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Awards and appointments, May 2010

By Adam Overland

David Stras 165
Professor David Stras has been appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

May 19

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

U law professor David Stras has been appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court by Governor Pawlenty. Stras joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota Law School in 2004. He teaches and writes in the areas of federal courts and jurisdiction, constitutional law, criminal law, law and politics, and law and economics. His current research focuses on the federal judiciary and the Supreme Court of the United States. Using a variety of methodological tools, including empirical and historical analyses, Professor Stras' research has examined a variety of issues relating to the Supreme Court. For more information about Stras, see the Law School.

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

Suit seeking gay marriage splits Minn. activists
Many gay couples in Minnesota looked south in envy when Iowa legalized same-sex marriage in 2009… Dale Carpenter, a University of Minnesota law professor and expert on legal issues surrounding sexual orientation, said it's likely the lawsuit would "do more harm than good." WDAY 6.

House ag chairman wants food stamps’ ties to obesity examined
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said May 13 that he would not support any increase in funding for the food stamp program unless its possible contributions to obesity are addressed… Jean Kinsey, a University of Minnesota economics professor, replied that when people are hungry, “they tend to eat what is available,” and that those foods are usually cheap, high in fat, dense in calories and nutritionally poor. Ag Week.

Biodiversity research yields an increase in energy
At the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve in Bethel, researchers such as University of Minnesota ecologist David Tilman are experimenting with growing bioenergy of the future. Tilman explains how planting a variety of prairie species in an area will yield a higher amount of bioenergy than a plot with just one variety, such as switchgrass. MinnPost.

U of M Institute invites industry to help set environmental research priorities
How can a manufacturer efficiently recycle precious metals taken from products slated for the dumpster? Does "green" labeling influence consumers’ choices? If so, how?...This week, an invitation-only kickoff gathering of industry, academics and governmental and nongovernmental agencies will launch “an all hands on deck approach” to finding solutions to complex environmental problems, according to Tim Smith, director of the NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise (NISE) at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. MinnPost.

Tips on adding edibles to your landscape

An edible landscape can be ambitious or as simple as tucking a few edible plants among the ornamentals…Leaf lettuces come in many textures and colors, making them great substitutes for flowers, said University of Minnesota horticulturist Emily Tepe. Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Report: More work needed on Minnesota's green economy
With its university research, sources of biomass and track record of innovation…"We really could be the Silicon Valley for a new green economy," said Jonathan Foley, director of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment. Minneapolis Star Tribune.

May 12

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

2010 President's Award for Outstanding Service

Randy Croce 165Randy Croce (left), one of 12 recipients of this year's President's Award for Outstanding Service. President Bruininks announced the recipients of the 2010 President's Award for Outstanding Service:

Wilbert Ahern, professor, History, UMM

Randall Croce, coordinator, Labor Education Service, Center for Human Resources and Labor Studies, Carlson School of Management

Jay Denny, principal mechanical engineer, Energy Management, Facilities Management

Jean Freeman, former head coach, Women's Swimming, Intercollegiate Athletics

Stephen Granger, former special assistant to the dean, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, UMM

Caroline Clarke Hayes, professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Institute of Technology

Michael Howells, facilities supervisor, Facilities Management

Joan Howland, professor, associate dean, Information and Technology, and director, Law Library, Law School

Russell Luepker, professor, Department of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health

Daniel Svedarsky, professor, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and director, Center for Sustainability, UMC

Paul Treuer, director, Knowledge Management Center, UMD

Karen Wolterstorff, associate to the dean, Institute of Technology

Michael P. Malone International Leadership Award
The University of Minnesota’s Senior Vice President for System Academic Administration Robert Jones is one of the 2010 recipients of the Michael P. Malone International Leadership Award, sponsored by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).

Established in 2000, the annual award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to international education at public and land-grant institutions. The award is named in honor of Michael P. Malone, president of Montana State University (MSU) from 1991 until his untimely death in 1999. Malone made many contributions to MSU and U.S. higher education through his work as chair of APLU’s Commission on International Programs, where he focused the group's efforts on issues critical to international education programs. The award will be presented during the summer meeting of the APLU Commission on International Programs in July 2010.

Jones, also a professor of agronomy and plant genetics at the University, has raised the visibility and priority of the institution's international programs by establishing international partnerships, facilitating global scholarship and faculty development, and recruiting international students and scholars.

Jones’ commitment to promoting international perspectives and the importance of globalization led to the elevation of the senior international officer (SIO) position to associate vice president and dean of international programs as well as creating a new position and internal grant program through an assistant vice president for international scholarship that reports to the SIO. As a result, the University has more than doubled funding for international research, travel, study and exchange. Jones led efforts to internationalize the curriculum across all academic colleges in order to prepare students to live as global citizens. He also spearheaded successful efforts to establish many new faculty exchanges and international research opportunities at universities in China, Ecuador, India, Kenya, Norway, South Africa and Tanzania.

Founded in 1887, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is an association of public research universities, land-grant institutions, and many state public university systems. APLU member campuses enroll more than 3.5 million undergraduate and 1.1 million graduate students, employ more than 645,000 faculty members, and conduct nearly two-thirds of all academic research, totaling more than $34 billion annually. For more information, see APLU.

EFANS assistant dean
Renee Pardello
has been named assistant dean in the Extension Center for Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (EFANS). In her new role, Pardello's three primary areas of responsibility for EFANS are programming, personnel, and finance and grants. Her work will include driving next steps for multidisciplinary initiatives, working closely with the evaluation team to strengthen capacity to report on impacts, providing tools to program leaders to aid them in their work with teams, helping bridge collaborations with Extension and other units on grants, managing the promotion process for educators, and pursuing ways EFANS can operate effectively as an Extension center.

Pardello has diverse experience in program development, implementation, and evaluation on multiple levels (rural, urban, across cultures) and through different circumstances (challenging budgets, famine, coup d'état). This experience comes from work throughout West and Central Africa and within non-formal and formal educational organizations in Minnesota. She has worked with multiple audiences: youth, volunteers, local Extension educators, natural resource professionals and community leaders.

Pardello has been with Extension since 2000, most recently as a program leader for the Water Resource Management, Environmental Science Education, and Housing Technology program areas. She is currently leading EFANS initiatives in international work and multidisciplinary, water-related programming.

Henry Luce fellow at the National Humanities Center
Professor Bernard Levinson has been selected as the 2010-11 Henry Luce fellow at the National Humanities Center.

The National Humanities Center announced the appointment of 36 Fellows for the academic year 2010-11. These leading scholars will come to the Center from the faculties of 19 colleges and universities in 17 states and from 7 institutions in 6 other nations—Brazil, Canada, Germany, Greece, Portugal, and The United Kingdom. Chosen from 442 applicants, they represent more than 20 fields of humanistic scholarship, including history, literature, philosophy, anthropology, art history, Asian studies, classics, Islamic studies, Judaic studies, and musicology. Each Fellow will work on an individual research project and will have the opportunity to share ideas in seminars, lectures, and conferences at the Center. 

The National Humanities Center, located in the Research Triangle Park of North Carolina, is a privately incorporated independent institute for advanced study in the humanities. Since 1978 the Center has awarded fellowships to scholars in the humanities, whose work at the Center has resulted in the publication of more than 1,200 books in all fields of humanistic study. The Center also sponsors programs to strengthen the teaching of the humanities in secondary and higher education.

McKnight Artist Fellowship
The Minneapolis College of Art and Design selected associate art professor Andrea Stanislav as one of four artists to receive the 2010-11 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Visual Artists.

Designed to identify and support outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists, the McKnight Artist Fellowships for Visual Artists provide recipients with $25,000 stipends, public recognition, professional encouragement from visiting critics, and a catalog and exhibition at the MCAD Gallery in the summer of 2011. The fellowships are funded by a generous grant from the McKnight Foundation and administered by the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Andréa Stanislav creates mesmerizing sculptures, paintings, and videos that reflect the limits and failures of the idea of utopia. Employing highly reflective surfaces and potent symbols of colonialism such as obelisks and flags, the artist makes human desire—for the Real, for beauty, for power—both palpable and repulsive. In addition to having been the recipient of numerous awards and artist residencies, Stanislav has had her work exhibited internationally and nationally including Beijing, Dublin, London, Mexico City, New York City, Toronto, and Stockholm. This year's McKnight Artist Fellows were chosen from a field of 247. For more information, see McKnight Artist.

Nursing research award
School of Nursing researchers have won a top award from the Midwest Nursing Research Society (MNRS).MNRS is a premier nursing research organization that advances the scientific basis of nursing practice and promotes development of nurse scientists. For more information, see nursing awards

Ramp-Up to Readiness
Ramp-Up to Readiness, one of the programs in the College Readiness Consortium, has chosen 11 recipients for grants designed to help University colleges, departments, and offices launch new or enhance existing partnerships with preK-12 schools and systems. The goal of such partnerships is to increase the number and diversity of students who graduate with the knowledge, skills, and habits for success in higher education. All funded projects had to engage but were not limited to students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in higher education.

University of Minnesota, Rochester
University of Minnesota, Morris
University of Minnesota, Crookston
Medical School, Department of Neuroscience, Twin Cities
College of Education and Human Development, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Twin Cities
One Stop Student Services, Twin Cities
Institute of Technology, Twin Cities
College of Education and Human Development, Twin Cities
College of Liberal Arts, Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, Twin Cities
Law School, Student Services, Twin Cities
College of Liberal Arts, Department of Chicano Studies, Twin Cities

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

Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan
President Obama’s second nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court is in the spotlight today... Guest David Stras, professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, where he also co-directs the Institute for Law and Politics. (Appears at the 16:39 mark in the radio program). National Public Radio.

Target Field has new fan base: bird-watchers
If it's rainy and cold at Target Field and the Twins aren't playing well, what's a fan to do? But Julia Ponder, executive director of the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center, said it's likely that the food source will draw him back. The Star Tribune.

Ranks of moms older than 40 are growing
Sheryl Tuorila Jorgensen thought she'd get pregnant right away when she got married at age 35. Having a baby was the main reason, she said, that she and her husband, Jeff, decided to tie the knot after six years together…Of course, there's good reason for that, said Linda Hammer Burns, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota's Reproductive Medicine Center. "They are a walking time-bomb, but they don't want to hear it," she said. The Star Tribune.

Immigration: The key to Minnesota growth and prosperity
While anti-immigrant attention is being drawn to events in Arizona and inflammatory comments are being made by politicians in other states, Minnesota lawmakers and state officials are receiving a study on their desks that makes these sober assessments... These points generally summarize the findings of professor Katherine Fennelly, an immigration and public policy expert at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute, and graduate student Anne Huart. MinnPost

Charities face 'doomsday': Loss of tax-exempt status
More than 7,000 Minnesota nonprofits, and as many as 400,000 nationwide, are slated to lose their tax-exempt status next week—an event being dubbed "doomsday."… The nonprofit spent the past three years preparing for the new tax laws, said Pat Morreim, a 4-H regional director of the University of Minnesota Extension Service. The Star Tribune.

Efforts to shrink Gulf's 'dead zone' face serious setbacks from oil spill
The massive environmental disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico—oil gushing uncontrolled from a damaged well—threatens to compound a different problem that originates 1,200 miles north of the Gulf in Minnesota…Now, the growing oil slick could exacerbate that problem by further depleting oxygen that is vital to a myriad of marine life forms, said John Gulliver, a civil and environmental engineer who conducts research at the University of Minnesota's St. Anthony Falls Laboratory in Minneapolis. MinnPost.

Good Question: What's In Arizona's Immigration Law?
Heated rhetoric, massive protests, convention boycotts: all over a 17-page Arizona state Senate Bill on immigration. While some call Arizona legislators racist, what does the bill actually say?…Sam Myers is also a law professor at the University of Minnesota, who just last week had his students read the bill as a class assignment. "When I read it, I gotta tell you, it even surprises me," said Myers. WCCO – TV.

May 5

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

The Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE) recently awarded over $1.3 million in early career and seed grants to 15 renewable energy research and demonstration projects across the University of Minnesota system.

Early career grants enable faculty in the initial stages of their careers to launch and/or accelerate innovative research programs consistent with IREE's mission. Seed grants are one year in duration and explore the potential for high-risk, high-potential projects that are in the beginning stages of development.


Connie Lu 165Connie Lu, chemistry, is a recipient of an early career grant from the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment. Strategies for the Reduction of Carbon Dioxide to Methanol
Project lead: Connie Lu, Chemistry
Award: $135,000

Mimicking Fungal Biomass Decomposition using Biphasic Biocatalysis
Project lead: Jonathan Schilling, Bioproducts & Biosystems Engineering
Award: $135,000

High-Throughput Nanofabrication Technologies for Low-Cost Plasmonic Photovoltaics
Project lead: Sang-Hyun Oh, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Award: $135,000

The Unintended Climate Consequences of North American Carbon Sequestration from Afforestation and Reforestation
Project lead: Peter Snyder, Soil, Water and Climate
Award: $121,361

Improving Efficiency of Wind Turbines by Means of Model-based Flow Control
Project lead: Mihailo Jovanovic, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Award: $135,000

Improving Organic Solar Cells with Graded Interfacial Modifications
Project lead: Aaron Massari, Chemistry
Award: $135,000


Lactic Acid Fermentation using Dairy Manure as the Sole Carbon and Nitrogen Source
Project lead: Jun Zhu, Southern Research and Outreach Center
Award: $47,677

New Forms of Cross-Sector Cooperation for Achieving Breakthroughs in Sustainable Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Technologies
Project lead: Alfred Marcus, Carlson School of Management
Award: $70,000

Development of Torrefied Wood Microchips as an Energy-Efficient Biofuel for Pellet Stoves and Boilers
Project lead: Tim Hagen, Natural Resources Research Institute
Award: $66,042

Experimental and Theoretical Investigations of Conducting Polymers for Solar Cells
Project lead: Ted Pappenfus, Division of Science and Math, University of Minnesota, Morris
Award: $59,546

Development of a Solar Smoleniec/Stirling Hybrid Thermo-Mechanical Generator
Project lead: Louise Goldberg, Energy Systems Design Program
Award: $63,875

Converting Mining Waste Rock to Passive Solar Tiles
Project lead: Kyle Bartholomew, Natural Resources Research Institute
Award: $50,000

Regulation of Cell Wall Growth and Composition in Nitrogen Fixing Biomass Crops in Minnesota: Medicago and Related Forage Crop and Woody Species
Project lead: Katherine VandenBosch, Plant Biology
Award: $69,827

Conversion of Waste Lignin to Liquid Fuels and Other High Value Products: A Fundamental Study Exploring Two Options
Project lead: Ulrike Tschirner, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering
Award: $69,790

Open Accumulator Compressed Air Storage Concept for Wind Power
Project lead: Perry Li, Mechanical Engineering
Award: $68,817

The early career and seed grants are in addition to $3.7 million in large grants that IREE recently announced. For more information, see IREE grants.

American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Professor Frank Bates, Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota was named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious honorary societies. Frank Bates joins Albert Einstein, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin among many other leaders in the sciences, the humanities, business and public affairs and the arts. Professor Bates' 2010 Academy classmates include comedian Steve Martin, CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour, actor Denzel Washington, and movie director Francis Ford Coppola. Frank Bates becomes one of the few scientists who are members of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

Martha Thurlow, director of the University's National Center on Educational Outcomes in the Institute on Community Integration, delivered testimony before the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) United States Senate Hearing on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) reauthorization on April 28. Her area of focus was standards and assessments. For more information, see the PDF text of her written testimony.

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

SubTropolis, U.S.A.
Each year, about a million people visit the Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun theme parks in Kansas City, Missouri, most of them unaware of an even stranger attraction lying about 100 feet below...Underground, a business’s environmental impact can be smaller, explains John Carmody, the director of the University of Minnesota Center for Sustainable Building Research, because no trees or other plants need to be cut, nor wetlands filled, to make way for commerce or industry. Gains can be made in urban planning as well, Carmody says: "By putting more resources underground, you can preserve surface land and make a denser city." The Atlantic.

Cinco de Mayo, from the Battlefield to the Beer Bottle
Jeffrey Pilcher is Professor of History at the University of Minnesota. He is author of the prize-winning book, ¡Que vivan los tamales! Food and the Making of Mexican Identity (1998)...Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican victory in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, against the invading French army of Napoleon III. History News Network.

Some homeowners buying back their neighborhoods
The duplex next to Brian Connoy's bungalow had always been a nuisance. Loud tenants, people coming and going around the clock, violent arguments…Kris Nelson, director of neighborhood programs for the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota, is intrigued by the idea. "We tend to overlook the contribution, however limited or finite that contribution is ... [of] people trying to stabilize their neighborhoods. It is about community development, not real estate transactions," he said. The Star Tribune.

Happy pups run free in north metro
Two dog owners chatted as their canines chased each other and sniffed at indelicate places last week in Brooklyn Park's new dog park—one of a growing number of off-leash parks in the Twin Cities…University of Minnesota psychologist Mark Snyder said he has noticed the proliferation of dog parks and suspects canines are not the only winners. The Star Tribune.