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Drones monitoring algal blooms capture high-quality, low-cost data to protect drinking water, swimmer safety

Low-flying eyes in the sky are improving the accuracy of water quality assessments in the Great Lakes and the rivers that flow into them.

A new study at The University of Toledo finds drones armed with sensors are useful tools in the fight against harmful algal blooms, particularly for monitoring key spots within Lake Erie, such as near drinking water inlets and off the shore of public beaches.

Dr. Richard Becker used a drone to assess water quality on Lake Erie.

Researchers compared data gathered by the drones with satellite data and boat-based water sampling at 10 locations over Lake Erie and the Maumee River.

“We get the same results on both drones compared to more expensive and time-consuming measurements — including some made by probes put directly into the water,” said Dr. Richard Becker, associate professor in the UToledo Department of Environmental Sciences.

The technology places a new weapon in the arsenal of water treatment plant managers protecting the drinking water supply and public health officials monitoring beaches.

Filling the short-range surveillance gap left by more expensive remote-sensing methods such as satellites and aircraft, the unmanned aerial systems offer increased algae awareness due to their ability to hover below cloud cover and to be deployed on short notice.

“Detecting the threat of toxic algae as early as possible is critical, but it can be foggy for satellites looking through different layers of the atmosphere,” Becker said. “These drones are focused and have the ability to assess the condition at the shoreline, which people care about for swimming.”

Determined to safeguard the community’s health, Becker built and tested an algae monitoring drone in summer 2017, costing roughly $2,000. The drone took off from either the UToledo research vessel or the shoreline and flew at an altitude of between 5 and 10 meters above the water’s surface.

“Since drones are inexpensive, quick to launch, and can fly under cloudy skies, they have a lot of advantages that make up for the practical limitations of satellite, aircraft or boat-based observations,” Dr. Thomas Bridgeman, director of the UToledo Lake Erie Center and professor of ecology, said.

The study published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research shows Becker’s team in collaboration with Michigan Tech Research Institute successfully demonstrated the utility of drones outfitted with hyperspectral spectroradiometers to measure water-quality parameters that include chlorophyll, suspended minerals, cyanobacteria index and surface scums.

The sensor is used to produce a cyanobacterial index, which is a measure of algal bloom intensity.

“Dr. Becker and his colleagues show that sophisticated optical measurements of harmful algal blooms collected by drone-based sensors are just as good as similar measurements made from a boat,” Bridgeman said.

Bridgeman’s research team aboard the UToledo Lake Erie Center’s research vessel collects water samples and tracks harmful algal blooms once a week every summer throughout algal bloom season to help sound the early warning for water treatment plant operators.

“This new research means that harmful algal blooms impacting a swimming beach, a reservoir used for drinking water, or the Maumee River could be scanned by someone standing on the shoreline piloting a drone,” Bridgeman said.

Making measurements with a higher spatial resolution, the drones bridge a gap and complement the measurements of satellites, Becker said, but they’re not the stand-alone solution.

“A drone is not always the right tool for the job. A satellite or airplane is a better choice when talking about wide swaths of Lake Erie, instead of a targeted area,” Becker said.

The research was supported by NASA’s Glenn Research Center and the National Science Foundation.

See You at Art on the Mall July 28

Art on the Mall will return to The University of Toledo’s Centennial Mall Sunday, July 28, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This summer marks the free, public event’s 27th year of showcasing a variety of art on Main Campus. Attendees will have the opportunity to view and purchase all kinds of art, including acrylic, glass, pen and ink, oil, mixed media, metals, photography, ceramics, textiles, watercolor, woodwork, jewelry and more.

“This year we have invited more artists to participate in the show than we have in the past,” said Ansley Abrams-Frederick, director of alumni programming in the UToledo Office of Alumni and Annual Engagement.

A total of 115 artists are expected to bring their creations to Art on the Mall.

“People can expect a lovely setting, a very comfortable, walkable show that has amazingly talented artists displaying beautiful works of art,” Abrams-Frederick said.

All pieces of art are for sale. Guests can pay cash or with a credit card at the artist’s booth or in the Thompson Student Union.

During the event, there will be food, music, kids’ activities, free parking and golf cart shuttle service from the lots.

In addition, Art on the Mall offers a young artist area for children to try their hands at creating their own masterpieces, a music tent featuring jazz throughout the day, a beer garden, and a food court.

More than 13,000 people attended last year’s show.

“I think the community really supports this event,” Abrams-Frederick said. “The event attendees know that this is a one-day show, so they buy, knowing that it might not be there after they walk away.”

Art on the Mall is supported by community sponsors 13abc, The Blade, Mail It and 101.5 The River.

“The artists love the show because of our supportive and receptive community,” Abrams-Frederick added. “They love our volunteers and know that the people attending the show really appreciate their work. It’s a great show with wonderfully talented artists in a beautiful setting. What more could you ask for?”

For more information, contact Abrams-Fredericks at 419.530.4316 or ansley.abrams@utoledo.edu.

Update on Maintenance Project on West Rocket Drive

Traffic on a portion of West Rocket Drive on Main Campus is scheduled to be shifted beginning Monday, July 22.

As maintenance work continues on an underground steam pipeline, traffic in both directions will be routed through Lot 26 by the Main Campus Medical Center and the Main Campus Pharmacy while a portion of West Rocket Drive in front of Horton International House is closed.

Work should be complete in Lot 12 by the Law Center Friday, July 19.

The project is expected to be complete Friday, July 26, according to Michael Green, director of energy management.

Alumnus/Doctoral Student Offers Musical Inspiration With New Disc

Jeremy Holloway, a Ph.D. candidate in the Judith Herb College of Education at The University of Toledo, has released a worship album featuring 12 original songs.

“No More Delay” became available July 4 on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud and Google Play.

The title track was inspired by his sister, Tiffanie.

“‘No More Delay’ came to me after witnessing my sister’s battle with diabetes at such a young age,” Holloway said. “She lost the ability to walk and was in and out of the hospital for years.”

He wrote, “It’s at a point when you’re broken, when you have nothing left/ When you’re crying and can no longer see/ God tells the angels, ‘Do you hear my child? That’s my little baby/ Now no more delay. Send her a story of hope/ A story of goodness, a story of grace/ And let it ring for all time.’”

Holloway’s sister temporarily lost her vision due to diabetes, which adds to the emotion and real strength of the lyrics.

Being moved by music — many genres of music — is something Holloway has experienced from an early age.

“When I was 17, I was into grunge and wanted to play the guitar, and I learned to play the guitar after watching Kurt Cobain in Nirvana perform on MTV,” he recalled.

At age 18, Holloway became a Christian and started to play the guitar and sing in church. He volunteers on the worship team at Calvary Church in Maumee, and he recently was a worship leader at Intersection Church in Oregon, Ohio.


“I love playing music, but I also really enjoy writing songs,” he said.

Holloway decided to record the disc after meeting Glenn Scott, who used to be a manager for the Beach Boys for more than 20 years.

“We met here in Toledo at church, and he graciously opened up his studio for me to record this album. I regard it as truly a blessing,” Holloway said.

Other individuals who performed on “No More Delay” are Brandon Michael (spoken word poet), Evan Gilligan (spoken word poet), Jared Robison (guitar), Reagan Patterson (vocals) and UToledo student Kayla McCraney (vocals). The album was produced by Glenn and September Scott.

Holloway’s gratitude is evident on the disc, especially in the song, “Everything.”

“‘Everything’ is a reminder to me,” he said, singing the lyrics, “I don’t have the right to complain all the time/ I don’t have the right to a negative mind/ I don’t/ I don’t have the right, even if I think I might/ Because you gave me everything/ You gave me a song to sing.”

He smiled and said, “I remember how good life is and how wonderful God is in my life. And I remember, I try not to complain because I’ve been given so much.

“I want to encourage my listeners to see God’s goodness in their lives as well,” Holloway added. “It is one of my goals to link my passion with my purpose and connect others, as this is the true educational experience.”

The native of Toledo is a second generation Rocket; his parents, Tyrone and Delores Holloway, are both graduates of the University. Holloway received a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish and a bachelor of education degree from UToledo in 2005. He taught Spanish at area schools and graduated from the University in 2014 with a master’s degree in English as a second language.

Last year, Holloway published a book, “God Wants You to Smile Today: 25 Epiphanies of God’s Goodness — Secrets to Living With Radical Peace, Joy and Hope.” And in 2017, he was honored with the 20 Under 40 Leadership Award, which recognizes Toledo community members 39 or younger who demonstrate exceptional leadership qualities.

For more information on the disc, contact Holloway at jeremy.holloway@rockets.utoledo.edu.

New Study Finds Large Rise in Suicide by African-American Adolescents

A large-scale study from The University of Toledo of young African Americans who have attempted or died by suicide suggests there is a greater need for mental health services in urban school districts, and that we need to do a better job in convincing parents and caregivers to safely secure firearms and ammunition in the home.

Taking those measures, Dr. James Price said, could save lives.


Price, UToledo professor emeritus of health education and public health, recently authored the largest study to date that examines suicidal behaviors of African-American adolescents between the ages of 13 and 19.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Community Health, found the rate of suicide deaths among young black males increased by 60 percent from 2001 through 2017. Researchers documented a 182 percent increase in the rate of suicide deaths of young black females during that same time period.

“There are far more African-American adolescents attempting suicide than has been recognized in the past, and their attempts are starting to be much more lethal,” Price said.

Currently, suicide is the second leading cause of death after homicide for African Americans between the ages of 13 and 19, and the rate continues to climb. Equally troubling is that the methods black youth are using in suicide attempts are among the most lethal.

Price and a co-researcher at Ball State University found 52 percent of the 560 males aged 13 to 19 who died by suicide from 2015 to 2017 used firearms — a method for which the fatality rate approaches 90 percent. Another 34 percent used strangulation or suffocation, which has a fatality rate of about 60 percent.

Among the 204 females who died by suicide over that time period, 56 percent used strangulation or suffocation and 21 percent used firearms.

“When we look at research with these adolescents, we find that they report their attempt to suicide is a cry for help. Two-thirds of the kids didn’t really want to die, but they’re using the most lethal form of attempting suicide,” Price said. “If you can have those lethal forms of suicide inaccessible to them, then that period of crisis and not seeing the irreversibility of this impulsive decision will pass. And with adequate mental health services available to young people, you may actually reduce the chance they’ll do that act again.”

Previous surveys have found that among inner-city elementary school students whose parents own a handgun, three-quarters knew where the gun was kept.

Keeping firearms locked away, unloaded and separate from ammunition unequivocally would reduce unintentional firearm injuries and impulsive suicide attempts, Price said.

The research also suggests a far greater need for mental health services in African-American communities. Public health researchers have repeatedly documented that black youth are less likely than the youth population as a whole to receive adequate mental health treatment, setting the stage for situations that contribute to self-harm.

“What needs to be done early on is to make sure that young people have adequate access to mental health-care services, and mental health-care services have always taken a backseat to other forms of health care,” Price said. “If you look at where young people in urban areas, especially adolescents, are getting mental health care, it’s in the schools.”

Previous studies have found increasing mental health access in urban public schools could reduce suicide attempts by as much as 15 percent, Price said.

“While that doesn’t solve all the problems, it’s a good first step toward reducing the problem toward severe self-violence,” he said.

If you or someone you know is thinking or talking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org for additional resources.

New Telecommunication System Installed

Last year The University of Toledo’s Board of Trustees approved a new Cisco telecommunication system to replace the phone systems on all UToledo campuses. Installation of new phones already has begun, with the new phone system expected to be in place for all areas across campuses by June 2020.

“Because our current phone systems are over 30 years old, they’ve become difficult and costly to maintain, as spare parts are no longer readily available,” said Bill McCreary, vice president and chief information and technology officer. “The current systems are also very inflexible and don’t support our current or future business needs.”

After exploring several options, the University selected the Cisco Unified Communication system — the national market leader used by many other major universities and healthcare networks across the U.S.

“We were able to procure this system under very favorable terms established by the state, and there are many new capabilities it will provide for our users,” McCreary said.

The new Cisco system runs on the existing UToledo computer networks, which eliminates the need for any special installation. This system offers many benefits such as multi-party video calling, E-911 service and overall system integration. This enables efficiencies and collaboration not possible with the current phone systems.

For example, the system’s ability to provide call center management and metrics, such as those needed by The University of Toledo Medical Center and Rocket Solutions Central, are not possible with UToledo’s current technology.

“These are features we need to stay competitive and — more importantly — to provide better service to our students, patients, co-workers and other customers,” McCreary said. “Since installation began, we’ve received many positive comments from early users.”

When users receive their new Cisco phone, it should be accompanied by a detailed instruction sheet that provides guidance on how to use the new features of the system. While many features are unchanged from the old systems, including dialing “9” for outside lines and voicemail integration with email, there is one notable change.

The new Cisco system uses seven-digit dialing, so when you want to call another UToledo number, you must dial the full seven digits of the number instead of only the four-digit extension. For frequently dialed numbers, there are fast-dial options that users may set up to save time.

Much more information, including a user’s quick reference guide, is available on the unified communications project information website. Select Menu in the upper right-hand corner, then choose the plus-sign icon next to Resources, and select the option of your choosing, such as Reference Guides.

CommunityCare Clinics to Hold Golf Fundraiser July 27

The CommunityCare Clinics will hold its fifth annual golf tournament Saturday, July 27, at 1:30 p.m. at Heatherdowns Country Club, 3910 Heatherdowns Blvd.

All proceeds from the tournament will benefit the CommunityCare Clinics and its patients.

The free medical clinic run by University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences’ students in collaboration with local medical professionals provides comprehensive care to Toledo’s uninsured and medically underserved community. During the past year, the clinics have provided care to more than 5,000 patients.

“We are so excited to be holding our golf outing again,” said Hannah Staats, a second-year medical student and director of public relations for the clinics. “We work year round to treat patients, and this event is a huge part of that.”

Staats added, “Our patients are mostly the underserved population of Toledo, and many do not have insurance. Because of this, we have to work hard to raise the money to provide medications and services for these patients.”

The cost of the golf tournament is $85 per player, $70 per student player, and $20 for dinner. If you are not a golfer, you can still attend the dinner.

The tournament will be run with teams of four.

Casual attire is recommended, as well as nonmetal spikes.

”We can’t help our patients without the assistance of the Toledo community, and we would love to have your support of the CommunityCare Clinics through this event,” Staats said.

The deadline to register is Friday, July 19. Go to the CommunityCare Clinics Golf Tournament website.

For more information, check out the CommunityCare Clinics’ website.

New Vendor to Streamline Printer, Fax, Copier Operations for Cost Savings

The University of Toledo has signed a contract with ComDoc, a Xerox subsidiary, to replace and manage the printers, fax and copiers across all college and administrative offices, including The University of Toledo Medical Center and its associated clinics.

“Right now there are 4,500 copiers, fax machines, desktop and network printers,” said Bill McCreary, vice president and chief technology and information officer. “Currently supported by Ricoh, this fleet has more than 200 different equipment models, making their operation and maintenance very costly.

“By using ComDoc, the University will be able to streamline equipment and reduce costs, while still sufficiently providing users with the services they need,” McCreary explained.

ComDoc has established a statewide agreement for all state agencies, government offices and universities. Over the last several years, most Ohio public universities have taken advantage of this agreement to gain cost efficiencies.

While this purchasing agreement is not a UToledo technology-driven initiative, University information technology teams are assisting ComDoc with identifying the current equipment mix and their printing volumes, as well as all the system design and testing, McCreary noted.

Based on this information, ComDoc will produce an optimum design for every major area on the University’s campuses, which may result in fewer localized print devices and more network-based printers. Additionally, ComDoc will propose equipment with much better capability than UToledo’s current fleet of hardware, according to McCreary.

The assessment began in May, with significant joint design and testing. Project implementation is slated for the summer and fall semester, with the project targeted for completion by December.

“If you’re asked to approve the design or suggest changes for your area before implementation, please do that quickly,” McCreary said. “This is a huge undertaking, and so we appreciate everyone’s help so ComDoc can complete implementation at a rapid pace.”

UToledo Hires New Bursar

Shelia Stewart feels right at home in her position as bursar at The University of Toledo.

“I attended school at UToledo, and I worked here for more than 20 years,” Stewart said. “I am very happy to return to this beautiful campus and an institution that is close to my heart.”


She started her new post June 3 and oversees student accounts, billing and collections, as well as some treasury functions. The bursar reports to the associate vice president of finance and treasurer.

Stewart returns to UToledo after 17 years at Wayne State University, where she was bursar.

Prior to that, she held many positions, including bursar, assistant director of student accounts and information systems, and budget officer in UToledo’s Division of Finance from 1982 to 2002.

A UToledo alumna, Stewart received an associate degree in business management technology in 1987, a bachelor of science degree in individualized programs in 1990, and a master of education degree in educational technology in 1998.

Drive to Stock Teacher’s Supply Pantry for Old Orchard Elementary School

A survey by the National Center for Education Statistics revealed 94 percent of public school teachers spend their own money on classroom materials — up to $500 a year for grade school teachers. To help address this issue, The University of Toledo is leading efforts to connect teachers at Old Orchard Elementary School with supplies for their students.

“We recognize the importance of supporting schools in our community,” said UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber. “By collectively sharing the responsibility of equipping students with essential school supplies, we hope our collaboration with campus partners will contribute to students’ success.”

Officials at Toledo Public Schools identified the need to provide more supplies for area teachers throughout the year. Drawing inspiration from a model developed by Grace Church in Toledo, UToledo has organized a donation drive to stock a teacher’s supply pantry.

While Old Orchard Elementary is the pilot school for the pantry project, the University hopes the initiative will grow to serve more schools.

“Helping provide school supplies to local young students reflects our commitment to fostering an environment where learning can thrive,” said Dr. Raymond H. Witte, dean of the Judith Herb College of Education. “We are invested in the success of Toledo Public Schools by being both a resource for immediate, material needs and providing access to our community-based research and educational programs.”

From Monday, July 8, through Friday, Sept. 26, donations will be accepted at several locations on Main Campus and Health Science Campus.

The supply pantry will be housed at the Carver Resource Center in Gillham Hall on UToledo’s Main Campus and will open to teachers at Old Orchard Elementary School beginning in October.

The UToledo community is encouraged to contribute. Old Orchard Elementary has identified a list of the most needed items: pencils, colored pencils, dry-erase markers, Clorox wipes, Crayola markers, facial tissues, Crayola crayons, index cards, Ziploc bags and masking tape.

Visit the Teacher Supply Pantry website to find drop-off locations and learn more.

Questions? Contact teachersupplypantry@utoledo.edu.