UT News » News

UT News

Categories

Search News

Archives

Resources

News

All seats sold for tonight’s men’s basketball game; standing-room tickets still available for battle vs. No. 24 Buffalo

The University of Toledo announced that all seats have been sold for tonight’s men’s basketball game between Toledo and No. 24 Buffalo. However, a limited number of standing-room tickets may still be purchased.

Tipoff at Savage Arena is set for 7 p.m. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.

Standing-room tickets can be purchased while supplies last for $10 at the UT Athletic Ticket Office, online at the Toledo Rockets website, or by calling 419.530.GOLD (4653). UT Students are admitted free by presenting their valid Rocket ID card.

To ensure a positive game-day experience, fans are advised to arrive early in order to find parking and get to their seats prior to tipoff. Parking in lots 1, 2, 9, 18 and the east parking garage is included in the price of a ticket.

Tonight’s contest also will be the third annual Rockets for Life game to promote organ donation awareness. A total of 4,000 neon green Rockets for Life T-shirts will be given away at the game.

The Rockets are 20-4 overall and in first place in the Mid-American Conference’s West Division with an 8-3 league record. Buffalo is 21-3 overall and tied for first place in the MAC’s East Division with a 9-2 league mark.

Transgender pianist to visit campus for evening of conversation and music Feb. 19

Pianist Sara Davis Buechner is coming to town to perform with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22 and 23. Before that, she will stop at the UT Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall to chat with students, faculty and community fans Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m.

At this event — co-sponsored by the UT Department of Music, the UT Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, and the Toledo Symphony Orchestra — Buechner will share her experiences as a musician and the inspiring story of how her gender transformation impacted her career. A Steinway also will be on hand in case she feels moved to give a concert preview.

Buechner

Buechner also will present a master class for students Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 3 p.m., in the Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.

Admission to the talk and the master class is free.

Noted for her musical command, cosmopolitan artistry and visionary independence, Buechner is lauded for her “intelligence, integrity and all-encompassing technical prowess” (The New York Times), “thoughtful artistry in the full service of music” (The Washington Post), and “astounding virtuosity” (The Philippine Star). Japan’s InTune Magazine summed up: “Buechner has no superior.”

Buechner has performed in every state and province of North America — as recitalist, chamber musician and soloist with top orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra; and in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and the Hollywood Bowl. She has toured throughout Latin and South America and Europe; and she has a special following in Asia, where she has been a featured soloist with the Sydney Symphony, New Zealand Philharmonic, New Japan Philharmonic and Shanghai Philharmonic, among others.

Buechner has released numerous acclaimed recordings of rare piano music by composers such as Rudolf Friml (“a revelation” — The New York Times), Dana Suesse, Joseph Lamb, Joaquín Turina, Miklós Rózsa and Ferruccio Busoni. Stereophile magazine selected her Gershwin CD as Recording of the Month, and her interpretation of Hollywood piano concertos won Germany’s coveted Deutsches Schauplatten Preis. Most recently, her recorded traversal of the score to Carl Dreiser’s 1925 silent movie classic, “Master of the House,” is available on Criterion Collection DVD.

She joined the faculty of Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance in 2016, after previously teaching at the Manhattan School of Music, New York University and the University of British Columbia. She has presented master classes and workshops at major pedagogic venues worldwide, adjudicated international piano competitions, and is a contributing editor for Dover Publications International.

As a proud transgender woman, Buechner appears as a speaker and performer at LGBTQ events and has contributed interviews and articles about her experience to numerous media outlets worldwide.

Dean named to DriveOhio Advisory Board

Dr. Michael Toole, dean of the UT College of Engineering, has been named to the DriveOhio Government Advisory Board.

He was appointed to the seven-member board by outgoing Gov. John Kasich.

Toole

DriveOhio is an initiative in the Ohio Department of Transportation charged with accelerating smart vehicle and connected vehicle projects in the state.

“It is an honor to serve on this board and represent The University of Toledo,” Toole said.

Toole, who was named dean of the UT College of Engineering in 2017, received a PhD in technology strategy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has focused his research on innovation in design, construction and infrastructure. He is a professional engineer and a Fellow in the American Society of Civil Engineers.

During the past year, the UT College of Engineering has offered a five-part series on autonomous vehicles in partnership with AAA of Northwestern Ohio, Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority, Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, DGL Consulting Engineers LLC and Path Master Inc.

“The UT College of Engineering’s participation in this series has given me a strong appreciation for the important research being conducted at the University on related research topics such as cybersecurity, distributed networks, connected infrastructure, advanced materials and mechatronics,” Toole said.

DriveOhio’s mission is to serve as the state’s central hub for smart mobility — the use of technology to move people and goods from one place to another as effectively as possible.

The government organization is a single point of contact for policymakers, agencies, researchers and private companies to work together on smart transportation.

Lake Erie Center talk to focus on saving birds in urban areas

We often hear about the psychological benefits of reconnecting with nature. Take a walk. Listen to birds chirping. Plant flowers.

Bringing people back into harmony with nature also can save wildlife.

Shumar

The University of Toledo Lake Erie Center is hosting a free, public event about community-level solutions to wildlife conservation in an increasingly urban landscape.

Matthew Shumar, program coordinator for the Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative and co-editor of “The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Ohio,” will give a talk titled “It Takes a Village” Thursday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Lake Erie Center, 6200 Bayshore Road in Oregon.

The avian ecologist plans to speak about the Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative’s Lights Out program designed to address light and glass issues that threaten birds in urban areas.

“Artificial lighting has become a major concern for migratory bird populations,” Shumar said. “Birds attracted to bright lighting often fatally collide with buildings, and it is estimated that between 365 and 988 million birds are killed by collisions each year in the United States.”

“Programs like the ones led by Matt are making a measurable difference in human impacts on migratory birds,” said Dr. Henry Streby, ornithologist and assistant professor in the UT Department of Environmental Sciences. “Often the hardest part is gaining the attention of the public and policymakers about small changes that can make big differences for conservation. That’s the hard work that Matt and his colleagues are taking on.”

Streby studies rare songbirds and red-headed woodpeckers. His groundbreaking migration research revealed the key to population declines in golden-winged warblers.

The Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative is a collaboration of nonprofit groups, businesses, citizens, and state and federal agencies working to advance bird conservation efforts.

Shumar’s talk is part of the Lake Erie Center’s Public Lecture Series.

A shuttle will be available to transport passengers from UT’s Main Campus to the Lake Erie Center and back. The shuttle will depart at 6:15 p.m. from the south side of Bowman-Oddy Laboratories, 3100 West Towerview Blvd. Passengers must reserve a spot. Email lakeeriecenter@utoledo.edu or call 419.530.8360 to make a reservation for the shuttle.

The Lake Erie Center is UT’s freshwater research and science education campus focused on finding solutions to water quality issues that face the Great Lakes, including harmful algal blooms, invasive species and pollutants.

Water quality is a major research focus at UT. With more than $14 million in active grants underway, researchers are looking for pathways to restore our greatest natural resource for future generations.

UT’s Center of Muslim Women to be topic of Feb. 19 lunch

Last fall, the UT Women’s and Gender Studies Department opened the Center of Muslim Women.

The center is housed within the Women’s and Gender Studies Department in University Hall.

Abdel-Halim

Campus and community members are invited to learn more about the center Tuesday, Feb. 19, from noon to 1 p.m. during a lunch program hosted by the Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women. The free event will be held in Tucker Hall Room 015.

The center is a college-based entity serving the University and community as a resource center, a hub for programming, a research forum, and a gathering and support space for all UT students, faculty, staff and local residents interested in Muslim women’s issues.

“The center shall promote an understanding of Muslim women’s rights domestically and internationally,” said Dr. Asma Abdel-Halim, UT associate professor of women’s and gender studies, and director of the center. “We hope that it also creates interaction with all professional groups and individuals who have an interest in women’s issues and gender in Islam.”

Abdel-Halim said the center’s creation was possible with the support of Dr. S. Amjad Hussain, UT professor emeritus of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, and former member of the University Board of Trustees; Dr. Sharon Barnes, professor and chair of the UT Department of Women’s and Gender Studies; and Charlene Gilbert, dean of the UT College of Arts and Letters.

A hope for the center is to create an inclusive environment working on different objectives, including but not limited to assisting students studying women in Islam to connect with experts at the University and in the community.

“The center is intended to utilize faculty and staff expertise in Muslim women’s status, gender and feminist issues to build a resource site for sharing knowledge and in-depth discussion of Muslim women, their issues and their lives,” Abdel-Halim said. “It is also intended to assist Muslim women students, faculty and staff in taking their place in the community, and to dismiss myths about them, their religion and their traditions.”

In addition, Abdel-Halim said the center will raise awareness about complex, intersectional issues of gender, religion, global location and culture among Muslim people.

For more information on the center, contact Abdel-Halim at asma.abdel-halim@utoledo.edu

UT researcher awarded $792,000 grant to further work on new way to detect early-stage breast cancer

Without treatment, more than 40 percent of precancerous breast lesions could develop into invasive breast cancer.

But what if scientists could more accurately predict which lesions are likely to become cancerous, or better yet, provide women a way to prevent the lesions from forming in the first place?

Dr. Saori Furuta, front left, received a $792,000 grant from the American Cancer Society to study precancerous breast lesions with her team, from left, Dr. Xunzhen Zheng, postdoctoral researcher;
Dr. Gang Ren, graduate student in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics; Matthew Bommarito, research technician; and Joshua Letson and Yashna Walia, graduate research assistants.

Dr. Saori Furuta, assistant professor in the Department of Cancer Biology, believes that might be within reach.

Furuta has spent years exploring the role nitric oxide plays in the development of precancerous lesions. Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule produced throughout the body, and abnormal levels of it in mammary cells has been implicated in the formation of early-stage cancer.

Now Furuta is investigating how nitric oxide, in its proper concentration, can suppress tumors from forming, and whether its abnormal concentrations might be able to be used as a biomarker that identifies women with or at risk of developing early-stage cancer.

“We have made great progress in diagnosing and treating breast cancer, but it remains a lethal disease. One in eight women will get breast cancer during her lifetime, making it the second leading cause of cancer death among women,” Furuta said. “The hope is that this study will not only advance our understanding of the cause of breast cancer, but also contribute to the development of new approaches to prevention and early detection methods. Taken together, those methods could save lives.”

Furuta’s research is being funded by a multi-year $795,000 research grant from the American Cancer Society. The study was one of 74 funded earlier this year by the American Cancer Society across the United States.

“Dr. Furuta’s goal in finding the causes of precancerous lesions could further the progress in breast cancer prevention and treatment, helping to save lives,” said Sarah Wells, executive director of the Northern Ohio American Cancer Society. “This new research grant at The University of Toledo is just one example of how the American Cancer Society is leading the fight against cancer with the support of our local community and partners.”

Furuta has already examined the link between abnormal — too high or too low — levels of nitric oxide and mammary tumor formation. This research will take that prior work a step further by investigating the mechanisms by which a normal level serves to protect breast cells.

To do that, Furuta’s lab will use a mouse model in which tumor-promoting genes have been altered so they would not be affected by nitric oxide. Researchers will be able to test whether those specific genes produce mammary tumors, similar to how they do when nitric oxide levels are abnormal.

Lab tests also will be conducted on normal human breast tissue, as well as tissue from different stages of cancer to determine how the level of nitric oxide changes as cancer develops and progresses.

“Ultimately, we want to test whether proteins secreted in the blood and urine are also modified by nitric oxide and whether such analyses could be utilized in biological tests to diagnose breast cancer,” Furuta said. “Since there is no such diagnostic test available for many types of cancers, this would be a breakthrough.”

The grant from the American Cancer Society was preceded by an anonymous $50,000 gift from one of the members of The University of Toledo Medical Research Society to begin preliminary research.

“Utilizing the donation, we finished some of the critical experiments and re-sent our proposal,” Furuta said. “Without the generous support, this would have been impossible.”

Criminal Justice and Legal Specialties Career Fair Feb. 14

Representatives from nearly 100 employers, including local, state and federal government, law enforcement agencies and private law firms, will be on The University of Toledo campus Thursday, Feb. 14, for the annual Criminal Justice and Legal Specialties Career Fair.

The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium. Graduate and undergraduate students of all majors and programs are invited to attend.

Among the employers recruiting full-time employees or interns are the Toledo Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service, Legal Aid of Western Ohio Inc., Marshall & Melhorn LLC and Marathon Petroleum.

“This is an excellent opportunity for students to see the possibilities available after graduation, as well as what internships are available at these agencies,” said Dr. Wendi Goodlin-Fahncke, associate professor of criminal justice in the UT College of Health and Human Services.

Attendees are asked to dress professionally and bring their resumés.

No advanced registration is necessary, though students will be asked to check in on arrival.

UPDATED: Campus operations to resume at noon; Classes to resume at 2 p.m.

Campus operations will resume at The University of Toledo at noon today, Tuesday, Feb. 12. Classes that start at 2 p.m. or later will resume their normal schedule.

All employees should report to work at noon and resume their normal schedule. Employees unable to report to work should contact their supervisor to request the appropriate leave approval.

The University had canceled morning classes due to severe weather. Conditions on campus continue to improve, however, caution is advised as icy conditions may cause slick spots on campus. Please report any concerns –– call 419.530.1000 on Main Campus and 419.383.5353 on Health Science Campus.

Any additional updates will be made available at utoledo.edu/weather.

UT research looks at fiber as a trigger and cure for inflammatory bowel disease

New research from The University of Toledo’s College of Medicine and Life Sciences may give patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease a better roadmap for managing their symptoms by changing the type of fiber they eat during flare-ups.

Because there’s no cure for the chronic condition, patients living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis — the two most common types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) — often rely on anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive drugs and careful diet planning to manage their symptoms, said Dr. Matam Vijay-Kumar, the senior author on the study and director of the UT Microbiome Consortium and associate professor in the UT Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.

Research conducted by Dr. Vishal Singh suggests foods high in the dietary fiber pectin, found in apples and extractable from orange peels, may help individuals with inflammatory bowel disease.

But even that can seem like guesswork.

“IBD can be a debilitating condition and its prevalence is on the rise. For IBD patients, there has been a puzzling question of why they report poor tolerance to certain types of dietary fibers,” said Dr. Vishal Singh, a Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Fellow mentored by Vijay-Kumar at UT.

“For healthy people, dietary fibers are good,” he said. “But when it comes to the IBD patients, not all-natural fibers are created equal; thus, their metabolism is distinct. We wanted to understand why.”

In a study published last month in the gastroenterology journal Gut, a team of UT researchers demonstrated a diet rich in pectin or pectin-derived fibers may be a better alternative to the prevailing dietary fiber guidelines aimed at helping patients improve their IBD symptoms.

The study also confirmed that inulin and inulin-like fiber exacerbated colitis in lab mice.

Inulin and pectin are two of the most common refined fibers added to processed foods as a way to add texture and boost their health appeal. Both are indigestible soluble fibers, Vijay-Kumar said, but they require different bacterial enzymes to be broken down in the gut into short-chain fatty acids.
“Many patients try to avoid fiber,” said Singh, the study’s first author. “However, the research shows it’s not about reducing fiber in general, but getting the right kind into your system.”

Singh and his fellow researchers said the finding could assist patients in developing a better diet for managing or preventing flare-ups.

“Following strict dietary guidelines is not new for IBD patients. Physicians often recommend patients limit or avoid a group of foods that contain fermentable carbohydrates, commonly known as the low-FODMAP diet,” Vijay-Kumar said. “Pectin is not included in that diet, but our research shows it brings a clear benefit.”

The study was supported by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, and the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

In the study, researchers examined the role played by bacteria that naturally reside in the gut. They demonstrated that inulin promoted accelerated growth of one particular harmful bacterial strain, while pectin did not.

They also found that a brief period of fasting may boost the body’s production of a physiological inflammation inhibitor that can protect against the inflammatory reaction caused by the gut bacteria processing inulin.

“For me, this study connects very well from bench to bedside,” Singh said. “If an IBD patient is noticing complications after eating some type of food, they can look to see if it is rich in inulin or inulin-type fibers. If it is, they can switch to foods enriched with pectin.”

Pectin is found naturally in a variety of foods, including apples. It also can be derived from other natural sources, such as orange peels, and used as a food additive.

Though the study looked only at pectin and inulin, the team hopes to conduct similar studies on a wide variety of dietary fibers present in processed foods with the goal of learning more about how different types of fiber cause or reduce colonic inflammation.

UT scientists advance new technology to protect drinking water from Lake Erie algal toxins

Before the 2014 Toledo Water Crisis left half a million residents without safe drinking water for three days, Dr. Jason Huntley’s research at The University of Toledo focused on bacteria that cause pneumonia.

After the harmful algal bloom prompted the city of Toledo’s “Do Not Drink” advisory, the microbiologist expanded his research projects to target microcystin.

Huntley

“I live here, and I have a young son,” said Huntley, associate professor in the UT Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. “I don’t want toxins in the water, and I am committed to helping the water treatment plant protect the public.”

Huntley’s research lab recently made major progress in his mission to create a biofilter that uses naturally occurring Lake Erie bacteria to remove microcystin released by harmful algal blooms from drinking water, reducing or eliminating the use of chlorine and other chemicals.

“We’ve identified groups of bacteria in Lake Erie that can be used to naturally purify water. To our knowledge, these bacteria have not been previously used to fight harmful algal blooms in other parts of the world,” Huntley said.

The microbiologists successfully isolated bacteria from Lake Erie that degrade the microcystin toxin known as MC-LR — the most toxic, most common and most closely linked to liver cancer and other diseases — at a daily rate of up to 19 parts per billion (ppb).

Water analysts and toxicologists measure microcystin and other contaminants using the metric of ppb; one ppb is one part in 1 billion. These ppb numbers are important for human health because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that young children not drink water containing more than 0.3 ppb of microcystin and adults not drink water containing more than 1.6 ppb of microcystin.

“The bacteria we’ve identified can degrade much more toxin than was reported in the 2014 water crisis,” Huntley said. “Based on recorded toxin levels in Lake Erie in recent years, these rates would be able to effectively remove microcystin from water supplies.”

None of the 13 microcystin-degrading bacterial isolates has been associated with human disease, so their use in future water-purifying biofilters is unlikely to be a public health concern. The identified bacteria are Flectobacillus major, Pseudomonas lutea, Agrobacterium albertimagni, Leadbetterella byssophila, Pseudomonas putida, Flectobacillus major, Pseudomonas hunanensis, Runella slithyformis, Porphyrobacter sp., Pseudomonas parafulva, Sphingobium yanoikuyae, Pseudomonas fluorescens and Sphingobium yanoikuyae.

The research is published in the February issue of the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

Researchers in Australia, China and other countries also have identified bacteria that can chew up and break down microcystin from algal blooms; however, Huntley said those specific types of bacteria were not found in any of his Lake Erie studies.

The lab-scale biofilters used during Dr. Jason Huntley’s research are sand filters that contain biologically active bacteria that break down microcystin toxins.

Thirteen water samples used for the study were collected from visible algal blooms in the summers of 2014 and 2015 in the western basin of Lake Erie. The scientists added MC-LR to each water sample every three to four days for approximately four weeks, alongside a control group that did not receive additional MC-LR.

The lab used multiple approaches to confirm the microcystin degradation results, including mass spectrometry and the ELISA test, which is the standard method water treatment plant operators use to measure microcystin concentration during algal bloom season.

His lab is now in the process of identifying the enzymatic pathways the bacteria use to break down microcystin.

Currently, municipal water treatment plants remove or degrade microcystin using methods such as chlorination, ozonation, activated carbon adsorption and flocculation.

“Those techniques are not ideal because of high costs, limited removal efficiencies, and they lead to the production of harmful byproducts or hazardous waste,” Huntley said. “Biofilters are a cost-effective and safe alternative to the use of chemicals and other conventional water treatment practices.”

“We’re very excited about the research and the findings,” said Andrew McClure, administrator for the city of Toledo’s Collins Park Water Treatment Plant. “We’ve had preliminary talks with Dr. Huntley about ways we can implement it as a treatment technique in our plant’s process.”

Huntley’s team is developing and testing biofilters — water filters containing the specialized bacteria that degrade microcystin toxins from lake water as it flows through the filter. Huntley holds a provisional patent on this technology.

The research was supported by grants from the Ohio Department of Higher Education through the state’s Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative, which consists of 54 science teams at universities across the state seeking solutions to address toxic algae in Lake Erie.

“This is another great example of how Ohio Department of Higher Education-funded research is producing solutions that directly benefit Ohio EPA and those water treatment plant operators responsible for managing our drinking water,” said Dr. Chris Winslow, director of Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory at Ohio State University.