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Archive for August, 2019

Grad Student Keeps Children ‘Bookin’ Through the Summer’ Using Mystery Readers, Social Media

On a 90-degree day during one of the last precious weeks of summer break, nearly 30 children gathered at the Bedford Public Library to read together, sing, dance and scavenger hunt.

“The worst thing about going to the library is when I have to leave the library,” said 7-year-old Gunnar Talley, who is entering second grade at Monroe Road Elementary School in Bedford, Mich.

Amy Kochendoerfer, UToledo Ph.D. student, read “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” by Iza Trapani to children participating in “Bookin’ Through the Summer” at the Bedford Public Library in Michigan.

That’s music to Amy Kochendoerfer’s ears.

The Ph.D. student in The University of Toledo Judith Herb College of Education and assistant principal of Monroe Road Elementary School is focused on getting and keeping children hooked on books through her innovative, 12-week summer reading program, which debuted 11 weeks ago.

“This is an incredible turnout today — almost half of the children participating in our program — because we’re competing with football and cheerleading practices and end-of-summer vacations,” Kochendoerfer said. “Every week we’ve averaged about 40 children at the library.”

She and Dawn Henderson, a speech pathologist for Monroe County, spent the summer piloting their program to help the youngest children at Monroe Road Elementary School avoid the “summer slide,” the term used to describe how reading and academic skills regress over summer break.

The two raised $4,300 from organizations in Bedford to fund “Bookin’ Through The Summer,” an intervention project blending free books, mystery readers, parents, social media and library adventures.

“We want them to go back to school ready to start at the point they left off,” Henderson said. “This has been a true community-wide effort.”

It stems from Michigan’s Read by Grade Three Law, which goes into effect this school year.

“I created this new spin on how to keep kids reading over the summer because the state of Michigan passed a law that if a child can’t read by third grade, he or she will be retained and have to repeat third grade,” Kochendoerfer said. “They need to catch that bug for books to keep growing, so we created a way to turn reading from a boring task into something fun and interactive.”

Talley is one of the 68 children in kindergarten, first, second and third grades participating in the program who received a book every week in the mail with a flyer for parents outlining suggestions to make reading the book together more engaging.

Aside from the optional meetings once a week at the library, the key ingredients that make this recipe sing are Facebook and mystery readers.

The organizers created a private Facebook page where parents interacted and shared photos and videos of their children’s thoughts or crafts stemming from the books, including puppet shows.

Mystery readers from throughout the community also popped up regularly on the page reading and discussing the book of the week.

“Everyone we approached was excited to shoot a video of themselves reading the book and talking about the book in order to help keep the children motivated. The mystery readers sent us their videos, we posted them, and the parents sat down and watched them with their kids,” Kochendoerfer said. “We had varsity football players, cheerleaders, our state representative, a sheriff’s deputy and teachers reading to our children on social media. The buy-in from the community was incredible.”

Especially from the parents.

“These moms and dads understand the importance of literacy, but we know how difficult it can be in the summer when you’re out of the school routine,” Henderson said. “They took this opportunity to help their children discover the love of reading by sitting down with them and modeling these weekly habits.”

Kochendoerfer, who is already coming up with creative ways to enhance the project next summer, believes this program also allowed parents to model responsible social media interaction.

“You see so much how social media is a negative influence on children, but our summer reading program was all about encouragement,” Kochendoerfer said. “Kids are able to contribute and share their ideas through their parents in a forum that is not threatening. Our secret group is a safe environment to receive immediate, supportive feedback. That’s critical.”

“Amy’s work to encourage children to have fun and enjoy reading books together is yielding great results,” said Dr. Susanna Hapgood, associate professor in the UToledo Department of Curriculum and Instruction. “We know even just 10 to 15 minutes a day of reading to children can give them a boost in terms of vocabulary knowledge and motivation for reading that has long-lasting repercussions.”

Though the data comparing student testing results from the end of the last school year to the beginning of this school year aren’t available yet, Gunnar Talley’s dad already calls the program a success.

“This experience is helping my son because it’s not such a drudgery to get him to read anymore,” Edward Talley said. “It still can sometimes be a battle, but not what it used to be.”

Women’s Basketball Team Travels to Italy for Exhibition Games, Sightseeing

Members of the women’s basketball team posed for a photo in front of the Colosseum in Rome.

Our trip to Italy was an incredible experience for our student-athletes, staff and fans.

We planned our last three foreign trips around the home countries of players on the roster. We went to Israel in 2011 for Naama Shafir, and England and Spain in 2015 for Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott, Janice Monakana and Inma Zanoguera. This time we chose Italy for Mariella Santucci.

Quickly after we landed, we found ourselves navigating the waters of Venice, tasting our first pasta dish, and absorbing the Venetian culture. That evening we traveled to Bologna to find our bus greeted by the Santucci family. It was such a moving experience to see Mariella’s entire family there to see her play at our first game; many hadn’t seen her play in a very long time, if at all.

One of the highlights of our trip was spending an evening celebrating the occasion with Mariella’s parents and sister. We enjoyed a five-course, authentic Italian dinner, which left us all stuffed and energized for the days ahead. While in Bologna, we also attended a cooking class, where our players learned how to make tortellini and spaghetti. We may have a future Julia Child or two in this group.

Head Coach Tricia Cullop and Mariella Santucci smiled for the camera in front of the Colosseum in Rome.

Next, we explored the sights in Florence and collected many souvenirs before making our way to Naples by way of a high-speed train. After a quick lunch of margherita pizza, we traveled the curvy, scenic drive to Sorrento by bus. The cliffs unveiled the beautiful coast, where we would play our second game and enjoy a few days by the water.

Another highlight of the trip was taking 10-passenger boats to the island of Capri. We stopped on the back, rugged side of the island to enjoy a refreshing swim in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Game t
wo took place in the high hills of Sorrento and ended in a second victory for our team.

Our final stop was Rome. Despite record-high temperatures that reached 105 degrees, we attended mass at St. Peter’s Basilica and toured the Colosseum, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Vatican Museum and Trevi Fountain. We also had unbelievable opportunities to hear the pope give his Sunday blessing to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square and visit the Sistine Chapel to see the famous works of Michelangelo. In addition, our third and final exhibition game took place in Italy’s capital city against the Rome All-Stars.

In our three exhibition games, we had a chance to mix up the lineups, give our new players time to show what they can add to our team, and witness our returnees grow in their leadership roles. I was very pleased with how hard we played and how coachable they were. With only 10 practices to prepare, we threw a lot of new things at them, and they absorbed it at a very rapid pace.

In our final night, we went to an interactive opera dinner show with the entire travel party, which included 22 fans. We are so fortunate to have a tremendous fan base that supports Toledo women’s basketball. Seven out of the last eight years, we have been ranked top 30 in the country in attendance. It was fun to share this trip with some of our fans who have helped us enjoy our amazing atmosphere in Savage Arena through the years. That night, we had our final pasta dish from Italy and shared many laughs before returning back to the hotel to pack our bags for an early departure home.

To sum up the trip, we immersed ourselves in art, culture and history, as well as tasted amazing cuisine. This voyage gave our six newcomers a chance to learn our style of play, gain valuable playing experience, and bond as a team. I’ve always felt that team chemistry is the foundation of any great program. We won three games and grew closer as a team. Many of us traveled throughout Italy for the first time and gained memories that will be etched in our minds for a lifetime.

We will forever be grateful to our Rocket family for their generosity and making this trip a reality. We return home feeling very grateful, thankful and blessed.

Cullop is the head coach of the women’s basketball team — and the winningest coach in UToledo women’s basketball history with 241 victories.

Rocket Week to Kick Off With Flag-Raising Ceremony Sept. 6

The University of Toledo President Sharon L. Gaber and Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz will kick off the start of the second annual Rocket Week with an official proclamation and ceremonial raising of the UToledo athletics flag at a news conference at One Government Center Friday, Sept. 6, at 10 a.m.

Rocket Week is a series of special events leading up to the home-opening football game of the Toledo Rockets. The Rockets will host Murray State Saturday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Glass Bowl.

In addition to the location at One Government Center, Rocket flags will be in place at other city buildings and parks. Along with promoting Rocket Week, Gaber and Kapszukiewicz will be asking businesses and fans to fly their Rocket flags during the week leading up to the first home game and all season long.

As part of Rocket Week, UToledo and the city of Toledo also will recognize city employees during the game and during pregame festivities.

Some of the events during Rocket Week include the annual Backyard Barbecue Tuesday, Sept. 10, at noon and a pep rally at 12:30 p.m. on Centennial Mall, as well as downtown pep rallies Thursday and Friday, Sept. 12 and 13. The Thursday pep rally will take place at Levis Square at noon during Lunch at Levis. The pep rally Friday will continue a tradition in which the Rocket Marching Band performs at various establishments in the entertainment district that evening, marching through the downtown streets between each performance.

Another exciting event during Rocket Week will be the Battle of the Badges flag football game between the city of Toledo fire and police departments Wednesday, Sept. 11, in the Glass Bowl. Tickets are $15 and include admission to the Rockets’ home opener Sept. 14. Three dollars from every ticket sold will be donated to each organization’s charity. The fire department is donating to Toledo Firefighters’ Local 92 Charity, while the police department is contributing to the Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association. Go to the police ticket website or the fire department ticket website.

Throughout Rocket Week, and especially on Rocket Thursday, fans are encouraged to wear their Rocket gear or school colors midnight blue and gold in support of UToledo. The University celebrates Rocket Thursday each week throughout the school year.

As a special promotion for the home opener, city of Toledo employees have the option of purchasing tickets for $12 prior to game day by using the promo code TOLEDO. All others in the Toledo community may purchase tickets for $19 from Friday, Sept. 6, through Friday, Sept. 13, (prior to game day) by using the promo code ROCKET.

For more information about Rocket Week or to order tickets, stop by the UT Athletic Ticket Office, located in the Sullivan Athletic Complex at Savage Arena, go to the Toledo Football Central website, or call 419.530.GOLD (4653). UToledo students are admitted free with their Rocket ID; faculty and staff can buy tickets half price with ID.

Rocket Week Events

Sunday, Sept. 8

• 1 p.m. — Rocket Women’s Soccer vs. Wright State at Paul Hotmer Field. Tickets are $6 and $4 for 18 and younger; UToledo employees can purchase tickets at half price; and UToledo students are admitted free with ID. Go to UToledo soccer ticket website or call 419.530.GOLD (4653).

Tuesday, Sept. 10

• Noon — Backyard Barbecue on Centennial Mall.

• 12:30 p.m. — Pep Rally on Centennial Mall.

Wednesday, Sept. 11

• 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Health Science Campus Picnic in the Four Seasons Bistro and outside the Health Education Building.

• 12:30 p.m. — Memorial Stair Climb in the Glass Bowl.

• 6:30 p.m. — Toledo Fire vs. Toledo Police Battle of the Badges Flag Football Game in the Glass Bowl. Tickets are $15 and include admission to the Rockets’ home opener Sept. 14.

Thursday, Sept. 12

• Noon — Pep Rally at Lunch at Levis at Levis Square in downtown Toledo.

Friday, Sept. 13

• 9 to 10:30 p.m. — Rocket Marching Band Pep Rally Parade in downtown entertainment district.

Saturday, Sept. 14

• 7 p.m. — Toledo vs. Murray State in the Glass Bowl.

For more information, go to the Rocket Week website.

U.S. Department of Energy awards UToledo $750,000 to Improve Production of Hydrogen as Clean Fuel

From powering a car to a rocket, hydrogen holds promise as the clean-energy fuel of the future.

The University of Toledo is among 29 universities and organizations across the country to receive a total of $40 million from the U.S. Department of Energy for new projects focused on using hydrogen as fuel.

Yan

The goal of the H2@Scale concept is to enable affordable and reliable large-scale hydrogen generation, transport, storage and utilization in the United States and beyond.

NASA’s mission to Mars hinges on the ability to split water — in the form of ice — to produce hydrogen on the moon as fuel to reach the Red Planet.

Hydrogen also could be used on Earth to keep the electrical grid operating to power homes and businesses in the face of extreme weather or cyberattacks.

UToledo was awarded $750,000 to improve water-splitting, the process of breaking apart the water molecule, separating hydrogen from oxygen. The hydrogen, which produces only water when consumed in a fuel cell, can then be used as a clean fuel.

The photovoltaics team, led by Dr. Yanfa Yan, UToledo professor of physics, and Dr. Zhaoning Song, research assistant professor in the UToledo Department of Physics and Astronomy, will develop low-cost photoelectrodes for more efficient photoelectrochemical water splitting using innovative material from their highly successful perovskite solar cells. Perovskites are compound materials with a special crystal structure formed through chemistry.

The perovskite cells can have high efficiency, collecting more of the sun’s energy and transforming it into the electricity needed to split the water molecule and produce hydrogen.

“Perovskite absorbers have drawn extensive attention due to their demonstrated capability of fabricating solar cells with outstanding conversion efficiencies,” Yan said. “We are excited about this opportunity and eager to apply perovskite absorbers to advance the photoelectrochemical water-splitting technology.”

Funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy with contribution from DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, the selected projects will advance hydrogen storage and infrastructure technologies and identify innovative concepts for hydrogen production and utilization, including electrical grid resiliency.

“The H2@Scale concept is a critical piece of the country’s comprehensive energy strategy and an enabler of multiple industries in our economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “As an energy carrier, hydrogen has the potential to unite our nation’s domestic energy resources. These selections support the Department of Energy’s mission and advances our commitment to enable economic growth and energy security through the development of more affordable hydrogen technologies.”

“Toledo is at the forefront of the development of innovative technologies that move our country and our world further,” said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. “I am pleased to see that The University of Toledo has been awarded this valuable $750,000 grant from the Department of Energy to facilitate the University’s important research into hydrogen as clean fuel and to cement our region as a clean energy, research and manufacturing hub.”

The U.S. produces more than 10 million tons of hydrogen, nearly one-seventh of the global supply, primarily for oil refining and fertilizer production.

Hydrogen infrastructure includes more than 1,600 miles of hydrogen pipeline, a growing network of stations, and thousands of tons of storage in underground caverns.

Yan and Song are members of the UToledo Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization.

Public Invited to UToledo Simulation Training for Staying Safe During Mass Violence Incident

The community is invited to attend a free simulation training to learn how to prepare and respond in a mass violence incident.

The University of Toledo is hosting “S.T.R.I.V.E. to Survive” in partnership with the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday, Sept. 3, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the West Toledo Branch Library, 1320 W. Sylvania Ave. in Toledo.

Experts will teach threat assessment, situational awareness, tourniquet application and recovery following a mass violence event.

“Shortly after the El Paso and Dayton shootings, I read numerous posts on social media from Toledoans expressing their fear of going to restaurants, retail stores and concerts,” said Dr. Lisa Pescara-Kovach, associate professor of educational psychology and chair of the UToledo Mass Violence Collaborative. “In response, this active training is the first of several events we are organizing in collaboration with the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office to share our knowledge with the entire community to save lives.”

The second community training is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 24, from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Jacobs Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center on UToledo Health Science Campus.

Women’s Cross Country Picked to Finish First in the MAC

The University of Toledo women’s cross country team has been picked to finish first in the 2019 Mid-American Conference preseason coaches’ poll.

The women’s squad is seeking its first team title in five years after falling short by four points to Eastern Michigan at the MAC Championship Meet in 2018.

Junior Michelle Hostettler and the Rockets open the cross country season at the Mel Brodt Collegiate
Opener Friday, Aug. 30.

Senior Athena Welsh led the Rockets last season, earning an individual berth at the NCAA Cross Country Championship. Welsh placed second at the MAC Championship (20:37.9) and came in 17th place at the Great Lakes Regional (20:55.2).

Sophomore Claire Steigerwald earned MAC Freshman of the Year honors after landing in 19th place with a time of 21:43.4 at the MAC Championships and posted a time of 22:11.7 at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional.

Senior Petronela Simiuc clocked a 21:50.5 at the MAC Championship to place 22nd and posted a time of 22:47.5 at the NCAA Regional.

Junior Michelle Hostettler posted a time of 21:38.8 to take 16th at the MAC Championship and stopped the clock at 21:54.1 at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional.

“Having a preseason No. 1 ranking is a nice complement to our program and to the group of athletes we have here at Toledo,” said Head Coach Andrea Grove-McDonough. “Having said that, there is a long season ahead of us, and we are more concerned about holding a championship trophy as the end of October than what the rankings might say this far out. There is not a lot of separation between us and a couple of other MAC teams. We need to stay hungry and focused to bring a MAC Championship trophy back to Toledo.”

Toledo tallied seven first-place votes while last season’s champion, Eastern Michigan, was tabbed to finish second with three first-place votes. Miami, Northern Illinois and Akron were chosen third, fourth, and fifth, respectively.

2019 Women’s MAC Cross Country Preseason Poll (First-place votes) – points
1. Toledo (7) — 135

2. Eastern Michigan (3) — 119
3. Miami (1) — 114
4. Northern Illinois — 113
5. Akron (1) — 99
6. Central Michigan — 90
7. Bowling Green — 71
8. Kent State — 50
9. Western Michigan — 45
10. Ball State — 43
11. Ohio — 36
12. Buffalo — 21

Workshops Focus on Tenure, Promotion

A new series of workshops known as the Assistant to Associate Professor Initiative is launching this semester.

“Tenure and Promotion: Crossing the Finish Line” will be held Wednesday, Sept. 4, at 3 p.m. in Health and Human Services Building Room 1711.

“This first workshop will map out the tenure and promotion process at UToledo so new faculty members know what to expect and can plan accordingly,” said Dr. Amy Thompson, vice provost for faculty affairs, professor of public health, and co-director of the Center for Health and Successful Living.

“We invite all interested faculty members to attend these monthly events,” she added.

A second workshop will take place Wednesday, Oct. 2. “Tenure and Promotion: Telling Your Story” will be held at 3 p.m. in Health and Human Services Building Room 1711.

Additional tenure and promotion workshops will be held throughout the academic year. Dates, times and topics of future programs will be announced.

Preregistration is not necessary for these programs.

The tenure and promotion workshops are co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Faculty Senate.

For more information, go to the Assistant to Associate Professor Initiative website or contact Thompson at amy.thompson4@utoledo.edu.

Sidewalk Construction Continues on Health Science Campus

A project to replace sidewalks in front of Mulford Library on The University of Toledo Health Science Campus is expected to be complete by mid-September.

The project will replace the sidewalk leading from parking area 40 to Mulford’s main entrance, as well as a portion of the sidewalk going west toward The University of Toledo Medical Center.

No building entrances will be closed. Fencing and signage will isolate the construction area.

If you have any questions or concerns, contact Facilities and Construction at 419.383.6720.

Scientists Discover Single Gene That Explains Songbird Migration

Ornithologists at The University of Toledo played a critical role in new collaborative research identifying a single gene that defines whether rare, tiny songbirds that reproduce in the Great Lakes region and Appalachian Mountains spend their winters in South America or Central America.

Dr. Henry Streby, assistant professor in the UToledo Department of Environmental Sciences, and Gunnar Kramer, Ph.D. candidate in environmental sciences and UToledo graduate dean’s fellow, laid the groundwork for the genetics discovery published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A golden-winged warbler carried a geolocator in Minnesota. UToledo researchers created the tiny tracker to find out where the songbirds migrated for the winter.

With collaborators at Cornell University, Penn State and the University of Colorado, the team’s findings may have important conservation implications for the declining populations of golden-winged warblers.

Starting six years ago, the UToledo team led a massive collaborative field study: Across eastern North America, they caught golden-winged warblers on their breeding grounds, gathered blood samples, placed tiny geolocator technology on the birds, and completed long-distance, cutting-edge migration tracking analysis. Streby and Kramer then gave the samples and data to genetics researchers at Penn State and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology who performed whole genome resequencing.

“Only one gene tells the story of the final wintering destination, and it makes sense because it is affiliated with muscles and movement in humans,” Streby said. “Migration is a very complex set of behavioral and physiological traits, and we know this one gene can’t be responsible for all of it. But it’s a critical first step that gives everyone in the field something to build on. This exciting ecology and evolutionary discovery proves the powerful potential of research collaboration.”

Streby

Streby and Kramer already had answered the question of where these birds go: Golden-winged warblers from declining populations spend winters in northern South America. Stable populations of the species spend winters in Central America.

Researchers at the collaborating universities then used the data and blood samples from the migrating birds to investigate genetic differences between birds that winter in Central America and those that winter in South America. The majority of these differences occurred in a small region on the bird’s Z chromosome, a sex-determining chromosome like the X and Y chromosomes in humans. Only one gene, called VPS13A, was present in this region.

Although the gene does not yet have any known function in birds, in humans it is associated with the neurodegenerative disorder chorea-acanthocytosis, which affects movement.

Gunnar Kramer held a golden-winged warbler, which carried a geolocator. Researchers attached the tiny backpack to the bird in 2015 and recovered it in 2016. The data on the geolocator helped Kramer understand the warbler’s migratory route and winter location.

“In this study, we found only one gene associated with the final wintering destination of golden-winged and blue-winged warblers,” said Dr. David Toews, assistant professor of biology at Penn State and leader of the research team. “As we come to better understand the role of this gene in humans, we may also gain important insights to its role in migration in birds.”

According to the researchers, the gene appears to be a target of natural selection in birds that winter in South America.

“Golden-winged warblers are rapidly declining in the Appalachian Mountains. Conservation efforts have focused on protecting the breeding grounds, which is important, but declines also appear strongly related to habitat alteration and destruction in the wintering grounds,” Streby said.

“The global attention on the fires in the Amazon highlight the importance of these South American habitats, and these migratory birds illustrate an inextricable link between hemispheres,” Toews said.

For Streby and Kramer at UToledo, collecting blood samples from the golden-winged warblers to be used for a later genetics’ investigation was a side project to their study identifying the migratory connectivity of the species. They also recorded the birds singing across their whole range and collected feather samples.

It’s what Streby calls “while-you’re-there science.”

“It’s important to conduct all of the useful science while you have the opportunity because you can’t fund six different projects by six research teams to address six questions in the same study system,” Streby said. “For the DNA samples, we knew we needed to find the right researcher who was looking for migration genes.”

Kramer met Toews and Dr. Scott Taylor, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, at the 2016 North American Ornithological Conference in Washington, D.C.

“I quickly realized we had valuable genetic samples that they needed to do exciting complementary research, and we were happy to share our science,” Kramer said. “By working together, we now know what we suspected — there is a genetic component to migration. However, we’re fascinated it appears to be just one gene that explains the major migration divide in the system.”

The study was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the National Science Foundation, The University of Toledo, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the United States Geological Survey, the United Sates Fish and Wildlife Service, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Tennessee.

Holiday Weekend to Affect Parking, Bus Service

The University will be closed and classes will not be in session Monday, Sept. 2, in observance of Labor Day. As a result, parking and the University bus schedule will be affected.

Students with an “F” permit who park in lot 21 and want access to their vehicle over the holiday weekend should pick up their vehicle Friday, Aug. 30.

Students with an “F” permit may park on Main Campus starting at 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30. Cars should be moved back to Scott Park Campus by Tuesday, Sept. 3, at 8 a.m.

The Scott Park bus will not run Sunday evening, Sept. 1. Service will resume at 10:25 a.m. Monday, Sept. 2.  

The bus schedule for the weekend will be:

• Friday, Aug. 30 – Regular hours;

• Saturday, Aug. 31 – Regular hours;

• Sunday, Sept. 1 – No shuttles; and

• Monday, Sept. 2 – Scott Park route will begin the normal Sunday schedule with service at 10:25 a.m.