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Buried Treasure: New Study Spotlights Bias in Leadership Assessments of Women

A new study conducted before COVID-19 busted open the leaky pipeline for women in leadership underscores the bias that men are naturally presumed to have leadership potential and women are not and highlights the increased efforts needed by organizations to address the incorrect stereotype post-pandemic.

The research published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology highlights the continuing bias in leadership assessments of women, explores the contradictions between the perception and the reality of women’s leadership, and shows why the slow rate of career advancement for women will likely continue at a snail’s pace.

Dr. Margaret Hopkins, professor of management in The University of Toledo’s John B. and Lillian E. Neff College of Business and Innovation and lead author of the study

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women’s career progression will likely be felt for years to come as many women stepped away from the workforce,” said Dr. Margaret Hopkins, professor of management in The University of Toledo’s John B. and Lillian E. Neff College of Business and Innovation and lead author of the study. “This can only exacerbate the slow progress of women moving more fully into senior leadership roles — something that organizations and society must be fully attentive to correcting.”

The contemporary view of effective leadership places a strong emphasis on social skills, flexibility and engaging others, behaviors typically associated with women.

But when women exhibit gender role behaviors such as teamwork and empathy, they also pay a price in their leadership performance assessments.

Based on data collected from a sample of 91 senior leaders in one U.S. financial services organization over three years, women were penalized in performance evaluations when they displayed those leadership characteristics.

On the other hand, women also were viewed negatively when exhibiting stereotypical masculine behaviors such as a competitive drive to achieve, task orientation and directing others. Men were positively evaluated for their leadership potential when exhibiting those same behaviors.

“Entrenched archetypes that define leadership as a masculine enterprise remain in spite of data that relates more stereotypical feminine behaviors to effective leadership,” said Hopkins, an expert on women in leadership, executive coaching and emotional intelligence. “Our study found no evidence of acknowledging this more contemporary view of leadership when organizations actually assess women’s performance and potential for leadership.”

The researchers discovered that whether women demonstrated people-oriented, relational skills or whether they exhibited achievement-oriented behaviors, there was a negative effect on their leadership performance assessments and leadership potential appraisals. However, this was not the case for the male leaders in the study.

In order to change the dynamic, Hopkins said there are best-practice strategies that both women and organizations can take.

“My co-authors and I do not support the notion that the onus is on the women to change,” Hopkins said. “Rather, organizational structures and systems must change to provide leadership opportunities for both women and men in equal measure.”

She said organizational decision-makers can investigate organizational policies and practices to determine how they might be contributing to impediments for women in leadership roles.

Not only should leadership assessment instruments be examined for possible bias, but also the methods by which individuals conduct assessments of women leaders should be reviewed for inherent bias.

“Hiring procedures, training and development opportunities, benefits packages, leave policies, and performance, salary and promotional evaluations can all play a part in contributing to gender stereotypes,” Hopkins said. “Organizational systems that rely on a limited framework for essential leadership behaviors will restrict their ability to recruit and develop outstanding leaders.”

To help mitigate these inaccurate perceptions and biases of their leadership performance and potential, Hopkins suggests that women find both female and male allies and sponsors, create strategic networks, seek high-profile assignments to highlight their skills and abilities, and develop and communicate their individual definitions of career success.

The financial services organization at the focus of this study is one of the Top 100 U.S. Best Banks named by Forbes magazine. The sample of senior leaders included 26 women and 65 men, representative of the gender composition of the senior leadership team.

The researchers said a comparison of males and females in one organization ensured that any observed gender differences were not due to factors such as differences in industries or management hierarchies across organizations.

Researchers from UToledo, Bowling Green State University, Case Western Reserve University and San Diego Gas and Electric collaborated on the study.

UToledo Graduate to Compete on Discovery’s ‘Shark Academy’

An alumnus of The University of Toledo will try to pass one of the most dangerous job interviews during Shark Week.

Randy Thomas, who graduated in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences, will compete on Discovery’s first Shark Week series, “Shark Academy.” The series premieres Sunday, July 11, streaming on discovery+, and airs at 10 p.m. Sunday, July 18, on Discovery Channel.

Dr. Riley Elliott helps Randy Thomas work up a bull shark. Photo is courtesy of Discovery and for press use only with attribution.

“Sharks were my first love as a kid,” said Thomas, who grew up in Detroit. “College led me to believe I can do anything, and the chance to actively work with and research one of the world’s most fascinating predators is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The new television series follows eight men and women on an intense six-week crash course to secure a crew spot on shark scientist Dr. Riley Elliott’s next great shark diving expedition. The recruits work and live together on a research vessel for six weeks.

In a promotional video, Elliott said recruits will undergo an intense training program demanding physical and mental resilience.

“This is no vacation,” said Elliott.

Randy Thomas free dives to recover crucial scientific equipment, while Dr. Riley Elliott keeps a close eye. Photo is courtesy of Discovery and for press use only with attribution.

With a passion for animals and an enthusiasm for fellowship and community, Thomas has made the most of every opportunity that has come his way and never let himself believe he would fail.

Thomas is an alumnus of UToledo’s Multicultural Emerging Scholars Program, which is designed to help first-year students make the academic, social and cultural transition from high school to college and inspire achievement in college-level courses.

“I had goals of playing football that were outmatched by my undeniable passion for animals, which led me to major in environmental science and bridge the gap between wildlife and humanity through wildlife education, adventure and outreach,” Thomas said.

Dr. Jeanine Refsnider, associate professor in the UToledo Department of Environmental Sciences in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, noted that being on-the-job and out of the research lab presents its own challenges.

“Fieldwork can be really hard, and often involves long hours in hot, cold, wet, and/or buggy conditions,” Refsnider said. “Randy is a really hard worker and absolutely loves being in the field studying animals. He will be the first one out in the morning and last one back in the evening. He loves every minute of it no matter how unpleasant the weather.”

Randy Thomas at UToledo’s 2019 Spring Commencement

After earning his degree at UToledo, Thomas’ work took him around the world.

With Camp Adventure Youth Services, a program at UToledo directed by Dr. Sammy Spann, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, Thomas taught water safety skills to children in Japan.

He then worked for the U.S. Department of Defense in Bahrain as a child youth program coordinator and later moved to Key West, Fla., to serve as a marine science educator with the Pigeon Key Foundation.

It was in Florida, Thomas said, that he spotted an open casting call from a production company that had worked on reputable animal shows, put together an audition video and submitted it.

“Even though it’s a competition where we worked both as teams and individually, the show is incredibly scientific and educational. I think that’s what viewers will see,” Thomas said. “Each week was progressively harder and more strenuous in the research and the competition.”

“Shark Academy” is produced for Discovery by Double Act.

Visit Discovery’s website to view the Shark Week 2021 schedule.

Ritter Planetarium at UToledo Reopens to the Public July 9

The University of Toledo Ritter Planetarium is reopening to the public to transport families through space and time to view the wonders of the universe.

The first program, “Firefall,” will be shown on the full dome every Friday at 8:30 p.m. from July 9 through Aug. 27.

The immersive show explores how impacts from comets and asteroids have shaped Earth’s history.

“We are really excited about the reopening because it means we get to share the wonders of the night sky with the Toledo community again,” said Dr. Michael Cushing, professor of physics and astronomy and director of UToledo Ritter Planetarium.

“Firefall” is about civilization’s beginnings in the hostile environment of space and how the ancient barrage continues today from harmless meteors — those brilliant streaks in the night sky — to mountain-sized boulders wandering perilously close to Earth.

Terrifying and majestic, these invaders from space are capable of utter destruction yet they have delivered life-giving water and most of the organic materials necessary for life.

Admission to the programs is $8 for adults and $6 for children, senior citizens and UToledo community members. All children younger than 4 are free. Doors will open 30 minutes prior to the show.

Alex Mak, associate director of Ritter Planetarium and an alumnus of UToledo, is retiring June 30.

“The re-opening is bittersweet,” Cushing said. “Alex has been the heart and soul of Ritter Planetarium for 30 years, and his never-ending enthusiasm for both educating and inspiring the public about astronomy and science will be missed.”

Heidi Kuchta, a UToledo alumna who received her bachelor’s degree in physics and geology and her master’s degree in an accelerated teaching program in the Judith Herb College of Education, will replace Mak as associate director.

Kuchta started working as an assistant at Ritter Planetarium seven years ago as a freshman and has worked to find creative ways to inspire and motivate children to engage with science.

“Heidi has been an indispensable member of our team for years, and we look forward to having her step into a leadership role,” Cushing said.

Visit Ritter Planetarium’s website for more information about “Firefall” and other upcoming programs.


Newly Discovered Sperm Movement Could Help Diagnose, Treat Male Infertility

Scientists at The University of Toledo discovered new movement in sperm that provides innovative avenues for diagnostics and therapeutic strategies for male infertility.

The research published in Nature Communications finds that the atypical centriole in the sperm neck acts as a transmission system that controls twitching in the head of the sperm, mechanically synchronizing the sperm tail movement to the new head movement.

The centriole has historically been considered a rigid structure that acts like a shock absorber.

Ph.D. candidate Sushil Khanal, left, and Dr. Tomer Avidor-Reiss, professor of biological sciences, pull cryopreserved semen samples out of a liquid nitrogen tank that is kept at -196 degrees celsius.

“We think the atypical centriole in the sperm’s neck is an evolutionary innovation whose function is to make your sperm move better,” said Dr. Tomer Avidor-Reiss, professor of biological sciences in the UToledo College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “Reproductive success depends on the ability of sperm to swim through female reproductive tract barriers while out-competing their rivals to fertilize the egg.”

The study led by Ph.D. candidate Sushil Khanal builds upon the lab’s previous groundbreaking discovery in human sperm that changed the dogma in reproductive biology: A father donates not one but two centrioles through the sperm during fertilization, and the newly discovered sperm structure called the atypical centriole may contribute to infertility, miscarriages and birth defects.

“Together, these studies call for a revision in our understanding of sperm centrioles both in sperm movement and in the early embryo,” Avidor-Reiss said.

Avidor-Reiss believes this discovery can open the door to new possibilities to help families understand why they may be having trouble getting pregnant.

If the head and tail of the sperm aren’t moving together, the sperm isn’t going to move efficiently enough to get to the egg.

“If the centriole is defective, this coupling between the sperm tail and head is going to be defective,” Avidor-Reiss said. “In a patient when we don’t know what is wrong, potentially we can look at the way the sperm’s tail moves and reverse engineer it to determine centriole functionality to determine couple’s infertility.”

He also said finding this movement can be used in the future to predict which sperm have a good centriole that can support life.

“Right now, people don’t know what to fix,” Avidor-Reiss said. “We can pinpoint the problem. This knowledge allows us to identify a subgroup of infertile men that was not revealed before.”

The new research shows that in the sperm of mammals there is a cascade of internal sliding formations in the neck’s atypical distal centriole, typical proximal centriole and surrounding material that links tail beating with asymmetric head kinking.

Using a STORM immunofluorescent microscope in the UToledo Instrumentation Center, the researchers were able to show the left and right side of the atypical centriole move about 300 nanometers relative to each other. Though it’s a small number, it marks dramatic movement in a cell considering the average protein diameter is five nanometers.

Ph.D. student Luke Achinger, who recently graduated from UToledo with a bachelor’s degree in biology, sang bass in the University’s premier choral ensemble as an undergraduate and penned lyrics about his lab’s new discovery, explaining how the new movement works in a song called “Twitch, Roll and Yaw.”

“We love to promote science and art, and in this case, we are showing that the sperm beats in unity. The head of the sperm is not isolated from the tail. The neck including the atypical and typical centrioles may act as a morphological computer, or sperm brain, that coordinates the sperm movement,” Avidor-Reiss said.

“The song is a creative way to understand a big change. The centriole always looked the same over the last billion years. It’s one of most conservative structures in the cell. We found something different that functions in the opposite manner, evolving from a shock absorber to a transmission system.”

This study was an international collaboration with Dr. Tzviya Zeev-Ben-Mordehai’s lab at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, which performed state-of-the-art cryo-electron microscopy of the sperm neck, and Hermes Bloomfield-Gadêlha at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, who performed mathematical and waveform analysis.

Build-A-Trust Bowl-A-Thon Returns June 26 to Bring Community Together

The Build-A-Trust Bowl-A-Thon, a single-day event designed to bring children and teens together with local police, firefighters and military personnel, returns Saturday, June 26, at New Glass Bowl Lanes, 5133 Telegraph Road in Toledo.

Established in 2015 by George W. Hayes Jr., an electrician at The University of Toledo, the event brings community members together to break down barriers and establish mutual respect.

The bowl-a-thon runs from noon until 3 p.m. All youth 17 and younger bowl for free, courtesy of JCILH Inc., which operates a number of local McDonald’s restaurants.

Those 18 and older can bowl three games for $5 per person. Shoes are included.

“It’s a one-day event with kids, cops, firefighters and some military coming together for a few hours just to mingle, bowl, have fun and not to be afraid of each other,” Hayes said. “The intent is to build trust between men and women in uniform and everyone else so that we all realize that we are just people, regardless of who you are or what you are.

“It’s a fun event that’s very much needed. Regardless of where you are from, you are invited.”

UToledo to Host Virtual Filmmakers Workshop for Teens July 19-30

The University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film will host a 100% online summer film camp for teens, ages 14-18, interested in learning the basics of filmmaking.

Scheduled from Monday, July 19, through Friday, July 30, the Virtual Filmmaker Summer Film Intensive is a two-week virtual filmmaking summer camp for teens looking to grow their narrative video-making skills. The camp will feature live, online class times and daily assignments, and the instructor, Quincy Joyner, assistant lecturer of theatre and film, will guide and mentor students every step of the way.

Upon successful completion of the camp, participants will be able to:

  • Articulate the components of story, character and narrative, and the effectiveness of communicating visually;
  • Conceive, design, and communicate a story cinematically employing practical filmmaking techniques; and
  • Demonstrate production etiquette and communication necessary to collaboratively produce a film.

The workshop will include:

  • Short script writing
  • Character development
  • Cinematography essentials
  • Practical lighting

The registration deadline for the Virtual Filmmaker Summer Film Intensive is Monday, July 5.

The camp fee is $400 — a $50 non-refundable registration fee due at signup and the $350 camp fee due by July 5 — which covers all materials needed for the workshop.

For more information, visit the Virtual Filmmaker Summer Film Intensive website, or to register, the camp’s form is available online.

USDA Awards UToledo $500,000 for Fertility Research to Optimize Production in Cattle Industry

Every time a dairy cow is bred and fails to become pregnant, a farmer loses a month of profits on the cow’s milk. If it grows to two months, that’s a 20% loss in profit.

“Cows and bulls can have suboptimal fertility, just like humans,” said Dr. Tomer Avidor-Reiss, professor of biological sciences at The University of Toledo. “In the U.S. today, the average dairy cow takes three tries to become pregnant, being bred once each ovulation or estrous cycle.”

The UToledo scientist is now using his advancements made in human fertility research to help farmers reduce their costs for dairy production.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded Avidor-Reiss $500,000 to develop tools and methods for selecting bulls with superior fertility by building upon his groundbreaking discovery in human sperm that changed the dogma in reproductive biology: an atypical centriole.

Dr. Tomer Avidor-Reiss

Several years ago, he found that a father donates not one but two centrioles through the sperm during fertilization, and the newly discovered sperm structure may contribute to infertility, miscarriages and birth defects.

“The beautiful thing about investigating and developing centriolar biomarkers for bull sperm is that it could help us with our human male reproductive research,” Avidor-Reiss said. “And the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding, or CDCB, has an incredible database on bull fertility — it’s a robust, publicly available statistical report on fertility because the farmer reports whether each mating of a bull and cow resulted in a pregnancy. There is no report like this on any other species.”

The CDCB’s database for Sire Conception Rate, which originated under USDA’s guidance, was created to help dairy farmers “grade” the fertility of bull sperm.

The three-year project for the USDA continues the UToledo scientist’s collaboration with Select Sires Inc., an Ohio company that sells cryopreserved bull sperm for artificial insemination.

“The cattle genetics industries are constantly searching for ways to better serve dairy and beef producers around the world,” said Dr. Bo Harstine, director of research at Select Sires Inc. “Dr. Avidor-Reiss’s research examining the role that a sperm cell’s centrioles have in fertility could have major implications on our understanding of cattle breeding. As an Ohio-based biotechnology cooperative, Select Sires Inc. is proud to be partnering with The University of Toledo and Dr. Avidor-Reiss to bridge this research from the laboratory to real-world applications.”

Avidor-Reiss’s laboratory developed a quantitative method to determine sperm centriole quality, and preliminary results show that sub-fertile bulls have lower-quality centrioles.

“The University of Toledo’s efforts to attract federally supported research are far-reaching and have an economic impact on our region,” Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur said. “With USDA support, Dr. Tomer Avidor-Reiss will bolster knowledge about animal fertility and, in turn, the economic outlook for the dairy and cattle industry in northern Ohio.”

NASA Awards UToledo Engineers Grant to Enhance Solar Power Conversion for Mars, Moon Missions

A team of engineers in The University of Toledo College of Engineering is working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to more reliably power spacecraft using the sun’s energy on future missions to Mars and the moon.

The electricity generated by solar panels aboard a spacecraft is used to provide power for a number of systems, including propulsion and navigation.

Before the solar-derived electricity is integrated with those systems, it must first pass through an intermediary circuit, or a “power converter,” that conditions the electricity coming from the solar panel so that it is compatible with the propulsion and navigation systems.

However, cosmic rays that float in space and contain ions are disrupting the performance of this power converter, causing radiation-related failures.

Dr. Raghav Khanna, left, and Dr. Daniel Georgiev

NASA awarded Dr. Daniel Georgiev and Dr. Raghav Khanna, both associate professors in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, a three-year, $240,000 grant to investigate how to make the power conversion circuitry more resilient and tolerant to space-related radiation, which degrades its performance and results in power loss and system downtime.

“We are honored and excited that our research will contribute to NASA’s goal of putting more exploratory devices and electrical power on Mars,” said Khanna, who has done prior work with NASA on power electronics and semiconductor studies. “Ever since I was a kid, it has been a dream to work with NASA and maybe someday walk on the moon like Neil Armstrong.”

Using a solar array simulator in their laboratory, high-speed precision computers and guidance from NASA, Georgiev and Khanna are modeling why the circuits are failing.

The simulator emulates the characteristics of solar arrays used in space and provides power to a power converter circuit built by the UToledo team and NASA engineers.

“We’re analyzing how the radiation penetrates the circuit and what causes these devices to degrade,” Georgiev said.

At the same time, the team will study the degradation mechanisms in a particular application relevant to NASA by developing a power converter that allows the solar panels aboard NASA spacecraft to continuously extract maximum power from available sunlight.

“As the spacecraft is moving around and goes behind a celestial body, maximum available power tends to change rapidly,” Khanna said. “On the moon, lunar dust can also obscure the panel from the sun, leading to rapid changes in available power. Whether in deep space or in lunar missions, we need to develop a control algorithm to make sure we can always extract maximum available power from solar panels at a much greater efficiency while exhibiting improved radiation tolerance, allowing uninterrupted exploration.”

New Dean Selected to Lead UToledo College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

An astronomer and program director at a major federal funding agency will join The University of Toledo as the leader of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics effective Aug. 2.

Dr. Marc Seigar comes to UToledo from the National Science Foundation where he is a rotating program director in the Division of Astronomical Sciences and from the University of Minnesota at Duluth where he is a professor of physics and astronomy. He also has served as head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy and associate dean of the Swenson College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota at Duluth.

“We are very pleased that Dr. Marc Seigar will be joining us as the next dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “With his familiarity with the National Science Foundation, his knowledge of interdisciplinary research and education, his research and administrative experience, and his collaborative approach, he will provide great leadership to continue to move the college forward into the future. We look forward to welcoming him to UToledo.”

“The University of Toledo College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics is home to world-class faculty doing great things in a wide variety of fields ranging from sustainable technology and photovoltaics to water quality and astronomy,” Seigar said. “It’s going in a strong direction, and I want to be there to help for the future.”

During his one-year rotation at the NSF, Seigar oversees grant panels in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, the Graduate Student Research Fellowship program, the Astronomy and Astrophysics Grants program, and the new ASCEND postdoctoral fellowship program. His portfolio of awarded grants totals more than $30 million that has gone to researchers across the country.

“I have unique experience into the kinds of cross-disciplinary research that a major federal granting agency is likely to fund,” Seigar said. “Plus, with the new degree program in data science that started recently in the UToledo College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, I think there’s faculty who can tap into the NSF’s Computational and Data-Enabled Science and Engineering program, which I don’t think a lot of people know about.”

As an astronomer, his research is focused on the structure, morphology and dynamics of galaxies and their dark matter halos and the nature of the dark matter particle.

He has been involved in research projects that have received more than $7 million in grants, one of which was a $3.7 million educational grant specifically for underrepresented minority students in STEM. The project called the North Star STEM Alliance is an alliance of four- and two-year colleges in Minnesota.

“There is a job for you if you get a STEM degree,” Seigar said. “In most states across the country, they are projecting tens of thousands of jobs are going unfilled because we don’t have enough graduates coming out with STEM degrees. I believe bridge programs are critical to student success, especially for underrepresented students. We need to start reaching out to students in middle school, before they reach 7th or 8th grade. We’re facing big issues as a society, especially in topics related to the environment and sustainable technologies. We need to equip the next generation to continue the search for solutions.”

Prior to the University of Minnesota, Seigar served as associate chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where he also previously worked as the department’s director of graduate studies.

He also has held astronomy positions at the University of California Irvine, the U.K. Infrared Telescope in Hawaii, and the Astronomical Observatory at the University of Ghent in Belgium. He has held visiting or adjunct appointments at the Center for Space and Planetary Science at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Pasadena, Calif., the University of Hawaii at Hilo, and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

Seigar earned his Ph.D. in astrophysics from the Liverpool Astrophysics Research Institute and his bachelor’s degree in physics from Imperial College.

Originally from London, Seigar moved to the United States in 2001. He and his wife Colleen have two sons: Andrew, 10, and David, 12.

Bjorkman thanked Dr. John Plenefisch for his excellent leadership while serving as interim dean since January 2019. He will return to the position of associate dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Professor’s Award-Winning Poetry Unmasks ‘Plunder’ of Asian American Bodies, Korean History

Dr. Joey Kim’s first book of poetry has poetic timing as Asian Americans have been targets of violence across the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Venturing through Korean history, the feminine body, U.S. foreign policy and coming-of-age in midwestern America, Kim’s “Body Facts” will be released by Diode Editions on Tuesday, June 15, after winning an international publication contest last year.

Dr. Joey Kim

“It’s urgent,” said Kim, assistant professor in the Department of English Language and Literature in The University of Toledo College of Arts and Letters. “Asians have been here in the U.S. since the 1500s, but it hasn’t been until recently that there has been a national reckoning of Asian Americans as not perpetual foreigners.”

Writing the poems over the last 13 years was therapeutic for the Asian American scholar.

Using tweets from former President Donald Trump and comments from childhood neighbors and classmates, Kim found a place to unpack her identity, the double consciousness of growing up in two cultures at once, the accrual of racist encounters, and the historical and generational impacts of war and colonization.

“My collection is able to put a face and a name and a story to these voices,” Kim said. “These voices speak back to a history of Asian American representations that have largely been essentializing and stereotypical.”

Kim grew up in Ohio as the daughter of doctors, who were immigrants from South Korea, and speaking Korean as her first language.

She wanted to be a writer, not a doctor, while white neighbors and classmates wanted to know where she was really from.

From the poem “Orientalism,” Kim quotes childhood classmates on the school bus:

“Where are you really really from?

Haha, you eat dog and monkey brain!

Why does your lunch smell like feet?

Your face is flat like a plate! Ching-chong Donkey Kong!”

How do I get to where I really came from, if I’ve only ever been here, in Ohio?

In the same poem, she quotes Trump’s response after being asked by a reporter whether he plans to attack North Korea.

“We’ll see” —

If this land is a land for me, and the ones like me who can only spectate in

spectral horror — while he tweets us into oblivion.

“My poems speak to psychological effects of growing up in places where you always have to try to maneuver these different cultures,” Kim said.

“Plunder,” one of the poems in the collection, has already been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, a prestigious national literary award given out annually since 1976.  Kim also won first place in the Art Commission’s 2020 Merit Awards.

“The inspiration behind ‘Plunder’ is the dispossession of Korean land and bodies during the Japanese occupation and Korean war, which is still technically ongoing,” Kim said. “The poem interlaces the speaker’s childhood memories, American plastic surgery experimentation on Korean subjects, and the fetishization of women’s faces and bodies as objects to be modified and plundered.”

In her collection, Kim writes from different perspectives of the body — body as human and the pressures people place on their bodies, or body as land, the Korean Peninsula, to be exact.

“We are still occupied by U.S. forces and in the shadow of American imperialism,” Kim said. “In one of the poems, I talk about the Trump era of Korean discourse and our sense, as Korean Americans, of feeling stereotyped with North Korean dictatorship.”

The poetry expands beyond “slurs,” “slit eyes” and foreign policy. When Kim talks about the body as a site of celebration and trauma, she also is reflecting on the brain hemorrhage and traumatic brain injury she suffered while skateboarding in May 2015.

She had only been skateboarding for a couple months while in graduate school at Ohio State University before she became a Ph.D. candidate when she took off her helmet and tried to go down a hill at a skatepark by herself.

“I was in the ICU for 11 days. At first, the doctors told my family I most likely wouldn’t be able to walk or talk in the same way again,” Kim said. “Because of my youth, I had, in the words of my neurosurgeon, a ‘miraculous’ recovery. My hearing is back, too.”

“Our bodies hold and hide our histories,” said Min Jin Lee, author of “Free Food for Millionaires” and “Pachinko,” a National Book Award Finalist. “Line by line, Joey Kim breaks us open to expose our yearnings, secrets, and untold treasures, saving us from our own fortress of history, propriety, and shame. Kim’s ‘Body Facts’ is our needed revelation.”

“Kim’s work, from multiple angles, portrays the ways in which peace and beauty are forced to find new escapes from tyrants and the fallouts of their power,” said Marcus Jackson, author of “Pardon My Heart,” the 2019 Ohioana Book Award winner for poetry. “Kim admirably illustrates present and historical threats, all while rendering the ageless brilliance of family and spirit.”