Big day for the Student Research Conference

Feb 22, 2013

Dr. Michael Boehm, ’87It was a big year for the 20th annual Minds at Work student research conference. With a record-breaking number of presenters, there followed record breaking crowds. Many presentations were standing room only, with audiences spilling onto the floor and sitting on window sills.

A highlight of the day, student presenters, their parents and faculty mentors heard from Heidelberg alumnus Dr. Michael Boehm, ’87, about his career journey which got its foundation at Heidelberg. His keynote presentation was titled “All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned at the ‘Berg.”

Boehm, who is the vice provost for academic and strategic planning and a professor of plant pathology at The Ohio State University, credited the bonds with some “wonderful professors” as a key part of his journey which took him to Oregon State University after earning master’s and doctoral degrees at OSU, and eventually back to OSU to teach plant pathology.

“As a graduate student, I learned about being a professor. … I found a passion for teaching,” Boehm said.

Jessie GaseIn 2010, he moved to his current as one of eight vice provosts at OSU, and he continues to teach from time to time. “Some days, I pinch myself and ask ‘Why me?’ But it all comes back to the central theme of my Heidelberg education.”

As a student at the ‘Berg, Boehm enlisted in the military reserves, a path that has led him to become a leading bioweapons testing specialists. Recalled to active duty the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, his jobs have taken him all over the world.

“I have had some amazing opportunities,” he said. “The coolest part is the people who make things special. That all started at Heidelberg.”

To this day, his passion is working with students in the study of plant pathology – “trying to solve plant diseases through environmentally safe ways.”

Boehm had some advice for HU students, whom he called the difference makers of the future. As they look to make their mark, he encouraged them to “be curious, be humble and be nimble.”

“Practicing looking each other in the eye, ask each other questions and share your story. … Your liberal arts education is right at your fingertips. Take advantage of it.”

While on campus, Boehm took in a number of the student presentations. If the conference had been offered while he was a student, “I definitely would have taken advantage of it.”

Nearly 100 Heidelberg students, along with students from Baldwin Wallace College and Ohio Northern University, gave presentations. Included among the presentations were:

  • Brennan Kelly, '15, using psychological constructs to discuss hip hop and ways it influences adolescent social beliefs, conflicts and consumerism.
  • Rebecca Dickinson, '14, giving a historical review of the drive-in theatre – including growth, decline and future prospects – as a part of America’s culture over the past seven decades.
  • Alyssa Howard, '13, giving an overview of Graves’ Disease, its causes, symptoms and treatment options from the perspective of a health care professional.
  • Hannah Long-Higgins, '14, sharing her photography and lessons learned from her travel to Tanzania as part of a study-abroad opportunity.
  • Adam Oulton, '13, discussing the Eurozone crisis causes and repercussions.
  • Ben Kirk, '13, analyzing torture from a psychologist perspective and its effects on victims and captors.