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UToledo scholar awarded Fulbright to Sudan for next academic year

Dr. Asma Abdel Halim’s quarter century of research questioning the breach and progress of Muslim women’s human rights is personal.

Her own life experience fuels her life’s work to protect Muslim women worldwide for generations to come.

Abdel Halim

The next leg of her journey takes her back to her native Sudan, a place Abdel Halim describes as “a country that has always subjected women to a version of Islamic law that is fashioned according to the political mood of the government.”

The prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar program selected The University of Toledo faculty member focused on women’s rights under religious laws to travel to Sub-Saharan Africa for the 2019-20 academic year as a Fulbright Scholar.

Abdel Halim, associate professor in the UToledo Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, and director of the Center of the Muslim Woman, will study the history of gender effects on Sudanese law, produce ideas for reform, and teach a class on gender and the law at her alma mater, the University of Khartoum.

“As a Muslim woman joining other Muslim women in researching Islamic laws and critiquing centuries of patriarchal dominance, I find it necessary to explore women’s history, rights and developments because I am determined to address gendered laws and how to combat their effects,” Abdel Halim said.

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright U.S. Scholar program within the U.S. Department of State has worked to improve intercultural relations and diplomacy through national fellowship. The program in Sudan was suspended in 1992 after the U.S. issued an embargo on relations with the country and was reinstated two years ago after President Trump lifted U.S. sanctions.

“As Dr. Asma Abdel Halim travels around the world sharing her knowledge, insight and experience, she helps raise awareness about problems and protections of women living under Muslim laws,” Dr. Sharon Barnes, associate professor and chair in the UToledo Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, said. “Her outstanding scholarship consistently brings great prestige to The University of Toledo. While we will miss her at home, we are proud the Fulbright program has recognized her forward-thinking work on international women’s issues.”

Abdel Halim, a faculty member at UToledo for 15 years, graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Khartoum with a bachelor’s degree in 1980 and a master’s degree in 1988.

“As a student there, I never encountered gender in any of the courses,” Abdel Halim said. “My experience studying and teaching in the United States proved that gender as a tool of analysis is vital in studying law.”

Abdel Halim, who earned her Ph.D. at Ohio University, said actions of extremists lead many to question the tenets of Islam and the religion’s commitment to equality.

“Religious interpretations are being misused to strengthen conservative stances regarding the curbing of human rights,” Abdel Halim said. “Old traditions of favoring men because of their participation in war lead to the subjugation of women to the authority of male guardians.”

Abdel Halim plans to write a book after accessing old Shari’a sources, such as treaties written by scholars centuries ago and still considered the main source of Islamic rules today. She also plans to delve into the era of Mahdiyya uprisings and older archives.

“The intersection of religion and gender seems to be working against women where legislation is concerned,” Abdel Halim said. “Ideological traditions find safety in regression to old traditions rather than in change. I plan to follow the historical events of the recent history of the Sudan and look closely to the history of women in the country and understand why developments in legislation go back and forth. I also will examine how the intersection of gender and religion seems to always end in the defeat of women’s rights in favor of archaic religious norms.”

Satellites Auxiliary to hold marketplace fair May 28

Personal electronics, fragrances, handbags, apparel, watches, jewelry and more will be for sale at the Satellites Auxiliary’s marketplace fair Tuesday, May 28.

Stop by between 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the UToledo Medical Center’s Four Seasons Bistro Atrium.

“We are excited to have Gold Coast Promotions once again as our vendor,” Lynn Brand, president of the Satellites Auxiliary, said. “They are bringing many unique items that we haven’t had in a long time and employees have asked for: purses, watches, and real gold and silver jewelry.”

Cash, credit cards and payroll deduction will be accepted.

“The proceeds will help fund a much-needed ice machine for the Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center patients,” Brand said. “Please help to support this endeavor for our patients.”

The Satellites Auxiliary promotes education, research and service programs; provides support of patient programs in accordance with the needs and approval of administration; conducts fundraising events; and offers volunteer services.

For more information on the marketplace fair, contact Lynn Brand, president of the Satellites Auxiliary, at lynn.brand@utoledo.edu.

Huntington, UToledo partner to create new Opportunity Scholarship

A new scholarship made possible with a generous gift from Huntington Bank will power opportunity for The University of Toledo students to achieve their educational goals.

Sharon Speyer, president of Huntington’s Northwest Ohio Region and a member of the UToledo Board of Trustees, presented UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber with a $200,000 check May 20 to create the Huntington Bank Opportunity Scholarship.

Sharon Speyer, president of Huntington’s Northwest Ohio Region and a member of the UToledo Board of Trustees, left, presented UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber with a $200,000 check to create the Huntington Bank Opportunity Scholarship.

The scholarship will be awarded over the next four years to degree-seeking undergraduate students based on financial need.

“Access to knowledge is something we should aspire for all of our children,” Speyer said. “Having said that, the cost of education can be a barrier for some. We wanted to create a program, with the University, to provide more opportunities to potential students to study and learn at this fine institution.”

“This investment by Huntington in our students will have a powerful impact on not only the individuals awarded the scholarship, but also on the community we both serve as these individuals graduate and become the future leaders in our region,” Gaber said. “I want to thank Huntington for our strong partnership and its ongoing support of UToledo.”

With the gift, Huntington has now given more than $2 million to UToledo since 1975 in support of academic, athletic and student affairs programming.

The first Huntington Bank Opportunity Scholarships worth a total of $50,000 were awarded to 40 students for the upcoming 2019-20 academic year.

Students are eligible for consideration if they demonstrate financial need after completing the Free Application for Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, and after completing Office of Student Financial Aid’s general scholarship application. Preference will be given to residents of Lucas County.

Ready to roll: New bikes available

As part of the comprehensive transportation services UToledo offers students, faculty and staff, new bicycles — including tandem, hand-pedal and tricycle bikes — have been added to Rocket Wheels’ existing fleet.

“By providing a variety of bikes, we’re not only increasing accessibility and convenience for our campus community, but also ensuring individuals with disabilities have equal opportunity to use various transportation options,” said Bonnie Murphy, associate vice president for auxiliaries.

Students showed off some of the new bicycles, including tandem, hand-pedal and tricycle bikes, available through Rocket Wheels.

Along with 10 regular bikes added to the fleet this spring, Parking and Transportation Services now offers several specialty bikes, which became available May 13 on Main Campus.

“We looked for a corporate sponsor to keep our Rocket Wheels’ bike fleet in top-notch condition each year,” explained Sherri Kaspar, director of parking and transportation. “Thankfully, Walmart immediately stepped up to the plate and provided funding for several new bikes.”

“We’re excited about this partnership with The University of Toledo,” said Jeffrey Gerber, Walmart assistant store manager. “Once we learned of the University’s goal to add variety to their fleet and introduce bikes that will accommodate persons with disabilities, we wanted to help.”

Bikes may be checked out with your Rocket Card and should be returned to one of four locations conveniently located throughout campus: next to the west parking garage, by Rocket Hall near the horse sculpture, next to Ritter Planetarium and by the North Engineering Building.

To register to use these bikes and review safety guidelines, visit Rocket Wheels’ website.

In addition to bikes, Lime scooters also are available if you need to travel from one corner of campus to another. Riders are reminded to use scooters only on campus. The UToledo Student Code of Conduct, as well as all local and federal laws, are applicable whenever you use Lime scooters. For more information, visit the electric scooter sharing web page.

“All University transportation information, including TARTA bus service schedules, is available on our Parking and Transportation Services’ website,” Kaspar said. “Our No. 1 goal is to make sure our customers — especially students — have several options to get around campus, while also remaining safe.”

If you have any questions related to UToledo transportation services, contact parking@utoledo.edu.

Inexpensive agricultural waste product can remove microcystin from water, new UToledo research finds

Scientists at The University of Toledo have discovered that rice husks can effectively remove microcystin from water, a finding that could have far-reaching implications for communities along the Great Lakes and across the developing world.

An abundant and inexpensive agricultural byproduct, rice husks have been investigated as a water purification solution in the past. However, this is the first time they have been shown to remove microcystin, the toxin released by harmful algal blooms.

Dr. Jon Kirchhoff, right, Dr. Dragan Isailovic, center, and doctoral student David Baliu-Rodriguez have published a paper, along with UToledo graduates, Dr. Dilrukshika Palagama and Dr. Amila Devasurendra, about using rice husks to remove microcystin from water.

The results of the study were recently published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

“Delivering safe water is critical, and finding an economically viable solution to deliver safe water to people all over the world is going to be really important. The ability of this simple material to be powerful enough to address this issue is impressive,” said Dr. Jon Kirchhoff, Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department.

The research, led by Kirchhoff and Dr. Dragan Isailovic, associate professor of chemistry in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, used organic rice husks that were treated with hydrochloric acid and heated to 250 degrees Celsius.

The rice husks were then dispersed in a series of water samples collected from Lake Erie during the 2017 harmful algal bloom to measure how much of the toxin they could absorb.

UToledo researchers say rice husks are effective at removing microcystin from water. In addition, the rice husks are economical and, after soaking up microcystin, can be heated to destroy the toxins and create silica particles that can be used for other applications.

Researchers found the rice husks removed more than 95 percent of microcystin MC-LR — the most common type found in Lake Erie — in concentrations of up to 596 parts per billion (ppb). Even in concentrations approaching 3,000 ppb, more than 70 percent of the MC-LR was removed, and other types of MCs were removed as well.

“We looked at the removal of microcystins from real environmental samples and the material has performed really well,” Isailovic said. “We are talking about extremely high concentrations of microcystins originating from cyanobacterial cells. Normally during summer, we have much, much lower concentrations in Lake Erie.”

Devasurendra

The United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends a 10-day drinking water guideline that young children not drink water containing more than a total of 0.3 ppb of microcystin and school-age children and adults not drink water containing more than a total of 1.6 ppb of microcystin.

Beyond their effectiveness, rice husks have a number of other appealing attributes. They’re cheap — researchers paid $14.50 for half a cubic foot, and buying in bulk would bring that price down significantly — and they’re able to be repurposed.

Heating microcystin-laden rice husks to 560 degrees Celsius destroys the toxins and produces silica particles, which can be used in other applications.

Palagama

The researchers are hopeful their discovery could be scaled up beyond the lab to develop a more environmentally friendly method for treating water that has been contaminated by harmful algal blooms or cheap but effective filtration systems for the developing world.

“We could potentially use this readily available material to purify water before it even gets into Lake Erie,” Isailovic said. “There are engineering solutions that need to be done, but one of our dreams is to apply what we develop in our labs to provide safe drinking water.”

Other authors of the study were doctoral students Dr. Dilrukshika Palagama and Dr. Amila Devasurendra, who first proposed looking at rice husks as a way to remove microcystin and have since graduated from UToledo, and current doctoral student David Baliu-Rodriguez.

UToledo researcher using drones to measure algal blooms to speak May 23 at National Museum of the Great Lakes

Determined to protect drinking water and avert another water crisis, a scientist at The University of Toledo deploys drones to snap a quick assessment of water quality during algal bloom season, no boat or satellite required.

Dr. Richard Becker, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences, will give a presentation titled “Using Drones to Answer Questions in Environmental Science” Thursday, May 23, at 7 p.m. at the National Museum of the Great Lakes, located at 1701 Front St. in Toledo.

Dr. Richard Becker uses drones to help monitor water quality during algal bloom season.

The researcher will discuss his use of low-flying unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor the health of Lake Erie.

The free, public event is the final presentation in the 2018-19 UToledo Lake Erie Center Lecture Series.

“As remote sensing technology advances, monitoring lakes using satellites, aircraft and drones is becoming more effective,” Dr. Tom Bridgeman, professor of ecology and director of the UToledo Lake Erie Center, said. “Dr. Becker’s research in coupling remote sensing data with boat-based water monitoring has improved the accuracy of harmful algal bloom assessments. Also, his research to develop drones as inexpensive tools to measure algal blooms is helping to fill a gap left by more expensive methods.”

A shuttle will be available to transport visitors from UToledo’s Main Campus to the National Museum of the Great Lakes and back. The shuttle will depart at 6:15 p.m. from the south side of Bowman-Oddy Laboratories. Passengers must reserve a spot by Tuesday, May 21.

Email lakeeriecenter@utoledo.edu or call 419.530.8360 to make a reservation for the shuttle.

Huntington gift funds new UToledo scholarship

The University of Toledo and Huntington Bank will announce a new scholarship program to power opportunity for students to achieve their educational goals.

Huntington will present UToledo with a $200,000 check to create the Huntington Bank Opportunity Scholarship Monday, May 20, at 1 p.m. in Libbey Hall.

The scholarship will be awarded over the next four years to degree-seeking undergraduate students based on financial need.

The first scholarships worth a total of $50,000 were awarded to 40 students for the upcoming 2019-20 academic year.

With the gift, Huntington has given more than $2 million to UToledo since 1975 in support of academic, athletic and student affairs programming.

College of Health and Human Services’ interim dean announced

Interim Provost Karen Bjorkman has announced Dr. Barry Scheuermann’s appointment as interim dean of the College of Health and Human Services, effective July 1, following Dr. Christopher Ingersoll’s resignation late last month.

Scheuermann

The University will begin a national search for the position this fall.

Most recently, Scheuermann has served as the College of Health and Human Services’ associate dean of academic affairs.

He has held various administrative and faculty appointments since joining UToledo in 2003.

“I want to thank Barry for his willingness to serve The University of Toledo during this transition,” Bjorkman said. “I also want to thank Chris for his dedication to UToledo. As a proud Rocket alumnus, we wish Chris nothing but the best in his new role.”

Got your plates? UToledo pride ready to roll

The University of Toledo is proud to announce that drivers now have a choice of two UToledo specialized designs when ordering their Ohio license plates — a UToledo logo plate and a Rocket icon plate.

Any Ohio resident with a valid driver’s license may order the UToledo collegiate plates for their vehicles by either stopping at any Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles agency or visiting the Ohio BMV website. In addition to annual license registration fees, UToledo specialized plates cost $35, with $25 directly supporting UToledo student scholarships.

Dr. Michele Soliz, associate vice president for student success and inclusion, said she is proud to display UToledo specialized plates on her vehicle. More than 400 Ohio drivers currently use UToledo specialty plates on their vehicles.

“We’re pleased to offer our alumni and other stakeholders an additional opportunity to show their Rocket pride wherever they go,” President Sharon L. Gaber said. “Our goal is to get hundreds of UToledo collegiate plates on the road over the next few months to help fund student scholarships and raise awareness of the University.”

“Along with wearing Rocket gear, flying a UToledo flag at home or contributing to the University through the Foundation, purchasing UToledo specialty plates is another great way our students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and our athletics fans can promote UToledo,” Bonnie Murphy, associate vice president for auxiliaries, said.

“While the University logo plate has been available for several years, last fall we were able to quickly gather more than the 200 signatures required to petition the BMV to produce a newly designed Rocket plate, which we anticipate will be very popular among Rocket fans,” Murphy said.

UToledo plates may be purchased through the BMV at any time throughout the year, and also may be used for vanity plates. Once purchased, it takes approximately three weeks for Ohio collegiate plates to be delivered via the U.S. Postal Service.

For more details about UToledo specialty plates, including all associated costs and other frequently asked questions, visit the UToledo license plate website.

UTMC dietitians offer advice as part of citywide wellness initiative

Dietitians from The University of Toledo Medical Center are helping with a citywide initiative to help Toledoans shed a few extra pounds and improve the overall wellness of the community.

Michele Lovett, chief clinical dietitian at UTMC, recently met with Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz as part of the kickoff for Take It Off, Toledo!, the city’s wellness and weight loss challenge.

Michele Lovett, chief clinical dietitian at UToledo Medical Center, talked with Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz about Take It Off, Toledo!, the city’s wellness and weight loss challenge.

The University of Toledo and UTMC are among the city’s key partners in the mayor’s yearlong initiative, which began May 1.

Lovett will be joined by other UTMC dietitians this weekend at several Toledo Lucas County Public Library locations to provide free, 15-minute consultations to help people get started on their own health and weight-loss journey. A more formal appointment can be made with the dietitian when referred by one’s primary care physician.

“I know there are a lot of people who struggle with their weight and making healthy choices,” Lovett said. “We want to help educate the public and give them small steps that they can take so they can have a healthier lifestyle and enjoy their family and friends.”

UTMC has a team of dietitians who regularly provide outpatient counseling and nutrition guidelines to individuals with chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart failure. They also can advise patients who need help with weight management or need to improve their overall health prior to surgery.

Take It Off, Toledo! is a good reminder to be thoughtful about the decisions that influence health, Lovett said.

“We all have a general idea of what we should be doing to stay healthy, but this wellness and health initiative is reminding us to reset, take another look at our lives, and think about how we can do better with our nutrition and physical activity,” she said.

Lovett offered five starting tips for individuals who are seeking to lose weight and get healthier:

Have plan in place. Know what your goals are and think through how you want to achieve them. Make a deliberate effort to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and have them ready for tomorrow’s meals or snacks.

Get physical. Aim to be active for at least 30 to 60 minutes a day. Many jobs are sedentary. Get up a few times a day to hit those benchmarks. The activity doesn’t have to be done all at once. For example, exercising 10 minutes three times a day would work.

Cut the sweets. Sugary drinks are extra calories we don’t need. Replace regular pop and sports drinks with water when you can and avoid sugary snacks.

Find support. Support yourself by removing temptations where you can, such as finding a different route home that doesn’t take you conveniently close to a favorite fast-food restaurant. Ask for support from friends and family. For extra motivation, work out with a friend. Keep a food log or use a food-tracking app to stay accountable.

Exercise portion control. Tools like the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s My Plate guideline can help you with understanding how much of each food group should be included with each meal. You also can use visual cues. A serving of meat should be about the size of a deck of cards. One cup of vegetables is about the size of a softball.

On Saturday, May 18, UTMC dietitians will be at the Locke Branch Library from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Heatherdowns Branch Library from 1 to 3 p.m.

On Sunday, May 19, UTMC dietitians will be at the West Branch Library from noon to 2 p.m. and the Heatherdowns Branch Library from 1 to 3 p.m.