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Public invited to CDC chemist’s talk at UT on exposure to algal bloom toxins

The University of Toledo Water Task Force is hosting a free, public event about algal bloom toxins and the impact they can have on people.

Elizabeth Hamelin, analytical chemist for the Division of Laboratory Sciences in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health in Atlanta, will give a talk titled “Monitoring and Measuring Human Exposure to Algal Toxins” Thursday, June 29, from 9 to 10 a.m. in the Center for Creative Instruction Room 1200 on Health Science Campus.

Hamelin

Hamelin develops analytical methods to detect human exposure to toxins and poisons.

“Elizabeth Hamelin is a collaborator on microcystin research projects at UT, and her visit to campus is a great opportunity for the community to learn how scientists are examining what safe limits are for the public,” Dr. David Kennedy, assistant professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine in the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences, said.

Kennedy’s UT team is studying effects of algal bloom toxins on the liver using mice as a model.

“Microcystin is a toxin that specifically targets the liver, a vital organ that needs to be healthy in order to process the food you eat,” Kennedy said. “We are re-evaluating the level of microcystin exposure being called safe, whether it’s swallowed while swimming at the beach or through the tap should toxic algae contaminate the public water supply.”

The UT Water Task Force, which is comprised of faculty and researchers in diverse fields spanning the University’s colleges, UT Medical Center and UT Lake Erie Center, serves as a resource for government officials and the public looking for expertise on investigating the causes and effects of algal blooms, the health of Lake Erie, and the health of the communities depending on its water. The task force includes experts in economics, engineering, environmental sciences, chemistry and biochemistry, geography and planning, and medical microbiology and immunology.

Water quality is a major research focus at UT. With $12.5 million in active grants underway, UT experts are studying algal blooms, invasive species such as Asian carp, and pollutants. Researchers are looking for pathways to restore our greatest natural resource for future generations to ensure communities continue to have access to safe drinking water.

Researchers and students help to protect the public drinking water supply for the greater Toledo area throughout summer algal bloom season by conducting water sampling to alert water treatment plant operators of any toxins heading toward the water intake. UT’s 28-foot research vessel and early warning buoy enable the University to partner with the city of Toledo and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to monitor the health of the lake and provide real-time data.

Coding boot camp at UT starts July 3

This summer The University of Toledo will host a five-week coding boot camp for people interested in learning how to write software and pursue a career in creating websites, mobile apps and video games.

The program hosted by Code City, a group of technology entrepreneurs in Toledo, will run from Monday, July 3, through Sunday, Aug. 6, in UT’s Launchpad Incubation in the Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex.

Participants will spend 30 hours per week during nights and weekends taking an online class to learn how to code.

The Toledo program, which is San Francisco-based Hack Reactor’s pilot course in the Midwest, costs $250, and the registration deadline is Monday, July 3.

“This could be a fantastic opportunity for people in Toledo who want to become coders,” said Nate Walke, co-founder of Code City. “At a time when we’re seeing an exponential change in the tech sphere with self-driving cars, smart houses and automated everything, people who want to help build those things can learn how to do just that. They can literally build the future.”

The first part of the Hack Reactor course covers JavaScript fundamentals. The rest of the curriculum covers computer science fundamentals, higher order functions, recursion, and how to build a basic web application.

For more information and to register, go to codecity.co/hack-reactor-remote-2.

Movie night coming to Glass Bowl Aug. 18

The University of Toledo will host a free movie night for the community in the Glass Bowl Friday, Aug. 18.

The movie selection will be determined by fan voting on the official UT Athletics website at UTRockets.com. Fans may vote here through Friday, June 30. The winning movie will be announced Saturday, July 1.

The movie options are “Moana,” “Zootopia,” “Sing” and “The Incredibles.”

The movie will begin at 8 p.m. with gates opening at 6:30 for the opportunity to meet members of the football and volleyball teams.

Throughout the evening, fans of all ages can check out activities, including color stations, inflatable bounce houses, obstacle courses, corn hole and more.

Attendees may bring their own food and drink into the stadium. The concession stands also will be open.

For more information about movie night at the Glass Bowl, call 419.530.4653 (GOLD).

Rocket football three-game mini-plan on sale

The University of Toledo three-game mini-plans for the 2017 football season are on sale.

Mini-plans start at $60 and include a sideline seat in the stands for three games.

Rocket fans may choose from one of three mini-plans or call the UT Athletic Ticket Office and customize their own plan.

Mini-plan A seats (sections 3 and 7) are $93 each; mini-plan B seats (sections 2 and 8) are $81; and mini-plan C seats (sections 30 and 38) are $60.

All plans include free general admission parking.

Limited quantities are available for each game, and seat location is based on availability.

To order, stop by the UT Athletic Ticket Office, located in the Sullivan Athletic Complex in Savage Arena, go online at UTRockets.com, or call 419.530.GOLD (4653).

Satellites holding huge bedding sale

Sleep doesn’t have to be a luxury: Stop by the bed, bath and kitchen sale hosted by the Satellites Auxiliary.

The around-the-clock event continues Monday, June 19, and runs until 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 20, in UT Medical Center’s Four Seasons Bistro Atrium.

Check out the smart pillows, aloe bamboo sheet sets, as well as mattress pads and toppers, and summer quilts and blankets.

Area rugs, kitchen and bath items, and merchandise to help ease neck, back and feet pain also will be at the sale.

Cash, check, credit cards and payroll deduction will be accepted.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit campus scholarships.

The Satellites Auxiliary is a group designed to promote education, research and service programs; provide support of patient programs in accordance with the needs and approval of administration; conduct fundraising events; and provide volunteer services.

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

Northwest Ohio students to experience medical school at CampMed

Teenagers today and potential physicians tomorrow will learn the tools of the trade and practice their clinical skills at the 20th annual CampMed program at The University of Toledo.

The two-day CampMed program will be held Thursday and Friday, June 15 and 16, on Health Science Campus.

The 2017 class has 39 incoming freshman high school students from across northwest Ohio who will get a sampling of medical school by participating in hands-on lessons such as learning to dress for the operating room and suturing wounds.

“It’s imperative to reach out to young people early to nurture their interests in science and discovery. Their dreams for the future, which for some might include becoming a doctor, are attainable, and we want to show them there are people who want to help,” said Courtney K. Combs, director of the UT and Ohio Area Health Education Center programs.

“CampMed gives students the opportunity to learn firsthand what it’s like to be in the medical field before they even start high school. The participants really enjoy learning from current students in the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences.”

CampMed is a scholarship program at no cost to the students, most of whom are first-generation college students and other underrepresented groups. The camp is sponsored by the UT Area Health Education Center program, which along with other programs throughout the country, strives to improve the health of individuals and communities by developing the health-care workforce. First- and second-year UT medical students serve as camp counselors, and the campers also will interact with physicians and faculty members.

The students will begin Thursday morning after the welcoming ceremonies with a tools of the trade session where they will learn to use medical instruments such as blood pressure cuffs and stethoscopes. Lessons will continue for two days with opportunities to tour a gross anatomy lab, make a cast and more.

CampMed, which began in 1998, is a competitive program that requires students to submit a letter of recommendation, a nomination from a science or math teacher or counselor, and a personal essay to be chosen to participate.

Professor, students on team selected to participate in $5 million national solar competition

A University of Toledo physics professor and students are members of a Toledo team awarded $60,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy to participate in a $5 million prize competition called the Solar in Your Community Challenge.

The team, which is named Glass City Community Solar, aims to expand solar electricity access to low- and moderate-income residents. It’s comprised of community partners, including UT, Vistula Management Co., the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and the city of Toledo.

UT senior Evan Nichols was interviewed by NBC 24 about the Solar in Your Community Challenge.

Glass City Community Solar is one of 35 teams nationally to be selected to receive seed funds from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to support project planning and to raise awareness. All teams will compete for $1 million in prizes, which will be awarded by judges based on each project or program’s innovation, impact and replicability.

Over the next 18 months, Glass City Community Solar will demonstrate innovative financing for commercial solar installations.

“It is extremely exciting for us to be able to have a hand in a project that has so much potential to benefit families by reducing electric bills, as well as educating the Toledo community about the use of renewable energy,” said UT student Blaine Luszcak, who is co-president of the UT student group called Building Ohio’s Sustainable Energy Future.

Glass City Community Solar will develop 300- to 750-kilowatt photovoltaic systems on rooftops and vacant lots to serve low- and moderate-income housing across the metro Toledo area. The cost savings will reduce electricity expenses and also support residents interested in pursuing education and training in the solar energy field.

“Our students will benefit tremendously from these real-world photovoltaic projects as they create an extended learning lab that will result in several large, operational photovoltaic power systems,” Dr. Randy Ellingson, UT professor of physics, said.

“We are thrilled that our team was selected to join the challenge,” said John Kiely, president of Vistula Management Co. and the team leader of Glass City Community Solar. “Our projects will benefit the people of Lucas County, and bring The University of Toledo’s leadership and passion for photovoltaic technology to real-world applications that benefit the people in our community that need it most.”

Find more information about the competition at solarinyourcommunity.org.

Eclipse photo by UT alumnus featured on new stamp; ‘Mr. Eclipse’ to give talk June 15

March 7, 1970, was on Fred Espenak’s radar for years.

“I was an amateur astronomer as a teenager, and I thought wow, it’s not that often a total eclipse crosses some part of the United States, so this may be my chance of a lifetime to see one,” the UT alumnus recalled.

Fred Espenak took the solar eclipse photo featured on the new Forever stamp in Jalu, Libya, March 29, 2006.

At 16, he convinced his parents to let him borrow the family car and drove 600 miles from his home in Staten Island, N.Y., to Windsor, N.C.

“When the eclipse took place, I thought I was prepared because I had read magazine articles and books about it. I had my telescope set up to take some pictures,” Espenak said. “But when that shadow of the moon hit and we were plunged into this eerie twilight, it was so phenomenal and all-encompassing that when it was over, I thought: Oh, this can’t be once-in-a-lifetime; that went way too quickly; I’ve got to see another one.

“And the next one was in Canada two years later. That was the start of my very long career of chasing eclipses around the world.”

Planes, trains and automobiles have taken Espenak to 27 total eclipses on seven continents.

“The one in 1995 in India was unique. It was a short eclipse; it was only about 40 seconds long,” he said.

Yet it was momentous.

“It happened to be the eclipse trip that I met my wife on. She was on the trip to see her first total eclipse,” Espenak said. “It turns out, back in the States, Patricia lived about a six-hour drive from me, but we had to travel halfway around the world to run into each other.”

Fred Espenak’s photos are featured on the U.S. Postal Service’s stamp to commemorate the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse. It is the first U.S. stamp that uses thermochromic ink; with the touch of a finger, the image changes from the total solar eclipse to the full moon.

Together, the retired astrophysicist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the retired chemistry teacher operate the Bifrost Astronomical Observatory in Portal, Ariz., and continue their quest to experience total eclipses.

Next up: The Great American Total Eclipse Monday, Aug. 21. The sensational sky show that stars the moon passing between the sun and Earth will be visible in the contiguous United States for the first time since 1979 — weather permitting.

“The track of the moon’s shadow will cut diagonally across the nation from Oregon to South Carolina through 14 states. Inside the 70-mile-wide path of totality, the moon will completely cover the sun as the landscape is plunged into an unsettling twilight, and the sun’s glorious corona is revealed for more than two minutes,” Espenak explained.

He may be in Casper, Wyo., to watch the awe-inspiring event.

“There’s a big astronomy conference there called AstroCon 2017, and they invited me to speak four years ago. I think that’s the longest lead time I’ve had for a speaking invitation,” Espenak said. “Casper is right in the eclipse path.

“But I don’t know where I’m going to be on eclipse day because it depends on what the forecast is one or two days before the eclipse. If the forecast is good for Casper, I’ll stay there. But if it’s not promising, I’m going to drive Sunday because I can get 600 or 800 miles east or west of Casper on the day before the eclipse.”

No passing fancy, but a passing obsession with astronomical objects led to Espenak’s nickname: Mr. Eclipse.

Fred Espenak operates the Bifrost Astronomical Observatory in Portal, Ariz.

That memorable moniker and his international reputation as an eclipse expert helped land an ultra-cool gig with the U.S. Postal Service. While working on two books, “Eclipse Bulletin: Total Solar Eclipse 2017” and “Road Atlas for the Total Solar Eclipse 2017,” his phone rang.

“I got a call over a year ago that they were considering a commemorative stamp for the eclipse, and they wanted to know if I would act as a consultant on the technical information for the map on the back of the sheet and a description of the eclipse path,” Espenak said. “They also said they were looking for some photographs to possibly use as the stamp, and I said I would submit some images.”

Millions have seen his work; Espenak’s photos have been published in National Geographic, Nature and Newsweek. Check out mreclipse.com.

“It turned out the U.S. Postal Service decided to use two of my images for this new stamp with thermochromic ink. Other countries have used this technology, but it’s the first time in the United States. When you rub the stamp, a second image appears from the warmth of your finger. You’ll see the total eclipse of the sun and, with the touch of your finger, you’ll see the full moon,” he said.

To commemorate the Aug. 21 event, the Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamp will be released Tuesday, June 20, during a ceremony at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Espenak and his wife will be there.

Patricia Totten Espenak and Fred Espenak

“I’m honored to have my photographs on a stamp. But more importantly, the stamp will spread the news about America’s Great Eclipse to many more people,” he said. “And what a fantastic opportunity. For a lot of people, this is the chance of a lifetime to see a total eclipse.”

Meanwhile, he is giving talks around the country to preview the celestial spectacle.

Espenak will return to his alma mater to speak Thursday, June 15, at 6:30 p.m. in Memorial Field House Room 2100.

“Fred Espenak is another great example of a ‘rocket scientist’ who has really lived up to that name,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy; and Helen Luedtke Brooks Endowed Professor of Astronomy. “He has made solid contributions to NASA science missions for many years, and is also doing a wonderful job of sharing his passion for and knowledge of eclipses with the public both on national and international stages. We’re really proud that he is an alumnus of The University of Toledo’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.”

During the free, public talk funded by the Helen Luedtke Brooks Endowed Professorship in Astronomy, the 1976 UT graduate who received a master of science degree in physics will discuss eclipses and share his eyewitness accounts around the globe through video and photos.

And he’ll offer two words of advice: road trip.

“I’m going to show people what they can expect to see in Toledo and how to watch it using safe eye protection, but I’m also going to encourage people to start making plans for a car trip to the eclipse path of totality because that’s where you have to be to see the total phase of the eclipse, and it’s worth the drive.

“It’s something you remember your entire life because it’s so unusual from anything you’ve seen before,” Espenak said. “The bright sun is completely gone in the sky, and you see this very strange-looking black disc, which is the unilluminated side of the moon, and it’s surrounded by this gossamer, feathery halo that’s the sun’s corona, which is two million degrees. It’s the only time you can see something that’s two million degrees with the naked eye. It’s such a stunning, overwhelming experience: The temperature drops probably 10 degrees as you go into totality, so you feel a chill in the air; animals react strangely; birds quiet down as if they’re going to roost at night.

“And it’s only for a few minutes. When it’s over, you really have a desire to see it again.”

UTMC to host summer disaster preparedness training series

The University of Toledo Medical Center will host a four-part training series that will focus on disaster preparedness training beginning Wednesday, July 19, at the Jacobs Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center on Health Science Campus.

The series, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — Federal Emergency Management Agency funds, will be led by Texas A&M Extension Service disaster preparedness experts and is free for all UTMC employees and UT students, faculty and staff.

“I am passionate about this facility and value the importance of excellent disaster preparedness training,” said Erin Konecki, UTMC nurse and organizer of the series. “I believe that you can only be prepared for what you practice. This is why I, with the strong support of many UT faculty and staff, have arranged for this invaluable, all-hazards approach training to be brought right to our doorstep. When, not if, disaster comes knocking at our door, UT and UTMC will be ready to respond.”

The classes provide continuing medical education for physicians and continuing education for nurses and emergency medical technicians.

The courses are:

• MGT 319 Medical Countermeasures: Points of Dispensing, Planning and Response from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 19, and Thursday, July 20;

• MGT 341 Disaster Preparedness for Hospitals and Health-Care Organizations Within the Community Infrastructure from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, July 27, and Friday, July 28;

• PER 341 Medical Management of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Events from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16, and Thursday, Aug. 17; and

• PER 320 Personal Protective Measures for Biological Events from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24.

Participants are encouraged to donate $10 for each course to help with food expenses.  

To register, contact Konecki at erin.berry2@utoledo.edu or 419.266.4059.

For additional information about the courses, visit https://teex.org/Pages/default.aspx.

Toledo Excel to host author June 9, partner with Ghana schools throughout year

Yvonne Pointer, renowned youth advocate, author and philanthropist, will visit the University to speak with the students of Toledo Excel’s Global Diversity Institute Friday, June 9.

In 1984, Pointer’s daughter, Gloria, was the victim on an unsolved murder. This tragedy started Pointer’s passion for improving the safety of communities around the world through programs that provide alternatives to violence and increase self-confidence. She also has established three schools in Ghana, West Africa, in her daughter’s name.

Pointer

Two prominent leaders from Ghana, Chief Nana Kodwo Eduakwa V and Chief Nana KraKwamina II, will join her and speak to students about the areas they govern and how students can get involved.

Pointer will deliver her talk Friday, June 9, at 11 a.m. in Memorial Field House Room 2200.

“I had heard bits and pieces of Pointer’s story over the years, but had the opportunity about a month ago to actually hear her speak and tell her full story in person at my church in Toledo. The timing was perfect because our staff was developing our curriculum for Global Diversity,” said David Young, director of Toledo Excel. “I had been giving a great deal of thought to our students studying countries on the continent of Africa as we had done in the past, so when I heard Pointer’s amazing connection to Ghana, I saw the potential for a wonderful partnership.”

The Global Diversity Institute is a program for fourth-year students that allow them to study the global community.

“Students gain insight into the effects of history, geography and politics on the human rights of individuals. They study specific countries and their cultures, and when possible connect with those countries through cultural exchange and service,” Young explained. “They gain a better understanding of how small a place the world is and the importance of a global marketplace and economy. The cultural and academic enrichment gained enables students to better understand how their career aspirations might connect with international opportunities.”

Through a partnership with the three schools in Ghana, Toledo Excel students will have the opportunity to study and connect with their peers in the country throughout the year.

For 28 years, UT’s Toledo Excel has provided college preparation and scholarships to underrepresented students, including African, Asian, Hispanic and Native Americans. Through services such as summer institutes, academic retreat weekends, campus visits and guidance through the admission process, students increase their self-esteem, cultural awareness and civic involvement.