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UT to host training for forecasting algal toxin increases

The University of Toledo is hosting a training workshop to teach water treatment plant operators, scientists and public health officials how to use software that forecasts increases in algal toxins during algal bloom season so that swimmers and boaters can be warned to avoid exposure and water treatment plants can take measures to appropriately treat the raw water.

The workshop will take place Thursday, March 1, at the UT Lake Erie Center, 6200 Bayshore Road in Oregon.

For the last three years, researchers at The University of Toledo have been collecting environmental data in Lake Erie during algal bloom season to help the U.S. Geological Survey develop a model to estimate the probability of exceeding a threshold that indicates an increase in harmful algal bloom toxins, like microcystin, in Ohio waters.

Using the database of samples gathered at seven water treatment plant intakes and four recreational sites throughout the state, including the public beach at Maumee Bay State Park, the U.S. Geological Survey’s model can now be applied using the Virtual Beach Software developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The software is the same program UT uses to make daily E. coli bacteria forecasts for the public beach at Maumee Bay State Park during the summer. However, the new model for algal toxins also incorporates live data from the network of buoys in the western Lake Erie basin. The buoys are equipped with what is called the YSI EXO sonde, a black and blue instrument comprised 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.

“Instead of waiting for test results from water samples, we can make real-time predictions for increases in algal toxins using environmental factors such as turbidity, pH, phycocyanin, wind direction and rainfall,” Pam Struffolino, UT Lake Erie Center research operations manager, said. “The exposure probability model is ready to go once approved by the EPA, and we want to be sure the people we are training can add data, read results, and use the software to help their communities be safe.”

Trainers at the workshop are composed of representatives from UT, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Limnotech and NASA.

Struffolino said water treatment plants are expected to begin using the software once operators are trained. Leaders are evaluating how the results will be publicly posted similar to the E. coli testing and when that will begin.

“The model will improve every year as we go along because we will continue to add data,” Struffolino said.

Migration research reveals key to declines in rare songbirds

The annual long-distance migration of rare, tiny songbirds that reproduce in the Great Lakes region and Appalachian Mountains is no longer a mystery.

By tracking one of the smallest species ever monitored over thousands of miles using cutting-edge technology, a team of ornithologists led by scientists at The University of Toledo found that it is where golden-winged warblers spend the winter in the tropics that determines if a population is declining or stable, not factors associated with the breeding grounds thousands of miles north in the United States and Canada.

A golden-winged warbler carrying a geolocator in Minnesota.

Over the course of the five-year study, the scientists found that different populations of the birds, which are about the size of a ping-pong ball and weigh less than three pennies, do not mix between their separate northern nesting grounds occupied during the spring and summer and the tropical sites where they spend the winter.

Mapped using data from 76 light level geolocators recovered from the birds, each population shows strong migratory connectivity, or geographic segregation, that confirms that populations of the birds stay together in different locations for the seasons throughout the year. This strong link between breeding and non-breeding areas means that populations may be exposed to different threats and conditions during the winter.

According to the study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, golden-winged warblers from declining populations spend winters in northern South America. Stable populations of the species spend winters in Central America.

A team led by UT researchers tracked where golden-winged warblers traveled for the winter.

“They’re separate, and it’s remarkable,” said Gunnar Kramer, PhD student researcher in environmental sciences at UT. “Most species we track like this don’t show strong connections between breeding sites and wintering sites.”

“These golden-winged warblers that breed throughout the Great Lakes region and Appalachian Mountains are going to different areas in the winter,” said Dr. Henry Streby, assistant professor in the UT Department of Environmental Sciences. “That’s pivotal because those tropical areas experienced different rates of forest loss during the last 60 years. When we look at forest-loss rates, it correlates closely with golden-winged warbler population changes on breeding grounds thousands of miles away.”

When it comes to saving the species that is under consideration for federal Endangered Species protection, the researchers say conservationists should switch their focus away from places where their efforts cannot benefit the species and toward restoring habitat and preventing further deforestation in northern Venezuela, “which is, unfortunately, one of the most difficult places to do conservation work in the Americas,” Streby said.

Gunnar Kramer held a golden-winged warbler, which carried a geolocator. Researchers attached the tiny backpack to the bird in 2015 and recovered it in 2016. The data revealed the warbler’s migratory route and winter location.

“If the winter habitat keeps disappearing, the warblers that winter in northern South America won’t survive and come back to the Appalachian Mountains no matter how much breeding habitat is available to them,” Streby said.

Kramer and Streby tracked the birds using the geolocators attached to the birds with tiny backpacks around their legs. Figure-eight harnesses secured the geolocator backpacks, which contained a battery, a computer chip and a light sensor. The whole thing weighs less than half of a paper clip and does not inhibit flight or movement.

“The light sensor records ambient light and stores it with a time stamp on the unit every couple minutes,” Kramer said. “We used differences in day length and changes in how fast dawn and dusk occur to predict daily locations of the birds throughout the year. Based on how long the day and night are and features of the transitions between day and night, you can tell with reasonable accuracy where you are on the planet.”

Unlike other heavier tracking devices, geolocators do not transmit data, so the researchers had to recapture every bird marked with a geolocator and remove the device to recover data.

“Comprehensive studies like this one show the importance of understanding the complex relationships migratory species have with different environments throughout the year and demonstrate that songbirds that spend the summer in our backyards may be experiencing challenging conditions elsewhere that are causing declines,” Kramer said. “These studies also provide information that can immediately be used to start improving conservation efforts, and that’s really exciting.”

The UT researchers collaborated with scientists from several universities and agencies, including the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Tennessee and West Virginia University.

Funding was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Science Foundation.

Director of center operating NASA’s Hubble, James Webb space telescopes to speak Feb. 22

The director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which operates NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the soon-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope, will speak on campus as part of The University of Toledo’s continuing celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Ritter Astrophysics Research Center.

The free, public event featuring Dr. Ken Sembach and titled “Great Observatories, Present and Future” will take place Thursday, Feb. 22, at 6:30 p.m. in Wolfe Hall Room 1205.

Sembach

“Some telescopes are put into space to get above the blurring of our atmosphere and to detect light that our atmosphere otherwise blocks,” said Dr. Jillian Bornak, associate lecturer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and chair of the UT Astronomy 50th Anniversary Committee. “Dr. Sembach will talk to us about these great observatories and lay out the foundation for why we are excited for the view of the universe that the Webb telescope will give us.”

Toledo has historic connections to deep space exploration and unraveling the mysteries of the universe.

In 1946, an astrophysicist from Toledo named Lyman Spitzer Jr. proposed building telescopes in space. Today, UT researchers and students use Spitzer and NASA’s other space telescopes by downloading the data and engaging in the exploration of the universe from Ritter.

The James Webb Space Telescope, which will be the largest and most powerful when launched into orbit next year, is named in honor of Dr. James Webb, who received an honorary degree at the dedication of UT’s Ritter facility Oct. 13, 1967. Webb was the head of NASA at that time.

The Space Telescope Science Institute is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, which UT was selected to join in 2016 in recognition of the astronomy and astrophysics program’s strengths in research, education and outreach.

Before becoming director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, Sembach served as interim director, Hubble mission head and Hubble project scientist. Previously, Sembach was the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer deputy project scientist for Large Science Programs at Johns Hopkins University. He also was a NASA Hubble Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Sembach received a bachelor’s degree in physics with honors in 1988 from the University of Chicago and a PhD in astronomy in 1992 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Chemical sensing topic of Distinguished University Professor Lecture

Dr. Jon R. Kirchhoff, Distinguished University Professor and Chair of Chemistry and Biochemistry, will discuss his research this week.

The title of his Distinguished University Professor Lecture is “Chemical Sensing: Finding a Needle in a Haystack.” The free, public event will be held Thursday, Feb. 22, at 4 p.m. in Doermann Theatre.

“The presentation will look at the importance of chemical sensing in our everyday lives and the challenges of making accurate and useful measurements,” Kirchhoff said. “Several projects from my research group will be used as examples.”

In his 29th year at The University of Toledo, Kirchhoff has served as associate chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry for 16 years and chair for four years.

He received his PhD from Purdue University in 1985 and specializes in analytical chemistry focusing on chemical sensing. He has published more than 80 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters and patents, and has been a principal investigator or co-principal investigator on research and infrastructure grants totaling $5.8 million.

Kirchhoff was appointed a Distinguished University Professor in 2010.

“The faculty who have been named Distinguished University Professors are colleagues that I have admired for their significant contributions to the University,” he said. “It is an honor and very humbling to be considered among this group of faculty.”

A reception will follow his lecture in the lobby of University Hall.

UT researchers to lead 38% of Ohio’s new water quality research projects, including ‘impairment’ criteria

The University of Toledo is slated to lead eight out of the 21 new research projects to be funded with $3.5 million from the state of Ohio to address water quality and algal bloom toxicity.

UT, situated on the western basin of Lake Erie, is to receive nearly $1 million of the $3.5 million dedicated by the Ohio Department of Higher Education for these additional projects in the ongoing, statewide Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative, which began three years ago after the city of Toledo issued a Do Not Drink advisory for half a million water customers due to the level of microcystin detected in the water.

Dr. Tom Bridgeman, UT algae researcher and professor of ecology, examines a water sample aboard the UT Lake Erie Center research vessel.

UT is one of the lead universities in the Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative, which consists of 10 Ohio universities and five state agencies.

The selected projects focus on reducing nutrient loading to Lake Erie; investigating algal toxin formation and human health impacts; studying bloom dynamics; better informing water treatment plants how to remove toxin; and aiding the efforts of state agencies.

Dr. Tom Bridgeman, professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences, will lead a project to develop sampling protocols and collect samples to assess listing criteria that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency may use to monitor the water quality of the open waters of the western basin of Lake Erie and to potentially assign official designations such as “impaired” or “unimpaired.”

“Although it is obvious to nearly everyone that harmful algal blooms are impairing Lake Erie each summer, we need to develop objective scientific criteria that can be used to list the open waters of the lake as officially ‘impaired,’ and to remove an ‘impairment’ designation in the future if conditions improve sufficiently,” Bridgeman said.

UT researchers also to receive some of the $988,829 in state funding for their projects are:

• Dr. Jason Huntley, associate professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, will be developing and testing biofilters — water filters containing specialized bacteria that degrade microcystin toxins from lake water as it flows through the filter. These biofilter studies are aimed to develop cost-effective, efficient and safe drinking water treatment alternatives for the city of Toledo and other Lake Erie water municipalities.

• Dr. Steven Haller and Dr. David Kennedy, assistant professors in the Department of Medicine, will investigate how cyanotoxins such as microcystin damage organs not only in healthy settings, but in settings that may increase susceptibility such as diabetes, obesity and inflammatory bowel disease. Their research teams are working in concert with experts in medicine, pathology, physiology, pharmacology and chemistry to not only learn how microcystin affects organ function in these settings, but also to create new therapies to prevent and treat organ damage, especially in vulnerable patient populations.

• Dr. Patrick Lawrence, UT professor in the Department of Geography and Planning, will use a transportation model to simulate potential distribution of volume of agricultural manure from permitted livestock facilities to surrounding farmland for application as a nutrient. The results will assist in determining the estimated acreage of land within the Lake Erie western basin where manure application could be undertaken and examine associated crop types, farming practices, soil types, drainage and other environmental conditions in those areas.

• Dr. Saatvika Rai, assistant professor of environmental policy in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, and Dr. Kevin Czajkowski, professor in the Department of Geography and Planning, will use GIS and remote sensing to assess the implementation of agricultural and farming practices in three sub-watersheds of the Maumee River Basin — Auglaize, Blanchard and St. Joseph — to identify where best management practices are being implemented. These maps will then be correlated with perceptions of farmers through surveys and interviews to identify hotspots and priority areas for policy intervention in the region.

• Dr. April Ames, assistant professor in the College of Health and Human Services, will apply an industrial hygiene technique to the exploration of the presence of microcystin in the air using research boats on Lake Erie. Simultaneously, residents who live on or near Lake Erie will be surveyed about their recreational use and self-reported health.

“I am proud of the work that is being done, and that researchers from our public and private higher education institutions continue to work together to address this issue,” said Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor John Carey. “Using the talent of Ohio’s researchers and students to solve pressing problems makes perfect sense.”

The Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative is funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education with $7.1 million made available for four rounds of research funding since 2015. Matching funding from participating Ohio universities increases the total investment to almost $15.5 million for more than 50 projects, demonstrating the state’s overall commitment to solving the harmful algal bloom problem.

Water quality is a major research focus at UT. With more than $14 million in active grants underway, UT experts are studying algal blooms, invasive species such as Asian carp, and pollutants. Researchers are looking for pathways to restore our greatest natural resource for future generations to ensure our communities continue to have access to safe drinking water.

The UT Water Task Force, which is composed of faculty and researchers in diverse fields spanning the University, serves as a resource for government officials and the public looking for expertise on investigating the causes and effects of algal blooms, the health of Lake Erie, and the health of the communities depending on its water. The task force includes experts in economics, engineering, environmental sciences, business, pharmacy, law, chemistry and biochemistry, geography and planning, and medical microbiology and immunology.

PhD student spreading love to children with cancer on Valentine’s Day

Love is in the air year-round for Michaela Margida.

The 29-year-old University of Toledo PhD student who solves environmental problems through mathematical modeling prepares for Valentine’s Day with a passion to put a smile on the faces of hundreds of children with cancer or other chronic illnesses.

Michaela Margida started the Valentine Project seven years ago to brighten up the holiday for children with cancer and chronic illnesses.

“Valentine’s Day is all about love, but it can end up feeling isolating for those children because of social stigma associated with illness, appearance changes or absences from school,” Margida said. “Instead of being about the number of cards a child receives or whether someone has a crush on someone else, I wanted to take this holiday and reclaim it for these kids so they can forget about the way that illness affects their life just for a few minutes and feel special and loved.”

Margida, a childhood brain tumor survivor, and her brother, Gregory, created the Valentine Project seven years ago. The nonprofit organization collects care packages from volunteers around the world and ships them to children’s homes in time for Valentine’s Day.

It’s first year started with 80 children in Ohio. It has grown to nearly 1,000.

“For the first time this year, we branched out geographically,” Margida said. “My brother moved to San Francisco and started a branch in California.”

The Valentine Project’s local drop-off point — Margida’s home in the Old Orchard neighborhood adjacent to campus — recently received a care package for a 5-year-old girl that includes a U.S. puzzle, Wonder Woman doll, stuffed poodle, book, heart-shaped box of chocolates, and a pair of Disney leggings.

Margida and her mother, along with other volunteers, examine each donated care package to ensure all gifts are safe and age appropriate. They add to the packages, if needed, and then ship them to reach the children by Valentine’s Day.

This labor of love is a way of giving back after the acts of kindness her family received when Margida was a little girl.

“I was 5 years old when I started getting sick,” Margida said. “After I had surgery to remove the brain tumor, I had to learn to walk and feed myself again. Hearing stories of how family and friends supported my family during that incredibly hard and scary time by bringing us a meal or visiting us in the hospital taught me that small acts of kindness can mean so very much to people going through difficult times. Those acts of kindness and love kept my parents going. That’s the spirit of the Valentine Project.”

This time of year, the charity work is all-consuming. Margida credits her PhD adviser, Dr. Daryl Moorhead in the Department of Environmental Sciences, with helping impose order on her “sometimes crazy life.”

When not organizing care packages, Margida is focused on her research in plant litter decomposition.

“I am interested in what happens to the carbon dioxide stored inside leaves and other plant parts when they die,” Margida said.

Before she arrived at UT, Margida worked as a marine biology teacher for middle and high school students in Sarasota, Fla. She also volunteered with Jesuit Volunteer Corps to teach lower-income adults how to manage their electric bill through using less energy in Baltimore.

“I feel called to give back,” Margida said. “Life is happening right this moment, and we can all begin to make a difference today. Love is what will change the world.”

The Valentine Project is in need of volunteers and donations to help pay for shipping costs. Go to thevalentineproject.org to learn more. Registration begins in December to make a care package for Valentine’s Day 2019.

Staff Leadership Development Program to improve careers, UT’s future

The University of Toledo has launched its inaugural class of the UT Staff Leadership Development Program to cultivate high-potential emerging leaders who, in the years ahead, may assume leadership roles, as well as grow in their current positions.

“In alignment with UT’s strategic plan to foster a culture of excellence for our faculty and staff, we’ve launched this program to provide a more formal process for career development for employees at all levels throughout the University,” said President Sharon L. Gaber.

“The program is designed to assist participants with honing leadership skills, as well as to expose them to cross-campus networking and dialogue with many current leaders,” stated Wendy Davis, associate vice president for human resources and talent development.

“A selection committee chose this first class based on their leadership potential and selected individuals from across all campuses, as well as from many different job categories throughout the organization,” Davis explained. “In addition to experienced UT faculty and leaders who guide class discussions, this diversity helps to ensure participants are exposed to many different perspectives on any given topic.”

The program, which launched in October 2017 and concludes in October 2018 with a capstone project, requires members to spend approximately three hours each month discussing topics such as fiscal responsibilities; human resources policies and procedures; health-care operations; student recruitment and enrollment management; creating a culture of customer service; ethical leadership; career success; and legal issues in higher education.

“These individuals also are required to complete summer reading assignments on various leadership topics,” said Carrie Herr, director for the Center for Continuous Improvement, who was instrumental in developing the curriculum. “I see much potential in this first class. The skills they hone over the next several months should have a significant impact on UT throughout the next decade and beyond.”

The cohort selected for the inaugural class of UT’s Staff Leadership Development Program are Cristina Alvarado, College of Medicine and Life Sciences; Stefanie Bias, Neurosciences; Stacey Jo Brown, Legal Affairs; Candace Busdiecker, College of Medicine and Life Sciences; Lori DeShetler, Judith Herb College of Education; Josh Dittman, Intercollegiate Athletics; Kelly Donovan, Controller’s Office; Shelly Drouillard, Career Services; Jamie Fager, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Beth Gerasimiak, Office of the Provost; Melissa Hansen, Medical Education; Heather Huntley, Office of the Provost; Angelica Johnson, College of Arts and Letters; Deirdre Jones, Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales in the College of Business and Innovation; Vickie Kuntz, Engineering Career Development Center in the College of Engineering; Sara Lockett, Purchasing/Finance; Elliott Nickeson, Registrar’s Office; Daniel Perry, Facilities and Construction; Tiffany Preston-Whitman, University College; Jason Rahe, Division of Technology and Advanced Solutions; Staci Sturdivant, College of Health and Human Services; Craig Turner, College of Business and Innovation; and Matthew Wise, Division of Technology and Advanced Solutions.

“It is wonderful to see the University focus so many resources on developing the next generation of leadership in higher education,” said Dr. Jenell L. S. Wittmer, associate professor of management, who facilitates sessions on communication with diverse groups and emotional intelligence. “The participants bring their work experiences into the classroom, and they are learning from each other. This program is a perfect example of the positive transformation underway at UT.”

NASA flight director for International Space Station to speak Feb. 8

An alumnus of The University of Toledo and NASA flight director for the International Space Station at Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control in Houston will return to his alma mater as part of UT’s continuing celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Ritter Astrophysics Research Center.

Dr. Robert Dempsey, who received a master’s degree and PhD in physics from UT in 1987 and 1991, will speak at the University about guiding human space flights and astronomical exploration Thursday, Feb. 8, at 6 p.m. in the Driscoll Alumni Center Auditorium.

Dempsey

The free, public event is titled “Houston, We Have a Problem — When Things Go Wrong on the International Space Station.”

“We all have contingency plans, but what do you do when something goes wrong in space?” said Dr. Jillian Bornak, associate lecturer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and chair of the UT Astronomy 50th Anniversary Committee. “If you enjoyed watching ‘Apollo 13,’ ‘The Martian’ or ‘Gravity,’ you will appreciate the window Dr. Dempsey will give into being the flight director of the space station.”

Dempsey worked for Computer Sciences Corp. as a resident astronomer on the Hubble Space Telescope from 1992 to 1997, and for United Space Alliance as a command and data handling flight controller from 1997 to 2003. He joined NASA in 2003 as a communications and tracking officer for the International Space Station.

“We are especially excited because Dr. Dempsey is one of our own: He is an alum of The University of Toledo’s Department of Physics and Astronomy,” Bornak said. “I hope everyone joins us as we continue our yearlong celebration of the golden anniversary of Ritter and our astronomy program.”

The next event in honor of Ritter’s 50th anniversary will be Thursday, Feb. 22, at 6:30 p.m. in Wolfe Hall Room 1205. It will feature Dr. Ken Sembach, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, which handles the Hubble Space Telescope and James Webb Space Telescope that is expected to be launched next year.

Saturday Morning Science returns with ‘Twisty Puzzles,’ ‘Green Goo,’ ‘Talking Trees’

If you’re curious about solving the Rubik’s Cube or the break of a pitcher’s curve ball, ask a mathematician or scientist.

Saturday Morning Science is back for 2018 at The University of Toledo with six programs to give the community the opportunity to learn about hot topics in modern science.

The free, public talks are presented by the UT College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and kick off Saturday, Feb. 3, at 10 a.m. in Memorial Field House Room 2100 with “A Brief History of Twisty Puzzles,” most famously the Rubik’s Cube.

“Puzzles are more important than most people realize,” said Dr. Nathaniel Iverson, lecturer in the UT Department of Mathematics and Statistics, who will lead the session and teach strategies to solve a Rubik’s Cube.

“Mathematics is not just about numbers and calculations, but also about analyzing the world around you and solving problems. Puzzles are valuable for developing dexterity, problem-solving strategies, spatial reasoning, refinement of practice techniques, and intuition for higher-level concepts in mathematics.”

A limited number of custom UT/Saturday Morning Science cube puzzles will be given away to attendees of the Feb. 3 presentation.

Listed by date, additional programs and speakers are:

• Feb. 17 — “Bio-Inspired, Bio-Hybrid, and Organic Robots: The Many Roles of Nature in Robotic Development” by Dr. Roger Quinn, director of the Biologically Inspired Robotics Laboratory at Case Western Reserve University, and Dr. Victoria Webster-Wood, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, in Memorial Field House Room 2100.

• Feb. 24 — “From Fork to Fauna: Unlocking the Secrets of Nutrition to Optimize Our Health” by Sally Itawi and Manish Karamchandani, medical students in the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences, in Wolfe Hall Room 1205.

• March 17 — “Talking Trees and Babbling Bushes: How Plants Communicate with Each Other” by Dr. Jack C. Schultz, senior executive director of research development at UT and director emeritus of the Bond Life Sciences Center at the University of Missouri, in Wolfe Hall Room 1205.

• April 21 — “The Great Green Goo of Lake Erie: Harmful Algal Blooms and Your Drinking Water” by Dr. Tom Bridgeman, UT professor of ecology in the Department of Environmental Sciences, in Memorial Field House Room 2100.

• April 28 — “The Physics of Baseball” by Dr. Alan Nathan, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in Memorial Field House Room 2100.

“One theme running through this year’s series is our relationship with nature,” said Dr. John Bellizzi, UT associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and co-director of Saturday Morning Science. “We’re connected to the environment through the food we eat and the water we drink, and we can also draw inspiration from understanding how animals move and plants communicate.”

All talks begin at 10 a.m. and include complimentary light refreshments.

For more information about the upcoming events, visit facebook.com/saturdaymorningscience.

Panel presentation to explore peace studies, peace education

The UT Peace Fellows will hold a meeting and panel presentation focusing on the topic of peace and justice issues Monday, Jan. 29, at 7 p.m. in Gillham Hall Room 5300.

The free event is open to students from any academic discipline, as well as campus and community members.

The UT Peace Fellows is a group of faculty, students and community members that meets three times a year to discuss current events, theory and research in peace studies and peace education, and how a community can contribute to help create a more peaceful and just society.

“We work together to bridge academic interests related to peace studies, to aid in the promotion of peace-related programs and events on campus, and to foster the roots of peace and justice into the core of the UT mission and culture,” said Dr. Dale T. Snauwaert, professor of philosophy of education and peace studies.

The event will allow attendees to participate in group discussions and exchange ideas and research related to the topic of peace and justice issues.

Feature presentations will be given by Dr. Jeannine Diller, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies, and Dr. Hans Gottgens, professor of environmental studies.

“Drs. Diller and Gottgens will speak about their scholarship, which is situated in different disciplinary areas, yet they will both highlight how peace and justice issues impact their scholarship, teaching and service to the community,” said Dr. Florian Feucht, associate professor of educational psychology and peace education. “The speakers are examples for how peace and justice connects and impacts our daily work and local community.”

The Peace Fellows is affiliated with a new undergraduate minor in peace and justice studies at the University. The minor includes four core courses and two electives that students can take from across campus.

“By completing the peace and justice studies minor, students gain a deep understanding of the meaning of peace as not merely the absence of violence, but more broadly as the presence of justice, human rights, ecological sustainability and human security,” Snauwaert said. “Students understand and are able to apply and create just and effective responses to threats to and violations of peace and justice on all levels of human society from the local to the global.”

The program also offers access to resources such as the Betty A. Reardon Collection in the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections in Carlson Library, as well as a peace studies and peace education library housed in Gillham Hall.

For more information about the event or about the peace and justice studies minor, contact Snauwaert at dale.snauwaert@utoledo.edu.