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Voinovich students present research at Student Expo

Hannah Koerner
April 24, 2015

The Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs was well represented in the 2015 Student Research and Creative Activity Expo with project displays by 20 graduate students as well as undergraduate research scholars from the Honors Tutorial College and the College of Arts and Sciences.

The event, held April 9, is an annual showcase of student research efforts. It is open to the community, and presenters are reviewed by a panel of judges who award cash prizes.

Participants from the Voinovich School received awards in three categories.  Traditionally Voinovich students register either for the Public and Social Innovation Category or the Energy and Environmental category, but this year so many students presented that the Energy and Environmental category was separated into two sections.

Godfrey Ogallo, a second-year environmental studies and information and telecommunications systems graduate student, took first place in the first Energy and Environmental category. He presented work on low-cost water quality monitoring that could enable automated data collection in remote locations. Ogallo additionally won third place in the Center for Entrepreneurship Pitch Competition for his invention. 

First place in the second Energy and Environmental category went to Caleb Hawkins, a second-year graduate student in the environmental studies program. Hawkins presented his thesis research on ecological recovery and environmental remediation in watersheds affected by coal mining.

The winner of the Public and Social Innovation category was Seema Mahato, a second-year student in the master of public administration program. Her project called for redefining the focus of welfare programs. Currently, these programs are designed to reduce problems; Mahato believes they should be focused on well-being to eliminate the causes of problems.  She examined food insecurity in Athens County as an application of this paradigm shift.

Like Mahato, many of the other Voinovich students’ projects focused on problems affecting southeastern Ohio.

Aaron Coons, a junior majoring in wildlife and conservation biology, presented his work on a site-specific feasibility replication of a passive iron removal method for acid mine drainage waters. His project could determine if this method has the potential to treat watersheds in southeastern Ohio affected by acid mine drainage. Coons was introduced to this project by Natalie Kruse-Daniels, one of the professors he works with as an undergraduate research scholar in the Voinovich School.

Voinovich students also placed in other categories. Awa Sall, an incoming graduate student in the environmental studies program, won second place in the Environmental Plant Biology category with her partner Paige Klunk, a first-year international development studies graduate student. Their poster was entitled “A Multiple-Criteria Analysis of the Cost-Effectiveness of Solar Lamps for Consumers in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Another student presented on the efforts of the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative (AOZWI).  Kate Blyth is a sophomore environmental geography major in the College of Arts and Sciences and student zero waste coordinator for the Voinovich School.  Blyth’s presentation was not technically research. Instead, she attended the Student Expo to explain AOZWI’s role in making the Expo a zero-waste event. The group placed recycling and composting bins throughout the Convocation Center and ensured all products for the event were compostable or recyclable.

All the participants agreed the experience helped them develop skills in presenting complicated research to people outside their fields. They also enjoyed exploring their classmates’ projects.

“It's amazing to think that we don't often stop to ask each other what we're working on, and this was a great chance to learn a little bit more,” said Alexandra Sargent, a first-year student in the environmental studies program.

For a more information, including a complete list of participants and winners, visit: http://www.ohio.edu/graduate/expowelcome.cfm