President’s Postdoctoral Scholars Program (PPSP)

The Ohio State University is pleased to announce the following selection of scholars as the 2023 cohort of President’s Postdoctoral Scholars. The recipients were selected from a diverse and highly competitive pool of national and international applicants.

2023 Scholars:

Bürge Abiral, PhD
Faculty Mentor: Anna Willow, Anthropology

Bürge Abiral is a socio-cultural anthropologist whose work brings ethnographic attunement to everyday forms of environmentalism under conditions of economic precarity and political authoritarianism. Her research examines how urbanites with socioeconomic means in Turkey frame everyday actions as revolutionary in the service of creating alternative agroecological futures. This research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Society for the Anthropology of Europe, the Council for European Studies, and various programs at Johns Hopkins University, including the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute. She received her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 2023, and she has a BA in Anthropology from Williams College and an MA in Cultural Studies from Sabanci University. Her work is informed by an aspiration to contribute to public debates via community engagement and applied scholarship.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Abiral.

Elham Asghari Adib, PhD
Faculty Mentor: Phillip Popovich, Neuroscience

Elham Asghari Adib will be a new post-doctoral scholar at the Ohio State University. She will join Dr. Phillip Popovich’s lab in January 2023. She completed her BSc in Microbiology at Shahid Beheshti University in Iran. She got her PhD in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from the University of Michigan in 2022. For her PhD, she studied an evolutionarily conserved kinase called DLK and its contribution to synaptic loss and inflammation in a model of peripheral nerve injury. She also earned a Masters of Science in Bioinformatics during her PhD training. In the Popovich lab, she will work on neuron-microglia interactions and the mechanisms underlying divergent microglial responses caused by traumatic spinal cord injury.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Asghari Adib.

Hannah Budge, PhD
Faculty Mentor: Shoshana Inwood, School of Environmental and Natural Resources

Hannah Budge is a rural sociologist who is completing/has completed her PhD at Newcastle University (United Kingdom) through a fellowship/grant from the Economic and Social Research Council. She received her Masters Degree in Food and Rural Development also at Newcastle University and her undergraduate degree in Geography from the University of Aberdeen. Leveraging her experiences growing up on a family farm in the Shetland Islands, her PhD research examined the experiences and barriers for Women in the agriculture industry in the Scottish Islands and two Atlantic Canadian Islands. Agriculture is traditionally viewed as a masculine dominated industry, using in-depth qualitive research methods and interviews Hannah examined the roles of women in agriculture in different island contexts and land tenure systems, and the representations of women in leadership positions. A key finding was the degree to which women viewed the availability of childcare as a key barrier for participating in farming and agricultural organizations, impacting women’s visibility and representation in the industry.

During the PPSP Hannah plans on building and extending her dissertation research by analyzing the qualitative and quantitative primary data collected from Dr. Inwood and Dr. Becot’s CDC-NIOSH funded “Linking Farm Safety and Childcare” Project. She will analyze the data to: 1) Examine the childcare arrangements used by farm women in a social policy context that provides little support to working parents; 2) Examine the emotional consequences on farm women stemming from keeping the children safe while trying to keep the farm business and farm household afloat. Building on Hannah’s longstanding efforts to understand the role of gender in food and agriculture development this research will produce insights into the socioeconomic factors that can bolster food system resiliency and rural development in the face of climate change and shifting market and demographic challenges.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Budge.

Marco Chen, PhD
Faculty Mentor: Jolynn Pek, Psychology

Marco earned his B.S. in Commerce from University of Virginia and Ph.D. in Quantitative Psychology along with an M.S. in Statistics at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research broadly explores how to model unobserved psychological constructs in a valid and generalizable way for samples that are heterogeneous with respect to background characteristics, such as gender, age, and race. His graduate work with Dr. Daniel Bauer developed latent variable models to evaluate measurement scale items for any differential effectiveness in reflecting the target unobservable construct across levels of background covariates, i.e., measurement bias. His proposed model can account for individual background differences that can influence observed responses irrespective of actual disparities in the underlying constructs of interest, thus improving the validity and fairness of scores on the constructs. This model can be applied to evaluate many items over categorical and continuous background covariates simultaneously and result in superior detection rates of measurement bias. His dissertation work applied a statistical learning method called Bayesian regularization to distinguish change in item measurement effectiveness from change in the true construct across individual ages and other time-varying covariates in longitudinal measurement data. His postdoctoral work will investigate the extent to which university exam item construction could influence how students from different backgrounds respond to the questions. His projects will apply his measurement modeling skills to quantify the influence of item design on exam performance across demographic groups and ultimately promote guidelines of equitable exam design. His work will also consider the general methodological implications of measurement item bias in replicating psychology studies.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Chen.

Nikita Chev, PhD
Faculty Mentor: Noah Dormady, Public Affairs

Nikita’s research focuses on international good governance, anti-corruption policymaking and citizen welfare. At Ohio State University, he plans to examine citizen satisfaction with public services and the effects of service non-delivery on diverse population groups. Methods he uses are primarily mixed, involving interviews/surveys, machine learning and spatiotemporal modelling.

Journals Nikita’s research has appeared in include Environmental Science & Policy, Journal of Contemporary China, Post-Soviet Affairs, International Journal of Water Resources Development, International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, and Journal of Historical Sociology. Nikita holds a PhD in Development Studies from University of Cambridge, an MSc in Area Studies from University of Oxford and BA in Government from Harvard.

Maria Copot, PhD
Faculty Mentor: Andrea Sims, Linguistics

Maria Copot works at the intersection of linguistic theory and cognitive science, by means of quantitative methodologies. Their research centers on the subfield of morphology, which is concerned with the structure of humans’ knowledge of words. Humans’ morphological knowledge hinges on committing linguistic input to memory, while simultaneously organizing the memorized chunks in a structured way, so that generalizations can be extracted and used for understanding or producing new words. During their PhD at the Université Paris Cité, Maria’s work used quantitative analysis of corpus and experimental data to probe the structure of human knowledge of words, and resulting human behaviors, by examining the interaction of memory and structured generalizations. While at Ohio State, Maria will work on modeling word systems with the mathematical formalism of network theory. Morphological systems are complex systems characterized by non-deterministic relationships, dependencies and interactions. They therefore can be modeled satisfactorily only if considered as wholes. For a given language, one can construct a network that links words to each other, based on information like their meaning, the way they sound, the contexts they appear in, and their social connotations. This structure can then be used to ask and answer questions about how word systems are organized, how this organization compares across languages, why languages change across time, and the implication of different systemic organizations for how words in a language are stored and processed.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Copot.

Andrea Fetters, PhD (2021 Cohort delayed start)
Faculty Mentor: Karen Goodell, Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology

Andrea earned her B.S. in Biology from Saint Mary’s College and her Ph.D. with a Teaching Minor in Ecology and Evolution from the University of Pittsburgh. She is broadly interested in plant-microbe insect interactions. Her dissertation research focused on pollen-associated viruses and how certain plant traits and mating system, community-level interactions, and landscape attributes contribute to the size of the pollen virome. In graduate school, Andrea was supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship and was involved in outreach programs in the Pittsburgh Public School district and diversity initiatives. At The Ohio State University, she will investigate mutualistic plant-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi-pollinator interactions in a reclaimed surface mine habitat under the guidance of Drs. Karen Goodell, Alison Bennett, and Frances Sivakoff in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology. Andrea’s overall goal is to understand whether the plant-fungal mutualism influences the plant pollinator one via the promotion of attractive floral traits, and whether it can also mitigate the effect of heavy metal soil pollution on the plant-pollinator mutualism, via the promotion of the same attractive floral traits. Understanding how species interactions are connected is currently essential, given the burgeoning rate at which humans alter the environment and perhaps forever change species’ ecological and evolutionary trajectories.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Fetters.

Jacob Hopkins, PhD (2021 Cohort delayed start)
Faculty Mentor: Alison Bennett, Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology

Jacob Hopkins is a postdoctoral scholar in Dr. Alison Bennett’s laboratory. Jacob earned his bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Indiana University, where he worked as an undergraduate lab technician for Dr. James D. Bever. Following the completion of his undergraduate studies, he completed a Ph.D. degree in the lab of Dr. Benjamin Sikes at the University of Kansas. His work has resulted in publications in the Journal of Scientific Data (2016), Oecologia (2020), and FEMS Microbiology Ecology (2020). Currently, Jacob studies the effects of prescribed fires and other land management techniques on soil fungal communities and their function in ecosystems. This work uses fire recurrent, or pyrophilic ecosystems, as models to predict the effects of fire and climate change in less fire tolerant systems. His work with Dr. Bennett will continue this research by studying how interactions between climate and fire influence fungal community structure through selection for specific traits. Jacob also has a passion for teaching, outreach, and scientific mentorship. During his time in Dr. Bennett’s laboratory, he will improve his abilities in these areas by co-teaching statistical seminars with Dr. Bennett, developing scientific outreach modules, and mentoring students from the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) and The Metro Early College School.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Hopkins.

Swathy Krishna, PhD
Faculty Mentor: Jill Rafael-Fortney, Physiology and Cell Biology

Swathy Krishna earned her Bachelors in Science from the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bengaluru, India. She performed her Masters research in the Department of Genetics and Plant Breeding at the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, India, and earned her MSc in 2018. Swathy then entered the Interdepartmental Genetics and Genomics program at Iowa State University. She performed her Ph.D. dissertation research in the lab of Joshua Selsby, Ph.D. focused on metabolic and autophagy abnormalities associated with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Her continued interest in DMD and muscle biology health and disease has brought her to conduct her postdoctoral research at The Ohio State University in the laboratory of Jill Rafael-Fortney, Ph.D. in the Department of Physiology & Cell Biology, Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute and Center for Muscle Health and Neuromuscular Disorders.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Krishna.

Muhedeen Lawal, PhD
Faculty Mentor: Ann Cook, School of Earth Sciences

Dr. Muhedeen Lawal is a new postdoctoral fellow in the School of Earth Science and he is working in the Marine Geophysics Research Group with Dr. Ann Cook. Muhedeen received his PhD in 2023 from the University of Haifa in Israel and his masters degree from University of Perugia in Italy in 2016. During his PhD, Muhedeen developed his expertise in marine geophysics and geographic information systems and which resulted in eight peer-reviewed publications. For his postdoctoral fellowship at Ohio State, Muhedeen plans to work on carbon sequestration in marine sediments and rocks, a socially relevant topic that can help reduce the impact of global climate change. Muhedeen is also passionate about mentoring students from Africa and increasing the number of women on the faculty in African universities.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Lawal.

James Tan, PhD
Faculty Mentor: Shaurya Prakash, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

James Tan grew up in Metro-Detroit, received his Bachelor of Science of Engineering in Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan, and is completing his doctoral studies in Chemical Engineering under Dr. Xiaoxia “Nina” Lin there as well. His expertise is at the interface between engineering and microbiome science, developing technologies that can answer key biological questions regarding bacterial interactions. Specifically, James focused on the utilization of microfluidic droplets (“microdroplets”), which are nanoliter-scale water-in-oil emulsions for the encapsulation of cells that allow for typical microbiological and molecular techniques to be performed massively parallel and at ultra-high throughput with unprecedented resolution. His dissertation work centered around the incorporation of metagenomic analyses with this resolution and throughput. James is a research fellow in the Integrated Training in Microbial Systems program, an interdisciplinary research community at the University of Michigan to centralize cross-department wide efforts to study microbiomes. As a postdoctoral fellow, James will be mentored by Dr. Shaurya Prakash (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering) in close collaboration with Dr. Matthew Sullivan (Microbiology) to apply droplet-based, ultra-high-throughput single-cell sequencing to the study of phage-bacteria interactions in ocean microbiomes. James is an active member of his local church and enjoys sport climbing in local indoor climbing gyms and at outdoor crags.

Stef Torralba, PhD (delayed start at Ohio State until 2024)
Faculty Mentor: Martin Ponce, English

Stef Torralba is an interdisciplinary humanities scholar who researches and writes about queer-trans of color aesthetics and cultural politics. Their scholarship focuses on queer-trans U.S. Chicanx and Filipinx literature, media, and performance, and their work appears or is forthcoming in Alon: Journal of Filipinx American and Diasporic Studies, Pacific Coast Philology, and liquid blackness: journal of aesthetics and black studies.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Torralba.

Marion Urvoy, PhD
Faculty Mentor: Matthew Sullivan, Microbiology and Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering

Dr. Marion Urvoy obtained her engineering degree from the National Institute of Applied Sciences (Toulouse, France) and her Ph.D. in marine biology from the University of Western Brittany (Brest, France). Her thesis investigated the processes structuring the composition and function of marine and estuarine bacterial communities, and their impact on global marine biogeochemical cycles. In particular, she focused on how bacteria communicate (a.k.a. quorum sensing) to coordinate key ecological behaviors in complex systems. As of August 2022, Dr. Urvoy joined OSU and the Sullivan lab as a postdoctoral scholar, where she hopes to study how phages can eavesdrop on bacterial quorum sensing to regulate important processes such as the lysis-lysogeny decision.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Urvoy.

Adrien Winning, PhD
Faculty Mentor: H. Gerry Taylor, Pediatrics/Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Postdoc bio


Click here to learn more about Dr. Winning.



Meet the scholars in previous PPSP Cohorts:

2022 Scholars      2021 Scholars      2020 Scholars

2019 Scholars      2018 Scholars

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