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Today's News: Thursday, October 11, 2012


U of M committee extracts lessons from Penn State scandal
U of M President Eric Kaler announced as part of a presentation to the Board of Regents this morning that he is convening a committee to craft a new, university-wide policy on the safety and protection of children on campus. ...While the U of M does not have a history of sexual assault reports against children, Kaler noted that thousands of children visit the university’s campuses each year to attend programs and camps, and that the committee will work on streamlining their policies and practices.
Pioneer Press
Star Tribune
Minnesota Daily


Spider-math and bat-physics: Science in the superhero world
Jim Kakalios, a physics professor at the U of M and a science consultant for “The Amazing Spider-Man” movie, explains that in mass quantities, spider silk is extraordinarily strong, stretchier than nylon and, pound for pound, is stronger than steel cable. In other words, when produced in mass quantities, it could plausibly dangle a car and child from a New York City bridge just as Peter Parker saves a child trapped in a car in the film. Kakalios also wrote a book explaining this titled “The Physics of Superheroes.”
To watch:

Business and Politics

Minnesota could become cyber-security hub, speakers say
Minnesota can become a hub for developing new ways to protect businesses on the Internet, according to the state’s former chief information officer, who is leading a two-day summit on cyber security in Minneapolis this week. “Our goal is to build Minnesota into a cluster in developing cyber security business models for companies… like Silicon Valley is for technological innovation,” said Gopal Khanna, a senior fellow at the Technological Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota.
Pioneer Press
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U of M professor comments on Bachmann’s name-calling tactic
Similar to her tactic used in the 2010 election, Michele Bachmann, Republican congresswomen and the incumbent candidate for next month’s election, has dubbed her Democratic candidate Jim Graves as “Big Spending Jim Graves.”  U of M political science professor Kathryn Pearson says that Bachmann is simply “trying to remind voters as frequently as possible that he is a Democrat running in a Republican district.”

U of M student running for seat 60B in Minnesota House of Representatives
Most U of M students spend their time studying or working part-time jobs. Neuroscience senior Kody Zalewski is going above that stereotype, and is challenging Representative Phyllis Kahn as a Republican candidate, though he isn’t a typical conservative. “I’d probably classify myself as a Libertarian first and a Republican second,” Zalewski added, “I want to let the LGBT community know I’m there to support them.”
Minnesota Daily

Carlson School Chairman speaks against marriage amendment
Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chairman of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, spoke out against the proposed marriage amendment to students at the Carlson School yesterday. Carlson Nelson said that the amendment would be bad for businesses trying to attract the best employees, and called equality for gays and lesbians “the human rights struggle of this generation.” She was also one of the first business leaders in Minnesota to speak against the amendment, in a January 2012 opinion piece printed in The Star Tribune.

Commentary and Opinion

Voices: Richard Brown, on next-generation advisers
Not long ago I helped set up a learning lab for financial planning at the University of Minnesota Duluth. When I first proposed the idea, I told the dean that what happened in 2008 and even back in the Enron days, gave our industry a black eye. This would be a great opportunity to change the next generation of advisers.
Wall Street Journal (Wealth Manager blog)

Updates and Events

Nobel Prize Winner’s U of M professors recall gifted student-researcher
Professors at the University of Minnesota-Duluth who worked with Brian Kobilka, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry yesterday with Robert Lefkowitz, recall a gifted student-researcher. Kobilka’s first research project involved studying gene expression in the salivary glands of insects, and that was very advanced at the time according to Conrad Firling, professor emeritus of biology at UMD.
Duluth News Tribune
Star Tribune

U of M ranks 20th in the nation for fundraising among colleges
The Council for Aid to Education annually ranks the top 20 fundraising schools, and the University of Minnesota made the list at number 20.  According to the U, in 2011, the U raised $221 million in donations from 79,137 donors: 44,633 of which are alums, 29,980 others, and 4,494 organizations.
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U of M assistant professor speaks on fungal meningitis outbreak
The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed three cases of fungal meningitis in the state as part of an outbreak sickening 90 people nationwide, and killing seven.  U of M associate professor Dr. Jon Hallberg has found the problem with the steroid from Massachusetts that patients were taking, “It was some kind of a contaminated product that probably had fungus in it, it seems. That was really the problem. It’s not the nature of the procedure itself.”

U of M doctor explains E. coli death for 7-year-old
In early May 2009, Abby Fenstermaker visited her grandfather at a Cleveland rehabilitation center where he was receiving treatment for an E. coli infection obtained from tainted beef. She greeted her grandfather with a kiss on the cheek, and other physical contact throughout the visit. On May 17, 2009, after multiple stomachaches, diarrhea, and a massive stroke, the 7-year-old passed away. Craig Hedberg, a professor at the U of M School of Public Health, reviewed the case and believes it is likely that E. coli was transferred when Fenstermaker physically contacted her grandfather.
Bloomberg Businessweek

Political Leader of Tibet visits U of M today
Dr. Lobsang Sangay, Tibet’s prime minister, will be visiting the U of M Law School today on his first visit to Minnesota since coming to power. His visit comes in the wake of increased protests against Chinese rule of Tibet, 54 of which were protests by self-immolation. Sangay’s visit will last two days and include a discussion on the China-Tibet conflict with Chinese and Tibetan students hoping to foster understanding between the two groups.
Minnesota Daily

U of M psychologist to speak at Suicide Awareness Walk
In a county with one of Minnesota’s highest suicide rates, family and friends of suicide victims in Carlton County will gather for a Suicide Awareness Memorial Walk this Saturday.  The event, taking place from 9:30 to 11:15 a.m. at Bethesda Evangelical Lutheran Church, will include a walk of about 30 minutes followed by refreshments and a brief educational/remembrance presentation featuring Claudia Weber, who is a psychologist with the University of Minnesota Medical School at Duluth.
Duluth News Tribune

NAACP President to visit the U of M tomorrow
Benjamin Jealous, the president and CEO of the NAACP, will be visiting the U of M tomorrow for an international conference on economic inequality. The World Conference on Remedies to Racial and Ethnic Economic Inequality aims to come up with practical results that can be applied at the local level, and Jealous will be serving as the keynote speaker at the event’s dinner.