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VOLUME 18 :: ISSUE 1

DEPARTMENTS

FEATURES

what ’s inside 12

WAR STOR IES

Playwright Bianca Sams tackles the issues of military sexual assault and post-traumatic stress disorder in new works

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AD APT OR DIE

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I N S I DE OU T

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F O R CES OF NATU R E

What the small, clam-like brachiopod can tell us about how species compete, survive, or face extinction

Artist Rajorshi Ghosh shares his vantage point

How two teams of physicists are unraveling fundamental mysteries about the matter that makes up our world

02 U P F RON T

:: From the Office of Research |

Making an investment

0 3 OF N OT E

:: The role of emotions in international relations | World War II collection reveals military looting | Athletic training meets performing arts in new clinic | DNA barcoding for quality control of medical plant products | Searching for the lungless salamander

3 0 T H E E X PE RT V I EW

:: Alan Silver discusses trends in the casino industry, including its domestic and international economic impact

3 2 CL AS S ACT

:: Meet three engineering undergraduate students at work on projects in robotics, bio fuels, and greenhouse gas mitigation

3 4 AT A G L AN CE

:: 3D printing: from engineering to art

COVER STORY

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A NEW NAR R ATIV E Media scholar Jenny Nelson and colleagues develop a video series that captures the experience of living with chronic illness


What drives mass extinctions? A geologist combs through fossils—including specimens

EDITORIAL AND DESIGN

found in Ohio—to investigate. (page 16)

EDITOR Andrea Gibson SENIOR DESIGNER AND ILLUSTRATOR Christina Ullman, Ullman Design ASSISTANT DESIGNER Alix Northrup INTERN Natalia Radic

ADVISORY COMMITTEE David Bayless Loehr Professor of Mechanical Engineering

ISSN 1520-4375 printed on recycled paper.

Gary Holcomb Associate Professor | African American Studies Brooke Hallowell Professor | Communication Sciences and Disorders John Sabraw Associate Professor | Art + Design Lisa Villamil Assistant Professor | Visual Communication Erin Murphy Assistant Professor | Biomedical Sciences

COVER ILLUSTRATION: CHRISTINA ULLMAN; PHOTO (THIS SPREAD): BEN SIEGEL

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u p fr o nt

JOSEPH SHIELDS

FROM THE OFFICE OF RESEARCH

RODERICK MCDAVIS

Vice President for Research President of Ohio University and Creative Activity and Dean of the Graduate College

Making an investment

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hile the needs vary by discipline, advances in knowledge and creative expression de-

pend on material support for our faculty, students, and staff. This includes library collections, microscopes, computers, stage automation equipment, or travel to remote research sites. As a public research university, Ohio University invests in this enabling infrastructure on an ongoing basis. One important vehicle for such investment is competitive internal awards, which are supported by university operating funds and foundation dollars. The 1804 Fund supports faculty research and scholarly activities, as well as innovations in graduate education and undergraduate learning. The video project by Jenny Nelson on patient narratives profiled in this issue is one example of work made possible by the 1804 Fund. Awards from the 1804 Fund often seed new directions and

expansion of scholarly inquiry, which in turn can open the door to funding from external sources. Seed funding also is provided for new faculty and staff, and others pursuing a new path of investigation, via Ohio University Research Committee Awards. Scholars seeking to bring ongoing projects to completion can compete for Baker Fund Awards; the fossil research by Alycia Stigall described in this issue is an example of a project supported by that program.

(above) Russ College of Engineering and Technology faculty member Savas Kaya, left, received an 1804 Fund award to support nanomaterials research.

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PHOTO: REBECCA MILLER

Students engaged in research and creative pursuits also benefit from internal awards. Student Enhancement Awards fund students to carry out scholarly or creative pursuits and travel to a professional meeting to present their results. Both undergraduates and graduate students are eligible to apply. The projects described in this issue that are led by Vincent Farallo and Bianca Sams, graduate students in biological sciences and theater, respectively, were supported by Student Enhancement Awards. A recent addition to our internal awards is the Undergraduate Conference Travel Fund, which provides travel assistance for undergraduate students seeking to present the results of their research or creative endeavors at conferences and other professional venues. The 1804 Fund, Baker Fund, and Undergraduate Travel Fund are the result of generous donations from friends of the university. The creative output they engender is an important part of the culture of discovery and exploration at Ohio University.

ABOUT PERSPECTIVES

Perspectives: Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity at Ohio University is published twice per year by the Office of Research Communications, which reports to the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity. 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. Comments and queries regarding editorial content should be addressed to: Andrea Gibson, editor, Perspectives magazine 120 Research and Technology Center Athens, Ohio 45701 E-mail: gibsona@ohio.edu Phone: (740) 597-2166 For more information about the research program at Ohio University, please contact: Office of the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity Web: www.ohio.edu/research E-mail: research@ohio.edu Phone: (740) 593-0370


RESEARCH NEWS BRIEFS

Mixed emotions

Political scientist explores the role of fear, hatred, and anxiety in international conflicts

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hen America was attacked by terrorists on 9/11, various commentators compared the incidents to Pearl Harbor, which was the last time foreign enemies had invaded U.S. soil. Although the two attacks were different in nature and context, those analogies helped stir up emotions Americans had about World War II that influenced their views of and responses to 9/11, says scholar Andrew Ross. Ross is the author of Mixed Emotions: Beyond Fear and Hatred in International Conflict (University of Chicago Press). Although his field of political science often views human behavior through a rational lens, Ross explores the complex ways emotion impacts the political process in areas such as public responses to terrorism, ethnic conflict and nationalism, and international justice. “Emotional behavior is often used as a way to undermine the credibility of certain actors. If there are people who are seen as acting on their emotions, they’re assumed to be irresponsible or maniacal or unreliable participants in the political process,” says Ross, an assistant professor of political science at Ohio University. But scholars should take emotions seriously, he argues, as they can help us understand why people care so intently about matters at stake in political life. The author cites several examples in the book, including the 9/11 and Pearl Harbor case, about how emotions also can have a “contagious quality,” bleeding from one event to the other. “For example, after 9/11, there was a fear of terrorism, air travel, and other things connected to it,” he says. “But those also carried over to this pandemic of fear associated with anthrax. The two weren’t connected at all, and yet in the media coverage and the public discourse about terrorism in 2001, they were inseparable. They were part of this poorly understood and ambiguous fear or sense of fear.” The ability for emotions to seep through events also can help us understand the ethnic nationalism that erupted in Yugoslavia during the 1980s and 1990s, Ross notes. Although the movement, which led to civil war and the creation of new nation states, is often attributed to the uprising of citizens after years of repressive communism, Ross argues that the situation was more complicated than that.

A N D R EW RO S S

“There was a very serious economic crisis that led to anxiety and anger among those who were unemployed and people who were otherwise adversely affected. The grievances tended to carry over to national politics. There was enough ambiguity about the emotions they had that (the two grievances) seemed compatible,” he explains. Ross also argues that it’s worth taking a look at how emotion is transmitted in political speeches and statements by officials. While political scientists may analyze the meaning of public addresses and symbols, there are a variety of paralinguistic elements—tone of voice, hand gestures, facial expressions—that are important as well, he says. That’s something well understood in disciplines such as sociolinguistics or neuroscience—among the fields Ross drew on for the scholarly work of the new book—but hasn’t been analyzed much in political science, he says. Acknowledging these paralinguistic factors, Ross adds, requires adjusting the way tribunals and other judicial bodies establish responsibility for inciting genocide and other war crimes. Ross also is interested in how communication technologies such as streaming video and social networking allow emotionally resonant messages to be transmitted on a wider scale. In the next phase of his research, Ross plans to further develop his analysis of how these digital tools can communicate human suffering across geographic and political boundaries. story by :: ANDREA GIBSON

PHOTO: BEN SIEGEL

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RES EARCH N EW S BR I E FS

History lesson Unique World War II collection reveals military looting

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hen history enthusiast Seth Givens was an Ohio University undergraduate student, he discovered a unique collection of materials that features raw, unpolished military and civilian personal accounts of World War II. Only about 10 percent had ever been published. The Ohio University Libraries’ Cornelius Ryan Collection includes about 21,000 primary sources that the war correspondent-turned-author had gathered while writing several books about World War II, including The Longest Day, a best-selling account of D-Day. When the time came for Givens to write his master’s thesis, he mined the collection for accounts of wartime souvenir hunting and looting. The U.S. military condones the former and prohibits the latter, but prior research often grouped the acts together. Givens, however, found the behaviors in World War II to be two very different things. Souvenir hunting occurred when GIs collected commonplace items from battlefields as tokens to take home. Looting—the pillage of civilian possessions—was decidedly more problematic. Givens discovered that looting by American GIs increased dramatically as they moved deeper into Germany in 1945. It became so ubiquitous that soldiers gave it a tongue-in-cheek name: “liberating.” “The American serviceman who restrained himself from stealing in Allied countries saw looting in Germany as morally and legally justifiable,” Givens says. Upon examining the collection, Givens discovered four reoccurring justifications for the behaviors: wartime necessity, opportunity for trade or profit, personal remembrance, and revenge. He deduced that the rise of looting in Germany was linked to desires for retribution. “This stealing for revenge was meant to convince die-hard Nazis they truly were defeated, and to mete out justice to those Germans who were associated with prison, labor, or extermination camps,” he says. Givens’ study made waves in the world of

(Left) History doctoral student Seth Givens used the Cornelius Ryan Collection in the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections in Alden Library for his World War II research.

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PORTRAIT: TYLER STABILE, OHIO UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES


Creative care

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New clinic will study use of athletic training techniques to aid injured performing artists

hen an injured Bobcat football player sprawls to the turf, there are always health specialists on the sidelines with the know-how to

evaluate the athlete’s condition and, if necessary, help with rehabilitation. But what about a Marching 110 musician who gets hurt?

Pieces from the Cornelius Ryan Collection: (Top) Cornelius Ryan's passport. (Above) A photo of Alan Wood, a war correspondent for the Daily Express, was taken by Sergeant D.M. Smith, Army Film and Photographic Unit, World War II, North West Europe in 1944. IMAGES: SHERRY DIBARI, OHIO UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES; U.S. ARMY

military history, as American GIs’ proclivity for looting in World War II was often glossed over or ignored. The peer-reviewed academic journal War in History published the research in January, and adaptations of his thesis garnered Best Paper awards at the Northern Great Plains History Conference and the history-oriented James A. Barnes Club Conference at Temple University. Givens now plans to revisit the Cornelius Ryan Collection for his doctoral dissertation, currently titled “Cold War Capital: The United States and the Fight for Berlin, 1945-1994.” Ryan had a penchant for capturing fresh responses from soldiers, and the research value of that is not lost on Givens. “What generally happens when soldiers remember things is that they have stock answers and stock stories to tell people,” Givens explains. Realizing that respondents couldn’t give rote responses to questions they’d never been asked before, Ryan made inquiries like: “What was the funniest thing that happened on D-Day?” The tactic worked well. According to Givens, the question caught respondents off guard, made them think, and yielded a large portion of the collection’s accounts of looting and souvenir hunting. And what was the funniest thing that happened on D-Day? “Not very many things,” Givens says, smiling, “but you’d be amazed.”

A new Ohio University clinic for performing artists has the answer, whether the patient is a tuba player battling back spasms, a ballet dancer with a sprained knee, or a pianist having tendon pain. The SHAPe Clinic, short for Science and Health in Artistic Performance, is a place where injured performers can be evaluated and treated, and receive health and wellness advice from licensed athletic trainers who have the specialized equipment and knowledge to treat such injuries. The care is provided with no out-of-pocket costs to the performing arts student. The facility is a collaboration between the College of Fine Arts and the College of Health Sciences and Professions and supported by

a grant from the 1804 Fund. Jeff Russell, an assistant professor of athletic training and director of the clinic, says that Ohio University is the only major institution he knows of that has made such a broad commitment to performing arts medicine. “Virtually every performing artist sustains several injuries in the course of his or her career,” Russell says. “And they have at least one—and usually several—horror stories about being underserved and marginalized by the medical profession.” Leveraging this access to performing artists, the clinic also conducts research on the frequency of injuries and best practices for care. story by :: JODY GRENERT

Dance student Jewel Walker, left, works with athletic training students Darah McInturf and Erica Zemites and Jeff Russell, director of the SHAPe Clinic.

story by :: JEN DOYLE PORTRAIT: JODY GRENERT, COLLEGE OF HEALTH SCIENCES AND PROFESSIONS

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RES EARCH N EW S BR I E FS

Mistaken identity How DNA barcoding can boost quality control for medical plant products

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n Pakistan, about 70 percent of people use herbal medicines because they don’t have the money for or access to pharmaceutical drugs. More than 350 companies produce inexpensive, effective natural treatments for these consumers, and there are 60,000 registered traditional healers who prescribe such medicines. But is the plant advertised on the product bottle always what’s inside? To boost quality control, herbal medicine companies in Pakistan reached out to university scientists. An Ohio University alumnus connected Professor Zabta Shinwari of Pakistan’s Quaid-i-Azam University with Professor Allan Showalter, an expert on plant molecular biology in the Department of Environmental and Plant Biology and the Molecular and Cellular Biology Program. With funding from the Pakistan government and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the researchers have worked over the last three years to sequence specific segments of DNA for 43 plants commonly used in herbal medicines and to create a database of their findings. The concept, known as DNA barcoding, is used by scientists around the globe to catalog genetic material from thousands of different living things, including various bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals, Showalter explains. Similar to the unique pattern of bars in a universal product code that identifies each consumer product, a DNA barcode is a unique pattern of DNA sequence that identifies each species of life on the planet. Showalter and Shinwari hope that their database will be used by the Pakistan companies, which are now required by law to verify the contents of their products. “With barcoding, you also eliminate the need for continual native plant expertise,” Showalter says. “If you have a DNA sequence, you don’t need to ILLUSTRATION: CHRISTINA ULLMAN

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V I N CENT FA R A LLO

see the plant and have the taxonomist identify it.” Although the database is designed for quality control in the laboratory, Showalter notes that scientists hope that a handheld device also could be developed to verify the identity of plants right in the field. The database could be useful beyond the borders of Pakistan. There are other countries around the globe where 50 to 80 percent of the population relies on herbal medicines, Shinwari says. And even in nations—including the United States—where people may have good access to pharmaceutical drugs, some choose natural treatments for religious or other personal reasons, Showalter adds. The project not only could help improve product safety for the industry and its consumers, Shinwari says, but could have economic impacts as well. Most of the herbs used by companies are harvested from the wild by women and children. As this activity can make up about 20 percent of their total annual household income, he says, the new database could support the jobs of many rural people below the poverty line. story by :: ANDREA GIBSON


Where is the lungless salamander? Biology student travels Appalachia to examine how climate change impacts amphibians

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iking through the trails of Appalachia, Ohio University graduate student Vincent Farallo

focuses his attention on the ground, under the leaf litter, in search of small, colorful lungless salamanders.

Two species from the family Plethodontidae. The Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber), left, is present throughout much of the eastern United States, from New York south to Louisiana, while the Blue Ridge Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea wilderae), right, is restricted to the Appalachian Mountains, from Virginia to northern Georgia.

These amphibians live in “microhabitats” of only 1-10 meters squared. Because they breathe through their skin, they must live in an environment that provides cool air and moist soil to survive. These factors make the lungless salamanders a good case study for how climate change in Appalachia could impact the smallest of species, says Farallo, a fourth-year doctoral student advised by biologist Donald Miles. “Salamanders can be abundant and make up a large portion of forest floor biomass,” Farallo says. “So any changes to them would affect the overall forest dynamics. In particular, it will change leaf litter decomposition rates through changes in insect communities.” With the help of undergraduate students Celeste Wheeler and William Ternes, Farallo conducted a population survey of lungless salamanders in the Appalachian Mountains during summer 2013. The team started in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in North Carolina, and continued through Tennessee and Virginia, up through West Virginia, and back to North Carolina. Farallo’s work was supported by several Ohio University grants and fellowships, including the Graduate College Fellowship, the Student Enhancement Award, and the Ohio Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies Fellowship. He’s also received funds from the American Philosophical Society Lewis and Clark Fund. For the study, Farallo categorized sites as high, medium, and low elevation and by latitude, as well as by high or low species concentration. The students recorded data such as vegetation and soil and air temperature, as well as soil moisture. The same data were collected 10 meters away at control sites where there were no salamanders, to help Farallo determine how the amphibians choose their habitats. Farallo now has recorded more than 60 sites throughout North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, and Ohio. Although he’ll continue to collect data for two more years to reach conclusive results, he’s made some important observations so far. “There were many sites that, after hours of searching, didn’t have any salamanders,” Farallo says, “although they should have.” story by :: NATALIA RADIC

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF VINCENT FARALLO; PORTRAIT, NATALIA RADIC

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fter media scholar Jenny Nelson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2010, she encountered two types of stories about the disorder, and neither of them felt right. The medical literature was stark: Parkinson’s disease is a brutal degenerative brain disorder that gradually robs its victims of movement as it progresses from trembling hands to total immobility. The disease itself isn’t fatal, but its symptoms can cause other problems, such as pneumonia or broken bones. The second type of literature—advocacy and support materials, including Parkinson’s disease websites and YouTube videos—told a different story. “What was out there all seemed to be similar: personal testimonies, celebrities ‘struck down’ at the peak of their abilities, foundation information things that feature a person with PD and an expert,” Nelson says. And they all seemed to follow the same clichéd and feel-good narrative, which was out of sync with what Nelson herself was experiencing. “There’s a cult of positivity in PD—you can battle the disease better if you just soldier on and make jokes,” she says. “It’s amazing how that narrative becomes internalized without anyone explicitly teaching it.” Nelson, an associate professor in the School of Media Arts and Studies, is especially attuned to narratives and media messages. She’s spent her 25 years at Ohio University studying media and how it affects our perceptions of the world. In 2012, Nelson and Professor Emeritus Karin Sandell applied for an Ohio University 1804 Fund grant to study the personal narratives of people with Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis (which Sandell was diagnosed with two decades ago). “Our deliverable was going to be pamphlets for doctors’ offices—outreach for patients, education for doctors,” Nelson says. But the project took a radical turn.

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A RI DE I N CH UCK’ S TRUCK elson had been attending a weekly Parkinson’s disease support group in Vienna, West Virginia, for a few months when she decided to invite her new research assistant, Camilo Perez, to come along with his video cameras. Perez, an experienced videographer, is the co-founder of Pasolini en Medellin, a nonprofit social organization in Colombia that empowers residents (mostly youth) in poor neighborhoods besieged by drug cartels to use video to effect social change. “Video offers an opportunity not only to share a story, but also to confront one’s self. That leads to internal transformations,” Perez explains. Although he didn’t know anything about Parkinson’s disease, Perez recognized a parallel between his experiences in Colombia and those of Nelson and the support group. “I identify with it in this sense: There’s a huge structure on your shoulders. For them it’s a disease; for me it’s violence in my own country,” he says. During that first visit, Perez met Chuck Foster, who’s been living with Parkinson’s disease for 15 years. “After the meeting, Chuck comes up and says, ‘Do you want to go for a ride?’ and Camilo didn’t even hesitate,” Nelson recalls. Perez climbed into the cab of Foster’s pickup and started shooting while Nelson followed them in her car. Reviewing the footage later, Nelson realized she had found her project—and an ideal collaborator. The experience led to a new focus for the PD/MS Narrative Project, a series of five-minute videos featuring people with Parkinson’s disease that capture their life with a chronic illness.

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as an educational tool for the health care community. Faculty in Ohio University’s School of Rehabilitation and Communication Services and the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine have been using the pieces to teach their students about communicating with people facing chronic illnesses. “As much as we try to teach our students the profound impact of diseases such as Parkinson’s, it’s sometimes difficult to convey how a neurological disease impacts dayto-day life,” says Brooke Vaughn, assistant professor of physical therapy. “The PD/MS Narrative Project has been a great way to bridge the gap between didactic education and real-life application. By attending Jenny’s presentations and watching her videos, our PT students get a small glimpse of what it’s really like to have PD.” After a year of production, Nelson and Perez are moving into the project’s next phase: disseminating what they’ve discovered. “The hardest part is finding the story — getting them to revisit Usually, that involves publishing papers for their academic community—but that is turning their everyday life experiences and try to pick the one part that out to be something of a challenge. “Why spend five pages describing 30 is most meaningful for them, and how we can portray it.” seconds of video when I could just show the video and then spend five pages analyzing it?” C A M I L O P E R E Z (at right, with Jenny Nelson) Nelson says. “How do we translate this project into traditional academic work when one of Each video project begins with in-depth central metaphor in the video, Nelson explains. the things we’ve prided ourselves on is that it’s not traditional academic work?” interviews with the person to be featured, as Once that story reveals itself, Perez films Instead, Nelson and Perez have been Nelson and Perez probe for different angles while Nelson converses with the subject. taking their show on the road, presenting that will shed light on the person’s experience. “If we did traditional interviews, there the videos and their methods at various In “Chuck’s Truck,” for example, Foster wouldn’t be the same level of engagement,” conferences. After seeing the duo’s drives to a West Virginia internet café while Nelson says. “The videos wouldn’t have life.” presentation at the 2013 Semiotic Society he talks candidly about the $50,000 he’s of America conference, Elliot Gaines— lost there; gambling and other addictive H OW VI DE O M AKE S AN I M PACT professor of communication at Wright State behaviors are caused by a medication that he videos can be as eye-opening for the University and president of the society— controls his Parkinson’s symptoms. He participants as it can be for viewers. The invited Nelson and Perez to speak to classes wants to tell his story, he says, to help others Athens International Film and Video and faculty there. avoid this problem. Festival screened five of the videos last “I invited them to share their work because In other episodes, former Ohio University year, and Nelson describes the Q&A my students will be learning to create short assistant professor of social work Judi session between the participants and the video narratives to illustrate science and Haberkorn demonstrates the difficulty she community afterward as “powerful.” research to general audiences,” Gaines says. has getting around the hilly Athens campus Perez conducted follow-up interviews “The PD/MS Narrative project is informative in a wheelchair; former woodworker David for a paper on the project, and found that and engaging, and I believe my students can Kenniston shows how he found a new the participants appreciated having the learn from the style and techniques that make creative outlet with a quilting group in opportunity to break out of the standard this project successful.” Nelsonville, Ohio; and Tom Lovdal runs narrative of noble suffering—and to truly Nelson and Perez see this as a start of using through the woods, trying to increase understand that they are not alone. the PD/MS Narrative project to make an his dopamine levels without medication. “David says that through the videos, he even bigger impact. They have more national Nelson is the focus of one episode called found the voice of Parkinson’s,” Perez says. conference presentations planned, as well “Jenny’s Radar.” “Now, instead of just nodding his head at “The hardest part is finding the story— support group meetings, he’s actively listening, as new videos that can be viewed on their YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/ getting them to revisit their everyday life because he knows now that everyone has a user/PDNarrativeProject). experiences and try to pick the one part that story to share.” “We could keep producing videos,” Perez is most meaningful for them, and how we can All of the stories are informed by a sense says. “Or we can find a way to share this whole portray it,” Perez says. of responsibility, Nelson adds, and a desire process and what it implies. We have a lot The purpose of the story is often found to guide others who may follow them in the to say; we just need to analyze it and find a only while they are telling it, in an offhand disease’s footsteps. grammar to speak out.” n comment or an aside that then becomes the Nelson and Perez also see the videos

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PHOTO: HENRY BOACHI

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Playwright Bianca Sams tackles the issues of military sexual assault and post-traumatic stress disorder in new works .12


Taking on social issues is a great way to foment change around you. Forcing people to look at what we do to each other—and the issues that keep repeating—can in fact create a type of social change. That’s my hope.” BI ANCA SAMS .13


hen Agnes goes missing, her husband confronts her therapist, Deborah, who has been treating Agnes for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) triggered by a military tour in Iraq. Agitated and irate, he locks himself in Deborah’s office, demanding confidential health care information about his troubled wife. The scene is the setup for Bianca Sams’ play “Rust on Bone,” which explores the ramifications of military trauma. Although a work of fiction, it draws on extensive interviews the Ohio University graduate student conducted with veterans. Sams, a playwright and actress, is drawn to exploring social issues through what she calls “found stories.” Her work touches on such issues as race relations—in the Claudette Colvin story “Battle Cry,” which won several national awards in 2013 (see sidebar, opposite page)— and the struggles of American servicemen and women. “Taking on social issues is a great way to foment change around you,” Sams says. “Forcing people to look at what we do to each other— and the issues that keep repeating—can in fact create a type of social change. That’s my hope.”

VETERANS SPEAK OUT When word first got out that Sams was looking for women and men to interview about their experiences with military sexual trauma, she didn’t expect such a large response. She began getting calls in the middle of the night and graphic voicemails from survivors who wanted to share their stories. After interviewing many of the survivors, a pattern became apparent: A service member would be assaulted, typically by a commanding officer in a higher position of authority, and would choose not to report it for fear of career damage. If the assault was reported, it was most likely the victims, not the perpetrators, who would leave their military careers behind. “None of the people I spoke to were still in the military,” Sams says. “I know that things are changing … but most of the people I talked to said that the biggest factor in their emotional distress was the fact that there were serious repercussions (for reporting sexual assault).” According to a 2012 report by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program, instances of unwanted sexual conduct were estimated to be 26,000, but only 3,374 reports of assaults had been filed. The discrepancy may suggest that a large percentage do not report instances of unwanted sexual conduct because of fear of retaliations in both social and professional settings, the report noted. Most service men and women—97 and 96 percent, respectively—acknowledge that they have received military training in how to manage and report sexual assault incidents. Most victims were women under the age of 25, and men, primarily in junior enlisted grades, accounted for 90 percent of the alleged perpetrators. Victims of sexual assault may experience sleep disorders, substance abuse, flashbacks, and

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Sams, left, works with Ohio University theater students Jessica Savitz, center, and Thomas Daniels, right. Table readings help playwrights refine their work prior to a staged performance.

depression, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN). When interviewing survivors, Sams tried to avoid rehashing traumatic experiences. “I had to be very careful of the questions I was asking and how I asked specific questions. (I told interview subjects that) if there’s a question that is too difficult to answer, tell me that and we’ll move on,” Sams says. “At this point, I haven’t worked on anything that was as emotionally sensitive as this issue.”

TAKING STORIES TO THE STAGE “Rust on Bone” focuses on the role that the therapist, Deborah, plays in the lives of patients with PTSD. In addition to her research on military personnel, Sams consulted with psychiatrists to learn how Deborah would interact with veterans under her care. The play is a companion to “Rise, Phoenix, Rise,” which focuses on the story of Agnes, the missing patient who is dealing with both PTSD and sexual assault trauma from her military service. She tries to put on a brave face, as she was taught to do in her military training, but struggles to suppress her emotions. “Agnes is sort of this weird enigma to me,” Sams says. “She’s somebody who is very strong, but she’s dealing with all of these things, and she doesn’t realize that strength doesn’t come from


Battle Cry BY

JESSICA SALERNO

SAMS SPOTLIGHTS TEEN WHO FOUGHT SEGREGATION LAW—BEFORE ROSA PARKS

being rigid. … She needs to heal from this, and then she can be as strong as she really is.” Working with fellow graduate student actors in the School of Theater, Sams has held several table readings of “Rust on Bone” this school year. She debuted the first reading of “Rise, Phoenix, Rise” this spring. Although she originally planned to write only one play on the topic, a grant from Ohio University’s Student Enhancement Award program allowed her to expand her research and pursue the additional script.

MAKING AN IMPACT WITH THEATER Charles Smith, head of Ohio University’s Professional Playwriting program, praised Sams for her tenacious research skills and artistic drive. “Bianca’s work goes beyond the clinical accounting or news headlines and explores the lives of individuals suffering from these traumas in a very up-close, personal, and poetic way,” Smith says. “Her work tells us that the effects of PTSD and sexual assault trauma can have wide-ranging, unforeseen, and unexpected consequences.” The plays may help society acknowledge and address the problem, he adds. Sams relishes the opportunity to use her art as a way to create social change. “You see how theater and arts can get people fired up in ways that seeing (an issue) on the news, or seeing statistics or reading about it don’t,” she says. “There’s a visceral thing about theater and entertainment that can envelop people in a story.” n

Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a bus for a white patron inspired a nation to demand desegregation. While Parks has become an iconic figure in American race relations, the reality is that several other black women preceded her with similar acts, Sams says. “If Rosa Parks is the galvanizer, what do you say about the four women who in the year before all did the same thing? How do you tell that story?” she asks. Sams’ answer is “Battle Cry,” a two-act play based on the experience of Claudette Colvin, a 15-year-old girl who was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, nine months prior to Parks. She was the first person in Montgomery to fight the segregation law in court, Sams says. The playwright explores the compli-cated aftermath of Colvin’s decision, including why the NAACP didn’t publicly support the teen, who was from a low-income area and became pregnant shortly after her arrest. Sams first came across Colvin’s story in James W. Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, which highlights common historical myths. She encountered challenges finding more information about the woman, who lives in The

Bronx, New York, but rarely gives interviews. (The major exception is the Phillip Hoose book Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, which Sams used for background research.) With grants from Ohio University, Sams traveled to the Alabama State University archives, where she was able to find newspaper clippings and oral histories of what had happened to Colvin in Montgomery. Sams also tracked down videos of Colvin to be able to write in Colvin's voice and perfect her speech and cadence. In 2013, the play had readings at Ohio University’s Seabury Quinn Jr. Playwrights Festival and at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Washington, D.C., where it landed two awards. In addition, Sams won the Kennedy Center Fellowship to the O’Neill New Play Festival in Connecticut and received second place in the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s Jane Chambers Student Playwriting Award. Sams has submitted the play to additional festivals and theaters to gain a wider audience for the work. “I feel like people should know who (Colvin) is,” she says. “She can be inspiration for other people, whether male or female, to change their lives or the world we live in.” .15


No.

GEOLOGICAL SCIENCES

Ye a r

illions lie dead on the sea floor. Among the carcasses are dozens of species of small shelled marine organisms called brachiopods, their tight-lipped expressions frozen in time. Four hundred million years later, 9-year-old Alycia Stigall collects rocks from the banks of a stream across the street from her home. She will spend hours poring through A Golden Guide to Fossils to learn more about the fossilized creatures she has found. Two and a half decades later, Stigall, now an associate professor of geological sciences, is using these brachiopods to investigate patterns of extinction and species formation over time, including during several of the major extinction events that have happened on Earth. “There are always species going extinct and new species forming, but in the Earth’s past there have been a handful of events during which we lost a significant amount of diversity,” Stigall says. “Understanding what happened during these events may help us to be more proactive with our current conservation management plans.” .16


The Kallmeyer Collection of the Ohio University Invertebrate Paleontology Collections includes invasive species that dominated the ancient landscape of Cincinnati, Ohio. The invaders include brachiopods, gastropods, bivalves, and corals.

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No.

GEOLOGICAL SCIENCES

IS EXTINCTION TO BLAME? tigall is particularly fascinated with the biodiversity crash that took place 375 million years ago during the Late Devonian Period, which spanned from 385 to 360 million years ago. Just prior to the crash, the Earth experienced a burst of new species formation. For example, the first forests fanned across the landscape and the ancestors of all modern-day four-legged animals began to walk on land. By the latter part of the period, however, things had taken a turn for the worse. “Somehow, the environment changed, and we see this massive loss of species diversity in the fossil record,” she says. But is extinction to blame for the crash, as so many researchers currently believe? To find out, Stigall decided to pursue a hypothesis that had been proposed by George McGhee, Distinguished Professor of Paleobiology at Rutgers University, in the late 1980s: Even though extinction in the Late Devonian Period was higher than normal, it wasn’t the only cause for the decline. What was more important was a lack of new species formation. “We all can easily understand how to drive a species to extinction, but how does one stop a species from speciating?” McGhee says. “Yet, at several critical biodiversity crises in Earth history, we see that the biodiversity loss was driven by the failure of species to continue to

Ye a r

diversify, and it is important that we find out how this happens given our current ongoing biodiversity crisis.” To learn why speciation stalled, Stigall examines the physical characteristics of thousands of individual fossil brachiopods, as well as other invertebrates, such as clams. She notes the geographic location at which she found them and constructs phylogenetic trees, which indicate the evolutionary relationships among organisms. Her goal is to identify which species evolved into others and which ones went extinct. Stigall’s research has shown that generalist species—those that are able to utilize a wide variety of food, habitat, and other resources— invaded the territories of specialist species—those that have very specific food, habitat, and other resource requirements. The specialists—including many species of brachiopod—couldn’t tolerate this new competition, and many of them went extinct. Yet what caused the biggest drop in diversity was not extinction, but rather a lack of new and distinct species formation. “Generalists have much lower speciation rates than specialists,” says Stigall. “So when the specialists were knocked out, speciation went down the drain.” By examining the rocks in outcrops around Cincinnati, Stigall found that the same thing happened 100 million years earlier during the Ordovician Period, which encompasses the interval from roughly 485 million years ago to 443 million years ago. During this time, no life existed on land and fish were only just beginning to evolve in the oceans. “It turns out that the fossils in rocks around Cincinnati help to develop the next piece of the invasive species story because they show that a dramatic invasion occurred right in the middle of the Late Ordovician,” she says. According to Stigall, it took one million years for diversity levels to recover after the Ordovician species invasion.

N OW A N D L AT E R

To differentiate the various species, Stigall uses a microscope to analyze fine details of the shell structure. This allows the research team to generate evolutionary trees for all species within a genus.

.18

ast forward to the present day, a time many scientists refer to as the Earth’s sixth mass extinction event. “One of the things humans are great at is moving things around,” says Stigall. “Species like zebra mussels, which were brought into the Great Lakes in ships’ ballast water, are causing major shifts in ecosystem structure and threatening the survival of many native species. By understanding the long-term consequences of species invasions in the fossil record, we can better predict what will happen as a result of the current species decline.” Stigall believes that in a few thousand years, the world will be occupied by mostly generalist species or species that are in between generalists and specialists—what she calls intermediate species. “I think we’re going to lose most of our specialists,” she says. “And I think it will take at least a million years to come back to a more diverse type of system.” Stigall suggests that conservationists should focus their efforts on protecting the habitats of intermediate species because they have the greatest potential to be saved. Animals like polar bears and cheetahs, she says, are such a problem because they are so specialized. Instead, it may be best to protect species such as Arctic foxes that are likely to have areas with future habitat impacts, but that fit the intermediate specialization type. “I’m pretty optimistic about our species,” Stigall says. “I think that fundamentally we can solve our way out of a lot of these problems; we just have to get the will to do it. Eventually we’ll be all right; things will just be a little bit different.” n


ntains ens co im c e p s ia l logica landostroph f of geo the Vin cks. Some o rawer f d o is s h T specie ll and tian ro a 0 a g 2 n ti y S in rl c Cin nea d by d by pod in ere collecte collecte er, who brachio sw n re e e w im t c ey s e ut mo the sp k Kallm y. ents, b resident Jac it d rs e tu s iv r he e un hio, nati, O llection to th Cincin o c d the donate

As a young girl Stigall made do with A Golden Guide to Fossils, but she hopes that today’s amateur fossil collectors and researchers will have at their disposal a more comprehensive guide. That’s why she and her colleagues are creating an online database (www.ordovicianatlas.org) that will include identification keys, images, and distribution maps for some 850 ancient animal species, including brachiopods, trilobites, and other invertebrates. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation. So far, the researchers are including in their database Cincinnatian fossils from the Cincinnati Museum Center, the Karl E. Limper Geology Museum at Miami University of Ohio, and the Department of Geological Sciences at Ohio University. They also are including fossils from the Pennsylvania period (323 to 299 million years old) from the University of Kansas and fossils from the Neogene period (23 to 2.6 million years old) from the University of Florida. “The atlas is a wonderful tool for both amateurs and professionals,” says Jennifer Bauer, a master’s student who is working on the project. “Once the atlas is complete anyone can go fossil collecting in the regions we are focusing on and identify their specimens, down to the species level.” .19


by A ND RE A G I B S O N

Artist Rajorshi Ghosh shares his vantage point

photography by B EN SI EG EL

.20


THE ARTIST RAJORSHI GHOSH GREW UP AS THE CHILD OF TWO ARCHITECTS. HE LIVED IN A MODERN, WESTERN-STYLE HOME IN URBAN INDIA AND COULD READ BLUEPRINTS AND IDENTIFY THE WORK OF BUILDING LUMINARIES SUCH AS LOUIS KAHN AT AN EARLY AGE. EVERYONE TOLD HIM THAT HE, TOO, WOULD BECOME AN ARCHITECT. IT WAS IN THE BLOOD. OF COURSE, HE SAYS, THIS MADE HIM WANT TO DEFY HIS PRESUMED DESTINY.

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ROOMS BY TH E SEA

series :: (Right) Rooms by the Sea #1 | Site-specific video installation | Seven Art gallery, New Delhi | 2007-13


series ::

A C C I D E N TA L M A P P I N G (Right) Willoughby, Ohio | From the series Accidental Mapping | Archival Inkjet print | 2012-13

(Below) Toms River, New Jersey | From the series Accidental Mapping | Archival Inkjet print | 2012-13

WILLOUGHBY, OHIO

hosh was drawn to art, and came to the United States to study it at UCLA. But as he began to mine his creative muse, a funny thing happened: The architecture background? It began to emerge a bit. An early series of pieces, Rooms by the Sea, contemplated the same slice of ocean view through various architectural frameworks: Vertical bars. Grids. One piece mimicked two interior walls that didn't quite join at the corner, instead revealing a burst of light and cerulean blue. The sea, a constant. The author Salman Rushdie once stated that wherever he goes, he takes a piece of the Bombay sea with him, Ghosh says. The artist’s father also once sent him photos of an old prison fortress on the islands of Andaman and Nicobar, off the southern coast of India, where one could almost hear the sea from the prison cells, a juxtaposition that Ghosh finds particularly ironic and rather dystopic, he says. In Los Angeles, the sea loomed in the background. For Ghosh, these images, words, and anecdotes came together to inspire the installations, which have been exhibited internationally over the last several years. His newer works continue to contemplate the tension between our constructed interior spaces and our external landscapes, as well as how contemporary art can effectively illuminate and mediate our experiences of such interstitial places. The pieces—which range from drawings, photos, mixed media, and video to site-specific installations—can draw the viewer in

TOMS RIVER, NEW JERSEY

recent exhibits and screenings ::

Dhaka Art Summit, Dhaka, Bangladesh India Art Fair, New Delhi, India Art Basel, Hong Kong Seven Art gallery, New Delhi, India Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain

Hong Gah Museum, Taiwan Architectural League of New York, New York Steve Turner Contemporary Gallery, Los Angeles Spaces gallery, Cleveland, Ohio Venice Film Festival, Venice, Italy .23


with the familiar, “but, on closer inspection, you have a new awareness of the mundane,” he says. A new project in the works, Accidental Mapping, extracts found images on eBay of mirrors for sale. Each photograph taken by the seller captures a small slice of life caught in those mirrors, which Ghosh has extracted to assemble a series of accidental documentaries of ordinary places in the United States. Ghosh sees this series as a witty antidote to American photographer Stephen Shore’s monumental photographic work on the American landscape, a work that he admires greatly, he says. A recent installation titled JAN 03 2012 NYC is an hour-long recording from the unmanned train that circulates between the terminals in the John F. Kennedy International Airport and the Howard Beach Station in Queens, New York. Shot entirely on the artist’s iPhone during transit, in a continuous pan, Ghosh says the video documents the disquieting complexities that underlie spaces of modernity. Ghosh splits his time between Athens, Ohio, and a studio in New Delhi, and notes that the work that emerges from each location is rather different. In India, he’s constantly aware of the class system and how globalization is changing the landscape of his native country.

series ::

DIAGRAM OF FORCES (Above) Diagram of Forces (Reverse) | Digital C-print, Dibond | 2012-13 (Right) Diagram of Forces #3 | C-print on aluminum, folded | 2012-13

.24

One recent series created in New Delhi, Diagram of Forces, takes news photos of conflict and blows them up to create abstract images that the artist then prints on large pieces of sheet metal. He uses automobile workers to bend and manipulate these sheets, creating warped photographic sculptures that would be mounted on exhibit walls. It is intense physical labor; the metal literally lashing into the artist’s arms and hands. The pieces take on forms that are uniquely their own, regardless of the intentions of the artist. When Ghosh is back in the United States, he notes that he’s exposed to more international news and uses the internet to maintain a sense of continuity in an otherwise fragmented life, creating works that contemplate broader issues. One series, Invisible Cities, takes night-time satellite imagery of cities in political crisis and manipulates them to become something more abstract: a swath of cosmos from various views. But the captions jar the viewer back to more terrestrial concerns: This is the landscape of human light on the night of conflicts in Baghdad, Iraq; Cairo, Egypt; and Dhaka, Bangladesh. “It’s a futile attempt to reconcile the polarized gulf,” he says, “between what you see and what you know.” n


video ::

JAN 03 2012 NYC (Left) Video Still | HD video from iPhone, punched mirror | 2012-14 (Below) Ghosh with a video still from JAN 03 2012 NYC.

The pieces—which range from drawings, photos, mixed media, and video to site-specific installations—can draw the viewer in with the familiar, “but, on closer inspection, you have a new awareness of the mundane,” he says.

.25


story by SA RA LAJ EUNE S SE

HOW TWO TEAMS OF PHYSICISTS ARE UNRAVELING FUNDAMENTAL MYSTERIES ABOUT THE MATTER THAT MAKES UP OUR WORLD

or people who study such tiny objects as protons, neutrons, quarks, and gluons, particle physicists do things big. They belong to teams of collaborators that comprise hundreds; they work in laboratories that extend for miles; and they generate thousands of terabytes of data. Yet these grand behaviors are not acts of bravado; rather, they are performed out of necessity. “Our experiments typically run for six months, and during that time, we collect data on billions of events,” says Justin Frantz, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, adding that the “events” he studies are collisions of relativistic heavy ions, such as gold atoms stripped of their electrons. “This type of work requires a huge amount of time and expertise. It cannot be done alone.” Frantz’s experiments are designed to unravel the mysteries of the strong force, one of the four fundamental interactions in nature. Two other Ohio University physicists—Associate Professor Julie Roche and Assistant Research Professor Paul King—are examining another of the fundamental interactions: the weak interaction. They also rely on big instruments, big data sets, and big collaborations to answer questions.

.26

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF JEFFERSON LAB


(Right) An international team of scientists built special equipment at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Jefferson Lab in Newport News, Virginia, to make the first measurement of the weak charge of the proton.

.27


THE PUZZLE OF THE QUARK-GLUON PLASMA

I

t turns out you can learn a lot by smashing particles together. Frantz and his team of about 500 scientists are using the technique to study the strong force, which holds together all the protons and neutrons of the universe. To investigate this force, the scientists use a facility called RHIC, a more than twomile-long relativistic heavy ion collider located at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. The goal is to break up the ions’ protons and neutrons into their component quarks and gluons. The result is a substance, called the quark-gluon plasma, which Frantz says may exist outside the laboratory at the center of neutron stars and likely was present for a few microseconds just after the Big Bang explosion. “We’re interested in understanding more about the quark-gluon plasma not only as a way of gaining a better understanding of the strong nuclear force and of what happened in the evolution of our universe, but also because it may even help us improve our basic understanding of quantum mechanics,” he says. To conduct their experiments, the team uses the PHENIX detector at RHIC to “look” inside the quark-gluon plasma in much the same way that X-rays “look” inside the human body. “When we first set out to study the quark-gluon plasma, we expected it to behave like a gas; however, we were surprised to find that it behaves more like a liquid,” Frantz says. The team also was astonished at how quickly the plasma forms, he adds. “We don’t know of any interactions that could drive formation that quickly. There must be some very strong interactions between the particles that could cause it to form into this quark-gluon plasma so fast. That’s one of the leading questions we have right now.” Much of Frantz’s contribution to the effort is in the form of computer programming. “We need to collect data on about 10 billion collisions, because the quark-gluon plasma that we create in the lab exists for less than a billionth of a trillionth of a second,” he says. “The amount of computing power that’s needed to collect, store, and analyze this data, which is more than 100 terabytes of data a day, is staggering.”

.28 .16

(Below) Ohio University physicists Paul King and Julie Roche contributed to the construction of a special detector at Jefferson Lab by designing and installing the data acquisition system and the analysis software.

PHOTOS: ABOVE LEFT, COURTESY OF JEFFERSON LAB; ABOVE RIGHT, BEN SIEGEL; TOP, COURTESY OF BROOKHAVEN NATIONAL LABORATORY


“We need to collect data on about 10 billion collisions, because the quark-gluon plasma that we create in the lab exists for less than a billionth of a trillionth of a second. The amount of computing power that’s needed to collect, store, and analyze this data, which is more than 100 terabytes of data a day, is staggering.” JU S T I N FR A N T Z

(Left) Justin Frantz travels to Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York to conduct his research, although his team of 500 collaborators is spread out across the globe.

J

A TEN-YEAR QUEST ulie Roche and Paul King also deal with vast quantities of data—roughly 120 terabytes in their latest experiment, called the “Q-weak experiment.” Along with a team of about 100 other scientists, Roche and King set out to measure the weak charge of the proton, something that no other physicist had done before. The weak force acts on subatomic particles. It plays a key role in the nuclear reaction processes that take place in stars and is behind much of the natural radiation present in the universe, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Jefferson Lab. Although the Standard Model of physics predicts the weak charge of the proton, actually measuring it experimentally has been very difficult—until now. That’s because scientists needed advances in technology and incredibly sensitive equipment to be able to detect the tiny variation in the electron scattering rate that would produce the measurement. Over the course of ten years, the researchers constructed a special detector at the Jefferson Lab in Virginia. The Ohio University team contributed to the project by designing and installing the data acquisition system and the analysis software. During the

two years of data collection, they provided 24-hour on-call support. In the experiment, scientists directed a beam of electrons into a container of liquid hydrogen, rapidly changing the direction of the electrons’ spin back and forth. The weak charge could be measured based on its unique interaction with the electrons. So far, the researchers have analyzed four percent of the data they generated. “Our results agree with the Standard Model prediction, which is not a surprise at this level of precision,” Roche says. However, once they have the full results, which will be much more precise, the team could see the effects of exotic physics not yet included in the Standard Model of physics, Roche says. The Standard Model has been useful for understanding physics in the range of energy that scientists have been able to study to date, she explains. However, “the Standard Model fails to explain some important aspects of the universe, such as dark matter, dark energy, and the matter/ anti-matter asymmetry.” The research could complement highenergy searches for new physics discoveries at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland.

BIG DATA, BIG TEAMS

R

oche believes the full data set will take her team a few years to analyze. In the meantime, she is already planning her next experiment to measure the weak charge of the electron. Although she is eagerly awaiting the results of these experiments, she says she enjoys the process of working with her collaborators. Frantz, too, values the time he spends with his fellow scientists. Although his team of about 500 individuals is divided into smaller working groups to perform different tasks (an elaborate management structure exists to run the collaboration), the larger group does meet regularly, and Frantz has become well acquainted with each and every one of his colleagues. “There’s no way I could do this work without their contributions; we all feel that way,” he says. “Besides, everyone knows that they can trust the data we produce because a lot of eyes looked at every single result.” And that, he adds, is the kind of largescale teamwork that gets the enormous job of understanding nature’s most fundamental interactions done. n

.29


the

expertView

:: THE E XP E RT AL AN SILVER

casino management

Should the United States gamble on adding more casinos to boost the economy? story by :: NATALIA RADIC

.30

It’s a question that media have been asking Alan Silver, an Ohio University assistant professor of restaurant, hotel, and tourism. The institution’s first and only casino expert has fielded interviews from news outlets such as ABC 6/Fox 28 Columbus, NBC 4 Columbus, WTVN Radio Columbus, WWL Radio New Orleans, the Columbus Dispatch, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Toledo Blade, and the New Orleans Time Picayune, just to name a few. After an initial career as a history professor and advertising agency owner, Silver joined the country’s second-largest casino gaming company in Las Vegas. In the years that followed, he worked in the industry in Reno, Nevada, and Atlanta, Georgia. He then returned to academia, teaching at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and Tulane University. After his arrival at Ohio University in 2011, he developed the institution’s first courses aimed at preparing students for careers in casino management. Silver talks to Perspectives magazine about the top trends he sees in the casino industry.


AMERICAN CITIES COMPETE FOR CASINO DOLLARS

More states—including Ohio—are looking to the casino industry to boost revenues. Commercial casinos are legal in 23 states, according to the American Gaming Association, with legal online gambling under way in New Jersey. Fourteen of the states with stateregulated commercial casinos also allow race tracks with slot machines (“racinos”), while Native American tribal casinos may be found in states with and without commercial casinos, he notes. But as new markets open up, states are facing increased competition from neighbors. Atlantic City “got pelted when Pennsylvania opened casino gambling,” Silver says. The slow economic recovery also has impacted initially rosy revenue projections. In Ohio, 2009 revenue projections were as high as $1.9 billion per year from casino gaming. But, as the

BIG BUSINESS IN ASIA Las Vegas may be the crown jewel of the American casino industry, but it can’t compare to Macau, China, which pulls in seven times more revenue, Silver says. Its top attraction is baccarat, a chancebased card game that draws high-stakes gamblers and, according to Silver, averages $35,000 per table per day. Macau attracts gambling tourists from China, Singapore, Korea, and Japan. From 2002 to 2013, its gaming market has grown from $2.8 billion to almost $45 billion. “Other gambling venues in Asia include Singapore,” Silver notes, “which has exploded in growth and now rivals Las Vegas in revenue.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer reported, revenue slumped in 2013, and Gov. John Kasich had to reduce future projections to about $958 million. “When the referendum went on the ballot in 2009, the voters were made all of these promises. … We expected to have all of this revenue come in from casino gaming here in Ohio,” Silver says. “It has not happened. It did not meet the forecast.” The Southeast is one of the remaining markets for potential growth in the casino industry, with Texas and Georgia in the best positions, he says. American cruise ships in international waters also hold promise, says Silver, who pioneered the marketing of the concept during his time at Leisure Time Casino and Resorts. Otherwise, the industry in the United States has limited room for expansion, he adds, with the exception of acquisitions and mergers.

LAS VEGAS TURNS TO EMERIL, CHER, AND SHOPPING Las Vegas is known for its big casino presence, but it also has become the largest market for the entertainment industry. With highly publicized professional boxing matches, celebrity chef restaurants, and performers such as Elton John, Cher, and Britney Spears, the Nevada city brings in 64 percent of its revenue from nongaming-related activities. “Las Vegas does not need any more casinos. We don’t need any more slot machines. We don’t need any more table games. What we really need is more amenities, more attractions,” Silver says. Casinos are, accordingly, boosting their budgets for dining and entertainment instead of games. “People come to Las Vegas nowadays to stay in nice hotels. You have celebrity chefs and celebrity restaurants, and you have world-renowned entertainment,” he says. “You also have high-end retail closely associated with major casino resorts. For instance, The Forum at Caesars Palace and the luxury mall at City Center, near the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino. So if you get tired of gambling, you can go on a major shopping spree.”

TAKING A CHANCE ONLINE Online gaming has become a major concern for the U.S. market. Many gaming websites do not adhere to state and federal gambling regulations and allow gamers from all states to register—even in states where the activity is illegal. For now, all eyes are on New Jersey as it implements online gaming laws. “It’s a question of regulation because this is a highly regulated industry,” Silver says, noting that gaming control boards are tasked with watchdog roles. “We are trying to keep the criminal elements out of the industry.”

PORTRAIT: COURTESY OF ALAN SILVER; PHOTOS: DREAMSTIME.COM

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Class act

STUDENT RESEARCH

MEET THE stories by :: NATALIA RADIC

engineers

C O U R T N E Y PAU L

Transforming greenhouse gases into fuel for hydraulic fracturing

O

hio University’s strong focus on green energies has opened up research opportunities for undergraduates such as Courtney Paul, a chemical engineering major who is seeking to find an effective way to convert methane emissions from oil wells into new energy sources. The project, with funding from the company Bio2Electric and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Project AgencyEnergy (ARPA-E), uses oxide catalysts to transform greenhouse gases into sustainable fuel sources for hydraulic fracturing companies. A catalyst is ground into a powder, made into ink, and then transferred onto a fuel cell. The fuel cell produces a transportation fuel, electrical energy, and water, which Paul says can be used to power machinery used to hydraulically fracture—or “frack”—natural gas or oil from the ground. “You’re not going to be burning the methane and releasing more carbon dioxide into the air, so it’s cleaner in that way,” says Paul, who works at the Ohio Coal Research Center with faculty member Jason Trembly. Because the technology can capture methane for later conversion into liquid transportation fuels, it also can help companies generate revenue, she says. “Utilizing this portable fuel cell technology has also shown to have advantages over conventional methods for turning gas into liquid fuels, in terms of thermal efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions, and cost,” she adds. Paul says her research should be complete in the next year or two. “I’ve done some welding, I’ve done some screen printing … I’ve done all sorts of shop things I don’t normally do,” such as mixing chemicals, analyzing the makeup of gas mixtures, and using a frequency scanner to measure the fuel cells’ output, she says. “I’ve gotten more experience from doing this project than I feel most people get during their entire undergraduate years.”

.32

PHOTOS: BEN SIEGEL

DAN HARRIS

Robotic hand controlled by brain waves

W

hen junior mechanical engineering major Dan Harris puts on his headset, connects the sensors to his earlobes, and flips a few switches, the long, plastic fingers situated at the end of a wood plank seem to come alive. They flex and extend as Harris wills them to, using his thoughts to control the robotic hand. The student built the device last summer for only $185 in supplies. As part of an independent study project with Professor Robert Williams, Harris met the challenge of creating a portable, easy-to-fix prosthetic limb that could be controlled by brain waves. The plastic hand is connected to wires that


L AU RY L D E S C H

Using wood to make sustainable bio-oil

L

auryl Desch is part of an Ohio University project designed to find sustainable resources that can be converted into materials that currently are derived from fossil sources. The junior chemical engineering major’s job is to find the right combination of wood stock and heat to produce a bio-oil “that is cheap, renewable, and more efficient” than other options, she says. Sometimes, the task requires elbow grease. Desch has taken a hammer to the fluidized bed reactor, a device used to change the wood from solid to liquid, on multiple occasions. “I can’t tell you how many times that machine broke on me … a clog here, a clog there,” she says. But it’s worth the effort for research that could find a new way to create asphalt that doesn’t rely on traditional petroleum products. It’s also been an “eye-opening experience” for Desch, one of several students working at the Ohio Coal Research Center with faculty member Jason Trembly. “I went in there not knowing anything … and just was blown away because the people are brilliant,” says Desch, who first joined the team as a summer intern last year. “It was a really good learning experience for me because everything is hands on.”

operate with off-the-shelf microprocessors and a headset, which uses electroencephalographic (EEG) technology to read and register brain wave intensity. The intensity of the thought is recorded as a value between zero and 100, Harris explains. When most people first try it on, they find that the controls initially are hard to grasp. “There’s a big difference between what people think is thinking hard and what is actually thinking hard,” Harris says. “It takes a bit of practice to get used to it.” Harris is seeking more funding to design an actual prosthetic that can be manufactured through a combination of 3D printing and metal machining, and also can function through spinal control. The student hopes to submit the final product to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ robotics competition. .33


Non-Profit Organization US Postage Vice President for Research and Creative Activity Perspectives magazine Research and Technology Center 120 Athens OH 45701-2979

AT A

::

Glance

Creation station PHOTO: REBECCA MILLER

PAID

Athens, OH Permit No. 100

:: INNOVATION | 3 D PRI NTI NG

Ohio University has purchased a new 3D printer that will allow the university and regional community to design prototypes and create products on demand. The machine, an Objet350 Connex from Stratasys, has eight print heads to construct objects—such as the wrenches pictured above—from a wide variety of materials. It can be used to create pieces for student art and engineering design projects or small products that can be sold by regional businesses. It's the largest and most sophisticated 3D printer acquired by Ohio University to date. The machine is located at and managed by the Innovation Center, the university’s technology business incubator in Athens. For more information, visit www.ohio.edu/research/innovation/3d

Perspectives Spring/Summer 2014  

Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity at Ohio University

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