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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 Transportation Systems Research Lab Leading New City, State Projects

Civil engineers in The University of Toledo Transportation Systems Research Lab are looking for undergraduate and graduate students to join their work on several projects critical to the future of driving on roads in Ohio.

The Ohio Department of Transportation awarded the lab $250,000 to study how to use artificial intelligence, deep learning and computer vision technologies to detect rumble strips on roads, evaluate roadway conditions for potholes, patches and cracks, and automatically count and classify passing vehicles for traffic management.

Pratik Shrestha, who is pursing a master’s degree in civil engineering, works in the Transportation Systems Research Lab.

“These technologies are similar to those employed by the autonomous driving industry for self-driving vehicles to navigate roads, and they are becoming very prevalent in our everyday life,” Dr. Eddie Chou, professor of civil engineering and director of the Transportation Systems Research Lab, said. “Our goal is to help agencies such as ODOT use these new technologies to maintain safer roads, collect roadway and traffic data, and reduce traffic congestions.”

The researchers also are working with the city of Columbus to implement state-of-the-art tools that will help Columbus become a digital, smart city that efficiently utilizes its resources to improve infrastructures and services, reduces traffic crashes and fatalities, and increases equity among all residents. This one-year, $49,500 pilot project started in April.

“We are very excited about the potential impact of these projects and hope to attract new students to participate in the research,” Chou said. “We are very fortunate to receive the external funding to perform this cutting-edge research, especially during this time when many funding agencies are facing enormous budget shortfalls.”

For this research, Chou’s lab acquired an AI/deep-learning machine equipped with two powerful graphical processing units that perform a large number of mathematic computations rapidly through parallel processing.

“This enormous computing power allows artificial intelligence and deep-learning models to be trained using large amount of data, efficient algorithms and fast-computing hardware,” Chou said.

Deep learning is machine learning — the most popular AI field — using “deep” neural network models, which means many layers of neurons within the artificial neural network models. The more layers of neurons, the more computations are involved.

New Ranking Places UToledo Among Nation’s Most Innovative for Economic Impact

The University of Toledo has been recognized among the nation’s top comprehensive research universities for the impact of its innovations on the U.S. economy.

A first-of-its kind set of rankings from the George W. Bush Institute has placed UToledo No. 11 out of the 54 smaller research universities based on total research budgets included in the report, called the Innovation Impact of U.S. Universities. In addition, the University placed No. 90 in the report’s overall ranking of 195 institutions nationwide.

Universities were ranked based on their relative strength in technology commercialization, entrepreneurship from intellectual property and technology licensing, research citations, and production of STEM graduates.

“We have a strong record of technology transfer and commercialization,” said Dr. Frank Calzonetti, vice president for research at UToledo. “Our size allows us to connect easily with experts and innovate to attack problems that cross disciplinary boundaries. This ranking reflects that strength.”

UToledo has one of the top solar energy programs in the nation, with the Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization supporting 15 scientists and 40 graduate students. Scientists won more than $12 million in awards in the 2019-20 academic year alone. These researchers work with local colleagues at First Solar, Toledo Solar, Pilkington NSG, Lucintech and others to make Toledo one of the globe’s leading centers for an increasingly important industry.

Housed within the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, the George W. Bush Institute is a nonpartisan policy organization that strives to develop thought leadership, advance policy, and take action to solve today’s most pressing challenges.

The Bush Institute positions the innovation impact report as a tool for policymakers and business leaders to help leverage research innovations from universities toward advancing their communities.

“Universities play an important role in fostering innovation in communities across the country, and that innovation drives economic growth and rising levels of prosperity,” said J.H. Cullum Clark, director of the Bush Institute-Southern Methodist University Economic Growth Initiative and co-author of the report. “These findings are especially critical as universities re-evaluate their priorities in a difficult environment, and as policymakers consider the role that higher education and research can play in a post-COVID economic recovery.”

UToledo Student Awarded International Research Grant to Study Black Urban Agricultural Experience

Brittany D. Jones, a Ph.D. candidate in The University of Toledo Spatially Integrated Social Science Doctoral Program in the College of Arts and Letters, is one of four winners of a 2020 MAXQDA Research for Change Grant from VERBI Software and the Global Nature Fund.

Her research project is titled “Empowerment Through Consumption: Land Banks, Land Ownership and Black Food Geographies.” Her co-advisors are Dr. Neil Reid and Dr. Sujata Shetty, professors in the UToledo Department of Geography and Planning.

Jones

Jones will explore the urban agricultural experience and Black foodways in Toledo and Dayton, two Ohio cities that saw a large influx of African Americans during the Great Migration. They are also legacy cities, meaning they lost a significant amount of population and economic viability after the decline of manufacturing in the region. She plans to look at land use and barriers to urban agriculture in these cities and how it impacts African American communities.

In recognizing Jones as a grant recipient, VERBI noted, “We were greatly impacted by Mrs. Jones’ story and how her life history has inspired her to pursue food system and sovereignty studies. With her project, she aims to uncover racialized hypocrisies embedded within both the local and global food system, which is now as relevant as ever. Mrs. Jones is a first-generation Ph.D. student in her family, and we are glad to be able to support her.”

Jones said in her master’s program, she began to fully understand the nutritional problems of the world she grew up in were rooted in systemic causes. In applying for the grant, Jones said she hopes her work will not only suggest solutions, but improve research methodology.

“Research for change means more than just finding solutions to a complex problem, [it] embodies the [grassroots] efforts of providing resources and realistic methods that can be easily replicated and adapted, all the while acknowledging cultural differences/expectations, which is crucial to long-term change,” Jones said.

Dr. Beth Schlemper, associate professor in the UToledo Department of Geography and Planning, said she believes Jones’ doctoral course work helped her win the grant.

“It makes me happy because I taught the Ph.D. students, who took advanced qualitative methods for spatially integrated social science students, how to use MAXQDA [research software], and she was inspired to use the software in her research methods and apply for this grant.”

Jones agreed: “The skills I acquired through my degree program have allowed me to confidently apply for opportunities best fit for my research. It has taught me that, as a doctorate student, you are the CEO of your degree and must stand in your truth as a contributor to universal knowledge, especially as a scholar of color.”

The $1,600 grant includes a two-year student subscription to MAXQDA Analytics Pro software, two online trainings with certified MAXQDA trainers, a registration waiver to the MAXQDA International Conference in Berlin, and full tech support. In addition, Jones’ research will receive international exposure through MAXQDA promotions.

“This software is highly used to fully integrate qualitative data analysis into your research and is especially popular with mixed methods researchers,” said Jones, who is a graduate research assistant in the University’s Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center and president of the UToledo Graduate Student Association.

Read more about Jones’ research project on the MAXQDA website.

Hypertension Researcher Earns Prestigious NIH Award

A hypertension researcher in The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences has received a prestigious career development grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Cameron McCarthy, a postdoctoral to faculty fellow, is one of a small number of researchers in the country to receive the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00). The grant is meant to transition promising postdocs into independent, tenure-track faculty members.

McCarthy, who joined the College and Medicine and Life Sciences in 2018, is focused on the connection between hypertension and premature aging of the vascular system.

Cameron McCarthy and Jonnelle Edwards in lab

Dr. Cameron McCarthy, a postdoctoral to faculty fellow in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, works in the lab with Jonnelle Edwards, a Ph.D. student in the molecular medicine track. McCarthy recently received the National Institutes of Health Pathway to Independence Award.

“Hypertension is a major risk factor for some of the leading causes of death worldwide,” McCarthy said. “I promote the idea that arteries and vasculature from young people with hypertension look like arteries and vasculature from older people. There are things going on in hypertension that cause the arteries to age much more quickly than they should.”

More than 100 million Americans have high blood pressure, but only about a quarter of those individuals have their blood pressure under control.

McCarthy’s work is aimed at better understanding the mechanisms of why people develop high blood pressure and establishing novel therapeutics to treat the condition. Specifically, he’s studying how autophagy — the body’s natural process for recycling old and damaged cellular components — decreases in individuals with hypertension.

“When autophagy goes down, all of a sudden that cellular recycling doesn’t work as well. You have a buildup of damaged cargo sitting there in the cell causing dysfunction,” he said.

McCarthy is examining whether increasing autophagy in the liver can stimulate the body’s production of beta hydroxybutyrate — a chemical that may encourage the dilatation of blood vessels to lower blood pressure and decrease the premature aging associated with hypertension.

One of McCarthy’s mentors at UToledo is Dr. Bina Joe, Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. Joe was the first researcher to explore beta hydroxybutyrate as a potential weapon against high blood pressure.

Dr. Matam Vijay-Kumar, professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, is also mentoring McCarthy as part of the NIH grant.

The NIH Pathway to Independence Award provides up to five years of support, beginning with a two-year mentored research and career development phase. The final three years of support are contingent on the recipient securing an independent tenure-track research position.

“We are thrilled about this because it matches what we created with our Postdoctoral to Faculty Fellow position,” Joe said. “The cream of the crop among postdocs get these grants. Cameron is a brilliant guy — very organized, focused, knows what he wants to do, and works toward it. He’s passionate about what he does in the lab.”

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.

UToledo Research Funding Increases 41.5% in Four Years

A version of this column was published in the July 11, 2020 edition of The Blade newspaper with the headline “University of Toledo’s research might grows.”

Research is a critical focus of The University of Toledo’s mission to discover life-changing solutions to global challenges and drive economic development in the northwest Ohio region.

Our strong research profile continues to grow as research dollars-to-date are more than $54.2 million, an increase of 17% over all of fiscal year 2019 and 41.5% higher than our research awards four years ago. And that number continues to climb as we close the fiscal year report after Labor Day.

Thanks to talented, determined researchers working in laboratories across UToledo campuses and advocates like U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur, we have been able to secure significantly more competitive national funding from agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Energy, NASA and the USDA.

Calzonetti

Research grants from the NIH alone jumped 53% over the last five years, going from more than $9 million in 2016 to more than $14 million so far in 2020 awarded to the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

For example, Dr. Travis Taylor, assistant professor of medical microbiology and immunology in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, was just awarded last month a five-year, $1.92 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH to advance a promising avenue he found for a potential therapy for tick- and mosquito-borne flaviviruses, such as West Nile, which are currently untreatable beyond supportive care and burden the global economy with billions in healthcare costs.

This year UToledo’s invasive grass carp strike team based at the UToledo Lake Erie Center received more than quadruple the research funding compared to last year for its work to remove invasive grass carp from Lake Erie and its tributaries, with $484,834 from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and $475,832 from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. Using that funding and with the help of an additional $320,000 from those agencies to buy more boats, we have expanded the number of crews from one to now four getting out on the lake and rivers targeting this threatening fish population.

UToledo has a strong record of technology transfer and commercialization. Research universities support a regional innovation economy, attract and retain talent into the area, create direct and indirect jobs, enrich communities through the arts and humanities, support health and welfare, connect a region to experts throughout the globe, and serve as a venue for events of all sorts.

In addition to activities that directly benefit our region, our astrophysics faculty continue to explore the universe answering questions about our origins, our humanities scholars examine writings that offer insight into the human spirit, and our artists produce works that open the soul. If not for research universities, who would do such work?

UToledo conducts research across the breadth of disciplines found at the nation’s largest universities. And our size allows our faculty to connect easily with experts in different disciplines to form interdisciplinary teams to attack problems that cross disciplinary boundaries, such as our research on water quality and human health.

UToledo has one of the top solar energy programs in the nation, with the Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization supporting 15 scientists and 40 graduate students at its Dorr Street location. Scientists there won over $12 million in awards this academic year alone. These researchers work with local colleagues at First Solar, Toledo Solar, Pilkington NSG, Lucintech and others to make Toledo one of the globe’s leading centers for an industry destined to grow in importance for decades to come.

Our Water Task Force is made up of more than 30 faculty members from across the University working on research to protect water quality and the health of Lake Erie. Faculty from the Lake Erie Center have been monitoring algae in Lake Erie for 18 years, and researchers are investigating every aspect of harmful algal blooms, from nutrient loading into waterways, conditions in the lake that support algal blooms, ways to treat water at municipal treatment plants, the health impacts from both recreational and ingestion exposure, and policies and laws to protect the lakes.

UToledo also is home to a powerhouse team leading the fight against human trafficking. Dr. Celia Williamson defends the rights of vulnerable individuals on a local, national and international level through education, research and advocacy. UToledo research provides guidance to the courts, social agencies and law enforcement on protecting and rescuing victims from “modern day slavery.”

With the support of Kaptur, UToledo has established research connections with leading national research laboratories across the country. Not only do these labs support many of the world’s top scientists and engineers, they also have the world’s fastest supercomputers and other scientific laboratories that we connect to from Toledo.

For example, our scientists are working with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory on developing modeling and monitoring of the terrestrial aquatic interface, the zone where the ocean and Great Lakes meet the land, to understand how climate change and other factors such as land use practices affect the health of water bodies.

We also have a team developing a new project with the Idaho National Laboratory to generate hydrogen from the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant in Ottawa County at times when electricity demand is low. Hydrogen is a clean source of fuel for transportation and can be used in a myriad of industrial applications.

Faculty from the UToledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences and College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics are working with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for testing of COVID-19 in regional waste water to provide the region with advance notice that a rise of the virus is present in our community before clinical cases are reported.

Looking to future research, the UToledo College of Engineering is putting together a new project with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop a regional additive manufacturing center to support our local industry in developing 3D printing capabilities for their operations, enabling the creation of lighter, stronger parts and systems.

And our University continues to work with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on electricity grid modernization to include ways for solar and other renewable energy sources to be best incorporated into the grid and to provide signals to consumers on ways to use electricity efficiently. This work is expanding to include issues of cybersecurity with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and hydrogen sources involving Idaho National Laboratory.

A research university is a valuable asset for a community in many ways. Toledo is fortunate to have a higher education institution where faculty members are engaged in research and scholarship and apply this advanced insight to the benefits of their students, community and nation, as well as the global scientific community.

Frank Calzonetti, Ph.D., is vice president of research at The University of Toledo.

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.

2016 Presidential Campaign Emails Reveal Strategy, Surprises

While public discussion during and after the 2016 presidential campaign between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton largely focused on emails and email servers, a team of political science scholars zeroed in on email communications distributed by the campaigns and found that email is still an important campaign tool despite its mundane nature.

In their new research titled “The (surprisingly interesting) story of email in the 2016 presidential election” published in the Journal of Information Technology and Politics, Dr. Jeff Broxmeyer, assistant professor of political science at The University of Toledo, and Dr. Ben Epstein, associate professor of political science at DePaul University, explored 10 months of emails leading up to Election Day and analyzed ways that emails sent by campaigns reveal varied strategies and goals of campaigns.

Notably, Trump campaign emails were more participatory, fitting the populist theme of the campaign, and the Clinton campaign made the surprising strategic decision to stop direct email communication to passive email subscribers more than two months before Election Day.

“Trump’s campaign was oddly silent with emails through the primary and the general up until October. When it revved up, turns out his campaign had fewer appeals to donate and more appeals to do something — show up to an event or make phone calls,” Broxmeyer said. “That was a big outlier because we found that most of the top-tier candidates — the serious ones — ran sophisticated, full-gauge operations and used email extensively and almost entirely as an ATM to ply supporters with appeals for small donations, including Bernie Sanders despite his mobilizing rhetoric.”

A window into campaign intensity, the researchers found that Clinton was sending eight emails a week to her supporters at peak; U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz stopped campaign emails long before the Republican National Convention; Jim Gilmore, former governor of Virginia and chair of the Republican National Committee, didn’t send a single email to supporters; and Lincoln Chaffee sent a total of eight campaign emails to his supporters.

The emails showed the degree to which campaigns existed on paper, but were not actively being run.

“Some candidates — also-rans — claimed they weren’t getting enough attention from the press, but they didn’t really try to communicate at all with their own supporters, people who went on the website and actually signed up to be on the email list,” Broxmeyer said.

The researchers were surprised by the Clinton campaign’s decision to stop sending emails to accounts that had not engaged with the campaign since signing up for emails.

“The Clinton campaign made that move in August, nearly three months before the end of the election and just as the Trump campaign started ramping up its email campaign,” Epstein said.

“Overall, this study demonstrates how some strategies, such as the frequency of emailing, focus on fundraising, and consistent forms of interactions have become widely accepted norms. It is clear that email remains valuable for campaigns and an important subject for scholarship, despite its mundane nature.”