Scholarships Help Fuel Out of This World Research

Chris Booker, The Ohio State Univeristy
12/14/2016

Joshua Ong didn’t want to go to The Ohio State University – he had his heart set on Cornell. But opportunities on the Columbus campus and a little help from the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner helped change his mind.

Ong is a senior from Worthington, Ohio, and a pharmaceutical sciences major with the goal of going to medical school.

His research at Ohio State is out of this world – literally. Ong’s working with a team to study the effects of microgravity on skeletal muscle.

“When astronauts go up in space, they come back with significant muscle atrophy. They lose a lot of muscle. And we want to find the reason for that,” Ong said.

NASA has is funded the experiment. It’s likely headed to space next August.

The scholarships fueling Ong’s studies are the byproduct of the But for Ohio State campaign. The seven-year fundraising campaign raised more than $3 billion – including $520 million for scholarships like Ong’s.

Ong remembers applying for jobs in retail as he searched for scholarships, knowing a part-time job would hurt his ability to do research.

In fact, during his freshman year, Ong was thinking of dropping one of his research projects, until he received an unexpected phone call.

“I got a call a call from Archie Griffin. He told me, ‘Congratulations, this is Archie Griffin. I want to congratulate you on winning the Alumni Association Scholarship,’” Ong said. “I thought it was a prank call.”

Ong said it didn’t sink in at first, but that scholarship and others he has earned while attending Ohio State have changed his life. He says in addition to allowing him to continue research, he has also worked in a free clinic to provide medical care.

“Serving the underserved is my passion,” Ong said. “Coming to Ohio State has been the best decision of my life.”