College of Graduate Studies

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Congratulations to Hossein Lavvafi, Medical Physics MSBS Student for winning a National Travel Award from AAPM

Lavvafi
Hossein Lavvafi, Ph.D. has received the 2016 Expanding Horizons Travel Grant award offered by the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM). This is a very competitive award where graduating students and residents from around the country are eligible to apply for, and only the top proposals demonstrating a strong commitment to expanding the scope of research in medical physics are selected for the award.

For more details, Click Here


Research Symposium to Spotlight Work by Biological Science Students – October 29, 2016

The fourth annual research symposium for biological science graduate students will be held Saturday, Oct. 29, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. in Student Union Rooms 2582 and 2584.

There will be approximately 25 poster presentations on several topics, including cancer, immunology, fertility and neurology.

The free, public symposium is funded by the Graduate Student Association, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and the Department of Biological Sciences.

“This event will be a great opportunity to learn what kind of biology research is being performed in Toledo,” Kyoung Jo, a PhD candidate and teaching assistant in the Department of Biological Sciences, said.

For more information on the event, email researchday@biosciences2.utoledo.edu.


Book on Global Brewing Industry dedicated to Late UT Grad Student

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Michael Moore enjoyed sharing a pint of cold beer, but had no thirst for the standard domestic titans.

The University of Toledo PhD student researcher was a craft beer aficionado who found a way to combine his passion with his academic work.

Moore

Moore

“He loved geography and craft beer,” Andy Moore, Mike’s brother, said.

Moore’s research on the rapidly growing artisanal industry recently was published more than a year after he died at the age of 34 from an aortic aneurysm while at a local brewpub.

“The large vessel that comes out of the heart ruptured unexpectedly,” Andy said. “Doctors told our family it’s very rare for someone that young. The fact that it happened where it did is so unusual because we loved to hang out there and watch a Tigers game.”

“Mike enjoyed debating varieties of hops and India pale ales as much and as easily as he dove into complex statistical analyses of the industry,” said Dr. Neil Reid, professor of geography and planning and director of the Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center, who is known as UT’s “Beer Professor.” “It’s devastating and sad, yet if he had to choose how to go, that’s what he would’ve chosen.”

Dr. Neil Reid and Andy Moore, Mike Moore’s brother, got together recently at the Black Cloister Brewing Co. in Toledo.

Dr. Neil Reid and Andy Moore, Mike Moore’s brother, got together recently at the Black Cloister Brewing Co. in Toledo.

The editors of a new volume published on the craft brewing industry called Brewing, Beer and Pubs: A Global Perspective dedicated their book to Moore, who co-authored a chapter with Reid and Ralph McLaughlin, a colleague from California. The chapter is titled “The Locational Determinants of Micro-Breweries and Brewpubs in the United States.”

The editors wrote in the dedication at the beginning of the book, “It is very fitting that Mike passed away in a local brewery.”

Moore collapsed and fell to the floor April 8, 2015, as he was sitting on a bar stool enjoying a beer.

The Black Cloister Brewing Co. last year created a beer in Mike Moore’s honor: Michael’s Memory.

The Black Cloister Brewing Co. last year created a beer in Mike Moore’s honor: Michael’s Memory.

“I was sitting next to him when it happened. We were drinking Summer Stinger, an American pale wheat ale that was just bottled the day before,” Reid said. “We were talking with a visiting scholar from Turkey about our upcoming trip to a geographers’ conference and attending the Beeronomics Conference in Seattle in the fall when I heard a thud. I thought a bar stool had fallen over. I looked down and Mike was on his back on the floor.”

“It’s still hard for our family and Mike’s longtime girlfriend, Jeanette, to process, but seeing Mike’s work being published and honored helps us find closure,” Andy said.

Moore was a doctoral student studying spatially integrated social sciences in UT’s Department of Geography and Planning.

His dissertation — left incomplete — was an examination of the spatial dynamics of the American craft beer industry.

“The craft brewing industry is growing so fast and changing the whole brewing landscape,” Reid said. “Mike analyzed where it’s growing and why. He was well on his way to being a really successful academic.”

UT posthumously awarded Moore a PhD based on his completed course work and publications while a student.

The Department of Geography and Planning created a scholarship in his memory for UT students pursuing the geography and planning field.

“I miss our Monday morning meetings and the occasional exchanging of beer-related gifts,” Reid said. “I cherish the memories — memories, by and large, created around a common love and appreciation of craft beer, the people who brew it, and the people who drink it.”

Black Cloister Brewery in downtown Toledo created a special brew last year to commemorate Moore’s life and called it Michael’s Memory. The owners contributed some of the profits to the scholarship fund.

“The outpouring of support is amazing and unexpected,” Andy said. “It’s excellent to see the fruit of all the research he had done. The recognition of Mike’s work makes it just a little bit easier to deal with his loss.”

Moore’s family is working to organize a golf outing next year to raise money for the scholarship fund.

Gifts can be made at give2ut.utoledo.edu to the Geography and Planning Progress Fund.


UT students investigate effects of co-abusing meth and alcohol

By AMANDA BLAKER | SPECIAL TO THE BLADE
Published on October 10th, 2016

Have you ever seen “before and after” photos of meth users? If so, you know how much using the drug can change the human body.

People addicted to methamphetamine often have sunken cheeks and visible weight loss, as well as sores and scabs on their faces from picking at their skin. But have you thought about how the drug affects the inside of their body?

UNIVERSITY OF TOLEDO

Amanda Blaker is a doctoral student in the neurosciences and neurological disorders track at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences

Meth is classified as a psychostimulant, which means that it acts as an antidepressant or mood-elevator. This drug gives you a sudden burst of intense happiness, increased self-confidence and energy, while increasing your heart rate and body movements.

Alcohol also can affect your behavior and your brain, but unlike meth, it is classified as a depressant. Consuming large amounts of alcohol slows down your brain function, which can result in slurred speech, lack of motor coordination, or blackouts.

A recent study found that within the United States alone, about 1.2 million people reported using meth in the last year but importantly, 77 percent of meth abusers also binge drink alcohol. In fact, consuming alcohol first can increase the risk of using meth more than fourfold. This is considered “co-abuse” when two drugs are used at the same time.

The goal of our research at the University of Toledo is to determine what happens to the brain after the co-abuse of alcohol and meth, and identify the mechanisms responsible for those effects.

The co-abuse of alcohol and meth can add to effects common to both drugs, such as increases in heart rate and blood pressure.

Therefore this combination can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as behavioral changes such as paranoia, hallucinations, and aggression.

Our lab looked specifically at the effect on the brain, and we discovered that in combination alcohol and meth damage two specific types of brain cells — dopamine and serotonin neurons — within a brain region known as the striatum.

Damage to these cells in this part of the brain can lead to multiple problems, such as movement disorders, clinical depression, and an overall decrease in brain function.

Co-abuse of alcohol and meth destroys more of these brain cells compared to groups exposed to either alcohol or meth alone.

However, an additional, more ominous picture emerges when the drugs are used in combination.

We found that their combined use results in a new type of brain damage that is different from when either drug is abused on its own, or simply the combined effects of one drug added to the other. This would be like saying, 2+2 does not equal 4, but rather it equals 7.

Something different, and far more dangerous, is occurring.

When the drugs are taken in combination, the molecules responsible for inflammation now come into play. We have observed that in instances of co-abuse these inflammatory molecules are triggered to enter the brain, contributing to brain damage after the combined use of alcohol and meth.

To test how large the role of inflammation is in contributing to brain damage, we measured the counter-effects of a drug similar to ibuprofen. We confirmed that not only was inflammation blocked under that circumstance, but brain damage also was lessened after co-abuse of alcohol and meth.

The results of our experiments are significant because this is the first report of enhanced brain damage after co-abuse of alcohol and meth compared to either drug alone.

Additionally, we have identified a role for an inflammation response outside of the brain that may contribute to increased brain damage after co-substance abuse. This will potentially identify new targets for therapy to help people addicted to alcohol and meth individually, as well as those who co-abuse more than one drug.

Amanda Blaker is a doctoral student in the neurosciences and neurological disorders track at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences biomedical sciences program. Ms. Blaker is doing her research in the laboratory of Bryan Yamamoto, who recently relocated to the pharmacology & toxicology department at Indiana University School of Medicine. For more information, contact Amanda.Blaker@rockets.utoledo.edu or visit utoledo.edu/med/grad/biomedical.


Advanced Leadership Academy for Graduate Students

– Saturday sessions (six) in Spring 2017
– Limited Availability
– Nomination by College Dean Required

Click here for more information.


Women in Basic Science: Panel discussion on overcoming gender gaps in academic success – October 11, 2016

Women in Basic Science

Click here for the pdf version of the flyer


UT doctoral student honored for identifying how climate change threatens food quality

A doctoral student at The University of Toledo recently won an award from the Ecological Society of America for his study that shows why the combination of high carbon dioxide levels in the air and chronic global warming will contribute to a decrease in crop production and food quality during the next few decades.

Jayawardena

Jayawardena

“We have provided a better understanding of what scientists need to do to improve the heat tolerance of crops in the future,” said Dileepa Jayawardena, a PhD student in the Department of Environmental Sciences, who conducted the climate change study as a project for his master’s degree. “They can use this information to generate new climate-change-tolerant crops to help feed the growing human population.”

Using tomato as a model, Jayawardena investigated the way plants absorb nitrogen fertilizer from the soil.

Over the course of 18 days inside controlled growth chambers in Bowman-Oddy Laboratories, the plants were subjected to conditions that mimic future climate by Jayawardena’s team.

Individually, elevated carbon dioxide and warming did not have large effects on tomato responses.

However, when combined, researchers saw a large decrease in the uptake rate of soil nitrate and ammonium through the roots. At the same time, researchers saw a significant drop in the concentration and function of the proteins that roots use to acquire soil nitrogen. The result was a crop with lower nitrogen levels and thus lower nutritional value.

Dileepa Jayawardena grew tomato in a controlled environment to mimic future climate change and assessed the plants’ growth.

Dileepa Jayawardena grew tomato in a controlled environment to mimic future climate change and assessed the plants’ growth.

Jayawardena’s work also shows that the combination of heat and carbon dioxide is bad for the plant in terms of being able to convert inorganic nitrogen, like nitrate and ammonium, into organic form, like protein, which is the form of nitrogen that humans require.

“If climate change intensifies, this impact on plant nitrogen concentration means that plants will not grow as big in the future, and they will be poorer-quality food for people and other animals that eat plants,” he said.

Jayawardena won the New Phytologist Poster Award for his presentation at the Ecological Society of America annual meeting last month in Florida. It is the nation’s largest organization of professional ecologists with a membership of more than 10,000 scientists.

“By itself, increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels tend to increase plant growth, which is a positive,” said Dr. Scott Heckathorn, UT ecology professor and Jayawardena’s faculty advisor. “However, increasing carbon dioxide is the primary cause of current global warming, which will increase heat stress for much life on the planet. The question then arises as to whether benefits of elevated carbon dioxide will offset the negative effects of increasing heat stress. What is new about Dileepa’s work is that it provides a mechanism for why the combination of elevated carbon dioxide and heat is detrimental.”

The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Your opportunity to learn more about UT’s graduate nursing programs – 25th October 2016

Graduate Information Session FALL 2016

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Click here for pdf version


Grad Student Awarded At International Conference for High-Tech Birding Research [VIDEO]

Grad Student Awarded At International Conference for High-Tech Birding Research

Click here for the video

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UT scientists, students help U.S. Geological Survey develop model to predict algal bloom toxins

By Christine Long : July 29th, 2016

Water quality researchers and students at The University of Toledo Lake Erie Center who make daily E. coli forecasts for the public beach at Maumee Bay State Park are helping the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) develop a model to estimate the level of harmful algal blooms in Ohio waters.

Sampling is underway for the USGS-led project at seven water treatment plant intakes and four recreational sites throughout the state, including the public beach at Maumee Bay State Park.

MyUT_snap

Kevin Corbin, UT senior, left, Ryan Jackwood, UT PhD student, and Jessica Reker, a senior at Xavier University, collected water samples at Maumee Bay State Park.

A USGS scientist joined the UT team to collect samples and other data earlier this month.

“We are helping the USGS build a database in order to be able to make real-time predictions for toxins, like microcystin, in Lake Erie and inland lakes in northeast and southwest Ohio using environmental factors such as turbidity, pH, phycocyanin and water level change, instead of waiting for test results,” Pam Struffolino, UT Lake Erie Center research operations manager, said. “The goal is to use the standard toxin-measuring methods to verify the model — similar to how we developed our swimming safety nowcasts for bacteria levels.”

“Site-specific models are needed to estimate the serious public health concern from toxin concentrations at a water intake or beach,” said Donna Francy, a USGS hydrologist and water-quality specialist. “Models help estimate toxin concentrations so that swimmers and boaters can be warned and water treatment plants can take measures to avoid or appropriately treat the raw water.”

Scientists are scheduled to collect data at the sites several times a week through algal bloom season this year. This marks the third year of collecting samples for the project.

For more information about the project, click here.