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Archive for April, 2012

Engineering assistant professor receives prestigious research grant

Dr. Yakov Lapitsky reloaded an isothermal titration calorimeter to characterize the molecular interactions of polyelectrolytes.

A University of Toledo researcher has been awarded a grant to explore a new way to utilize light.

Dr. Yakov Lapitsky, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, received one of the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious grants, the Career Award, to use light to control electrostatic interactions to form soft materials with intricate structures.

In addition to his investigation of the photo-directed assembly method, Lapitsky will develop guidelines for the process and research the best uses of the method.

“These materials form through electrostatic interactions by mixing positive and negative charges. The molecules come together to form a solid complex, and we can direct their formation with the use of light,” Lapitsky said. “The goal is to develop strategies for microfabrication. This can be used to make customized vehicles for smart drug delivery or used to make sensors and actuators for soft micro-machines.”

To do this work, Lapitsky received a National Science Foundation Career Award of nearly $402,000 over five years.

“This project has three objectives. First, we will investigate photo-directed assembly of polyelectrolytes as a method for preparing intricate supramolecular structures. We also will dissect the photo-directed assembly process with the view of developing guidelines for controlling materials structure and stimulus sensitivity. Lastly, we will exploit the stimulus-responsive properties of photo-patterned polyelectrolyte complexes to prepare micron-scale controlled release devices, actuators and materials that self-destruct,” Lapitsky said.

Dr. Glenn Lipscomb, professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, said Lapitsky’s work is great for the college’s programs.

“Dr. Lapitsky’s receipt of this award recognizes what we have known since he was hired two years ago — his tremendous creativity in solving the grand challenges facing society in health care and sustainability, as well as his proven ability to mentor students and reach out to the community as a whole,” Lipscomb said. “As one of a number of Career Award recipients in the College of Engineering, this reflects highly on the quality of the college’s research and educational programs and the ability to attract the highest caliber faculty.”

Lapitsky’s research also will be integrated with educational outreach. Along with sponsoring undergraduate and graduate research in the field, he will introduce high school students to these methods through the Engineer for a Day and Toledo Excel programs that are offered to Toledo Public Schools.

“The National Science Foundation’s mission is to support scientific research and education,” Lapitsky said. “I am happy to have the opportunity to share our work with young people who are interested in science.”

UT student to intern at National Geographic Society

A University of Toledo geography and planning student has been awarded a competitive summer internship with the National Geographic Society.


Yujin Lee, a junior, will spend her summer in Washington, D.C., as one of a limited number of geography interns at the National Geographic Society. According to the scientific and educational institution’s website, the programs “are highly competitive and target students with skills and determination in fields pertinent to National Geographic’s work.”

The National Geographic Society was founded in 1888 to promote science and exploration and amass funds for expeditions around the world. The trips were publicized in National Geographic Magazine. That publication saw an explosion of subscriptions in the early 2000s with about 10 million subscribers today.

The society offers internships in photography and geography.

“Yujin’s earned the right to have this experience,” said Dr. David Nemeth, UT professor of geography and one of Lee’s advisers. “Only about 700 geography undergraduate students have participated in the internship program since it was founded, so she’s part of a fortunate few.”

Lee, a native of Bucheon, South Korea, said she is looking forward to her time in Washington, D.C., since she has only visited the nation’s capital once as a freshman for a geography conference.

“I’m very excited to go,” she said. “I know I couldn’t do this internship without help from Dr. Nemeth, Dr. Bhuiyan Alam, assistant professor of geography, and Dr. Beth Schlemper, assistant professor of geography, and I am very grateful to them.”

Lee said the internship experience will use her skills from her program at UT, where her concentration is geographic information science (GIS).

“Yujin may be assigned or maybe even volunteer to work in the museum as a researcher, or even use her specialized skills from working in our GIS lab in her internship,” Nemeth said. “Our department at UT can boast two National Geographic interns, while many universities have none.”

The Geography and Planning Department last sent a student intern to the National Geographic Society in 1996; Julie Ward wrote her master’s thesis on her experience.

Rapper to perform April 26 concert in Rocky’s Attic

Campus Activities and Programming will host up-and-coming rapper Kendrick Lamar for a concert Thursday, April 26, at 8 p.m. in Rocky’s Attic.

Lamar is touring with Drake and ASAP Rocky and was featured on Drake’s most recent disc, Take Care.

The show will open with K-Von the Great, a Cleveland artist influenced by Lamar, whose style is similar.

“Last year, we hosted comedian Ralphie May, and there was a lot of interest expressed among the students to have a different type of act, such as a musical act, since we had a comedy act already,” said Emilio Areas, director of live entertainment with Campus Activities and Programming. “Music Fest has had rock bands the past two years, so we thought students would enjoy a change of genre, too.”

Lamar, originally from Compton, Calif., initially performed under the name K. Dot. He has released a series of mix tapes that were well-received, and his first official album, Section.80, was released last year under Top Dawg Entertainment. In addition, he has appeared on tracks by hip-hop artists Big Pooh, Jay Rock, Tech N9ne and Game.

“It’s the first time we’re hosting an act associated with a big name,” Areas said. “Drake is one of the biggest hip-hop and rap acts right now. Usually, we host smaller and more local artists, so this will be different and a lot of fun.

“We wanted to make sure we weren’t conflicting with study time and also hold the concert a little earlier in the evening so students wouldn’t be out too late,” Areas said. “This will be one last great event for students before they depart for the summer.”

The concert is free for students with their Rocket Cards; general admission is $5. Tickets will go on sale at 6 p.m. before the concert and will be first-come, first-served.

Doors open at 7:15 p.m., and the show will begin at 8 p.m.

Sophomore guard named to Academic All-MAC squad


Sophomore guard Rian Pearson has been named to the 2011-12 Academic All-Mid-American Conference Team.

A total of five student-athletes were named to the team, which was voted on by faculty athletic representatives at MAC institutions.

Pearson, who was a first-team National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 14 and second-team All-MAC honoree and finished third in MAC Player of the Year voting, tied for the league lead in scoring (16.4 points per game) and was third in rebounding (8.3 rebounds per game) and tied for sixth in steals (1.6 steals per game).

He was the only player in the conference to rank in the league’s top 10 in points, rebounds and steals, and he ranked second in the conference with 10 double-doubles. Pearson led UT in scoring on a team-high 17 occasions and in rebounding 28 times.

The Raytown, Mo., native scored 20 or more points on 12 occasions, including a career-high 29-point, 12-rebound, four-steal performance at MAC regular-season champion Akron (Feb. 1). He also finished fifth nationally in rebounding among guards.

Joining Pearson on the squad were Akron’s Brian Walsh, Ball State’s Matt Kamieniecki, Buffalo’s Tony Watson and Western Michigan’s Brandon Pokley.

The Academic All-MAC honor is for a student-athlete who has excelled in athletics and academics. To qualify, a student-athlete must have at least a 3.20 cumulative GPA and have participated in at least 50 percent of the contests for that particular sport. First-year students and junior college transfers in their first year of residence are not eligible for the award.

Art and health topic of second Nexus research program

The University and Toledo communities are invited to learn about UT research related to art and health during the second presentation of the Nexus program.

Nexus began in January as a way for faculty members to showcase their research and provide faculty, staff, students and the public a way to make connections between different disciplines.

The second presentation in the Nexus series will be Wednesday, April 25, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Libbey Hall with several faculty members providing information to introduce their research related to art and disease/health. Refreshments will be provided.

The Nexus program, which is sponsored by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, occurs periodically throughout the academic year with brief presentations by faculty members in specific disciplines. Presentations are in the pecha kucha format, which was developed by architects with 20 slides in six minutes and 40 seconds — 20 seconds per slide.

Nexus was developed by Dr. Elsa G. Nadler, director of grants development, and Dr. James Trempe, vice president for research.

For more information on the free, public program, contact Nadler at elsa.nadler@utoledo.edu or 419.5305302.

Survey aims to better understand climate of University

The University community is being asked to participate in an important survey to gather information about the climate of the institution.

The Campus Climate Faculty and Staff Survey questionnaire, which is voluntary and confidential, is open to all employees at The University of Toledo. The online survey is available here, and respondents are being asked to complete it by Monday, April 30.

“The climate survey provides the University the opportunity to gather important data from employees about their interactions with others on campus,” said Lawrence J. Burns, vice president for external affairs. “It also gives us the opportunity to enhance campus-wide understanding and reinforces the University’s commitment to diversity.”

The online survey asks the participants to select their position at the University — faculty, University staff or hospital staff — and answer a series of questions about how they are treated at UT and how they treat others.

The University is striving for an at least 20 percent response rate to gather quantifiable data that can be compared to past surveys. All faculty and staff were sent an email inviting them to participate.

As a way to thank participants for their time, each person who completes the survey will receive a discount coupon worth 25 percent off merchandise at utoledogear.com. Participants also have the option be entered into a drawing to win one of five $100 prepaid gift cards.

UT Pi Sigma Epsilon Chapter wins, learns at national conference

Twenty-three members of The University of Toledo Chapter of Pi Sigma Epsilon (PSE), the professional sales and marketing fraternity, participated in the PSE National Conference in Indianapolis in March.

Members of the UT Chapter of Pi Sigma Epsilon posed for a photo at the fraternal organization’s national conference in Indianapolis in March.

They came home with top finishes in some of the conference’s key competitions.

In the University Directories Marketing Challenge, the UT chapter claimed second place; in the ADP Marketing Challenge, Jack Powers was on the team that took the first-place prize; and in the National Pro-Am Sales Competition, Brittany Bodi finished in first place among the 88 students entered in that contest.

“The best part of the conference was the competitions,” said Matt Devenport, president of the UT Pi Sigma Epsilon Chapter. “There was a lot of emotion, a real close bond among the PSE members. We came together, and the bonding experience was different than it was in the classroom. We become more motivated to do better, and our chemistry builds success throughout the chapter.

“To prepare for the conference, our chapter held organizational meetings every week to strategize and build a plan about how we would compete. We practiced every week and met with our professors in the Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales,” Devenport said. “There are competitions to select chapters to recognition levels of gold, silver and amethyst, as well as competitions that reflect everything the chapter does throughout the year. We were one of the finalists for the silver level, and even though we did not win that particular award, being recognized as a chapter finalist was an accomplishment.”

UT chapter adviser Dr. Michael Mallin, associate professor of marketing, said, “The weeklong conference provides student members extensive opportunities to learn. There are various events at the conference, including those with chapter officers focusing on marketing and sales training, leadership skill development, professional networking practice, and activities to enhance selling skills.”

“PSE is important and beneficial because it promotes professionalism, exposes the students to recruitment and networking opportunities, and helps them with professional development. It helps members develop good communications skills, to get a job … and you make a lot of friends,” Mallin added.

“The role of the faculty is to be available for our students and to be positive, but the students did the work themselves,” Mallin explained. “Our chapter members did a good job, and I give a lot of credit to Matt for motivating them and leading the team, which positively reflects on the chapter, our Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales, the College of Business and Innovation, and The University of Toledo.”

The chapter paid for their trip through a variety of fundraisers and received additional support from the Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales.

“PSE wants to thank the Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales and The University of Toledo for giving us the opportunity to attend the 2012 PSE National Convention in Indianapolis,” said Devenport, now in his second term as chapter president. “We look to only improve on the success of our chapter in the years to come.”

Class exploring death, afterlife receives visit from Iraq veteran who ‘died and met God’

Dr. Linda Smith’s course The Afterlife in Literature, Religion and Science explores the concepts of consciousness and death. The Honors College seminar encourages critical thinking and open-mindedness.

With the help of his mother, Lisa Schuster, Matthew Drake, a retired Army specialist, talked about how he died and met God after his military vehicle was struck by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004.

“In class, we examine views about the survival of consciousness after death. We also look at questions such as what is death and what defines it? What is consciousness and where is it located? And what is happening in a near-death experience as reported by those who ‘die’ and are resuscitated?” said Smith, professor and associate dean in the Honors College.

While facilitating discussion on near-death experiences, Smith brought a special guest into the classroom — an Army specialist wounded in combat.

Matthew Drake, a retired Army specialist, was serving in Iraq in October 2004 when his military vehicle was struck by a suicide bomber. Medical experts didn’t expect him to live through the first night. It seems they may have been at least partially correct.

“Eight months post-injury, we were in the Veteran’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. By this time, Matthew was able to spontaneously speak and was beginning to regain some memory, although he was still very childlike in his understanding,” said Lisa Schuster, Drake’s mother. “One day I mentioned something about talking to God, and Matthew replied, ‘I think I met him, God. I met God.’”

“I replied, ‘You met God?’ And he continued on saying, ‘Yes, he touched my hand and told me that I’m not done and there are things I have to do. So here I am,’” Schuster said. “I asked Matthew what God looked like, and he said, ‘Well he isn’t an old man; he wasn’t even a person at all. He is more like a light. It was white, yellow, gold and warm.’ I asked if there were angels, and he said, ‘There were angels, and they were lights of all different colors.’ That was the end of the conversation on that day.”

Drake was the sole survivor of the attack on his vehicle. In later conversations with his mother and his aunt, Drake reported seeing his two friends who were killed in the attack walk into a bright light, greeted by loved ones.

He suffered massive injuries, including brain and skull trauma, a fractured spinal vertebra, two broken clavicles, a fractured upper right arm, jaw fractures, third-degree burns, and glass and shrapnel in his head, face, neck and throat.

“Because of the brain trauma, it is hard for me to remember things I told my mom and to pick out certain memories,” Drake told the class during his guest lecture last month. “But I will always have that feeling of extreme peace I felt in heaven.”

Schuster said they receive mixed responses from people about their story, but for the students in Smith’s class, Drake provided insight into near-death experiences.

“Some people have skeptical views, and individuals who have near-death experiences often suffer from disbelief or outright ridicule when they try to tell their health-care workers about the experience. It is often suggested that their experience, which to them was profound and inspiring, is merely a hallucination or the results of medical or drug treatment,” Smith said. “Many of these people are afraid they will be considered mentally ill and don’t talk about it again for many years. This results in people having great difficulty integrating the experience into their lives, often resulting in depression, feelings of alienation and broken relationships.”

Smith, who also is a licensed professional counselor, is developing a series of workshops for counselors and medical health professionals about near-death experiences and other death-related issues.

“My hope is that such workshops and classes will help educate people about compassionate ways to respond to clients and patients who report some of these experiences,” Smith said.

Drake, who is doing well in a supported-living apartment and working two part-time jobs, said he was happy to share his story with the class to better their understanding from his experiences.

“I’m here because I need to help people,” he said. “If I can be an inspiration to anyone, I am helping them.”

Summer leaves/voluntary reduction in hours programs available

As part of UT’s continuous efforts to manage expenses and assist employees with work-life balance, the Department of Human Resources and Talent Development will offer voluntary summer leaves and reduced work schedules to eligible employees.

Starting Monday, May 7, academic employees on Health Science Campus and all Main Campus employees may take advantage of programs allowing voluntary, unpaid leaves of absence and reduction in work hours.

The programs are available to staff whose departments typically experience lower workloads from May 7 through Aug. 17. The options allow employees to rejuvenate and spend extra time with their families while helping reduce UT’s labor costs.

Employees are eligible for these programs only with the approvals of their department managers, based on business needs.

Request forms and details regarding changes in benefits, sick and vacation time accruals, and retirement contributions, among others, are explained in the Summer Leave/Voluntary Reduction in Work Hours Program Outline, which is available on the Human Resources and Talent Development website in the Employee’s Toolkit and HR News sections.

Questions may be directed to Human Resources and Talent Development at 419.530.4747.

University Bookstores prepare to move into Gateway

The new University Bookstore in the Gateway Project will offer students a place to get the textbooks they need for class, the gear to show off their Rocket pride, and other essentials in a new space open to the entire community.

The University Bookstore, a division of Auxiliary Services that is operated by Barnes & Noble Booksellers, will be the anchor of the much-anticipated new development on the corner of Dorr Street and Secor Road.

“The first floor of the bookstore will offer a Starbucks café, popular books, and a children’s area along with University of Toledo clothing and gift items. The second floor will be devoted to textbooks and medical reference and equipment, as well as school supplies,” said Joy Gramling, director of auxiliary services.

The current locations on Main Campus and Health Science Campus will begin moving in June to prepare for the July 9 opening.

Both bookstores will be open, with limited items available until Friday, June 29, when the stores will close to allow for the move to the Gateway. The one-week closures of the bookstores have been planned during the time that offered the least impact on students and employees, as all summer terms will be under way before June 29.

“We share the University community’s excitement about the new bookstore and the entire Gateway project. We look forward to serving the students and community from the new location and appreciate everyone’s patience as we make this transition,” said Colleen Strayer, general manager of the University Bookstore.

The Health Science Campus will host a satellite office with a kiosk where students can order and pick up their books if they are not able to visit the new Gateway location.

The grand opening celebration of the bookstore is being planned for Monday, July 9, with a series of events the first week to invite families from the greater Toledo community to check out the store.

In addition to the Barnes & Noble bookstore, the Gateway Project will include Gradkowski’s Sports Grille, Jimmy John’s, Great Clips, YogurtU and other retailers. The upper floors are Lofts at Gateway apartments for UT students. The 48 units will house 112 students in two- and four-bedroom modern, fully furnished apartments.