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Home > People > Awards and appointments, February 2009

Awards and appointments, February 2009

By Adam Overland

Yoichiro Mori has received the Sloan Research Fellowship.

February 25

To submit U of M staff or faculty for consideration in People, contact the Brief editor .

Mathematics assistant professor Yoichiro Mori, has received the Sloan Research Fellowship. The award winners were announced in the New York Times. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced the selection of 118 outstanding early career scientists, mathematicians, and economists as Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellows. The winners are faculty members at 61 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada who are conducting research at the frontiers of physics, chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics and neuroscience. The Sloan Research Fellowships have been awarded since 1955, initially in only three scientific fields: physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Since then, 38 Sloan Research Fellows have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in their fields; and 14 have received the Fields Medal, the top honor in mathematics. Although Sloan Research Fellowships in economics only began in 1983, Sloan Fellows have subsequently accounted for 8 of the 13 winners of the John Bates Clark Medal, generally considered the top honor for young economists. For a complete list of winners, see fellowships.

A "Great Conversation" with Larry Jacobs and Daniel Ellsberg has been accepted by the ResearchChannel--a global network featuring programming from prominent academic and research institutions. The program was described as "riveting" by the selection committee. To view the program, see Great Conversations. Other programs selected in the first round can be viewed here. To view the selection criteria and for additional information, see ResearchChannel.

UMC faculty members Ken Myers, and Marilyn Grave, presented during the Rocky Mountain Chapter Regional Conference, part of the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education. The event was sponsored by the Hospitality, Tourism and Events Management Department at Colorado's Metropolitan State College of Denver. For more information, see conference.

Deon Stuthman, is featured in the latest installment of "Speaking of Science," now online. Stuthman, a professor in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, officially became a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science this month. This series of interviews between CFANS dean Allen Levine and key faculty and staff showcases the research and outreach work happening throughout the college. Past interviews can be downloaded at iTunes U.

Roger Wareham has accepted the position of director of Grants Development at UMM, effective Mar. 16. Wareham joins the Morris campus with more than eight years of direct experience in the area of grants and contracts. Wareham was most currently the director of Grants and Contracts at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

U in the News: A selection of U faculty in the news

Making Juhl the little wind farm that could Eyebrows in the energy industry rose last month when retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a former commander of NATO forces in Europe and a one-time Democratic presidential candidate, joined the board of little Juhl Wind of Woodstock, Minn. A recent study by the University of Minnesota has concluded that the economic benefits to a community double when the wind farm is owned locally, compared with when the farmer is paid for leasing the land on which turbines sit but most of the revenue and profit flow to outside owners. Star Tribune.

Change: Approaching 'singularity'

Consider the telephone. Since its invention in the 1800s, it went from crank-style to push-button to cell by the 1980s. "We're in the midst of accelerating change, and changes in technology always bring changes in society, and vice versa," said John Moravec,, director of the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development's Leapfrog Institutes. Star Tribune.

Gruesome killing poses another test for US Muslims The crime was so brutal, shocking and rife with the worst possible stereotypes about their faith that some U.S. Muslims thought the initial reports were a hoax. Marsha Freeman,, director of the International Women's Rights Action Watch at the University of Minnesota, said honor killing is a cultural and not religious phenomenon. Associated Press.

Using Software To Measure Variances In 'Honeycrisp' Apple Peels

Apples have long been associated with good health, including lower risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Adriana Telias,, Emily Hoover,, and Diego Rother, of the University of Minnesota published a research study in the American Society for Horticultural Science journal HortScience comparing the coloring of 'Honeycrisp' apples. Science Daily.

Crop Scientists Say Biotechnology Seed Companies Are Thwarting Research

Biotechnology companies are keeping university scientists from fully researching the effectiveness and environmental impact of the industry's genetically modified crops, according to an unusual complaint issued by a group of those scientists. "If a company can control the research that appears in the public domain, they can reduce the potential negatives that can come out of any research," said Ken Ostlie, an entomologist at the University of Minnesota, who was one of the scientists who had signed the statement. New York Times.

February 18

Professor Jane Davidson has received the Ada Comstock Distinguished Women Scholar Award for spring 2009
Professor Jane Davidson has received the Ada Comstock Distinguished Women Scholar Award for spring 2009

Professor Jane Davidson (mechanical engineering) has received the Ada Comstock Distinguished Women Scholar Award for spring 2009. A public lecture and reception will take place Mar. 24, 4 p.m., Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. Her lecture, "Solar after Dark: Going Green at Night," reflects her significant work in using solar energy to create fuels.

Associate professor R. Lee Penn (chemistry) has been named a University of Minnesota McKnight Presidential Fellow 2008-11. McKnight Presidential Fellowships are awarded to the University's most promising faculty who have been newly promoted to associate professor. Penn's research focuses on the chemical and physical behavior of nanocrystalline materials. The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has awarded the distinction of fellow to Professor Joe Konstan, associate head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. The ACM is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to the advancement of computer science and information technology. The ACM Fellows Program honors outstanding ACM members for their achievements in computer science and information technology and for their contributions to the organization's mission. The selection process is highly competitive: Each year only about 20 individuals are selected as ACM Fellows. Konstan is the second Institute of Technology faculty member to be named an ACM Fellow. (Professor Vipin Kumar, head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, is the only other Institute of Technology ACM Fellow. He was inducted in 2006.) Konstan's current research interests include a wide range of topics under the general category of Human-Computer Interaction.

Assistant professor Tian He (computer science and engineering), associate professor Efie Kokkoli (chemical engineering and materials science), assistant professor Duane Nykamp (mathematics), alumnus Xinmiao Zhang (Ph. D. EE '05) and alumnus Liuqing Yang (M.S. EE '02, Ph.D. EE '04) have been awarded National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development grants for their research. The CAREER program is one of the NSF's most prestigious awards for junior faculty.

In January at the annual meeting of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, the executive council named David Pitt and Lance Neckar, professors in the Department of Landscape Architecture, CDes, as co-editors of Landscape Journal. The singular North American journal in the field, Landscape Journal has a nearly three-decade history as the peer-reviewed mainstay of disciplinary discourse in landscape design, planning and management. The Minnesota team's competition-winning proposal outlined an approach which both preserves this status, so important for academia in the United States, Canada and Mexico and elsewhere in the world, and expands the paths to authorship for the faculty of the future. One expansion of the Landscape Journal portfolio will be the launch of a moderated Weblog, genius loci. This approach is targeted to promote expanded discourse across academic and professional territories and countries, enlarged opportunities for critical exchange, networking and mentorship and expanded capacity for the publication of imagery, especially in color. The best-of-the-best submissions to genius loci will find their way to more developed manuscripts. These will, in turn, be presented in moderated sessions on emerging and focused issues at CELA meetings, into peer review, and then into the pages of the Journal. The editorial team also includes faculty member Vince deBritto, managing editor and editor of genius loci, and Sara Grothe, editorial assistant.

University of Wisconsin Press is the publisher of Landscape Journal.

U in the News: A selection of U faculty in the news 

Rhythm and Beatdown?: Some Thoughts on Domestic Violence
The recent accusations regarding Chris Brown's alleged attack on girlfriend and fellow R&B and Pop star Rihanna Fenty, has brought the issue of domestic abuse to the forefront, particularly in black communities. According to the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African-American Community at the University of Minnesota, Black women reported more than 30% more cases of intimate partner violence than their White peers. Vibe Magazine.

Healing foods
Brenda Langton has an old saying she swears by: "If you don't take time to eat well, sooner or later you will to take time to be sick." A new three-day course in March offered by the University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality & Healing. In the class, "Healthy Eating/Healthy Living," Langton, a senior fellow at the center, will go over several healthful recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks to get you through the day. Downtown Journal.

Hunting restrictions
John Muir commented that every time he saw a grizzly bear the wilderness got bigger. Daniel MacNulty of the University of Minnesota and his colleagues have found that for predators which need to run after their prey, being big can be more of a hindrance than a help. The Economist.

For many, happiness is a warm credit card
Becky Bloomwood has a closet filled to overflowing. "Many people shop because of problems with depression or anxiety," said Jon Grant, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Star Tribune.

Confusion About Mediterranean Cuisine
What is a Mediterranean diet anyway? The original work that sparked scientific interest in Mediterranean eating habits came from researcher Ancel Keyes at the University of Minnesota. New York Times.

Could 'liquid wood' replace plastic?
Almost 40 years ago, American scientists took their first steps in a quest to break the world's dependence on plastics. The lignin itself was misunderstood completely by [leaders in the field] and the majority of people," says Simo Sarkanen, an environmental science professor at the University of Minnesota. Christian Science Monitor.

February 11

Julie Schumacher's novel <em>Black Box</em> has been named an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults
Julie Schumacher's novel Black Box has been named an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults

Professor Julie Schumacher's novel Black Box has been named an American Library Association (ALA) Best Book for Young Adults and an ALA Quick Pick (for Reluctant Readers). Additionally, nominations for the 21st Annual Minnesota Book Awards were announced Jan 30. Those nominated include three English professors: Julie Schumacher, Black Box, for Young People's Literature; Charles Baxter, The Soul Thief, for Novel and Short Story; and Ray Gonzalez, Renaming the Earth: Personal Essays, for Memoir & Creative Nonfiction. Additionally, professor Michael Dennis Browne's oratorio with composer Stephen Paulus, To Be Certain of the Dawn, will be released on CD Feb. 12 by BIS Records. The oratorio was first performed at the Basilica of Saint Mary in 2005 with the Minnesota Orchestra, which performed it again in Feb. 2008 and recorded it at that time for this release.

The National Association of Conservation Districts presented the Friend of Conservation award to Kim Boyce, Lisa Hinz and the U's Extension at the 2008 Conservation Awards Ceremony in New Orleans, La., Feb. 3. Boyce and Hinz are leadership and civic engagement educators serving the east and west metro areas, as well as East Central Minnesota. They also deliver several statewide leadership education programs. Boyce and Hinz are part of a team of Leadership and Civic Engagement educators who work statewide to strengthen communities. This is the second national award the team has won. For more information, see the news release.

The Institute on the Environment has selected five new projects to receive major funding from its Discovery Grants program. The Discovery Grants program is part of the Institute's high-impact investment strategy, which aims to accelerate innovation in environmental research and problem solving across the University of Minnesota. All five of the selected projects build on the unique strengths of the U, engage both faculty and external organizations, and provide opportunities for graduate and postdoctoral leadership training, as well as undergraduate research. The five projects help to round out the Institute's research portfolio, which already includes the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment, the Global Landscapes Initiative, Climate Central, and River Life. Beginning in July 2009, the Institute will award between $400,000 and $800,000 to each of the following projects:

Accounting for Nature
Project coordinator: Stephen Polasky

The Institute will partner with Stanford University, the Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund, and several government agencies and other entities to develop new approaches to integrating economics and ecology-with a focus on how to assess the value of "ecosystem goods and services." As a core part of this project, the team will further develop the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs model, helping decision-makers consider the tradeoffs of managing ecosystems in different ways. This model could help change the direction of economic activities toward ensuring long-term sustainability while meeting the near-term needs of people.

Global Great Lakes
Project coordinator: Robert Hecky

The Institute will support researchers at the U of M-Duluth's Large Lakes Observatory as they collect and interpret data on the world's great lakes across North America, East Africa and Eurasia. LLO will work with UMD's Natural Resources Research Institute and the Center for Water Research in Australia to identify meaningful metrics of ecosystem health; improve the capacity to monitor and model these metrics in real-time or near real-time, with an initial focus on the western arm of Lake Superior; and develop the capacity to anticipate, rather than react to, pressing environmental issues. This project could radically change how the great lakes of the world are viewed and managed by scientists, decision makers and the general public.

Reinventing the Boreal Forest
Project coordinator: Peter Reich

The Institute will partner with state, national, and international academic, government, industry, and environmental organizations to better understand boreal forests in Minnesota and spanning North America, and how they interact with humans in the face of climate, economic and social change. The group will work to develop scenarios for the future that are instructive about the implications of society's choices; use these results to boost resilience by developing forward-looking, adaptive management techniques; and strengthen or build partnerships among relevant stakeholders to design and implement landscape-scale adaptive management strategies.

Project coordinator: Patrick Hamilton

In collaboration with the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Institute will create new programming for worldwide audiences through Science-on-a-Sphere (SOS) technology. Developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, SOS is a room-sized, global display system that uses computers and video projectors to show planetary data on a large sphere, akin to a giant animated globe, that hangs from the ceiling. The educational tool illustrates global environmental issues, such as climate change, tropical deforestation and global ecosystem change, in a dynamic way to people of all ages. The Institute will install a smaller, spherical display at its St. Paul campus headquarters, and will work with the Science Museum and the University of Minnesota's National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics to develop and distribute new SOS programs internationally.

Whole Village Project
Project coordinators: Craig Packer and Katey Pelican

The Whole Village Project works to provide an in-depth understanding of the health, prosperity, education and natural resource consumption of rural Tanzanians in East Africa. This information is made available to the villagers, economic development and government agencies, and conservation NGOs, serving as a common language that allows communities to more easily collaborate and share best practices. The WVP team will work with the Institute to map land-use patterns of the region, focusing on the intersection of rural livelihoods, land use practices, agriculture and food security. A parallel track focused on food safety and security will promote sustainable agriculture, as well as health research and extension, in Tanzania.

U in the News: A selection of U faculty in the news 

'Marsupial' robots could roam Mars and the Moon
A spool-shaped robot could one day rappel into steep craters on other planets or moons, anchored to another spacecraft by a rope. "People are looking for systems which are smaller and can go in a wide variety of very rough terrain," says mechanical engineer Nikos Papanikolopoulos of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. New Scientist.

U of M grad student discovers Texas state dinosaur isn't really
Peter Rose, who is currently on his way to a Ph.D. in paleontology at the University of Minnesota, came upon his career the old-fashioned way; he was nuts about dinosaurs as a kid. Minn Post.

New Study Tallies Corn Ethanol Costs 

In the latest installment of the debate over the emissions impact of corn-based ethanol, researchers from the University of Minnesota and other institutions found that corn ethanol is worse for health and the environment than regular gasoline, and far worse than cellulosic ethanol. New York Times.

Mayo Clinic gains ground on, yes, the aphid battlefield
Minnesota researchers say they've taken the first steps toward a human-safe compound to kill soybean aphids. The collaboration includes researchers from both Mayo and the University of Minnesota, who collaborate on projects that neither could do alone. Rochester Post Bulletin.

February 4

Assistant professor of psychology Andrew Oxenham was honored by The National Academy of Sciences for extraordinary scientific achievements in psychology. Oxenham was awarded the Troland Research Award for profound and rigorous contributions to our understanding of the relationship between auditory perception and its underlying physiological mechanisms. Applications of his research include auditory prostheses, such as hearing aids and cochlear implants, and automatic speech recognition systems. The Troland Research Awards are two research awards of $50,000 given annually to young investigators to recognize unusual achievement and to further their research within the broad spectrum of experimental psychology. Eighteen individuals were awarded this year for their work in areas of biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy, social sciences, psychology, and application of science for the public good by the National Academy of Sciences.

The Center for Spirituality & Healing at the University of Minnesota has named physician and former corporate managed care executive Archelle Georgiou a Senior Fellow to assist the Center's ongoing creation and support of programs and initiatives related to lifestyle, health, and well-being. A frequent speaker at healthcare industry and consumer forums on topics such as health reform, health information technology, and innovative health models, Dr. Georgiou will also leverage her passion for simplifying the healthcare system in her new appointment at the Center. For more information about the Center for Spirituality & Healing, see CSpH.

U in the News A selection of U faculty in the news 

U study: Corn ethanol no better than gas

Corn ethanol is no better fuel than gasoline, and it may even be worse for air quality, according to a new University of Minnesota study. Star Tribune.

Lingo retro: Things change, but words remain the same My wife asked me the other day if I had remembered to tape a TV show we had missed... It's similar to a concept called "semantic bleaching" in the linguistic world, said Laura Gurak, professor and chair of the Department of Writing Studies at the University of Minnesota. Star Tribune.

Good Question: Why Aren't Robins Migrating South? It's the bird most commonly associated with the arrival of spring... "Yes, we get the question all the time," said Jennifer Menken, wildlife expert at Bell Museum of Natural History on the campus of University of Minnesota. WCCO-TV.

Eric Utne: It's now easy being green, and yet... It used to be that the economy and the environment competed for attention and resources. Eric Utne, founder of the Utne Reader magazine, is a senior fellow at the University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality & Healing. Star Tribune.

Just Asking...David Tilman After years of prize-winning breakthroughs in the scientific major leagues of physics and chemistry, the field of ecology might finally be ready for the big time. On December 8, in Tokyo, Emperor Akihito will present University of Minnesota Regents? Professor David Tilman with $100,000 and the International Prize for Biology, an award just behind the Nobel in terms of prestige. Minneapolis Saint Paul Magazine.

Field Museum The Art Shanty Projects, now in its sixth year, is an art-science-design expo constructed annually on the deep-frozen surface of Medicine Lake in Plymouth, Minnesota, 10 miles from Minneapolis. The Biology Shanty, an Art Shanty Projects tradition, has been around since the event's first year. Staffed by doctoral students from the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Minnesota, the plywood and insulating-foam shanty is handed down from one generation of grad students to the next. Seed Magazine.