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Office for Research and Graduate Education

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Meet the 2024-2025 Cohort

Ten researchers selected as part of the 2024-2025 STARS Program cohort

Scientist smiling in labThe CFAES Office for Research & Graduate Education is pleased to announce the 2024-2025 CFAES STARS Program (Strategic Alignment for Research Success) cohort. STARS is an 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 level.

2024-2025 Cohort 

Dr. Anne Fitzpatrick HeadshotDr. Anne Fitzpatrick
Associate Professor

Dr. Anne Fitzpatrick is an Associate Professor of Development Economics at The Ohio State University's Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics. She received her dual Ph.D. in Economics and Public Policy from the University of Michigan in 2015. Dr. Fitzpatrick's research focuses on health and education in developing countries, particularly issues affecting women and children. She specializes in conducting randomized evaluations aimed at testing policies to improve health care and education quality, with the ultimate goal of improving the well-being of individuals worldwide. Dr. Fitzpatrick has conducted research studies in Ghana, India, Kenya, Nicaragua, Pakistan, and Uganda.

Dr. Marijke Hecht HeadshotDr. Marijke Hecht
Assistant Professor

Dr. Marijke Hecht is an Assistant Professor of environmental education in the School of Environment and Natural Resources. She works collaboratively with educators, learners, and urban communities on design-based research to understand and develop pathways for people to learn about and care for the natural world we are all a part of. Her interdisciplinary approach to research weaves together environmental education, community-based ecological design, learning sciences, and naturalist practices to explore questions of environmental identity development, environmental literacy about complex ecological issues, and the structure and function of learning ecosystems.

Before entering academia, Dr. Hecht worked in Pittsburgh, PA non-profits to lead two major environmental projects – advocating for the Nine Mile Run aquatic ecosystem restoration, one of the largest urban stream restorations in the U.S., and managing the design and construction of the Frick Environmental Center, a public education and welcome center that is net-zero water and energy and is LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certified. She received her M.S. in Botany from the University of Vermont and her Ph.D. in Learning Sciences from the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Cara Lawson HeadshotDr. Cara Lawson
Assistant Professor

Dr. Cara Lawson is an Assistant Professor in agricultural communication whose research focuses on finding ways to better communicate about complex issues in agriculture, science, and natural resources to help create more resilient communities. Toward this effort, Dr. Lawson studies how people seek and process information, and works to better understand factors that influence attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Dr. Lawson received her Ph.D. from Texas Tech University and holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from The Ohio State University.

Dr. Sara Mastellar HeadshotDr. Sara Mastellar
associate professor

Sara L. Mastellar, PhD, is an Associate Professor who has been at Ohio State ATI since 2017. She is originally from New York state, where she grew up keeping horses on her parents’ dairy farm and participating in Pony Club and 4-H. She earned a BPS in management specializing in Equine Business Management from Cazenovia College, where she also rode on the Intercollegiate Dressage Association team. She then earned her PhD in equine nutrition at the University of Kentucky. After her graduate work she spent three years as the equine instructor at South Dakota State University. In addition to her degrees, she has earned a Graduate Certificate in College Teaching & Learning from the University of Kentucky and completed teaching professional development certificates at both South Dakota and Ohio state universities.

Dr. Mastellar’s research program focuses on supporting undergraduate research and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Undergraduate researchers have been mentored through presentations at Equine Science Society (ESS) meetings and publication of journal articles.

She currently teaches: Introduction to Horse Science, Introduction to Animal Sciences Lab, Basic Horsemanship, Equine Marketing, Equine Facility Management, Equine Nutrition & Feeding, Horse Judging & Evaluation, and Undergraduate Research.

Dr. Lorrayne Miralha HeadshotDr. Lorrayne Miralha
Assistant professor

Dr. Lorrayne Miralha recently joined the faculty of FABE-OSU as an Assistant Professor, specializing in Watershed Modeling and Data Analytics. Her research interests encompass a broad range of topics, including water quality modeling, harmful algae blooms, intensified agriculture, forest disturbance, and the development of management and policy solutions for the sustainability of our water resources. Specifically, her research leverages spatial and temporal statistics, GIS technologies, machine learning, and watershed models to improve our understanding of the processes and drivers influencing water quality on multiple scales. Dr. Miralha has secured more than 5 million dollars in funding since joining The Ohio State University, which will support the next generation of scientists and professionals interested in water resources sustainability.

Dr. Asmita Murumkar HeadshotDr. Asmita Murumkar
assistant professor

Dr. Murumkar is an Assistant Professor - ecosystems services field specialist in the Department of Extension and Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at The Ohio State University. Her research areas and outreach programs include Field- and watershed scale modeling of hydrology, water quality, and soil health, Agroecosystem resilience - Ecosystems services (e.g., soil carbon sequestration, soil health, and water quality), Farmer-friendly decision tools, Climate change and land use change, Remote sensing and GIS application in agriculture, Carbon credits, and markets. She is leading a state-wide ecosystem services modeling and stakeholder engagement program to improve water quality, soil health, and crop production. She is working on Farm-to-watershed scale decision tools:

  • USDA Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) for locating in-field and edge-of-field conservation practices,
  • NRCS Stewardship Tool for Environmental Performance (STEP) and COMET FARM/Planner for informing payment for ecosystem services (soil carbon, greenhouse gas emissions, water quality, etc.,),
  • Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model for evaluating effects of Ag conservation practices on water quality and soil health,
  • NOAA’s Ohio Applicator Forecast tool for managing farm nutrient applications based on forecasted risk of runoff.

Dr. Osler Ortez HeadshotDr. Osler Ortez
Assistant professor

Dr. Osler Ortez comes from backgrounds in coffee production (Nicaragua), soybean production (Kansas and Argentina), and corn production (Nebraska and the U.S. Midwest). He earned his B.S. degree from Zamorano University in Honduras (2014), his M.S. degree in Agronomy at Kansas State University (2018), and PhD in Agronomy and crop Production at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2021).

In 2022, Osler started as an Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University with a 3-way split appointment at the service of the land-grant mission areas with 50% extension, 30% research, and 20% teaching. He leads an applied research and extension program in corn and emerging crop production systems, and he provides leadership and supervision to the Ohio Corn Performance Test, a flagship program with 50+ years of history in CFAES. Additionally, Osler teaches Domestication and Utilization of Agronomic Crops during the Spring semesters. Dr. Ortez's interests and specialization include corn production, emerging crops, organic production, cover crops, and cropping systems. He works with collaborative teams of faculty, extension students, staff, farmers, federal agencies, and industry to develop knowledge and education in crop production.

Dr. Radin Sadre HeadshotDr. Radin Sadre
assistant professor

Dr. Radin Sadre is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science and member of the Foods for Health Research Initiative at The Ohio State University. Her interdisciplinary research program focuses on the discovery and biosynthesis of high-value plant natural products for human health and well-being. Dr. Sadre’s team combines omics approaches with genetics, biochemistry, plant metabolic engineering, and synthetic biology with the aim of developing new approaches for the sustainable production of medicines, food, and industrial feedstocks.

Dr. Grazyne Tresoldi HeadshotDr. Grazyne Tresoldi
assistant professor

Dr. Grazyne Tresoldi is an Assistant Professor of Animal Welfare Science in the Department of Animal Sciences at The Ohio State University. She was born in a small town in rural Brazil (Campo Erê, Santa Catarina), into a family deeply rooted in food production, particularly in the hospitality and meat industry. However, her passion for companion animals led her to pursue a career in Veterinary Medicine. Along the way, she discovered her true calling in the field of dairy cattle, realizing that her mission was to enhance the well-being of farm animals and champion sustainable farming practices.

To pursue this mission, she sought additional professional training in animal behavior and welfare, which granted her the privilege of collaborating with producers and institutions worldwide. This journey brought her to the US, where, prior to joining The Ohio State University, she completed her PhD at the University of California, Davis, and served as an Assistant Professor at California State University, Chico until 2023.

Her research offers significant opportunities to improve dairy cattle welfare, production, and farm sustainability. She is particularly interested in developing strategies to mitigate weather-related risks and identify the barriers and opportunities for implementing improved animal welfare practices. In both the classroom and beyond, she is dedicated to raising awareness and knowledge about food animal welfare among students, educators, and dairy industry allies, equipping them to address challenges in responsible food production. Her goal is to inspire positive change within the food animal industry for the benefit of animals and those who depend on them for sustenance.

Dr. Sam Ward HeadshotDr. Sam Ward
Assistant professor

Dr. Sam Ward started as an Assistant Professor of Forest Entomology at OSU in July 2023. After completing his PhD in Entomology at the University of Minnesota, Sam spent two years as a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University. From 2020-2023, he was an Assistant Professor of Insect Ecology in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology, and Plant Pathology at Mississippi State University. Sam’s research group (Landscaped Ecosystem and Forest Entomology Lab; LEAFE Lab) studies the ecology and management of insects that feed on trees. Most projects are aimed at understanding drivers of the arrival, establishment, and spread of non-native insects (invading species and imported biological control agents), with a particular emphasis on mitigating ecological and economic impacts of invaders.

View STARS Alumni