay is grateful for his involvement in both Honors and STEM EE Scholars. He says the camaraderie among fellow H&S students has been one of the most influential aspects of the program, and he highly recommends that new H&S students make an effort to get to know each other and form study groups. "It never ceases to amaze me what amazing tasks my fellow colleagues accomplish," he says. Being part of Scholars also gave McKay the chance to kick off freshman year with some of his favorite things: camping and white water rafting with faculty and fellow STEM students. While the weekend trip to West Virginia remains one of the most memorable Scholars events, he also enjoys events that are not quite as adrenaline-filled, such as the Ted Talks and Tea series, where students watch videos of Ted Talks while enjoying a snack of cookies and steaming hot tea.

Like so many H&S students, McKay is passionate about undergraduate research. He works with Professor Nandini Trivedi in the physics department, studying the transport in type II Weyl semimetals. He explains, "Transport is the movement of electrons subjected to a thermal gradient or electric field.  A type II Weyl semimetal is bulk substance with emergent properties, such as a linear energy dispersion of its electrons, which is similar to light." Specifically, he is examining the effects of Berry curvature on transport. He elaborates that Berry curvature influences the path of electrons in momentum space and acts as a magnetic field. For McKay, the best part about the project is the feeling of making a discovery for the first time. "To gain an understanding on an entirely brand new niche topic is one of the most exciting feelings in research," he says. "To be able to contribute something to collective human knowledge, no matter how small, is rewarding."

McKay plans to stick with his current research area, condensed matter theory, when he goes on to graduate school. He will work toward a postdoctoral position and ultimately toward professorship. But before he fully immerses himself into the graduate life of research labs and journal articles, there is something he needs to cross off his bucket list. He and his housemates have been talking for several years about taking a road trip across the country and plan to make this hypothetical a reality after graduation before they disperse and move on to exciting—but likely very busy—futures. Though a post-graduation road trip with best friends is generally the opposite of predictable, McKay has one absolute, nonnegotiable requirement for the journey. "There's this black cherry Stewart's pop that we all enjoy, and we've painted a scene in our heads of sharing a couple of these sodas around a campfire in the middle of nowhere as the night sky smiles down on us," he says. "Our goal is to make that scene a reality."

In the meantime, McKay will continue his academics, extracurricular involvement, and research. Perhaps, through the power of a laboratory and the scientific method, he will discover new properties that have not yet been researched by colleagues in the field.

In other words, one could say he will boldly go where no researcher has gone before. ​

By Christina Szuch, H&S Student Staff Writer

Oct 06

Jacob Enders.jpgEminence Fellow Jacob Enders may dedicate much of his time to science, but it hasn't stopped him from learning to recite the alphabet backwards, do one-handed push-ups, or sing impressively enough to join one of OSU's well-known acapella groups, Scarlet Fever. The 4th-year from Chagrin Falls, Ohio also enjoys theater and reading. Currently, he is making his way through two fascinating books on medicine: Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. A slightly less fun fact about Enders is that he had not one, not two, but twelve teeth pulled in middle school. Fortunately, modern medical technology makes dentist and doctor visits much more efficient—and hopefully much less intimidating— than they used to be, and there's a high probability that Enders will be helping develop such technology in the near future.

Enders became interested in biomedical engineering after shadowing a surgeon in high school and realizing what a critical role medical equipment could play in helping patients. After graduation, he will attend medical school for four years to become an orthopedic or vascular surgeon. He is also interested in the possibility of designing medical equipment while working as a physician. Enders recognizes that medical school will be even more rigorous than honors engineering coursework; he is also preparing for the idea of moving to a less familiar city and having to start over with meeting people. However, the huge influx of new knowledge and new environments is part of the intrigue. "I think I'm most excited to be learning about all the fascinating mechanisms that make us who we are, and how problems with these mechanisms lead to life-altering diseases," he says. He is considering attending Case Western University, the University of Virginia, the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Cornell University, and—of course— Ohio State. He has interviewed with a few schools already and has several interviews coming up throughout October.

For the past two years, Enders has conducted research in the Microsystems for Mechanobiology and Medicine laboratory. "I study cancer cell migration using DNA origami force sensors," he explains. In addition to his research here, he worked as an intern for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) this past summer. There, he listened to talks by biophysicists from prestigious research universities in the U.S. as well as a leading biochemistry researcher from the U.K. Enders also worked on an independent project, presented a poster, and wrote a paper about his work. Much of his time, however, was spent working in the lab with a post-baccalaureate student. "We used Atomic Force Microscopy to study the effects of base-pair mismatching on supercoiled DNA conformation, which had implications in understanding how people develop cancer," he says. The internship gave him exposure to a different field of research in a different setting than what he already had exposure to.

Enders notes that the Eminence program has allowed him to focus on research, classes, extracurricular involvement, and volunteering rather than worrying about how to afford his education. For example, in addition to recently joining Scarlet Fever, he is a member of Tau Beta Pi (the nation's oldest engineering honor society), PassGo (an organization that helps veterans and formerly incarcerated individuals find employment), and Phi Kappa Phi (an interdisciplinary service organization). He will soon be coordinating an undergraduate research forum for Tau Beta Pi for the second year in a row. He currently works as a teaching assistant for the Fundamentals of Engineering course sequence, which is taken by all first-years in the Honors program. Ender's own involvement in Honors was part of what motivated him to conduct undergraduate research; he wanted hands-on practice with the skills he was learning in class. Of the G.O.A.L.S. of H&S, he is particular drawn to global awareness, original inquiry, and academic enrichment. However, looking at his accomplishments in his four years at OSU, it is obvious that he has incorporated each of the five G.O.A.L.S. into his experience.

At last year's H&S Launch, Enders spoke about his personal experience with one of his favorite G.O.A.L.S.—original inquiry. This year, he got to be one of the emcees for the event. He and fellow emcee Olivia were given a script for the morning, but were also able to add personal touches, talk a bit about their own backgrounds, and make up a few of the inevitable corny jokes. Enders recalls that one of the most exciting moments was yelling "O-H!" to the crowd and hearing approximately 2,300 new students respond with the "I-O!" He suspects that students' favorite part was singing Carmen, Ohio together for what was likely their first time. He likes to think they enjoyed the corny jokes, too.

Thinking back to his own freshman year, sitting in that same auditorium, Enders notes how much his future goals have evolved and how many experiences he never would have expected to have, whether it was working for the NIH, emceeing the Launch, or being in the pit for a Bastille concert a few weeks ago. He does miss the many trips to Mirror Lake Creamery from that first year. For nostalgia's sake (or perhaps the ice cream, grilled mac and cheese, or only decent General Tso's on campus), he hopes to go back one more time before he graduates. If it doesn't open back up by spring, he just might have to make a trip from medical school next year.  

"For the last three years, I have attended a dinner with President Drake as part of my scholarship group, and at each of those dinners he has always asked us one thing that we wish we could improve about Ohio State," says Enders.  "My answer was to finish with all the construction."


By Christina Szuch, H&S Student Staff Writer                   


Oct 02

Leah Dunston.jpgIf you've ever seen someone frantically chase down a CABS bus, unapologetically clad in Christmas-themed pajamas, it may have been second-year STEM Scholar Leah Dunston. She counts this as one of her most notable memories from freshman year, along with making pesto pasta at 1am and being on a noble mission to find the best bookstores, bakeries, and coffee shops in Columbus. It didn't take her long to get used to being at a new school; though she is from a small town in Virginia, she has also lived in four other states (including Ohio) and in England. She has visited countries in Europe and Central America and has been to China. As much as she enjoys travelling, sometimes it is nice to take the Floo network back home and sit down to read or watch her favorite book and movie series, Harry Potter. Other hobbies include watching television, painting, and learning about the universe.

Dunston originally planned to be an astrophysics major, but ultimately decided to focus on one of her favorite things about earth: the animals. She studies zoology and is on a pre-vet track, planning to attend veterinary school immediately after graduation and focus on either small animals of exotic medicine. She is open to the idea of private practice or something different such as working at a zoo. "I have always held an admiration and respect for the animal world," she explains. "They have been a crucial part of our past and will continue to be an integral part of our lives."

Clearly, Dunston is a scientist at heart, whether she is learning about astrophysics or animals. STEM Scholars has connected her with students and mentors who have similar interests. Her favorite aspect of Scholars is the guest speakers, who may be upperclassmen, staff, or experts from across the country. She particularly enjoyed getting to participate in a video chat with a zoo veterinarian from Busch Gardens in Florida.

For Dunston, fulfilling STEM Scholars requirements during her first year was anything but a chore. This is how she got involved in WOW, an organization dedicated to science outreach for elementary school students. Struck by the children's excitement about learning new scientific concepts, Dunston decided to continue volunteering with WOW when her Scholars requirements were met, and she is currently working on a capstone project with the program director. She hopes to be a role model for all the students by expressing her own love of the scientific world. Her favorite group to work with has been third-graders because they are beginning to learn more complex concepts but have not lost their childlike curiosity and enthusiasm.

Unlike many humans, dogs never seem to lose their enthusiasm at all, and they have always had a special place in Dunston's heart. "Since I was born I have been around dogs, which makes being in a dorm a struggle since there is no wagging tail to greet me when a return," she says. While hanging out on the Oval may be a solution on days with particularly pleasant weather, Dunston found a way to guarantee some quality canine time every week by getting involved with Partnering Up for Pets (PUPs), an organization that walks dogs at the Franklin Country Dog Shelter. This year, she became an officer for PUPs. She loves each dog for their unique backstory and their unwavering excitement about human interaction. Needless to say, she plans to adopt a shelter dog in the future. "Despite their quirks and challenges, they are able to find companionship again in people. They act like all past wrongs are in the past and look forward to the future," she says.

Dunston is also a member of Pre-Vet Club, Zoology Club, and a Christian student organization called Cru. In addition to her campus involvement, she had two exciting opportunities this past summer that confirmed her love for veterinary science. One was setting up spay and neuter clinics throughout Guatemala and helping with intake, surgery, and recovery through an organization called Vida. Though this was somewhat nerve-wracking, as it was Dunston's first experience working with surgery, it went well and she considers it an unforgettable trip. As if this wasn't exciting enough, she also got to help with husbandry and nutrition efforts at Blue Ridge Wildlife Center in Virginia…so yes, that means she had an internship feeding baby birds, mammals, and reptiles.

The next step for Leah Dunston's already enviable resume is a goal shared by many a Buckeye who has walked those dreadful stone steps next to Thompson library before her: "I want to get a picture with Brutus during my time here."

By Christina Szuch, H&S Student Staff Writer​

Sep 22

Keyser1.pngC​orey Keyser describes himself as "an outdoorsman, scientist techie from Tennessee." He is a third-year Eminence Fellow majoring in philosophy and neuroscience with the ultimate goal of combating food and health issues as well as helping new entrepreneurs succeed by working as a venture capitalist. If he is not off hiking or climbing mountains, he is probably sitting in front of a computer, but not to binge-watch Netflix or contrive the perfect combination of Instagram hashtags. Instead, most of his time is currently spent coding or working on projects to reduce food insecurity.

Keyser has always had broad interests, which made philosophy an ideal area of study. He explains, "Philosophy basically specializes in looking at everything and just breaking it down, showing why it's wrong, showing how it could get better, and there is a literally a "Philosophy of" everything: philosophy of science, philosophy of politics, moral philosophy…" He became interested in neuroscience in high school, realizing that studying the brain could give him insight into his unanswered questions about philosophy and vice versa. He chose to attend Ohio State because it would give him an opportunity to take an interdisciplinary approach to both his majors.

Keyser credits Honors & Scholars with defining his college experience so far. He notes that both financial resources and academic resources— such as mentors and advisors— have given him the freedom to pursue any projects he is passionate about. The Eminence program also introduced him to students with similarly high ambition. Keyser says, "H&S gave me a community as soon as I got here and it made the transition into college life a hundred times easier."

In addition to being an Eminence Fellow, he is involved in OSU Mountaineers, where he met most of his friends. He helps with a startup that builds logistics software and is hoping to start a campus publication about technology and entrepreneurship. Most of his time, however, goes into a student organization called Best Food Forward, for which he is the current president.

Best Food Forward is based on a co-op model and provides students with healthy, affordable groceries. The idea stemmed from Keyser's Eminence cohort; during his freshman year, food insecurity was highlighted at the Buckeye Summit, in a study by the Office of Student Life, and in the summer reading book assigned to first-years (Good Food Revolution by Will Allen and Charles Wilson). Though food insecurity is a problem all around the globe, approximately 15-20% of students at here at OSU do not know where their next meal will come from. Since each Eminence cohort is challenged to focus on a societal issue and develop solutions, Keyser and his peers decided to tackle the problem they were hearing so much about. Like most projects, it was a process of trial-and-error and the pieces did not fully come together until this past January, but it was well worth the wait. Best Food Forward purchases local produce in bulk and is able to sell it at significantly lower prices than grocery stores and campus convenience stores, sometimes selling bundles of items at almost one-third of the regular cost. Members send in their money and vote on the produce that will be included in the next bulk package. Students do not have to be stressed about transportation since the groceries can be picked up right on campus, making the food more accessible in addition to being cheaper. Keyser hopes to cut the rate of food insecurity on campus in half by the time he graduates.

Keyser's coding knowledge helped him develop an app for food co-ops to handle voting, payment, and other administrative responsibilities. Through a summer-long program in San Francisco at the Horizons School of Technology, Keyser gained about three years' worth of coding knowledge in the span of three months. He now has the skills necessary to be a full-stack software engineer, meaning he has experience in each layer of development rather than specializing in front end or back end. Keyser got to learn from very experienced software engineers and build several apps, and he highly recommends the program. However, he notes that Silicon Valley has its problems, some of which he witnessed firsthand. At one point, a Molotov cocktail was thrown into his apartment; luckily, no one was hurt, but Keyser says. "It gave me a horrible first-look into the downside of the Silicon Valley tech culture— namely, massive inequality, gentrification, and community tension." Thus, the summer was an important learning experience in more ways than expected.

Even while dedicating so much time to software development and combating social problems, Keyser has found the time to be involved with undergraduate research. He works under Dr. Brandon Turner in the neuroscience department, specifically doing computational neuroscience work. They turn data about human behavior and brain phenomena into computational models, sometimes involving complicated mathematics. Keyser explains, "I take on my own projects and try compare and create models for human decision. Right now, I am working on a project to use structural brain data to optimize existing models." His research experience has led him to think about science differently, realizing that the goal of just about any scientific field is to create models to explain data. He has also realized how little we truly know yet about the brain, which is part of what makes neuroscience so exciting for him.

Though he jokes about being afraid to sound too pretentious, Keyser believes that philosophy is what ties everything in his life together. He says that it fills in many of the explanatory gaps of neuroscience, and that the two fields complement each other. Similarly, computational neuroscience and coding are closely related, whether he is working on research in Dr. Turner's lab or creating a new app for co-ops. He sees coding, neuroscience, and philosophy as occupying the same "knowledge basket" in his life because he needs to be competent with all three in order to accomplish his goals. "On the other hand," he says, "Best Food Forward seems kind of weird and distant and it throws in this extra factor that you don't normally have to worry about in science: people." Combatting food insecurity, in his opinion, is a separate "knowledge basket" he is working on filling. Of course, some skills, such as general problem-solving, have transferred over between the two.

Keyser credits his family and girlfriend with keeping him grounded while he tackles so many projects. He is also a strong believer in the occasional trip to escape from the stresses of every day life; his most recent journey was to West Virginia, where he went climbing and made sure not to worry about school. "On top of that," he says, "I am just very excited about everything I do, so it is really easy to work on these things non-stop."​

By C​​hristina Szuch, H&S Student Staff Writer

Sep 11
STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Ogochukwu Obiagwu

obiagwu1.jpgAt age twelve, many of us spent our days feeding Tamagotchi's, listening to angst-ridden punk rock, heating up Kid Cuisines, and trying on brightly-colored skinny jeans at the mall. Meanwhile, at the same age, current Business Scholar Ogochukwu Obiagwu was fostering an early interest in creativity and entrepreneurship by starting her own fashion business, ByOgochukwu, for which the motto is "expressing cultural pride through fashion."

Despite the many responsibilities of being a young businesswoman, Obiagwu did and still does find time for hobbies, including watching popular TV series such as Scandal, Power, and Blacklist. She loves volunteering with babies and youth, especially from underrepresented communities. Outside of her coursework as a second-year Accounting major, she is involved with campus organizations including the National Association for Black Accountants (for which she is the current Philanthropy Chair), the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Undergraduate Recruitment Society, the Deloitte Career Launch Program, Becker Professional Education Student Ambassadors, Ey Scholars, Project Thrive, and Morrill Scholars. Many of these organizations are focused on professional development for minority students; some are specifically geared toward business and accounting.

Off campus, Obiagwu works for Google through The Campus Agency, helping market the new Google Smart Messaging App. She is also a Senior Ambassador for a start-up called MYLE (Make Your Life Entertaining), which helps smartphone users find local events tailored to their interests. She has had two internship experiences so far: one with U.S. Social Security Administration as a senior in high school and one with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC this past summer. In recognition for her accomplishments both on and off campus, Obiagwu has received the Freshman Black Excellence Award and has been an Education honoree for the African Distinction Awards.

Though Obiagwu was born and raised here in Columbus along with four siblings, she is Nigerian and speaks Igbo and Pidgin in addition to English. Growing up bicultural played a large role in her decision to start a clothing line that expresses cultural pride. "I was shy about my culture after being made fun of by my peers for my 'weird name' and 'weird hair' for so long," she recalls. "After visiting Nigeria in 2008, I fell in love with my culture and who I was and where I came from." She realized how remarkable it is to come from a continent with 54 countries and a country with over 200 spoken languages.

As she watched classmates start their first jobs, she became eager to take on a new challenge as of her own. Thinking of other young people who may struggle to accept and appreciate where they are from, she decided to create an affordable clothing line offering modern versions of traditional cultural clothing. She notes, "This diverts away from the misconception that all African clothing is 'the big hat on the woman's head' or 'the dresses guys wear.'" Her website features sweatshirts and tees that combine traditional elements of fashion with more modern, Westernized elements.

As her business has grown, Obiagwu has attended events as a vendor and has put together outfits for fashion shows; this has required a lot of planning and logistics. She says her biggest responsibility is overseeing her team of brand ambassadors and interns, who she describes as wonderful. She hopes to continue fighting against the underrepresentation of minorities in the fashion industry. Balancing these missions has given her a real-world lesson in communication, time management, and teamwork. These skills are undoubtedly transferrable to her future career as a Big 4 or private accountant and to her additional goal of spreading financial literacy and professional development opportunities to youth.

Obiagwu plans to graduate from OSU in 2020 after completing the dual-degree Master of Accounting program. So far, many of her favorite memories as a Buckeye have been related to her participation in Business Scholars. In fact, she met one of her closest friends in Scholars last year, and now the two of them are roommates. She has also connected with several minority students in the program to share opportunities; for example, this is how she found out about the study abroad program she attended in Germany as a freshman. She is also grateful for the H&S Enrichment Grant that made the trip possible. One of Obiagwu's favorite memories from Germany was going canoeing with several friends from the program; one of the boats tipped over, causing her friends to tumble into the water in a moment they will likely be reminiscing and laughing about for years.

In addition to her adventures abroad, she also has fond (or at least notable) memories of studying for calculus exams until 4am in Morrill Tower with her friend Sierra. Though she feels she has had a variety of exciting experiences at OSU already, she looks forward to the next several years, noting that one of the best things about the university and H&S is that "there is always more to do, more to see." For Obiagwu, this will ideally include participating in a study abroad program with a community service purpose and attending her first Buckeye game.  

by Christina Szuch, H&S Student Staff Writer

May 01
Ohio State Honors Student Awarded Udall Scholarship
Udall 2017 - Tal Shutkin 3.jpgTal Shutkin, a sophomore from Shaker Heights, Ohio, has been named a 2017 Udall Scholar.  The Udall Scholarship recognizes fifty college sophomores and juniors committed to careers related to the environment with a $7,000 scholarship; the award is also open to Native American students interested in tribal policy or native healthcare.  Since the first awards in 1996, the Udall Foundation has awarded 1,574 scholarships totaling $8,090,000. An Honors student, Tal is pursuing a degree in Environmental Policy and Decision Making; he is Ohio State’s twelfth Udall Scholar.  

Though only a sophomore, Tal has already distinguished himself as an environmental leader on and off campus.  He co-founded Renew OSU, a student group advocating for Ohio State’s divestment from fossil fuels, and serves as Vice President of the Sierra Club Student Coalition.  He was selected to participate in the Sierra Club Summer Leadership Program in 2015, and represented Ohio State at the Environmental Defense Fund’s 2016 National Campus Leadership Summit.  Tal also sought out experience in political advocacy, working as a field canvasser for the Ohio Citizen Action and a campaign organizer for the Rainforest Action Network.  He is also an active participant in Mountaineers at Ohio State, recently leading a student climbing trip to Mt Washington in New Hampshire.  

Beyond his campus and community activities, Tal has looked to ground his environmentalism within a strong academic framework.  He has begun research for his honors thesis on conservation policy evaluating the effectiveness of indigenous natural resource reserves as a conservation strategy in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest.  Advised by Dr. Anna Wilson in the Department of Anthropology, he chose to focus on this particular location because of the ecological importance of the region as the largest protected old-growth coastal temperate rainforest on the planet, and the potentially groundbreaking conservation strategies being practiced there.  After graduation, Tal plans to pursue a PhD in political ecology before pursuing a career as a policy specialist for an environmental NGO focusing on individualized, research-based approaches to conservation governance.  

“I am honored to have been chosen for this scholarship and excited for the opportunity to connect with students from across the country who are passionate about environmental and tribal issues,” Shutkin noted. “I look forward to learning from my Udall cohort about each person’s unique but interrelated area of interest. This process has reassured me that I am on the right track for creating the kind of change that I want to see and has motivated me to pursue this vision with more vigor.”
Only 60 Udall Scholars are selected annually across the country. The Scholars were chosen from a pool of from 494 applicants nominated by 224 universities; each university may nominate up to four students in the environment category.  A 15-member independent review committee appointed by the Udall Foundation selected this year's group of Udall Scholars on the basis of commitment to careers in the environment, leadership potential, academic achievement, and record of public service. The review committee also awarded 50 Honorable Mentions.  The Udall Foundations honors the legacy of the late Congressman Morris K. Udall and his brother Stewart L. Udall, also a Congressman and former Secretary of the Interior.  

For more information and a complete list of recipients, please visit the Udall Foundation website,​.  Students interested in applying for the Udall Scholarship should contact the Undergraduate Fellowship Office (  

Apr 21
Student Spotlight: Alex Northrop

Alex Northrop could be known for many things. For example, he is a hard-working, intelligent 4th year participating in both the University Honors Program and the International Affairs Scholars programs. He is also an athlete, having completed his first full marathon in October. He is a world traveler, Public Health major, and self-proclaimed nerd. He hikes, snowboards, and salsa dances. He reads books by favorite authors John Krakauer and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and spends a fair amount of time watching Scrubs. Perhaps most importantly, however, he is known among friends and family for being an avid consumer of ice cream. (Growing up in Lakewood, he is particularly partial to Mitchell's Ice Cream in Cleveland.)

In addition to always seeking out the best tasting ice cream flavors, Northrop is also seeking tangible ways to fulfill the often vague goal of "changing the world." He has determined that public health would be an ideal way for him to achieve this, and he plans to become a doctor. He is particularly interested in studying health on a macroscopic level, looking at how society and the environment affect individual patients. OSU has proven to be a great place for him to study these topics; he particularly enjoys the inclusivity and size of the university, which have allowed him to find his own niche, even within his own major. He also notes that many of the faculty members he has encouraged have inspired him.

As many Honors students would attest, being part of the program is particularly beneficial in that it helps students get to know the faculty more personally. Northrop is grateful for the smaller, more individually-focused honors courses he has been able to take. He considers joining International Affairs Scholars one of the best decisions of his college career, particularly because he had considered becoming an International Studies major before pursuing Public Health. Public Health involves his passion for healthcare and biology, and thanks to Scholars, he does not have to abandon his other interests. In fact, he traveled to Bolivia with many of his fellow Scholars during freshman year, and this experience played a major role in his decision to study abroad in Ecuador later on. Though he has less free time to attend Scholars events now that he is a senior, he has stayed involved by being part of the Leadership Council. He recalls that one of the most successful events they planned was a trip to the Italian Festival last semester.

Northrop is also working on a project that builds upon the research he did in Ecuador. He is examining perceptions of the healthcare system in Cotacachi, Ecuador and has been involved with designing the study, conducting interviews, analyzing data, and writing about the findings. This research is especially challenging because his advisor for the project is based in Ecuador and the writing is in Spanish, but Northrop remains unfazed by these difficulties. He adds that he has learned several skills that are generalizable and important to any research project: scientific methodology, ethics, and respecting other cultures. When he got the opportunity to go to Ecuador, conducting this research was just one facet of an incredible experience. He recalls that his host family felt like a true family by the end of the trip, and interacting with them as well as new friends in Ecuador helped him become more fluent in Spanish. He also had the opportunity to work in a hospital and learn from a doctor he admires greatly. He had time for some hiking (including to Machu Picchu and to the top of a 15,000 foot mountain), surfing, eating, getting lost, watching an active volcano erupt, and fulfilling a long-held dream of exploring the Amazon…meeting some river dolphins in the process. He says, "[Studying abroad] was an amazing way to add perspective and depth to a lot of my public health courses."

Northrop hopes to get his research from Ecuador published in the near future. In the meantime, he is also studying antiretroviral resistance mutations at the Yoder Lab within the Wexner Medical Center. Given this research experience, he is well-suited for his work for the Pure Water Project, a nonprofit organization where he helps with research methodology. The goal of the Pure Water Project is provide data and research skills to organizations that focus on water interventions in developing countries. Access to clean, healthy water is an issue Northrop has been passionate about for a while, and is something he got to look into further during an internship with the CDC. "I worked as part of the Collegiate Leaders in Environmental Health (CLEH) program, where we gave presentations, attended seminars on exciting advances in environmental health, and had our own research projects,
he explains. "My project involved a scoping review of waterborne disease outbreaks associated with aging water infrastructure. It may sound a little nerdy, but I loved it." His suggestion to people who share his goals is to do some research on our water infrastructure and contact policymakers about it.

Northrop has also worked as an RA on campus. Despite the difficulties of maintaining a work-life balance while essentially living at work, he views the role as worthwhile for the friendships, diverse perspectives, and sense of community involved. One of his favorite memories of his residents was the time they surprised him on his birthday by presenting him with an Espress-OH muffin with a birthday candle on it, a small but meaningful gesture he will not forget any time soon.

Even after studying abroad, working on two research projects, helping at a nonprofit, completing a project for the CDC, and meeting river dolphins,  there are still more exciting plans in Northrop's future. He plans to receive his MD/MPH, but is first applying for fellowships for a gap year. In his future career, he hopes to combine his interests in infectious diseases and environmental health. Before he journeys to grad school and then to a career, however, he has two important missions left to accomplish at Ohio State: attending a basketball game and finding out what the Columbus ice cream scene has to offer.

by Christina Szuch, H&S Student Staff Writer

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