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International Engagement Award Recipients Announced

DistinguishedAward2The Office of International Affairs recently awarded International Engagement Awards to two projects that engage in exceptional international outreach and community engagement.

The 2020 Distinguished International Engagement Award project “Tracing cryo-hydro-social transformations in the tropical Andes” documents how climate change and glacier melting in Peru has transformed downstream hydrology and impacted communities.  The 2020 Emerging International Engagement Award recognizes the efforts of “The Lily Project Collaboration: Working with Women for Women in the Fight Against Cervical Cancer” – a community-based women's health NGO in Nicaragua operating mobile health clinics in rural villages delivering cervical cancer screening, treatment, diagnosis and sexual health education.

Distinguished International Engagement Award: Tracing Cryo-Hydro-Social Transformations in the Tropical Andes

Earth’s tropical glaciers are losing mass, transforming downstream hydrology and impacting people according to this 14-yearlong collaborative international engagement partnership. The project has been documenting how climate change and glacier melting in the tropical Andes of Peru has transformed downstream hydrology and impacted communities.  Observations of changes in glacier volume, hydrology, water quality and land usage and complemented with social and economic data about perceptions of and responses to environmental change.

DistinguishedAward1Bryan Mark, professor of Geography, along with a team of faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, has forged partnerships between Ohio State and research institutions in Peru, Chile, Canada, New Zealand and multiple universities in the U.S., and the project has committed to significant in-country outreach and engagement through curriculum innovation, training and capacity building, report writing and public outreach.

The team pioneered a transdisciplinary research methodology in proglacial valleys of glacierized mountain ranges in different regions of the tropical Andes that are in proximity to growing water usage from urban sectors, agriculture, hydroelectric generation and mining. This approach has focused on quantifying volume loss and tracing runoff below glaciers through streams and groundwater exchanges. The project demonstrates the importance of utilizing mixed methodologies of both physical and social sciences in international partnership. The team has maintained embedded sensor observations, utilized innovative aerial platforms, and integrated the analysis of both water availability and water use.

Mark has spent considerable time in Peru to ensure the research has broader outreach and impact and facilitated similar experiences for graduate students and postdoctoral students. He has contributed to international training workshops, given keynote addresses at international symposia on Andean glaciers and co-taught a new course to upper level university students, faculty and government engineers as a U.S. Faculty Fulbright Fellow. The project’s ongoing data gathering and future engagement includes plans to involve more students in peer-to-peer data acquisition, analysis and dissemination.

Emerging International Engagement Award: The Lily Project Collaboration: Working with Women for Women in the Fight Against Cervical Cancer

Schmeer with Lily Matagalpa team and Director MedinaThe Lily Project is a community-based women's health NGO in Nicaragua operating mobile health clinics in rural villages delivering cervical cancer screening, treatment, diagnosis and sexual health education. Launched in 2016, The Lily Project has provided services to more than 20,000 women. Currently, The Lily Project operates two clinics, each with capacity to serve 3,000 women annually.

In recognition of its results the Ministry of Health has asked The Lily Project to expand significantly over the next five years. The Lily Project reflects a unique collaboration between Nicaraguan women and U.S.-based experts in business, medicine and academic research – creating a beneficial alliance of grassroots understanding with global knowledge and networks.

Over the past several years, Kammi Schmeer, associate professor of sociology, has brought Ohio State faculty and students together with The Lily Project. The joint efforts have helped improve understanding of women’s health and how to prevent cervical cancer among the most vulnerable populations. As the project moves forward, the goal is to further research, teaching, service and learning collaborations between The Lily Project and Ohio State.

The World Health Organization labels cervical cancer a “case study of health inequity,” with 85% of cervical cancer deaths occurring in lower resource countries. Nicaragua ranks as one the top three countries in the world in rate of cervical cancer mortality, and trends are alarming. Cervical cancer caused by HPV is a leading cause of death of young women in rural communities where women lack access to basic health services, have little understanding of their bodies and live in a culture where abuse is common. Because an HPV vaccination campaign is not currently feasible in Nicaragua, The Lily Project’s work is exceedingly crucial in curtailing the high rates of HPV and cervical cancer and saving women’s lives. The Lily Project also has tremendous potential to inform our understanding of women’s sexual health needs and provision of care in low-resource, gender-unequal settings.

  • Project lead and principle investigator: Kammi Schmeer, associate professor, Department of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Lily Project leader and main collaborator: Anielka Medina, co-founder and executive director of The Lily Project
  • Technical assistance, cervical cancer: Jennifer Kue, associate professor, College of Nursing and Elizabeth Fitzgerald, associate professor of Clinical Practice, College of Nursing
  • Technical assistance, data collection and management: Laura Frizzell, Ph.D. student, Department of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences and Erika Reese, former Ohio State medical student
  • Key Ohio State funders: Office of International Affairs and the Global Gateways, Office of Research, Coca-Cola Critical Difference for Women