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UToledo physicists awarded $7.4 million to rev up solar technology to power space vehicles

The U.S. Air Force awarded a team of physicists at The University of Toledo $7.4 million to enhance the reliability and efficiency of lightweight power to improve the safety and effectiveness of Department of Defense missions.

Dr. Randall Ellingson, professor in the UToledo Department of Physics and Astronomy, and the UToledo Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization will lead the five-year contract to develop solar technology that is lightweight, flexible, highly efficient and durable in space so it can provide power for space vehicles using sunlight.

Dr. Randall Ellingson has received $7.4 million from the U.S. Air Force to develop solar technology that is lightweight, flexible, highly efficient and durable to improve the safety and effectiveness of Department of Defense missions.

Ellingson is applying his persistent dedication to discovery in the fast-growing field of photovoltaics to champion the U.S. armed forces by advancing power generation technologies for space vehicle applications to survive natural and man-made threats.

“Our goal is to protect our troops and enhance national security by accelerating the performance of solar cells,” Ellingson said. “Our primary goal is to reduce the power system payload by developing highly efficient and lightweight technology to replace liquid fuels and minimize battery storage needs.”

In order for the technology to achieve both high efficiency and the flexibility to be used on a curved surface like a wing or fuselage, Ellingson’s team is making tandem solar cells — two different solar cells stacked on top of each other that use two different parts of the sun’s spectrum — on very thin, flexible supporting material.

UToledo physicists have had great success drawing record levels of power from the same amount of sunlight using the tandem technique with what are called perovskites, compound materials with a special crystal structure formed through chemistry.

“The University of Toledo is a worldwide leader driving innovation in photovoltaics research, education and application,” Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur said. “This critical collaboration with the U.S. Air Force strengthens national security and fuels a cleaner energy future for generations to come.”

UToledo’s flexible, lightweight, low-cost technology will be tested under space-like radiation exposure.

“In outer space, the radiation environment is much more harsh, where high-energy photons and particles, arising from both our sun and our galaxy, can damage the solar cells,” Ellingson said.

“We are proud our photovoltaics team at The University of Toledo has been selected once again to use its state-of-the-art expertise to advance Air Force missions in service to the nation,” Dr. Frank Calzonetti, UToledo vice president for research, said. “This major award demonstrates the high regard the U.S. Air Force has in The University of Toledo’s solar energy research capabilities and the confidence in our research team. Dr. Ellingson has performed exceptionally well in meeting the high demands of the Air Force in providing research that supports the nation’s defense posture.”

For more than three decades, The University of Toledo has focused with precision on the potential of photovoltaics to transform the world and improve sustainability to combat the energy crisis.

Harold McMaster, an inventor and namesake of UToledo’s McMaster Hall, pioneered the vision for commercializing solar energy in northwest Ohio and donated funds to UToledo to gather great minds and craft solutions.

One of the world’s largest manufacturer of solar cells, First Solar, originated in UToledo laboratories.

The University created the Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization in January 2007 with $18.6 million in support from the Ohio Department of Development, along with matching contributions of $30 million from federal agencies, universities and industrial partners. The center works to strengthen the photovoltaics and manufacturing base in Ohio, through materials and design innovation.

Lake Erie Center to Host Farmers’ Market This Summer

Stop by the Farmers’ Market at the Lake Erie Center and pick up some fresh produce, bread, handcrafted beauty products and more.

Local farmers will be at the center, 6200 Bayshore Road in Oregon, Friday, Aug. 9 and Sept. 6, from 3 to 6 p.m.

Dr. Thomas Bridgeman, director of the UToledo Lake Erie Center and professor of ecology, picked up some kettle corn and vegetables at the Farmers’ Market last summer at the Lake Erie Center.

“We are looking forward to a wide selection of farmers, vendors and food trucks at our markets this summer,” said Rachel Lohner, education program leader at the Lake Erie Center.

“We feel these markets are important because they give us a chance to interact with the community and educate the public about the research that occurs at the Lake Erie Center,” she added.

Due to the rough growing season, the first market scheduled in July was canceled.

“We also value the markets as a way to partner with local farmers and show that we appreciate the efforts they devote to feeding us and protecting our environment at the same time,” Lohner said.

For more information or to join the Lake Erie Center Farmers’ Market as a vendor, call 419.530.8360 or email lakeeriecenter@utoledo.edu.

Algae Researchers to Fan Out Across Lake Erie to Collect Water Samples Aug. 7

Five years after a water crisis in Toledo left half a million residents without safe tap water for three days, environmental scientists from the U.S. and Canada will board research vessels and fan out across western Lake Erie to collect water samples at nearly 200 locations in four hours in a united effort to create a high-resolution picture of this summer’s harmful algal bloom (HAB) and ultimately protect the public drinking water supply.

The second annual HABs Grab on Wednesday, Aug. 7, will bring together researchers from The University of Toledo, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, Ohio State University, University of Michigan, Bowling Green State University, Wayne State University, Michigan Technological University, Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research and LimnoTech. The HABs Grab has nearly doubled in size this year with the addition of Canadian partners, including the University of Windsor, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Dr. Thomas Bridgeman, left, and Zachary Swan, a graduate student, examined a YSI EXO sonde, which is used to measure water quality parameters, including how much blue-green algae is present, temperature, clarity, oxygen levels, turbidity and pH.

A major goal is to estimate the mass of total microcystin toxin for one day during the peak of algal bloom season, as well as to characterize the different forms of microcystin and the genes that produce them.

“Collaboration is critical in our efforts to understand a harmful algal bloom as large as Lake Erie’s — the lake is simply too large for one organization to handle,” Dr. Thomas Bridgeman, director of the UToledo Lake Erie Center and professor of ecology, said. “This massive one-day sampling event allows us to not only analyze the current bloom, but focus on unraveling the mystery of why some algal blooms are highly toxic, while others are less so.”

Bridgeman, who has studied algae in the Great Lakes for nearly two decades, and his research team at UToledo collect samples and track cyanobacteria throughout Lake Erie’s western basin once a week every summer during algal bloom season.

“Harmful algal blooms are an international issue,” Bridgeman said. “The ultimate solution is to prevent blooms from growing in the first place by preventing water pollution. In the meantime, discovering what triggers a bloom to start producing toxins would be a large step toward protecting people, pets and wildlife.”

HABs Grab is funded by NOAA’s ECOHAB research program.

“The main goal of the project is to develop a bloom toxicity forecast, and the HABs Grab provides data to estimate toxin mass in the lake,” said Dr. Justin Chaffin, leader of the HABs Grab project who is based at Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory. Chaffin earned his Ph.D. in biology from UToledo in 2013 while studying in Bridgeman’s lab.

“This coordinated effort will assist in improving the accuracy of microcystin toxin concentrations in HAB forecast products,” Deborah Lee, director of the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, said. “It is a true testament to collaboration and coordination across institutional and international boundaries.”

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.

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.

Drones monitoring algal blooms capture high-quality, low-cost data to protect drinking water, swimmer safety

Low-flying eyes in the sky are improving the accuracy of water quality assessments in the Great Lakes and the rivers that flow into them.

A new study at The University of Toledo finds drones armed with sensors are useful tools in the fight against harmful algal blooms, particularly for monitoring key spots within Lake Erie, such as near drinking water inlets and off the shore of public beaches.

Dr. Richard Becker used a drone to assess water quality on Lake Erie.

Researchers compared data gathered by the drones with satellite data and boat-based water sampling at 10 locations over Lake Erie and the Maumee River.

“We get the same results on both drones compared to more expensive and time-consuming measurements — including some made by probes put directly into the water,” said Dr. Richard Becker, associate professor in the UToledo Department of Environmental Sciences.

The technology places a new weapon in the arsenal of water treatment plant managers protecting the drinking water supply and public health officials monitoring beaches.

Filling the short-range surveillance gap left by more expensive remote-sensing methods such as satellites and aircraft, the unmanned aerial systems offer increased algae awareness due to their ability to hover below cloud cover and to be deployed on short notice.

“Detecting the threat of toxic algae as early as possible is critical, but it can be foggy for satellites looking through different layers of the atmosphere,” Becker said. “These drones are focused and have the ability to assess the condition at the shoreline, which people care about for swimming.”

Determined to safeguard the community’s health, Becker built and tested an algae monitoring drone in summer 2017, costing roughly $2,000. The drone took off from either the UToledo research vessel or the shoreline and flew at an altitude of between 5 and 10 meters above the water’s surface.

“Since drones are inexpensive, quick to launch, and can fly under cloudy skies, they have a lot of advantages that make up for the practical limitations of satellite, aircraft or boat-based observations,” Dr. Thomas Bridgeman, director of the UToledo Lake Erie Center and professor of ecology, said.

The study published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research shows Becker’s team in collaboration with Michigan Tech Research Institute successfully demonstrated the utility of drones outfitted with hyperspectral spectroradiometers to measure water-quality parameters that include chlorophyll, suspended minerals, cyanobacteria index and surface scums.

The sensor is used to produce a cyanobacterial index, which is a measure of algal bloom intensity.

“Dr. Becker and his colleagues show that sophisticated optical measurements of harmful algal blooms collected by drone-based sensors are just as good as similar measurements made from a boat,” Bridgeman said.

Bridgeman’s research team aboard the UToledo Lake Erie Center’s research vessel collects water samples and tracks harmful algal blooms once a week every summer throughout algal bloom season to help sound the early warning for water treatment plant operators.

“This new research means that harmful algal blooms impacting a swimming beach, a reservoir used for drinking water, or the Maumee River could be scanned by someone standing on the shoreline piloting a drone,” Bridgeman said.

Making measurements with a higher spatial resolution, the drones bridge a gap and complement the measurements of satellites, Becker said, but they’re not the stand-alone solution.

“A drone is not always the right tool for the job. A satellite or airplane is a better choice when talking about wide swaths of Lake Erie, instead of a targeted area,” Becker said.

The research was supported by NASA’s Glenn Research Center and the National Science Foundation.

UToledo breakthrough in how cells link together has implications in proliferation of cancer

For cancer to be successful — from its point of view, anyway — the disease has to find a way to break out beyond its initial foothold and spread throughout the body. Newly published research from The University of Toledo could bring fresh insight into one of the first ways cancers proliferate.

Dr. Rafael Garcia-Mata, associate professor of biological sciences, recently identified a protein complex that regulates how epithelial cells bond together in such tight connections.

Dr. Rafael Garcia-Mata identified a protein complex that regulates how epithelial cells bond together, a breakthrough that could advance cancer research.

There are more than 150 different types of epithelial cells that carry out essential functions in a wide variety of tissues. Those jobs include making our skin resilient, producing the mucus that lines and guards our airways, and helping with the absorption of nutrients in our digestive system.

The discovery, which builds on Garcia-Mata’s research focus of how cancer cells spread throughout the body, is intriguing because it explains the behavior of cells that are by far the most common starting place for cancer.

“Eighty percent of cancers originate from epithelial cells, and most cancers will have to disassemble the adhesion system to grow and spread,” Garcia-Mata said. “If we understand how these adhesive structures are built, we can also try to understand what happens when cancer cells disassemble them.”

His research was published June 27 in the Journal of Cell Biology.

Epithelial tissues line the outer surfaces of organs and blood vessels throughout the body, as well as the inner surfaces of cavities in many internal organs. Their ability to form nearly impermeable junctions enables them to establish boundaries that separate the inside of organs and other tissues from the outside environment.

The way epithelial cells link together is unique in biology and involves a large number of components that work in synchrony to control their assembly. However, the science behind how they manage to form such perfect bonds has up to now been elusive.

“The way these cells organize is very important. What we’ve identified is a new molecular mechanism that controls a lot of the properties that make the ‘right’ epithelial tissues,” Garcia-Mata said. “Understanding how they normally function allows you to understand what happens when things go wrong.”

The implications of these findings go well beyond cancer. Garcia-Mata’s research also helps explain how cells coordinate to generate organ cavities, which may broaden the knowledge of early development and organ formation. It could add significant new pathways for explaining conditions such as asthma and inflammatory bowel disease.

“A lot of diseases are essentially leaky epithelia. Understanding how these structures are modulated may help us learn why we get some of these diseases,” he said.

Garcia-Mata’s research into epithelial cells grew out of prior National Institutes of Health grant-funded work investigating how cancer cells spread away from the primary tumor.

“My lab studies basic, hardcore cell biology. This is where we make discoveries that lead to our ability to understand and target particular diseases, and the initial event in most cancers is the disassembly of these epithelial structures,” he said.

Collaborative research between colleges of Pharmacy, Natural Science and Mathematics uncovers potential cancer drug

Scientists at The University of Toledo investigating improvements to a commonly used chemotherapy drug have discovered an entirely new class of cancer-killing agents that show promise in eradicating cancer stem cells.

Their findings could prove to be a breakthrough in not only treating tumors, but ensuring cancer doesn’t return years later — giving peace of mind to patients that their illness is truly gone.

Dr. William Taylor, left, and Dr. L.M. Viranga Tillekeratne are investigating a small molecule that locks on to and kills cancer stem cells.

“Not all cancer cells are the same, even in the same tumor,” said Dr. William Taylor, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences in the UToledo College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “There is a lot of variability and some of the cells, like cancer stem cells, are much nastier. Everyone is trying to figure out how to kill them, and this may be one way to do it.”

Taylor and Dr. L.M. Viranga Tillekeratne, a professor in the Department of Medicinal and Biological Chemistry in the UToledo College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, reported their findings in a paper recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Cancer stem cells are an intriguing target for researchers because of their potential to re-seed tumors.

When doctors remove a tumor surgically or target it with chemotherapy drugs or radiation therapy, the cancer may appear to be gone. However, evidence suggests that a tiny subpopulation of adaptable cancer cells can remain and circulate through the body to seed new metastasis in far-off locations.

Those cancer stem cells, Taylor said, are similar to dandelions in a well-manicured lawn.

“You could chop the plant off, but it will drop a seed. You know the seeds are there, but they’re hiding,” he said. “You pull one weed out and another comes up right after it. Cancers can be like this as well.”

The small molecule they have isolated appears to lock on to those stem cells and kill them by blocking their absorption of an amino acid called cystine.

UToledo was awarded a patent for the discovery late last year.

For Tillekeratne and Taylor, uncovering a new class of therapeutic molecules could prove to be an even larger contribution to cancer research than the project they initially envisioned.

“At present, there are no drugs that can kill cancer stem cells, but people are looking for them,” Tillekeratne said. “A lot of drugs are discovered by serendipity. Sometimes in research if you get unexpected results, you welcome that because it opens up a new line of research. This also shows the beauty of collaboration. I wouldn’t have been able to do this on my own, and [Taylor] wouldn’t have been able to do it on his own.”

Tillekeratne also has received a three-year, $449,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute to continue testing the effectiveness of the newly identified therapy.

Because the molecules so selectively target cancer stem cells, it’s possible they could ultimately be paired with other chemotherapy drugs to deliver a more comprehensive treatment.

However, the researchers have found their agents show stand-alone promise in treating sarcomas and a subtype of breast cancer known as claudin-low breast cancer, which represents up to 14 percent of all breast cancers and can be particularly difficult to treat.

Trustees approve 2020 operating budget

The University of Toledo Board of Trustees approved June 17 a balanced operating budget for fiscal year 2020 that positions the institution to continue to make progress on its strategic priorities. The approximately $770 million budget includes an investment in the people who make UToledo successful.

Because the state of Ohio biennium operating budget continues to work through the legislature containing language that limits tuition and fee increases, the University’s budget leaves undergraduate tuition for continuing students not part of the Tuition Guarantee unchanged at this time. The board approved a resolution that authorizes UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber to modify tuition and fees if permitted by law.

The budget does include differential tuition increases in selected graduate and professional programs.

In an effort to make online programs more accessible, trustees approved a resolution to reduce the non-Ohio surcharge to just $5 per credit hour for students enrolled exclusively in online programs.

The budget reflects a 2 percent wage increase for professional staff and faculty members who are not part of a bargaining unit. University employees who are members of unions will receive increased compensation as determined by their collective bargaining agreements.

In other board action, two new undergraduate degrees in data analytics were approved and will be sent to the Ohio Department of Higher Education for consideration.

The bachelor of arts degree in data analytics in the College of Arts and Letters has an emphasis on social sciences and will prepare students for careers that focus on interpreting and applying structured data for clients. The bachelor of science degree in data science in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics is designed to prepare students for careers that involve statistical tools to extract meaning from large data sets for specific applications.

Trustees also approved a reorganization of departments in the Judith Herb College of Education to combine programs into two areas — one related to teacher licensure and one focused on the study of education.

The Department of Curriculum and Instruction and the Department of Early Childhood, Higher Education and Special Education will be combined and renamed the Department of Teacher Education. The Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership and the faculty in the Higher Education and Education Technology programs will be combined and renamed the Department of Educational Studies.

At its final meeting of the fiscal year, the Board of Trustees elected officers for the 2019-20 year. Mary Ellen Pisanelli will continue to serve as chair, and Al Baker will continue as vice chair.

The June meeting completed the term of Sharon Speyer, president of the Northwest Ohio Region for Huntington National Bank. She was given the title of trustee emeritus, along with Steven Cavanaugh, who resigned upon beginning his new role as ProMedica’s chief financial officer. A proclamation also was read to recognize student trustee Hedyeh Elahinia, a junior in the Jesup Scott Honors College studying biology, who completed two years of service on the board.

UToledo alum, flight director for International Space Station leading NASA’s launch of commercial crew vehicle

After an eight-year hiatus, NASA is one step closer to rocketing its astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil, instead of buying seats aboard Russian spacecraft.

An alumnus of The University of Toledo will serve as flight director for the launch of the unmanned test flight of the Boeing Starliner slated for late August, about a month after the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Dr. Robert Dempsey, NASA flight director for the International Space Station at Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control in Houston, is leading the launch of a commercial crew vehicle. He received a master’s degree and Ph.D. in physics from UToledo in 1987 and 1991. Image courtesy of Nasa

“The CST-100 Starliner is designed as a space taxi,” said Dr. Robert Dempsey, NASA flight director for the International Space Station at Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control in Houston. “I’ve been working on this project for eight years, longer than it took me to earn my Ph.D. at The University of Toledo. I joke that I have a doctorate in Starliner now.”

Dempsey, who received a master’s degree and Ph.D. in physics from UToledo in 1987 and 1991, is working around the clock to train and troubleshoot for the upcoming launch, which — if successful — could lead to a crewed flight by the end of the year.

“I will be flight director for the rendezvous and docking,” Dempsey said. “I’m excited because the current timeframe means the Starliner would dock on my birthday, Aug. 18, which would be a cool present.”

The Starliner is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, a public-private partnership in which the agency contracted with Boeing and SpaceX to fly crews to the space station, an orbiting laboratory.

This NASA graphic shows the Boeing Starliner that is scheduled for an unmanned test flight in August. Dr. Robert Dempsey, UToledo alumnus, is the flight director for the launch.

The goal of the Commercial Crew Program is to have safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and foster commercial access to other potential low-Earth orbit destinations.

It’s an expansion of NASA’s success in unmanned cargo supply ships.

The vision is for private companies to someday fly customers to hotels in space and other celestial destinations.

“When we look at the space program, the Commercial Crew Program is one example of what to expect over the next 50 years,” Dempsey said. “NASA will focus strategically on big-vision projects like getting to Mars, but private companies can invest and develop technology for low-Earth orbit transportation. We’ll focus on the hard stuff at NASA so that down the road Boeing and SpaceX can launch commercial vehicles to take customers to the moon or Mars.”

Leading up to the debut launch of Starliner, Dempsey spends his time thinking of everything that could go wrong on the mission and figuring out how to fix it.

It’s familiar territory.

Dempsey started working at NASA 21 years ago when the agency was creating the International Space Station.

“We were about three years from launching the first piece of the space station,” Dempsey said. “The design was mostly done, but the software was immature. I helped out with finishing the software.”

It’s a dream career sparked 50 years ago by one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Dempsey was 6 years old when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon July 20, 1969.

“I remember watching the lunar landing on television and thinking, ‘I want to do that,’” Dempsey said. “I have never wavered. Here I am today doing that work.”

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.