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Morgan Vis and Brian Clark named 2018 Presidential Research Scholars

From staff reports | Oct 2, 2018
Professors Morgan Vis and Brian Clark have been named Ohio University Presidential Research Scholars and will be honored at an awards ceremony Oct. 31.
Professors Morgan Vis and Brian Clark have been named Ohio University Presidential Research Scholars and will be honored at an awards ceremony Oct. 31. Photo credits: Ben Siegel/Ohio University; Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.


Faculty members Morgan Vis and Brian Clark have been named the 2018 Ohio University Presidential Research Scholars for excellence in life and biomedical sciences research.

The awards program recognizes mid-career faculty members who have garnered national and international prominence in research, scholarship and creative activity.  Each award recipient will receive $3,000 to be used at the scholar’s discretion as an honorarium or to support research or creative works.

“Dr. Vis and Dr. Clark exemplify how Ohio University faculty members can make significant contributions to their scientific and medical disciplines, for the benefit of society. Both have worked successfully with interdisciplinary teams to answer major research questions,” said David Koonce, interim vice president for research and creative activity and interim dean of the Graduate College.

Vis is a professor of environmental and plant biology in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is an internationally known expert on the systematics of freshwater red algae, an important source of food and shelter for invertebrates in steams, and the use of algae as a monitor of water quality. Vis has studied the distribution of algae around the world, describing new families, genera and species. She has used DNA testing to contribute new findings to her field about the evolution and relationships among algae. With an interdisciplinary team of scientists, Vis has examined how freshwater red algae can act as a biomonitor of the health of streams in Appalachia impacted by acid mine drainage. In addition, she has conducted research and consulted with engineers on how algae may be used as a source of biofuels and for carbon mitigation. Vis has a strong track record of external funding for her research, including several grants from the National Science Foundation, and has been awarded three patents. The former Fulbright Scholar has more than 120 refereed publications and currently is working on a book about freshwater red algae slated for a May 2020 publication.

Clark is a professor of physiology and neuroscience and the Harold E. Clybourne, D.O., Endowed Research Chair in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is the executive director of the Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute (OMNI), which conducts studies on muscle function, pain and aging issues, including for clinical trials. Clark has led more than $14 million in research projects funded by federal agencies, private foundations and industry. He has gained prominence in his field for discovering that the nervous system plays a key role in age-related muscle weakness, which he and a colleague have termed “dynapenia.” His research has led to a greater understanding of muscle strength and function in the elderly and points to new pathways for preventing and treating disabilities. Clark also has found neurological causes and interventions for muscle atrophy that follows injury, disease or surgery. In addition, he has published findings on the benefits of manual, non-surgical strategies to mitigate lower back pain. He has contributed to policy by serving on several federal task forces and panels that oversee issues pertaining to pain and muscle loss with aging.

Vis and Clark will be honored at a public ceremony to recognize Presidential Research Scholars and Presidential Teaching Scholars from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 31 in the Baker Center Ballroom.

Nominees for the Presidential Research Scholars awards must be Group 1, tenured, full-time faculty from one of Ohio University’s campuses. Scholars must have been employed by Ohio University for at least three years.

For 2018-19, applications were solicited in the areas of life and biomedical sciences and arts and humanities. Although no awards were made in the latter category this year, applications will be accepted in this category for 2019-20, along with applications for faculty in physical sciences and engineering and for social and behavioral sciences.

Applications from nominated individuals are reviewed by the Council for Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity (CRSCA) and previous Presidential Research Scholar recipients, with recommendations for selection given to the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity for final approval.

All faculty of Ohio University may submit nominations; faculty also may self-nominate. The next nomination deadline will be in April 2019.

For more information about the nomination and application process, visit www.ohio.edu/research/funding.cfm.