Natural Sciences and Mathematics | UToledo News

Categories

Archives

Resources

Categories

Archives

Resources

Natural Sciences and Mathematics

UToledo Astronomer Awarded NSF Grant to Study Role of Galactic Winds in Galaxy Evolution

An astronomer at The University of Toledo is combining several techniques to take a high-precision look at how our Milky Way and other galaxies formed and changed after the Big Bang billions of years ago.

The National Science Foundation awarded Dr. Anne Medling, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, a three-year, $332,964 grant to study the way gas — the fundamental building blocks of stars — gets blown out of galaxies by strong winds.

Medling

The scientist will use resolved spectroscopy — splitting the light from a galaxy into many different colors — to track the causes and effects of galactic winds, which are driven by black holes and star formation.

As part of the project, Medling’s team also will use their research to develop a public show for the UToledo Ritter Planetarium, titled “The Secret Lives of Galaxies,” which also will be available to other planetariums around the world in both English and Spanish.

“Extreme winds driven by bursts of star formation or active supermassive black holes can eject gas from a galaxy, but weaker galactic winds are more prevalent and their long-term impacts on galaxy evolution may be significant,” Medling said. “Our method allows us to detect those weaker winds.”

Medling will use the Sydney-Australian Astronomical Observatory Multi-Object Integral-Field Spectrograph Galaxy Survey data to identify gas outflows and quantify the effects of winds on their host galaxies using a 3D shock diagnostic that can trace gas outflows up to two orders of magnitude weaker than standard methods.

Those data will be linked with near-infrared observations using the Rapid Infrared Imager Spectrometer on the Lowell Discovery Telescope in Arizona and molecular gas observations using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array in Chile.

The combined datasets will provide three independent tracers of shocked gas: optical emission, near-infrared molecular hydrogen lines and carbon monoxide emission.

“By looking at so many galaxies at this level of detail, our team will study how galaxies move from youth — blue and star-forming — into their old age — red and no longer able to form new stars,” Medling said.

UToledo Health Professions Chapter Places Highly in International Competition

A group of Rockets in the health professions have launched themselves from competition in Ohio to recognition among their peers at the international level.

In June, students in The University of Toledo chapter of the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) Future Health Professionals competed with state finalists from around the country during HOSA’s 2020 International Conference, held virtually for the first time in response to COVID-19.

More than 7,000 students from high schools and postsecondary institutions in the U.S., Canada and China participated in events testing their abilities in health science and leadership. The UToledo students had qualified to compete in the international conference during HOSA’s virtual statewide competition in April.

“Placing as a champion or becoming a finalist at a HOSA International Conference is
very significant, and each of these members deserves recognition for their dedication and hard work,” said Rupesh Boddapati, a bioengineering major and founder and president of UToledo’s chapter of HOSA Future Health Professionals. “I’m very thankful for their interest and dedication to the organization, to UToledo and to the community.”

HOSA Future Health Professionals, founded in 1975, is an international student organization with more than 245,000 members that helps to develop leadership and technical skills in health science education programs around the world.

UToledo students named 2020 HOSA International champions are:

• Rupesh Boddapati, third place in pathophysiology;

• Sharvari Brahme, second place in extemporaneous writing; and

• Maya Girn, third place in cultural diversities and disparities.

Several UToledo students also earned recognition as 2020 HOSA International finalists. They are Aditya Acharya in medical law and ethics; Samhitha Dasari in human growth and development; Megha Girn in nutrition; Drew Pariseau in nutrition; and Jessica Rinehart in medical math.

UToledo to Host Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony For New Solar Array on Health Science Campus

A new 2.3-acre, 337-kilowatt solar array on Health Science Campus is expected to save The University of Toledo nearly $30,000 a year while increasing the amount of renewable energy powering the University.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the HSC Tech Park Solar Field will take place Tuesday, Aug. 25, at 10 a.m. at its location off of Arlington Avenue along Main Technology Drive near the Facilities Support Building. Parking is in lot 44E.

Mike Green, UToledo director of sustainability and energy, took this photo of the solar array on Health Science Campus.

“The solar field project is complete, and we are working with a local utility provider to get the field operational and tied into the grid,” Jason Toth, senior associate vice president for administration, said. “This work represents a unique collaboration between students, faculty, an outside donor and UToledo to support sustainability on our campus.”

First Solar, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of solar cells and a company with deep ties to UToledo, donated 365 kilowatts of its Series 5 modules valued at $192,000 to the University in 2017. Approximately 10% of the donated modules are being reserved for maintenance.

A senior design team made up of UToledo students studying mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering worked with UToledo Facilities and Construction to identify the site and prepared construction engineering drawings with assistance from JDRM Engineering. The UToledo Student Green Fund approved spending $350,000 to cover the costs to install the array. The construction contract was awarded to Solscient Energy LLC after a public bidding of the project.

The projected electrical production over the 25-year life of the system will be more than $700,000, enough to power about 60 homes annually.

“The University of Toledo continues to reduce its carbon footprint and strengthen its commitment to a clean energy future,” said Dr. Randy Ellingson, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. “Thanks to First Solar’s generous donation of modules and UToledo working to keeping costs down, the array will produce some of the lowest cost solar energy in the state of Ohio. We are excited to connect our students to these solar projects. They gain valuable experience with this fast-growing energy technology that generates nearly carbon-free electricity directly from sunlight.”

Based on avoided combustion of fossil fuels, the array will prevent the release of approximately 6 million kilograms of carbon dioxide while generating approximately 10.5 gigawatt hours of clean electricity for Health Science Campus.

A portion of the value of the electricity generated will go to a UToledo fund for use on future renewable energy projects.

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

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

The U.S. Air Force also 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.

Plus, the U.S. Department of Energy last year 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.

These activities involve collaboration with U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories, U.S. companies and universities, and enable the UToledo Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization to continue strong international leadership in the field of solar electricity generation.

Trailblazing Chemist Who Served Alma Mater Passes

Dr. Nina I. McClelland, a renowned environmental scientist who championed safe drinking water around the globe and returned to teach and lead at The University of Toledo, died Aug. 16. The Toledo resident was 90.

“Dr. McClelland was an outstanding alumna of The University of Toledo and trailblazer for women in science,” Dr. John Plenefisch, interim dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, said. “Her lifelong efforts setting high standards for water quality and the environment have truly made the world a better place.”

McClelland

McClelland, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1951 and a master’s degree in chemistry in 1963 from UToledo, was recognized globally as one of the most influential people in environmental science. She served as chair, president and chief executive officer during her more than 30 years with NSF International, formally National Sanitation Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to certifying products and writing standards for food, water and consumer goods.

As former chair of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific organization, McClelland developed a Water Quality Index to report water quality in lakes, rivers and streams. In time, states and water authorities were required to annually report water quality to Congress using the index. After the Safe Drinking Water Act was passed, she developed a standard adopted by the government regarding chemicals used to treat drinking water, as well as one covering all products that come in contact with drinking water via its treatment, storage and distribution.

When she retired in 1995 from NSF International, she formed a consulting firm whose clients included the World Bank.

McClelland was a principal and consultant with the International Clean Water program, dedicated to providing healthcare, safe drinking water and food, education, disease control, and other essentials to those in developing countries. She also served on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Water Treatment Chemicals and for three terms on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Drinking Water Advisory Council.

Safe drinking water was an issue close to her heart. In a 2016 interview, she said, “…safe drinking water from an adequate source through treatment and distribution has always been my strength and passion.”

That passion began with her first job as a chemist and bacteriologist in the Department of Health at the Wastewater Reclamation Facility in the city of Toledo. After five years, she was named chief chemist, a position she held from 1956 to 1963. She became the first woman in Ohio to earn a Class A license for wastewater treatment.

After receiving a master of public health degree and a doctorate from the University of Michigan in 1964 and 1968, respectively, McClelland joined NSF International in Ann Arbor.

During her career, McClelland 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.

In 2003, McClelland returned to the Glass City and her alma mater as an adjunct professor in the Department of Chemistry. Five years later, she was tapped to serve as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. She retired from the University in 2011 after working in the Office of the Provost. The dean emerita and professor emerita also served as executive-in-residence in the College of Business and Innovation.

McClelland was awarded an honorary doctorate in science by the University in 2003, and in 2014 received the UToledo Alumni Association’s Gold T in recognition of her outstanding career accomplishments. In addition, she was the recipient of the Outstanding Alumna Award from the Department of Chemistry in 1993 and the College of Arts and Sciences in 2004, and the University Women’s Commission’s Alice H. Skeens Outstanding Woman Award in 2017. And she was featured in the 2004 book titled “Nine UT Alumni Who Changed the World.”

Her many honors include induction into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 2010 and the National Wildlife Federation’s 2016 Women in Conservation Award, which she received for protecting safe water around the world, promoting clean energy, and preserving wildlife and habitats in Ohio. She also was named a Fellow by the American Chemical Society in 2011 and was recognized as a Legend of Environmental Chemistry by the organization.

Last year, the Dr. Nina McClelland Laboratory for Water Chemistry and Environmental Analysis was dedicated in the UToledo College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Located in Bowman-Oddy Laboratories, 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.

“Nina was a tremendous friend and supporter of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and her beloved University of Toledo,” Plenefisch said. “She will be greatly missed, but her legacy will live on at the University through the students and the research being performed in the Dr. Nina McClelland Laboratory for Water Chemistry and Environmental Analysis in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. She loved our students and was always encouraging them to seek their full potential.”

The funeral service will be streamed live Thursday, Aug. 20, at 1:15 p.m.

Tributes are suggested to the Dr. Nina McClelland Laboratory for Water Chemistry and Environmental Analysis through The University of Toledo Foundation; call 419.530.7730 or email utfoundation@utoledo.edu.

UToledo Doctoral Student Receives Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

A University of Toledo doctoral student has been selected for the prestigious John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, a yearlong program that places highly qualified graduate students in host offices in the legislative and executive branches of U.S. government.

Michaela Margida, a doctoral student in the Department of Environmental Sciences, is among five finalists in Ohio selected as part of the 42nd class of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Sea Grant fellowship program that provides a unique educational and professional experience to graduate students who have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources.

Margida

Margida focuses her research on mathematical modeling of coastal ecosystems and biogeochemical processes such as the ways in which microorganisms contribute to nutrient availability. She also consults with high school teachers at the Aerospace and Natural Science Academy of Toledo to increase student engagement in scientific research.

“As I begin my career, I am focused on learning more about the role scientists play in policy development,” Margida wrote in her fellowship application. “I want to refine my leadership, communication and outreach skills so I can help inform decisions affecting ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources.”

Margida and the other finalists affiliated with Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant College Program join a group of 75 graduate students recommended to the national Sea Grant office from 27 programs across the country.

Finalists will meet virtually in late 2020 for placement interviews with potential host offices, which can include executive branch appointments in offices like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of the Interior and the National Science Foundation, as well as legislative placements on Senate and House committees and in legislative offices. More information about the program is available at seagrant.noaa.gov/knauss-fellowship-program.

Nursing Graduate Student Named Ohio Recipient of New Scholarship

A University of Toledo graduate student is one step closer to becoming a leader in her profession thanks to a newly created scholarship that supports nursing students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sandra Boateng, a student in UToledo’s Clinical Nurse Leader Master’s Degree Program, was the only recipient of the $500 scholarship in the state of Ohio. Boateng was selected from a pool of more than 2,800 applicants nationwide.

Boateng

Born and raised in the West African nation of Ghana, Boateng is the first in her family to attend college and received a bachelor of arts in biology from UToledo in 2013. She owes her success, in part, to the instructors and faculty she’s partnered with at the University.

“If it wasn’t for the professors and support they have given me, I wouldn’t have gotten this achievement. I appreciate them for all they do and really want to give credit to them,” said Boateng, who also works as a nurse aide at The University of Toledo Medical Center. “With this scholarship, I will be able to buy the books I need to complete my studies.”

The scholarship was awarded by the Foundation for Academic Nursing, a new philanthropic initiative of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing that promotes the importance of academic nursing and educational programs around the country.

“We applaud the Foundation for Academic Nursing for launching this new COVID-19 Nursing Student Support Fund and are very pleased that one of our very deserving students was chosen as the only recipient from Ohio,” said Dr. Linda Lewandowski, dean of the UToledo College of Nursing. “Sandra is an excellent student with great career goals to make a difference, and this scholarship will help her in her quest to achieve them.”

The foundation’s COVID-19 Nursing Student Support Fund was launched in April 2020 to remove barriers to new nurses entering the workforce. The program helps nursing students who are facing hardships as a result of the pandemic and need financial assistance to complete their degree programs.

Study Reveals Many Great Lakes State Parks Impacted By Record-High Water Levels

Every summer millions of people visit parks and protected areas along the shorelines of the Great Lakes to camp, hike, swim and explore nature’s beauty.

While COVID-19 has impacted staffing, operations and budgets at the parks, tourists this year also may notice changes if recent record-high water levels persist on Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and Lake Superior.

UToledo graduate student Eric Kostecky posed for a photo on the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan.

A new study by a graduate student at The University of Toledo zeroes in on how coastal flooding and erosion in 2019 damaged park facilities and roads and interrupted visitor experiences, as well as examines the financial cost of the high water levels.

The research presented at the 2020 Great Lakes Virtual Conference, which is hosted by the International Association of Great Lakes Research, was completed by Eric Kostecky, a graduate student earning his master’s degree in geography, as part of a course in environmental planning he took last fall while completing his undergraduate degree in geography and planning.

“A humbling statistic is that 75% of the parks indicated that continued higher lake levels in 2020 and beyond would further impact park operations and infrastructure,” Kostecky said. “Future management actions would be to improve parking lots and roads and to move hiking trails, campgrounds and public access locations.”

This photo at Golden Hill State Park in Barker, N.Y., was taken by Dr. Patrick Lawrence.

To gather information, Kostecky surveyed 50 parks along the Great Lakes, both federal and state parks in the United States and provincial parks in Canada. Twenty-nine responded.

“Even though Great Lakes parks and protected areas have experienced impacts from shoreline erosion and flooding during previous high water-level events in 1972-73 and 1985-86, this study is the first comprehensive attempt to catalogue those impacts,” said Dr. Patrick Lawrence, professor and chair of the UToledo Department of Geography and Planning and Kostecky’s faculty advisor.

The study shows 50% of the responding parks were impacted by both shoreline erosion and flooding, with the most common type of damage being to boat launches and building structures that were flooded, and roads near dunes washed away by waves.

Total cost of damage for 55% of the parks was $50,000 or less.

As a result of the damage, parks implemented a variety of changes for public safety last year: sections of the park were closed, select park operations were canceled, and some visitor education programs were suspended.

Great Lakes water levels peaked in July 2019, with increases varying between 14 and 31 inches above their long-term averages; Lake Superior was at 14 inches above its average, while Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario were at 31 inches above average, Lawrence said.

“The water levels in the Great Lakes fluctuate, but they don’t fluctuate rapidly, so it’s hard to say if we’re still in the upswing or on the downswing,” Kostecky said. “We won’t know if we’re continuing to rise or if waters have started to recede for the next couple of years.”

The Great Lakes shoreline stretches 10,000 miles around eight U.S. states and Canada.

“Many parks and protected areas in the Great Lakes have struggled with the economic costs and interruptions of their operations, including services and programs for their visitors, and are concerned that as this period of high water levels continues this summer, they will face ongoing challenges in delivering the levels of public access and services to their visitors so eager to explore the parks and enjoy the nature and environment provided by these special spaces,” Lawrence said.

UToledo Researchers Tracking Algal Bloom on Maumee River, Lake Erie

Algae scientists and student researchers aboard The University of Toledo research vessel are taking measurements and collecting water samples on the Maumee River in Toledo after a harmful algal bloom popped up downtown.

“This week has become a five-alarm fire for our research,” Dr. Thomas Bridgeman, director of the UToledo Lake Erie Center and ecology professor, said. “We are working to figure out what may have caused this sudden river bloom.”

Algae scientists and student researchers aboard The University of Toledo research vessel took measurements and collected water samples on the Maumee River in Toledo. The crew was dispatched July 8 after a harmful algal bloom appeared downtown.

Bridgeman has monitored, tracked and studied algae in the Great Lakes for nearly two decades. He created a new method to measure how much harmful algae there is in the lake during the course of a summer and has compared the bloom from one year to another since 2002.

“The bloom appears to be growing in the river, not blown in from Lake Erie,” said Zach Swan, UToledo graduate student working on a master’s degree in ecology. “The recent high temperatures we’ve had have contributed to the growth of this bloom, and we could see it continue to grow if these conditions continue.”

Bridgeman said it’s likely a combination of factors.

UToledo students collected a water sample on the Maumee River.

“Dry conditions have resulted in very low river flow and, in addition, high lake water levels cause the river to slow down even further,” Bridgeman said. “Essentially, the lower stretch of the Maumee River has become a large pond. Anytime nutrient-rich water sits still and becomes warm, there’s an enhanced risk of a bloom. Although the bloom is visible at the surface, we’re especially interested in the conditions near the river bottom, where chemical changes can take place that can accelerate a bloom.”

The crews focused their efforts Wednesday on areas downtown by Promenade Park, the National Museum of the Great Lakes and near the Port of Toledo.

The UToledo team tracks and combats growing algal blooms in Lake Erie every year during algal bloom season to sound the early warning for water treatment plant operators as they work to provide safe public drinking water.

“Whenever cyanobacteria is visible in the water as a surface layer or scum, toxin levels in that layer are likely to exceed the recommendations for recreational contact,” Bridgeman said. “Pets and small children who may be at risk of ingesting water especially should be kept away from areas with visible surface scums of cyanobacteria.”

The Lake Erie Center is UToledo’s freshwater research and science education campus focused on finding solutions to water quality issues that face the Great Lakes, including harmful algal blooms, invasive species and pollutants.

Math Camp Helps Students Assess and Improve Skills Starting June 29

Math Camp 2020, an intensive, six-week review of skills and concepts hosted by faculty in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, is scheduled for June 29 to Aug. 6.

Each week, the camp’s instructional sessions will be held Monday to Thursday from 10 to 11 a.m. via online video conference.

While Math Camp is designed with incoming freshmen in mind, any students wishing to improve their math skills are welcome to attend. Planned session topics include rational equations and expressions, exponents, polynomials, geometry and many others.

Registration for Math Camp 2020 is $75 and includes all instructional sessions. Applications and payments are due by Friday, June 26.Math Camp Graphic

“For students, getting placed correctly is key to succeeding in that first college-level math course,” said Kevin Gibbs, a senior lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and one of the instructors for Math Camp. “Math Camp aims to fill in missing bits of knowledge that might keep students from thriving in their studies.”

The course includes short lectures, demonstrations and discussions along with one-on-one preparation for the ALEKS® placement test, which UToledo uses to provide a current measure of students’ skills to place students in the appropriate mathematics courses. ALEKS® uses adaptive questioning to determine what students know and don’t know about a topic.

For more information on Math Camp 2020, students are encouraged to contact the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at mathcamp@utoledo.edu or call 419.530.2249.

UToledo Students Examine Human Consumption in International Biodesign Challenge Summit 2020

Four University of Toledo students have teamed up to critically investigate the behaviors of human consumption. Their project is competing in the international Biodesign Challenge Summit 2020, held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The competition is being held online June 15-19, but the video presentations are available for view anytime. Winners will be announced June 19 on the Biodesign Challenge Summit website.

The UToledo project, “Wastr: Reassessing Our Trash,” was the brainchild of students Jarrett Cunningham, who graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in film and video in May; Madalyn Jones, a senior majoring in environmental science; Michael Miller, a bioengineering major with an economics minor; and Mohamed Nawras, who received a bachelor of science degree in biology in 2018 and is a doctor of medicine candidate for fall 2020.

The team developed a presentation highlighting the paradox of creating an eco-friendly product that adds to consumptive behaviors. The ultimate goal is to get people to become more aware of the amount of waste they personally generate.

A video presentation of the project states, “Landfills are reaching capacity at alarming rates, impacting the environment tremendously while also contributing to a culture of consumption.”

Students from UToledo prepare for the competition every year through a class offered in the Department of Art. The spring 2020 Biodesign Challenge course brought together students from multiple disciplines into the Department of Art under the direction of faculty members Brian Carpenter and Eric Zeigler. Students worked in interdisciplinary teams to research real-world problems and then sought to solve those problems with biotechnology and/or biomaterials. This year’s groups addressed potential eutrophication solutions, antimicrobial structures, innovative health testing devices, and consumption.

The Biodesign Challenge course asks students to stretch their known capabilities by making meaningful connections between disciplines and designing unique solutions to complex problems in a normal year. As the COVID-19 pandemic struck and the course moved to virtual learning, the teams continued to work extensively on their projects.

“We are truly amazed at the tenacity of our students, and the outcomes from remote research they were able to accomplish in such a difficult time,” Carpenter, assistant professor of art and gallery director, said.

“We are proud of the work every student has done, and we are excited to compete internationally again,” Zeigler, associate lecturer of art, said.