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Office for Research and Graduate Education

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

CFAES

Inaugural STARS Program Cohort


Scientist smiling in labTwelve researchers selected as part of the inaugural STARS Program cohort

The CFAES Office for Research & Graduate Education is pleased to announce the inaugural CFAES STARS Program (Strategic Alignment for Research Success) cohort. STARS is a new initiative to identify and develop the next generation of research leaders among early and mid-career tenure track faculty within the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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 leve

2022 Cohort Members 

Dr. Marilia Chiavegato HeadshotDr. Marília Chiavegato
Assistant Professor

Dr. Chiavegato started her academic career in Brazil, where she received an MS in Applied Chemistry, with a focus on agriculture and the environment, at the University of São Paulo. In 2014, she graduated with her PhD in Animal Science from Michigan State University. After returning to Brazil for a postdoctoral position at her alma mater, she began her current position as an Assistant Professor at Ohio State University in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, with a joint appointment in the Department of Animal Science. An overarching theme of Dr Chiavegato’s work is to improve the ecological sustainability of agricultural systems without sacrificing farm output. Through her systems-approach research, in which different aspects of an agricultural ecosystem are monitored, she aims to design effective agricultural land-management strategies.

Dr. Jessica Cooperstone HeadshotDr. Jessica Cooperstone
Assistant Professor

Dr. Cooperstone is an Assistant Professor in the departments of Horticulture and Crop Science, and Food Science and Technology, and part of the Foods for Health Discovery Theme Initiative at The Ohio State University.  Working at the intersection of plant, food, and nutritional sciences, her goal is to develop fruit and vegetable varieties that are purposefully designed for enhanced human health, backed up by clinical trial data and worthy of government supported health claims. Her interdisciplinary research group works to better understand 1) how genetic and environmental factors affect the biosynthesis of phytochemicals in crops, and 2) how these compounds affect human health.  Projects in the Cooperstone Lab combine analytical chemistry (both through traditional chemical analyses, and broader untargeted chemical profiling) with plant genetics/genomics, transcriptomics, microbiome data, sensory science, and measures of health outcomes and utilizes bioinformatics-based approaches.

Dr. Suzanne Gray HeadshotDr. Suzanne Gray 
Associate professor

Dr. Gray is an Associate Professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources. Her research and teaching program focuses on understanding how freshwater fish respond to human-caused environmental stressors from local to global scales. Dr. Gray received her PhD from Simon Fraser University (British Columbia) in 2007 and spent several years as a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (Quebec) before joining the faculty at OSU in 2013. Her passion for fish and healthy aquatic ecosystems stems from a childhood spent scouring the shores of Nova Scotia for marine life. She aims to infuse that curiosity and enthusiasm into her research and teaching and has won several prestigious teaching awards, including the OSU Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Early Career Teaching Award from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, U.S. Department of Agriculture National Awards Program for Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences. She has also been awarded several large grants, including from the National Science Foundation and Ohio Sea Grant.

Dr. Andrea Gschwend HeadshotDr. Andrea Gschwend
Assistant professor

Dr. Gschwend is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Sciences. Her research program investigates the molecular evolution of genes that contribute to abiotic and biotic stress tolerance in crops and their wild relatives, with the goal of integrating these genes for crop improvement. Her lab has active research projects that investigate the genetics of agriculturally significant adaptive traits in field pennycress, giant ragweed, and grapevine, which are funded through DOE, USDA, and OARDC SEEDS grants. Dr. Gschwend is also active in teaching and mentoring. She teaches courses on the Form and Function of Cultivated Plants, Medical Plants, and Plant Genomics, is the academic advisor for the Sustainable Plant Systems: Plant Biosciences specialization, and is an advocate for high school and undergraduate research experiences. 

Dr. Emmanuel Hatzakis HeadshotDr. Emmanuel Hatzakis
Assistant professor

Dr. Hatzakis obtained his BSc in chemistry in 2000, MSc in organic chemistry in 2004 and PhD in food analysis in 2007, at the University of Crete in Greece. From 2008 to 2010 he worked as a postdoctoral Research Associate in University of Arizona at the College of Pharmacy and from 2010 to 2012 he was Research Associate Professor in University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Then he became the NMR Director in Pennsylvania State University and in August 2016 he joined the department of Food Science and Technology at The Ohio State University as Assistant Professor. His research interests include applications of liquid and solid state Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy in Food Science, Structure Determination and Metabolomics. He is developing novel analytical tools for food evaluation, and he applies NMR spectroscopy for the discovery and characterization of compounds with high commercial and nutritional value that can be produced from low-cost sources, such as food industry waste. In addition, he uses a multi-disciplinary research approach that combines spectroscopy, metabolomics, gene expression profiles and microbial analysis to investigate the interaction between nutrition and microbiome and how this is related to health and disease. His research findings have been published in 47 referred journal articles, and he has contributed to 4 book chapters, and 1 scientific bulletin. His publications appeared in journals with average impact factor of 6.5, while his research work over the past decade has been recognized worldwide through invitations to speak at national and international conferences, educational institutes, and governmental agencies.

Dr. Shoshanah Inwood HeadshotDr. Shoshanah Inwood
associate professor

Dr. Inwood is an Associate Professor and rural sociologist in the School of Environment and Natural Resources. Her integrated research and extension program explores the impact of national, state and local efforts to create economic development through food and agriculture and addresses the question of who will be the next generation of farmers in light of a shrinking and aging farm population. Her work focuses on three major themes: 1) Health and well-being in the food and agriculture sector, 2) Social factors affecting farm viability, and 3) Community and economic development through food and agriculture. In recent years, her work has focused on the needs farm families have for accessing adequate health insurance and childcare, exploring the contribution of local food systems to rural community development, and food system resilience in the midst of disasters and disruptions.

Dr. Zoë Plakias HeadshotDr. Zoë Plakias
assistant professor

Dr. Plakias is an agricultural and food systems economist. She uses microeconomic theory and econometric methods to study: (1) the motivations of stakeholders and welfare implications in domestic supply chains aim to produce and distribute food in ways that are more fair, healthy or environmentally sustainable than conventional supply chains; (2) the role of market power in the agricultural supply chain in the context of farm organizations and farmer collective action; and (3) the interactions of farmers and food system stakeholders in farm organizations, cooperatives and social networks both within and outside markets, and their relationships to market outcomes. She also teaches undergraduate courses in Ohio State’s Agribusiness and Applied Economics (AAE) and Environment, Economy, Development, Sustainability (EEDS) majors, and conducts outreach to agricultural and food system stakeholders in Ohio and nationally.

Dr. Jonathan Fresnedo Ramirez HeadshotDr. Jonathan Fresnedo Ramirez
assistant professor

Dr. Fresnedo Ramirez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science in the CFAES Wooster Campus. The focus of his lab is on the use and implementation of genomics for germplasm improvement in outcrossing species and the domestication of new crops. Current projects taking place in his lab are the genomic characterization of aging and its effect on the performance of perennial crops, domestication and characterization of Taraxacum kok-saghyz as a novel source of natural rubber, and interdisciplinary integration of omics technologies for the improvement of apple. Jonathan joined OSU in 2016 as a Discovery Theme hire in the Sustainability Institute.

Dr. Alejandro E. Relling HeadshotDr. Alejandro E. Relling
associate professor

Dr. Relling is an Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Science. His appointment is 80% research and 20% teaching. He is located at the Wooster campus. His research focuses on developmental nutrition, particularly how different nutrients fed during gestation to pregnant cows and sheep impact in the efficiency of the offspring. He also has an interest in feeding and roughage management. Dr. Relling teaches Ruminant Nutrition (ANSCI 5031), Endocrinology (ANSCI 7730), and gives invited lectures at Beef Production, Global Food Production, among other classes. He provides service to the University as the Associate Director of the Interdepartmental Ph. D. Program of Nutrition

Dr. Mary Rodriguez HeadshotDr. Mary Rodriguez
associate professor

Dr. Rodriguez is an Associate Professor of community leadership and development. As a leadership scholar and practitioner, she focuses on supporting communities in change processes at the individual, household, and community levels. She strives to develop research-based solutions to build more sustainable and resilient communities through the exploration of behavior change and leadership development. In the US, through community engaged scholarship, she has worked with New American populations investigating the social system’s impact on access to resources. She has also worked internationally in Latin America, the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East investigating adoption of innovations, household food security and resilience, and governance of water systems.

Dr. Joy Rumble HeadshotDr. Joy Rumble
assistant professor

Dr. Rumble is an Assistant Professor of Agricultural Communication within the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership at The Ohio State University. She conducts research and outreach initiatives around effective communication in agriculture. Her research concentrates on consumer perceptions of agriculture and has included studies examining perceptions of local food, food safety, GMOs, livestock legislation, and transparent communication in the livestock industry. Dr. Rumble has more than 70 peer reviewed journal articles, $11 million dollars in grant funding and has been recognized by numerous organizations for her research. Her outreach focuses on helping producers and professionals within the agricultural industry to communicate more effectively through communication strategies, including storytelling techniques. In addition to her research, Dr. Rumble teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses focused on social science research and evaluation as well as agricultural communication writing.

Prior coming to Ohio State, Dr. Rumble was an Assistant Professor at the University of Florida in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication as well as the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education. Dr. Rumble is originally from Ohio and has a BS in Animal Science and MS in Agricultural Communication from The Ohio State University. She completed her doctorate in Agricultural Communication at the University of Florida in 2013.

Dr. Christopher Simons HeadshotDr. Christopher Simons
associate professor

Dr. Simons earned his undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Oregon, his Master of Science degree in Physiology from Portland State University in Portland, OR and his Doctoral Degree in Sensory Science from the University of California, Davis. Subsequently, Chris completed post-doctoral fellowships in the Laboratoire de Neurobiologie Sensorielle [Sensory Neurobiology Laboratory] at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris, France and the Unités de Formation et Recherche de la Odontologie [Dental School] at the Universite Paris 7. From 2004 through 2012 Chris led the Sensory Research function at Givaudan Flavors Corp. and joined the faculty in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the Ohio State University in 2013. Chris’ research interests use a multidisciplinary approach to understand perception of foods and how they are processed to influence reward and ultimately behavior. One outcome of this research is to identify the neural and physiological correlates associated with perception, food reward and behavior through the use of a variety of implicit and explicit methodologies including human sensory testing, electrophysiology, and behavioral measurements. Another outcome of his research is to leverage the knowledge gained from these types of investigations into the development of new methodologies that can be utilized by the Food and Beverage Industry to improve the product development cycle. Chris has been recognized by the Association for Chemoreception Sciences—the leading international society on chemosensory research—with the Barry Jacobs Memorial Award for Research in the Psychophysics of Human Taste and Smell.