In the news

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CDC warns against the misuse of ivermectin to treat COVID-19

Overdosing on the drug ivermectin can be scary, with symptoms that can include everything from nausea and vomiting to hallucinations and even death. While ivermectin has been used to treat people with certain conditions, like head lice and rosacea, the FDA and the CDC have seen an uptick of reports of misuse and overdose. “If they’re using the veterinary formulations, you have to realize that these medications, or these formulations, specifically, are designed for animal use. And these are animals that are significantly larger than the average human if we’re talking about horses and cows,” said Dr. Varun Vohra with the Michigan Poison & Drug Information Center at Wayne State University.  
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Pandemic pivot: New supports for students who enter college lacking basic skills

The year before the pandemic, 23 percent of Michigan’s high school class of 2019 took at least one remedial course when they enrolled in a four-year university or community college. It’s too early to know the statewide remedial enrollment rate for the pandemic classes of 2020 and 2021, but some colleges in Southeast Michigan reported lower remedial enrollment during the pandemic. The enrollment rate for Wayne State University’s remedial math course dropped slightly from 7.7 percent of first-time students in the fall of 2019 to 7.2 percent in 2020. In addition to its remedial math course, Wayne State offers an introductory English course, which still counts for college credit; after changing its English placement process going into the 2020-21 academic year, the enrollment rate for introductory English dropped from 19.1 percent in 2019 to 11.9 percent. WSU has offered an alternative admissions program called Academic Pathways to Excellence (APEX) for students who show academic promise but do not meet the university’s standard admissions requirements. “It’s easy to think that we have two groups of students: those who need bridge programs and summer supports, and those who don’t need that at all,” said Monica Brockmeyer, senior associate provost for student success. “And I think we’re seeing the impact of the pandemic to be so pervasive that pretty much every student might benefit from a more intensive level of support or more granular supports that are specific to their academic needs.”  
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TechTown Toast of the Town goes virtual for second year in a row

TechTown will once again host its annual Toast of the Town virtually on Sept. 30. This year, Toast of the Town presented by Bank of America will broadcast live from two locations to showcase TechTown’s impact and reach, including Wayne State University’s Industry Innovation Center and the Detroit Southwest Ford Resource and Engagement Center. Online guests will learn more about how TechTown continues to move forward to a more inclusive economy, witness the live announcement of the TechTown Startup Fund grantees and celebrate the Wayne State Office of Economic Development’s tenth anniversary. “The team at TechTown has been busy reimagining our economy, and we’re looking forward to celebrating the creativity and ingenuity of our clients, alumni and the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem at Toast of the Town,” said TechTown President and CEO Ned Staebler. 
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Detroit Jazz Festival pivots to become a virtual event

The Detroit Jazz Festival, the world’s largest free jazz festival, is typically held outdoors in downtown Detroit on Labor Day weekend, but it has been forced at the last minute to become a virtual event again this year as a result of a surge in COVID-19 cases. The four-day event will be streamed live from three soundstages at downtown’s Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center under COVID-19 protocols. “We’ve got a highly diverse roster of acts ranging from legends to serious up-and-comers, and a number of very special projects,” said Chris Collins, president and artistic director of the Detroit Festival Foundation, and a professor of music at Wayne State University. “And we’re excited about the format we’re working in. We’re so uniquely positioned to do a top-quality virtual festival because, first of all, our festival has been free admission for 42 years. Second, we’ve invested in the technology to do this right. The jazz festival team is doing a herculean effort here, and it’s not simple or cheap. This is a serious pivot…when people tune in, they’re getting extremely high-quality audio and video by leading Detroit professionals, and when you’re experiencing this jazz, you’re experiencing the spontaneity. You’re experiencing the moments at the same time they’re happening, live. It’s a true, live jazz experience.”   
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The week that was

Saeed Khan, senior lecturer in Near East and Asian studies at Wayne State University, joins a panel to discuss the U.S. evacuation of Afghanistan, including the recent attack at Kabul international airport. “The intel had already been predicting this, the U.S. knew about it. The problem was that the U.S. really didn’t have that much rapport with the Taliban, which was in charge of security at Kabul airport. And when you don’t have that kind of credibility with the people who are running the show, it doesn’t make things easy. It’s also important to realize that if there is a group right now that is quite anxious about what happened, it is the Taliban. What this showed is that, despite the fact that they are now the de facto leaders of Afghanistan, they are a little bit inept at being able to provide security, which emboldened not only ISIS-K, but also the Afghan opposition.”  
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What’s working at Michigan colleges in remedial education

The pandemic has forced community colleges and universities to rethink their approach to remedial education, as they’re unable to rely on the usual in-person placement tests and students’ needs have changed in the new virtual learning environment. Innovations in approach have included changes in screening, academic supports, and more. Wayne State University experimented with self-guided selection for introductory English courses, summer bridge programs for incoming freshmen, and more to help adapt to changing student needs.  
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Free transportation available for Wayne State students and employees

Wayne State University students and employees will be able to take advantage of free transportation options throughout campus beginning Sept. 1, thanks to partnerships with  DDOT, SMART, the QLine and MoGo. The university will subsidize four-hour Dart and annual MoGo passes for all enrolled students, as well as full- and part-time employees, allowing them to ride DDOT and SMART buses, the QLine streetcar, and MoGo bikes at no cost. To participate, users will need to download the Dart app and enter an eligibility code, or sign up using their Wayne State email address on a customized MoGo webpage. By investing now, the university hopes to help ease pandemic-induced financial stress on students and employees. Navigating campus — including destinations in Midtown and downtown Detroit — involves the movement of approximately 30,000 students and employees, who are vying for one of 12,000 parking spaces scattered across eight structures and 26 surface lots on a daily basis. After arriving on campus, pedestrians rely on various modes of transportation including walking, scooters and cycling. To reach farther points, a number of other options are available.  
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President Wilson joins OU President Ora Hersch Pescovitz on Spotlight on the News to discuss the fall semester

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson discusses the start of the fall semester on campus, and the steps taken to keep campus safe, including a vaccine mandate and indoor mask requirement.  “We’ve prioritized health and safety in all of our decision making, so if it came to the point where the Delta variant was really overtaking us and it became dangerous on campus, we would not hesitate to go back to a virtual environment…I’m hoping that because of the vaccination mandate, we won’t get there,” said Wilson. 
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Michigan colleges hope raffles boost COVID-19 vaccinations in time for fall

At Wayne State University in Detroit, administrators announced the school’s second vaccination incentive program on July 22. It allows individuals with at least one dose to sign up until Sunday. During the first program in April, students that received at least their first dose of the vaccination received a $10 credit on their university payment card, OneCard. “There was nobody on campus (because) we were virtual learning at that point,” David Strauss, dean of students at Wayne State University, said. “To get (around) 2,700 students to sign up for the incentive program - we think that is a great success.” Enrollment for WSU was 26,251 students for the fall 2020 semester. The stakes in the second round got higher: Prizes for students range from $100 vouchers to a free semester of tuition. Faculty and staff can win prizes ranging from $25 Grubhub gift cards to one year of paid parking. The university will be mandating vaccines in the fall and is not sure if it will have an incentive program during fall. In a report from July 23, WSU found 84.3 percent of students and 91.5 percent of employees received their full dose of the COVID-19 vaccination.  
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Wayne State University granted $7M for cannabis research for veterans

By Jake Bekemeyer  The State of Michigan has awarded Wayne State University in Detroit a $7 million grant to investigate the potential therapeutic effects of cannabis to improve military veteran patients’ quality of life and reduce post-traumatic stress disorder and depressive symptoms that can precede suicide. The grant was awarded as part of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ Marijuana Regulatory Agency’s 2021 Veteran Marijuana Research Grant Program. Leslie Lundahl, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at the WSU School of Medicine, is the lead principal investigator on the five-year project — Wayne State Warriors Marijuana Clinical Research Program: Investigating the Impact of Cannabinoids on Veteran’s Behavioral Health. 
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Dave Massaron takes new job at Wayne State

The head of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget team is leaving state government to become the chief business officer and chief financial officer/senior vice president for finance and business operations and treasurer at Wayne State University. Although the announcement of his new role and departure comes before the governor and lawmakers have finalized a budget, he will stay with the administration through the end of the fiscal year in September. Before serving as State Budget Director, Massaron served as the city of Detroit’s chief financial officer. 
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Wayne State basketball to host Michigan in exhibition to open new arena

Wayne State will open its new basketball arena with a flourish. The Warriors will host Michigan in an exhibition in the inaugural game at the new arena on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. It’s a collaboration between Wayne State athletic director Rob Fournier and Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel for a high-level opponent in the debut of the new arena for the Warriors, who play in Division II. "I truly appreciate the willingness of Coach (Juwan) Howard and Warde to provide this opportunity to open our arena with the state's premier Division 1 program," Fournier said in a statement.  "To me, it underscores their genuine support for the City of Detroit and our community.” Wayne State also has a partnership with the Pistons on the new arena, which also will house the Pistons’ G League franchise, the Motor City Cruise. The Cruise will begin their first season in the G League in the fall as well. In the past, Wayne State has played against Michigan in games at Crisler Center. This time, the Wolverines are returning the favor. "I want to personally thank Coach Howard and his staff for helping us open our new basketball arena," Wayne State coach David Greer said. "It certainly has been a long time coming (with the new arena) and the partnership with the Detroit Pistons made it happen. To have a Division I program in Michigan be a part of our celebration of opening our new arena will make it a big event for our young men since Michigan is a big part of Detroit basketball.”
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Scientists use mathematical concepts to analyze fMRI data

Research led by a Wayne State University Department of Mathematics professor is aiding researchers in Wayne State’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences in analyzing fMRI data. fMRI is the preeminent class of signals collected from the brain in vivo and is irreplaceable in the study of brain dysfunction in many medical fields, including psychiatry, neurology and pediatrics. Andrew Salch, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics in Wayne State’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is leading the multidisciplinary team that is investigating how concepts of topological data analysis, a subfield of mathematics, can be applied to recovering “hidden” structure in fMRI data. “We hypothesized that aspects of the fMRI signal are not easily discoverable using many of the standard tools used for fMRI data analysis, which strategically reduce the number of dimensions in the data to be considered. Consequently, these aspects might be uncovered using concepts from the mathematical field of topological data analysis, also called TDA, which is intended for use on high-dimensional data sets,” said Salch.
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The war in Afghanistan: Michigan experts weigh in on what could’ve been done differently

On Monday, President Joe Biden addressed the American people after the United States began evacuating Afghanistan. The Taliban now controls the country and Kabul, its capital city, for the first time since the U.S. invaded the country almost 20 years ago. Saeed Khan is a senior lecturer of Near East and Asian Studies at Wayne State University. Khan says American involvement in the region has a history of nation-building, and many Americans do not realize that the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan predates 9/11. “American involvement, to be accurate, is not just the last 20 years in Afghanistan. It actually goes back to 1979 in our efforts to fight a proxy war against the Soviet invasion there.” He thinks that the U.S. insisting the Taliban not be a part of the new government in any way was a mistake. “So here we find them without bringing the Taliban to the table earlier, understanding that they were not only going to have a seat at the table but that they were going to be dictating perhaps what was going to be on the menu, what needed to occur.”
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The science and art of managing automotive suppliers: Lessons from the global chip shortage

The Global Chip Shortage rages onward and, as of July, has resulted in more than one million unmanufactured vehicles in the U.S. alone and could reportedly extend into 2023. The major question of how such a massive mismatch between supply and demand could exist has multiple answers with several, unrelated root causes (e.g. pandemic affects on usage patterns, an impactful fire at a major Japanese plant caused by an electrical overload), however one of the most frequently suggested reasons was a mismanagement of the supply chain. “When the drop in automotive sales at the beginning of the pandemic happened, automotive companies just halted their orders. There was an implicit tradeoff there: saving cashflow and avoiding potential obsolescence,” said Timothy Butler, professor of global supply chain management, Wayne State University. As Butler points out, another key example of tradeoffs is single sourcing versus competitive sourcing. “If you single source and the supplier goes on strike or has such a catastrophe, you have a single point of failure,” cautions Butler. “Additionally, if that desirable supplier is also single-sourced to your competitor, you might have risks in sharing Intellectual Property.” So what have we collectively learned, if anything? “We all have to admit that hindsight is 20/20,” states Butler, “but these types of problems happen over and over again. Each is viewed as a one-off, but it’s the same thinking that undermines the successful endings.”
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Wayne State executive master's program attracts auto supply chain managers

A growing executive master's degree program at Wayne State University offers students a flexible opportunity to build skills specific to the automotive and complex manufacturing fields. John Taylor, chairman of the university's Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management in the Ilitch School of Business, and Lori Sisk, a lecturer and career coach in the school, talk about the program, which is also designed as a pipeline of talent for Detroit-area supply chain businesses. 
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WSU endowment scholarship community bolstered by alum

Out of her passion and devotion to high school and college students, Detroit philanthropist Carolyn Patrick-Wanzo is working to protect the future of social work and music through the creation of several endowment scholarships at Wayne State University with her late husband. Patrick-Wanzo, 76, became interested in the world of endowment scholarships when she and her husband, Mel Wanzo, a trombone player best known for playing in the Count Basie Orchestra decided to give back to the community. “He would say, ‘You can give your life to the music and in 10 years nobody would know you existed,’” she said of her jazz musician husband who played the trombone in the big band. “We would talk about, ‘Let’s do something sustainable,’ when we retired.” That sustainability came in the form of endowment scholarships in the music department at WSU – the first one in 2003.  
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Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to challenge 2020 census results showing population decline

The number of Black residents in Detroit fell while the hispanic, white and Asian populations grew over the last 10 years, according to U.S. Census population results for 2020 released Thursday. Detroit's overall population dropped 10.5% in the last decade, the latest results show. "Detroit has been declining in population from nearly 2 million sometime in the (19)50s and the trend became really apparent with the 1960 census and has gone down ever since then. There’ve been signs that it might be declining in recent years," said Lyke Thompson, director of Wayne State University's Center for Urban Studies. "There's a lot of people that are moving into certain parts of the city ... when does the trend of people moving in offset the trend of people moving out?" Thompson said much of the historic decline was a result of the loss of manufacturing jobs and plants, particularly a decentralization of the auto industry, shifting outside of Detroit. On top of that, white residents left the city after 1950 and moved to areas such as Oakland and Macomb counties, and the draw of new housing in the suburbs contributed to Detroit's population decline, he said. In the latest census, for example, the non-Hispanic Black population in Macomb grew. "That’s something that can be turned around if you make significant efforts to do infill housing," Thompson said. "The housing is just so in need of repair that people keep moving out of those areas, and those houses get abandoned and they have to be torn down. It's really a race between repairing older housing, building new housing and overcoming the tendency for people to move out by making more attractive spaces for people to move into."