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Exploring OU’s 300-year-old forest P8 A look through The Ridges’ telescope P10 Researching ice fish in the Antarctic P20


Understanding our world, ourselves



et’s get something straight. I’ve always had a deep appreciation for science and for the scientists who help us better understand the complexity of the world around us. However, I can fully acknowledge that I am a “words person.” Science and math will never, ever make an ounce of sense to me. I have a vivid recollection of long nights spent doing high school chemistry homework and failing to grasp the concept of balancing equations. When I had to attend a two-hour long chemistry seminar on opioid usage over the summer, it was like returning to some kind of intellectual battlefield. Luckily, the saving grace of my scientific understanding came in the form of Bill Bryson’s book, “A Short History of Nearly Everything.” The book has been a fixture on my bookshelf since freshman year of high school. Its pages, now coffee-stained and partially waterlogged

from the one time I dropped it in a pool, have been well-pored over. It’s been my constant companion on every dorm room nightstand and in every carry-on bag. What really drew me to the book in the first place was that it actually made sense. It’s a celebration of scientific discovery that doesn’t leave you feeling stupid for not understanding the science itself. It proved to me that you don’t need a degree in geology to understand the Earth’s core or a background in astrophysics to appreciate the vastness of the universe. At the end of the day, that’s our goal with this special issue of The Post: to celebrate the outstanding accomplishments of scientists at Ohio University and in Athens, and to do so in a way that’s digestible for readers. In making this edition, we tried our best to include stories from a wide range of disciplines. You’ll find everything from astronomy to dendrology (which I just recently learned refers to the study of trees),

to biology to geology. Our reporters left the confines of Athens to learn about the towering timbers in Dysart Woods, the largest known remnant of Southeast Ohio’s original forest. They spoke with OU scientists about research in Antarctica and spent time learning about OU’s very own observatory. We hope you enjoy this special edition of The Post, and we hope that you’ll appreciate the work these stories explore, even if you don’t have a background in science. At the end of the day, it’s through science — a better understanding of our world — that we can better understand ourselves. Lauren Fisher is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University and the editor-in-chief of The Post. Have questions? Email Lauren at or tweet her @Lauren__Fisher.

Cover & inside illustrations by Riley Scott




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GEORGIA DAVIS is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University.


Female journalists don’t really sleep with their sources

f you have seen a movie or show with a journalist in it, chances are they did some pretty questionable things. They probably came unprepared for their job or breached basic journalism ethics — like fabricating a whole article. But if you’ve ever seen media with a female journalist, they’ve probably slept with their source, right? Well, for those who believe everything they see on TV, that doesn’t really happen. The Camille Preakers and Shauna Malwae-Tweeps of the world are far and few between, but that doesn’t stop Hollywood from portraying the profession as anything less than sleazy. Journalism is probably one profession that few people understand. There is a lot that goes into crafting an article to inform the audience and capture the attention of its readers. Research is conducted, interviews are scheduled and facts are checked. Editors make the article better, and then it’s published in its respective mediums, whether

that be print or online. Film and television don’t show all of that though. Writers and directors get a little too personal. They make the journalists these complex characters that we latch onto, but those characters make unethical decisions that almost all journalists would condemn. This conversation came to the forefront once again with last year’s Sharp Objects on HBO. Amy Adams’ character Camille Preaker goes back to her hometown to cover the murders of children. In the show, she does most everything right. She is persistent, consults her editor and tells a truthful tale. Sure, she drinks, and she insensitively sat toward the front of a funeral service even though she was reporting. It looked like female journalists were going to get a rare positive representation — until she slept with not only one, but two of her sources. When people start seeing those representations repeatedly, people start believing that might actually be accurate. As creators make more unethical journalists, everyday consumers will believe that to be fact. Representing the media in a more positive way

is important in this era of fake news. The filmmaker’s job is not to create an accurate character, but it becomes a problem when that portrayal seeps into the mindset of its viewers. Not all journalism films paint the media in a bad light. Take the 2015 Best Picture winner Spotlight. It showed an accurate representation of watchdog journalism, and did so in a respectful manner. In that film though, the journalists were seen as heroes. There are two polar opposites with journalists in film and TV: They either uncover injustice (also known as superhero journalism) or they break every ethics rule in the book. There is no in-between. It would be great to get a character who is a journalist who just does their job. That might not be as exciting, but it would be, as journalists say, more fair. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Is there a profession you feel is misrepresented in film and TV? Tell Georgia by tweeting her at @georgiadee35.





MARCH Match Up

March 28, 2019 6-8 p.m.

Hosted by Chef Tim Try beers from local breweries at Jefferson Market $25/ticket

4 / MARCH 7, 2019

Opportunity: From Surface to Science

The longest- and farthest-running rover mission comes to a close ETHAN GOWER FOR THE POST


n early 2004, a pair of explorers began their journey across Mars. The Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity – MER-A and MER-B, respectively – rolled over opposite sides of the planet. The goal of the rovers was to follow the water, and with it, decipher the history of Mars. For all of its ocher shades, Mars is cold. On a summer day, temperatures reach only about below 10 degrees. That is troublesome for robots, especially when their solar-powered electronics could freeze. “That was the key thing: you gotta keep them warm or else circuits break in that cold environment,” Keith Milam, associate professor of geology, said. As one of the scientists on the MER missions, Milam was aware of the logistics of keeping rovers alive in the cold. “As Martian winter is coming, find a slope, park on (it) with the solar panels angled towards ... the sun,” Milam said. “If you couldn’t get into that position … the onboard batteries wouldn’t last the martian winter.” Unable to warm itself, Spirit froze in 2010. Opportunity recently joined its companion after losing power during a dust storm in the summer. The last message received from the rover was “my battery is low, and it is getting dark,” or at least that’s how the transmis-

sion was translated. “I think it’s really been personified,” Emily Simpson, a senior studying geology, said. “It’s sad that it’s gone, but it’s not the end of (Mars exploration).” A common theme of endings to Mars missions seems to be dust storms coating the solar panels and choking the mission prematurely. That is, of course, if one can consider a mission running 60 times longer than expected to be premature. “We actually knew fairly early on that at least one of the rovers might go on for a while,” Milam said. He was involved with the mapping of Spirit’s landing site, Gusev crater, where dust devils had been seen from orbit as dark streaks where the whirlwind scoured dust off the surface. As the dust devils neared Spirit, accumulations on its solar panels were wiped clean. Opportunity was less fortunate, but the prevailing winds in the rover’s landing site, Meridiani Planum, helped keep its panels clear. While wind was good for mission length, the same could not be said for the scientists working on it. For the MERs, NASA brought in teams for three weeks in Pasadena, California, with one week off. This was realistic for a mission lasting about 90 days, but with the wind, the missions could potentially last several years. “(We were) all planning for maybe a few months of activity, but now what? These rovers could literally outlive some of the people on the mission,” Milam recalled.

Longevity aside, the MER missions provided invaluable information of the physical processes on Mars – in particular, how, and when, water was present near the surface. The craters interspersed within Meridiani Planum punched through the martian surface, exposing the older rock underneath. The layering of sediment in Meridiani gave scientists insight into the transition from an early, wet Mars to the desert Mars seen today. Those findings were secondary to the primary mission, which was to find the iron oxide, hematite, that generally forms in the presence of water. As water moves through the porous sandstone, small spherules of hematite can form and grow to about the size of a BB. As the sandstone weathers away, the more resilient iron oxide is left behind, along with small volcanic rocks. The collection of spherules, gray against a ruddy background, look like tiny blueberries. Opportunity and the other Mars explorers laid the foundation for subsequent missions. Curiosity operates in much the same way as MER-B, using its onboard instruments to collect data in search of hydrous minerals. The Mars 2020 rover follows suit and, once it lands, will look at salty and possibly acidic water and water ice, Simpson said. Both rovers differ from the MERs in that they are powered by radioactive decay of polonium, rather than by solar panels. “Curiosity has the potential, as long as its hardware can take it, of lasting much longer than Spirit or Opportunity,” Milam said.

Exploring Mars has afforded planetologists the chance to put their hypotheses to the test with a rapidity never seen before. “In planetary science, very often, people write about faraway places that spacecraft, in your lifetime, will never visit,” Milam said. In his case, his interpretations of Gusev crater were scrutinized mere weeks after publication. The pay off, Milam said, was to be the one to download whatever data came back from the rovers, knowing he was the first living thing to view that piece of Mars. “There’s something special about that,” he mused. As for the rovers themselves, and indeed all Mars missions, the question remains: what will be done once humans visit the red planet? Simpson is of the opinion of placing the rovers in a martian museum. “It won’t be fresh in [colonizers’] minds, so it’s important to talk about what we were able to learn and what the scientists … were able to accomplish.” Simpson said. Milam holds a different opinion, one more sentimental. He believes that the rovers should be left as they are – conserved, not preserved. “You shouldn’t have people traipsing around [the landing sites],” Milam said, nor should they be taken back to Earth. “They were built for Mars, they’re Martians. They need to be there.”



Food pantry moves; foundation raises thousands after student dies of food allergy attack SARAH M. PENIX NEWS EDITOR FOOD PANTRY MOVES TO NEW LOCATION Ohio University’s food pantry, Cat’s Cupboard, changed locations in order to uphold certain standards that allow it to keep its nonprofit status with the food bank. To keep its status, it must be in a self-contained facility, where there is control of food going in and out. The new location requires student ID swipe access. OU can order food through the Southeast Ohio Food Bank for 19 cents per pound. The food bank acts as a distribution center for several locations around Southeast Ohio. THE ALLISON ROSE FOUNDATION PROMOTES FOOD ALLERGY AWARENESS About a year after Rebecca and Michael Suhy lost their daughter to a food allergy attack, they created the Allison Rose Foundation to raise awareness about the health

epidemic of food allergies. Since the foundation’s launch in November 2018, it has raised more than $100,000 and is working toward its vision to educate people about food allergies. Currently, the foundation is working toward having a scholarship for potential freshmen entering OU or students pursuing education majors, which is what Allison studied. OU MEAL SWIPE DONATION PROGRAM TO TAKE PLACE A meal swipe donation for Ohio University’s meal bank will take place this week after last semester’s pilot program proved successful. The meal swipe donation program allows students to donate up to three of their meals to Ohio University students who are experiencing food scarcity, according to a previous Post report. The program began Sunday and ends Friday. Last semester, the meal swipe donation program brought in about 500 meals for

Ohio University students in need. Jenny Hall-Jones, senior associate vice president and dean of students, said this semester the meal bank could increase its donations by an additional 500. RICHLAND AVENUE PROJECT POSTPONED AFTER BUDGET CONCERNS City Council voted unanimously Monday to table the proposed ordinance that would allow for the construction of the Richland Avenue Pedestrian Passageway because the project is estimated to cost more than initially expected. The project, a potential passageway from Baker Center to West Green, was initially proposed a year ago amid concerns for pedestrian and vehicular safety in the traffic-heavy Richland Bridge area. It has been repeatedly delayed, according to a previous Post report. The project was initially estimated to cost the city $3 million, but now is projected to cost $3.4 million. Councilman Peter Kotses, D-At Large, said the project’s bid came

in “well above” its 110 percent allowance after a second bid. GRADUATE STUDENT SENATE MEMBERS APPROVE BILL TO LOWER COSTS Graduate Student Senate passed a resolution which will create a bill to increase the amount of coverage by Ohio University for general fee costs for graduate students. The university currently covers $174, leaving $78 out of pocket cost per credit hour for graduate students. The bill requests that for 2020, the total coverage be $200, then increase by five percent for four years. This means by 2024, the out of pocket cost for graduate students would be $12 per credit hour. “The cost of living for graduate students are constantly increasing, but funding from the university remains the same,” Department Representative for Environment and Plant Biology Brett Frederickson said.



Public urination at Mill Fest; mailbox stolen MEGAN CARLSON FOR THE POST One of the biggest struggles of fest season is finding somewhere to go to the bathroom. The Ohio University Police Department issued five citations for public urination on Saturday, which took place on Mill Street, Stewart Street and Shafer Street. According to the OUPD police log, there were seven citations issued for disorderly conduct by intoxication or underage consumption over the weekend. OUPD took four reports of theft for a pair of AirPods, a bicycle, items from an art exhibit in the basement of Alden Library and a sign that belongs to the university. TOW-NO The Athens County Sheriff’s Office responded to South Eleventh Street in Jacksonville on Monday for a report of proper6 / MARCH 7, 2019

ty damage. Deputies made contact with the complainant who said a local tow company struck her porch while delivering a car to a nearby residence. Deputies contacted the tow company who said they would be back to fix the damages. The case is pending further investigation. SH, I’M SLEEPING The sheriff’s office received a report of a possible disturbance at Clinton Street in Albany on Thursday. Deputies arrived to the apartment and listened outside but did not hear anyone inside. The resident of the apartment was contacted and said they were the only person awake and there was no cause for concern. Deputies returned to patrol. YOU CAN’T STAY HERE The sheriff’s office responded to Bessemer Road in Buchtel on Monday at the re-

quest of a local businessman having issues with guests he had rented to. The guests allegedly broke several rules and were refusing to leave. Deputies spoke with the involved parties, and the guests were transported to Nelsonville. No further action was needed. JUST CHILLIN’ The sheriff’s office was advised of a gray pit bull lose and barking at pedestrians on State Route 78 in Glouster on Thursday. Deputies found the dog at the owners residence sitting on the porch. The owner was not home, and the dog was not causing any issues. No further action was needed. GHOSTLY BREAK IN On Thursday, the sheriff’s office responded to Pleasanton Road for a residential alarm. Deputies checked the house and found evidence of forced entry, but no suspects were found in the house. Security system and video

footage was obtained, and the incident is under further investigation. MAN, WHERE’S MY MAIL? The sheriff’s office received a report about a missing mailbox and mail from a Marion Johnson Road residence on Thursday. They said they had been expecting a check and other mail that should have arrived, per confirmation from various agencies, according to the report. The case is under investigation. SINKING FEELING The sheriff’s office responded to High Street in Chauncey last Wednesday for a report of a sinkhole. Deputies found a vehicle’s front tire in a sinkhole and took a report. The Village of Chauncey was also notified of the incident.



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Dysart Woods holds the natural legacy of more than 300 years SARAH M. PENIX NEWS EDITOR


n the past year, Ohio University-owned Dysart Woods was inducted into the Old-Growth Forest Network, which is a non-profit network of oldgrowth forests around the country. OU uses the more than 400 acres of woods as an all-natural laboratory. Although there are about 50 acres of oldgrowth forest, or natural forest that has developed over a long period of time, the rest of the land is a younger-growth forest and abandoned fields. The land has a long history, as some of the trees are 300 to 400 years old. The forests that are inducted into the national Old-Growth Forest Network are chosen because they are excellent “representative” forests for their specific locale. Forests inducted into the nationwide Network have exceptional ecological integrity and are among the oldest known native forests in their county, the OldGrowth Forest Network website reads. “There’s very few of these remnants left in the landscape, and they really replicate a snapshot of what these forests look like when Ohio used to be the Northwest Territory and when it was first settled,” Brian McCarthy, a professor of environment and plant biology, said. Dysart Woods is the only old-growth forest in Southeast Ohio, so it is the only place in the region where people can see what woods looked like up to 400 years ago. “It’s within the last .004 percent of old growth forest of Ohio,” long-time activist and founder of Dysart Defenders Chad Kister said. “The trees there are just incredible. It’s beautiful. All the old trees – it’s breathtaking … Dysart Woods is what makes Ohio such an incredible place.” A forest is a “collection of stands,” meaning that it is a comprehensive community of trees uniform in composition, structure, age and size class distribution, spatial arrangement, site quality, condition, or location to distinguish it from adjacent communities. “Trees come and go and stand changes over time but those are natural processes, so it really does sort of represent an interesting control in the landscape where it’s being managed all around it,” McCarthy said. McCarthy studies dendrochronology, or the scientific technique of dating events and environmental change by us8 / MARCH 7, 2019

The Dysart Woods, located in Belmont, is an old-growth forest owned by Ohio University. (ALEX PENROSE / DIRECTOR OF MULTIMEDIA)

ing the characteristic patterns of annual growth rings in timber and tree trunks. Through that, McCarthy studies the frequency of disturbances in the forest, such as blow-downs or fires, which show up in tree scars. “I study tree cores and so I can kind of rebuild the history of sites,” McCarthy said. “You can really study the tree rings and understand what’s happened over the last 400 years.” Because Dysart Woods serves as a control in the landscape, research has revealed the rich history of colonial times and how people have historically interacted with the land. “We were able to discern that most of the fires that occurred followed Anglo settlement, so it was actually white settlers who originally cleared the land and plowed fields and built homesteads there that caused most of the fires in the land-

scape,” McCarthy said. “So this idea that Native Americans were burning the landscape constantly may not actually be true.” The heritage of the woods is not only a point of interest for scientists because of the historical significance of the forest. “It’s not what you normally experience,” McCarthy said. “This idea of national heritage is something that, in my mind, is sort of a connecting point for people who may not be scientists.” Because Dysart Woods, located in Belmont, Ohio, is about 10 miles away from the Eastern Campus and about 2.5 hours away from the Athens Campus, students and faculty from multiple campuses are able to utilize the land. “It provides a backdrop or a setting for students and faculty to do a wide range of observations,” McCarthy said. “I’ve got a long-term study monitoring how the vegetation changes over time, and so there’s

different people doing different things up there.” In the early 1960s, The Nature Conservancy deeded the land to OU for $1 because it didn’t fit into the conservancy’s land-based strategy for the state of Ohio. In May 2004, the Ohio Valley Coal Company began mining coal north of Dysart Woods, according to a previous Post report. “They did unfortunately put in a roomand-pillar mine,” Kister said. “If they did it right it won’t collapse for a few decades so they could backfill it, but if it collapses there could be major impacts.” Room-and-pillar mining is supposed to hold up the land. However, since the mining began, many of the old trees have died. “There wasn’t the political will to do anything about it because mining in that


How climate change presents itself in different areas ABBY MILLER STAFF WRITER


n the wake of the Midwest’s polar vortex, climate change again became an increasingly popular topic of discussion in the public eye. The discussion centers mostly around the U.S., China and other major countries. However, Ohio University associate professor and director of the Scalia Lab, Ryan Fogt, researches climate change in a continent where climate records aren’t as plentiful: Antarctica. Fogt has several research projects on the continent. All of them revolve around climate change in Antarctica and look at the role humans may play in the phenomenon. One of Fogt’s projects looks at changes in atmospheric pressure in Antarctica, while another focuses on changes in sea ice melting rates. Gathering this data is important, Fogt said, because records on Antarctica are sparser than most other continents. Data from Antarctica only goes back 60 years, and most continents have data spanning back between 100 and 150 years. “So we don’t know how unique some of the changes are that we’re seeing happen, if they’ve happened before and if they’re happening faster than other places on the planet,” Fogt said. “And so what I’ve been trying to do is take records that we have and extend them back farther into time to understand better the uniqueness of them.” Fogt’s study on sea ice levels is his most recent project. The lack of data still makes the cause of sea ice levels difficult to pinpoint, but it doesn’t minimize the issue importance. “The Antarctic Ice Sheet represents the greatest potential source of global sea-level rise,” one of Fogt’s studies reads. “Its response to climate change is a

Ryan Fogt, an associate professor in the geography department, poses for a portrait in his office March 6. (Blake Nissen / Photo Editor)

key source of uncertainty for future projections.” Fogt said his research on sea ice levels is concerning to some. The research has revealed that sea ice is melting from below, which is contrary to the idea of ice melting due to the atmosphere. That melting occurs when warm water is under sea ice and melts it, contributing to lower sea ice levels. The melting has a profound effect on the high-altitude Southern Ocean, or Antarctic Ocean, according to Fogt’s study. “We’re seeing those profound changes, which have us concerned,” Fogt said. “A lot of scientists are concerned that these changes are happening quicker and may be irreversible. In other words, they may not stop. They may continue on and lead to sea level rise.” In the U.S, the rise of sea levels can already be seen on both coasts, Fogt said. Sea levels rising is one of the many effects of

We’re seeing those profound changes, which have us concerned. A lot of scientists are concerned that these changes are happening quicker and may be irreversible.” — Ryan Fogt, director of the Scalia Lab

climate change in the U.S. Other effects are heavier precipitation events and heat seasons. That could, in turn, harm the Midwest and Ohio’s agricultural systems. “Corn and soybeans can only thrive under certain temperatures,” Fogt said. “And so, if our climate rises above those temperatures, we will no longer be able to produce or have as much yield from corn or soybeans.”

The polar vortex remains a gray area in terms of its correlation with climate change. Scientists struggle with how to define polar vortexes, and it is still being debated and researched. “I tend to think that there are connections to climate change,” Fogt said. “I also believe right now that it’s still relatively unclear.” Fogt does believe that the U.S. might see more cold air systems

and events in the future. This could be related to cold airs in the Arctic that are carried over to the U.S. From his research, Fogt hopes people take away that climate change is a global pattern. That pattern can be broken down and affect different areas in different ways. The effects of climate change are different in both the U.S. and Antarctica, and some may be irreversible. Policy can help mitigate climate change’s effects and conversation is key, Fogt said. To spark conversation, Fogt encourages OU students to get involved in the Office of Sustainability’s sustainability hubs. Those hubs are a part of the Office of Sustainability’s restructure and plan to approach the issue of sustainability through “engagement ecosystems,” according to a previous Post report. Both Athens and OU have strong sustainability programs, but the hubs will allow for greater collaboration between the two, Elaine Goetz, the interim director of sustainability, said. “Generally, the hubs will foster connections between faculty, staff, students and community members who are working on sustainability initiatives that have been identified as priorities in the Ohio University Sustainability and Climate Action Plan,” Goetz said in a previous Post report. Those who are not a part of the hubs can still get involved. All are welcome to attend hub seminars and other hub events, Goetz said. Fogt’s hub, the Sustainable Administration hub, also accepted applications for Climate and Sustainability ambassadors. Those ambassadors will help promote sustainable living and enhance climate literacy across campus and the region. “We’re bringing people together to work for change and be part of a different story,” Fogt said. “And I think it’s really exciting.”


Refurbishing Education Ohio University’s public telescope will be a legacy for years to come TAYLOR JOHNSTON FOR THE POST PHOTO PROVIDED BY BEN SIEGEL

10 / MARCH 7, 2019


hio University’s telescope, located in the observatory at the top of Water Tower Drive at The Ridges, underwent extensive work to its appearance before it was able to be used by the public. Originally, the 10-inch J.W. Fecker refractor telescope was installed in 1950. The telescope is an American treasure, and it appears to be the very last of the great refractors ever to be built in the world, Thomas O’Grady, a part-time astronomy assistant, said. Many were built in the 1800s and into the 1900s, but none were made after the one OU currently owns. George Eberts, an astronomy instructor and outreach specialist, said the telescope was first accessible to the public on the roof of the Research and Technology Center. There were events that O’Grady recalls early in his career that attracted viewers to the telescope. O’Grady worked with Eberts and the telescope in 1986 to show the Halley’s Comet to more than a thousand people. “It was between 10 and 15 degrees out and people waited in line for a long time to see Halley’s Comet,” O’Grady said in an email. “They had heard about it since third grade and now it was here.” Then, in summer 1994, Eberts and Grady showed Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, a comet that broke apart in July 1992 and collided with Jupiter in July 1994, O’Grady said. “People got a chance to see Jupiter with two huge black spots on it,” O’Grady said in an email. “It looked like Jupiter was looking back at them. That telescope proved to be a real workhorse in the 1980s and 1990s.” The roof of the Research and Technology Center had a wooden shed, which had accordion doors that would roll the roof backward and allow the telescope to look into the sky, Eberts said. “This shed was a piece of s---. It was bad. It had cracks in the ceiling,” Eberts said. “So, the soot and the rain got into the shed, the motor stopped working very well. Finally, the telescope slowed way down.” A math professor at the time attempted to fund a dome for the telescope, so the shed became a temporary shelter, Eberts said. “(The shed) lasted unfortunately over 50 years,” Eberts said. “From 1981 on, I was using it for my classes, but it just kept slowing down and getting harder to deal with.” Finally, in 2006, Doug Shafer, a mechanical system technician for the de-

partment of Physics and Astronomy, met on the roof of the building with some of his colleagues to discuss the future of the telescope. “At that particular point in time, we hadn’t really established a new location to bring it down off the roof and prepare it for a complete restoration,” Shafer said. “They asked if it could be done, and I said yes.” Shafer had taken apart other machines before, but that was his first time taking apart a telescope, he said. “I had my own machine shop for close to 20 years, so this wasn’t something I knew I wouldn’t be able to do,” Shafer said. “It was not feasible to try to just take the whole telescope, assembled, and bring it off the roof. It had to be completely disassembled in its entirety in order to properly refurbish it.” So, Shafer began to work on the telescope when he could fit the time in around his other responsibilities at his job. Shafer started by dismantling the telescope, piece by piece, down to the last nut, bolt and screw and transported them all to Clippinger, where he had a room dedicated to rebuilding the telescope. “I just took it apart and put it back together,” Shafer said. “I’ve been accused of reverse engineering, because I am. We don’t have time to talk about my past.” There were many small pieces and parts of the telescope that took time and care to fix. Shafer said he cannot give a definite time when the refurbishment process was complete, but it

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY JEAN ANDREWS was done before the grand opening of the observatory. “Everything was put back to its original state,” Shafer said. “That’s the one thing I didn’t want to do, make any modifications. I wanted everything in its entirety to keep its original state.” While the observatory has been open to the public since May 2017, Shafer said he is still working on other small details on the telescope. He also maintains upkeep and helps with anything the instructors might have questions about. “It’s beautiful when it’s restored, and it’s a challenge because it’s old technology,” Eberts said. “An engineer, machine shop guys, really feel their roots coming out when they mess with this stuff. This is what their fathers and grandfathers worked with. And telescope restoration is sort of a thing within itself. It’s a cool thing to do.” Eberts, O’Grady and other faculty and students help to host public viewing nights at the observatory. “The nights scheduled are always

dependent on clear skies,” O’Grady said in an email. “It is difficult to plan clear skies ahead of time, so we get some cancellations. Otherwise, we use the telescope for our classes.” O’Grady said his favorite part about using the telescope is listening to the reactions of the viewers. “They are all over the map. Some have no reaction. Some have a great ‘WOW,’ and that is the best,” he said in an email. “When we show people the rings of Saturn, we often hear someone remark that it looks fake. The real crowd pleasers are Saturn, Jupiter and our Moon. The craters on the Moon are almost always the most exciting for people because it is so big and close.” Shafer said many people come to the public viewing nights. “It’s good to see how many people appreciate it,” Shafer said. “They’ll have crowds of 60 to 100 people. It’s finally become a real useful instrument, and it should be that way for many years to come.”


FIGHTING FOR LIFE How an infestatious pest has killed hemlock trees across Appalachia ASHTON NICHOLS | SENIOR WRITER



n the underside of an eastern hemlock tree rest hundreds of white fuzzy insects. Over time, they slowly suck the sap out of the tree, eventually killing it if left untreated. All the insects are female and are able to make clones of themselves. They can produce up to two generations per year and don’t require sexual reproduction, Joe Moosbrugger, the assistant preserve manager of Crane Hollow, a state nature preserve in Hocking County, said. “If you have one woolly adelgid that makes it to springtime, it can make 200 copies of itself,” Moosbrugger said. “Those 200 copies later make copies. It can expand exponentially. It’s great when we get these polar vortexes that will kill 98 percent, but the problem is if you get one that survives, the numbers can completely ramp back up.” Moosbrugger said the issue is that while there may be native predators to the hemlock woolly adelgid, there are not enough to curb the issue. Susan Calhoun is Ohio University’s landscape coordinator. She said she has not yet seen hemlock woolly adelgid on OU property, but it is in Athens County and will likely be here soon. “It will come closer the more local trees get it,” Calhoun said. “It’s all around us. The one good thing about the treatment is that it’s systemic. If (the adelgid) comes and it bites the tree, it dies.” Last year, Calhoun and an environmental studies graduate student, Meg Little, started to locate all of the hemlock trees at OU. There are about 90 hemlock trees currently. She said the best time to look for the pests are in the winter because they are present on the underside of 12 / MARCH 7, 2019

the leaves. They are black beetles, and in the winter they form woolly masses to protect themselves from the cold. In the summer, you can barely see them. “We’ve done our first pass and we’re OK so far. I’m feeling pretty good because we’ve been watching and we’re going to be ready,” Calhoun said. “Every winter we will go now and look.” Little said an invasive species comes from somewhere else and doesn’t have any natural predators in the new environment, which makes it easy for the population to explode. Hemlock trees are one of the native evergreen species in the region and tend to grow on streambeds. They play an important role in temperature regulation of streams, Little said. Ninety-six avian species and 47 mammalian species depend on or use hemlock trees for habitat or food. “If they get wiped out, they are not an aggressive grower, so it could potentially take thousands of years for them to come back, and then we have climate change contesting with that,” Little said. “It’s scary to think about what these ecosystems would be like without hemlock because they are a dominant species.” Hemlock is patchy where it grows, Tom Macy, the Forest Health Program administrator for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said. The largest concentration of hemlock in Ohio is the Hocking Hills area, and the second largest is in Jackson County outside of Lake Katharine State Nature Preserve. Crane Hollow is a private nature preserve used for research and education purposes about a 45-minute drive from Athens. Last March, Crane Hollow found adelgid for the first time.

igure 4.

Figure 4. Eastern hemlock twig lightly infested with several HWA woolly masses (left) and eastern hemlock branch heavily infested with HWA (right). Macy how to help Ohio with the adelgid. He said the park has treated more than a quarter of a million trees, and if they hadn’t, the majority of them would be gone. “You’re looking at the loss of millions of trees that are a foundational species,” Webster said. “They’re the great moderator of hydrologic processes. There’s really a cascading effect across the landscape that is still playing out. It’s changing the landscape in the grand scheme.” The adelgid is also causing physical damage, because the trees are coming down in campgrounds or on facilities, Webster said. “Visitor protection is our number one priority. Then you get into the greater conservation of the park,” Webster said. Eastern hemlock twig lightly infested with “We’ve made a tremendous amount of several hemlock woolly adelgid masses. positive effects.” (PROVIDED via ODNR) The loss of trees can be detrimental to a community and create health issues, low found adelgid for the first time. Webster said. “We don’t have too many native tree Eastern hemlock twig lightly infested with several HWA woolly masses (left) and eastern “Loss of trees in a community can be species in Ohio,” Moosbrugger said. “They directly linked to reduced age and health,” really change the light regime and the hemlock branch heavily infested withinHWA (right).the eastern Webster said. “You have these communiThe distributionof ofHWA hemlock woolly adelgid inUnited U.S. as 2015. moisture regime in the forest. In a5. lotThe of distribution Figure the eastern States asofof 2015 (data provided by USDA (PROVIDED via ODNR and data provided via USDA). ties where trees are cut down and greater broadleaf forests, you’re going to get a lot Forest Service). instances of earlier death and depression. of sun hitting the forest floor.” Moosbrugger said Crane Hollow has stream, however, he said they will inject selves in the environment, Macy said. People need forests.” Macy said his goal has been to preserve had it easier compared to other regions, the tree with the treatment to avoid put- They don’t have a common name, such as high-priority areas, such as Hocking Hills, the stag beetle or ladybird beetle, and are ting pesticide in water. such as Hocking Hills. The lifecycle of HWA is somewhat complex and there are two generations annually (Figure 6). HWA can because they are high in tourism. Luckily, More than 12 counties in Ohio have in- both in the genus laricobius. “If we were to do nothing though, both andforests. asexually. Japan, HWA survives and reproduces hemlock been able (T. to learn how to treat the “In some areas they appear to be effec- onheahas fested hemlock Most are In in souththe whole ecology of reproduce the area would be sexually diminished. Some of it depends on the ern Ohio, but some have also been east of tive and it looks like the biocontrols are trees from people’s experiences, such as sieboldii) and a spruce species (Picea torano). On the spruce species, there is a sexual generation. When area and how quickly these are found,” Cleveland. He said he has not seen a de- working,” Macy said. “It’s hard to tell how Webster’s, and others. a pest that is going to go away,” effective they will be. It’s still early. in the number trees yetNorth from the the Appalachia spruce species is absent, as in ofeastern America, HWA reproduces only Trying asexually “It’s on not hemlock. Moosbrugger said. “In it cline seems that hemlock woolly adelgid real- adelgid because the infestations are in the to establish a new insect in an area is pret- Macy said. “We’re doing all we can and we’re ty difficult, and it’s going to take years of early in this. There’s not a lot gone yet.” ly just wiped things out when it doesn’t early stages. Although it is cold enough right now in Macy said while chemical treatment these releases for them to take hold.” get as cold because the adelgid can realEven when beetles are released, ODNR Ohio to kill some of the adelgid, climate is the most effective, it is not long term. ly just take off.” To treat the adelgids, Moosbrugger Instead, ODNR has released a predatory will often still use pesticides to ensure the change may stop aiding 8 as a pesticide in 10 to 20 years, he said. trees will live, Macy said. said he uses tablets designed to kill inver- beetle as a long-term biological control. “Right now these hemlock trees are big The adelgid is not just in Ohio but all “Those are tiny beetles that specialtebrates. They’re easier to carry into the woods than liquid chemicals. They also ize in eating adelgids,” Macy said. “Where around Appalachia. It has affected the things and adelgids are pretty small, and have used a liquid foundation that is put we have these spot infestations popping Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it’s not going to kill (the trees) in the first into the ground, which he said is primarily up, we mainly use beetles to try to erad- which is one of the places that was quick year,” Moosbrugger said. “It’s going to be icate the insect and slow the spread of it. to fight it. There are more than 16 million kind of a slow death.” what the state of Ohio is doing. Webster said the adelgid are becoming “We don’t want to over treat things, so There’s enough infested trees that we may eastern hemlock trees in the Smokies. Jesse Webster, a coordinator for the resistant to the cold and moving further there’s a limit to how much pesticide you not be able to treat every infested hemnorth, which is why it is now in Ohio. hemlock conservation program at lock tree.” can put in a specific area,” Moosbrugger There are two beetle species Great Smoky Mountains National said. “We weren’t able to treat every last that have been approved to be Park, has helped the hemlock trees, tree. We’re going back in 2019 to finreleased, as the beetles will as well as has trained others who ish treating the area.” @ASHTONNICHOLS_ not become a pest them- are treating them. He taught If hemlocks are close to a AN614816@OHIO.EDU

igure 5. The distribution of HWA in the eastern United States as of 2015 (data provided by USDA Forest Service).

lifecycle of HWA is somewhat complex and there are two generations annually (Figure 6). HWA can roduce both sexually and asexually. In Japan, HWA survives and reproduces on a hemlock (T. oldii) and a spruce species (Picea torano). On the spruce species, there is a sexual generation. When spruce species is absent, as in eastern North America, HWA reproduces only asexually on hemlock.


Students study vampire maggots JORDAN ELLIS FOR THE POST


ampire maggot is a chilling name, creating the image of something pale, slithering in the darkness. For some, it brings feelings of both apprehension and intrigue. Vampire maggots do exist — they are the larval form of the bird blowfly, a fly species that lays its eggs in bird nests. The maggots then feed on the blood of baby birds. Their life cycle and relationships with nesting birds is fascinating to scientists, but in many ways they remain a mystery. “Really, we know nothing about the biology of these blowflies, and we don’t know when they hatch. We don’t know how the females lay the eggs. We don’t know how the female flies find the nest,” Kelly Williams, a lecturer of biological sciences at Ohio University, said. Williams is a member of the Avian Parasitic Fly Project, which hopes to change that. The project is run by a group of professors and students, and aided by local volunteers. It’s also part of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s project Nestwatch, a nationwide program that monitors the reproductive biology of birds. The aim of the project is to analyze the life cycle of the bird blowfly, as well as the sensory and communication methods it uses to perform various life functions. Those involved hope to understand and control the affects the bird blowfly has on nesting-bird populations. Bird blowflies are obligate parasites, meaning that to complete their life cycle, they must find a host. Bird blowflies are only parasitic in their larval stage. Bekka Broddie, a visiting assistant professor of biological sciences and project team member, describes them as vampire maggots in their larval stage, when their hosts are infant nesting-birds. The life cycle of the maggots is time-sensitive. For the vampire maggot to live, the mother blowfly must lay its eggs in a bird nest at the same time a mother bird lays its eggs. That way, when the maggots hatch, it will be around the same time as the infant birds, and they will have a host to attach to. When it begins feeding off the infant birds, the vampire maggot starts a day-night cycle. The maggot will stay at the bottom of the nest during the day to protect itself from the elements — and from being eaten by the parent bird. At night, it comes up from the bottom of the nest and attaches to the infant birds, sucking their blood. When day comes, it goes back down to the bottom of the nest, and the cycle repeats. 14 / MARCH 7, 2019

At the same time the infant birds grow feathers and fly away from the nest, the maggots enter a state of pupation, emerging from the nest one to two weeks later as adult blowflies. Though they are not harmful to areas where they are native, such as Ohio, bird blowflies can cause damage in areas where they are not, such as the Galápagos Islands. To help control blowfly populations abroad, the Avian Parasitic Fly Project is developing methods for population control. The first method for population control involves a process called flashing wing beat frequency. That process plays a part in the reproduction of the fly. Essentially, a male blowfly will identify a female blowfly by counting how often light reflects off it in the span of one second. A virgin female blowfly turns its wings in a figure eight pattern 164 times per second; that means it creates 164 flashes of light per second. When a male fly sees that precise amount of flashes, it will assume it’s found a mate. Using that information, the researchers are testing a device that can replicate the flashing wing beat frequency of a female blowfly. When put in place, the device will attract male blowflies (and sometimes female blowflies) toward it. In that way, researchers can directly interact with blowfly population. The second method of visual communications for blowflies involves their infrared eyesight. It is assumed that blowflies target specific nests by the concentration of infrared wavelengths that nest emits. Given that knowledge, scientists think by placing infrared blocking cloth around the nest, it would possibly prevent the blowfly from finding the nest, thereby protecting the nest. The project has received attention, garnering support from both the Columbus Audubon and the Sindisa Fund. Madeline Sudnick, a sophomore studying biological sciences, is a central member of the project team and has won the David R. Osborn Award at the Ohio Avian Research Conference for best student presentation for a poster showcasing her involvement. “I love being a part of this project because I’m at the intersection of so many different aspects of scientific research,” Sudnick said. “I have a foot in ornithology, I have a foot in entomology, and I also get to work with citizen scientists. Their contribution is really helpful, and its important to involve the community like this.”

@JORDANE42800656 JE563817@OHIO.EDU

OU 1804 Fund helps build new facility NOLAN SIMMONS FOR THE POST


hio University researchers have set up a freshwater research facility after being awarded about $50,000 from the university’s 1804 Fund. The Ohio University 1804 Fund, which was established in 1979 as a grant that focuses on undergraduate education, faculty research and graduate studies was awarded to biological sciences researchers Kelly Johnson and Viorel Popescu. The facility, located on West State Street, will allow research to be conducted using “mesocosms,” or large water tanks. They are traditionally used for cattle and are filled with leaf litter, zooplankton and other naturally occurring elements. The mesocosms are designed to mimic vernal pools, or seasonal pools of water that provide a habitat for a diverse range of plants and animals. They will serve as an instrumental tool that allows researchers to bridge the gap between controlled lab studies which might not reflect natural conditions, and large observational studies where manipulating variables may be difficult. “The ‘meso’ is really kind of the middle, it’s like the best of both worlds, so to speak, between really trying to manipulate conditions to test hypotheses, and getting as close as possible to what is happening in the natural world,” Popescu said. This year marks the third year the mesocosms have been used. Cassandra Thompson, a doctoral student studying biological sciences, has used the mesocosms for the last two years to study how different environmental factors during the larval stage of amphibians affect the fitness of the adult animals. Thompson specifically uses the Wood Frog in her research due to its ubiquity, and she will use her findings to fill in a gap in the research on carryover effects during the life cycle of an amphibian. “There’s kind of this mismatch and lack of connection between the aquatic and terrestrial stage in (population) modeling, so we want to be able to apply these carryover effects to larger population modeling,” Thompson said. Thompson has watched the mesocosm facility transform from a series of cattle tanks in a muddy field into a fully fledged outdoor facility. During the initial stages of the project, someone had tampered with the tanks,

The Freshwater Research Facility is located on West State Street. (EMILEE CHINN / PHOTO EDITOR)

The ‘meso’ is really kind of the middle, it’s like the best of both worlds, so to speak, between really trying to manipulate conditions to test hypotheses, and getting as close as possible to what is happening in the natural world,” — Viorel Popescu, biological sciences professor

draining water from the pipes used to control water levels. Thompson said that one of the benefits of receiving the grant funding is extra security at a permanent facility. In addition to fencing and other security deterrences, the 1804 Fund has allowed for the facility to have gravel around the tanks, as well as a shed to store equipment. It also allowed for the purchase of solar panels and batteries to sustainably power the different research tools used to test and monitor the mesocosms. “Now that this thing is in place, it’s a really cheap way to do research,” Popescu said. “This is not (only) just interesting and sustainable, but also we can do really cutting edge research here at Ohio University.” Aside from graduate research, the mesocosm facility will allow for undergraduates to get the field experience that will prepare them for internships and jobs, Thompson said. There are already several students helping with Thompson’s research, and students are able to set up their own experiments at the facility. Undergraduate classes will also be able to go and do small research projects

at a facility on campus, Popescu said. That dual focus is part of why the mesocosm facility earned the 1804 grant. The mesocosm facility was also an easy sell because “it was a perfect storm of things happening … all the pieces were (already) in the right place,” Popescu said. The tanks had been purchased and were in use for several years, and Thompson’s research project had already received funding from the National Science Foundation through the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, which she was awarded in 2017. There is already interest in other projects that could be done with the mesocosms. Researchers from the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs are interested in doing a study on acid mine drainage and algal blooms, Popescu said. Plant biology researchers are also interested in using the mesocosms to study the ecology of algae. “There’s a lot of people with a lot of good ideas on campus,” Popescu said. “So I’m sure it will be used continuously.”


Unearthing history Professor studies a region close to home with some of the most preserved fossils JESSICA HILL ASST. MANAGING EDITOR GEORGE SHILLCOCK FOR THE POST


ossils may seem like a faraway concept, hidden under layers of rocks in the West or behind a glass display case in a museum, but paleontology and fossil sites are much closer to home. Alycia Stigall, an Ohio University geological sciences professor, works on the Cincinnatian project, which studies environmental changes related to invasive species particularly in the Cincinnati area. The Cincinnatian Series, or just the Cincinnatian, is a region around Cincinnati that has many preserved and diverse fossils. Part of the Upper Ordovician, which is named after the second period of the Paleozoic Era, the Cincinnatian is made up of 450 million-year-old deposits of ancient ocean marine life. The region is very well known among many paleontologists; even Charles Darwin was aware of its significance towards studying evolution, Stigall said. “The rocks around Cincinnati, Ohio, are some of the most diverse and spectacularly preserved fossils from this (Ordovician time period) in the world,” Stigall said. “We are just so

16 / MARCH 7, 2019

Professor Alycia Stigall poses in her fossil lab in Clippinger on March 4. (NATE SWANSON / FOR THE POST)

lucky to be only a couple hours drive from these rocks.” Stigall works with shallow or marine invertebrates or shelly animals. She primarily looks at how new species form, evolve and eventually go extinct and what happens with the species’ geographic range and habitat preferences. She also studies how the ecosystems and other species have evolved and reacted when an invading species infiltrates an environment. “Understanding long-term impacts of invasive species is very hard to do with modern animals because you can study the zebra mussels over decades, but after that you run out the career path of an individual person,” Stigall said. “And so if you want to know what happens of thousands or tens of thousands of years, you can look at similar events in the fossil record.”

The rocks around Cincinnati, Ohio, are some of the most diverse and spectacularly preserved fossils from this (Ordovician time period) in the world. We are just so lucky to be only a couple hours drive from these rocks.” — Alycia Stigall, Ohio University geological sciences professor

Specifically, Stigall studies brachiopods, a shelly animal that looks somewhat like clams but is made from completely different minerals, she said. With brachiopods, there are many different species, and paleontologists are able to recognize those. Different species of brachiopods can end up changing the ecosystem. In Cincinnati, Stigall said, there is a big influx in the rocks

that show there was a new invasion of species that caused an extinction. Stigall has learned that not all invasions are the same — some result in a couple species going extinct, whereas large-scale invasions can contribute to mass extinctions. Stigall brings about two dozen students to the region participate in the project of studying fossils in the Cincinnatian.

Ian Forsythe, a senior studying geological sciences, wasn’t aware of how rich the Cincinnati area is in terms of fossils before he came to OU, but now he finds himself following in Stigall’s footsteps since joining her project. He hopes to become a paleontologist and study invertebrates after college, and he is currently working on brachiopods as well. “They’re very common. They fossilize pretty well and there is a good sample size,” Forsythe said. “That's probably where my interests are going to lie in the future as well.” He has been working with a genus of brachiopods called rafinesquina, which are invertebrates and are distantly related to mollusks. Rafinesquina have a bivalve shell and resemble clams. Stigall and her students who are a part of the project dig up fossils and perform morphometrics in which they measure the characteristics to learn more about the rafinesquina and the different types that once existed. No one has ever studied much about them before, Forsythe said. Identifying the different species is the first step to analyzing other facets of the animals, Forsythe said, such as how they lived, moved and then died. “Not many new species have been discovered recently, but they are making strides every day to figure out how we can relate these past species and their lives to current events,” Forsythe said. Stigall and her students hope to expand their studies to other places around the world and recognize the similarities between the Cincinnatian and other geographic regions. “I really do think that the patterns in Cincinnati are generalizable to the whole world,” Stigall said.


Ohio University researchers discover a new protein, help fight obesity and diabetes COLT AUSTEN FOR THE POST


hio University researchers at the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, or HCOM, have discovered a new protein strand that will fight obesity and Type

2 diabetes. Chunmin Lo, an assistant professor of biomedical sciences, is the principal researcher. Lo first discovered a new biological function of the protein in 2013 but did not begin her research at OU until 2015. The research focuses on the effects of the protein that naturally occur in the body. “When a person eats a meal high in fat, the small intestine secretes a glycoprotein called Apolipoprotein A-IV, or ApoAIV,” Lo said. ApoA-IV is a type of satiation protein, which means the protein will send signals to the brain telling it to stop eating. “Our hypothesis is that the protein can decrease food intake and increase energy expenditure,” Lo said. The main focus of the research is to examine the way brown adipose tissue, or BAT, converts fatty acids into energy, specifically heat. The conversion of fatty acids to heat energy helps to fight obesity. “In the first phase, we want to know (if it is) possible that this protein could increase the energy expenditure and breakdown of lipids in brown adipose tissue and generate heat,” Lo said. “The second part is we want to know about the neural systems involved.” ApoA-IV creates heat production in BAT, which may involve stimulations of neural circuits related to BAT. Neural circuits are a large group of neurons that interconnect to send large signals to the brain. The research is to correlate ApoA-IV with food intake as well as stimulating BAT to produce heat. “Overall, this research examining how (ApoA-IV) may have such a large impact on metabolism is groundbreaking,” Leslie Consitt, an associate professor in biomedical sciences, said in an email. Consitt became a part of the research in 2015, assisting in measurements of mitochondrial respiration, or how energy is produced. When it is discovered how BAT produces energy, researchers will be able to identify

Our hypothesis is that the protein can decrease food intake and increase energy expenditure.” — Chunmin Lo, assistant professor of biomedical sciences

Chunmin Lo, a biomedical sciences professor, stands in her research lab for a portrait. (NATE SWANSON / FOR THE POST)

if ApoA-IV plays a role in fighting obesity. In the U.S., obesity, a condition associated with having an excess amount of body fat, is a growing problem. Health care professionals are even classifying it as an epidemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, about 40 percent of people in the U.S. are considered obese. The CDC also states obesity is a large constituting factor to other diseases.

Heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers are all examples of obesity-related conditions. While the CDC does not say obesity is the cause of death for any person, it does claim obesity to be the main contributor to heart disease. Every year, 598,000 people die from heart disease, making it the number one killer in the U.S, which is 1,000 more people per year than all cancers combined. Obesity is also a main contributor to Type 2 diabetes, according to the Obesity Society Program. About 90 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes are obese. “Obesity leads to Type 2 diabetes, and we want to fight both,” Lo said. Type 2 diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin consumed by the pancreas. That is largely in obese adults, but can also be found in children, according to the CDC. ApoA-IV can fight obesity, which means the number of death by heart disease can decrease, as well as the number of people with Type 2 diabetes. Due to the mass importance of the project, Lo and her fellow researchers received a $465,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to perform further research on ApoA-IV. Lo and her colleagues are testing ApoAIV in the bodies of small rodents, like mice and rats. The rodents have been given high-fat diets to force them to be obese. The protein is injected in the rodents to see if Lo’s hypothesis is correct. The researchers are still examining the rodents and ApoA-IV’s fight against obesity. “Ultimately, our primary goal is to prevent or treat diabetes,” Consitt said in an email. “If ApoA-IV plays a role, it could ultimately provide great advancements in diabetes care and treatment.”


Destruction by palm oil industry is topic of concern, both environmentally and politically BAYLEE DEMUTH STAFF WRITER


t seems almost everything, from pizza and instant noodles to lipstick and soap, contains some type of palm oil. Wheth- er one realizes it or not, they’re eating or using palm oil, an ingredient that negatively affects the climate, forest habitats and human health. Palm oil comes from oil palm trees grown only in tropical areas — primarily Indonesia and Malaysia. Palm oil plantations have expanded rapidly in number and size during recent years to meet global demand, and the substance can be found in more than half of all packaged products in America. At Ohio University, those in charge of the Spring Sustainability Film Series will aim to shed more light on the realities of palm oil production with the screening of the film Appetite for Destruction. The film, which will be shown March 2 at The Athena Cinema, follows one man as he travels from Cameroon to Guatemala to Colombia, investigating what has catalyzed the new industry and the social and environmental impact of palm oil’s exponential growth. Vicky Kent, a graduate student and the sustainable living coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, hopes Appetite for Destruction will help educate others on a problem they may not be aware of, or give them a different perspective on the issue and what they can do to fix it. “I’m hoping they cover the topic sensibly and give the people some things they can go out and do,” Kent said. “Even though I’ve looked into it, I still think when I go out and get groceries, I’ll still be a little confused. I think it’s always important to keep these conversations going, that’s the biggest thing.” Kent has analyzed health-re18 / MARCH 7, 2019

In this film, we want people to be more aware so that they can make good choices in what they support, as well as their food and political choices. We really haven’t shown films focusing on palm oil, so that’s why we wanted to expose people to this film.” — Loraine McCosker, environmental studies outreach coordinator

lated factors associated with palm oil by researching the specific fruit palm oil comes from and the oil’s nutritional value. “There are two kinds of oil that come from palm oil: one from the fruit, and the other comes from the seed,” Kent said. “The palm oil increases the bad cholesterol, which is going to increase heart risk and block our valves, vessels and decrease our immune system.” In her research, Kent found that per acre, palm oil trees can produce a third more oil than any other similar producer while also using less fertilizer. Given the number of people who use palm oil at the moment, it’s like the devil humans know, she said. Much of the destructive deforestation associated with palm oil happens in Malaysia and Indonesia. In 2022, the palm oil industry is projected to double in size, Kent said. “I think the trees can grow up to 18 years old, but they tend to cut them off at a third of their lifespan because they get too tall,” Kent said. “If you’re cutting back the rainforest and putting in crops, that reduces the amount of nutrients in the soil, too.” Loraine McCosker, the environmental studies outreach coordinator, has seen Appetite for Destruction and wants it to draw

attention to what is happening with the impact of palm oil. “In this film, we want people to be more aware so that they can make good choices in what they support, as well as their food and political choices,” McCosker said. “We really haven’t shown films focusing on palm oil, so that’s why we wanted to expose people to this film.” Michelle Wilson, the financial planner for Athens Impact Socially Responsible Investments, is aware of what Appetite for Destruction is about and how palm oil not only destroys forests, but also displaces those who live in areas where it’s produced. “There’s so much money in palm oil that companies are coming in and buying up huge portions of the land and kicking people out,” Wilson said. “You have these whole countries that are dependent on their farming, so rather than just pulling out and saying, ‘Hey, we’re never going to use palm oil’, we can use it in a sustainable way in the areas that have already been cut down and support communities.” Despite the growing industry of palm oil, several companies, like Kellogg’s and Unilever, have begun using sustainable palm oil. For palm oil to be sustainable, it must adhere to the Roundtable

on Sustainable Palm Oil’s (RSPO) eight principles and criteria. “A lot of companies have said they’ll use sustainable palm oil, but you have to look at how fast they’re going toward that goal,” Wilson said. “A lot of them have published their entire supply line all the way down to the plantation, and that allows people to check them. That’s the kind of transparency we need.” Wilson herself has realized how big of a deal palm oil was in recent years. She strives to quit using products with unsustainable palm oil, and hopes the film will encour-

age others to do the same. “I hope they’re just more conscious about what they buy. There’s a seal that brands can have that says 100 percent sustainable palm oil,” Wilson said. “It’s funny, because if you see it and you’re not educated about it, you might think, ‘Oh, this has palm oil’, but that’s the company that’s doing it right. It’s very likely you’re using palm oil, so to focus on using sustainable palm oil I think is the key.”



Science fiction films often deviate from fact to further the plot JESS UMBARGER ASST. CULTURE EDITOR


hen it comes to science fiction movies, people who study the sciences often cringe at what is happening on screen. Many films try their best to get the science right, but oftentimes accuracy comes second to advancing the plot. Douglas Clowe, an Ohio University professor of physics and astronomy, tries to not let scientific inaccuracies get in the way of enjoying a science fiction movie, though. “When they are doing something fantastic, I consider that science-fantasy, and so it's no different from invoking magic to have something happening in your movie,” Clowe said. “Those (movies) don’t bother me. That’s a story-telling thing.” Even though Clowe is able to look beyond the inaccuracies, he still gets annoyed when movies try to pass off what is happening on screen as real. “The ones that bother me are the ones that try to portray themselves as being realistic, and yet they intentionally don't do something because they need something to happen for their plot,” Clowe said.

The film Armageddon (1998) was particularly troublesome for Clowe. In the movie, the main character, Harry Stamper, played by Bruce Willis, tries to drill into the center of an asteroid to detonate a nuclear bomb in order to stop the asteroid from colliding with Earth. “Anyone who's looked at comets would look at what they did and say, ‘No, no, that doesn't happen’,” Clowe said. In more recent years, the film Interstellar (2014) has also caused many scientists grief. In the space-set film, Matthew McConaughey’s character, Cooper, has limited amounts of time on each planet he visited before an event took place. But time does not work that way, Clowe said. It just runs at a different rate on a different planet. “Those are the kinds of things that become immersion-breaking for someone with a lot of knowledge of the science,” Clowe said. Logan Jacobs, a first-year graduate student studying geological sciences, enjoyed Interstellar but did have some issues with the science happening during the movie. For example, when McConaughey’s character enters a black hole, realistically, he would have been killed, Jacobs said. “When you go into a black hole, the gravity would stretch you and warp you to the

extent that you would just be obliterated,” Jacobs said. Being warped and stretched from entering a black hole is called “spaghettification” or the “noodle effect” because it causes an object to be compressed into long, thin lines, hence the name. Stephen Hawking went into detail about what would happen to an astronaut who went near a black hole, let alone enter it, in his book “A Brief History of Time.” Not all science fiction movies take place in space. In the movie The Core (2003), for instance, geophysicist Dr. Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart) travels to the center of the Earth to fix the core, which has stopped rotating. “They just kind of magically get there,” Matt Hintz, a senior studying geology, said. “They have some special machine that just plows through the Earth, and (they) don't have to deal with the pressures, or they come up with some slick way of getting around that.” Scientists do not currently have that kind of technology, Hintz said. There aren’t any materials strong enough to sustain the heat and pressure it takes to travel the more than six thousand kilometers it takes to reach the Earth’s core. Science fiction movies have been doing better in more recent years, Clowe said.

Filmmakers are starting to get into contact with the appropriate scientists to try to get the movie as accurate as possible. “There's a bunch of scientists out in California that set up a collaboration where they have a bunch of physics professors and other science professors who are willing to talk to screenwriters and directors,” Clowe said. One way to make science fictions movies better, in Clowe’s opinion, is to make a clear distinction between what is real and what is not. “The only movies that (scientists) truly get upset about are the ones that try to present themselves as factual when they incorporate things that are not,” Clowe said. Clowe has no issues with pure science fantasy films, where it is obvious that what is happening on screen is not possible and doesn’t lead the viewer to believe anything that is inaccurate. “In any of the Star Wars or Star Treks, they need stuff that we don't know can happen for their plots to work and therefore you just have to nod your head and treat it the same way you treat the Harry Potter movies,” Clowe said.



Pushing fishing pots off the stern of the ARSV Laurence M. Gould in Dallmann Bay, Antarctica (PROVIDED via Lisa Crockett)



o get to Antarctica, researchers fly to Punta Arenas, Chile, near the tip of South America. From there, the travelers take a five-day ship ride to the western peninsula of Antarctica, where they spend the next two to four months. One Ohio University researcher has been on that trip several times. Lisa Crockett has been studying in Antarctic since 1980. She is a professor of biological sciences at OU and studies the physical attributes that determine how Antarctic ice fish cope with their environment. The trip to the Antarctic can be challenging, but Crockett has experienced it several times. “It is a pretty hellish five days,”Elizabeth Evans, one of Crockett’s graduate students, said. People are thrown from their bunks and someone even broke their pelvis while on board. “Everyone gets very seasick,” Evans said. “I am especially known for my poor stomach while at sea.” Going at about 11 knots, or 13 mph, the ship that takes the team to and from Antarctica is the R/V Laurence M. Gould, which is named after the explorer of the same name. When travelling to the Antarctic, the research team begins fishing to have a supply of specimen before be20 / MARCH 7, 2019

ginning their research. They also looking at how the warming of the water, because of climate change, is affecting the fish. “Forty years ago, once in a blue moon, you could hear the glacier crack,” Crockett said. “But now it is about every 15 minutes,” During the period closest to the winter solstice, around June 22, the sun officially rises at about noon and sets at about 3:00 p.m., Amanda Biederman, one of Crockett’s graduate students, said. The team sees beautiful sunrises and sunsets that last for long periods of time, sometimes up to an hour. While on the Laurence M. Gould, the research team usually works 12-hour shifts in teams of two, Evans said. In one fishnet, they can get anywhere between zero and 12 fish. Once the ship arrives at Palmer Station, one of the three Antarctic stations the U.S. supports year-round, the science begins. Palmer Station houses about 40 scientists and support staff, Crockett said. In comparison, McMurdo Station, the biggest U.S. Antarctic station, houses about 1,000 people. Everyone who deploys to Antarctica must pass a stringent physical and medical examination since they

work far from medical care that is typical in the United States, Peter West, the manager of the Polar Outreach Program, said in an email. Every time Crockett sails to Antarctica, she is reminded of her father as she sits aboard the Laurence M. Gould, a ship that has connections with her father’s expedition. He had trained for about a year to become a dogsled driver, Crockett said. Gould, the ship’s namesake, was second-in-command during Adm. Richard E. Byrd’s expedition to the Antarctic in 1928— with Crockett’s father, Freddie, as a dogsled driver. Freddie went to the Antarctic when he was a firstyear college student. He heard Byrd was organizing an expedition and thought, “sign me up.” Crockett thinks her father was using the opportunity as an excuse to leave school. Crockett knew she wanted to see the place that influenced her father so much throughout his life. Crockett heard stories about the Antarctic from her father while she was growing up. Little did she know she would be there one day. When Freddie died in 1978, Crockett was at a crossroads. She hadn’t attended college at the age most students do and wasn’t sure what her next step would be, but

she knew she wanted to experience what her father had. She was hired by a support contractor that helps the National Science Foundation in 1980 to go to Antarctica, at a similar age to when her father went. After two years, she was hired at the University of Illinois to study how ice fish survive in the freezing waters, Crockett said. At that time, Crockett still didn’t have a college diploma, but because the University of Illinois needed employees with Antarctic experience, she was hired to help collect fish. After doing that for a couple years, Crockett went to college, received her bachelor’s in zoology and then attended the University of Maine for her doctorate. The main reason Crockett chose the University of Maine was because a faculty member, Bruce Sidell, just received his first grant for Antarctic research. Sidell became her advisor, which allowed her to pursue what was becoming her passion: Antarctic ice fish. Crockett describes her research partner, Kristin O’Brien, as her “academic sibling” because she also had Sidell as her adviser. O’Brien is a professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She attended a talk about the research Sidell and Crockett worked on and found it combined many areas in which she was interested, so she attended the University of Maine too, O’Brien said. Crockett and O’Brien began studying in the Antarctic together in 2009. At that time, it had been 18 years since Crockett had been—and she was yearning to return. Crockett has received three grant cycles for her current research, allowing her to go to the Antarctic five times to research the thermotolerance of Antarctic fish, which refers to the evolutions they have made to be able to survive the extremely cold environment, Biederman said. Crockett’s lab has not received a grant for the 2019 field season. Her most recent grant from the National Science Foundation was for $492,672, West said in an email. When Crockett began working in Antarctica in the ‘80s, the research field season was in March, but it isn’t cold enough anymore, so the field season is now in the Antarctic winter, between June and September, Crockett said. Palmer Station is just north of the Antarctic Circle, so there are usually only about five hours of sunlight per day. Palmer Station is also on a peninsula of Antarctica, which means the temperature is heavily influenced by the ocean and isn’t nearly as cold as it is inland, Crockett said. The coldest temperature Crockett ever experienced in the winter was about 14 degrees Fahrenheit. In the summer, the temperature can get above freezing. Wind speed can get as high as 80 mph. Biederman said at times it felt like the wind could blow someone away while on the ship.

Signs of glacial retreat. (PROVIDED via Lisa Crockett)

Once the ship arrives in Antarctica, the team begins studying the specimen they have collected. Ice fish evolved with unique characteristics because of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which is a massive, slow-moving body of water that surrounds Antarctica, Biederman said. The current has allowed ice fish to evolve in a relatively isolated area from the rest of the world’s oceans. An outstanding difference is the loss of hemoglobin in the blood of ice fish. Ice fish are the only known vertebrates on the planet to lack hemoglobin, an oxygen-binding protein that, for fish, binds oxygen at the gills and transports oxygen to the body, O’Brien said. Hemoglobin is also the pigment that makes blood red, so ice fish have clear blood. Red-blooded fish have about a 90-percent higher capacity to carry oxygen than ice fish. Ice fish are able to live without hemoglobin because the water they live in is so cold — about 28.68 degrees Fahrenheit. The water is so oxygen-rich that they do not need it, Biederman said. Another reason ice fish do not require hemoglobin is that their metabolic rates are so low, their oxygen demands are not as high. Crockett’s and O’Brien’s research is focused around the thermotolerance of Antarctic fish as well as their capacity to survive as the climate warms, O’Brien said. The temperature of the region of Antarctica they have been working in has increased more than anywhere else, Crockett said. There is data suggesting ice fish experience some cardiac failure at warmer temperatures, Crockett said. There is also data supporting the idea that there may be neuronal failure. The lab is trying to determine the exact changes, and how much the fish can take before dying.

Freddie Crockett, Eddie Goodale and Norman Vaughan at Amundsen’s Cairn (PROVIDED via “Cold” by Laurence Gould)

Forty years ago, once in a blue moon, you could hear the glacier crack. But now it is about every 15 minutes.” — Lisa Crockett, professor of biological sciences

The research team uses two techniques to test the capacity of these animals to survive as the climate warms. The first is an acute increase in temperature, which is when fish are put in circulating seawater tanks and then the temperature is rapidly increased, O’Brien said. The second type of experiment is a warm acclimation experiment which is where the fish are put in another tank and then the temperature is gradually increased for six-to-ten weeks, O’Brien said. Because it has salt in it, seawater freezes at 28.58 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the temperature that the ice fish are living in. For acclimation experiments, the water temperature is increased to 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Crockett’s lab is focused on specifically studying the membranes that governs thermotolerance in Antarctic fish, Biederman said. O’Brien’s lab is primarily looking at bioenergetics and the impact on the mitochondria. Both labs also work on how the cardiovascular system is affected by climate change. In order for ice fish to survive climate change they require a combination of factors. The first is thermal plasticity, which refers to how well animals are able

to adapt to temperature changes in their environment. The second is adaptive capacity, which looks at how much variation there is in the genome at the population level, O’Brien said. The higher the variation, the likelier the ice fish are able to evolve to handle the changing climate. There isn’t much downtime while researching in Antarctica because the team has a strict time table, but on days when it allows, there is plenty to do. Crockett particularly enjoys cross-country skiing. However, there has not been much snow in the recent field seasons, Crockett said. Workers don’t have to worry about food, as there is something called the “Palmer 15” which is similar to the “freshman 15.” At least one, and sometimes two, chefs are on station, Crockett said. Palmer Station also has darts, pool, ping pong and a gym, Crockett said. There is even a hot tub, which is actually just a fish tank that has been repurposed. When O’Brien was asked about her favorite part about being in Antarctica, she said, laughing, “other than being with Lisa? That is one of my favorite parts.”


THE WEEKENDER Athens Uncorked monthly drag shows fun for both patrons and performers KERI JOHNSON FOR THE POST Athens Uncorked will host its monthly drag show Friday. The “March Madness” show will feature special guests from Columbus, a DJ, special cocktails and more. Athens Uncorked is a laid-back, calming environment. It is an easygoing hang-out spot, where one can kick back and drink wine with friends, which could be why some are surprised to learn about the regular drag shows. “A lot of people are really surprised,” Cody Feiler, a manager at Athens Uncorked, said. “They see us like this, and we tell them we have a drag show they ask, ‘Where do you do this?’” Athens has a thriving bar scene. Walking down Court Street, one encounters bar after bar. With its off-Court location, Athens Uncorked may not be as well known as other bars. Because it isn’t Uptown and instead is tucked away on the sleepy west side, it isn’t as popular with the undergraduate crowd. “It’s our blessing and curse,” Feiler said. Athens Uncorked, however, maintains a steady draw. Regulars make for familiar faces, Feiler said. “A lot of people like to come here. They want to be in a more quiet, more adult environment, and we offer that,” Feiler said. “We have a library and board games, and everyone kind of chats quietly.” Although the Athens bar scene is conspicuously lacking a gay bar — Athens Uncorked, a wine bar located at 14 Station St., has found itself to be a haven for pro-LGBTQ events. With a pride flag hanging outside its window, it is a hub of fun, with regular events planned for a population less catered-to. “I’ve had plenty of people come in here asking me where the gay bar is,” Feiler said. “Athens doesn’t really have a gay bar.” That doesn’t mean Athens isn’t gay-friendly, just that the designated space of a gay bar isn’t really here, Feiler said. “Everyone’s kind of cool with whatever you subscribe to,” Feiler said. “Then again, 22 / MARCH 7, 2019

IF YOU GO WHAT: March Madness Drag Show WHEN: 8 p.m., Friday WHERE: Athens Uncorked, 14 Station St. ADMISSION: VIP table reservations $15; $6 at door

people are like, ‘We need a gay bar.’ You’d be at home wherever you went, but there are very few events for the LGBTQ community.” That’s in part why Athens Uncorked decided to host regular drag nights. The shows began after Athens had its Pride Parade and have been ongoing for a few years now, Feiler said. The shows take place the second Friday of every month. The turnout for the first drag show was spectacular, Feiler said. It inspired the owners of Athens Uncorked to collaborate with performers to provide a venue for drag in Athens. “I feel like with the pride show, Athens Uncorked sort of became the unofficial gay bar for Athens,” Jessica Hayes, a frequent guest-performer at Athens Uncorked, said. Athens Uncorked also offers special drinks and cocktails for its drag shows. Their special that night is called the “Uncorked Doll.” “It's a sweet, pretty drink we sell for cheap at $5,” Feiler said. “We make pitchers of it. It doesn’t matter what goes into it, as long as it’s pretty and pink. They’re usually really popular because they’re inexpensive, and we can make them quickly.” Drag shows at Athens Uncorked feature the Uncorked Dolls, a group of seven to nine frequent performers. Drag queens, or female impersonators, often lip-sync, dance and do comedy routines. Occasionally, a queen will sing or perform an original song.

A pride flag flies outside of Athens Uncorked, a wine bar on Station Street, on Sept 17. (HANNAH RUHOFF / FILE)

Hayes described these drag shows as “traditional.” “Big hair, big fashion, loud music; just a great chance to entertain,” Hayes said. “People who come to the show absolutely love it.” The performers also interact with the crowd. Athens Uncorked is a smaller space, with capacity at around 147. “It’s a not as big of a venue, which, actually, I really like,” Hayes said. “It’s a very intimate crowd and a lot of familiar faces, like a family, like you're coming home.” Chris Nevil is one of many who will perform as an Uncorked Doll on Friday night. “My drag character is Kazma Knights,” Nevil said. “She’s kind of funny, and she’ll dance the house down. She definitely isn’t someone who will death drop though, no splits or anything like that. She has a little

bit of a comedic aspect, too.” The Uncorked Dolls feature a variety of queens within the world of drag. “We have pageant queens, and queens who will literally dance the house down,” Nevil said. “We have some artsy queens, too. We’ll also have one drag king. Sometimes a queen will live sing. We have some very talented performers come.” As enjoyable as the show seems to be for Uncorked patrons, the queens have equally as much fun performing and entertaining them. “The fun in drag is that it allows you to be someone else. You can let loose. The fun is getting to entertain people, and making their night,” Nevil said.



Community Studios: Pinch Pot Monsters at 1 p.m. at The Dairy Barn Arts

Center, 8000 Dairy Lane. If you’re feeling crafty, making these cute little monsters is the perfect way to kick off your spring break. Admission: $5-7 Brandon Jackson at 7 p.m. at Lit-


tle Fish Brewing Company, 8675 Armitage Road. Enjoy a relaxing night of southern originals and covers. Admission: Free

March Madness Show at 8 p.m. at

Coal Cave Hollow Boys at 9 p.m. at


Athens Uncorked, 14 Station St. See all of the Uncorked Dolls in this month’s drag show. Music will be provided by DJ Biggie. Admission: $6; $15 for VIP PFC Pierce and Randy Gleason at 8

p.m. at Donkey Coffee & Espresso, 17 1/2 W. Washington St. Listen to songs of hope and hardship by Columbus-based artist PFC Pierce, along with Randy Gleason. Admission: Donation-based Velvet Green, Brother Hill and Infinite Improbability Drive at 9 p.m.

at The Union Bar and Grill, 18 W. Union St. Start your spring break the right way — with local music, dancing and fun. Admission: $5

Little Fish Yoga at 11 a.m. at Little

Fish Brewing Company. Attend a yoga session designed for all skill levels and be sure to bring your own mat. Admission: Free March Family Dance at 3 p.m. at

ARTS/West, 132 W. State St. Bring the whole family and dance the afternoon away. No experience is required. Admission: Suggested donation $3

Nueva, 6 W. State St. Enjoy a night of funky music from Cincinnati-based funk group Ernie Johnson From Detroit and Youngstownbased country rock band Larry Elefante. Admission: $5

The Athens Cinema movie times ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ PG-13: Friday, 4:45, 7 and 9:30 p.m.; Saturday, 2:35, 4:45, 7 and 9:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2:35, 4:45 and 7 p.m. ‘Cold War,’ R: Friday, 5:10 and 9:55 p.m.; Saturday, 2:30, 5:10 and 9:55 p.m.; Sunday, 2:30 and 5:10 p.m. ‘The Favourite,’ R: Friday, 7:10 p.m.; Saturday, 2:25 and 7:40 p.m.; Sunday, 2:25 and 7:40 p.m. ‘Never Look Away,’ R: Friday, 4:15 and 7:15 p.m.; Saturday, 4:15 and 7:15 p.m.; Sunday, 4:15 and 7:15 p.m.

Baker Center. If you’ve ever wondered about the state of solar energy in Ohio, this conference is for you. Events planned for the day include a series of presentations on solar technology and policy. Admission: Free




Ohio Solar Congress at 9:30 a.m. at


The Union Bar and Grill. Tap your foot to some modern bluegrass music with your favorite drink in your hand. Admission: $5

Ernie Johnson From Detroit and Larry Elefante at 10 p.m. at Casa




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