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Dana Cancer Center to hold annual survivor celebration June 6

The Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center at The University of Toledo Medical Center will host its fifth annual Cancer Survivor Celebration Thursday, June 6.

“Each year of survivorship is a reason for joy,” said Renee Schick, manager of Renee’s Survivor Shop in the Dana Cancer Center. “We want to recognize and honor our patients and their caregivers for their strength and courage through the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.”

The annual event, which will take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m., honors and celebrates the Dana Cancer Center’s past and present patients, as well as their loved ones, for their strength, courage and survivorship.

Survivors and their guests will be treated to inspirational stories, food, music, a photo booth, and displays from a number of area support groups. Cancer treatment experts, including UTMC oncologist Dr. Danae Hamouda, also will be on hand.

This year’s guest speaker will be Dr. Michelle Masterson, a breast cancer survivor, retired associate professor and former director of the Physical Therapy Program in the College of Health and Human Services.

“I hope my story can inspire and help others to stay strong and positive, to fight hard, and to never give up,” Masterson said. “I also hope this celebration helps to get the word out to the Toledo community that we have excellent, expert, comprehensive and compassionate cancer care right here at the UTMC Dana Cancer Center.”

The event is free, but reservations are requested: Email eleanorndanacancercenter@utoledo.edu or call 419.383.5243.

UTMC dysautonomia expert wins patient choice award

The University of Toledo and Dr. Blair Grubb have been recognized by the Dysautonomia Support Network for innovative research into a group of conditions that affect the body’s autonomic nervous system.

The accolades are part of the nonprofit patient support and advocacy group’s first Patient’s Choice awards and will be presented Thursday, June 6.


Grubb, a Distinguished University Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, and director of electrophysiology services at The University of Toledo Medical Center, is one of the world’s foremost experts in syncope and disorders of the autonomic nervous system, including postural tachycardia syndrome, or POTS.

“As a leader in the field for over a decade, Dr. Grubb continues impacting standards of practice and expanding treatment options for various forms of dysautonomia,” said Amanda Aikulola, president and executive director of Dysautonomia Support Network. “Over and over again, patients return to him because of his passion and desire not only to practice medicine, but also to leave a lasting impression on those he has cared for.”

Grubb will receive the Revolutionary Research Award. UToledo will receive the Powerhouse Research Award. Nominations and voting were done by patients.

The autonomic nervous system controls our most basic life functions, regulating our breathing, heart rate and blood pressure without us ever thinking about it.

When the system malfunctions, the body can no longer control those functions. Symptoms can include rapid heart rate or slow heart rate, excessive fatigue, thirstiness, shortness of breath, blood pressure fluctuations and bladder problems.

“People with these conditions can be really devastated. They’re frequently wheelchair-bound or bedridden. We often see some of the worst cases, but we have a good track record of making people better,” Grubb said.

Grubb pioneered many of the diagnostic and treatment modalities that now are commonly used for these disorders, and UTMC was the first center to describe that POTS could occur in children.

“We are one of the world’s leading centers for research on this and in finding new and innovative therapies looking for new ways to treat people,” Grubb said. “I think this recognition is an acknowledgement of that.”

Grubb previously has been named Physician of the Year by Dysautonomia International and received the Medical Professional of the Decade Award from the British Heart Rhythm Society and Arrhythmia Alliance.

Toledo football announces ‘150 Rocket Challenge’ ticket promotion

The University of Toledo announced a new football season ticket initiative for the 2019 season, the “150 Rocket Challenge,” to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of college football.

The Rockets have set a goal to sell 150 new season ticket orders in the month of June. As part of the promotion, a limited number of Sideline A season tickets Section 25 will be available for only $150 until Sunday, June 30; that’s a savings of $45 per season ticket. Fans also can opt to purchase other season ticket packages with prices starting as low as $70.

New season ticket purchases in the month of June will be entered to win an autographed football from Head Coach Jason Candle. A new winner will be selected after every 25 season ticket packages sold for a total of six winners. Winners will be selected on Facebook live and Instagram stories.

All season tickets purchased by 5 p.m. Friday, June 7, will receive $10 in Gino dollars, redeemable at any Original Gino’s Pizza location in the Toledo area.

The University of Toledo is joining the celebration of the 150th anniversary of college football with special events throughout the 2019 season. The Rockets will host a 150th anniversary commemoration game in the Glass Bowl vs. Kent State Tuesday, Nov. 5. The first college football game was played Nov. 4, 1869, between Rutgers and Princeton. Football began at The University of Toledo in 1917.

For more information, go to the Toledo Rockets’ website, call 419.530.GOLD (4653), or stop by the UT Athletic Ticket Office during business hours.

Men’s basketball coach signs contract extension through 2023-24 season

The University of Toledo and Head Men’s Basketball Coach Tod Kowalczyk have reached an agreement that extends Kowalczyk’s contract through the 2023-24 season, UToledo Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mike O’Brien announced today.

“Our men’s basketball program continues to thrive under Tod’s leadership,” O’Brien said. “His teams have consistently been among the elite programs in the Mid-American Conference, and we look forward to even greater success in the future. Just as importantly, Tod cares about his players as student-athletes, establishing an academic culture that is also at the top of the MAC.”

Head Men’s Basketball Coach Tod Kowalczyk has signed a contract extension that will keep him on the court at UToledo through the 2023-24 season.

Kowalczyk recently completed his ninth season at Toledo and is third on the school’s all-time victory list with 167 wins. He has guided the Rockets to a 129-71 (.645) win-loss mark over the last six seasons, including a 25-8 record last season, the second most wins in school history. Kowalczyk also led Toledo to a school record 27-7 ledger in 2013-14.

During the 2018-19 season, Toledo captured its second consecutive MAC West Division title with a 13-5 league mark. The Rockets also earned a berth into the National Invitation Tournament.

“I am thankful for the opportunity given to me and my staff by President [Sharon L.] Gaber and Mike O’Brien,” Kowalczyk said. “We are extremely fortunate to have their support and leadership. I am proud of the program we have built here, and I am very excited about the prospects for next year’s team.”

In addition to winning on the court, the Rockets have achieved tremendous success in the classroom under Kowalczyk. Toledo earned the National Association of Basketball Coaches Team Academic Excellence Award for 2018-19, the fourth time in the last six seasons the Rockets have been so honored. Also, Toledo’s most recent Academic Progress Rate score of 979 ranked second among the 12 MAC men’s basketball programs.

Prior to becoming UToledo’s head coach, Kowalczyk posted a 136-112 record in eight years as Wisconsin-Green Bay’s head coach. The Phoenix advanced to post-season play and notched back-to-back 22-win seasons in his last two seasons. In addition, every player who completed his eligibility while Kowalczyk was Green Bay’s head coach received a degree.

A native of DePere, Wis., Kowalczyk and his wife, Julie, have two children, Race (12) and Rose (10).

UPDATED: Rockets earn record 3.306 grade point average spring semester

This story was originally posted May 17 and updated June 3.

When it was announced two weeks ago that University of Toledo student-athletes had earned a school-record grade point average of 3.294 in the 2019 spring semester, Vice President and Director of Athletics Mike O’Brien was elated.

O’Brien recently received even better news. Following the posting of several additional grades, the Rockets’ final semester GPA checked in at 3.306, pushing the record even higher.

“I was very happy that our student-athletes achieved a record 3.294 GPA last spring, so you can imagine how I felt when I learned that we actually were above a 3.3,” O’Brien said. “In the sports world, we often put a lot of focus on numbers and statistics, so there is something significant about breaking the 3.3 mark. I know there probably aren’t any national records kept in this area, but I would guess that very few universities have ever had an athletic department earn a grade point average above a 3.3. Our student-athletes should be extremely proud of this achievement, as should all of us in Rocket Nation.”

In addition to being the highest semester GPA ever for the Rockets, the 3.306 GPA is the ninth consecutive semester in which UToledo student-athletes have earned a semester GPA of 3.2 or higher.

Women’s soccer recorded the highest team semester GPA in school history with a mark of 3.792, breaking the previous team record of 3.780 set by women’s golf in spring 2017.
Women’s swimming and diving (3.661), men’s golf (3.611) and women’s cross country (3.605) were each above the 3.6 mark, and four other sports cracked 3.5.

“Congratulations to all of our student-athletes and to women’s soccer for setting the highest team semester GPA in Toledo history,” Ericka Lavender, associate athletic director for academic services, said. “None of this would be possible without the support and great work of my staff, head coaches and administration. We would also like to thank our faculty and staff for all of their tremendous efforts on behalf of our student-athletes.”

Other highlights and academic notes from this past semester:

• A record 51 student-athletes earned president’s list honors with a perfect 4.0 GPA. The previous record was 49 in spring 2016.

• 12 student-athletes competed in their sport while enrolled in graduate school courses.

• 46.9 percent (173 of 368) earned a spot on the dean’s list by garnering at least a 3.50 GPA.

• 73.4 percent (271 of 369) made the honor roll by securing a 3.00 GPA or higher.

• 64 percent of Toledo student-athletes are enrolled in either the College of Business and Innovation, College of Engineering, College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, or the College of Arts and Letters.

• An additional 27 percent Toledo student-athletes are enrolled in either the Judith Herb College of Education, College of Health and Human Services, or the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Toledo 2019 Spring Semester Team GPAs
Overall Department GPA: 3.306 (school record)

Baseball — 3.173
Men’s Basketball — 2.958
Women’s Basketball — 3.182
Men’s Cross Country — 3.053
Women’s Cross Country — 3.609
Football — 2.935
Men’s Golf — 3.611
Women’s Golf — 3.528
Softball — 3.526
Women’s Soccer —3.793*
Women’s Swimming and Diving — 3.661
Men’s Tennis — 3.481
Women’s Tennis — 3.558
Women’s Track and Field — 3.526
Women’s Volleyball — 3.492

*Team record

UToledo astronomer wins observing time on Hubble after most competitive cycle in history

This summer’s 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing also marks a major life milestone for The University of Toledo astronomer who is a world leader in her particularly male-dominated field.

“I was born in 1969, two months after Neil Armstrong took one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” Dr. Rupali Chandar, professor of astronomy, said. “I am delighted every time the anniversary comes up in July — the moon landing epitomized the human spirit of discovery, and that same spirit drives my research to understand our universe of galaxies.”

Dr. Rupali Chandar, professor of astronomy, was awarded 40 hours of observing time with the Hubble Telescope between July and early 2020. Her work will focus on star formation in nearby galaxies.

Chandar, who studies star formation in galaxies far, far away with her feet firmly on Earth, is gearing up to once again use NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope for her research.

However, this year is extra-special for two reasons.

Chandar not only won coveted observing time in the most competitive cycle in history, she also leads the Space Telescope Users Committee.

Chandar heads the group of 12 astrophysicists from around the world who act as the direct interface between astronomers who want to use the telescope and top-level management of the Hubble project. Committee members hail from places with prestigious astronomical communities such as Harvard and Arizona State, as well as Paris, Spain and Italy.

She is the second UToledo astronomer to lead this powerful committee. Dr. Michael Cushing, associate professor of physics and astronomy, and director of Ritter Planetarium, led the committee in 2015 and 2016.

“It’s unusual for one university to have had more than one representative in the group — let alone two people who have led the committee’s work,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, interim provost and Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy. “Dr. Chandar is a shining star for women in science and contributes significantly to The University of Toledo’s research excellence in astronomy and astrophysics.”

Even as a child, Dr. Rupali Chandar was looking skyward. She was born two months after the Apollo moon landing and is shown in this photo with her mother, Sneh Chandar.

Every year astronomers around the world vie for precious minutes of Hubble’s view of unfathomably distant celestial targets. It is NASA’s flagship space telescope.

“I’ve used Hubble data from the beginning of my career, and this cycle was the most challenging one in my experience, with only one in 12 proposals being successful,” Chandar said. “I am thrilled that my proposal was approved.”

As head of the Space Telescope Users Committee, she helped implement the dual-anonymous selection process that debuted this cycle, which means the names of the proposers and reviewers are made known only after the review process is complete.

“Hubble is leading the way in emphasizing the science and ideas that are proposed, and not who is doing the proposing,” Chandar said. “Although it’s too early to tell, this double-blind review process has the potential to reduce inherent bias.”

Chandar, a mother of two who joined the UToledo faculty in 2007, was awarded approximately 40 hours of observing time spread out between July and early 2020. Her work will help understand star formation in some of the most intensely star-forming galaxies found in the nearby universe.

And by nearby, she means those 130 million to 300 million light years away.

These galaxies are generating stars at a pace about 100 times faster than the Milky Way.

“In the modern-day nearby universe, most galaxies form stars at a modest rate,” Chandar said. “I will be observing a sample of the few actively merging, nearby galaxies that have rates of star formation that are as high as galaxies in the early universe. Studying them gives us insight into what was happening when the universe was young and galaxies were just starting to form.”

Astronomers can’t study details of star formation in early galaxies because they’re too far away. We’re talking billions and billions of light years.

However, astronomers believe new, more powerful telescopes in the pipeline, like the James Webb Space Telescope, will make it possible to study the evolution of the earliest stars in greater detail than ever before.

As Chandar looks ahead to the next 50 years of space exploration, it’s vitally important for her to inspire children, especially girls, to take the step toward science.

“Girls in elementary school are just as interested in science as boys. It’s alarming how much that changes during middle school,” Chandar said. “When I was in fifth and sixth grades, I read about the formation of the solar system and wrote reports about black holes, but I didn’t think you could do astronomy as a career until I took a class during my sophomore year of college.”

She ended up earning her Ph.D. in astrophysics at Johns Hopkins University in 2000.

“Good professors make a difference,” Chandar said. “Without many female astronomers around, my mentors have been almost exclusively men. Their support has been critical for achieving my dream career.”

Chandar has one more connection to the moon landing, besides being born in 1969.

“I was lucky enough to hear Neil Armstrong’s last public address at the July 21, 2012, First Light Gala to celebrate the debut of the Discovery Channel Telescope when The University of Toledo joined as a scientific partner,” Chandar said. “We were all devastated when Neil died just a few weeks after that.”

As part of the partnership, UToledo students and researchers use the Discovery Channel Telescope at Lowell Observatory in Arizona to collect data on a wide variety of objects, from the closest failed stars known as brown dwarfs to star-forming regions within our own galaxy to more distant merging galaxies.

The 4.3-meter telescope located south of Flagstaff overlooks the Verde Valley and is the fifth largest telescope in the continental United States and one of the most technologically advanced.

The Discovery Channel Telescope partnership has been a boon to UToledo astronomers and helped put the astronomy department on the map.

“It’s another powerful tool at our fingertips to continue NASA’s mission and push technology to new frontiers over the next 50 years,” Chandar said.

Sensors for Lake Erie early-warning buoy network to get tuneup for algal bloom season

Scientists and water treatment plant operators throughout the region are visiting The University of Toledo Lake Erie Center to make sure equipment that measures water quality throughout algal bloom season is ready to be deployed in buoys across Lake Erie.

“It’s like in the old movies when the mission leader says, ‘Let’s synchronize our watches,’ before the team splits up,” said Dr. Tom Bridgeman, UToledo professor of ecology and director of the UToledo Lake Erie Center. “This collaboration helps to ensure conformity of data coming from the probes for the next few months.”

The UToledo water quality and sensor buoy rides the waves off the shore of the Maumee Bay State Park Lodge in Oregon, Ohio.

Partners in the early-warning buoy network will do the calibration between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday, May 30. Those include researchers from Ohio State University and Bowling Green State University, as well as water treatment plant operators in Cleveland, Toledo, Oregon, Elyria, Avon, Sandusky, Lorain, Ottawa and Huron. LimnoTech, YSI and Fondriest Environmental are local companies providing technology support.

UToledo’s water quality and sensor buoy annually rides the waves off the shore of the Maumee Bay State Park Lodge and Conference Center in Oregon. It is part of the Great Lakes Observing System’s early-warning network of buoys throughout the western Lake Erie basin that provides live data vital in the assessment of harmful algal blooms.

“We go out on our research vessel at least once a week for sampling throughout the summer, but the buoys are out there all the time,” Bridgeman said. “Even when it’s too rough for boats to be on the lake, the buoys can alert if something is developing or changing quickly.”

“With harmful algal bloom season just around the corner, this event brings together water treatment plant operators and UToledo, BGSU and industry experts to prepare the instruments that are a part of Lake Erie’s early-warning system,” Ed Verhamme, project engineer at LimnoTech, said.

The buoys are equipped with what is called the YSI EXO sonde, a black and blue instrument consisting of several probes to measure various water quality parameters, including how much blue-green algae are present, water temperature, clarity, oxygen levels, turbidity and pH.

It’s one piece of the battle plan to track and combat the growing harmful algal bloom in order to sound the early warning for water treatment plant operators as they work to provide safe public drinking water.

“We are watching very closely and are prepared,” Bridgeman said.

National Youth Sports Program celebrates 50 years at UToledo

The National Youth Sports Program at The University of Toledo will soon celebrate its 50th anniversary.

The three-week summer camp, hosted on UToledo’s campus every year since 1969, provides a blend of athletic and educational programming for income-eligible children to help them build social skills, confidence and healthy lifestyles.

About 150 area youth between the ages of 9 and 16 are expected to participate in this year’s program, which takes place weekdays from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. beginning Monday, June 3, and running through Friday, June 21.

Registration information is available on the UToledo NYSP website.

“For 50 years, the administration at The University of Toledo has seen the National Youth Sports Program as an asset to the community and to the University. There’s a lot of credit due to a lot of people, and I’m proud we’re able to continue offering this enriching experience,” said Dr. Ruthie Kucharewski, professor and chair in the School of Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, and administrator of the National Youth Sports Program.

A celebration to recognize the 50th university will be held Sunday, June 9, at noon in the Health Education Center Gym.

Students stretched on the track during UToledo’s National Youth Sports Program.

The National Youth Sports Program was established by an act of Congress in 1968. UToledo was one of the first universities in the country to offer the federally funded program the following year.

Though federal funding for the program has since been cut, UToledo continues to operate the camp through fundraising and in-kind donations.

Participants receive instruction in a number of sports and recreational activities, such as soccer, basketball, track, swimming and fishing.

In addition to the athletic and recreation therapy activities, the youth are provided educational and health programs; academic tutoring; information about nutrition and personal hygiene; peer-refusal skills; and alcohol, tobacco and other drug seminars. The camp also schedules field trips and hosts a guest speaker every day at lunch to inspire the children to become the best version of themselves.

“We want to make our community’s youth well-rounded individuals. We’re helping them to grow emotionally, psychologically, physically and socially through a variety of constructive recreational activities and educational experiences,” Kucharewski said. “I think that the experiences the children have at NYSP helps stimulate their imagination about their future, about what they might aspire to be when they grow up.”

Track and field athletes compete at NCAA Preliminaries

University of Toledo senior Katie Dewey concluded her weekend Saturday at the NCAA East Track and Field Preliminary Round in Jacksonville, Fla. She finished in 40th place in the shot put with a throw of 14.88 meters.

The meet served as the final competition for the Rockets in their 2018-19 campaign.

Senior Katie Dewey finished 40th in the shot put and 26th in the discus at the NCAA East Regional.

“Overall, we had another strong season,” Head Coach Linh Nguyen said. “We’re losing some really great seniors and appreciate all their contributions to our program. At the same time, we have some great, young talent returning, as well as coming in, and our future looks bright.”

Dewey was the first Toledo thrower to compete in the NCAA East Prelims since Kyesha Neal in 2016. She also placed 26th in the discus Friday with a throw of 49.24m meters.

“Katie came down here for the first time ever and competed really well,” Nguyen said. “She finished about 20 spots above her seed in the discus and threw well during the shot. It was a great way to cap her Toledo career.”

Senior Petronela Simiuc competed in Jacksonville Thursday and placed 47th in the 1,500 meters with a time of 4:40.28. The race was run with temperatures in the 90s and high levels of humidity.

“Petronela had a tough race this week,” Nguyen said. “She didn’t feel very good at the start, and I think the record temps here may have played a role in that. She still had a great season and should be proud.”

Petronella Simiuc represented Toledo in the 1,500 meters Thursday at the NCAA East Regional.

Football team earns top academic score in MAC for fourth time in last six years

The NCAA recently released its annual Academic Progress Rate (APR) figures for the four-year period from 2014-15 and 2017-18, and The University of Toledo football team posted an impressive score of 981. No school in the Mid-American Conference had a higher APR score than Toledo.

This is the fourth time in the last six years that the Toledo football team has led the MAC in APR. This year’s 981 mark tied the team record set in 2017. The Rockets have posted at least a 970 APR in each of the past six years.

Head Football Coach Jason Candle posed for a photo with some of the 21 Rockets who graduated this spring.

“I could not be more proud of our student-athletes,” said Head Coach Jason Candle. “We always stress the importance of pursuing academic success with the same intensity required to play championship-level football. Our APR score reflects our student-athletes’ relentless commitment to our academic goals and upholding our University’s proud tradition.”

APR is a gauge of every team’s academic performance at a given point in time. Points are awarded on a semester-by-semester basis for eligibility, retention and graduation of scholarship student-athletes. 1,000 is considered a perfect score. Sports that fail to reach the cut point (930) can be penalized with the loss of scholarships, practice restrictions and post-season bans.

The APR data released this month is a cumulative figure taken from the 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.