This has been a year of many expected and unexpected changes. Between the pandemic, an election year, welcoming a new Ohio State president, and other events, 2020 has been a significant year. Along the way, there have been disappointments as well as new opportunities. Many things have been out of our control during this pandemic; however, there are things we can control—most importantly, protecting each other, our loved ones, and our community.
I’m deeply proud of our CFAES community and how we have managed and responded during 2020. CFAES was one of the first colleges to gain approval for research exemptions during the ongoing pandemic. With this approval, CFAES researchers worked with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center physicians on COVID-19 antibody blood tests; tested polymer face masks to protect against COVID-19; convened task forces to protect our food supply chain; and launched the COVID-19 Hub within our new Knowledge Exchange, which provides a modern, unbiased, interactive community for the public and the university to identify needs, exchange ideas, and drive meaningful solutions through research.
Overall, CFAES grant expenditures were up ($45 million) with 1,057 active grant projects, as well as a significant uptick in proposal submissions (up nearly 20%) and 11 new grants of $500,000 or more.
OSU Extension and Ohio 4-H continued providing community and youth support through online programs including “Agriculture and Natural Resources Madness: A Tournament of Education,” “Camp…ish!” (virtual camping), stay-at-home projects, virtual lunch and learns, and fact sheets. Also, for the first time in its nearly 60-year history, Ohio State’s Farm Science Review was not held in-person. Instead, a virtual show was implemented for 2020. From the comfort of their kitchens or combines, visitors to this fall’s agricultural trade show were able to watch livestreamed talks and recorded videos featuring the latest farm equipment and research. We are gratified by the large number of participants for all of these programs, and the willingness of our broader community to pivot along with us.
Our faculty and staff are our greatest strengths. This year, we welcomed the following new faculty to our CFAES family:
• Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership—Shannon Washburn, professor and chair
• Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics—Margaret Jodlowski, assistant professor
• Animal Sciences—Benjamin Bohrer, assistant professor, and Jessica Pempek, assistant professor
• Entomology—Ellen Klinger, assistant professor
• Horticulture and Crop Science—Guilherm Signorini, assistant professor
• Ohio State ATI—Zachery Matesich, assistant professor
In addition, our faculty and staff received numerous awards this year including Dr. Rattan Lal being the first Buckeye named as the 2020 World Food Prize Laureate. Other noteworthy honors include Dr. Larry Madden receiving honorary membership to the British Society for Plant Pathology; Dr. Katrina Cornish being inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering College of Fellows; Dr. Sheryl Barringer, Dr. Ken Lee, and Dr. Ahmed Yousef being named 2020 Fellows of the International Academy of Food Science and Technology; Dr. Linda Saif being recognized as an Expertscape World Expert in Swine Diseases; and Ben Brown and Brooke Beam being named AgGrad’s “30 Under 30” for 2020. We awarded the first class of CFAES Distinguished Professors: Dr. Elena Irwin, Dr. Sally Miller, Dr. Devin Peterson, and Dr. Judit Puskas. Four of our faculty received the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Educator Award, including Dr. Laura Deeter, Dr. Mary Rodriguez, Dr. Brian Waters, and Dr. Lyda Garcia; and Renee Johnston was recognized with an Ohio State Distinguished Staff Award.
Our momentum has also continued with enhancing our facilities, from the nearing completion of the new science building and completion of the new beef facility on our CFAES Wooster campus, to the completion of design and start of construction on our new Controlled Environment Food Production Research Complex on our CFAES Columbus campus. In addition, numerous other smaller projects have enhanced our facilities, farms, and research labs across the state.
Our college has not only affirmed our value for diversity, but we are also unified in our mission to sustain life. Accepting that mission, we must also recognize that there is much more to it than growing food or ensuring the safety of our food or water. We are continually challenged to consider the community we wish to build together.
Lastly, CFAES was honored to welcome Dr. Kristina M. Johnson on her first college visit. President Johnson toured Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory; learned about our work on all three of our campuses; and met with faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students from across CFAES to better understand our critical mission: We sustain life.