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Office for Research and Graduate Education

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Researchers Selected for Cohort 3 of the Strategic Alignment for Research Success “STARS” Program

June 5, 2023
A honeycomb-shaped collage of the headshots of the third CFAES STARS cohort for 2023-2024

By Alexis Didinger

At the Ohio State University in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) it is part of our mission to “Create and discover knowledge to improve the well-being of our state, regional, national, and global communities.” In the CFAES Office for Research and Graduate Education (R&GE), we are dedicated to advancing this mission. A main goal laid out by the university in 2019 is to strive for, “Excellence in research and creative expression.”

In doing our part to help facilitate excellence in research within our college, R&GE developed the CFAES STARS (Strategic Alignment for Research Success) program which hosted its first cohort during the 2021-2022 academic year. CFAES STARS is a college-level effort to identify and develop the next generation of research leaders among early and mid-career tenure track faculty within the college. Since its inception in 2021, the program has graduated 22 participants doing research in a wide variety of areas of interest ranging from economic development through food and agriculture to the microbial community and their impact on plant health and yield. The research that takes place inside our college is truly vast and touches all aspects of life.

CFAES R&GE is pleased to announce the third cohort of the STARS Program, which will kick off in fall of 2023. The goal of the STARS program is to propel emerging research leaders – those individuals with the interest, vision, and motivation – to take their research programs to a higher and more collaborative level. The program will provide participants with the information, skills, and connections they need to assemble and lead large-scale teams in the pursuit of major extramural funding. Participants selected for the 2023 – 2024 STARS cohort are primarily early to mid-career faculty from a variety of CFAES departments.

Dr. Gary Pierzynski, Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Education for CFAES, has been instrumental in the continued success of this new initiative. “The overall goals of the program are to foster a strategic approach to the direction of one’s faculty career with an emphasis on building a resume with smaller grants and local awards working toward being competitive for large grants, centers, and international recognition. Being strategic involves, in part, pushing the “pause button” on the busyness of our everyday lives to ensure that some of our time is spent identifying and working toward important career goals. To borrow from Steven Covey’s ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, we need to spend more time doing things that do not appear to be urgent today but are very important in the long run.”

The 2023-2024 cohort will participate in a 6-month leadership program consisting of individual and group exercises as well as lectures and group discussions designed for early and mid-career faculty. Leadership experts from both inside and outside OSU will provide course content. Participants will develop their research action plans which will be aimed at strengthening their research activities. Group members will have access to a monthly networking opportunity among research leaders and peers with the goal of fostering collaboration among participants from diverse disciplines.

“We are excited to continue to fine tune the program as we begin with the third cohort and to monitor the successes of the participants in the first two cohorts," said Dr. Pierzynski. "Evaluations from participants indicate significant increases in confidence for abilities to develop and manage large teams and projects, and for developing a research roadmap."


Introducing the 2023 Cohort

Dr. Joshua Blakeslee, Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science

Dr. Cynthia Canan, Assistant Professor in Extension/4-H

Dr. Sheila Jacobi, Assistant Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences

Dr. Scott Kenney, Assistant Professor in the Center for Food Animal Health

Dr. Matthias Klein, Assistant Professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology

Dr. Subbu Kumarappan, Associate Professor at the Agricultural Technical Institute

Dr. Ali Nazmi, Assistant Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences

Dr. Jera Niewoehner-Green, Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership

Dr. Garrett Owen, Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science

Dr. Vinayak Shedekar, Assistant Professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering


View full participant bios, here.