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Feb 22
Honors & Scholars to Host National HERU Conference

The Ohio State University Honors & Scholars Center will be hosting the bi-annual national Honors Education at Research Universities (HERU) conference May 24-25, 2017. HERU brings together faculty, staff, and advisors from across the country who work with Honors students to share best practices and research on high ability student development.  Ohio State faculty and staff are encouraged to attend this year's conference on campus.

The HERU conference began in 2013 out of directors and deans of Honors Programs and Colleges from the Committee on Institutional Cooperation. Finding that no other conferences discussed the unique needs of honors students, colleges, and programs at Research I institutions, the committee decided to start their own conference. The national HERU conference takes place bi-annually, and so the 2017 event at Ohio State will mark its third occurrence. HERU has been previously hosted at Penn State University and Oregon State University in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

The University Honors Program at The Ohio State University Columbus campus serves over 4,000 honors students. The program promotes the intellectual and personal development of undergraduate students through an enriched academic experience and integration of curricular and co-curricular programming. Students who participate in the program are able to choose from more than 350 sections of Honors courses, live in specialized Honors learning communities, and graduate from Ohio State "with Honors Research Distinction" on completion of an Honors capstone experience.

To learn more and register for HERU 2017, visit

To learn more about the University Honors Program, visit​

Feb 21
2017 Eminence Fellows Symposium "Inspires to Innovate"

The Eminence Fellows​ Program's mission reads "to identify, assist, and support intellectually and socially engaged citizens who commit themselves, both individually and as a group, to addressing academic and societal challenges."

The mission of the Eminence Fellows manifests itself in the annual Eminence Symposium, a student-led event at which notable professionals from campus as well as the Columbus community come and speak with current fellows. This year's symposium featured a total of 15 speakers on a wide variety of subjects, including food insecurity and human trafficking.

Sara Liang, a second year Eminence Fellow majoring in Management Information Systems, was the chairperson of this year's symposium, held on January 21 in Jennings Hall. Sara was tasked with coordinating the speakers, student presenters, and volunteers who helped work the event. Sara began working side by side with Rebecca Ward, the Eminence Fellows Program Coordinator, in May to begin to organize the logistical details and contact potential speakers.

A favorite part of this year's Symposium for many Eminence Fellows, including Sara and Caroline Ortiz, a third year Neuroscience major, was the encompassing theme of service. The official theme was Inspire to Innovate and there was a heavy focus on innovation in service, exemplified through the lunch service provided at the event. The event was catered by Freedom a la Cart, an organization that employs victims of human trafficking and offers not only support but also workforce training to aid in the rehabilitation of their employees. The use of this service impacted Caroline profoundly as it was "a great opportunity to not only talk about giving back to the community, but also to visibly support a group that is doing just that."

Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the Symposium would be the practice of putting words into actions.

Roshini Srinivasan, a third year student from Tallmadge, Ohio, noted that the use of Freedom a la Cart was a real-life application of the Class of 2018's service project PassGo, an employment empowerment initiative which empowers ex-offenders to find meaningful employment. While not quite the same mission, both organizations seek to rehabilitate those who maybe would not have had a second chance otherwise. To see that mission in practice through Freedom a la Cart was "a humbling and unique way" of bringing in PassGo's mission to the event, Roshini said.

Though a very busy day, the Symposium epitomizes the mission of the Eminence Fellows of "addressing academic and societal challenges" in just one day.​ To learn more about the Eminence Fellows Program, click here

by Colleen Matthews, H&S Student Staff Writer

Feb 21
Ohio State Named a Top Producer of U.S. Fulbright Students

The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs recently announced the U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most 2016-2017 Fulbright U.S. Students.  The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government's flagship international educational exchange program.  Top-producing institutions are highlighted annually in The Chronicle of Higher Education.​

Thirteen Ohio State students won Fulbright awards for 2016-2017—ranking the institution at 25th among top producing research institutions. Ohio State was also named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars.

"The impact of Fulbright awards continues to grow at Ohio State with students and faculty traveling around the globe on research and teaching missions. We are particularly proud of our undergraduate students using their Fulbright awards to launch into new and exciting endeavors upon leaving Ohio State." said Dr. Linn Van Woerkom, Associate Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education, Director of Honors & Scholars, and Professor of Physics.

The Fulbright Student competition is administered by the University Honors & Scholars Center Undergraduate Fellowship Office. The office assists all undergraduate Ohio State students interested in pursuing a national scholarship or fellowship. For more information about the Undergraduate Fellowship Office, visit

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 370,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Over 1,900 U.S. students, artists and young professionals in more than 100 different fields of study are offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English, and conduct research annually. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program operates in over 140 countries throughout the world.  Lists of Fulbright recipients are available at:

The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the United States Congress to the Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. 

In the United States, the Institute of International Education administers and coordinates the activities relevant to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program on behalf of the Department of State, including conducting an annual competition for the scholarships.

The Fulbright Program also awards grants to U.S. scholars, teachers and faculty to conduct research and teach overseas.  In addition, some 4,000 new foreign Fulbright students and scholars come to the United States annually to study for graduate degrees, conduct research and teach foreign languages.

For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit

Feb 17
Student Spotlight: Will Wahl

If you asked most high school seniors what they were worried about toward the end of the school year, most of them would probably talk about deciding what to do after graduation: whether or not to go to college, where to live, what to major in, or how to make friends on an unfamiliar campus. For Will Wahl, the end of high school entailed catching food, gathering firewood, and developing alliances. Now a freshman at OSU studying political science with a pre-law focus, Wahl appeared on the most recent season of Survivor as the youngest contestant to ever compete on the show.

Wahl grew up in Long Valley, New Jersey. Though it is nearby NYC, it is an entirely different environment—a small farm town. He spent much of his free time outdoors, whether he was camping, fishing, or hiking. He also grew up watching Survivor and wondering, as many viewers do, what it would be like to compete on the show. After sending in a three minute audition video, going to several interviews, and waiting about three months for a response, he finally got to find out.

The season's theme was Millennials vs. Gen X, making this the third time in thirty-three total seasons that the initial tribes were split up by age but only the first time they have been split up specifically by generation. It's no secret that older generations have some negative stereotypes about Millennials being lazy and entitled, and this season was a chance to prove those ideas wrong. "It added another level to the game knowing that we are representing our entire generation on national TV," Wahl admits. The competitors—Millennials and Gen X alike—were anything but lazy. Wahl lost 20 pounds in the span of 34 days and had to get used to limited food sources and sleep. He recalls that even simple tasks like walking became exhausting, and that the first night of the show, when it stormed, was one of the longest nights of his life.

One of the more humorous stories from his time on the show was when a crab started crawling on him while he slept. David Wright, mistaking it for a snake, started poking it with a stick until Wahl woke up and kicked it off himself. Once they realized it was a crab, Ken McNickle managed to catch it so they could eat it for breakfast later that morning.

Though the victory and million dollars unanimously went to Millennial competitor Adam Klein, Wahl made it very far into the season, believing his age may have hurt his chances of winning but helped him form better alliances, something critical to success on the show. "The challenges were larger than life in person and the people, for the most part, were genuine people," he notes.

Once filming was finished, Wahl had to finish up the work for his English class and then prepare for his first year at Ohio State. He is now in his second semester and is involved with the religious student organization Ration Christi as well as the OSU version of Survivor, called Survivor: Time and Change. He is also a member of International Affairs Scholars​, and though he may no longer have to compete with other tribes and search for food and shelter, his involvement in Scholars does add some excitement to his life. "I have gone on trips to German Village, the Italian festival, the Picasso Art Show, political debates, Community Commitment, and the Toronto trip," he says. "During the trip to Toronto, we went to the Aga Khan museum and the Royal Ontario museum." The main benefit of the program, he believes, is getting to learn about other cultures by actually experiencing them. However, he also adds that Scholars has allowed him to bond with other success-driven students, which made the transition into college much smoother and made the university feel smaller.

Wahl's goals for the future are to continue succeeding in undergraduate courses and eventually go on to grad school or law school.

And no, he didn't watch his season of Survivor all the way through (but he notes that the support he's received from friends, family, and fans has been incredible).

by Christina Szuch, H&S Student Staff Writer

Feb 03
Student Spotlight: Luke Fannin

Luke Fannin is a third generation Buckeye and is undoubtedly making his alumni relatives proud. Fannin holds leadership roles in student organizations, does research, can speak Swahili fairly well, and maintains a 4.0 GPA all the while.

Fannin is from Sharon Center, Ohio and is an Eagle Scout. Unsurprisingly, he enjoys outdoor activities such as running, biking, rock climbing, and camping. Though he leads an active lifestyle, he certainly doesn't mind sitting down to read a good book by Stephen Jay Gould or watch some Star Wars. (To answer the inevitable follow-up question, his favorite is The Empire Strikes Back.) His musical taste includes bands like ELO, The Hollies, and The Beatles.

Carrying on his family's Buckeye legacy, Fannin chose OSU for its wide variety of opportunities and connections. He is majoring in zoology with a minor in physical anthropology; his goal is to later earn a PhD in biological anthropology, with a focus on primatology. His interest in primates began when he first started photographing them—along with other animals— during trips to the zoo. He has since made it a goal to get involved with primate conversation outreach, saying, "I am concerned about the future of primate diversity as a whole and I wish to show other people just how amazing they are as a group, from the largest gorilla to the smallest mouse lemur." Fannin is excited about the idea of continuing to engage in research while also having the same influence on students as his professors have had on him.

In fact, Fannin is already positively impacting students in his role as a peer tutor for Chemistry 1210/1220, taught by Dr. Fus, one of his greatest mentors. Dr. Fus helped inspire Fannin to teach science to others, including his sisters. Fannin recalls one of his favorite memories from peer tutoring, when over 200 students showed up for an exam review session in McPherson. "I must have run half of a mile between the classes for the whole night to help students with questions," he recalls.

Fannin serves as chair of primatology for the Undergraduate Anthropology Club and treasurer of the Swahili Club. He is also a member of Honors & Scholars, specifically Dunn Sports and Wellness Scholars. He credits the program with providing volunteer opportunities in Columbus and connecting him with students who have a strong work ethic and similar talents. The community of not only students but also faculty mentors, he believes, is what makes the program so successful. "The program's ability to provide a feeling of inclusiveness and guidance—including guidance from our Scholars advisor, Brendan—was one of the key reasons that my first year at OSU was so enjoyable," he says.

In addition to his extracurricular involvement, Fannin is pursuing two research opportunities relevant to his field. He studies primate dentition under Dr. Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg and Dr. Scott McGraw of the Department of Anthropology. Fannin is currently studying Anthropoid primates to determine how their social interactions influenced the evolution of their teeth. So far, he has observes that female species who use their canine teeth as weapons for intergroup conflict tend to have larger premolar honing surface lengths. This suggests that the feature was needed in order for females to use their teeth in fights for the purpose of protecting territory and resources. He has been able to access samples from other cities thanks to funds from the STEP program. "This past August, I used a portion of my funding to go and collect data from the skeletal collections housed at the Field Museum, Chicago," he says. "I am using the remainder of my stipend to travel to Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology to collect more data from the collections there." He is particularly fascinated by the influence females within primate societies, noting that they have a strict hierarchy, choose who they want to mate with, and often compete fiercely to defend resources, a behavior formerly attributed only to males. This is just one example of how rigorous research can dispel commonly held beliefs. Fannin hopes to continue learning about primate social behavior and competition in his future studies, in addition to being involved with conservation efforts.

Fannin is also involved in a second research project under Dr. Song Xing, who is visiting from the Chinese Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology. Fannin explains that this project involves testing a model of the genetic development of molar teeth, specifically in ancient human populations from an archeological site in China.

Even for a talented and hardworking student, being involved in two research projects and other campus activities while keeping up straight A's does not come easily. "As I started to take more challenging classes, I had to develop a consistent and focused study schedule that allowed me to prepare for my classes, while still being involved in outside activities on campus such as student orgs and research," Fannin says. However, even the rigorous studying needed to maintain a 4.0 does not always have to be 100% boring. Fannin still vividly remembers spending two hours studying for chemistry with his friends, Spencer Talentino and Long To, while listening to "Final Countdown" by Europe…the entire time.

"We all did fine on the exam," he recalls, "but I still can't listen to that song without thinking about complex ion formation and solution chemistry."

By Christina Szuch, H&S Student Staff Writer

Jan 27
Student Spotlight: Jesze Doleh

Though Jesze Doleh admits to wanting to be the Jane Goodall of lemurs, her favorite animal, she has settled with the more realistic goal of pursuing her dream of becoming a zoo director. A first year in the Environment and Natural Resources Scholars Program, Jesze has had a fascination with the environment and zoological operations since she was young.  In fact, in her formative years, she was often dubbed a "tree hugger."

Originally from Evansville, Indiana, Jesze volunteered at Mesker Park Zoo as well as her area Botanical Gardens for five years prior to her admittance to OSU. Getting her start as a zoo camper, her love for all things nature soon gave way to leadership roles within zoos. She rose from a camper to a Zooteen to a camp instructor at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, a position she holds currently. In her new position, she helps put on educational programs to groups who then spend the night at the Zoo accompanied by Jesze and her co-workers. This position helps to combine both Jesze's major of Zoology and her minor in Education, both of which she hopes to complete within three years.

Coming from out-of-state, it may have seemed slightly daunting to pursue involvement at the Columbus Zoo, especially as it is located 25 minutes from campus and Jesze has no car. Luckily, she had a family friend who had a connection in the Zoo's education department.  Jesze was able to visit the Zoo while on a trip to OSU last spring and was notified of a job offering when she was back on campus in June for orientation. This position has grown Jesze's appreciation for the opportunity to educate others on animals as well as the importance of conservation. Her advice to other students looking to pursue a path similar to hers is to simply start volunteering. Even if their passion is not with animals and nature, she stands by this advice, saying, "I think as long as you are passionate and other people can sense that, a zoo or similar place will find a place for you to help."

On top of her involvement in Scholars and her job with the zoo, Jesze is also an active member in Zoology Club as well as being a 96 Elephants Ambassador. Her experiences do not stop there nor do they stop anywhere in America, as she is a People to People Student Ambassador, which has enabled her to visit Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, South Africa, and France. In fact, when deciding where to attend college, Jesze wanted not only a premier zoology program and nearby zoo, but she also wanted a university at which she could continue to study French.  Ohio State presented Jesze with all of these benefits and ultimately won out against its competitors.  

Besides lemurs and spending her time at the zoo, Jesze enjoys traveling, watching movies and reading books. She loves comedy, including the movie Bruce Almighty and her favorite TV show, How I Met Your Mother. There is not anything funny about her ambitions though, as this zoology major intends to finish her undergraduate degree in three years, a good plan since her future professional agenda is quite packed already. While the decision to enter graduate school or begin working is still unclear, Jesze knows for certain that she wants to write programs for a zoo or a conservation center.

Her ultimate goal of becoming the director of a zoo is still a ways off as this position requires five years of experience at a zoo, as well as a master's degree, both of which will take some time to complete because she wants to visit Madagascar at some point to study, what else, her favorite animal: the lemur.

By Colleen Matthews, H&S Student Staff Writer​

Jan 13
Student Spotlight: Laine Rumreich

Laine Rumreich is only a first-year, but that hasn't stopped her from confidently navigating the opportunities the university offers.

Rumreich is from Indianapolis, Indiana and enjoys science fiction books, golf and tennis, playing clarinet, and listening to jazz. However, not only does she have a talent for sports and music; she also enjoys working with computers. Even during high school, she programmed in her free time and has been involved with the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).

Given her interest in programming, majoring in Computer Science Engineering was an easy choice. Rumreich added a minor in math, which she describes as a close second when it comes to professional interests. She is a member of both the national and OSU chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and she hopes to have an internship with NASA in the future. Ultimately, she will search for a career that allows her to combine her interests in cybersecurity and environmentalism.

Rumreich is also a member of the Honors Program and is living in the south campus honors residence hall, Bradley Hall. She often tries to fit the dorm's events into her schedule and also enjoys attending events on the oval. Additionally, she was recently selected as one of the two Class of 2020 representatives for the Eminence Fellows. Though balancing meetings and events with school work has been the most challenging aspect of college so far, Rumreich notes that being in the honors program has meant being in a community of students who have similarly rigorous schedules. In fact, she has even made friends with people from the program who have similar interests and are taking similar classes; they are very supportive of each other. One of her favorite memories from the program so far was a field trip she took with other honors students in September, during which the students stayed in a cabin and were not supposed to have access to Wi-Fi. The chaperone, however, did not consider that they were dealing with a clever and resourceful group of students. "I found the router in a sitting room, turned it over, and the password was taped to the bottom," admits Rumreich. "I secretly used the Wi-Fi all weekend."

Rumreich also views her experiences in her major positively. Though she is a female in a still male-dominated STEM field, this does not intimidate her. The majority of the students in her engineering classes are male, but she says this creates a stronger bond among the females in the classes. However, this does not mean she does not bond with the rest of the class. "I've found the students in engineering to be very team-oriented; we all try to support each other because we are all trying to reach the same goal," she says. She adds that the faculty has been similarly supportive.  "I've seen my engineering professor, Dr. Freuler, take the time to sit and speak with students individually, providing advice and encouragement."

Though STEM fields require a lot of time and effort, Rumreich believes it is worth it if the student is passionate about their area of study. Her advice to high school students interested in STEM—especially women, who may sometimes feel excluded from these fields—is to get involved in STEM-related classes and clubs and learn what interests them the most. "Join the robotics team, take an AP computer science and AP calculus class, and check out the National Center for Women & Information Technology website for resources and award programs," she says.

As noted before, Rumreich is also interested in promoting environmental sustainability. For two years, she was one of ten teens from across the country to serve on the Keep America Beautiful (KAB) youth advisory council, which emphasizes service learning and leadership. Rumreich's project during her first year involved reducing litter and increasing volunteerism in her community. In her second year, she incorporated her technology experience to create a computer-based program that helps track littering behaviors. As a result of her achievements, she was asked to speak at KAB's annual Vision for America event in New York City, which serves as both an important fundraiser for the organization and a ceremony to honor a company that has demonstrated commitment to environmental sustainability.

Though the idea of speaking in front of many important business executives may sound terrifying to some college students, Rumreich was able to draw on her past experiences with public speaking in order to prepare. In fact, in high school she went to nationals for speech team and the topic she spoke on was reduction of littering, so this was not her first time talking to a crowd about environmental issues.  She also notes that KAB's leadership team was helpful in going over her drafts and helping create visuals to go along with the presentation.

 In a way, Rumreich's role was to be a liaison for her generation by explaining how the initiatives of adults and the companies they run can make an impact on the youth's commitment to sustainability. Her goal was to help them feel comfortable relating to millennials. She said, "I talked about finding a way to connect to your audience, the power of role models, and I used a metaphor about honey bees to demonstrate my views because that is another environmental topic I am passionate about."

Her recommendations for simple things homeowners can do to protect the environment include using non-chemical cleaners to clean the house and avoiding the use of pesticides outside. As for college students, she encourages recycling whenever possible and reducing unnecessary printing. Of course, she is also passionate about the simple but impactful goal of reducing litter.

Since the company being honored this year was Honeywell, Rumreich got a chance to talk to the CEO, David Cote, who noted when he got up to speak that her presentation was hard to follow. When the two conversed, they discussed Rumreich's involvement with the KAB advisory council and Cote mentioned a potential internship opportunity. It wasn't all business talk, though.

"Of course, after learning during my presentation that I was from Ohio State, he talked to me a little bit about football too," Rumreich recalls. "This event was held the Monday after the Wisconsin game and there happened to be many Wisconsin fans in the audience, so quite a few jokes were made."

Jan 06
Student Spotlight: David Butcher

Not many second-year college students can say they are successfully running their own business, but marketing major/entrepreneurship minor David Butcher is one of the few. Though he comes from a small village about an hour outside of Columbus called Yellow Springs, he easily transitioned into the large community at Ohio State. He chose to attend the university because of its community, strong business school, and worldwide alumni network—all important factors for a young entrepreneur.

Butcher enjoys trying new foods, watching crime and sci-fi movies, going on nature walks, longboarding, and driving with no particular destination. He still takes immense pride in his hometown, a small but unique community that taught him that differences are something to celebrate. Now attending one of the largest universities in the nation, he has found a similarly tight-knit community with Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship Scholars (ICE)​, which he calls "a home within a home."

Butcher recalls that ICE Scholars gave him a starting point for involvement here. With seemingly infinite resources and only a few years to take advantage of them, it was difficult to know where to begin as a freshman. He notes that his Scholars coordinator has provided guidance for how to navigate all the opportunities.  In addition to his involvement with Scholars, Butcher also serves as Vice President of Membership for Business Builders Club. He strongly encourages all students to come check out a meeting, especially those looking for more ways to get involved with entrepreneurship.

Butcher has come up with many small business ideas over the past few years, but one in particular resonated with him.  It's not hard to find fast casual restaurants in places like Columbus, but it is almost impossible to find good fast-casual barbecue with a family cookout atmosphere. That's where Flyby Barbecue comes in. Butcher notes that the company is unique for two main reasons. First, they only use all-natural locally sources ingredients and focus solely on making the best quality sandwiches. The menu keeps it simple because customers said that having a good sandwich was more important to them than having a lot of other items available. (However, Flyby does offer options for vegans and vegetarians.) Second, the atmosphere is different from the stereotypical BBQ place. "It doesn't feel dark, dirty or 'man-cavey,'" Butcher says. "It's open, airy, and communal. It feels like home."

The idea for Flyby BBQ won several business competitions on campus. This helped Butcher gain the funds and publicity he needed to get the company started. Though it is still growing, they already have a food truck and an online store featuring sauces from cities across the country including Kansas City, South Carolina, Florida, and—of course—Ohio. Butcher is currently preparing to open a full-scale fast-casual location in Columbus this summer.

Right now, Butcher helps with just about everything the company does, whether it's preparing catering orders, managing supplier relations, or doing the dishes. As the business grows, he will be able to fill a more specialized role. He says, "My favorite thing—and what I am best at—is focusing on strategy and growth, making sure that we are constantly evolving to the market and doing what is best for the customer." He admits that these are large responsibilities to balance with being in school, but he tries to devote at least  two days each week to working on the business. Yes, this occasionally means missing class—but he adds that he is able to keep up with coursework as long as he puts in some late nights and pays extra attention when he is in class. "If something is important enough, you make time," he explains.

Flyby BBQ is important to more people than just its founder, though. Butcher recalls that recently he spoke to a woman from Texas who tried some of their food. An avid barbecue lover, she said that Flyby was the only barbecue she'd found in Ohio that tasted as good as what she used to have back home.  He considers this one of his proudest moments with the company.

One of the items on Butcher's bucket list is to build a nationally recognizable branch, and so far it seems like Flyby has lots of potential. Not all of his goals have to do with building a business, though.  In the future, he also hopes to build a tiny house in addition to meeting Elon Musk, giving a TED talk, travelling to Croatia, and petting a moose.

by Christina Szuch, Student Staff Writer

Dec 02
Student Spotlight: H&S Students Take National Parks Trip

There are lots of ways a group of college friends can become closer, whether it is hanging out at a specific restaurant or coffee shop on a weekly basis or sticking together through library all-nighters during finals week. Of course, if none of that sounds adventurous enough, there's always the option to take a road trip across the country and visit thirty or so national parks.

Nick Armstrong, Bradley Giordano, Jenny Hoppert, Amanda Knight, and Christian Moore took this approach. Armstrong, Knight, and Moore are all Landscape Architecture majors (Moore has a second major in Origins of Western Thought); Hoppert studies Biology and Giordano studies Mechanical Engineering. They all met each other either through classes or through living in the same residence hall freshman year. Most of them are in Honors or Scholars or both, reflecting that the smaller, more individualized Honors classes and the field-related involvement opportunities in Scholars have made these programs very worthwhile. They also participated in the STEP program, which allows students to receive $2,000 in funding for a project related to their academic or career goals.

This endeavor began when Armstrong was in the car with Moore on the way to a Landscape Architecture meeting in Cleveland and half-jokingly brought up the idea of a two month road trip, noting that the upcoming summer would provide a rare opportunity of both funding and time for a trip. As many friends know, often the only thing required in order to make a seemingly crazy idea become reality is for another friend to be on board with it. Once Moore was convinced, they recruited a few other friends and began working with research advisor Krisi Cheramie from the Knowlton School of Architecture. The group's research theme was "The State of the Western National Parks Service in its Centennial Year" and each student chose a specific focus within that theme; a few examples are trail experiences and the increasing ozone levels in national parks. In addition to STEP funds, Professor Cheramie helped the group secure funding from the Undergraduate Research Office. The group spent about six months planning the budget, itinerary, and logistics of the trip.

While the students were excited about the opportunity to contribute to their fields through their research, a lot of the trip's most memorable moments occurred in their free time or during their interactions with each other. Moore recalls a daunting hike up Pike's Peak, during which the group got separated, lost communication, and experienced the effects of sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Somehow, they eventually made it to the top and ordered hot chocolate in celebration of overcoming their first major challenge as a team. Hoppert recalls a similar feeling of exhilaration upon reaching the top of Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states. However, not every exciting moment of the trip involved an intense day of climbing. Giordano notes that while he cannot choose one single favorite moment, sitting by a stream in a meadow of Yellowstone National Park and just observing the nature around him certainly comes close. Of course, none of the experiences on the trip would have been quite the same without the group dynamic. Armstrong has fond memories of staying in a cabin with his friends after several long days of backpacking in Montana. "Hanging out there with my friends on a lake without cell phone service and just sharing stories and jokes was my favorite memory of the trip," he says. Similarly, some of Knight's highlights include accidentally running into Justin Bieber without realizing it, adopting a pet animal cracker, and listening to the Harry Potter audio books while driving at night.

Since hiking through national parks for two months in a row is an exhausting, albeit exciting, task, the young travelers found some interesting ways to keep things light on the more challenging excursions. They admit that out of the 60 or so days of the road trip, approximately 40 were spent talking almost entirely in a bad British accent. "Sometimes, when we would be staying in houses with some of Christian's family, Brad would slip into the British accent while talking to the family members, and it was funny to see the utterly confused look on their faces," Hoppert says.

While each of the students has their own unique set of research experiences, favorite memories, and goals, they are all in unanimous agreement on one thing: that the trip was life-changing. It made them closer as a friend group but also more confident in their own abilities as individuals to set out to do something and then go out and actually accomplish it. In fact, Giordano adds that the transformation is evident to him even when looking through pictures from early on in the trip and comparing them with the last photo they took together before returning home. "While [the photo is of] the same people, the change is uncanny," he says. "We look relatively similar, with the exception of Christian's burly mane, but the look in our eyes, the way we stand, how we are holding each other, is undoubtedly different."

Though they have accomplished their collective goal of spending a summer on a road trip adventure, they still have plenty of things left on their individual bucket lists. Knight hopes to travel to the remaining ten states she hasn't visited yet, take fun electives before graduating, and get a landscape architecture internship. Hoppert is planning to go to medical school. Armstrong hopes for a career designing urban parks or perhaps working for the National Park Service. Giordano wants to get involved with the theme park engineering industry with the ultimate goal of working for Disney Imagineering. Moore wants to climb Half Dome in Yosemite with his father, study perennial gardens in the Netherlands, and grow his hair out until it is no longer stuck in "half bun limbo." All of them hope to travel more in the future, and strongly suggest that other students should look into doing the same. In fact, this group apparently wasn't the only one that thought the idea of going on a nature-filled road trip during college would be fun. "We ran into a pack of Ohio State students in Sequoia; they were spending their STEP funds hiking the John Muir trail," Moore says, confirming the theory that Buckeyes are everywhere. When it comes to other students considering travelling during their college years, Moore is the epitome of reassuring. When explaining his run-in with the other group of OSU students, he adds, "As far as I know, they all made it back alive."

By Christina Szuch, H&S Student Staff Writer​

Nov 23
Student Spotlight: Morgan Oates

Fourth-year Honors student Morgan Oates appreciates etymology, dialects, and grammar almost as much as she appreciates cats. Though she has not yet had the chance to adopt a cat during her time at OSU, she has gotten to do the next best thing by studying Linguistics and Speech and Hearing Science, and even getting the chance to conduct research in Puerto Rico for two months this summer.

Oates grew up in nearby Westerville, initially viewing Ohio State as little more than a sports-crazed football school. After doing more research on schools, she discovered that OSU actually has an excellent department of linguistics, the subject she had been reading books about for fun since high school. After befriending two Speech and Hearing Science majors during her freshman year, she took an introductory course and added it as a second major. She also decided to pursue a minor in Spanish, seeing how these three areas of study would all complement each other and potentially qualify her for a wider range of job opportunities in the future.

Oates is an Honors student, which has given her the opportunity to take smaller, more advanced courses, even for her G.E.'s. For example, one of the most memorable classes she has taken outside her field of study was a course on climate change taught by a leading world expert on polar ice caps. She also notes that her Honors advisors have been incredibly helpful and that she also appreciated spending her freshman year living in an Honors community in Taylor Tower.

In addition to the Honors program, Oates is a four-year member of Off the Lake Productions, a student organization that puts on musical theatre performances.  Oates had experience working backstage for her high school's productions, so she felt right at home as a crew member for her first two years with OTL, helping with set-building, props, lights, sound, etc. Last year she was selected as the Co-Stage Manager, and this year she is the Artistic Director, giving her the exciting responsibility of costume and set design.  She is also a three-year member of the Undergraduate Linguistics Club ("Underlings") and was president of the organization last year. During her sophomore year, she participated in the STEP program, which helped fund her study abroad experience in Costa Rica. She also puts her backstage crew experience to use as an AV technician/manager at the Union, running lights, audio, video, etc . for events in the building.

Outside of her academic and extracurricular involvement, Oates tries to find time for hobbies such as board games, camping, hiking, playing piano and flute, and all things Harry Potter.  Her favorite television shows include Gilmore Girls, The West Wing, Shark Tank, and HGTV shows. A few of her favorite musicians are City and Colour and Passenger. She makes weekly trips to the RPAC hot tub with her friend group, a several-year tradition she cites as one of her favorite OSU memories (another one being the memory of carrying set pieces such as furniture and walls across campus at night for OTL, which she notes was "always a challenge, and a strange sight for passersby").

Another rather unforgettable experience she's had recently was her trip to Puerto Rico to conduct research for her senior thesis. An H&S enrichment grant helped fund this trip, an endeavor she would not have been able to afford otherwise. Oates is interested in studying language acquisition and development in both English-speakers and Spanish-speakers. Specifically, her research concerns the phenomenon of children who are otherwise fluent in their native language often being unable to distinguish between the meanings of quantifiers such as "each" versus quantifiers such as "some." For example, while watching a video of Minions pushing rocks, even if each Minion has their own rock to push, children will interpret "Some minions pushed a rock" to be an accurate narration, whereas most adults would only see "Each minion pushed a rock" as correct. Studying the reasons behind this phenomenon could provide insight into the long-standing debate in linguistics over whether humans have innate language ability (a "universal grammar") or whether they have to learn it through unconscious statistical analyses of the language they hear around them.  Living in Puerto Rico for two months allowed Oates to gather data on Spanish-speaking adults and children to complement the data she was already gathering on English speakers.

This fall, Oates is continuing to run the experiment with additional English speakers before doing a final analysis of all her results. From her preliminary analysis of the data she has so far, she has already been able to make the interesting observation that the difficulty with quantifiers seems to occur in both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking children, suggesting that it is consistent across languages rather than specific to English. In addition to contributing to the body of knowledge about language acquisition, this project will have benefits for Oates's future career. She plans to become a speech pathologist, so getting practice assessing children's language and vocabulary will prove helpful. She also notes that spending two months in Puerto Rico improved her own Spanish fluency.

Of course, two months allowed for a bit of time to explore the area in addition to conducting research. Oates particularly appreciated the historic village of San Juan. She also loved spending weekends visiting places such as beaches, mountains, and a rainforest.  "I learned how to snorkel and got to see sea turtles, starfish, coral reefs, stingrays, and more," she recalls. However, she did not always have to dive underwater to see unique wildlife, animals that are not nearly so common here. "Iguanas, lizards, and chickens are equivalent to squirrels here," she says." There were colorful parrots, stray dogs and cats, and a large population of wild horses. It was not uncommon on certain parts of the island to see herds of horses chilling on the side—or center—of the street." After spending about a month there, she was already comfortable enough to act as a tour guide and translator when her family came to visit.

Oates's next step will be using her data to finish up her thesis. The next step after that will be graduation, and after that? The most important step of all: finally adopting a cat.

By Christina Szuch, H&S Student Staff Writer

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