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NSF Invests Nearly $1 Million in New UToledo Program to Increase Access to Engineering Degree

The National Science Foundation awarded $999,984 to The University of Toledo to operate an innovative program that supports academically talented and low-income students who want to pursue an engineering degree.

The program known as GEARSET — which stands for Greater Equity, Access and Readiness for Success in Engineering and Technology — creates an alternative pathway to a bachelor’s degree in engineering for first-year students who did not meet the College of Engineering’s requirements and were admitted into University College’s Department of Exploratory Studies.

“This population is generally more diverse in terms of both ethnicity and socioeconomic status than the demographic trends for engineering colleges across the country,” said program leader Dr. Lesley Berhan, associate professor in the UToledo Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, and associate dean for diversity, inclusion and community engagement.

“GEARSET will ultimately increase diversity in the College of Engineering — a priority for both the University and employers who hire our graduates,” said Dr. Mike Toole, dean of the UToledo College of Engineering.

“Our pursuit of inclusive excellence is a key part of our strategic plan, our core values, and what we do on a daily basis. This grant will enable us to provide a new pathway to a degree in engineering for deserving students, further enabling us to provide a diverse pipeline of talented engineers to the region.”

Students who meet the program’s admission criteria, which include testing into trigonometry and a minimum high school grade point average of 3.0, will meet regularly with engineering advisors and enroll in courses designed to introduce engineering principles, applications of mathematics and professional development, in addition to other classes needed to meet the College of Engineering’s transfer requirements.

“By building a sense of belonging, developing the students’ engineering identity, and shortening the time to transfer colleges, we will foster a more inclusive environment in the College of Engineering that is more reflective of the community we serve and the University as a whole,” Berhan said.

As part of the five-year grant, two cohorts of low-income students also will receive a scholarship for up to seven semesters once they transfer into the College of Engineering. The scholarships, based on need, would average $6,400 a year.

Berhan said GEARSET, which debuted as a pilot program with a total of 32 students at the start of the 2019-20 academic year, is designed to help students who may have had limited access to college and career counseling in high school.

“Some students may have an interest in being an engineer, but may not have had the exposure or opportunities that others have in high school,” Berhan said. “Those students can still be great engineers. We have to rethink how we define potential and recognize that talent comes in all forms.”

The NSF grant starts Jan. 1 and can support scholarships for approximately 40 students, as well as curriculum, advising and programming for an estimated 150 additional students. The program is accepting all students, but only low-income students will be eligible for scholarships.

“This award represents an important step forward in the effort to foster STEM education in our community,” said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. “By creating a pipeline for more socioeconomic and ethnically diverse engineering students in our region, this funding provides a pathway for future minds to break into these important fields. The award is a model to ensure our students are at the table for the economic future of our community.”

Berhan leads many diversity initiatives aimed at encouraging more students to pursue engineering careers, such as the annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day.

“The long-term benefits to the college and the community are incredible,” Berhan said. “We are working on several different fronts to improve math and science preparedness, access, and student success.”

Making Connections: Engineering Student Interns in Silicon Valley

Naba Rizvi is one of nine students selected from more than 1,000 applicants to receive the Adobe Research Women-in-Technology Scholarship.

In addition to that $10,000 award that honors women students who show great promise in the field of computer science, The University of Toledo junior landed an internship on Adobe Research’s team in San Jose, Calif.

Naba Rizvi was an intern at Adobe Research in San Jose, Calif., this summer.

“I worked on two projects,” said Rizvi, who is majoring in information technology in the College of Engineering. “They both focused on natural language processing and human-computer interaction.”

Her Adobe Research mentor was Dr. Franck Dernoncourt, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who specializes in natural language processing.

“My first project involved research engineering. I used my experience as a web developer to develop a visualization for a sentence compressor and text summarizer,” Rizvi said. “For the second project, I worked on making the output of latent Dirichlet allocation models for automatic document topic classification more human readable.”

In other words, Rizvi’s research is focusing on topic modeling — training the computer to recognize topics in written text with an algorithm.

Naba Rizvi, left, posed for a photo with Lisa Wang, a student at Westmont High School in California. Rizvi mentored Wang during the Girls Who Code Camp run by Adobe Research.

“I learned so much about natural language processing, particularly text summarization. I even submitted my first paper to a conference.”

That paper, “Margin Call,” which she wrote with Dernoncourt and Sebastian Gehrmann, a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University, was accepted by the International Conference on Natural Language Generation. That conference will be held in Tokyo this fall.

“My colleagues and myself were delighted to host Naba this summer at Adobe Research,” Dernoncourt said. “Naba is a fast learner and highly motivated. She made a great impact on our research projects.”

What was a typical day like?

“I read a lot of research papers, wrote code, tested the output, and turned to Stack Overflow, my co-workers or my mentor for help if I got stuck,” Rizvi said. “I met with my mentor every week to discuss my projects, progress toward my goals, and any roadblocks.”

“We are proud of Naba Rizvi and all that she continues to accomplish,” Dr. Michael Toole, dean of the UToledo College of Engineering, said. “Her success is well-earned and spotlights the strength of our Engineering Technology Department in the College of Engineering.”

The student in the Jesup Scott Honors College made the most of her time in Silicon Valley, home to many global technology and startup companies.

“To receive such a competitive internship as a first-generation college student really motivates me to work harder and take advantage of all the opportunities available to me,” Rizvi said. “I embrace the growth mindset and believe it is the key to success.”

And she is familiar with success: Last year, Rizvi won the $10,000 Google Women Techmakers Scholarship, which included a scholar retreat with Google scholars from around the world on Google campuses, including the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif.

She is taking her momentum and launching a nonprofit organization called Nontraditional Techies.

“We already have 600-plus members and a job board,” Rizvi said. “I will be creating a mentoring program and an interview series featuring people who have overcome great obstacles on their path to a technical career to inspire others to pursue a career in technology.”

Racing Internship With Hendrick Motorsports Fuels Dreams

In spring semester, I moved down to Charlotte, N.C., with the opportunity of a lifetime to work for one of the top teams in American racing, Hendrick Motorsports.

As a young person interested in cars, every Sunday I had watched their four NASCAR Cup Series race cars compete with others on tracks across the country. It is that passion that directed my educational goals to become a mechanical engineer in the hopes that I could play some role in the automotive industry. Although I had such a strong desire, I never believed that I would have the opportunity to work in professional racing, let alone a team of this pedigree.

Michael Day, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, had an internship at Hendrick Motorsports.

As you enter the Hendrick Motorsports race shops every morning, the front lobbies are lined with race and championship trophies. Hendrick Motorsports has more championships than any other team in NASCAR history, and more than 250 race wins in NASCAR’s top series. Every day this reminded me of the high expectations of cleanliness, hard work and results that are expected in order to achieve success in each race.

The group of engineers that I worked with oversaw the recording and distribution of data to each of the four race teams that compete every weekend. This information is crucial for their performance throughout the race weekend. Some of this information is gathered right before the cars leave for race weekend on a suspension rig; this was an area where I spent most of my time. It was a very surreal feeling to be wrenching on cars that would take to the track in front of millions the following weekend!

Another type of lab test we performed is on a seven-post machine, where the car was bolted down to hydraulic actuators that mimic the road and aerodynamic inputs on the vehicle throughout a lap. This allowed us to test new theories as we prepared for upcoming events.

Michael Day locked in the steering wheel of a car so vehicle measurements could be taken for an upcoming race.

However, real track testing is still the most valuable. Because of this, I was able to join the team on a two-day tire test during my internship. This exposed me to the extensive data systems that are used in the cars for testing, as well as the unique goals that were set in order to record data that we could use at that track for the race weekend.

I also was able to experience a variety of areas throughout the rest of the shop; these included building shock absorbers, post-race car teardowns, and assisting the race engineers with various reports throughout the week. Above all, I was impressed with the high work ethic and attention to detail that every employee showed day in and day out.

This was my fourth co-op at The University of Toledo, and I don’t believe that this opportunity would have become available without the experience gained and growth that took place throughout my previous internships in the automotive industry. Over the past four years, UToledo has given me the power to grow my skills and the ability to truly capture my dreams.

Day is a senior majoring in mechanical engineering.

UToledo Researchers Look to Filter-Feeding Fish to Develop New Way of Collecting Harmful Algae

Researchers at The University of Toledo are using clues from nature to engineer a potential solution to address the annual algal blooms that foul Lake Erie and hundreds of other freshwater lakes across the world.

The innovative project could lead to a new type of filter that would allow scientists to actively screen large amounts of blue-green algae from the water before it’s able to release cyanotoxins.

Dr. Adam Schroeder used dye to demonstrate how a filter inspried by the paddlefish works like a vortex to clean water. The conical cross-step filter could help collect algae from lakes.

“I’m interested in the whole idea of biomimicry. There are lots of processes that biological organisms do really well — much more efficiently than we can,” said Dr. Adam Schroeder, visiting assistant professor in the UToledo College of Engineering. “I want to take algae out of the water. What examples do I have for solutions for separating a particle from the water?”

With help from a College of William and Mary biologist, Schroeder and Dr. Brian Trease, assistant professor of mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering, focused on the paddlefish, a prehistoric-looking freshwater fish that lumbers through lakes and rivers with its mouth agape to collect nutritious zooplankton.

“They’re processing lots of water for minutes at a time to filter out food. We can take that concept and then expand it beyond what we see in biology,” Schroeder said.

The research team’s findings were recently published in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics.

Dealing with harmful algal blooms requires a multidisciplinary approach. Researchers at UToledo are studying the health impacts of harmful algal blooms, developing new ways of filtering cyanobacteria out of water, and actively monitoring blooms in Lake Erie.

Schroeder, who earned a doctorate in mechanical engineering from UToledo in 2018, brings a different perspective.

“Somebody without any knowledge of the problem might say why can’t we just pick up the algae,” he said. “So why can’t we? It’s nice to explore that idea — what would we need to do to get rid of the algae?”

Currently, environmental scientists gathering algal samples use conventional-looking nets that have a small canister at the end to collect algae. The trouble with using those nets to remove large amounts of algae, however, is that they can only gather so much before they clog.

When the paddlefish feeds, its mouth creates a vortex of swirling water that helps it collect food indefinitely without its biological filters clogging. Using that concept, Schroeder developed a conical cross-step filter that mimics the paddlefish while adding creative engineering solutions.

Lab tests showed their design is able to transport suspended particles roughly the same size as the predominant Lake Erie algae downstream toward the end of the filter and is resistant — though not immune — to clogging.

The researchers’ next step is to develop a method for sequestering the particles after they exit the back of the filter. If they can do that and develop a method to remove what particles attach to the filter walls, it might be possible to create a filtering apparatus that can operate continuously in lake waters.

“We see this as a complementary solution. The real problem is that the algae is there in the first place. We have to stop all these nutrients from getting in the water, but that’s a really hard problem to solve and even harder to do it quickly,” Schroeder said.

In the meantime, he believes it is worth examining other, out-of-the-box ideas that might contribute to making lakes and rivers healthier.

“You don’t need to clean up the whole bloom, but maybe you need to keep a 500-meter radius clear of algae. That’s something we might be able to do,” Schroeder said.

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.

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.

UToledo professors invent safer way to treat prostate cancer

Two innovative professors at The University of Toledo from different fields of expertise teamed up to create a clever, common-sense way to solve a problem in treating prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer in men.

Recognizing the potential, the Ohio Third Frontier Commission awarded $150,000 to the startup company founded by the mechanical engineer and medical physicist to develop and commercialize the new technology they invented that allows a higher level of radiation to safely be delivered at each session, decreasing significantly the number of treatment sessions needed to eradicate the cancer, while reducing damage to nearby, healthy tissue.

Dr. Mohammad Elahinia, left, and Dr. Ishmael Parsai developed the rectal retractor, which could help treat prostate cancer. The Ohio Third Frontier Commission awarded $150,000 to their startup company to commercialize the new technology.

Dr. Mohammad Elahinia, professor and chair of the UToledo Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, and Dr. Ishmael Parsai, professor and chief medical physicist in the UToledo Radiation Oncology Department and director of the Graduate Medical Physics Program, created the company called Retractor with the support of UToledo Launchpad Incubation, Rocket Innovations and the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program.

The new, patent-pending technology, which is being tested on cadavers, is a minimally invasive device that moves the rectum away from the vicinity of the radiation fields targeting the prostate cancer. This allows for the delivery of higher doses of more focused radiation beams, resulting in shorter treatment days while reducing damage to healthy rectal tissue.

the rectal retractor

“The rectal retractor provides a safer, more efficient way to treat prostate cancer,” Elahinia said. “The medical device is inserted into the body and set in motion by passing a small electrical current in a reliable, clean, silent process known as nitinol actuation, solving the persistent challenge in radiation therapy of prostate tumors.”

“Instead of a patient undergoing daily radiation treatment sessions for nearly two months in a conventional method of radiotherapy, he can come in and have five sessions,” Parsai said.

Through his work with patients at the Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center at The University of Toledo Medical Center, Parsai came up with the idea for the rectal retractor and approached Elahinia to engineer a prototype.

“Normally during radiation therapy for prostate cancer, we work to reduce as much as possible the impact of the radiation dose on any healthy organs, such as the bladder and rectum, but often some damage to healthy, nearby tissue is unavoidable,” Parsai said. “This new device, however, allows us to move the rectum out of the field of radiation so we can eliminate the risk of sacrificing healthy tissue while safely delivering a higher dose for more effective treatment of the tumor. This especially is promising when implementing what is called high-dose rate brachytherapy, as well as newer techniques such as stereotactic body radiotherapy for treatment of prostate cancer.”

While the retractor will mainly serve prostate cancer patients, it also can be applied during radiation therapy for all pelvic tumors, such as cervical, uterine, vaginal and endometrial cancers.

The award to Retractor is part of $2.25 million given by the Ohio Third Frontier Commission to develop new technologies and move them out of the lab and into the marketplace.

“Ohio’s world-class research and medical institutions are developing breakthrough technologies,” said Lydia L. Mihalik, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency and chair of the Ohio Third Frontier Commission. “We are helping get these products to market where they can make a difference.”

The Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation and Start-Up Fund provides grants to Ohio institutions of higher education and other nonprofit research institutions. The funding is to demonstrate that a technology is commercially viable through activities such as testing and prototyping. The ultimate goal is to commercialize the technologies.

Retractor is a success story for UToledo’s Launchpad Incubation program and Rocket Fuel Fund. LaunchPad Incubation provides entrepreneurial assistance, state-of-the-art facilities and valuable resources to early-stage, technology-based concepts and startup companies. The Rocket Fuel Fund is a program in the UToledo Office of Research funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration to support early-stage technology development.

“We serve the community, faculty, staff and students,” Brian Genide, director of incubation and venture development at Launchpad, said. “Our team helps with the advancement of early-stage technology concepts, providing funding support for feasibility testing, proof-of-concept validation and prototyping. Our team also has proven to increase the success of grant applications.”

Launchpad Incubation is located in the Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex. Go to the LaunchPad Incubation website for more information on how the program helps launch new businesses.

UToledo students’ winning biodesign projects to compete in New York

Two groups of UToledo students will compete against more than 30 teams from around the world Thursday and Friday, June 20 and 21, at the Biodesign Challenge Summit at the Parsons School of Design and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The two teams, PlastiGrow and btilix, won the chance to travel to the Big Apple at the UToledo competition this spring at the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion.

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

Presented by The University of Toledo, the Biodesign Challenge offers art and design, bioengineering, and environmental sciences students the opportunity to envision future applications of biotechnology and biomaterials that address complex global challenges. Students are connected with community experts to develop innovative solutions through interdisciplinary research and iterative prototyping.

“Normally, our jurors award one team with the honor of competing in New York, but this year we have the opportunity to award not just one team — a team that will compete against all schools — but we are also putting up for consideration another team for a special prize, so we are happy to announce our two winning teams, btilix and PlastiGrow,” Eric Zeigler, assistant professor of art, said.

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

The overall winner of the UToledo competition was btilix. This team 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.

The UToledo team, PlastiGrow, is applying to compete in New York for the ORTA Sustainability in Textiles Prize. The team engineered a biodegradable plastic material that can be used in the creation of everyday products to greatly reduce 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.

For more information on the competition, visit the Biodesign Challenge website.

UToledo’s ‘Beer Professor,’ alumni entrepreneurs to speak at craft beer lecture and tasting June 13

The community is invited to attend the Craft Beer Lecture and Tasting Thursday, June 13, at 6 p.m. at The University of Toledo Center for Alumni and Donor Engagement, located at 4510 Dorr St.

Dr. Neil Reid, UToledo professor of geography and planning, affectionately known as the “Beer Professor,” will speak about the growth of the craft beer industry and the factors driving that growth. He teaches a class titled The Geography of Beer and Brewing.

Reid

Reid’s latest research about the impact of craft breweries on home values was featured in publications across the country, including Food & Wine magazine and Better Homes and Gardens.

“America is in the middle of a craft beer revolution,” Reid said. “Craft breweries often locate in neighborhoods that were once economically distressed. Thanks to the arrival of the craft brewery and other investments by both the public and private sector, many of these neighborhoods have become revitalized. In fact, our analysis shows living within a half mile of a craft brewery increased the average value of a single-family home by almost 10 percent, using Charlotte, N.C., as a case study.”

Representatives from two Toledo breweries and UToledo alumni also will discuss their journey from home brewers to brewery owners. Keefe Snyder, who graduated from the College of Engineering in 2006 and the College of Law in 2010, is a co-owner of Earnest Brew Works. Aaron Grizaniuk, who graduated from University College in 2005, co-owns Patron Saints Brewery.

The event costs $20 a person and includes eight 3-oz. beer samples and appetizers. The tasting is for people 21 and older.

To register, go to the Alumni Association website or call the Office of Alumni Engagement at 419.530.2586.

The event is hosted by the UToledo Arts and Letters and Engineering Alumni Affiliates.

Entertainment icon Katie Holmes to deliver commencement address May 4

Katie Holmes, a native Toledoan who rose to fame as an actor, producer and director, will return to her hometown to deliver the keynote address during The University of Toledo’s undergraduate commencement ceremony Saturday, May 4.

A Notre Dame Academy alumna and international icon of screen, stage and film, Holmes will address 2,078 candidates for degrees — 2,023 bachelor’s and 55 associate’s candidates. The event will take place at 10 a.m. in the Glass Bowl.

The University’s graduate commencement ceremony is scheduled the same day at 3 p.m. in the Glass Bowl, and will commemorate 915 candidates for doctoral, education specialist and master’s degrees, as well as graduate certificates. Analese Alvarez, an educator and musician who has recorded with the Grammy Award-winning rock group Fleetwood Mac, will be the keynote speaker. She is a candidate for a doctoral degree.

Both ceremonies are open to the public and can be viewed live on the University Views website.

President Sharon L. Gaber will present Holmes with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree before the keynote address.

“The University of Toledo is pleased to welcome Katie Holmes as our commencement speaker to inspire our newest alumni as they celebrate receiving their degrees,” Gaber said. “As a Toledo native with close, personal connections to the University, we are eager for her to share her experiences and accomplishments in the entertainment industry and as an entrepreneur and philanthropist.”

Holmes

Holmes is an internationally recognized film and television actor, producer and director, as well as a Broadway actor and an entrepreneur.

An exceptional student at Notre Dame Academy, Holmes was accepted to Columbia University, but deferred to embark on an entertainment career. She made her feature film debut in “The Ice Storm” in 1997, then established herself as a rising young actor the next year in the television show “Dawson’s Creek.” For six years, she played Joey Potter, a character still recognized in pop culture.

Holmes has appeared in supporting or starring roles in more than 30 films and television programs, including acclaimed performances as Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy in “The Kennedys” and “The Kennedys: After Camelot,” Hannah Green in “Wonder Boys,” Rachel Dawson in “Batman Begins,” April Burns in “Pieces of April,” Rita Carmichael in “All We Had,” and Paige Finney in “Ray Donovan.”

Her credits as a director and producer include “All We Had,” “Touched With Fire,” “The Romantics” and “The Kennedys: Decline and Fall.”

Holmes made her Broadway debut in a revival of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” in 2008 and played the role of Lorna in “Dead Accounts” in 2012.

As an entrepreneur, Holmes managed and designed a well-received fashion line, Holmes & Yang, with Jeanne Yang, from 2009 to 2014.

Her philanthropic efforts include the Dizzy Feet Foundation, an organization Holmes co-founded in 2009 that increases access to dance education in the United States. She also supports the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes; Love Our Children USA, a national nonprofit organization that fights violence and neglect against U.S. children; Raising Malawi, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to helping vulnerable children in extreme poverty through health, education and community support; and the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation.

Alvarez

Graduate ceremony speaker Alvarez has been an educator for nearly two decades and is a candidate for an education doctorate in educational administration and supervision.

The Santa Barbara, Calif., native has enjoyed an outstanding career teaching high school music, highlighted by leading her previous school’s music department to become a Grammy Signature Schools recipient in 2015. She has continued teaching music while pursuing her doctorate at UToledo by serving as a graduate assistant for the Rocket Marching Band and athletic bands since 2015.

Alvarez”s long career as a musician includes recording with Fleetwood Mac on “The Dance” and appearances on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” and Nickelodeon’s “The Big Help.” She also was a member of the Los Angeles Laker Band, a subset of the University of Southern California’s Trojan Marching Band. She has performed with numerous professional ensembles, including The Desert Winds and the Gold Coast Wind Ensemble.

A volunteer club advisor for Gay Straight Alliances, Alvarez co-chaired the Southern Nevada chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network and served the Gay and Lesbian Center of Las Vegas. During the past year, she has been executive director at Equality Toledo, where she has worked to support the local community.

Alvarez earned a bachelor of music degree from the University of Southern California and a master of music degree from Northern Arizona University, both in music education.

UToledo’s spring commencement ceremonies will recognize graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters; Business and Innovation; Judith Herb College of Education; Engineering; Graduate Studies; Health and Human Services; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and University College.

UToledo’s College of Law will host its commencement ceremony Sunday, May 5, at 1 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium. Angelita Cruz Bridges, a 2000 graduate of the College of Law who serves as an assistant United States attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, will give the commencement address.

The next week — Friday, May 10, at 4 p.m. — the College of Medicine and Life Sciences will hold its commencement ceremony in Savage Arena. Dr. Scott Parazynski, a physician and inventor whose career included serving 17 years as an astronaut, during which time he flew five space shuttle missions and conducted seven spacewalks, will be theutoledo.edu/commencementrmation, visit the commencement website.