Watch out, Charlie Chaplin — the researchers in the School of Engineering’s Wellness and Safety Lab have put you, and your ubiquitous banana peel, on notice. With more than 2.3 million Americans heading to the emergency room each year for fall-related injuries, they are identifying ways to prevent falls, assess fall risk and mitigate related injuries.
“We’re humanists at heart — and that’s the beauty of engineering,” said assistant professor Kim Bigelow, the lab’s director. “The field is so broad, you can easily find a connection between the science and your passion. For me, it was finding ways to help people and improve their quality of life.”
You won’t find any slapstick shenanigans here: She and her team of student research assistants — including three National Science Foundation fellows — keep an even keel with the study of balance, a key factor in fall prevention.
1. Be active. “You don’t have to run a marathon. Make an extra lap around the grocery store, go outside and garden, take a ballroom dancing class. Just get moving,” Bigelow says. Tight-rope walking lessons optional.
2. Stay out of the medicine cabinet. Taking more than four medications — including vitamins and over-the-counter drugs — increases the chance of interactions and side effects, both of which can cause dizziness, explains graduate student Senia Smoot (who is researching how common physical therapies used to treat autistic children affect their balance). Have your doctor or pharmacist review all your medications; they can determine if interactions are likely or suggest alternatives.
3. Keep an eye out. Balance is heavily dependent on your sight and peripheral perception, so schedule regular exams and address abnormalities, like cataracts or blurred sight, as soon as possible.
4. Get new kicks. Thin-soled shoes without extra padding allow you the most sensation when touching the ground, which increases your balance. Using caution when transitioning between surfaces, such as carpet to tile, also matters, says graduate student Renee Beach, whose research focuses on novel compliant flooring, which is designed to absorb up to 50 percent of your energy in a fall. “I want to know if the material actually causes people to fall more often, or if it performs like a normal floor that then lessens injuries if a fall occurs.”
5. Reach out and touch something. Even placing a single fingertip (called a “light touch”) on a nearby surface, such as a table, wall or cane, can stabilize you. And watch out for peeled fruit — just in case.
David Bradley ’71 helped invent IBM’s first personal computer, but his claim to fame is the invention of the three-key shortcut to restart a computer — control-alt-delete. It’s made him a keyboard rock star in the computer world, where he’s befriended fellow computer whizzes like Bill Gates and regularly signs autographs. He offers tips on achieving technological fame.
1. Give it your all, all the time While working on the System/23 Datamaster, IBM approached him to help develop the PC. “You never know when the best opportunity is going to come along, so always make sure you’re doing your best.”
2. Take shortcuts Bradley was fed up with restarting the personal computer every time it malfunctioned, and so control-alt-delete was born. “It took all of about nine steps and five to 10 minutes to code.” Initially meant for programmers, the keystroke caught on with the public.
3. Bring a Sharpie Bradley prefers Sharpies — both black and silver — for autographing computer keyboards for his fans. “A guy from IBM has me sign 10 of them at a time that they give away as prizes during patent contests.” Students also request his autograph.
4. Spread your knowledge In the last 30 years, Bradley has taught at Florida Atlantic University and North Carolina State University, and his daughter, Sara Higgins, is carrying on the Bradley legacy as an electrical engineer at IBM.
5. Reward yourself Bradley took an early retirement from IBM in 2006 and has been traveling the world with his wife since, but play was always a priority. “I would take three to four weeks off for trips every year. I like to think I struck a reasonable balance between work and family.”
If laughter is the best medicine, the members of the University’s improv team On The Fly are the best doctors around. Founded in 2006, this student-run comedy troupe performs improvisational theater based on audience suggestions and sketch comedy written by the cast. As any member will tell you, there’s a lot of truth in comedy. Here are some tips on living life on the lighter side.
1. Stop trying “Life is improv,” says Paul Azzi ’12. “I have no idea what is going to come. … I just roll with the punches.” Adds Michael Winn ’12, “Wait for something to happen. Just react.”
2. Make music Even in improv, a little forethought is necessary. “When you rhyme a word you have to think ahead to the next couplet,” Wil Morris ’13 says. But it doesn’t have to be perfect. “Just put a word out there and babble until you rhyme it,” Paul Azzi says.
3. Have back-up On The Fly is all about team cohesion. Foremost, they like to make one another laugh. And occasionally, they share their comedy with an audience. “We’re people before we’re performers,” Winn says. If someone flops on stage, another member comes to the rescue. “Everyone exerts their own expertise because no one is an expert.”
4. Figure out what you want “We’re all attention hogs,” Morris says. “We want attention from the audience and we love getting it.”
5. Be yourself “Everyone thinks I’m a dweeb,” Paul Azzi admits. The team members consider themselves more playful and weird than funny, but Winn says, “The more comfortable you are with yourself, the more free you are.”
Art education graduate Roy “Bud” Davis ’65 usually gets one of two reactions to his work: stunned silence or curious delight.
As owner/operator of Bert & Bud’s Vintage Coffins (vintagecoffins.com) in Murray, Ky., he builds fine, one-of-a-kind coffins to order, 10 or so in a good year. Nearly all of his orders are “pre-need,” to use an industry term, so he is able to chat with clients about their preferences. His tips for the last piece of furniture you’ll ever use:
1. Beauty first “Your coffin really ought to be a work of art,” he says. He draws on nearly 50 years as an artist to make each coffin a handcrafted, original piece.
2. Make it personal One client, a retired truck driver, dresses year-round as Santa Claus. Davis delivered a coffin perfect for him, decorated with reindeer, snowflakes and a bag full of toys.
3. Creativity counts A PBS show commissioned a steamboat-style coffin for writer Roy Blount Jr. to narrate from while floating down the Mississippi River. Maxim magazine ordered one shaped like a giant beer bottle for a national contest.
4. So does simple elegance One of his most popular coffin styles is the classic, six-sided toe-pincher. Sometimes called a “Dracula coffin,” it’s available as a plain pine box, an elegantly varnished and upholstered model, or anything in between. Many clients consider it a welcome alternative to the “gaudy things that the funeral homes push,” he says.
5. And maybe even utility Customers have asked for removable shelves to use his coffins as temporary bookshelves and even a liquor cabinet, as well as blanket chests and coffee tables (one client calls hers “an end table”).
6. Accept it with cheer A sense of humor is “part of our business plan. It makes it easier for people to approach the topic.” But families might not always accept the more extreme designs, he cautions. “The person who bought it might want to be buried in it, but the wife and kids might say, ‘Let’s get a real one.’”
Recruitment materials might call it Roesch Library, but for students on campus, it’s become #clubroesch. In Twitter terms, the # “hashtag” sign marks the word as a keyword, both a searchable term and a bit of commentary.
Roesch Library’s own Twitter account, @roeschlibrary, has become a breakout star on campus for its light tone and responsiveness. It’s run by Katy Kelly, communications and outreach librarian, who offers her tips for managing a must-follow Twitter account:
1. Have a personality (even if you’re not a person) Twitter is a place for conversation, not streams of announcements. Even when you’re tweeting for an entity, like a library, a personal voice matters.
2. Lighten up Students are funny in their tweets about #clubroesch (see right), so why shouldn’t the library be, too? “I respond trying to be pop-culture savvy,” she says.
3. Show you’re listening “This is like our comment box, but everyone can see the comments. I like that,” Kelly says, adding that reading complaints is a good thing. Even if she can’t help, she responds to show someone’s listening.
4. Act on what you hear Roesch has revised policies based, in part, on chatter from tweets. Wi-Fi capacity has been expanded and even food policies loosened. Yes, you can now order in a pizza. “What better way to start a long night of studying?” Kelly says.
5. Track Kelly keeps a spreadsheet of Roesch-relevant tweets to spot trends in how students use the library. That helps the library serve them better which, after all, is the goal.
Some of Kelly’s favorite student tweets, positive and negative:
Does anyone have some mittens or a kitten I can borrow to combat the arctic temperatures of @roeschlibrary? #ClubRoesch #meow #FrigidPanda
TestFIN301+Test3ECO204 + QuizACC208 + PresentationMGT221 + TestDSC211 = A very tired 20 year old… #clubroesch
goal: 4 hours in #clubroesch then make it to @TimothysBar before cover. ready. set. go.
looks like yet another week of closing @roeschlibrary every night. #cantwait
I wonder if the girl in #clubroesch realizes her headphones are not preventing anyone from hearing her music. Sing it, Beyoncé. #petpeeve
i’m slowly dying here as well, obvsss… if only #clubroesch was 24 hours i would move in
anyone in @roeschlibrary have a pen or pencil I could borrow, please? #soprepared
i should start making new friends at what i like to call the “gem” of the university #clubroesch #secondfloor #doublemonitors #everynight
Crystal Michelle knows how to get your heart going — through dance. Michelle, the liaison between Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and ArtStreet, is teaching UD students how to move their bodies in new, creative ways. DCDC is serving its second year as community artist in residence at UD.
Using DCDC artistic director Debbie Blunden-Diggs’ concepts of what dance is, Michelle has five easy ways to get your body moving, illustrated here by DCDC dancer Alexis Britford.
1. Make shapes with your body Think out of the box — literally. “You can use shapes as they exist in nature to inspire the architecture of your body,” she says.
2. Take up space Dancing can be stationary or “locomotor” (in other words, moving from point A to point B). Explore the different degrees of movement as you work it out in the room around you.
3. Experiment with tempo To really get going, play around with moving your body in rhythm with various types of music.
4. Break the rules Have fun and think creatively. “Don’t be afraid to be upside down or sideways. Use your entire body,” she says.
5. Learn the five levels of movement Now that you’ve got the beat, try lying down, sitting, kneeling, standing or jumping. Challenge yourself to layer these heights, making shapes to tempos and levels.
In 2002, Theresa Bakum ’78 was diagnosed with glomerulonephritis, an incurable kidney disease. Proving that patience is indeed a virtue, nine years later she is still waiting for a kidney transplant. Though the wait has been long, Bakum has spent it with grace. Here’s how to handle the passage of time:
1. Stay positive Bakum puts out good vibes, praying and believing that when it’s the right time and the right match, it will happen. “You have to have a great attitude or every day it’d be miserable.”
2. Keep busy “Do other things that make you happy. Keep active; otherwise you’re home and thinking about it 24/7, which really puts you in a funk.” Bakum is an avid reader, swimmer and practicer of yoga.
3. Understand your body Follow doctor’s orders. Try to stay as healthy as you can. “The most important things: Be aware of your body and pay attention to what you do.”
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help “I always did things on my own and didn’t want to rely on anyone. Realize you’re sick and can’t do it all yourself. My friends really rallied around me; people really do care about you.”
5. Be open Anyone could be a potential donor. Ask people their blood type. “I always talk about it. You never know when someone will say, ‘Oh, I’m interested.’”
6. Appreciate what you have “Everybody has a challenge in life to take. You just go with that. You can still live, even regulated by a machine. It’s not the worst-case scenario.”
Michael Pedley ’98 will be meeting more alumni than ever in his life in the coming months and years. Recently named assistant vice president for alumni outreach, he leads a staff charged with engaging all of UD’s 103,000 alumni and inspiring them to stay connected to and support their alma mater.
All of which raises an interesting question — just how do you spark the conversation with a fellow Flyer? Pedley and his staff, among them Anita Brothers, Tracie Johnson ’08 and Teresa Perretta ’09, offer their tips:
1. Look for the best porch in the neighborhood The love of porches that students develop at UD follows them when house-hunting and beyond, Brothers said. “UD alums have fantastic porches. I’ve had so many show them off to me.”
2. Talk about Dayton travel deals The perfect spot to get away with your Flyer friends now flung across the country? For a lot of alumni, it’s Dayton, Perretta said. “I love hearing from alumni that they vacation in Dayton.”
3. If you see Flyer attire, don’t be afraid to shout “Go Flyers!” Anywhere. An obvious one, but easy, too. In the airport, out shopping, at the beach — if they’re wearing their support, show yours. “There’s never shame in yelling ‘Dayton!’ anywhere,” Johnson said. Look at it from their viewpoint — you’ll make their day.
4. Name-drop your street, your service, your intramural glory Even across generations, the chances of shared experiences are very high at UD, Brothers said. Virtually everyone lived on the same few streets, visited the same chapel and calls “Learn. Lead. Serve.” the UD motto (even though it isn’t officially — that’s “Pro Deo et Patria”). We’re a community, in part, because we all know a lot of the same things and share UD’s Marianist spirit.
5. Step back and let the story flow “At UD, we value listening as much as talking, the mark of the friendliness and openness everyone feels across campus. We also want to know how UD has carried us forward and remained part of us,” Pedley said. When one UD alum meets another, there’s really no ice to break.
Incoming first-year student Amanda Morel didn’t have any experience with video until she produced one that landed her a $40,000 UD scholarship. The aspiring high school math teacher won enrollment management’s video contest, “Your Question, Your Mark.” Her burning question: “What factors promote long-term retention in the American high school’s mathematics classroom?”
Winning was sweet — “I thought ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to be a Flyer,’” she said — but what made her video stand out? Morel has five tips she swears by.
1. Captivate Honesty was the best policy when asking her peers about math. “So many times students truly don’t like math, so I told them to just be honest,” she said. Morel is a natural star, too, with an obvious passion for teaching math.
2. Be concise Her original question was “What factors promote retention in the classroom?” but she narrowed in on high school mathematics. “You have to get really specific, don’t be too detailed and get to the point,” she said. And keep it under five minutes.
3. Perfect audio is a must Morel shot her video without a tripod. Luckily she has a friend who can edit video. Finding clear sound clips without the sounds of a high school hallway in the background was a challenge, but upbeat, subtle music complements the tone of the video.
4. Smooth moves Morel used creative transitions with music between student interviews, shots of classrooms and clips of her speaking. She also used a chalkboard-like font to emphasize points, introduce topics and cite her sources.
5. Variety show Morel featured dozens of students narrowed down from a massive pool of interviews done during study hall periods. “I got a wide range of classrooms,” she said. “I wanted to get the entire high school, different teachers and different teaching techniques. I went to classes ranging from transitional algebra to AP statistics.”
Editor’s note 4-7-17: Noreen Fraser died March 27, 2017. Here’s a story about her life and her impact on fundraising to help fight cancer.
Noreen Fraser ’75 was a co-creator and co-producer for the 2008 Stand Up to Cancer network television show that raised more than $100 million for cancer research. Fraser, president and CEO of the Noreen Fraser Foundation, has a special interest in raising money for cancer patients; she happens to be one of them.
Here are some of her tips for bringing in the dough:
1. Realize fundraising is difficult After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, Fraser used her never-give-up attitude to begin raising money for cancer research. She says you can still raise money in a tough financial climate if you have the right mindset going in.
2. Be persistent On her website Fraser says, “What I’ve learned is that if you don’t back off and you don’t back away, and you become an activist for yourself and for others, chances are you’re going to live longer.” Or in this case, raise more money, as she credits confidence and aggressiveness as the keys to her success.
3. Develop contacts First, make a list of those people you think have the financial ability to give to you. Then, “Think about everyone you’re connected to and have a friend of a friend of a friend make some connections for you,” Fraser says. “Never leave any stone unturned.”
4. Narrow your focus Fraser’s No. 1 rule: “Never make a cold call.” Find people who you know have an interest in your passion and learn as much about them as possible. Then, make sure to meet with them in person to discuss the specifics.
5. Ask Before the final meeting you should be prepared to tell the potential donor what’s in it for them. “Tell them how they will be recognized. Then work up enough courage and ask,” Fraser says.