UT News » 2018 » April

UT News


Search News



Archive for April, 2018

UT, NOAA research team to host town hall on invasive species prevention in Great Lakes

A team of researchers at The University of Toledo and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will host a public education forum to help prevent invasive species from entering the Great Lakes through bait shop retailers and their customers.

The public is invited to a town hall meeting at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 26, at the WGTE Public Media studio, 1270 S. Detroit Ave. in Toledo, to learn more about how non-native species may potentially find their way into the Great Lakes and what can be done to prevent it.

Dr. Carol Stepien, Distinguished University Professor of Ecology and research division leader at the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, second from right, with researchers at UT Lake Erie Center.

In 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded UT researchers a nearly $500,000 grant through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for a three-year project to prevent invasive species from entering the Great Lakes through bait shops and pond stores.

The project is led by Dr. Carol Stepien, UT Distinguished University Professor of Ecology and research division leader at the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, who is working with Dr. Kevin Czajkowski, UT professor of geography and planning, and Dr. Andrew Solocha, UT associate professor of finance.

“We found that bait shops sometimes accidentally sell non-native species mixed in with other bait,” Stepien said. “If non-native species such as silver carp become prevalent in the Great Lakes, it is predicted they could decimate valuable native species such as lake trout, walleye and yellow perch. They compete with these native species, depriving them of their food and habitat and can carry pathogens.”

The researchers sampled water from bait tanks for genetic material in 51 bait stores in 2016 and 2017 around Lake Erie. They found that 43 percent of the shops dispensed misidentified species. Using a technique called environmental DNA sampling, researchers sampled genetic material from bait tank water and found DNA evidence of invasive species such as silver carp, round goby, mosquitofish and tadpole snails in several bait shops.

These minnows were in a bowl at the UT Lake Erie Center, where researchers analyzed samples as part of a study to prevent invasive species from entering the Great Lakes through bait shop retailers and their customers.

“Retailers, customers and even some scientific experts are often unable to distinguish some of these invasive species from native species at early life stages,” Stepien said. “For example, many minnows may appear alike.”

The researchers also surveyed 217 anglers. Of those, 61 said they fished in Lake Erie.

“From our surveys, we found that 66 percent of Lake Erie anglers use live bait fish, and 50 percent of those reported discarding live bait into the water,” Stepien said. “This coupled with the instances of non-native bait in shops surrounding Lake Erie makes this region at definite risk of introduction of invasive species.”

The goal of the town hall meeting is to discuss the research findings and help the public and bait shop owners understand responsible measures they can take to prevent invasive species from entering the Great Lakes.

“Releasing non-native pets, bait and other organisms into waterways can have unpredictable and widespread effects on Lake Erie’s long-term ecological health,” Stepien said.

The team is also planning a voluntary “invasive free” certification program for retailers.

In addition to Stepien, the panel of experts will include representatives from the Toledo Zoo, Maumee Bait & Tackle, the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association and NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

Three Distinguished University Lecturers named

Three faculty members have been named Distinguished University Lecturers in recognition of their exemplary teaching, supporting student success, and demonstrating their commitment to UT’s educational mission.

The newest Distinguished University Lecturers, who were approved and recognized by the UT Board of Trustees April 16, are Amy O’Donnell of the College of Business and Innovation; Sherry Tripepi in the School of Social Justice in the College of Health and Human Services; and Sara Yaklin of the College of Arts and Letters.

Distinguished University Lecturers, from left, Sara Yaklin, Amy O’Donnell and Sherry Tripepi were recognized during an April 19 awards ceremony.

“It is a privilege to honor these outstanding faculty members who are accomplished in their fields and who are dedicated to sharing their expertise with students,” said Dr. Andrew Hsu, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Every day, they make a difference in so many lives at this institution and in our community.”

O’Donnell joined the University as a lecturer in the Department of Management in 2004 and was promoted to senior lecturer in 2015.

She has received University and college awards for excellent teaching and dedication to students. O’Donnell has developed new courses and programs, facilitated student success initiatives, and supported the Business Career Programs Office in the College of Business. In addition, she served as faculty advisor to the UT chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity. O’Donnell also has presented at 19 regional conferences.

“I have always felt respected and supported by College of Business and Innovation students, faculty and staff. This appointment as a Distinguished Lecturer at the University level further validates that my efforts are valued and meaningful by our community,” O’Donnell said. “I am humbled and proud.”

Tripepi started working as a clinical social worker in the University Counseling Center in 1997. Ten years later, she was named a visiting assistant professor of social work. In 2010, Tripepi became a lecturer in the Social Work Program and was promoted to associate lecturer in 2013.

She has received teaching, service and student impact awards. Tripepi serves as director of the Social Work Bachelor’s Degree Program, field coordinator, internship supervisor and continuing education coordinator for the UT Social Work Program through the Ohio Board of Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Social Workers. In addition, she developed a new course on social work practice with the LGBTQ population and has helped develop and implement campus-wide training programs — including Safe Place and anti-bullying programs — at area schools.

“I feel very honored and appreciative of this recognition,” Tripepi said. “I feel social work is the best career as it has allowed me to bring my passion to work each day. And for the past 11 years, I have been fortunate to be able to bring this passion to the classroom. I have fantastic students, who I want to thank for allowing me to join them in their professional journey and nurture their passion along the way. I also have such wonderful colleagues and am forever grateful for their support and teamwork.”

Yaklin was named a lecturer in 2001 and was promoted to senior lecturer in 2009. She received a master of arts degree in English language and literature from UT.

She is a founding co-director of the Composition Institute for Teaching Excellence and is a composition instructor and program contributor for the Multicultural Emerging Scholars Summer Bridge Program. Yaklin also was a presenter at the Multicultural Orientation and Resources for Excellence Institute. In addition to mentoring teaching assistants in the English Department, Yaklin participates in the University Common Read Program and is a writing consultant, tutor, editor and mentor at UT, Owens Community College and local organizations. She recently received an Innovations in Teaching Award for a community partner pilot program for scientific and technical report writing students.

“Each day, I am grateful for the opportunity to do what I love in teaching and working with students. I have a dream job,” Yaklin said. “My program director, department chair, college deans, co-director and colleagues all deserve recognition and thanks for making it a dream job. I am deeply appreciative of the University’s honoring of faculty through these awards.”

New Starbucks coffee service coming to UTMC

A new coffee kiosk is coming to The University of Toledo Medical Center that will serve the whole line of Starbucks beverages to patients, visitors and staff.

“We look forward to proudly serving Starbucks products in an expanded coffee service venue that will enhance the coffee and food options currently available and also provide extended hours to allow more people to enjoy them,” said Mario Toussaint, chief experience officer for UTMC.

The new coffee service, which will be managed by the Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired, a division of the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities state agency, is expected to open in August in the lobby area of the hospital.

The new coffee service will take the place of Caffeini’s, which has served the hospital well for many years, Toussaint said.

In addition to an assortment of Starbucks beverages, a menu of soups, flatbreads and a create-your-own-sandwich bar will be offered at the new location. It also will be open later and on the weekends. The hours of operations will be from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily.

Renovations for the new coffee venue are expected to begin in July. During construction, a temporary coffee cart offering limited Starbucks beverages and some food options will be available.

“We understand the potential disruption the renovations may cause, and we apologize in advance for any inconvenience and ask for extra patience during this time,” Toussaint said.

UT student earns prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

A University of Toledo physics student was awarded the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, one of the oldest and most competitive honors in the country in the fields of science and mathematics.

Nathan Szymanski, who graduated from Genoa Area High School and is in his third year at UT, is one of 211 students in the United States chosen to receive $7,500 a year to be used for tuition, books and housing for the remainder of their undergraduate experience.


“It feels truly amazing to be selected for the Goldwater Scholarship, and I am very grateful for all the help that the faculty at UT, especially in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has provided me,” said Szymanski, who is double majoring in physics and mathematics. “I believe I was chosen because of my high level of research experience.”

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to honor the lifetime work of Sen. Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman. The foundation’s goal is to support “highly qualified undergraduates who are subsequently obtaining advanced degrees and going on to become this country’s leading scientists, engineers and mathematicians.”

Szymanski, who studies computational materials science at UT, uses supercomputers for his solid-state physics research, which includes working with lithium-ion batteries and solar cell materials for solar panels.

“I have been conducting research since my freshman year here at UT,” Szymanski said. “I have worked on a wide variety of projects. This resulted in me publishing a paper in a peer-reviewed international academic journal.”

He was first author on “Electronic and Optical Properties of Vanadium Oxides From First Principles,” which was recently published in Computational Materials Science.

“The goal of our research is to apply state-of-the-art theoretical and computational techniques to understand materials systems of significant experimental interest,” Szymanski said. “This work involves the prediction of new phenomena, as well as explanation of existing experimental data. We also are able to predict new materials that have desirable properties for a wide variety of applications, such as solar cells, lithium-ion batteries and thin-film coatings.”

“Nathan was faced with many challenges in research, all of which he overcame with astounding proficiency,” said Dr. Sanjay V. Khare, professor and chair of the UT Department of Physics and Astronomy, and co-author on Szymanski’s published paper. “He gained a deep understanding of numerous advanced theories, such as density functional theory and special quasi-random structures, which would typically prove daunting even to senior graduate students.”

Szymanski plans to earn a PhD in materials science and work in research laboratories.

“My overall long-term goal is to make meaningful contributions to the advancement of future technology, such as solar cells and batteries, as well as hopefully improve the theoretical and computational methods being used to do so,” Szymanski said.

Szymanski is the first UT student to be named a Goldwater Scholar in 16 years. The last undergraduate was Robert Cooper in the Department of Physics and Astronomy who graduated in 2002, went on to earn his PhD from the University of Michigan in 2008, and is now an assistant professor in the Department of Physics at New Mexico State University.

“The prestigious Goldwater Scholarship will place Nathan in the very top category of students applying for graduate programs in the best institutions of higher learning,” Khare said. “I have no doubt that Nathan will one day make great contributions to the scientific enterprise.”

The UT Office of Undergraduate Research provided funding for Szymanski’s research and oversaw his application for the scholarship.

“This is a great honor for Nathan and his mentors at the University,” Dr. Jonathan Bossenbroek, director of the UT Office of Undergraduate Research and professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences, said.

Open forums scheduled for vice provost candidates

Five candidates for the associate vice provost for student success have been identified by the search committee.

Faculty, staff and students are invited to get to know the candidates at open forums. Each will take place from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Listed by date, the candidates are:

• Wednesday, April 25, Thompson Student Union Room 2584 — Dr. Denise Bartell, director of student success and engagement at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay. She also is the director of the Gateways to Phoenix Success at the school.

• Friday, April 27, Savage & Associates Business Complex Room 2160 — Holly Monsos, associate dean in the UT College of Arts and Letters. She also is a professor of theatre.

• Tuesday, May 1, Thompson Student Union Room 2584 — Dr. Michelle Grimm, director of the Engineering of Biomedical Systems Program and Disabilities and Rehabilitation Engineering Program at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Va. She is on leave from Wayne State University, where she is an associate professor of biomedical engineering.

• Wednesday, May 2, Thompson Student Union Room 2582 — Dr. Barbara Schneider, senior associate dean in the UT College of Arts and Letters. She is also a professor of English.

• Thursday, May 3, Thompson Student Union Room 2582 — Dr. Melissa Schaub, associate vice chancellor for enrollment at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

The associate vice provost for student success will be responsible for providing leadership in the implementation of strategic initiatives related to retention and the undergraduate experience from pre-college through degree completion. This position will have direct oversight of the offices of Success Coaching and Academic Support Services. This oversight will include budget and personnel within these units.

The position is responsible for programs and initiatives that support outstanding academic experiences for undergraduate students at The University of Toledo: advising, orientation, the first-year experience, academic enrichment, and in the blending of curricular and co-curricular learning. The position works closely and collaboratively with the Division of Enrollment Management, as well as University College, the Office of Online Learning, the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and academic colleges across campus.

To see the finalists’ curriculum vitae and more about the position, go to utoledo.edu/offices/provost/avpsearch.

Art on the Mall accepting artist applications

Artists looking to participate in the 26th annual Art on the Mall at The University of Toledo have until the end of the month to apply for consideration.

Applications for the event, which will be held Sunday, July 29, can be accessed here.

Monday, April 30, is the deadline to apply to be part of one of the University’s signature events.

In addition to completing the online application, artists will need to submit four digital images of their work. They also need to pay a $25 application fee.

Art on the Mall

All applications will be reviewed by three independent jury members from the Fort Wayne Art Museum, according to Ansley Abrams-Frederick, director of alumni programming in the UT Office of Alumni and Annual Engagement.

“Art on the Mall is an amazing event that brings more than 12,000 people to our beautiful campus,” Abrams-Frederick said.

Each year, more than 100 artists throughout the country have the opportunity to display and sell their works in acrylic, glass, jewelry, mixed media, oil, pen and ink, photography, pottery, textiles, fibers, and many other forms.

Artists will be eligible for cash prizes, including UT’s Best of Show Award presented to an artist with a UT affiliation.

The event also will feature food vendors, live music, and hands-on children’s art activities.

For more information, contact the UT Office of Alumni and Annual Engagement at 419.530.2586.

UT to host town hall on free speech April 24

For the second time in a month, The University of Toledo is hosting a town hall meeting to give students the opportunity to discuss free speech rights and the University’s role in maintaining and protecting those rights.

The event will be Tuesday, April 24, from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Ingman Room.

Dr. Sam Nelson, associate professor and chair of the UT Department of Political Science and Public Administration, will serve as moderator. Nelson is the author of “Beyond the First Amendment: The Politics of Free Speech and Pluralism.”

Lee Strang, UT constitutional law scholar and John W. Stoepler Professor of Law and Values, will provide an overview about constitutional law and free speech, as well as field questions.

“Students asked us to continue this important dialogue on the topic of free speech after a controversial banner was hung in the Thompson Student Union, and we encourage their high level of civil discourse,” said Dr. Phillip “Flapp” Cockrell, vice president for student affairs.

“I am proud of the passionate, respectful way our students are engaged on campus,” Dr. Willie McKether, vice president of diversity and inclusion and vice provost, said.

UT communication student honored by Society of Professional Journalists

Madison Humphrey, a senior majoring in media communication, has received regional recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists.

The student producer and reporter for UT:10 news placed as one of the top three finalists in region four after submitting her work for the 2017 Mark of Excellence Award competition for general TV reporting.


The Mark of Excellence Award honors the best students in print, radio, television and online collegiate journalism.

Humphrey’s winning story is called “Voices of DACA”; the feature piece highlights how President Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program would impact local dreamers. It can be seen on her YouTube channel.

She looks forward to competing on a national level in Baltimore at the Excellence in Journalism 2018 Conference in September.

“Winning a Society for Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award has been a dream of mine since my very first day at UT, and it still feels almost too good to be true,” Humphrey said. “More important than the award itself is the gratification of knowing I’m producing high-quality content that is making an impact in my community and upholding the incredibly high standards of the Society of Professional Journalists.”

As a transfer student, the moment she stepped into the UT Communication Department, she knew it was the right program for her.

“I remember seeing all of the awards UT:10 has won and clips of the newscast on the department TV, and I instantly knew I wanted to be a part of such a prestigious program,” she said.

Humphrey said her success would not be possible without the help of her mentors in the Communication Department.

“My absolute favorite part of UT is how individualized my education is,” she said. “The media communication faculty and staff have really gone out of their way to work with me one on one and help me become the absolute best reporter I can be.”

Humphrey, who will graduate in December, just landed a summer internship with ABC Newsline 9 WAOW-TV in Wausau, Wis.

“I’ll be contributing stories as a reporter, gaining on-air, live experience, and working on becoming a better journalist,” she said.

Rocket Wellness Coalition dedicated to helping campus community members

According to the National Wellness Institute, wellness is a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential. The University of Toledo is committed to prioritizing the health and well-being of its campus community by offering a variety of prevention-based programming and outreach.

In order to better serve faculty, staff, students and the UT community at large, wellness staff are busy identifying, coordinating and creating wellness programming and presenting those opportunities as part of Rocket Wellness.

Rocket Wellness, formerly staff and corporate wellness programming, has transitioned to a more comprehensive umbrella for students, faculty, staff and community members to access wellness information and opportunities.

Rocket Wellness utilizes an approach that highlights dimensions of wellness. This approach broadens the discussion of wellness from strictly physical to include emotional, environmental, social, spiritual, emotional, occupational, intellectual and financial wellness.

“Wellness is constantly evolving, and UT recognizes that it is an integral component to student success and employee engagement,” Wendy Davis, associate vice president and chief human resources officer, said. “Providing robust wellness opportunities can’t be achieved as a sole department, and many programs overlap for both populations. It makes strategic sense to bring resources together and increase synergies among campus services that support a culture of health and well-being.”

The Rocket Wellness Coalition was created to meet the evolving wellness needs campus-wide, while avoiding duplication of services. The coalition strives to support the well-being of the campus community through awareness, education, policies and services. The Rocket Wellness Coalition consists of individuals representing groups or departments that have the opportunity to positively influence the health and well-being of students and employees. For a complete list of coalition members, click here.

For more information on Rocket Wellness programming or the Rocket Wellness Coalition, visit utoledo.edu/offices/rocketwellness.

UT students compete at Japanese speech contest

Hussain Almahmud, a senior majoring in electrical engineering with a minor in Japanese, and Rohit Kumar, a senior majoring in pharmacy and toxicology, competed at the 19th Japan-America Society of Central Ohio’s Language Speech Contest.

The two traveled last month with their speech mentor, Dr. Kasumi Yamazaki, assistant professor of Japanese, to Dublin, Ohio, where Almahmud and Kumar presented their speeches, “The Similarities Between Saudi Arabia and Japan” and “The Importance of Foreign Language in Medical Care,” against six students from other universities in the state.

Presenters were scored according to fluency, the ability to answer questions from the judges, and the content of the speech.


Almahmud has been studying Japanese for three years and first became interested in learning it after he participated in a three-week study abroad trip to Japan. After that, he decided to pursue a minor in Japanese at The University of Toledo.

“I think that participating in such a prestigious contest gave me a good learning experience of using the language in public speaking,” Almahmud said. “Also, it helped me to gain more confidence and to network with Japanese people.”


Kumar began studying Japanese during his sophomore year at UT when he learned the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Studies offered a trip to study abroad and complete an internship at the University of Miyazaki in Japan. Having always wanted to travel, he began learning the language in preparation of a potential trip there.

“It was definitely a great feeling to be selected to participate in the contest,” Kumar said. “Although I felt rather confident in my speech and the message I was trying to convey, I knew it was not going to be easy to get selected considering that there are so many other talented students with memorable topics competing for only a few spots. At the contest, all the selected students performed their speeches exceptionally well, which put a lot of pressure on me to perform at the same level.”

Kumar received the Consul’s General Award, which is presented to students whose speeches had an interesting or important message.

“To put it simply, receiving the award was one of the greatest feelings of my life,” Kumar said. “I felt a sense of accomplishment and a sense of pride in myself.

“During my preparation for this contest, I definitely felt a lot of pressure and a lot of stress; however, I would like to especially thank my professor and coach, Dr. Kasumi Yamazaki, for putting up with me and guiding me throughout this entire process,” Kumar said. “To me, this award was a team effort and without her, I don’t believe I would have been able to achieve it.”

Almahmud and Kumar both hope to continue learning Japanese so they can use it in the future in their careers.

“Being an advocate of experiential learning of language and culture, I believe it is important that we connect students with existing international communities in our own vicinity,” Yamazaki said. “I believe that engaging with the community and academic organizations provides a valuable experience for students; in particular, active involvement helps students network with various field practitioners, often providing opportunities for students to go beyond the classroom to pursue language and cultural studies.”

Since 1999, the Japan-America Society of Central Ohio’s Japanese Language Speech Contest has been an annual event designed to highlight the power of foreign language communication at the high school and university level.