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Home > People > Awards and Appointments - March 2009

Awards and Appointments - March 2009

By Adam Overland

Paul Rosenblatt has been named a Fellow of the National Council on Family Relations.

March 25

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

Doris Taylor is on TIME magazine's list of the 100 Most Influential People of 2009. Taylor also appeared on Oprah Winfrey's talk show March 24. For more information, see TIME.

John Tate Award recipients for excellence in undergraduate advising are Linda Herrick, Nursing (UMR); Cindy Pavlowski, Social Work; Heidi Perman, St. Paul Campus Career Center; and Ellen Sunshine, Martin Luther King Jr. program. An award ceremony will be held May 1 at the Radisson University Hotel, UMTC. For more information, see Tate Award.

Douglas Norman Arnold, professor in the School of Mathematics, was elected as a foreign member in the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters. The Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters was founded in 1857. It is a non-governmental interdisciplinary body, embracing all fields of learning and whose purpose is the advancement of science and scholarship in Norway. Its honorary president is King Harald V. The academy has 183 seats for foreign members in addition to 219 seats for Norwegian members. Only a few foreign members are of the mathematics discipline. For more information, see Norwegian Academy.


Following a highly competitive review and selection process, the University of Minnesota's Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment has selected seven projects to receive a total of $4.85 million in funding. IREE's 2009 large grants program will help launch early-stage, high-potential projects in emerging fields of renewable energy and the environment.

In addition to scientific and technical merit, considerations applied during the final selection process included the potential for major breakthroughs on national and global scales, an alignment with Minnesota's competitive advantages, a strong interdisciplinary approach, and a clear business plan and exit strategy for securing future support.

The projects selected to receive IREE large grants include:

Thermochemical Fuels: Solar at Night

Project lead: Jane Davidson, Mechanical Engineering

Goal: To harvest and store solar concentrated energy via high-temperature, thermochemical processes. Faculty and students will collaborate with national and international experts to develop processes and reactors that gasify biomass with concentrated solar energy. As a result, the fuel produced during the day could be stored, transported and used where/when it is needed.

Sustainable Polymers: Tomorrow's Advanced Materials

Project lead: Marc Hillmyer, Chemistry

Goal: To design, prepare and implement advanced polymers from biomass for a wide range of applications, and to establish a Center for Sustainable Polymers at the U of M. The team of scientists and engineers will lead research projects aimed at developing commercially feasible, pressure-sensitive adhesives, toughened plastics and polyurethanes from renewable resources.

Thermochemical Approaches to Conversion of Biomass in Small-Scale, Distributed Systems

Project leads: Michael Tsapatsis, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science; Roger Ruan, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering

Goal: To build a portfolio of integrated catalytic, reactor and power generation technologies that are scalable, continuous and suitable for distributed processing of biomass sources. This work will address bioenergy research needs for heat, electricity and liquid fuels.

Laterally Integrated Photovoltaic Systems

Project lead: Philip Cohen, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Goal: To develop an inexpensive, integrated package using holographic concentrator optics to split the solar spectrum and direct each band toward polycrystalline solar cell components. This system could reduce the expense and complications of multi-junction cells, mechanical tracking and concentrator optics in current photovoltaic systems.

Air Pollution Impacts of Conventional and Alternative Fuels: A Spatial and Temporal Life Cycle Analysis Decision Support Tool

Project lead: Julian Marshall, Civil Engineering

Goal: To perform a spatially- and temporally-explicit life cycle assessment for several biofuels and the fossil fuels they displace. This research will provide critical new knowledge about the costs, benefits and tradeoffs in greenhouse gas emissions and air quality related to biofuel production systems.

Combining Geothermal Energy Extraction and CO2 Sequestration to Produce Clean, Renewable, Carbon Negative Electricity

Project lead: Martin Saar, Geology and Geophysics

Goal: To investigate the feasibility of developing a geothermal power plant that generates electricity in low to intermediate heat flow regions (such as Minnesota), while sequestering carbon dioxide in the subsurface. This project could reduce climate change caused by human activities while utilizing Earth's natural heat flow as an energy source.

Evaluation, Validation and Demonstration of Small-Scale Renewable Energy Systems for Homes and Businesses

Project lead: Michael Reese, Morris West Central Research and Outreach Center

Goal: To evaluate small-scale renewable energy systems and become an accredited performance test center. The team will work to create a business model and to jumpstart the infrastructure for a self-sustaining, fee-based center, which can facilitate the testing, validation and demonstration of such systems.

For more information, see IREE awards grants.


William Hueg is one of the recipients of the Siehl Prize For Excellence in Agriculture. As director of the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station and a University of Minnesota administrator, he developed an interdisciplinary approach in agricultural research that led to significant advances in addressing state and national global challenges in agriculture. The prize is awarded annually by the U's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. Recipients are chosen for three categories: knowledge (teaching, research and outreach), production agriculture, and agribusiness. The Siehl Prize was created in the early 1990s by a generous gift from New Ulm-area livestock breeder and businessman Eldon Siehl, a dedicated philanthropist who had a lifelong interest in agricultural systems. Siehl was concerned that people were losing touch with their agrarian roots and wanted his gift to ensure that achievements in agriculture would be recognized and celebrated. Recipients receive a $50,000 award as well as a sculpture and lapel pin designed by Minnesota artist Thomas Rose especially for the Siehl Prize. The recipients will be honored at a ceremony in May. For more information, see the news release.

Richard Howard, director of the Office of Institutional Research, announced that his office has received the prestigious 2008 AIR (Association for Institutional Research) Forum Best Paper Award, for its submission of the paper "Redefining student success: Assessing different multinomial regression techniques for the study of student retention and graduation across institutions of higher education." AIR has as its mission the continuous improvement of institutional research for postsecondary planning, management, and operations. Its best paper award winners are evaluated according to significance in contributing new knowledge, technical adequacy, appropriateness for AIR publication, and clarity of presentation.

CFANS alumnus Norman Borlaug will celebrate his 95th birthday on March 25. Borlaug, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has been described as "the man who saved more lives than anyone else on the planet" for his work in developing high-yield, disease resistant food crops.


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

How enormous batteries could safeguard the power grid

One evening in late February 2008, the famously steady winds of west Texas began to wane until, at last, hundreds of giant wind turbines were becalmed, their enormous blades slowed or stilled... "How you store energy from wind at times when it's not needed, and what you do when the wind stops blowing, is emerging as something that must be discussed and studied," agrees William Smyrl, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis who is studying the issue. Christian Science Monitor.

Why money messes with your mind

Dough, wonga, greenbacks, cash. Kathleen Vohs in the department of marketing at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and colleagues, first got student volunteers to complete a task in which they had to make sensible phrases either from a set of words that had nothing to do with money (such as "cold", "desk" or "outside") or from money-related words (including "salary", "cost" or "paying"). New Scientist.

U.S. gives two Chicago-area labs $48 million

The federal government has awarded a total of $48 million to two Chicago area laboratories as part of $1.6 billion in new science funding made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act... The neutrino experiment will be conducted in conjunction with the University of Minnesota. Chicago Tribune.

Nobody Knows Nothing, And This Makes Everybody Smart

This is a new semi-weekly column from Leitch... My favorite tip, though, came from a man named Brad Carlin, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Minnesota. He said, essentially, you're better off not watching games at all. Deadspin.

The cereal aisle is ruining your life; Choices aren't always a good thing

The cereal aisle can make anyone dizzy. Studies, including at least one from the University of Minnesota, says the our overload of choices can actually make us feel worse. City Pages.

For more U in the news, see Today's News Headlines provided by the U's News Service.

March 18

Joseph Resch, former Head of Neurology, died February 28 in St Paul. Dr. Resch trained in neurology at the University from 1946-8 and was one of the founders of the Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology. In 1962 he was recruited back full-time to the University and became a faculty leader and operations manager of the department during the neurology program's rise to become one of the largest and most vibrant programs in the country. He graduated from University of Wisconsin in 1938 and served in the Army Air Corp from 1940-1946 as a flight surgeon rising to the rank of Lt. Col. During this time he did research on the development of "G" suits for fighter pilots and later spent 2 1/2 years in the New Guinea and the Philippines. Upon returning home from WWII he completed a residency in Neurology at University of Minnesota.

Neurology attained department status in 1969 under Dr. Baker, and Dr. Resch became its second head in 1976 as interim and in 1977 permanent head. He stepped down in 1982. He was also instrumental in the forming of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), and as a board member in the 1970s helped retain their national headquarters in the Twin Cities.

Additionally, Resch served the University for over a decade as Assistant to the Vice President for Health Affairs. Dr. Resch played key roles in the founding of important institutions in contemporary neurology, including the American Academy of Neurology. He is survived by two daughters (one of whom, Rose Throldahl, works in the Kennedy laboratory), one son, five grandchildren, and one great grandchild.

Leanne Butt, UMC bookstore manager, was the recipient of a 2009 Exceptional Service Award as part of the University of Minnesota's Auxiliary Services "Great Service Week," February 16-20. She was recognized for her customer service work on the Crookston campus.


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

Coen brothers join debate: Can coal be clean energy?

The phrase is on the lips of President Obama, the coal industry and now a new anti-coal commercial by the Academy Award-winning Coen brothers. Clean coal used to mean removing sulfur dioxide, soot and other pollutants from power plant emissions after coal was burned, said Elizabeth Wilson, University of Minnesota assistant professor of energy, environmental policy and law. Star Tribune.

Hersh: 'Executive assassination ring' reported directly to Cheney

Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh dropped a bombshell on Tuesday when he told an audience at the University of Minnesota that the military was running an "executive assassination ring" throughout the Bush years that reported directly to former Vice President Dick Cheney. Raw Story.

Foreclosure crisis: The fight hits home

About 60 protesters staged a noisy demonstration at an office of the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday in an unsuccessful effort to stop the sale of some foreclosed properties--part of a national campaign being waged by grass-roots groups. Hy Berman, a professor emeritus of labor history at the University of Minnesota, said Wednesday's local demonstration recalls major protests in Minnesota during the 1930s, when the Farm Holiday Association blocked sheriffs from conducting foreclosure sales, and in the 1980s, when a new movement arose to block foreclosures of family farms. Star Tribune.

Transportation funding debate becomes more urgent

The Federal Highway Trust Fund is nearly broke, and two commissions have suggested increasing the federal gas tax. Robert Johns, who directs the University of Minnesota's Center for Transportation Studies, says we are at a turning point in transportation policy in this country. Minnesota Public Radio.

President's plan has appeal of the familiar to Minnesotans

President Obama's call for an education resurgence based on merit pay and charter schools, among other things, found some agreement from Minnesota's Republican governor and the DFL-leaning teachers union, which have sharply disagreed on those issues in the past. "I thought it was one of the best statements about public education priorities in the last decade," said Joe Nathan, direct of the Center for School Change at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute. Star Tribune.

Road Salt Seeps Into Rivers, Lakes

Salt does a great job of melting ice on frozen winter roads. But the same is probably true in other icy places, said lead researcher Heinz Stefan, a water resources engineer at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Discovery Channel.

Furry Companions Healthy For Body And Mind

Want to make fewer trips to the doctor? "It's the human-animal bond," said Veterinarian R.K. Anderson, who helped to found CENSHARE at the University of Minnesota more than 30 years ago. WCCO-TV.


March 11

Morse-Alumni Award recipients for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education are Donald Alstad, ecology, evolution, & behavior; Stephen Castleberry Sr., marketing (UMD); Carmen Latterell, mathematics & statistics (UMD); Doreen Leopold, chemistry; John Loegering, natural resources (UMC); Albert "Bud" Markhart horticultural science; Justin Rubin, music (UMD); and James Stout, geology & geophysics. Award ceremony will be April 27, McNamara Alumni Center, UMTC. For more information, see distinguished teaching.

JosephineLee165Josephine Lee is one of the recipients of the 2009 Award for Outstanding Contributions to Postbaccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education.

Outstanding contributions to Postbaccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education Award recipients are Sally Kenney, public affairs; Jean King, educational policy & administration; Josephine Lee, english; Helga Leitner, geography; Michael Rodriguez, educational psychology; Terry Roe, applied economics; Jon Schommer, pharmaceutical care & health; and Jennifer York-Barr, educational policy and administration. Award ceremony will be April 27, McNamara Alumni Center, UMTC. For more information, see distinguished teaching.

Former senator, vice president, and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Walter Mondale ('56) will be honored at a reception given by the Japanese Ambassador to the United States, Ichiro Fujisaki, and Mrs. Fujisaki at the Ambassador's residence in Washington, D.C.


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

Pay Dirt: Watching Wall Street

It all started with massive downsizing at AT&T. Karen Ho, now an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, remembers thinking that 40,000 workers losing their jobs was horrible news. Star Tribune.

Doctor's house calls: Back to the future

About a year ago Dr. Edward Ratner went to the home of a patient, Louis Salloway, and started counting pills. Fifteen years ago, Ratner, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School, quit his office practice to concentrate "on people who couldn't or shouldn't" leave home to see him. Star Tribune.

AIDS researchers turn attention to microbicides

With AIDS vaccine efforts at an impasse, microbicides--virus-blocking gels inserted into the vagina before sexual intercourse--have risen from their own string of setbacks to once again offer hope of preventing HIV infections, at least in women. Dr. Ashley Haase, head of the microbiology department at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and colleague Patrick Schlievert, a microbiologist, found that a naturally occurring compound called glycerol monolaurate dampens the immune response to the primate version of HIV, depriving the virus of cells to infect. Los Angeles Times.

Transgender kids: How young is too young for a sex change?

On her third birthday, Sarah Barnett tore open a package from her grandmother that would delight most girls her age. Gently folded on a pillow of tissue paper lay a frilly, ruffled dress. Sarah looked up at her mother, Kathy, perplexed. Walter Bockting crosses one gray wool pants-clad leg over the other and leans forward in his chair in his office at the Center for Sexual Health at the University of Minnesota. City Pages.


March 4

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

Paul Rosenblatt has been named a Fellow of the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). Rosenblatt is a Professor of Family Social Science and the Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota. Fellow status is an honor awarded to NCFR members who have made outstanding and enduring contributions to family science in areas of scholarship, teaching, outreach, and professional service, and who have made superior contributions to NCFR over time. Fellows are nominated by peers and selected by the Fellows Committee. Dr. Rosenblatt is a 40-year member of NCFR who has consistently presented papers and been a featured speaker at conferences; created the Grief and Families Focus Group and the Rural Families Focus Group; and received NCFR's Ernest G. Osborne Award for Outstanding Leadership and Excellence in the Teaching of Family Relationships. In his distinguished career of more than 45 years, Dr. Rosenblatt has published 11 books and over 100 research papers and scholarly essays, often co-authored with his graduate students. He has written about varied topics such as death and grief, living as a multiracial couple, rural families, families in business, and emotional distancing in families.

The Humphrey Institute announced Carol Becker as Finance Director. Becker, an alumna of the Humphrey Institute, returns with a strong background in budgeting and finance, as well as public and community service. Becker comes to the Humphrey Institute from the Metropolitan Council Transportation Services, where she oversaw the organization's operating budget, managed more than 300 capital grants, and led the Council's long-term financial planning. She previously has held positions at the Minneapolis Information Technology Systems Office and Budget and Evaluation Office, as well as the Minneapolis Mayor's Office. In addition to the Public Affairs degree she received from the Humphrey Institute, Becker holds a doctorate in public administration from Hamline University and a B.A. from the University of Minnesota.

Morris Professor of Biology Paul (PZ) Myers has joined biology professor Van Gooch, as a featured "Scientist on the Spot" on the online Science Museum of Minnesota's "Science Buzz." The museum will post questions for Myers to answer through the end of March.

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) was highlighted in a Baseline Magazine feature on energy efficiency in technology. "Building an Energy-Efficient IT Infrastructure" touches on many facets of energy-efficient IT infrastructures. The University is included under the "Power Play" section, that addresses the issue that one-third to one-half of overall IT costs are the result of energy consumption and that lifetime energy costs will soon exceed the cost of servers. The article states, "The University of Minnesota understands this issue and is sold on the concept of system monitoring. Pete Bartz, assistant director of the Office of Information Technology at the 51,000-plus student institution, says the IT organization manages 80,000 ports and more than 50,000 endpoints. By automating network management and policies through Microsoft Active Directory and Entuity's Eye of the Storm, IT is able to switch off about 25,000 devices each night, netting annual savings of more than $1.4 million. The IT office also developed energy profiles for various departments and can monitor energy pull via a green dashboard.

U in the News: A selection of U faculty in the news Ruben Rosario: He's out of prison--and still out of a job

Adrian Mack is looking hard for a job. In his case, he'll need more than good luck. Christopher Uggen, a criminologist who chairs the University of Minnesota's sociology department, said his biggest concern is about people being released from prison or jail because "they're at the very back of the line when it comes to getting jobs." Pioneer Press.

Minnesota unemployment reaches 7.6 percent

Minnesota's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent in January, the highest that figure has been since mid-1983, officials at the state Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) said Thursday. Chris Phelan, a University of Minnesota economics professor, contended that no one knows how high the national or state unemployment rates could go. Twin Cities Finance and Commerce.

McGeveran Discusses Facebook on NPR

Professor William McGeveran was interviewed on National Public Radio's All Things Considered program about controversy related to a change in Facebook's terms of service. McGeveran, who recently wrote a law review article about Facebook's use of personal information for advertising purposes, suggested that the actual change was minor, but that it drew public attention to the sweeping rights Facebook already claimed in information and content posted by users. Ceremonial ashes have tropical roots Ever wonder where the ash that's smeared on foreheads for Ash Wednesday comes from? Eco-Palms is a program developed by the Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management at the University of Minnesota. Dean Current, program director, said the idea is to foster sustainable production of palms and economic development opportunities for Mexican and Guatemalan communities.