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Re-Energize at Earth Hour celebration March 25

As energy usage and climate change become more urgent and prevalent topics, conservationists are looking for ways to draw attention to these issues.

The Society of Environmental Advocates invites the UT community to its Earth Hour celebration, which is a global event where at least one hour is set aside to bring awareness to energy conservation.

The event will be held Saturday, March 25, at 6 p.m. at the Lake Erie Center, 6200 Bayshore Road, Oregon.

Speakers at the event will include Melissa Greene, director of the Toledo-Lucas County Sustainability Commission and sustainability coordinator for the Board of Lucas County Commissioners, and Michael Green, director of energy management for The University of Toledo.

After presentations by the guest speakers, attendees will tour the Lake Erie Center and, weather permitting, take a short nature walk.

Alex Lytten, president of the Society for Environmental Advocates, said that the event promotes the organization’s message of sustainability and conservation, and that membership is open to anyone who shares an interest in environmental science, geology, ecology and biomes.

To daily reduce your energy usage, Lytten recommends: “Turning down your thermostat, turn off unused lights and appliances, invest in energy-efficient lighting and appliances, and carpool whenever possible.”

For more information, contact ensc.society.ut@gmail.com.

International Joint Commission invites public to meeting at UT Lake Erie Center March 23

The International Joint Commission, an independent binational organization that prevents and resolves issues facing boundary waters between the U.S. and Canada, is holding a public meeting at The University of Toledo Lake Erie Center this week to gather input about progress to restore and protect the Great Lakes.

The free, public event will take place Thursday, March 23, at 6 p.m. at the UT Lake Erie Center, 6200 Bayshore Road in Oregon.

It is one of six public meetings being held in communities around the Great Lakes throughout March as the commission finalizes its assessment of progress made by the U.S. and Canada to reach goals of the U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

Dr. Christine Mayer, UT professor and aquatic ecologist, serves as a member of the International Joint Commission Great Lakes Science Advisory Board, which studies Great Lakes issues and provides its findings to help the International Joint Commission make recommendations to the governments of the two countries.

“Residents of the Great Lakes region deserve clean water, healthy beaches and fish that are safe to eat,” Mayer said. “I encourage residents of northwest Ohio to attend the International Joint Commission meeting and provide their feedback on progress toward restoration of the Great Lakes. Now is a crucial time for the public to voice their support for sustained restoration of the Great Lakes.”

With more than $12.5 million of active grants underway to address water quality concerns, UT faculty and researchers are taking a multidisciplinary approach to protecting the nation’s Great Lakes from invasive species and providing clean drinking water for generations to come.

“I am delighted that the public meeting for the International Joint Commission will be held at The University of Toledo Lake Erie Center,” said Dr. Tim Fisher, geology professor, chair of the UT Department of Environmental Sciences and interim director of the Lake Erie Center. “The citizens of Oregon and Toledo will not have to travel far to learn about ongoing research on harmful algae blooms, restoration and protection plans for Lake Erie, and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. But most importantly, the public will have an opportunity to express their suggestions, views and concerns to this binational agency to influence future activity.”

According to the Ohio Environmental Council, Lake Erie supplies drinking water to roughly three million Ohioans, and visitors spend more than $10 billion a year in communities along Lake Erie for tourism, travel and fishing.

“This meeting in Toledo — and all six of the International Joint Commission’s public meetings — is integral to the the commission’s assessment process,” said Lana Pollack, chair of the U.S. section of the International Joint Commission. “We want to hear what people think about the government’s progress report and the International Joint Commission’s draft assessment of progress, and hear their views on how governments should address the Great Lakes water quality issues that residents care about the most.”

The International Joint Commission’s draft report, the Canadian and U.S. government report, as well as details on the upcoming public meetings around the Great Lakes, can be found at http://participateijc.org.

Event registration is online here and will be available at the door as well.

Lecture to look at birding in northwest Ohio

With 32 recognized state parks, wildlife areas and refuges, northwest Ohio is rich with natural wonders. These areas are favorite spots for birds and watchers during spring migration.

Kimberly Kaufman, executive director of Black Swamp Bird Observatory, will discuss “Spring Songbird Migration in Northwest Ohio: The Business of Birding” Thursday, March 16, at 7 p.m. at the UT Lake Erie Center, 6200 Bayshore Road, Oregon.

“Hosted by Black Swamp Bird Observatory, the Biggest Week in American Birding is a 10-day festival in northwest Ohio, ‘the Warbler Capital of the World,’” Kaufman said. “The festival has something to offer beginner and seasoned birders alike, with bird identification workshops, guided birding trips, birding by canoe, daily walks at the world-famous Magee Marsh, American woodcock field trips, keynote presentations, a birder’s marketplace, and evening socials with free food and music.

“The festival helps attract more than 90,000 birders to northwest Ohio from around the world, generating an annual economic impact of more than $40 million.”

Her free, public talk is part of the Lake Erie Center’s Public Lecture Series.

“I hope attendees will come away with a greater understanding of Black Swamp Bird Observatory’s mission and what the Black Swamp Bird Observatory does for the region,” Kaufman said. “The take-home message of my lecture is that it’s in the best interest of every resident of northwest Ohio to support habitat conservation.”

For more information on the lecture, go to utoledo.edu/nsm/lec or call the UT Lake Erie Center at their office at 419.530.8360.

Easy as Pi: Math Department invites UT to celebrate Pi Day

Worldwide Pi Day celebrations have been bringing mathematicians and math appreciators alike together for decades.

“Not only is pi an important mathematical constant, but pie is also a great reason for people to get together for fun,” said Dr. Donald B. White, professor and chair in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

Pi Day, observed March 14 to recognize the first three digits of the pi constant, is marked by the eating of pie and discussing the significance of pi in mathematics. More than 13 trillion digits of pi have been calculated so far, though only 39 digits are needed to perform most cosmological calculations.

This year, the celebration at UT holds extra significance: “Pi, our centennial celebration year, and Women’s History Month, all in one,” White explained. “For all of 2017, we are celebrating 100 years as a Department of Mathematics, and recently Statistics, and for Pi Day, we hope to have 100 pies. Also, for the Women’s History Month of March, watch the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics’ TV screens for highlights of women who have been great mathematicians and statisticians.”

Attendees can join faculty, staff and students from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics for slices of pizza and dessert on Pi Day, Tuesday, March 14, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in University Hall Room 2060. The event is free and open to all — while slices last.

After the Pi Day treats, Dr. Nate Iverson, lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, will present a lecture, “Circumference Over Diameter; the Different Universes of Pi.”

Iverson’s lecture will be at 4 p.m. in University Hall Room 4010.

For more information on the lecture, visit the Math Department’s website at math.utoledo.edu/colloquia.html or facebook.com/utmath.

UT undergrad discovers elusive companion star to Beta Canis Minoris

Nick Dulaney was determined to solve a galactic mystery. Why is there an unexpected, wavy edge on a disk around a bright, rapidly rotating star located 162 light years away from Earth?

The junior studying physics at The University of Toledo spent last summer analyzing 15 years of spectroscopic archive data collected at the Ritter Observatory on campus and discovered that Beta Canis Minoris, which is three and a half times larger than the sun and easily visible to the naked eye, is not alone.

Nick Dulaney, a junior majoring in physics, helped discover the star Beta Canis Minoris is actually a binary star, or a double star.

With the help of Dr. Noel Richardson, UT postdoctoral research associate, and Dr. Jon Bjorkman, professor of physics and astronomy, Dulaney found that the highly studied star featuring a disk around its equator is actually a binary star, or a double star.

“A low-mass secondary star orbits around Beta Canis Minoris,” Dulaney said. “While it’s circling the bright star, the smaller star stops the disk on the bigger star from getting too big by creating a wave in the disk.”

Beta Canis Minoris is what is known as a Be star, a hot star that rotates so fast that the material on its equator is ejected into a large gaseous disk surrounding the star.

“Nick discovered that the star was moving back and forth every 170 days,” Richardson said. “This motion is caused by the pull of the companion star and is very difficult to measure.”

Dulaney also found that the companion star tugs extra material from the disk toward it. This causes the observations to change repeatedly every time the star orbits. The student’s findings are leading new efforts by Bjorkman’s international modeling team to determine how the stars interact. 

Dulaney is the lead author on the research paper recently published in the Astrophysical Journal. He worked on the project while participating in UT’s Research Experience for Undergraduates Program sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

“This is a big milestone for me and shows that I am progressing toward building a career,” Dulaney said. “Doing this research has given me valuable experience, and I am very grateful to the National Science Foundation and The University of Toledo for the opportunity.”

“Many students don’t have similar publications until halfway through their graduate programs,” Richardson said. “As an undergraduate, Nick has shown that he is capable of collecting and analyzing data, and then communicating the results with scientists. These skills will serve him well in his future and shows the strengths of our undergraduate program at The University of Toledo.”

Dulaney started using the Ritter Observatory as a freshman and is one of nearly two dozen undergraduates making up a team that uses the observatory every clear night. The students help graduate students in making the measurements and operating the telescope.

“This student observing team is a gem for the University,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy; and Helen Luedtke Brooks Endowed Professor of Astronomy. “Nick’s project highlights how our 1-meter telescope on campus is used for both educational and scientific missions.”

Physician/author to discuss health and race

Being black can be bad for your health — Dr. Damon Tweedy wrote about hearing that as a first-year medical student at Duke University in 1997.

His book, “Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine,” became a New York Times Bestseller and was one of Time magazine’s top 10 nonfiction books in 2015.

Tweedy

“From the beginning of life to the very end — and everywhere in between — African Americans continue to experience disproportionately worse health outcomes,” Tweedy said. “You can name pretty much any disease, and you’re likely to find that it’s either more common in black people; black people who get the disease have a worse course; or both of these conditions. There are a lot of factors involved with this, and I explore many of them in my book.”

Tweedy will discuss race and health disparities Thursday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m. in Collier Building Room 1200.

For several years, the assistant professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center and staff physician at the Durham Veteran Affairs Medical Center has written and lectured on race and medicine. His articles have been published by The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and The Washington Post, as well as by several medical journals.

In his book, he wrote, “Whether it is premature birth, infant mortality, homicide, childhood obesity or HIV infection, black children and young adults disproportionately bear the brunt of these medical and social ills. By middle age, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, kidney failure and cancer have a suffocating grip on the health of black people and maintain this stranglehold on them well into their senior years.”

“I wanted to put a human touch to these issues of racial health disparities — examining how this impacts real people in everyday life,” Tweedy said. “Many people are more likely to engage in these issues when they are presented as stories rather than simply as statistics.

“I also wanted to explore some of the unique challenges faced by African-American doctors — a largely unexplored perspective in popular medical narratives,” he added.

His free, public talk is sponsored by We Are STEMM, a UT organization dedicated to empowering and inspiring students from underrepresented populations who are interested in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine. Led by faculty and staff, the group celebrates and supports diversity in several UT colleges: Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Engineering; Medicine and Life Sciences; Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and Health and Human Services.

“I found Dr. Tweedy’s book to be inspirational. While it reveals a story often heard in the community of underrepresented groups pursuing higher education, I think he has been able to deliver many aspects in a manner that may be enlightening and perhaps more palatable to those freed from this ‘experience,’” said Dr. Anthony Quinn, assistant dean for diversity and inclusion in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and chair of We Are STEMM.

“In contemporary society, there is the perception that history can be wiped clean with a single piece of new legislation — no need to deal with lasting psychological scars inflicted by past overt and covert policies or the entrenched social norms that are retained and vigorously guarded for generations in spite of new laws,” Quinn continued. “Dr. Tweedy brings out the adverse and lasting impact that discriminatory practices can have on individuals and society long past the time of those who initially implemented them.”

Tweedy’s talk is one of the University’s events scheduled for Black History Month.

Journal of Great Lakes Research names UT algae expert’s paper as one of most highly cited

The Journal of Great Lakes Research identified a University of Toledo ecologist’s “high-quality research” on harmful algal blooms as one of its five most highly cited papers for nearly three years.

In 2013, the quarterly journal published the paper titled “A Novel Method for Tracking Western Lake Erie Microcystis Blooms, 2002-2011,” by Dr. Thomas Bridgeman, UT algae researcher and associate professor of ecology.

Dr. Thomas Bridgeman held a jar containing concentrated algae pulled up last spring from Lake Erie using the plankton net hanging on the side of the boat. In mid-May, the golden algae called diatoms is good for the lake, according to the researcher.

Dr. Thomas Bridgeman held a jar containing concentrated algae pulled up last spring from Lake Erie using the plankton net hanging on the side of the boat. In mid-May, the golden algae called diatoms is good for the lake, according to the researcher.

Bridgeman’s paper was cited 33 times between January 2014 and June 2016, according to Scopus Article Metrics. It ranks in the 98th percentile compared to aquatic science articles of the same age.

“It’s nice to know that other people are using your work and building on what you have done,” Bridgeman said. “Our goal is to advance the science and provide knowledge that ultimately benefits society, and I think my students and I did that here.”

Bridgeman and his students developed a new method to measure how much harmful algae there is in the lake over the course of the summer and compared the harmful algal bloom from one year to another. In the paper, Bridgeman included data on a decade of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie from 2002 to 2011.

“Other researchers are now using this method, and therefore cite our method when they publish their own studies,” Bridgeman said. “In addition, the annual records are extremely valuable for any researcher who is trying to understand how the health of the lake has been changing and what we need to do to get harmful algal blooms under control.”

“The widespread use of Dr. Bridgeman’s work demonstrates that UT research is integrated into the region,” said Dr. Tim Fisher, geology professor and chair of the UT Department of Environmental Sciences and interim director of the Lake Erie Center.

Bridgeman’s research was a major contribution to the development of models that directly link the size of the annual harmful algal bloom with the amount of spring and summer phosphorus discharge from the Maumee River.

“Several of my colleagues are pursuing this line of research now,” Bridgeman said. “Together, our findings helped to convince the U.S. and Canadian governments that we need to decrease phosphorus entering Lake Erie by about 40 percent in order to reduce harmful algal blooms to a level that we can live with.”

Saturday Morning Science programs return

Why humans love music, this year’s solar eclipse, and bees — these are some of the topics that will be addressed during Saturday Morning Science.

The free, public programs will begin at 9:30 a.m. in Memorial Field House Room 2100. A light breakfast sponsored in part by Barry Bagels will be available prior to the talks.

NSM 62_1 Saturday Morning Science flyer .inddPresented by the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Saturday Morning Science aims to educate, engage and entertain.

“We try to come up with topics that are of general public interest as well as interesting to us. Everyone should feel welcome to come,” Dr. Joseph Schmidt, UT professor of chemistry and an organizer of the event, said.

Listed by date, the programs and speakers are:

• Feb. 4 — “From Scorpion Skin to Photonic Devices: New Technology Inspired by Nature” by Bruno Ullrich, owner of Ullrich Photonics LLC, Wayne, Ohio.

• Feb. 18 — “From the River to Our Taps: The Poisoning of a City” by Monique Wilhelm, laboratory manager and lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Michigan in Flint.

• Feb. 25 — “From Science Labs to Your Homes: Be Citizen Scientists During the Solar Eclipse (Aug. 21)” by Dr. Kevin Czajkowski, UT professor of geography and lead director for Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment MISSION EARTH.

• March 18 — “From Petroleum to Fuel: Boiling Oil in Modern Times” by Aaron Coulter, process engineering manager at the Toledo Refining Co. LLC.

• April 1 — “From Pollen to Honey: What Are the Bees Telling Us?” by Joan Mandell, beekeeper and educator with Citybees Detroit and Green Toe Gardens.

• April 29 — “From the Stone Age to Today: Why Do Humans Love Music, and What Has Physics Got to Do With It?” by Dr. Steven Errede, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

“These programs are designed to pique interest in all ages. I hope the younger members who attend the talks think about science as a career,” Schmidt said.

He invited anyone with questions regarding the programs or topic suggestions for future programs to contact him at joseph.schmidt@utoledo.edu.

Free parking will be available in area 13 and the west parking ramp.

For more information about Saturday Morning Science, go to facebook.com/SaturdayMorningScience or contact Schmidt at joseph.schmidt@utoledo.edu.

Ecologist elected Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science

A University of Toledo ecologist is being honored for her work to advance science as a newly elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Stepien

Stepien

Dr. Carol Stepien, Distinguished University Professor of Ecology, is among the 391 AAAS Fellows elected in 2016 who will be recognized at the association’s annual meeting Feb. 18 in Boston.

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.

“You are being honored for distinguished contributions to the fields of molecular evolutionary ecology and conservation genetics, particularly invasive and native populations, and mentorship of graduate and undergraduate students,” Rush D. Holt, AAAS chief executive officer, wrote in a letter to Stepien informing her of the recognition.

“I am honored to be recognized by our nation’s scientific community,” Stepien said. “My special emphasis has been helping to train and mentor UT graduate and undergraduate students, and our local high school students in aquatic ecology, to aid conservation efforts in the Great Lakes.”

Stepien is internationally recognized for her research in the areas of invasive species and fish genetics. She joined UT’s Department of Environmental Sciences in 2004 and also served as director of the Lake Erie Center until 2016. She was appointed a Distinguished University Professor in 2012.

“Recognition as an AAAS Fellow is an enormous honor and a credit to Dr. Stepien and her impressive body of research to advance our knowledge of marine biology,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “The University of Toledo is proud to have a faculty member selected to the AAAS and looks forward to more faculty receiving prestigious national awards.”

Stepien is on a leave of absence from the University while continuing her active research program and working with UT graduate students. She is serving as an Ocean Environment Research Division leader at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.

She is the author of the book “Molecular Systematics of Fishes” published in 1997 and reprinted in 2002, as well as more than 90 scholarly publications. She has received more than $12 million in grants and awards for her studies of molecular ecology, population genetics, evolutionary patterns and genomics.

Climate change disruption to be discussed Jan. 19

The University of Toledo is hosting an event to discuss the polarizing topic of climate change.

Jorgensen

Jorgensen

Dr. Andy Jorgensen, associate professor of chemistry and environmental sciences at UT and senior fellow for the National Council for Science and the Environment, will lead a talk titled “Climate Change Disruption: How Do We Know? What Can We Do?” as part of the Lake Erie Center Public Lecture Series.

The free event will take place Thursday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m. at the UT Lake Erie Center, 6200 Bayshore Road in Oregon.

“Climate change and the cost of carbon dioxide pollution is a very intense topic in our country, which finds its way into political, business and social conversations, often with vocal disagreement,” Jorgensen said. “This presentation will give background information about the phenomenon and methods that have been used to characterize these changes. The human dimension of the problem will be emphasized in order to consider solutions.”

People who attend the event will be able to ask questions and share opinions. Participants also will be encouraged to share their views using a “clicker” or personal response device to compare their replies to those of more than 3,000 members of Jorgensen’s previous audiences.

NASA and the National Science Foundation have supported Jorgensen’s work on science education. He helped create an online program with more than 800 resources on climate change for students and teachers. The free, web-based curriculum can be found at camelclimatechange.org.