Tag Archives: ohio university

Moon Tunnel provides opportunity for graduates to read among peers, community


Reading heartfelt work in front of peers can stir up a pool of nerves in any social situation.

But with strings of Christmas lights, a supportive crowd and an introduction rife with light-hearted “roasting,” the Moon Tunnel Reading Series helps to build graduate students’ ability to read in public.

The reading series started last academic year. It consists of four reading events held in the downstairs space of ARTS/West at 132 W. State St. with one held upstairs, as well. Each show lasts roughly an hour, and consists of three to five 10-minute readings after a two-minute introduction given by a friend of the reader.

“It’s a good turnout every reading with 30 people at least, always on the borderline of too many people,” Derek Robbins said.

Robbins, a graduate student studying poetry, and Sarah Minor, a graduate student studying non-fiction, created a Moon Tunnel to fill the gap that Dogwood Bloom leaves.

Dogwood Bloom Reading Series, a tri-annual reading series named after the local Dogwood trees and held in Galbreath Chapel, allows second-year students in Ohio University’s graduate English program to read their work aloud in a more formal setting. Minor and Robbins, however, noticed the need to allow first-, third-, fourth- and fifth-year students in the program to continue harnessing the skill of public reading.

“Moon Tunnel is part of a five-year Ph.D. program and has a social element where graduate students get the opportunity to read in a safer space before being asked to read for a bigger audience,” Minor said. “Some of our colleagues have work published and some have books, but the work is not easily available. It’s a chance for us and the community to know each other’s work.”

The name “Moon Tunnel” originated from a myth of the Moonville Tunnel in Vinton County, where purports a ghostly figure carries a lantern at the end of the tunnel. Minor said the lantern carried by no one acts a metaphor for the proliferation of art, but Moon Tunnel has grown to have its own distinct meaning.

“We wanted it to be a local reading series with a local title,” Minor said.

The fourth date of this academic year will take place Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Minor and Robbins organize the readings to have a mix of students from different years and genres with readings ranging from funny to serious.

The two typically emcee the event, but since they are both reading work on Friday, Robbin’s wife and graduate student Sonia Ivancic and writer Thomas Mira y Lopez will host the evening.

In addition to the organizers, poet Emily Kramer and fiction writer Michelle Pretorius will also read their work. Pretorius published her first novel, The Monster’s Daughter, last July with Melville House.

The OU English department provides Moon Tunnel with enough funding to rent the space and to supply food for the event.

“It is wonderful because it allows the English students to express themselves in a less formal setting than a university building, and it seems like a great bonding experience for the students, too,” Emily Beveridge, an event coordinator for ARTS/West, said.

Rather than being held in ARTS/West downstairs, the final date for Moon Tunnel will be held in the gallery upstairs as a sendoff to graduate students in their final year. It usually attracts a larger audience of 60 to 70 people supporting the readers.

Moon Tunnel also seeks to engage local writers and readers and, as Robbins said, “build a literary community which is something we would love to do. We are opening ourselves up to the public to watch Ph.D. students for five years with connections to the Athens community.”

Minor further explained this wider aim.

“We are not trying to be in an insular department and engage with the community,” Minor said. “We intended to get away from campus. Our department feels very separate from the college and we want to have people see writing as a thing living and in the world.”

OU HCOM Professor chronicles Kasich’s Medicaid expansion and reform in national journal

I had read a lot to grasp this story, but I think it turned out nice.

(Photo Provided via HCOM, Jim Phillips)


Although his recent presidential campaign has placed Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the national spotlight, one Ohio University professor is more enthralled by the governor’s unique Medicaid decisions central to the Buckeye State.

Daniel Skinner, an assistant professor of health policy at OU’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine at Dublin, contributed an article to the bi-monthly, nationalJournal of Health Politics, Policy and Law that chronicles Kasich’s embracement of Medicaid expansion in 2012 and his subsequent reform of it during its reauthorization this past year.

The piece is part of a series the publication runs called Reports from the States.

Colleen Grogan, a professor at the University of Chicago and editor of the journal, said the journal is not only focused on health policy but also investigating the subject’s history and background which shaped its current form.

“There are big political issues on the table and states are deciding on how to best (adapt) to them,” Grogan said.

Skinner said he wrote the piece to “tell the tale of Medicaid expansion in Ohio” and give national readers a perspective on the inner workings of the state.

He argues in the essay that Kasich finds himself in a limited cadre of Republican governors — along with Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan and, to a lesser extent, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana — who expanded Medicaid in their states despite their party’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “ObamaCare.”

Despite Kasich’s acceptance of federally granted monies through the Controlling Board, a committee outside of the legislature that could allocate funds, the Ohio governor would later reform the Medicaid expansion he originally initiated, placing him in an uncommon position that blurs party lines.

And, because Ohio functions as a swing state and the political atmosphere isn’t heavily skewed to one party, Kasich had more political freedom in his stances than governors in states that more closely adhere to party lines, Skinner’s essay maintained.

“What I think makes Kasich a very interesting figure is that he appears to have carved out a space for him to say ‘Look, I’m willing to take on my own party and do what I think is right,’” Skinner said, “as well as having many positions that his party generally finds acceptable.”

He said the expansion of Medicaid helped to insure 100 percent of residents below the federal poverty level along with 38 percent of residents that land just above it. Prior to the expansion, only the bottom 90 percent of individuals below the federal poverty level could qualify.

“When you start adjusting those numbers, what you’re doing is moving people on and off Medicaid and access to healthcare,” Skinner said. “Over 50 percent of kids born in Ohio are born on Medicaid. So, it plays a hugely important role in child health.”

Since it is typically thought as a governor’s job to bring in as much money to the state as possible, Kasich finds himself in a situation that a senator or congressman would not face, Skinner said.

“You have to have a good reason to not take federal money,” Grogan said. “So Republican governors have found themselves in a quandary.”

The word “hey” has been abundantly used to energize audiences throughout the history of popular music; however, many instances of the word are placed lazily in the background

Grogan also said the ongoing state implementations of the Affordable Care Act, which includes Medicaid, is a subject often covered by the journal.

Skinner also has a political and rhetorical background and has written about subjects such as reproductive health.

“I am extremely proud of the work being done by our Dublin faculty,” Dr. William Burke, dean of HCOM’s Dublin campus, said.



HCOM student develops new test for quicker diagnosis and treatment of Type 1 diabetes

This was one of my favorite stories to write. I talked to a bunch of interesting people.

(Photo Provided via Ben Siegel/Ohio University)


Identifying a life-altering disease before it claims a vital organ is undoubtedly a step many doctors and patients alike wish to take, but it is unfortunately not always an option.

However, following two years of research, development and optimization, an Ohio University medical student might have granted this collective wish for one of the most common and currently incurable autoimmune diseases: Type 1 diabetes.

LaDonya Jackson, a second-year graduate student in OU’s Heritage Osteopathic College of Medicine, engineered an innovative medical test that makes checking for Type 1 diabetes more expedient and proactive than the traditional method, which is only effective when the disease has already caused significant damage to the pancreas.

With the assistance of two HCOM faculty mentors, Dr. Kelly McCall and Dr. Frank Schwartz, Jackson discovered a technique to measure the level of beta cells in the human pancreas.

Pancreatic beta cells function to create insulin, an essential hormone that tells the body to break down glucose from food and turn it into energy the body can use, Jackson said. Diabetes is diagnosed when all beta cells in a person’s pancreas are destroyed.

Unlike the traditional test for Type 1 diabetes that measures the accumulated reservoir of un-signaled glucose, Jackson’s new test focuses on recognizing the destruction of beta cells before all of them are wiped out.

Jackson compared the test to preparing to defend oneself from a certain attack rather than filing a police report after the attack.

Using this proactive method, health professionals might have the chance to quell the progression of the disease and “intervene with therapies” before the disease fully takes hold, McCall, an associate professor of endocrinology, said.

Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine breaks enrollment record and continues rising trend of recent years.

McCall said diabetes is one HCOM’s biggest focus areas, calling both types of the disease a “worldwide epidemic.” According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 29.1 million Americans were reported to have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes in 2014.

The Osteopathic Heritage Foundation provided funds for this project, along with money from an endowment by J.O. Watson awarded to Shwartz, a professor of endocrinology and director of HCOM’s Appalachian Rural Health InstituteDiabetes Center.

Originally from California, this is not Jackson’s first foray into scientific research. In her undergraduate studies at Utah State University, she worked to clone horses, specifically stallions and bucking bulls, which fetch a high price if genetically modified because of their sporting capabilities.

Despite wanting to work as a veterinarian since kindergarten, Jackson said the ability to transform life through science shifted her academic and career interests.

“You can change life, you can alter life, you can create life,” Jackson said about bioengineering. “You have so much potential with the knowledge that we have now.”

Jackson and her mentors are currently pursuing a patent for the test.

“We would love to have this in the hospital,” Jackson said. “To let people and children be tested to see if they’re going to develop (Type 1 diabetes) so we can protect them.”



HCOM opens up a new human clinical trial facility

(Photo provided)


Human experiments will begin to take place on Ohio University’s main campus this summer, but, don’t worry, they’re part of the curriculum.

OU’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine opened a new facility April 30, geared toward conducting clinical trials and other studies on human subjects.

The college’s new space, located in Irvine Hall on West Green, houses the newly created “Clinical & Translational Research Unit.” Occupying nearly 4,000 square feet, the converted facility is equipped with patient examination rooms, an exercise physiology laboratory, an electrophysiology laboratory, a phlebotomy room, imaging facilities and a laboratory processing station, according to a news release.

Through OU-HCOM’s medical clinics, students can learn and observe basic skills while helping patients.

Through its Vision 2020: Leading the Transformation of Primary Care Award, the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation provided $6 million in startup funding for the unit, which was used to purchase “vital equipment,” medical supplies and a staff, Dr. Laura Rush, the executive director of the unit, said.

OU also worked with the college during the move.

The Clinical & Translational Research Unit looks to support OU faculty in various aspects of clinical trials, including budget development, project coordination, subject recruitment, data collection and institutional review board assistance, according to the release.

OU students have the opportunity to utilize the unit either to assist in studies or to conduct their own studies under the supervision of a faculty mentor, Rush said.

Nearly 60 percent of OU-HCOM’s graduates currently practice in the state of Ohio.

The faculty of the Clinical & Translational Research Unit consists of eight people, which, along with the Rush, include a medical director, two research nurses, two projects managers, an administrative associate and a clinical research scientist.

Rush applauded her staff as people who love the Athens community and want to move health care forward.

“We have top-notch staff who know clinical trials, maintain the high standards required for patient safety and observe meticulous record keeping,” she said in the release.

Rush also said that because of the degree of difficulty faced when conducting clinical trials, the new facility would allow faculty to help better execute them from start to finish and allow the scientists to focus on science.

HCOM Executive Dean Kenneth H. Johnson said the unit will give the college recognition as a program for cutting-edge clinical research.

“Clinical studies that tackle pervasive health problems bring attention to the college and the university,” he said in the release. “They open the door to more opportunities for collaboration and funding, which are essential to help researchers advance medical care in our communities.”