To the uninitiated eye, rugby resembles a demolition derby. Without cars.
It’s body-jarring sport, albeit one with its own unique free-flowing style of strength, speed, agility and strategy. Rugby players wear no hard plastic helmets, no shock-absorbing shoulder pads, almost no protection of any kind except,
perhaps, for some tape over their ears.
So the ears don’t accidentally get ripped off.
With such potential for pain, what could possess a person to play such a game? It’s one thing if you’re getting paid professionally, as many do throughout the world. It’s quite another if you’re a University of Dayton student playing the sport on a club level and the most striking reward is a morning-after-a-game body that feels as if it were thrown off a mountain.
Besides the obvious answer of competition, and the less obvious one of professional networking, players say there’s satisfaction in facing your fears — be it in the form of 15 opponents ready to rip the ball from your arms. Colin Doyle, a 21-year-old chemical engineering major from Chicago who is the heart and soul of UD’s rugby club, has a succinct answer to the question of motivation: “It’s the most fun you can have legally.”
* * *
Rugby isn’t well known among the sporting public in the U.S. A wee bit of football, a wee bit of soccer, it’s a whole lot of mayhem with its own opaque rules and terminology. (“Blood bin,” anyone?)
Last spring, at a game where the Flyers crushed rival Xavier, 54-5, a fan threw his hands in the air after Dayton’s first score and bellowed, “Touchdown!”
A woman, watching from the sidelines, said cryptically, “It’s called a try, not touchdown.”
“Here it’s called a touchdown,” the fan argued.
“It’s a European sport,” the woman countered.
“Well, this is the United States and, over here, I’m calling it a touchdown.”
Rugby is indeed an imported sport, dating back to the 1800s. Legend has it the game was invented in 1823 during a soccer game at Rugby School in Rugby, Warwickshire, England, when a cheeky lad named William Webb Ellis blithely
disregarded the rules and grabbed the ball in his arms and ran with it. Presumably, after passing on calling the new sport “webby,” they settled on “rugby.”
Whether the tale is apocryphal or not is irrelevant to our story. This we know for certain: The game is wildly popular overseas — an estimated 5 million play it in 117 countries — and every four years the top 20 teams in the world meet in the Rugby World Cup to play for the appropriately named William Webb Ellis Cup.
Why the game isn’t as popular here in the States is a mystery because rugby and football are cousins twice removed. Like American footballers, rugby players run with the ball. Unlike American football, however, there is no quarterback.
Any player on the field can handle and run with the ball, which looks like an American football off its diet.
Two teams of 15 players each throw themselves around the field with abandon, their grunts and groans and the heavy slap of flesh-on-flesh heard from yards away. The goal is to advance the ball by making lateral or backward passes to
teammates. No forward passes allowed.
You score when you ground the ball over the other team’s “try line” (hence, “try” not “touchdown”) or by dropkicking it through the uprights. A try is worth five points, compared to football’s six; a dropkick, three.
Defense, meanwhile, is fairly easy. Tackle the guy with the ball — hard. It’s not uncommon for the ball carrier to be hit by all 15 defenders. At the same time.
UD first started sending players onto the field in 1969 and played — and won — its first game against Bowling Green. According to Doyle, the only loss that first season was to the Cleveland Grays, a men’s city club.
Since 1995, the UD men’s club has been coached by Shane Stacks, a native New Zealander who has led the team to two national tournament appearances and five Midwest regional appearances. In 2012, Dayton was promoted to Division I-AA level and has been competing in the MAC rugby conference.
A personal trainer by trade, Stacks, 43, receives no pay for his efforts. He doesn’t care.
“I love rugby,” says Stacks, who also coaches the Dayton men’s city team. “I come from a nation that it’s our national sport. I get a chance to teach it the way I got taught.”
The game, he says, has much to offer.
“It’s a great sport where both sides can be competitive, where you can want to rip your opponent limb from limb on the field, and then off the field, go have some food and respect one another and the sport.
“I tell the guys you always get out of rugby what you put into it.”
On the field, what the players most put into it is their young bodies.
“It does look like a lot of reckless chaos,” says Kevin Hogan, a 19-year-old criminal justice major from Rocky River, Ohio, who hits with a lack of restraint that belies his 5-foot-7, 162-pound frame.
But he insists the game is “safer than it looks.”
“(Because) I don’t wear a helmet, I’m not tackling people leading with my head,” says teammate Ryan Burdine, an operations management major from Westerville, Ohio, who is the club’s president.
“There are more rules around tackling,” says Doyle, who has a preacher’s fervor when discussing the game. “We attempt to wrap people up, not knock them out. The goal is to tackle in a way nobody gets hurt. We’re never going to be No. 1 on the SportsCenter Top 10 plays.”
Says Hogan: “It’s more technical than football. I’m not going to throw all my body mass at someone.”
Still, rugby players don’t do helmets and the possibility of concussion is a real concern. So much so that according to a New York Times article, the International Rugby Board has increased its efforts to educate players, coaches and medical staff about the dangers of head trauma.
UD’s Connor Squire, a tall slab of a young man who is studying to become a teacher but looks like he could handle himself nicely in a boxing ring, has had three “recorded” concussions, but admits, “I’ve probably had a few more than that.”
How many, he won’t speculate. That’s pretty much how it goes among rugby players, who are mostly tight-lipped on the subject. Even the English Rugby Union reports it’s “hard to say how common concussion is as players often don’t admit to being concussed …”
Of course, concussions aren’t the only concern for players.
Squire needed 16 stitches to close a nasty gash under his eye his freshman year. The compactly muscled Hogan has had his right shoulder dislocated “a couple of times,” and Doyle has torn the meniscus in his left knee.
During the March match against Xavier, a Dayton player was upended and sent gymnastically head over heels over head, landing squarely on his back. Another twisted his ankle after being tossed to the ground like a rag doll. Both played on.
The possibility of injuries is one thing that makes it hard to recruit female UD students for the women’s team, says MacKenzie Shivers, a 19-year-old exercise physiology major from Mason, Ohio.
Shivers, who is president of the UD women’s team, says she loves “how tough the sport is,” but finding people like herself is difficult. At the time of this writing, there weren’t enough players to field a full fifteens team.
“If you are a girl who wants to play rugby, you have to want to hit people or it isn’t going to work out,” Shivers says, “and it’s really hard to get girls to willingly tackle.”
The boys, not so much.
In a game against Miami University earlier this year, a RedHawks player was hit so hard, his shoulder just sort of … exploded.
“(The hit) sounded like two pieces of wood clapped together,” Hogan says.
“Like all the air in a hot air balloon just leaving,” Burdine says.
“For sure, there’s hitting,” Doyle says. “But we have a bad rep. A lot of people view rugby players as drinking and then going out on a Saturday night and fighting. But that’s not it. That’s not us.”
* * *
There are 35 sport clubs at UD, among them lacrosse, ice hockey, Quidditch and bass fishing. There are also 16 varsity sports (seven men, nine women) and dozens of intramural activities, ranging from disc golf, to floor hockey, to inner tube water polo.
In the university pecking order, varsity sports come first, followed by sport clubs and intramurals. When talking club sports, forget about perks enjoyed by some NCAA Division-I sports such as full-ride scholarships, first-class travel and tutoring because you’ve missed class while playing in the NCAA basketball tournament.
In UD sport clubs, players buy their own uniforms and cleats. They drive to games as far away as Nashville, Tennessee, in borrowed vehicles to play in front of crowds numbering in the hundreds rather than thousands. They provide their own health insurance. Open a gash requiring stitches and you’d better be ready to present your own insurance card when you arrive at the emergency room. (All UD students, including athletes, are expected to carry their own insurance upon attendance.)
And since rugby is a sport club, players don’t have access to the varsity weight rooms, so they grab lifting time in RecPlex, which they share with all UD students. If they want to run to stay in shape, they do it on their own time.
“When they work out, that’s entirely up to them,” says Stacks, who holds practice twice a week during the regular season and four times a week before a tournament. “They sometimes get together and go, ‘OK, who’s going for a run?’ It’s very, very rewarding when I see these guys pull together. There’s character and honesty in sport and it bleeds over to your real life.”
The University does support sport clubs through a full-time staff position, funds to help offset equipment and travel costs, and facilities.
Stuart Field, a 225,500-square-foot multipurpose outdoor facility, underwent a $2.4 million renovation in 2011 specifically with the school’s sport clubs and intramurals in mind. Currently, it is home to the rugby team as well as a multitude of events and practices for various other sport clubs and an intramural program with 4,000 or so participants.
Keeping track of everything being played on the crosshatched synthetic field takes the skill of an air traffic controller.
That responsibility falls to Shea Ryan, the assistant director of sport clubs.
“There are times out there when we have seven or eight games going on out there over a weekend,” Ryan says.
Another of Ryan’s responsibilities is to help sport clubs with their finances. For rugby, each player ponies up $400 at the start of the season.
“I help manage their finances, help plan travel,” Ryan says. “A few months prior to their season, I meet with the team presidents to discuss how we could help up front.”
In 2013-14, Ryan had $30,000 in potential funding to allocate among the 35 clubs to help teams with expenses.
“Every club is open to give a proposal,” he says. “Not every club does. But if they do, we can allocate a certain amount of funds to help with specific association dues or enter a tournament. To my knowledge, we’ve never had every club make a proposal in the same year.”
Team needs vary. The water ski team might require funds to help fuel their motorboat, while the taekwondo club needs a punching dummy for practice (they purchased “Bob” in 2012 for $205; Ryan’s office paid for half). This year, the volleyball team opted not to participate in games that would lead to the tournament final, since they could not afford travel to Reno, Nevada.
In 2014-15, the MAC rugby league will expand to include two more universities, meaning additional games — and expenses. That means the $400 each rugby player pays to play is vital.
“It helps with lodging, hotels, food and such,” Doyle says.
It’s not enough to cover their jerseys and cleats and other gear, however.
“All that,” Burdine says, “comes out of our pocket.”
Doyle and the others say they would love to see rugby be recognized as a varsity sport at UD, but the likelihood is remote.
For one thing, less than two-dozen universities around the country play rugby at a varsity level. For another, there’s the price tag. Even partial scholarships for the 35 to 40 players on the men’s team could cost UD hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“The University has been very good to us,” Doyle says. “We’ve asked for a few things and gotten some (like balls and practice time on Stuart Field) and not gotten some (like a scrum sled). We don’t want anything handed to us. We want to earn anything we get.”
* * *
While the women’s team is struggling to find players, the men have enough to field two teams. Typically, the A squad will play a game of fifteens, followed by the B squad playing a game of sevens.
Fifteens is as it implies — 15 players on each team, eight forwards and seven backs. Despite the labels, players are not restricted to any single position.
“That’s one of the reasons I love this sport,” says the barrel-chested Burdine, who was a lineman on his Columbus (Ohio) St. Charles high school football team but saw little playing time. “I’m not locked into one spot. I have the freedom to run the ball, hit people, tackle people.”
In a game of sevens, just seven players from each team are on the field at the same time. The only real difference from a game of fifteens is that the matches are noticeably shorter — 14 minutes compared to the 80 minutes — and much, much faster.
“You’ve got to be in tremendous shape to play sevens,” Burdine says, “because there’s so much more running.”
The UD club used to play two fifteens seasons, a serious one in the fall and a more “friendly” one in the spring. Spring was also a time when the club would go to tournaments and compete against teams other than those in the MAC.
But things have changed. This fall, UD will play six regular-season MAC games. A four-team playoff featuring the top two teams from the north and south divisions will decide which club gets an automatic bid to the national
Additionally, the MAC will play a serious sevens season in the spring. No more “friendly” games.
It’s no place for the faint of heart.
Nor is it anyplace for a player needing a breather or a fan needing a bathroom break. Unlike American football, where timeouts, huddles and 40-second play clocks result in very little actual football being played, rugby is a continuous
game of running and gunning. For 80 minutes.
Whenever the game needs to be restarted because of an infraction or an out-of-bounds play, a scrum is formed. Sixteen players — eight from each side — link arms and fashion a circle. They bend at the waist and start pushing against one another, grunting, gouging and generally knocking the snot out of each other as they maneuver to control the ball that has been rolled down the middle of the tunnel between their legs.
It’s exhausting just to watch, let alone play.
Says Burdine: “Playing this game … it’s not boring or monotonous.”
No, it’s not. That’s why Doyle says he’ll “play ’til I’m 50,” even if his chemical engineering degree drops him onto some oil platform far out into the ocean.
“Even when I’m gone from here there are men’s teams in every city in the country, at every level,” he says. “I’m not going to stop (playing) for a long time.”
* * *
There is a more important if less apparent aspect to playing for these young men and women. They use games as a networking tool, introducing themselves to people who might some day hire them, or be colleagues, or provide a conduit to a job.
“Hockey is a very tight-knit community,” Doyle says. “If you’re chippy on the ice, you get a reputation real quick. Everybody knows it.
“Rugby is the same way. If anything, it’s even tighter. There’s instant recognition. I went on a job interview (recently) and the hiring manager noticed on my résumé that I played rugby and he said he forwarded my name along to someone he knows that also played rugby.”
“Anybody who says they’ve played rugby, there’s that instant bond,” she says. “If I were ever hiring people, if I saw that someone played rugby, I’d be interested in them because I know what it takes to play the game.”
There is, players say, a camaraderie that’s stronger than Gorilla glue.
“The team becomes your family,” Doyle says. “There are 35 guys on our team and I could call any one of them at any time, 4 a.m. or whenever, and know they would help me out.”
Hogan runs a hand through his flop of red hair and says, “Anyone who’s played knows you’re willing to go out there and face people who are willing to help bring out the best in you and sometimes the worst. It’s kind of like being in a fraternity.”
Of course, fraternities aren’t always viewed in a positive light.
“Yeah, some people think we’re creepy cannibals that go nuts,” Hogan says. “They see us walk into class with a black eye and wonder what happened. But they always have fun when they get to know us and hang out with us.”
* * *
Back at the March match against Xavier, the game is over and the players from both sides have shaken hands. Both squads are sweaty and done in, too worn out to talk much. Angry raw rug burns from the artificial turf of Stuart Field cover their knees and elbows, and many of them are walking as if they’d just ridden a horse 100 miles — which is to say gingerly.
“After a game,” Doyle says, “a lot of people ask us, ‘How’d you survive that?’”
For Doyle, Hogan, Burdine, Shivers and the rest, it really isn’t a matter of survival. What they care about is a game they have come to love.
“It’s that edge, the adrenaline, the rush of seeing a guy across the line, waiting to kill you, and taking that head on,” Hogan says. “It’s like how scary the game is, afterward, you feel like you’ve accomplished something. Like you’ve conquered that day’s fears.”
After all is said and done, that’s why they play.
Gene Williams is a freelance writer who never played rugby, for which his body thanks him. Ryan Burdine, president of the UD Rugby Club, is his loving nephew.
Current University of Dayton sport clubs
Boxing / Kickboxing
Cosa Meara Company of Irish Dance
Life Itself Dance
Ultimate Frisbee (M)
Ultimate Frisbee (W)
Water Polo (M)
Water Polo (W)
After a bittersweet summer of last times and goodbyes, it’s finally here: your first year of college. You’ve got to find your place, make a new group of friends and begin planning for your future. But you’re not alone; you’ve got the entire UD community cheering you on.
Here are five ways to make your first year at UD the best it can be (from those who’ve been there).
1. Just do it. Throw caution to the wind, along with your social anxiety. “Talk to everyone,” says Alyssa Marynowski ’13. “If it doesn’t work out, try again next weekend.” Enjoy the thrill of exploring things you’ve never done before and dancing with the thought of meeting your best friends after one moment of social bravery. “You don’t know anyone, and there are thousands of people,” Marynowski says. “Be yourself. If someone doesn’t like it, one of the thousands of other people will.”
2. Embrace the community (bathrooms). As a first-year student at UD, chances are you will only live in a dorm for one year. Living in close quarters with your peers can be scary, and less than private, but you’ll definitely never be lonely. “It sounds cheesy, but keep your door open. Really,” Marynowski says. “I met one of my best friends of five years by popping my head into her room and telling her I liked her comforter.” So, embrace the closeness of your floor — open your door, say “hi” to a neighbor, plug in those portable iPod speakers and start up the shower karaoke. It will never be so easy to have a dance party in a bathroom ever again.
3. Eat. UD’s dining halls were rated No. 9 in the country, according to the Princeton Review. As a first-year, you live less than a block from the nearest dining hall. “Take advantage of that meal plan before you have to start cooking your own meals,” says senior electrical engineering major Matt Sprague ’15. Until then, swipe that FlyerCard and keep an eye out for open events with free food. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even end up loving the club that’s sponsoring it. “Get a calendar and mark every date that has an event with free food, and hang it on your fridge so everyone knows,” says Marynowski. The “freshman 15” is worth Marycrest’s pasta day and free Ben & Jerry’s.
4. Work hard, play hard. It’s really easy to get caught up in the college party scene, but staying focused on why you’re really here is the best decision you’ll make. “Find that balance,” says Marynowski. “I had a lot of fun, but I also got good grades and got involved. Find what motivates you; it will keep you in line.” Marynowski was a double major in English and public relations, and was president of Gamma Epsilon Lamba, a coed service fraternity, her senior year. You could also find her at the funniest theme parties with the best costumes. “Don’t be stupid. You can have fun and not ruin your life,” she says.
5. Don’t settle. UD offers endless opportunities, but here’s the catch: you have to go get them. “Do as much as you can, because freshman year is really the only year you have enough time,” Sprague says. “Don’t waste it.” Honors societies, campus recreation and more than 200 other organizations are just waiting for you to jump in. Attending Up the Orgs in Central Mall at the beginning of the year is a sure-fire way to find your niche. “Join a club,” Sprague says. “Because you might not be where you want to be going into your senior year as far as leadership goes, just because you messed around your first year.” If you do it right, which you probably will, you’ll want to go back and do it all over again.
Click HERE to watch a video of the 2014 Up the Orgs day.No Comments
It’s summertime, all the time, for California Flyers
When Steve Geise ’92 took the reins as leader of the San Diego alumni community, it was on the verge of being shuttered.
“We were barely kicking,” Geise said.
Despite the wildly popular Christmas off Campus event, led since 1999 by Phil Cenedella ’84, and the bi-annual Surf and Turf tailgating fete, Flyer alumni didn’t gather regularly in America’s Finest City. So Geise did what any self-respecting Flyer would do to draw Southern California area graduates together: he added a table.
Geise, a partner with Jones Day law firm, explained, “I organized a brewery tour and tasting and billed it as a lifelong learning event” to draw more alumni support. It worked. Afterward, with the spicy scent of hops still swirling in the air, Geise pledged to keep the momentum alive.
San Diego counts among its UD cohort some 400 members, mostly transplants from other states, but they’re scattered up and down the Pacific Coast and as far inland as El Cajon. Although the dispersion presented a geographical challenge, Geise, originally from New York, instead recognized it as an opportunity.
Drawing on the if-you-build-it-they-will-come mentality, he and his team began hosting a flurry of Flyer gamewatch parties, networking nights, beach cleanup service projects, brunches, Masses and dinners with alumni. Attendance swelled with a cross-section of graduates from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, and Geise now proudly reports their once-fledgling community is blossoming.
“Despite being the farthest I’ve lived from campus, I really feel close to the school,” he reports.
Lest anyone think that the San Diego alumni community is kicking back and resting on its newly resurrected palm fronds, the members are learning more besides the science of craft brew. The community is learning valuable lessons about what draws SoCal folks halfway across the country to UD and how to stay engaged with those students while they’re enrolled and after they graduate.
Whether it’s a dinner — similar to the one 1999 grads Chris Duncan and Kristin Blenk Duncan recently held in their San Diego home for a group of current students — or slinging fish tacos at a campus recruiting event, Geise has figured out keen ways to inject the Marianist values and the red-and-blue UD colors into the sun-kissed Southern California community.
“We’re so far away from campus, but when we get together, it’s like we’re on Brown Street,” Geise said. “Only we’ve got palm trees.”
IT’S ALWAYS SUMMER IN SAN DIEGO. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BEACH READ?
“I enjoyed THE SILKWORM by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling, of Harry Potter fame).” —Carol Gibson Lewellen ’72
“BOYS IN THE BOAT by Daniel Joseph Brown. The story follows University of Washington rowing team members through college in the 1930s all the way to the Olympics. It’s soon to be released as a movie, and I think Flyers will like it.” —Mary Beth McCabe ’79
“BICYCLE MAGAZINE because San Diego is great for biking. All roads have bike lanes and you can ride year-round.” —Bob Raibert ’90
“I just finished Mariano Rivera’s THE CLOSER and Tony La Russa’s ONE LAST STRIKE. It’s the perfect combination for me, since the beach and baseball are my two favorite things.” —Maggie VanDura ’10
“If you do not like the Sunday comics, then it has to be JAWS by Peter Benchley. ‘We’re going to need a bigger boat.’” —Dan Shillito ’70No Comments
Talk of rare books sent me hunting for my own first edition. Its spine was hard to spy on my bookshelf — its cover having been ripped off and taped back on long ago. I opened it and found a red Kool-Aid spot dotting the opening page and the word “SO” scratched in pencil at the end, evidence of my very first edit.
Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!, by Dr. Seuss, was printed the year I was born. It is the story of an obstinate gent who eschewed fanciful transportation until he was good and ready to leave on his own two, furry feet. It was one of the first books I read aloud, my entrée into the fun that could be had by shuffling 26 letters and rolling them around in your mouth.
My first edition will not be part of the Rose Rare Book Collection on display in Roesch Library Sept. 29 to Nov. 9.
But it doesn’t have to be rare to be priceless to us.
This fall, we’re asking readers to share the priceless works on their shelves by posting to social media and tagging photos with #shelfie and #UDrarebooks. What makes it priceless is different for each of us. Maybe our grandmother gave us the book, or it took a long hunt through a dusty bookstore to find it. Books can open new worlds, teach us about old ones, and make us cry or laugh.
Or blush. For a photo shoot, I held in my hands a 1492 printing of Canterbury Tales, part of the exhibit. Looking at looping letters and angular illustrations, I learned something of early printing techniques. It also reminded me of high school and a red-faced Mr. Parr revealing Chaucer’s bawdy humor to a bunch of giggling teenagers. I’ve carried that 1988 paperback with me through five moves.
Will students in professor Ulrike Schellhammer’s fall literature course have the same connection to their $8 paperback Im Westen nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front)? In the 1928 galley proofs on display in Roesch Library, students will see Erich Remarque’s handwriting as he edited lines that Schellhammer says make it one of the most important anti-war pieces: “It is the attempt to tell the story about a generation that was destroyed by the war, even if it escaped its grenades.”
At the exhibit, we will marvel at the weight of the paper, or the signature of Abraham Lincoln, or how the breadth of works reveals the human progression of thought on our place in the cosmos. And then we will go home, look at our bookshelves and pull from them golden words whose meaning is richer thanks to all the experiences that shape our lives.No Comments
We’re writing a fresh chapter in the history of Dayton innovation.
On a crisp, sunny summer morning, I walked from my office in St. Mary’s Hall to the corner of Main and Stewart streets. Under a tent on an expanse of green lawn, I joined leaders from Emerson Climate Technologies and the region to announce that the University of Dayton is leasing this land to Emerson to build a global innovation center.
On our campus. On land that once housed NCR’s booming cash register manufacturing facilities.
I gazed out over the lawn and envisioned the future.
When the Emerson Innovation Center is up and running in late 2015, students from various disciplines — engineering, marketing, even dietetics — will head over to a world-class facility to take classes, work as interns or co-ops, or collaborate on research. Our researchers and faculty, who are experts in advanced materials and energy efficiency, will help Emerson’s engineers drive innovation. The technologies of tomorrow — from smart thermostats for homes to smaller, more efficient air conditioning systems — will be showcased in this building.
The University’s master plan devotes space on this part of campus for attracting high-tech companies that can spur research, serve as real-world classrooms for students and spark economic development for the Dayton region. I believe universities that will thrive in the future are the ones that forge strategic partnerships to advance innovation, provide students with priceless experience and create jobs.
In 2013, GE Aviation opened a $53 million research center nearby. It was recently named the state’s best economic development project. In the same year, Midmark moved its world headquarters to the 1700 South Patterson Building, where we house the Research Institute and offer graduate classes, executive training and lifelong learning courses. Our students intern and co-op with both companies.
With the vision of our trustees, administrators and faculty, and with the support of so many regional partners, I believe this portion of our campus will stand as a testament to what imagination and collaboration can accomplish.
We are among just a handful of universities nationally that are partnering with companies to establish large research facilities on campus, according to Rich Overmoyer, executive director of the University Economic Development Association. He called these partnerships “the future for research institutions.”
The University of Dayton has always looked forward, has always embraced the possibilities. Brother Ray Fitz, S.M., my predecessor, worked with the city, Miami Valley Hospital and Citywide Development Corp. to reinvigorate the Fairgrounds neighborhood with new housing. That sparked the redevelopment of Brown Street and led to the renaissance we’re seeing today on the land we purchased from NCR.
As we build for the future, we are called to be builders of community.No Comments
Sometimes, it’s OK to spend the summer indoors.
For the one to two undergraduate students chosen each year for a Lancaster-McDougall Award, devoting a summer to scholarship is a luxury. As one past recipient wrote, “It allowed me to devote my time to research without needing a part-time job.” A summer job pays the bills — but a summer of research paves the way to graduate programs and fruitful careers.
Like that of Wayne Lancaster ’69, a professor in Wayne State University’s Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics. He and his wife, Lucy Grégoire, felt so strongly that student research is the key to future success that in 2010 they created a sustainable scholarship endowment to fund an undergraduate research award in biology. It is named after Lancaster and his mentor, the late Kenneth McDougall, who served as Lancaster’s master’s thesis adviser.
Such opportunities are what set the UD biology curriculum apart, says Mark Nielsen, department chair. “A unique strength of ours is our ability to get undergraduates involved in research. At larger institutions, they simply don’t have the room in their laboratories; at smaller schools, they don’t have the resources. Our faculty really depend on students to help further their research,” he said.
The emphasis on student-driven study starts with their Lancaster-McDougall application. The process is competitive, with students drafting their formal grant proposals in National Institutes of Health — the foremost funding agency for biomedical research — format. They identify a faculty mentor who will support them in the lab. And they tackle real problems that others need answers to.
“No one’s giving money away,” Nielsen explained. “It’s important that students learn how to earn money for their research and explain what it’s for. When you’re spending other’s money, you better have a hard, solid idea in mind, and be able to make it interesting.”
May 2014 biology graduate Georgios Tsissios’ solid idea involved softer surfaces. After attending a tissue regeneration seminar given by Panagiotis Tsonis, director of the University’s Center for Tissue Regeneration and Engineering, Tsissios became a molecular biology devotee. In summer 2013, a Lancaster-McDougall Award allowed him to experiment on the newt, an organism capable of regenerating an entire organ.
“Why do newts have this tremendous capability to regenerate part of their bodies, when other animals don’t? If we figure out the why, maybe one day we can apply this principle to other animals including humans,” Tsissios explained.
Tsissios, like many other Lancaster-McDougall graduates, says the summer research was just a beginning. He returned to UD this fall as a doctoral candidate in biology, where he will join Tsonis in his laboratory.
“At the very moment that I stepped in the laboratory, something changed inside me,” Tsissios said. “More than ever, I was sure that this is the discipline that best suits my ambitions. For the first time, I had to create my own experiment and hypothesis. I never felt more alive in all of my academic years than this time. Without this experience, I would probably have chosen a different career path.”
Michael Moran ’14 (at left, right), a 2012 Lancaster-McDougall recipient, is pursuing a master’s in immunology on his way to medical school, a plan spurred only after he worked on a project examining specific genes in eye development and their effect on Alzheimer’s disease.
Lauren Shewhart ’14 (at left, left) arrived at UD undecided on a major — and left as a mentor for other biology undergradutes. “The honor of winning this award gave me confidence that what I’m doing, other people care about,” she said.
Brittany Demmitt ’11 won a Lancaster-McDougall Award to study the impact of nanoparticles on the gut microbial community, a current hot topic in finding solutions to conditions that don’t have a clear genetic basis, such as diabetes, autism and multiple sclerosis. Today, she continues this research as a graduate student at the University of Colorado Boulder.
That’s the beauty of research, Nielsen says. Answering the question isn’t the the end; it’s a jumping off point to keep discovering.No Comments
In 1875, there were 3,112 patents granted by the British Intellectual Property Office. In 2014, one of them — Patent No. 2168 — can be found in the University of Dayton archives.
Brought to Albert Emanuel Library by the late Brother James Loughran, S.M., in March 1949, the patent has, since then, remained ensconced in its original protective case — a heavy, round clay box that reminds you more of a tortilla warmer than a legal document safe.
“From the possessions of Mrs. Connolly of Washington, D.C.,” wrote Loughran on the note attached to his delivery. At the time, Loughran was on the maintenance staff of Dayton’s Chaminade High School; he relocated soon after to California, where he spent nearly 30 years on staff at Marianist high schools there. He died in 1977.
“I believe it’s what is called a letters patent,” said Jennifer Brancato, University archivist. “The patent itself — which opens to nearly 30 inches wide by 20 inches tall — appears to be made of parchment, which needs the same conditions as paper, so it can last an extremely long time with the proper temperature, humidity and storage.”
While we don’t know why Loughran brought a 75-year-old patent to UD, nor how it came to be in his possession, we do know something about its technology. Filed by James Samuel Brooks of Pittsburgh, the application was for “an invention of an improved method of and apparatus for backing electro-type shells.”
First invented in 1838, electrotyping is a chemical method for forming metal pieces that produce an exact facsimile of an object with an irregular surface, such as a coin or sculpture. By the late 1800s, electrotyping had also become the standard method for producing plates for letterpress printing, a practice that was widespread into the 1970s.
The method Brooks invented made the process more efficient. Machinists would pour metal around forms that often shifted or floated, then spend hours trimming excess from the edges and smoothing uneven areas. Brooks’ invention kept the form still, resulting in smooth surfaces that were the exact thickness desired, saving time and labor.
“Generally, an American inventor would seek a patent in another country to protect the invention in that country,” notes Michael Jacobs, a registered patent attorney and Distinguished Practitioner in Residence in the UD School of Law’s program in law and technology. “The patent may have some historical significance, but it is hard to tell. I wasn’t able to find much information, nor trace it back to a corresponding U.S. patent. It remains a mystery.”
While Brooks’ method was handy, it wasn’t especially fruitful, and the patent expired in 1895. Several similar patents were filed in the U.S. in the 1930s.
UD faculty are no strangers to the patent office. See Page 6 of the Autumn 2014 issue for the latest invention from a biology professor.No Comments
A book by Mara Lohrstorfer Purnhagen ’95.What if you had ghost hunters for parents? What if the myth behind a ghostly game came true? These are a few of the questions Mara Purnhagen asked herself when writing her five-book series, Past Midnight. Those questions become reality for the main character, Charlotte Silver, who struggles to be normal in a paranormal world. In One Hundred Candles, the second book in the series, Charlotte encounters spirits unleashed from a weird party game. Although the series’ first novel was originally meant to stand alone, Purnhagen described the ensuing works as a great accomplishment. “The best stories always start with ‘What if,’” she said.No Comments
A book by Dan Baker ’78 and Gwen Nalls ’82.
Between 1965 and 1975, Dan Baker was a Dayton police officer, while his wife, Gwen Nalls, attended Dayton’s segregated public schools. Their book, Blood in the Streets, describes actual events following the Civil Rights Act in 1964: a 1966 drive-by murder of a black man by a racist serial killer, the violent riots that ensued and how reconciliation of racial groups within the city was reached. The authors pooled archival resources from the time as well as their own experiences. Nothing is sugarcoated, Baker said. “Many Dayton natives don’t know this part of the city’s history. We wrote the story in belief that history forgotten may be history repeated.”No Comments
A book by Julie Desloge Dubray ’88.
In Goodnight St. Louis, longtime residents Julie Dubray and co-author June Arthur Herman lead readers through a whimsical journey of their beloved city. With rhyming words and colorful illustrations, as well as an informational section on featured landmarks, the picture book’s appeal goes beyond childhood. The pair collaborated with the Visitor’s Commission to identify the top 25 landmarks to include. “We revisited our favorite places to capture the whole experience, and our kids would joke, ‘You’re not really working, are you?’” Dubray said. “We love sharing the magic of St. Louis with the world.”No Comments