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Families invited to Earth and Space Exploration Day at Ritter Planetarium May 18

A graduate student at The University of Toledo who aspires to someday teach at a planetarium went above and beyond to elevate an annual event aimed at inspiring and motivating children to engage with science.

From playing hide-and-seek moon using binoculars to creating a pocket solar system to scale to using a tub of water to explain rising sea levels and climate change, this year’s Earth and Space Exploration Day at Ritter Planetarium will feature a new set of hands-on activities in astronomy and earth science using interactive demonstrations in collaboration with NASA and the National Informational STEM Education (NISE) Network.

Heidi Kuchta received kits from NASA and the National Informational STEM Education Network that will be distributed during Earth and Space Exploration Day Saturday, May 18, at Ritter Planetarium.

Heidi Kuchta, who started working as an assistant at Ritter Planetarium five years ago as a freshman, applied for and secured one of 350 kits distributed nationwide.

“I love that families in our community will have something incredibly interesting to do and stuff to take home,” Kuchta said. “With the support of the NISE Network and NASA, we are able to add a wonderful spark to our annual Astronomy Day by expanding and escalating the overall fun, learning experience for children.”

Earth and Space Exploration Day will take place Saturday, May 18, from noon to 4 p.m. at Ritter Planetarium. The free, public event also will include planetarium shows running in full dome every hour starting at 12:30 p.m., as well as solar observing, weather permitting.

“From the beginning, Heidi has shown tremendous dedication to our outreach efforts,” Alex Mak, associate director of Ritter Planetarium, said. “This workshop is just one example of her ability to expand upon our traditional educational mission.”

Children use binoculars and play hide-and-seek moon with a kit from NASA and the National Informational STEM Education Network.

Kuchta earned her bachelor’s degree in physics and geology from UToledo last year and is pursuing her master’s in an accelerated teaching program in the Judith Herb College of Education.

“A lot of planetariums are in schools, so I thought this innovative path would be a good way to combine education and what I love to do here,” Kuchta said. “At a planetarium, we only have students for a short period of time. They’ll learn here, but, more importantly, it will get them asking questions, expand their curiosity, and maybe nourish the dream of becoming the scientists who get people to Mars or become the first person to walk on Mars.”

Kuchta’s connection to the cosmos began as a baby, according to family legend.

“My mom took me to a planetarium at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History when I was a few months old because she was chaperoning a trip for one of my older siblings,” Kuchta said.

Ritter Planetarium proved to be the deciding factor in choosing a college.

“During a campus tour, I was hooked when we walked through the planetarium and checked out the telescope,” Kuchta said.

Kuchta helps put on planetarium shows that explain current celestial phenomena and leads tours from different groups of visitors ranging from residents of a senior center to a preschool class. She also helps create content.

“Heidi is creative, energetic, and always willing to find new ways to help people learn more about the universe,” Mak said. “She has a bright future.”

Toledo softball team to face Kentucky in NCAA Regionals

The Toledo softball team (29-26) will face No. 14 seed Kentucky (33-22) at 2:30 p.m. Friday, May 17, in Lexington, Ky. in first-round regional action of the 2019 NCAA Softball Championships.

The Rockets are bracketed alongside Virginia Tech (45-9) and Illinois (32-23), and are making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1992.

The Rockets react when they learn they will play Kentucky in the 2019 NCAA Softball Championships. The team watched the selection show in the Savage Arena Sunday night.

“We were pretty sure it would be Kentucky, so it didn’t surprise me,” Head Coach Joe Abraham said. “They’re a good SEC team, so it’s obviously going to be very difficult, but we played Florida State close, so anything can happen. All of those teams have good pitchers, so the key for us is good, solid pitching and to make all of the plays. Any game is winnable for us. Yeah, we’re an underdog, but not so much of an underdog that we can’t win games.”

“This is just exciting,” senior second baseman Megan Choate said. “We just won the MAC, and I think the team isn’t really over that. Being in the room tonight, you could just feel the vibe, and it was really exciting. Knowing that I get to play a few more games with this team moved me to tears. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, but now we have at least two more games. It’s just exciting being able to put the uniform on and play with the girls a little bit more.”

The Rockets are coming off the Mid-American Conference Tournament, where they won the first tourney title in program history after going on a five-game tear in the loser’s bracket as the No. 7 seed, taking down No. 4 Northern Illinois, No. 2 Kent State, No. 1 Miami and No. 3 Ohio.

Toledo most recently won the MAC regular-season title in 1992, but this was the first MAC Tournament crown for the program.

The NCAA Regionals are played in a double-elimination format, meaning it takes two losses to be eliminated from the tournament. The winner of the Toledo-Kentucky game will play the winner of the Illinois-Virginia Tech game Saturday, May 18, at noon. The first-round losers will meet at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The champion will be determined by one or two games Sunday, May 19.

The games will be carried on ESPN3; game times may change for TV.

Rockets to host evening with football coach May 29

University of Toledo Head Football Coach Jason Candle and his staff will host a reception at the world-famous Inverness Club Wednesday, May 29, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Craft beer and wine tasting, hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar will be availble for fans and supporters of the Rockets at the Toledo golf club, 4601 Dorr St.

There will be a live auction; items will include a trip for two to the game at Colorado State, a complete game-day experience with the team for selected home games, and NFL packages and gifts.

Proceeds will benefit The University of Toledo Rocket Fuel Program.

Donation levels are $1,000 for a table (seating for 10 and event recognition), $200 for a couple, and $125 for an individual. A portion of the ticket is tax-deductible.

Register on the UToledo Alumni Association website, or contact Andrew Terwilliger at andrew.terwilliger@utoledo.edu or 614.580.9978.

Toledo softball team wins MAC Tournament for first time in program history

The No. 7 seed Toledo softball team continued its run of upsets with three wins Saturday in Akron to claim the first Mid-American Conference Tournament title in program history and earn an automatic qualifier spot in the NCAA Regionals.

The Rockets took down No. 1 seed Miami and swept No. 3 seed Ohio in a doubleheader May 11 en route to claiming the title. Toledo most recently won the MAC regular-season title in 1992, but this was the first MAC Tournament crown for the program.

The Toledo softball team won its first conference tournament title in program history by beating Ohio twice and Miami Saturday, May 11, in Akron.

Toledo is the lowest seed in MAC Tournament history to win the softball title.

“I’m in a state of disbelief that we got it done,” Head Coach Joe Abraham said. “It was a team effort… We have a bunch of battlers. Literally one week ago, we were fighting to get into the tournament. It was such a good feeling to beat Central Michigan and make it in. One week later, here we are the MAC Champions, and I literally can’t believe it.”

Toledo claimed the title in dramatic fashion, rallying from a five-run deficit to defeat Ohio, 6-5, in Saturday’s second game to set up a winner-take-all battle with the Bobcats. That game was no contest, with the Rockets demolishing Ohio, 9-2.

The Rockets began the tournament with a 4-2 win over No. 2 seed Kent State Thursday before falling 7-1 to the Bobcats Friday.

Fighting through the loser’s bracket in the double elimination-style tournament, the Rockets had to defeat each of the top four seeds to come out on top. All together, Toledo outscored the competition 33-14 in its last five games.

The Rockets were led in the circle this week by sophomore Erin Hunt, who tossed 37.1 innings with four complete games, striking out 28 batters over the four days. Her efforts earned her a spot on the All-Tournament Team, and she also was named the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

Hunt was joined on the All-Tournament Team by seniors Katie Cozy and Kaitlyn Bergman, who were offense standouts all week. Bergman went 6 for 20 with four runs, six walks, two homers, and seven RBIs while catching every game for the Rockets. Cozy was 5 for 21 with five runs, three RBIs, two homers and four walks.

The Rockets will find out their first-round NCAA Regional opponent Sunday. The NCAA Softball Selection Show will air at 9 p.m. on ESPN2.

Toledo fans can order football tickets at Kentucky, Colorado State, Bowling Green

Orders for away-game tickets for the 2019 University of Toledo football season are being taken at the Toledo Athletic Ticket Office, online or by phone.

Ticket orders are being taken for games at Kentucky Saturday, Aug. 31 ($53); at Colorado State Saturday, Sept. 21 ($38); and at Bowling Green Saturday, Oct. 12 ($25). Tickets will be mailed at a later date.

Tickets for the Rockets’ remaining away games will go on sale at a later date.

To purchase season tickets, single-game tickets, or away-game tickets, stop by the Athletic Ticket Office, located in the Sullivan Athletic Complex in Savage Arena, go to the Toledo Rockets’ website, or call 419.530.GOLD (4653).

Season tickets start at just $70. Go to the Toledo Football Ticket Central website.

College of Law commencement set for May 5

The commencement ceremony for The University of Toledo College of Law will be held Sunday, May 5, at 1 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium.

Mary Ellen Pisanelli of The University of Toledo Board of Trustees will confer degrees to approximately 70 law graduates.

Cruz Bridges

Angelita Cruz Bridges, a 2000 alumna of the College of Law, will deliver remarks to the graduating class.

Cruz Bridges serves as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. She litigates both affirmative and defensive civil cases on behalf of the United States, including those filed under the False Claims Act, the Federal Tort Claims Act and Title VII. She also represents U.S. interests in civil rights cases enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws in the areas of fair housing, disability rights and education.

She has received numerous commendations, including the 2015 Director’s Award from the Director of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys for her superior performance investigating financial fraud.

Throughout her career, she has served in leadership roles with the Toledo Women’s Bar Association, Toledo Bar Association, and Thurgood Marshall Law Association. She is currently a member of the Zepf Center Board of Trustees and the Toledo Zoo Board of Trustees, and is president of the Toledo Chapter of Jack and Jill of America.

“I am delighted that Angelita Cruz Bridges will speak to our graduates at commencement,” said College of Law Dean D. Benjamin Barros. “She is a leading lawyer in Toledo, and does incredibly important work in her role as an assistant United States attorney. She also is a leader in our community, and devotes both her professional and personal time to public service. I look forward to hearing her advice and encouragement for our new graduates.”

Entertainment icon Katie Holmes to deliver commencement address May 4

Katie Holmes, a native Toledoan who rose to fame as an actor, producer and director, will return to her hometown to deliver the keynote address during The University of Toledo’s undergraduate commencement ceremony Saturday, May 4.

A Notre Dame Academy alumna and international icon of screen, stage and film, Holmes will address 2,078 candidates for degrees — 2,023 bachelor’s and 55 associate’s candidates. The event will take place at 10 a.m. in the Glass Bowl.

The University’s graduate commencement ceremony is scheduled the same day at 3 p.m. in the Glass Bowl, and will commemorate 915 candidates for doctoral, education specialist and master’s degrees, as well as graduate certificates. Analese Alvarez, an educator and musician who has recorded with the Grammy Award-winning rock group Fleetwood Mac, will be the keynote speaker. She is a candidate for a doctoral degree.

Both ceremonies are open to the public and can be viewed live on the University Views website.

President Sharon L. Gaber will present Holmes with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree before the keynote address.

“The University of Toledo is pleased to welcome Katie Holmes as our commencement speaker to inspire our newest alumni as they celebrate receiving their degrees,” Gaber said. “As a Toledo native with close, personal connections to the University, we are eager for her to share her experiences and accomplishments in the entertainment industry and as an entrepreneur and philanthropist.”

Holmes

Holmes is an internationally recognized film and television actor, producer and director, as well as a Broadway actor and an entrepreneur.

An exceptional student at Notre Dame Academy, Holmes was accepted to Columbia University, but deferred to embark on an entertainment career. She made her feature film debut in “The Ice Storm” in 1997, then established herself as a rising young actor the next year in the television show “Dawson’s Creek.” For six years, she played Joey Potter, a character still recognized in pop culture.

Holmes has appeared in supporting or starring roles in more than 30 films and television programs, including acclaimed performances as Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy in “The Kennedys” and “The Kennedys: After Camelot,” Hannah Green in “Wonder Boys,” Rachel Dawson in “Batman Begins,” April Burns in “Pieces of April,” Rita Carmichael in “All We Had,” and Paige Finney in “Ray Donovan.”

Her credits as a director and producer include “All We Had,” “Touched With Fire,” “The Romantics” and “The Kennedys: Decline and Fall.”

Holmes made her Broadway debut in a revival of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” in 2008 and played the role of Lorna in “Dead Accounts” in 2012.

As an entrepreneur, Holmes managed and designed a well-received fashion line, Holmes & Yang, with Jeanne Yang, from 2009 to 2014.

Her philanthropic efforts include the Dizzy Feet Foundation, an organization Holmes co-founded in 2009 that increases access to dance education in the United States. She also supports the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes; Love Our Children USA, a national nonprofit organization that fights violence and neglect against U.S. children; Raising Malawi, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to helping vulnerable children in extreme poverty through health, education and community support; and the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation.

Alvarez

Graduate ceremony speaker Alvarez has been an educator for nearly two decades and is a candidate for an education doctorate in educational administration and supervision.

The Santa Barbara, Calif., native has enjoyed an outstanding career teaching high school music, highlighted by leading her previous school’s music department to become a Grammy Signature Schools recipient in 2015. She has continued teaching music while pursuing her doctorate at UToledo by serving as a graduate assistant for the Rocket Marching Band and athletic bands since 2015.

Alvarez”s long career as a musician includes recording with Fleetwood Mac on “The Dance” and appearances on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” and Nickelodeon’s “The Big Help.” She also was a member of the Los Angeles Laker Band, a subset of the University of Southern California’s Trojan Marching Band. She has performed with numerous professional ensembles, including The Desert Winds and the Gold Coast Wind Ensemble.

A volunteer club advisor for Gay Straight Alliances, Alvarez co-chaired the Southern Nevada chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network and served the Gay and Lesbian Center of Las Vegas. During the past year, she has been executive director at Equality Toledo, where she has worked to support the local community.

Alvarez earned a bachelor of music degree from the University of Southern California and a master of music degree from Northern Arizona University, both in music education.

UToledo’s spring commencement ceremonies will recognize graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters; Business and Innovation; Judith Herb College of Education; Engineering; Graduate Studies; Health and Human Services; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and University College.

UToledo’s College of Law will host its commencement ceremony Sunday, May 5, at 1 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium. Angelita Cruz Bridges, a 2000 graduate of the College of Law who serves as an assistant United States attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, will give the commencement address.

The next week — Friday, May 10, at 4 p.m. — the College of Medicine and Life Sciences will hold its commencement ceremony in Savage Arena. Dr. Scott Parazynski, a physician and inventor whose career included serving 17 years as an astronaut, during which time he flew five space shuttle missions and conducted seven spacewalks, will be theutoledo.edu/commencementrmation, visit the commencement website.

Building foundations: Recent UToledo cosmetic science and formulation design grad lands dream job with Estée Lauder

Margaret Gorz was two years into an undergraduate degree at a college in northern Michigan with a tentative plan to go on to medical school, but she was far from certain she was on the right path.

“I enjoy science, but I felt like something was missing because I can also be a creative person and an artsy person,” Gorz said.

UToledo alumna Margaret Gorz stood outside Estée Lauder, where she is an associate scientist.

That nagging feeling there was something better suited to her interests led to a series of Google searches. Who develops cosmetics? How do you get a job designing makeup? Where can you learn how to make personal care and beauty products?

Gorz quickly zeroed in on the Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program in The University of Toledo College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences — the only such undergraduate program in the country.

“What really drew me in was that I could mix two of my passions into one career,” she said. “I knew going into the program that this was probably my best shot at becoming a cosmetic scientist.”

Three months after earning her bachelor of science degree in 2018, Gorz landed a job in New York as an associate scientist for the Estée Lauder Companies.

Established in 2013, the Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program teaches students how to design, produce, test and market cosmetics and personal care products.

In addition to basic sciences, the program teaches pharmaceutical formulation and manufacturing, the mechanisms behind how cosmetics and pharmaceuticals work, and outlines the raw materials that go into cosmetic and personal care products.

Gorz

“It’s a mixture of science, art and business. We really train our students with a focus on the industry,” said Dr. Gabriella Baki, assistant professor of pharmaceutics and director of the Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program. “I continuously look at job advertisements, and I look at what skills they usually require to ensure we hit those target skills and knowledge set.”

While there are a handful of master’s programs that offer cosmetic science, the cosmetics industry traditionally looked to individuals with an undergraduate education in chemical engineering, biology, chemistry or biochemistry to fill formulation jobs.

But Baki said employers are taking note of UToledo’s program, which includes a unique combination of classroom work and laboratory experience. During their studies, students in the Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program will create about 60 different cosmetic and personal care products in the lab.

“Employers love that our students have these hands-on skills. They can formulate right away,” Baki said. “That’s something that chemists or chemical engineers are not trained to do, and we are competing against those graduates.”

Working for one of the world’s largest cosmetic companies was where Gorz envisioned herself eventually ending up — not starting out just a few months after graduation.

Now she’s formulating color cosmetics such as lipstick and foundation for brands including Smashbox, Becca, Origins and Aveda.

“This job was basically my dream job,” Gorz said. “Our program really gives us a competitive advantage that makes us stand out. We already have some of that super-specific knowledge in things like the raw materials that go into the products.”

Other graduates of the program have gone on to careers in a variety of formulation, marketing, quality control, and clinical testing roles at companies including Amway, Henkel Beauty Care, Nu Skin, Wacker, Fareva, Active Concepts and KDC/One.

As for Gorz, her success stands as a testament to the impact and support of the Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program — and as an example of where UToledo grads can go.

“That was something very special,” Baki said. “What she’s doing is something that a lot of other students now see as possible, and they’d like to follow in her footsteps.”

Faculty, staff members honored for advising, research, teaching, outreach work

University outstanding advisors, researchers and teachers, and recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement, were recognized last week.

Kupresanin

Recipients of the Outstanding Advisor Award were:

Max Kupresanin, academic advisor in University College. He received bachelor of arts and master of public administration degrees from the University and worked at his alma mater as a teaching assistant in 2009 and 2010 before joining the staff in 2014.

“Students put their trust in Max that he will be able to guide them down the path of exploratory studies and into a major that works for them,” one nominator wrote. “As a UToledo grad himself, he knows how campus life and academic life merge to create challenges for students. Max makes sure his students always know he is available with questions and concerns — whether they are about advising or not.” Another noted, “Max thoroughly enjoys working with students. Max is visibly passionate about our student population. He is frequently seen in Rocket Hall walking students to Financial Aid, Student Disability Services and the Counseling Center.”

Kissoff

Dr. Nicholas V. Kissoff, associate professor of engineering technology and undergraduate director of the Construction Engineering Technology Program in the College of Engineering. He joined the faculty in 1999. Kissoff received bachelor and master of science degrees in civil engineering and a doctorate in engineering science from the University.

“Working one on one with all students, whether they are straight out of high school or a transfer student like myself, Dr. Kissoff provides a game plan of classes that is easily laid out so the student can set forth short- and long-term goals to help attain the main goal of graduating with the construction of engineering degree,” one nominator wrote. “He provides all resources available to his students from the inception in the Construction Engineering Technology Program. He informs the students of all possibilities within the program, and steps and tips to help us long after we graduate to be successful engineers.”

Recipients of the Outstanding Research and Scholarship Award were:

Dr. Christopher Cooper, executive vice president for clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. The cardiologist joined the Medical College of Ohio in 1994. Cooper was appointed interim chair of the Department of Medicine in 2012 and was named to the permanent post in April 2013. From 2002 to 2012, he served as chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, and from 2008 to 2011, he also was director of the UToledo Heart and Vascular Center. He was named medical dean in 2014. Cooper has 95 peer-reviewed publications in print.

“Dr. Cooper is a gifted and rigorous scientist whose research has truly changed the paradigm in the field of hypertension and cardiac research. His innovative work has shifted the focus from the heart to the kidneys as an important and significant and treatable contributor to illness burden in hypertension, renal failure and cardiac events,” a nominator wrote. “Many patients’ lives will be saved, and much future understanding of the complex interactions between the kidney, the heart and vascular disease has been opened up as a result of his extensive body of research.”

Dr. Youssef Sari, professor and vice chair of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics, and professor of medicinal and biological chemistry in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. He joined the University in 2010. Sari has published nearly 100 peer-reviewed articles.

His research has contributed significantly to the field of drugs of abuse, including alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine and nicotine; currently, he is focusing on the neuropharmacology of opioid addiction. Sari’s research involves investigating potential therapeutic drugs for the treatment of drugs of abuse. He was the first investigator to demonstrate that two key transporters can be potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of drugs of abuse, specifically in alcohol dependence. In addition, he has tested and found several drugs that have the ability to increase the expression and functionality of these transporters in animal models. The long-term goal of Sari’s research is to find potential therapeutic agents for the treatment of patients suffering from addiction to these drugs of abuse. “In my 40-plus years [in higher education], I’ve not known anyone who works harder and is more focused on drug and alcohol research, including mechanisms of neurotoxicity, than Youssef,” one nominator wrote. “He is at the cutting edge of his field and looks to be a research leader for many years to come.”

Dr. Jami K. Taylor, professor of political science and public administration in the College of Arts and Letters. Since joining the UToledo faculty in 2009, she has become a respected scholar on transgender politics and public policy with an impressive list of accomplishments: authoring a book and editing a book that were both published by the University of Michigan Press; writing 14 peer-reviewed articles and 11 book chapters; and serving as an associate editor for an encyclopedia of LGBT politics that is being published by Oxford University Press.

“Professor Taylor’s work is path-breaking, widely cited and influential. She has established a substantial national reputation as the leading scholar of transgender rights policy in just 10 years at UToledo,” one nominator wrote. Another wrote, “Dr. Taylor is the country’s single highest regarded scholar working on transgender public policy; she is also a nationally recognized expert in the broader political science subfield of LGBT politics. A quick glance at her CV helps explain why this is the case: She is at once a prolific scholar, producing an enormous amount of peer-reviewed publications each year, and also produces work of such high quality that it is accepted for publication in highly regarded journals and presses and cited frequently by other scholars in our subfield.”

Receiving Outstanding Research and Scholarship Awards were, from left, Dr. Christopher Cooper, Dr. Jami K. Taylor and Dr. Youssef Sari.

Bellizzi

Recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement were:

Dr. John Bellizzi, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Dr. Joe Schmidt, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

They are coordinators of Saturday Morning Science, a public outreach lecture series covering diverse topics in science, medicine and engineering, ranging from the physics of baseball to the Flint water crisis to the search for extrasolar planets. The program began in 2005; Schmidt took over coordinating the series in 2008, and Bellizzi has been co-director since 2011. “Over the past six years, attendance has grown dramatically from a small grassroots following to an average audience approaching 150 attendees per presentation,” one nominator wrote, noting the series has relocated twice to accommodate the growing numbers. Speakers include UToledo faculty and other academic researchers, NASA scientists, best-selling authors, and staff members of the Toledo Zoo, Toledo Refinery, and National Museum of the Great Lakes.

Schmidt

“This kind of scientific outreach benefits all participants,” a nominator wrote. “Researchers and other presenters get the satisfaction of sharing their experience and their passion while honing a distinct set of communication skills to make their presentation understandable by a nontechnical audience. Audience members gain knowledge, insight and inspiration. It is the intention of the program to broaden public awareness, literacy and appreciation of the methods and results of science in the hopes of encouraging students to enter scientific careers and citizens to support policies that promote scientific research and discovery.”

Recipients of the Outstanding Teacher Award were:

Dr. John Bellizzi, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. He joined the UToledo faculty in 2008.

“Dr. Bellizzi is the man,” one nominator wrote. “I really have a genuine respect for him. Intelligent, passionate and fair — that’s the type of professor he is. Biochemistry is a difficult course, but he really made me love it. He understands the material and breaks it down for us in ways to comprehend. Things he taught me stuck with me because he teaches in a manner that allows you to understand the material not just memorize it.” Another noted, “He is outstanding not only that he teaches well, but he is always well-prepared. I could always approach him whenever needed to solve any problems related to fields of studies. He will always try to help even though he is not teaching you in the semester. He is a gentleman and deserves to be an outstanding teacher.”

Dr. Jetsabe Cáceres, associate professor of political science and public administration, and director of the Global Studies Program in the College of Arts and Letters. She has been at the University since 2011.

“Dr. Cáceres is one of the most personable, influential faculty members at the University. I had the pleasure to attend her Principles of Comparative Politics course; it was a rather black-and-white course, but she taught it in such a colorful, lively way. She recognizes students’ strengths and weaknesses early on and determines strategies for their betterment,” one nominator wrote. Another wrote, “Jetsa has exhibited compassion and care for not only me, but many students. She has helped me become a better student by motivating me to work toward my goals.” Another wrote, “Jetsa is the professor every student wishes to have and the mentor a person needs; she is an admirable person.”

Dr. Mohammad Elahinia, professor and chair of mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering in the College of Engineering. A member of the UToledo faculty since 2004, Elahnia is director of the Dynamic and Smart Systems Laboratory.

“I was told by three teachers that I would never make it in engineering,” a nominator wrote. “Then I took a class taught by Dr. Elahinia. I had never had a teacher explain complex material so thoroughly and in a way that everyone could understand. He would stop and ask those who struggled how he could change his method to help them. I have never had a more attentive professor. His belief in me gave me confidence that I belong in engineering. That confidence and belief in me shaped my career. I am a mechanical design engineer for a global company in its research and development department. I know Dr. Elahinia has helped more students than just myself; he is deserving of this award.”

Dr. Karen Green, assistant professor of accounting in the College of Business and Innovation. She has taught at the University since 2015.

“Dr. Green has been a catalyst in the Accounting Department,” one nominator wrote. “She solely developed a new Certified Public Accountant review course that allows master of accounting students to complete their CPA exams. This is a distinguishing characteristic of the program.” “With Dr. Green’s guidance, many students have the competitive advantage of simultaneously testing for the CPA and earning a master’s degree, both before diving into our careers, and we know this is a luxury not available to many young professionals in the accounting field,” another wrote. “Dr. Green is more than a professor; she has become a trusted advisor, cheerleader and reliable friend to all of us. She provides support, guidance, encouragement and direction to all students who cross her path.”

Bryan Lammon, associate professor of law. He joined the College of Law in 2013.

“I have had Professor Lammon for several classes, and I cannot say enough positive words for how he conducts his class sessions,” one nominator wrote. “He actively engages with all of his students and makes the extra effort to ensure that everyone has a complete understanding of the lectures before moving on. His classroom demeanor is always personable and professional, which makes going to his classses that much more enjoyable.” Another noted, “He has an excellent work ethic, is a great teacher, and he is very friendly, yet with a professional attitude.” “Professor Lammon is one of the most approachable professors I’ve encountered. He is so passionate about the subjects he teaches and it truly shows each class,” another wrote. “It is very clear that he truly enjoys watching his students succeed.”

Dr. Heather Sloane, assistant professor of social work in the School of Social Justice in the College of Health and Human Services. She joined the UToledo faculty in 2008.

“Dr. Sloane is a perfect example of what a social worker looks like,” one nominator wrote. “She is patient, kind and sincere in all of our encounters, and she is juggling several different projects with grace and a positive attitude.” “Dr. Sloane is such a loving, thoughtful, selfless professor,” another nominator wrote. “She goes over and beyond to ensure the needs of the students are met.” “Despite all her accomplishments, Heather never acknowledges her success and doesn’t give herself the credit she deserves,” another noted. “She is a behind-the-scenes person and the reason why so many things exist. She is the definition of humility. She deserves this award more than I can express.”

Taking home Outstanding Teacher Awards were, from left, Dr. Mohammad Elahinia, Bryan Lammon, Dr. Heather Sloane, Dr. John Bellizzi, Dr. Karen Green and Dr. Jetsabe Cáceres.

Three Distinguished University Professors named

Three scholars have been added to the rank of Distinguished University Professor in recognition of their career achievements in teaching, research and professional service.

The faculty members named Distinguished University Professor were approved and recognized by the UToledo Board of Trustees at its April meeting. They are Dr. Christopher Cooper, dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, and executive vice president for clinical affairs; Dr. Ashok Kumar, professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and Dr. Celia Williamson, professor of social work and executive director of the Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute.

Distinguished University Professors named this month were, from left, Dr. Celia Williamson, Dr. Christopher Cooper and Dr. Ashok Kumar.

“It is our privilege to recognize these individuals with The University of Toledo’s highest permanent honor bestowed upon a faculty member,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Each of these professors is recognized as an outstanding teacher, researcher and professional who has made a great impact on the students who they have mentored and in advancing their fields of study.”

Cooper is an internationally recognized researcher in reno-vascular hypertension and ischemic renal disease. He was the principal investigator on a $20 million grant from the National Institutes of Health in which the team found that stents provided no additional benefits to patients with kidney-related high blood pressure than medication alone, which could lead to fewer surgeries and lower treatment costs. The results were published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Cooper joined the faculty of the UToledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences, then the Medical College of Ohio, in 1994. Throughout his career, he has secured more than $25 million in external research funding and authored or co-authored 96 peer-reviewed articles and nine book chapters.

“As a University of Toledo faculty member, I have been blessed with a number of fantastic mentors, collaborators and trainees, and together we’ve done some exciting things,” Cooper said. “Now my major focus is to create an environment where others can do that, too.”

Cooper is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, Fellow of the American Heart Association and Fellow of the American College of Physicians.

Kumar is recognized internationally for the development of innovative software and paradigm-shifting methodologies related to air quality and risk assessment to solve complex environmental problems. With a focus on air pollution, Kumar has advanced the understanding of the air quality impact due to public transportation buses running on biodiesel and issues with radon mitigation systems in Ohio.

Kumar, who has been a member of the UToledo College of Engineering faculty since 1980, has received more than $5.5 million in external funding, and authored or co-authored more than 200 articles and eight books.

“I am proud to be recognized as a Distinguished Professor of the finest university in the area,” Kumar said. “Very few things in life are entirely the work of one individual. This recognition is no exception. This achievement is thanks to a lot of other people’s hard work. Everyone, from the graduate students to funding agencies to fellow professionals and publishers, deserves credit for recognizing my efforts in the field of air pollution.”

Kumar also has received UToledo’s President’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to University Scholarship and Creative Activity. He is an honorary member of the Air & Waste Management Association.

Williamson’s pioneering research on human sex trafficking, the prostitution of women and children globally, and mental health and substance abuse counseling needs for vulnerable populations is recognized internationally.

She founded the International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference, which has welcomed to campus thousands of academics and activists from around the world for the past 15 years to end abuse through education, research and advocacy.

Williamson also is the founder of the Second Chance Program, now called RISE, which is the first anti-trafficking program in Ohio, as well as the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition, the National Research Consortium on Commercial Sexual Exploitation, and the Global Association of Human Trafficking Scholars.

“I am both thankful and grateful for this recognition, and I will continue the important anti-trafficking work that needs to be done in our community and around the world,” Williamson said.

She has been a faculty member in the UToledo College of Health and Human Services since 2000 and has received more than $2 million in external funding, and published two co-authored books, two book chapters and 21 peer-reviewed articles.

Also an alumna of UToledo, Williamson has received the University’s Gold T Award and the Edith Rathbun Outreach and Engagement Excellence Award.