2024 University Outreach and Engagement Awards

2024 University Outreach and Engagement Awards

Ohio State's University Outreach and Engagement Awards honor faculty, staff, students and community partners for outstanding achievement in producing engaged scholarship and community impact. Congratulations to this year's recipients!

Community Engaged Scholar Awards

The Community Engaged Scholar Award recognizes faculty members who have demonstrated co-created engaged scholarship that has positively impacted communities. Community Engaged Scholars have made significant contribution to Ohio State's culture of engagement, further establishing, and strengthening the institution's commitment to communities.

Award amount: $1,000

Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Molecular Genetics, College of Arts and Sciences
Professor, Department of Biological Chemistry and Pharmacology, College of Medicine

Sharon Amacher's research focuses on muscle development and disease. She loves engaging with the community, and her most extensive effort is establishing and running the Columbus BioEYES program. Every Autumn, she brings zebrafish into elementary school classrooms to engage students in an interactive, week-long experiment, and each spring, she invites BioEYES "grads" to campus for more engaging, hands-on activities. Since 2019, BioEYES has reached more than 700 Columbus 4th and 5th graders. In 2023, BioEYES was offered as an undergraduate service-learning course for the first time. The overarching goal is to spark interest in STEM, foster interactions between public schools and OSU, and make science and scientists approachable.

Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor, Department of Physics and Department of Astronomy; Director, Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP)
College of Arts and Sciences

John Beacom is the longtime faculty mentor for SciAccess, which is dedicated to advancing disability accessibility in STEM. While the laws of science are universal, access to science is not, and it should be. SciAccess is led by former and present Ohio State undergraduates, including the multi-award-winners Anna Voelker and Caitlin OBrien. SciAccess runs conferences (the next in May 2024, free and open to all!) and has helped seed several related outreach efforts, including AstroAccess (led by Voelker) and Solstice (led by OBrien and two colleagues).

Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Endowed Professor for Research in Internal Medicine
Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine

Joshua J. Joseph, MD, MPH, FAHA is an associate professor of Internal Medicine and the Endowed Professor for Research in Internal Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. He is founder and medical director for the OSUWMC Healthy Community Center. Dr. Josephs National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association, Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and United States Department of Defense funded research focuses on advancing prevention and treatment of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease through a health equity lens with four pillars: 1) Examining the role of stress hormones in Cardiometabolic Disease; 2) Health System to Community Partnerships; 3) Community-Based Participatory Research; and 4) Quality Improvement Science.

Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture, Knowlton School
College of Engineering

Paula Meijerink is an associate professor in landscape architecture at the Knowlton School. Her research lies at the intersection of material ecologies and equity; it focuses on strategies to improve dehumanized and denatured urban conditions often related to impervious surfaces and urban tree canopy cover. She advances knowledge in collaborative practices especially in and with underserved communities. Her creative practice is focused on processes that improve social environmental inequities. Cultural competency is integrated in teaching, research, and service, often intertwined. The research Trees for All People received national recognition and is focused on social environmental equity and urban resilience.

Associate Professor
Department of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences

Townsand Price-Spratlen researches health disparities among marginalized populations and organizations which address them. He focuses on how Medicaid helps reduce access inequalities and other structural dimensions of carceral citizenship. This includes how local mass incarceration severity is a social determinant on maternal health disparities and adverse birth outcomes, and perceived racial discrimination and its adverse effects on the health of Black youth in Ohio. He analyzes how returning citizens and allied others address structural impediments to reduce health disparities and strengthen civic and health equity. His most recent book, Addiction Recovery and Resilience (SUNY Press 2022), and each of his long-term projects show how community organizations collaborate in high poverty neighborhoods to help reduce health disparities and nurture social ecologies of health and resilience.

Assistant Professor
College of Social Work

Smitha Rao's work at the intersection of environment, development, and social policy includes (1) extreme weather events and contextual vulnerability, (2) improving adaptive capacities among communities to deal with climatic and other stressors, and (3) understanding the effects of air pollution on environmental health and improving access to clean energy. With community partners, she is co-leading a multi-phase research project [Weather and Aging Resilient Model (W.A.R.M)] with support from the City of Columbus and the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging to understand the perspectives and experiences of disasters and disaster preparedness among older adults and persons with disability living in affordable housing communities. Additionally, this project involves service providers working closely with these communities to understand barriers to and experiences of disaster preparedness to strengthen current systems of care. Rao's community-focused work engages graduate and undergraduate students across disciplines in research aimed at improving community lives and capacities in the face of environmental and climate challenges.

Community Engaged Practitioner Awards

The Community Engaged Practitioner Award recognizes staff members who have demonstrated superior commitment to developing, coordinating, and/or sustaining projects, activities, or initiatives involving Ohio State and community partners that enhance engaged scholarship and community impacts.

Award amount: $1,000

Education and Outreach Director
Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center

For more than 11 years Jason Cervenec has served as the education and outreach director for the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center. During that time, Jason's name has become synonymous with polar and climate education. Under his direction, Byrd has reached more than 107,800 people through nearly 2,000 education programs over the past 11 years.

Byrd brings students, educators and the public to campus for education programs and behind-the-scenes tours. Jason has led the Byrd team in the development of an impressive portfolio of interdisciplinary education resources and virtual programs designed to engage audiences from youth to adults, students to community members.

Director of Policy for the Crane Center and Schoenbaum Family Center
College of Education and Human Ecology

Jamie O'Leary's scholarship has engaged early childhood education (ECE) providers, community organizations and state government in Ohio, and has sought to improve access to quality education for Ohios birth-to-five cohort. In the past four years, Jamie has co-led several large research projects intended to demonstrate the challenges that ECE providers face in providing consistent, high quality care to Ohio's most vulnerable children. Her research projects have amplified the voices of the ECE providers who serve Ohio's most vulnerable children in a time when their industry was in crisis, and their ability to serve children and families was threatened. Jamie's work connected these on-the-ground ECE providers with decision-makers in Ohio's state government, allowing the (mostly) women who care for Ohio's children to express their challenges navigating the regulations and funding structures that state government creates in the industry.

OSU Extension Educator
College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

As OSU Extension educator for Columbiana County, Haley has been the face of The Ohio State University in the community since the Norfolk Southern train derailment occurred February 3, 2023, in the village of East Palestine. Her role quickly morphed from providing agricultural information and training programs to: serving as a first responder; adding a calm presence in tense public meetings while providing factual information to participants; providing leadership for plant tissue analysis; serving as a community liaison to the Unified Command responding to the event; supporting public forums where community members gather to express on-going concerns; and providing key community insights for a multi-state university consortium. Haley has thoroughly exhibited the spirit of the land-grant mission as she has engaged with her community.

Community Partnership Award

The Community Partnership Award recognizes a partnership that produces positive impact in the community and at Ohio State.

Award amount: $1,000

Labs in Life is a state-of-the-art laboratory inside the Life exhibition. Here, researchers from The Ohio State University are conducting research in three visible laboratory spaces. Researchers are gathering invaluable data through studies on pharmacology, vision and language, and cognition using state-of-the-art equipment.

Programs of Excellence in Engaged Scholarship

To support and promote high-impact engaged scholarship, the Office of Outreach and Engagement has instituted a process to certify programs of excellence in engaged scholarship. The certification process seeks to identify and certify projects annually that demonstrate excellence in community-engaged scholarship and meet the criteria of high-impact engaged scholarship.

  • Community Health Worker Training Program, College of Nursing
  • LiFEsports, College of Social Work
  • K'acha Willaykuna Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Arts & Humanities Collaboration, College of Arts and Sciences
  • SciAccess, College of Arts and Sciences
  • From Classroom to Clinic: Enhanced Public Health Dental Training and a School-Based Pediatric Dentistry Model, College of Dentistry
  • WestFest, Stem Impact Collaborative
  • PALS & Marion Mentors, OSU Marion/College of Arts and Sciences
  • ADHOC - Coalition for Brain Health, College of Nursing
  • Environmental Professionals Network, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences
  • Immigrants Make Columbus, College of Social Work
  • Lord Denney's Players, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Trees for All People, College of Engineering
  • STEAM Rising, Office of Academic Affairs
  • STEM Coding Initiative, College of Arts and Sciences/University Libraries/College of Education and Human Ecology
  • Global Capstone, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences
  • Sustainability Capstone (Living Lab), College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences
  • Public Procurement Policy and Wage Theft Prevention, Moritz College of Law
  • Pesapane Lab Tick Pathogen Program, College of Veterinary Medicine/College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences