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UT scientist named Top 40 Under 40 by Greenhouse Product News

When asked how she first became interested in plants and nature, Dr. Jennifer Boldt attributed her passion to her family.

“For most of my life, my parents owned and operated a greenhouse and garden center in Florida. I have literally grown up surrounded by plants. My sister and I would help out in the afternoons after school and during the summers. I have fond memories of helping my parents and grandparents transplant seedlings,” she recalled.

Dr. Jennifer Boldt, adjunct research assistant professor of environmental sciences, was named one of the Top 40 Under 40 by Greenhouse Product News.

“My sister and I thought it was great because we got to spend time with [family] and nobody minded that we got dirty. As we got older, we assumed more and more responsibility in both the production and retail aspects of the business. We saw all the hard work, dedication and passion that our parents had for growing beautiful plants, helping customers find the right plants for their gardens and landscapes, and providing a sense of community for their employees and customers,” Boldt continued. “My dad was a very patient teacher and cultivated our interest in learning how plants grow. As I got older, I decided that this could be a career path for me, too.

“I studied horticulture and business administration as an undergraduate, and had planned to one day take over the family business. However, I discovered research and have taken a slightly different career path, but I am still very much involved in the horticulture industry and enjoy it immensely.”

Boldt was recently named one of the Top 40 Under 40 by Greenhouse Product News. She is a research horticulturalist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, housed in Wolfe Hall. She and her colleagues utilize space in the Wolfe Hall greenhouse and at the Toledo Botanical Garden. The Wolfe Hall greenhouse also is utilized by members of the departments of Biological Sciences and Environmental Sciences.

In addition, Boldt is as an adjunct research assistant professor in environmental sciences at UT.

Listed among Boldt’s accomplishments in Greenhouse Product News was her research program that studied how different factors and practices influenced the growth and development of greenhouse crops.

“The Agricultural Research Service is the chief in-house scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It has more than 90 research locations and 690 research projects, but our group is the only one whose project is focused specifically on the production of greenhouse-grown ornamentals. This includes primarily flowering plants, like what you would plant in a home garden or in container planters, but also vegetables and culinary herbs. Our research looks at how light, temperature, carbon dioxide concentration, fertilizers, and the growing medium influence how quickly a plant grows, how quickly it flowers, how it looks (its architecture), and/or how well it is able to tolerate stress,” Boldt explained.

“For instance, one project looks at what growing conditions optimize a plant’s photosynthetic rate. We have developed models and incorporated them into a software tool that growers can use to see how adding supplemental lighting or increasing and/or decreasing the greenhouse temperature will affect plant growth. They can compare the predicted change in plant growth to the costs associated with changing the greenhouse environment and determine if it is worthwhile from an economic perspective. We want to provide information and recommendations to growers that can help increase their productivity and profitability, while at the same time reduce the quantity of inputs — water, fertilizer, energy, etc. — required to successfully grow plants in greenhouses and other controlled environments.”

Though her work may seem complicated to outsiders, Boldt enjoys her day-to-day research.

“There never is a typical day, which keeps things interesting. Most of my time is spent in the office, planning upcoming research, analyzing data from experiments, writing manuscripts, reviewing manuscripts, and checking in with our fabulous greenhouse and lab technicians to see how plant care, data collection and laboratory analyses are going. I have ongoing research collaborations with a few Agricultural Research Service and university researchers, so there are planning and update meetings that occur. When we have ongoing plant trials, I routinely check in on the plants — like a doctor making rounds at a hospital — to see how they are growing.

“I do enjoy the days when I get to spend some time in the greenhouse; we lease greenhouse space at the Toledo Botanical Garden and conduct many of our research trials there,” she said.

As for her colleagues, Boldt said, “I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the great team of scientists, postdocs, technicians and undergraduate students that work daily to accomplish the research goals of our group. Current members include Mona-Lisa Banks, Douglas Sturtz, Cindy Carnicom and Mitchell Caris. We also had two terrific UT undergraduate students in spring semester — Amy Towell and Maithili Kulkarni.”

There was another member of the horticulture industry that Boldt was especially pleased to be recognized alongside: her twin sister, Jessica Boldt.

“It was a wonderful surprise. We are very close and have very similar interests. Our undergraduate degrees are the same, and we even had the same adviser for our master’s degrees. We have cheered on each other’s accomplishments, and so it’s very special to be nominated by different individuals and selected for this recognition together in the same year,” Boldt said. “We found out that we both had been selected when someone emailed me instead of Jessica to congratulate her. We had a good laugh, since we get mistaken for the other all the time, even though we now live in different states.

“In case you can’t tell, I’m very proud of Jessica,” she said and then laughed.

The two share the same passion for horticulture and the large role that it plays in society.

“On a basic level, plants are a source of food, fiber and fuel. They provide vitamins and nutrients. Many contain compounds that have medicinal uses. Plants improve the air quality. Trees, shrubs and green roofs lower the energy costs of homes and buildings. Exposure to plants and nature reduces our stress levels. Gardening is therapeutic and provides a way to stay active. There are so many benefits that plants provide that positively impact our well-being,” Boldt explained.

“Have you seen how someone’s face lights up when you give her or him a basket of fresh-picked strawberries or a bouquet of beautiful flowers? There is joy in planting bulbs in the fall and watching them emerge from the ground the following spring. Without waxing poetic too much, we need to feed and nourish the body, mind and soul, and horticulture allows us to do that. Also, career opportunities abound in horticulture — plant breeding, greenhouse flower and vegetable production, public garden management, teaching, research, education, and marketing, to name a few.”

She beamed as she looked at the pink petunias lined up in the greenhouse at Toledo Botanical Garden.

“From my little corner of horticulture, it’s very satisfying to not just advance our understanding of plants, but also provide practical recommendations to growers so that they can continue to be successful.”

Researchers study red-headed woodpeckers to solve mysteries of charismatic, declining species

The red-headed woodpecker’s feisty, loud personality fits the reputation of crimson-maned creatures, but the student researcher gently holding the bird bucked the trend.

University of Toledo graduate student Kyle Pagel was calm, steady and methodical as he banded the woodpecker’s legs with tiny, colorful identifying rings and looped a miniature backpack armed with a light-level geolocator and pinpoint-GPS around its legs.

UT graduate student Kyle Pagel held a red-headed woodpecker at Oak Openings Metropark in Swanton, Ohio. He is helping to conduct research on the bird to discover migration routes and why the species is in decline.

“The woodpecker is wearing it like a climbing harness,” said Pagel, who is pursuing a master’s degree in environmental sciences at UT. “The backpack is so thin and light that it doesn’t inhibit flight or movement.”

The bird that flies freely once again from tree to tree isn’t the scarlet-mohawked woodpecker regularly spotted in backyards. The red-headed woodpecker is about the size of a robin or 10 times larger than a warbler.

This 70-gram, boldly patterned “flying checkerboard” is the seventh bird of its kind in a week that the UT team has examined at Oak Openings Metropark, taken a blood sample from, and outfitted with tracking technology to identify migration routes.

A photographer with the media took a photo of a red-headed woodpecker held by UT graduate student Kyle Pagel at Oak Openings Metropark.

“This is such as photogenic, popular species, it’s surprising how little is known about them,” Pagel said. “It’s fascinating to work with such a charismatic bird.”

Pagel, along with Dr. Henry Streby, UT assistant professor of environmental sciences and ornithologist, launched a study this month of red-headed woodpeckers that could last up to 10 years and solve many mysteries about the species.

For the next several weeks, the birding team’s office will be located throughout the Oak Openings region, including sites along Girdham Road and Jeffers Road at Oak Openings Metropark in Swanton, Ohio. They expect this year to put tracking technology on 20 adult red-headed woodpeckers in Ohio and 20 in Minnesota, and on another 25 juveniles in each of those states.

At Oak Openings Metropark, Dr. Henry Streby set up a mist net used to gently collect red-headed woodpeckers so more can be learned about the vanishing species.

“They’re in extreme decline, especially in the Midwest and Great Lakes area, maybe because of habitat loss and changes in their food supply,” Streby said. “We’re lucky to have Oak Openings just west of Toledo because it’s a place where red-headed woodpeckers seem to be doing relatively well. We want to figure out what’s working here and see if we can offer recommendations for habitat management elsewhere.”

Every morning the team sets up mist nets and uses recorded calls, drums and decoy birds to attract the woodpeckers.

Researchers are using blood samples to analyze DNA and hormones, as well as measure stress, immune system condition and aging.

The miniature backpack weighs about two grams and uses a light-level geolocator to gather data about when the birds go in and out of tree cavities each day. Pinpoint GPS, like on a cell phone, will tell the researchers where the birds traveled.

“Red-headed woodpeckers are inconsistent,” Streby said. “Some years they migrate for the winter, some years they don’t. We want to know why. We also want to know where they go when they’re not here on their breeding grounds. It could only be as far south as Kentucky or Tennessee. That is what we will learn for the first time when we recover the backpacks from the birds.”

Food availability, specifically acorns, is one of the factors being observed at Oak Openings this season, as well as reproductive success and genetics.

“We’re studying all of this without knowing whether these woodpeckers are going to leave or not,” Streby said. “It’ll take several breeding seasons to be able to analyze their habits and help us know what needs to be done to conserve the species, especially in places where the populations are shrinking.”

Streby also has been studying golden-winged warblers for five years using light-level geolocators that weigh less than half a paper clip to track migration patterns. The songbirds, which are about the size of a ping-pong ball, travel thousands of miles once they leave their spring and summer nesting grounds.

UT class to investigate mock crime scene at park May 23

Consider it CSI: UT.

University of Toledo students studying criminal justice and paralegal studies will get a dose of reality as part of a pioneering summer course titled Criminal Forensics and Trial Practice.

It’s a collaboration between the Paralegal Studies and Criminal Justice programs in the College of Health and Human Services.

Students are placed on prosecuting and defense teams and assigned as crime scene investigators, paralegals and attorneys. They are responsible for investigating a mock homicide, indicting a suspect, and conducting a trial.

The exercise will begin with a fake crime scene at 8 a.m. Tuesday, May 23, at the southwest corner of Wildwood Preserve Metropark near the maintenance building. Sixteen undergraduate students plan to spend up to 10 hours at the site.

The students will test their knowledge of forensic principles, such as securing a crime scene, photographing and collecting evidence, blood spatter analysis, and interrogation, with the guidance of John Schlageter, director of the UT Paralegal Studies Program and a former attorney who practiced in Ohio and Michigan, and Andrew Dier, director of the UT Criminal Justice Program and a retired UT police officer.

“This is an opportunity for students to step out of the traditional classroom setting and practice hands-on skills that they will use in their careers,” Schlageter said.

A mock jury trial will be held Thursday, June 22, in the McQuade Courtroom located inside the Health and Human Services Building.

At the trial, students will use their knowledge of trial procedure, including the preparation and examination of trial witnesses, how to make a closing argument, and rules of evidence.

“Following proper procedure from the very beginning at the crime scene could be the deciding factor in a guilty verdict from a jury,” Dier said. “This is practical training to put the students in real situations and force them to make mistakes here because in the real world of law enforcement, we get one shot to do it right, one bite of the apple.”

Vibrant works update outdoor sculpture exhibition

A dancer gives a joyful performance near UT Medical Center. And a family stands on the west side of Centennial Mall.

Ray Katz’s “Domino,” Gregory Mendez’s “Ellie” and Todd Kime’s “Profiling” are three of the eight new pieces installed for the 12th annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition.

Gregory Mendez’s “Ellie” dances near UT Medical Center.

It’s a springtime tradition: New artwork blooms at The University of Toledo.

“This is my favorite time of the year. I love when the new pieces arrive,” said Dr. Steve LeBlanc, interim dean of the College of Engineering and chair of the Campus Beautification Committee. “They certainly add to the beauty of of the campus.”

Three of the new works are by Mike Sohikian: “Male Flamenco” steps it up near the sidewalk on the north side of University and Gillham halls; “Figure With Large Bowl” walks on the east side of the Health and Human Services Building; and “The Veteran” stands resolutely on the west side of the Health Education Building on Main Campus.

Sohikian, a retired ironworker, has a reputation for creating beauty from scraps of steel.

“I had a lifetime of love and appreciation for art, but I didn’t begin my art career until 1995,” the Genoa, Ohio, resident said. “I assemble industrial materials and rework them into fascinating forms.”

Sam Soet’s “Cedar Walker Variations II” is perched in Ravin Plaza on Centennial Mall.

Sam Soet’s artful twist titled “Cedar Walker Variations II” sits in Ravin Plaza on Centennial Mall.

“I am at home outdoors in the woods. This is where I draw my inspiration from — the lines, shapes and movements influence the forms of my sculptures,” said Soet, who lives in Farwell, Mich. “I pride myself in working with materials that are sustainably sourced, essentially giving new life to a fallen tree or limb, or saving a log from a burn pile.”

This year’s last new work, “Three Tenors” by Ric Leichliter, will be installed this week near the Root Bridge, where North Tower Boulevard meets Stadium Drive.

“Profiling” by Todd Kime stands on the west side of Centennial Mall.

In addition, Sohikian’s “Reaching for the Moon” from last year’s exhibit still sits on the west side of Savage Arena.

And thanks to donor contributions and a partnership between the Campus Beautification Committee and the President’s Commission on the River, Tom Rudd’s 9-foot, 1,000-pound “Whitefish” is becoming a permanent part of UT’s collection and will continue swimming south of Carlson Library near the Ottawa River.

Nearly 230 artists submitted proposals to the Midwest Sculpture Initiative, and the UT Campus Beautification Committee reviewed the entries and selected pieces for this year’s exhibition.

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

Nearly 120 sculptures have rotated through the display at the University since the exhibit began, and 11 have become part of UT’s art collection thanks to the generosity of campus benefactors, colleges and departments, according to LeBlanc.

“Gifts from donors make the annual exhibition possible,” LeBlanc said. “If you like the sculptures, please consider a gift to the Campus Beautification Committee through the UT Foundation.”

Go to https://give2ut.utoledo.edu.

Student advocates for clean drinking water worldwide

Last month, 17 high school students from the Natural Science and Technology Center, a Toledo Public Schools Career Tech Program, came to the Chemical Engineering Unit-Ops Laboratory in Nitschke Hall to learn about water quality and purification systems.

Megan Davidson, a second-year chemical engineering student, taught the students about the engineering aspects of different water purification systems to get them started in thinking about how they can use both water and energy in a more responsible way.

Megan Davidson explained how a water purification system worked to local high school students who recently visited campus.

Davidson has been a strong advocate for water purification since starting at UT. Her interest was initially piqued when she went to Guatemala in 2015 to build a home for a family in need.

“I was warned not to drink the water or even eat any food that had been washed in the water because it could make me sick,” Davidson said. “The idea that people are getting diarrhea and are malnourished because of the water they drink always struck me as a great injustice.”

In her freshman orientation class, Davidson had the opportunity to learn about the ultraviolet water purification system made by Clean Water for the World and was surprised by the simplicity of the system. She then became involved with Walk for Water, an organization that raises money for water purification units and spreads awareness of the conditions of the water in developing countries.

This year, Davidson served as the educational outreach director for Walk for Water; she helped develop a lesson plan for seventh- and eighth-grade presentations, which covered a wide range of related topics.

“We wanted to tie in green energy to the presentations to give students more to think about and help them understand that all of the world’s resources are connected,” Davidson said. “We were able to reach out to about 1,200 students in 20 different schools.”

During spring break this year, Davidson was invited to go to El Salvador with a group of chemical and environmental engineering students to visit various communities and assess their water situation. They surveyed people’s overall health and their use of and accessibility to clean water.

If the community did not have a water purification unit, the UT students installed one of nine units they had brought and taught the people how it works and how to clean and replace parts as needed. For the communities that already had a unit, they recorded the maintenance of the system and took a list of needed parts to keep it operational.

“I was very excited to be able to see the units in action and to understand firsthand the impact they are making in peoples’ lives,” Davidson said. “It was fantastic to be able to see everything come full circle, from building and researching improvements that can be made to the units to fundraising through Walk for Water to finally installing the units and being able to talk to the people who are now able to drink clean water.”

Davidson is passionate about water purification projects and plans to stay involved with them in the future. She is considering spending time in Central America to address water problems after she graduates.

“I think it is important for people to understand that all waterways are connected. The water we have in the U.S. is clean and safe to drink because we have installed plants to treat water that is not safe,” Davidson said. “Not everyone is fortunate enough to have government-funded systems and are stuck drinking water with chemicals, viruses, bacteria and even feces in it every single day. If we care about others, and not just the people we see every day, but people we share water with across the world, we need to be aware that there are things we can do to help those in need.”

Professor emeritus of art honored at YWCA Milestones

While speaking with Diana Attie, professor emeritus of art, there is no doubt the passion she has for her profession — and for sharing her love of it with her students.

“Design is all around us everywhere — great design and bad — from Teslas to T-shirts. But real art engages our personal life experience, our senses, our deep yearnings and empathy — and do not count out humor, or even absurdity,” Attie said. “Seeing, judgment and discernment can be rewarding responsibilities. To see, not merely to look, is a cultivated art in itself. The powers of mindful observation are most acutely developed through the concentrated act of drawing. The process is like the scientific method: intense observations, a vision of an outcome, experimentation, revision, repeat, and repeat again and again. Make your first 5,000 mistakes and think nothing of investing those necessary 10,000 hours of rehearsals.”

Diana Attie, center, posed for a photo at the YWCA of Northwest Ohio’s Milestones Awards ceremony with some of her former students, from left, independent artist Helen Grubb, 2011 UT graduate; Hannah Lehmann, an art teacher at Ottawa Hills High School, who received degrees from UT in 2011 and 2015; Elyse Simpko, an adjunct instructor in UT’s Department of Art, and a 2008 and 2012 UT alumna; and Danielle Rante, associate professor of art and art history at Wright State University, who received two degrees from UT in 2003. Attie was recognized for her leadership in the arts; she was nominated for the honor by artist Leslie Adams, a 1989 UT alumna.

This year, Attie received the Milestones Award for her outstanding leadership qualities in the field of art from the YWCA of Northwest Ohio. She also is a former recipient of UT’s Outstanding Teacher Award.

Her visionary example has opened doors for other women to follow.

“The Milestones Award has been given to exemplary women in the fields of science, government, business and the arts for 23 years. Standing with these luminous women is an honor because I have enormous respect for their work, dedication and accomplishments,” she said.

Attie received a master of arts degree in painting and drawing from the Cleveland Institute of Art and Case Western Reserve University. In 1962, she began teaching in the Toledo Museum of Art/UT joint degree program in art and art history. She has taught a wide range of studio courses in the Department of Art, including her popular Anatomy/Life Drawing course.

“Truthfully, my inspiration comes from each and every woman teacher I have had, and I can name every one, starting from kindergarten,” Attie said. “Their differing personalities, teaching styles, idiosyncrasies, and special talents add up to an aggregate sum of one ‘super teacher.’ I thank them for my love of learning.

“I am, however, forever grateful to the indefatigable Mary Ryan, who was supervisor of art in the public schools, a mentor throughout my college years, and who made me realize my capabilities. From the Cleveland Institute of Art and Case Western Reserve University, the inspirational Professor Franny Taft held me spellbound with the dynamic delivery of her art history lectures. I remember my thinking as a student — ‘How can she possibly know so many intricate details?’ Perhaps that is why a major credo of my studio teaching has been ‘within every detail, there is a detail.’”

When asked how she strived to foster leadership in her students, Attie replied, “Whether young women or young men, it is most meaningful to find and do what you love, and love what you do. Listen and communicate clearly with others and in the arts particularly, receive and give critique in a constructive, positive light. Read — not just the art journals. Expand your inquiries into all manner of topics, especially science. Therein comes a freshness and cross-fertilization of ideas. Try to give 110 percent to what you want to do. Be relentless.”

For more information about YWCA of Northwest Ohio or Milestones Awards, visit ywcanwo.org.

New organization allows students to train service dogs

Animal companions can have an astounding benefit to the health of their human owners. Decreased stress and lower blood pressure are often observed through interaction with animals.

For many, however, the relationship they have with their four-legged companion can be life-changing. Persons with disabilities make up one of the largest minorities in the United States, and many of those affected have a service animal to help with daily tasks.

Anna Jones, Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence training manager, right, brought Penny, the dog on the right, and Potter, the puppy, to a Rocket Service Dogs meeting, where they met Summer Martin, graduate student in social work, left, and
Danielle Tscherne, graduate student in criminal justice and leader of the Rocket Service Dogs organization.

UT students now have the opportunity to learn more about the support these animals can provide through Rocket Service Dogs. The organization, which is partnered with Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence and the Ability Center of Greater Toledo, encourages students to become puppy sitters and potential service dog trainers.

Dr. Janet Hoy, associate professor in the School of Social Justice and adviser for Rocket Service Dogs, said the idea for the organization came after visiting the Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence training center in Sylvania.

“Service dogs can tremendously increase independence and quality of life for a person living with a disability,” Hoy said. “Unfortunately, there is often a long wait list before a service dog can be obtained. Through providing foster placements and training, Rocket Service Dogs can increase the numbers of service and therapy dogs available to be placed with individuals living with disabilities in the region.”

Through the partnership with Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence, students involved with Rocket Service Dogs will be provided with food, veterinary care and regular classes for their service dog trainees.

Hoy stressed the importance of regular training and socialization: “Service dog training would occur under the direction of an Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence trainer, and would entail attending regular classes and practicing in between to teach a service dog trainee basic commands and later more specialized tasks.

“Socialization of the service dog trainees in a wide variety of settings is also a key part of training; it is imperative that service dog trainees become comfortable out in public in places such as restaurants, stores, sport events, etc.,” she said. “Puppy sitters provide respite care and socialization for the service dog trainees when the primary caregiver/trainer is unable to do so.”

Those who feel they have time and love to give to a future service dog — and a strong interest in learning about dog behavior, human health and disability — are encouraged to reach out to Rocket Service Dogs.

More information on the organization, including upcoming meetings, can be found on its Facebook page, facebook.com/rocketservicedogs.

Student recognized by UTPD for helping lost dog

Miranda Dziobak, third-year biochemistry student, has received The University of Toledo Police Department challenge coin.

The UTPD challenge coin is given to citizens who go the extra mile to help someone in need.

It was a happy holiday for Gizmo, who was found by UT student Miranda Dziobak Dec. 24 and returned to the pet sitter.

On Dec. 24, Dziobak was driving home from her job at Helzberg Diamonds. She was taking Talmadge Road when she saw a strange dark lump in the street. After stopping her car to investigate, she found that it was a small, tan lap dog named Gizmo.

Dziobak attempted calling the number on the dog tag several times, but with no response. She took the dog home for a little while before deciding to take him to the UTPD.

“I honestly just didn’t know where else to take him besides the police station,” Dziobak said. “I really didn’t want to see him go to a shelter because he was seriously so sweet.”

UT Police Chief Jeff Newton shook hands with Miranda Dziobak, a student majoring in biochemistry, after presenting her with the UTPD challenge coin and certificate of appreciation for helping a lost dog named Gizmo.

With the help of UT Police Dispatcher Kendra Ries, Gizmo’s pet sitter, Dr. Paul Schaefer, associate professor and assistant dean for student affairs in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, was contacted.

“I can say that after a lot of panicked searching, hearing from the UT Police that they in fact had Gizmo and he was safe and sound was a moment of true grace,” Schaefer said. “The relief was tremendous as it very much felt like there was going to be a bad ending to this story.”

“We are so grateful that [Dziobak] stopped and saved our silly little dog,” owner Stephanie Scigliano said. “He’s always up for an adventure.”

Dziobak said she wanted to help the dog since she is a huge animal lover and did not want someone to hit him.

“It’s hard to say what the award means to me. I wasn’t expecting anything out of this,” Dziobak said. “I guess it’s nice because it means someone else cares about something that’s really important to me. It’s a restoring-my-faith-in-humanity kind of feeling.”

Ries was impressed with the concern Dziobak expressed over the welfare of the dog and the lengths she went to help.

“She is a breath of fresh air that put Gizmo’s safety and happiness first,” Ries said. “The University should be honored to have students like Ms. Dziobak and should praise her for her actions.”

Toledo Repertoire Theatre to feature play written by UT senior lecturer

Dr. Deborah M. Coulter-Harris has always been intrigued by a good mystery. When she came across the story of the biblical Queen of Sheba, she found herself fascinated by the myth and legend that surrounds her.

“I have relished discovering the many tales of her upbringing, her genetic ancestry, linguistic variations in her name, her cross-dressing, the extent of her empire, and her relations with human men. I believe Sheba could have been Pharaoh Hatshepsut, the first female pharaoh of Egypt,” said Coulter-Harris, senior lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literature.

Coulter-Harris

Coulter-Harris’ project on the queen began with a full-length academic study titled “The Queen of Sheba: Legends, Literature and Lore,” published in 2013 by McFarland Publishers. The book went on to receive worldwide distribution, and is now followed by a play, “Sheba Rules.”

“Of course, there are well-known tales of Sheba in the Bible, Qur’an and Kebra Negast, and all of these major tales have different stories about her,” Coulter-Harris said. “In my play, Sheba is a demigod who historically began the tradition of female demigods in classical literature, such as Medea, Niobe and Helen. She is the archetypal Amazonian warrior queen, who even dressed like a man when dealing with politicians and during public appearances.”

If theater-goers are looking for a play with a strong female lead and the ancient struggles of authority, land, gender and sexuality — and how these topics relate to the current political and cultural climate — they need look no further. Sheba’s road to becoming pharaoh and avoiding marriage is described by the Toledo Repertoire Theatre as “a juicy biographical extravaganza.”

Queen Sheba

“I have made her a ruthless, vengeful, ambitious, brave, skillful and brilliant queen who was single-minded in her duty to her empire and her citizens,” Coulter-Harris said of her protagonist. “I have written a violent play, but the reported murders in the play are symbolic of the feminine overthrowing and eliminating the threat of destructive masculine actions: female abuse, greed, and obsession with power.”

The Toledo Repertoire Theatre will host a staged reading of “Sheba Rules” as part of its “Toledo Voices” series, showcasing unproduced works by local playwrights.

The reading will take place Saturday, March 11, at 8 p.m. at the 10th Street Stage, 16 Tenth St., Toledo. After the play, the audience is invited to stay to talk with Coulter-Harris, the cast and director.

Tickets are $5 and may be purchased by calling 419.243.9277 or at toledorep.org.

Honors students to participate in service learning over spring break

Instead of heading to Miami Beach or the Bahamas for spring break, 20 Jesup Scott Honors College students will travel to Nicaragua and Guatemala to work with “dump dwellers.”

Dump dwellers are people who live in dumps and make their living by picking through the refuse and collecting plastic containers, recyclable materials and anything else they can sell.

The Jesup Scott Honors College has been working with the organization International Samaritan. The Ann Arbor-based philanthropic group works to raise awareness about dump dwellers and to improve conditions for those in the developing world, with a major focus in the Latin Central American countries.

“I am very excited to spend spring break doing service learning abroad,” said Ashley Diel, a third-year communication student. “I studied abroad last semester and am excited to be traveling again, as well as to have the opportunity to have a positive impact on someone’s life.”

Diel and her peers will leave Saturday, March 4.

The service-learning trips have been offered for the past eight years due to student interest, said Dr. Page Armstrong, associate lecturer and director of the Honors College Living and Learning Community. 

“We asked students what else they wanted to have in their honors experience, and one of the first things they said was that they would like to do more community service not just here, but abroad as well,” Armstrong said. “These trips really are student-directed.”

Students will work to improve local schools while in Nicaragua and Guatemala. In the past, students have helped to build kitchens, bathrooms and a nursery. They also will have the opportunity to teach in the classroom.

“It is a life-changing experience,” Armstrong said. “When most people come back, something in their life has changed.”

International Samaritan’s mission is to raise awareness in the United States about the living conditions of the poor in garbage dump communities in the developing world, and to help alleviate poverty in these areas by providing education, infrastructure and health care, among other things.