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UToledo Psychologists to Study How Classical Music Might Further PTSD Treatment

Researchers at The University of Toledo are teaming up with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra for an innovative project to examine whether classical music could be a useful addition in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

For some patients with PTSD, getting to a place in treatment where they are able to confront their emotions can be overwhelming.

Dr. Jason Rose, left, and Dr. Matthew Tull received a two-year, $80,000 grant through the American Orchestras’ Future Fund to study if classical music could be a useful addition in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Our thinking is that music might provide an alternative way to aid patients in connecting with and expressing their emotions, enabling them to stay in these treatments and hopefully benefit more from them,” said Dr. Matthew Tull, professor of psychology and one of the lead researchers on the project. “We’re not looking at classical music as an alternative treatment for PTSD, but something that might facilitate currently available empirically supported treatments for PTSD.”

The Toledo Symphony Orchestra and UToledo were recently awarded a two-year, $80,000 grant through the American Orchestras’ Future Fund to back the research.

In addition to playing recordings, researchers hope to bring Toledo Symphony Orchestra musicians directly into the clinic to examine if there’s a difference in patients’ reactions to live music.

“We are honored to be one of the 19 orchestras in the U.S. to receive this special grant,” said Zak Vassar, president and chief executive officer of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. “The Futures Fund grant opens many doors for us, and we couldn’t be more excited to collaborate with The University of Toledo on a two-year project exploring the psychological effects of experiencing classical music. Through this collaboration, we are able to advance the state of the performing arts, not just in our community, but across the globe.”

The project’s first year will focus on experiments that examine the effects of bursts of classical music on targeted emotional experiences. Researchers will monitor those effects by testing for both psychological and physiological reactions.

In the second year, researchers will marry their laboratory findings with traditional treatment strategies in the clinic to see what extent classical music can help patients with PTSD.

“Music has such a great emotion-evoking quality about it. There is research on how music affects emotion, but there really hasn’t been much on the impact of classical music on individuals with PTSD. We believe this is an innovative project,” said Dr. Jason Rose, associate professor of psychology and the other lead researcher on the project.

The American Orchestras’ Future Funds program is supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

UToledo Theatre Assistant Professor’s Work Plays in Chicago

An adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s classic novel, “All Quiet on the Western Front,” by Matt Foss, UToledo assistant professor of theatre, will receive its professional premiere in Chicago Friday, Aug. 16.

It will open the season of Red Tape Theatre and is a co-production between Red Tape, the Greenhouse Theatre Center, and The University of Toledo, and run through Saturday, Sept. 14.

The production represents a unique collaboration between a public university and professional theatre, allowing a showcasing of work incubated in Toledo to be shared with a larger audience.

Along with Chicago-based professional actors and designers, Stephen Sakowski, UToledo assistant professor, is serving as the production’s lighting designer, and recent UToledo graduates Austin Rambo and Bianca Caniglia round out the acting ensemble.

The story is centered on the experiences of 2nd Company on the German Front lines during the last year of World War I as they navigate the vicious cycle of tedium, boredom behind the lines, and constant terror when installed in the trenches at the font. The adaptation closely follows the events of the novel, as the central storyteller, Paul, speaks to the loss of friends, the deepening of human connections, and the growing realization of what is true and what is not in the face of war.

“It speaks to the cycles of history from which we are charged to learn, and our approach to the play seeks to gather the threads of this cycle — from the time of Remarque’s writing and to our immediate present,” Foss said.

The play was created with permission and in association with the Remarque estate and was initially produced at The University of Toledo on the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI last November. It featured a set design by student Kevin Upham, sound by student Ryan Peters-Hieber, and costumes by Lecturer Kelly McBane.

Red Tape Theatre is a free venue committed to the creation of new and experimental work through collaborations with ensembles, playwrights, musicians, dancers and visual artists.
All tickets are free to every performance and can be reserved through the Red Tape Theatre website.

Foss is no stranger to the Chicago theatre scene. His work as a director and adaptor there has received critical praise, and his own production of his adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s groundbreaking exposé novel about the working conditions in the meat-packing industry, “The Jungle,” received multiple Joseph Jefferson Award nominations for best production, best director and received the city’s top theatre prize for best new adaptation.

“The Jungle” will open UToledo’s Theatre season in November.

UToledo Expertise Sought to Examine Poverty in City, County

A new study by the Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center at The University of Toledo focuses on poverty in Toledo and Lucas County using different lenses and sheds new light on who is struggling in our area and why.

Toledo City Council commissioned UToledo experts to prepare the report and offer recommendations based on successful practices demonstrated in other cities.

Dr. Sujata Shetty talked about the report that examines local poverty during a Toledo City Council Committee meeting Aug. 15.

“Our goal is to provide a more nuanced understanding of poverty and encourage targeted collaboration,” said Dr. Sujata Shetty, professor in the UToledo Department of Geography and Planning, interim director of the Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center, and lead researcher on the report. “Thank you to Toledo City Council and the city of Toledo for the opportunity to do this critical work, which we hope will be useful to the city, spark meaningful change, and help families.”

The report examines housing affordability, educational attainment, employment, cost of living and other factors associated with poverty, as well as geographic areas that show relatively higher concentrations of poverty and related characteristics.

“We care deeply about the community and are proud to be Toledo’s university,” UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber said. “As a public institution, the heart of our mission is to use our expertise and knowledge to improve lives.”

The study’s findings using 2017 data include:

• 26.5% of residents in the city of Toledo lived below the federal poverty level, compared to 19% of Lucas County residents.

• 32.3% of the city’s residents had a high school diploma as their highest educational attainment.

• 48% of city residents are renters, and 52% own their home.

The report also offers solutions that other cities found to be effective in fighting poverty and helping families.

Those anti-poverty initiatives include:

• Cincinnati’s “Hand Up Initiative,” which provides people in dire need with training opportunities and gets them back to work into jobs with higher pay through partnerships with organizations and corporations, focused on fields such as truck driving, construction and home-care aid.

• St. Paul’s “Job Opportunity Fund,” which offers $500,000 in low-interest loans to spur job creation and retention by supporting business ventures in defined areas of concentrated poverty.

• Lancaster’s “Commission to Combat Poverty” and “One Year Strategies,” which resulted in the creation of nine functioning “action teams” that focus on a particular segment of the poverty challenge, such as jobs action, food security, education and data analysis.

• Rochester’s “Kiva Rochester Crowdfunded Loans Program,” where residents can apply for loans ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 with 0% interest and no fees. The fees are crowdfunded, and the loans are for small business owners looking to create jobs by performing renovations, paying training fees, and buying new equipment.

Several UToledo graduate students assisted on this project, including Alex DiBell, who is pursuing a master’s degree in geography and planning while working as a policy intern for Toledo City Council, and Ph.D. students Brittany Jones and Philemon Abayateye.

Choral Students, Faculty Sing in Scotland

Five University of Toledo choir students and several UToledo faculty traveled through Scotland in June as a part of a tour with Perform International.

The tour, led by Dr. Brad Pierson, UToledo assistant professor of music and director of choral activities, included time in Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow, along with an afternoon in Ayr and Alloway.

UToledo students posed for a photo during a trip with Perform International to Scotland last month. Making the trip were, from left, Caris Croy, Madeline Repka, Cheyenne Kastura, Sterling Wisniewski and Karina Gibson, who are shown with Dr. Brad Pierson, who led the tour.

The students performed as a part of the American Burns Choir, an ad hoc choir of amateur singers from all around the United States. The choir performed music with lyrics by the Scottish poet Robert Burns, as well as a collection of traditional drinking songs.

Performances were held at the Robert Burns Museum in Alloway, and the Blair Athol and Glen Ord whisky distilleries, plus the Scotia Bar in Glasgow, and the Dalriada Bar on the beach in Edinburgh. The performances at the two pubs were part of “Trad Nights” — or evenings of traditional music — and the choir was joined by local musicians in their performance of Scots music.

UToledo choral students on the tour were Sterling Wisniewski, a music education major; Caris Croy, who is majoring in theatre and music; Cheyenne Kastura, a media communications major; Karina Gibson, a paralegal studies student; and Madeline Repka, a psychology major. Amanda Rasey, artistic director for the UToledo Children’s Choir, also went.

In addition, several UToledo faculty members from the Department of Pharmacy Practice joined the tour as a part of the choir: Dr. Michelle Seegert, associate professor; Dr. Megan Kaun, associate professor; and Dr. Sarah Petite, assistant professor.

Alumna Designs Mural for Inner-City Beautification Project

Artist Caroline Jardine, who earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from The University of Toledo in 2017, recently designed and completed a mural project intended to beautify abandoned homes on North Huron Street in the historic Vistula district, the Glass City’s first neighborhood.

The houses have good bones and may yet be rehabilitated. The project is intended to protect the homes from vandalism in hopes that a buyer may one day remodel them.

These photos show the house at 1105 N. Huron St. in Toledo before and after the mural project.

Jardine’s mural consists of panels that cover the windows and doors of the structures. Each panel has a unique design that connects in color scheme and concept to the other panels.

The project was initiated by Reginald Temple, director and vice president of community development for First Federal Bank of the Midwest. Temple, a UToledo College of Arts and Letters alumnus who received a bachelor’s degree in communication in 2003, often partners with the Lucas County Land Bank on various projects.

Jardine

Temple said this mural is similar to other board-up projects the Lucas County Land Bank and the Arts Commission have done, like the one for the former residence of Art Tatum, Toledo’s legendary jazz pianist.

The Huron Street project was organized through the collaborative efforts of First Federal Bank of the Midwest, the Lucas County Land Bank and the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo. First Federal Bank provided volunteers, plus lunches and restrooms for the volunteers. The Lucas County Land Bank provided the properties, and the Arts Commission commissioned an artist and provided the paint and boards.

Ryan Bunch, communications and outreach coordinator for the Arts Commission, asked Jardine to design 16 murals for the North Huron Street properties.

“I designed the panels so that they would function as individual pieces and as a whole,” Jardine said. “Lindsay Akens [creative place-making facilitator with the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo] and Ryan Bunch showed the Vistula community members the designs and received their approval to move forward with the project.”

Volunteers painted the panels for the houses on N. Huron Street.

Jardine added that her design was inspired by her own work and the houses themselves.

“I chose to include abstracted, minimalist figures that look out to the viewer,” she said. “The vacant houses are given character and life through these figures. The house at 1109 N. Huron was partially blue to begin with, so I brought in blue as one of the colors in this mural.”

Temple arranged for nearly 60 volunteers from his company to carry out the painting.

Jardine said she was impressed with the volunteers because they did so much more than paint: “The houses that the murals were installed on needed a lot of work. Volunteers cleared brush, mowed the lawns, picked up trash, pulled weeds, and cleaned the porches.”

Volunteers did some brushwork, too. Some of the large panels were four feet by eight feet.

“Once we finished priming each of the 16 panels, I outlined the designs and color-coded them so that the volunteers could begin painting them,” Jardine said. “We had two to three days of painting, one and a half days of touch-ups and detail work, and one and a half days of installation. Finally, we clear-coated the panels and installed them on the first floors of the houses.”

Three young girls from the neighborhood came by daily and watched as the project unfolded. Lindsay Akens and Liam Johnson of the Arts Commission suggested the scope of the project be increased so the girls could participate.

Jardine designed several additional panels to cover the basement windows for the girls to paint. Temple noted that the girls were thrilled to be included. “The excitement on their faces was phenomenal,” he said.

The houses are adjacent to each other at 1105 N. Huron and 1109 N. Huron St.

UToledo to Present Art Day Camps for Kids Aug. 5-9

The University of Toledo Department of Art will host two weeklong art day camps for kids ages 7 to 11.

There will be a morning camp and an afternoon camp Monday through Friday, Aug. 5 to 9. Children can be registered for one or both sessions.

These children participated in a UToledo art camp in June.

The morning session is called Wizard Camp. Projects will include wand making, dark forest terrariums, flying dragons, dragon eggs and more.

Afternoon campers will explore Art Around the World as they make projects celebrating the artwork of several global regions, including Mexico (Día de Muertos masks/piñatas), Andes Mountains (collage painting), France — Notre Dame (stained-glass window suncatchers), Egypt (painted rocks and scarab paintings) and China (dragon puppets and paper lanterns).

There will be a supervised lunch break between the morning and afternoon sessions. Those staying all day are encouraged to bring a lunch and beverage; lunch is not provided.

The camps will be held in the Center for the Visual Arts on the University’s Toledo Museum of Art Campus.

The cost of the workshops is $60 for either morning or afternoon camps or $105 for both camps and includes all materials and supplies needed for the projects. Workshop fees are due prior to the first day of the workshops.

To register, go to the UToledo Department of Art website.

UToledo Biodesign Teams Compete at International Biodesign Challenge in New York

Two teams from The University of Toledo Biodesign Challenge competed in June at the international Biodesign Challenge Summit in New York.

“In only our second year of competition, UToledo once again was on the international map and competed brilliantly against strong competition in New York City for the Biodesign Challenge Summit,” said Barbara Miner, chair and professor of art.

Students on the PlastiGrow team are, from left, McKenzie Dunwald, Michael Socha, Colin Chalmers and Ysabelle Yrad.

The UToledo team btilix was one of only nine global finalists for the overall award out of 34 institutions that made it to the international competition, and PlastiGrow was runner-up in the Stella McCartney Prize for Sustainable Fashion. McCartney is the daughter of Paul McCartney and a well-known fashion designer.

According to the Biodesign Challenge website, the McCartney prize is awarded to the Biodesign Challenge team that “explores and/or develops proofs of concept for fashion alternatives that are biological, sustainable, ethical and free of animal products. We ask the teams to explore lifecycles, production processes, disposal and potential for recycling.”

PlastiGrow developed a biodegradable material that can be used for many products in place of conventional plastic; this greatly reduces the cost and energy spent on waste and recycling efforts. Team members are McKenzie Dunwald, art; Michael Socha, bioengineering; Colin Chalmers, art; and Ysabelle Yrad, environmental science.

Btilix team members are, from left, Tyler Saner, Sarah Mattei, Courtney Kinzel, Timothy Wolf and Sherin Aburidi.

The UToledo team btilix developed a disinfectant spray for combating antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The students on the btilix team are Tyler Saner, art; Sarah Mattei, environmental science; Courtney Kinzel, environmental science; Timothy Wolf, bioengineering; and Sherin Aburidi, bioengineering.

“We hit it out of the ballpark through sheer hard-working collaboration on the part of our cross-disciplinary teams of students, as well as the outstanding effort, creative foresight and sheer dedication of Assistant Professors Eric Zeigler and Brian Carpenter,” Miner said. “Their work, advancing the sophisticated presentations, modeling integrative thinking, and employing best pedagogical practices, as well as pulling together faculty members and researchers from many disciplines to help each of the teams, is really meritorious.”

Both teams will showcase their work at the Momentum arts festival Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 19-21, at the Mini Maker Faire in Promenade Park in Toledo.

Sew Cool: Alumna Creates Funky Cats for Art on the Mall

Carrie Hawkins will bring more than 500 fun, fuzzy felines to her booth for Art on the Mall.

Dubbed Ragamuffins, the recycled kitty dolls come in three sizes and sport tags that say “saving ugly sweaters from landfills since 2018.”

Carrie Hawkins showed off a large Ragamuffin she made from a mohair sweater.

“I make all the cats from recycled sweaters. I go to rummage sales and thrift stores, so it’s kind of neat: It helps charity, and then I turn around and make it into something else,” she said. “I use everything — the collars and the cuffs of the sweaters will become the collars of the cats. I use mismatched earrings for charms.

“Any way I can reduce waste — that’s my big thing: I love to recycle.”

She sews the cute creatures in her home studio in Temperance, Mich. Jars of antique buttons line a shelf above bolts of fabrics. Two sewing machines and a box of jewelry and trinkets sit atop a table. Bins of ribbon and fabric scraps are stacked in the corner. And, oh yes, there is a Siamese cat: Ellie is sleeping on a chair.

“Ellie likes to get up on my lap and help me,” Hawkins said and laughed. “Sometimes I sew and she’s hitting the bobbin on the machine constantly like it’s a toy.”

Two other muses roam about the house — Saki, a black cat, and Lilith, a tiger tabby.

The 2001 UToledo alumna found her creative groove by fusing her passion for the past with her fondness for felines.

“I wanted my art to represent me and what I stand for,” Hawkins said. “So I designed the pattern for the cats and decided to make them as earth-friendly as possible and recycle.

“Creating is just something I have to do,” she added.

That love of art began early. The Toledo native recalled having her own art studio at age 6.

“I took a toy box in the closet and that was my art table. And I made little refrigerator pictures, but I didn’t give them to my mom, I sold them to her,” Hawkins said. “I had a little portfolio, and pictures were a nickel if they were a little more detailed. There were a couple penny ones if she just needed something quick to throw on the fridge.”

Carrie Hawkins sewed eyes on an owl doll.

Since receiving a bachelor of arts degree in graphic design and painting, and taking graduate courses in art education at UToledo, she has been selling her award-winning creations for more than 20 years. Hawkins and her company, Scaredy Cat Primitives, have been featured in Prims and Your Cat magazines.

“Once my family moved to Temperance, my parents and I would go to a lot of antique shows and estate sales, and I was always fascinated with rescuing all the things. You’d go to estate sales and it’d be kind of sad because you’d see photos and letters that got left behind that nobody wanted,” she said.

That desire to save is strong.

“We moved to a rural dead-end street, which was a dumping ground for unwanted cats. I was very well-known for bringing home strays,” Hawkins said. “At one time, I had eight rescues. I learned how very different their personalities were and the little quirks they had that made them different.”

She repurposes found objects, bits and pieces to give her Ragamuffins distinct personalities.

“I love how something can tell a story by its wrinkles, dents, chips and stains. That inspires my art. I love paying tribute to the past by recycling. People give me all kinds of things for my work. I’ll make use of it instead of throwing it away. If I didn’t have an outlet for it, I’d end up being a hoarder,” she joked.

Small Ragamuffins sit in Carrie Hawkins’ studio; the cat dolls will be finished for Art on the Mall.

Some owls will fly in with Hawkins and her cats for Art on the Mall Sunday, July 28, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the University.

“I make owls out of tweed and wool skirts and blazers,” the deconstructionist artist said. “Some I make out of a linen fabric and put a little bit of coffee dye on them. I dye them really lightly, let them dry, and then I do embroidery.”

Coming to Centennial Mall on Main Campus for the juried art show is a highlight of summer.

“This is probably my seventh year at Art on the Mall. I love it,” Hawkins said. “The atmosphere is nice, and it’s a great, laid-back crowd.”

When she’s not in her studio with her cats, Hawkins is a member service associate at the Francis Family YMCA in Temperance, where she also teaches art classes.

“I love creating unique things. I hope people appreciate these are one-of-a-kind pieces of art, something they can’t find at a big-box store,” she said. “Like the tag on the back says, these [cats and owls] are handmade with love.”

Area Students to Recreate First Moon Landing July 20

On the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, more than a dozen teams from local middle and high schools will pilot their own hand-built lunar modules as part of a national challenge to recreate NASA’s Apollo 11 mission.

The event, jointly supported by The University of Toledo and Monroe Community College, will take place Saturday, July 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Monroe County Community College campus.

Team missions will take place from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 to 2 p.m. Both sessions will be held in the Gerald Welch Health Education Building at 1555 S. Raisinville Drive in Monroe.

Awards will follow at 3 p.m. The winning team will receive a trip to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“The Apollo 11 moon landing serves as a shining example of scientific ingenuity and human curiosity,” Dr. Kevin Czajkowski, professor in the UToledo Department of Geography and Planning, said. “This event will give students a taste of the excitement the world had for the lunar landing in 1969.”

The local competition is part of the Apollo Next Giant Leap Student Challenge. UToledo and Monroe County Community College are supporting one of more than a dozen hubs around the country hosting events.

Open to students in fifth through 12th grade, the competition calls on teams to build a replica of the lunar module and program a Lego robot to act as a rover; use a remote-controlled drone to land the module on a map of the moon’s surface; maneuver the rover across the map of the lunar surface completing various missions to score points; plant a flag; and safely return the lunar module to where it started using a drone.

UToledo Research Links Fracking to Higher Radon Levels in Ohio Homes

A new study at The University of Toledo connects the proximity of fracking to higher household concentrations of radon gas, the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

Measuring and geocoding data from 118,421 homes across all 88 counties in Ohio between 2007 and 2014, scientists found that closer distance to the fracking wells is linked to higher indoor radon concentrations.

Dr. Ashok Kumar, left, and Dr. Yanqing Xu published a study showing homes located near fracking wells in Ohio are linked to higher indoor radon concentration.

“The shorter the distance a home is from a fracking well, the higher the radon concentration. The larger the distance, the lower the radon concentration,” Dr. Ashok Kumar, Distinguished University Professor and chair of the UToledo Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said.

The study also found the average radon concentrations among all tested homes across the state are higher than safe levels outlined by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and World Health Organization standards. The average is 5.76 pCi/l, while the EPA threshold is 4.0 pCi/l. The postal code 43557 in the city of Stryker has the highest radon concentration at 141.85 pCi/l for this data set.

“We care about air quality,” Dr. Yanqing Xu, assistant professor in the UToledo Department of Geography and Planning, said. “Our motivation is to save the lives of Ohioans. I hope this eye-opening research inspires families across the state to take action and have their homes tested for radon and, if needed, install mitigation systems to protect their loved ones.”

The results of the study were recently published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health. The research is a collaboration between UToledo’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Department of Geography and Planning. The radon data collection was supported by grants from the Ohio Department of Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Following the publication in the journal, UToledo is working with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to examine the terminology used in this study related to fracking wells to address discrepancies related to the number of wells in Ohio.

Radon, which cannot be smelled or seen, begins as uranium found naturally in soil, water and rocks, but transforms into gas as it decays.

Fracking, or drilling the rock formation via hydraulic fracturing, stimulates the flow of natural gas. In Ohio, natural gas is available in deposits of the ancient Marcellus and Utica shales.

Most fracking wells are located in eastern Ohio, while Athens County has the highest number of fracking wells with 108. Fulton County is the only county with more than 20 fracking wells in western Ohio.

The researchers used data from the publicly accessible Ohio Radon Information System, which the UToledo Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering started developing more than 25 years ago and maintains to improve public knowledge about indoor radon concentration. Licensed testers collect data each year in basements and first floors of homes in Ohio’s 1,496 ZIP codes.

“You can find the average radon concentration in your ZIP code on the website,” Kumar said.

Xu, a health geographer who previously studied obesity, installed a radon mitigation system after testing her home with a $10 kit.

“Shale is not in Toledo, but radon can get into homes because of uranium concentration in the soil, unrelated to fracking,” Xu said. “My 2-year-old son likes to play in the basement, but radon concentration is higher in the basement. I did not hesitate even though the system cost around $1,000.”

The data in the study are from self-reported devices and not distributed equally throughout Ohio.