Battelle Endowment funds six science/technology projects

The Battelle Engineering, Technology and Human Affairs (BETHA) Endowment annual grant competition supports projects that examine the complex relationship between science and technology on society and cultural issues. A record number of 37 proposals were submitted for the 2018 competition, of which six projects were selected for funding. 

Monitoring Social and Economic Impacts of Green Infrastructure: Blueprint Columbus
Jeremy Brooks, PhD
School of Environment and Natural Resources
College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Blueprint Columbus aims to improve water quality using green infrastructure (GI), but GI may also improve mental health, physical health and social relationships. Previous research has produced mixed results about whether and in which contexts GI can produce such benefits and has largely ignored whether the planning and implementation process affects perceptions of GI in a way that affects these impacts. This project will use interviews and focus group meetings in two Columbus neighborhoods to address these gaps by capturing local perceptions of the process and outcomes associated with GI installation.

Compact Browser-Based Reading Verification for Early Childhood Reading Fluency
Eric Fosler-Lussier, PhD
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
College of Engineering

Repeated reading has been demonstrated to be an effective paradigm for improving reading fluency in early childhood learners. Computer-assisted technology can provide students with additional guided practice in the classroom, effectively augmenting feedback from teachers. However, previous efforts required relatively powerful, expensive computers for speech recognition. This project will make reading verification ubiquitously accessible via a web browser and use advances in neural network deep learning techniques to improve the detection of reading errors. The proposed approach will also more easily allow reading passages to be personalized to the learner and better supplement classroom activities.

Data Science for Women Summer Camp
Dorinda Gallant, PhD
Department of Educational Studies
College of Education and Human Ecology

Exposing young women, especially underrepresented minorities, to data science and analytics (DSA) when they are starting to think about college and career paths (middle/high school) is one way to address the lack of diversity in this field. We plan to launch a summer camp for young women in grades 8-10 recruited from Columbus City Schools (CCS) (starting in July 2018 and held annually thereafter). The camp will provide 30 young women with a wide variety of activities in DSA, which we expect will spur many of the students to consider DSA as a career choice.

The Global Sustainable Village
Scott Shearer, PhD
Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering
College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Ohio State students have a desire to positively impact humanity as part of their education. As they have undertaken humanitarian courses and projects “to improve the human condition,” a gap has been identified between classroom learning environments and the field. To close this gap, a Global Sustainable Village (GSV) will be a physical focal point for this project work and provide an authentic setting for problem solving. The ability to develop technologies in a representative setting before field introduction will improve student learning, foster interdisciplinary collaborations, strengthen Ohio State-partner relationships and improve the impact of community development efforts.

DNA Workshops in Rural Ohio Schools
Amanda Simcox, PhD
Department of Molecular Genetics
College of Arts and Sciences

DNA technology offers the next generation great job opportunities and capturing interest early is critical for developing this workforce. Tenth-grade biology is an opportunity to expose students to hands-on experiences with DNA technology, but the lack of resources and teacher expertise means biology is often taught as a “book-science.” DNA workshops in rural will engage Ohio State undergraduates on an alternative spring break, gaining valuable leadership experience while conducting outreach to this underserved population. These Ohio State role models will provide exciting science experiences, and also make college seem more reachable.

Engineering Design to Enhance Urban GEMS
Deanna Wilkinson, PhD
Department of Human Sciences
College of Education and Human Ecology

Engineering Design to Enhance Urban GEMS will engage Ohio State engineering undergraduates with urban middle school students to design and build a low-cost remote sensing system to facilitate deploying 36 indoor aeroponic growing systems dispersed on the south side of Columbus. This project will 1) broaden the perspectives of Ohio State engineering students by positioning them to utilize their skills to solve real-world problems and to experience firsthand the potential societal impact of technology, 2) provide emergent exposure to STEM for middle school students in Urban GEMS and 3) provide a technological solution to improve the aeroponic growing system.