Ohio University

Presidential Medals, Named Fellowships awarded to seven graduate students

Published: April 15, 2021 Author: Staff reports

Ohio University honored some of its highest achieving graduate students, contributing to their research efforts with two presidential medals and five named graduate fellowships.

"These awards celebrate several of our truly outstanding graduate students," Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis said. "They are conducting research that will have significant impact on the health and well-being of individuals and communities. They are contributing new knowledge to our understanding of history and science. And, they have creative spirits and inquisitive minds that exemplify our graduate students at OHIO."

Presidential Medals

The Presidential Medals recognize a doctoral student and a master's student who have demonstrated academic excellence in research or creative activity, such as a project, publication, or body of work. The recipients' contributions to the local community, particularly the Appalachian region, or a world community also is considered, as is the impact of their research. The awards are for $1,000.

Yahya Al-Majali
Yahya Al-Majali. Photo with permission from Leah Stankus

The Presidential Medal for Outstanding Research or Creative Excellence Demonstrated by a Doctoral Student goes to Yahya Al-Majali, of Athens, Ohio, who is pursuing a doctorate in Mechanical and Systems Engineering from the Russ College of Engineering and Technology.

“My research is focused on developing sustainable composite materials from mining waste materials to yield building materials with lower embodied carbon. Initial life-cycle analysis and techno-economic assessments of the technology have shown our composite materials to be more environmentally friendly with lower manufacturing energy intensity and emissions as compared to commercially available products,” Al-Majali said. “Living in the Appalachian region for the past six years, I have learned the economic and environmental challenges the region faces. With the huge reduction in the coal production and closure of coal mines, our technology will help to create an environmentally friendly demand for coal in the region and help to create more job opportunities.” He was nominated by Dr. Jason Trembly, Russ professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment.

Valeria Garrido
Valeria Garrido. Photo with permission from Stefan Stojanovic

The Presidential Medal for Scholarly or Creative Excellence Demonstrated by a Master’s Student goes to Valeria Garrido, of Ibarra, Ecuador, who is pursuing a Latin American Studies degree from the Center for International Studies. She is studying perceptions of traditional medicine in Ecuador.

“While traditional medicine and its holistic approach could present a viable alternative that would contribute to solving some of the health issues worldwide, such an option is not taken into consideration,” Garrido said. “In order to understand why traditional medicine benefits are not being incorporated in mainstream medicine, my investigation has analyzed what people think about traditional medicine in Ecuador. The results show a deep rejection towards most of the components of traditional medicine practices. In this regard, I have analyzed the roots of such perceptions using a variety of social sciences tools. The goal is to build a steppingstone for the integration of Western and traditional medicine.” Garrido was nominated by Dr. Patrick Barr-Melej, professor and interim executive director of the Center for International Studies.

Named Graduate Fellowships

This year five named fellowships were funded through the Graduate College, in the amount of $2,000 per semester for academic year 2021-22. This is in addition to a student's existing appointment.

Dominic Ysidron
Dominic Ysidron. Photo with permission from Amanda Castle Photography

The James Cady Fellowship goes to Dominic Ysidron, of Raleigh, N.C., a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology in the College of Arts & Sciences.

His project is titled “Effects of transcranial alternating current stimulation on pain and nociception.”

“The use of electric currents to stimulate the human body and brain is not new. However, our project is looking at a novel version called transcranial alternating current stimulation for the purpose of changing pain perception (i.e., reducing pain experience) in humans,” Ysidron said. “The evidence is still limited, but our hope is that this method will serve as a useful clinical intervention for those with chronic pain.” Ysidron was nominated by Dr. Christopher France, professor of psychology.

This fellowship is named after John Cady, an Ohio University professor of history who helped create the first Southeast Asian area of study for universities in America.

Kira Slepchenko
Kira Slepchenko

The Donald Clippinger Fellowship goes to Kira Slepchenko, of Athens, Ohio, a doctoral student in the Molecular and Cellular Biology and Biological Sciences programs in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Her project is titled “The role of hepcidin/ferroportin network in metabolism of zinc and iron in pancreatic beta-cells under physiological and inflammatory conditions.”

“My research project focuses on understanding how obesity-induced inflammation contributes to development of type 2 diabetes and the role metals play in this disease,” explained Slepchenko, who was nominated by Dr. Sarah Wyatt, professor of environmental and plant biology and director of the MCB program.

This fellowship is named after Donald Clippinger, who started as a professor of chemistry at Ohio University in 1928 and was the dean of the graduate school from 1958 to 1965.

Heather Matthys
Heather Matthys. Photo with permission from Dr. Ashley Hanna Edwards

The Claude Kantner Fellowship goes to Heather Matthys, of Lyons, N.Y., a doctoral student in Communication Studies in the Scripps College of Communication, and she was nominated by Dr. Angela Hosek, associate professor of communication studies.

Her project is titled "Adult-Children’s Experiences of a Caregiver’s Invisible Chronic Illnesses." She specializes in family communication with a focus on experiences of transitionary life events in families. The Claude Kantner award will help fund her dissertation, which centers on the experiences of adult-children of caregivers with invisible chronic illnesses. It is her hope that this project will form the foundation for researchers to understand and provide positive memorable messages to help caregivers when disclosing an invisible illness to their child.

This fellowship is named after Claude Kantner, who came to campus as director of the School of Dramatic Arts and Speech in 1946. He played a major role in the creation of the College of Communication and in planning for the Speech Building, which was renamed in his honor when he retired in 1972.

Ivan Mosley
Ivan Mosley. Photo with permission from Patrick Mitchell

The Anthony Trisolini Fellowship goes to Ivan Mosley, of Greensboro, N.C., a master's student in Theater in the College of Fine Arts.

"With slavery and sharecropping as a part of my heritage, I intend to write a play that connects the present-day Black American experience to that of the 1860s," says Mosley, who was nominated by Erik Ramsey, associate professor of theater and playwriting. "Specifically, my goals are to celebrate the legacy of African American storytelling using folklore, to broaden our definitions of blackness beyond hetero-patriarchal norms, and to dramatize the intersection of queerness, gender, and religion in the African American experience.”

This fellowship is named after Anthony Trisolini, a former dean of the College of Fine Arts, who was respected throughout the community of Athens and at the University as a teacher, critic, director and performer in the Ohio University Theater and the Ohio Valley Summer Theater and as a member of many University committees concerned with service and scholastic pursuits.

Samuel Gutherz
Samuel Gutherz

The Graduate College Fellowship goes to Samuel Gutherz, of Honesdale, Pa., who is pursuing a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the College of Arts & Sciences.

His project is on "Skeletal pneumaticity and decoupling mass-volume relationships in bone."

"My research focuses on the interaction between the respiratory and skeletal systems in birds and dinosaurs. Specifically, I am focused on the evolution of pneumatic or hollow bones, with the goal of understanding how pneumatic bones facilitated the broad diversity of these groups and how its presence/absence affects these animals' ability to perform specific functions," said Gutherz, who was nominated by Dr. Patrick O’Connor, professor of anatomy and neuroscience in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.

This fellowship bears the name of the Graduate College, recognizing that Ohio University is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a high activity research institution and is regularly among the top 20 Fulbright-producing doctoral/research universities.