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Intersection near Main Campus to close Aug. 17 for sewer installation

The intersection of University Hills Boulevard and Bancroft Street will be closed later this week as installation of a new sewer line continues.

The city of Toledo plans to close the northbound lanes at the intersection near the University’s main north entrance Thursday, Aug. 17, and add the southbound lanes to that closure Friday, Aug. 18. If all goes as scheduled, the intersection is expected to reopen Wednesday, Aug. 23.

Main Campus will be accessible via North Towerview Boulevard and Bancroft Street. The Driscoll Alumni Center will be accessible via Douglas Road and University Hills Boulevard.

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 three weeks, 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, students, employees and visitors to Main Campus are encouraged to use the west entrance off Secor Road or the south entrance off Dorr Street.

Volunteers invited to help keep Maumee Bay State Park beach barefoot friendly

To preserve the beauty, health and safety of a northwest Ohio shoreline frequently visited by families, The University of Toledo Lake Erie Center is inviting the public to help pick up litter on Maumee Bay State Park’s public beach Friday, Aug. 18, at 4 p.m. in Oregon.

The Lake Erie beach cleanup is in partnership with the Alliance for the Great Lakes, which holds Adopt-a-Beach events throughout the region each year sponsored by Barefoot Wine and Bubbly.

Last year, 15,181 Adopt-a-Beach volunteers removed 40,211 pounds of trash as part of 1,388 cleanups throughout the Great Lakes region, including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin.

In 2016, the majority of trash picked up by Adopt-a-Beach volunteers (87 percent) was plastic.

For additional information, contact the UT Lake Erie Center at 419.530.8360.

UT wins national teacher education award for excellence and innovation

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) honored The University of Toledo with its Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education in recognition of a successful program that engages teachers and parents in supporting a young child’s natural curiosity through interactive, inquiry-based science lessons.

The national association of nearly 420 public colleges, universities and systems selected UT for the competitive award that recognizes one institution each year for excellence and innovation because of the University’s NURTURES Early Childhood Science program, which aims to improve the science readiness scores of preschool through third grade students in the Toledo area.

In a letter to UT President Sharon L. Gaber, AASCU President Muriel A. Howard calls the program “an exemplary one that can serve as a model for other institutions and help to advance practices in the field.”

NURTURES, which stands for Networking Urban Resources with Teachers and University to enRich Early Childhood Science, is a professional development program and collaboration between UT, local daycare centers and nursery schools, Toledo Public Schools, informal science centers, and other community resources to create a complementary, integrated system of science education. The program was supported with a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

“We are honored to receive this award and hope that the NURTURES program will serve as an exciting model for teaching science to young children,” said Dr. Charlene Czerniak, professor emeritus of science education and research professor in the UT College of Engineering. “By engaging young children in high-quality science experiences, teachers can also impact reading, literacy and mathematics in statistically significant ways.”

According to research published recently in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, every year that a student has a NURTURES program teacher adds on average 8.6 points to a student’s early literacy standardized test score compared to control students, 17 points to a student’s mathematics score, and 41.4 points to a student’s reading score.

“Our innovation comes in through the multi-faceted way the program engages teachers, parents and the community in science for young children,” Czerniak said. “Science focused on preschool through third grade is not the norm. And by engaging children in school-based, at-home-based and informal-community-based science, we build a model for helping young children learn science and improve in reading, literacy and mathematics as well.”

The NURTURES program enhances teacher understanding of science content to improve classroom practices and offers classroom extension activities and family learning opportunities in the Toledo area.

It includes five primary components, including:

• A two-week summer institute for preschool through third grade teachers in which they have access to both scientists and instructional coaches;

• Academic year professional development, including monthly professional learning community meetings and one-on-one coaching;

• Family science activity take-home packs that each include a newsletter with directions for the investigation, necessary materials for the activity, and a journal sheet for children to record data or visually represent understanding;

• Family community science events, such as engineering challenge simulations, and observations and demonstrations at a park, zoo, science center, library or farm; and

• Public service broadcasts on television that promote family science activities.

Czerniak oversaw the development of the NURTURES program along with Dr. Joan Kaderavek, professor of early childhood, physical and special education in the UT Judith Herb College of Education; Dr. Susanna Hapgood, associate professor in the UT Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the Judith Herb College of Education; and Dr. Scott Molitor, associate professor in the UT Department of Bioengineering in the College of Engineering.

The award for teacher education will be presented to UT Sunday, Oct. 22, during the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ annual meeting in California. Awards also will be presented to institutions in six other categories, including civic learning and community engagement; international education; leadership development and diversity; regional and economic development; student success and college completion; and sustainability and sustainable development.

“Innovation at America’s state colleges and universities is focused on advancing the quality of the educational experience for their students and the distinction of their institutions in service to their communities,” Howard said. “The programs for which these universities are being honored will inspire not only their AASCU colleagues but all of higher education.”

Task force completes sexual misconduct assessment

A task force created by President Sharon L. Gaber to review The University of Toledo’s practices and policies related to sexual assault awareness, prevention and adjudication and compare them to best practices at other universities has completed its assessment.

UT is among the safest campuses in Ohio with consistently low reports of sexual misconduct and has strong prevention programming and support services that meet or exceed those offered at peer institutions, according to the Sexual Assault Misconduct Assessment and Recommendations report produced by the task force.

The task force put together a list of 27 recommendations to enhance the programs and services available at the University to position the institution as a leader in the prevention and adjudication of sexual misconduct.

“The task force did a thorough review of the University’s practices and those of our peers to ensure we are providing the most effective prevention and support services for our students, faculty and staff when it comes to the issue of sexual misconduct, which unfortunately continues to be a concern on college campuses across the country,” Gaber said. “I look forward to working with the campus to implement the recommendations to ensure UT continues to be a safe and welcoming environment.”

UT’s resources in this area include a Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Program; an Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Program; a University Counseling Center; a Center for Student Advocacy and Wellness; a partnership with YWCA HOPE Center; and a director of Title IX and compliance, who will now report to the vice president for student affairs to facilitate better communication and collaboration.

The Sexual Assault Awareness, Prevention and Adjudication Task Force identified strengths, gaps in services, and ways to improve the delivery of services. The recommendations are focused on four themes: comprehensive university-wide efforts; prevention and programming efforts; resource availability; and investigation and adjudication.

Among the recommendations are:

• Create a Title IX committee to coordinate comprehensive implementation of programs and services across campus. The committee should be chaired by the director of Title IX and compliance.

• Ensure full implementation of University procedures that require incoming students to disclose criminal or student conduct complaints filed against them.

• Enhance alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention resources available to students, staff and faculty.

• Expand existing sexual misconduct prevention education required for first-year students to all students prior to the start of the academic year.

• Strengthen communication with targeted messaging that promotes a no tolerance climate for sexual misconduct and encourages students to report such acts.

• Diversify programs and resources and continuously evaluate them to ensure they are evidence-based and effectively reach all members of the campus community.

“The goal of our task force was to determine what we were doing well, what we can do better, and how to replicate evidence based-practices that other model programs have. We want to be a leader in the prevention of sexual misconduct,” said Dr. Amy Thompson, professor of public health and director of the UT Center for Health and Successful Living, who co-chaired the task force. “The recommendations put forth by the task force are a framework to plan future programs and services that help our campus continue to be a safe place for students, faculty and staff to attend classes and work.”

“Student safety is our top priority, and UT takes the issue of sexual misconduct very seriously,” said Valerie Walston, associate vice president for student affairs and director of residence life, who co-chaired the task force. “It is imperative that we offer our University community the educational programming needed for prevention and the best support services and resources needed to respond to this issue to keep our students, faculty and staff safe.”

To review the Sexual Misconduct Assessment and Recommendations, click here.

Disability studies assistant professor awarded fellowship for research on incarceration

Dr. Liat Ben-Moshe, assistant professor of disability studies, wants to bridge the gap between studying disability and incarceration.

“It was odd to me that there weren’t more connections between disability studies and prison studies when I first began doing this work. Now, after doing this for more than a decade, there are more people, organizations and scholarship on this topic,” she said. “First, there is the high proportion of disabled — psychiatric, cognitive, learning or other disabilities — in prison, a phenomenon not often discussed. Then there are so many sites of confinement for people with disabilities, even outside of prison settings — nursing homes, psych hospitals, institutions. We need to understand all these as sites of incarceration.”

Ben-Moshe

Ben-Moshe recently was recognized for her outstanding work with one of the American Association of University Women’s American Fellowships for the 2017-18 academic year. These fellowships support women scholars who are completing dissertations, planning research leave, or preparing research for publication.

Her forthcoming book, “Politics of (En)Closure,” focuses on movements to abolish prisons and deinstitutionalization of mental and intellectual health institutions.

“I am incredibly honored to be receiving such a prestigious and competitive fellowship, and I see it as a recognition for my work on social movements that resist incarceration. But I also see it as a recognition of the field of disability studies and specifically of UT’s role as a leader in the field of disability studies, as we have currently the only on campus bachelor of arts degree in disability studies in the U.S.,” Ben-Moshe said.

Studies have shown that more than half of inmates in local and state prisons received clinical diagnosis or treatment by a mental health professional. Ben-Moshe believes the solution to this troubling statistic lies in having a better understanding of what is called mental illness.

“When people who do prison advocacy or critical prison studies work discuss disability, it is not as an identity and a culture, but as a deficit. Those within disability advocacy and work really need to learn more about prison and prison abolition,” she explained. “The intersectional nature of oppression and its resistance here are vital.

“For example, in my new book, I discuss what prison reformers and abolitionists can learn from deinstitutionalization, which was another mass movement to close carceral settings such as psychiatric hospitals, institutions for people with intellectual disabilities. People didn’t think it will happen; it was called utopia, unrealistic. But it did happen, and we can learn from it about how to rely less on settings that segregate people, like institutions and prisons, and more about how to deal with harm and difference in the community.”

Accessibility improvements slated for several buildings

Work is scheduled on 12 buildings to address accessibility concerns related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The project will begin next week in University Hall, Bowman-Oddy Laboratories, Memorial Field House, North Engineering Building, Nitschke Hall and Wolfe Hall.

“In University Hall, accessible drinking fountains will be installed, upgrades to toilet accessories will be made, and automatic door operators will be installed at the main public restrooms on the fourth floor,” Dan Klett, director of campus planning and design in Facilities and Construction, said.

These improvements to be made are based on a recently completed accessibility survey by Derek Mortland, ADA and community outreach coordinator at the Center for Disability Empowerment in Gahanna, Ohio. That survey was commissioned jointly by UT’s Internal Audit and Compliance Department and Facilities and Construction Department.

“UT is a recognized leader in providing a welcoming environment for students, patients and employees with disabilities,” said David Cutri, executive director of internal audit and chief compliance officer.  “These accessibility improvements are the most recent example of our strong partnership with the Facilities team in promoting an inclusive environment for all.”

Enjie Hall, UT director of accessibility and student disability services, helped prioritize the building list and items that are being addressed for each building.

“We wanted to take care of academic buildings that would benefit the largest number of students, faculty and staff,” she said. “These crucial changes will improve the usability of facilities for everyone at the University while providing better access to people with disabilities.”

“Within each building, priority was given to addressing accessibility issues at entrances, restrooms, stairs and drinking fountains as a way to maximize the impact of available funding,” Klett added.

Funding for the project includes $500,000 from the state’s capital appropriation for fiscal year 2017-18.

Other buildings on Main Campus that are part of the project are the Center for Performing Arts, Rocket Hall, the Law Center and McMaster Hall.

On Health Science Campus, improvements will be made in the Health Education Building and Collier Building.

“The scope of work includes such items as installing automatic door operators; modifying doors and door hardware; installing handrails and extensions; and resolving accessibility concerns at drinking fountains and restrooms, resulting in greater accessibility to and within campus facilities,” Klett said. “The work is scheduled to be completed by the end of October.”

Mary L. Glowacki of Toledo is the architect of the project, and the Spieker Co. in Perrysburg is the general contractor.

“We apologize for what I hope will be minor inconveniences as we work to make these important improvements to accessibility on campus,” Klett said.

“This is a huge step toward fostering an inclusive environment for people with disabilities at UT,” Hall said. “These improvements will remove environmental barriers, which allow individuals to function with greater independence.”

UT researchers explore the beauty of crystals published in Science, Science Advances

Dr. Kristin Kirschbaum definitely found her passion when it comes to crystallography. The director of the Instrumentation Center in Bowman-Oddy Laboratories and graduate student Kelly Lambright recently solved the crystal structures of huge gold nanoparticles, which were published in Science and Science Advances.

“It is an achievement and an honor for The University of Toledo in general and crystallography at UT in particular,” Kirschbaum said of the work that appeared in the top scientific journals. “Crystallography at UT has had a great reputation over many decades, under the leadership of Dr. A. Alan Pinkerton, and we are proud to have worked over the years with high school, undergraduate and graduate students. I am particularly delighted that a large part of this work was done by one of our graduate students from the chemistry department, Kelly J. Lambright.

This is the UT team’s crystallographic analysis of the nanoparticle consisting of 246 gold atoms that was published in Science. The orange, blue and pink spheres are the gold atoms, yellow is sulfur, and grey and white are the carbon and hydrogen protective organic layer.

“The support and funding of our instrumentation by the University allowed this program to develop and become a leader in the field of crystallography of nanoparticles.”

The recent article in Science focuses on crystallography solving the atomic structure of a Au246 nanoparticle revealing the three-dimensional arrangement of all 246 gold atoms and the protective organic shell. This kind of information can only be determined by crystallography.

“First, you start with beautiful crystals,” said Kirschbaum cheerfully, isolating a single crystal sample, and placing it inside a diffractometer. The Instrumentation Center is home to five of these instruments, and it’s common for the lab to receive crystals from around the world to analyze; requests from places such as Iran and India, but also national collaborators from Duke, University of Houston, Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Carnegie Mellon. The Carnegie Mellon collaborator Dr. Rongchao Jin, an internationally recognized expert in nanoparticles, provided the crystal of Au246 nanoparticles.

This image shows the data collected when an x-ray beam shines on a crystal in a diffractometer.

The crystal is then exposed to an x-ray beam, which it diffracts in a way that is unique to that particular compound. These reflections are collected and analyzed to find the 3D structure of the compound.

“The importance of these structural results lies in the fact that all of the medical, electronic and optical properties differ depending on the size and the structure of the nanoparticles. Certain nanoparticles are known to enhance cancer radiotherapy, others assist in early tumor detection or are used in solar cells and nano-electronics,” Kirschbaum explained. “The secret of why some nanoparticles have certain properties and others do not is in the 3D arrangement of the atoms. The publication in Science is based on the crystal structure analysis of a novel nanoparticle. It is the largest gold nanoparticle so far whose structure has been determined by crystallography. The foremost largest crystallographically analyzed gold nanoparticle consisted of 133 gold atoms and was also just recently structurally characterized at UT and published in 2015 in Science Advances.”

Kirschbaum went on to say how the research done at UT can have tremendous applications: “Biomedical applications include sensing of important biomolecules — for example, glucose — radio-sensitizing for cancer radiotherapy and early tumor diagnosis. Knowing the arrangement of the atoms allows understanding and predicting the properties of these nanoparticles. Scientists can then design novel nanoparticles with a certain structure and desired properties.”

UT psychologist challenges accuracy of method to interview child witnesses

The reliability of child witness testimony is a prime factor in cases of abuse, but how they are questioned can influence a child’s answers. When faced with choices, a child will often pick one, even if the correct answer is not one of the options given.

New research by a University of Toledo psychologist supports asking open-ended questions and challenges an increasingly popular solution for forensic interviewers to add a “something else” alternative choice when questioning young children.

London Newton

“What we found in our research is that even when children may correctly choose the something else option when the other choices are not accurate, the follow-up answer also is inaccurate,” said Dr. Kamala London Newton, UT associate professor of psychology.

For example, a child is asked a question such as whether the interviewer said that her favorite fruit was an apple, a banana or something else. The interviewer never said anything about her favorite fruit, so the child does not know the correct answer. So the child responds with something else, but when prompted with “What is her favorite fruit?” the child replied, “Carrots.”

London Newton’s research titled “Does It Help, Hurt or Something Else? The Effect of a Something Else Response Alternative on Children’s Performance on Forced-Choice Questions,” is published in the August issue of the American Psychological Association journal Psychology, Public Policy and the Law. She co-authored the article with graduate students Ashley Hall and Nicole Lytle, who have since received their PhDs in developmental psychology from UT.

London Newton’s Developmental Psychology Lab studies the best practices in interviewing child witnesses, and she has provided expert testimony on the subject, with her work cited twice by the United States Supreme Court.

“Interviewing young children, particularly those preschool-aged, can be a challenge because of their limited communication skills and the fact that they do not resist answering false and unanswerable questions,” London Newton said.

“While providing children choices increases the probability that the child will answer the questions, those answers are too often inaccurate,” she said. “That is especially true if children are asked a question but none of the answer choices provided are accurate because children generally do not reply that they do not know.”

That presents a challenge because child abuse professionals argue that answers to open-ended prompts are too sparse and so forced-choice questions are needed, but it is not possible for those professionals to always be sure that one of the choices they are giving the child is true, London Newton said.

For her latest study, London Newton and her research team interviewed 94 children ages 3 to 5 years old. The children had participated in a 20-minute event in which a research assistant touched children on different public locations of their body, such as the elbow, and asked them to show on a doll or drawing where they were touched. Then after a one-week delay, the children were interviewed about that event with a series of questions in which half the participants were asked standard questions with two choices and the others were asked questions with those two choices and also given the something else option.

The researchers found that the addition of the something else option did not improve the accuracy of responses. This was the case for all three types of questions asked — true questions in which the correct answer was present, false questions in which no correct answer was provided, and unanswerable questions that require speculation, for example, is red heavier than yellow?

“Our research supports additional work in this field that shows that the most developmentally appropriate way to pose questions to young children is to avoid forced-choice options as much as possible,” London Newton said. “One of the biggest dangers of including a something else alternative is that it may incorrectly give the interviewers more confidence that the response is accurate. Our findings support that asking open-ended questions is the best approach to interviewing young children.”

Closure extended for section of Bancroft Street through Aug. 12

The city of Toledo announced Bancroft Street between University Hills Boulevard/North Towerview Boulevard and North Westwood Avenue will remain closed through Saturday, Aug. 12.

Workers ruptured a waterline Wednesday morning and were repairing it throughout the day.

Crews will resume installing the sewer line Thursday, Aug. 10.

The intersection of University Hills Boulevard/North Towerview Boulevard and Bancroft Street will remain open during this time.

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 while the work is completed, which is estimated to be about 30 days, weather permitting.

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.

Local students with disabilities spend summer living on campus for college prep

“This has been eye-opening and life-changing,” said 21-year-old Elijah Shaffer of Toledo as he waits patiently in his wheelchair for the elevator at Horton International House, a residence hall on The University of Toledo Main Campus.

He is one of nine local students with disabilities, most still in high school, spending five weeks this summer living on campus and working at local companies and organizations as part of an Ability Center of Greater Toledo program designed to prepare them for college, provide them with job experience, and boost their independence.

Waiting outside the Horton International House for the bus to take them to work, were, from left, 17-year-old Alex Bentley of Perrysburg, 19-year-old Zach Cotton of Galion, 17-year-old Donny Stewart of Sylvania, 21-year-old Elijah Shaffer of Toledo, and 18-year-old Ana McGuire of Sylvania.

“I was so nervous,” said 18-year-old Ana McGuire, who will be a senior at Northview High School in Sylvania in the fall and uses a cochlear implant to hear and American Sign Language. “This is the first time I’ve been away from my family for a long period of time.”

McGuire spends her days working with children at the Toledo Museum of Art’s Family Center. In the evenings, she does her own cooking, cleaning and laundry at International House.

The Ability Center provides staff that serve the role of a resident supervisor. They stay in the residence hall suites with the students to provide supervision and any accommodations needed related to their disability.

Donny Stewart read a book while waiting for the bus to take him to work at the Toledo Museum of Art. Stewart lives with autism and will be a senior at Central Catholic High School in Toledo in the fall.

“The other night I made spaghetti and meatballs,” said Donny Stewart, a 17-year-old living with autism who will be a senior at Central Catholic High School in the fall. “I’m learning to live with other people, be more responsible, and make sure I have clean clothes. Mom is not here to do it for me.”

This marks the second year of the Next Steps Summer Program, a component of The Ability Center of Greater Toledo’s Life Skills Department and comprised of community partners.

“The Toledo Museum of Art participates in the Next Steps Summer Program because, as an employer in the community, it’s our responsibility to help all people acquire the necessary skills to become gainfully employed,” Siccorah Martin, human resources manager at the Toledo Museum of Art, said.

Ana McGuire, center, worked with children at the Toledo Museum of Art’s Family Center. McGuire, who will be a senior at Northview High School in the fall, uses a cochlear implant to hear and American Sign Language.

17-year-old Alex Bentley of Perrysburg works at the Toledo Area Humane Society walking and cleaning dogs and cats.

“This experience is awesome,” said Bentley, who lives with Williams syndrome and has had a stroke. “Making new friends is the best part. We’ve gone to Dave & Buster’s, out for ice cream, and next we’re attending a Mud Hens game together.”

“I’ve learned a lot about myself and the people around me,” said Shaffer, a student at Herzing University. “I got to show my true colors.”

Shaffer started experiencing symptoms of cerebral palsy at the age of 3 and uses a wheelchair for long distances. The Rogers High School graduate has a limited range of motion and goes to physical therapy to strengthen his legs.

For employment experience as part of the program, Shaffer works at Preferred Properties, a nonprofit that helps people with disabilities buy homes.

“I’m really enjoying my summer here and also giving back to people like me,” Shaffer said. “It’s incredible to live in a residence hall with a roommate just like my friends. I feel better about myself. Coming here raised the bar for me.”

The program ends Thursday, Aug. 10.

“Our goal is to impact the students now and prepare them for the future as they enter the workforce,” said Mallory Tarr, marketing coordinator for The Ability Center of Northwest Ohio. “We encourage our students to think outside the box and explore what is possible. Our hope is that students will build on their increased feelings of confidence and continue that momentum into the next phase of their life.”