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EV boom sparks new supply base in Michigan

The multi-billion-dollar commitments of automakers and their suppliers to an electric vehicle future has spurred a battery-powered gold rush in Southeast Michigan. Vehicles with a battery core as opposed to an internal combustion engine require a new kind of supply base and pose a unique set of challenges, from combustibility and safety issues to longevity and range concerns. The supplier with a solution stands to cash in on the industry's new direction. Many are hoping to seize on the opportunity by expanding their scope of business and placing big bets on products and services. Automakers are poised to spend more than $300 billion to shift production to EVs over the next five years, according to consulting firm AlixPartners LP. General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis NV have said they aim for up to 50 percent of new car sales to be EVs by 2030. "You can always look at any disruption as an opportunity, and now is really a good time for a small supplier startup and also nontraditional companies usually outside the supply chain to enter into the game," said Tingting Yan, professor of global supply chain management at Wayne State University. "All the OEMs and big tier ones, they are forced to think about how they need to restructure their existing supply base." 
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Wayne State students' Fresh Rx program delivers produce to people in need

Fresh Prescription, or Fresh Rx, is a student-run organization at Wayne State University's School of Medicine that provides participants, specifically Detroit residents with chronic health conditions, with a free “prescription” to purchase food at markets or have fruits and vegetables delivered to their homes. The medical students are on a mission to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to the front doors of food-insecure children and adults in Detroit. “I have learned many things running this program,” said Ethan Firestone, medical student and co-founder of Fresh Prescription. “The program has given me invaluable experience working with underserved members of our community and helped teach me how to be more culturally aware in my medical care.”
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Wayne State student aims for a career in patent prosecution

For a long time, Melissa Chapman didn’t feel the law was a viable career path. How wrong she was. While studying psychology and biology in undergrad at the Florida Institute of Technology, she was shocked to find how much she enjoyed a few introductory law classes. And during her master’s program in higher education at Eastern Michigan University, she worked part time in education — a field she viewed as a long-term career — while also working part time at the Dobrusin Law Firm in Pontiac, first as an intellectual property legal assistant and then as an IP law clerk. “I quickly found myself enjoying the work at the law firm more and more,” she said. “I decided to continue working at the law firm after my master’s program to gain more exposure to the field and make sure I was confident in pursuing a law degree before investing in it.” Now in her final year at Wayne Law with graduation planned for December, Chapman has always had an interest in different sciences and technology.  “As a child I wanted to be a marine biologist and, in high school, I found myself fascinated with how things worked. After years of not being sure what I wanted my career to look like, it all clicked when I realized I could pursue a career in law that also dealt with technology and learning how things worked.” Chapman particularly appreciates the Wayne Law community.  “At every job and externship during law school, at least one attorney was a Wayne alum who went above and beyond to provide experiences and help me network with other professionals in the legal community,” she said. 
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Supply chain issues have small businesses in a pinch this holiday season

When it comes to ensuring there is enough inventory for customers this holiday season, Genuine Toy Co. owner Elle Dare is hoping for the best. Shipping and supply chain issues give her no choice. "Even if I did want to get something the toy companies are so far behind that it'd be next to impossible," she said. Dare, who has owned and operated the downtown Plymouth retailer for 12 years, said that what customers see is what they'll get. Just part of an order placed in January for items coming from China had arrived. Fortunately for Dare, she doesn't incur any costs until her orders are delivered, and she can cancel at any time. Small businesses are at a huge disadvantage compared to larger competitors in terms of access to products and services, according to Hakan Yildiz, associate professor of global supply chain management for the Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business. Because of the shortage of products and logistics capacity, suppliers and logistics service providers will naturally have to offer existing capacity to their largest customers, Yildiz said. "... small businesses are at the mercy of the spot market for access to logistics services, whereas the large shippers would have better rates through contractual agreements," he said. "Despite these disadvantages, small businesses can use their flexibility, creativity, and proximity to customers as advantages." Yildiz said small business owners can use creativity and long-standing, intimate relationships with customers to test alternatives. Existing customers are a small business' biggest advantage as the world battles shipping issues, he said. “Those customers would very much like the small businesses they've been shopping with for a long time to succeed," Yildiz said. "Especially in the context of the holiday season, as consumers will be getting anxious to get their hands on gifts and other holiday items, and close proximity and direct communication from small business owners may go a long way."
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Wayne State and Share Detroit partner to boost volunteer opportunities

The Wayne State University Dean of Students Office in Detroit has partnered with Share Detroit, a community engagement conduit offering simple ways for neighbors, nonprofits, and businesses to come together and strengthen the community. “We’ve had more students than ever coming to the Dean of Students Office seeking these kinds of opportunities,” says Heather Marks, associate director of student life marketing at Wayne State. “We’re excited to have a new way of directly connecting students to the Detroit community.” Share Detroit seeks to connect Detroiters with local nonprofit organizations, volunteer opportunities, and ways to provide financial support. Volunteer opportunities curated by Share Detroit appear on Wayne State’s new Volunteer Hub, which provides students, faculty, and staff a one-stop shop to explore both ongoing and one-time engagement and service opportunities.
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As overdose numbers soar around the country, local hospitals feel the impact

Local health systems are getting slammed with two alarming trends right now: Spikes in COVID-19 cases and soaring overdose numbers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100,000 Americans have died of an overdose between May 2020 and April 2021. Rising overdoses are impacting the entire country, with all but four states seeing climbing death tolls. In an effort to combat this growing problem, the Oakland County Jail is one of the first in Michigan to launch a program with the help of Wayne State University. It's a vending machine that provides free Naloxone — brand name Narcan — to inmates who are leaving. Naloxone is lifesaving as it can reverse the effects of opioids, which has proven critical to first responders arriving at overdose calls.  
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In Bulgaria’s third election in 2021, another new party won the most seats. But can it form a government?

“Change Continues” not only is the name of the winner of Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Bulgaria, but it also is a fitting description of a country that has held three elections with three different winners in the past seven months. Why the electoral churn, and what happens now? First, an inconclusive election in April resulted in an impasse and a caretaker government assembled by the president. Another inconclusive election in July and another caretaker government then led to elections in November. The winner of the Nov. 14 election, a party founded less than two months ago by two business executives who loudly proclaim their Harvard credentials, is the latest in a string of new parties periodically erupting in Bulgaria over the past 20 years. But will Change Continues manage to form a government and address the serious problems facing Bulgarian society? The track record for new parties isn’t promising. 
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As COVID rises, CDC approves boosters for all adults, Michigan urges masks

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late Friday approved COVID boosters for all adults, days before millions of Americans are expected to travel for gatherings leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. A CDC expert advisory panel Friday unanimously endorsed broad adult eligibility for either the Pfizer or Moderna boosters once six months have elapsed since recipients finished the two-dose vaccines. Final approval came Friday evening, when CDC director Rochelle Walensky signed off on the recommendations to provide increased protection against the deadly virus. Dr. Teena Chopra, an infectious disease doctor and professor at Wayne State University, said there is mounting anecdotal evidence of waning immunity among those who were fully vaccinated earlier this year. She was among the first doctors in the state to care for the sickest patients, as metro Detroit was overwhelmed in the spring of 2020 in the early days of the pandemic. The first vaccines were first made broadly available to higher-risks groups in January of this year.  “We are now starting to see people who have gone eight months or more since being vaccinated, they’re not boosted, and they are getting hospitalized,” Chopra said. 
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What Americans hear about social justice at church - and what they do about it

By R. Khari Brown, assoicate professor of sociology, and Ronald Brown, associate professor of political science.  On June 5, 2020, it had been just over a week since a white Minnesota police officer, Derek Chauvin, killed George Floyd, an unarmed, African American man. Protests were underway outside Central United Methodist Church, an interracial church in downtown Detroit with a long history of activism on civil rights, peace, immigrant rights and poverty issues. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the church was no longer holding in-person worship services. But anyone walking into its sanctuary that day would have seen long red flags behind the pastor’s lectern, displaying the words “peace” and “love.” A banner reading “Michigan Says No! To War” hung alongside pictures of civil rights icons Fannie Lou Hamer and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as labor-rights activist Cesar Chavez. In line with her church’s activist tradition, senior pastor Jill Hardt Zundell stood outside the building and preached about her church’s commitment to eradicating anti-Black racism to her congregants and all that passed by.
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Jail vending machine provides naloxone to discharged inmates

A jail in southeastern Michigan has a vending machine that dispenses kits designed to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. Naloxone nasal rescue kits are available free of charge to inmates being discharged from the Oakland County Jail in Pontiac. As part of the release process, deputies advise discharged inmates they can take the kits for personal use or for a family member who may be dependent on opioids. The narcan project is through Wayne State University’s School of Social Work and its Center for Behavioral Health and Justice.   
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Archeologists dug up MOCAD site: Here's what they found

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit partnered with Wayne State University's anthropology department to conduct an excavation on the museum's grounds as part of an ongoing art exhibit entitled "All Monsters" by Chicago native Jan Tichy. Random household items, including pieces of a clay pot and an old medicine bottle, were unearthed by Wayne State students and will be transformed into works of art. The exhibit is located in artist Mike Kelley's "Mobile Homestead," a full-scale replica of Kelley's 1950's ranch-style home in Detroit, which sits on a plot adjacent to the archeological site that was once a women's prison and a place that housed homeless women and children. Wayne State University professor of anthropology Krysta Ryzewski said the team wanted to incorporate the land's history into the exhibit. "He (Tichy) though that archaeology might be a really interesting way to connect with the art that's on display in his part of the homestead," she said. "So we thought it might be a way to dig underground and bring up the stories of this property and the people who used to live here and utilize the space and many of those people are not known to Detroit's history...We are literally excavating other histories that have been rendered inaccessible because of the changes to the landscape and Detroit over time." 
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How public health shifted away from the public, and why it might be shifting back

These days, public health crises are common. The Flint water crisis made global news, highlighting how attempts to cut costs on basic services like clean water led to high levels of led in the water. Crisis lead levels in water, breathing unclean air and not having access to safe areas to play are a daily reality for many. And when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, many public officials were caught off guard. According to some recent scholarship, public health programs once focused more on public infrastructure and the health of the most vulnerable in society. Tricia Miranda-Hartsuff, a public health associate professor at Wayne State University, says the public health field is now changing to focus on larger structural issues, including institutional racism and poverty that can help create trauma. “What we saw with COVID was this exaggeration of health disparities that had already been prevalent,” she said. “We already knew that certain populations had less access to care, had poorer quality of care.”
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7 tips to stay healthy over the holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – and, perhaps, the most stressful. For some reason, the impending holidays may only conjure anticipation of family, fun, and good fun, but for others, it also brings trepidation about staying healthy when routines are upended, treats beckon around every corner, and the pandemic is still around. Local experts shared their best tips on juggling the season’s demands while keeping your mental and physical health intact. “Be thoughtful about how you spend your time and where you put your energy,” said Erika Bocknek, a professor of counseling psychology at Wayne State University. “Meaningful interactions are more important than box-checking…Try not to let your investment in the holidays detract from being a healthy, whole person.”
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Director Michael J. Barnes talks the holiday magic of The Snow Queen at the Hilberry in Detroit

The Snow Queen opens this weekend at The Hilberry Theatre to bring magic and fun for the holiday season to Detroit. The play runs from Nov. 19 to Dec. 11. "The Snow Queen is a really love adaptation of the fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson. In it, we follow Gerda as she goes on a quest to find her friend Kai, who has been taken by the Snow Queen," said director Michael J. Barnes. "It shows how the innocence of a child is able to overcome hurdles to renew a love and friendship that can last a lifetime after it has been taken by the adults.  

In other states, some schools have found creative ways to forgive debt and help students return

One of Ashley Ramirez's biggest goals in 2016 was to finish her college degree. She'd started college at Wayne State University a decade prior, but had gotten overwhelmed. Not only was she taking classes there, but she was also in barber school and working at the same time. Ramirez ended up on academic probation, and owed the university money. She wasn't sure if she'd ever become eligible to reenroll. Through the Warrior Way Back program, which forgives up to $1,500 in unpaid direct-to-school debt, Ramirez was able to reenroll in classes, and access resources like academic advising and counseling. Ramirez finished her bachelor's degree in May, and is now enrolled in the MBA program. "I would've eventually decided to go back. But would I have been able to go back? I don't know," she said. "What I do know is that the Warrior Way Back program opened up access. And when I say access, I mean the ability to be able to have a dialogue to figure out where I am and what I can do to actually finish this goal." Since launching in 2018, Warrior Way Back has enrolled over 260 students, and inspired similar programs at other schools. The average age of students participating is 39, although students as old as 63 and as young as 23 have participated; 75% have been Black, and over 50% have been identified as high-need.
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Everything you need to know about newly available COVID-19 vaccines for kids

Dr. Paul Kilgore, associate professor and director of research in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Wayne State University, joins Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today in a conversation about the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine for school-age children. "The availability of the vaccine for children is really, really good news. It's definitely a game-changer...Parents have been patient and now is the time that they can actually go in to get their kids vaccinated...the reactions we see include things like soreness after the injection, systemic signs like headache, malaise, and joint and muscle aches - that resolve relatively quickly. Kids are very resilient. In fact, we see very, very few kids needing to follow up at a pediatrician as a result of any adverse events..." said Dr. Kilgore. "I always weigh the risks and benefits of anything, including vaccinations. One of the things we can tell parents is that overall, over the last several months, we've had a relatively conservative rollout of the vaccines. We started with the older adults, working our way down to younger adults and teenagers. And through that experience, we've been able to learn that the mRNA vaccines and the J&J vaccine have been safe for adults, and now we have a lot of additional real-world experience with hundreds of thousands of older children who have been vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. What this is all telling us is that we haven't seen any unusual signals that would make us worry as we start to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11. The risks of not getting vaccinated are substantial." 

New sources sought for rare earth elements to stop reliance on China

By Lily Bohlke  Michigan researchers have received a $3.1 million grant to study potential new sources of rare earth metals and how to process them. Rare earth metals are a set of 17 elements found in the earth’s crust, and are a key component of many high-tech processes from military technology to electronic devices, batteries for electric cars and magnets in wind turbines. The U.S. relies on China for 80% of our rare earth metals, and the prices have spiked over the last year. The lead researchers for the project are Matthew Allen, chair and professor of chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Timothy Dittrich, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering at Wayne State University. “After we recover the rare earth elements, instead of just putting them in a hazardous-waste landfill, we’re also looking at ways to use those for building materials and other uses so that we don’t have these other problems that we’re creating as we’re recovering rare earth elements,” said Dittrich. 
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Which Michigan drivers are eligible for controversial MCCA refund checks?

By Kim Russell  Governor Gretchen Whitmer asked the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) to use a $5 billion surplus in its fund to give drivers a refund check, and the association agreed. The refund will come in the form of checks sent to insured drivers, even if they chose not to buy MCCA coverage last year, with the idea being that all Michigan drivers previously contributed to the base amount in the fund. Gov. Whitmer has emphasized that the surplus exists because of overpayments, but director of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services Anita Fox says it is also in large part due to investment returns and cuts. Attorney Wayne Miller, a professor at Wayne State University Law School, has represented crash victims as they fight for care and says concerns that the refund could put their futures at risk are legitimate. “I think people don’t understand what is at stake. They look at it as, hey, it’s found money” Miller said. “Of course, nothing is free and there are reasons that surplus existed.”  

New type of nerve cell discovered in the retina

Scientists at the John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah have discovered a new type of nerve cell, or neuron, in the retina. The discovery marks a notable development for the field as scientists work toward a better understanding of the central nervous system by identifying all classes of neurons and their connections. The research team named their discovery the Campana cell after its shape, which resembles a hand bell. The published research study, “An uncommon neuronal class conveys visual signals from rods and cones to retinal ganglion cells,” was authored by Tushar Ganjawala, a Ph.D. student in the Wayne State University School of Medicine, and co-authors Brent K Young, Charu Ramakrishnan, Ping Wang, Karl Deisseroth, and Ning Tian. The work was supported by an NIH Core Grant, and an Unrestricted Grant from Research to Prevent Blindness, New York, NY, to the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, University of Utah, and the Department of Ophthalmology of Wayne State University School of Medicine; additional support was provided by the Ligon Research Center of Vision, Kresge Eye Institute, and the Dryer Foundation.