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Researchers progressing in fatberg study

A fatberg discovered in a Macomb County sewer had led to a more introspective look on the subject, courtesy of a pair of Wayne State University researchers. Barely more than a year ago, Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller stood at a podium and discussed how a 100-foot long, 19-ton fatberg was discovered in a sewer 50 feet underground as part of the Lakeshore Interceptor along Interstate 94. A few months later, Wayne State University researchers acquired an $86,000 National Science Foundation grant that has allowed them to study how fats, oil and greases, or FOGs, lend themselves toward these environmental blobs. It also helps compile a model, aimed to predict future situations when fatbergs might arise — not just in Macomb County, but anywhere. “We’ve been working very closely with the Macomb County Department of Public Works to investigate the whole fatberg phenomena,” said Carol Miller, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of Healthy Urban Waters at WSU. “Macomb County has been really helpful, and we have a wealth of information regarding system characters, and data regarding pressure flows of pipes before and after the fatberg.” Carol Miller works alongside Tracie Baker, assistant professor in WSU’s Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Their research as part of the grant will continue for about another four months.
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Why I’m teaching kids science through the sport of rowing

Elizabeth A. Barton, associate professor of research, wrote an article for The Conversation about her research in combining the sport of rowing with a new curriculum that teaches middle and high school students science and mathematical concepts. Working with the Detroit Boat Club Crew, overseen by the nonprofit Friends of Detroit Rowing, Barton’s innovative approach is tackling two areas of concern for Detroit youths: promoting physically active lifestyles and preparing youth for successful careers in scientific and technological fields. Barton wrote: “Rowing leans heavily on STEM concepts commonly found in the fields of mathematics, physics and kinesiology. Through the sport, our curriculum covers works from the famous Greek mathematician Archimedes up through NASA engineer Katherine Johnson. For example, potential and kinetic energy, boat velocity and rowers’ mass are strategies for teaching essential concepts. Promoting critical thinking skills, problem-solving and innovation through STEM education is necessary for job creation and retention for youth in the 21st century. Physical activity and participation in sports such as rowing is essential for mental and physical health and well-being. We hope that fusing the components of STEM and rowing will result in an engaging educational experience, healthier youth and future careers in high-demand fields.”
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Data: Metro Detroit pharmacies received more than 40 percent of state's pain pill supplies

At least 40 percent of the 2.9 billion prescription pain pills supplied to Michigan in the years preceding the nation’s third wave of opioid overdose deaths landed in Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties, according to federal data released over the summer. The flood of pills fueled opioid deaths across the region, and some experts are thankful the newly-released Drug Enforcement Administration database can now be used to pinpoint trends and problem areas. Victoria Tutag Lehr, a Wayne State University pharmacy practice professor, said the database is good for verifying some suspected trends. “It has some research helpfulness, (yet) you just can’t assume that all those doses dispensed went to a patient with a prescription,” Lehr said. “People will tell you they’re not afraid of going to jail, losing their house, waking up in an alley … They are afraid of going into withdrawal. It’s a big, big issue.” She would prefer a more zoomed look at prescription opioid pills, such as similar data for census tracts or zip codes. Lehr emphasized that opioids should be part of “multi-modal management” that includes other treatments like topical anesthetics and physical therapy.
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Wayne State/Henry Ford Health System Lead $4 Million Detroit-Based NIH HEAL Initiative

The National Institutes of Health launched the “Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative” in April 2018 to improve prevention and treatment strategies for opioid misuse and addiction and to enhance pain management. This initiative aims to improve treatments for chronic pain, curb the rates of opioid use disorder and overdose, and achieve long-term recovery from opioid addiction. A team of researchers led by Wayne State University this week received one of 375 grant awards across 41 states made by the National Institutes of Health in fiscal year 2019 to apply scientific solutions to reverse the national opioid crisis. This $4 million award, “Dual-orexin antagonism as a mechanism for improving sleep and drug abstinence in opioid use disorder,” will bring together a research team from Wayne State University and Henry Ford Health System to investigate a rigorous treatment method that may offer a new therapeutic approach to reduce opioid addiction relapse. According to Mark Greenwald, Ph.D., principal investigator on Wayne State’s grant and professor and associate chair of research and director of the Substance Abuse Research Division in the Wayne State School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, insomnia is common in opioid addictions and is a major predictor of potential relapse. Current medications to treat insomnia have limited results on relapse and may produce unwanted side effects. “There are FDA-approved medications for treatment of insomnia, but there is an unmet need for alternatives, especially to aid in preventing opioid addiction relapses,” said Greenwald. “The Orexin (OX) system plays a key role in sleep and substance use, and offers promise as a potential alternative to other medications currently used to treat insomnia.
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Can ‘microscholarships’ steer student behavior?

Colleges have a pretty good idea of the student behaviors that are associated with retention. How can they encourage students to do those things? A company called RaiseMe is pitching a new approach: Colleges can use its platform to offer students “microscholarships,” or relatively small credits toward their bill, in return for completing such tasks. On Friday, RaiseMe announced that it’s conducting a pilot project on student-success microscholarships with Wayne State University. This year, participating freshmen at Wayne State can earn $10 to $50 a pop for activities like attending a campus arts or athletics event or taking a study-skills workshop. The total they earn — capped at $500 — will be subtracted from their college bill next fall. RaiseMe conducted a smaller pilot at Wayne State over the summer to see if a similar approach could reduce the number of students who “melted,” or did not enroll as planned. Wayne State, for one, is under no illusion that there’s a silver bullet for student success. For years the university has labored to improve its six-year graduation rate, which stood at just 28 percent in 2012. The university’s leaders want to see a six-year graduation rate of 50 percent by 2020, said Dawn Medley, associate vice president for enrollment management, and it’s getting close. To achieve that level of progress, Wayne State has tried just about everything: overhauling its advising system and how it awards scholarships, using predictive analytics and a chatbot system, offering emergency grants and providing a food pantry. “It there is a practice out there,” Medley said, “then we want to make sure we’re doing that practice, and doing it well.” The university has had a good experience with RaiseMe on the admissions side, Medley said. Of the 2,968 admissions deposits the university received for the fall, 879 came from students who had used the platform. Of those, 515 came from students who had learned of the university from RaiseMe. More than anything, Medley said, RaiseMe helps Wayne State signal its interest in students who may have thought that a four-year college was out of reach — while there’s still time for those students to take steps to prepare. For current students, Medley said, the program could help “socially norm” the sorts of behaviors that the university knows are linked to student success. Ideally, Medley said, she’d like to see microscholarships cover the university’s annual tuition increases for students. If more students are retained, the university can make up the difference in volume. Still, she said, the effort is not a replacement for anything else the university is trying. “We’ve got 15 irons in the fire,” Medley said. “This is the 16th.”
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How to develop an appetite for insects

In 2013, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released a report declaring the need to swap traditional protein sources for insects to support a sustainable future. The report helped drive an explosion of efforts all dedicated to making mealworms your next meal. When Christopher Columbus returned from the Americas, he and members of his expedition used the insect-eating of the native inhabitants as an example of savagery, and as justification for dehumanizing people he would later enslave, said Julie Lesnik, an anthropologist at Wayne State University and author of “Edible Insects and Human Evolution.” While it wasn’t the only factor, the colonial era deepened the stigmatization of entomophagy in mainland Europe, and in turn among European settlers in the Americas. Further distaste grew as insects threatened profitable agricultural monocultures supported by slavery and industrialization. Many of us were programmed early in life to fear insects, and developing an appetite for them won’t be easy. “It’s O.K. if you think it’s gross. It’s totally fine,” said Lesnik. “You didn’t ask to be programmed this way.” But entomophagy advocates think reprogramming can transform people’s attitudes toward insects. For instance, kale, sushi, lobster and even olive oil or tomatoes were once scorned and unfamiliar in some cultures. But change can come about. With education and by acknowledging negative feelings toward eating insects, adults can try to resist passing them to their children. “It will really benefit them if they don’t think bugs are gross,” she added. “Because it’s our kids’ generation that’s going to have to be able to solve those problems.”
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Iran sanctions, Saudi Oil attack and changes to Middle East college programs in U.S.

There are allegations that a Saudi oil facility was attacked earlier this month, there’s an Afghan election coming up and Trump discussed Iran aggressively in his address at the UN climate summit yesterday. Plus, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is going after some Near and Middle East college programs to reformat their curriculum to address what her department is calling “anti-Israel bias.” Detroit Today’s host Stephen Henderson sat down with Saeed Khan, senior lecturer of Near and Middle East history and politics at Wayne State University. On the attack on a Saudi oil facility: “The fact that Saudi are self investigating,” is troubling, explained Khan. “I think it’s quite telling that there is still quite a bit of ambiguity regarding what the intel and the investigation have shown, to the point that the government of Japan is still not persuaded that Iran was involved in any way,” he said. At the same time, Khan also pointed out that “the British, the French and the Germans have said Iran is responsible in some way, shape or form.” On the changes to Middle East college programs: “It seems as though the focus is on what is perceived to be an anti Israel bias, that of course is going to be in the eye of the beholder as to what then is the threshold of what is seen as criticism,” explained Khan.
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UAW strike against gm stretches into second week

The UAW strike against General Motors is now in its second week. After 9 days of striking, where do negotiations stand? And how does this strike compare to other auto worker strikes throughout history? “It is a sliver of impact that is potentially had in this strike compared to what you had 50 years ago,” says Marick Masters, a labor expert and professor of business and interim chair of the finance department at Wayne State University’s Mike Ilitch School of Business. “And I think that speaks to the decline of labor.” According to Masters, a major strike in 1970 saw approximately one million workers striking against GM, while today, there are fewer than 50,000 people involved. One significant hurdle to overcome before both sides reach an agreement is addressing the disparity between full-time and temporary workers. ”I think it’s going to be very difficult to get a tentative agreement,” Masters says. “You have the use of temporary workers… who don’t get all the benefits that so-called legacy workers do. This is sparking a discussion about the role of the middle class.” In addition to the gap that exists between full-time and temporary workers, Masters points to the increasing divide between executive and hourly worker pay, saying that executive salaries are going up while typical workers’ wages have stagnated or even fallen. He says this is making it “harder for those in the shrinking middle [class] to get ahead.” UAW workers are compensated $250 per week while on strike, and last week General Motors announced that they were dropping health-care plans for striking workers, increasing the tension between both sides. In the face of those economic implications, is a strike the most effective way to get a point across? According to Masters, yes: “A lot of the protections that we take for granted in the workplace today were won by unions and they were hard-fought battles by workers who made great sacrifices.”
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$3.1 million NIH grant to improve quality of life for African American cancer survivors

African Americans have the lowest survival rate of any racial or ethnic group in the United States for most cancers – a problem that is magnified in southeast Michigan. These differences are often due to socioeconomic disparities that result in unequal access to medical care, health insurance, healthy food and more. African Americans who survive cancer also have the shortest survival of any racial/ethnic group in the United States for most cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. A team of researchers from Wayne State University and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute are investigating the combined role that community, interpersonal and individual influences have on the health-related quality of life for African American cancer survivors, and how those influences create racial health disparities between African Americans and white survivors. The team includes Felicity W.K. Harper, Ph.D., associate professor of oncology in the Wayne State School of Medicine and the Karmanos Cancer Institute; Malcolm P. Cutchin, Ph.D., professor in the Institute of Gerontology and the Department of Health Care Sciences in Wayne State’s Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; and Hayley Thompson, Ph.D., professor of oncology in the School of Medicine and associate center director for community outreach and engagement at Karmanos. The study, “ARISE: African American Resilience in Surviving Cancer,” is a five-year, $3.1 million project funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health that aims to identify targets of change and inform the development of interventions to address causes of poorer health-related quality of life experienced by African American cancer survivors.
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What the Jeffrey Epstein case reveals about female sex offenders

Wayne State University professors in the School of Social Work Poco Kernsmith, Erin B. Comartin and Sheryl Kubiak, dean, wrote a piece for The Conversation about the importance of understanding sex offenses perpetrated by women in light of the recent indictment of Jeffrey Epstein for sex trafficking. Epstein allegedly did not act alone. In a variety of court filings, some of his female associates, most notably Ghislaine Maxwell, have been depicted as instrumental in his sexual encounters. None of them has been criminally charged. “We have studied women who have been convicted of sexual assault, abuse and human trafficking, as well as public attitudes toward sex offenders. Our research, and that of others, shows the similarities and differences between male and female sexual offenders.” In conclusion, the authors wrote: “We believe that introducing prevention programs that specifically address women as potential perpetrators may be effective in helping to prevent some abuses, such as those alleged in the Epstein cases.”
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Notable Women In Education Leadership

The women featured in this Notable Women in Education Leadership report were selected by a team of Crain’s Detroit Business editors based on their career accomplishments, track record of success in the field, contributions to their community and mentorship of others, as outlined in a detailed nomination form. Wayne State University awardees included: Monica Brockmeyer, senior associate provost for student success; Jennifer Lewis, associate professor of mathematics education and executive director, educator excellence, Detroit public schools community district; and Toni Somers, associate dean and professor at the Mike Ilitch School of Business.
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Data dump points task force toward areas of potential change when it comes to state’s jails

A group of lawmakers, judges, and law enforcement is starting to get a better idea of who is in Michigan’s jails and why. The Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration met Friday and got their first data dump from the PEW Charitable Trusts. PEW is working on collecting jail, court and arrest data from across the state to help the task force come up with recommendations for improvement. The Center for Behavioral Health and Justice at Wayne State University also presented the findings to the state task force. They found that almost half of the people released from jail in Michigan, are discharged after business hours. Experts say that creates problems for people who need mental health or substance abuse treatment. Sheryl Kubiak, School of Social Work dean and director of the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice, worked on the study. She said they studied jails in ten counties, and they found more than 43-percent of people released from jail are released between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. “So, if you can imagine somebody who is being discharged at 12:01 or 8 p.m., trying to connect with services is much more difficult,” she told the task force. The task force was created earlier this year to study’s Michigan’s jail system. It plans to have recommendations for improvements to the state’s jail system by January 9.
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Make Your Date Detroit delivers results

Detroit has one of the worst (highest) preterm birth and infant mortality rates in the country, equal to that of some third world countries. With a preterm birth rate of 14.5 percent, Detroit earned an “F” among major U.S. cities for premature births according to the 2018 Premature Birth Report Card from the March of Dimes, the nation’s leading maternal and infant health nonprofit organization. Research has shown that disparities such as racial inequity, poverty, stress, food insecurity, lack of education, and limited access to transportation or health care can contribute to poor health outcomes for mothers and babies. In efforts to quell this epidemic, the city of Detroit has welcomed several initiatives geared towards reducing the city’s infant mortality rate. One such initiative is the Make Your Date Detroit program. Make Your Date Detroit is a Wayne State University organization that is fighting to turn the tide against premature births in Detroit. “African American infants are at a 50 percent greater risk of preterm birth compared to white infants. As a result, African American infants are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants,” says Marisa Rodriquez, director of strategic operations of the Office of Women’s Health at Wayne State University. “African American women are three to four times more likely to die in pregnancy than white mothers. Hispanic mothers and infants are also at greater risk when compared to white women. There are tests and treatments that exist to reduce preterm birth, but many pregnant women do not have access to them. Our program works to make these lifesaving approaches available. What our program and others provide is important in the fight to reduce the very substantial racial and ethnic health disparities that are seen in pregnancy.” Rodriquez says that the Make Your Date program has already begun saving infant lives in a short period. “Make Your Date has been so successful that participating mothers are 37 percent less likely to deliver at under 32 weeks and 28 percent are less likely to deliver at under 34 weeks,” she said. “In a city with such high rates of preterm birth and infant mortality, these results are remarkable. We are very proud that women are delivering healthy babies as a result of this program.”  
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Wayne State welcomes Bosmat Nossan to serve as Allesee Guest Artist In Residence-in-Dance

The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University welcomes renowned Israeli choreographer Bosmat Nossan as the Fall 2019 Allesee Guest Artist-in-Residence, Oct.1 through 11. Nossan has performed her work internationally. She is the artistic director and founder of the Gaga teacher training program, a former dancer of the Batsheva Dance Company and the Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company. Bosmat is a staff member of 'La Collectiz'- a graduate program for contemporary dancers. She was awarded with the Israel-America Cultural Foundation scholarship in 2004 and 2006, as well as the Remco award for promising artist in 2005, and a danceWEB scholarship in 2011. "This is a profound opportunity for our students and our community," says Meg Paul, director of dance for the department. "Having Ms. Nossan provide our students with her insight, artistry and experience is what makes the Allesee Guest Artist-in-Residence program such an integral part of our educational program. We are grateful to both Maggie Allesee, for whom the program is named thanks to her endowment, and to Ms. Nossan for making time to be with us."  
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WSU Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies kicks off National Hispanic Heritage Month

As a kickoff to National Hispanic Heritage Month, Wayne State University's Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (CLLAS) recently hosted its 48th Anniversary & Celebration. The capacity crowd at El Kiosko Banquet Hall was on hand to recognize accomplished students and community leaders. Chuck Stokes, WXYZ editorial and public affairs director, served as emcee. Jorge Chinea, director of CLLAS, put together the special event.
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10,000 counselors and 150,000 clients with mental health issues could be impacted by new proposal

Much of the mental health field is worried by the State Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) move to reduce the number of counselors who could diagnose conditions like depression, anxiety, addiction and PTSD. It would impact both clients and their counselors. "Given the prevalence rates of mental health concerns in the United States and Michigan today, this is something that would impact literally every family in Michigan," said Scott Branson, an assistant professor in the counselor program at Wayne State University. The proposal would also prevent counselors from being reimbursed by insurance companies for their work. "The amount of clients who would lose mental health services would be astronomical. This is not a good time for that," said Shirley Mack, the clinical director of counseling at Wayne State University. In response to the threat, a Republican representative in the House has introduced a bill that would preserve the scope of the profession and how they operate. Professionals are urging residents to contact their representatives to support counselors.
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Professor: Legalization of recreational pot in Michigan resulted in more kids eating edible treats

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Michigan has resulted in a spike in kids eating edible pot treats, according to a professor at Wayne State University. According to a news release from the university, more than half of calls made to the Michigan Poison Center at WSU concerning marijuana exposure through edibles like brownies, chocolate bars, candy and gummies involved children as young as six years old. School of Medicine Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Toxicology Fellowship Program Director Andy King said the uptick is likely due to the November 2018 legalization of marijuana in Michigan, leading to a higher availability of substance in homes. Since the beginning of the year, 59 pediatric calls to the Michigan Poison Center related to marijuana exposure involved edibles. “Wherever you start seeing legalization, kids are going to have more access to it by sheer numbers and probability to it,” King said. “A lot of the edibles are so desirable to children. This is the age that they really can’t read, and they’re going to (sneak) a cookie or steal a gummy bear.” King recommends all edibles and substances, including prescription drugs, be kept in a locked box to ensure safety. “A typical marijuana cigarette holds about 10 mg of THC," King said. “That’s what you see in a gummy bear. That’s a dose for a novice person to take to get the psychedelic or enjoyable effects of THC. These edibles can go up to 10 times that amount.”
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Sources: GM offers 2% raises to UAW; company ends strikers' health care

General Motors stopped paying for health care coverage for striking workers Tuesday, the company confirmed. That means striking GM union workers are eligible for union-paid COBRA to continue their health care benefits. The latest development added to tension as GM and the UAW returned to the bargaining table Tuesday morning. The two sides negotiated until about 9 p.m. Monday, sources said. Meanwhile, more details emerged about GM's offer to the UAW. Two sources familiar with GM's offer said it called for a 2% wage increase for the first and third year of the four-year contract and 2% lump sum payments the second and fourth years. UAW members are emotional after GM moved to shutter U.S. plants, so the fear that the automaker wants to break the union is understandable to Marick Masters, business professor at Wayne State University who specializes in labor. But he said, it's not realistic. “If that were the case, they could take more draconian measures, such as hiring other workers, encouraging people to break the line and go back to work or GM could have had a workforce ready to hire before this even started,” said Masters. GM likely knows it will have a union for the foreseeable future, which is why it is structuring a contract that allows it to be more cost competitive against nonunion automakers, he said. That means having the ability to have a larger temporary workforce and multiple wage tiers is crucial to the carmaker. But the two sides must reach an agreement in short order for several reasons, he said.  
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UAW corruption investigation casts shadow at the bargaining table as GM workers strike

GM workers have been on strike since midnight Monday. Company and union leaders are back at the bargaining table in Detroit. They’re trying to hammer out a new contract after GM workers walked off the job for their first strike since 2007. But there’s a third, unseen presence at the bargaining table this time. It’s the U.S. Justice Department, and its investigation into alleged corruption by some UAW officials. Peter Henning is a professor of law at Wayne State University and a former federal prosecutor. He says that when the feds investigated union leaders in the past, it was usually over suspected ties to organized crime. But this may be something entirely different. “It appears that it was essentially treating some of the funds like their own little piggy bank,” said Henning. Some UAW officials allegedly devised a scheme to use union member dues for personal expenses, like California luxury accommodations and golf. These are only allegations, and neither Jones nor Williams has been charged. Despite GM’s profits right now, the automaker is looking at a possible looming recession, weakening demand, and tariff challenges. It’s leaning heavily on truck and SUV sales, as the industry is becoming more technologically complex and electrified. Marick Masters teaches business and labor studies at Wayne State. He says the UAW will inevitably have to make a less-than-perfect deal for its members—but with many union members’ skeptical of the leadership’s credibility, leaders are more likely to “play to the crowd” and less likely to make a deal. “And that becomes a vicious circle in which inflexibility on one side leads to inflexibility on the other side,” said Masters. “I think at this point in time, the company has the leverage, because of the cloud that hangs over the UAW leadership.”