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UT student to graduate Dec. 15, start job as mayor of Oak Harbor in 2019

Quinton Babcock, a UT student in the Jesup Scott Honor College, will graduate this weekend and become mayor of Oak Harbor, Ohio, in the new year.

On Saturday, Dec. 15, Babcock will receive two bachelor of arts degrees — one in economics and disability studies, and one in mathematics.

Babcock

And then the 22-year-old will become mayor of Oak Harbor in 2019.

How did it happen?

Babcock ran and was elected to the Oak Harbor Village Council in December 2016.

“I had always had an interest in public service, and I felt I had acquired some professional skills that I could put to good use in the community,” he said.

In August, the Oak Harbor mayor resigned. Protocol says the mayor is succeeded by the president pro tempore, who is the president of the Oak Harbor Village Council.

At the time, the president pro tempore, Don Douglas, was in the middle of a campaign for Ottawa County Commissioner. Due to the uncertainty if Douglas would be elected to this position, Oak Harbor had to elect another president to replace him.

“I was elected by the council to be the president pro tempore,” Babcock said. “Come November, Mr. Douglas won his election for county commissioner and … I will serve as mayor for the duration of 2019.”

As the new mayor, Babcock wants to create a trust with the government.

“I think people generally feel very disempowered when it comes to government; they feel the government is not responsive to their concerns,” Babcock said. “With that in my mind, I would like to use my change in position to increase transparency, accountability, accessibility and responsiveness of the village government.”

Babcock also wants to address the concern of the possible closure of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, a major employer of area residents. “I would like to play a more active role in advocating for state solutions to this potential problem,” he said.

UT nursing student credited with saving life of motorist after crash

Hanan Ramadan was on her way home from her mosque when she came upon a minor car crash. It looked like a simple fender-bender, but something about the way bystanders were crowded around the open car door made her stop.

“Something didn’t seem right,” said Ramadan, who is working toward a bachelor’s degree in nursing at The University of Toledo. “I just wanted to make sure everything was OK. Honestly, I thought maybe she had a broken arm, or she hit her head and there was a small cut.”

Ramadan

As Ramadan got closer, she realized the situation was far more dire — and she quickly sprang into action that likely helped save the woman’s life.

The driver’s face was blue. Ramadan, who also works as a nursing assistant in The University of Toledo Medical Center Emergency Room, looked for a pulse — there wasn’t one.

Ramadan’s training took over. She asked the person who had called 911 to put the phone on speaker and briefed the dispatcher on the situation. Ramadan told them she was basic life support-certified and asked for permission to begin CPR.

Unable to remove the driver from the car, Ramadan lowered the seat back as far as she could and started chest compressions. A police officer soon arrived and helped her safely get the woman onto the ground, where she could continue administering chest compressions.

“It was just us for a good five to 10 minutes before the ambulance showed up and the medics took over,” Ramadan said. “We were all very exhausted but doing our best.”

Sylvania Township Police Sgt. Lee McKinney, who was the first officer on the scene and helped get the victim out of the car, praised Ramadan for her quick thinking and readiness to help.

“The fact that you’ve got somebody who’s willing to be a good Samaritan, recognize a problem, and has some ability to jump in and help, that’s tremendous,” McKinney said. “Those few seconds were irreplaceable. She did an outstanding job in getting involved.”

Ramadan later learned the woman, Deborah Teachout, had been having chest pains and was on her way to urgent care when she lost consciousness.

Teachout’s sister, Bambi McNamara, credits Ramadan and another bystander, Jill Lynam, with helping to save her life.

“We will be forever indebted to Hanan and Jill for saving my sister’s life,” she said.

McNamara said Teachout has regained most of her strength after a week in rehab and should be back home soon.

Ramadan credits her training from the UT College of Nursing and hands-on experience at UTMC for giving her a clear mind in what could have been a moment of chaos.

“It was like muscle memory to me. I just instinctively knew what to do. All of the courses I’ve taken and all the training I’ve gone through, everything my instructors have told me for years, it all came together and just made sense to me in that moment,” she said.

“It made me confident. I knew this is what I’ve been taught and trained to do for years now — this is what I’m supposed to do, and this is what is going to help this person.”

Wide receiver’s remarkable career coming to a close

Cody Thompson certainly didn’t plan for his college football career to play out this way.

Going into what was supposed to be his final season as a Rocket in 2017, Thompson thought his future was clear. He was a standout wide receiver, a key part of a senior class that was expected to lead the Rockets to their first Mid-American Championship in 13 years. That last part did happen, as UT rolled through the conference season before clobbering Akron in the MAC title game.

Cody Thompson has helped the Rockets beat Bowling Green five times and keep the Battle of I-75 Trophy.

Thompson, however, was limited to cheering on his teammates from the sidelines. A leg injury against Eastern Michigan in early October ended his season and, seemingly, his college career. However, the Rockets’ win over the Zips did more than put the finishing touches on a championship year. It opened a door for another season with the Rockets for Thompson.

Toledo’s appearance in the 2017 MAC Championship Game gave the Rockets a total of 14 games played. Thanks to the formula that NCAA uses to calculate injury hardship appeals, that extra game meant that Thompson’s college football story would include an extra chapter. It’s not how he imagined his career would conclude, but he looked upon his injury as an opportunity.

“It was kind of tough at first because all I wanted was to have a healthy, successful senior year and win a MAC Championship. Everything played its part, except the injury,” Thompson said. “It was tough, but once I got over that and stopped feeling sorry for myself, I kind of buckled down and got to work. I understood that I had a second chance and was determined to give this year’s team everything I could.”

The continuation of Thompson’s Rocket career has been a blessing for both him and the Rockets. He has had another great season, catching 41 passes for 566 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has etched his name in the Toledo record books, breaking the school record for career TD catches with 30 and moving into second place in career receiving yards (3,231). Better still, his injured leg is 100 percent healthy.

From a team standpoint, Thompson’s return has greatly benefited a young team that has only 13 seniors, only nine of whom have been with the program for their entire college careers. Head Coach Jason Candle, for one, has been happy to have Thompson’s leadership for one more season.

“Cody is a picture of what you want your program to be about,” Candle said. “He leads off the field and on the field. He is a very high-effort guy who is very accountable for his own actions. Young people sometimes have a hard time grasping that, but Cody has always done everything we have asked him to do, and even things that we don’t ask him to do. You hope that the young guys on the team have paid attention to his actions and how he has approached his everyday routine. And when he is gone, you hope that someone can fill that role.”

A big part of Thompson’s leadership role has come off the field. An outstanding student, Thompson already has his bachelor’s degree in marketing and is very close to earning his master’s degree in recreation and leisure. He is a two-time Academic All-District selection. His commitment to volunteerism has made him Toledo’s nominee for numerous national awards, including the Wuerffel Trophy, the Campbell Trophy, the All State Good Works Award and the NCAA Senior Class Award.

“My parents raised me to be a selfless person and that’s how my high school coach [Tony Legando] was, as well,” Thompson said. “I was taught to put others above yourself and to do the most you can whenever you can. If you’re going to do something, give it your all because if you’re not, then you’re wasting your time and the time of everyone around you.”

Thompson certainly has not squandered his fifth season with the Rockets. The Rockets are 6-5 going into Friday’s game vs. Central Michigan, and Thompson and his teammates are looking to earn a berth into their fifth consecutive bowl game. Before that happens, however, Thompson is determined to make sure his 55th game in a Rocket uniform (a school record, of course) will be no different than the 54 that came before it.

“I’m going to leave it all on the field one last time,” he said, “for this city, for this University, and for this team.”

UT students mentor local elementary school children during weekly campus visit

The children gasped in delight and their eyes lit up with wonder as each walked single file into an auditorium-style classroom at The University of Toledo.

The excited faces of more than two dozen third-, fourth- and fifth-graders bused from Old Orchard Elementary School were ready for the debut of UT’s College Mentors for Kids program.

Mariah Quinn worked with Cullen Brank, 8, during the first session of UT’s College Mentors for Kids program.

UT students matched with their “little buddies” from Toledo Public Schools for one-on-one mentoring on this first activity day of the school year. They will meet once a week on campus for two hours after school as a way to expose the children to higher education at a young age and also provide college students with leadership and growth opportunities.

Doryian Thames, a fourth-year student majoring in professional sales and marketing, serves as the president of the new UT organization.

“When I was a boy, mentors through the Boys and Girls Clubs of America had a big influence on me,” Thames said. “Mentors have a genuine chance to make an impact on someone’s life. This program is a direct opportunity to see how being an active role model to an individual can really change the trajectory of their future.”

One of the program goals is to expose children to a variety of career options. The theme of the inaugural week was pharmacy, and activities included making hand sanitizer.

“As an educator, it is imperative that we create opportunities to expose young scholars to what they can aspire to become,” Dr. Phillip “Flapp” Cockrell, UT vice president for student affairs, said. “UT is committed to moving the student success needle forward by fostering environments for both mentors and little buddies to learn.”

UT launched a new chapter of the national College Mentors for Kids program in partnership with the Hylant Family Foundation.

“As native Toledoans, the Hylant family is thrilled to be sponsoring the new College Mentors for Kids chapter at The University of Toledo,” said Clare Hylant of the Hylant Family Foundation. “This program provides the opportunity to make a significant difference for the youth of Toledo, a true chance to change what they think is possible, and encourage them to reach for their dreams.”

“We are so excited for any additional support we receive from outside organizations that are helpful and benefits our students in further developing their college readiness,” Valerie Dreier, principal of Old Orchard Elementary School, said.

College Mentors for Kids is a nonprofit organization with a mission to connect college students with the most to give to kids who need it most. The organization operates 34 campus-based chapters across Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.

“We want kids to dream bigger and achieve higher,” said Carly Cox, associate director of programming for the national office of College Mentors for Kids. “Whether that means pursuing a career as a chef or a gardener or opening your own business, we want them to see beyond their neighborhood and see new potential.”

Rock-and-roll scholar analyzes Beatles’ White Album as psychedelic music

To mark the 50th anniversary of what is widely known as the White Album, an English literary and rock-and-roll scholar at The University of Toledo argues the 30-song double album released in November 1968 titled “The Beatles” coherently showcases the fruits of shared psychedelic experiences between John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

Dr. Russell Reising, professor in the UT Department of English Language and Literature and original member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s Educational Advisory Board, wrote a 22-page lyrical analysis, “Where Everything Flows,” to be published next year in a collection of essays about the record.

“Tense, yes. Clashing, yes. Disconcerting, yes. Incoherent and lacking any kind of unity, no. ‘The Beatles’ is that place we can go, where everything flows. And flow it does through the broadest possible range of musical styles, lyrical evocations and emotional extremes,” said Reising, who has published books about The Beatles’ “Revolver” album and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.”

Through the unique, unprecedented scope of diverse subject matter and varied songs like “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Helter Skelter,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” “Blackbird,” “Rocky Raccoon” and “Revolution 9,” Reising said the album reveals the transformations of The Beatles’ philosophical point of view and psychological insights after undergoing LSD experiences resulting in psychedelic music.

“They are an expression of the communal consciousness of The Beatles at the time when they stop taking LSD, and the influence of their experiences starts to make itself felt in songs that might not necessarily sound at all psychedelic,” Reising said.

“The diversity of the album is like an attempt to reproduce in record form the philosophical commitment to integration, unity and incorporation — as opposed to conflict — that comes about as a result of the long, reflective, introspective final phases of an LSD experience that influence how one thinks and lives their lives. It makes them more compassionate and more open to a wider range of experiences.”

Reising

The book titled “The Beatles Through a Glass Onion: Reconsidering the White Album,” which is expected to be released in March from the University of Michigan Press, will be the first scholarly volume devoted to the album’s legacy in the Fab Four’s career and in rock history.

“The White Album is awfully, awfully good,” Reising said. “This is not one of my favorite albums, but I like it more than a lot of people do.”

“Even after 50 years, the critics’ view of the White Album remains contested,” said Dr. Mark Osteen, professor of English and director of the Center for the Humanities at Loyola University Maryland, who edited the book. “Given the disparity in response ranging from ‘the product of a band in disarray’ to ‘a rich tapestry of musical textures,’ we believe that this landmark record — still one of the top-selling rock albums of all time — deserves reconsideration.”

Reising’s essay fits into the book’s first section, which outlines the personal, musical and political contexts for the album. The other chapters focus on the music, musicians, lyrics and the album’s legacy.

The songs travel time and space all over the globe. They feature animals such as McCartney’s dog in “Martha My Dear,” as well as different kinds of people like Chairman Mao, Bungalow Bill and the dentist who will pull Eric Clapton’s teeth. The songs have musical and sonic effects from Western and Eastern traditions, reverse tapes, dainty piano pieces, and religious songs.

“No two songs are the same,” Reising said. “You have everything from musical simplicity to incredible complexity. It’s offering the broadest possible range of ideas, attitudes, emotions and sounds that a day in the life might contain.”

Reising evoked James Joyce’s “Ulysses” and Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” in his commentary on the Fab Four’s songs written between meditative sessions in India in a quest to find inner peace.

“It is commonplace among Melville scholars to refer to the Pequod in ‘Moby Dick’ as a microcosm of the entire world,” Reising said. “We can see ‘The Beatles’ in similar terms.”

“‘The Beatles’ might not exactly be an album whose songs encompass the interconnectedness of all things, but the range of musical styles, of vision, even of length represent something that no other album has even remotely approached, something akin to what James Joyce attempts in ‘Ulysses’ or ‘Finnegan’s Wake.’”

The band became open in the White Album to inviting other significant contributors to their musical efforts.

“They deploy a significant number of ‘partners’ in an unprecedented way,” Reising said. “Either the wife or girlfriend of each Beatle performs on at least one song: Patty Boyd on ‘Piggies,’ Maureen Starkey on ‘The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill,’ Francie Schwartz on ‘Revolution 1,’ and Yoko Ono on ‘Birthday.’ Never before had wives or girlfriends been present in the recording studio.”

Other artists, including Clapton, Jackie Lomax and Nicky Hopkins, were included.

“Never before had any such independent or otherwise group-affiliated musicians graced Beatles’ recordings,” Reising said.

He said the album is almost like a day in the life, from sleeplessness to insomnia to gentle easing to sleep. The first song, which starts with screaming jet engines, has a lyric, “Didn’t get to bed last night”; the album has a middle song titled “I’m So Tired”; and the last song is called “Good Night,” ending the album with Starr singing, “Good night, sleep tight,” and then whispering, “Good night… Good night, everybody… Everybody, everywhere… Good night.”

The 50th anniversary of “The Beatles” is Nov. 22, 1968.

These photos of, from left, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, were included in “The Beatles.”

Trick play scores love of a lifetime for UT alumni

It’s not something you see every day: A baseball player striding to the Rocket logo in the center of the Glass Bowl and hitting it out of the stadium. But that’s exactly what Josh Johnson did.

With the help of Rocky and Rocksy, the former UT outfielder surprised his girlfriend, Cara Wasserman, by popping the question Oct. 20 and sliding a diamond on her finger.

Cara Wasserman and Josh Johnson held the UT blanket while posing for a photo with Rocky and Rocksy after the couple became engaged Oct. 20 in the Glass Bowl.

At 8:30 a.m. on game day, the couple met their friends, Eric and Neena Mossing, in lot 10.

“We played it off as a contest, that Neena and Eric won passes to tour the Glass Bowl, and they asked Cara to go as she’s a huge Toledo football fan,” Johnson said.

After the Rocket Marching Band finished rehearsing, Rocky and Rocksy met the four fans in the center of the stadium, posed for photos, and began handing out prizes. Eric received a UT beer stein and said, “I can use this today!” Neena, a 2011 UT alumna, got a Rocket coffee mug. And then the mascots unfolded a blanket with a photo of Johnson and Wasserman in their Rocket gear with the words: “Cara Lynn, will you marry me?”

Johnson dropped down on one knee and opened a ring box.

“What the — oh my god! Yes, I will! What the heck, Josh?” Wasserman said. “Oh my god, that is so awesome!”

As the couple embraced and kissed near the 50-yard line, Wasserman’s parents came on the field. After a round of hugs, Rick Wasserman, who played tight end for the Rockets and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1979, said, “It’s time to start the tailgate.”

Josh Johnson surprised Cara Wasserman when he knelt down and asked her to marry him prior to the Oct. 20 Toledo football game.

“We popped champagne,” Wasserman said, adding she had no clue what was going to happen. “Even when we walked on the field, I still thought we won a contest. It didn’t literally dawn on me until he got down on one knee.”

And when she saw the blanket?

“It took me a minute because I saw the mascots take it out of the bag. I saw it was a blanket, but it was turned around, so I saw the backside of it. And I thought: That’s cool, it’s a Toledo blanket,” she said. “And then Rocky and Rocksy were holding it, and I’m like, Oh my gosh, that’s our picture on the blanket!”

Keeping the plan under cover was easy for Johnson — until Saturday morning.

“She kept pushing the snooze button, and I kept looking at the clock,” he said. “I basically pushed her out of bed so she’d get up. And then on the drive there, it started to hit me quite a bit. Most times, I’m not really driving that fast, but I felt like I was going 85 miles per hour to get there.

“It really kicked in when we got there at 8:22, and Eric and Neena weren’t there yet at the tailgate. So I started freaking out: Oh my gosh, they’re going to be late, and everything’s going to be thrown off. I started getting really nervous. And then on the walk in, I’m surprised Cara didn’t notice because I felt like I was having seizures I was shaking so bad.”

Rocksy and Rocky posed with, from left, Eric and Neena Mossing, Cara Wasserman and Josh Johnson. This shot of the “contest winners” was taken before the proposal.

Johnson started planning to ask the big question in the spring.

“With her dad being a former football player, she grew up a huge Rocket fan. And being a former UT athlete myself, with the last home game on a Saturday, that was the perfect time,” he said.

“We’ve been going to Toledo games since I was super-little; we love Toledo football,” Wasserman said. “We always tailgate. That’s another reason I didn’t think anything of it because our friends were down there setting up their tailgate, and they usually get there pretty early. So when he said 8:30 we need to be down there, I was like, OK, make sure my parents know what time we’re tailgating.”

Johnson played baseball for the Rockets from 2007 to 2010 and graduated with an individualized degree from University College in 2014. He is the recreation program specialist at the Village of Archbold’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

Wasserman received a bachelor of education degree in 2011 and is an intervention specialist in special education and math teacher at Fassett Junior High School in Oregon. She is pursuing a master of education degree in curriculum and instruction at the University.

They are looking for a home in between Archbold and Oregon, and discussing wedding plans for next year.

“We both knew we wanted to be together and get married, but it was always like the future — I did not think it would be now. I am super-thrilled that it is now, but I had no idea,” Wasserman said. “I am super-excited! I just keep thinking about Saturday.”

Public health grad student gets real-world experience volunteering at refugee camp

James Papadimos had been to Greece before, but he was not prepared for what would confront him when he arrived in Samos, a small island in the Aegean Sea that has become a temporary home to thousands of refugees who have fled their home countries because of war, political instability or persecution.

A master of public health student at The University of Toledo, Papadimos flew halfway across the world in August to volunteer his time and public health knowledge in one of Europe’s busiest reception centers for migrants and asylum seekers.

James Papadimos, UT master of public health student, held a baby, Amir, in Samos. He traveled to the small island in the Aegean Sea in August to help provide medical care to refugees.

“When I arrived, what I saw was surreal,” Papadimos said. “There are so many people there. The conditions were deplorable at best. It was tough to see.”

The camp at Samos functions as a receiving area where new arrivals are identified and vetted as they hope to gain asylum. But with authorities struggling to find accommodations on the Greek mainland, many refugees stay at the overcrowded camp for long periods of time.

In July, the United Nations Refugee Agency reported there were 2,600 people at Samos — the most recent figure available.

And new arrivals come daily to the island, which sits just a mile from Turkey. Samos is the second busiest receiving center among Greece’s Aegean islands this year, according to the UN. Together, all of Greece’s Aegean islands averaged nearly 900 arrivals per week from the beginning of August to mid-September, according to the UN. The refugee aid agency said Syrians and Iraqis come in the largest numbers.

As of mid-September, more than 18,000 refugees and migrants were residing on the Aegean islands, the UN said, with roughly 600 a week receiving authorization to move to the mainland.

James Papadimos took this photo of a refugee camp on Samos.

Papadimos, who did his undergraduate work at Ohio State University before returning to his hometown for his graduate education, has long focused on humanitarian issues. While at Ohio State, he formed a student organization to raise money for mosquito nets to fight malaria in Africa. At UT, Papadimos helped organize the donation of refreshed patient simulators to the University of Athens Medical School.

As he followed news of the refugee crisis, he was struck by how Greece — a country dealing with significant financial strain — had taken in so many refugees.

“When I heard about this as someone who wants to be a physician, someone who wants to care for humanity and just a proud Greek-American, I wanted to go over to help,” he said.

During his three-week stint on Samos, Papadimos helped local physician Dr. Manos Logothetis conduct medical and wellness checks and vaccinate children, as well as taught English and distributed food. But his education in public health proved crucial when an outbreak of tuberculosis and hepatitis A tore through the camp. Papadimos conducted a needs assessment and located the source of the outbreak, which was contained.

“It was firsthand experience,” he said. “You feel like you’ll never get that as a student, but I did. I got legitimate field experience, and my public health knowledge helped me tremendously. I’ve had excellent teachers here. They’re fantastic.”

Papadimos intends to apply to medical school after completing his master’s degree and continue his humanitarian work.

“That will be part of my life as a physician. I’m here to help as many people as I can,” he said. “If I’m so fortunate to be able to be a medical student, to be a physician, I’ll do all I can to give back and utilize the skills I’m taught to help people.”

From music to medicine: MD/PhD student serves as concertmaster for high-profile charity orchestra in nation’s capital

Robin Su won an international piano competition before he had a driver’s license, has been invited to play at Carnegie Hall, and performed a violin solo at the esteemed Cleveland Orchestra.

But the greatest musical honor of the violinist and aspiring physician’s life came in August when he was selected to be concertmaster for two rare joint performances by the World Doctors Orchestra and the National Institutes of Health Philharmonia in Washington.

Robin Su, fourth-year MD/PhD candidate in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, performed last month with the World Doctors Orchestra and the National Institutes of Health Philharmonia in Washington.

Su, a fourth-year MD/PhD candidate in The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences, wasn’t just sitting first chair — the most important orchestra position after the conductor — he was the only student among the 70 or so doctors and researchers volunteering their time for the charity concerts.

“It is very difficult to be invited to perform with this orchestra,” Su said. “Some of the world’s finest MDs and PhDs were there together.”

Su, 25, is hoping to join their ranks.

As he worked toward a degree in violin performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Su was taking pre-med classes at Case Western Reserve University.

Robin Su posed for a photo with Nancia D’Alimonte, music director of the National Institutes of Health Philharmonia, in Washington.

“I was always interested in music and medicine,” he said. “As I got older and looked at the different possibilities of pursing both, I think that became more realistic.”

Su was one of just three students accepted into UT’s joint MD/PhD Program in fall 2015. His current research is focused on how microcystin, a dangerous toxin produced by algal blooms, might affect individuals with pre-existing conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease.

He is working to find biomarkers that could help clinicians diagnose microcystin-induced liver damage.

“We’re trying to be at the front end and have preventative measures and diagnostic measures to prevent it from progressing further,” Su said. “Liver disease is a progressive disease from multiple hits, and we think that microcystin definitely plays into that and accelerates that process. We’re trying to prevent that from moving forward.”

As a professional musician, Su would dedicate eight hours a day to practice. That’s been significantly scaled back as he juggles his course load and laboratory work. Even so, Su managed to cram in four hours of practice every night in the weeks prior to the August performances.

Once together in Washington, the group went through three days of grueling eight-hour rehearsals. As concertmaster, Su took on many added responsibilities, including the execution of several solo passages, acting as a liaison between the conductor and orchestra to facilitate musical communication, and serving as a leader of the entire orchestra to ensure musical unity.

That’s no small task when you’re talking about an organization in the World Doctors Orchestra that draws from a rotating cast of more than 1,200 physicians from nearly 50 countries. Combine that with integrating musicians from the NIH Philharmonia, and it’s downright challenging.

“Normal orchestras rehearse throughout the year and we only have three days,” Su said. “I think everyone was very appreciative of my strong leadership of the orchestra, and I think it played a role in bringing everything together very quickly.”

His work won high praise from Sheyna Burt, president of the World Doctors Orchestra USA. There’s a bit of a cliché, Burt said, of a hard-charging physician by day and a dedicated amateur performer by night.

“With Robin it’s different. Whatever his academic prowess might be, he is a genuinely gifted and sensitive artist,” she said. “During the first rehearsal of the World Doctors Orchestra/NIH Philharmonia collaboration, I witnessed his interpretation of the opening violin solo in Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Russian Easter Overture’ stop an entire orchestra in its tracks.”

Su, who is about halfway through his dual degree program, eventually wants to actively practice medicine along with conducting academic research.

And he hopes to continue playing violin, encouraged by the world-class doctors and researchers with whom he recently performed.

“It’s definitely inspirational for me, seeing that physicians can still balance their work with their musical passion,” he said.

Greening UT’s projects blossoming

Greening UT has been leaving its mark on campus through projects aimed at replacing turf grass with native plantings and reintroducing habitats that once thrived in the area.

Greening UT is a team of students supported through the UT Student Green Fund. Its mission is to make the University a more sustainable institution and improve the human condition by supporting green ideas and initiatives proposed, decided upon, implemented by, and funded directly by students.

Black-eyed Susans, butterfly milkweed, false sunflower, partridge pair and gray-headed coneflower are included in Greening UT’s prairie planted by Bowman-Oddy Laboratories.

The group’s most recent project is a prairie planted in front of Bowman-Oddy Laboratories on Main Campus. This site was chosen due to its visibility, continuous monitoring, and two greenhouses that allow the students to manage seed sorting and growing.

“Native prairie plants work with the ecosystem rather than fighting it,” said Dr. Todd Crail, UT associate lecturer of environmental sciences. “They remove the need for fertilizer, dramatically reduce water usage, have root systems that store as much carbon as a forest, and additionally balance natural water and nutrient cycles. These plants species also feed the ecosystem through the food web interactions with insects and birds. Ultimately, they reduce the costs of maintaining a landscape, and we’re hoping to demonstrate that this different aesthetic is acceptable, if not beautiful and inspirational.”

Jeanna Meisner developed the Greening UT project as her capstone project. She graduated in 2016 with a bachelor of science degree in biology.

“Jeanna’s proposal was the first to receive wages for students from the UT Student Green Fund,” said Linnea Vicari, a former UT Greening student. “Using these hours, Jeanna and another student were paid to identify potential areas for native plantings on campus. As I moved in and Jeanna finished up, we focused on the Bowman-Oddy site.”

Service learning opportunities to work with these plants have been offered throughout the semester by faculty in the Environmental Sciences Department. Students can help raise and plant in existing prairies and gardens, as well as collect and process seeds to germinate and grow for new projects.

As for upcoming projects, UT Greening plans to work on filling existing prairies with more plant species and create more installations around campus, according to Bernadette Barror, a UT student on the team.

“I feel that this is a great way for students to get involved with plants on campus,” Barror said. “So many of our volunteers have never or rarely worked in a garden, and Greening UT provides not only this experience but the satisfaction of knowing that they are contributing to an improvement of the environment for the whole community.”

To the surprise of many, herbicide is one of the tools used when converting swaths of turf grass and is coordinated with UT Facilities.

“[Targeted] spraying will give us a clean slate to work with,” Barror explained. “When we do this, it will kill the invasive plants while not affecting the plants we want to grow.”

“Working with UT Greening was an incredible experience for me,” Vicari said. “UT Greening helped me develop my leadership skills as well as really rooting me into the Environmental Science Department.”

Students who are interested in learning about UT Greening, its projects and volunteering opportunities are encouraged to contact Crail at todd.crail@utoledo.edu or Dr. Jon Bossenbroek, director of the UT Office of Undergraduate Research and professor of environmental sciences, at jonathan.bossenbroek@utoledo.edu.

Photographer frames memories for Art on the Mall

A stolen moment brought life into focus for Agnes L. Barnes.

In 1985, she and her husband, Chet Barnes, were on vacation in California when their friend’s car was broken into; the thief took her vintage camera, an Argus C3.

Agnes and Chet Barnes hold two of her photographs taken at the Toledo Museum of Art and Wildwood Preserve Metropark. The couple will be at Art on the Mall Sunday, July 29.

“Then I bought a Canon Rebel G,” she said. “Right after that, we went to South Africa, and I got some really nice pictures.”

A photograph of three majestic elephants crossing the road at Kruger National Park. A crouching lion near Johannesburg. Thatched-roof huts in Soweto.

“When people saw the photos from South Africa and commented on how great the pictures were, I realized, well, maybe I have an ability many people don’t have. I was 50 years old before I discovered this,” Agnes said and laughed.

“She never had a lesson in photography. She’s taken pictures, pictures and more pictures,” Chet said beaming with pride. “Her first show was in Sylvania in 1994. We had photos hanging on chicken wire under an umbrella. She won a blue ribbon and sold so many photos.”

More shows and awards followed. And more photos.

Freshly fallen snow on the boardwalk at Wildwood Preserve Metropark. UT’s iconic University Hall bell tower. The colorful animal menagerie mural on the railroad bridge over the Anthony Wayne Trail by the Toledo Zoo. A close-up of a pink rose with dewdrops.

Agnes L. Barnes looked at daisies in her garden. She loves taking photographs of flowers.

“A lot of the photos are serendipity,” Chet said. “I hear all the time, ‘Chet, get the camera.’ I’ll think she’s had enough time for a shot, and I look over and her toes are moving her back and forth: She has to get it just right.”

“I like to capture the beauty for others to enjoy that beauty,” Agnes said.

After Chet retired from Toledo Public Schools in 1996, the couple traveled so Agnes could capture more beauty.

The two have been up and down the East Coast, zooming in on lighthouses and old Southern homes. They went to England and visited quaint villages and gorgeous gardens. Island-hopping on Pohnpei, Guam, Saipan and Hawaii found lush, tropical paradises. And during two weeks in China, Agnes pointed her camera at the Great Wall and the Terra Cotta Warriors.

“So many people have told me that looking at my photos is like taking a vacation,” Agnes said.

While her striking images can transport viewers, she didn’t recognize her superpower for years.

“I didn’t look at the camera as an artistic tool; I just looked at it as something to record for future reference,” Agnes said.

“During my early years, I was born in 1937, and then World War II started, and film was very difficult to get. We did not have many pictures of my family growing up. So I made up my mind I was going to make sure I had pictures of my little brother and of my own children someday.”

With her mom’s Brownie camera, Agnes took photos of her baby brother, Paul, who was born in 1950. And then with the Argus C3, she clicked away while her children, John and Beth Ann, were growing up.

When 11-year-old Beth Ann passed away from leukemia in 1980, those images helped Agnes and Chet.

Agnes L. Barnes’ photographs appear in the book, “Choosing the Gift: Dealing With the Loss of a Loved One.”

“Most of the photos of my children were on slides, which turned out to be a really good thing,” Agnes said. “After Beth Ann’s death, I gave talks on how to help grieving families, and I showed slides of her, plus audio of her, so people would feel like they knew her, and they could see where our grief was coming from. I gave talks for 10 years.”

For nearly a decade, Agnes and Chet facilitated a bereavement group for parents.

And some of Agnes’ breathtaking shots of nature are featured in a book, “Choosing the Gift: Dealing With the Loss of a Loved One,” by Dr. Scott Shepherd and the photographer.

“The majority of the pictures I sell are because they bring back memories to my customers, I do believe,” she said.

Agnes and Chet will return to Art on the Mall Sunday, July 29. The cute couple sporting matching T-shirts that say “Eye-Catching Photos by Agnes L. Barnes” will be among more than 100 artists showcasing their work from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the free, juried show on Centennial Mall.

“Art on the Mall is a good show,” Agnes said. “Many of my customers are repeat customers; they return again and again. One lady told me that she has an entire wall that she calls her ‘Agnes wall’ because it is filled with my photos. It’s nice to keep in contact with my customers.”

Chet likes returning to his alma mater each summer; he received a master of education degree and an education specialist in guidance and counselor education in 1973 and 1975, respectfully.

“Every picture has a story,” he said.

“Chet is good at telling stories and keeping people in the booth,” Agnes said and smiled.

A missed photo opportunity is one of his favorite tales.

“The one time we didn’t have a camera was when we met Elvis Presley,” he said. “True story!”