Critical Difference Grant recipients advance their research and careers

Students, staff and faculty were awarded 2023-24 Critical Difference grants, reflecting The Women's Place support for women's growth and leadership at the university.

The Women's Place (TWP) awarded 34 students, staff and faculty 2023-24 Critical Difference grants this spring, totaling more than $37,000.

TWP offers Critical Difference (CD) grants as part of its mission to expand opportunities for women’s growth, leadership, and empowerment at the university. CD is a grant-offering program for students, staff and faculty seeking advanced education and enhanced professional lives at Ohio State. CD reflects TWP and the university's commitment to generate support for the specific needs of these individuals as they seek to realize their goals and dreams, both personally and professionally.

This spring, 12 students and 12 members of the faculty and staff received Critical Difference Professional DevelopmentGrants. The Critical Difference Research Grant was awarded to five students and five faculty. See the full lists of recipients below.

The grants supported a wide variety of research, projects and professional development. Here we highlight a few of them.

Bronze busts of Korean comfort women mounted on black podiums in two rows
Statues representing Korean victims of Japanese wartime sexual slavery in front of the Museum of Sexual Slavery by Japanese Military in South Korea. Each statue was made posthumously for the victims.

Jessica Tjiu, a student in the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department, received a Critical Difference Research Grant for students. Tjiu plans to use this grant to visit “comfort women” monuments and museums in South Korea. Comfort women or comfort girls were women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied countries and territories before and during World War II. In her fourth dissertation chapter, Tjiu analyzes the multiple visual iterations of comfort women monuments in the U.S. and across Asia. The trip to South Korea will contribute to this and her overall dissertation goal to analyze the representation of Asian/Asian American women and girls in gender violence discourse.

Laurence Coutellier, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, received a Critical Difference Research Grant for faculty. Coutellier plans to examine research on increased risk for mood disorders in women. The majority of research into the underlying causes of mood disorders has concentrated on males, leaving the reasons for female predisposition to anxiety unexplained. Understanding why women are more prone to anxiety will lay the groundwork for unique and individualized approaches to addressing and combating this difference in women's mental health vulnerabilities.

Chelsea Gilbert, a rising fourth year PhD student in the College of Education and Human Ecology, received a Critical Difference Professional Development Grant. Gilbert plans to present at the 2024 American College Personnel Association (ACPA) College Student Educators International convention. She will present her dissertation research on women of color staff in higher education and their experiences at the intersection of trauma and supervision. Chelsea hopes that this research will offer practical resources to supervisors in higher education that will benefit the lives and livelihoods of women of color staff.

Sarah Millisor Irvin, a researcher who works in the Department of Psychiatry Behavioral Health, also received a Critical Difference Professional Development Grant. With the help of this grant, Millisor Irvin can advance her career by taking the initiative to oversee a study on the link between religious trauma and PTSD symptoms. Additionally, Millisor Irvin plans to investigate how current religious views and intolerance of uncertainty affect the LGBTQ+ population. Millisor Irvin hopes that the findings of this study will have an impact on mental health and trauma treatment for LGBTQ+ people who have undergone religious trauma, while also offering useful data for religious organizations seeking to create more inclusive communities that value and welcome all members.

You can make a critical difference in expanding opportunities for students, staff and faculty by donating to support these grants.

2023 Critical Difference Professional Development Grant Recipients




Cynthia Callahan English
Xueqian Chen Sociology
Lorna Closeil Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Alissa Geisse Ecology, Evolution, & Organismal Biology
Sarah Ghiloni Psychiatry
Chelsea Gilbert Educational Studies
Kristyn Gumpper-Fedus Internal Medicine
Erika Hendrickson Obstetrics & Gynecology
Maria Kapral Ambulatory Rehabilitation
Joo Won Lee Teaching and Learning (EHE)
Monica Lewandowski Plant Pathology
Sarah Millsor-Irvin Psychiatry & Behavioral Health
Lauren Otto Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research
Madhura Abhay Phansikar Psychology
Shayne Piasta Teaching & Learning (EHE)
Shirdbar Sanghvi Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology
Melina Seng Psychiatry
Anne Strohecker Cancer Biology and Genetics
Carrie-Anne Thomas Teaching & Learning (EHE)
Cherish Vance Department of Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering
Reagan Whipkey Fisher College of Business
Alivia Wiacek Neuroscience
Shatira Woods Sociology
Taborah Zaramo Plastic Surgery


2023 Critical Difference Research on Women Grant Recipients




Jessica Tjiu Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Soohyun Cho Political Science
Phuong Le Psychology
Anna Church Sociology
Laurence Coutellier Psychology
Erynn Beaton Public Affairs
Valarie Williams Department of Dance
Hollie Nzitatria Sociology
Carmen Winant Department of Art
Jill Davis Public Affairs