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UTMC nurses launch Nurses Honor Guard of Northwest Ohio

When a beloved colleague died last spring, Michelle Smith and Julia Benfield wanted to do something to recognize their friend’s unwavering dedication to the field of nursing.

Smith, who recalled hearing about nursing honor guards while attending nursing school in Pennsylvania, sought out a local chapter.

Michelle Smith, left, and Julia Benfield, nurses at The University of Toledo Medical Center, started the Nurses Honor Guard of Northwest Ohio to pay tribute to peers who have passed away. As part of the service, a Florence Nightingale-inspired lamp — like the one they are holding — is given to the family.

“There was nothing around this area, but it was really important to us that we honored her,” Smith said.

Benfield and Smith, both of whom are nurses in The University of Toledo Medical Center Emergency Department, rounded up a few co-workers and launched the Nurses Honor Guard of Northwest Ohio.

“It’s similar to honoring police or military members when they pass away. Nursing is another public service that deserves recognition,” Smith said.

The Nurses Honor Guard of Northwest Ohio is actively recruiting new members so it can participate in more services. Each requires at least four individuals and it can be difficult to match up schedules from a small group of volunteers. Smith hopes they’ll soon have the personnel to offer their services more widely through the community.

“Once we have a big enough group of people who are committed to being available, I would like to go to the funeral homes and let them know we have this,” Smith said. “It’s an honor for us to be able to do this for nurses and their families, but we need to have more volunteers in order to get this out in the community.”

As part of the solemn show of respect, members of the Nurses Honor Guard of Northwest Ohio wear traditional all-white uniforms along with a cap and blue cape. The ceremony is heavy with imagery of Florence Nightingale, the British woman who is widely credited as the pioneer of modern nursing.

After a poem is read, the deceased’s name is called out three times, signaling their final roll call. The honor guard then extinguishes the flame from a Nightingale-style lamp, which is presented to the family, and lays a single white rose on the casket.

“When we show up at a funeral in all white with the cape, it’s pretty striking,” Benfield said. “People come up and hug us, ask questions, and they’re very appreciative we’re celebrating that portion of their loved one’s life.”

Members have performed three services in the last 10 months, two of which were for fellow UTMC employees.

Benfield acknowledged the job can be demanding — there are long hours, holiday and weekend shifts, and high-stress situations — but she also said the career is something that brings a great deal of pride and becomes a huge part of most nurses’ lives.

“We’re all very proud of all the time and effort we’ve put into being a nurse and all the years we’ve spent taking care of patients.” Benfield said. “It just seems right that we do something to honor our colleagues when they pass.”

Toledo to host Seton Hall in first-round WNIT game March 21

The University of Toledo women’s basketball team will entertain Big East member Seton Hall (15-15, 7-11 Big East) in a first-round matchup in the 2019 Postseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) Thursday, March 21, in Savage Arena.

Tip time between the Rockets and Pirates will be 7 p.m.

Toledo is one of 32 at-large qualifiers in this year’s event and one of four Mid-American Conference representatives (Kent State, Miami and Ohio) in the 64-team field.

Toledo will be appearing in the Postseason WNIT for a seventh time under 11th-year Head Coach Tricia Cullop.

A season ago, the Rockets advanced to the second round of the Postseason WNIT with a 64-50 home victory against Horizon League member Wright State (March 16). Toledo’s season came to an end with a 68-66 road setback at Big Ten member Michigan State (March 19).

Toledo enters the post-season with a 20-11 overall record and an 11-7 league mark to finish second in the MAC West Division.

Senior Kaayla McIntyre, sophomore Nakiah Black, senior Mikaela Boyd and junior Mariella Santucci lead Toledo offensively, scoring 16.3, 10.7, 9.6 and 9.4 points per game, respectively. McIntyre earned second-team All-MAC honors, while Boyd captured honorable mention accolades.

Tickets for Thursday’s first-round game are available on the Toledo Rockets’ website.

A limited number of reserved seats are available for $15. Women’s basketball elite season ticket holders will have first priority to purchase their current seat locations. Those seats can be purchased through their online season ticket account portal or through the ticket office until 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 20. After that time, those reserved seats will be open for sale to the general public.

General admission tickets are available for $12 and $6 for youth 12 and younger. University faculty and staff may purchase reserved seats for $7.50 or general admission tickets for $6; these tickets must be purchased by phone or at the ticket office.

In addition, University students will receive free admission with a valid student ID.

Tickets will go on sale to the public at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 19, on the Toledo Rockets’ website, in person at the UT Ticket Office, or by calling 419.530.GOLD (4653).

Tickets also may be purchased at the ticket office on game day beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Parking for the first-round contest will follow the regular-season parking guidelines. Donors and season ticket holders who have basketball premium parking passes should use the first Post-Season Tournament pass in their parking pass booklets. Fans who have season-parking cards also can use these to park.

In addition, the Joe Grogan Room in Savage Arena will be open to Rocket Fund donors.

Visit the Toledo Women’s Basketball Postseason WNIT Central website for the most current information about the tournament.

Former NSF director, water quality expert to speak at University

A former director of the National Science Foundation who is known worldwide for her work in addressing water quality issues will visit The University of Toledo next week as part of the Jesup Scott Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series.

Dr. Rita Colwell was the first scientist to discover cholera can enter a dormant state and lurk in water until conditions are again favorable for it to grow. Her finding opened the door to new research about the link between the natural environment, climate, and the spread of infectious diseases.


She is working with the British government on a project to track and better respond to likely cholera outbreaks.

“Dr. Colwell is one of the most influential and well-known life scientists in the world today,” said Dr. Heidi Appel, dean of the Jesup Scott Honors College. “She is a leader not only in her academic discipline, but in pulling people together from many academic disciplines to focus on water quality and interdisciplinary approaches to solve major societal challenges.”

Colwell is scheduled to present a pair of lectures at the University:

• A public presentation of how connections between climate and oceans affect human health on Monday, March 25, at 6 p.m. in Doermann Theatre on Main Campus.

• A technical talk about how next-generation DNA sequencing has revolutionized the study of the relationship between microbial communities and how that new knowledge can be used in diagnostics, drug development, public health and water safety Tuesday, March 26, at noon in Radisson Hotel Suite C on Health Science Campus.

Both lectures are open to the public, but reservations are requested to the technical talk luncheon; go to the Distinguished Lecture Series website.

Much of Colwell’s six decades of research has been dedicated to understanding and preventing cholera outbreaks. Among her many discoveries, she demonstrated how algal blooms, spurred by high nutrient loads and warming ocean waters, increases the population of cholera-carrying zooplankton.

Though Lake Erie’s algal blooms raise concerns of microcystin — not cholera — Colwell’s innovative research methods and multidisciplinary way of developing solutions could prove a helpful roadmap to addressing the problem in northwest Ohio.

“We believe the kinds of tools she’s developed and the way of thinking about interdisciplinary research-based problem solving will be of interest and value to the people in our region who are dedicated to protecting water quality,” Appel said.

Colwell was the first woman to lead the National Science Foundation, serving as director from 1998 to 2004. She was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2006 and the Stockholm Water Prize in 2010.

She has a bachelor’s degree in bacteriology, master’s degree in genetics and doctorate in oceanography. She holds distinguished professorships at both the University of Maryland at College Park and Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Toledo men’s basketball team to play Xavier in NIT March 20

The University of Toledo men’s basketball team has qualified for post-season play with its selection to the National Invitation Tournament. The Rockets (25-7, 13-5 Mid-American Conference) will travel to Cincinnati to face Xavier University (18-15, 9-9 Big East) in the Cintas Center Wednesday, March 20, at 7 p.m.

The game will be available for viewing on ESPN3 and will be broadcast on the Rocket Radio Network which includes WSPD-AM 1370 in Toledo.

Ticket information for the game will be available Monday morning on the Toledo Rockets’ website.

The Rockets are the No. 6 seed in their region, while the Musketeers are the No. 3 seed. The winner of the Toledo-Xavier contest will face the winner of Tuesday’s game pitting No. 2 seed Texas (16-16) and No. 7 seed South Dakota State (24-8) on a date to be determined.

Toledo is making its ninth NIT appearance in school history with its last appearance coming in 2014.

The Rockets’ 25 victories this season are second most in school history, and their 48 victories over last two seasons are UT’s most ever in a two-year period. Toledo has registered 13-5 MAC records in each of the last two years, and its 68 MAC victories over last six seasons rank second in league.

Match Day brings joy, excitement as medical students learn their residency placements

Some of Christian Siebenaler’s earliest memories were of his father, a Toledo-area physician, going off to help people.

“It sounds cliché, but since I was 5 years old seeing him go to work every day in his white coat, I knew I wanted to be a doctor,” Siebenaler said.

Kevin Litzenberg showed his match to Ohio State University Medical Center to his fiancee, Shireen Desai, as his brother, Joshua, watched Friday during the Match Day ceremony. Litzenberg will specialize in internal medicine.

He got his own white coat four years ago when he entered The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences. Now, as he prepares to graduate with his medical degree, he knows he’ll begin practicing right where he wanted.

Siebenaler, who is specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation, was one of 20 UToledo students who paired with the University’s residency program at this year’s Match Day event.

The annual celebration is a seminal event for next-generation physicians. At exactly noon, an eager swarm of fourth-year medical students received envelopes that revealed where they will spend the next three to seven years in residency as they train in their chosen specialties.

“The faculty and staff really look forward to Match Day,” said Dr. Christopher Cooper, dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. “It is an opportunity to see how much the students have grown intellectually and professionally over their four years of intensive training, and where that training will lead them next. Some will stay at UT for their residencies, which is an absolute delight. Others will train in Ohio or elsewhere across the country. For all of our students, we always hope the very best.”

A total of 165 UToledo medical students matched this year. Notably, there was a 33 percent increase in the number of students who matched with UToledo over last year.

Mariah Truscinski was one of them.

Truscinski, who grew up just a couple of miles from Health Science Campus and completed her undergraduate degree at UToledo, matched in emergency medicine. Already involved in community volunteer work, she was thrilled to open her envelope and see she matched with UToledo.

Archit Sahai, left, and Samuel Ivan showed off their letters during the March 15 Match Day ceremony. Sahai matched in pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hopsital, and Ivan matched in urology at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C.

“It was a pretty amazing feeling. It was a little overwhelming, and there were a lot of thoughts about what the future holds, also just pure excitement. I couldn’t be happier,” she said. “I just feel like I’m really connected to this area and wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.”

In all, UToledo’s fourth-year medical students matched in 23 specialties at institutions in 28 states. Forty-four percent of UToledo’s students matched in primary care specialties.

Archit Sahai, who was born in central India, moved with his parents to Cincinnati when he was 3, and became a U.S. citizen in September, matched with the University of Cincinnati in pediatrics.

“There’s a lot of emotions,” he said of Match Day. “You’re anxious, you’re excited, scared a little bit. I probably can’t put words to describe it. As soon as I saw the letters, that’s just pure joy.”

Sahai, whose father is a neurologist at UC, had high praise for both Toledo and the College of Medicine, saying he’d like to return here eventually.

“I’ve never met a more collaborative group of people, whether it’s my classmates or the faculty,” he said. “Everyone genuinely wants everyone to do well here. It’s been an incredible four years. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Among the other institutions where UToledo students will do their residency work were the Mayo Clinic, Massachusetts General, the University of Michigan and the Cleveland Clinic. Ohio was the most popular state, followed by Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, Indiana and New York.

Watch the Match Day video.

Wrestler named to MAC Hall of Fame

The Mid-American Conference announced Friday that former University of Toledo wrestler Greg Wojciechowski will be one of four new members inducted into the MAC Hall of Fame Wednesday, May 29, during the MAC Honor’s Dinner at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel.

Wojciechowski will be joined by Dee Abrahamson (Northern Illinois, softball/administration), Pauline Maurice (Kent State, softball) and Bruno Pauletto (Central Michigan, men’s track and field).


Wojciechowski is regarded as the greatest wrestler ever at The University of Toledo. Wrestling as a heavyweight, Wojciechowski won one NCAA title, earned two second-place finishes, and was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team.

As a sophomore in 1970, Wojciechowski won 18 of 19 matches, losing only in the championship round of the NCAA Championships. One year later, Wojchiechowski became Toledo’s second NCAA heavyweight champion, leading the Rockets to their highest team finish ever at the NCAAs, a 13th-place finish. He outscored his opponents 94-15 in matches that went to a decision that season and went on to win the National Amateur Athletic Union title as well.

As a senior in 1972, he won 14 of his 15 matches, with his only defeat coming in the NCAA championship title match to 415-pound Chris Taylor of Iowa State. He finished his intercollegiate career with a record of 55-2 and won three straight MAC heavyweight titles.

Wojciechowski was runner-up at the Olympic Trials and was named an alternate for the U.S. Olympic teams in Greco-Roman wrestling in 1968, 1972 and 1976, and in freestyle in 1972 and 1976, before making the team in 1980. In that year, he won the U.S. Olympic Trials in both the freestyle and Greco-Roman events, the last American to sweep both events at the trials. Unfortunately, the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics kept Wojciechowski from participating.

He graduated from Toledo in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in education and went on to earn a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Toledo in 1976.

Wojciechowski began his career as a teacher and wrestling coach at Archbold (Ohio) High School in 1972, mentoring John Cowell to a state championship at 126 pounds. He returned to Toledo in 1973 to train for the Olympics. There, he taught in the occupational work adjustment programs for drop-out prone youths at Libbey High School, a position he held for 28 years. He taught high school wrestling at Libbey for 11 years and later at Bowsher High School for five years. He also was actively involved in establishing a wrestling program in Ohio middle schools.

After his successful amateur wrestling career, Wojciechowski made the jump to professional wrestling. Known as “The Great Wojo,” he spent 12 years as a professional wrestler, winning three World Wrestling Association heavyweight championship titles. He retired from the WWA as champion in 1987.

Wojciechowski was inducted into The University of Toledo Varsity T Hall of Fame in 1978 and the George Tragos and Lou Thesz Pro National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2015.

The MAC Hall of Fame was approved by the MAC Council of Presidents in 1987. The charter class was inducted in 1988, and subsequent classes were added in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994. After six induction classes, the MAC Hall of Fame maintained 52 members until it was reinstated in May 2012. This year’s class brings the number of MAC Hall of Fame inductees to 96 individuals from 14 classes.

Tickets are available for the MAC Honor’s Dinner, which will be held Wednesday, May 29, at 6 p.m. at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel. Individual tickets ($100 each) and a table of 10 ($950) are available for purchase. Contact Julie Kachner at the Mid-American Conference office at 216.566.4622.

UT golfer selected for Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific

University of Toledo senior Pinyada Kuvanun has been invited to participate in the second Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific Thursday through Sunday, April 25-28, at the Royal Golf Club in Hokota, Japan.

“It is an honor to be invited to play in the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific,” Kuvanun said. “I am so excited to play with all the good players in this event. It is one of the big events in women’s amateur golf, and I’m sure that I will learn a lot from this great opportunity.”

A native of Khonkean, Thailand, Kuvanun is leading the Rockets with a 72.3 stroke average and has shot even-par or lower in 11 of her 21 rounds. She carded a career-best five-under par 67 en route to winning the Idle Hour Collegiate (Nov. 5-6) with a six-under par 210 (72-71-67). Earlier this month, she won her third collegiate tournament by shooting an even-par 216 (70-74-72) in the Battle at Boulder Creek in Boulder City, Nev.

The winner of the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific will receive an invitation to the 2019 American International Group Women’s British Open at the Woburn Golf Club’s Marquess course.

Physicist’s review article featured on cover of high-impact, international scientific journal

A review article by Dr. Yanfa Yan, professor of physics at The University of Toledo, was chosen as the cover story for the February issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Energy & Environmental Science published by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Yan is the lead author on the paper titled “Oxide Perovskites, Double Perovskites and Derivatives for Electrocatalysis, Photocatalysis and Photovoltaics.” He is an expert in theory of defect physics and electronic properties in semiconductors, materials synthesis and thin film solar cell fabrication.

“Energy & Environmental Science happens to be one of the highest impact-factor journals — with an impact factor of 30 — in all of science,” said Dr. Sanjay Khare, professor and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. “It is truly an achievement and honor to get such a cover page feature and invitation.”

Energy & Environmental Science links all aspects of the chemical, physical and biotechnological sciences relating to energy conversion and storage, alternative fuel technologies, and environmental science. Its readership spans the globe and includes chemical scientists, chemical and process engineers, energy researchers, bioscientists, and environmental scientists from across academia, industry and government.

Practical utilization of clean energies requires energy conversions among solar energy, electrical energy and chemical energy, involving different processes such as from solar energy to electrical energy, from electrical energy to chemical energy, and from solar energy to chemical energy.

The key to realizing high-efficiency conversion is searching novel, stable, low-cost and environmentally friendly functional materials.

“Due to the extreme flexibilities in terms of their structures and compositions, oxide perovskites and their derivatives provide a rich family of materials candidates that may meet the diverse applications aforementioned,” Yan said. “This review highlights the progress of oxide perovskites and their derivatives in this field. It describes connections between the structural and compositional flexibility and the resulting tunable materials properties desirable for those applications.”

College of Law receives federal grant for tax clinic

The University of Toledo College of Law was awarded a Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic grant from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Taxpayer Advocate Service, making it the only academic institution in Ohio to receive the honor.

Tax Controversy Clinic Director Chris Bourell, left, works with law students Gregg Byrne and April Johnson. The clinic is the only academic institution in Ohio to receive a Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic grant from the Internal Revenue Service Taxpayer Advocate Service.

The grant can match funds up to $100,000 annually to support the law school’s existing Tax Controversy Clinic. Law students work under the supervision of Tax Controversy Clinic Director Chris Bourell to assist taxpayers in disputes with the IRS.

Bourell indicates that the federal grant will allow the tax clinic to expand its services and community outreach efforts, as well as provide structural support for the operation.

“We are especially honored to become a part of a network of recognized Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics across the country,” Bourell said. “The contacts we have made with other grant recipients, both at legal aid organizations and other law schools, and within the IRS itself have been beneficial to improving and expanding our services.”

Tax clinic students receive legal training from their experience of handling challenging legal cases, and they have the opportunity to serve the community.

Student attorney Stephen Domingue said, “I have learned how to be a better attorney through the clinic. It is a great program to improve my legal skills, but it also gave me insight into the challenges faced by many people who are not able to receive quality legal care elsewhere.”

Consultations for assistance from the tax clinic are made by appointment by emailing intake@ttcc.law or calling 419.484.8822.

Rockets taken down by red-hot Huskies, 80-76

A hot-shooting Northern Illinois team ended No. 2 seed Toledo’s hopes of winning the Mid-American Conference Basketball Tournament, as the Rockets fell to the No. 7 seeded Huskies, 80-76, in quarterfinal action Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

Sophomore guard Marreon Jackson led Toledo with 17 points and eight rebounds in the 80-76 loss to Northern Illinois in the MAC Tournament Quarterfinals Thursday night.

Sophomore guard Marreon Jackson scored 11 of his team-high 17 points, including several clutch plays down the stretch, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the performance of NIU junior guard Eugene German. German scored 27 points on 11 of 15 shooting, one of several Huskies who shot the ball well. For the game, Northern Illinois (17-16) connected on 31 of 55 shots from the field (56.4 percent), including a sizzling 10 of 17 from three-point range.

Toledo (25-7) also shot the ball well, hitting 45.6 percent of its shots and knocking down 14 triples. But the Rockets were hurt by the absence of junior forward and leading rebounder Willie Jackson, who played just eight minutes, none in the second half, due to a migraine. UT was out-rebounded, 31-28, and missed Jackson’s low-post defense.

Joining Marreon Jackson in double figures were junior center Luke Knapke (16), senior forward Nate Navigato (15), senior guard Jaelan Sanford (13) and senior guard Chris Darrington (12).

Toledo trailed by two at the half, 41-39, and briefly led by two points early in the second half before Northern slowly pulled away. Marreon Jackson hit a three-pointer and a driving layup in the final minute to cut the lead to one, 76-75. NIU then made four free throws in the final 20 seconds to clinch the victory.

The Rockets will now have to wait until Sunday night to find out if they will get a berth into the a post-season tournament.