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Archive for April 19th, 2017

Bright work: UT research shines, sets low-bandgap perovskite solar cell world record for efficiency

With the depletion of nonrenewable energy sources and the increase of pollution, researchers have turned to finding ways to harness clean energy from cheap alternative sources.

Researchers at The University of Toledo have recently focused their investigation in the area of perovskite solar cell technology.

Dr. Yanfa Yan and his team make perovskite solar cells in the lab. Their research revealed a world record efficiency (low-bandgap) for the conversion of sunlight to electricity.

Perovskite is a compound material with a special crystal structure, according to Dr. Yanfa Yan, Ohio Research Scholar chair and UT professor of physics.

“Metal halide perovskites can effectively harvest sunlight and efficiently convert it into usable electrical power. They have the potential to be used for fabricating cheap and highly efficient solar cells,” he said. “Perovskite photovoltaic technology has attracted tremendous interest in the past several years.”

Current conventional solar cells are made out of materials such as silicon, a material more expensive than perovskite solar cells.

Yan explained that his research combined theoretical and experimental approaches to understand the fundamental mechanisms of the limitations of the perovskites and to develop processes and design new materials to overcome the limitations.

“Our ultimate goal is to help improve the energy conversion efficiencies of photovoltaic cells and solar fuel devices,” Yan said.

Dr. Yanfa Yan’s all-perovskite tandem solar cell combines two different solar cells to increase the total electrical power generated by using two different parts of the sun’s spectrum.

He and his team did just that. In fact, their research revealed a world record efficiency for the conversion of sunlight to electricity in the area of perovskite solar cell technology using less toxic lead as well as demonstrated a concept for producing an all-perovskite tandem solar cell that can bring together two different solar cells to increase the total electrical power generated by using two different parts of the sun’s spectrum.

“We reported a method that can easily be followed by other researchers in the field,” Yan said.

The research has been published in the journal Nature Energy.

“The publication of this paper in Nature Energy shows a significant recognition of our work by the peers in the field of photovoltaics,” Yan said. “We are very proud of our achievements.”

He added, “We are thankful for collaborations with colleagues in the Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization at UT.”

“Dr. Yan and his team are doing outstanding work on this promising type of solar cell, paving the way for cheaper and more efficient ways to provide clean renewable energy to meet the needs of society,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy; and Helen Luedtke Brooks Endowed Professor of Astronomy. “The faculty and researchers in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and UT’s Wright Center for Photovoltaic Innovation and Commercialization continue to lead the way in improving photovoltaic devices to address our growing energy demands through sustainable and renewable means.”

Thousands worldwide to march for science April 22

Scientists and science enthusiasts in Toledo are preparing to join colleagues in more than 400 cities across the globe in a March for Science on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22.

The Toledo Satellite March is being sponsored by the Northwestern Ohio Chapter of the Association for Women in Science and Imagination Station.

In addition, several UT student groups, including the Biology Graduate Student Association, Careers in Science, the Environmental Graduate Student Association, Experimental Psychology Graduate Student Association, the Graduate Student Association, and the Rocket Subunit of the American Fisheries Society, will participate in the March and host activity tables.

Starting at 10 a.m., a rally will be held at International Park. Speakers at the rally will include Dr. Tom E. Brady, founder of Plastic Technologies Inc. and sponsor of the Brady Engineering Innovation Center at The University of Toledo; Dr. Cecelia M. Adams, retired assistant superintendent of Toledo Public Schools and member of the Toledo City Council; and Nick Dulaney, a UT junior studying physics who recently helped discover a new star and is the lead author in a published research paper.

After the rally, marchers will cross the Martin Luther King Bridge and walk to Imagination Station, where there will be a variety of hands-on activities and teach-ins meant to engage the public. Activities will include performing DNA isolation from check cells and making seed necklaces, giant soap bubbles and edible gummy worms.

WNWO NBC 24 Meteorologist Kimberly Newman will be there for some weather simulations. In addition, Imagination Station will have an egg drop inside the science center, which is free for children in Lucas County on Saturdays.

“Scientists, by and large, are driven to observe the natural world. We carefully record the what, when and where in order to understand the how and why of life’s mysteries. The scientific process is the tool we use to accomplish this,” Dr. Susanne Nonekowski, president of the Northwestern Ohio Chapter of the Association for Women in Science and UT associate lecturer of medicinal and biological chemistry in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, said.

“Unfortunately, science and scientific evidence is being used in ways that undermine its value. This has created a culture of mistrust and outright contempt for evidence-based research. This shift has perpetuated a new public attitude that any scientific evidence that disagrees with an individual’s personal beliefs should be ignored, discredited and most frighteningly, outright suppressed. It is this growing perception that science is based largely on personal opinion rather than reproducible scientific fact that has fueled the March for Science here and across the world.”

The March for Science is supported by more than 800 reputable, nonpartisan organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Public Health Association, Sigma Xi and Earth Day Network.

“Those participating in the march will come from all walks of life; all races, religions, gender identities and sexual orientations. They will have different political perspectives, different nationalities and socioeconomic backgrounds. However, they will be united in their support of science education and scientific research,” Nonekowski said. “Their love of science has led them to advocate for using scientific evidence to help guide public policies. The mission of the march is to share and highlight the contributions of science and to inspire future generations to uphold the values of curiosity, free speech, free inquiry and critical thinking.”

Jam out while raising awareness about human trafficking

With Ohio ranking as the fifth highest state in regard to human trafficking, it is integral for the Toledo community to bring attention to the issue.

The International Justice Mission will host Traffic Jam UT, a carnival-themed event to raise awareness on human trafficking.

The event will take place Friday, April 21, from 3 to 8 p.m. at Carter Field. If it rains, the Traffic Jam UT will be moved to the Health Education Center.

Tickets are $6 for students, $10 for non-students, and $25 for VIP passes, which grant entrance and allow unlimited games and prize drawings.

Tickets can be purchased at Ask Rocky in the Thompson Student Union or at the International Justice Mission table in the Thompson Student Union Thursday, April 20, from noon to 2 p.m.

“Traffic Jam UT is our mild approach to raise awareness on human trafficking,” said Areeba Shah, UT sophomore and vice president of International Justice Mission. “Students should attend to show their support. Even though the problem may not directly affect them, they will learn about human trafficking and its impact on Toledo. At the same time, they will be able to enjoy themselves and have a great time with friends and family.” 

The event will feature performances from Little Pink, Ice Cream Militia, Cryface and Shell. There also will be carnival games, 50/50 drawings and a prize basket drawing.

Food trucks from Deet’s BBQ and Rosie’s Italian Grille also will be there.

“A lot of the times, people feel uncomfortable when it comes to the topic of human trafficking and would rather not talk about it,” Shah said. “However, ignoring the issue doesn’t make it disappear. It is our reality, and if we don’t at least recognize this problem, we’ll never be able to work toward a solution.” 

Proceeds from the event will go toward fighting human trafficking in the community.

University Women’s Commission recognizes employees, awards scholarships to students

Five UT employees were honored last week for exceptional achievement and dedication to the campus community at the 31st annual Outstanding Women’s Award ceremony.

More than 70 attended the University Women’s Commission program, which was held Wednesday in the Savage Arena Joe Grogan Room. Dr. Amanda Bryant-Friedrich, dean of the College of Graduate Studies, gave a talk, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” The 2015 recipient of the Alice H. Skeens Outstanding Woman Award shared her story, including her love of science, working in Europe, and how she came to UT.

Recipients of the 2017 Dr. Alice H. Skeens Outstanding Woman Award were, from left, Dr. Kasumi Yamazaki, Dr. Kaye M. Patten, Sherry Stanfa-Stanley, Dr. Nina I. McClelland and Dr. Dorothea Sawicki.

The recipients of the 2017 Dr. Alice H. Skeens Outstanding Woman Award were:

• Dr. Nina I. McClelland, dean emerita of the College of Arts and Sciences, professor emerita of chemistry, and executive in residence in the College of Business and Innovation. She served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 2008 to 2011. A UT alumna, she received a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1951 and a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in 1963. McClelland also received an honorary doctorate of science from the University. During her career, she has won numerous honors, including the 2016 Women in Conservation Award from the National Wildlife Federation for her accomplishments in protecting safe water around the world, promoting clean energy, and preserving wildlife and habitats in Ohio. In 2010, she was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame.

“Dr. McClelland is internationally recognized for her expertise in environmental chemistry. She was elected director at large of the American Chemical Society and served in that role for nine years. She was elected chair of the board of directors, a position she held for three years. Nina served the NSF International for 30 years, including 15 years as chair of the board of directors and executive committee, president and chief executive officer,” one nominator wrote. “Dr. McClelland is an amazing woman who has dedicated her life to using science to make this world a better place.”

• Dr. Kaye M. Patten, senior vice president for student affairs. She has been working at the University 12 years. She served as chair of the 2016 UT Community Charitable Campaign, which exceeded its goal and raised $134,568 for nearly 220 nonprofit area organizations.

“I have worked with many dedicated women in my 30 years in higher education. Dr. Kaye is in a class by herself. Through working with her, I have witnessed a level of energy, commitment, respect and advocacy for students that I had not experienced before,” one nominator wrote. “Dr. Patten treats each student exactly how she would want her own son or daughter treated. I have admired and appreciated Dr. Kaye’s approach — to always be upfront with students, letting them know their responsibilities and how UT can help them achieve their goals. She understands the life-changing power of higher education, and it is clear that she wants the best for our students. If she is not attending a student event after hours or on weekends, she is representing the University in the community through the Toledo branch of Links Inc., a women’s service organization whose mission is to enrich the cultural and economic lives of African Americans. Dr. Kaye does nothing halfway — if she makes a commitment, she’s all in. To borrow from the UTC3 campaign slogan: She simply gives.”

• Dr. Dorothea Sawicki, vice provost for health affairs and university accreditation, and professor of medical microbiology and immunology. In 1977, she began her career as an assistant professor at the Medical College of Ohio. She received tenure and worked her way up to professor. She also served in several administrative roles in the College of Graduate Studies and in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences; as secretary-treasurer of the American Society for Virology since 2006; and as a member of the Journal of Virology editorial board since 1988.

“Dr. Sawicki has contributed to the University in a variety of ways for almost 40 years. She was one of the first people I met when I began at UT in 2010. At the time, I was a temporary hire helping the institution prepare for its Higher Learning Commission accreditation visit, and Thea was one of the committee co-chairs. I was immediately struck by her direct, no-nonsense approach to getting things done,” one nominator wrote. “I appreciate the historical background she is often able to provide about some obscure policy or way of doing things, and her unwavering commitment to the University. She is successful in her field and is a role model for women in science; she is extremely involved in the UT community at all levels; she maintains a positive, can-do attitude in her work; and she is active in various women’s issues.”

• Sherry Stanfa-Stanley, director of communication and fund stewardship with the UT Foundation. She joined the University in 1992. Over the past 25 years, she has significantly enhanced the Foundation’s internal and external communications, donor relations, and stewardship efforts. A UT alumna, she received a bachelor’s degree in communication in 1983. In 2013, Stanfa-Stanley embarked on “The 52/52 Project,” a year where she challenged herself every week with a new experience. As she turned 52, she shook things up. Her adventures included suiting up as Rocksy the mascot for a UT soccer game; babysitting quadruplets; wearing pajamas in public for a day; riding with police and going on a raid with the vice squad and SWAT team; visiting a nude beach; performing as a mime outside a shopping center in Kentucky; and crashing a wedding reception — and catching the bride’s bouquet.

“All the while, Sherry blogged about her amazingly crazy year on Facebook.com/The52at52Project. The witty writer served up entertainment and enlightenment for nearly 5,000 followers. Her book, ‘Finding My Badass Self: A Year of Truths and Dares,’ will be published Aug. 15 by She Writes Press,” one nominator wrote. “Sherry likes to call herself ‘a cautionary tale,’ but she really is a role model, showing it’s never too late to change your life. Her heady heroism is inspiring.”

• Dr. Kasumi Yamazaki, assistant professor of Japanese in the Department of Foreign Languages. She started to work part time at UT in 2011. She is the social media coordinator for the Japanese Studies Program and adviser of the Calligraphy Club. She also is a translator in various community organizations local and abroad, as well as assistant coordinator for the Toledo Sister Cities International. A UT alumna, she received a bachelor of arts degree in global studies in 2009, a master of arts degree in English in 2011, and a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction in 2015.

“Dr. Yamazaki’s contributions and achievements are numerous and balanced in research, teaching and service. She has three articles in press, and in the 2016-17 academic year, she presented or is scheduled to present eight sessions at international and national conferences,” one nominator wrote. “Dr. Yamazaki has implemented a 3D virtual world simulation game into Japanese as a foreign language classroom and designed an immersive Japanese curriculum for her students. She uses an experiential and integrative computer-assisted language learning framework, conducting classes in a 3D massive multiplayer online learning environment to enhance students’ acquisition of Japanese and cultural proficiency. With what Dr. Yamazaki calls computer-assisted learning of communication, she developed an advanced Japanese course that is based in a 3D simulation in Tokyo. Through communicative collaboration with native Japanese game-users online, she made it possible for students to acquire knowledge to function in Japan.”

Students who received $1,000 scholarships from the University Women’s Commissin were, from left, Areeba Shaw, Bianca Caniglia, Jennifer Zaurov and Jessica Angelov.

The University Women’s Commission also presented $1,000 scholarships to four students. Receiving awards based on academic achievement, support of women’s and gender issues, and campus involvement were Jessica Angelov, a senior majoring in interdisciplinary studies with a minor in entrepreneurship, family and small business; Bianca Caniglia, a senior majoring in environmental science with a minor in women’s and gender studies; Jennifer Zaurov, a junior majoring in communication with a minor in psychology; and Areeba Shaw, a sophomore majoring in media communication.

UT Opera Ensemble modernizes ‘The Brothers Grimm,’ ‘Little Red Riding Hood’

The University of Toledo Opera Ensemble will bring the story of Grimm’s fairy tales into the 21st century with its presentation of two one-act operas — “The Brothers Grimm” and “Little Red Riding Hood” — Friday through Sunday, April 21-23, in the Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.

Curtain time will be 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday.

The performance of “The Brothers Grimm” will be the Ohio premiere of the opera written by Canadian composer Dean Burry.

“Written for those relatively new to opera, ‘The Brothers Grimm’ is an engaging tale of how the famous siblings took oral German folk stories and immortalized their colorful characters in writing,” said Dr. Denise Ritter Bernardini, assistant professor of music, who is producing and directing the show. “Characters such as Rumpelstiltskin, Rapunzel and Little Red Cap spring to life fresh and anew under the skillful pens of the brothers Wilhelm and Jacob.”

The UT Opera Ensemble will then present one of the most famous of the Grimm’s stories, “Little Red Riding Hood,” by Seymour Barab.

The Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall will be transformed into the forest setting, and the audience will be drawn into the action as Red makes her famous trek to grandma’s house.

Can rap and opera coexist? Apparently, they can, and to great effect. The ensemble’s take on Barab’s libretto, which includes spoken poetry, incorporates rap and modern dance moves, and provides the performance with a sense of currency and relevance, without destroying the romance of the original story. 

“Both operas are very accessible to those new to opera, as well as the experienced. For seasoned opera goers, solid performances by award-winning student singers guarantee them a thoroughly satisfying experience,” Ritter Bernardini said.

Cast members for “The Brothers Grimm” are voice students Moises Salazar and Brandon Warren as Wilhelm Grimm; Nate Krebs as Jacob Grimm; Kate Walcher as Frau Viehmann; Joshua Kramer as Brentano/Col. Krause; Ashley Roark as Dortchen; Mackenzie Payton as Rapunzel/Miller’s daughter; Meridian Prall as the Witch/Wolf; Danielle Hale as Little Red Cap; and Will Floss as Rumpelstiltskin.

Taking the stage for “Little Red Riding Hood” will be voice students Paige Chapman as Little Red Riding Hood; Kate Walcher as Mother; Chelsie Cree as Grandmother;Devon Desmond as the Wolf; and Will Floss as the Woodsman.

Assisting Ritter Bernardini with the production are Chelsie Cree, assistant director; Andreea Lee, accompanist/rehearsal pianist; and Mike Vanderpool, costumes.

It should be noted that both operas are a little on the grown-up side. There are scenes with violence that may be too intense for audience members younger than 8 years old.

Tickets $10 to $15 are available through the Center for Performing Arts Box Office online at utoledo.tix.com or by calling 419.530.ARTS (2787).