UT College of Engineering News

Archive for August, 2017

Eight UT College of Engineering alums receive their white coat as they continue their UT education with the College of Medicine

Seven College of Engineering faculty selected for UT Scholars Institute program


Winning competitive external grants is an important element of faculty members’ road to success, and the UT Office of Research and Sponsored Programs is working to help them navigate the complexities of this progress.

The UT Scholars Institute Program has selected 38 early career faculty members to assist in their journey to promotion.

The program will help faculty members identify sources of funding targeted to their research projects; how to prepare and submit proposals that meet various agency and foundation requirements; how to comply with federal, state and University policies and rules; and ways to write a compelling story that is likely to sway external review panels.

The institute, which will convene in May, will consist of six monthly sessions, the topics of which are flexible to the interests of the participants.

“I am excited for the new Scholars Institute Program to launch. We had a large pool of applicants indicating a strong desire for faculty to increase their scholarly activity and grantsmanship,” said Dr. Amy Thompson, professor of public health and faculty fellow in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, who developed the program.

The 2017 Scholars Institute Program participants are:

• Dr. Ana Alba-Rubio, Department of Chemical Engineering;

• Dr. Wissam Abou Alaiwi, Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics;

• Dr. Gabrielle Baki, Department of Pharmacy Practice;

• Dr. Larissa Barclay, Department of Advanced Population Care;

• Dr. Tian Chen, Department of Mathematics and Statistics;

• Dr. Carmen Cioc, Department of Engineering Technology;

• Dr. Madeline Clark, Department of Counselor Education;

• Dr. Aisling Coughlan, Department of Bioengineering;

• Dr. Allyson Day, Department of Disability Studies;

• Dr. Katherine Delaney, Department of Early Childhood, Higher Education and Special Education;

• Dr. Hamoun Delaviz, Department of Neurosciences;

• Dr. Obi Ekwenna, Department of Urology, Department of Transplantation;

• Dr. Saori Furuta, Department of Biochemistry and Cancer Biology;

• Jenn Glassman, Department of Speech Language Pathology;

• Dr. Temeaka Gray, Department of Advanced Population Health;

• Dr. Serhan Guner, Department of Civil Engineering;

• Dr. F. Scott Hall, Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics;

• Dr. Trieu Le, Department of Mathematics and Statistics;

• Dr. Jiayong Liu, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery;

• Dr. Kimberly Mack, Department of English Language and Literature;

• Dr. Luis Mata, Department of Engineering Technology;

• Dr. Kimberly McBride, School of Population Health.

• Nicole McKenzie, Department of Exercise and Rehabilitation;

• Dr. Gigi McNamara, Department of Communication, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies;

• Dr. Peter Mezo, Department of Psychology;

• Dr. Jared Oluoch, Department of Engineering Technology;

• Dr. Megan Petra, Department of Social Justice;

• Dr. Brad Pierson, Department of Music;

• Dr. Dayanidh Raman, Department of Biochemistry and Cancer Biology;

• Dr. Isaac Schiefer, Department of Medicinal and Biological Chemistry;

• Dr. Heidi Shank, Department of Nursing;

• Dr. Vithal Shendge, Department of Orthopeadic Surgery;

• Dr. Heather Sloane, Department of Social Justice;

• Dr. Tonya Schmitt, Department of Advanced Population Care;

• Dr. Amit Tiwari, Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics;

• Dr. Brian Trease, Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering;

• Dr. Kasumi Yamazaki, Department of Foreign Languages; and

• Ronald Zallocco, Department of English Language and Literature

UT to be well- represented at National Conference on Undergraduate Research

Seventeen University of Toledo students will present their projects at the 31st Annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research at the University of Memphis Thursday through Saturday, April 6-8.

These projects by UT students were chosen from more than 4,000 submissions.

Blen Keneni, left, and Branden Austin worked on finalizing their system prototype for their research on “Frequency Spectrum Sharing and Priority Assignment in Communication Systems.” They will present their work this week at the 31st Annual National Conference of Undergraduate Research in Memphis, Tenn.

“The abstracts by the UT students demonstrate a unique contribution to their field of study, providing them the opportunity to present their work to their peers, faculty and staff from all over the nation,” said Dr. Thomas Kvale, professor emeritus of physics and director of the Office of Undergraduate Research.Branden Austin and Blen Keneni, students in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department in the College of Engineering, will present “Frequency Spectrum Sharing and Priority Assignment in Communication Systems” at the conference.

With a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates grant, the two worked last summer and fall on a project with Dr. Vijaya Kumar Devabhaktuni, professor of electrical engineering, as their adviser.

The purpose of their project was to build an educational prototype for attracting high school seniors and college students to pursue university degrees.

“The prototype entails demonstrable hardware and software comprised of a set of communication nodes with call priorities, which are used to help educate students on future and practical implications of spectrum sharing,” Devabhaktuni said.

“Two objectives are achieved by building this hands-on prototype: Students learn firsthand the basics of communication systems, and they are taught the concept and feasibility of ‘priority’ in radio frequency device communication.”

Devabhaktuni said this research experience provided the students with techniques beneficial in their future endeavors: hardware and software design, collaborative research skills, and time and project management.

Keneni is pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering; she graduated with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering in December. She was a senior while working on this research project. Austin is a senior undergraduate dual major in electrical and computer science engineering.

“What I liked about this research is the freedom it gave me to be creative while it challenged my engineering skills,” Keneni said. “It gave me the opportunity to have a detailed understanding of topics related to communication, radio frequency devices, as well as hardware and software design.”

Keneni added, “This undergraduate research can be used to teach students about communication systems, and it will be a great project to present during job interviews.”

“The best part of the research for me is getting to work on challenging projects that make a difference,” Austin said. “It was great to work on a project applicable to teaching students about current and emerging technology. I gained valuable contacts in both academia and industry through research.

“This, and being selected to present our research at a national conference, opens up doors for both grad school and future employment,” he said.

Other UT students who will present their work at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, the titles of their abstracts, and faculty advisers are:

• Quinton Babcock, “Lake Erie Water Quality Survey, A Natural Treatment Option to Reduce Harmful Algal Blooms,” Dr. Kevin Egan, associate professor of economics;

• Sanskar Basnet, “Beam-Foil Measurement of the Lifetime of Ge II 4s2 4d 2D3/2 Level,” Dr. Richard Irving, research assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy;

• Jason Gonring, “Feasibility Study: Solar-Powered Electric Fencing and Hydration for the Buffalo Girls Project,” Dr. Barbara Mann, professor in the Honors College, and Richard Molyet, associate professor of electrical engineering;

• Emily Grubbs, “Women’s Involvement in the Inside Out Prison Exchange Program,” Dr. Jerry Van Hoy, associate professor of sociology;

• Wonhee Kim and Keeyong Hong, “Collaboration Art Beyond Culture,” Daniel Thobias, assistant professor of art;

• Jay Kumar, “The Effect of Nicotine on Ovarian Cancer Cells,” Dr. Deborah Chadee, associate professor of biological sciences;

• Dalal Mahmoud, “Impact of Microcystin on Pre-Exisiting Liver Disease,” Dr. David Kennedy, assistant professor of medicine;

• Batool Mehdi, “Regulation of MLK3 in Ovarian Cancer Cells,” Chadee;

• Zehra Mehdi, “The Role Maternal Reminiscing Style Plays in the Accuracy of Child Reports,” Dr. Kamala London Newton, associate professor of psychology, and Monica Lawson, graduate student in experimental and developmental psychology;

• Megan Post, “Study of Furoxans in a Murine Model of Ischemic Stroke,” Dr. Isaac Schiefer, assistant professor of medicinal and biological chemistry;

• Taylor Robbins, “Comparing the Articulatory Kinematics and Acoustic Vowel Space Between Healthy and Apraxic Speakers,” Dr. Caroline Menezes, associate professor of speech-language pathology;

• Michaela Roberts, “Centriole Remodeling and Poc1 Enrichment in Drosophila Melanogaster,” Dr. Tomer Avidor-Reiss, associate professor of biological sciences;

• Olivia Sagan, “Regulation of MLK Kinases in Ovarian Cancer Cells,” Chadee;

• Shannon Saluga, “Photoredox Catalysts and Their Applications in Organic Synthesis,” Dr. Wei Li, assistant professor of chemistry;

• Nadeen Sarsour, “Prenatal Androgen Exposure in Adult Female Wistar Rats,” Jennifer W. Hill, associate professor of physiology and pharmacology; and

• Raj Thomas, “Investigating the Role of MLK3 in Mitotic Progression of Ovarian Cancer Cells,” Chadee.

Student advocates for clean drinking water worldwide

Last month, 17 high school students from the Natural Science and Technology Center, a Toledo Public Schools Career Tech Program, came to the Chemical Engineering Unit-Ops Laboratory in Nitschke Hall to learn about water quality and purification systems.

Megan Davidson, a second-year chemical engineering student, taught the students about the engineering aspects of different water purification systems to get them started in thinking about how they can use both water and energy in a more responsible way.

Megan Davidson explained how a water purification system worked to local high school students who recently visited campus.

Davidson has been a strong advocate for water purification since starting at UT. Her interest was initially piqued when she went to Guatemala in 2015 to build a home for a family in need.“I was warned not to drink the water or even eat any food that had been washed in the water because it could make me sick,” Davidson said. “The idea that people are getting diarrhea and are malnourished because of the water they drink always struck me as a great injustice.”

In her freshman orientation class, Davidson had the opportunity to learn about the ultraviolet water purification system made by Clean Water for the World and was surprised by the simplicity of the system. She then became involved with Walk for Water, an organization that raises money for water purification units and spreads awareness of the conditions of the water in developing countries.

This year, Davidson served as the educational outreach director for Walk for Water; she helped develop a lesson plan for seventh- and eighth-grade presentations, which covered a wide range of related topics.

“We wanted to tie in green energy to the presentations to give students more to think about and help them understand that all of the world’s resources are connected,” Davidson said. “We were able to reach out to about 1,200 students in 20 different schools.”

During spring break this year, Davidson was invited to go to El Salvador with a group of chemical and environmental engineering students to visit various communities and assess their water situation. They surveyed people’s overall health and their use of and accessibility to clean water.

If the community did not have a water purification unit, the UT students installed one of nine units they had brought and taught the people how it works and how to clean and replace parts as needed. For the communities that already had a unit, they recorded the maintenance of the system and took a list of needed parts to keep it operational.

“I was very excited to be able to see the units in action and to understand firsthand the impact they are making in peoples’ lives,” Davidson said. “It was fantastic to be able to see everything come full circle, from building and researching improvements that can be made to the units to fundraising through Walk for Water to finally installing the units and being able to talk to the people who are now able to drink clean water.”

Davidson is passionate about water purification projects and plans to stay involved with them in the future. She is considering spending time in Central America to address water problems after she graduates.

“I think it is important for people to understand that all waterways are connected. The water we have in the U.S. is clean and safe to drink because we have installed plants to treat water that is not safe,” Davidson said. “Not everyone is fortunate enough to have government-funded systems and are stuck drinking water with chemicals, viruses, bacteria and even feces in it every single day. If we care about others, and not just the people we see every day, but people we share water with across the world, we need to be aware that there are things we can do to help those in need.”