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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See You at Art on the Mall July 28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alumnus/Doctoral Student Offers Musical Inspiration With New Disc

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

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

The title track was inspired by his sister, Tiffanie.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toledo Football Single-Game Tickets on Sale

See you at the game: Football single-game tickets for the 2019 season go on sale Tuesday, July 16.

The Rockets have six home games in 2019, highlighted by a much-anticipated nonconference matchup with Brigham Young University Saturday, Sept. 28, and four Mid-American Conference contests, including the Homecoming game vs. Western Michigan Saturday, Oct. 5.

The home opener is Saturday, Sept. 14, vs. Murray State.

Tickets also are available for selected away games, including the season opener at Kentucky Saturday, Aug. 31, and a matchup with Colorado State Saturday, Sept. 21.

Season tickets start at just $70.

Full-time UToledo employees and retirees may purchase up to two season tickets at half-price. Additional season tickets may be purchased at the full price. UToledo students are admitted to home games free with ID.

To purchase season tickets, single-game tickets or away-game tickets, stop by the UT Athletic Ticket Office, located in the Sullivan Athletic Complex at Savage Arena, go to the Toledo Football Ticket Central website, or call 419.530.GOLD (4653).

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rockets One of 40 Programs in Nation to Post 3.0 GPA or Higher in 2018-19

The Toledo men’s basketball team has received the National Association of Basketball Coaches Team Academic Excellence Award.

The award is in its seventh year of existence, and the Rockets have received the award in four of the last six years.

Toledo was one of two Mid-American Conference schools to be honored this year and is one of 14 schools to achieve this accomplishment at least four times in the last six years.

The Team Academic Excellence Award recognizes NCAA and NAIA men’s basketball teams that earned a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or better throughout the 2018-19 academic year. Forty of the 159 teams to make the list were NCAA Division I-affiliated programs.

The Rockets posted a 3.136 GPA throughout the last two semesters with Luke Knapke and Spencer Littleson earning spots on the MAC’s Academic All-MAC team.

Other NCAA Division I schools posting a 3.0 GPA in the 2018-19 academic year were Bradley, Brigham Young University, Bucknell, Butler, California Baptist, Creighton, DePaul, East Carolina, Florida Gulf Coast University, Gonzaga, Harvard, High Point, Holy Cross, Houston Baptist, Idaho State, Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, Liberty, Louisville, Marist, Nebraska-Omaha, New Mexico State, North Dakota State, Northern Kentucky, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oral Roberts, Quinnipiac, Seattle, Seton Hall, Stanford, University of South Carolina Upstate, Utah Valley, Villanova, Wake Forest, Western Carolina, Western Michigan, Wright State and Yale.

Swimming and Diving Team Honored Nationally for GPA

The University of Toledo swimming and diving team continues to make a splash in the classroom, earning College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America Scholar All-America Team accolades for spring semester after posting a 3.69 grade-point average.

The team’s average was tied with Bowling Green State University for the seventh highest GPA in the country.

“I am extremely proud of this team,” said Head Coach Jonas Persson. “We work hard in the pool and classroom, and this honor shows just how hard we work. Not only do we have a great team GPA, but, individually, we had 12 girls make Academic All-Mid-American Conference, and a lot of them have really tough and challenging majors.”

The Rockets have a history of academic achievement, as the team had 12 athletes named to the Academic All-MAC team this season. Jessica Avery, Bailey Cahill, Lisa Ericksson, Corinne Harris, Jordyn Polderman, Alida Ramden, Emma Sampson, Ally Sperring, Gracie Storm, Kristen Straszacker, Bec Welke and Elayna Yoskovich represented the Rockets on this year’s academic team. Ramden earned a 4.0 in the classroom, while Avery and Cahill each earned the honor for the third time in their careers.

Indiana State led the way for the women’s teams in the Scholar All-America team honors, posting a 3.75 GPA during spring semester.

The College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America Scholar All-America Team honor recognizes teams that have achieved a grade-point average of 3.00 or higher and maintain a roster of 12 or more student-athletes.

Runner Represents Toledo at World University Games

Petronela Simiuc represented The University of Toledo and her home country of Romania this week in the 800 meters and 1,500 meters at the World University Games in Napoli, Italy.

On July 8, Simiuc competed in the first round for the 800 meters, clocking a time of 2:08.16 to place 19th, a qualifying mark for the semifinal. On July 11, Simiuc clocked a time of 4:27.36 to finish eighth in her heat and 15th overall in the first round of the 1,500 meters.

“It’s exciting to see Petro representing not only Romania, but our track and field program internationally,” said Adrian, associate head track and field coach. “We are looking forward to have Petronela back on campus this fall and see her finish an already great student-athlete career on a high note.”

The Bacau, Romania, native earned silver in the 1,500 meters with a time of 4:27.86 at the Mid-American Conference Outdoor Championships last season. Simiuc recorded a season best 4:19.28 in the 1,500 meters at the Bryan Clay Invitational and a season best 2:08.27 in the 800 meters at the Raleigh Relays to take second. Simiuc also earned a spot at the NCAA East Prelims qualifier in the 1,500-meter event.

During the 2018 outdoor season, Simiuc posted a personal best of 4:17.50 in the 1,500m at the NCAA East Prelim. Simiuc clocked the second-fastest time in school history for the 1,500m at the 2018 MAC Championships; her time of 4:18.73 was a mere second from the MAC record (4:17.01) that teammate Janelle Noe set in the same race.

Simiuc holds the top two fastest times at Toledo for the 800 meters: 2:07.89 set in 2017 and 2:08.27 set in 2019.

Simiuc earned her undergraduate degree from The University of Toledo and is pursuing a master’s degree in public health. She will return this fall on the cross-country course and be back on the track next spring.

UToledo Hires New Bursar

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

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


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

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

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

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

Women’s Basketball Player Competes for Finland at Summer Universiade 2019

Toledo women’s basketball player Sara Rokkanen is competing for her home country of Finland at the 30th Summer Universiade 2019 Championships.

The event started July 3 and runs through Wednesday, July 10, in Napoli, Italy.


Rokkanen and Finland are 3-2 in the competition, posting wins over Canada (82-59), Mexico (77-51) and Romania (73-50). Finland has lost to Australia (68-51) and China (75-50).

The Helsinki, Finland, native is averaging 4.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 12.6 minutes in the five contests. The Toledo senior is shooting 40.9 percent (9 of 22) from the field, including 30.8 percent (4 of 13) from beyond the arc. 

Rokkanen and Finland will face Hungary Wednesday, July 10, for ninth place in the 16-team event.

This past year, Rokkanen shot a team-high 38.8 percent (54 of 139) from three-point land and ranked fourth in the Mid-American Conference in three-point field-goal percentage.

Overall in 2018-19, Rokkanen contributed 6.3 points, 2.8 boards and 1.8 helpers in 24.1 minutes per game. She scored in double figures on eight occasions, the fifth highest total on the team, including a season-high 13 points on two occasions.