Spring has sprung, COVID-19 and vaccination updates, commencement reminders, Truman Scholarship recipient, Pelotonia’s Team Buckeye

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

The pace of life is picking up quickly due to the warmer weather. We’ve been through a lot over this past year and, like you, I’m eager to return to something close to normal.

As wonderful as it is to be engaging with one another again, please remember that we must continue to observe public health COVID-19 protocols. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, though we’re not there just yet. Stay vigilant. Together as Buckeyes, we will come through the other side of this stronger and more united than ever.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish members of our community who will be observing the holiday a Ramadan Mubarak. Ramadan, a month of sacrifice and prayer, started this week and will last through Wednesday, May 12. 

Additional COVID-19 updates

We have been planning for the fall semester when we expect to be back to the Ohio State experience that we miss and enjoy – from campus events to in-person classroom learning. Your collective efforts to stay safe and healthy are making a difference. The total student positivity rate over the last seven days remains low at 0.38%. We will be adjusting our plans accordingly based on the latest scientific data, and there will be guidelines in place to ensure that we can continue to enjoy all Ohio State has to offer safely and in good health.

As you know, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine due to the development of a rare blood clotting disorder along with low platelet counts in six patients who have received this vaccine.

Please see our university-wide message

To recap, the Wexner Medical Center has administered 1,116 doses of the J&J vaccine since early March. We are not aware of any similar complications associated with the J&J vaccines that we administered. Those who received the J&J vaccine in early March should be outside the 6-13 day time frame when this complication has been reported to have occurred. The rest of our J&J vaccine patients (816) received the vaccine on Saturday, April 10. 

It is important to note the type of rare blood clotting events that are being evaluated following the J&J vaccine have not been detected with either the Pfizer or Moderna two-dose vaccines.

If you received the J&J vaccine, please be aware of the signs and symptoms of this complication. As of Tuesday morning, the university has stopped scheduling new appointments for the J&J vaccine. Appointments continue to be available for the Pfizer vaccine. We will await direction from the FDA and CDC prior to offering the J&J vaccine in the future.

We remain committed to vaccination – along with masking, physical distancing and handwashing – as a critical step in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far, 41% of the campus community has either scheduled or received at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot. Public health experts say herd immunity is reached if 75% to 85% of the population is vaccinated or has antibodies. If we are able to reach that threshold, for example, we may be able to lift the outdoor mask mandate that is currently in place. I know we all enjoy that feeling of the sun and wind on our cheeks and also being able to see one another’s smiles! Please make your vaccine appointment if you have not already done so.

Starting this week, the university is dedicating a portion of two-dose vaccine appointments at the Schottenstein Center to students, faculty and staff. Schedule yours now through MyChart. Read more about considerations for students when receiving a vaccination.

To help make getting a vaccine easier, the university is providing a shuttle to the Schottenstein Center for students, faculty and staff with appointments. Learn more on the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website. Also, COTA is offering free rides to vaccination sites for those in need.

Please also continue to follow our testing protocols. Details, including adjustments for graduate and professional Columbus campus students, are on the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website.

Commencement reminders

Remember that you and your guests need to have tickets to attend either of the two in-person commencement ceremonies. Admission is free, and graduates must reserve tickets online through the My Ohio State Buckeyes Student Account by April 19 at 5 p.m.

For more information on ticketing, visit the Spring Commencement webpage. To schedule graduation photos inside Ohio Stadium prior to commencement, visit the Grad Images website.

Also, graduates will need a negative COVID-19 test before attending one of the in-person commencement ceremonies on May 9. See details on the commencement webpage

Student recognition

We are so happy to share that Ohio State student Oseremhen Arheghan has been awarded a 2021 Harry S. Truman Scholarship! This prestigious recognition, established by Congress in 1975, supports the next generation of public service leaders who demonstrate outstanding leadership potential, a commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit sector, and academic excellence. Each Truman Scholar receives funding for graduate studies, leadership training, career counseling, and special internship and fellowship opportunities.

Ose is a third-year political science and Chinese major, and one of 62 new Truman Scholars selected from 845 candidates nominated by 328 colleges and universities – a record number of applicants. A Morrill Scholar, Ose has been committed to leadership, diversity and inclusion since choosing Ohio State. They have led as the chair and co-founder of the Undergraduate Black Caucus and a cohort leader for the Queer and Trans People of Color Cohort at our university. Join me in congratulating Ose on this incredible accomplishment!

Our students continue to excel and make significant contributions in the area of research. I was honored to help recognize their achievements by participating (virtually) in the Edward F. Hayes Graduate Research Forum, which represented a broad range of graduate scholarship and research projects – from studies of algae blooms and preschoolers’ vocabulary to hedge funds and the search for failed supernovae.

Another virtual science-related event in which I was able to participate was last week’s Richard J. and Martha D. Denman Undergraduate Research Forum, which has offered students the opportunity to showcase their discoveries and innovation for the past 26 years. 

I continue to be impressed by the dedication and advancements being made by our entire Ohio State student community. Kudos to everyone for all your hard work!

Discovery, learning and impact

All across our campus community, students, faculty and staff are doing great things and making a difference each and every day. There are so many achievements and milestones taking place that it’s impossible to highlight them all, but here are a few recent developments of note:

  • Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia, research associate professor in the College of Engineering and affiliated faculty at the Sustainability Institute, has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy for a $1 million project dealing with sustainable beneficial use of ponded coal combustion residues for high-volume reclamation of abandoned coal mined lands.
  • Ohio State is vital to glass artist Shahid Khan’s story. Between emigrating from India to Columbus, earning a BFA, starting a business and pursuing an MFA, his experience as a Buckeye has inspired him to wander, but it also taught him the value of home.
  • The Ohio State Global One Health initiative has been awarded $5.61 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and bolster Ethiopia’s public health system capacity for small- and large-scale disease outbreaks and emergencies.
  • A new effort led by Ohio State researchers at the Global Water Institute will help the Navajo Nation mitigate the lack of water and food insecurity. This comes at a time when Navajo communities are facing new challenges due to COVID-19.
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Engineering has launched the Engineering Research Visioning Alliance, the first organization of its kind, with Ohio State as a core partner. Funded with a five-year, $8 million award from NSF, the initiative convenes, catalyzes and enables the engineering community to identify nascent opportunities and priorities for innovative, cross-domain research. Dr. Dorota Grejner-Brzezinska, associate dean for research at our College of Engineering, is the organization’s principal investigator and played a key role in assembling its collaborators. Dr. Grejner-Brzezinska will become our interim vice president for knowledge enterprise on May 1.

Get out and ride!

The warmer weather presents the perfect opportunity to get out on your bike and get some exercise as well as a dose of very beneficial Vitamin D! If you need something to aim – or train – for, consider this:

Team Buckeye and Pelotonia are offering recruitment incentives for signing up Riders, Challengers or Volunteers through April 25. If you register during that time, your peloton can earn more money for a very worthy cause: defeating cancer.  

I hope you will join me in supporting this year’s Pelotonia. As you know, I am serving as the honorary captain for Team Buckeye, and as this is a very personal effort, the experience is especially meaningful.

Thanks again for all you do. I’m looking forward to seeing each and every one of you in person soon. In the meantime, stay safe, do good work and look out for one another.


Sincerely yours,


Kristina M. Johnson, PhD