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Student wins NASA fellowship to help hunt for Earth-like planet with future space telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope, successor to the 26-year-old Hubble, will be the largest and most powerful ever sent into orbit when it blasts off in fall 2018.

To prepare for Webb’s decade in space in search of a planet that could support life, NASA selected a University of Toledo PhD student studying small stars and the exoplanets closely orbiting them to join the team.

UT doctoral student Kevin Hardegree-Ullman is part of a NASA team that will help select what planets the new James Webb Space Telescope will focus on when launched in 2018.

UT doctoral student Kevin Hardegree-Ullman is part of a NASA team that will help select what planets the new James Webb Space Telescope will focus on when launched in 2018.

Kevin Hardegree-Ullman will contribute to choosing which planets the new space telescope will observe.

“There is going to be a lot of competition between astronomers for time on that telescope, which has an enormous gold-coated mirror and is much larger than Hubble,” Hardegree-Ullman said. “Before Webb launches, we will choose the best stretches of sky to look for another Earth-like planet. The best candidates are around low-mass stars that are less than half the size of the sun. Those are the stars that I have been focused on for years. This is an awesome opportunity.”

Because of his published work and experience collecting data about brown dwarfs using the Spitzer Space Telescope, Hardegree-Ullman won a NASA Graduate Fellowship that will pay for him to work with NASA scientists for six months.

In January, Hardegree-Ullman will head to the NASA Infrared Processing and Analysis Center for Infrared Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena to identify a handful of locations to target in our galaxy where it’s most possible to find planets with water.

“We’ve already identified a bunch of star systems with planet candidates,” Hardegree-Ullman said. “My job will be to make sure there is a planet there using the data from the Spitzer Telescope and then figure which of these planets are the best to look at in follow-up observations with the future telescope.”

Hardegree-Ullman is the second UT PhD student in astronomy to recently win one of these competitive awards. Aditya Togi won the same NASA Graduate Fellowship in 2014.

“Kevin will get to interact with some of the best scientists in the world in an entirely new academic environment — something graduate students very rarely get to do,” said Dr. Mike Cushing, associate professor of astronomy and director of UT’s Ritter Planetarium, who is Hardegree-Ullman’s faculty advisor.

Hardegree-Ullman worked as a NASA Space Grant intern in 2011 while an undergraduate at the University of Arizona. He studied a specific molecule in interstellar clouds where stars form.

The PhD student now hunts for exoplanets by identifying dimming patterns caused when a planet blocks out a portion of a star’s light.

“It’s easier to find a smaller planet around a smaller star,” Hardegree-Ullman said. “Low-mass stars have a lower temperature, and that means a habitable planet has to orbit a lot closer to the star. It’s beneficial to an astronomer because you might only have to wait a couple weeks to watch the transit and find an Earth-size planet that could potentially contain water. You can determine size and radius monitoring the star’s light output. With a star the size of the sun, you have to wait an entire year.”

“Winning this fellowship highlights the caliber of scientist that Kevin has become during his time at UT,” Cushing said.

Carlson Library to host ‘Zen Zone’ for students during finals week

Carlson Library will become a “Zen Zone” for busy, stressed-out students during finals week, Monday through Friday, Dec 12-16.

zen posterListed by date, the following events will take place:

• Monday, Dec. 12 — Nature’s Nursery demonstration at 1 p.m. in Carlson Library Room 2004;

• Tuesday, Dec. 13 — Stress-busting workshop presented by the Learning Enhancement Center at 2 p.m. in Carlson Library Room 2010; and

• Wednesday, Dec. 14 — Yoga class offered by recreational services at 1 p.m. in Carlson Library Room 1005.

Students also can pop into Carlson Library Room 2010 all week for coloring pages, puzzles, Legos and books for leisure reading.

Complimentary coffee will be served in the library between 8 and 10 p.m. through finals week.

In addition, Carlson Library has extended hours. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 9 and 10, the library will be open until midnight. And doors will be open 24 hours starting Sunday, Dec. 11, through 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16.

Questions about finals week events at Carlson Library can be directed to Jonathan DaSo at 419.530.2019 or jonathan.daso@utoledo.edu.

Draft of campus master plan shares 10-year vision for UT facilities

Tonight The University of Toledo will share a draft of its campus master plan, which establishes a 10-year vision for University facilities.

The presentation at 6 p.m. in the Nitschke Hall SSOE Seminar Room will be led by Jason Toth, UT associate vice president for facilities and construction, and Doug Kozma, co-leader of planning practice for Smith Group JJR, the consulting firm assisting with the plan.

Business Hlogo 1c BlackThe presentation, which is open to UT faculty, staff and students, as well as alumni and the public, will be streamed live on the University’s YouTube page for those unable to attend in person. The recording of the full presentation also will be available afterward at the same link.

“This plan reflects the many ideas we’ve gathered from stakeholders during the last 18 months to maximize the function and efficiency of our assets,” Toth said. “I hope our community agrees this plan will benefit our students, faculty and staff and will guide future decision making related to the physical assets on our campuses.”

The master plan, which will next go to the UT Board of Trustees for consideration, is focused on four themes: repositioning the academic core, investing in research, consolidating athletics, and enhancing student life.

Repositioning the academic core

The draft of the plan to be presented tonight includes renovations of classroom buildings among the first projects to reposition the academic core. Snyder Memorial Building, Stranahan Hall and McMaster Hall are candidates for such activity. The Thompson Student Union also looks to be renovated, while renovations to Carlson Library continue.

The grassy area south of Memorial Field House will be redesigned to have wide sidewalks and landscaping to better connect Centennial Mall with the western side of Main Campus.

Investing in research

A new multidisciplinary research center near Nitschke Hall is planned in a location with convenient access to parking for researchers from different disciplines to conduct work, collaborate and share technology resources. Palmer Hall is slated to be replaced with a green open space for the engineering campus area, with the classrooms in Palmer moved into a renovated North Engineering Building.

Consolidating athletics

The varsity athletic facilities on Scott Park Campus will move to Main Campus as part of the effort to consolidate athletics and better incorporate baseball, softball and soccer into the student experience. A new synthetic soccer field is planned for the inside of the running track. The baseball and softball fields would be relocated to where Carter East and West residence halls currently stand. The Carter residence halls will be taken down, and a portion of Carter Field will be maintained for intramural and recreational use.

The campus master plan also calls for offices currently located at Scott Park to move to Main Campus.

Enhancing student life

The master plan built into its projections a 1 percent enrollment increase each year, which combined with the two-year residency requirement, would require additional beds on campus by the end of the 10-year time period. Renovations are already underway for Parks Tower; the plan incorporates opportunities for McComas Village to expand for additional Greek housing; and a second phase of the Gateway on the corner of Secor Road and Dorr Street would add apartment living options on upper floors above retail stores.

A new outdoor recreational area on the south side of Dorr Street east of Byrne Road would create a dedicated recreation complex on campus, which currently does not exist. A new public safety building to replace the Transportation Center, which currently houses the UT Police Department, would be located next to the fenced-in recreational facility. The parking area currently on Scott Park Campus for first-year students would be relocated to the north side of Dorr Street just west of Byrne Road.

The campus master plan is scheduled to be implemented in phases throughout the next decade, with some projects expected within the next five years and the remaining completed in a second phase in years six through 10. A University financial investment of $100 million is expected, through future state capital dollars and a potential bond issue, as well as additional external philanthropic support to implement the plan.

As decisions are made and plans solidified, the University will communicate more. To keep up to date on the process, visit utoledo.edu/facilities/master-plan.

Students: Free hotel accommodations available for bowl game

The University of Toledo Division of Advancement is offering free hotel accommodations to all UT students traveling to the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl to see the Rockets play the Appalachian State Mountaineers Saturday, Dec. 17, at 4:30 p.m. Central time at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala.

Students will receive a hotel room at the Staybridge Suite Montgomery-EastChase (7800 EastChase Parkway, Montgomery, Ala., 36117, 334.277.9383) for the nights of Friday, Dec. 16, and/or Saturday, Dec. 17.

homepage bowl artCheck-in will be at 3 p.m. both days, and checkout will be at noon.

The Staybridge Suite Montgomery-EastChase offers a complimentary breakfast buffet from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m.

The reservation also includes free entry to the pre-game party hosted by the UT Alumni Association from 2 to 4 p.m. at a tent at Paterson Field, a baseball stadium located just outside of the Cramton Bowl (1215 Madison Ave., Montgomery, Ala., 36104, 334.240.4200). Registration is required to attend the free pre-game party.

Register here for the hotel accommodations and reservations for the Alumni Association’s free pre-game party.

Registration is only available online and must be completed by noon Friday, Dec. 9, to secure a room. The hotel will not offer this discount directly.

Three students are assigned to each hotel room. Those who wish to room with friends must enter their names on the registration page in the space provided. If this is not done, there is no guarantee they will room with them.

A liability waiver and student code of conduct must be completed during the registration process online. All trip participants will be required to show a valid Rocket ID upon check-in at the Staybridge Suite Montgomery-EastChase.

Incidentals are not covered by the UT Division of Advancement and must be paid for by each individual guest.

Students must make travel arrangements to Montgomery, to and from the bowl game, and purchase game tickets on their own.

Tickets are $10 for UT students limit one with ID for in-person sales only. Students also may purchase up to four $30 tickets for guests. A valid Rocket ID must be shown at time of purchase at the UT Athletic Ticket Office. The ticket office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students will receive their tickets at time of purchase; there will be no UT student will call at the stadium.

Major themes emerging in strategic planning process

Using the input received from more than 700 people online and at discussion sessions throughout the University, the strategic planning committee has been meeting regularly to understand and organize the ideas and suggestions.

Once all of the ideas were sorted into categories, the committee created work groups to conduct brainstorming sessions on each topic. Dozens of individuals with specific areas of expertise or experience relating to each of the topic areas were invited to participate in the brainstorming sessions, where associated challenges and opportunities were discussed.

The topics of the work groups included the following: research; reputation and visibility; undergraduate student success; athletics; comprehensiveness; working at UT; graduate and professional education; community engagement; fiscal health; and fundraising.

“I am very pleased to see meaningful strategic direction and initiatives generated at the grassroots level through a bottom-up process,” said Dr. Andrew Hsu, provost and leader of the strategic planning initiative. “We were also excited to see that there was overlap in the ideas generated in different groups, which indicates we are generally aligned as a community on the direction we should be taking our university.”

After sharing the input from the work groups, the planning committee has begun to narrow the focus a bit more. It will be working to identify major themes and associated initiatives in the coming months.

“I am very pleased at the progress we are making,” said President Sharon L. Gaber. “We recognize that this process requires a great deal of time from a lot of people who also have day jobs. We are so appreciative of all the work that has gone into this, and I am personally very excited to see how this will guide and shape The University of Toledo in the future.”

Reach Out and Read partners with Barnes & Noble to collect books, promote education

Reach Out and Reach, a grant-funded program of The University of Toledo Department of Pediatrics, is working with Barnes & Noble at the Shops at Fallen Timbers to help children in the classroom.

The community can help promote school readiness and family reading time by donating a book at the Barnes & Noble Fallen Timbers Holiday Book Drive at the store in Maumee Sunday, Dec. 11, with the voucher at right, or by shopping online at barnesnandnoble.com Dec. 11-16 with the book fair ID 11985702 at checkout. 

Barnes & Noble voucherAll book drive and book fair proceeds will benefit children and families in northwest Ohio.

“Our goal is to secure 10 percent of our books needed for the year; that is a total of 2,600 books,” Lori LeGendre, program director for Reach Out and Reach, said.

Reach Out and Read prepares America’s youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.

Doctors, nurse practitioners and other medical professionals incorporate Reach Out and Read’s evidence-based model into regular pediatric checkups by advising parents about the importance of reading aloud and giving developmentally appropriate books to children.

Locally, the program will reach 13,000 families with young children at 25 pediatric and family practice offices in northwest Ohio. The program distributes 26,000 new books yearly.

Nationally, Reach Out and Read programs are located in 5,800 hospitals, health centers and pediatric clinics in all 50 states. The program also serves 4.5 million children and families each year. More than 6.5 million new, developmentally appropriate books are given to children annually, and more than 12,000 doctors and nurses participate in Reach Out and Read.

Donations may be made to Reach Out and Read of Northwest Ohio at https://www.utfoundation.org/foundation/home/Give_Online.aspx.

For more information about the local initiative, visit facebook.com/RORNWO or reachoutandread.org, or contact LeGendre at lori.legendre@utoledo.edu or 419.383.4007.

State certifies UTPD for adopting standards to strengthen community and police relations

The Ohio Department of Public Safety certified The University of Toledo Police Department for meeting new state standards for the use of deadly force, agency recruitment and hiring.

The standards are the first of their kind in the state developed by the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board last year to strengthen community and police relations.

UT police logoThe UT Police Department joins more than 120 other agencies throughout the state that have become certified.

The state has partnered with the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police to help certify nearly 1,000 law enforcement agencies through a process to ensure they are in compliance with Ohio’s new standards.

“The Ohio Collaborative focused on police hiring practices and use of force, and we are pleased the University meets or exceeds the state standards,” UT Police Chief Jeff Newton said. “Building trust begins with assuring our community The University of Toledo Police Department is using best practices.”

For more information on the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board, the certification process, and a list of certified agencies, go to ocjs.ohio.gov/ohiocollaborative.

Donations being accepted for Student Food Pantry

Add cereal, pudding cups, canned tuna fish and juice to your holiday shopping list to donate to the UT Student Food Pantry.

The food pantry, which was relocated earlier this year to the high-traffic area near the main entrance of the Thompson Student Union across from the Commuter Lounge, is accepting donations for a holiday food drive on location in room 2504 and in collection bins around campus.

food pantry flyer“The ends of the semester can be a busy time for students and when you combine that with the activity of the holiday season, it can add to student stress. It is important to make every effort for hunger and worry about buying groceries to not be an added barrier for our students as they work to succeed on their homework and final exams,” said Dr. Phillip “Flapp” Cockrell, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students.

The donation drive aims to help better stock the Student Food Pantry, which has extended its hours to be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The pantry also now has a refrigerator to offer options that are not shelf-stable and is seeking a donation of a freezer.

Toiletries such as shampoo, soap, toothpaste, mouthwash and deodorant also can be donated to the pantry.

Contact the Student Food Pantry at 419.530.2171 or foodpantry@utoledo.edu for more information on how you can help.

Faculty, staff ‘Simply Give’ for many reasons

Both faculty and staff alike continue pledging their contributions to The University of Toledo Community Charitable Campaign, UTC3, which runs through Wednesday, Dec. 28. With nearly 220 nonprofit agencies benefiting from their gifts, there are many reasons why they’ve chosen to “Simply Give,” which is this year’s campaign theme.

“I simply give because I love being connected to the Toledo community,” said Dr. Richard Welsch, associate professor in the Department of Early Childhood, Physical and Special Education.

UTC3 Rocket logo Dec. 5The reason for Kathleen Walsh, director of web development in University Marketing and Communications, is much more personal. “I received support from a handful of agencies while I was going through cancer treatment a few years ago, and my son has received help from three of the agencies that UTC3 supports. That still touches my heart today,” the mother of three confided, “and so I want to simply give back.”

“I give because of the Learning Club of Toledo. It provides after-school tutoring to inner-city students right here in Toledo,” offered Dr. Lori DeShetler, accreditation and assessment director in the Judith Herb College of Education. “It has such a positive impact on hundreds of students each year.”

Matthew Perry, associate director for residence life, simply gives “… because Equitas Health [formerly AIDS Resource Center Ohio] provides health-care services, resources and advocacy for all persons.”

UT employees on Health Science Campus recently attended a fair to meet representatives from some of the 220 charitable organizations that benefit from the University’s Community Charitable Campaign.

UT employees on Health Science Campus recently attended a fair to meet representatives from some of the 220 charitable organizations that benefit from the University’s Community Charitable Campaign.

UTC3 launched Nov. 9 and already has received pledges totaling $50,900 from the campus community. Donors may designate specific charities they’d like their gift to support, and all donations are tax-deductible.

“To keep things fresh this year, we’re asking people to ‘Simply Give’ whatever amount they can afford,” said Dr. Kaye M. Patten, senior vice president for student affairs and the 2016 UTC3 chair. “We don’t want someone to avoid participating because they can’t make a major contribution. Every single dollar counts.

“You may think that $5 or $10 isn’t worth pledging,” Patten continued, “but when these smaller gifts are combined with everyone else’s, the University can collectively make a huge impact on thousands of lives right here in northwest Ohio.”

Every person who “Simply Gives” to UTC3 by Dec. 28 will receive a complimentary long-sleeved UT T-shirt, as well as an invitation to a breakfast in early 2017.

To make a donation, watch for Patten’s weekly emails on Wednesdays and use the link provided to access your ePledge form. Visit utoledo.edu/utc3 for more details.

UT homepage updated to improve communication, user experience

The new homepage for The University of Toledo embraces advances in technology to improve communication and appeal to a broader audience.

Launched Dec. 5, the updated utoledo.edu features bolder headlines and additional opportunities to share news, a new video feature, and “UT at a glance” facts.

homepage-2016“Technology is ever-changing, and we are pleased to continue to keep the UT homepage and website current in trends, best practices, compliance and features that are appealing to our key audiences,” said Kathleen Walsh, director of web development.

The University’s Office of Marketing and Communications and the Center for Creative Instruction collaborated for months researching, designing and building the updated version of the homepage. Research showed key audiences desired interesting facts about UT prominently displayed on the website and had an interest in accessing high-quality videos about the University, which coincides with UT’s efforts to increase the use of video to engage people and provide a prominent place to feature that work.

Prospective students will continue to be able to find their programs and easily connect with admission resources, which is a primary use of the University’s homepage. There is extensive work underway to revise all of the web pages describing UT’s majors, which will be easier to access with the homepage updates. Prospective students will benefit from those features in the new layout, as well as more easily learn interesting news and facts about the University they are looking to attend.

The responsive design works in all web browsers and adjusts to the user’s technology to be viewed on a computer monitor, tablet or phone.