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Register for UToledo Conference for Aspiring Minority Youth Jan. 29

Hill Harper, an actor on ABC’s “The Good Doctor” and best-selling author, and Jeff Johnson, an award-winning journalist and alumnus of The University of Toledo, will speak at UToledo’s 38th annual Conference for Aspiring Minority Youth.

The event sponsored by Toledo Excel, a longtime scholarship incentive program at UToledo, and Owens Corning is 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 29, in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium.

Advance registration is required for the free, public conference for seventh- and eighth-graders, high school students and parents; go to the event website to register.

All attendees will be required to wear face masks regardless of vaccination status.

Established in 1988, Toledo Excel helps underrepresented students, including African, Asian, Hispanic and Native Americans, achieve success in college. Through summer institutes, academic enhancement activities, and guidance through the admission process, students increase their self-esteem, cultural awareness and civic involvement.

“Every year this conference aims to educate and motivate underrepresented youth, their parents and the community,” said David Young, director of Toledo Excel and special projects. “The ultimate goal is to influence youth to pursue higher education and be persistent no matter what barriers or challenges they may face.”

This year’s speakers advocate youth leadership, unlocking opportunities and financial literacy to close the racial wealth gap.

Harper, known for his roles on “The Good Doctor” and “CSI:NY,” is founder of the Black Wall Street app, a digital wallet and cryptocurrency exchange platform to empower the financially excluded in remembrance of the race-fueled Tulsa Massacre in Oklahoma’s Greenwood district, which was one of the wealthiest Black communities in the nation, on May 31, 1921.

Harper also is the founder of the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering underserved youth through mentorship, scholarship and grant programs, and the author of four New York Times bestsellers: “Letters to a Young Brother,” “Letters to a Young Sister,” “The Conversation,” and “The Wealth Cure,” which chronicled his diagnosis with thyroid cancer and his journey to health. Former President Barack Obama appointed Harper in 2011 to the President’s Cancer Panel.

Johnson is president of the Baltimore-based strategy firm JIJ Communications. He previously served as national director for the Youth and College Division of the NAACP and vice president of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network.

Johnson interviewed Obama during his administration as a journalist for BET and regularly provides content on The Root and the nationally syndicated Rickey Smiley Morning Show.

He serves on several boards including the Morehouse Research Institute, The Cleveland Foundation’s African American Philanthropy Committee, and the historic Lincoln Theatre in Columbus.

While a UToledo student, Johnson served as president of the Black Student Union and Student Government.

 


Study Shows Critical Need to Reduce Use of Road Salt in Winter, Suggests Best Practices

Across the U.S. road crews dump around 25 million metric tons of sodium chloride — much like table salt — to unfreeze roads each year and make them safe for travel.

Usage varies by state, but the amount of salt applied to icy roads annually in some regions can vary between approximately 3 and 18 pounds of salt per square meter, which is only about the size of a small kitchen table. 

As the use of deicing salts has tripled over the past 45 years, salt concentrations are increasing dramatically in streams, rivers, lakes and other sources of freshwater.

Overuse of road salts to melt away snow and ice is threatening human health and the environment as they wash into drinking water sources, and new research from The University of Toledo spotlights the urgent need for policy makers and environmental managers to adopt a variety of solutions.

The study titled “Road Salts, Human Safety and the Rising Salinity of Our Fresh Waters” is published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment and presents how road salts hurt ecology, contaminate drinking water supplies and mobilize harmful chemicals, such as radon, mercury and lead, and then lays out suggested best management practices.

Dr. Bill Hintz

“The magnitude of the road salt contamination issue is substantial and requires immediate attention,” said Dr. Bill Hintz, assistant professor of ecology at UToledo and lead author of the research based out of the UToledo Lake Erie Center. “Given that road deicers reduce car accidents by more than 78%, we worked to strike a careful balance between human safety and mitigating the negative environmental and health impacts triggered by dumping salt on our streets and highways to keep people safe and traffic moving.”

In one major example, the researchers say overuse of road salts likely contributed to higher levels of corrosive chloride in the water supply in Flint, Mich., in 2014, leading to the release of lead from water distribution pipes.

Another example shows that high concentrations of deicing salt typically occur in private wells located near roads in lower elevations or downhill from highways.

The most common deicers are the inorganic salts sodium chloride, calcium chloride and magnesium chloride, all used both in solid and liquid or brine form.

The study examines how current federal safety limits for salt concentrations established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1988 to protect fish, plants and other aquatic life in freshwater ecosystems are commonly surpassed.

Particularly alarming is the number of salinized streams. The research highlights recent studies that show urban streams with salt concentrations that are more than 20 to 30 times higher than the EPA chronic chloride threshold of 230 milligrams per liter.

“Current EPA thresholds are clearly not enough,” Hintz said. “The impacts of deicing salts can be sublethal or lethal at current thresholds and recent research suggests that negative effects can occur at levels far below these thresholds.”

The research suggests several solutions, including:

  • Proper storage facilities — covered structures with a concrete base;
  • Anti-icing, the application of liquids such as salt brines to road surfaces prior to winter storm events, which prevents ice from bonding to surfaces and aids removal operations;
  • Live-edge snowplows composed of multiple smaller plows on springs, which better conform to road surfaces compared to conventional plows with a single fixed edge, to increase the efficiency of snow and ice removal and reduce the need for deicing salt; and
  • Post-storm performance assessments to determine whether the treatment used was appropriate for the weather system and if it should be modified in the future.

“Given the lack of ecologically friendly and cost-effective alternatives, broad-scale adoption of best management practices is necessary to curb the increasing salinization of freshwater ecosystems resulting from the use of deicing salts,” Hintz said.

Hintz collaborated with scientists from Montana State University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on the study.


UToledo to Celebrate Nearly 2,000 Graduates at Fall Commencement Dec. 18

The University of Toledo will host multiple in-person ceremonies to celebrate the success of the graduating Class of 2021 at fall Commencement.

The ceremonies for undergraduates will be 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, in Savage Arena.

The 9 a.m. ceremony recognizes graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters; the John B. and Lillian E. Neff College of Business and Innovation; Judith Herb College of Education; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and University College.

The 1 p.m. ceremony recognizes graduates from the colleges of Engineering; Health and Human Services; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; and Nursing.

Graduates receiving doctoral degrees will have the opportunity to participate in a separate hooding ceremony at the graduate commencement ceremony 6 p.m. Dec. 17, in Savage Arena.

“The Class of 2021 has demonstrated such focus, perseverance and strength throughout the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to celebrating their achievements and resilience,” UToledo President Gregory Postel said. “We are proud of their successes to date, and we can’t wait to see all that they will accomplish as alumni.”

Tony Bova

UToledo alumnus and entrepreneur Tony Bova will deliver the keynote address at the undergraduate ceremonies.

Bova is co-founder and chief executive officer of Mobius, a startup focused on reducing carbon dioxide emissions by transforming industrial waste into a valuable resource that can be sold to manufacturers as raw material.

Bova, who graduated from UToledo with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2013, will address 1,401 candidates for degrees, including 1,360 bachelor’s and 41 associate’s candidates.

Dr. Kelli R. Brown, chancellor of Western Carolina University and a UToledo alumna, will address 567 candidates for degrees at the graduate commencement ceremony. The graduate ceremony will celebrate graduates with master’s degrees, as well as doctoral hooding for Ph.D., Juris Doctor and other doctoral degrees.

Dr. Kelli R. Brown

Brown received a bachelor’s degree in 1982 and a master of science and education in public health 1984 at UToledo. She also served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Georgia College and State University.

Tickets are required for admission for all ceremonies. All attendees will be required to wear face masks regardless of vaccination status.

All ceremonies will be livestreamed at utoledo.edu/video.

 


Engineering Students to Present Senior Design Projects Dec. 10

Making it safer for pedestrians to cross Monroe Street in front of the Toledo Museum of Art. Reducing recovery time for a broken bone by stimulating muscle movement. Programming an autonomous drone to identify and record security concerns in a building.

These are just a few examples of projects engineering students at The University of Toledo will present to the public at the Senior Design Expo from noon to 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10, on the first floor of Nitschke Hall.

“The Senior Design Expo is a tradition in The University of Toledo College of Engineering for decades as a showcase of student creativity and ingenuity in collaboration with community partners,” said Dr. Mike Toole, dean of the UToledo College of Engineering.

As part of required senior design/capstone projects, about 50 UToledo engineering teams worked with local businesses, industries and federal agencies to help solve technical and business challenges.

Students will present their final prototypes, provide hands-on demonstrations and answer questions about their experiences at the expo.

On the project to improve bone fracture recovery time, Logan Dabney’s five-member team created a device and sleeve for immobilized muscle stimulation that is designed to reduce the amount of muscle atrophy that occurs while wearing a cast, which will decrease the time needed for physical therapy.

“I actually pitched the idea to our group after conferring with one of my bioengineering friends because I’ve always been interested in creating products that could help ease day-to-day life or benefit someone’s health,” said Dabney, who is a dual major in electrical engineering and computer science and engineering and plans to pursue a career in software engineering after he graduates in the spring.

“I had to learn an entirely new framework and coding language to create our mobile application for our prototype. Overall, this experience gave me a better perspective on working from start to finish on a project that had multiple people working asynchronously.”

Other projects that range from automotive and environmental to medical and motivational include:

  • An alarm clock attachment for a dumbbell that provides accountability to complete a customizable, pre-set workout every morning — the alarm pauses during the workout and is only disabled upon completion;
  • A uniform magnetic field using Helmholtz coils to test sensors and other parts that will be used in space applications where Earth’s magnetic field does not interfere;
  • A necklace for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease that serves as an invisible guardian by sending a notification to the caretaker’s phone or designated devices whenever the patient gets too close to an exit of the home;
  • Designs to make it safer for pedestrians to cross Monroe Street in front of the Toledo Museum of Art without lowering the speed limit, such as reducing the number of lanes to one in each direction and adding a speed table;
  • A spare tire deployment system for pick-up trucks and SUVs that allows people to replace their flat tire without getting their hands dirty or bending down;
  • A phone app that helps individuals who are blind and visually impaired navigate within buildings, responding to vocal requests and audibly directing the path tracked by Bluetooth beacons placed in hallways;
  • An automatic cereal and milk dispenser operated by a mobile app intended for dispensing food in a convenient and sanitary manner;
  • A hydropower source that uses a river or stream to create enough wattage to power a cell phone; and
  • A new process for ball joint assembly at the Dana Toledo Driveline facility that will not fully depend on the operators for lubricating the ball joint socket yokes on the tube of an axle.

“We are very excited to return to our first in-person Senior Design Expo since the start of the pandemic,” said Dr. Matt Franchetti, associate dean of undergraduate studies in the College of Engineering and coordinator for the Senior Design Expo. “Our students and senior design instructors have worked very hard on their projects.”

All attendees of the Senior Design Expo will be required to wear face masks regardless of vaccination status.

 


Ritter Planetarium Showing Annual Holiday Children’s Program on Full Dome

The University of Toledo Ritter Planetarium is showing “Santa’s Secret Star” in full dome for children throughout the holiday season.

“Santa’s Secret Star” is featured 7:30 p.m. on Fridays through Dec. 17 and 1 p.m. on Saturdays through Dec. 18.

“Santa’s Secret Star” is a story about Santa and Rudolph learning how to find their way back to the North Pole using constellations. After Santa finishes his Christmas deliveries, he and his reindeer become lost. Without a compass, he and Rudolph turn to the constellations for help, and the stars lead them to the North Star, which guides them home.

“ ‘Santa’s Secret Star’ was written and produced right here at The University of Toledo and has an original soundtrack written by UToledo music professor Lee Heritage,” said Dr. Michael Cushing, professor of physics and astronomy and director of Ritter Planetarium.

Admission to the programs is $8 for adults and $6 for children, senior citizens and UToledo community members. Doors will open 30 minutes prior to the show.


UToledo Scientist Developing Single Drug to Treat Diabetes, Osteoporosis

When Dr. Beata Lecka-Czernik joined The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences in 2007, her field was seen by many as something of a curiosity.

A professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery with a joint appointment in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Lecka-Czernik studies the connection between bone health and metabolic processes, including disorders such as diabetes.

“At that time, there were very few people believing there even was an intersection,” she said. “It was novel research, but it has really made a lot of progress with time.”

Dr. Beata Lecka-Czernik

Much of that progress has come from her own lab, which has made key discoveries about how some drugs used to treat diabetes can accelerate bone loss, and how a protein called PPAR-gamma that helps regulate insulin sensitivity also plays a role in the formation of new bone.

This fall, Lecka-Czernik received a five-year, $3.4 million grant from the National Institute on Aging to continue her work that’s ultimately aimed at developing a single therapeutic that could both normalize glucose levels and improve the mass and quality of bone.

Osteoporosis and Type 2 diabetes are both widespread in the United States. The National Institutes of Health estimates that 26 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes and twice that many either have or are at high risk of developing osteoporosis.

What’s more, weak bones and diabetes are often seen together. Lecka-Czernik said research has shown that diabetics suffer twice as many bone fractures as individuals without diabetes.

Her research team, which includes scientists from the Scripps Research Institute, will focus on better understanding the mechanisms of how processes in the bone are integrated with regulation of energy metabolism as they work to fine-tune an experimental drug they previously developed.

That compound, which has been patented by Scripps and UToledo, was found to be effective at regulating glucose and strengthening bone in a 2016 study published in the journal EBioMedicine.

Far from serving as a static scaffolding that supports our bodies, bones are constantly changing. One type of cell breaks down old bone and another type of cell creates new bone.

“You can think of it almost like a road crew,” Lecka-Czernik said. “One crew tears up the old pavement and the next crew comes along to lay new blacktop. In normal situations, they are coupled. As we age the destruction crew speeds up but the paving crew slows down, particularly in post-menopausal women.”

Most of the available therapeutics aimed at improving bone quality focus on slowing down resorption, or the process that breaks down old bone.

There is a relatively new drug that helps activate the cells responsible for building new bone by inhibiting the protein sclerostin, but Lecka-Czernik said some scientists have concerns that this drug may have a negative effect on the vascular system.

By targeting PPAR-gamma, which controls the expression of sclerostin, the experimental therapeutic she and her collaborators are investigating potentially gets around that concern.

And unlike some other insulin synthesizers that have been shown to speed up bone loss, the group’s experimental drug appears to do the opposite — building up healthier, stronger bones.

“If you have one pill that can take care of two pathologies which are common and often seen together, that could have a big impact for health. It could also have an economic impact, especially for the elderly who are spending a lot of money on prescription drugs,” she said. “Thirteen years ago, this was science fiction. Now it seems like a real possibility.”


Emotional Intelligence Proves Significant to Remote Leadership in a Crisis

From employee morale to virtual fatigue and people not using their cameras, managers navigated a wide variety of issues when thrust into leading remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New research from The University of Toledo conducted during the pandemic found that individuals with higher levels of emotional intelligence experienced lower levels of concern for leading remotely during the crisis.

“Prior to the global pandemic, most leaders did not have any formal training or on-the-job learning experiences related to leading remotely in a crisis situation,” said Dr. Jenell Wittmer, associate professor of management in UToledo’s John B. and Lillian E. Neff College of Business and Innovation and an industrial and organizational psychologist. “The results of our analysis confirm how effectively perceiving and managing one’s emotions contribute to effectively dealing with the challenges of leading remotely in crisis situations.”

The research demonstrates how emotional intelligence — especially the areas of self-perception and stress tolerance — can help leaders overcome their concerns about leading remotely to help them provide better communication, support, engagement and direction to employees who report directly to them.

The study titled “Leading Remotely in a Time of Crisis: Relationships with Emotional Intelligence” is published in a special issue of the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies that focuses on leadership through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 crisis has tested even the strongest leaders, both personally and professionally,” said Dr. Margaret Hopkins, professor of management and co-author of the research. “Our study provides insights into how emotional intelligence provides a personal resource to leaders as they navigate leading remotely during a time of crisis.”

The study highlights the need for individual leaders to strengthen their emotional intelligence through activities such as self-reflection and 360-degree assessment instruments, as well as the need for organizations to invest in emotional intelligence development for their leadership teams by providing resources for training, strengthening the organization’s overall resilience.

“What leaders need especially during this type of crisis is not only a predefined response plan but more importantly behaviors and mindsets that will assist them in looking towards the future,” Hopkins said.

More than 200 people from a wide variety of industries in the Midwest participated in the study by completing two surveys, one related to leading remotely in a crisis and the second measuring their emotional intelligence.

The emotional intelligence assessment was completed for executive coaching purposes before the pandemic, between September of 2017 and March of 2020.

There are five components to emotional intelligence:

  • Self-perception, which measures one’s self-awareness of emotions;
  • Self-expression, or being assertive about expressing emotions appropriately;
  • Interpersonal, which measures one’s ability to have effective interpersonal relationships;
  • Decision-making, which measures problem-solving and reality testing; and
  • Stress management, the ability to effectively handle stress.

During the pandemic, those same professionals participated in the survey about their experiences leading remotely. At the time of the survey, 82% reported that their current leadership was 100% remote, and 85% reported that COVID-19 was the first time they led remotely.

Nearly all of the participants cited transparent communication as being important during times of crisis and the general consensus about virtual meeting platforms is that they’re a “necessary evil.”

“We found that while operational issues are certainly important to address, the human elements are even more essential since the operational issues are influenced by people and their emotional reactions,” Wittmer said.

In particular, the ability to understand oneself and to manage one’s emotions, measured

by the self-perception and the stress management scales of emotional intelligence, were the two most significant components contributing to leading remotely in a crisis.

“Leaders with a high degree of self-perception will be more likely to pause before taking any

overly emotional or rash actions,” Hopkins said. “These leaders will tend to avoid being emotionally hijacked and allowing their emotions to govern their decision-making in these trying times.”

The research shows leaders with a higher degree of optimism will be more resilient in stressful times, which contributes to providing themselves and their staff with a clarity of purpose and mission.

“Crisis situations are by definition stressful times, which include strong emotions, time pressures, high stakes and ambiguity regarding solutions,” Wittmer said. “Leaders who exhibit adaptability will be more open to creative solutions as opposed to relying on their operational comfort zone.”

“There are three clear distinctions when simultaneously leading remotely and during a crisis situation: the degree of urgency, the level of uncertainty, and the presence of strong emotions with the possibility for intense emotional reactions,” Hopkins said. “All three of these generate increased pressures on the leader and create the potential for a perfect storm.”

 


Astronomers Team up to Create New Method to Understand Galaxy Evolution

A husband-and-wife team of astronomers at The University of Toledo joined forces for the first time in their scientific careers during the pandemic to develop a new method to look back in time and change the way we understand the history of galaxies.

Until now forging parallel but separate careers while juggling home life and carpooling to cross country meets, Dr. Rupali Chandar, professor of astronomy, and Dr. J.D. Smith, director of the UToledo Ritter Astrophysical Research Center and professor of astronomy, merged their areas of expertise.

S12, a post-starburst galaxy located nearly 500 million light years away, is on the right. It looks like a jellyfish with a host of stars streaming out of the galaxy on one side.

Working along with UToledo alumnus Dr. Adam Smercina who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics in 2015 and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington, they used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to focus on a post-starburst galaxy nearly 500 million light years away called S12 that looks like a jellyfish with a host of stars streaming out of the galaxy on one side.

Smercina, the “glue” that brought Smith and Chandar together on this research, worked with Smith as an undergraduate student starting in 2012 on the dust and gas in post-starburst galaxies.

While spiral galaxies like our Milky Way have continued to form stars at a fairly steady rate, post-starburst galaxies experienced an intense burst of star formation sometime in the last half billion years, shutting down their star formation.

The resulting breakthrough research published in the Astrophysical Journal outlines their new method to establish the star formation history of a post-starburst galaxy using its cluster population. The approach uses the age and mass estimates of stellar clusters to determine the strength and speed of the starburst that stopped more stars from forming in the galaxy.

Using this method, the astronomers discovered that S12 experienced two periods of starburst before it stopped forming stars, not one.

“Post-starbursts represent a phase of galaxy evolution that is pretty rare today,” Smith said. “We think that nearly half of all galaxies went through this phase at some point in their lives. So far, their star-forming histories have been determined almost exclusively from detailed modeling of their composite starlight.”

Smith has studied post-starburst galaxies for more than a decade, and Chandar works on the stellar clusters in galaxies that are typically about three or four times closer than those in Smith’s data.

“Clusters are like fossils — they can be age-dated and give us clues to the past history of galaxies,” Chandar said. “Clusters can only be detected in these galaxies with the clear eyed-view of the Hubble Space Telescope. No clusters can be detected in even the highest quality images taken with telescopes on the ground.”

Smith has led several large multi-wavelength projects to better understand the evolutionary history of post-starburst galaxies. He discovered, for example, that the raw fuel for star formation — gas and dust — is still present in surprising quantities in some of these systems including S12, even though no stars are currently being formed.

“While studying the light from these galaxies at multiple wavelengths has helped establish the time that the burst happened, we hadn’t been able to determine how strong and how long the burst that shutoff star formation actually was,” Smith said. “And that’s important to know to better understand how these galaxies evolve.”

The astronomers used well-studied cluster masses and star formation rates in eight nearby galaxies to develop the new method, which could be applied to determine the recent star formation histories for a number of post-starburst systems.

The researchers applied their different approach to S-12, which is short for SDSS 623-52051-207, since it was discovered and catalogued in the Sloan Digitized Sky Survey (SDSS).

“It must have had one of the highest rates of star formation of any galaxy we have ever studied,” Chandar said. “S12 is the most distant galaxy I’ve ever worked on.”

The study indicates star formation in S12 shut off 70 million years ago after a short but intense burst formed some of the most massive clusters known, with masses several times higher than similar-age counterparts forming in actively merging galaxies. The method also revealed an earlier burst of star formation that the previous method of composite starlight modeling could not detect.

“These results suggest that S12’s unusual history may be even more complicated than expected, with multiple major events compounding to fully shut off star formation,” Smith said.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA.

Chandar and Smith are two of four UToledo astronomers leading some of the first research projects on NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope scheduled to launch in December.


Expectation shapes reality: Psychological factors predict COVID vaccine side effects

Nausea. Chills. Fatigue. Headache.

Before getting vaccinated against COVID-19, many of us braced for the minor but uncomfortable side effects we’d heard so much about in the news or from our friends and neighbors who had already received the jab.

New research led by The University of Toledo suggests how much attention people pay those fears may predict how poorly they’ll feel post-vaccine.

In a paper published last week in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, researchers detailed for the first time a link between the side effects people expected from COVID-19 vaccination and those they actually experienced.

“It’s important to see how psychological variables may be correlated to how people respond to these vaccines,” said Dr. Andrew Geers, professor in the UToledo Department of Psychology and the paper’s lead author. “Our research clearly shows that people who expected symptoms like headaches, fatigue or pain at the injection site were much more likely to experience those side effects than those who did not anticipate them.”

Geers’ lab specializes in the study of social psychology theory within health and medical contexts, including the psychology of drug side effects, placebo effects and nocebo effects.

While it’s well documented in the scientific literature how psychosocial factors can impact the success or side effects of a given treatment, no one had yet done so in the context of COVID-19 vaccines.

In April, Geers and his colleagues distributed a survey asking unvaccinated adults in the United States about their expectation for seven common vaccine side effects that had been widely publicized by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — pain at the injection site, fever, chills, headache, join pain, nausea and fatigue. The survey also collected socio-demographic information and assessed participants’ symptoms of depression and general worry about the pandemic.

Over the next three months, researchers followed up with 551 now fully vaccinated participants to ask which of the seven previously identified side effects they experienced.

“We found a clear link between what people expected and what they experienced,” said Kelly Clemens, a UToledo doctoral student studying experimental psychology and paper co-author. “Those psychological factors are predictive over and above the other factors that we knew were involved in predicting side effects, such as the specific vaccine someone received, their age or whether they previously had COVID-19.”

In addition to helping to explain why some of us felt so crummy after vaccination and others did not, Geers and Clemens said the study also could provide important clues for overcoming some of the lingering vaccine hesitancy — both for first timers who are worried about side effects and those who become eligible for a booster dose but don’t want to go through the ordeal again.

“This really shows the power of expectations and beliefs, even in something that we know is very physical,” Geers said. “It appears that the effect that comes out of the vaccine is being shaped by psychology — by expectations and worry. If we’re able to reframe and think about side effects differently, it might reduce the experience of side effects.”

Geers and Clemens are working with colleagues to analyze similar data from other countries to further understand how expectations shape reported vaccine side effects. They also plan to explore additional data that were collected in their survey about other side effects, side effect severity, booster dose intention and social media use.

“This is a really great example of some of the research that our lab does. I think it lays the groundwork for us to move forward not only with COVID vaccines but looking at nocebo side effects more broadly,” Clemens said. “A lot of students don’t get this experience. Dr. Geers is an incredible mentor and he’s been great at helping me be involved at all levels of the research. I’m not just learning good methodology in class, but I’m also able to put it in practice.”


UToledo Honors Area Veterans Nov. 11 With Annual Appreciation Event

The Veterans Appreciation Breakfast and Resource Fair, UToledo’s annual event to recognize area veterans, is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 11, in Savage Arena.

Doors will open at 8 a.m.; the program begins at 9 a.m. All veterans and their families are invited to the free breakfast and resource fair.

The event, now in its 17th year, is a collaboration between UToledo, American Red Cross and the Lucas County Veterans Service Commission.

Dr. Mike Toole, dean of the UToledo College of Engineering and a veteran of the U.S. Navy, will provide welcoming remarks.

“The University of Toledo is proud to have 443 students who served their nation in the armed forces and have returned to campus to secure an education that will provide opportunities for a successful career as a veteran civilian,” Toole said. “We also have 57 veterans in the making — that is, the ROTC cadets who are taking UToledo classes while also undergoing training year-round.”

Maj. Brian Hubert of the U.S. Marine Corps will give the keynote address.

Maj. Brian Hubert

Hubert attended basic officer training and infantry officer training before reporting to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines in Camp Pendelton, Calif., serving as the 81mm Mortar Platoon Commander and Weapons Company Executive Officer deploying on the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit supporting operations in the Pacific.

His deployments include Operation Enduring Freedom to Yemen, where he served with the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel to Afghanistan, where he served with the 6th Marine Regiment with Task Force Southwest as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller and Battle Captain. Currently, he is serving as commanding officer of the Marine Recruiting Station in Cleveland.

His awards and decorations include a Meritorious Service Medal, Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and three Navy/ Marine Corps Achievement Medals.

“On Veterans Day, the United States pays tribute to all veterans who have served or are serving in the U.S. Armed Forces,” said Charles Hiser, executive director of the Lucas County Veterans Service Commission. “A veteran is someone who has given up years of their life to serve in the military, and the 17th annual Veterans Day Breakfast and Resource Fair is one way locally we can show veterans our support.”

In addition to the free breakfast, local veterans and members of the military and their families will have access to more than 30 military-friendly community resources.

The program will feature entertainment by Gabriel Hagedorn, a UToledo student and pianist, and fourth-graders from Waterville Primary School.

Members of the Rossford High School S.O.S. (Serving Our Soldiers) Club will greet and assist veterans through the breakfast line.

Free parking will be available in lots 3, 5 and 6 near Savage Arena.

For more information on the event, contact the UToledo Office of Special Events at 419.530.2200 or specialevents@utoledo.edu.