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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.”

Register for parking

All faculty, staff and UT Foundation employees are reminded to register now for parking for the 2017-18 academic year. The University’s new parking registration webpage went live Aug. 5.

To register, visit the myUT portal or myparking.utoledo.edu and follow the prompts. Because the parking registration webpage has been redesigned and looks different than in previous semesters, step-by-step instructions also are available online, if needed.

Among modifications being made to parking in 2017-18, all UT drivers should print a permit confirmation and display it on their dashboard whenever parking on UT property. This permit should be used as a reference to ensure drivers are parked in an appropriate lot based on their permit type (for example, “A,” “U,” etc.).

Students’ permit reservations opened July 10. Beginning Wednesday, Aug. 23, students should log on to myparking.utoledo.edu to check their parking permit type and to print their permit confirmation.

Drivers may register one primary vehicle, although they may store multiple vehicles in their online profile. “This makes it easy to switch between vehicles, if needed, on any given day,” said Bonnie Murphy, associate vice president for auxiliaries. “Only the primary registered vehicle may be parked on campus at any given time.”

“There is a new registration webpage and it’s mobile-friendly, so it will provide all users a smooth interface with their smart phone, plus any other digital devices they may use,” said Sherri Kaspar, manager for public safety services.

Additionally, a new UT mobile parking app currently is under development and will be available this fall. Watch for more details in NewsBreaks and UT News.

More information about UT’s new parking system is available in the frequently asked questions section on utoledo.edu/parkingservices.

Send questions to parking@utoledo.edu.

Kick-off party for Back-to-School Drive to be held Aug. 10

The University of Toledo Judith Herb College of Education Alumni Affiliate is hosting its annual drive for new shoes, socks and underwear for students in Toledo Public Schools.

Alumni also will be collecting belts this year based on feedback from school administrators.

The kick-off party is Thursday, Aug. 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Social Gastropub in the Gateway Plaza on the corner of Dorr Street and Secor Road.

Donations will be collected during the event, and participants can sample free appetizers.

“We talk with school principals every year to see what students need,” said Mike Bader, president of the Judith Herb College of Education Alumni Affiliate. “As part of our mission to give back to our community, we are hoping to fill the great need for shoes, socks, underwear and belts.”

Gym shoes and dress shoes are needed for students in grades K-8 in youth and small adult sizes. The shoe sizes needed most are children’s sizes 1 to 6 or toddler sizes 10 to 13.

Underwear donations are needed for younger students.

Donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Driscoll Alumni Center Room 2014 on Main Campus before Thursday, Sept. 14.

For more information, visit toledoalumni.org or call 419.530.2586.

Steppin’ out: Campus community invited to join Walking for Wellness

When you’re heading out the door for work or class, don’t forget to bring your sneakers.

“Walking just 15 minutes each day has been proven to produce many benefits, such as increased energy, improved mood, lowered risk of heart disease and stronger memory,” Andrea Masters, assistant director of community wellness and health programming, said.

Rocket Wellness staff will lead one walk each month on Main and Health Science campuses on the second and fourth Fridays, weather permitting.

“Healthy U is dedicated to helping our UT community take small steps toward improved health,” Masters said. “Last year, we mapped and marked walking paths on Main Campus, Health Science Campus and Scott Park Campus. Each route provides a safe and clear path members of our UT community can use to walk at their leisure.”

Walking for Wellness sessions will take place at noon on Fridays:

• Aug. 11 on Health Science Campus;

• Aug. 25 on Main Campus;

• Sept. 8 on Health Science Campus;

• Sept. 22 on Main Campus;

• Oct. 13 on Health Science Campus; and

• Oct. 27 on Main Campus.

Meet at the Healthy U walking paths; for maps, click here.

“Campus leaders will be invited to join us for conversation and activity,” Masters added.

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’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.”

Portion of Bancroft Street scheduled to close Aug. 8-10

A section of Bancroft Street is slated to close early next week so crews can install a new sewer line.

The city of Toledo plans to close Bancroft Street between University Hills Boulevard/North Towerview Boulevard and North Westwood Avenue from Tuesday, Aug. 8, through Thursday, Aug. 10.

A detour via Secor Road to Dorr Street to Parkside Boulevard will be established in both directions.

The intersection of University Hills Boulevard/North Towerview Boulevard and Bancroft Street will remain open during those three days.

After this portion of the work is complete, lane restrictions will begin on Bancroft Street and continue to move westbound to Meadowwood Drive until the sewer line project is finished. Traffic will be maintained in both directions during this time, which is estimated to be about 30 days, weather permitting.

“We will keep the campus community informed as we receive updates from the city of Toledo on this project,” Doug Collins, director of grounds and transportation, said.

To avoid congestion on Bancroft Street during peak times, visitors to Main Campus are encouraged to use the west entrance off Secor Road or the south entrance off Dorr Street.

Center for Health and Successful Living patient navigator named Healthcare Hero

Barbara Ann Oxner is always looking for someone who might need help. 

“I meet prospective clients in grocery stores, doctors’ offices, seminars, garage sales, bus trips, walking, at physical therapy,” she said. 

Barbara Ann Oxner, a patient navigator in the UT Center for Health and Successful Living, received a Healthcare Hero Award from the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio.

Oxner is a patient navigator in the UT Center for Health and Successful Living, where she has worked since 2016 thanks to a grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Before that, she volunteered there for three years.

“I love my job. I identify women in northwest Ohio who need health education and medical services, specifically, mammograms. I look for women 40 and older who are high-risk with little or no insurance.

“For a long time, my motto has been, ‘helping people to help themselves.’ That’s exactly what a patient navigator does.”

Oxner does her job so well the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio last month presented her with one of its Healthcare Hero Awards, which recognize the contributions of health-care workers in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. There were 30 nominees; Oxner and five others received that distinction during a ceremony at the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion.

“I don’t see myself as anyone special,” she said. “Being nominated was an unbelievable honor. Being recognized as a winner and named a Healthcare Hero? Wow — just wow!”

“Barb is an inspiration to everyone she interacts with,” said Dr. Amy Thompson, professor of public health and co-director of the Center for Health and Successful Living. “She tirelessly works to help those in most need receive education, screening and care during the cancer survivor journey.”

It’s a journey Oxner started in 1985.

“I was a 38-year-old registered nurse with two children when, two weeks before my daughter’s high school graduation, I discovered a lump in my breast during a self-exam,” she recalled.

Three doctors confirmed the diagnosis: breast cancer.

“I had surgery and no chemotherapy and no radiation. My help came from God,” Oxner said.

But five years later, Oxner received devastating news: She had multiple myeloma.

“I was given six months to live,” she said. “I was at death’s door — but God was at my door, and He kept me; He healed me. My oncologist said I was a miracle, and I am.”

Her faith and determination are uplifting and contagious, and she shares both.

Barbara Oxner, sporting the pink hat in the center, and members of the Breast Cancer Survivors Support Group posed for a photo with UT students who work at the Center for Health and Successful Living and Dr. Amy Thompson, kneeling.

At the Center for Health and Successful Living, Oxner is the community outreach coordinator for the African-American Women’s Cancer Support Group. And she and Lorraine Willoughby started the Pink Sneakers Program, which brings together cancer survivors, friends and loved ones to walk three times a week.

“These and other programs not only educate our ladies, but provide opportunities to socialize and enjoy fellowship,” she said. “As a 32-year breast cancer survivor and a 27-year multiple myeloma survivor, I strive to be of comfort to others as I, too, have been comforted on this continual journey.

“The support group and Pink Sneakers are priceless opportunities to celebrate survivorship and allow new survivors to see they, too, can achieve longevity one step at a time.”

“As a patient navigator who connects adults to needed services, Barb is committed, reliable, persistent and talented,” said Dr. Timothy Jordan, professor of public health and co-director of the Center for Health and Successful Living. “She combines her knowledge and talent with genuine concern and love for people. Clients sense that Barb truly cares for them — above and beyond their health needs. That is why they respond to her so positively. This is Barb’s secret to success. It is rare to see such an effective combination of knowledge, skill and love for people.”

“The best part of my job is when clients receive the care they need. It is hearing patients’ stories. It is seeing hopelessness turn to hopefulness. It is watching others become proactive in their own health care when the tools they need are provided,” Oxner said.

“The Center for Health and Successful Living strives to do this. I’m grateful to God for allowing me to meet Dr. Thompson and Dr. Jordan; I am thankful for the opportunity to serve others.”

Complete compliance training by deadline

As a reminder, all 12-month faculty and staff should plan to complete the following compliance training courses online by Thursday, Aug. 31:

• Intersections: Supervisor Anti-Harassment and Title IX (all faculty/staff);

• Ohio Ethics Commission: Ethics — It’s Everybody’s Business (all faculty/staff); and

• HIPAA Basics (all Health Science Campus faculty/staff, plus those with direct or indirect ties to patient care, as assigned).

Nine-month, 10-month and part-time faculty and staff, as well as student employees, will have access to and should complete the training between Friday, Sept. 1, and Tuesday, Oct. 31. Reminder emails will be sent.

To access your assigned courses, you may either use your email invitation and click on the Begin Training button, or you may log in to myUT and access the courses under the Training and Career Development section; review the instructions posted there before beginning course work.

Please reserve at least 60 to 90 minutes to complete each class.

If you have questions, email trainingdevelopment@utoledo.edu.

UT College of Medicine students to receive white coats at ceremony

The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences will recognize first-year medical students during its official white coat ceremony Thursday, Aug. 3, at 10 a.m. in Nitschke Hall Auditorium. 

The ceremony, held during the week of orientation, welcomes medical students to the college and prepares them for undertaking a medical career. Highlights of the event include a welcome from the dean of the college, a keynote address on humanism in medicine, and the presentation of white coats and recitation of the Medical Student Pledge of Ethics.

Dr. Christopher Cooper, executive vice president of clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, will officiate the ceremony in which 175 medical students will receive their white coats. More than 75 percent of the new students are Ohio residents, and about 20 percent are from northwest Ohio.

“This traditional ceremony really underscores the foundation of the medical profession for first-year medical students,” Cooper said. “The white coat serves as a symbol of their achievement of being selected to medical school. Secondly, it reiterates their commitment to professionalism, continuing education, and their service to others through medical care.”

The annual ceremony will conclude orientation week for the medical students.

In addition to College of Medicine and Life Sciences, the UT College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences holds a white coat ceremony for third-year PharmD students, and the UT College of Health and Human Services presents white coats to first-year physical therapy and occupational therapy doctoral students and respiratory care students in their junior year, which is the first year of their professional program.

Watch total solar eclipse at UT Aug. 21

On Monday, Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse will be visible from parts of the United States mainland for the first time in 38 years.

The University of Toledo’s Ritter Planetarium will host a free viewing event for the public from 12:30 to 4 p.m. on the campus lawn between Ritter and McMaster Hall.

“We will be able to see an approximately 80 percent eclipse from Toledo, weather permitting,” said Alex Mak, UT associate planetarium director. “This is a rare opportunity, and we want to celebrate with the community.”

UT astronomers will have several safely filtered telescopes set up outside looking at the eclipse. A limited supply of solar eclipse glasses will be for sale for $2 each.

“We also will have a couple dozen ‘Personal Solar Observatory Boxes’ people can use at no cost,” Mak said.

In the event of clouds, a web stream of the eclipse from other locations across the country will be playing in McMaster Hall Room 1005.

Ritter Planetarium’s next three Friday night programs will focus on the eclipse. Programs are at 8:30 p.m. Aug. 4, 11 and 18. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for members of the UT community. Children younger than 12 and senior citizens are free. For more information, go to ritter.utoledo.edu.

Mak also is giving free, public talks about the upcoming solar eclipse at branches of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library as part of a grant UT received from the American Astronomical Association. The workshops are primarily intended for children. Guests receive a pair of solar eclipse glasses, informational handouts and planetarium guest passes. The library events are:

• Wednesday, Aug. 2, at 2 p.m. at South, 1736 Broadway St.;

• Thursday, Aug. 3, 2 p.m. at Reynolds Corners, 4833 Dorr St.;

• Monday, Aug. 7, at 2 p.m. at Locke, 703 Miami St.;

• Tuesday, Aug. 8, at 2 p.m. at West Toledo, 1320 Sylvania Ave.;

• Wednesday, Aug. 16, at 3 p.m. at Toledo Heights, 423 Shasta Drive; and

• Friday, Aug. 18, at 4 p.m. at Birmingham, 203 Paine Ave.

“We want to get kids excited to watch the eclipse, make sure they do so in a safe manner, and foster an interest in astronomy that can be maintained well after the eclipse,” Mak said.