UT News » 2017 » November

UT News

Categories

Search News

Archives

Resources

Archive for November, 2017

Researcher’s study of how cells move could lead to enhanced medical therapies

A University of Toledo chemistry and biochemistry faculty member and his research team of graduate students have answered a fundamental biological question about cell migration that could have implications for enhanced medical treatments.

Results from the two-year study have been published in the Oct. 20 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Dr. Ajith Karunarathne look at optically controlled cell migration using a next generation confocal imager.

“If we better understand how cells migrate, we can target some of these molecules for therapeutic purposes,” said Dr. Ajith Karunarathne, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, who led the research team.

Scientists have long been trying to better understand exactly how cells move throughout the body. If you can control a cell’s movement, you might be able to prevent cancer cell movement and secondary tumor formation in vital body organs such as the lungs or pancreas. Or you could help immune cells move to the site of an infection and accelerate healing.

In their research, the UT team targeted the cell’s G protein-coupled receptors, or GPCRs. These receptors are known as the “sniffers,” Karunarathne said, because they sense the environment and steer the cell where it’s needed in the body. They also regulate everything from heart rate to how much insulin the pancreas kicks out.

One-third of marketed drugs are used to control the GPCR pathways, according to Karunarathne. That includes everything from beta blockers to cancer and diabetes medicines.

When a cell moves, the front of the cell scoots forward, while the back of the cell retracts. You need both things to happen for the cell to move. It’s called “treadmilling.” Until now, scientists haven’t had much information on the how the retraction piece of the puzzle works, Karunarathne said.

In its study, the research team inserted GPCR receptors from the eye, which are sensitive to light, into cells from other parts of the body. They then used light to activate the receptors and target a specific area in the front of the cell. In this way, they could take a look at how the back of the cell reacted — the piece of the puzzle that’s been missing.

The use of light receptors was an important innovation in the team’s research. It is part of a fairly new field called subcellular optogenetics, Karunarathne said.

Normally, chemicals are used to activate receptors. But chemicals, which dissipate throughout the cell, are hard to control. By using light instead to stimulate the receptors, researchers could target specific, small regions on a single cell. They also could turn the light on and off, stopping and starting the activation.

As the researchers activated the GPCR in the front of the cell, the cell generated proteins. Through trial and error, and by targeting combinations of those proteins, the UT team found two pathways that affect how the back of the cell retracts and that are essential to cell migration. Stop either of those pathways and the cells can’t move.

With this discovery, scientists can now begin thinking about how to create therapies that either slow, stop or accelerate a cell’s movement. Karunarathne said one possibility is gene therapy whereby patients are injected with genes that make cells to produce light-sensitive GPCRs. Tumor cells could be “told” not to migrate, and immune cells could be “told” to attack nasty infections.

UT doctoral student receives 20 Under 40 Leadership Award

Jeremy Holloway, who is pursuing a doctorate in curriculum and instruction in the Judith Herb College of Education, recently was recognized for his contributions to the community.

He was honored as one of this year’s recipients of the 20 Under 40 Leadership Award.

Jeremy Holloway, a UT alumnus and doctoral student, smiled after receiving a 20 Under 40 Leadership Award.

The award is presented annually to 20 individuals who are 39 or younger in the Toledo community who have demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities.

“I am so proud to receive this award and so proud to represent The University of Toledo,” Holloway said.

He is a man in motion. Holloway is a mentor for undergraduate students through the University’s Brothers on the Rise, which helps UT males, especially African-American and Latino, make the transition from high school and college. He also is involved with UT’s Multicultural Emerging Scholars Program, represents the Judith Herb College of Education in the Graduate Student Association, and is a leader for the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society in Education.

In addition, he is a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“It gives back when you give back,” Holloway said. “You make deposits to your character account when you pay it forward. [Being involved] also helps me realize that we are all together, and we all really need each other to make a difference.”

The native of Toledo also is finishing his doctoral degree. He has been invited to speak on his dissertation research at conferences in Ohio and Pennsylvania, as well as Austria.

“I try to take things one task at a time and believe I work better when my schedule is fairly full,” he said. “I think the key for me is to prioritize.”

He packs a lot into his days. As a graduate assistant in the Judith Herb College of Education, he coordinates professional development for the High Schools That Work and Northwest Ohio Tech Prep programs, and teaches workshops for area teachers and administrators. Holloway also tutors local students.

In 2005, he received a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish and a bachelor of education degree from UT. He taught Spanish at area schools and graduated from the University in 2014 with a master’s degree in English as a second language.

Holloway is grateful to his father, Tyrone Holloway Sr., who graduated from UT with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an administration personnel major in 1971.

“After my dad graduated from The University of Toledo, he was unable to find a job, so he returned to UT and worked as a janitor for years,” he said.

Tyrone Holloway worked as a custodian from 1985 to 1994, when he took a job in the UT Registration Office. He retired from the University in 1994.

“Later I realized my dad stayed and worked as a janitor so that I could attend the University when I grew up,” Holloway said. “I decided to take him up on that offer.

“The University of Toledo is a place of legacy for me. I am honored to be here.”

Rockets to host Western Michigan Nov. 24 with MAC title hopes at stake

The Toledo Rockets’ quest for a Mid-American Conference West Division title and an appearance in the MAC Championship Game comes down to the final game of the season.

Toledo (9-2, 6-1 MAC) will host Western Michigan in the regular-season finale at the Glass Bowl Friday, Nov. 24. Kickoff is set for 11:30 a.m., and the game will be carried by ESPNU.

Terry Swanson rushed for a career-high 192 yards vs. BGSU, giving him 1,045 for the season. He is the 15th Rocket to crack the 1,000-yard mark and ranks sixth at UT with 3,283 career rushing yards.

If the Rockets win, they earn at least a share of the division crown and a berth into the league title game at Detroit’s Ford Field Saturday, Dec. 2. A loss to the Broncos would leave UT needing a loss from Northern Illinois in its Nov. 24 game at Central Michigan.

Toledo is coming off a 66-37 victory over archrival Bowling Green Nov. 15. Senior Terry Swanson rushed for a career-high 192 yards, and redshirt freshman Shakif Seymour tied a school record with five touchdowns to lead the offense. The Rockets only led by a field goal, 24-21, at intermission. But a four-touchdown barrage in the third quarter gave the Midnight Blue and Gold a comfortable 52-28 edge heading into the fourth quarter.

Western Michigan (6-5, 4-3 MAC) was knocked out of the MAC playoff picture by a 35-31 loss at NIU Nov. 15. The Broncos are led by senior running back Jarvion Franklin, who paces the MAC with 1,176 yards. True freshman Reece Goddard has taken over at quarterback over since sophomore Jon Wassink went down with an injury vs. Eastern Michigan Oct. 21.

Blood drive set for Nov. 27 in residence hall

The Health Professions Living Learning Community in the Office of Residence Life is collaborating with the American Red Cross for a blood drive Monday, Nov. 27, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the first floor of Presidents Hall. 

“By sponsoring an on-campus blood drive, Health Professions Living Learning Community graduate assistant Taylor Robbins and residents in the community are giving back to the local area and improving the human condition,” Ali Moore, hall director of Presidents Hall and the Health Professions Living Learning Community, said.

Moore added, “This is the first blood drive hosted in a residence hall for some time, and we encourage everyone who can to donate.”

Students, faculty and staff can sign up for the blood drive online at redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code: UTPRESHALL.

Walk-ins are welcome; sign up at the front desk of Presidents Hall.

Three researchers elected Fellows of American Association for the Advancement of Science

Three University of Toledo researchers have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in recognition of their important contributions to scientific discovery.

The UT faculty members who are among the 396 AAAS Fellows elected in 2017 are Dr. Heidi Appel, dean of the Jesup Scott Honors College and professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences; 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; and Dr. Steven Federman, professor of astronomy.

AAAS is the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific and engineering society. Since 1874, it has elected Fellows to recognize members for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

“I am proud three UT faculty members earned this prestigious national honor in one year,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “This recognition by AAAS is an external validation of the talented experts on our campus. UT faculty make important contributions to their fields of study and actively engage our students in research projects in the process.”

Appel

Appel, who joined UT in 2016, is being elected to the biological sciences section of the AAAS for her contributions to the field of chemical ecology. Her research on how plants can “hear” by detecting feeding vibrations from insects and responding with an enhanced chemical defense has been widely cited.

Her other research project explores how galling insects trick plants into making novel structures that they then use as protected places to feed and reproduce. Some of these insects are major agricultural pests worldwide on grapes, wheat and rice.

“Plant defenses against insects are mostly invisible to us because they are chemical. Just think about all of the herbs and spices we use — plants evolved that chemistry to defend themselves against their own diseases and insect pests,” Appel said. “I’ve been fortunate to spend my career working with great collaborators to advance our understanding of how plants detect and respond to insect pests, including a sensory modality we didn’t realize plants had.”

Bjorkman

Bjorkman, who has been a member of UT’s faculty since 1996, is being elected into the association’s astronomy section for her leadership in the field of stellar astrophysics and spectropolarimetry to better understand the disks around massive stars.

The massive stars she studies, which are 10 to 20 times the mass of the sun, can have unpredictable gaseous disks around them that change over time for reasons as yet unknown. Bjorkman studies these disks both in individual stars and in larger samples within star clusters to better understand their physical characteristics and the mechanisms behind their formation and variability.

“Most of the atoms that make up everything around us originated in the center of stars, so it is important to advance our understanding of stars and their evolution, while at the same time applying the laws of physics. That is how we learn things, by continuously testing our understanding,” Bjorkman said. “It is an honor to have one of the largest science associations in the world acknowledge our contributions to science. When two of the seven astronomers in this year’s class of Fellows are from UT, that is nice recognition from our colleagues about the strength of our program here.”

Federman

Federman also is being elected into the astronomy section of the AAAS for his contributions in the research of interstellar matter and for advancing the field of laboratory astrophysics.

He has been a UT astronomer since 1988 and for much of his career has studied interstellar gas clouds to better understand the elements and isotopes within these clouds that form stars. He also is a leader in establishing the field of laboratory astrophysics that brings together theoretical and experimental astronomy research to combine observational and lab data to better test theories. He was the first chair of the American Astronomical Society’s Division of Laboratory Astrophysics.

“Studying the abundances of elements and isotopes in the material between stars informs about the reactions and processes that happened in the past that led to the outcome we see today,” Federman said. “I’m proud to have been able to contribute over the years as we’ve moved from modeling to observations to lab studies as we continue to learn more and more about the chemical makeup in material that will become the next generation of stars and planets.”

Appel, Bjorkman and Federman will be recognized at the AAAS Fellows Forum at the association’s annual meeting Feb. 17 in Austin, Texas.

The 2017 AAAS Fellows join UT’s Dr. Carol Stepien, Distinguished University Professor of Ecology, who was elected last year, and Dr. Jack Schultz, who joined UT in September as senior executive director of research development and has been an AAAS Fellow since 2011 when he was elected while at the University of Missouri.

Open forum dates for education dean candidates next week

Final candidates have been selected from a national search for the position of dean of the Judith Herb College of Education.

The candidates and their open forum dates are:

• Dr. Joaquin S. Vila, dean of the School of Education and professor at Northern New Mexico College in Española, N.M. — open forums Monday, Nov. 27;

• Dr. Raymond H. Witte, chair of the Department of Educational Psychology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio — open forums Tuesday, Nov. 28; and

• Dr. Brian V. Carolyn, associate dean of the Graduate School at Montclair State University in Montclair, N.J. — open forums Wednesday, Nov. 29.

Each of the candidates will participate in an open forum this week. All members of the University community, as well as community members and alumni, are invited to attend. Click here to see the schedules and curricula vitae for the candidates.

The dean serves as the chief academic and administrative officer for the Judith Herb College of Education and has a direct reporting line to the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. The dean provides a clear vision for the college in keeping with accreditation and University standards.

Engineering alumna begins full-time career with Microsoft

Courtney Greer wanted to be part of the computer revolution.

“Computers are all around us. Whether you know it or not, they impact our lives every single day,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of that impact and innovation.”

2017 UT graduate Courtney Greer has a lot to smile about; she started working at Microsoft in Chicago in July.

Greer graduated from The University of Toledo with a bachelor of science degree in computer science and engineering with a minor in business administration in May.

Shortly after graduation, she accepted a job offer from Microsoft, the sixth largest information technology company in the world by revenue.

“I actually didn’t know anything about computer science or engineering until my senior year of high school. Before that, I was in between interior design and psychology,” Greer said. “My mother convinced me to take a look at engineering because of my love for math. Math has always been my favorite subject, but I never really knew how to make a career out of it. Engineering was the perfect choice for me once I started to learn about it. I chose computer science engineering once I realized how much growth and opportunity there was in that field.”

Once she began her studies at UT, Greer became involved with several student organizations, sports and jobs. She said her four engineering co-ops, three of which are required by the College of Engineering before graduation, especially prepared her for her future working with tech.

“I did two [co-ops] with Lubrizol in Cleveland and two in San Francisco with Visa,” Greer said. “My internships helped me narrow down exactly what I was interested in my field and helped me network with people from all over.

Courtney Greer is congratulated by Bill McCreary, UT vice president and chief information and technology officer, for landing a job at Microsoft.

“My studies at UT taught me how to learn and how to love learning, which is going to be key stepping into such a fast-paced field,” she added. “I also wouldn’t be anywhere without my organization, the National Society of Black Engineers. I was a part of NSBE all five years on campus, and the professional workshops, resumé building, community service, engineering conventions and leadership opportunities I’ve had with my colleagues in the org had a huge impact on where I am today.”

Greer seems to have found her groove at Microsoft in Chicago, where she is a partner development manager, working with a team called One Commercial Partner.

“I quickly came to realize that an average day doesn’t exist in my role,” Greer explained. “My team is responsible for creating the growth of Microsoft’s cloud, Azure, in market. My sole responsibility is recruitment. I work within a team of about 20 individuals in different regions and areas of expertise to bring startups, small to medium businesses, and consumers to the cloud.

“Once we are able to get a consumer integrated into Azure, we become a partner with that brand, and, in turn, I become one of their brand champions on Microsoft’s behalf. We want our consumers to get all they can out of Azure; we want them to leverage new technologies relating to Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Internet of Things and more. It is so fascinating to see how our consumers are able to leverage our technologies to change the world.”

She helps contact more than 300 accounts in the Midwest region. These accounts vary from manufacturing, financial services, health care and more.

“I need to understand what their company produces and their mission, but also try my best to predict the business and technology needs of each business I interact with. This is why I say no day is average,” Greer said.

“Any day I could be talking to a CEO and CTO of a million-dollar manufacturing company or four college students hoping to create an app that helps hospitals manage patient data. I could be working from home, or I could be working downtown and showing clients one of the Microsoft Technology Centers. I could be traveling to Vegas to a conference to speak to up-and-coming startups about the capabilities of Azure.

“No day is set in stone, which is what I love the most. I love getting to speak to people who have created these wonderful technologies and assisting them to get to the next step.”

Greer is also passionate about encouraging young women and other minorities to pursue their interests in engineering. According to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, only 14 percent of engineers are women.

“Don’t let failures stop you,” Greer advised. “I’ve read a lot of studies about how insecurities in minorities and women tend to be their downfall. They believe they have to be the best when surrounded by the majority either in school, work or in social interactions ‘or else they’ll think we’re all dumb,’ ‘or else they’ll think I don’t belong.’ It’s called the stereotype threat, and it can be very hurtful to both women and minorities in their studies.

“Don’t fall into that trap. Look at failures as opportunities for learning, no matter where or who you are. We all make mistakes. I learned this insight from a book I read titled ‘Mindset’ by Carol Dweck. I recommend anyone beginning a new phase in her or his life read that book as it is very impactful.”

Time announced for UT-Western Michigan Nov. 24 game; Rockets can clinch MAC Championship berth with win

Kickoff for Toledo’s football game vs. Western Michigan Friday, Nov. 24, has been set for 11:30 a.m. on ESPNU.

The Rockets (9-2, 6-1 MAC) can clinch at least a share of the Mid-American Conference West Division title with a win over the Broncos (6-5, 4-2 MAC). A victory also would send Toledo to the MAC Championship Game for the first time since 2004.

Toledo can win an outright MAC West crown with a win over WMU and a Northern Illinois loss to Central Michigan Nov. 24. If Toledo and NIU both win their games, the Rockets would advance to the MAC Championship Game by virtue of a tiebreaker — the Rockets’ 27-17 victory over the Huskies Nov. 2. An NIU loss to CMU automatically sends Toledo to the MAC title game regardless of the outcome of the Toledo-WMU game.

Tickets for the Western Michigan game can be purchased online, at the UT Athletic Ticket Office at Savage Arena, or by calling 419.530.GOLD (4653).

UT to hold free breast cancer screenings

The University of Toledo’s Center for Health and Successful Living will offer a series of free mammogram clinics for uninsured or underinsured women Tuesday, Nov. 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Glenwood Lutheran Church, 2545 Monroe St. in Toledo.

Free clinics also will be held Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 18 and 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Paul Community Center, 230 13th St. in Toledo.

The event is geared toward women 40 and older who have not had a breast exam or mammogram in the past two years. Those with no insurance or are underinsurance may qualify for the screening free or at a reduced cost.

Registration is required and space is limited. Call Barbara Oxner at 419.344.5172 or email CHSL@utoledo.edu.

Artist donates works to be sold to benefit alma mater

The University of Toledo College of Arts and Letters’ School of Visual and Performing Arts will hold an exhibition of selected artwork created by local artist and UT art alumna Nathine G. Smith.

The Benefit Exhibition for the Nathine G. Smith Fund for Artistic Achievement will be held on the first floor of Sullivan Hall on Main Campus from Friday, Nov. 17, through Friday, Jan. 5, during regular business hours.

Nathine G. Smith sat by a couple of her creations.

All pieces in the exhibit are for sale. Smith has graciously offered to donate the proceeds to benefit the UT Department of Art and its students.

The work will be introduced to potential buyers at an invitation-only reception Friday, Nov. 17. Remaining work will be on display through Jan. 5 or until it is sold.

Pieces are mixed-media on paper, collage, watercolor, pastel, colored pencil, and graphite.

“My work is created by experimentation with mixed-media on paper, exploring texture, form and color in two- and three-dimensional abstract forms. My inspiration comes from nature, music and literature,” Smith said.

“Enigma Variation XXII” by Nathine G. Smith

“Mainly I work with my hands. I like the feel of the textural surface, the piecing together — almost quilt-like — of paper creations. I work with layers and layers of art tissues, stacks of them, and I have to sort through those and cut and tear to size. It could take three weeks or sometimes a couple months. I couldn’t possibly duplicate a piece — the colors are always different.”

Smith and her husband, Willard Smith, former UT vice president for business affairs, are longtime Toledo arts supporters. Together, through years of volunteerism and financial assistance, they have supported a wide range of area arts and educational initiatives and institutions, including the Toledo Art Museum, Toledo Symphony, The University of Toledo, area hospitals, and the Rotary Club.

Nathine is a graduate of the UT/Toledo Museum of Art School of Design with a bachelor of arts degree in art. Afterward, she pursued an independent study program at UT. Previously, she received a bachelor of science degree in education from Miami University.

Her works were featured in a one-woman exhibit called “Exploring Texture” at the UT Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women.

Smith, who has numerous awards to her credit, is also a longtime member of the National Collage Society. In 2005, she was included in the society’s book, “Collage,” as a Signature Member. She is also a member of the Athena Art Society (since 1988) and the Toledo Artists’ Club (since 1997).