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Archive for June, 2016

UT elected to association of top astronomy programs

The University of Toledo has been selected to join a prestigious association that includes many of the top astronomy programs in the nation.

In recognition of the astronomy and astrophysics program’s strengths in research, education and outreach, UT was admitted as the 41st member of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, which goes by the acronym AURA.

AURA operates world-class astronomical observatories, including the National Science Foundation’s Gemini Observatory, Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, National Optical Astronomy Observatory and National Solar Observatory, as well as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Space Telescope Science Institute. 

The association’s role is to establish, nurture and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research.

“We are impressed with your strong astronomy program and with your commitment to the future,” AURA President Matt Mountain wrote in his welcome letter to the University. “It is our mission to advance astronomy and related sciences, to articulate policy and respond to the priorities of the astronomical community, and to enhance the public understanding of science. We do this by developing and operating national and international centers that enable merit-based research by members of the astronomical community. I believe and trust that The University of Toledo and AURA have many goals and objectives in common.”

“It was very exciting to learn that our application was accepted and we were elected to become a member,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, dean of the UT College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy and Helen Luedtke Brooks Endowed Professor of Astronomy. “If you look at the list of members of AURA, it really is a who’s who of some of the best astronomy programs in the country, and for us to be added to that list is a recognition of the level we have been striving to reach.”

AURA was founded in 1957 and has had a strong role in providing input and guidance on matters of astronomy policy.

“It is one of the most important voices for professional astronomers in the United States to have input on decisions made on astronomy in this country,” said Bjorkman, who will serve as UT’s member representative to AURA.

In addition to the now 41 U.S. institutional members, AURA also receives input from four international affiliates in Chile, Japan and Australia. Having a voice at the table on the future of astronomy is key, as are the opportunities for UT faculty and students who will benefit from interactions with colleagues at AURA member universities, Bjorkman said.

UT qualified for membership because of its robust research efforts that include undergraduate and graduate students who experience hands-on training. That research also gets communicated to the community through strong outreach programs via the Ritter Planetarium and Brooks Observatory, Bjorkman said.

“We have a program that has intentionally intertwined education, research and outreach,” she said. “The research we do gets communicated back to community and to the students and to the public. That is an important responsibility of scientists.”

The astronomy and astrophysics programs are housed within UT’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. Some examples of the group’s many competitive achievements include two researchers who were among the first to access the European Space Agency’s Herschel far-infrared space-based telescope to study the creation of stars and life cycles of galaxies. Dr. Tom Megeath, UT professor of astronomy, led the Herschel Orion Protostar Survey (HOPS), and Dr. J.D. Smith, associate professor of astronomy, led a team in the Key Insights on Nearby Galaxies: A Far Infrared Survey with Herschel (KINGFISH).

During the past eight years, astronomy researchers at UT have received more than $7.6 million in external funding, primarily from the National Science Foundation and NASA, with a number of discoveries earning national attention.

In 2012, UT entered into a 10-year science partnership with the Lowell Observatory for guaranteed access to the 4.3-meter Discovery Channel Telescope, which provides additional opportunities for research and allows students to become involved in conducting observations at a major facility.

“Astronomy is a science that really gets people excited,” Bjorkman said. “Even if people don’t become astronomers, they get excited about science at young ages and that helps with curiosity and scientific literacy that is important in whatever they do.”

High school teachers take chemistry lab classes at UT for College Credit Plus training

It may be summer vacation, but a group of teachers from school districts across Ohio is spending the week as students with goggles, beakers and chemicals in a science lab at The University of Toledo.

Since March, UT has been training dozens of high school teachers through online classes to teach college courses in biology, chemistry or English as part of an expansion of the statewide College Credit Plus program.

Ohio’s College Credit Plus program allows seventh through 12th grade students to earn high school credit and college credit at the same time for free.

19 high school teachers have been working online to earn qualifications to teach college-level chemistry in their classrooms. 16 of them will be on Main Campus this week for lab classes with UT instructors.

The media is invited as they simulate the effect of pH on food in the stomach by reacting the preservative sodium benzoate with hydrochloric acid from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, June 29 in Bowman-Oddy Laboratories Room 3087.

The chemistry students are teachers from Toledo Public Schools, Belleaire City Schools, Celina City Schools, Centerburg Local Schools, Copley-Fairlawn City Schools, East Muskingum Local Schools, Fayetteville-Perry Local Schools, Findlay City Schools, Indian Valley Local Schools, Lakota Local Schools, Morgan Local Schools, Shadyside Local Schools, Triway Local Schools and Steubenville High School.

English and biology students will take classes on Main Campus at the end of July.

Last year the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Higher Education awarded UT $769,000 in grants to develop programs and pay for up to 40 high school teachers to earn a master’s degree needed to teach college-level chemistry, biology or English courses in their high school classrooms.

“By credentialing dozens of high school teachers in our area to teach college courses, we are expanding higher education opportunities for more children,” said Rebecca Schneider, professor and chair of UT’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the Judith Herb College of Education.

The teachers who began the 18-month program in March are expected to begin teaching College Credit Plus courses in the fall of 2017.

Media Coverage
13 ABC (June 30, 2016)

Incoming UT freshmen in Multicultural Scholars program start classes Monday

On Saturday, 32 incoming freshmen at The University of Toledo will cut their summer vacation short to get a head start on college life.

Students accepted into the Multicultural Emerging Scholars Summer Bridge and Living Learning Community Program will move into the Academic House Residence Hall on Main Campus between 8 a.m. and noon Saturday, June 25 to participate in a two-day orientation. The program begins Monday, June 27 and ends Friday, August 5.

This is the second year of the six-week program that supports student success in their first year of college as they transition from high school. The goal is to get students acclimated to the academic, social and cultural life on campus in order to boost retention and graduation rates, as well as promote academic excellence and college readiness.

“90 percent of the incoming freshman who took part in the pilot session of this program last summer are returning to UT as sophomores this fall. That is higher than the University’s overall retention rate,” Dr. Willie McKether, UT vice president for diversity and inclusion, said. “Plus, students from last year’s program are now leaders on campus. Five students will serve as peer mentors for this year’s program.”

Students take four courses together in the summer and earn eight credit hours toward their UT degree requirements. Each student will be enrolled in a series of classes during the six-week summer program, including Composition I, Cultural Anthropology, Learning to Serve and Math Camp.

“When the fall rolls around, these students will be ready to hit the ground running on the first day of the semester,” McKether said. “They will have already formed connections with fellow students who share similar academic goals and attitudes.”

The entering freshmen will receive an $8,000 scholarship to cover tuition, books, housing and meals for the six weeks of summer class. To continue their momentum in the Emerging Scholars Living Learning Community, they will continue to live in the same residence hall for the 2016-17 academic year.

Students in the summer session also will take a variety of trips to help enhance their understanding and appreciation of their own culture and the Toledo community. Visits include the Toledo Museum of Art, Cherry Street Mission, UT Lake Erie Center and Toledo City Council.

High school seniors explore pharmaceutical science careers at UT camp

The University of Toledo will host high school seniors interested in science careers at a new camp this month.

Students will explore current topics in science through hands-on lab exercises, faculty presentations and small group discussions during Shimadzu Pharmaceutical Sciences Summer Camp on Monday and Tuesday, June 27-28, in the Frederic and Mary Wolfe Center on UT’s Health Science Campus.

UT College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences LogoThe two-day camp provides a hands-on learning opportunity for students to explore several pharmaceutical fields including pharmacology, toxicology and cosmetic science. Attendees will work side-by-side with current UT Pharmacy students and professors in laboratories using the latest technologies to gain more information about science careers and the college experience as a whole.

“These students are our next generation of scientists,” said Dr. Amanda Bryant-Friedrich, UT associate professor of medicinal and biological chemistry and director of the Shimadzu Laboratory for Pharmaceutical Research Excellence. “We are pleased to provide this unique opportunity to young people as they explore occupations available in the STEMM fields.”

During the past decade the demand for highly skilled workers in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) field has risen sharply and the U.S. Department of Commerce projects an employment growth of 17 percent in STEMM occupations between 2008-2018.

The camp is sponsored by a multi-year grant from Shimadzu Scientific Instruments and supported by Amway. A global leader in analytical technologies, Shimadzu’s mission is to contribute to society through science and technology. UT dedicated in January the new laboratory made possible with a $250,000 donation from Shimadzu that features a mass spectrometer that is capable of analyzing samples with a high degree of accuracy and unmatched speed.

College students across country spend summer at UT for research experience

For the second year in a row, students from colleges and universities across the country are spending their summer at The University of Toledo for undergraduate research experience and mentoring.

Alex Weeden, a Wisconsin native with a passion for water quality, is preparing to enter her senior year at Hanover College in Indiana by working under the direction of a scientist in the UT Department of Environmental Sciences.

“I am researching the methods of toxin detection in the lake and trying to make that method more accurate,” Weeden said.

From left: Nate Marshall, UT grad student and NSF REU mentor, BGSU senior Hannah Scheppler, and Central State University junior Jochannan Mitchell examine a juvenile grass carp, a type of invasive Asian carp, at the Lake Erie Center.

From left: Nate Marshall, UT grad student and NSF REU mentor, BGSU senior Hannah Scheppler and Central State University junior Jochannan Mitchell examine a juvenile grass carp, a type of invasive Asian carp, at the Lake Erie Center.

The National Science Foundation sponsors the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.

“11 students are working on land-lake environmental problems, including water quality, harmful algal blooms, invasive species and climate change,” said Carol Stepien, director of the UT Lake Erie Center and Distinguished University Professor of Ecology who leads the nine-week program. “This is a wonderful opportunity to help build research skills both in the field and in the lab for the next generation of scientists.”

Media availability for students and scientists as they do fish sampling is from 10 a.m. to noon Monday, June 27 at the UT Lake Erie Center, 6200 Bayshore Road in Oregon.

315 students from 83 colleges and universities applied for less than a dozen slots in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.

“Our program targets minority students, veterans, first-generation college students and those that lack undergraduate research opportunities on their home campuses,” Stepien said.

11 students, including one who is returning for a second year, are each paid a $5,000 stipend. The program also pays for the students to stay in residence halls on Main Campus and their travel to and from Toledo.

Song Qian, assistant professor of environmental science, is Weeden’s faculty mentor. Weeden is conducting experiments for Qian’s project to develop a new, more reliable method to measure the algal bloom toxin called microcystin in drinking water.

Alex Weeden, Hanover College senior, outside the UT Lake Erie Center where she is spending nine weeks in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Alex Weeden, Hanover College senior, outside the UT Lake Erie Center where she is spending nine weeks in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

“The scientific work and bonding with new friends has been a lot of fun,” Weeden said. “It can be difficult at times because Qian is very technical and statistically-minded, but that is why I am here. This is a great opportunity to learn how to measure water quality and how that impacts the community.”

Participating undergraduate students attend the University of South Carolina at Columbia, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Bowling Green State University, Central State University, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, Iowa State University, Pitzer College, Hanover College and UT.

Researcher seeks to identify biomarkers that cause hypertension

A University of Toledo researcher seeks to find the answers to how high blood pressure is inherited.

Thanks to a three-year, $231,000 grant from the American Heart Association, Dr. Sivarajan Kumarasamy, assistant professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and a member of UT’s Center for Hypertension and Personalized Medicine, is able to launch a new lab to continue research in identifying genetic biomarkers for hypertension and renal failure.

Dr. Sivarajan Kumarasamy

Dr. Sivarajan Kumarasamy

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. and worldwide. As many as one in three people are hypertensive, whereby they are at an increased risk for heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. While it can be treated with medication, much remains to be learned about the reasons why some individuals are more likely to develop high blood pressure and kidney disease.

“Some lifestyle behaviors such as salt intake, smoking and physical inactivity put individuals at an increased risk of developing hypertension, but high blood pressure can also run in the family,” Kumarasamy said. “If your parents or other close blood relatives have had high blood pressure, you are more likely to develop it too.”

His study explores the role a specific gene called Regulated Endocrine Specific Protein 18 (Resp18) plays in the development of hypertension and kidney failure. The function of this molecule is unknown, but using a cutting-edge genetically engineered rat mutant model of this gene, Kumarasamy has discovered a novel link between this gene and hypertension.

This new funding will allow him to further examine the molecular mechanism connecting this gene to blood pressure regulation and kidney disease.

“Preliminary results are promising that we can identify a biomarker,” he said. “I am grateful for the excellent opportunity provided by my mentor, Dr. Bina Joe to study a piece of this genetic puzzle and begin my research career.”

The results of Kumarasamy’s study could be used to diagnose or predict hypertension or kidney defects. Long term results of his research also could have implications for diabetes and other medical conditions related to renal failure and hypertension.

“Dr. Kumarasamy has been a postdoctoral trainee and a junior faculty member associated with my laboratory since 2009. Securing this Scientist Development Grant is not only a reflection of his training at UT, but an attestation from our peers at large that he is ready for an independent research career,” said Dr. Bina Joe, chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and director of UT’s Hypertension and Personalized Medicine Center. ”This funding will help advance his research and broaden our knowledge of how specific genes function in the context of hypertension.”

The American Heart Association sponsors Scientist Development Grants to support and encourage highly promising beginning scientists in cardiovascular and stroke research. UT’s Center for Hypertension and Personalized Medicine is the only comprehensive multidisciplinary hypertension research center in northwest Ohio. Its goal is to find alternative preventative and therapeutic strategies for hypertension and its associated diseases.

Sexual dysfunction may reveal underlying medical condition

Erectile Dysfunction is a problem more common than men are willing to admit. Although it can be an uncomfortable topic, men shouldn’t shy away from discussing sexual health concerns with their physician.

Men’s health issues such as erectile dysfunction, low testosterone or incontinence are not only a quality of life concern, but also can be linked to potentially serious health risks including heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.

June is Men’s Health Month and UT physicians say it is an excellent time for men to take inventory of how they are feeling and to take action if they are experiencing sexual health symptoms. It is important for a man to schedule an appointment with a urologist if he experiences any the following:

  • Erectile dysfunction with or without a decrease in sexual desire
  • Urinary incontinence or difficulty urinating
  • A lump or mass in the testicles
  • An elevated PSA level or abnormal prostate exam
  • Infertility
  • Andropause (male menopause)
  • Peyronie’s Disease (penile curvature)
Dr. Ajay Singla

Dr. Ajay Singla

“Oftentimes we initially see a patient because he is having difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection,” said Dr. Ajay Singla, UT Health’s vice chair of urology and director of the UT Men’s Health Clinic. “We may then find the patient has underlying medical condition such as diabetes, vascular disease or obesity causing his symptoms.”

The diagnosis and management of these conditions can be challenging and in some instances could require a more collaborative approach to treatment.

The UT Men’s Health Clinic opened in 2015 to provide the only comprehensive, multidisciplinary clinic of its kind in the region. Since that time, the clinic has grown from three specialists to a team of seven health care providers in urology, cardiology, endocrinology, physical therapy, family medicine and nutrition.

“This collaboration allows us to treat the patient as a whole and address all of his health issues during one appointment,” Singla said. “We are finding our patients appreciate the convenience of seeing multiple specialists at one time and are pleased with the customized medical plans we provide.”

To better consolidate services, the UT Men’s Health Clinic is moving June 28 to the Regency Medical Campus located at 1000 Regency Court. The clinic sees patients on the fourth Tuesday of the month from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

The medical team’s emphasis is on common conditions affecting the urological, sexual and reproductive health of men. Services offered include surgical and non-surgical therapies for benign enlargement of the prostate, andropause, infertility, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, permanent sterilization, varicocele, sexual dysfunction, Peyronie’s disease and incontinence.

To make an appointment for the clinic, call 419.383.4360.


June UT Board of Trustees Meetings

Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Driscoll Alumni Center, Board Room
5:30 p.m. Board of Trustees Special Meeting

The Trustees will enter Executive Session shortly after convening the meeting
to discuss a trade secret under the Ohio Uniform Trade Secret Act
contained in Ohio Revised Code Section 1333.61.

Monday, June 20, 2016
Driscoll Alumni Center, Schmakel Room
10:00 a.m. Clinical Affairs Committee Meeting*
1:00 p.m. Finance and Audit Committee Meeting
1:15 p.m. Board of Trustees Meeting

Thursday, June 23, 2016
Radisson Hotel, 3100 Restaurant
8:00 a.m. Board of Trustees Social Breakfast

Any questions may be directed to the University Communications Office by calling (419) 530-2410 or via email at

* Note updated time for Clinical Affairs Committee Meeting at 10 a.m. rather than 10:30 a.m.

Celebration marks 10-year anniversary of UT-MUO merger

The University of Toledo will mark the 10-year anniversary of the merger of UT and the Medical University of Ohio with a celebration Thursday, June 16.

The event will take place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in Health Education Building Room 100 on Health Science Campus and will recognize the July 1, 2006, date when the two institutions became one and the decade since that has increased interprofessional education and research opportunities for UT students and faculty.

UT President Sharon L. Gaber and Dr. Christopher Cooper, executive vice president of clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, will speak at the celebration. Chuck Lehnert, UT vice president of corporate relations, will serve as the emcee for the event that also will feature a video of UT and elected leaders reflecting on the merger.

The Medical College of Ohio was established in 1964 as the 100th medical school in the United States and welcomed its first class of students in 1969. The college grew to include schools of medicine, nursing, allied health, and a graduate school of biomedical sciences, and in 2005 became the Medical University of Ohio to reflect that.

One year later, the college merged with UT, which has served the Toledo community since it was established in 1872. UT has been a member of the state university system since 1967.

Separate for 40 years yet less than four miles apart, UT and MUO have accomplished great things during the past decade as a merged institution that is one of just 27 universities in the nation with its comprehensive breadth of undergraduate, graduate and professional programs.

Media Coverage
The Blade (June 13, 2016)

UT Lake Erie Center hosting summer science camp

The University of Toledo researchers who monitor summer algal blooms, test water safety for swimmers and advance the fight against invasive Asian carp in the Great Lakes are helping inspire budding scientists this week.

Kids with nets at LECThe summer science camp for fourth and fifth graders titled “Nature of Maumee Bay” will take place at the Lake Erie Center, where all week the students will take part in laboratory exercises and outdoor activities, including scavenger hunts and collecting insects.

The media is invited as students get in the pond to collect samples with nets from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday, June 15 at the UT Lake Erie Center, 6200 Bayshore Road in Oregon.

“They’ll be digging through dirt and up to their knees in water,” Rachel Lohner, education program manager at the Lake Erie Center, said. “The kids usually find a lot of tadpoles and small fish.”

Girl holding frogThroughout the week-long day camp, students will keep a daily observation journal and use rubber molds to do fish printing on t-shirts.

“This is a great opportunity for kids to explore the world and learn about trees, wildflowers and birds along the way through hands-on experiences while having fun with new friends,” Lohner said. “We hope this creative learning camp helps grow their interest in pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering and math. Those jobs are in high demand, and we want to set these students up for success.”