Ohio State awards nearly 12,000 degrees at spring commencement

Ohio State News

Graduating class is largest in university history for fourth consecutive year

COLUMBUS – The Ohio State University will award a record 11,907 degrees to the largest graduating class in university history on Sunday, May 6. The ceremony begins at noon in Ohio Stadium. The 2018 graduating class size is the largest for the fourth consecutive year, surpassing previous records of 11,734 set in 2017, 11,235 in 2016, and 11,040 in 2015.

In addition, approximately 1,700 – or one in five – baccalaureate degree recipients are first in their family to graduate from college. Last year, approximately 1,500 were first generation college graduates.

Ohio State President Michael V. Drake will preside, and the commencement address will be given by Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The two student speakers are Elizabeth H. Beatty, a native of Nashport and candidate for the bachelor of science in health sciences; and Shweta Ambwani, a native of Dublin and candidate for the bachelor of science in data analytics. The entire ceremony will last 2.5 to 3 hours.

Ohio Stadium opens at 10 a.m. Sunday. No tickets are required. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Large handbags (bigger than 14” by 14” by 4”) are among the prohibited items. For more information, see: http://commencement.osu.edu/.

The class processional leaves the French Field House and the Recreational and Physical Activity Center at 11:40 a.m. and enters Ohio Stadium at noon. Woody Hayes Drive will be closed to vehicular traffic during the procession to the stadium.

Ohio State is among the very few universities that regularly and traditionally awards diplomas at one ceremony each term of the academic year at which all colleges are represented. Graduates receive their own diploma at the ceremony, a practice rarely attempted by a university the size of Ohio State.

The university will award the honorary Doctor of Science degree to Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, the commencement speaker. Distinguished Service Awards will be presented to Bobby D. Moser, who served as dean and vice president of agricultural administration for 20 years; David E. Schuller, who attended medical school at Ohio State and rose to become first director of The James and deputy director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center; and Iris S. Wolstein (in absentia), a strong advocate for the university with a passion for making Ohio State a leader in education and athletics.

Family members and friends who are unable to attend the ceremony may watch a live video stream of the ceremony beginning at noon on May 6.

French Fieldhouse Renovation Project Complete

The $1.3 million renovation project inside Ohio State’s French Fieldhouse was completed in October.

The new renovations include:

An all-new 200-meter state-of-the-art track and indoor field competition surface

Brand new bleachers along the south side with a capacity of 800

New long jump/triple jump pits

Permanent throws area

Re-painting of interior roof, steel beams and walls

Estimated cost: $1.3 million

French Fieldhouse was first completed in 1956 at a cost of just over $1 million. The facility is used primarily for the track and field teams, but is also used as a practice and multi-purpose facility for other sports and special events.

Bacterial toxins wreak havoc by crippling cellular infrastructure

Study could lead to better tactics to fight antibiotic-resistant bugs, researchers say

COLUMBUS – Bacterial toxins can wreak mass havoc within cells by shutting down multiple essential functions at once, a new study has found.

The discovery could one day open the door to exploring better ways to fight life-threatening infections, said lead researchers Elena Kudryashova and Dmitri Kudryashov of The Ohio State University.

The study focused on how one bacterial toxin called ACD (a type linked to cholera and poisoning by raw oysters) modifies an abundant cellular protein called actin and converts it into a secondary toxin. Actin is involved in a host of processes including muscle contraction, cell division, cellular communication and immune response.

The researchers wanted to better understand how a relatively small amount of bacterial toxin could do such swift, significant damage to a strong network of actin. Their study appears in the journal Current Biology.

In theory, the actin’s abundance within every single human cell should make it a difficult to disable – and disabling targets is the business of a bacterial toxin looking to gum up the immune system and make a human or animal sick.

“You can think of actin like the bones and the muscles of the cell – and a barrier to what comes into and out of the cell,” said Kudryashov, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State. “It’s clearly beneficial for bacteria to paralyze it in some way and we now think we know how that happens for one actin-specific toxin.”

When the Ohio State research team looked at what was happening in real time in a living cell, they were able to understand how quickly and efficiently the toxin took over – and how that happened.

The toxin cripples the action of “instructor” proteins, many of which share a common property – the ability to bind several actin molecules at once. By permanently linking together several actin molecules, ACD toxin converts them into a new universal toxin that binds tightly to those “instructors” and blocks their activity.

This amplifies toxicity and disorganizes the cell, and it doesn’t take much. A tiny fraction of actin – about 2 percent within a given cell – is affected. The toxin is then redirected toward less-abundant targets, which leads to a cascade of cellular changes that break down normal function. Previous work led to a better understanding of this activity outside of a living cell.

“This is basically like crippling a nation by disabling all its instructors: political and military leadership, teachers and others. The population (actin) is there, but without proper instructions most transportation, imports and exports, border protection and other normal activities are halted or disorganized all at once,” Kudryashov said.

Work such as this is especially important in light of growing concerns about antibiotic-resistant infections, said Kudryashova, a research scientist in chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State.

“The bacteria are becoming ‘smarter,’ and so we must become much smarter as well,” she said.

Toxins are the key to bacteria’s power to make people and animals sick. A single molecule of some of the most lethal toxins – those released by bacteria that cause whooping cough and dysentery, for example – can kill an entire cell.

“When antibiotics worked effectively, we worried less about these processes in the cell, but today we must better understand how bacteria thrive in our bodies so that scientists might someday find alternative ways to fight them,” Kudryashova said.

The research team’s previous work found that this particular bacterial toxin goes after the abundant actin proteins as opposed to the more-expected targeting of less-common molecules that send important cellular signals.

Other Ohio State researchers who worked on the study were David Heisler, a former graduate student who is the co-lead author of the study, as well as former undergraduate students Blake Williams and Kyle Shafer.

The National Institutes of Health supported this research.

— Written by Misti Crane, 614-292-5220; Crane.11@osu.edu


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