The Ohio State University Oral History Project

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This program is administered by The Ohio State University Archives. The purpose is to document the history of The Ohio State University by interviewing faculty members and administrators, as well as former students. Ultimately, the goal is to collect information that is unavailable in traditional print sources and to preserve the history of the university for future generations of researchers.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 197
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    Interview of Leon Calvin Murray by Kevlin Haire
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2024) Murray, Leon Calvin
    Leon Calvin Murray discusses his experiences as an undergraduate student at Ohio State, particularly his role as a member of the Varsity football team. Murray started playing football for OSU in 1977 when he arrived on campus as a freshman. He discusses the role of captains on the football team, how tutoring was mandatory for freshmen and sophomores, and Coach Woody Hayes' relationship with the players while he was coach and afterward. He talks about the 1978 Gator Bowl, in which Hayes hit an opposing player who had intercepted an Ohio State pass, and what was going on with the team at the time. Murray also discusses the team dynamics under Hayes' replacement, Coach Earle Bruce, and why he left Ohio State before graduating in order to go pro. In addition, Murray talks about returning to Ohio State to finish his degree, and what his favorite memories are of Ohio State’s football team and campus. Finally, he talks about how his experiences being on the Ohio State football team have influenced his career as a counselor working with kids.
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    Interview of Charlotte Remenyik by Raimund Goerler
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2024) Remenyik, Charlotte
    Charlotte Remenyik describes her career at the University as the Varsity fencing coach. Remenyik grew up in Hungary and first learned to fence as a child, and she eventually became skilled enough to compete in junior world championship competitions. During the Hungarian uprising in 1956, Remenyik and family members were able to escape, and they settled in Chicago. Rememyik started coaching part-time at Northwestern University for the intramurals department and was so successful that Ohio State recruited her. She started at the University in 1978, coaching just the women. In 1980 the men's coach left Ohio State, so Remenyik began coaching both teams. She continued to coach in this role until she left Ohio State in 1999. Remenyik discusses, among other things, the effect of Title IX on support for Ohio State's women's athletics program, her then-novel recruiting efforts abroad, stand-out players, a race discrimination lawsuit involving the team, her involvement in the NCAA, and her style of coaching and how it changed over time.
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    Interview of Rick Van Brimmer by Alice Duncanson
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2024) Van Brimmer, Rick
    Rick Van Brimmer came to Ohio State first as an undergraduate, and he eventually served as the Assistant Vice President of Advancement Affinity and Trademark Management. Van Brimmer earned a bachelor's degree in communications, and he also earned a master's degree in Sports Management. After graduation, he worked for two years for the University of Mississippi, then he returned to the OSU Department of Athletics to work in its Office of Sports Information. During that time, he met Anne Chasser, the founder of OSU's Office of Trademark and Licensing, and she hired him as an editor. When Chasser left for another position, the University offered that job to Van Brimmer. In the interview, Van Brimmer discusses the many changes that occurred during his 30-plus career as the head of Trademark and Licensing, including the huge increase in licensing income, and the changes in distribution of that income to various OSU sources, such as the Libraries and student scholarships. He also discusses his involvement in the Collegiate Social Responsibility Movement, which developed labor and environmental standards for universities' trademark and licensing vendors to follow. In addition, he discusses his development of undergraduate courses to help students learn real-world situations as they relate to marketing. Van Brimmer also discusses the misperception people have about who benefits from trademark and licensing, and why the University defends its trademarks so vigorously, such as its legal action over "THE" as it relates to the The Ohio State University. Van Brimmer won the Distinguished Staff award in 1997; he retired in 2021.
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    Interview of Brenda Jackson Drake by Tamar Chute
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2024) Drake, Brenda Jackson
    Brenda Jackson Drake describes her role as First Lady of The Ohio State University and the noteworthy experiences she and her husband had while he served as the University's 15th president from 2014 to 2020. Included in her discussion are her first memories of Ohio State, including the challenges she and her husband faced after he fired the Ohio State University Marching Band's then-director shortly after arriving on campus. She also discusses the various ways she connected with both the University community and the wider community, including the boards on which she served. She talks about her role as a steward of the President's Residence, and she describes the various ways she and her husband showed their support for the University community, particularly students. Finally, she describes how the Covid-19 pandemic affected her and her husband's work and personal lives and how she wants to be remembered as First Lady.
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    Interview of Boyce Lancaster by Kevlin Haire
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2024) Lancaster, Boyce
    Boyce Lancaster discusses his 35-year career as an on-air host at WOSU Radio. Lancaster's father was a television broadcaster in Oklahoma, and Lancaster often would accompany him to the station. Because of that experience, Lancaster decided early on to go into broadcasting. While attending John Brown University, Lancaster worked at the student radio station, and before graduating, he landed his first job in 1977 at a radio station in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Lancaster worked at a number of stations in Dayton and London, Ohio; and Charleston, West Virginia, before he landed a job in Columbus, working at WRFD, which was the precursor of WNCI. Along the way, he gained experience, not only on-air, but behind the scenes in advertising, production and management. In 1984, he joined WOSU-Radio, first as a technician, then he was asked to audition to do some on-air fillers, such as the weather forecast, to give the announcers a break during their on-air shifts. A few years after he joined WOSU, he was asked to fill in for the morning on-air host, who was leaving the station. The program director, Mary Hoffman, then asked if he would fill the job permanently. During the interview Lancaster also discusses a typical day's schedule; his working relationship with his wife, the station's music director who eventually became the program director; his relationship with other co-workers and with listeners; and his decision to retire in 2019. Also included is a discussion of his work in the Columbus classical music community, specifically with the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra.
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    Interview of Nancie Mlakar Bechtel by Debbie Cannon Freece
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2024) Bechtel, Nancie Mlakar
    Nancie Mlakar Bechtel describes her time as a nursing student at Ohio State and her subsequent career. She attended Ohio State as an undergraduate from 1978 to 1982, and she later received her Master's degree in Public Health from Ohio State as well. Her career started while she was a student at now-Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus. After 18 years at Children's, she took a job at the Columbus Medical Association in its then-new Central Ohio Trauma System where she helped create and implement a plan for hospitals to work together to get patients with traumatic injuries the help they needed as quickly as possible. Bechtel spent 13 years there, then was recruited by then-Columbus Public Health Commissioner Teresa Long to serve as Assistant Health Commissioner, a position Bechtel held for seven years. After retirement, she consulted with medium-sized health departments to devise plans on how to share administrative resources, then she decided to come out of retirement, and she took a job as a manager at the Columbus contact center for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). She eventually made the transition to Chief of Community Care for the Columbus VA, a position she still holds. She discusses some of the programs and initiatives in which she was involved at each stage of her career, and how nursing, particularly with the impact of technology, has changed over the years.
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    Interview of Bobby Dale Moser by Raimund Goerler
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2024) Moser, Bobby D.
    Bobby Dale Moser describes his career at Ohio State, including his tenure as Director of the Ohio State University Extension Service, and as Dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Having grown up on a farm, Moser wanted to pursue a career in agriculture, so he first earned a bachelor's degree in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University. Moser then earned a Master's degree in Animal Science at Oklahoma State, then he headed to the University of Nebraska to earn a Ph.D. While in the program he taught classes, and was subsequently hired as a faculty member. In 1981, the University of Missouri hired him as a professor and chair of the Department of Animal Science. He remained at Missouri for roughly seven years; during the last two years he served as Director of Agricultural Extension Programs and Associate Dean of Agriculture. In 1988, Ohio State hired him as the Director its Extension Service, and he became Dean of the College of Agriculture in 1991. Moser faced many challenges during his 21-year tenure as Dean, including budget deficits, conflicts between the Columbus and Wooster campuses, and a re-organization of the entire College, which ultimately led to a change in its name from the College of Agriculture to the College of Food and Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. He describes his leadership style as a consensus builder and data gatherer, which he said helped him lead the College through various changes. In the interview, Moser discusses various issues related to the College, including the reorganization and its outcome, its relationship to the state’s agricultural community and legislative bodies, and its expanding global reach. He also discusses his role serving as Executive Dean for the University's various colleges, and his role in overall University changes, such as the development of the University’s first-ever academic plan, and the creation of the Science and Technology Campus Corp., which aims to foster closer research ties between the University and industry.
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    Interview of Karen Ann Holbrook by Kevlin Haire
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2023) Holbrook, Karen Ann
    After completing her undergraduate and Master's degrees at the University of Wisconsin–Madison – both in Zoology – Karen Holbrook taught at Ripon College for three years, then moved to Seattle to complete a Ph.D. After earning her doctorate, she remained at the University of Washington School of Medicine for 25 years, eventually becoming a full Professor and Associate Dean, with a joint appointment in the departments of Dermatology and Biological Structure. She then became Vice President of Research and the Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Florida. From there she went to the University of Georgia to serve as Provost. Multiple schools recruited her to serve as President while she was Provost at Georgia, but Ohio State was the first offer she accepted. She served as the University's 13th President, and she was the first woman to serve in the role. As President, Holbrook created the Undergraduate Research Office, and she instituted a research track for faculty. She also created the Early Childhood Development Center and partnered with Battelle Memorial Institute to create the Metro Early College High School. In addition, she hired Director of Athletics Gene Smith, helped secure some of the final funding for the complete renovation of Thompson Library, and while she was President, the University implemented a domestic-partners benefits program so these individuals would receive the same benefits as legal spouses of OSU employees. During the interview Holbrook also discusses why she accepted the Presidency, what her workload was like, what it was like to be the first female president. She also describes her role in advancing the University's Academic Plan, her role in fund-raising, and her working relationship with Provosts Ed Ray and Barbara Snyder.
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    Interview of Tracy Hahn by Kevlin Haire
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2023) Hahn, Tracy
    Tracy Hahn discusses her career as a police officer, in particular her time serving the Ohio State campus. In the fall of 1982, Hahn arrived at Ohio State as an undergraduate, with plans to become a doctor, but she switched her major to criminology after doing well in a class in that subject that she took her first spring quarter, After graduating in 1986, Hahn first served as a security officer at Riverside Methodist Hospital, then joined Ohio State's police force in 1990. After serving three years on OSU's force, she was hired by the city of Upper Arlington's police department. After eventually serving as its first-ever female chief, she retired in 2018, then joined OSU's police force again to serve as deputy chief. She retired in April 2022. During her interview, Hahn discusses various aspects of being a police officer and of OSU's police department. Topics include: being a female officer, particularly in a managerial role; the differences in policing between a municipality and a university campus; the various joint-policing agreements OSU has with the Columbus Police and why those agreements are in place; providing security at OSU football games; the increase and differences in technologies from when she first started as an officer to her retirement; and what she hopes her legacy will be from her 32-year career.
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    Interview of Jefferson Guinn by Kevlin Haire and Tom Hanks
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2023) Guinn, Jefferson
    Jefferson Guinn describes his time as a student at Ohio State, particularly his experience as a staff member of Our Choking Times, the first student publication focused on the Black community at the University. Guinn started attending Ohio State in Autumn 1968. Over time Guinn became more politically involved as a student – he became a member of the Black Student Union and its successor organization, Afro Am – so he could help better the lives of the Black community on campus, including students, faculty and staff. Meanwhile, he and other Black students noticed there was virtually no coverage of the Black community by the student newspaper, The Lantern. With $2,500 from the University, he and a fellow student, Shirley Pat Wiley, set out to publish an initial eight editions of a newspaper, the first of which appeared in February 1970. Guinn discusses how the staff came up with the publication's name, Our Choking Times, and he recalls when the first issue appeared on newsstands. Guinn served as city editor and also on the editorial board, which decided what the paper was going to cover in general. Guinn discusses the difficulties in generating advertising sales as well as the newspaper's relationship to The Lantern and the School of Journalism. He also discusses the paper's coverage of the campus demonstrations, particularly how important it was to the staff to maintain a reporter's perspective and not participate in the events. Guinn also talks about the hurdles the newspaper faced after its initial eight issues, particularly generating revenue. Guinn left the newspaper in 1972, but he discusses his ongoing pride over what he helped start. Partly because of his experiences at OSU, Guinn followed a career in public administration, serving in roles to help the disadvantaged for more than 30 years.
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    Interview of Bradley Allen Myers by Alice Duncanson
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2023) Myers, Bradley Allen
    Brad Myers discusses his time at Ohio State, first as an undergraduate, then as a law student, then as a staff member, including his service for many years as University Registrar. Myers arrived on campus in the fall of 1973 as an undergraduate, and he was a student at Ohio State through his graduation from law school. Myers talks about the many activities in which he was involved as an undergraduate, including Ohio Staters, Inc., class honoraries and the residence halls, where he spent his last two years as a Resident Advisor. Myers then describes his time in law school at Ohio State, particularly his involvement in student government. After law school, Myers worked in various administrative roles in the University's Orientation office, University College, and finally, the Office of the Registrar. As Registrar, Myers led or participated in projects that created significant administrative changes, both in the Office of Registrar and campus-wide: the implementation of the PeopleSoft (Oracle) Student Information System, the transition from academic quarters to semesters, and the implementation of the Consolidated Service Center for students, which was an attempt to provide a more integrated approach to providing services like financial aid and course registration to students. He also oversaw the design and construction of a new Student Academic Services building, where many of these student services would be housed. Myers retired in 2016; however, he later served on an interim basis until a Registrar was hired in April 2020. Myers also talks about his participation and roles in various professional organizations, including the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and Registrars of the American Association of Universities. In addition, Myers talks about his role as the voice of the automated telephone registration system the University adopted at one point. Finally, Myers talks about relationships he developed at Ohio State that were the most special to him and why, and he discusses his current connections to the University, including his advisory role for the senior honorary, Sphinx.
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    Interview of James W. Collinson by Kevlin Haire
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2023) Collinson, James W.
    Having known he wanted to study geology from a young age, James Collinson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology in 1960 from Augustana College, then earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University six years later. He joined the Department of Geology at Ohio State in September 1966 after finishing his doctoral thesis that summer. In 1969 Collinson began traveling regularly to Antarctica to conduct research, and he describes living and field-work conditions there during those early days. On his second research trip he discovered a fossil skeleton of a Thrinaxodon, an extinct type of reptile, which was a rare find at the time. Collinson later combined his research from Antarctica with what he conducted in Tasmania to study continental drift. In addition to his research, Collinson taught a variety of courses, including field geology in Utah and the Bahamas. Collinson also served as Associate Dean of the College of Mathematics and Physical Sciences and as chairman of the Department of Geology. In 1995 Collinson retired. He continued to conduct research until 2010, and he has served since then as a lecturer on cruises to Antarctica, Argentina and Chile.
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    Interview of Karen Hyland by Alice Duncanson
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2023) Hyland, Karen
    Karen Hyland describes her time at Ohio State, first as an undergraduate majoring in Math Education, then as a master's degree student earning a degree in Math that was geared toward teachers. Growing up in Marysville, Hyland participated in organized sports, but she was always a member of the boys' teams (in baseball and basketball) because there were no girls' teams until she was in high school. After graduation, Hyland started at Bowling Green State University in the fall of 1983, but she transferred to Ohio State in January 1984 because of an opening on the softball team. Hyland talks about her memories of being on the team – the training regimen, the positions she played, the coaches and her teammates. She also discusses highlights, such as playing teams in the Big Ten and getting to know students who had come to Ohio State from all over the country to play softball. And she discusses the challenges, such as the condition of uniforms and practice facilities. Finally, Hyland talks about her high school teaching career after graduation, including her involvement in coaching at Marysville High School, where she worked for 29 years. In 2018 she was inducted into its Athletics Hall of Fame.
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    Interview of William J. Mitsch by Alice Duncanson
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2023) Mitsch, William J.
    William J. "Bill" Mitsch discusses his 26-year career at Ohio State as a Professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources, and in particular, his role as Director and founder of the University's Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park (ORWRP). A native of Wheeling, West Virginia, Mitsch graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1969 with a degree in mechanical/industrial engineering. He first worked for large utilities, but in 1970, he attended an Earth Day event, and he was inspired to return to graduate school at the University of Florida to earn a doctorate in Environmental Engineering Sciences. He earned his Ph.D. in 1975. While teaching later at the University of Louisville, he met the founder of the International Society for Ecological Modeling, Professor Sven Jorgensen of the Danish University of Pharmaceutical Sciences, who ended up having a great influence on Mitsch, in the burgeoning field of digital modeling of ecosystems. In 1986, he was hired by Ohio State's School of Natural Resources, and, having previously worked on the Des Plaines River Wetland Demonstration Project, Mitsch decided to create something similar at OSU. The wetlands park opened in 1994. Mitsch discusses how the ORWRP earned the internationally recognized Ramsar wetland designation, and he also explains how wetlands work and how important they are in fighting climate change. In 2004, Mitsch shared the Stockholm Water Prize with Jorgensen. He also discusses his role in a successful effort in 2012 to prevent Columbia Gas from laying a pipeline through the ORWRP. That year Mitsch retired from Ohio State and became Eminent Scholar and Director of the Everglades Wetland Research Park at Florida Gulf Coast University. He retired from that position in 2022.
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    Interview of Patrice Ellen Rancour by Debbie Cannon Freece
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2023) Rancour, Patrice, 1951-
    Patrice Ellen Rancour first became interested in nursing during high school, and she attended Ohio State for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in this field. While she was an undergraduate, she became interested in specializing in mental health; her first job after graduation was as a charge nurse at Harding Hospital, then a stand-alone psychiatric facility in Worthington. After a year, she moved to San Diego to work in a mental health facility. She returned to Columbus to teach psychiatric nursing classes at Grant Hospital School of Nursing. While there, she decided to return to Ohio State to earn her master's degree in nursing, which she completed in 1978. Since then, Rancour has held a number of positions at Ohio State, including at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital. Throughout most of her career, she also maintained a private practice. She retired in 2017 after having worked four years in the Wexner Medical Center's Integrative Medicine program.
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    Interview of Norma Walker by Fern Hunt
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2022) Walker, Norma J.
    Norma Walker describes her role as the first woman hired as a police officer by the Ohio State Department of Public Safety. She was hired in 1962 after serving as a Columbus police officer for several years. However, even though she was hired as a police officer, she was assigned a number of clerical duties, including payroll, that other male officers did not have to handle. Walker soon developed a niche in promoting safety on campus for staff and students, including presentations on theft and rape prevention. She shares her perspective on the student demonstrations the late 1960s and in 1970; she discusses police training trends in the 1970s that negatively affected the careers of older police officers, including her; and she recounts her experiences in competitive shooting tournaments throughout her career. She also reflects on how she drew on her faith and social support system during tense interactions with other staff and with the public, and she recalls fond memories, such as the Halloween parties funded by Ohio State police officers to provide children living in Buckeye Village with treats and toys.
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    Interview of Bernadette M. Melnyk by Sandy Cornett
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2022) Melnyk, Bernadette Mazurek
    Bernadette Melnyk describes her career as Dean of the College of Nursing, Vice President for Health Promotion and Chief Wellness Officer at The Ohio State University. Melnyk discusses how she became interested in nursing (she obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester), her early years as a nurse, and her career in various academic settings, such as Arizona State University, where she was tapped in 2004 as Dean of its College of Nursing. In 2010 she was recruited by Ohio State to not only become Dean of the College of Nursing but to serve as the first-ever Chief Wellness Officer at a university. She discusses her commitment to and work toward change in health care, including a shift in caring for the sick to a focus on well care and prevention. She also talks about her involvement in national efforts to focus on preventing clinician burnout, which can negatively affect patient outcomes. She also discusses the research side of wellness and the challenges faced in putting that into practice.
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    Interview of William J. Shkurti by Raimund Goerler
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2022) Shkurti, William J.
    In this interview William J. Shkurti talks about his role at Ohio State as head of the Office of Business and Finance and as the University's Chief Information Officer, during a career that spanned five presidencies. Shkurti also discusses the challenges and opportunities the University has faced with changes in state funding and University finances in general; the University's move to selective admissions; and its role as the flagship institution among state universities and how that affects its relationship with state political leaders. He also gives his perspective on the installation of a university-wide computerized administrative system. In addition, he discusses his own relationship with leaders on the academic side of the University and the Board of Trustees. Finally, he discusses his career before OSU, his time in the Army in Vietnam, and his time at Ohio State as a student.
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    Interview of Gabe Hedges by Kevlin Haire
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2022) Hedges, Gabe
    Gabe Hedges describes his time as an undergraduate student at Ohio State, particularly his service as a dorm resident advisor and as a community advisor for Buckeye Village. Hedges became a dorm resident advisor at Archer House his sophomore year, and he had to figure out how to advise fellow residents who were older than he. Just before his junior year, he married his high school sweetheart, and they moved to Buckeye Village, which is housing for married couples and graduate students. He describes how different the two experiences were, and he also discusses the effect on Buckeye Village residents of the University's decision to ultimately tear down the complex to make room for athletic facilities. He also discusses the effect of COVID-19 on the community and on his role as community advisor.
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    Interview of Paul Allen Beck by Janet Box-Steffensmeier and Herb Weisberg
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2022) Beck, Paul Allen
    Paul Allen Beck discusses his career at Ohio State as a faculty member in and chairman of the Department of Political Science, and as Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Beck first served on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh from 1970 until 1979 when he was hired to start a new program in Policy Science at Florida State University. After eight years in Florida, Beck's reputation as an administrator had grown enough that Ohio State recruited him to become chairman of its Department of Political Science, a position he held from 1991-2004. He then served as Dean for four years. Beck discusses his leadership style, challenges he faced as a chairman and some of the changes he made during his tenure. He also talks about his general University service – serving on the University Senate, for example –as well as his own research, including the Comparative National Election Project, and his contributions to professional organizations, such as the American Political Science Association.