UT News » Features

UT News

Categories

Search News

Archives

Resources

Features

Modernist jeweler to feature colorful work at Art on the Mall

As Jane Lamanna settled into her chair, she adjusted her ivory crescent necklace, just one of many pieces she’s fashioned throughout her career.

Lamanna

Lamanna

The jeweler constructs a variety of colorful pieces, but her favorite ones to create are earrings.

“I do make a lot of earrings; I like to wear them,” she said, gesturing to a dangly pair on her own ears. “For me, it’s fun to make two of the same — pairs are always fun to make.

“I don’t make tons of bracelets probably because I don’t like to wear them,” she added with a laugh.

Inspired by midcentury modernist jewelers, much of Lamanna’s work features clean lines and shapes that relate well to the body.

“When I’m thinking of how to make my jewelry, I like it to be clean and comfortable to wear and colorful — that’s the other thing that really inspires me,” she said. “Some of my newer pieces that feature color resin are more fun for me because I’m mixing the color myself to get just the right one.”

But long before color mixing, Lamanna starts with a sketch where she formulates her idea and scales it to a size that she would want to wear. From there, she cuts sheet metal with a tiny saw blade and forms it to create the style she wants.

“There’s soldering, sawing, filing, sanding; lots and lots of cleanup so it looks snappy,” she said.

Lamanna blue earringsWorking with the metal is her favorite part of jewelry making, but mixing the colors to create resin is a close second. It takes her two days to tinker with the colors — blending and mixing the different hues to get just the right shade.

Sometimes while mixing, Lamanna creates a color she never intended to that works for the piece: “It’s a great surprise when that happens.”

She sells her jewelry at many art fairs and venues, including Art on the Mall, where she will be one of more than 100 exhibitors Sunday, July 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on UT’s Centennial Mall. Her work also is featured at the Toledo Museum of Art’s gift shop.

A number of her wearable works will be featured at the free, juried event.

Lamanna necklace“I’m still in the process of creating pieces for [Art on the Mall],” she said. “There’s going to be tons of earrings and some new styles of necklaces and everything. There should be new colors and styles of resin. All sorts of new things — clean and colorful.”

For Lamanna, jewelry making is a family affair that started with her grandfather in the 1940s and 1950s. He owned a jewelry shop in Manhattan, where Lamanna’s grandmother and aunts helped string pearls, she recalled. Since then, there have been many family members who owned shops or created their own pieces.

While Lamanna never got the chance to work with her grandfather because he passed away while she was very young, she feels he lives through her today. Many of his tools were passed down to her, and she uses them for her own work.

“It’s funny, I have an old design book — kind of like a reference book — of his. A couple years ago I was flipping through that and found that he had made little sketches and notes. I felt like he was talking to me through that,” she said.

When she’s not creating or selling pieces of jewelry, Lamanna can be found teaching others how to make it at the Toledo Museum of Art. She teaches beginning, intermediate and advanced fabrication classes, which guides students through the process of cutting sheet metal and wire to building something — a job she finds highly rewarding.

“I just really, really love teaching.”

Ever since taking classes in college, Lamanna said she has known jewelry making is where she belongs.

Hands-on class puts students at crime scene, in courtroom

A roped-off crime scene. A dead body on a couch. A pesky reporter trying to get the scoop.

13 ABC Action News Reporter Melissa Voetsch interviewed UT student Alex Izsak, a criminal justice major, as part of the crime scene investigation that took place May 26 on Health Science Campus. Voetsch was brought in to teach students that journalists come to crime scenes to conduct interviews and get information about investigations.

13 ABC Action News Reporter Melissa Voetsch interviewed UT student Alex Izsak, a criminal justice major, as part of the crime scene investigation that took place May 26 on Health Science Campus. Voetsch was brought in to teach students that journalists come to crime scenes to conduct interviews and get information about investigations.

That is what University of Toledo students encountered on the first day of their summer class May 26.

By the end of the six-week class, these same students were in a courtroom trying to prosecute the accused murderer of this simulated crime.

The class, offered through the UT College of Social Justice and Human Service, is a pilot course for the Criminal Justice and Paralegal Studies programs. The cross-listed class was titled Criminal Forensics and Trial Practice for paralegal studies students and Criminal Investigations III for criminal justice students.

“This has been the class that I have learned the most,” said Nick McCullough, a criminal justice major who served as a prosecutor during the mock trial. “You can only learn so much in a textbook about investigations and trial prep. Being hands-on is so much more valuable. This is as close to the real deal that you can get. I have learned more about criminal investigations in these six weeks than I have in the entire semester.”

The class was taught by John Schlageter, director of the Paralegal Studies Program, and Mick Dier, a retired UT police officer and lecturer in the Criminal Justice Program.

Students were placed on prosecution and defense teams and assigned as crime scene investigators, paralegals and attorneys. They were responsible for investigating the mock homicide, indicting one of three possible suspects, and conducting a jury trial.

“I think students gain transferable skills that they wouldn’t otherwise attain,” Schlageter said. “You can read books all you want, but until you do it, you aren’t truly getting it.”

With the guidance of Schlageter and Dier, criminal justice students shared their knowledge of forensic principles such as crime scene processing, blood spatter analysis and interviewing/interrogation. In return, paralegal studies students shared information relative to trial procedure, including courtroom technology, the preparation and examination of trial witnesses, and effectively delivering an opening statement and a closing argument.

Callie Nelson, a paralegal studies graduate, took the class when it first started and volunteered at the mock trial June 24. She is attending law school at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

“It is really important for us paralegal students to understand how the investigation works,” she said. “For criminal justice students, it is important to see what it is like after you are done investigating the crime.”

Josh Project educating, protecting community with help from UT

After her son Josh drowned at the age of 16, Wanda Butts decided she had to do something to save other families from the same heartache.

Zhada Fields spoke with three girls about how to swim during the Josh Project’s June 18 lesson at St. Francis de Sales High School.

Zhada Fields spoke with three girls about how to swim during the Josh Project’s June 18 lesson at St. Francis de Sales High School.

She founded the Josh Project, which has since taught hundreds of children how to swim and continues to educate the Toledo community on water safety.

This summer, the organization is holding free lessons for 114 students, 30 more than usual, thanks in part to members of The University of Toledo who helped them secure a grant.

The grant is from the Children’s Nationwide Hospital through funding from the Center for Disease Control. It is an injury prevention grant designed so that the Josh Project and UT researchers can measure attitudes and behavioral changes of parents about water safety after the program.

“We are a small organization, so with UT’s help writing the grant proposal for us and helping to get funding, we were able to offer our program to more students than we would normally be able to,” said Tankeeya Butts of the Josh Project.

In addition to writing the grant proposal, UT provided educational materials to participants, highlighting water safety tips. The University has created brochures and pamphlets, designed social media messages and other communications in order to help get the message across to parents and their children.

“The reality is that the parents have a great deal of influence on where their children swim and whether or not they’re supervised,” said Dr. Tavis Glassman, UT associate professor in the College of Health Sciences, the primary investigator for this study.

Glassman and his graduate students will be evaluating the intervention via a pre- and post-test study design utilizing a control group. They will then analyze the results, evaluate the program, and aim to publish those results in a journal.

For now, the grant provides funds to assess the current intervention, but Glassman is hoping to get further funding for other water safety studies so that they can continue their research.

Though this is one of the largest groups that the Josh Project has taught, it’s just one of many initiatives that the organization is working on to help protect Toledo’s youth. Just this year, the organization installed a life jacket station at Olander Park in Sylvania following the accidental drowning of a young boy last summer.

“We can count the number of students and parents in our program, but we know that we impact more than just those people,” Butts said. “We’ll never know how many lives we actually save because the people we teach will share the information that they learn. There’s a ripple effect.”

On June 18, the Josh Project participated in a worldwide swimming lesson. The local lesson, held at St. Francis de Sales High School, was one of more than 900 that took place around the globe on that day in an attempt to break a Guinness World Record.

There were 21 participants at St. Francis, with guest appearances by Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson and Robert Adler, commissioner of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

To get involved, visit joshproject.org or facebook.com/thejoshproject.

UT initiative dedicated to teaching how to promote peace

In a world plagued by violence and unrest, there is an initiative at The University of Toledo working for peaceful resolutions.

Dr. Tony Jenkins delivered a lecture on peace education in Trondheim, Norway in February.

Dr. Tony Jenkins delivered a lecture on peace education in Trondheim, Norway in February.

The Peace Education Initiative in the Judith Herb College of Education was established to help the University become a global leader in peace education. Through a variety of programming and research in peace education and peace studies, UT is working to promote understanding both in the local community and globally.

“Peace education, in a nutshell, is education about and for peace,” said Dr. Tony Jenkins, director of the initiative. “The two sides of the coin are learning that helps bring critical issues related to peace, conflict and violence into the curriculum, but more than that, it’s about how we prepare and nurture students to become critically engaged citizens who are able to create a better world for themselves and future generations. It’s not just learning about peace, but also capacitating students to resolve differences nonviolently.”

The rapidly growing field of study is available at more than 400 international universities, including UT, where a graduate certificate in peace education is offered. The certificate pushes students to explore the philosophy and theory of peace studies, and also teaches about incorporating peace into the curriculum.

“It’s about how we make the learning environment a space where we are modeling peaceful and just relationships,” Jenkins explained.

The subject leads to a host of potential jobs after graduation, ranging from community-based education or faith organizations to international peace and development organizations such as the United Nations.

According to Jenkins, the highlight of the initiative is the International Institute on Peace Education — a weeklong residential experience for peace educators hosted in a different country each year. Last year UT was established as the program’s coordination headquarters.

“It’s our shining gem,” Jenkins said.

The institute, which will be hosted at UT in July, was established by Dr. Betty A. Reardon in 1982 at Teachers College, Columbia University. It serves as an opportunity for peace educators to exchange theory and practical experiences to grow and enhance the field. This summer’s institute will explore urban revitalization as pursued through the lenses of peace and justice with emphasis given to the role of formal and nonformal educational strategies in contributing to positive community development.

The Peace Education Initiative also oversees the Betty A. Reardon Archives, which is housed in UT’s Canaday Center for Special Collections. The collection consists of Reardon’s extensive publications, unpublished manuscripts, curriculum, reports, scholarly presentations, and correspondence from the 1960s to the present about peace studies. Her archives have been in the Canaday Center since 2009.

For more information on the initiative and its programs, visit utoledo.edu/education/peace or contact Jenkins at tony.jenkins@utoledo.edu.

Brothers on the Rise helps students stay, succeed

College requires a major adjustment for many new students. They face various problems, based largely on their previous educational experience, culture and family situation.

“Students come to The University of Toledo with varied levels of academic preparedness, maturity and cultural readiness,” said Dr. Willie McKether, associate dean and associate professor in the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences. “First-generation, direct-from-high-school, and low-income students particularly face unique challenges.”

Demond Pryor, director of the Office of Recreation and vice chair of mentoring with Brothers on the Rise, shook hands with Deon Brown, a sixth-grader at Bennett Venture Academy, last month when students from the Toledo school visited campus.

Demond Pryor, director of the Office of Recreation and vice chair of mentoring with Brothers on the Rise, shook hands with Deon Brown, a sixth-grader at Bennett Venture Academy, last month when students from the Toledo school visited campus.

Being part of a predominantly white campus population, and often coming from an underperforming urban school district and a low-income household, he noted, can be intimidating and overwhelming.

Founded in 2011, Brothers on the Rise offers these students a lifeline. The group’s objective is to help UT males, especially African-American and Latino, make the transition from high school to college.

“We targeted this population because it has the lowest first- to second-year retention and graduation rates on campus,” McKether, Brothers on the Rise president, said.

In 2013, 18 percent of UT’s African-American male students and 39 percent of Latino males graduated after six years, compared with 51 percent of the University’s white male students. The greatest gap is in the retention between the students’ first and second years of college.

“When you see guys on campus one semester and you don’t see them the next, it hurts,” McKether said. “This is nothing short of a crisis. We lose kids all the time who want to be here but don’t know how to be here.”

To assist this transition, the group’s dozen faculty volunteers conduct biweekly “real talk” discussions with members to address concerns such as study habits and social issues. The group also assigns each student a UT mentor — faculty or staff member or graduate student — and connects him with another mentor from the community.

“We attempt to match students with members from the community in the profession or type of work in which the student hopes to engage upon graduation,” McKether said.

Victor Aberdeen Jr., who graduated in May with a bachelor of arts degree in English and communication, was matched with a local lawyer.

“My biggest off-campus mentor has been Pariss Coleman. He is an attorney here in Toledo,” Aberdeen said. “Pariss has taught me the importance of discipline, planning and professionalism.”

Aberdeen, who has been involved with Brothers on the Rise since 2012, will begin his first year as a law student at UT this fall.

He credited Brothers on the Rise leaders and on-campus mentors as well.

“Dr. McKether and Dr. [Anthony ] Quinn [assistant dean and associate professor in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics] both did a great job of encouraging the students to be active and take leadership roles at the University. I believe that taking on any role on campus, regardless of how big or small, allows for the student to grow as a leader and professional,” Aberdeen said.

As an undergraduate, Aberdeen was president of the African Peoples Association and served as a Presidential Ambassador.

In addition to McKether and Quinn, Aberdeen mentioned Dr. Sammy Spann, assistant provost for international studies and programs.

“Dr. Spann has been a constant source of support and encouragement for me from when I arrived at UT as a freshman. He has taught me that any idea is never out of reach regardless of how big of an idea it may be,” Aberdeen said.

As Brothers on the Rise enters its third year, efforts are paying off. Many students have experienced improvements in their grades, and many, like Aberdeen, are in leadership roles on campus. In addition, the majority of members are returning to UT year after year.

Thanks to a request from Xavier Owens, principal of Bennett Venture Academy in Toledo, Brothers on the Rise recently expanded its reach.

“I talked to Dr. McKether some time ago to express an idea that counters the ‘school house to jail house track,’ a process too many urban families are too familiar with. We want to create a school house to college track,” Owens said.

“One parent recently told me she took her kid to a Scared Straight Program; I told that mom that won’t work because our students understand this process all too well. I suggested taking him to a university so he can see what’s on the other end of the spectrum.

“After that conversation, I immediately called Dr. McKether. He made things happen with an all-day university visit for some of my most challenging students,” Owens said.

Ten Bennett Venture Academy students — nine boys and one girl — spent a day at UT last month.

“Xavier wanted these young students to meet African-American college students, professionals and professors,” Quinn said. “Many of these students had never been on UT’s campus and never imagined themselves attending college.”

“Too many urban youth do not understand that college is reachable and doable. Our primary goal for the visit was to put students around highly positive and successful black men,” Owens said.

Spann arranged for vans to transport the local students to and from the University. Demond Pryor, director of the Office of Recreation and vice chair of mentoring for Brothers on the Rise, provided meeting space in the Student Recreation Center.

“Brothers on the Rise undergraduate and graduate students took the lead in fielding questions from the students,” McKether said. “We were amazed and impressed with the quality and quantity of questions these young people had about attending college.

“We’re now discussing with Bennett the possibility of Brothers on the Rise adopting this school on a pilot basis to establish a mentoring program where we spend more time with these and other potential future Rockets.”

Even with these successes, Brothers on the Rise faces some hurdles.

“A major obstacle we face is lack of infrastructure and staffing to coordinate the program,” McKether noted. “Despite our knowing what works in retention, the volunteer nature of the organization makes it difficult to sustain and sub-optimizes efforts.”

The key to the organization’s continued success is financial support, according to Vern Snyder, UT vice president for institutional advancement.

“Dr. McKether and Dr. Quinn have accomplished a lot with very few resources. They have done wonders,” Snyder said. “Brothers on the Rise is worthy of support from our alumni and friends.”

For information on supporting Brothers on the Rise, contact Snyder at vern.snyder@ utoledo.edu or 419.530.4249.

UT wraps up first #AskUT Twitter chat

June 29’s #AskUT Twitter chat had a few interesting questions, and participants say it was a success.

twitter chatThe chat, hosted by The University of Toledo’s Office of University Communications, featured panelists from around campus: Adam Hintz, director of the Office of New Student Orientation Programs; Dawn Bellner, a direct service provider for Rocket Solution Central; Sean Mertz, president of Blue Key; Paul Smith, admissions coordinator for the Office of Undergraduate Admission; Matthew Perry, area coordinator for housing; Brad Menard, associate director for housing; and Rocky.

“While it was my first time participating in a live Twitter chat, I certainly hope it isn’t my last,” Hintz said. “I believe it was a great way to maximize efficiency when handling inquiries from students. I also think the chat provided the perfect combination of utility and humor, a balance most students can appreciate.”

From 3 to 5 p.m., students could tweet @UToledo with the hashtag #AskUT and have their questions answered by the panel. A lot of students participated, asking everything from what the administration thought of Bowling Green State University to where they could park on campus.

“With a majority of our student population communicating online, we took the opportunity to address some of their questions,” said Cam Norton, UT assistant director for social media. “With this chat, we were able to put the vast knowledge of our UT staffers one Tweet away, and having a dedicated time for the chat also allowed us to serve as a one-stop resource.”

Though the chat is over, students can tweet UT any time if they have questions. There also are plans for another chat in the future, though a date has not been set yet.

To view some of the’s tweets, click here.

UT Health doctors diagnose rare disease in Honduran teen

Honduran native Benjie Benitez traveled across the world in hopes of finding answers to a mysterious neuromuscular disorder that has left him in a wheelchair.

Dr. Jeffrey Hammersley asked Benjie Benitez how his hands were doing during a visit to UT Medical Center earlier this month. The Honduran teen was diagnosed with a rare mitochondrial disease that leads to muscle breakdown.

Dr. Jeffrey Hammersley asked Benjie Benitez how his hands were doing during a visit to UT Medical Center earlier this month. The Honduran teen was diagnosed with a rare mitochondrial disease that leads to muscle breakdown.

After two weeks of tests in June, the doctors at The University of Toledo Medical Center determined he has a rare mitochondrial disease, which affects the protein in his cells and leads to muscle breakdown.

The diagnosis was possible thanks to a collaboration between CedarCreek and UTMC in an ongoing medical mission clinic in La Ceiba, Honduras.

The 18-year-old doesn’t speak English, so he used a translation machine to communicate with UT Health doctors. He also used his music to bond with people he met during his first trip to America.

The former track star brought his guitar to a recent appointment with cardiologist Dr. Samer Khouri. He played a song for everyone as a way to offer thanks.

“We are happy to find an answer, but unfortunately, there is no cure,” said Dr. Kris Brickman, founder and director of the UT Office of Global Health, and professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine. “He has been seen by many doctors and after an exhausting number of tests, scans and evaluations, no one has been able to find a diagnosis or treatment for this illness — until now.

“Hopefully, we can slow the progression of this disease with a series of vitamins and medicines, which we are starting right away,” Brickman said.

CedarCreek Church paid for Benitez and his mother, Martha, to fly to America. CedarCreek heard about Benitez’s condition during a mission trip and asked UTMC doctors to help with the diagnosis.

Benitez arrived May 27 and stayed until June 11. He met with Khouri, director of echocardiography, director of the heart station and professor of medicine; Dr. Boyd Koffman, director of neurology ambulatory services and professor of neurology; Dr. Dalynn Badenhop, director of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation and professor of medicine; Dr. Bashar Kahaleh, chief of the Division of Rheumatology and Immunology, and professor of medicine; Dr. Jeffrey Hammersley, chief of the Pulmonary Division and associate professor of medicine; Dr. Blair Grubb, director of electrophysiology services and professor of medicine; and Dr. Donald Cameron, assistant professor of neurology.

Up until a few years ago, Benitez was an athlete, his mother said. He was a strong and healthy young man. He started having trouble with muscle control, which progressively worsened leaving him needing a wheelchair.

Benitez wrote an email that expressed his gratitude: “I’m almost in shock of happiness that this is happening; thank you for caring for my family. God bless you all for everything you do.”

Brickman said Benitez is overwhelmed that anyone would do this for him.

“We aren’t considering this anything special,” Brickman said. “This is taking some time, but it is the right thing to do. We aren’t getting reimbursed for any of this.”

Bill Trout, executive pastor at CedarCreek, said many people approach his church for help, but Benitez’s case was unique.

“It is an opportunity to help Benjie, but it is an opportunity to teach students about a case that the doctors in Honduras haven’t been able to diagnose,” Trout said.

Benitez and his mom split their time staying with Trout and his family. They also stayed with Sean Siwa and his wife, Yeimy, who is from Honduras.

Siwa, who accompanied Benitez to his appointment with Khouri, said Benitez is sick, but he still smiles because he loves music.

“The guitar is helping,” she said. “He has a hard time using his hands because of his muscle problem, but he plays anyway.”

Men’s Health Month: ‘Typical macho man’ admits ignoring cancer symptoms

Jason Scott ignored major signs that something was wrong.

He had swelling in his right testicle that he chalked up to a hunting injury.

He had back pain that couldn’t be curbed with the handfuls of over-the-counter pills he took every morning.

When the 21-year-old started to limp, he thought it had to do with falling on the ice.

Jason Scott, seated, celebrated his last day of chemotherapy at the Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center with a cake to share with, from left, Cindy Peters, staff nurse; mother, Vicki; dad, Dan; and friend, Max Newcomer.

Jason Scott, seated, celebrated his last day of chemotherapy at the Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center with a cake to share with, from left, Cindy Peters, staff nurse; mother, Vicki; dad, Dan; and friend, Max Newcomer.

Some of his symptoms persisted for more than a year, in particular a nagging fatigue.

It wasn’t until the Perrysburg resident woke up one morning and couldn’t use his right foot that he considered a doctor’s visit. Yet he still waited another week.

“I was a typical macho man and ignored signs that something was wrong,” Scott said. “I played football in junior high and high school. You are taught to tough it out. If I am fishing and a hook goes into my hand, I just rip it out. I don’t want to show my buddies that I am hurting.”

But he was hurting — more than he wanted to admit.

Scott was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer in February. It had gotten so bad that the cancer had spread from his testicle to the bone in the lower part of his back, which affected his sciatic nerve and put him in a wheelchair, according to his oncologist, Dr. Roland Skeel at the Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center at The University of Toledo Medical Center. Further tests showed that the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes and his lungs.

Scott is speaking about what he calls “his mistakes” in June because it is Men’s Health Month. He knows that men are less likely to take a symptom seriously and are more unlikely to go to the doctor’s office.

“Looking back when they told me all the signs of cancer, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that happened,’” he said. “But you don’t think of doing anything when you are a guy and only 21 years old.”

His diagnosis forced him to take a leave of absence from Bowling Green State University, where he was studying music education with a specialization in instrumentals. He was a student teacher at Elmwood High School before cancer forced him to face what he had been ignoring.

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men 15 to 34 years of age. The two main types of testicular tumors are seminoma and nonseminoma. Nonseminomas tend to grow and spread more quickly than seminomas. Scott had the nonseminoma type.

“The initial treatment has more than an 80 percent chance of cure, even when it is advanced like it is in Jason,” said Skeel, professor and interim chair of the Department of Medicine. “If there is residual disease, sometimes a surgical procedure is done. In the end, more than 90 percent of people are ultimately being cured of what was once a fatal disease.”

But catching it early does help.

Skeel said that men tend to be a little more reluctant than women to pay attention to symptoms. He thinks testicular cancer is particularly difficult for young men to discuss with someone.

“Women categorize men as stubborn and not wanting to go to a doctor,” Skeel said. “It is probably true that women see physicians more regularly than men. In part, they have been accustomed to seeing an OB-GYN and getting mammograms. If you have men who have spouses, their spouses are insisting that they see physicians.”

Scott said his parents had repeatedly told him to make a doctor’s appointment. He ignored them.

“I was so far into school and student teaching, and I just wanted to get it done. It is a four-year degree, and most people get it done in five years,” Jason said. “I was on track to graduate in four years in May, and I didn’t want to take a timeout for my health.”

But the cancer diagnosis gave him no choice.

“We were totally expecting that we were going to see the doctor and he would suggest physical therapy for his back,” said his mother, Vicki Scott.

His dad, Dan Scott, remembers getting the news that his only child has cancer.

“I looked at him. He looked at me. It just seemed like our whole world went to pieces,” he said.

“I was so angry,” Jason said. “I knew nothing about cancer. The only thing I knew about cancer is that you died from it. When you think cancer, you think death sentence.”

The family immediately started trying to book an appointment for a biopsy of the tumor and begin the treatment process.

“Every day that passed, his pain was getting more and more intolerable,” his mother said. “He was to the point where he couldn’t sit, he couldn’t lay, he couldn’t sleep. He was just screaming in pain. It was so intense.”

It wasn’t until Jason talked to his friend, Max Newcomer, that they considered treatment at UT Medical Center. Max’s mom, Megan Newcomer, works at UTMC, and referred him to Dr. Prabir Chaudhuri, surgical director of the UT Cancer Center.

After his first visit with the UT Health cancer team, everything moved quickly. Jason had his right testicle removed March 2 by surgeon Dr. Khaled Shahrour. He started chemotherapy March 9. His last day of chemo was June 1.

“I went from hopping in my truck and going to Alabama to fish on a whim to having my dad help me do everything. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without my dad’s help,” Jason said. “I literally slept for three months, and I just got out of the wheelchair a few weeks ago.”

To raise money, his friend Max sold T-shirts that reflect one of Jason’s favorite hobbies — bass fishing. The T-shirt read, “Team Jason — Reeling in a Cure.” The picture on the shirt was of a bass eating cancer.

“His battle with cancer was obviously not going to be easy, but I told him we would get through it,” Max said.

Jason said his family, friends and the UT Health doctors and nurses were the bright spots in an otherwise dismal year.

“A lot of the battle is mental, but if you have positive people on your side that really helps,” he said. “Dr. Skeel called me on his cell phone on the weekend. That is amazing.”

The irony of being treated at UTMC was not lost on the Falcon, though.

“I didn’t wear my BG gear to UTMC,” he said and laughed.

In July, Jason will have follow-up scans to check to see if the chemotherapy has successfully shrunk the tumor. He hopes for good news so he can begin a lifetime of sharing an important lesson with men his age.

“If you know something is wrong, don’t be too stubborn to do something about it,” Jason said. “I knew it wasn’t right. I knew it wasn’t supposed to be happening. But I convinced myself that something wasn’t wrong.”

National Science Foundation innovation program gives students entrepreneurial confidence

In March, The University of Toledo began an innovative program that provides students in engineering and science the opportunity to gain skills and knowledge required to commercialize technology.

iCorps webUT is one of the first four locations in the country selected by the National Science Foundation to be an Innovation Corps (I-Corps) site, an academic institution that provides resources, networking opportunities, and training to enable participants in transitioning their ideas or technology into the marketplace.

“One of the great things about going through the regional or site program is that if you’re successful and interested in going further you can go to the national program and receive a $50,000 grant,” said Jessica Sattler, UT director of economic engagement and business development programs.

The program gives participants the opportunity to communicate with customers much earlier in the product and business development process and enables them to determine whether or not their product fits within the intended market.

“It’s training that you traditionally get at a business school,” said Dr. Patricia Relue, UT professor of bioengineering. “The National Science Foundation has been trying to get more research that they fund out into the world. The whole basis for this I-Corps program is to take scientists and engineers and train them in basically the business mindset or the business lingo so that they can actually go out and talk to people that are in the industry.”

During a two month period, eight teams consisting of a student, a faculty adviser and a community mentor took their products and business ideas and tested them out in their intended markets.

“The student is suppose to be the one driving the effort,” Relue said. “The research adviser and the mentor are coaching from behind, but the student is the one who is suppose to take the lead.”

Tim Walker, a mechanical engineering undergraduate student and program participant, worked on finding faster and more efficient treatment for a pulmonary embolism.

“This program helps push student ideas into the market and create change out in the real world,” Walker said. “A lot of the time, research will get passed along from student to student without any contact with the market, and as students it’s our responsibility to take our technology out into the world.”

The structure of the program offers entrepreneurship training to students and teaches them to identify product opportunities that can emerge from academic research.

“There were two or three students that I could tell you right now that specifically said, ‘This program helped me develop my interpersonal skills, I feel so much more confident.’ And I remember starting right out of college and being terrified, so I just think that’s a really cool, intended, maybe unintended, consequence,” Sattler said.

For more information on National Science Foundation I-Corps, click here.

New sculptures reign on campuses

A trio of red blossoms reaches skyward between UT Medical Center and Mulford Library. Swimming silently through a sea of green leaves is a 9-foot fish south of Carlson Library near the Ottawa River. And a 300-pound dog measuring more than 5 feet tall stands guard outside Nitschke Hall.

James Oleson’s “Howl” was installed May 29 near Nitschke Hall.

James Oleson’s “Howl” was installed May 29 near Nitschke Hall.

Ric Leichliter’s “Promise to Flower,” Tom Rudd’s “Whitefish” and James Oleson’s “Howl” are three of the 10 new works featured in the 10th annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition.

The three artists were among more than 50 who submitted proposals for consideration to the Midwest Sculpture Initiative. The UT Campus Beautification Committee reviewed the applications and chose pieces that were installed last month.

“It’s a privilege to be involved with this project and to see the creativity it sparks year after year,” said Dr. Steve LeBlanc, interim dean of the College of Engineering and chair of the Campus Beautification Committee. “I look forward each year to the arrival of the new sculptures to campus.”

Nearly 100 sculptures have rotated through the display at the University since the exhibit began, and 12 have become part of UT’s art collection thanks to the generosity of campus benefactors, colleges and departments, LeBlanc added.

New works dotting campus this year are:

• James Havens’ “Phoenix” rises atop the hill west of University Hall.

“Promise to Flower” by Ric Leichliter is placed between UT Medical Center and Mulford Library.

“Promise to Flower” by Ric Leichliter is placed between UT Medical Center and Mulford Library.

• “Teal Oak Leaf Bench” offers an inviting seat on Centennial Mall between University Hall and the Student Union. The decorative, functional piece was made by Joe Krajkiewcz.

• “Ad Infinitum” by Virginia Kistler is a 500-pound work created from Extira and steel that appears to rotate while standing still north of Libbey Hall.

• Todd Kime’s “Bounce” is a bright yellow and red piece that exudes energy on Centennial Mall west of the Health and Human Services Building.

• “Mantis,” a 1,500-pound black steel insect by John W. Parker, awaits traffic along University Parks Trail north of Ottawa House West.

• “To Hope” by William Walther is a funky steel bench located in front of University Hall and west of Gillham Hall.

• “Self Series Twins” by the Nordin Brothers sits east of the Health and Human Services Building.

Artists receive stipends for their sculptures, which will be on display for the next year.

LeBlanc said the annual exhibit is made possible through gifts from donors.

“Those who enjoy the sculptures are asked to please consider a donation to the Campus Beautification Committee through the UT Foundation,” he said.