Research Communications

Ohio University Research Committee provides more than $94,000 for early-stage faculty research, creative work 

April 15, 2010

Artist Matthew Friday is taking a new look at an often-overlooked piece of Ohio’s history: the ideas of the 19th century Ohio entrepreneur, inventor, musician and social theorist Josiah Warren (1798-1874). After printing the first anarchist periodical in America, Warren founded a small colony in Utopia, Ohio, based upon a radical notion of labor and equal rights. Although largely forgotten, Warren’s theory of “sovereign individuality" influenced numerous philosophers, politicians and economists.

Friday, an assistant professor of art at Ohio University, received a $7,838 grant from the Ohio University Research Committee (OURC) this year to create an interactive exhibit and series of drawings inspired by Warren’s life and ideas.

 “Warren interests me because he presents a critical examination of American society—the overpowering momentum of capitalism, the missed opportunities to exist in the world differently and a unique legacy of rebellion,” Friday explained.
 Matthew Friday

Matthew Friday at work in his studio.

Because Warren was heavily influenced by John Chapman, more popularly known as “Johnny Appleseed,” Friday plans to purchase a number of trees that have been cloned from Chapman’s original apple orchards, for use in the exhibit.

“Because of the generous support of the OURC grant,” Friday said, “I can reactivate the past, and that is what interests me the most.”

Friday is one of 13 faculty members who were awarded funding during the fall and winter cycles of the OURC program this year, which provided a total of $94,574 for early-stage research, scholarship and creative works. The OURC, which is funded by the Vice President for Research at Ohio University, is focused on supporting junior faculty members, as well as new projects for senior faculty members.

“The OURC program is important for providing seed money for new projects, which, in turn, can help faculty leverage additional support from external funding agencies,” said Rathindra Bose, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate College.

The projects funded by the OURC this year range in topic from classics and world religion, public health and geological sciences, to history, education and civil engineering.

“It is so difficult comparing a project in classics, for example, with something in engineering,” said Roger Shelor, a professor of finance who serves as interim chair of the OURC. “But all of these faculty members are making meaningful contributions to their fields and bringing recognition to the university’s research.”
Natalie Kruse, an assistant professor in the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, received $7,758 for her studies on acid mine drainage.

“After studying acid mine drainage for nearly 15 years, I am excited to be back in Appalachia to continue my research in a place that I am so very passionate about,” said Kruse, an Athens native and Ohio University alumna. “The OURC grant will allow me to conduct early experiments that I will use to develop larger grants that will make a real difference in communities with this problem.”

Kruse hopes to achieve improvements in water quality in communities in and around Appalachia.  

The OURC program, while competitive, is helpful to faculty because it offers experience with grant writing and proposal review and revisions.

“While it is a rigorous process, applying for the OURC grant allowed us to address issues with our study from the outset. The office provided us with feedback and guidance throughout the revision process, and someone was always available for our questions,” said Rhonda Hovatter, assistant professor of recreation and sports sciences.

Hovatter and Hyun-Ju Oh, also an assistant professor of recreation and sports sciences, received $7,900 to investigate effective interventions to increase physical activity and reduce the rate of obesity in rural Appalachian Ohio.

The duo were denied the award in a past application process, but were pleased when they found out that they were successful during the new cycle.

“The suggestions and helpfulness of the program encouraged us to resubmit our research for this year,” Hovatter said.

Other recipients of this year’s OURC awards include:

Youngsun Kim, assistant professor of hearing, speech and language sciences, received $7,758 to further evaluate the effectiveness of a new technology that could help stroke patients with swallowing.

Ken Walsh, assistant professor for civil engineering, received $7,000 to begin constructing and testing technology that could have applications for the automotive and robotics industries.

Paul Milazzo, associate professor of history, received $6,890 to conduct research on Henry Hazlitt, a renowned conservative and one of the most influential economic journalists of the 20th century.

Damian Nance, professor of geological sciences, received $6,462 for research for the first of several books on the historic mines of Cornwall in southwest England.

RuthAnn Althaus, a professor of public health, received $7,983 to analyze the relationship between the community of Athens, Ohio, and the Athens Mental Health Center from 1963 to 1993.

Robert Colvin, a professor of biological sciences, received $8,000 to study the impact of alcohol on the development of neurons, in order to learn more about the long-term risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy.

Joann Benigno, assistant professor of hearing, speech and language sciences, received $7,796 to study the effect of “event knowledge”—constructed within the context of everyday, routine activities such as book reading and play—on the language acquisition of children with and without an expressive language impairment.

Hogan Sherrow, an assistant professor of sociology and anthropology, received $5,440 to complete the first phase of a long-term research project on the behavioral ecology of the Kinyantali chimpanzee community in Kibale National Park, Uganda. The project intends to inform conservation policy for chimpanzees in Uganda.

Loren Lybarger, an assistant professor of classics and world religions, received $5,592 to study how the Somali and Palestinian immigrant communities in Columbus, Ohio, and Chicago, Illinois, respectively, are adapting Islamic religious institutions to the diverse conditions of life they are encountering in the United States.

Deborah Cochran, an assistant professor of teacher education, received $8,000 to develop and validate tools for preschool programs to identify, intervene with and monitor the progress of preschool students showing early signs of reading difficulties because they lack age-appropriate emergent literacy skills.
The next deadlines for applications for OURC funding will occur in October 2010 and January 2011. For more information, please visit: or contact the Office of the Vice President for Research at 593-0370,

By Bridget Peterlin and Andrea Gibson