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Archive for October, 2016

‘Does Your Vote Really Count?’ is topic of UT Diversity Dialogue Nov. 1

One week before Election Day, The University of Toledo will explore opinions from millennials surrounding voting and democracy in the latest installment of the Dialogues on Diversity series.

The event titled “Does Your Vote Really Count?” is 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1 in the Student Union Room 2582.

“This is not a debate about which candidate is best,” said Anna Crisp, a student trustee appointed to the UT Board of Trustees studying public health. “We will discuss important questions at this diversity dialogue. Are you voting in the upcoming presidential election? Does your vote make a difference? Or do you believe it is a waste of time and energy? It’s an opportunity for students to share their opinions.”

Free food and prizes will be available at the dialogue hosted by UT Student Government and the University’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion. UT students, faculty and staff are invited.

Student leaders will begin the program by leading a panel discussion with experts on the democratic process. They will then engage in a discussion with the audience.

“We want to hear from students, faculty and staff,” said Dr. Willie McKether, UT vice president for diversity and inclusion. “This is an opportunity to engage our community on the important subjects of voting relevance, its history and its future.”

McKether leads UT’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion and spearheaded the development of the University’s strategic plan for diversity and inclusion. It is available at

Second be-WISE-er event at UT to battle substance abuse Nov. 1

Drug overdoses killed a record 3,050 people last year in Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

To help combat the addiction epidemic, The University of Toledo Chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi is hosting its second be-WISE-er event on substance abuse 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1 in the Student Union Auditorium.

Team Recovery, a local organization of recovering heroin addicts who are working to help other addicts get sober, will make the keynote presentation, which will be followed by a panel discussion and question-and-answer session.

Alpha Kappa Psi is the nation’s largest and oldest co-ed professional business fraternity.

“We are proud to present this free community event to continue the fight against the crippling issue of substance abuse,” said Natalie Zerucha, be-WISE-er organizer and human resource management and marketing major in the College of Business and Innovation.

Several community organizations will provide information about what people can do if they or someone they know is addicted to harmful substances. Participants will have an opportunity to wear beer goggles for a unique sensory experience.

Be-WISE-er, which is open to the public, will focus on college-age individuals who are at risk of becoming addicted to alcohol and other drugs. Free food, t-shirts and prizes will be available.

More than 300 people participated in the first be-WISE-er event last spring when one of the keynote speakers was Dr. Brian Hoeflinger, who shared his experience of losing his 18-year-old son in a drunk-driving accident.

“Alpha Kappa Psi is truly humbled by the community’s support of our first be-WISE-er event, and we look forward to growing be-WISE-er so that it has as big an impact on the city as possible,” Zerucha said. “With our second event, we know that we can help build a better college community, as well as a better Toledo.”

Great Lakes Water Conference to focus on drinking water challenges in Flint, Toledo and Waukesha

The University of Toledo, whose researchers are on the front lines of the effort to fight algal bloom toxins and pollution in the Great Lakes, is hosting the 16th annual Great Lakes Water Conference next week at the College of Law.

The public drinking water supply will be the focus of the event titled “Safe Drinking Water: A Tale of Three Cities” from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4 in the McQuade Law Auditorium in the Law Center on Main Campus.

The conference will address the diverse drinking water challenges faced by Toledo, Flint, Mich., and Waukesha, Wis. The one-day conference is sponsored by the UT College of Law and its Legal Institute of the Great Lakes.

Todd Flood

Todd Flood

Flint’s lead-contamination water crisis will be explored by experts, including keynote speaker Todd Flood, special counsel for the Michigan Department of Attorney General and a UT College of Law alumnus, at 8:45 a.m.

Panelists from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences and Toledo’s Collins Park Water Treatment Plant will discuss at 11 a.m. the efforts to prevent a recurrence of Toledo’s microcystin contamination that led to a “Do Not Drink” advisory for three days in August 2014.

The third panel at 1:30 p.m. will cover the approval earlier this year of Waukesha’s controversial request to divert Lake Michigan water out of the Great Lakes basin because its groundwater source for public drinking water is contaminated with radium. Panelists include the mayor of Waukesha and the head of the Chicago-based Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.

“Safe drinking water is a necessity, but not a given, even in this water-rich region,” said Ken Kilbert, a UT professor of law and director of the Legal Institute of the Great Lakes. “This conference will shed light on both the problems and potential solutions.”

Admission is free to the public.

For more information, go to

Water quality is a major research focus at UT. With $12.5 million in active grants underway, UT is studying algal blooms, invasive species such as Asian carp and pollutants and looking for pathways to restore our greatest natural resource for future generations to ensure our communities continue to have access to safe drinking water. They’re also studying the public health impact of exposure to Lake Erie algal toxins, such as the impact on a person’s liver.

Researchers and students protect the public drinking water supply for the greater Toledo area throughout summer algal bloom season by conducting water sampling to alert water treatment plant operators of any toxins heading toward the water intake. UT’s 28-foot research vessel enables UT to partner with the city of Toledo and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to monitor the health of the lake and provide real-time data.

The UT Lake Erie Center is a research and educational facility focused on environmental conditions and aquatic resources in Maumee Bay and western Lake Erie as a model for the Great Lakes and aquatic ecosystems worldwide.

UT Health physician warns allergy season extends into fall and winter

As the warmth of early fall gives way to crisp evenings and the start of the holiday season, thoughts of raking leaves and a crackling fire come to mind. But not everyone can enjoy the crunch of drying leaves and the scent of wood burning in the fireplace.

The 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children who are affected by nasal allergies in the United States know the sneezing, stuffy nose, sinus pressure, itchy eyes and cough of seasonal allergies are not always resolved with the change of seasons.

Dr. Svetlana Kriegel

Dr. Svetlana Kriegel

University of Toledo Health Allergist and Immunologist Dr. Svetlana I. Kriegel recommends those affected learn their triggers and symptoms and ways to avoid exposure to allergens to reduce the misery of nasal allergies.

“The most common are seasonal pollen allergies in the spring, summer and fall. About 70 percent of patients with spring allergies also have allergy symptoms in the fall,” Kriegel said. “We have seen a drop in temperature and with it a drop in ragweed pollen, the primary fall allergen.”

Kriegel said patients are starting to notice a change, but we aren’t out of the woods yet and other allergens, like mold are actually triggering allergic symptoms.

“The fungi take advantage of the fallen leaves and decaying vegetation this time of year and can be found in compost piles, cut grasses, wooded areas, soils, lawn debris and other moist surfaces,” Kriegel said. “In order to reduce the exposure to molds, I suggest avoiding raking leaves altogether or wearing a particle mask if you must work outside.”

A hard frost will eventually kill the foliage and bring the outdoor molds to the dormant state. However, Kriegel said indoor molds can still be troublesome, especially with humidity levels more than 50 percent. The damp air allows molds to flourish in poorly ventilated areas like attics, bathrooms, basements and under kitchen sinks.

“As we close windows and start running heaters, indoor allergens including dust mites, pets, cockroaches and molds become predominant allergy triggers,” Kriegel said. “Luckily, effective avoidance measures can diminish exposure thus decrease nasal, eye and chest symptoms. I always teach my patients this first line of defense.”

Kriegel said it is important to consider other indoor allergens as we settle in for the winter.

“As we are coming to the holiday season, we all should be jolly and happy,” she said. “Be mindful of your guests who could have an allergic or asthmatic reaction to indoor triggers.”

Smoke from fireplaces, wood burners, scented candles, air fresheners and pets can cause problems for allergy sufferers.

“If you purchase a live Christmas tree, you are at risk for carrying millions of mold spores into your home in its bark,” she said. “This mold can cause worsening of allergies and asthma in sensitive adults and kids.”

When avoidance measures are not enough to minimize suffering from allergies or when patients also experience episodic cough, wheezing or chest tightness, Kriegel develops an individualized care strategy for each patient.

“Pharmacological therapy for patients with allergies and asthma made great advances in recent years,” she said. “Medicines can significantly improve the quality of life of allergic individuals.

Nonetheless, for the most bothersome, persistent and difficult to treat symptoms, allergen immunotherapy offers a great advantage. For the right patient, allergy shots can reduce suffering from asthma and potentially cure his or her allergies.”

History of medicine lecture to explore work of early bacteriologist

The human body’s relationship with bacteria is complex. The microscopic organisms can help us live a healthy life or harm us by causing myriad diseases.

Researchers have long been fascinated by bacteriology, the study of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms. Dr. F. G. Novy, a world renowned bacteriologist and former dean of the University of Michigan Medical School, is credited for putting the field of bacteriology on firm scientific foundations. He investigated how microbes survive in nature, spread in the environment and cause disease in animals.

Novy’s work and accomplishments in this field of science will be the focus of the Eighth Annual S. Amjad Hussain Visiting Lecture in the History of Medicine and Surgery at The University of Toledo.

Dr. Powel Kazanjian

Dr. Powel Kazanjian

Dr. Powel Kazanjian, professor and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and professor of history at the University of Michigan, will present a lecture entitled, “The Origins of Bacteriology in America: Life and Works of Frederick Novy” at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2 in the Health Education Building Room 100 on UT’s Health Science Campus. The event is free and open to the public.

“Novy was an organic chemist who is known as the father of bacteriology. He was instrumental in the understanding of how microorganisms cause disease,” said S. Amjad Hussain, professor emeritus of thoracic cardiovascular surgery and humanities and former member of the UT Board of Trustees. “His work helped to define bacteriology as a distinct discipline in America and laid much of the groundwork for studying the interactions between bacteria and the human body.”

Kazanjian was selected to speak at this year’s lecture by a committee that included Hussain, Howard Newman, retired associate vice president of development; Dr. Steven Selman, professor emeritus of medicine; and Dr. Peter White, professor emeritus of medicine and Dr. Thomas Sodeman, division chief of gastroenterology at the University of Toledo.

“Dr. Kazanjian is well respected as an expert in the field of infectious diseases. He has written nearly 100 research publications,” Hussain said. “His interest in the history of bacteriology, epidemics and sexually transmitted diseases fits nicely with the goals of our lecture series.”

Hussain said researchers and physicians are continually building on historical concepts in medicine to find new ways to cure disease.

“When penicillin was discovered in the 1940s, we thought it was the silver bullet,” he said. “What we learned in time is that microorganisms are vigilant and have learned how to develop resistance to available antibiotics, therefore we are continually on a quest to find and develop new antibiotics.”


UT seeks community input on strategic plan

The University of Toledo’s strategic planning committee is seeking input from the greater Toledo community about UT’s future direction.

A discussion session open to the public will take place 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, in Rocket Hall Room 1555 on the UT Main Campus.

The community discussion follows a series of discussion sessions with faculty, staff and students held on the University’s Main and Health Science campuses.

The discussions are led by strategic planning committee co-chairs Dr. Laurie Dinnebeil, Distinguished University Professor and chair of early childhood, physical and special education, and committee co-chair Dr. Anthony Quinn, associate professor of biological sciences and assistant dean for diversity and inclusion in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

The discussion will begin with a brief overview of the strategic planning process, after which participants will split into small groups to provide input on their views of the University’s future.

Individuals who want to provide their opinions but cannot attend the sessions are encouraged to submit their ideas at

Conference celebrates conclusion of NURTURES science education program

The University of Toledo will recognize the conclusion of a successful science education program with a conference to showcase how local educators incorporated high-quality science inquiry into their curriculum.

The NURTURES program, which stands for Networking Urban Resources with Teachers and University enRich Early Childhood Science, was a five-year, $10 million program funded by the National Science Foundation to engage teachers and parents in supporting a young child’s natural curiosity through interactive science lessons.

The NURTURES conference will take place 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Hilton Garden Inn at Levis Commons in Perrysburg. It will feature presentations from local teachers and administrators who incorporated science inquiry and engineering in their classrooms and schools through the program.

Educators from Toledo Public Schools, the Catholic Diocese of Toledo and local charter schools will present topics that include:

  • Overcoming common science misconceptions in the classroom;
  • Developing discourse and critical thinking skills around science;
  • Incorporating engineering design at the early childhood level;
  • Integrating common core subjects with science; and
  • Engaging with parents and community resources to promote science.

During the NURTURES program, 330 teachers of preschool through third grade and administrators participated in a total of 544 hours of professional development in the teaching of science inquiry and engineering design for early childhood classrooms.

Through NURTURES, teachers were exposed to high-quality science and engineering activities and worked to use them within their classrooms to increase student comprehension and academic achievement, said Dr. Charlene Czerniak, professor emeritus of science education and research professor in the UT College of Engineering. Data from standardized testing in Toledo Public Schools show an increase in reading, early literacy and math scores in students of teachers who have participated in NURTURES, she added.

“These findings are very significant and provide evidence that the teachers in Toledo Public Schools and area schools worked diligently to improve science teaching and learning,” Czerniak said.

Led by UT, the NURTURES program engaged a number of local partners for a community-based complementary learning model to support early learners. Those partners include Toledo Public Schools, Toledo Catholic Schools, Monroe County Schools, the former Apple Tree Nursery School, the East Toledo Family Center Day Care, UT Ritter Planetarium, Imagination Station, Toledo Zoo, Metroparks Toledo, Toledo Botanical Gardens, the former Lourdes University Nature Laboratory, Challenger Learning Center, YMCA, Toledo-Lucas County Public Library and WGTE Public Media.

Author to discuss campus racism at UT diversity dialogue Oct. 24

The latest installment in the University’s Dialogues on Diversity and Inclusion series will take place 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24 in the Student Union Auditorium.

“Know Better/Do Better: Deeper Reasons Why Campus Racism Exists” will be presented by Lawrence C. Ross, author of The Divine Nine and Blackballed. This lecture will focus on the reasons behind campus racism and how to overcome it.



Ross’ lecture will cover the systemic racism that has been observed on college campuses for generations and has been ignored. Ross looks at it from four different viewpoints: policy, symbolism, overt racist acts and racial micro-aggressions.

Ross was chosen to speak after a group of students heard him at a national conference and felt that he would be a good fit for the series.

“As you’ve seen over the past couple of years, there’s been more than 100 different campus racism protests, and it’s evident that colleges and universities aren’t prepared to handle it,” Ross said. “Colleges and universities are places where we educate our future leaders, and if they’re not fostering an environment that is racism-free, or creating an inclusive environment, what does that say for the future of American society?”

The lecture will be followed by a question-and-answer session and a book-signing event.

Henderson Hill, assistant dean of multicultural student success, said the decision to spotlight this topic was influenced by questions and concerns about current racial tensions and issues around the country.

“I think that people should attend this discussion because it is an opportunity to have a program facilitated by a content expert who does work related to race, culture and inclusion,” Hill said.

“Our students were impressed by Lawrence Ross, and we are excited for him to visit the University and share his powerful point of view on why racism still exists on college campuses and how we can all work together to create an environment where all feel like they belong,” said Dr. Willie McKether, UT vice president for diversity and inclusion.

McKether leads UT’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion and spearheaded the development of the University’s strategic plan for diversity and inclusion. It is available at

Ross’ visit is sponsored by the offices of Diversity and Inclusion, Multicultural Student Success, and Student Involvement and Leadership.

UT researchers use collaborative approach to investigate hypertensive kidney disease

Nearly 70 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, putting them at risk for heart attack, stroke and heart failure. And one third of those individuals with hypertension also will eventually develop kidney disease.

Researchers at The University of Toledo are taking steps to better understand the relationship between high blood pressure and kidney disease to better treat those patients.

Dr. Steven Haller

Dr. Steven Haller

“Dr. Christopher Cooper, dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, served as the principal investigator of the Cardiovascular Outcomes in Renal Atherosclerotic Lesions (CORAL) clinical trial, which determined the best treatment options for renal artery stenosis, or blockage in the renal arteries of the kidney. However, the molecular mechanisms leading to renal dysfunction in this disease remain largely unknown,” said Dr. Steven Haller, assistant professor of medicine. “We knew that the protein Cd40 played an important role in inflammation and clotting in the body, but had not yet identified how it contributed to renal fibrosis.”

Renal fibrosis is a progressive condition that is the direct consequence of the kidney’s limited ability to regenerate after injury. The scarring of the kidney tissue results in a loss of function which can potentially lead to life-threatening kidney failure.

“My team collaborated with Dr. Bina Joe in UT’s Department of Physiology and Pharmacology to develop a rat model to explore the role of Cd40 in this scarring,” Haller said. “We found that by interrupting this protein, the rats had a significant reduction in renal fibrosis and demonstrated an improvement in renal function”

These results mean that the Cd40 protein not only contributes to inflammation, but also may contribute to renal fibrosis and can be considered as playing a critical role in the development of hypertensive renal disease, he said.

“It has been an exciting project to be a part of,” Haller said. “I have enjoyed collaborating with the other experts we have within UT’s Center for Hypertension and Personalized Medicine to take an interdisciplinary approach to research in our quest to learn more about disease and developing preventative and therapeutic treatments.”

While medications and human trials are still several years away, Haller and his colleagues plan to take the next steps in exploring the most effective and safest ways to interrupt Cd40 and reduce renal fibrosis.

The results of the study were presented in a paper entitled, “Targeted Disruption of Cd40 in a Genetically Hypertensive Rat Model Attenuates Renal Fibrosis and Proteinuria, Independent of Blood Pressure” and were published in Kidney International in August.

UT astronomer helps capture first sharp image of famous exploding star’s raging winds

A researcher at The University of Toledo is part of an international team of astronomers pioneering a new way to understand how extremely massive stars lose mass as they evolve.

The research team focused on the most luminous and massive stellar system in the Milky Way galaxy called Eta Carinae. Its primary star is 100 times more massive and five million times more luminous than the sun. That star also is famous for losing 10 suns worth of material – huge amounts of gas and dust – into space in an enormous explosion in the 1830s.

These astronomers are the first to use what is called the Very Large Telescope Interferometer at the the European Southern Observatory in Chile to study the violent wind collision zone between two stars in the system and discover new and unexpected structures.

Dr. Noel Richardson

Dr. Noel Richardson

“The scale of the images is roughly equivalent to being able to read the small print in a newspaper from 50 miles away,” said Dr. Noel Richardson, post-doctoral research associate in UT’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The team’s methods used to revolutionize infrared astronomy and the resulting discoveries were recently published in the international journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

The researchers used interferometry, which is a technique combining the light from up to four telescopes to obtain an image about 10 times higher than the resolution of the largest single telescope.

Left: The nebula surrounding Eta Carinae as imaged with ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Right: High resolution image of the wind collision zone in the central region of Eta Carinae. The two red dots indicate the positions of the two stars. Credit: ESO and Gerd Weigelt

Left: The nebula surrounding Eta Carinae as imaged with ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Right: High resolution image of the wind collision zone in the central region of Eta Carinae. The two red dots indicate the positions of the two stars. Credit: ESO and Gerd Weigelt

“It’s phenomenal,” said Richardson, who earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and master’s degree in physics from UT in 2004 and 2006. “Until now, we couldn’t study the Eta Carinae star system’s wind collision zone because it was too small for the largest telescope.”

The Eta Carinae star system is 7,500 light years from Earth where winds from two tightly orbiting stars smash together at speeds of up to 10 million kilometers per hour approximately every five years. Temperatures reach many tens of millions of degrees – enough to emit X-rays.

Richardson says the star is too far south to observe from UT’s telescope. The collaborators in South America sent him data to analyze every night in mid-2014, the last time the stars passed close to each other. Richardson observed the images with spectroscopy and spotted structures in the data that hadn’t been seen before.

3-D print of wind collision cavity in Eta Carinae system based on models of Thomas Madura at San Jose University.

3-D print of wind collision cavity in Eta Carinae system based on models of Thomas Madura at San Jose University.

“We’ve learned the secondary star’s wind is carving a cavity into the primary star’s enormous wind,” Richardson said. “We saw large structures pushed out into space after the winds collide, were able to pinpoint how they were moving and learned they keep that geometric shape. It’s amazing to see the tails coming off, which are the shocks in the secondary star going into orbit. We have computer and 3-D print models that can now explain the X-rays, Hubble Space Telescope observations, unusual spectroscopic features and the incredible images from the Very Large Telescope Interferometer.”

“Our dreams came true because we can now get extremely sharp images in the infrared regime,” said Gerd Weigelt of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany, who led the team of astronomers from the U.S., Canada, Chile, Japan and Brazil.

“Dr. Richardson’s work is a nice example of the kinds of international collaborations with which our UT astronomers are involved,” 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. “The results, which use data from the Hubble Space Telescope, show a very interesting way to map the fossil remnants of material thrown off by a famously unstable binary star system.  I congratulate him on this work and am proud to note that he is a UT alumnus.”

Three 1.8-meter telescopes of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer of the European Southern Observatory in Chile. Credit: Gerd Weigelt

Three 1.8-meter telescopes of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer of the European Southern Observatory in Chile. Credit: Gerd Weigelt

Richardson hopes this new research helps astronomers come closer to understanding what triggered Eta Carinae’s explosion in the 1800s.

“That is one of the driving motivators for myself,” Richardson said. “How do we connect the physics of what is happening today to what happened back then? There is still a lot we don’t understand about the stars we have looked up and seen in the sky for a long time. Science is a process and we want to push the envelope to solve the mystery.”