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12-year-old UT student creates faster, cheaper way to make pharmaceutical drugs, agricultural pesticides

Like many 12-year-olds, Daniel Liu enjoys reading books and wears T-shirts covered in cartoon characters.

Unlike most boys and girls his age, Liu has been honored at the White House for his science achievements and is now a published scientific researcher at The University of Toledo.

Liu

The Ottawa Hills High School student has been taking classes at UT for more than a year through Ohio’s College Credit Plus program.

Liu is one of three members of a UT green chemistry lab team that created a chemical reaction that results in a faster, cheaper, more environmentally friendly way to make pharmaceutical drugs and agrochemicals, such as pesticides and herbicides.

The team’s research, which was recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, shows how carbon dioxide in the form of dry ice is used to break up carbon-hydrogen bonds, reactions known as C-H activation.

“We showed that we could run this reaction with many different starting materials and produce very diverse products,” said Liu, a co-author on the paper.

“When you take an unreactive carbon-hydrogen bond, which is found in most organic compounds, and break it to convert it into a new type of bond, you make new molecules more quickly and more sustainably, especially in pharmaceutical and agrochemical molecules,” said Dr. Michael Young, assistant professor in the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

That means, much like Liu’s skyrocketing academic journey, you skip grades or steps in the process, reducing the time and resources it takes to achieve results.

“This chemical reaction cuts up to five steps out of a process that normally takes six or seven,” Liu said. “C-H activation also improves overall synthetic efficiency. We found a way to potentially help patients, farmers and the environment when it comes to how medicine and pesticides are made.”

Daniel Liu worked in the lab with Dr. Michael Young, left, and Dr. Mohit Kapoor.

Dr. Mohit Kapoor, UT postdoctoral researcher in medicinal and sustainable chemistry, said Liu has demonstrated an incredible ability to learn and discover at the collegiate level.

“I now see him as a co-worker in my lab. He is a genius and a prodigy,” Kapoor said. “But I remember in the beginning thinking, ‘How could he handle all these things?’ He has proven that he has the knowledge. He can do the work properly and learns quickly.”

“While this is highly unusual, Daniel has unusual talent and great support from his parents,” Young said. “He has already taken most of the junior-level course work in the chemistry program. While he doesn’t have the emotional maturity or physical stature of an older student, he is intellectually advanced compared to his peers.”

Young, Kapoor and Liu are the three authors of the research paper. The scientists say Liu was involved in every step of the project, investing more than 400 hours of work.

“Daniel made many of the starting materials for the reactions and also performed many of the key reactions. He also remade the compounds to validate that we could do this, help make enough of them to characterize them, and prove they were what we said they were,” Young said. “Plus, he helped us craft the manuscript. He went through and made suggestions on how to present our work.”

UT has filed a provisional patent on the work, and the team is looking to market to pharmaceutical companies that make generic drugs.

“We’re excited about the potential to commercialize this because it is much cheaper and more easily recyclable,” Young said. “This really could be a benefit to the synthetic community.”

Liu’s passion lies in developing new pharmaceutical drugs to help people fight different diseases.

“I feel like this is the start of a career, and hopefully I can do more of this research in the future,” Liu said. “I’m starting work on a couple of these projects by myself. I simply want to help people.”

Liu started high school at the age of 10.

In 2016, Liu visited the White House and met President Barack Obama after winning the national “You Be the Chemist” challenge — defeating 30,000 other students. He was the youngest ever to win the Chemical Education Foundation’s competition.

Recently, he received high honors in the National Chemistry Olympiad.

Liu also is assistant principal cellist in the University orchestra. It’s one way he has become involved in UT’s vibrant, diverse campus.

“I had an adjustment period, but this is normal to me now,” Liu said. “I feel at home here and supported in my studies. I’m trying to take advantage of all that UT has to offer so I can keep learning and growing. I want to go to graduate school. I’m also considering medical school. I want to do more stuff that changes the world and helps people.”

Global climate disruption topic of June 5 lecture at University

A lecture discussing climate change and global climate disruption will take place Tuesday, June 5, at The University of Toledo.

Dr. Andy Jorgensen, UT associate professor emeritus of chemistry, will present this lecture at 6 p.m. in the Driscoll Alumni Center Schmakel Room.

Jorgensen

He will provide background information about global climate disruption and the human dimension of the problem.

“Attendees will get an idea of the changes in the climate during recent years, as well as the reasons and consequences of these changes,” Jorgensen said. “The last part of the talk will be about what can be done to reduce the negative impacts of climate change.”

Actions that the community can take to combat and reduce climate change include reducing waste, recycling, and driving less, Jorgensen said.

He is a Senior Fellow at the National Council for Science and the Environment. He developed climate change curricular materials that have been featured in a web-based repository titled Climate Adaption Mitigation E-Learning with more than 300 resources. Both NASA and the Natural Science Foundation have provided grants in support of his climate research.

For his efforts to educate the public on climate change, Jorgensen was one of the 2017 recipients of UT’s Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement.

Those who wish to attend the free, public discussion are asked to make reservations by Friday, June 1.

To register for the event, click here or call the Office of Alumni and Annual Engagement at 419.530.2586.

Faculty members receive promotion, tenure

A number of faculty members received tenure and promotion for the 2017-18 academic year approved in April by the UT Board of Trustees.

Faculty members who received tenure were:

College of Law
• Michelle Cavalieri
• Bryan Lammon

Faculty members who received tenure and promotion to associate professor were:

College of Arts and Letters
• Daniel Hernandez, Art
• Dr. Thor Mednick, Art
• Dr. Liat Ben-Moshe, Disability Studies
• Dr. Jason Levine, Psychology
• Daniel Thobias, Theatre and Film

College of Business and Innovation
• Dr. Kainan Wang, Finance
• Dr. Joseph Cooper, Management

College of Engineering
• Dr. Halim Ayan, Bioengineering
• Dr. Eda Yildirim-Ayan, Bioengineering

College of Health and Human Services
• Dr. Aravindhan Natarajan, School of Social Justice

College of Medicine and Life Sciences
• Dr. David Heidt, Surgery

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
• Dr. Rafael Garcia-Mata, Biological Sciences

College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
• Dr. Wissam AbouAlaiwi, Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics

Faculty members promoted to professor were:

College of Arts and Letters
• Dr. Mysoon Rizk, Art
• Dr. Sujata Shetty, Geography and Planning
• Dr. Jami Taylor, Political Science and Public Administration
• Dr. Edmund Lingan, Theatre and Film

College of Business and Innovation
• Dr. Margaret Hopkins, Management
• Dr. Bashar Gammoh, Marketing and International Business

College of Engineering
• Dr. Scott Molitor, Bioengineering
• Dr. Sridhar Viamajala, Civil and Environmental Engineering
• Dr. Youngwoo Seo, Civil and Environmental Engineering
• Dr. Devinder Kaur, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
• Dr. Gursel Serpen, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
• Dr. Chunhua Sheng, Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
• Dr. Hongyan Zhang, Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

College of Health and Human Services
• Dr. Tavis Glassman, School of Population Health
• Dr. Sheryl Milz, School of Population Health

Judith Herb College of Education
• Dr. Tod Shockey, Curriculum and Instruction
• Dr. Florian Feucht, Educational Foundations and Leadership

College of Law
• Elizabeth McCuskey
• Evan Zoldan

College of Medicine and Life Sciences
• Dr. Azedine Medhkour, Neurosurgery

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
• Dr. Tomer Avidor-Reiss, Biological Sciences
• Dr. Maria Diakonova, Biological Sciences
• Dr. Michael Weintraub, Environmental Sciences

College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
• Dr. Amanda Bryant-Friedrich, Medicinal and Biological Chemistry
• Dr. Frederick Williams, Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics

Faculty members promoted to associate professor were:

College of Medicine and Life Sciences
• Dr. Sumon Nandi, Orthopaedic Surgery
• Dr. Terrence Lewis, Radiology

Faculty members recognized for outstanding scholarly and creative activity

With the support of University Libraries and a subcommittee organized by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, President Sharon L. Gaber and Provost Andrew Hsu have recognized 26 faculty members from across campus with outstanding contributions in scholarly or creative activity over the past three years.

These contributions include articles in leading scientific journals with high standing that have attracted significant attention in the community; monographs that were published by premier academic presses that have received positive external reviews; and exhibits or performances of creative activity that have received high acclaim.

“I am pleased that the University Libraries contributed by identifying UT faculty articles and books published in preeminent journals and publishing houses,” said Beau Case, dean of University Libraries.

“Faculty members are raising the profile of The University of Toledo across the breadth of disciplines and programs at UT,” said Dr. Frank Calzonetti, vice president for research. “The excellent work of faculty members in disciplines outside of science and engineering is quite impressive and sometimes goes unnoticed.

“All too often research grant dollars are associated with faculty scholarly and creative activity,” Calzonetti said. “In some disciplines, such as in biomedical science, faculty members cannot sustain their research programs that lead to discoveries and publications without external funding to support laboratory needs. However, in many disciplines, such as pure mathematics or history, external funding is not as critical to faculty success in scholarly and creative activity.”

“Given the many faculty members who have had outstanding contributions in scholarly and creative activity over the past three years, it was a tall order to determine just 26 who should be recognized at this time,” said Dr. Ruth Hottell, chair and professor of the Department of World Languages and Cultures, and selection committee member.

The following faculty members were recognized:

• Dr. Abdollah Afjeh of the Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering;

• Dr. Ana C. Alba-Rubio of the Department of Chemical Engineering;

• Dr. Melissa Baltus of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology;

• Dr. Joe Elhai of the Department of Psychology;

• Dr. Kristen Geaman of the Department of History;

• Dr. Blair Grubb of the Department of Medicine;

• Daniel Hernandez of the Department of Art;

• Dr. Terry Hinds of the Department of of Physiology and Pharmacology;

• Dr. Bina Joe of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology;

• Dr. Dong-Shik Kim of the Department of Chemical Engineering;

• Dr. Kristin Kirschbaum of the Instrumentation Center;

• Dr. Ashok Kumar of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering;

• Dr. Beata Lecka-Czernik of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery;

• Dr. Barbara Mann of the Jesup Scott Honors College;

• Elizabeth McCuskey of the College of Law;

• Dr. Thor Mednick of the Department of Art;

• Dr. Munier Nazzal of the Department of Surgery;

• Dr. Kim E. Nielsen of the Department of Disability Studies;

• Dr. Michael Rees of the Department of Urology;

• Dr. Denise Ritter Bernardini of the Department of Music;

• Dr. Donald Ronning of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry;

• Stephen Sakowski of the Department of Theatre and Film;

• Dr. Yanfa Yan of the Department of Physics and Astronomy;

• Dr. Matt Yockey of the Department of Theatre and Film;

• Rebecca Zietlow of the College of Law; and

• Evan Zoldan of the College of Law.

Teams across region to calibrate water-quality sensors for Lake Erie buoy network

Scientists from nearly a dozen organizations throughout the region are visiting The University of Toledo Lake Erie Center Tuesday, May 15, to calibrate equipment that will be deployed in buoys across Lake Erie to measure water quality throughout algal bloom season.

“It’s like in the old movies when the mission leader says, ‘Let’s synchronize our watches,’ before the team splits up,” Dr. Tom Bridgeman, UT professor of ecology and director of the UT Lake Erie Center, said. “This collaboration helps to ensure conformity of data coming from the probes for the next few months.”

UT’s water quality and sensor buoy annually rides the waves off the shore of the Maumee Bay State Park Lodge and Conference Center in Oregon.

Partners in the early-warning buoy network will do the calibration between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Those include researchers from Bowling Green State University and Ohio State University, as well as water treatment plant operators in the cities of Oregon, Toledo, Elyria, Avon, Sandusky and Lorain. LimnoTech, YSI and Fondriest Environmental are local companies providing technology support.

UT’s water quality and sensor buoy annually rides the waves off the shore of the Maumee Bay State Park Lodge and Conference Center in Oregon. It is part of an early-warning network of buoys throughout the western Lake Erie basin that provides live data vital in the assessment of harmful algal blooms.

“We go out on our research vessel at least once a week for sampling throughout the summer, but the buoys are out there all the time,” Bridgeman said. “Even when it’s too rough for boats to be on the lake, the buoys can alert if something is developing or changing quickly.”

The buoys are equipped with what is called the YSI EXO sonde, a black and blue instrument composed of several probes to measure various water quality parameters, including how much blue-green algae is present, water temperature, clarity, oxygen levels, turbidity and pH.

It’s one piece of the battle plan to track and combat the growing harmful algal bloom in order to sound the early warning for water treatment plant operators as they work to provide safe public drinking water.

“We are watching very closely and are prepared,” Bridgeman said.

Girls in science day at UT May 10

More than 160 sophomore high school girls will visit The University of Toledo Thursday, May 10, when prominent female scientists and engineers across the region will introduce them to the exciting world of science and technology careers through hands-on experiments and demonstrations.

The ninth annual Women in STEMM Day of Meetings, which goes by the acronym WISDOM, will take place from 8 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. on UT’s Main Campus and Health Science Campus.

Area students tested their handmade solar cells constructed with glass, blackberries and graphite during last year’s Women in STEMM Day of Meetings, which goes by the acronym WISDOM.

UT faculty and industrial professionals will help inspire a passion for science careers by exploring the tools of the trade.

The girls will carry out investigations in a number of areas, including physics and astronomy, chemistry, biology, psychology, engineering, pharmacy, and medicine.

Activities for students will include building solar cells, swabbing their cheeks for a DNA sample, aseembling a motor, generating electricity on a bike, making biodiesel fuel, creating lip balm, and touring the anatomy museum.

Football legend, technology expert to speak at UT commencement ceremonies

Chuck Ealey and Dr. Helen Sun will return to The University of Toledo to give addresses during spring commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 5, in the Glass Bowl.

Ealey, the football star and businessman, will speak at the undergraduate ceremony at 10 a.m. Sun, a technology strategist known for transforming companies, will come out for the graduate commencement at 3 p.m.

There are 3,094 candidates for degrees from the colleges of Arts and Letters; Business and Innovation; Judith Herb College of Education; Engineering; Health and Human Services; Graduate Studies; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and University College. There are 987 candidates for doctoral, education specialist and master’s degrees, as well as graduate certificates, and 2,107 for bachelor’s and associate’s degrees.

The public ceremonies can be viewed live at utoledo.edu/video.

Ealey

UT will award Ealey an honorary doctor of humane letters.

“It is amazing, wonderful and humbling to have the opportunity to speak to the 2018 graduates of The University of Toledo,” Ealey said. “What I want to share is what I have learned — and am still learning — after I graduated. It’s about a legacy dream that can come true.”

He made dreams a reality as the UT quarterback who became a legend leading the Rockets to 35 victories in three seasons and as a trailblazer for African-American QBs in the Canadian Football League.

After finishing 18-0 in high school in Portsmouth, Ohio, Ealey received a football scholarship to the University. While earning a business degree in economics, he earned some nicknames for his exploits on the field: Mr. Cool, The Wizard of Oohs and Aahs. With Ealey at quarterback, Toledo went 35-0 from 1969 to 1971. He racked up 5,903 yards in total offense and 54 touchdowns while leading the Rockets to final Associated Press rankings of No. 20 in 1969, No. 12 in 1970, and No. 14 in 1971, finishing eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting his senior year.

Despite the eye-popping numbers, Ealey was passed over as a quarterback in the 1972 NFL draft. Although offered other positions, he was committed to becoming a professional quarterback and elected to go to the Canadian Football League. As a rookie, he led the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to the Grey Cup Championship in 1972 and was named Most Valuable Player. During his seven years in the CFL, he also played for the Toronto Argonauts and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

After hanging up his helmet, Ealey was a certified financial planner with Investors Group for 30 years. He recently stepped out of his role as regional director to do more client and corporate coaching. The 1972 UT alumnus also inspires through the Chuck Ealey Foundation, which helps people discover and embrace their undefeated spirit to better themselves and their community.

Sun

Sun, chief technology officer of architecture, engineering and data management at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Chicago, received a PhD in educational technology from UT in 2001. She is an expert in revolutionizing businesses through innovative solutions, including artificial intelligence, cloud, analytics and architecture.

“I’m very excited to be coming back to campus and reflect on how my IT career took shape during the years I attended UT,” said Sun, who developed websites while in graduate school.

“I’ll wrap my speech around three personal experiences: How I started a career in technology — find where your passion lies; how my seemingly diverse career path has taken me to where I am — take risks and never let fear of failure deter you away from opportunities; and who my true hero is throughout these years — don’t let what others do to you change who you are,” she said.

Prior to joining JPMorgan Chase & Co., Sun was vice president for cloud computing, information and architecture at Motorola Solutions Inc. She has held senior leadership positions at some of the world’s most recognizable companies, including Harbor Capitol Advisors, NewEdge Group, Oracle Corp. and Salesforce.com Inc.

At Oracle, Sun became the first woman to achieve Oracle Enterprise Architect status and was honored as Oracle Enterprise Architect of the Year in 2011. In 2016, the Chicago Business Journal named her one of 50 honorees for its Women of Influence Awards.

She is the co-author of “Oracle Big Data Handbook,” “Pro Salesforce Analytics Cloud: A Guide to Wave Platform, Builder and Explorer” and “Master Competitive Analytics With Oracle Endeca Information Discovery.” Sun is a frequent speaker at major conferences and symposia; she gave the keynote address at the Open Group Big Data Conference in 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.

In addition to her passion serving as a mentor for women, Sun was a member of the UT Business Advisory Board from 2012 to 2016. She is co-chair of the Computer Science Advisory Board at Bowling Green State University.

Those planning to attend commencement are advised to use the west entrance off Secor Road and the south entrance off Dorr Street to avoid congestion on West Bancroft Street.

The College of Law will hold its commencement Sunday, May 6, at 1 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium.

And the College of Medicine and Life Sciences’ graduation ceremony will take place Friday, May 25, at 2 p.m. in Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd. in Toledo.

Kindergarteners through college seniors to present research projects at UT

More than 120 students from Ohio and Michigan ranging from kindergartners to college seniors will present science research projects at The University of Toledo from 9:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, May 1.

The annual SATELLITES student research conference is part of GLOBE MISSION EARTH, a $10 million project funded by NASA and led by a UT researcher that is transforming the way science is taught to students throughout the United States.

Dr. Kevin Czajkowski, UT professor of geography and planning, has been spearheading the development of new K-12 science curriculum that relies on hands-on experiments to build knowledge using the resources of NASA and education partners across the country.

“We’re using real-life research experiences to spark the imagination of the next generation of scientists, engineers and doctors,” Czajkowski said.

The presentations will take place in Thompson Student Union’s Ingman Room and Room 2582.

The keynote speaker, John Moore, director for geoscience and STEM education at Palmyra Cove Nature Center in New Jersey, will provide hands-on demonstrations of the HoloGLOBE, a 3D visualization system with virtual reality headsets that uses NASA data to explore Earth. Moore will talk with middle and high school students at 11:40 a.m. and elementary school students at 12:40 p.m.

Judges for the conference are local scientists and teachers. Students are coming from as far north as Detroit and as far south as Mansfield.

“Science is more fun when students are participating in data collection and the scientific process, as opposed to conducting preplanned experiments in a classroom or lab,” Czajkowski said. “Through these research projects, students answer their own science questions about their environment by creating hypotheses, collecting data, analyzing data, drawing conclusions, and sharing their results through their poster presentation.”

Czajkowski created the SATELLITES program, which stands for Students and Teachers Exploring Local Landscapes to Interpret the Earth from Space.

Through the SATELLITES program, students have access to GLOBE resources to help answer their research questions. GLOBE is the acronym for Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment, which is an international science and education program that connects students, teachers, scientists and citizens from different parts of the world to conduct real, hands-on science about their local environment and put it in a global perspective.

University recognizes faculty, staff for advising, research, teaching, outreach work

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

Recipients of the Outstanding Advisor Award were:

Winners of the Outstanding Adviser Award were Dr. Jerry Van Hoy and Amanda Seabolt.

Amanda Seabolt, academic advisor in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. The UT alumna received a bachelor of science degree in biology, a master of public health degree, a master of science degree in nursing, and a graduate certificate in gerontological practice. She will graduate with a doctor of philosophy in curriculum and instruction from the University next month. Seabolt started advising students in 2015, the same year she received one of UT’s Outstanding Staff Awards.

“She is always giving students opportunities, whether it be in getting a new job, joining an organization, or participating in research,” one nominator wrote. “She is always pushing students to do their best.” “She shows great knowledge through her own personal experience and continued education. She never stops learning,” another nominator wrote. “If she doesn’t know something, she doesn’t stop looking until she finds the answer. She is always working for the student. She has been one of the most influential people during my time at the University.”

Dr. Jerry Van Hoy, associate professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Letters. He is co-director of the Program in Law and Social Thought and director of the Master of Liberal Studies Program. Van Hoy joined the University in 2000 and received one of UT’s Outstanding Teacher Awards in 2013.

“He flips the notion that advising is purely transactional on its head by listening to students’ needs and concerns. He helps students develop academic plans that work for them, addressing weaknesses and creating pathways to not only graduation, but to a life after college that students are excited about,” a nominator wrote. Another noted, “As a recent graduate, I faced some distressing events during my capstone project. Dr. Van Hoy provided objective feedback to let me know the problem wasn’t unusual, the troubling issues were not caused by me, and that they were not insurmountable. His advice was calming and reassuring. He was sensitive, diplomatic when needed, and direct as required.”

Recipients of the Outstanding Research and Scholarship Award were:

Receiving Outstanding Research and Scholarship Awards were, from left, Dr. Vijay Devabhaktuni, Dr. Yanfa Yan and Nicole Buonocore Porter.

Dr. Vijay Devabhaktuni
, professor of electrical engineering and computer science in the College of Engineering. He is executive director of emerging technologies and special advisor to the UT vice president, chief information officer and chief technology officer. Devabhaktuni joined the faculty as an associate professor in 2008.

He is a renowned expert in computer-aided design, machine learning, modeling, optimization and simulation as applied to electromagnetics, big data, biomedical engineering, cyber security, energy efficiency, virtual reality, wireless sensor networking, image and signal processing, and more. Since 2009, the National Science Foundation has supported his work. While at UT, he has received about $2 million in funding from more than 30 external grants and has published more than 80 papers. According to Google Scholar, Devebhaktuni’s work has been cited 3,200 times since 2013.

Nicole Buonocore Porter, professor of law in the College of Law. She joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 2007.

Porter is a nationally recognized scholar on the employment rights of women and individuals with disabilities. She is the author of a disability law casebook, published by a leading legal academic publisher, and is the co-editor of a forthcoming book titled “Feminist Judgments: Employment Discrimination Opinions Rewritten.” Her published articles address the persistent pay gap between men and women, discrimination against workers with caregiving responsibilities, and the employment rights of individuals with disabilities. Her work has been cited more than any other faculty member in the UT College of Law, and she is frequently invited to speak at symposia and national conferences. In addition, Porter was invited to join the Labor Law Group, a prestigious organization that produces scholarship on labor and employment law.

Dr. Yanfa Yan, professor of physics in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. He joined the UT faculty in 2011.

For two decades, Yan has been researching photovoltaics, solar fuels and energy storage techniques using a combination of theory, material synthesis, device fabrication, and material and device characterization. He has written or co-written more than 350 articles and has given more than 50 invited talks. According to Google Scholar, Yan’s work has been cited 16,868 times. His work has been funded with more than $5 million from the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Office of Naval Research and private industry.

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

Recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement were Dr. Susan Batten and Kenneth Kilbert.

Dr. Susan Batten
, professor in the College of Nursing. She joined the University in 1995.

Batten coordinates patient intake for the UT Community Care Clinic at Cedar Creek Church, provides care during Labre Traveling Clinic in south and east Toledo, and for migrant workers at their resident camps in northwest Ohio. She also has mentored nursing, medical and pharmacy students during annual medical missions to Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti. Batten has worked with more than 1,000 UT students with her community outreach and service projects. Their work has impacted more than 4,000 chronic disease patients in northwest Ohio, 500 immigrant workers and their families in rural Ohio, and more than 40,000 patients in Honduras, Guatemala and Haiti.

Kenneth Kilbert, professor and director of the Legal Institute of the Great Lakes in the College of Law. He joined the University in 2006.

A scholar of environmental law, Kilbert’s work focuses on water issues affecting the Great Lakes region. Since 2006, he has planned UT’s annual Great Lakes Water Conference, which addresses legal and policy issues important to the region and its water resources. Each year, the conference draws approximately 300 guests and garners extensive media coverage. In addition, Kilbert has received multiple grants to study harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. His scholarly work increases awareness, promotes best practices, and suggests legal solutions to address the algal bloom problem.

Recipients of the Outstanding Teacher Award were:

Kara Bruce, professor in the College of Law. She joined the faculty in 2010.

“Professor Bruce exemplifies everything a professor should be — teacher, mentor, friend,” a nominator wrote. “Professor Bruce strives to engage her students while teaching difficult, sometimes less-interesting classes. She provides practical examples, makes jokes, and she goes out of her way (sometimes at the expense of getting behind schedule) to make sure we all understand what she is teaching. Honestly, I wish I could take Professor Bruce for every class in law school.” “Professor Bruce is excellent at taking complicated and challenging material and making it manageable for her students. She presents the material in a way that acknowledges the difficultly without making it seem daunting,” another wrote. “Not only is she passionate about students passing her class, she is passionate about making her students pass the bar.”

Dr. Edward Cancio, associate professor of special education in the Judith Herb College of Education. He came to UT in 2007.

“Dr. Cancio has been the most knowledgeable and inspiring professor I have had in my four years at UT. Every week Dr. Cancio showed the same passion for the subject that he taught and brought out the best from my classmates and I. It is easy to see from his lectures, published articles, and just speaking to him that Dr. Cancio is an expert in his field and was happy to pass his knowledge on special education to the class,” one nominator wrote. “Dr. Cancio’s class focused on teaching students with emotional behavioral disorder, which is one of the most intimidating sections of special education. After taking his class, I know that I am more than prepared to go into this field.”

Elyce Ervin, senior lecturer in the School of Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences in the College of Health and Human Services. She has been teaching at the University since 1999.

“I had Elyce Ervin for Anatomy and Physiology, which has never been so easily comprehendible than it was in her class. She provided mini-activities every other class that helped us to understand the material. She also provided great lecture notes that were organized and easy to keep up with. The notes were fill-in, which helped people pay attention in her class. She would always ask if anyone had any questions in between every slide to ensure we were understanding the material,” one nominator wrote. “The one thing that makes Elyce Ervin stick out is how she is continuing to have an impact on me. She is without a doubt one of the best people I have met in my life.”

Dr. Jackie Layng, professor of communication in the College of Arts and Letters. She has taught at the University since 1997.

“Dr. Layng has by far been the most knowledgeable and personable professor I have had at UT. Her classes always push me to do my best work and achieve professional-level skills. Many times her class assignments seem intimidating at first, but Dr. Layng is always available to guide students throughout the process,” a nominator wrote. Another noted, “Selfless, dedicated, inspiring, caring: If you asked me to list all of the amazing things about Jackie, I think it’d be impossible because she’s had such a profound impact on my life. She genuinely cares about her students. Her constant words of encouragement, honest critiques, and passion for her career genuinely keep me going, and I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor.”

Dr. Kim E. Nielsen, professor of history, disability studies, and women’s and gender studies in the College of Arts and Letters. She joined the faculty in 2012.

“Dr. Nielsen creates a classroom atmosphere that makes all of her students feel comfortable to share stories, ideas and opinions. She listens to every student and encourages all of her students to have a voice,” a nominator wrote. Another noted, “Dr. Nielsen goes out of her way to make sure every student succeeds. Her sense of humor makes every class intriguing and makes me want to learn more. I wasn’t much of a history buff until taking classes with her and hearing her passionate views. Dr. Nielsen is always available when you need her. She always comes to class with a smiling face even considering the boatload of other work she has to do. I wish I could have her for more classes.”

John J. Schlageter III, senior lecturer in the Paralegal Studies Program housed in the School of Social Justice in the College of Health and Human Services. He is a graduate of the UT College of Law and has been teaching at the University since 1998.

“He is truly the best professor that I had throughout my college career — always willing to listen, help in any way he can, and truly do everything in his power to help you begin your career in law,” one nominator wrote. Another noted, “Professor Schlageter goes above and beyond to help the students achieve great success in the paralegal classes. He always offers support, help and resources. He strives hard to make sure all students find a good quality internship. He always checks in on students and always offers support.” Another wrote, “He listens to every concern and teaches with such a passion. You can tell John loves what he does. He has helped myself and many others land jobs.”

Taking home Outstanding Teacher Awards were, from left, Elyce Ervin, Dr. Jackie Layng, John J. Schlageter III, Dr. Kim E. Nielsen, Kara Bruce and Dr. Edward Cancio.

Distinguished University Professors also were recognized at the ceremony:

Dr. Abdollah Afjeh of the Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering in the College of Engineering;

Dr. Paul Hong of the Department of Information Operations and Technology Management in the College of Business and Innovation; and

Joseph Slater of the College of Law.

Read more about them here.

And Distinguished University Lecturers were honored:

Amy O’Donnell of the Department of Management in the College of Business and Innovation;

Sherry Tripepi of the School of Social Justice in the College of Health and Human Services; and

Sara Yaklin of the Department of English in the College of Arts and Letters.

Read more about them here.

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.