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UT to participate in multi-agency action targeting grass carp in Sandusky River

A team from The University of Toledo Lake Erie Center will participate in a multi-agency project this week to assess the ability to target and capture grass carp, a type of invasive Asian carp reproducing in the Sandusky River, a Great Lakes tributary that flows into Lake Erie.

Crews will use electrofishing boats and a variety of nets during the two-day sampling expedition, which is led by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.

In 2015, UT graduate student Holly Embke collected eight grass carp eggs in the Sandusky River, which flows into Lake Erie.

The UT crew includes Nicole King, aquatic ecology research technician working with faculty at the Lake Erie Center and UT Department of Environmental Sciences.

In addition to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and UT, participating agencies include the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Geological Survey and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

This action will occur in conjunction with aquatic invasive species sampling in Lake Erie’s Sandusky Bay by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The goal of the project is to work with cooperating agencies to develop best practices to capture grass carp. It is in preparation for a large-scale, planned response in 2018.

A UT graduate student was the first researcher to find direct proof of grass carp spawning in a Great Lakes tributary. Holly Embke collected grass carp eggs in summer 2015 in the Sandusky River between Fremont, Ohio, and Lake Erie’s Sandusky Bay after a period of heavy rains.

NSF awards UT nearly $1 million grant to continue early childhood science education program

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded The University of Toledo a nearly $1 million federal grant to continue, expand and further evaluate its successful, innovative program that engages teachers and parents in supporting a young child’s natural curiosity through interactive, inquiry-based science lessons.

The University’s NURTURES Early Childhood Science program, which aims to improve the science readiness scores of preschool through third-grade students in the Toledo area, was originally supported with a $10 million, five-year NSF grant. The new $991,081 grant is part of a total of $2.25 million in federal funding for the second phase of the program that extends it through 2021.

NURTURES, which stands for Networking Urban Resources with Teachers and University to enRich Early Childhood Science, is a professional development program and collaboration between UT, local daycare centers and nursery schools, Toledo Public Schools, informal science centers and other community resources to create a complementary, integrated system of science education.

Project participants in the second phase of the project will include 120 teachers, 2,400 preschool through third-grade children, and more than 7,200 family members in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.

“We are pleased to receive additional funding from the National Science Foundation for the NURTURES program,” said Dr. Charlene Czerniak, professor emeritus of science education and research professor in the UT College of Engineering. “Building on our previous success, we will simultaneously target early childhood teachers, families and children to create a broad support system for powerful and effective science teaching and learning. This program will help close the gaps in science, mathematics, reading and literacy for young children.”

During the first phase of the NURTURES program, 330 teachers of preschool through third grade and administrators participated in a total of 544 hours of professional development in the teaching of science inquiry and engineering design for early childhood classrooms.

According to research published recently in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, every year that a student has a NURTURES program teacher adds on average 8.6 points to a student’s early literacy standardized test score compared to control students, 17 points to a student’s mathematics score, and 41.4 points to a student’s reading score.

The program includes five primary components:

• A two-week summer institute for preschool through third-grade teachers in which they have access to both scientists and instructional coaches;

• Academic year professional development, including monthly professional learning community meetings and one-on-one coaching;

• Family science activity packets sent home from school four times a year that each include a newsletter with directions for the investigation, necessary materials for the activity, and a journal sheet for children to record data or visually represent understanding;

• Family community science events, such as engineering challenge simulations, and observations and demonstrations at a park, zoo, science center, library or farm; and

• Public service broadcasts on television that promote family science activities.

According to the National Science Foundation, an important facet of this follow-up project is the research effort to understand how each component impacts student learning. Project leaders plan to use control groups and standardized tests to measure the effect of teacher professional development compared to family engagement activities.

“What a tremendous opportunity for the young children, their families and teachers in our region to participate in a project that will enhance their understanding of science and the natural world around them,” said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. “It is so important for the project team at The University of Toledo to continue to study the impact that family engagement has on a young child’s education. We know that spending time reading to a child exposes them to 1.8 million words a year. What other things could families be exposing to their children to set them on a pathway for success in life? The NURTURES project at The University of Toledo aims to find that out.”

The additional grant award comes one week after the American Association of State Colleges and Universities honored UT with its Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education in recognition of the NURTURES program.

Czerniak oversaw the development of the NURTURES program along with Dr. Joan Kaderavek, professor of early childhood, physical and special education in the UT Judith Herb College of Education; Dr. Susanna Hapgood, associate professor in the UT Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the Judith Herb College of Education; and Dr. Scott Molitor, associate professor in the UT Department of Bioengineering in the College of Engineering.

UT wins national teacher education award for excellence and innovation

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) honored The University of Toledo with its Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education in recognition of a successful program that engages teachers and parents in supporting a young child’s natural curiosity through interactive, inquiry-based science lessons.

The national association of nearly 420 public colleges, universities and systems selected UT for the competitive award that recognizes one institution each year for excellence and innovation because of the University’s NURTURES Early Childhood Science program, which aims to improve the science readiness scores of preschool through third grade students in the Toledo area.

In a letter to UT President Sharon L. Gaber, AASCU President Muriel A. Howard calls the program “an exemplary one that can serve as a model for other institutions and help to advance practices in the field.”

NURTURES, which stands for Networking Urban Resources with Teachers and University to enRich Early Childhood Science, is a professional development program and collaboration between UT, local daycare centers and nursery schools, Toledo Public Schools, informal science centers, and other community resources to create a complementary, integrated system of science education. The program was supported with a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

“We are honored to receive this award and hope that the NURTURES program will serve as an exciting model for teaching science to young children,” said Dr. Charlene Czerniak, professor emeritus of science education and research professor in the UT College of Engineering. “By engaging young children in high-quality science experiences, teachers can also impact reading, literacy and mathematics in statistically significant ways.”

According to research published recently in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, every year that a student has a NURTURES program teacher adds on average 8.6 points to a student’s early literacy standardized test score compared to control students, 17 points to a student’s mathematics score, and 41.4 points to a student’s reading score.

“Our innovation comes in through the multifaceted way the program engages teachers, parents and the community in science for young children,” Czerniak said. “Science focused on preschool through third grade is not the norm. And by engaging children in school-based, at-home-based and informal-community-based science, we build a model for helping young children learn science and improve in reading, literacy and mathematics as well.”

The NURTURES program enhances teacher understanding of science content to improve classroom practices and offers classroom extension activities and family learning opportunities in the Toledo area.

It includes five primary components, including:

• A two-week summer institute for preschool through third grade teachers in which they have access to both scientists and instructional coaches;

• Academic year professional development, including monthly professional learning community meetings and one-on-one coaching;

• Family science activity take-home packs that each include a newsletter with directions for the investigation, necessary materials for the activity, and a journal sheet for children to record data or visually represent understanding;

• Family community science events, such as engineering challenge simulations, and observations and demonstrations at a park, zoo, science center, library or farm; and

• Public service broadcasts on television that promote family science activities.

Czerniak oversaw the development of the NURTURES program along with Dr. Joan Kaderavek, professor of early childhood, physical and special education in the UT Judith Herb College of Education; Dr. Susanna Hapgood, associate professor in the UT Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the Judith Herb College of Education; and Dr. Scott Molitor, associate professor in the UT Department of Bioengineering in the College of Engineering.

The award for teacher education will be presented to UT Sunday, Oct. 22, during the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ annual meeting in California. Awards also will be presented to institutions in six other categories: civic learning and community engagement; international education; leadership development and diversity; regional and economic development; student success and college completion; and sustainability and sustainable development.

“Innovation at America’s state colleges and universities is focused on advancing the quality of the educational experience for their students and the distinction of their institutions in service to their communities,” Howard said. “The programs for which these universities are being honored will inspire not only their AASCU colleagues, but all of higher education.”

Disability studies assistant professor awarded fellowship for research on incarceration

Dr. Liat Ben-Moshe, assistant professor of disability studies, wants to bridge the gap between studying disability and incarceration.

“It was odd to me that there weren’t more connections between disability studies and prison studies when I first began doing this work. Now, after doing this for more than a decade, there are more people, organizations and scholarship on this topic,” she said. “First, there is the high proportion of disabled — psychiatric, cognitive, learning or other disabilities — in prison, a phenomenon not often discussed. Then there are so many sites of confinement for people with disabilities, even outside of prison settings — nursing homes, psych hospitals, institutions. We need to understand all these as sites of incarceration.”

Ben-Moshe

Ben-Moshe recently was recognized for her outstanding work with one of the American Association of University Women’s American Fellowships for the 2017-18 academic year. These fellowships support women scholars who are completing dissertations, planning research leave, or preparing research for publication.

Her forthcoming book, “Politics of (En)Closure,” focuses on movements to abolish prisons and deinstitutionalization of mental and intellectual health institutions.

“I am incredibly honored to be receiving such a prestigious and competitive fellowship, and I see it as a recognition for my work on social movements that resist incarceration. But I also see it as a recognition of the field of disability studies and specifically of UT’s role as a leader in the field of disability studies, as we have currently the only on campus bachelor of arts degree in disability studies in the U.S.,” Ben-Moshe said.

Studies have shown that more than half of inmates in local and state prisons received clinical diagnosis or treatment by a mental health professional. Ben-Moshe believes the solution to this troubling statistic lies in having a better understanding of what is called mental illness.

“When people who do prison advocacy or critical prison studies work discuss disability, it is not as an identity and a culture, but as a deficit. Those within disability advocacy and work really need to learn more about prison and prison abolition,” she explained. “The intersectional nature of oppression and its resistance here are vital.

“For example, in my new book, I discuss what prison reformers and abolitionists can learn from deinstitutionalization, which was another mass movement to close carceral settings such as psychiatric hospitals, institutions for people with intellectual disabilities. People didn’t think it will happen; it was called utopia, unrealistic. But it did happen, and we can learn from it about how to rely less on settings that segregate people, like institutions and prisons, and more about how to deal with harm and difference in the community.”

UT researchers explore the beauty of crystals published in Science, Science Advances

Dr. Kristin Kirschbaum definitely found her passion when it comes to crystallography. The director of the Instrumentation Center in Bowman-Oddy Laboratories and graduate student Kelly Lambright recently solved the crystal structures of huge gold nanoparticles, which were published in Science and Science Advances.

“It is an achievement and an honor for The University of Toledo in general and crystallography at UT in particular,” Kirschbaum said of the work that appeared in the top scientific journals. “Crystallography at UT has had a great reputation over many decades, under the leadership of Dr. A. Alan Pinkerton, and we are proud to have worked over the years with high school, undergraduate and graduate students. I am particularly delighted that a large part of this work was done by one of our graduate students from the chemistry department, Kelly J. Lambright.

This is the UT team’s crystallographic analysis of the nanoparticle consisting of 246 gold atoms that was published in Science. The orange, blue and pink spheres are the gold atoms, yellow is sulfur, and grey and white are the carbon and hydrogen protective organic layer.

“The support and funding of our instrumentation by the University allowed this program to develop and become a leader in the field of crystallography of nanoparticles.”

The recent article in Science focuses on crystallography solving the atomic structure of a Au246 nanoparticle revealing the three-dimensional arrangement of all 246 gold atoms and the protective organic shell. This kind of information can only be determined by crystallography.

“First, you start with beautiful crystals,” said Kirschbaum cheerfully, isolating a single crystal sample, and placing it inside a diffractometer. The Instrumentation Center is home to five of these instruments, and it’s common for the lab to receive crystals from around the world to analyze; requests from places such as Iran and India, but also national collaborators from Duke, University of Houston, Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Carnegie Mellon. The Carnegie Mellon collaborator Dr. Rongchao Jin, an internationally recognized expert in nanoparticles, provided the crystal of Au246 nanoparticles.

This image shows the data collected when an x-ray beam shines on a crystal in a diffractometer.

The crystal is then exposed to an x-ray beam, which it diffracts in a way that is unique to that particular compound. These reflections are collected and analyzed to find the 3D structure of the compound.

“The importance of these structural results lies in the fact that all of the medical, electronic and optical properties differ depending on the size and the structure of the nanoparticles. Certain nanoparticles are known to enhance cancer radiotherapy, others assist in early tumor detection or are used in solar cells and nano-electronics,” Kirschbaum explained. “The secret of why some nanoparticles have certain properties and others do not is in the 3D arrangement of the atoms. The publication in Science is based on the crystal structure analysis of a novel nanoparticle. It is the largest gold nanoparticle so far whose structure has been determined by crystallography. The foremost largest crystallographically analyzed gold nanoparticle consisted of 133 gold atoms and was also just recently structurally characterized at UT and published in 2015 in Science Advances.”

Kirschbaum went on to say how the research done at UT can have tremendous applications: “Biomedical applications include sensing of important biomolecules — for example, glucose — radio-sensitizing for cancer radiotherapy and early tumor diagnosis. Knowing the arrangement of the atoms allows understanding and predicting the properties of these nanoparticles. Scientists can then design novel nanoparticles with a certain structure and desired properties.”

UT psychologist challenges accuracy of method to interview child witnesses

The reliability of child witness testimony is a prime factor in cases of abuse, but how they are questioned can influence a child’s answers. When faced with choices, a child will often pick one, even if the correct answer is not one of the options given.

New research by a University of Toledo psychologist supports asking open-ended questions and challenges an increasingly popular solution for forensic interviewers to add a “something else” alternative choice when questioning young children.

London Newton

“What we found in our research is that even when children may correctly choose the something else option when the other choices are not accurate, the follow-up answer also is inaccurate,” said Dr. Kamala London Newton, UT associate professor of psychology.

For example, a child is asked a question such as whether the interviewer said that her favorite fruit was an apple, a banana or something else. The interviewer never said anything about her favorite fruit, so the child does not know the correct answer. So the child responds with something else, but when prompted with “What is her favorite fruit?” the child replied, “Carrots.”

London Newton’s research titled “Does It Help, Hurt or Something Else? The Effect of a Something Else Response Alternative on Children’s Performance on Forced-Choice Questions,” is published in the August issue of the American Psychological Association journal Psychology, Public Policy and the Law. She co-authored the article with graduate students Ashley Hall and Nicole Lytle, who have since received their PhDs in developmental psychology from UT.

London Newton’s Developmental Psychology Lab studies the best practices in interviewing child witnesses, and she has provided expert testimony on the subject, with her work cited twice by the United States Supreme Court.

“Interviewing young children, particularly those preschool-aged, can be a challenge because of their limited communication skills and the fact that they do not resist answering false and unanswerable questions,” London Newton said.

“While providing children choices increases the probability that the child will answer the questions, those answers are too often inaccurate,” she said. “That is especially true if children are asked a question but none of the answer choices provided are accurate because children generally do not reply that they do not know.”

That presents a challenge because child abuse professionals argue that answers to open-ended prompts are too sparse and so forced-choice questions are needed, but it is not possible for those professionals to always be sure that one of the choices they are giving the child is true, London Newton said.

For her latest study, London Newton and her research team interviewed 94 children ages 3 to 5 years old. The children had participated in a 20-minute event in which a research assistant touched children on different public locations of their body, such as the elbow, and asked them to show on a doll or drawing where they were touched. Then after a one-week delay, the children were interviewed about that event with a series of questions in which half the participants were asked standard questions with two choices and the others were asked questions with those two choices and also given the something else option.

The researchers found that the addition of the something else option did not improve the accuracy of responses. This was the case for all three types of questions asked — true questions in which the correct answer was present, false questions in which no correct answer was provided, and unanswerable questions that require speculation, for example, is red heavier than yellow?

“Our research supports additional work in this field that shows that the most developmentally appropriate way to pose questions to young children is to avoid forced-choice options as much as possible,” London Newton said. “One of the biggest dangers of including a something else alternative is that it may incorrectly give the interviewers more confidence that the response is accurate. Our findings support that asking open-ended questions is the best approach to interviewing young children.”

Grad student selected as finalist for national fellowship from Sea Grant

A University of Toledo graduate student in biology who has been working to restore giant, ancient sturgeon to Lake Erie was recently selected as one of 61 finalists across the country by Sea Grant for the 2018 Knauss Fellowship.

As a finalist, Jessica Sherman Collier, PhD student researcher in UT’s Department of Environmental Sciences, will spend a year working in Washington, D.C., on water resource policy.

Jessica Sherman Collier, UT doctoral candidate in biology, held a 32-inch, 40-pound lake sturgeon while surveying on the Detroit River with a crew from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“I am very excited and quite honored to be selected for this fellowship,” said Sherman Collier, who was recommended to Sea Grant by her PhD adviser Dr. Jonathan Bossenbroek. “The Knauss Fellowship is an amazing opportunity, and I am so happy to represent The University of Toledo and the Great Lakes region while I am there.”

Sherman Collier will spend a week in November interviewing with up to 20 different federal agency and legislative offices, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Interior, National Science Foundation, U.S. Navy, and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. After being matched with her fellowship placement, her work will begin in February.

“This is a great launch to Jessica’s career, and I hope she finds satisfaction doing work as a public servant for the betterment of our environment,” said Dr. Tim Fisher, geology professor, chair of the UT Department of Environmental Sciences, and interim director of the Lake Erie Center.

“We are excited about the talent and perspectives the 2018 Knauss Fellowship finalists will bring to their executive and legislative appointments next year,” Jonathan Pennock, director of the National Sea Grant College Program, said. “The Knauss Fellowship is a special program for Sea Grant, and we are proud of the professional development and opportunities Sea Grant has provided our alumni, the current class and now these finalists.”

Knauss finalists are chosen through a competitive process that includes several rounds of review.

Since 1979, Sea Grant has provided more than 1,200 early-career professionals with firsthand experiences transferring science to policy and management through one-year appointments with federal government offices in Washington, D.C. 

Sherman Collier, who also is president of the North American Sturgeon and Paddlefish Society Student Subunit, has been involved in the project to restore lake sturgeon to Lake Erie. Most recently, she helped the Toledo Zoo secure $90,000 in federal grant money to build a sturgeon rearing facility along the Maumee River, which flows into Lake Erie. Sherman Collier assisted the project by verifying that spawning and nursery habitat still exist in the Maumee River to sustain a population of the fish that can live to be 150 years old and grow up to 300 pounds and eight feet long.

“I have enjoyed working with partners at the zoo, as well as state and federal agencies to give these large and ancient fish a chance to thrive in Lake Erie once again,” Sherman Collier said. “This is an instance when scientists and natural resource managers have the opportunity to improve the state of an ecosystem by restoring a species that belongs there and to learn a good lesson about our actions in the past.”

Graduate student awarded Spitzer Fellowship in astronomy

“As a teenager, gazing at the stars on the dark canvas of the sky was like entering the most luxurious cinema,” reminisced Thomas Lai, a graduate student studying astronomy. “Soon I picked up the habit of staying in the dark whenever I could, and to recognize as many constellations as possible during my high school years.

“In retrospect, I can see this as a sparkle of the beginning of my interest in the enigmatic cosmos.”

Lai

Lai’s passion and hard work were recognized by the Department of Physics and Astronomy: He recently received the Doreen and Lyman Spitzer Graduate Fellowship.

The fellowship is named after Toledo natives. Lyman Spitzer was a world-renowned physicist and astronomer, who was an early proponent of a project that became the Hubble Space Telescope. The Spitzer Space Telescope, launched in 2003, is named after the scientist. Doreen Spitzer was a prominent archaeologist who had an affinity for all things Greek.

Lai, with assistance from Dr. Adolf Witt, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Astronomy, and Dr. JD Smith, associate professor of astronomy, was able to publish a study on light emissions from nebulae in the Cassiopeia constellation.

“I was extremely pleased that we were able to offer the Spitzer Fellowship to Thomas. He was clearly qualified; he was eager to start an independent research project during his first year as a graduate student at UT, which the Spitzer Fellowship made possible,” Witt said. “The data for this project had been secured beforehand by my collaborator, Ken Crawford, and myself. This allowed Thomas to enter right at the data calibration, reduction and analysis stage of the project — the phase where scientific results and conclusions are being extracted from a collection of images and numbers.

“I enjoyed working with Thomas. The fact that the project resulted in a peer-reviewed scientific paper in a major journal within about two years speaks for itself.”

“They showed me not only the method in conducting research, but also the right attitude in finding the reasonable answer,” said Lai, regarding the aid he received from Witt and Smith.

On the results of his study, Lai said, “I am particularly interested in extended red emission, because we understood little about the exact emission process and the carrier involved in producing such light, even though it has been studied for more than 40 years. To summarize this study, we attributed the extended red emission to a fluorescent process, namely the recurrent fluorescence, which enables small and fragile particles in interstellar space to dissipate their energy efficiently after being bombarded by high-energy photons originating in an illuminating star. This mechanism prevents particles from getting destroyed in the harsh environment filled with ultraviolet radiation from stars, and it may be a crucial process for increasing the survival rate of small carbonaceous molecules, which might be the building blocks of life.”

Though great progress has been made, Witt pointed out the work of a scientist is never finished: “It is an important part of the research experience that every successfully completed project should lead to new questions, which then demand follow-up studies. This has been the case with our work as well. A new question has emerged from some of our current findings, the solution to which we are pursuing through observations with the 4.3-meter Discovery Channel Telescope in Arizona and the 10-meter Keck II telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. This will most likely be part of Thomas’s PhD thesis.”

Luckily, Lai’s passion for this field will surely lead to many more years of scientific discovery.

“Having this paper published means a lot to my career in astronomy,” Lai said. “It encourages me to find more intriguing phenomena provided by the universe and to reveal those profound facts hidden by wonders of the nature.”

Undergraduate students to present summer research at symposium Aug. 3

More than 50 undergraduate students at The University of Toledo spent the past three months delving deep into research projects, including the transport and fate of algal bloom toxins in water distribution systems made of plastic pipe, preparing an experiment for microgravity crystal growth on the International Space Station, and skin penetration of caffeine from marketed eye creams.

One student studied the effect on the formation of ovarian cancer tumors of MLK3, a specific protein associated with the spread of cancer.

Students will present their work at the End-of-Summer Research Symposium Thursday, Aug. 3, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Canaday Center and Gallery at Carlson Library.

Dr. Andrew Hsu, UT provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, and Dr. Jonathan Bossenbroek, UT’s new director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, will give opening remarks at 9 a.m.

“These undergraduate students are enthusiastic and spent their summer working on projects ranging from molecular and cellular biology to theology, astronomy and engineering,” Bossenbroek said. “They’re strengthening their critical thinking skills and overall view of themselves as scholars with help from faculty members who serve as mentors.”

The free, public symposium celebrates the accomplishments of the students who participated in the Undergraduate Summer Research and Creative Activity Program, the First-Year Summer Research Program, the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program, and the Toledo Talent Keeps Toledo Great Internship Program.

For more information, go to utoledo.edu/honors/undergradresearch.

UT tracking Lake Erie harmful algal bloom to help water treatment plant operators

During a weekly water sampling expedition in late July aboard The University of Toledo Lake Erie Center’s 28-foot research vessel, UT senior Alex Lytten holds the buoy steady as fellow senior Zach Swan sprays and scrubs it clean of algae and bird droppings.

For the third year in a row, UT’s water quality and sensor buoy floats in Lake Erie’s Maumee Bay providing live data accessible 24/7 to anyone by smart phone.

Dr. Tom Bridgeman, UT algae researcher and professor of ecology, examined a water sample aboard the UT Lake Erie Center research vessel.

It’s one piece of UT’s 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.

“The bloom is on its way,” said Dr. Tom Bridgeman, UT algae researcher and professor of ecology, who has been focused on this problem for nearly two decades. “The blue-green algae is growing very rapidly right now. It’s growing leaps and bounds.”

Nearby at the city of Toledo water intake that pumps raw lake water to the plant, Bridgeman uses a pulley to draw a water sample and concentrates it into a jar.

It holds a mix of bright green and olive green algae. The olive green algae — “the good algae called diatoms,” according to Bridgeman — sinks to the bottom of the bottle. The bright blue-green algae — “the bad algae responsible for producing toxins such as microcystin” — stays at the top.

Eva Kramer, UT graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in ecology, lowered the YSI EXO sonde into the water. The instrument is comprised of several probes to measure various water quality parameters, including the amount of blue-green algae present, oxygen levels, water temperature and pH.

“Looks like more blue-green algae than we had yesterday,” Swan said.

“It’s growing exponentially,” Bridgeman said.

The researchers also spot a spiny water flea, an invasive species from the Caspian Sea, in the water sample. It’s eating the other zooplankton moving in the jar.

Eva Kramer, a UT graduate student researcher who is pursuing a master’s degree in ecology, mans the big blue wand called a YSI EXO sonde, which is comprised of several probes to measure various water quality parameters, including the amount of blue-green algae present, oxygen levels, water temperature and pH. It’s the same instrument mounted inside UT’s buoy.

Kramer first lowers the sonde for a surface reading and then even lower for a deeper reading.

Alex Lytten, UT senior, drew a water column sample using a long, white tube.

“Here it’s about six meters deep,” Kramer said.

Swan submerges the black-and-white Secchi disk to measure how far below surface it disappears from view.

“It’s 160 centimeters,” Swan said.

“That’s higher than I thought,” Kramer said.

Lytten, who also serves as boat captain, uses a long tube that reaches the bottom of the lake to draw a water column sample.

“We’re collecting a plug of water, instead of just on the surface,” Bridgeman said.

The research team takes the samples collected throughout Maumee Bay and the open waters of the western basin back to the Lake Erie Center lab to process and analyze for algal toxins and chemical signals that will provide clues to help predict future blooms.

“We are watching very closely and prepared,” Bridgeman said. “We expect to get a big bloom this year, but it’s not necessarily going to cause a problem. It’s usual, but it’s not acceptable.”

Bridgeman and his team will continue these sampling trips throughout the summer as one part of the University’s efforts to address harmful algal blooms.

In addition to the environmental scientists, UT has experts conducting water quality research in a diverse breadth of areas, including economics, engineering, business, pharmacy, law, chemistry and biochemistry, geography and planning, and medical microbiology and immunology.