Dr. M. Soledad Benítez Ponce
Dr. Benítez Ponce is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at The Ohio State University (OSU). At OSU, Dr. Benítez Ponce is developing a research program on soil and plant-associated microbial communities, with an emphasis on agricultural production systems. A key component of her research is studying microorganisms at the community level, therefore evaluating multiple microbial taxa and their potential interactions. The Benítez Ponce laboratory focuses on measures of diversity, composition, and function of the microbial community, and their impact on plant health and yield. The laboratory applies high throughput molecular techniques and bioinformatic approaches to characterize the diversity and function of microbial communities in plants and the environment in which they grow. They combine this with field and greenhouse experimentation, on-farm surveys, and single isolate characterization; and integrate our results through multivariate data analyses. Currently, they are working on cropping systems of social and economic relevance to Ohio, in particular corn and soybean production and leafy green hydroponics.
Dr. Benjamin M. Bohrer
Dr. Bohrer is an Assistant Professor of meat science and muscle biology in the Department of Animal Sciences at The Ohio State University. He has been in this position since August 2020. From 2016 to 2020, Ben was an assistant professor at the University of Guelph in their Department of Food Science. Ben completed his graduate education majoring in animal sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (PhD in 2016) and The Ohio State University (MSc in 2013). The goal of Ben’s research at Ohio State is to address applied research questions related to animal production, while supporting the goals and initiatives of the animal products industry. To-date, Ben has authored or co-authored 66 peer-reviewed journal articles, 6 book chapters, and over 85 conference abstracts and short works. In addition to his research efforts, Ben teaches several courses at Ohio State including processed meats, advanced meat science, and animal systems physiology.
Dr. Jonathan M. Jacobs
Dr. Jacobs is an Assistant Professor of Emerging Infectious Disease Ecology in the Department of Plant Pathology and Infectious Diseases Institute Discovery Themes Initiative hire at The Ohio State University. He is a plant pathologist and evolutionary microbiologist interested in the mechanisms that drive pathogen emergence. His team is motivated by questions that describe the basis of bacterial colonization of plants and translating research tools to improve plant disease diagnostics and management. Dr. Jacobs was a Fulbright Scholar to Belgium and was previously awarded USDA NIFA and NSF Postdoctoral Fellowships. Since starting at Ohio State, his program has been recognized for both scholarship and teaching. He was a recent recipient of the American Phytopathological Society’s prestigious William Boright Hewitt and Maybelle Ellen Ball Hewitt Award, designed to recognize an early career researcher “who has made an outstanding and innovative contribution directed towards the control of plant disease”. He also received the Michael V. Drake Institute for Teaching and Learning Award to enhance student education through hypothesis-driven research. His program has been awarded grants from industry partners, national (NSF-NIFA Joint Plant Biotic Interaction Program; USDA SCRI; USDA FACT-CIN) and state (Ohio Department of Agriculture) funding sources and his trainees have received competitive fellowships (OSU University, FAES Environmental and Diversity, OSU Presidential [post- and predoctoral] and USDA-NIFA Pre- and Postdoctoral Fellowships) to carry out impactful agricultural research. The Emerging Infectious Disease Ecology team is a diverse, interdisciplinary group dedicated to advancing plant, microbial and agricultural science.
Dr. Alex Lindsey
Dr. Lindsey is an Associate Professor of Crop Ecophysiology in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science at The Ohio State University. Since joining the faculty in 2015, he has focused on how crops interact with environmental factors to influence growth and yield. He also teaches courses on crop production, plant physiology, and seed science and serves as coordinating advisor for the Agronomy specialization of the Sustainable Plant Systems major. Dr. Lindsey received his PhD in Agronomy from The Ohio State University in 2015 under Dr. Peter Thomison, and has been a Certified Crop Advisor since 2009. Prior to coming to Ohio, he received his BS and MS degrees from Michigan State University.
Dr. Megan Meuti
Dr. Meuti is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Entomology at The Ohio State University. Dr. Meuti earned her PhD in Entomology from The Ohio State University in 2014. After teaching at Kenyon College as a visiting professor for one year, she joined the faculty in her home department. Dr. Meuti’s research focuses on seasonal responses in the Northern house mosquito. This species transmits West Nile virus to humans and animals throughout North America during the summer and fall, but enters a hibernation-like state in the winter where they divert their resources from reproduction and to survival. Dr. Meuti’s laboratory is characterizing how mosquitoes measure seasonal changes in day length and translate this information into hormonal and biochemical pathways. Additionally, her lab is characterizing when mosquitoes initiate and terminate their overwintering dormancy in the field and how human-mediated changes to the environment, like light pollution and higher temperatures associated with urban heat islands, impact mosquito seasonal responses and disease transmission. Dr Meuti's research is supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. In addition to her research, Dr. Meuti teaches Natural Science General Education courses as well as advanced graduate classes on insect physiology and molecular biology. Dr. Meuti also translates her research to broad audiences and uses insect education outreach to increase scientific literacy and public engagement. She has won awards for both teaching and research mentorship and continually strives to conduct the highest quality research and support her students and collaborators to achieve their personal and career goals.
Dr. Dominic Petrella
Dr. Petrella is an Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute on the CFAES Wooster Campus. Dr. Petrella is the Program Coordinator for the Turfgrass Science Program, with a 70% teaching and 30% research appointment. The focus of the 2-year Associates of Applied Science Turfgrass Science Program is to provide hands on learning opportunities for students entering into turfgrass management careers, and Dominic is particularly interested in teaching these students more about data-driven management decisions that can save resources, time, and money. His primary research interests revolve around turfgrass response to environmental cues and stresses, with most attention paid to responses to light. Dominic is most interested in turfgrass perception and acclimation to alterations to spectral light quality due to foliar shade and using this information to select and breed for shade tolerant turfgrasses. Beyond shade, Dominic has been currently investigating the role of high-intensity light stress on cold tolerance and cold acclimation in a diverse range of turfgrass species and cultivars, funded by USDA and United States Golf Association grants.
Dr. Mitchell Roth
Dr. Roth is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at The Ohio State University. Dr. Roth grew up on a farm in rural Michigan, but it wasn’t until a research experience in college that he became interested in biological research related to agriculture. Dr. Roth earned his BS at Grand Valley State University, then went on to earn his Ph.D. at Michigan State University studying Genetics and Plant Pathology. Broadly, he is interested in when, where, and how organisms interact. When it comes to plants and pathogens interacting, a myriad of factors affect the outcome of that interaction. Research in the Roth lab focuses on the genetic components that influence the outcome of plant-microbe interactions by using a combination of “-omics”, forward, and reverse genetic approaches. They investigate the role of pathogen genes in virulence, and the role of plant genes in resistance or susceptibility, and aim to use this knowledge to genetically engineer crops with durable resistance to pathogens.
Dr. Uttara Samarakoon
Dr. Samarakoon is an Associate Professor at The Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute on the CFAES Wooster Campus. She is also the coordinator of the Associate of Applied Degree program in Greenhouse and Nursery Management at OSU. Her research program focuses on developing sustainable crop production technology for ornamentals and hydroponic vegetables in controlled environment agriculture. Current research efforts focus on developing sustainable production techniques for hydroponic food crop production. via nutrient optimization, substrate selection and diversification of hydroponic crops. She organizes an annual workshop for K-12 teachers to provide training in greenhouse management and to integrate CEA education into the school curriculum.
Dr. Jonathon Van Gray
Dr. Van Gray is an Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute on the CFAES Wooster campus. He grew up spending far too much time enjoying riparian areas. His research focuses on the metagenomic dynamics of the stream microbiome under increasingly modified environmental conditions. Within this context, he has three general lines of inquiry: 1) How are human-induced landscape alterations within a watershed reflected in longitudinal patterns of microbial metagenome assembly? 2) What implications do compositional changes in the microbial community have on microbially-mediated ecosystem services and can this be exploited to predict overall ecosystem health? and 3) How can this information be leveraged to better manage and restore degraded aquatic resources? Current projects include assessing microbial response to freshwater salinization syndrome through a biogeographical lens, the characterization of wastewater effluent contributions to the antibiotic resistome of headwater stream communities, and how community coalescence at stream confluences is affected by upstream dispersal dynamics.
Dr. Ryan Winston
Dr. Winston is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering and Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering and a Core Faculty of the Sustainability Institute at Ohio State University. Ryan leads a research group focused on sustainable urban stormwater management which provides technical assistance to federal and state agencies, local governments, and watershed groups. His group conducts applied research, laboratory experiments, and computational modeling to understand the cost, benefits and ecosystem services provided by stormwater control measures including bioretention, wetlands, permeable pavements, etc. Ryan has led more than 50 projects focused on urban/suburban stormwater monitoring and subsequent development and/or calibration of models based on these data. Current research projects include construction site sediment and erosion control, climate change modeling, green stormwater infrastructure evaluation at the watershed scale, bioretention soil media development, mosquitoes in stormwater controls, and green stormwater infrastructure at marina facilities.
Dr. Marília Chiavegato
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.