Science

BGSU’s Eric Dubow named Distinguished Research Professor for work of a lifetime

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Eric Dubow, professor of clinical psychology, takes on a research project, he’s in it for the long run. One study he’s been involved in started about the time he was born. Now his graduate students are using its data as the basis for their theses. That’s more than a life’s work. Earlier this month the Bowling Green State University Board of Trustees designated Dubow as a Distinguished Research Professor. From the beginning of his graduate work at the University of Illinois-Chicago, Dubow’s scholarship has focused on “how the observation of aggression and violence, whether it’s in the media, the family, the neighborhood, leads someone to be more aggressive. … We develop a way of thinking, attitudes that justify violence as a behavioral choice. … But certainly there are some kids who observe these things who don’t become aggressive. So we look at protective factors.” Positive parentings, social engagement, education, all can help foster resilience in young people, he said. His graduate mentors were working on a longitudinal study of a cohort of people in Columbia County in New York, an area on the east side of the Hudson between Albany and New York City. The study started in 1960. Researchers interviewed all the third graders in the county and their parents. Those subjects were 30 when Dubow joined the study as a graduate student. Now they are about 65, and the study includes interviews with their children. In a longitudinal study ‘“you keep…


BG searches for science to clear up pipeline confusion

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards is tired of hearing conflicting “facts” about the pipeline proposed to cross city property and run close to the city water treatment plant. So he set out himself to find some “good science” instead of “unsubstantiated political statements.” The city has been asked by those opposed to the Nexus pipeline to try to intervene in the FERC approval process, but council has been reluctant to get into a losing court battle. So Edwards turned to two scientists for help. One is Dr. Charles Onasch, professor emeritus of geology at BGSU, a researcher who has probably studied the BG Fault more than anyone else on record, Edwards said. The other is Larry Wickstrom, president of Wickstrom Geoscience of Worthington, Ohio, who is the former chief of the Ohio Division of the Ohio Geological Survey. “In that important role, he warned of some of the potential dangers associated with fracking in southeastern Ohio, and as a result lost his job,” Edwards said of Wickstrom. While other geologists have presented some alarming information about the pipeline route, the geologists the mayor talked with do not share those concerns. “I take science very seriously,” Edwards assured those at the council meeting. “We’ve been doing a lot of investigating and trying to reach out to some of the best minds we know.” The geologists the mayor contacted said the most recent activity on the Bowling Green Fault can be no younger than…


Photochemist Alexis Ostrowski brings $850,000 in grants to BGSU

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University photochemist Dr. Alexis Ostrowski and her lab are venturing into a whole new world of materials with properties as yet unknown, but that offer the promise of beneficial applications in health, industry, agriculture and other fields. In recognition of the potential of Ostrowski’s work, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded her a CAREER grant of nearly $600,000 to fund her research over the next five years. Ostrowski also recently learned that she has received another $250,000 in funding for a second project looking at using the power of light to transform animal waste into usable fertilizer. “The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization,” according to the NSF. “Such activities should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of integrated contributions to research and education.” “The overall goal of my lab is to make photoresponsive materials,” Ostrowski said. “And those materials have in them metal ions for unique reactivities.” By mixing metal ions with polymers, or plastics, and exposing the resulting materials to light, Ostrowski aims to open up new avenues of discovery. “We may be making materials with really interesting properties we don’t even know yet. This is fundamental research,” she said. “Alexis is a rising star in the field…


BG seeks scientific facts surrounding pipeline

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials would like to dig into the facts around the Nexus pipeline but have no interest getting tangled in a lawsuit. City council was presented with some unsettling scientific information Monday evening, and was asked to file a motion to intervene with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – which is on the edge of approving the pipeline plans. “We still have the right to insist that the dangerous situation at the pipeline river crossing be fully analyzed,” Lisa Kochheiser, of Bowling Green, said to council. “Time is of the essence here.” A grassroots group opposed to the Nexus pipeline as it crosses Wood County has worked with a Bowling Green State University professor who is a geologist and environmental policy expert. Based on the information found by Dr. Andrew Kear, the group filed a formal motion to intervene with FERC. Kear spoke directly to city council. “I’m not an advocate against natural gas,” he said, noting his appreciation for hot showers. However, the route of the Nexus pipeline, “poses unnerving public health and safety risks.” The initial report submitted to FERC said the Bowling Green Fault Line is deep below the surface, so it is not a concern. However, the fault is so close to the surface that it is visible in places, and is even pointed out by a marker in Farnsworth Park on the other side of the Maumee River. “The pipeline crosses the fault right near the…


Ostrowski named ’emerging investigator’

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Dr. Alexis Ostrowski’s childhood fascination with light and its properties led her to a career in photochemical sciences and a faculty position at BGSU. Since joining the chemistry  faculty in 2012, she has published novel research on using light to control the mechanical properties of biomaterials and metal-containing polymers. Ostrowski was recently named as one of 16 “ Emerging Investigators in Inorganic Photochemistry and Photophysics” by the American Chemical Society and was featured in the ACS Select Virtual Issue. The 16 researchers, all of whom received their doctorates in 2004 or thereafter and are working in inorganic photochemistry and photophysics, were chosen based on papers published in such journals as Inorganic Chemistry and Chemistry of Materials. Ph.D. student Anton Razgoniaev and recent Ph.D. graduate Giuseppe Giammanco are co-authors on the two papers published in 2016 and 2015 in Inorganic Chemistry and Chemistry of Materials, respectively. The 16 researchers’ work “highlights the exciting diversity of research surrounding the utilization, generation and/or manipulation of photons (fundamental particles of light),” according to the ACS. Ostrowski’s BGSU group’s research focuses on the development of photoresponsive materials that utilize metal coordination. The group is interested in understanding the fundamental photochemistry of these materials, specifically how the polymers affect the photochemical mechanisms and dynamics of the metal coordination groups. Her group’s publications highlighted by the ACS build on research by students in her lab on a method of making biomaterials light responsive. “These are just a few representative examples of…


Top scientists engage youngsters in Kids’ Tech University at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Paul Morris knows that Kids’ Tech University presented at Bowling Green State University has a lot going for it. Each of the four weeks features an esteemed scientist who knows how to talk to children age 9 to 12 about their research. And then the kids have carefully designed activities related to the science that allow students to do the work of science themselves. Then there’s Morris’ hair. He sports a frizzy mop of white hair. Morris said he’s gotten enough comments on it, he’s decided to stop cutting his hair. “I look the part.” It’s a silly way to get across a key element of the program. “The idea that children are being directed by a real scientist that’s part of the excitement we want to capture.” Registration is now underway for the program that runs four Saturdays throughout the semester starting Feb. 11 and continuing Feb. 25, March 18, and April 8. Each starts at 10 a.m. and continues until 3 p.m. or so. Registration is $90. Visit http://kidstechuniversity-bgsu.vbi.vt.edu/. The mission is to get children excited about science, technology, engineering and math before they get into middle school. The Feb. 11 session will feature Dr. Jennifer M. DeBruyn, who works at the Body Farm in Tennessee, a lab which studies decomposition of human bodies. DeBruyn is a microbiologist who studies how all manner of matter decomposes. Her talk is: “Life after Death: Exploring the decomposer organisms that recycle corpses back to soil.”…


Ohio EPA: Lake Erie ‘impaired’ status unnecessary

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Commissioners were asked this year by an environmentalist to sign onto a request that Lake Erie’s Western Basin be declared “impaired.” They were also asked this year by a farmer to not seek the “impaired” designation. Not certain of the best course of action, the commissioners asked the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to help clear up the issue. But the issue seemed to get more complicated instead. “As clear as mud,” Karl Gebhardt said as he left the commissioners’ office on Tuesday. Gebhardt, deputy director of the Ohio EPA Water Resources and Lake Erie Programs and executive director of the Ohio Lake Erie Commission, said the phosphorus causing algae problems in the lake is already being worked on by the state – and federal involvement is not needed. Ohio EPA officials hear the complaints: “Why is Lake Erie green? Why can’t my grandchildren go swimming in the lake?” But efforts are already underway, Gebhardt said. Based on the marine life in the lake, the shoreline of Lake Erie has already been declared “impaired.” And based on the water treatment steps needed, the areas of Lake Erie around water intakes have been declared “impaired.” The U.S. EPA would like Ohio to designate the Western Lake Erie Basin as impaired, Gebhardt said. But there is currently no science-based criteria for that designation. “We really want to base this on science,” he told the county commissioners. Ohio EPA officials have asked the U.S….


BGSU graduate Julia Arroyo receives sociology fellowship

BGSU alumna Julia Arroyo ’14 is one of five individuals selected for the American Sociological Association’s Minority Fellowship Program. The national program recognizes and supports exceptional minority Ph.D. candidates. Arroyo, who is pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Florida, worked as a research assistant at the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at BGSU. Arroyo’s research interests include race and ethnicity, child welfare systems and families, children and youth. Her work promotes positive outcomes among racial-ethnic minority youth and youth in zero-parent households, which includes living with grandparents or foster parents, and creates space for their experiences in theories of their well-being. Her dissertation examines the changing prevalence and characteristics of zero-parent households in the United States. Applying qualitative and quantitative methods, it links the formation of these households, and the destinies of those within them, to broader social, economic and political circumstances. Arroyo’s co-authored works address historical change in women’s age at first birth and marriage, and child welfare caseworkers’ attitudes toward nonresident fathers. Among works that are forthcoming are an interdisciplinary brief on preventing children’s use of racial-ethnic stereotypes and a review of “Spheres of Influence” by Massey and Brodmann (2014). Her in-progress works problematize the role of caseworkers’ attitudes in father-engagement outcomes, critique measurements of family environments and characterize young adult pathways out of non-parental households. Her awards include the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research summer program’s Clifford C. Clogg Scholarship (2014); UF Sociology, Criminology and Law’s Gorman Award for Innovative Methods (2014),…


STEM in the Park makes learning loud, messy & fun

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Learning can be pretty loud and messy. Just ask the kids covered in foam bubbles. Or the kids making concrete. Or the ones building rockets. For the seventh year in a row, a whole lot of learning masqueraded as fun at STEM in the Park at Bowling Green State University on Saturday. “We want to make learning fun and we want to spark interest in the STEM fields” of science, technology, engineering and math, said Jenna Pollock, coordinator of the event organized by the Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education. An estimated 5,000 grade school kids, their parents and volunteers showed up to play. All the events were hands-on, with the messier ones relegated to the outside. There was a “Cootie Camp,” where kids could enter a black tent to get a peek at the germs covering them. There was a giant foam machine shooting foamy bubbles all over kids. There was a sloth and a vulture from the Toledo Zoo. And yes, before you ask, this is education – just in a sneaky form. “We do make it fun,” Pollock said. “They are learning without thinking they are learning.” One outside tent was devoted completely to water issues. Children – and in some cases, their inquisitive parents – got to use a remotely operated vehicle, similar to those used by oceanographers to study shipwrecks and coral reefs that are too deep for divers to venture. “They go places man…


Wendy Manning appointed president elect of national population association

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Dr. Wendy Manning, Distinguished Research Professor of sociology, is president-elect of the Population Association of America (PAA). She was elected to the position at the association’s recent conference. Manning, who is director of BGSU’s Center for Family and Demographic Research and co-director of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research (NCFMR), begins her term in January 2017 and will be president in 2018. Her key duties include organizing the 2018 annual meeting and delivering the 2018 presidential address. “I am honored and excited about the position,” Manning said. She has been actively involved with PAA, serving on several committees, as a member of the board and as vice president. She credits the visibility and strong reputation of BGSU and her colleagues as an important factor in winning the election. Manning is a family demographer; her research examines how family members define and understand their obligations to each other in an era of increasingly diverse and complex family relationships. She led the research for the ASA Amicus Brief filed to the U.S. Supreme Court in same-sex marriage cases. She has examined the meaning of cohabitation with her work on the measurement of cohabitation, fertility in cohabiting unions, the stability of cohabiting unions, transitions to marriage and implications of cohabitation for adult and child well-being. Her work has focused on adolescent sexual decision-making as well as the patterning and quality of young adult relationships. “This is a significant achievement in Wendy’s exceptionally distinguished career,” said Dr….


BGSU hosting STEM in the park, Sept. 24

From BGSU MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS STEM in the Park, a free family day of hands-on fun at Bowling Green State University, will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Perry Field House, with plenty of free parking available. STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in the Park will feature interactive displays and activities created by community partners, local businesses and area universities to engage children of all ages in the STEM fields. More than 140 unique hands-on STEM activity stations will be offered for individuals and families to enjoy. This event allows participants to make ice cream, dabble in robotics, launch pop rockets, pet lizards and much more. Everyone who attends the event will receive an event map, take home free STEM materials and activity ideas, and enjoy a complimentary catered lunch. Last year’s event drew more than 4,300 visitors from northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. Back by popular demand is the “Science of Sports” zone, which displays activity stations that examine how fast participants can run, how high participants can jump, and how far participants can throw a ball. New this year will be a golf simulator where participants can take part in the longest drive contest. A “Roots to STEM Pre K-2” zone also returns this year, which features activities that cater specifically to younger children. The STEM Stage will once again feature super-sized demonstrations from Imagination Station and the Soar & Explore Bird Show presented by the Toledo Zoo. New activities for…


The nose knows…more than we may suspect

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It wasn’t exactly scientific, but the simple test did prove how powerful the sense of smell can be. At the request of Dr. Paul Moore, a professor of biology at Bowling Green State University, the roomful of adults plugged their noses, put the jelly beans in their mouths, started chewing and tasted nothing. The second their released their nostrils, the flavors came rushing in – apple, cherry, cinnamon. “As soon as you let go of your nose, you know,” Moore said to the members of the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club during their weekly meeting last Thursday. Moore has been studying the sense of smell for 30 years. “Every animal makes a lot of decisions based on smell,” including humans, he said. We often aren’t even aware of it, but smells play a big role in most people’s lives. Far back in history, the sense of smell was necessary for survival. “Odors played an essential role if you lived or died,” Moore said. Bitter odors would warn people the food was poisonous or meat had gone rancid. “It’s the most ancient sense we have,” he said. And the least explored. “It is the last frontier of the brain.” Unlike colors or noise, odors are more multi-dimensional and harder to define. “Odors don’t lie on a linear spectrum,” Moore explained. Odors are sometimes used to influence people’s behavior – often without them knowing. For example, it’s long been a tactic when trying to sell…


Drought conditions may restrict growth of algae in Lake Erie

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Dry weather is keeping the algae blooms in Lake Erie at bay. The lack of rainfall means little run off into the Maumee River leading into the lake. The runoff is the main source of phosphorus that feeds the algae growth. The phosphorus in the runoff largely comes from the fertilizer that farmers use on their fields. Thursday the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a prediction for a less severe algae bloom in the western Lake Erie Basin. On hand at the announcement were Bowling Green State University researchers Michael McKay, director of the BGSU marine program, and George Bullerjahn, professor of biological sciences. That prediction, they said during an interview on Friday, is good as it stands, but is subject to change. If it starts pouring, Bullerjahn said, the algae could be back. “We’re relying on luck and nature,” McKay said. Whether an algae bloom develops into a toxic algae bloom like the one that closed down the Toledo region’s water system in 2014 depends on many factors – wind, heat and the presence of nitrogen, another key ingredient in fertilizer. The extent of that algae bloom, Bullerjahn said, was moderate, but it had high levels of the toxin microcystin. That crisis sent people in the region scrambling for water and scientists, officials and politicians scrambling for solutions. However, “we can’t predict how toxic a bloom will be,” Bullerjahn said. There’s no correlation between how green a bloom is and how toxic…


BGSU’s Torelli discusses citizen science in Washington D.C.

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS BGSU chemist Dr. Andrew Torelli is part of an international effort to raise awareness of the importance of science to society and to engage the public and legislators with current issues. Torelli recently served on an invited panel of experts as part of an informational briefing for members of Congress, their representatives and the public in Washington, D.C. The panel’s topic was “Citizen Science: Empowering a Robust National Effort.” Torelli shared the exciting example of the Smartphone InSpector, a device developed by an interdisciplinary team of BGSU faculty and students that equips a cell phone to identify and measure contaminants in water and upload the data to an online site. The system is being field tested by a number of area Rotary clubs to monitor regional water quality. The June 7 briefing was part of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Science and the Congress Project and the Consortium for Science Policy Outcomes at Arizona State University. “The purpose of these briefings is to provide members of the public and legislators on Capitol Hill with information on important topics in science that address national challenges,” Torelli said. The panel was moderated by Dr. Jamie Vernon of Sigma Xi and American Scientist magazine, with honorary co-hosts Sens. Steve Daines (Rep. Mont.), and Chris Coons (Dem., Del.). “It was great to see bipartisan support for the briefing,” Torelli said. The importance of citizen science is becoming clearer. According to the ACS, “As professional scientists explore the…


The cosmos is ready for its close up in Eric Zeigler’s exhibit

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The universe is on view in downtown Toledo. Or at least photographer Eric Zeigler’s vision of the universe, which includes: Galaxies of 100,000 stars, compressed into one small frame the size of a computer monitor. One of Pluto’s moons, the smear of light as good as anyone will likely ever see it. The rust on a meteorite in an image blown up 36-times its natural size. A computer image of neutrinos – subatomic particles so small 65 billion of them fit into a square centimeter – interacting. The exhibit “Under Lying” is now on view at River House Arts, 425 Jefferson St. The exhibit is open through July 30. For hours call 419-441-4025. The show will be part of Art Loop on July 21. The work, Zeigler explained, comes from his interest in astronomy that was sparked by a class he took at Bowling Green State University, where he earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Photography in 2008. He’d been taking photos since his early teens, inspired by his grandfather. Above the television in his grandparents’ home was a landscape photo his grandfather had taken. And scattered around the house were copies of Popular Photography magazine. His grandfather, Zeigler said, was interested in optics, and during World War II maintained sights on bombers that flew missions over Germany. Young Eric was fascinated by the data included in Popular Photography. What did the shutter speeds and aperture opening numbers mean? “I was totally addicted…