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Professor joins editorial board of mathematics journal

Dr. Zeljko Cuckovic, professor of mathematics, has been invited to join the editorial board of the Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications published by Elsevier as an associate editor.

“It is an uncommon honor to be selected as associate editor of such a high-level journal,” said Dr. Donald White, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. “We are proud of Zeljko and are happy to have him represent the University at this publication.”

Cuckovic

The Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications publishes 24 issues per year and receives about 3,500 submissions annually.

“Being invited to join the editorial board of a well-recognized and highly reputable journal is a great honor,” Cuckovic said. “This invitation represents recognition of years of my research work.”

He has published nearly 40 papers and has more than 400 citations. He has given talks in the United States and abroad and has held visiting positions at several universities. In 2006, he received one of UT’s Outstanding Teacher Awards. He also serves on the board of the European Journal of Mathematics.

“In addition to personal recognition, I hope this higher visibility will help me attract quality PhD students to our Department of Mathematics and Statistics,” Cuckovic said.

Cuckovic received his PhD at Michigan State University. His research includes expertise in functional analysis, operator theory and complex analysis.

UT scientist to discuss hypertension Nov. 13

Dr. Bina Joe, an internationally recognized leader in the field of genetic determinants of hypertension, will discuss her work and its historical perspective at the University Monday, Nov. 13.

“Precision Medicine for Hypertension: A Journey Through 40 Years of Research at The University of Toledo” is the title of her talk, which will take place at 4 p.m. in Collier Building Room 1000A on Health Science Campus.

Joe

Joe’s free, public talk is part of the Distinguished University Professor Lecture Series.

She was named a Distinguished University Professor this year and also serves as chair in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. In addition, Joe is the director of the Center for Hypertension and Personalized Medicine.

Her work has helped identify risk factors associated with high blood pressure, which plays a major role in cardiovascular and renal disease.

“My presentation will highlight knowledge gained from pioneering studies and discuss the individualized approach for future clinical management of hypertension,” Joe, who joined the University in 2001, said. “This journey on researching the genomic and thereby inherited aspects of hypertension has not only revealed novel genes that are not currently targeted in the clinic for treating hypertension, but also led us to understand the rather surprising link between the other genomes of gut bacteria to have a definitive role in regulating blood pressure. I will be detailing some of these pioneering studies that have opened a field of new possibilities in combating hypertension by altering gut bacteria.”

Since 2004, Joe has received sustained research funding from the National Institutes of Health totaling more than $20 million. She is the principal investigator of two active grants from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute totaling more than $7 million. She has published more than 70 papers in peer-reviewed journals, including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Cell, Public Library of Science Genetics and Nature Communications. In 2015, she was named editor-in-chief of Physiological Genomics, a journal of the American Physiological Society, and is a member of the editorial board of Hypertension.

For her groundbreaking work, Joe received the 2010 American Society of Hypertension’s Young Scholars Award and the 2014 American Heart Association’s Council on Hypertension Lewis K. Dahl Memorial Lecture Award.

“It is humbling to be recognized by my colleagues and peers who nominated and selected me for this honor. Being named ‘Distinguished’ to me is to be recognized for the distinguished work of dedicated young trainees in the laboratory,” Joe said. “I am blessed to be surrounded by trainees and colleagues with insatiable passion and relentless persistence, which brings much joy along the way on our journey to reveal the many marvelous secrets of Mother Nature.”

Following the lecture, a reception sponsored by the Office of the Provost will be held.

UT researcher makes discovery about massive stars as part of international team of astronomers

For the first time, astronomers have mapped the surface of a massive hot star, proving a decades-long theory that hot spots on the star’s surface affect the behavior of stellar winds. A University of Toledo astronomer was a member of the international research team that made the groundbreaking discovery.

“We’re now better able to understand how massive stars send out material into space through their winds,” said Dr. Noel Richardson, postdoctoral research associate in the UT Department of Physics and Astronomy, who was a member of the research team. “This research gives us a better understanding of how stars lose material, which then forms new stars and planets.”

This artistic rendering depicts Zeta Puppis, a massive star that astronomers studied to learn how hot spots affect stellar winds. Dr. Noel Richardson, UT postdoctoral research associate, was a member of the international team that made the groundbreaking discovery.

The team’s research appears in a paper recently published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, one of the world’s leading astronomy journals.

For decades, astronomers have theorized that there were hot spots on the surface of massive stars that affected stellar winds, but they didn’t know how those spots behaved or how they impacted the winds.

To test that theory, the research team chose as its test subject a supergiant called Zeta Puppis, a massive star 60 times larger than the sun and seven times hotter at the surface. Massive stars are rare and usually travel in pairs. But Zeta Puppis flies solo — and it flies fast. The star hurtles through space at 37 miles per second, 60 times faster than a speeding bullet.

Using a network of nanosatellites from the “BRIght Target Explorer” (BRITE) space mission, researchers monitored the surface brightness of Zeta Puppis every 100 minutes for six months in 2014. They simultaneously monitored the behavior of its stellar winds over time from several ground-based observatories.

After correlating the two sets of data, the team found that Zeta Puppis rotates at tremendous speed — once every 1.78 days. In comparison, our sun, which is 60 times smaller, takes almost a month to rotate once.

Richardson

Astronomers in the past had never had enough data to verify their claims about hot spots and their effects on stellar winds. The new data allowed them to map the surface of Zeta Puppis. It proved what the astronomers suspected: The structures on the star’s surface were indeed there, and these hot spots did affect the star’s winds.

Astronomers have mapped the surfaces of cooler stars, Richardson said, but this is the first time they’ve mapped a hot star. They learned that a brighter, hotter spot creates huge spiral structures in stellar winds that scatter more material into space.

A team of more than 40 astronomers participated in the research. The group included six amateur astronomers in Australia, New Zealand and Brazil, who spent three to four hours every night for six months peering into their telescopes and collecting data.

Sociology and Anthropology students and faculty conduct research, volunteer in Dominican Republic

This past summer, eight undergraduate students and one graduate student from the University journeyed to the Dominican Republic for a field school where they partnered with a social and education development nongovernmental organization called Project Esperanza.

The two-week program was part of a six-week course offered through the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and was co-taught by Dr. Karie Peralta and Dr. Shahna Arps. The program was designed to follow the steps a researcher would take to enter a community and begin work for the first time.

UT students Jacalyn DeSelms, left, and Perfenee Womack ran a camp activity with local children at the Project Esperanza’s school in the Dominican Republic.

During the first few days, students visited cultural museums and local monuments to become more familiar with the history and culture of the Dominican Republic. Students then began volunteering at Project Esperanza’s annual summer camp, which serves the children who attend the organization’s grassroots, bilingual Haitian Creole and Spanish school.

“For many of our students, this was their first time gaining experience working with children, particularly in an educational setting, and several of them recognized that they were good at it,” Peralta, assistant professor of sociology, said. “This involvement was important for our students because it facilitated connections with and deeper understandings of the children whose parents were participants in our household survey.”

Students spent eight mornings running the camp and seven afternoons conducting surveys to gather data on the social demographics and living conditions of families with children who attend Project Esperanza’s school. They collaborated with interpreters and local community guides in the data collection phase, which enhanced students’ cross-cultural research skills. Under the guidance of Peralta and Arps, they also worked on data coding and data entry.

Dr. Shahna Arps, standing left, and Meg Perry started a craft activity with camp participants in the Dominican Republic. UT students Madeline Bengela, seated left, and Melissa Tehan also were on hand to help.

“From a faculty perspective, it was fascinating to observe our students gain confidence in their survey administration, note-taking, observation, and data entry skills,” Peralta said. 

“Our students were eager to learn, adaptable and open-minded,” Arps, lecturer in sociology, added.

In total, the students ended with 92 surveys. The data collected will help inform Project Esperanza’s programming efforts.  

Students also were given the opportunity to attend a talk by a local teacher on Haitian-Dominican relations and Vodou, a creolized religion; a presentation on natural medicine and herbal remedies made from common plants; and a discussion on sustainable tourism.

They also learned about the historical and present challenges of coffee growing, and they planted coffee seeds, made bug traps, and brewed coffee.

“The field school in the Dominican Republic was an outstanding opportunity and experience, and I feel extremely fortunate to have been a part of it,” said Meg Perry, a fourth-year anthropology student. “Working with a developing, materialistically impoverished population has added to my worldview and has made me a more empathetic and humble person.” 

Students who went on the trip presented a panel session titled “Reflections on Field School Research in the Dominican Republic” Oct. 20 at the 16th annual Ohio Latin Americanist Conference at Ohio State University.  

UT team receives entrepreneurial award

A group from UT recently was awarded the Spirit of I-Corps award for exceptional overall performance in the Bay Area National Science Foundation Innovation Corps Program.

The team — made up of Dr. Kevin Czajkowski, UT professor of geography and planning; Kimberly Panozzo, UT graduate student; and businessman Navin Singhania — participated in the seven-week curriculum to promote entrepreneurship and see how their innovation can have a commercial impact.

Kimberly Panozzo, Navin Singhania, center, and Dr. Kevin Czajkowski posed for a photo in front of the Domaine Chandon Winery in Napa Valley, where the UT team interviewed grape growers about using tile drains.

Their research focused on agricultural drainage tiles that are used to remove excess water from fields and help make the soil more fertile. Farmers have expressed how hard it is to find old underground tiles to repair or to add on to.

The UT team, called Drain Tile Mapper, developed a technique to detect underground drainage tiles using remote sensing.

“When we started the program, we thought that there may be interest in knowing where tiles were,” Czajkowski said. “We found out that there is a real need for mapping them.”

Drain Tile Mapper received a $50,000 grant to conduct customer discovery and attend the national program.

“Receiving the award was really quite a surprise. We felt like we were just barely keeping up with the teams,” Czajkowski said.

Panozzo and Czajkowski traveled to New York, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and throughout Ohio to interview potential customers about tile drains. Each week, Panozzo prepared a web presentation based on what they learned from the interviews.

The group is discussing whether to form a company based on their experience with I-Corps and the research they did with drainage tiles.

Public invited to celebrate 50th anniversary of astronomy at UT Oct. 26

The University of Toledo is celebrating a milestone in astronomy: 50 years of education, outreach and celestial exploration.

The public is invited to an open house in honor of the 50th anniversary of UT’s astronomy program, Ritter Observatory and Planetarium, and Brooks Observatory.

The free event will take place Thursday, Oct. 26, at 6:30 p.m. at Ritter Planetarium and will feature a look back through half a century of northwest Ohio’s connection to astronomy.

“One of the joys of astronomy is that people are inherently curious about it, and so sharing our research and our telescopes with the community have been vital in our mission from the beginning,” said Dr. Jillian Bornak, associate lecturer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and chair of the UT Astronomy 50th Anniversary Committee.

The event will include a presentation of stories submitted by Toledoans of their memories, such as visits to UT for full-dome movies, public viewings with telescopes in the observatories, and special events for Apollo 11 and the impact of the Shoemaker-Levy comet on Jupiter.

The event also will include talks by Dr. Adolf Witt, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Astronomy, who served on the NASA Universe Working Group, and Dr. Jon Bjorkman, professor of physics and astronomy, who studies stellar winds.

The Ritter facility was dedicated Oct. 13, 1967. It was intended to blend research and public education for the University, local schools and community. The 1-meter-diameter telescope housed on top of the Ritter building is the largest optical telescope in the United States east of the Mississippi River.

UT scientist to discuss importance of rivers for Lake Erie fish Oct. 19

As concerns about algal blooms, fish deaths and invasive Asian carp spawning are under the microscope in Lake Erie tributaries, an aquatic ecologist at The University of Toledo is highlighting the value of healthy rivers for fish in the Great Lakes.

Dr. Christine Mayer, professor in the UT Department of Environmental Sciences, is specifically targeting the Maumee, Sandusky and Detroit rivers in her lecture titled “Swimming Upstream: The Importance of Western Lake Erie’s Rivers to Fish Populations.”

Mayer

The free, public event will take place Thursday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. at the UT Lake Erie Center, 6200 Bayshore Road in Oregon.

“The rivers and river mouths are a small area compared to the whole lake, but they hold some key habitats for fish, such as the type of environment required for reproduction,” Mayer said. “Some fish species, such as walleye, spawn both in the lake and in the rivers, but having river stocks helps increase the diversity of our ‘fish stock portfolio,’ just like your financial portfolio.”

While the river habitats are important to native fish, Mayer said there also is potential for newly invasive species, such as grass carp, to use rivers for spawning.

“Rivers are highly affected by human alteration of habitat and inputs from the land,” Mayer said. “It is important to try to envision what kinds of conservation or restoration are best suited for the three big rivers entering western Lake Erie to contribute the most benefit to Lake Erie fisheries. Each river has unique issues.”

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

UT researcher discovers first grass carp eggs in Maumee River

A researcher at The University of Toledo found the first proof of grass carp, a type of invasive Asian carp, spawning in the Maumee River.

Nicole King, aquatic ecology research technician at the UT Lake Erie Center, collected five grass carp eggs in mid-July just downstream of the I-80 bridge, approximately 11.2 river miles from Lake Erie.

Nicole King held a grass carp captured in early spring.

The U.S. Geological Survey used genetic testing to confirm that three of the eggs collected from the Maumee River are from grass carp. The other two eggs have been retained for possible future analysis.

“These fish have been known to be in the Maumee River area and known to ascend the river during high-flow events, so the fact that they spawn there is not surprising,” said Dr. Christine Mayer, UT professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences.

“While this finding does not indicate the number of grass carp in the Maumee River or Lake Erie, it does underscore the continued need to refine the understanding of where grass carp are currently found so that agencies can take on-the-ground actions,” the U.S. Geological Survey released in a statement.

King also is one of the researchers who found more than 7,000 grass carp eggs earlier this year in the Sandusky River, another tributary to Lake Erie.

A grass carp egg

Last month King participated in a two-day, multi-agency expedition led by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife targeting grass carp in the Sandusky River to assess the ability and best practices to capture grass carp. Crews collected a total of eight adult grass carp using electrofishing boats, gill nets and fyke nets. The action was in preparation for a large-scale, planned response in 2018.

In 2015 in the Sandusky River, UT graduate student Holly Embke was the first researcher to discover grass carp, a type of invasive Asian carp, spawning in a Great Lakes tributary.

“Grass carp feed on vegetation,” King said. “Wetlands are an important habitat for fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians. If these grass carp reach high enough numbers, they could potentially have some serious effects on these wetlands and be dangerous for wetland restoration.”

Although considered a species of Asian carp, wild adult grass carp pose significantly different risks to the Lake Erie ecosystem than bighead carp and silver carp, which are the two invasive Asian carp species of great concern in the Mississippi River basin. Both bighead carp and silver carp consume plankton, and if these species were to make their way into the Great Lakes basin, they would compete for the same source of food that ecologically and economically important native fish species need to survive. Silver carp are well-known for their jumping ability.

Grass carp pose a risk to waterfowl habitat and wetlands, but they do not eat plankton and are unlikely to compete directly with native fish. Grass carp do not jump and are primarily herbivorous.

“One of the goals of carrying out research on grass carp is to provide information about how other Asian carp species might behave if they ever arrive in the Great Lakes,” Mayer said.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the recent discovery of grass carp eggs in the Maumee River “reinforces the need for ongoing coordination of strategic grass carp management actions implemented through member agencies of the Lake Erie Committee.”

Eberly Center for Women highlighting UT researchers

The Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women is focusing on UT researchers with its monthly Lunch With a Purpose program.

The free, public programs take place from noon to 1 p.m. in the Eberly Center for Women Conference Room in Tucker Hall Room 0152.

Listed by date, upcoming UT women faculty members who will discuss their work are:

• Wednesday, Oct. 4 — Dr. Lisa Pescara-Kovach, UT associate professor of educational foundations and leadership, and co-chair of the UT Anti-Bullying Task Force, will discuss, “The Use of Social Media to Recruit College Students as Lone Wolf Terrorists.” Her talk will focus on terrorist organizations that target youth based on information from social media. Pescara-Kovach will provide characteristics of extremist groups and those targeted. She also will share information to help recognize these recruitment efforts.

• Wednesday, Nov. 1 — Dr. Jeanine Refsnider-Streby, UT assistant professor of environmental sciences, will present “Effects of Harmful Algal Blooms on Health of Aquatic Wildlife.” She will note how harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie are toxic to humans and pets, and discuss how little is known about the impacts on wildlife populations.

For more information, go to utoledo.edu/centers/eberly, or stop by the Eberly Center in Tucker Hall Room 0168 or call 419.530.8570.

UT algae, health experts reassure residents on safety of drinking water

Water quality experts at The University of Toledo are working with city of Toledo leaders and water treatment plant operators to help keep the public drinking water supply safe.

Dr. Tom Bridgeman, UT algae researcher and professor of ecology, and Dr. David Kennedy, assistant professor in the UT Department of Medicine, participated in a news conference Thursday with Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson.

Watch the video here.

Despite the algal bloom visible in the Maumee River, Bridgeman said, “The Maumee River is over 10 miles away from where we get our drinking water. Our water intake is in Lake Erie. Right now, the water quality at the intake is very good. There is almost non-detect toxins at the intake. And the peak of toxins was over two weeks ago, almost three weeks ago. Toxin levels dropped steadily over the last two weeks.”

“There is a disconnect between the harmful algae that we see and the toxins that the algae produce,” Kennedy said. “Just because you have harmful algal blooms does not mean that they are producing toxin, that they have released toxin, that there is toxin.”