OARDC scientists nab national honors; have ‘positive impact on society’

Ken Lee (photo: Ken Chamberlain, CFAES)

Ken Lee (photo: Ken Chamberlain, CFAES)

Prominent professional groups recently honored two Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center scientists, one of whom works on food and health, one on alternative rubber production.

In December, Ken Lee, professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology, was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He joined four other Ohio State faculty members who were elected to the association last year.

Ohio State President Michael V. Drake said Ohio State’s new AAAS Fellows “demonstrate the wide reach of Ohio State research. They exemplify the university’s mission of creating the knowledge and discoveries that make a difference in people’s lives.”

Also in December, Katrina Cornish, professor in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science and Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, was named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Cornish was one of two inductees — along with Vice President for Research Caroline Whitacre — from Ohio State in 2015.

Katrina Cornish (photo: Ken Chamberlain, CFAES)

Bruce McPheron, the university’s interim executive vice president and provost, said, “We at Ohio State are extremely proud of the accomplishments of Drs. Whitacre and Cornish. Their contributions to innovation are superb examples of the positive impact that the university has on society.”

Impact: Good food and health, sustainable rubber

  • Lee, who specializes in innovative ways to improve the human condition through food, is the director and lead investigator of Ohio State’s Food Innovation Center.
  • Cornish, who’s developing new, more sustainable sources of natural rubber, holds the Endowed Chair in Bio-based Emergent Materials and is an Ohio Research Scholar.

Read more here and here.

Working to protect Columbus’ drinking water — while also managing costs

Hoover Reservoir is a major source of water for Columbus. The 20 billion-gallon impoundment lies in a rapidly growing area north of the city. (Photo: Ken Chamberlain, CFAES.)

Hoover Reservoir is a major source of water for Columbus. The 20 billion-gallon impoundment lies in a rapidly growing area north of the city. (Photo: Ken Chamberlain, CFAES.)

High nitrate levels at a Columbus water plant last year led to a two-week, no-drink advisory for pregnant women and infants younger than 6 months old.

Preventing such problems drives the city of Columbus’ new, in-development Watershed Master Plan.

Consultancy CDM Smith leads the effort with help from, among others, specialists from Ohio State University Extension.

Myra Moss and Joe Bonnell, plus faculty emeritus Bill Grunkemeyer, are helping the firm identify and prioritize agricultural activities in the Scioto River, Big Walnut Creek and Alum Creek watersheds that could impact water reaching the city’s water plants.

Protecting Columbus’ watersheds “will help control treatment and reservoir operation costs and reduce risks in delivering safe drinking water,” said Julie McGill, water resources engineer with CDM Smith.

“The fewer contaminants entering the water plants,” said Bonnell, Extension’s watershed management program director, “the less technology — and money — required to remove those contaminants.”

Moss, Bonnell and Grunkemeyer have unique expertise in water issues, sustainable planning and consensus building.

“OSU Extension brings deep, unique experience in working with the agricultural community, developing comprehensive plans and delivering educational programs aimed at changing public behavior,” McGill said. “This lets them reach out to farmers and other stakeholders with simple, straightforward dialogue that can change mindsets.”


  • Columbus’ Watershed Master Plan stands to benefit 1.1 million central Ohioans by safeguarding their drinking water sources and spending their water revenues wisely.
  • Columbus’ main drinking water sources, the Scioto River and Big Walnut Creek, receive runoff from 1,200-plus square miles of land, 72 percent of which is agricultural, before reaching the city’s Dublin Road and Hap Cremean water plants.
  • Runoff of fertilizer from farmland can be a major source of nitrates in the Scioto River.
  • Other challenges when treating Columbus’ water include atrazine, a weed killer; Cryptosporidium, a protozoan sometimes in manure runoff and failing septic systems; and phosphorus from fertilizer, which can contribute to harmful algal blooms.

Learn more about the city’s watershed planning here.