OSU programs look for solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems

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SALEM, Ohio – Ohio State University is tackling some of society’s biggest issues through a $100 million investment in 10 high-impact programs at the university.
The College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences grabbed a share of the funding and will partner with several other colleges for projects that are expected to have a significant impact in areas like public health, global climate change and sustainable energy.
The university will reallocate about $50 million in central funds over the next five years to support the 10 projects selected for the Targeted Investment in Excellence program. Those funds will be matched by the participating colleges for a total investment of $100 million.
College deans proposed 46 programs for Targeted Investment in Excellence.
Three. The College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences will take part in three of the chosen projects – the climate, water and carbon program, the public health preparedness program and the translational plant sciences program.
The programs will begin as soon as possible and continue for the next five years, according to Bobby Moser, dean of the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.
The climate, water and carbon program – the top-ranked proposal – will address climate change, the availability of enough fresh water to maintain Earth’s population and the impact of fossil fuel combustion on Earth’s atmosphere.
“We’re not only talking about basic research in these areas, we’re also talking about policy change,” said Moser, who is also vice president for agricultural administration and university outreach.
Goals. One of the program’s goals is to provide scientific research upon which policy-makers can base their decisions.
Other colleges participating in this project are Mathematical and Physical Sciences, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. The Byrd Polar Research Center and the John Glenn School of Public Affairs will participate as well.
The university will invest about $11.9 million in this program.
The ag college will also participate in a Public Health Preparedness program.
The program will focus on issues such as infectious diseases, food safety, bovine spongiform encephalopathy and severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.
“It’s all those kinds of things that we as a society need to prepare for,” Moser said. “We’re trying to do what we can to keep that (a public health crisis) from happening.”
Other participants. Other colleges joining in this program are Veterinary Medicine, Biological Sciences, Medicine and Pharmacy. The School of Public Health will also participate.
The university will invest about $4.8 million in this program.
The college’s third program is Translational Plant Sciences. This program focuses on making products like polymers and biofuels from products like corn and soybeans.
“That’s a whole new market toward agriculture,” Moser said.
The College of Biological Sciences will also participate.
The university will invest about $3.4 million in this program.
Practical. OSU researchers are hoping their work goes beyond the laboratory to create practical solutions.
“We’re not just looking at the research, we’re also looking at the application,” Moser said.
While the colleges must match the university’s total investment in the program, Moser said each individual program is not necessarily a one-to-one match. He did not specify the portion the ag college would have to contribute to each program.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at jskrinjar@farmanddairy.com.)

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