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Study Examines Attitudes Toward Transgender Athletes

As several states draft legislation that would force student-athletes to play as their gender identified on their birth certificate instead of on a team that matches their gender identity, a team of political scientists investigated underlying factors that drive public opinion on transgender athletes.

The new study shows while women in general are more supportive than men of transgender athletes participating in sports by gender identity instead of biological sex, women who are sports fans are more likely to oppose it, holding views that resemble male sports fans.

The research recently published in the journal Sex Roles investigated public attitudes toward the participation of transgender people in sports by using data from a 2015 survey of 1,020 adults across the U.S.; the data was previously used by the same researchers to analyze public opinion on a variety of transgender rights issues.

Dr. Jami Taylor, professor of political science and public administration at The University of Toledo who focuses on transgender politics and policy, is part of the team who found that attitudes about transgender athletes are strongly shaped by an individual’s characteristics, political values and personality traits.

Also, the study shows people who have contact with transgender, gay and lesbian people, as well as those with stronger egalitarian attitudes, are more favorable toward transgender participation, whereas those with high moral traditionalism are more opposed.

“This is a very complicated area, and there are legitimate concerns about fairness for both transgender athletes and those who are not transgender,” said Taylor, author of the 2017 book “The Remarkable Rise of Transgender Rights.” “We need to have thoughtful policies that ensure fair competitions, but also ensure that transgender athletes aren’t discriminated against. As governments, nonprofits and businesses begin to craft policies that decide how and with whom transgender athletes will compete in sports, they need to avoid one-size-fits-all solutions because of the complexity of the issues.”

“Given the gendered nature of sports and the resistance to the issue among sports fans — both male and female — policymakers will likely need to tread carefully and should have a care in this area as they craft policy solutions. Our work might be helpful to inform policymakers, as well as advocates who promote inclusion.”

Research contributors include Taylor; Dr. Andrew Flores, assistant professor in the Department of Government at American University and lead author of the study; Dr. Donald Haider-Markel, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Kansas; Dr. Daniel Lewis, associate professor of political science at Siena College; Dr. Patrick Miller, associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Kansas; and Dr. Barry Tadlock, professor of political science at Ohio University.

Current policy depends on the position of governing bodies, such as the NCAA at the collegiate level, and applicable laws that may vary by location. For instance, California law requires that transgender students be treated according to their gender identity, not biological sex.

The issue, according to lawmakers proposing new legislation in New Hampshire, Washington, Georgia, Tennessee and Missouri, is whether transgender-rights protections are leading to unfair competition in women’s sports, referencing male-to-female transgender students and arguing they have natural physical advantages over biological females.

However, the study cited a female-to-male case: Mack Beggs’ victory in the Texas Class 6A girls’ state wrestling championship in 2017, even though the female-to-male transgender student started his transition two years prior and took testosterone injections.

“It was a ridiculous situation. He wanted to wrestle with the boys and received harsh treatment from fans when he was forced to compete with girls,” Taylor said. “Due to his success, parents accused him of cheating, but the rule in Texas was he had to compete according to the gender on his birth certificate, which was a girl. If he was in California, he would’ve competed against boys.”

The study finds that 35.6% of women agreed with allowing transgender athletes to participate in sports aligned with their gender identity, compared to 23.2% of men.

As the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo approach, Taylor calls the Olympics reasonably inclusive to transgender athletes and commends the International Olympic Committee for its attention to both human rights and fair competition.

“The International Olympic Committee no longer requires transgender athletes to have had surgery, but there is a strict requirement around hormonal management,” Taylor said. “It’s far less restrictive for female-to-male athletes than for male-to-female athletes, which seems to be a reasonable attempt to grapple with this complex issue. Importantly, the IOC’s approach looks at evidence in this evolving area.”

Growth of Craft Beer Linked to Record Number of States Harvesting Hops

Tasting terroir, or a sense of place, isn’t only reserved for wine lovers drinking a glass of burgundy or champagne from France.

It’s evident, too, in the U.S. craft beer boom and the growing preference for local hops.

Reid

Hops, a key ingredient in making beer, is a crop making a comeback on farms across the country thanks to the incredible rise of the craft brewing industry over the past decade.

Craft breweries and their customers’ thirst for new, locally grown flavors are playing a big role in fueling an unprecedented geographic expansion of hop production across the U.S., according to researchers at The University of Toledo and Penn State University.

Their findings, which were recently published in the Journal of Wine Economics, suggest that as more craft breweries emerge around the country, so may new opportunities for farmers.

“It is fantastic to see the re-emergence of hop production in states which, at one point, had abandoned the crop,” said Dr. Neil Reid, professor of geography and planning at The University of Toledo, who teaches a class titled The Geography of Beer and Brewing. “Hops provide aroma and bittering characteristics in beer. Looking to differentiate themselves from Molson Coors and Anheuser Busch, independent craft brewers demand locally grown hops, experiment with different varieties of hops, and use more hops in beer production compared to mass-produced beers.”

According to the Brewers Association, between 2007 and 2017, the number of breweries in the U.S. increased from 1,459 to 6,490.

The researchers found that the number of breweries in a state is associated with more hop farms and hop acres five years later. The number of hop farms grew from 68 to 817, and hop acreage expanded from 31,145 to 59,429 acres.

Before 2007, hop production in the country was limited to only three Pacific Northwest states—Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Hops are now produced in 29 states, according to the Hop Growers of America.

“Our study is the first to systematically show that the number of hop farms in a state is related to the number of craft breweries,” said Claudia Schmidt, assistant professor of agricultural economics in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “It suggests that in areas where hop production is possible and not cost-prohibitive, breweries are expanding markets for farmers and providing an opportunity to diversify farm income.”

In fact, the growth positioned the U.S. as the largest producer of hops globally, both in terms of acreage and production.

Working with farm, brewery and climate data, the researchers developed a statistical model to determine whether new craft breweries in a state between 2007 and 2017 resulted in a larger number of hop producers and hop acres planted, by both new and existing growers in that state. They built a time lag into their model to identify the effect of new breweries over time. They also controlled for other variables that may influence farmers to start growing hops, such as average farm size, average net farm income and climate.

Their findings are correlational and do not point to a clear cause and effect. However, the time lag built into the model indicates that the growth in breweries preceded the growth in hop farms.

If more brewers are looking for hops grown nearby, then more farmers may be willing to try growing them, even if only on a small scale. For instance, in Pennsylvania, only 17 farms reported hop production in 2017, and their combined acreage is small — only 21 acres in all, according to the U.S. Census of Agriculture.

In contrast, in 2017, there were 100 acres of farmland devoted to hop production in Ohio. According to the Ohio Hop Growers Guild, there are more than 70 farms in Ohio that are growing hops.

While the growing of hops in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania is a relatively recent phenomenon, many Midwestern and Northeastern states have historical connections to the hop industry.

“In 1870, the three leading hop-producing states were New York, Wisconsin and Michigan,” Reid said. “A number of factors, including declining yields, disease outbreaks, high production and processing costs, and an inability to achieve economies of scale, contributed to the decline and disappearance of the hop industry in the Midwest and Northeast.”

Reid, who is affectionately known as “The Beer Professor,” is an expert on the craft brewing industry and its economic geography. His research is focused on the industry’s growth in the U.S. and its potential role in helping to revitalize neighborhood economies.

His previous research found that the craft brewery boom is good for home values. That study showed single-family homes in the city of Charlotte, N.C., saw their value increase by nearly 10% after a brewery opened within a half mile of the property, and center-city condos got a nearly 3% bump.

Reid will give the opening keynote address at the 2020 Beer Marketing and Tourism Conference Wednesday, Feb. 5, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

His new book titled “Agritourism, Wine Tourism, and Craft Beer Tourism: Local Responses to Peripherality Through Tourism Niches” will be published later this month. The book is co-edited with Maria Giulia Pezzi and Alessandra Faggian of the Gran Sasso Science Institute in L’Aquila, Italy.

University Opens New Germ-Free Research Facility

The University of Toledo is expanding its microbiome research capabilities with the creation of a new germ-free laboratory that will provide unique opportunities for scientists investigating the link between gut bacteria and chronic conditions such as hypertension.

Researchers in the UToledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences have been at the forefront of innovative research that suggests the particular makeup of our individual gut bacteria has major implications on our health.

Doing the honors to mark the creation of a new germ-free laboratory on Health Science Campus were, from left, Scott Bechaz, associate director of the Department of Laboratory Animal Resources; Dr. Lisa Root, attending veterinarian and director of the Department of Laboratory Animal Resources; Dr. Matam Vijay-Kumar, director of the UToledo Microbiome Consortium; Dee Talmage, chair of Women & Philanthropy; Marja Dooner, chair of the Women & Philanthropy Grants Committee; Dr. Bina Joe, Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology; and Dr. Christopher Cooper, dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, and executive vice president for clinical affairs.

The research is particularly promising with relation to high blood pressure — so much so that the University has recognized the work among its spotlight areas of unique distinction.

“We have been working with available models asking as many research questions as we can. We are getting definitive links, but we haven’t yet found definitive answers for mechanisms,” said Dr. Bina Joe, Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. “It is our hope this new lab will help provide those answers and open avenues for new therapeutic methods.”

By studying germ-free animal models that completely lack microbiota, Joe and other UToledo researchers will seek to further their understanding of how the colonies of tiny organisms that call our bodies home benefit or harm human health.

The project received $65,000 in grant funding from Women & Philanthropy and matching funds from the College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

While germ-free models are used for a variety of research applications, UToledo’s lab will be one of the only academic sites in the country with germ-free rats, which Joe said more closely mimic human disease states.

Preliminary work on the new Women & Philanthropy Germ-Free Facility for Biomedical Research is underway, with the facility expected to be up and running in 2020 under the guidance of Dr. Matam Vijay-Kumar, director of the UToledo Microbiome Consortium.

“The Women & Philanthropy grant is what is fueling this. We’re extremely grateful for their investment,” Joe said. “I think they see the value in promoting a woman scientist, and they see the value in the technology. We at The University of Toledo want to remain the first to fully understand these links and mechanisms in order to develop new clinical approaches. Rather than taking pills and monitoring your blood pressure every day, you might eventually be monitoring your microbiota and transferring beneficial ones as needed.”

“Women & Philanthropy is proud to be a part of such critical research and cutting-edge technology here at The University of Toledo,” Dee Talmage, chair of Women & Philanthropy, said. “It is a pleasure to support this important medical research, particularly when it has such a national impact.”

Women & Philanthropy has allocated up to $65,000 for 2020 grants to be awarded next spring. Learn more on the Women & Philanthropy website.

UToledo Study Estimates Impact of Opioid Epidemic at $1.6B in Northwest Ohio

Fatal overdoses tied to Ohio’s ongoing opioid epidemic cost the metropolitan Toledo economy $1.6 billion and more than 2,000 jobs in 2017, according to a new study by The University of Toledo.

At $1.6 billion, the total economic impact of the opioid epidemic is equivalent to approximately 4.5% of the region’s gross domestic product — or roughly the same amount of economic activity generated annually by the entire private construction industry.

“The University of Toledo has an important role to play in addressing the major issues that affect northwest Ohio and beyond,” UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber said. “This research provides another piece of the puzzle as we work together to confront the opioid epidemic.”

The research was led by Dr. Oleg Smirnov, associate professor of economics, in close collaboration with members of The University of Toledo Opioid Task Force.

“Over a relatively period of short time, the number of deaths from opioid overdose has skyrocketed, and the crisis doesn’t show any signs of abating,” Smirnov said. “This report helps give us a better understanding of how the epidemic affects our region and also provides a benchmark to evaluate the effectiveness of our community’s ongoing response.”

Among the report’s key findings:

• Fatal opioid overdoses directly resulted in $1.27 billion in lost economic output in 2017.

• Each overdose death costs the economy $8.67 million.

• The indirect, or spillover, effects of fatal opioid overdose were $329.2 million in 2017.

• Premature deaths caused by the opioid epidemic cost metropolitan Toledo the equivalent of 2,082 jobs in 2017.

• While Narcan is relatively expensive at approximately $130 per dose, there is clear evidence the economic benefit outweighs the cost of administering the drug.

“These new findings add valuable context to our understanding of and response to the opioid epidemic,” said Dr. Amy Thompson, vice provost for faculty affairs, professor of public health, and co-chair of the UToledo Opioid Task Force. “The research can be used to advocate for funding that goes toward prevention efforts and treatment of opioid use disorder. It also can be used to inform local businesses how this epidemic is affecting the job market and creating financial loss in the community.”

The report’s calculations are based on data from the Ohio Department of Health’s Ohio Public Data Warehouse, which documented 147 fatal opioid overdoses in Lucas, Wood, Fulton and Ottawa counties in 2017. Data from 2017 is the most recent finalized figures available.

State records show those four counties had 22 deaths attributed to opioid overdose in 2007. The state data relies on the official cause of death listed on state-issued death certificates and differs slightly from fatal overdose data from local sources.

“While it may seem morbid to put a price on human life, there are established economic models that show how an individual’s premature death ripples through the economy,” Smirnov said. “This report shows just how costly each death is to our entire community, on top of the personal loss of a friend, brother, sister or parent. The opioid crisis may appear hidden to some, but it affects all of us.”

To calculate the economic cost of a fatal opioid overdose in metro Toledo, researchers began with a federally established finding that a premature death has an economic cost of $9.4 million. By adjusting for northwest Ohio’s lower per-capita income and lower cost of living, they arrived at a figure of $8.6 million per premature death and $1.27 billion in lost economic output in 2017.

Each fatal overdose also hurts the economy indirectly. As spending and demand for goods and services shrink, employers may begin to reduce staffing. In turn, individuals who have lost their jobs cut back on their own spending. UToledo researchers calculated those indirect, or spillover, effects cost the local economy $329.2 million in 2017, while reducing full-time equivalent employment by 2,082 jobs.

The total economic burden in UToledo’s report does not include calculations from non-lethal overdoses. While those incidents do have costs associated with them — emergency room visits, criminal justice proceedings and mental health services, for example — the spending stays within the local community.

The report also offers some hints that the region’s response to the opioid epidemic is making a difference.

For example, a comparison of overdose-related 911 calls received by Lucas County dispatchers in 2016 and 2017 to the total number of overdose deaths in those years found the mortality of opioid overdoses declined from 8% in 2016 to 6% in 2017.

Researchers attribute that to first-responders dealing with opioid overdose more effectively, particularly with the use of naloxone.

UToledo’s research also supports the notion that the expanded use of naloxone prevents not only additional deaths, but also significant damage to the local economy.

While first responders in Lucas County administered an estimated $1 million-plus worth of naloxone in 2017, a single premature death would have cost the regional economy $8.6 million.

Access the full economic impact report online at utoledo.edu/economic-impact/opioids.

UToledo Engineering Students to Present Senior Design Projects Dec. 6

Designing smarter traffic lights. Restoring farmlands to wetlands. Printing 3D violins so students in low-income and remote areas have access to instruments.

These are just a few examples of projects UToledo engineering students will present to the public at the Senior Design Expo. The event will take place Friday, Dec. 6, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Nitschke Hall and the Brady Center at The University of Toledo.

As part of required senior design/capstone projects, about 60 UToledo engineering teams worked with local businesses, industries and federal agencies to help solve technical and business challenges. Students will present their final prototypes, provide hands-on demonstrations, and answer questions about their experiences at the expo.

Caroline Shipman’s five-member team worked on the violin project with the Toledo Symphony and music director Alain Trudel. The group developed and printed a 3D violin, composed of five parts. They wanted the violin to “be as easy to assemble as a Lego kit,” said Shipman, a mechanical engineering senior who will graduate in December.

Shipman has played violin for more than 15 years and says she was excited to combine her passions for STEM and music on the project. The 3D violin costs about $150, as opposed to a starter violin that usually costs $400.

“It was awesome to see it go from concept to holding a physical prototype in your hands,” she said. “To give access to a child who didn’t think they could play an instrument — who knows? One day they could become a concert master.”

Engineers are problem-solvers at heart. The challenges the UToledo students tried to solve with their senior projects could make life easier for manufacturers, homeowners, those with disabilities, and anyone who drives a car. Many of their projects address timely issues such as school security or environmental problems, along with a host of other topics that include:

• Helping the Toledo Zoo recycle grey water created by its splash pad;

• Designing goggles to aid in the remote diagnosis of strokes;

• Creating an immersive training tool to help users learn how to defend against cyber threats;

• Building a fishing rod that will allow a man with limited arm mobility pursue his passion; and

• Designing a speaker/microphone system for a woman with ALS to use near or under an oxygen mask so people can hear her better.

The expo also will feature a high school design competition from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Nitschke Auditorium.

Some UToledo and high school projects address autonomous vehicles. The vehicles have been a focus of a number of events sponsored by the College of Engineering throughout 2019. The final Technology Takes the Wheel program will be held in conjunction with the Senior Design Expo.

The seventh event in the seminar series will take place Friday, Dec. 6, from 8 to 10 a.m. in Nitschke Auditorium. The “Preparing Your Workforce for the Future” panel discussion will be moderated by WTVG reporter Lissa Guyton and feature representatives from AAA, SSOE Group and Sinclair Community College. A Tesla will be the featured on-stage vehicle, and attendees will hear from Dr. Jack Marchbanks, director of the Ohio Department of Transportation, and Rich Granger, managing director of workforce development for DriveOhio.

Attendees are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys for the annual Hope for the Holidays campaign. UToledo is partnering with 13abc Action News and the Salvation Army. Rocky and Rocksy will be there to collect donations.

UToledo Professor Elected Fellow of Renowned Scientific Society

A professor at The University of Toledo has been awarded one of the highest honors a scientist can earn.

Dr. Amanda Bryant-Friedrich, professor of medicinal and biological chemistry, is among the 443 scientists elected in 2019 as Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society.

Bryant-Friedrich

The lifetime appointment is an honor bestowed upon the society’s members by their peers and recognizes individuals for their efforts in advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished.

Bryant-Friedrich has created tools for the study of oxidative damage processes in DNA and RNA, contributing to the development of new, more effective ways to treat or prevent cancer, neurological disorders and age-related disorders.

Her research also includes biomarkers, photochemistry, mass spectrometry and ionizing radiation.

“I am thankful to be elected as a Fellow to the AAAS for the contributions I have made to the science that I love,” said Bryant-Friedrich, who also serves as dean of the College of Graduate Studies, vice provost for graduate affairs and director of the Shimadzu Laboratory for Pharmaceutical Research Excellence. “Scholarly recognition by one’s peers is the highest honor, and recognition for my work validates my efforts. I credit this honor to the wonderful like-minded, adventurous students and colleagues who have accompanied me along this journey.”

The AAAS includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serves 10 million individuals, and publishes the journal Science. It was founded in 1848 and its tradition of naming AAAS Fellows began in 1874.

“This prestigious national honor for Dr. Bryant-Friedrich brings great pride to our campus,” UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber said. “Recognition by AAAS is an external validation of our talented experts determined to advance science and improve our world.”

Bryant-Friedrich, who joined the University in 2007, will be honored in February at the organization’s annual meeting in Seattle.

She shares this honor with four UToledo colleagues who were previously elected to AAAS: Dr. Heidi Appel, dean of the Jesup Scott Honors College; Dr. Karen Bjorkman, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs; and Dr. Steven Federman, professor of astronomy, who were named Fellows in 2017; and Dr. Jack Schultz, who recently retired from his position as senior executive director of research development and has been an AAAS Fellow since 2011.

Last year, Bryant-Friedrich was named a Fellow of the American Chemical Society.

She received a bachelor of science degree in chemistry at North Carolina Central University, a master’s degree in chemistry from Duke University, and a doctorate in pharmaceutical chemistry from Ruprecht-Karls Universität in Germany. In addition, she conducted postdoctoral studies at the University of Basel in Switzerland.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report Examines State Progress in Implementing Great Lakes Compact

The University of Toledo College of Law’s Legal Institute of the Great Lakes released a new report assessing the progress each of the eight Great Lakes states has made in implementing the terms of the 2008 interstate compact that ushered in a new era of water management and conservation in the Great Lakes region.

While the overall assessment is positive, the report identifies critical areas for improvement within each state.

Ken Kilbert, UToledo professor of law and director of the Legal Institute of the Great Lakes, is the principal author of the white paper titled An Assessment of the Great Lakes States’ Implementation of the Water Management and Conservation Provisions of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.” The report provides a state-by-state assessment of how Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are carrying out the water management, conservation and efficiency provisions of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.

Forrest Miller, a third-year UToledo law student, and Aubrey Merkle, a second-year UToledo law student, are co-authors of the white paper. This project afforded them the opportunity to enhance their substantive knowledge of water law and related fields, as well as their legal research, writing and analytical skills.

The report is particularly timely. This December, each state is required to report on its implementation of water management, conservation and efficiency programs under the compact. The states’ reports are subject to review by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council, which will determine whether state programs meet compact provisions and will make recommendations to those that do not.

“The compact not only banned most new diversions of water outside the Great Lakes basin, it also required the states to undertake stronger programs for management and conservation of waters within the basin,” Kilbert said. “In order to fulfill the promise of the compact, it is essential that the states carry out their obligations to implement its terms.”

The Legal Institute of the Great Lakes is a multidisciplinary research center within the College of Law. The research project was funded by a grant from the Joyce Foundation.

Kilbert joined UToledo College of Law faculty in 2006. He teaches environmental law, natural resources law, administrative law, civil procedure and water law. As director of the institute, Kilbert organizes the annual Great Lakes Water Conference, which this year is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 8.

UToledo to Collaborate With Oak Ridge National Laboratory on Automotive Materials Research

Lightweight materials are critical for advancing the energy efficiency and range of electric vehicles.

The University of Toledo and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee signed a memorandum of understanding Oct. 9 to team up for collaborative research into the advanced design and manufacturing of lightweight, strong, intelligent materials for the automotive industry.

Dr. Frank Calzonetti, UToledo vice president for research, left, and Dr. Moe Khaleel, associate laboratory director for energy and environmental sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, signed a memorandum of understanding for their institutions to team up to research, design and manufacture lightweight, strong, intelligent materials for the automotive industry.

The partnership will play a key role in developing new processes to produce alloys and metals, as well as enhance northwest Ohio’s leadership in research, innovation, development and production in the automotive industry.

“We are proud to collaborate with Oak Ridge National Laboratory on this critical research to drive the next generation of automotive manufacturing,” said Dr. Mike Toole, dean of the UToledo College of Engineering. “Our partnership teaming innovative mechanical engineers at UToledo with some of the country’s preeminent scientists will focus on finding solutions to ensure the U.S. remains a global leader. The research will have spillover from the national level to the regional level.”

The researchers plan to engage with the automotive industry in Ohio and Michigan as they combine ORNL’s expertise and capabilities in manufacturing, carbon fiber and composites, machining, energy storage, and metrology with UToledo’s expertise in manufacturing system modeling, metals engineering and assembly systems.

“This partnership will develop technological solutions to enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. automotive manufacturing sector,” said Dr. Moe Khaleel, associate laboratory director for energy and environmental sciences at ORNL. “ORNL is looking forward to providing access to its research facilities, along with expertise and guidance in advanced materials and manufacturing to the University in this valuable partnership.”

The collaboration will focus on monitoring and control systems for metal forming processes; optimizing joining techniques for high-strength materials such as steel, aluminum and composites; and exploring the combination of new materials such as shape-memory alloys with additive manufacturing to create strong, resilient, active structures for vehicle applications.

ORNL provides researchers with sophisticated equipment and unique facilities to solve some of the nation’s most compelling challenges. As the largest U.S. Department of Energy open science laboratory, ORNL’s mission is to deliver scientific discoveries and technical breakthroughs that will accelerate the development and deployment of solutions in clean energy and global security while creating economic opportunities for the nation.

The University of Toledo also is a member of another organization that closely interacts with the U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), which includes more than 100 Ph.D.-granting institutions as its members. ORAU works with the U.S. Department of Energy and other agencies in providing scientific and technical solutions to a wide range of topics as well as supporting science education and workforce development.

Later this week, UToledo will host for the first time National Lab Day to connect students and researchers with scientists from DOE national laboratories across the country and explore opportunities for additional partnerships.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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