RESEARCH SCHOLARSHIP CR E AT I V E AC T I V I T Y VOLUME 14 :: ISSUE 1
Discovering 24 new hope Patience. Innovation. Serendipity. How new drugs make it from the lab to the pharmacy.
also featured AFTER COAL: CLEANING UP CREEKS JAPANESE WAR BRIDES: CULTURE SHOCK IN THE HEARTLAND
plus THE GRANDMOTHER’S
CURSE AIDS ORPH A N S I N A F R ICA
ECONOMICS & THE E N V I R O N M E N T:
HAPPY TOGETHER? AMERICA’S FASCINATION WITH CRIME AND PUNISHMENT DECONSTRUCTING HUMAN DISEASE
spring / summer
spring / summer
what ’s inside
Physics & Astronomy
M A K I NG THE CONNECTIONS 2009 Distinguished Professor Peter Jung merges physics and biology to paint a picture of the fundamental mechanisms behind human disease
C L I M ATE FOR GROWTH Environmental economist Ariaster Chimeli takes a fresh look at the relationship between climate change and global economic development
EDITOR Andrea Gibson SENIOR DESIGNER AND ILLUSTRATOR Christina Ullman, Ullman Design ASSISTANT DESIGNER Alix Northrup, Ullman Design
T H E G RANDMOTHER’S CURSE Gerontologist Gillian Ice explores the mental and physical stress of caring for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS
INTERN Bridget Peterlin
ADVISORY COMMITTEE Gerardine Botte Associate Professor Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
J A PA N IN THE HEARTLAND New book, documentary offer rare glimpse at Japanese “war brides” Sociology
T H E C ULTURE OF PUNISHMENT Sociologist Michelle Brown explores how popular portrayals of crime and prison mislead the American public
E N V I R ONMENTAL RX Scientists, engineers, and policy experts write the prescription for watersheds polluted by years of coal mining
Terry Eiler Professor and Director School of Visual Communication Karla Hackenmiller Associate Professor Printmaking Steve Reilly Professor Biological Sciences Lynne Lancaster Associate Professor Classics and World Religions
VOLUME 14 :: ISSUE 1
ISSN 1520-4375 Printed on recycled paper.
02 U P F RO N T
:: From the Office of Research |
36 C L A S S AC T
:: Student Research |
0 3 OF NOTE
3 8 AT A GL ANCE
:: Research News Briefs
:: Project snapshot
Discovering 24 new hope Diabetes. Cancer. Superbacteria. How scientists seek treatments and cures.
u p fr o nt
FROM THE OFFICE OF RESEARCH
Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate College
President of Ohio University
rom an undergraduate student studying representations of World War II in French literature to a faculty member
examining global environmental economics, the stories in this issue of Perspectives magazine show the quality and range of research, scholarship, and creative activity underway at Ohio University. Our faculty, staff, and students are recognized nationally and internationally for their work—from science and engineering to the arts and the humanities—and we’re proud to have this opportunity to share their discoveries, innovations, and creations with you. This year has been exciting for Ohio University. In the first few months, the institution marked two major successes in its efforts to translate research discoveries to the marketplace and to foster economic development in Ohio. In January, the Quidel Corporation announced its purchase of Diagnostic Hybrids, Inc., a biotech firm based on Ohio University faculty research. Now a market leader in the development and distribution of cellular and molecular diagnostic kits for detecting a wide range of medical conditions, the company was founded in 1983 by Ohio University alumnus and biomedical entrepreneur Wilfred Konneker in collaboration with former Ohio University professors Joseph Jollick and Thomas Wagner and then-Ohio University President Charles Ping. The company, managed by alumnus David Scholl, recognized $38 million in revenue in 2008 and employs more than 200 people in Athens, Ohio. Ohio University anticipates receipt of $40 million in revenue from the sale. Three other spin-off companies— DiAthegen, Promiliad, and Interthyr—are in the process of creating new biomedical products based on Ohio University inventions. In February, the institution was named the top public university in the state of Ohio for licensing revenue earned from research innovations, according to a survey from the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) that examined fiscal year 2008 licensing
revenue and patent activity at 191 colleges and universities across the United States. Ohio University reported licensing revenue of $5.8 million in fiscal year 2008. In addition, the university is one of the top institutions in the nation for research return on investment, based on its royalty income received per research dollars spent, the study shows. Most of the royalty income stems from a license to the Pfizer corporation for a growth hormone antagonist developed by scientist John Kopchick. The discovery became the basis for the drug Somavert, a treatment for people with acromegaly, a growth hormone disorder that can cause excessive growth of organs and bones in adults and can lead to premature death. Other income comes from transportation and energy technologies in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology. Ohio University’s royalty income has continued to climb since the fiscal year 2008 reporting period. In fiscal year 2009, it reached $6.9 million, and income is expected to top $8 million for 2010. In this issue of Perspectives, we share more stories about the faculty inventors behind these numbers who are actively working to turn basic scientific or engineering discoveries in their laboratories into medical treatments, alternative energy solutions, and new computer software technologies that can make a positive impact on consumers— from here in southeastern Ohio to the farthest reaches of the globe.
ABOUT PERSPECTIVES Perspectives: Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity at Ohio University is published twice a year by the Office of Research Communications, part of the Vice President for Research division. The magazine serves its readers by providing information about the research, scholarly, and creative activities of Ohio University faculty, staff, and students, and about the contributions of university research in general through the publication of accurate and balanced journalistic content that informs, stimulates intellectual discussion, and promotes scholarly inquiry. Text, photographs, and artwork may not be reprinted without written permission from the editor. Contact us for more information about the research program at Ohio University: Vice President for Research 120 Research and Technology Center Athens, OH 45701-2979 Phone: (740) 593-0370 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.ohio.edu/research Comments and queries regarding editorial content should be addressed to Editor, Perspectives magazine: Phone: (740) 597-2166 E-mail: email@example.com
RESEARCH NEWS BRIEFS
: : P S YC H O LO G Y | by Br i dget Peterlin
I M P ROV I N G
Program could help kids with ADHD stay in school Children with serious ADHD are at strong risk for delinquency and substance abuse and have a high rate of failing or dropping out of school. Many don’t receive assistance for their problems, and interventions provided—such as extra time on tests or teacher assistance with assignments—vary considerably across schools. “These well-intended services do very little to help most students, and in fact may make them worse in the long run,” says Ohio University Professor of Psychology Steven Evans. Funded by two federal grants totaling more than $3 million, Evans is testing whether a new five-year program geared at middle-school students, the Challenging Horizons Program, can address the academic and social challenges faced by young people with ADHD. Evans and partners at the University of Cincinnati have enrolled about 310 middle-school students at sites in Athens, Logan, Lancaster, and Cincinnati. The students attend an after-school program, receive in-school counseling and special
attention from teachers and advisors, or serve as part of the control group, which receives no special care. The program, which includes participation by parents, focuses on boosting academic skills such as organizing materials, completing assignments, and improving study skills and note taking, as well as social skills such as interpreting social cues, acknowledging others’ perceptions of their own behavior, and modifying behavior, Evans says. Findings from the initial stages of the research suggest that the program can help high-school and middle-school age students avoid the common pitfall of academic decline in the second semester. In a paper published in the journal School Psychology Review, the research team reported that the Challenging Horizons Program significantly reduced the failure rate
in a sample group of 79 students in grades 6 and 7. “It is unrealistic to say that these students are going to drastically improve their performance,” Evans says. “What we are trying to do is eliminate the crash, the point at which the student fails.” The team’s earlier studies also have shown that the program can help the students get along better with peers and adults, and can reduce the need for stimulant medication.
EMERGENCY C O M M U N I C AT I ON M U S I C B E AT S
M AT H
ANXIETY GEOGRAPHERS PREDICT CLIMATE CHANGE IMPROVING SPEECH UNDERSTANDING ERGONOMICS FOR THE ELDERLY FATE OF GREEN COMMUNITIES
“It is unrealistic to say that these students are going to drastically improve their performance. What we are trying to do is eliminate the crash, the point at which the student fails.” S T EV E N EVA N S professor of psychology
RESEARCH NEWS BRIEFS
:: ENGINEERING | by Meghan Holohan
Can you hear me now? Engineers put emergency communication channels to the test
or those in the communications industry, it’s no surprise when technology failures occur during massive natural disasters such
as Hurricane Katrina or the earthquake in Haiti. There hasn’t been any rigorous testing of channels dedicated to emergency communications.
To help address the problem, David Matolak, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Ohio University, and two of his graduate students, Qiong Wu and Qian Zhang, worked with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) last summer to examine several wireless channels designated for emergency communication. “We’re hoping we can help develop the infrastructure to help emergency service personnel respond to the events, no matter the cause,” Matolak says. Certain frequency bands (at 470, 750, 900, 1800, and 4900 MHz) are dedicated to emergency communication, allowing firefighters, police officers, and paramedics to talk or send data or video without interruption. Too many users on a system can lead to dropped or blocked calls. Cell phone companies constantly test and retest their signals and channels, but this isn’t the case for emergency channels. Working out of NIST’s Boulder, Colorado, field office, Matolak and his students measured the characteristics of wireless communication channels. The team set up a mobile transmitter cart in several locations, such as busy street corners in downtown Denver, in open spaces, and in buildings. The cart transmitted a signal, and the researchers recorded its characteristics with a companion receiver. The team looked for strong
ILLUSTRATION: CHRISTINA ULLMAN
“We’re hoping we can develop the infrastructure to help emergency personnel respond to the events, no matter the cause.” DAVID MATOL AK professor of electrical engineering and computer science
channels or signs of distortion, which can occur in urban areas when signals bounce off buildings or vehicles. Though emergency communication radios use signals from towers much like broadcast stations and cell phones, those towers are often close to their organization headquarters in downtown areas and at lower heights. The channel characteristics of the emergency communication frequency bands were often worse, the team found, “because the antennas are not elevated and cannot transmit with lots of power,” Matolak says. Matolak and his colleagues used their findings to construct channel models for manufacturers or researchers to test other equipment and signals. One industry group dedicated to advancing consumer third-generation wireless communication already has expressed interest in the technology.
OHIO UNIVERSITY STUDENTS showed off their ingenuity and innovation at the 2010 Student Research and Creative Activity Expo in May.
:: GEOGRAPHY | by Andrea Gibson
Ready for climate change
GIS to help East African communities vulnerable to drought
Ohio University geographer Elizabeth Wangui conducts field work in the Maasai community in northern Tanzania.
Environmental experts fear that climate change could have a devastating impact on agricultural and pastoral communities in East Africa vulnerable to drought. A new project led by Ohio University uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS), a computer system that analyzes geographic information and creates maps, and the local knowledge of these rural societies to assess future climate stresses and determine ways communities can adapt. With a grant from the National Science Foundation, geographers will work with community organizations and local government entities in northern Tanzania this summer to use the latest mapping technologies and develop a GIS for integrating field data and climate change projections. Field work will include a household survey and collaboration with communitybased organizations that deal with climate-sensitive aspects of rural life and development, such as soil/water conservation groups
and beekeeping associations. The geographers also will work with communities to track changes in land use and management of resources. “Not only does this create layers of information that can help us to understand what’s going on, but it can further mobilize critical thinking within the community,” says project lead Tom Smucker, a visiting assistant professor of geography and director of the International Development Studies Program at Ohio University. The researchers want to avoid the pitfalls of many past development projects in Africa in which outside experts have implemented unsustainable or inappropriate projects for local communities, he says. The project ultimately will result in maps communities can use to document and plan for climate change impacts.
“Not only does this create layers of information that can help us to understand what’s going on, but it can further mobilize critical thinking within the community.” T O M S M U C K E R , visiting assistant professor of geography and director of the International Development Studies Program at Ohio University
RESEARCH NEWS BRIEFS
: : M U S I C , E D U C AT I O N | by Karen Sottosanti
Playing the numbers Music beats math anxiety, studies find
mother sings and pats her baby’s back in time to a lullaby. She might not know it, but this is her
baby’s first experience of patterning, a mathematical concept linked to more advanced math such as algebra. Research by Ohio University professors Gene and Kamile Geist suggests that music can help children to interact with their world mathematically from a very early age. “The patterns within different rhythms and melody lines enhance an infant’s level of awareness and promote active engagement immediately.” KAMILE GEIST assistant professor of music therapy
ILLUSTRATION: ALIX NORTHRUP
“Creating and reacting to a steady beat is innate,” says Kamile Geist, an assistant professor of music therapy. “The patterns within different rhythms and melody lines enhance an infant’s level of awareness and promote active engagement immediately.” Most teaching aids for patterns are visual, says Gene Geist, an associate professor of early childhood education, but “auditory patterning is easier for young children to grasp.” In one study at the Ohio University Child Development Center, the Geists used a song to teach 3- and 4-yearold children about color patterns. The children liked the song and were heard to spontaneously sing it days later. The kids also were able to explain the patterning concepts taught by the song. Research by the Geists also has found that, due to the way schools have for many years taught math— repetition of tables, timed tests— many Americans see math as boring, anxiety-inducing, and unconnected to real life. The Geists hope to change these perceptions when they begin to assess “math anxiety” in the parents and teachers of children
attending Head Start schools. The study will include training meant to counteract many teachers’ reluctance to teach math, which could help keep children from inheriting negative attitudes about the subject. In an early study with students in the Ohio University Early Childhood Education program, the Head Start teachers and students discovered that kids 3 to 5 years old liked best the math activities that included music. The teachers became more eager to teach math in the classroom as a result. The Geists’ training program, MathSTAAR, also aims to teach parents how to support math education at home, including musical techniques to do just that, say the researchers, who are now seeking funding for the project. The end goal of the Geists’ studies is to help American parents realize the importance of math. “Thirty years ago, there was a similar problem with reading,” Gene Geist says. “That became a big national concern. Now there are programs that teach parents to read to their kids. We are hoping math will go the same way.”
FYI :: H E A R I N G , S PE E C H , L A N GUAGE S C I E N C E S | by Me g h a n Holohan
Listen up Improving hearing aid technologies
Most people associate hearing loss with an inability to hear soft sounds. But the condition also can create distortion, which makes it tough for someone to understand group discussions or conversations in a crowd. Ohio University researcher Jeff DiGiovanni has been working to overcome these problems and improve hearing aid technology by testing two audiology concepts in his lab. One theory, “spectral enhancement,” which makes vowel sounds and certain consonants more distinct, hadn’t been tested until DiGiovanni took a look. His research validated the theory, and he’s now suggesting ways in which hearing aid manufacturers could best use this algorithm to enhance their products. DiGiovanni and his colleagues also have been exploring a concept called “clear speech,” the slow, deliberate enunciation of words. People often use clear speech when they talk to those who seem hard of hearing or who are not native English speakers. “Everyone actually does this the same way, and they are a lot more intelligible, about 25 percent
PAIRS OF MOLECULES make up the world’s smallest superconductor, created by Ohio University scientists.
“We reviewed existing literature and developed a way to convert normally spoken speech to ‘clear speech.’” JEFF DIGIOVANNI associate professor of hearing, speech, and language sciences
more so,” explains DiGiovanni, an associate professor of hearing, speech, and language sciences. “To me that was pretty striking, so we reviewed existing literature and developed a way to convert normally spoken speech to ‘clear speech.’” DiGiovanni’s lab tested two qualities of clear speech, increased consonant duration and consonant amplification, which amounts to slower and louder enunciation. The researcher found that clear speech improves speech understanding for both people with hearing loss and those without. However, there’s a point at which too much consonant duration and consonant amplification negatively affects hearing. By isolating the differences between clear speech and normal conversational speech, DiGiovanni
hopes to create better technology. In addition to his lab work, DiGiovanni has published a second edition of The Hearing Aid Handbook, which he describes as the equivalent to the Physicians’ Desk Reference. The guide, aimed at audiologists, hearing professionals, professors, and audiology students, includes profiles of hearing-aid manufacturers, specifications, and features about hearing aids currently on the market. The researcher hopes to someday write a manual to help consumers maneuver the process of purchasing a hearing aid. “There is a huge disconnect between what information is available,” he says, “and the consumer’s access to it.”
ILLUSTRATION: CHRISTINA ULLMAN
RESEARCH NEWS BRIEFS
: : E N G I N E E R I N G | by K a ren Sottosanti
Adapting with age
Ergonomics can improve the lives of older people at work, home Diana Schwerha knows that people think ergonomics is just about correct posture, but it’s a lot more than that, she says. It’s all about the compatibility between job demands and an individual’s abilities, reducing the risk of injury, improving worker performance, and increasing employee satisfaction, says Schwerha, an assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering at Ohio University. Schwerha studies how ergonomics can be used to improve working conditions for older workers and retaining older workers on the job. Older workers are perceived as being short-timers, and aren’t given the same training opportunities as younger workers, she says. But studies have shown that people’s cognitive abilities don’t deteriorate significantly until they are beyond traditional retirement ages. Older workers are valuable because they are the institutional memory of any organization, she says, and they also can be more efficient than younger workers. Schwerha and colleagues recently conducted a study that found that older workers were less likely than younger ones to leave their jobs, mainly because they like their jobs.
However, being short-staffed and having to endure time pressures, stress, and loss of control made older workers more likely to quit. In order to retain older workers, employers need to provide adequate staffing and flexible scheduling, reduce excessive time demands, and look at physical ergonomics issues, such as providing better lighting or redesigning physically demanding jobs, Schwerha says. Schwerha also is exploring the concept of “aging in place,” or helping older people live independently at home. Her new study examines the age-related changes in the musculoskeletal system that affect balance. “Part of ergonomics is modifying the home to adapt to older people’s changing abilities, such as designing bathrooms so they can safely function there without falls,” she says. But ergonomics also seeks to ensure that systems, such as transportation and communication, are in place to facilitate overall health. “If they lose the ability to drive, all of a sudden their contacts get cut off. They need to remain social so they don’t get depressed,” Schwerha says.
Some reports suggest that nursing home care is 2.3 times as expensive as home-based health care, she says, so making it possible for older people to stay in their homes “would be a huge cost savings for the state. Hundreds of millions of dollars a year, potentially,” adds Schwerha, who also would like to create new technology products for older people in the future.
“Part of ergonomics is modifying the home to adapt to older people’s changing abilities, such as designing bathrooms so they can safely function there without falls.” D I A N A S C H W E R H A , assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering at Ohio University
MILES OF STREAMS RECLAIMED Since the 1980s, the Voinovich School’s research and technical assistance has led to almost $12 million in mine land reclamation work, reducing sulfuric acid stream leaching by 4,700 lbs per day.
:: G E O G R A PH Y | by Ma r y Reed
Communities of hope Geographer Ted Bernard follows the fate of environmentally sustainable communities across America
hen geographer Ted Bernard co-wrote The Ecology of Hope in 1997, he visited nine commu-
nities throughout the United States in search of stories of sustainable resource management. Thirteen years later, Bernard has revisited these sites and recorded each community’s progress. The result is his new book, Hope and Hard Times (New Society, 2010).
“I very much like the idea of sustainability as resilience.” TED BERNARD professor of environmental studies
“What tied the groups together was the formation of these alternative ways of dealing with problems, which has come to be known since then as collaborative community-based conservation,” Bernard says. When the first book was published, he adds, “Conservation outcomes, while promising, were still unknown.” Upon returning to these disparate communities over the past few years, Bernard, a professor of environmental studies at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, discovered varying degrees of success. For example, in California’s Mattole Valley, former adversaries— environmentalists, loggers, fishers, millworkers, ranchers—have come together to successfully stabilize salmon runs in the watershed. In southeast Ohio’s Monday Creek watershed, much of the technical cleanup of streams polluted by acid mine drainage from abandoned coal mines has proven so successful as to have provided a model for cleanup of similar streams throughout the Eastern Coal Lands. Yet it has had no noticeable effect on the serious poverty and declining human population that plague the surrounding area. Other groups, such as residents of Virginia’s eastern shore, where development has occurred at a rapid pace, have retained little or none of the enthusiasm or infrastructure for sustainable development that existed in the mid 1990s. “Each (case study) has some lessons about how hard this quest for sustainability at the community level is,” Bernard says. Even the word sustainability, as it has gained purchase in the mainstream lexicon, has come to mean different things to different people. “I very much like the idea of sustainability as resilience,” Bernard says, reflecting on what is perhaps the most telling information gleaned from his research. “Sustainability is largely
about human-ecological systems being able to withstand the ebbs and flows that are inevitably part of living on this planet and to learn from this experience.” The framework Bernard has created to describe resilient communities is broken down into two areas: human/social markers and ecological markers. The human/social markers include organizational adaptability and renewal. An example of this ability to adapt and reorganize— to be resilient—is Wisconsin’s Menominee Indian Reservation, where a century of sustainable timber harvesting was threatened by a devastating tornado in 2007. In the end, Bernard writes, the tribe adapted efficiently to this crisis and the forest is more sustainably managed than ever. Ecological markers of a resilient community include maintaining ecosystem function and setting limits. For example, Maine’s Monhegan Island had to learn to set limits on lobster harvests as well as sewage threatening their inshore waters. The markers Bernard and his co-author, Jora Young, came up with based on the original case studies turned into “a cluster of benchmarks that we found explanatory at the beginning and that people still make reference to in voicing their experience in these past 10 or 15 years,” he says. These include the importance of collaborative leaders and non-leaders, use of consensus decision making, the ability to attract capital, tenacity, and the importance of celebrating a sense of place and accomplishments along the way. Bernard says he hopes this book will put a human face on each of these stories of community sustainability efforts, and to showcase the hopeful side of the struggle. “Not one of these stories has come to its last chapter,” he adds. “They’re all still going.” Editor’s note: Read more about Bernard and Monday Creek on page 30. ILLUSTRATION: CHRISTINA ULLMAN
makin g the
CONNECTIONS 2009 DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR PETER JUNG MERGES PHYSICS AND BIOLOGY TO PAINT A PICTURE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL MECHANISMS BEHIND HUMAN DISEASE
PHYSICS :: ASTRONOMY
by WENDA WILLIAM S O N
It makes flowers bloom and hearts beat.
IN FACT, IT’S A UNIVERS A L P H Y S I O L O G I C A L PROCESS SHARED B Y A L L L I F E F O R M S .
That’s why Peter Jung, Ohio University’s 2009 Distinguished Professor, is passionate about calcium signaling. Unlock the secrets behind this and other molecular mechanisms, and scientists not only will understand this basic function in nature, but potentially could apply that knowledge to understanding many human diseases and pathological conditions. Jung, for his part, is attracted to answering fundamental questions. “I don’t have the ultimate answer or holy grail—I’m not trying to understand how life came about,” he says. “To me, a good scientific problem to work on is everything. I just like to know how stuff works.” Jung, who grew up in a small town in Germany, became interested in science around age 12, when he got a small kit with which to build radios and electric motors. He constructed other devices using scavenged electronic parts. “It was something fun to do,” he recalls. Jung’s specialty is biophysics, which is what makes his approach to finding out “how stuff works” different. In this highly interdisciplinary field, scientists try to understand the physical mechanisms underlying biologic systems. Physics provides a framework that can be used to study anything material, living or non-living, from climate change and musical compositions to the patterns of brain waves during an epileptic seizure. Understanding how the structure and shape of things relate to biological function is Jung’s main area of interest. His recent work focuses on two distinct processes: calcium signaling and axonal transport. “I’m interested in how the different parts of the system interact and regulate each other as part of an overall system,” he says. In one line of research, Jung and colleagues examine how ion channels, which communicate information in the cell, impact calcium signaling. The scientists study this issue in astrocytes, a type of brain cell, and egg cells, which emit the massive calcium signal upon fertilization that starts life. The team has discovered, for example, that certain arrangements of ion channels lead to different
types of calcium signals, and that, in addition, the channels must be clustered together for certain biological processes to occur. Unlocking the relationship between form and function also drives another important line of work for Jung and his colleagues, who are exploring how the structure of neuronal axons— which come in an incredible variety of shapes and sizes—affects the conduction of electrochemical signals. The size and shape of the axons, which make up the nerves in our bodies, are delicately regulated to conduct the signals from the nucleus to the next neuron. But scientists don’t yet know how this regulation occurs. To solve the mystery, researchers are looking at neurofilaments, which determine the thickness of the axon. When the neurofilaments move fast, the axon is thin. If they slow down, the axon becomes fat. If the neurofilaments slow down too much, however, they can stop moving and accumulate in a “log jam.” The axon swells and stops working,
which is the root cause of ailments such as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Discovering these pauses in activity was a big surprise, because no one had even suspected that it was a possibility, says Anthony Brown, an Ohio State University biologist and former Ohio University researcher who collaborates with Jung on the work. “The discovery came as the result of computer modeling to simulate the movement of the neurofilaments, which led to the speculation that there were long periods of inactivity,” Brown explains. “Subsequent experiments showed that such periods of inactivity did indeed exist.” The discovery is important because it can help other scientists understand how and why neurofilaments accumulate and lead to human disease. The team’s success reflects the benefits of interdisciplinary research and education. Because there is great demand for scientists who can think about biology and other subjects with computational skills, Jung co-founded Ohio University’s Quantitative Biology Institute, a research institute that fosters such interdisciplinary work among biologists, physicists, and mathematicians. “In the future there won’t be a physicist and a biologist working on a problem,” he says, “there will be a group of scientists with different backgrounds working to solve a problem.” Regarding his own achievements, however, Jung remains modest. “There are lots of people doing excellent work here at Ohio University. I was just lucky. I picked good problems to study. I think a key to success is to think out of the box and take risks versus following current trends. When I arrived at Ohio University, I was advised by colleagues that ‘you cannot work with biologists.’ Well,” Jung says with a mischievous grin, “I did.”
“I think a key to success is to think out of the box and take risks versus following current trends.” P E T E R J U N G , 2009 Distinguished Professor
PHOTO: KEVIN RIDDELL
C L I M AT E
fo r g r o w t h
ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMIST ARIASTER CHIMELI TAKES A FRESH LOOK AT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CLIMATE CHANGE AND GLOBAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
ILLUSTRATION: ALIX NORTHRUP
by MARY REED
s Ohio University environmental economist Ariaster Chimeli sits down to discuss his work, it’s the final day of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. While world leaders try to hash out an agreement that will encourage developed and developing nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, economists such as Chimeli all over the globe inform the debate through their research. “Climate systems are so complex, we don’t understand them that well, and we’re talking about very long time spans,” Chimeli says, reflecting on the conference. “It makes sense to understand what’s happening right now.” Chimeli is doing just that through his research on the linkages between economic growth and environmental quality in developing nations. Much of his contributions to the field surround theoretical papers he has written connecting environmental quality and economic growth. For example, in the early 1990s, new empirical evidence showed that pollution increases as income per capita (a measure of economic development) rises. The pollution peaks and then—for some pollutants such as sulfur dioxide— actually starts to decrease. Sulfur dioxide is one of the key ingredients in acid rain. In the 1990s, pollution was increasing. “That’s when people started paying attention to solutions coming from economics,” Chimeli says. “That’s when we had the cap and trade system apply to (sulfur dioxide) emissions.” Some people jumped into the debate, arguing that the best way to deal with pollution is to let economies grow. Not so fast, Chimeli says, because this assumes that every economy is the same. Studies on countries where there is reliable, long-term data—the United States, Germany, and Japan—suggest that when income grows, pollution eventually decreases for some pollutants, but analysis of other countries shows that this isn’t always the case. Chimeli’s research tries to explain these findings by examining the specific issues in each nation.
“We cannot look at a cross-section of countries at one point in time and say we can recover the relationship between economic growth and environmental quality,” Chimeli says, adding that his papers are an invitation to another generation of empirical research. Theoretical economics helps move the broader field forward in ways that empirical evidence cannot. “The world cannot be described by a simple set of mathematical equations,” he says, “but if you have a very good theory, the world behaves as if guided by that theory.” Chimeli’s empirical work is adding to the literature on economics and development as well. Much of his work focuses on his native Brazil, where Chimeli was a student in the late 1980s and early 1990s. “Everybody was studying inflation and macroeconomics because the country was going through inflation,” he says. “I wanted to do something different.” Working for a cousin’s consulting firm inspired him to study economics and development, and he eventually wrote an undergraduate thesis on water pollution in a Brazilian state. The thesis won a state and a national prize, which set Chimeli on his path to a Ph.D. in economics and a postdoctoral appointment at Columbia University’s International Research Institute on Climate and Society. His latest work as an associate professor of economics at Ohio University is a paper in the journal Land Economics. It looks at what happened to the mahogany market in Brazil after the government reduced and then prohibited the extraction of mahogany, the highly valued wood tree that is at risk of extinction.
“We cannot look at a cross-section of countries at one point in time and say we can recover the relationship between economic growth and environmental quality.” ARIASTER CHIMELI associate professor of economics
“When there is a prohibition—say, alcohol—you know there is going to be an illegal market, but you hope there is going to be a greater cost to production,” Chimeli says, giving a few examples of these costs: potential jail time, fines, bribes, violence. Policymakers intend that these additional costs eventually will increase prices and lead to less consumption of the illegal goods. “There is another side of the coin,” he continues, “which is that when you prohibit a market, those who go underground don’t have to pay taxes, they don’t have to pay attention to quality control, they don’t have to pay attention to safety.” But in the case of most illegal markets, like illegal drug markets, economists simply don’t have the data to accurately measure the effects of prohibition. Brazilian mahogany, however, gave Chimeli a rare opportunity. In data from a Brazilian government website that collects export figures, he was able to find what economists refer to as a structural break—a major change in a time series caused by an external factor. In March 1999, the Brazilian government canceled 85 percent of all mahogany licenses in the country—that’s the abrupt external factor. Within five months, exports of “other tropical species” had increased 1,800 percent. “It goes from zero to volumes that were comparable with previous productions of mahogany,” Chimeli says. It turns out that prohibition did not reduce the amount of mahogany being cut and exported (it was simply renamed), and it was now not even subject to regulation. Price and quantity before prohibition and after prohibition suggest lower cost to the loggers for illegally extracting the species. “A successful policy would have resulted in a price increase,” Chimeli notes. In an earlier study, Chimeli examined the correlation between climate variability and economic impacts. Specifically, climate scientists have become more adept at predicting climate patterns related to ocean temperatures and currents, like that of northeast Brazil—El Niño years are correlated with drought in a region that produces corn. Based on the climate data, Chimeli explains, “we were able to do a reasonable job of doing predictions on the market for rain-fed corn in Brazil.” This, in turn, was highly correlated with monetary transfers from the federal government to the state for aid to farmers. “The government was responding after the fact,” Chimeli says. “Whenever that happens, there is room for wasting (and) room for corruption.” Chimeli says that if the government could use climate predictions to budget payments to the state proactively instead of reactively, some corruption and waste could be avoided. In the end, when it comes to the environment and economic development, as with climate change and carbon emissions (“That is exactly the tragedy of the commons because the atmosphere belongs to everyone and no one,” he notes.), economists generally do not make policy, but they inform it. “Sometimes our policies have good intentions,” Chimeli says, but “good intentions can be counterproductive.”
by S T E P H A NIE DUTCHEN
enya hasn’t escaped the ravages of HIV/AIDS. The country’s middle generation is being wiped out, leaving behind more
GERONTOLOGIST GILLIAN ICE EXPLORES THE MENTAL AND PHYSICAL STRESS OF CARING FOR CHILDREN ORPHANED BY HIV/AIDS
than one million orphaned children. The vast majority of these orphans are taken in by their grandparents, who often have just lost their main source of economic support along with their adult children. The resulting physical, emotional, and financial burden on the elderly is so pervasive that the pandemic has been nicknamed the “grandmother’s curse.” Below: A traditional African AIDS badge. At right: Grandparents often must deal with the burden of caring for numerous orphaned grandchildren.
Since 2002, Ohio University gerontologist Gillian Ice has studied the mental and physical stress that caregiving places on Kenyan grandparents. Her latest findings, based on a five-year study of more than 600 elders, could improve intervention strategies and provide insight into human aging, not only in Africa but around the world. Ice conducts her research in Nyanza Province in the west of Kenya, largely populated by the agricultural Luo people. With 30 percent to 39 percent of adults infected, the area has one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in Africa. “The first time I went there, there was a lady about 96 years old who was taking care of eight orphans. I wondered how she even walked,” says Ice, an associate professor of social medicine in the College of Osteopathic Medicine. That 96-year-old woman was not an anomaly. Ice and her research team soon found other elders in similar situations. Grace lives with seven grandchildren in a one-room, grassthatched hut that leaks during the rainy season. Although the kids attend school and assist with household chores, they never know for sure where the next meal will come from. Leopadus, 84, cares for 13 orphaned grandchildren in a 40-year-old hut with large structural cracks. He hopes that one of his grandchildren will find employment soon so he or she can take care of the siblings when he’s gone. Grace and Leopadus are just two of many elders involved in Ice’s Kenyan Grandparents Study, which followed 611 people in 18 villages from 2005 to 2009. All were over the age of 60 and had one or more orphaned grandchildren. Half were the primary providers for at least one grandchild, and half were not. Ice and her team assessed the grandparents’ physical and mental health as well as their perceptions of their health. The team tested for clinical signs of chronic stress such as high body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, and blood sugar. They also interviewed the elders in their native language using a questionnaire that asked about their general mental health, socioeconomic status, pain, energy levels, and the burdens they felt when performing various physical and social activities. When Ice conducted a pilot study in 2002 and a larger follow-up study in 2003, she found that caregivers had poorer health than non-caregivers, and that men and women were affected differently. This supported common beliefs that caregiving stress was wearing down the elderly, and that as secondary citizens in a patriarchal society, women were bearing the brunt of it. So Ice was surprised when the new study found that caregiving did not affect the grandparents’ physical health, although it still tended to lower their mental health and perceived health. “We were really puzzled,” says Ice, whose research has been funded by the National Science Foundation. “When I present these results, no one can quite believe it. The results are so unexpected.” Those who have been doing similar epidemiological work in places such as Thailand, Tanzania, and Brazil are less surprised by her
“These people are survivors. What enables them to survive?” GILLIAN ICE associate professor of social medicine
findings, she says. Researchers there are learning that elders are more resilient than people give them credit for. Part of it might be acclimation, says Ice. Some caregivers are stressed when they first take over child care but adjust over time. Some get relief when older grandchildren help with the younger ones, or have fewer mouths to feed when their adult children pass away. Others may welcome the help with physically demanding chores, such as collecting firewood, fetching water, cooking, and cleaning. Ice wonders if Luo elders may also compensate for their burdens by seeking support in social groups, leasing land, or taking advantage of charities. For still others, caregiving may simply pale in comparison to other stresses. One reason these kinds of findings haven’t surfaced earlier is that most of the work done on elderly caregivers has been qualitative, focusing on individual stories of hardship instead of conducting controlled studies of large groups over many years, says Ice, who has published her work in journals such as the Journal of Cross Cultural Gerontology and Research on Aging. In addition, a lot of the research has taken place in the United States and other developed nations, where different cultures can have different effects on stress levels. In the United States, for instance, where HIV/AIDS rates are comparatively low, grandparents often become caregivers because their adult children are in prison or struggling with drug addiction. “The parents are still alive, and might be adding stress by coming in and out of their lives and dealing with custody issues,” says Ice. In Kenya, many elders live in communities where they already share in caregiving, whereas older people in the United States are more likely to be isolated and unprepared to care for others. As for why the new study’s results contradict the earlier ones, Ice points to several factors. In the pilot studies, the research team relied on the subjects’ own self-assessment of whether they were the primary caregivers. In the later study, the team determined this through a detailed household demography. In addition, community changes may have impacted the nature of caregiver stress, she says. In 2005, primary school became free, and there appeared to be differences in agricultural production over time. The research team also focused on a small area during the first two years but later worked with a much greater number of communities.
For future studies, Ice is looking into refining the definition of “caregiver” and asking more detailed questions about the division of labor in households, down to who dresses the children and offers emotional support. What she finds—and what she and others have already found—could influence policy decisions in Kenya and other nations hit hard by HIV/AIDS, by helping organizations send the right resources to the right people. “We are just beginning to understand the impact,” says Ice. The good news is that elderly caregivers may not be in as dire straits as people suspected. “People were really worried about them,” she says. That’s because “everyone assumed elders didn’t have the capacity” to take on child-rearing, she says. Now, she wants to uncover the “resilience factors” that allow some elders to adapt to caretaking more easily than others. “It probably involves the resources they have— such as the social groups, the very strong units of support women have for finances and food—and the way they perceive the world. Some find great satisfaction in caretaking,” she says. She also plans to examine whether certain demographic structures help households cope better. A gerontologist at heart, Ice is broadening her research into aging and adaptability around the world. “These people are survivors. What enables them to survive?” she asks. “Is the set of characteristics in Kenya similar to the United States?” While she looks for answers, Ice is witness to the personal journeys of the students she takes to Nyanza Province. “You see the medical students experience medicine practiced a different way. You see all the students adjust to seeing so many people who are ill,” she says. “It’s a struggle I go through every time I go.” To give back to the community, Ice started the Kenyan Children’s Fund. Her students raise money to buy school uniforms for Nyanza’s youth. Despite the difficulties, she says, “I really enjoy being there. It’s great to get to know the country and the people.” She’s comfortable enough to bring her children now. “Before I had my son, the women were suspicious of me,” she says. It wasn’t until she had her four-year-old and 19-month-old in tow that the Luo grandmothers truly trusted her. Though separated by culture, geography, and a generation, perhaps they respected a fellow caregiver.
NEW BOOK, DOCUMENTARY OFFER RARE GLIMPSE AT JAPANESE “WAR BRIDES” .16
by KAREN SOTTOSAN T I
In her new book, Japanese War Brides in America: An Oral History (Praeger Publishers), Ohio University scholar Miki Ward Crawford details the courtship and eventual marriage of her parents, Fumiko Tomita and Louis Ward. Her parents’ story is part of a collection of narratives about Japanese women who married American servicemen at the close of World War II and then emigrated to the United States. Crawford and her co-authors, Katie Kaori Hayashi and Shizuko Suenaga, interviewed 19 “war brides” for this rare glimpse into the lives of women whose stories do not appear in most histories of that time period. “You seldom see these stories anywhere; you seldom hear about them,” says Crawford, an associate professor of communication studies at Ohio University’s Southern Campus in Ironton. “I think that these women are just amazing. Because they loved someone, they defied their culture, and some of them defied their families. They were really pioneers of their time.” From 1947 through 1965, Crawford says, about 50,000 Japanese war brides emigrated to the United States. However, the number of marriages might be as high as 100,000, because some U.S. servicemen opted to stay in Japan with their wives, and some marriages were not officially recognized by either Japan or the United States. Crawford’s mother, Fumiko Tomita, met Corporal Louis Ward during the Allied Forces’ occupation of Japan during the post-war period. At the time, Fumiko was working at a military PX (Post Exchange) for American soldiers stationed in Sapporo. Fumiko and Louis often went on dates at a dance hall. On October 12, 1947, they were married by an American preacher in Hachinohe.
Her parents’ meeting was typical of many such couples, Crawford says. In Japan before WWII, women usually did not work outside the home, and they were considered inferior to men. But conditions were different after the war. “Japan was totally annihilated,” Crawford says. “Many of the cities were 50 percent destroyed. The culture was in flux.” Many men had been killed in the war, and women outnumbered the survivors. “It was hard to find a family that was not affected,” Crawford says. More Japanese women had to work outside the home in order to support what was left of their families, and many of them found jobs working for the occupational forces, which included 500,000 American GIs. The women met the Americans at their workplaces and, despite language barriers, romances bloomed. Crawford knows that it might be hard to understand why Japanese women—including some survivors of the nuclear bombs the United States dropped on Japan—would marry men who had helped to conquer their country. “I truly give credit to (General Douglas) MacArthur, the way he handled the occupation (and reconstruction),” Crawford says. “He tried to set it up so that the Japanese people would see the Americans in a more humane way.” The Japanese people had expected the Americans to rape and pillage, but instead they brought food, jobs, and democracy. “The women often saw the (American) men as very kind, as conquering heroes,” Crawford says. However, the new couples often faced disapproval from their families and prejudice from society at large. “The Japanese did not believe in interracial marriages,” Crawford notes, adding that some war brides were disowned by their families. Some of the WAR BRIDES IMAGES: COURTESY OF MIKI WARD CRAWFORD
Some of the women became stay-at-home mothers, while others pursued an education and a career, “some out of necessity, and some out of desire.”
servicemen’s families tried to block their marriages, Crawford says, while others treated the war brides coldly. The U.S. and Japanese governments also made it “very difficult” to marry, Crawford says, and the process could take a year or more. (Crawford’s parents had to go through another marriage ceremony, in West Virginia, before their marriage was recognized in the United States.) If the couples did manage to marry, they then had to navigate U.S. immigration laws, which prevented Asians from entering the country. Before 1952, only about 800 Japanese war brides were legally allowed into the United States. In fact, Crawford’s father Louis had to lobby his congressman for a year to get a special law passed that allowed only Fumiko and their son, Erio (Eddie), to come to America in 1950. It was not until 1952 that Congress eased immigration restrictions, and thousands of Japanese war brides were finally able to emigrate. Once in the United States, war brides had to adjust to a new culture. They left behind their own language, food, traditions, and sometimes even their Buddhist or Shinto religion. Some women had learned about American culture in “bride schools” run by the Red Cross in Japan, but “many of them had to rely totally on their husbands,” Crawford says. The war brides often had to work hard to overcome prejudice and to gain their neighbors’ friendship. For instance, Crawford’s parents threw a big party every year on New Year’s Eve—their American wedding anniversary—and Fumiko cooked Japanese food and talked with her neighbors all night long. Some war brides found others like them nearby; organizations such as the Nikkei International Marriage Friendship Society— founded by war bride Kazuko Umezu Stout— helped provide support. Crawford says that the war brides’ lives were as varied as those of other American women: “I don’t think you can say that there is one Japanese war bride experience,” she says. Some
of the women became stay-at-home mothers, while others pursued an education and a career, “some out of necessity, and some out of desire.” For instance, she says, after war bride Katsu Hall and her husband separated and then divorced, Katsu struggled for years to raise her three children on little money before she was able to attend college and become a registered nurse. On the other side of the equation is war bride Miwako Cleve, married for 50 years to a man she loves deeply, who began working just to make extra money but eventually became a respected clothes designer. Most of the brides say that if they were given a “do-over,” they would still choose the same path in life, Crawford says. As Crawford conducted research for Japanese War Brides in America, her mother Fumiko went with her to interviews and helped the war brides feel more at ease. Crawford says that in the past, many war brides did not want to talk about their lives. However, “these women are getting older and are ready to give up their stories now,” she says. “The sad part is we’re getting up into the ages that we’re losing them.” In October 2009, Crawford traveled to the Japanese Overseas Migration Museum in Yokohama, Japan, with a group of war brides who viewed an exhibit there on the
migration of Japanese war brides to the United States. Two Southern Campus staff and faculty members went with them to film a documentary about the trip—Don Moore, assistant professor in electronic media, and Brad Bear, special projects producer. Crawford says she thinks the documentary, which will be complete in mid-2010, would be a good fit for PBS or the History Channel. “We hope (the documentary) will be picked up, because there isn’t anything like this out there,” she says. Crawford intends to continue her research into the lives of Japanese war brides. She gathered additional interviews on her recent trip and hopes to write another book about their life stories. She is also considering writing a book about the experiences of Japanese war brides’ children, who had to merge two cultures in their personal identities. Crawford believes that the war brides and their children did essential work in breaking down anti-Japanese prejudice. “They helped change attitudes in the United States,” she says. “The empress of Japan once said that ‘the war brides were ambassadors for Japan.’”
American serviceman Louis Ward, left, had to lobby his congressman for a year to allow his wife Fumiko Tomita and their son Erio to come to America in 1950. Once in the United States, many couples thrived. Miwako Cleve, far right, became a respected clothing designer.
SOCIOLOGIST MICHELLE BROWN EXPLORES HOW POPULAR PORTRAYALS OF CRIME AND PRISON MISLEAD THE AMERICAN PUBLIC
EXPLORE SCENES OF AMERICAN PRISONS IN
by M E G H AN HOLOHAN
students at Rockville State Penitentiary, the largest women’s correctional facility in Indiana, gave Michelle Brown new insight into punishment. n
Brown, a then-graduate student in criminology who had previously worked in a women’s shelter, observed prisons as
institutions filled with boredom, isolation, alienation, and overcrowding. Prisons didn’t look like they did on TV and in movies—areas Brown had studied as an undergraduate in comparative literature and film—or in the public imagination. Prisoners weren’t attacking each other or starting riots. Brown became intrigued by the disconnect between this reality and the inaccurate media portrayals of incarceration as harsh and dehumanizing.
Brown, now an associate professor of sociology and anthropology at Ohio University, has spent her career exploring this phenomenon. Her interests in media, pop culture, and punishment intersect in her new book on the topic, The Culture of Punishment: Prison, Society, and Spectacle (New York University Press). The book explores how everything from the movie The Shawshank Redemption to tours of prisons, such as Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, impact the punishment policy in the United States. The publication of the book solidifies Brown’s reputation as one of the leading scholars in cultural criminology, says Jeff Ferrell, professor of sociology at Texas Christian University and editor of New York University Press’s Alternative Criminology Series, which published Brown’s book. “Michelle’s work is really brilliant because she takes the most important of issues—punishment, torture, and prison— and looks at why they are (something) the public would support and how people claim to know about it,” he says. “She looks at how the meaning of crime and punishment is formed and why we do what we do.” The average American learns about prison by watching TV and movies. Shows such as Law & Order or documentaries such as Lockup give the public narrow insight into punishment. Take Law & Order; detectives commonly joke with suspects about rape in prison, and many of the most repulsive
criminals end up murdered by cellmates. But prison life isn’t one violent episode after another, Brown says. Still, this imagery becomes intertwined with the public’s understanding of crime and punishment. “It gives them a spectacle, and it gives them a special authority that they are in the know,” Brown explains. “I think there is a large, white middle class that has the power to shape criminal policy, but they are the most distant (from prisons and punishment).” Oftentimes, however, those who are most vocal about punishment—including Americans who vote on crime and incarceration issues—don’t know anyone embroiled in the system. In the United States, imprisonment occurs along racial and class lines. The criminal and victim blend together in the public mind because they’re often from the same backgrounds, Brown explains in the book. And because voters and politicians assume that prisoners are violent, they have no problem banishing criminals to a place where they will become victims of violence. Brown notes, however, that more than half of those incarcerated are nonviolent criminals. Fear often motivates the voting public to act. Myths about crime are widespread; people fear strangers breaking into their homes and attacking them. According to the Department of Justice, however, spouses or
Michelle Brown’s study of punishment in America includes a look at prison tourism – including historical tours and ghost hunts at operating and closed jails.
PHOTO: RICK FATICA
partners (former or current) killed twothirds of all women murdered by guns. But laws and punishments are more severe for a stranger-on-stranger attack than domestic violence. “(We) need a more accountable media and a new way of seeing punishment,” Brown says. “We need a democratic context in how we handle this debate and hear voices that are different from the mainstream.” As one of several examples, Brown deconstructs the much-loved prison movie The Shawshank Redemption. She explains that the movie focuses on prison clichés— an innocent man is wrongly convicted, brutalized, and raped, yet transcends and forges a friendship with a conman with a heart of gold. Perhaps the most unrealistic aspect is the ending where the hero, Andy Dufresne, escapes to a beach. Brown notes that in this movie, the prison exists simply as a backdrop to a story about relationships. “Because Shawshank presents us with an experience of prison where transcendence is inevitable, it too is easy for its audience. We easily identify with our protagonists and, in getting to know them, suffer with them, and cheer their escape and reunion. Yet in turning back to real prisons, the logic and rhetoric of retribution persist. We have taken no journeys with the imprisoned who remain locked in,” she writes. While Brown’s focus on media has added to the academic debate, it is her examination of prison tourism that has
The Ohio University Center for Law, Justice, and Culture For decades, India and Pakistan have fought over the tiny region of Kashmir. As both nations struggle to claim this land, they often ignore the plight of the Kashmir people. Haley Duschinski, an assistant professor of sociology and anthropology, studies the human rights and justice issues wrapped up in this political battle. Duschinski is one of several professors examining law, justice, and culture in a way that varies from the traditional social sciences framework. As a faculty member in the newly created Center for Law, Justice, and Culture at Ohio University, she joins scholars from across the university who are investigating matters such as justice in Rwanda and Appalachia, how pop culture impacts constitutional law, and justice in a welfare-state society. Michelle Brown directs the center, which provides a unique educational resource in a region without a law school, she notes. While the center is still fine-tuning the undergraduate program, the faculty has decided that admission will be competitive and mimic the application process of a law school. The undergraduate certificate will highlight areas such as crime, deviance, and social control; human rights and transitional justice; justice institutions; and law, justice, and political thought. Students will take courses on corporate and government crime, juvenile delinquency, law in society, sociology of the courts, international human rights, crimes against humanity, and constitutional law—to name a few. The center’s senior capstone course will explore the faculty members’ research as a way of understanding law and society.
sparked the most discussion in her field, Ferrell notes. Since graduate school, Brown has toured both operating and closed prisons, attending haunted houses, ghost hunts, and historical tours. Within the past two decades, historical societies have salvaged large, defunct prisons, turning them into sites for tours, which focus on ghosts, famous prisoners, violence, and sometimes history. In her chapter on prison tourism, Brown notes that even if administrators of prisons (such as the West Virginia Penitentiary, Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, and the Ohio State Reformatory) want to include social or historical context in their tours, the public clamors for the spectacle. Haunted houses—which sensationalize prisons with mad doctors, insane prisoners, and sadistic guards—and ghost hunts—where participants spend the night locked in the prison looking for the supernatural—are the best-selling events at these facilities. Without historical and social context, such as an understanding of real prison life and how incarceration affects the larger society, the tours simply reinforce misconceptions of punishment. Brown believes, however, that the public’s fascination with prisons and violence shows that people want to talk about the issues. She advocates tours that encourage the public to be civically engaged instead of simply promoting spectatorship. As for what role academic research should play in the matter, Brown offers some caution. She notes that over the last four decades, some social science work has contributed to the problem of mass incarceration. She highlights the controversial 1974 publication by Robert Martinson, “What Works. Questions and Answers about Prison Reform.” After examining an exhaustive amount of literature about various re-entry and rehabilitation programs, Martinson made the assessment that “nothing works” to rehabilitate prisoners. In the following years, politicians threw out the idea of rehab and instead focused on punishment and isolation. Even when Martinson tried to reframe his debate to argue some therapeutic policies do work, the public largely ignored him. “Punitiveness is easy and it makes sense,” Brown says. “Any attempt to punish is fundamentally about the infliction of pain,” she says. “Why are we so punitive? Is it American exceptionalism? Because we’re so individualistic? In American culture we’ve made it a natural response to be punitive.”
The culture of punishment also persists because a politician’s stand on crime can make or break a career, Brown’s book notes. The infamous “Willie Horton” ads of the 1988 presidential campaign suggested that Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis allowed Massachusetts prisons to be a revolving door for criminals who could re-enter society and commit more crimes. Instead of defending his policies, Dukakis tried to argue that his competitor, Republican George H.W. Bush, was soft on crime as well. (Dukakis, of course, lost.) Brown notes that there are other, better ways of holding criminals accountable for their crimes, and if the public were aware of these methods, people might support them. She urges more community participation in the penal system as part of a movement known as restorative justice. Restorative justice encourages dialogue between criminals, victims, and the community in the hopes of holding the criminals accountable in a humane way while also providing the victims with the resources they need. She points to the example of citizens’ circles. Social service workers, mental health professionals, drug and alcohol counselors, children’s services employees, correctional administrators and employees, students, and other concerned citizens form a voluntary group that helps prisoners re-enter society by assisting them with finding jobs and housing and reconnecting with family. While the economy, health care, or the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq might seem like more pressing issues in the United States, Americans will need to address problems with punishment soon. As state budgets shrink and incarceration rates continue to climb, states find they need to release prisoners because they cannot afford to house them. “We’ve clearly failed in our own system of finding good ways of being responsible,” Brown says. “Making accountability meaningful, making sure that victims have what they need, and giving the community a role to play is important.”
Americans may love films such as The Shawshank Redemption or tours of historic prison sites, but Brown argues that these pop culture moments only perpetuate misconceptions about the realities of punishment and distract the public from real dialogue about justice. MOVIE PHOTOS: CORBIS.COM
by ANDREA GIBSON illustrations by CHRIST I N A U L L M A N
THEY WRITE ON BEHALF OF WIVES, SONS, AND SISTERS. THEY’VE ALREADY TRIED EVERYTHING ELSE. “How soon will the drug be available?” they ask. “How can we participate in clinical trials?” For those watching a family member struggle with ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, or a growth hormone disorder, any information about advances in the treatment of these or any other diseases so prevalent in modern American life is a cause for hope. They scan medical news reports and academic journal articles eagerly for a sign of a path to health. It’s not uncommon for patients and their families to reach out directly to the scientists working on new drug developments. Medical wonders have emerged from research laboratories, but the process—which one Ohio University researcher aptly described as “not overnight”—can take many years, as well as much trial and error. Development of a new drug requires countless tests of different compounds in test tubes, animals, and ultimately human patients; the funding to sponsor safety and efficacy trials; and the business savvy to work with companies that have the resources to advance and promote the treatment for human use. For the scientist, the process also requires creative thinking, hard work, and years of patience. But the possible payoff—a discovery that could be the seed of a drug that could finally help someone suffering from testicular cancer or diabetes—keeps scientists pushing toward that goal.
Scientists at Ohio University are developing
compounds that one day could lead to new medical treatments for disease, from cancer to diabetes
In 2010, Ohio University marked two major milestones in this process that were decades in the making. In January, the Quidel Corporation announced its purchase of Diagnostic Hybrids Inc., a biotech firm founded in 1983 based on Ohio University faculty research. Today the company is a market leader in the development and distribution of cellular and molecular diagnostic kits for detecting a wide range of medical conditions. Diagnostic Hybrids, which got its start at Ohio University’s Innovation Center and is led by alumnus David Scholl, reported $38 million in revenue in 2008. It employs more than 200 at its headquarters in Athens, Ohio. Ohio University expects to receive about $40 million from the sale. In February, a national survey of universities showed that during fiscal year 2008, Ohio University was the top public institution in the state for licensing revenue generated from its research discoveries. The university’s licensing revenue, $5.8 million, placed the institution second in Ohio only to Case Western Reserve University, a private school that reported $13.2 million. In addition, Ohio University is one of the top institutions in the nation for research return on investment, based on its royalty income received per research dollars spent ($26 million for fiscal year 2008), according to the study by the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM). Most of the royalty income stems from a license to the Pfizer corporation for a growth hormone antagonist (which blocks the action of growth hormone) developed by John Kopchick, a scientist with the university’s Edison Biotechnology Institute and College of Osteopathic Medicine, and former graduate student Wen Chen. The discovery became the basis for the drug Somavert, a treatment for people with acromegaly, a growth hormone disorder that can cause excessive growth of organs and bones in adults and can lead to premature death. Ohio University has received almost $30 million in licensing revenue from Somavert to date. But like Diagnostic Hybrids, this was no overnight success story—the drug stems from a discovery made by Kopchick and colleagues in the late 1980s. Still, the success of Somavert, Diagnostic Hybrids, and other inventions based on university research inspires several scientists at Ohio University to pursue some of the most difficult questions—and pervasive human diseases—in the lab.
1 BATTL I N G S U P E R B AC T E R I A STEVE BERGMEIER + M A R K McM I L L S
t’s a nightmare for hospitals: the rise of “superbacteria” that can thwart all conventional antibiotics. And though these potent strains are on the rise, no new chemical class of anti-bacterial compounds has been developed since the 1960s. Steve Bergmeier and colleagues are looking to nature for a solution. Bergmeier and fellow Ohio University chemistry professor Mark McMills and Nigel Priestley from the University of Montana are developing a class of new anti-bacterial compounds developed from molecules made by bacteria themselves. In the laboratory, the scientists tear the molecules apart and reassemble them in ways to design more potent agents against bacteria
such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), more commonly known as a “staph infection.” MRSA can cause serious illness and even death. Because the compounds are derived from the bacteria’s own defenses and are unique, it may take bacteria much longer to become resistant to them than conventional drugs, says Bergmeier, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry. The team is currently testing different versions of the compounds, and recently found four that work as well as conventional antibiotics. When the researchers originally approached the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for funding for this work, the federal agency responded that their proposal sounded more like a business plan than an academic study. Taking that cue, the trio formed the biotech start-up Promiliad. The move paid off, as the researchers have had more luck pulling dollars from the federal agency’s small business technology development programs than its conventional academic research programs. By focusing on the research’s potential for commercialization and drug development, Promiliad has landed seven Small Business Technology Transfer
(STTR) and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants, both designed to foster research and economic development, from the NIH in the last decade. The Edison Biotechnology Institute also provided funding through a National Science Foundation Partnerships for Innovation grant to help develop these antibacterial compounds. In addition, the institute assisted the company in acquiring a $100,000 grant from TechGROWTH Ohio, funded by a Third Frontier grant from the state of Ohio, to test its compounds further in animal models. If the work is successful, TechGROWTH may award additional dollars. Funding from such economic development programs not only helps move basic research forward, Bergmeier says, but could help move the compounds closer to the marketplace. “If everything works out the way you’d like it to, you potentially could have a new therapy out there that could directly benefit people,” he says. “As a scientist who is involved in whatever aspect of drug discovery, that’s an exciting thing. Academic research is rarely going to get you there. Going this route is still a long shot, but it’s more of a direct path to that.” Bergmeier notes that turning a promising laboratory compound into a drug available for consumer use “isn’t an overnight process,” but the presence of such funding programs suggest that state and federal agencies are committed to finding longterm solutions to major health problems. “The programs support small companies— and even not so small ones—that are not going to bring in money tomorrow,” he says. “They’re a long-term investment not only on our part, but on the part of investors—the taxpayers.” University scientists are often in a better position than researchers employed by private corporations or government agencies to take risks in their laboratories that could lead to key breakthroughs. And even failure can drive innovation, Bergmeier says, by pointing companies in other directions to solve problems.
:: BUILDING A TECHNOLOGY PIPELINE To take a discovery from the laboratory to the marketplace, university inventors can rely on technical, business, and legal support from Ohio Universityâ€™s technology transfer and economic development programs. The Technology Transfer Office assists researchers with filing patents, studying the market for new inventions, and finding companies that can license and commercialize the research. Some faculty inventors choose to become entrepreneurs by licensing the technology back from the university and starting their own companies. The Innovation Center, the oldest university-based small business incubator in Ohio, provides those faculty inventors with office and laboratory space, business mentoring, and networking with investors and fellow entrepreneurs. These offices work closely with the Edison Biotechnology Institute, which provides assistance to life sciences companies and is the home of many of the universityâ€™s key life sciences technologies, as well as faculty in engineering, chemistry, health, and medical disciplines. In the last few years, Ohio University has attracted more funding and venture capitalists to support entrepreneurship. The institution received almost $10 million in support from the Entrepreneurial Signature Program, part of the state Third Frontier Initiative. The grant created TechGROWTH Ohio, a program that provides business assistance and financial support to biotech and high-tech start-up firms in southeastern Ohio. TechGROWTH has assisted more than 250 companies and helped launch 17 start-up businesses. Athens also is now home to two venture capital groups, Athenian Ventures and Adena Ventures, that seek to support entrepreneurship in the region. In addition, the new Center for Entrepreneurship at Ohio University hopes to grow the next generation of entrepreneurs.
3 N E W L IFE FOR GROWTH H O R M ONE DRUG J O H N KO P C H I C K
n 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved use of the drug Pegvisomant for the treatment of acromegaly, a form of gigantism that affects about 40,000 people worldwide. The drug is based on a 1987 discovery of a growth hormone antagonist by Goll-Ohio Professor of Molecular Biology John Kopchick. Today the drug is produced and sold by the Pfizer corporation under the name Somavert, and the licensing agreement with the pharmaceutical giant has netted Ohio University almost $30 million in royalty income to date.
NEW TARGETS FOR OVARIAN, TESTICULAR, HEAD AND NECK CANCER RATHINDRA BOSE
hough some conventional drugs can effectively treat the disease they were designed for, they also can create unpleasant side effects for the patients. The first drug developed for the treatment of ovarian and testicular cancers, cisplatin, was approved for use in 1982. Though it’s 95 percent effective, it works best during the early stages of the disease, and some patients develop a resistance to it. Two drugs introduced later, carboplatin and oxaliplatin (which is used for colorectal cancer), overcame some of those toxicity problems, but their acquired resistance remains a major problem, says Ohio University scientist Rathindra Bose, who has been studying alternative compounds and targets for these cancers for 25 years. Early studies in the Bose lab suggest that a new class of compounds called phosphaplatins can effectively kill ovarian, testicular, head, and neck cancer cells with potentially less toxicity and fewer side effects than those conventional drugs. The research also shows that the compounds could be effective for cancers that have become resistant to drugs. Existing drugs also can interfere with the functions of the cell’s enzymes, which lead to side effects such as hearing and hair loss and renal dysfunction. Phosphaplatins, however, don’t penetrate the cell nucleus or attach to DNA, explains Bose, a professor of biomedical sciences and chemistry and Edison Biotechnology Institute scientist who also serves as vice president for research at Ohio University. He and his colleagues have shown that these compounds remain in the lipids and transmit a “death signal” into the interior of the cell. The compounds are created by attaching platinum to a phosphate ligand, which can readily anchor to the cell membrane. Bose’s research, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and appeared as a cover story in Nature SciBx Magazine, shows that phosphaplatins can kill ovarian cells at half the dosage of conventional drugs, but are just as potent. Unlike cisplatin, which can decompose quickly and create additional toxic side effects through the decomposition products, the new compounds show no signs of degradation after seven days, he notes. “The research suggests a paradigm shift in potential molecular targets for platinum anticancer drugs and in their strategic development,” Bose says. Preliminary tests in mice uphold the data supporting the compounds’ superior performance over existing drugs. Bose and his colleagues are continuing those tests and are seeking additional funding to advance the work. A U.S. patent has been issued on the work, one is pending, and another patent application is in preparation.
But that isn’t the end of Pegvisomant’s story, as any new drug can have multiple clinical applications. Because the scientific literature published in the last 20 to 30 years has pointed to a link between excessive growth hormone and cancer, Kopchick and his colleagues have explored the potential use of growth hormone antagonists as a cancer treatment. Studies with Canadian scientist Michael Pollack and with Steve Swanson at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Medical College suggest that blocking growth hormone can stop the growth of cancer cells. In mouse models, the growth hormone receptor antagonist reduces the progression of breast and prostate tumors and may be effective against colorectal and some brain cancers. In some cases, data show that Pegvisomant even stops metastasis of several types of cancers of the liver, Kopchick notes. Whether to pursue clinical trials with human patients is a business decision that rests in Pfizer’s hands, Kopchick says. University researchers will probe new questions for the sake of adding to the scientific understanding of the issue, and if a new clinical use comes out of it, he says, “that’s icing on the cake.” Like others involved in drug development, the scientist points out that turning a compound into an FDA-approved drug can take almost 20 years of work, as well as significant financial resources. Clinical trials must prove that the compounds are safe for human use, and also verify that they indeed can effectively treat patients suffering from the disease. Most compounds that enter human clinical trials are not approved as safe and efficacious drugs. “There are so many steps where something could go wrong. You never know what you’re going to get,” he says. Because the discovery of a drug can have such a big payoff for the inventors, institution, and the patient, scientists will continue to join the hunt. Kopchick notes that while his research is a great case study on the successes of drug development, it also speaks to the power of discovery. His team wasn’t looking for a growth hormone inhibitor when they first began the research—they were, in fact, looking for a treatment for patients with too little growth hormone—but made a serendipitous find. For patients, it turned out to be a powerful discovery. Not long after the FDA approved Somavert, Kopchick began to receive letters and phone calls from people with acromegaly. One woman in Ohio had tried every possible medication and surgery before finding that Somavert could control her disease. “It gives me goose bumps every time I think about it,” he says.
:: A ‘GREEN’ DRUG DELIVERY SYSTEM
4 DIABE T E S C O M P O U N D H O L D S C L U E S TO CA N C E R T R E AT M E N T LEONARD KOHN, DOUG G O E T Z , + K E L LY McC A L L
ancreatic cancer is a tough cancer to beat. The gold standard drug on the market for treatment, gemcitibine, extends life by only two weeks. When Ohio University scientists Kelly McCall and Leonard Kohn unveiled laboratory studies that showed a new compound called C10 could trump that track record, their poster presentation at a cancer conference drew a long line of researchers eager to hear more. When the crowd hadn’t dispersed at the close of business, the convention center staff had to ask them to leave. “That shows how desperate—and excited—everyone is for a potential new treatment for the disease,” says Doug Goetz, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering involved in the research. Like a lot of scientists involved in drug discovery, the team didn’t set out to find a new treatment for cancer. Kohn, now a former Ohio University faculty member, originally had developed C10 to combat autoimmune diseases such as diabetes and colitis. At the Edison Biotechnology Institute, Kohn recruited Goetz, McCall, and other scientists to work on the compound, which disrupts the body’s toll-like receptors to combat the inflammation and other complications triggered by these diseases. In laboratory studies, the team tested the compound on human tissue that included cancer cells. To their surprise, C10 was effective at slowing the growth of the cancer cells in addition to combating autoimmune diseases. Further studies revealed that some of the molecular mechanisms that play a role in pathological inflammation also play a role in cancer, McCall explains. “Our research takes a novel approach to therapy by trying to inhibit the environmental induction of disease expression rather than our genetics, which predisposes us to diseases,” says McCall, assistant professor of endocrinology in the College of Osteopathic Medicine. In 2009, the researchers received a $2.6 million Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant from the NIH—their second in three years—through Interthyr, the company Kohn had established to commercialize the compound. The grant is funding animal studies that the scientists hope will confirm that C10 is more effective than gemcitibine. If so, the team can pursue an Investigational New Drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To bring a drug to market, researchers must complete 10 tests for safety and efficacy in FDAapproved labs in order to determine if there are negative side effects on the heart, liver, or other biological functions. The STTR grant can pay for most of these tests, making it a “game changer” for the project, Goetz says. “This allows us to do a big portion of what we need to do to get us closer to market,” he says. If the tests reveal safety issues with the compound, the team can turn to colleagues Steve Bergmeier and Mark McMills for help with finding molecular alternatives. In the meantime, the STTR grant—which aims to foster economic development through research initiatives—is bringing jobs to Ohio. Interthyr has become a new tenant in the Innovation Center, Ohio University’s small business incubator that focuses on high-tech and biotech start-up firms. The company also is partnering with private partners around Ohio on various aspects of the research, Kohn says.
A lot of therapeutic proteins are so small that the kidneys move them out of the system too quickly. Drug companies have added polyethylene glycol groups (compounds that can be used in medicine) to the proteins to make them bigger and last longer in the body, but as a result, the therapeutics can become less potent. Ohio University scientists are looking to plants for a solution. Research by Marcia Kieliszewski, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, Professor John Kopchick, Nick Okada, assistant professor of pediatrics in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Jay Xu, now at Arkansas State University, suggests that by exploiting features of glycoproteins found in plants, drug delivery can become less expensive, more effective, and longer lasting, and involve fewer side effects. Their method frequently increases the yield of these biological compounds from plants, which has been a barrier to using plants in the past. The scientists designed a suite of drug delivery technologies based on the glycoproteins that has broad applications for peptide- and protein-based therapeutics for a variety of medical ailments—from diabetes and cancer to rheumatoid arthritis and intestinal bowel disease. The Ohio University Technology Transfer Office is currently in discussions with firms seeking to license this technology in various markets and applications, says Director Bryan Allinson. “Given the breadth and depth of applications, we envision that there could be either a number of potential licensees—or alternatively, a single ‘rainmaker type’ licensee—that could bring these technologies to market for the benefit of society and betterment of patient health,” he says.
Increasing interest in the issue of acid mine drainage and new funding from the federal government are driving a wave of scientific research that seeks better methods to revive runoff-damaged streams and assess their health.
In the mid-1990s, a small group of practical visionaries set out to do what many said couldn’t be done: save a southeastern Ohio creek considered beyond repair after decades of poisonous coal-mine runoff.
quixotic effort, though remarkably successful thus far, still has a long way to go. As years have passed, however, the work has been supported by an expansion of scientific know-how, much of it the work of Ohio University researchers. ¶ “They’re always on the cutting edge of what’s happening out there in the reclamation world,” says Constance White, Ohio River watershed specialist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Soil and Water Resources. ¶
SCIENTISTS, ENGINEERS, AND POLICY EXPERTS WRITE THE PRESCRIPTION FOR WATERSHEDS POLLUTED BY YEARS OF COAL MINING
by JIM PHILLIPS photography by K EVIN RIDDELL
Mitch Farley of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio University biologist Kelly Johnson sample streams in southeastern Ohio for insects, fish, and other signs of life.
ome 15 years ago an informal coalition of scientists, activists, and state environmental officials, led by now-deceased Ohio University geology professor Mary Stoertz and Mary Ann Borch of Rural Action, ignored conventional wisdom, cobbled together the Monday Creek Restoration Project, and rolled up their sleeves. As recounted by Ohio University environmental studies professor Ted Bernard, they faced a gargantuan challenge. But they turned skeptics into believers by showing that with the right technology and a strong community effort, a stream killed by acid mine drainage could be brought back from the dead. In the process, the Monday Creek Restoration Project—still a going concern, like projects in other area watersheds— has become an inspiration and model for communities that want to clean up their own mine-ravaged backyards. “By 2008, the Monday Creek Restoration Project had become one of the premier watershed projects in the Eastern Coal Lands,” writes Bernard in his newly published book, Hope and Hard Times. Tons of dissolved metals and acid have been removed from the creek and its tributaries, the pH has been raised over most of the main stem, and life—fish, bugs, and microorganisms—is coming back. This is important not only for the environment, Bernard stresses in his book, but
also because a successful effort by a financially impoverished community to bring its streams back to life can help instill pride, and counter the sense of helplessness that sometimes accompanies entrenched poverty. In the early days, participants in a watershed campaign could do little more than lay the groundwork for a reclamation effort. They inventoried the watershed, wrote a management plan, cleared logjams, set up monitoring sites, reclaimed a “gob pile” of mine waste, and gave presentations in local schools. In recent years, however, greater interest in acid mine drainage, and increased willingness by the federal government to put money into fixing the problem, are driving a wave of scientific research to find new and better methods to revive runoff-damaged streams and assess their health. Some methods developed or improved in Ohio University labs are being put to use in the field, while others are still in the exploratory stages. Areas where Ohio University faculty researchers are making contributions include working the glitches out of a method that uses waste slag from the steel industry to lower acid levels; finding better ways to diagnose and monitor the health of a waterway; and even turning stream pollutants into commercial products that can be sold to help finance cleanup programs. The problem of acid mine drainage (AMD) is complex, but basically stems from millions of gallons of water that have filled up the underground mines found all through the Hocking Valley, a legacy of the coal boom of about 1870-1970. Exposed to oxygen and bacteria, the water reacts with iron sulfides to create sulfuric acid. This acid solution, which dissolves various metals such as iron, manganese, cadmium, zinc, copper, arsenic, and aluminum, creates a lethal soup that can seep into a stream, turn it orange, and render it unlivable for fish, bugs, and other organisms. The task of AMD reclamation, put in simplest form, is to raise a stream’s pH (make it less acidic), clean out the metals, then keep track of whether, and how quickly, living things take up residence again. Raising pH used to be done mostly with limestone beds, limestone being a good source of alkalinity (which neutralizes acids). Newer methods that have largely supplanted limestone, however, include “active” treatments such as calcium oxide “dosers” to regularly put alkali materials into a stream, and “passive” treatments such as the increasingly popular steel-slag approach. Natalie Kruse and Guy Riefler are two Ohio University researchers who’ve taken on the challenge of trying to figure out why steel-slag beds work quite well, and sometimes fail quite badly.
of dissolved metals and acid
have been removed
from the creek and its tributaries,
the pH has been
over most of the main stem,
is coming back.
—fish, bugs, and microorganisms— “Some of them are clogging, but some of them aren’t,” explains Jen Bowman, environmental projects manager for Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, who serves, in her own words, as a “resource person” for the handful of watershed groups in the counties around Ohio University. “Some of them are hardening but still working; some of them are clogging and not working.” Steel slag, a crust that forms on steel as it’s being processed, looks like a waste product to the steel industry—but to someone wanting to reduce acidity in streams, it’s a godsend. Compared to limestone, says Mitch Farley, manager of ODNR’s acid mine drainage program, steel slag provides “an order of magnitude more alkalinity—10 times at least. If we could perfect the use of steel slag effectively, we would get 10 times the bang for the buck, so to speak.” To make it even more attractive, steel mills
practically give the stuff away—the major cost in using it is trucking it to your site. Typically a pit is excavated, lined, and filled with slag, and clean water, from a side stream or other source, is run through it to pick up alkalinity. That alkaline water then flows into a stream with acidity problems, to neutralize it and precipitate out any dissolved metals for removal. Unfortunately, when water runs through steel slag, the slag has an unpleasant habit of gluing itself into a mass, which means that a bed full of it will often harden. Riefler, an associate professor of civil engineering, and Kruse, an assistant professor of environmental studies at the Voinovich School, are taking different but parallel approaches to solving the problem—Riefler trying different mixtures of particle sizes, and Kruse trying combinations of steel slag with other materials. Of the various steel-slag beds in use in creeks around the region, Riefler notes, “some of them are working great, but some are
By using engineering strategies to clean heavy metals out of streams and raise the pH of the water, researchers hope to make watersheds habitable for fish and other wildlife.
performing poorly for a variety of reasons. It’s very strange; it’s not at all clear what the cause is.” Riefler faces very practical problems in his research; while steel mills are happy to get rid of slag, he notes, they’re not willing to sort it by chunk size. “We’re a small market for them,” he says. “And you know, they’re giving it away to begin with. It’s one of the limitations of working with a free product.” Kruse—who at age 25 has been working on acid mine drainage since Stoertz took her and her brother to a mine site when she was 10—notes that there are other questions to be answered about steel-slag beds, such as their probable longevity. “We’re not 100 percent sure of things like their lifetime,” she admits. “How long will they last? How long will they be producing alkalinity?” As important as treating the AMD problem is keeping track of the treatment’s effectiveness. Contributing to that effort is Kelly Johnson, American Electric Power Watershed Research and Reclamation Professor at the Voinovich School. She has written a manual to help nonscientists properly use a sampling method called the
Macroinvertebrate Aggregated Index for Streams (MAIS), which measures the health of a stream by looking at its macroinvertebrates— basically insects and other nonmicroscopic creatures without bones, such as crayfish. A decade ago, state agencies relied more on chemical testing to assess stream health. In recent years, however, biological sampling has come to be considered more reliable. The Ohio EPA’s “gold standard” of testing uses fish, but Johnson is convinced that bug sampling with the MAIS is very nearly as accurate, as well as cheaper, easier, and quicker. “It’s the easiest,” she says. “The fish are really good indicators too, but it’s not so easy to collect fish data … We filled a niche with good data that can be collected more frequently.” While the MAIS “has a strong scientific background; it was developed using some fairly complex statistical methods,” Johnson says, “it is something that moderately trained people can use.” She helps train samplers from organizations such as the nonprofit Rural Action and local watershed groups. To collect samples that meet state standards for credible data, she says, is “as easy as cooking if you are careful and follow the protocol.”
“You walk people through it,” she explains. “You have to show someone how to use the net and recognize habitats, and how to pick animals from the net carefully, but you can do that in a day.” After volunteers are trained, they usually work their first season on a crew with more experienced leaders before sampling on their own. Johnson notes that the next step will be to try to pry more information out of the macroinvertebrate data collected over the years, to see if a model can be developed to help predict the path of a stream’s recovery. “The cool thing is, we couldn’t have done this 10 years ago, because we didn’t have the data,” she enthuses. Nate Schlater, water quality specialist for Monday Creek Restoration Project, is one of the nonbiologists who gets to collect macroinvertebrates. He says bug-based monitoring seems to be a more sensitive indicator than chemical testing, and is showing improvements in many stream areas. “We’re absolutely getting better results during the last four, five, six years,” Schlater says. “This is a big identifier of a good stream.” Though it may be a while before it’s used in the field, an approach being studied by Morgan Vis, a professor of environmental and plant biology, and graduate student Nathan Smucker could one day provide additional information that could improve the assessment of stream recovery. Vis and Smucker look at diatoms— ubiquitous, microscopic, single-celled organisms. Their plan of attack is to profile the diatom populations in streams largely unimpacted by mining or agricultural runoff, then compare how diatoms in a polluted stream deviate from this unimpacted condition. “Basically we looked at the best streams in the region, and what the diatom communities in those streams were like,” Smucker says, adding that “we really do see dramatic changes in the diatom community” between clean and polluted streams. Vis notes that diatoms have some definite attractions as a biological indicator—including the fact that they’re present virtually everywhere on Earth. “The good thing with diatoms versus other types of algae is, if you go to a stream, you’re going to find diatoms,” she says. “With some other groups of algae, you don’t see them in every stream.” Smucker points out that with around 20,000 different species of fresh-water diatoms known, there’s a large range of environmental conditions for diatom populations to fluctuate in terms of the presence, absence,
and abundance of different species. A highly acidic stream, for example, might favor the ascendency of six or seven abundant species known to thrive on low pH. While Vis and Smucker count populations of creatures so tiny they can be seen only with a microscope, another Ohio University project works on a much larger scale—dealing with the giant mounds of waste that’s hauled out of AMD-polluted streams. With help from Matthew Friday, an assistant professor of art, Riefler aims to turn lemons into lemonade— or more precisely, iron-based sludge into marketable art supplies. When iron precipitates out of an AMD-impacted stream, it’s good for the stream’s health—but you’re left with a lot of iron oxides to dispose of. The treatment also costs money. So why not solve both problems by selling the sludge? Friday recalls Riefler bringing him a jar of the reddish powder and telling him, “I think we might be able to use this for something.” Friday’s response was that “it looked very much like something I’m used to using,” which makes sense, given that iron oxide is one of the oldest pigments known to humans. By mixing it with either linseed oil or acrylic binders, he got a usable paint, though “the particle size was a little big.” But that was enough to inspire Riefler and Friday to apply for grants to establish a pilot plant at the Truetown mine site outside Chauncey to develop pigment for commercial marketing. “We’ve got to find a way to dispose of this sludge,” Riefler observes. “And running a treatment plant is very expensive, so we’ve got to find a way to pay for that.” One project helpful to anyone working on the AMD issue is a website managed by the Voinovich School—watersheddata.com—into which different researchers can enter data on streams. Bowman says the site covers Monday, Sunday, Raccoon, Huff Run, Rush, and Yellow creeks, and soon will include Moxahala and Leading creeks. Vis notes that even data on diatoms, which aren’t yet extensively used as a monitoring tool, can be accessed. “All of the researchers can put their data into this,” Vis says. “You can see all of the data on fish, macroinvertebrates, and chemical water quality, and it’s kind of at the push of a button.” One reason these creative research projects can happen is that the funding environment has improved in recent years, due to the federal government’s decision to re-authorize a severance tax on the mining industry. Revenue from the tax goes to fund reclamation of abandoned coal mines, and the government also
Through such collaboration,
Ohio has become
for other states
of how to do watershed reclamation right. is disbursing moneys from the tax that had been withheld in previous years. This has meant a major influx of federal funds into states such as Ohio that have suffered serious mining impacts. Farley of ODNR says based on current projections, the federal grant to Ohio for abandoned mine land projects should increase every year until 2013, when it will peak at around $18.6 million. With their experience in this area, Ohio University researchers are well-placed to take advantage of the situation with further research into watershed reclamation. Kruse, for example, has just begun to look at how aluminum in streams may adversely affect fish, and how it might best be removed. “That’s like another 10 years of research,” she predicts. The collaborative effort among university faculty, state officials, and citizens groups already has shown remarkable results and promises more in the future. Among Ohio University researchers, cooperation takes place through an informal network called the Appalachian Watershed Research Group. It includes Vis, Smucker, Johnson, Bowman,
Kruse, geologist Dina Lopez, geographer James Dyer, and Ed Rankin, a senior scientist at the Voinovich School. Rankin not only created a qualitative habitat analysis and was instrumental in developing the database, but also has a deep understanding of state water quality regulations after spending more than a decade researching and analyzing Ohio’s water quality laws during his time as a senior scientist at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Through such collaboration, Ohio has become a model for other states of how to do watershed reclamation right, says David Hanselman, chief of the ODNR’s Division of Soil and Water Resources. “I think we’re quite proud of the structure we’ve created to support the development of local watershed action plans,” he says. White of Soil and Water Resources adds that Ohio University researchers have played, and will continue to play, a major role in keeping Ohio at the forefront of this important effort. “I can honestly say it puts us ahead of the game having that research,” she says, “and having the university there.”
:: E N G I N E E R I N G | by Br i dget Peterlin
Second wind Engineers breathe new life into wind power concept for southeastern Ohio
Could wind turbines pop up in the Appalachian hills?
For years, wind maps of Ohio have predicted that the Appalachian region is a poor resource for wind energy. But a new study by a team of Ohio University undergraduates and engineer Carole Womeldorf might show that the area is more suited to the alternative power concept than previously thought. Womeldorf, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and students Zach Fetchu, Giffin Whites, and Patrick Seders launched the Wind Energy Assessment Visualization project in December to take a new look at whether the region could yield the type of wind speeds that can economically generate power. The project, funded by a development grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, examines various wind characteristics, including wind speed, direction, temperature, pressure, and relative humidity at heights well above the local hills and ridges. The team will measure the density of wind power blowing in a 2,000-square-mile region (a 25-mile radius circle) across Athens and surrounding areas, including parts of Meigs, Morgan, Perry, Vinton, Washington, and Hocking counties. Current wind resource maps publish estimates based on models designed for flatter terrain, and their predictions aren’t very reliable for the hills and ridges in this area, Womeldorf says. With local measurements and a customized numerical modeling approach, “we’ll be able to find the best wind sites this area has to offer with much higher confidence,” she says. The researchers chose Ohio University’s WOUB television tower, which measures 262 meters tall, to capture wind readings. The team gathers data via sensors attached to booms, poles that connect to the tower perpendicularly. There are two booms placed at six heights on the tower, from 43 meters to 241 meters. Each boom measures 29 feet long.
Womeldorf receives an e-mail every night with measurements that were recorded every 10 minutes by the sensors the day before. Whites, an undergraduate mechanical engineering major and data analyst on the project, explains that the height and large number of booms is essential to the success of the research. “Because of the hills, we need to reach higher to find out the driving winds above,” he says. “It won’t be perfect, but with those winds in our model, we’ll be able to perform a detailed energy assessment across a large part of southeastern Ohio.” If the booms show good wind readings, the project could point to a new renewable energy option for the region. Wind turbines could be strategically installed, producing electricity for households and businesses. Jobs would be generated during construction and for longerterm operations and maintenance. Though the project is in its early stages, the students were encouraged by the data from a high-velocity windstorm that came through the area during the second week of December. They’re curious to see what the weather holds for 2010. “It’s all about relying on what the wind is going to do,” says Fetchu, a junior in mechanical engineering working on the project. “We’re going to need some booming, strong winds in the future in order to be successful.”
“Because of the hills, we need to reach higher to find out the driving winds above. It won’t be perfect, but with those winds in our model, we’ll be able to perform a detailed energy assessment across a large part of southeastern Ohio.” GIFFIN WHITES mechanical engineer major and data analyst on the project
:: MODERN LANGUAGES | by Bridget Peterlin
Illustrating war Groundbreaking children’s books unveil tragedy of World War II When Ohio University undergraduate Caitlin Yocco began studying how women are portrayed in French literature for children, she repeatedly stumbled upon newer illustrated storybooks that unflinchingly describe life in Europe during World War II— aimed at children. “To my surprise, children served as the main characters of the books, which focused on their thoughts, experiences, and feelings at a time of desperation,” says Yocco, an Honors Tutorial College student and French major. Yocco knew that she had discovered a unique subject for her senior thesis when she found a total of 16 such storybooks, all but two of which were published after 2000. The tragic events of World War II have, up until the last decade or so, been difficult for even western European adults to speak about openly. It is neither a time that German citizens are proud of, nor a time that French residents wish to relive. In fact, the storybooks in Yocco’s study are difficult to find at book stores in Paris, says Lois Vines, a professor of modern languages and Yocco’s advisor. And while there has been some scholarly research on depictions of World War II for children, most literature and media on the topic are about and for adults, Yocco says. “Presenting World War II to children through stories rather than through history class is relatively new,” says Yocco, whose research was supported by the Dean’s
“To my surprise, children served as the main characters of the books, which focused on their thoughts, experiences, and feelings at a time of desperation.” CAITLIN YOCCO Honors Tutorial College student and French major
Discretionary Fund in the Honors Tutorial College. The books in Yocco’s study feature beautiful illustrations sometimes paired with actual photographs that don’t shy away from the dramatic misfortunes of war. Publishers originally declined children’s works about World War II because of this candid content. One of the first books that Yocco studied, Rose Blanche, by Italian illustration artist Roberto Innocenti, was first published in the United States in 1985 after it had been declined by publishers in France. It has circulated through Europe and is being released in a new edition in Canada, but is still out of print in France. Rose Blanche, about a young German girl who witnesses the events at a concentration camp, is unlike any other children’s book. She continues to return to the camp with food for the children trapped inside until one day, she is caught in crossfire. The book infers that she dies. Many of the other books used for Yocco’s research have similar
stories, and feature symbols such as the yellow star (which Jews over the age of six were required to wear to identify themselves) and the swastika. Yocco and Vines agree that the work captivates and overwhelms. “It’s fascinating to see how authors of children’s books in French present to young readers the tragic aspects of the Second World War, inhuman acts that even the adult mind finds difficult to grasp,” Vines remarks. Vines suggests that enough time has passed since World War II that authors are now “willing to unveil the tragedy of the war to younger generations. They feel that they owe it to those who died during the events of the war.” But is it right to expose children to such harsh realities? After conducting her research, Yocco offers a caveat. “It’s a good idea to engage children in this discussion as long as there is appropriate adult participation,” she says. “I would use these books with my own children as long as it were the right time and place.” PHOTO: KEVIN RIDDELL
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:: BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES | Donald Miles | Research published in Science
Climate change is triggering lizard extinctions around the globe, according to an international team of scientists that includes Ohio University biologist Don Miles. If current trends continue, 20 percent of all lizard species could disappear by 2080. Researchers studied the effects of rising temperatures on lizards, such as Sceloporus bicanthalis, above, and used their findings to develop a predictive model of extinction risk. Their model accurately pinpointed locations on five continents (North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Australia) where previously studied lizard populations already have gone locally extinct. “It’s a wake-up call that we’re looking at a potential ecological catastrophe. We’re likely to see extinctions in our backyard,” Miles said. PHOTO: FAUSTO MENDEZ-DE LA CRUZ