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Natural Sciences and Mathematics

U.S. Department of Energy Invests $5.7 Million in UToledo Solar Technology Research

The U.S. Department of Energy awarded The University of Toledo $5.7 million for two solar energy technology research projects.

Both projects involve the University collaborating with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and First Solar, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of solar cells and a company that originated in UToledo laboratories.

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur shook hands with Dr. Yanfa Yan at a Nov. 6 press conference to announce the U.S. Department of Energy awarded The University of Toledo $5.7 million for two solar energy technology research projects.

It’s part of $128 million in grant funding the federal agency announced today it is awarding to 75 research projects across the country to advance solar technologies that will lower solar electricity costs while working to boost solar manufacturing, reduce red tape, and make solar systems more resilient to cyberattacks.

Media are invited to a news conference Wednesday, Nov. 6, at 2:30 p.m. in the UToledo Research and Technology Complex Room 1010. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and Dr. Frank Calzonetti, UToledo vice president of research, will speak at the event.

The total federal funding awarded to northern Ohio today is $11 million with the addition of $3 million to Eaton Corp. near Cleveland. Representatives from Eaton are scheduled to attend the news conference at UToledo.

“Advancing global leadership in solar energy technology continues to be a critical focus of the University, and we are proud of the incredible progress and determination of our researchers,” Calzonetti said. “In the last few months alone, nearly $14 million in competitive federal funding has now been awarded to faculty and students working on cutting-edge solar technology in the UToledo Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization. Providing a strong research underpinning of our region’s solar energy industry is central to our mission.”

“Investments from the Department of Energy are yielding real results for ensuring a competitive 21st-century solar industry right here in northern Ohio,” Kaptur said. “Today’s competitively awarded grants highlight and support northern Ohio’s important role in the research and development of solar technology. Solar technology will be a monumental part of our economic and clean energy future, not only as a region, but as a nation and as a planet. Innovative institutions, including The University of Toledo and Eaton Corporation, both of which are national leaders in photovoltaics research, are moving the ball forward. As the chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, I will continue to prioritize Department of Energy programs that fund these important programs and grant opportunities.”

Building on its more than 30-year history advancing solar technology to power the world using clean energy, UToledo is pushing the performance of solar cells to levels never before reached.

The Department of Energy awarded UToledo $4.5 million to develop the next-generation solar panel by bringing a new, ultra-high efficiency material to the consumer market.

As part of the project, UToledo will work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and First Solar to develop industrially relevant methods for both the fabrication and performance prediction of low-cost, efficient and stable perovskite thin-film PV modules.

Perovskites are compound materials with a special crystal structure formed through chemistry.

Dr. Yanfa Yan, UToledo professor of physics, Ohio Research Scholar Chair and leader of the project, has had great success in the lab drawing record levels of power from the same amount of sunlight by using two perovskites on top of each other that use two different parts of the sun’s spectrum on very thin, flexible supporting material.

Yan’s efforts have increased the efficiency of the new solar cell to about 23%.

“We are producing higher-efficiency, lower-cost solar cells that show great promise to help solve the world energy crisis,” Yan said. “The meaningful work will help protect our planet for our children and future generations.”

The Department of Energy also announced an award of $3.5 million to Colorado State University to work with UToledo, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, First Solar and the University of Illinois at Chicago on a project to improve the voltage produced by cadmium-telluride-based solar cells. The amount of the award in this project going to The University of Toledo is approximately $1.2 million. UToledo’s leader on this project is Dr. Michael Heben, UToledo professor of physics and McMaster Endowed Chair.

The grants come after the Department of Energy selected UToledo to host National Lab Day, which last month connected students and researchers with preeminent scientists from world-class facilities across the country to explore opportunities for additional partnerships.

This summer the U.S. Air Force awarded UToledo physicists $7.4 million to develop solar technology that is lightweight, flexible, highly efficient and durable in space so it can provide power for space vehicles using sunlight.

The U.S. Department of Energy also recently awarded UToledo physicists $750,000 to improve the production of hydrogen as fuel, using clean energy — solar power — to split the water molecule and create clean energy — hydrogen fuel.

Blown Away: Glass Artist Reflects on Human Condition

Eamon King remembers watching an artist working with a fiery-orange blob of molten glass.

“I was a kid on a field trip to Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio,” he said. “That’s when my passion for glass began.”

This glass skeleton is part of Eamon King’s exhibit, “Recycled Reflections Through Human Chemistry,” which is on display on the fifth floor of Carlson Library this semester.

When he was 16, he took a glassblowing class at the Toledo Museum of Art.

“My first piece was a very ugly paperweight that only my mother would love, so it was a gift to her while I was in high school,” King said and laughed. “She still has it.”

These days his hot work is turning heads.

Check out “Recycled Reflections Through Human Chemistry,” which is on display this semester on the fifth floor of Carlson Library. King created the fantastical mirrors and glass skeleton for his master of liberal studies degree, which he received in May.

“When I created the figure and the mirrors, I thought about how similar we all are as human beings on the inside. We all have the same needs and are built from similar DNA with the most minute differences in traits,” King said.

This mirror is part of Eamon King’s “Recycled Reflections Through Human Chemistry.”

From sketching to glassblowing to flameworking, the project took about one year. He needed to bone up on anatomy.

“A typical adult skeleton has 206 bones. In my project, I made some changes to the overall skeleton to incorporate scientific glass pieces into the bone structure,” he explained. “All of the glass bones are welded or sealed together and actually consist of only 12 individual pieces that are supported on the metal armature I built.

“For example, in my figure, the spine doesn’t have each individual vertebrae; I used double manifold systems, or Schlenk lines, that are common in chemistry labs and that I built for the spine instead of duplicating vertebrae. I then blew holes and sealed all the ribs and sternum into the manifolds instead of vertebrae. The only bones that are left out from the skeleton other than the spine are the patellas and the hyoid bone.”

Eamon King created a punch bowl at the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion.

King is familiar with scientific glass: He is a part-time glass shop assistant in the UToledo Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

“Eamon King is a very gifted artistic glassblower who has made huge strides in scientific glass,” said Steven D. Moder, master scientific glassblower in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, who mentored King for his master’s degree project. “The glass skeleton had a variety of scientific pieces that Eamon was able to pull together for a beautiful, artistic, scientific sculpture.”

In addition to being artful, King is all about recycling.

“I built the frames to hold the large glass pieces for this project. I constructed the frames from wood floor joists that were reclaimed lumber from a renovation of a more than 100-year-old building project in downtown Toledo,” King said.

The cool mirrors feature 100-plus glass pieces that received a reflective coating. King then placed the individual pieces around the larger mirrors.

“The University of Toledo allowed me to create my own program through the Master of Liberal Studies Program, and I worked with Steve Moder in the Scientific Glassblowing Lab, where I learned a whole different skill set,” King said.

As an undergraduate at UToledo, King traveled overseas to learn about Murano glass and worked with traditional Venetian artists. After receiving a bachelor of arts degree from the University in 2008, he taught glassblowing and flameworking at the Toledo Museum of Art for 12 years.

“Compared to working as an artist in area studios the past 15 years, this adventure in precision glassware for chemistry apparatus has been a big change for me,” King said.

“Eamon will keep the argument thriving on whether scientific glass is artistic or highly technical,” Moder said.

Over the summer, King traveled to Corning, N.Y., for a weeklong symposium with the American Scientific Glassblowing Society.

“I had the opportunity to work with and meet many skilled scientific flameworkers from around the world,” King said.

The UToledo alumnus is pursuing a career as an artist while working with Moder in the glass shop.

And doors continue to open: King recently was one of seven artists selected to make a glass key for the city of Toledo.

“I enjoy working with glass due to its limited lifespan and fragile nature,” King said. “It is a constant reminder that if it is not treated with care and respect, it could be destroyed, and eventually, it will be, very similarly to ourselves.”

Graduate and Professional Program Fair Slated for Oct. 30

Looking to advance your career? Want to learn more about continuing your education? Stop by the Graduate and Professional Program Fair Wednesday, Oct. 30.

The event will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium.

Attendees can meet with representatives from colleges and programs; learn ways to fund graduate education; and start the graduate program application process.

On hand will be representatives from all UToledo colleges: Arts and Letters; Business and Innovation; Engineering; Health and Human Services; Judith Herb College of Education; Law; Medicine and Life Sciences; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; Graduate Studies; Jesup Scott Honors College; and University College.

Go to the Graduate and Professional Program Fair website and register.

The first 100 to attend the event will receive an application fee waiver; J.D., M.D. and Pharm.D. applications not included.

For more information, email graduateinquiry@utoledo.edu.

UToledo to Host 2019 Great Lakes Planetarium Association Conference

The University of Toledo will welcome nearly 200 people from around the world this week for the 2019 Great Lakes Planetarium Association Conference.

The Great Lakes Planetarium Association is the largest professional planetarium organization in the United States.

The conference, which is from Wednesday, Oct. 23, through Saturday, Oct. 26, will feature Dr. Robert Dempsey, UToledo alumnus and NASA flight director at Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control, who will speak Thursday, Oct. 24, at 2:15 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium.

Dempsey, who received a master’s degree and Ph.D. in physics from UToledo in 1987 and 1991, will give a presentation titled “The Making of a Mission.” He will discuss the process that the NASA Mission Operations team goes through in developing a mission, starting from a high-level request to perform a few tasks and how it evolves into the detailed mission that people then see.

“I often joke that NASA really stands for Never Absolutely Sure of Anything, but this talk will illustrate how flexible the operations team needs to be as they develop a detailed mission, including adapting to problems and changes in priority as we go along,” Dempsey said. “After years of detailed planning, we then conduct a significant amount of training in the hopes that the mission goes smoothly. I will use the 20th International Space Station assembly mission in 2010 to illustrate these facets.”

The Great Lakes Planetarium Association, which was established in 1965 and offers membership to all individuals connected with the operation of planetariums regardless of geographic location, is a professional organization dedicated to supporting astronomy and space science education through planetariums. Members come from more than 30 states and four countries, and many work in public and private schools, universities and museums.

The last time UToledo was selected to host the conference was in 1977.

“It’s a tremendous honor to host the 2019 Great Lakes Planetarium Association Conference,” said Alex Mak, associate director of UToledo Ritter Planetarium. “It is rewarding to be recognized by our peer group as an institution that is living up to the high standards of the association. For me personally, it is very rewarding to have an opportunity to give back to the planetarium community, which has had such a huge influence on my life and career.”

Participants include 20 vendors representing the United States, Germany and Japan who demonstrate their equipment.

Three additional UToledo alumni are returning to campus for the conference. They are:

• Waylena McCully, who graduated from UToledo with a bachelor’s degree in geography in 1994 and works at Staerkel Planetarium in Champaign, Ill. She also is the president-elect of the Great Lakes Planetarium Association;

• Bradley Rush, who graduated from UToledo with a master’s degree in physics in 2011 and works for Spitz, one of the largest manufacturers of planetarium projectors in the world; and

• Johnathan Winckowski, who graduated from UToledo with a bachelor’s degree in physics in 2018 and is the planetarium manager at the Besser Planetarium in Alpine, Mich.

The association is an affiliate of the International Planetarium Society, National Science Teachers Association, and Immersive Media Entertainment, Research, Sciences and Arts.

Wanted: Submissions for Lake Erie Center Photo Contest

The 10th annual Lake Erie Photo Contest is seeking submissions through Sunday, Nov. 3.

Amateur photographers of all ages and skill levels are invited to share their nature photographs from the local area.

The theme of the contest is “The Nature of Our Region: From Oak Openings to Maumee Bay.”

“Our photo contest is important because it showcases the wonderful talent of local amateur photographers,” Rachel Lohner, education program manager at the Lake Erie Center, said.

Color or black-and-white photos will be accepted. Entries are limited to three per person.

Prizes will be awarded in multiple age categories. First-place winners in each category will take home $25, and the grand-prize winner will receive $100.

“This contest challenges people to look for beauty in their everyday surroundings,” Lohner said. “We hope that this contest helps people to recognize the value of our outdoor spaces and resources, and develop a greater appreciation and respect for nature.”

Winners of the contest will be invited to attend an awards reception and receive their prizes in January.

Read more about the contest and enter photos on the Lake Erie Center website.

UToledo Part of Team Awarded Federal Grant to Test Portable Device That Measures Algal Bloom Toxins

The University of Toledo is part of a regional team of scientists awarded a $408,371 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to test a new, compact, lightweight, hand-held tool that rapidly measures algal bloom toxin levels and to integrate the device with current monitoring systems.

The three-year grant is one of 12 totaling $10.2 million that NOAA announced it is allocating across the country to protect marine resources, public health and coastal economies from exposure to harmful algal blooms (HABs).

Dr. Tom Bridgeman examined a water sample aboard the UToledo Lake Erie Center research vessel.

“Through the National Centers for Ocean Science, NOAA is funding the latest scientific research to support environmental managers trying to cope with increasing and recurring toxic algae that continue to affect environmental and human health and coastal economies,” said Dr. Steven Thur, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. “Improved understanding of these coastal HAB threats will lead to better bloom observation and prediction, and help to mitigate effects along the U.S. coast.”

Dr. Tom Bridgeman, director of the UToledo Lake Erie Center and professor of ecology, said the device could provide water treatment plant managers, beach managers and others along Lake Erie and around the world with rapid measurements of algal toxins in order to make timely decisions about treating water or beach use during the algal bloom season.

“If the new technology proves to be reliable, it would provide a significant advance in public safety,” Bridgeman said. “Instead of sending a water sample off to a laboratory and waiting a few days for an answer, a beach manager, charter captain or water treatment professional could use the device to get an accurate measurement of toxin levels right on the spot.

“An additional advantage is that no special skills or training are needed to use the device. This project is about testing the device against the current standard lab methods of measuring toxin, determining whether non-experts can produce reliable measurements with it, and then getting it into the hands of people who can make the best use of it.”

UToledo’s partners in the grant include Bowling Green State University, Ohio State University, University of Michigan Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research, LimnoTech Inc., MBIO Diagnostics Inc., NOAA and National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.

According to the award, the project, which has a total anticipated funding of $876,843, will pilot use of a commercially available, rapid, portable system capable of quantitative detection of cyanobacterial toxins, cylindrospermopsins and microcystins. This system will be integrated into existing monitoring programs that engage recreational beach managers, water treatment plant operators, charter boat captains and state environmental scientists. The researchers will analyze and determine the system’s accuracy.

National Lab Day at UToledo to Fuel Region’s Engagement With Preeminent Scientists, World-Class Facilities

For the first time, The University of Toledo will host National Lab Day to connect students and researchers with scientists from U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories and explore opportunities for additional partnerships.

The event to enhance northwest Ohio’s collaborations to make discoveries, find innovative solutions, and create groundbreaking technology will take place Thursday and Friday, Oct. 10 and 11, on the University’s Main Campus.

“We are proud to welcome to our campus the country’s preeminent scientists from world-class facilities across the country,” UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber said. “This event presents an extraordinary opportunity for our students and scientists. We appreciate the Department of Energy recognizing UToledo’s momentum in advancing science and selecting us to host National Lab Day.”

A kickoff ceremony will be held at 8:45 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, in Nitschke Auditorium and feature Gaber, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and Chris Fall, director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

“From manufacturing the first Jeeps for the U.S. government at the onset of WWII, to the founding of America’s largest solar company — First Solar – Toledo has a long and storied history as a world leader in manufacturing, national security, and cutting-edge research and development,” Kaptur said. “That is why Toledo is the perfect place to host an event like National Lab Day. Partnership is at the core of the success of our national labs, and National Lab Day will help facilitate important and long-lasting partnerships that bring students and faculty together with the National Lab directors.”

The Department of Energy maintains 17 national labs that tackle the critical scientific and national security challenges of our time — from combating climate change to discovering the origins of our universe — and possess unique instruments and facilities, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.

Toledo native and director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Mike Witherell, who grew up just blocks from the University, is a key organizer of the event.

“The University of Toledo is experiencing tremendous growth in its research enterprise,” Witherell said. “As a resource for the nation, the Department of Energy national laboratories are a resource for the University as it innovates and drives economic growth for Toledo, the northwest Ohio region, the state and the nation. My colleagues from the labs and I are delighted to join with the University and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur at National Lab Day to explore the many exciting possibilities for engagement.”

Participants in National Lab Day 2019 at UToledo will meet laboratory directors and researchers; explore funding and fellowship opportunities; discover facilities open to academic and industry scientists; and learn about student internships and postdoctoral fellowships.

UToledo scientists will lead panel discussions with national laboratory scientists on a variety of topics, including:

• The Land-Water Interface: The Great Lakes Region and the World;

• Sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment;

• Structural Biology, Imaging and Spectroscopy;

• Astrophysics;

• Exposure Science — ‘Omics’ Applications for Human Health;

• Materials and Manufacturing; and

• Photovoltaics.

Registration, which is open for the academic and commercial research community, is required. Visit the National Lab Day website to register.

As part of National Lab Day, about 100 high school seniors will be on campus Friday, Oct. 11, to learn about career paths in STEM, meet national laboratory scientists, and learn about each of the national laboratories.

Regional Biological Sciences Conference Blends Art, Discovery

Cytoskeletons serve as the internal frame for individual cells, providing the structural support that allows a wide variety of essential cellular functions to happen.

Under the right light and magnification, cytoskeletons also can be incredibly beautiful.

UToledo student Savanna Hudson created this work; the faces of the people are made of images of cells from humans and other organisms, emphasizing the correlation of everything alive in nature being made of the same basic unit.

On Friday, Sept. 27, The University of Toledo will host the third annual CellulART, a regional scientific meeting that blends cutting-edge cytoskeleton research and art.

“In the cytoskeletal field, you’re constantly trying to think about what’s the best or most aesthetically pleasing way you can present your research,” said Maura Graves, a doctoral student in the UToledo Department of Biological Sciences. “In a way, you have to think like an artist. What’s the most beautiful way you can take this image from microscopy and engage with your audience?”

Graves is the lead organizer for this year’s event, working alongside fellow biological sciences doctoral students Sushil Khanal and Debatrayee Sinha.

The event will be held from 8:15 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. in the Center for the Visual Arts on the University’s Toledo Museum of Art Campus.

Like most scientific meetings, CellulART features a series of lectures and poster presentations. Unique to this event is the addition of artwork created by both cytoskeletal researchers and UToledo art students who have reinterpreted scientific data and images.

Fifteen regional universities are participating, including Notre Dame, Ohio State, Loyola and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

This year’s keynote speaker at 1 p.m. is Dr. Bruce Goode, professor of biology at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., who is widely recognized as one of the country’s preeminent cytoskeletal researchers.

“Dr. Goode is at the forefront of his field. He’s pushing the limits in a lot of different ways, not only in the nature of his discoveries, but also in the technology he’s using. He’s one of the world leaders of the new generation of cytoskeleton researchers,” said Dr. Rafael Garcia-Mata, UToledo associate professor of biological sciences and one of the event creators.

The event also will feature a presentation and artwork by Dr. Ahna Skop, a professor in the Department of Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Event sponsors include the American Society for Cell Biology, the Journal of Cell Science, Thermo Fisher Scientific, New England Biolabs, Ibidi and Cytokeleton Inc.

For more information, visit the CellulART website.

UToledo Researchers Take Over National Academic Research Program This Week

Five scholars from The University of Toledo will have a national audience this week through The Academic Minute, a public radio program that gives researchers the chance to share their expertise in their own words.

Beginning Monday, Sept. 23, and running through Friday, Sept. 27, one UToledo faculty member will be featured each morning on the program, which is heard on approximately 200 public radio stations throughout the country.

The program, which is produced by Northeast Public Radio in Albany, N.Y., can be livestreamed on the WAMC website at 7:30 a.m. and again at 3:56 p.m.

Here’s the schedule:

Monday, Sept. 23: Dr. Rupali Chandar, professor of astronomy in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, will explain her work peering deep into space to identify and understand young and expanding galaxies.

Tuesday, Sept. 24: Dr. Bina Joe, Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology in the College of Medicine and Life Science, will outline her research into the role played by microbiota in regulating blood pressure.

Wednesday, Sept. 25: Dr. Celia Williamson, Distinguished University Professor and director of the UToledo Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute in the College of Health and Human Services, will discuss her research into how traffickers use social media.

Thursday, Sept. 26: Dr. Neil Reid, professor of geography and planning in the College of Arts and Letters, will talk about his recent study that found craft breweries increase residential property values.

Friday, Sept. 27: Dr. Amit Tiwari, associate professor of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, will review his innovative work of identifying new compounds that provide hope for treating multidrug resistant cancer.

Each segment will be available on The Academic Minute website and shared on the Inside Higher Ed website. The Academic Minute also is available as a podcast from NPR.

New Chemistry Lab to be Dedicated in Honor of Water Quality Leader, UToledo alum Sept. 19

The University of Toledo is honoring a successful alumna who inspired generations of students to pursue careers in chemistry and focused her life’s work on improving water quality and the preservation of safe drinking water around the globe.

A dedication ceremony for the new Dr. Nina McClelland Laboratory for Water Chemistry and Environmental Analysis in The University of Toledo College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics will take place Thursday, Sept. 19, at 3:30 p.m. in Bowman-Oddy Laboratories Room 2059.

McClelland

The namesake of the new chemistry lab will attend the event.

“We are proud to recognize Dr. McClelland’s important contributions to science and to The University of Toledo,” UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber said. “Water quality is a critical area of research at our University, and this new lab will benefit our scientists and students in their search for solutions to protect public health and the environment.”

The lab features state-of-the-art equipment, including novel extraction and microextraction technology and high-resolution mass spectrometry, tandem mass spectrometry, and an advanced imaging system.

McClelland, UToledo dean emerita, retired from the University in 2011 after serving as dean of the UToledo College of Arts and Sciences, as well as working in the Provost’s Office. She began at UToledo in 2003 as an adjunct professor in the Department of Chemistry.

McClelland served as chair of the Board of Directors for the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific organization. She also served as chair, president and chief executive officer during her more than 30 years with NSF International, an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to certifying products and writing standards for food, water and consumer goods.

She has served on several major committees, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Drinking Water Advisory Council in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Committee on Water Treatment Chemicals in the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council.

McClelland earned bachelor and master of science degrees from UToledo in 1951 and 1963, respectively. She received her doctoral degree in environmental chemistry from the University of Michigan in 1968. UToledo awarded her an honorary doctorate in science in 2003.