Sign In


Back to homepage

Feb 22
Ohio State Named a Top Producer of U.S. Fulbright Students & Scholars

The Ohio State University is proud to be included on the list of U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most 2017-2018 Fulbright U.S. Students recently announced by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. 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.

Ten students from Ohio State received Fulbright awards for academic year 2017-2018—ranking the institution 40th among top producing research institutions. Ohio State was also named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars.

The Fulbright competition is administered at 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 email

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 380,000 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 abroad each year. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program operates in over 140 countries throughout the world.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State, funded by an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education. 

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

For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit

Feb 15
Honors Alumni Nima Dahir & Abd Al-Rahman Traboulsi Named Knight-Hennessy Scholars Inaugural Class of 2018

Ohio State alumni Nima Dahir and Abd Al-Rahman Traboulsi have been named Knight-Hennessy Scholars for the program's inaugural class of 2018. Knight-Hennessy scholars receive financial support for the full cost of attendance for their graduate education at Stanford University.​

"We have selected students who believe strongly in the pressing need for better leadership across all disciplines, and around the globe," said John L. Hennessy, Shriram Family Director of Knight-Hennessy scholars.

Along with Hennessy, who served as Stanford's 10th President, the program is named for alumnus Phil Knight, MBA '62, philanthropist, business leader, and co-founder of Nike Inc., who is contributing $400 million to back the program.

The inaugural class will convene graduate students from twenty-eight departments across Stanford University. 2018 Knight-Hennessy fellows hail from around the world, representing 17 different countries. 

For its first year, the program received over 3,600 applications from around the world. The top 100 candidates were interviewed during a rigorous "immersion weekend," consisting of a personal interview, a group problem-solving task, improvisational workshops, time in Stanford's infamous design school nicknamed "," and talks from notable speakers like former Secretary of State and current Stanford professor Condoleezza Rice. The primary admission criteria were independence of thought, purposeful leadership, and a civic mindset. The program ultimately selected 49 scholars.

Nima Dahir.jpgDahir, a University Honors undergraduate student, Beinecke Scholar, Clinton Global Initiative University Resolution Fellow, and a recipient of the Morrill Scholarship, graduated summa cum laude in 2016 with honors degrees in economics and mathematics. She co-founded Refuge with Traboulsi while at Ohio State, an organization that pairs mentors with young adult refugees as a means for opening up pathways toward higher education. At Stanford, Dahir will earn a PhD in sociol​ogy and plans to study the economic barriers facing resettled populations.

Traboulsi, a University Honors undergraduate student, Eminence Fellow, Clinton Global Initiative University Resolution Fellow, and a Marian Wright Edelman Scholar for the advancement of educational equality, graduated summa cum laude in 2017 with an honors degree in biomedical engineering. During Traboulsi's summer breaks as an undergraduate, he volunteered with the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations as a medical and psychosocial volunteer in Syria and Turkey. At Stanford, Traboulsi will earn his MD with the goal of guiding humanitarian policy in the United Nations to aid displaced populations affected by conflict and disaster.

Abd Al-Rahmar Traboulsi.jpgTraboulsi credits Ohio State's Eminence Fellowship program for driving him to apply for the Knight-Hennessy. "As an Eminence Fellow, I learned the value of being in a community with people who feel they have a responsibility to make a difference," Traboulsi explained. "Entering medical school, I wanted to make sure I would once again be surrounded by people driven to make the world a better place."

Students interested in applying for the Knight-Hennessy or other national fellowship opportunities should contact the Undergraduate Fellowship Office, located within the University Honors and Scholars Center, by visiting or e-mailing Corey Efron at For more information on the Knight-Hennessy fellowship, see

Feb 06
Buckeye on Break: Olivia Britt

This past winter break, I was given the opportunity to explore New York City with Ohio State's Buck-I-SERV program. Having already visited the city on a number of occasions, I was at first a little disappointed at my assignment because I had been hoping to be placed somewhere new. However, upon arriving in the city I realized I had been mistaken. A city as large and dynamic as New York shouldn't be underestimated—there is always something new to discover no matter how many times you visit. From eating "puffles" (dessert waffles) to seeing the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and Saks Fifth Avenue Light Show for the first time, I was surprised at how many new experiences I had. Of course, my group still did the typical tourist things, such as taking a walk along the Brooklyn Bridge and through Central Park as well as grabbing a bite to eat in Little Italy and Chinatown. However, the memories that stand out to me the most are the new experiences I managed to have even in a familiar place.

olivia and friends.jpg

While we weren't exploring the wonders of New York at Christmastime, my group was volunteering with a Staten Island organization known as Project Hospitality. This is an interreligious organization that was founded to provide support to the Staten Island community by addressing many social justice issues, including food security, poverty, and medical care (such as HIV testing). As volunteers, we assisted with distributing supplies, sorting deliveries in their food pantry and warehouse, serving meals, and even asking for donations outside of their local grocery store. When I was asked to help with the latter task, I was initially intimidated because I am not the most outspoken person, so I am not very comfortable walking up to people and requesting something from them. (You could say I've been snubbed on the Oval one too many times.) However, as one of the leaders of the group, I knew it was important that I set an example for the participants, and if I was feeling anxious, they must have been, too. So I loaded up a van and we drove over, and I was happy I did because the participants took it like champs. They made the best of it and were constantly smiling and joking around with the grocery store shoppers. Some of my best memories from the trip were from the time I spent at that grocery store, and we even got to see the impact of our work right away. As the donations came in, we loaded up our van and counted 13 total cart loads of groceries. I still think about the fact that, if we hadn't been willing to step outside of our comfort zones, Project Hospitality wouldn't have had this food to give to the community, and it reminds me of the importance of our work. Even a few hours donated to a good cause can truly make a difference in others' lives, sometimes more than we know.

I learned a number of things about myself and my community from my trip to the Big Apple. For example, without even realizing it, I had an image in my mind of "homelessness" that had been shaped through my previous experiences in the Columbus area. I also thought I knew the reasons someone became homeless, and this led me to make assumptions about those I saw who fit this description. However, when I interacted one-on-one with those who attended Project Hospitality's programs, my mental image was broken and I saw them for who they were—people in tough circumstances just trying to make ends meet. From language barriers to unexpected job loss, these people were oftentimes victims of situations that were outside of their control. My interactions with them truly changed my perspective on the idea of homelessness, and in turn helped me become less critical and more sensitive to the needs of those around me.

In my opinion, if you have the chance to go on a service trip, you should do so. They provide you with the unique opportunity to learn a lot about not only social justice and the communities you serve, but also about yourself. Also, if you have never seen the New York City skyline from the back of the Staten Island Ferry, add it to your bucket list. You won't regret it.
nyc from the ferry.jpg
 Written By Olivia Britt, Honors & Scholars Media Team Member

Feb 02

Justin Thompson Final-1.jpgMeet Justin, a third-year Honors student in the Integrated Business and Engineering Cohort who hails from Cleveland, Ohio.

While he's not white water rafting down Class 5 rapids in the New River Gorge or watching fireworks over the London Eye on New Year's, this self-proclaimed "internet entrepreneur" is busy creating content for YouTube and other social media outlets. He documents all of his crazy adventures on his YouTube channel, JMontage, where he also sells merchandise and partners with various brands as an affiliate. He loves being his own boss in this aspect because he can decide exactly what work to take on, and it provides him with the valuable opportunity to connect with other creators around the world with the power of the Internet. Ironically, though he has travelled to Nicaragua and Tanzania where he sand boarded down active volcanos and swam with dolphins, he has somehow never managed to try your average PB&J…or a Coke.

Justin also attributes much of his creative, as well as academic, growth to being a member of Honors and Scholars. He has been challenged in more ways than one, and these challenges have led to impressive breakthroughs, such as the time when he and a group of other students designed and produced a pill bottle opener for people with arthritis. In fact, exploring advances in technology such as this is one of the reasons Justin chose Computer Science and Engineering as his major. He always finds himself drawn to the newest gadgets and technology on the market, and through this major, he is able to be on the "cutting edge" of new developments. In his own words, he says this major allows him to "enable and empower others through technology and computer science."

In addition to being challenged by Honors classes and activities, Justin attributes much of his personal growth to his friends, who he says have had the biggest influence on his life. From meeting his best friend in his first recitation class freshman year to the many he has gathered in his various adventures, each one inspires him to be a more persistent, compassionate, and creative person. Justin and his friends can get very creative at times, in fact, such as on Halloween last year when his friend Benny constructed a cardboard shell for his electric longboard so it would resemble the Bat Mobile. Going so far as to dress up like Batman, Benny rode around campus while Justin documented the antics for his vlog. Justin describes some of the reactions of students who saw the costume as "priceless."

While he's not engaging in crazy shenanigans with his friends for his vlog, he's very involved with marketing for two student organizations on campus—Block O and Best Food Forward, the latter of which is an initiative that uses bulk buying from local wholesalers and distributers to make more efficient connections between consumers and growers. In addition to marketing, Justin also busies himself with helping to manage the operations and logistics of Best Food Forward, so it is safe to say this is a project that is close to his heart.  

You may be wondering, how does this guy do all of this? Well, the answer is he's not too keen on breaks. In his words, "I hate sleep…I want to be doing all of the things. Sleep gets in the way of that. If I didn't have to sleep, I wouldn't." This speaks to the true devotion Justin has to his craft and to his passion projects.

Being this ambitious doesn't come without being goal-oriented, however. Two of Justin's main goals for his future progress are to make a video with President Drake as well as sell his merchandise in the Ohio State bookstore. Though these are two admittedly lofty goals, if anyone can achieve them, this kid can. At the end of the day, though, Justin says he stands by two fundamental life goals: to be happy and healthy. What more can we ask for?

If you want to find out more about Justin or see some of his work, follow him on YouTube and other social media at @JMontage.

 Written By Olivia Britt, Honors & Scholars Media Team Member

Jan 10

Student Spotlight photo - Lauryn Cooper.jpgIf second-year Honors student Lauryn Cooper could sum herself up in four words, they would (verbatim) be, "My life is animals." This is only fitting for the animal science/biosciences/pre-vet major, especially one who took on three internships this past summer back home in West Chester, PA.

Lauryn's busy break included working at an emergency vet clinic as a vet assistant (which she will continue working for come May); handling hedgehogs, reptiles, rabbits, birds, and other exotics at Norristown Elmwood Zoo; and doing both research and educational work at the Philadelphia Zoo, recalling an awestruck father watching his child and a baby gorilla perform nearly identical mannerisms and movements. Lauryn finds gorillas' mothering skills fascinating for their resemblance to humans, but focused her research project on giant river otters for the summer. By observing a mother, son, and daughter otter for at least an hour every day, Lauryn collected data analyzing the impact of weather on an otter's activity either in water or on land, and presented the findings to her supervisors. Other interesting anecdotes of hers were performing chest compressions on a dog and caring for a talkative macaw.

When she's not handling animals, Lauryn is a part of the Delta Zeta sorority, College Mentors for Kids, Pre-Vet Club, and volunteers twice a week at the Oncology and ICU unit of a vet hospital. While she certainly loves animals, she also has a passion for working with children. On a study abroad trip to Nicaragua, aside from learning about animal welfare differences in production, Lauryn says that her favorite part was home-stay: "I can't speak Spanish, but kids are the same in every culture, so I was able to communicate with them and play games."

As an Honors student, Lauryn also notes the influence of her Intro to Animal Science class on her educational experience thus far. She not only was able to decide on a body part to study with her group, she was able to dissect, prepare slides, and collect data on the quail musculoskeletal system, essentially participating in hands-on research her very first semester of college. "It was our project," she says, emphasizing the incredible independence and freedom her group had. "I learned a lot."

Some of Lauryn's favorite non-academic memories of OSU are decorating the common room with her suitemates in Lincoln Tower (#LincolnLife), singing Carmen with friends, and, like many Buckeyes, going to the Xichigan and Penn State football games. The collective, undying school spirit of Ohio State is part of what brought her to Columbus, including the renowned Veterinary School and excitement of a new city. In line with a desire for the unknown, one of Lauryn's biggest bucket list items is to attend the OSU-Xichigan game—in Ann Arbor. She plans to "go all out" for it and see for herself if the rivalry hatred is equal.

Lauryn grew up in a family of musicians, and plays four instruments herself: piano, clarinet, violin, and bassoon, although hesitates on her clarinet abilities nowadays. She loves Lost and Grey's Anatomy, and wants to travel the world someday, aspiring to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef. Like her career goals of attending vet school and working with wildlife, Lauryn's already taken steps toward this dream, aiming to get her scuba diving license within the next year through a class offered by OSU.

Her answer to the most important question to ask any animal sciences major? It's a toss-up: snow leopards are Lauryn's favorite animal for the moment, ever since she bonded with one at the zoo over the summer, but she is potentially adopting a pet hedgehog—or, in layman's terms, a "nocturnal spiky hamster." It's certainly not an easy choice.

By Bri Long, Honors & Scholars Media Team Member


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, Honors & Scholars Media Team Member

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, Honors & Scholars Media Team Member

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 Member

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, Honors & Scholars Media Team Member

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, Honors & Scholars Media Team Member

1 - 10Next