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State certifies UTPD for adopting standards to strengthen community and police relations

The Ohio Department of Public Safety certified The University of Toledo Police Department for meeting the third and latest group of new state standards for bias-free policing and investigation of employee misconduct.

The new standards include the first of their kind in the state developed by the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board in 2015 to strengthen community and police relations.

In the last two years, the state certified the UTPD for adopting two previous groups of new standards for the use of deadly force; agency recruitment and hiring; community engagement; and body-worn cameras.

The UT Police Department joins more than 500 other law enforcement agencies that are implementing Ohio’s first standards and public expectations. The UTPD is one of about 35 law enforcement agencies in the state that have achieved all three groups of standards.

“We are pleased the University meets or exceeds the state standards,” UT Police Chief Jeff Newton said. “Building trust begins with assuring our community The University of Toledo Police Department is using best practices. I am grateful to my dedicated staff for this notable accomplishment.”

For more information, visit the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board’s website.

UT scientist studies cannabis to control parasites

Anthropologists have observed that the members of a tribe in Africa’s Congo Basin who regularly smoke marijuana have far fewer intestinal parasites than tribe members who don’t use cannabis.

It was a curious finding that suggested an interesting, if unintentional, example of medical marijuana.


Now a University of Toledo researcher believes he knows why — and potentially how to harness that knowledge to develop new treatments that could rid humans and livestock of roundworms without relying on traditional anthelmintic drugs.

“Studying how nematodes reacted to cannabis gave us a window into a potential new mode of action,” said Dr. Richard Komuniecki, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences at The University of Toledo. “Cannabis really limits locomotion in these animals, and they exhibit a dazed and confused behavior. They can’t decide whether to move forward or backward, which is a druggable phenotype.”

Most anti-parasitic drugs currently on the market to treat intestinal parasites work by causing paralysis in the worms, allowing the body to expel them. It is possible the limited locomotion Komuniecki’s work has observed could be enough to release the worm from the host.

While additional animal testing is needed to confirm the theory, the early findings from Komuniecki and his graduate student researchers, Wenjin Law and Mitchell Oakes, are significant because of their potential to add a new treatment in an area that hasn’t seen much recent development.

“In contrast to things like bacteria where we can develop antibiotics, these animals are so closely related to humans that usually compounds that kill nematodes also kill humans,” Komuniecki said. “Anthelmintic drug discovery has been very slow for that reason. Also, resistance is beginning to arise in a lot of the compounds on the market today.”

For his initial research, Komuniecki introduced cannabinoids to a non-parasitic nematode, or roundworm, known as Caenorhabditis elegans. The tiny worms, which have long been used in scientific research, stopped feeding and exhibited erratic motor function once they were exposed to the compounds.

After studying the worm’s reaction, UT researchers determined they could produce the same reaction by targeting the worms’ serotonin receptors. Komuniecki has worked with Dr. Paul Erhardt, Distinguished University Professor and director of UT’s Center for Drug Design and Development, to identify compounds that could be used as treatment.

“The cannabis work allowed us to identify these receptors as novel drug targets,” Komuniecki said.

More than 2 billion people worldwide are affected by parasites, while the global agricultural industry loses billions of dollars a year to parasitic infections.

Komuniecki’s work on parasitic worms has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for more than 35 years.

UT student receives Google Women Techmakers Scholarship

Naba Rizvi is one of 20 students who received the Google Women Techmakers Scholarship this year. The $10,000 award includes a scholar retreat and connects the winners with Google scholars around the world.

At the retreat in August, the UT sophomore majoring in information technology in the College of Engineering and other scholarship recipients visited the Google campuses, including the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif.

UT student Naba Rizvi rode a bicycle outside the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif., before posing for a photo with the other Google Women Techmakers Scholarship recipients during a retreat in August.

“It was an incredibly motivating and empowering experience to be surrounded by people who shared my interest in technology and passion for breaking barriers in computer science,” Rizvi said. “I met some very incredible people who I am sure I will be friends with for years to come.”

“We are proud of Naba Rizvi, who is a very deserving recipient of the Google Women Techmakers Scholarship,” Dr. Michael Toole, dean of the UT College of Engineering, said. “It is an honor to have one of our students selected as one of 20 women in the country to receive this award, and it shows the strength of our Engineering Technology Department in the College of Engineering.”

“Naba has made a tremendous impact on the community of women in tech at The University of Toledo. In addition to her role as the founder of the UT Association of Computing Machinery Women’s Chapter, she has been at the forefront of several initiatives related to tech on campus,” Dr. Lesley Berhan, associate dean for diversity, inclusion and community engagement in the UT College of Engineering, said. “We are incredibly proud of her as UT’s first recipient of this prestigious scholarship.”

The criteria for the scholarship include having a strong academic record, technical experience, financial need, and passion for increasing diversity in computer science.

Naba Rizvi found the Pakistan flag during International Village, an event organized by the International Student Association and held in the Thompson Student Union.

“At the retreat, we networked with fellow scholars, students in Google’s CodeU program and Google engineers,” she said. “The retreat had a strong emphasis on professional development, and we had the opportunity to attend breakout sessions, such as ‘The Art of Networking,’ a resumé workshop and a careers panel.”

Information technology wasn’t always the desired career path for Rizvi. She first majored in political science.

“Prior to attending UT, I was at a community college in Michigan and really confused about what direction I wanted to take with my career,” she said.

Rizvi completed a research fellowship at the University of Michigan, but technology challenged her creative mind. “Technology allows me to combine my creative problem-solving skills with my interest in helping humanity,” she said.

The University of Toledo was a place where Rizvi could follow her dreams. She was impressed with the scholarships and opportunities that UT offers.

“For me, enrolling at UT was the fastest path to becoming financially independent since I knew I could support myself with scholarships, internships and on-campus employment.”

Rizvi is a Pakistani citizen who has moved around a lot.

“I was born in Pakistan and lived there until I was around 3 and moved to Saudi Arabia. I spent my teenage years in Canada and moved to Michigan when I was 19,” she said.

Toledo feels like home these days. At the University, she is chief operations officer for CodeWeGo, a startup she launched with UT students Carla Marzari and Yizhen Shi. The education-technology company seeks to increase diversity in computer science by breaking language barriers.

“I am going to devote the next few years of my life completely to my startup and am so excited to see where this journey takes me,” Rizvi, a student in the Jesup Scott Honors College, said.

In addition, Rizvi is founder and chair of the Association of Computing Machinery Women’s Chapter, a web developer for the College of Engineering College Computing, and a resident adviser for MacKinnon, Scott and Tucker halls.

UT runner finishes strong at NCAA Championships

Junior Athena Welsh wrapped her cross country season, representing Toledo with an 85th-place finish (20:59.1) at the NCAA Championships Nov. 17 in Madison, Wis.

“It was a really great experience,” Welsh said. “I had a lot of fun, and it was really cool to finally get to a national meet and see what it’s all about and kind of see how I stacked up.”

Athena Welsh finished 85th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships Saturday in Madison, Wis.

Despite the cold and a snow-slicked course, Welsh ran a strong race, landing in the top 100 out of 253 competitors.

“I thought it was a great race,” said Head Coach Linh Nguyen. “When you get into a race like this, everybody’s good. And there are probably 80 to 90 women who could be All-American on any given day. I feel like for Athena to get in there and finish 85th is a pretty good result, especially for a first-time trip.”

Colorado’s Dani Jones won the individual title, stopping the clock at 19:42.8, leading the Colorado team to a championship title with a score of 65.

“I think it was a good way to end the season,” Welsh said. “I think my season overall was really good, so this was probably the best way to end it.”

Welsh’s championship journey to the NCAAs began in August at the Toledo Opener, where she led the pack with a 5K time of 14:21.5. She would continue to reach new heights over the course of the season, picking up individual victories from the Mel Brodt Opener (17:06.1) and All-Ohio Championships (21:01.5), while taking second at the Bradley Pink Classic (20:36.1). Battling in a cold drizzle on a late October day, Welsh took second in the Mid-American Conference Championships (20:37.9), missing an individual title by a heartbreaking three seconds. She bounced back the following week with a time of 20:13.4 at the NCAA Regional meet to reclaim the 17th-place spot she had captured in the year prior.

With the cross country championships concluded, Nguyen has sights sets on the upcoming track and field season.

“For track, we are just going to try to build off of this,” Nguyen said. “And once you go to one national meet, you want to keep going, so the goal is to have really strong seasons following this one and to get some athletes into the national championships.”

Welsh and the Rockets kick off the indoor track and field season at the Grand Valley Holiday Open Friday, Dec. 7, in Allendale, Mich.

Runner to cap off season at national championship race

Junior Athena Welsh will represent the Toledo women’s cross country team in the NCAA Championships Saturday, Nov. 17.

She was announced as an automatic qualifier during the NCAA’s inaugural Cross Country Selection Show.


Welsh had a breakout season, claiming the individual crown in three of the four regular season races, helping the Rockets land consistently in the top five in team standings throughout the year. In the Mid-American Conference Championships, Welsh took runner-up (20:37.9), only three seconds behind Eastern Michigan’s Natalie Cizmas.

At the NCAA Regional Nov. 9, Welsh finished in 17th with a time of 20:55.2, helping the Rockets take ninth in the team standings.

Last season, Welsh also landed in 17th (20:58), the highest a Rocket had placed in the regionals since 2014.

The NCAA Championships will take place at the Zimmer Championship Course in Madison, Wis. The women’s 6K will begin at 10:45 a.m.

Work proceeding to renovate, expand Glendale Medical East

UT Medical Center continues to look for opportunities to be more efficient and align hospital resources with clinical priorities. This winter, the hospital will focus those efforts into renovating and expanding Glendale Medical East to meet the primary care needs of patients with increased access and convenience.

The comprehensive health and wellness center will pair family medicine and internal medicine subspecialists in pulmonology, endocrinology, nephrology, cardiology and gastroenterology who will relocate from Ruppert Medical Center. South Toledo Internists also will relocate their practice from Glendale Medical Center.

The facility will feature an additional 44 exam rooms, a retail and specialty pharmacy, general x-ray and basic lab draws. Academic space, a break room and locker rooms also will be incorporated. The convenience of centralized registration will make check-in easy for patients, and with subspecialties co-located in the same building, physician communication and referrals to subspecialties will be improved.

Construction is expected to conclude in spring 2019. Once clinics locate their practices to Glendale Medical East, vacant space in Ruppert Medical Center will be used to accommodate expansion of remaining clinics, as well as providing additional space for outpatient behavioral health services.

“Thank you to the family medicine and internal medicine teams for their input during the design process, and to Facilities and Construction for their diligent work in facilitating the capital improvements,” Allen Siefert, chief administrative officer of outpatient integrated clinic operations, said.

UTMC is working with partners in clinical offices and facilities to make these transitions as smooth as possible and will continue to share updates as construction progresses.

Rockets pound Kent State, 56-34

Redshirt freshman Bryant Koback ran for a season-high 192 yards and two touchdowns to lead Toledo to a 56-34 victory over Kent State at wintry Dix Stadium in Kent Thursday night.

It was the sixth win of the season for Toledo (6-5, 4-3 Mid-American Conference), making the Rockets bowl eligible for the ninth consecutive season. It also was the fifth time this season Toledo topped the 50-point mark, a school record.

Diontae Johnson scored on an 83-yard punt return in Toledo’s 56-34 victory over Kent State Thursday night.

Junior Art Thompkins added 122 yards and two scores to Toledo’s running attack, which racked up a season-high 384 yards. Sophomore quarterback Eli Peters completed 11 of 14 passes for 131 yards and two scores. Junior Diontae Johnson helped the cause with an 83-yard punt return just before halftime that gave Toledo a 28-17 lead going into the locker room. Toledo then scored three quick touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 49-17 lead that ended Kent State’s hopes of an upset on a night that featured rain, sleet and snow.

Kent State opened the scoring on its first possession with a four-play, 52-yard drive that was capped by a seven-yard touchdown run by quarterback Woody Barrett.

Toledo answered with a 31-yard TD run by junior Thompkins. After the Golden Flashes went three-and-out, Toledo responded with a nine-play, 85-yard drive to give the Rockets a 14-7 lead. Peters finished off the drive with a three-yard pass to junior tight end Reggie Gilliam.

Koback made it 21-7 with a 44-yard TD run on third-and-six play on UT’s first possession of the second quarter. Kent trimmed the lead to 21-10 on a 27-yard field goal by Matthew Trickett with 11:09 left in the half. After a Toledo drive stalled, KSU struck again, this time on a 19-yard TD pass from Barrett to Isiah McKoy. With three minutes left in the half, Diontae Johnson returned a punt 83 yards for the score, rebuilding the UT lead to 28-17.

In the third quarter, Toledo got off to a quick start, scoring on a 15-yard run by Koback that moved its lead to 35-17. On the very next play from scrimmage, senior linebacker Tyler Taafe picked off Barrett and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown. Moments later, Peters hit Jon’Vea Johnson over the middle for a 55-yard touchdown to make the score 49-17 with 10:06 left in the quarter. Kent State countered with a 76-yard TD run by Jo-el Shaw to trim the lead to 49-24. Moments later, the Flashes connected on a 38-yard field goal to cut the margin to 49-27.

Thompkins shouldered the load on Toledo’s next drive, moving the ball downfield on a 43-yard run at the end of the third quarter before finishing off the sequence with a one-yard score on the first play of the fourth period. Kent State finished off the night with a late score on a short flip TD pass from Dustin Crum to Mike Carrigan.

Up next, the Rockets will close out the regular season vs. Central Michigan Friday, Nov. 23, at the Glass Bowl. Kickoff is set for noon.

For tickets, go to the Toledo Rockets website, call 419.530.GOLD (4653), or stop by the UT Athletic Ticket Office in Savage Arena. UT employees and retirees may purchase tickets at half-price; UT students are admitted free with ID.

Rocket football great to lead Toledo holiday parade Nov. 17

Former UT and NFL quarterback Bruce Gradkowski will be the grand marshal for The Blade Holiday Parade.

The 31st annual parade will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, in downtown Toledo and include more than 70 participants, including color guards, giant balloons, clowns, marching bands and dance teams.

Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski led the Rockets to the 2004 Mid-American Conference Championship.

The parade will start on Summit Street at Jefferson Avenue and proceed north on Summit to Jackson Street, west on Jackson to Huron Street, south on Huron to Washing Street, and east on Washington to Summit.

Santa Claus also will be in attendance during the parade and afterward at Imagination Station.

Gradkowski played for Toledo from 2001 to 2005 and led the Rockets to the 2004 Mid-American Conference Championship and two bowl appearances. He earned first-team All-MAC honors as a senior in 2005, finishing his career with a 45-13 triumph over the University of Texas at El Paso in the GMAC Bowl.

After a record-breaking career as a Toledo Rocket, Gradkowski played 11 seasons in the NFL with Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Oakland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

The 2005 UT alumnus now shares his expertise as a color analyst for the Rocket Football Radio Network and is a co-host of a weekly NFL radio show on SiriusXM.

Gradkowski is a local restaurant owner and a community ambassador for ProMedica. He recently received a 20 Under 40 Leadership Award from Leadership Toledo, which honors individuals who have distinguished themselves in their career and/or as a volunteer in the community.

Ohio poet laureate to read work, sign books Nov. 20

Dr. Dave Lucas is a poet on a mission.

“I don’t want to convince you that you should love poetry. I want to convince you that you already do,” he wrote in a column for the Ohio Arts Council.


“If you know by heart the lyrics to your favorite song, you already love one kind of poetry. You love another whenever you laugh at a joke or groan over a bad pun. The jargon of your profession and the slang you speak with friends are poetry. So are the metaphors we use to describe this world we all are trying to understand.”

Lucas, who began his two-year term as Ohio poet laureate in January, will visit The University of Toledo Tuesday, Nov. 20, to talk about his love of words and read his work. The free, public event will take place at 7 p.m. in Libbey Hall.

He also will sign copies of his first collection of poetry, “Weather,” which was published in 2011 and won the 2012 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. That work also caught the attention of Rita Dove, former U.S. poet laureate, who called Lucas one of 13 “young poets to watch.”

“I’m excited we’re able to bring Dave Lucas to campus,” Dr. Benjamin Stroud, UT associate professor of English, said. “He’s not just an excellent poet, but a great advocate for poetry and, more widely, all the literary arts. He provides a great model to students — and everyone — for how to hone your own craft while also supporting the larger community of poets and writers.”

Since being named the state’s poet laureate Jan. 1, Lucas has been trying to debunk the lofty notions of the measured word.

“Poetry happens — in metaphors or jokes or in poems themselves — at that place where sound and sense blur into each other,” he wrote on the Ohio Arts Council website. “We may not realize that we are under the spell of poetry, because poetry is made of ordinary language (if language can ever be ordinary). Some words we use to toast a wedding or to bless the dead; others we use to order a pizza.”

That everyday sense was at the forefront of his class called Poetry for People Who Hate Poetry at Case Western Reserve University, and with Brews + Prose, a reading series he co-founded and co-curated with the slogan “literature is better with beer.”

Lucas’ poetry is featured in anthologies “The Bedford Introduction to Literature” and “Best New Poets 2015,” and has appeared in several journals, including The American Poetry Review, Blackbird, The Paris Review, Poetry and Slate.

The Cleveland native received a bachelor of arts degree from John Carroll University, a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Virginia, and master of arts and doctoral degrees in English language and literature from the University of Michigan.

His visit is presented by the Department of English Language and Literature, and the College of Arts and Letters.

For more information, contact Stroud at benjamin.stroud@utoledo.edu or 419.530.2086.

UT Rocket Marching Band to perform Nov. 17 in Valentine Theatre

The University of Toledo Rocket Marching Band will take its show on the road to an indoor venue. The Sounds of the Stadium Concert will be held Saturday, Nov. 17, at 8 p.m. at the Valentine Theatre, 410 Adams St.

The band will perform music from the 2018 football season.

The UT Rocket Marching Band performed during the 2018 Edward C. and Helen G. Schmakel Homecoming Parade.

Highlights of the program will include the music of Panic! at the Disco, Elton John, show tunes from “The Greatest Showman,” and traditional UT favorites.

Tickets are $7 each. Discount tickets are available for groups of 10 and more.

Tickets are available through the UT Center for Performing Arts Box Office, 419.530.ARTS (2787), and on the School of Visual and Performing Arts website, as well as through the Valentine Theatre Box Office, 419.242.ARTS (2787), and the Valentine Theatre website.

For more information, visit the UT Rocket Marching Band page.