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Awards, appointments, & other announcements

By Adam Overland

Anne Phibbs 165
Anne Phibbs

August 24

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

Phibbs named director of education in Office for Equity and Diversity
Anne Phibbs has been appointed the new director of education in the Office for Equity and Diversity (OED). She is responsible for all aspects of OED’s enhanced focus on education, including its strategic framework, pedagogy, and commitment to accessibility. Phibbs will oversee the system-wide development, delivery, and evaluation of curriculum and education opportunities focused on equity and diversity.

Ahluwalia receives grant for cigarette smoking cessation research
Jasjit Ahluwalia was recently awarded $200,000 from Pfizer Global Research Awards for Nicotine Dependence (GRAND) for his research proposal entitled ‘Factors influencing nondaily cigarette smoking and cessation’. Ahluwalia and postdoc, Taneisha Buchanan, will study nondaily smoking behavior and associated psychosocial influences in African Americans, Latinos, and non-Hispanic Whites.

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

Growing energy on the countryside
An emerging economic challenge for greater Minnesota involves developing renewable energy sources for local consumption. To lay the groundwork for the next generation, the West Central Rural Outreach Center (WCROC) has launched an extensive applied research program in renewable energy geared towards rural Minnesota users and producers. An extension of the University of Minnesota's College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences, WCROC tests and develops biomass gasification, creates synthetic fertilizer (NH3) from wind turbines, as well as photovoltaic and solar-thermal systems. Minnesota 2020.

Global hunger - the Minnesota connection
It's nearly impossible to look away. Recent news photos and articles tell heartbreaking tales of starving children in eastern Africa -- stories of mothers forced to choose between who will live or die because there simply isn't any food… Allen Levine is dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota and is director of the Minnesota Obesity Center. Star Tribune.

Duluth theater screens film on Vikings' 50th season
When Elizabeth Giorgi of the University of Minnesota set out to chronicle the Minnesota Vikings’ 50th season, she had no idea that Randy Moss would return to the team — then leave. She couldn’t have predicted that Brett Favre would be the subject of sext-capades, that Brad Childress would get canned or that the roof of the Metrodome would collapse, leading to the team’s first outdoor home game in decades. Duluth News Tribune.

Tenure: Use It or Lose It
Recent efforts in statehouses around the United States, most notably in Madison, Wisconsin, to abolish public employees' and K-12 teachers' collective bargaining rights suggest that attacks on the tenure system in public higher education will not be far behind… Thomas Fisher is the Dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota. Huffington Post.

The state of wine
OK, now I’m getting really excited about the University of Minnesota’s newest grape. A Marquette made by Vermont’s Shelburne Vineyard not only took top honors among red wines at the International Cold Climate Wine Competition on Aug. 18; it also was the most delicious cold-climate red wine I’ve ever tasted. Star Tribune.

Mystery Behind Gigantic Space Blob Revealed
The mystery behind the power source of the giant "Lyman-alpha blob," one of the largest single objects known in the universe, has finally been revealed by astronomers at the European Southern Observatory… "Not many observatories in the world offer this combination," says Claudia Scarlata of the University of Minnesota, a co-author of the paper. National Geographic.

U of M brain cancer test treatment shows promise
A new cancer therapy that has cured brain tumors in dogs is now being tried in human patients at the University of Minnesota. The therapy is designed to rev up the body's immune system so it can more effectively fight cancer… Dr. Chris Moertel, clinical director of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Program at the University of Minnesota, oversees the new trial. Minnesota Public Radio.

Obama administration commits to biofuels
Obama administration officials say the Navy is on its way to rescue America’s biofuels industry. The federal agriculture, energy and Navy departments Tuesday announced they will spend up to $510 million in the next three years to build new or rebuild existing facilities to make fuel from what now is considered plant waste, such as corn stalks, grass, wood chips and corn cobs… “You get the sense that the technology is right there, that it is coming soon,” said Bill Berguson, a scientist at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute. Duluth News Tribune.

State Fair sees resurgence in canning
The competition is hotter than ever for canned goods at the Minnesota State Fair… Suzanne Driessen, a University of Minnesota Extension food safety educator said it's important to realize that, "Canning is a science not an art." MSNBC.

All the Ways That Stocks Churn Your Stomach
If the stock market is a reflection of the stew of our emotions, it’s pretty clear that nobody knew how to feel this week… “People do not know what all of these economic terms mean,” said Kenneth Doyle, a psychologist and former financial planner who is now a professor at the University of Minnesota. New York Times.

Soudan Mine Researchers Seek Window to Past
In the months after the fire, the underground Soudan Mine site has been anything but slow this summer. Contractors are working in the lowest part of the mine to replace the damaged lining with concrete… "That could give us insight into things not only on the sub surface, most of the biomass on our planet, most of the things that are alive are actually things that we don't see," Jeff Gralnick, a microbiology professor at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus said. MSNBC.

Trophy tale: Salmon or trout?
Steve Zielinski caught this beauty during a recent charter fishing trip out of Duluth on Lake Superior. They were using spoons in 80 feet of water. "I fought it for about 10 minutes,'' he said… But University of Minnesota associate professor Jay Hatch, associate curator of fishes at the James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History, said he believes the fish is a brown trout. Star Tribune.

Doctor Dishes on Male Birth Control Pill
It’s been 51 years since the first birth control pill became available in the U.S., but now, the first reversible male contraceptive appears to be on the horizon. FOX 9 News spoke with Eli Coleman, director of Sexual Health at the University of Minnesota, about the new method. KMSP-TV.

August 10

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

Buchanan named Interim Dean, School of Dentistry
Judith Buchanan 165Judith BuchananJudith Buchanan, professor and associate dean for academic affairs in the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, has been appointed Interim Dean of the school. She assumed the post August 1, when current Dean Patrick Lloyd ended his tenure. The appointment was made by Tom Sullivan, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, based on extensive consultation with the Dental School community, and with President Eric Kaler.

Buchanan, who was recruited to the School of Dentistry from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, where she was Academic Dean from 1997-2005, is an expert in dental accreditation and virtual technology and curricula. She received a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Texas in 1977. She received her DMD in 1980 from the University of Florida, College of Dentistry, graduating first in her class.

She served for 22 years in the military (in the National Guard and Army reserves) and attained the rank of lieutenant colonel in the National Guard. In 2003, she was deployed to run dental clinics in Bosnia and Germany.

A University search committee will be appointed soon to recommend candidates for the permanent replacement for Lloyd, who announced earlier this year that he was leaving the school after 7 years of service as dean of the School of Dentistry to take a comparable position at The Ohio State University. For more information, see the news release.

Medical Devices Center Innovation Fellows Program director
Saurav Paul 165Saurav PaulSaurav Paul, one of the top inventors at St. Jude Medical with more than 100 U.S. and international patent publications, has been named as the new director of the University of Minnesota’s Medical Devices Center Innovation Fellows Program. Paul is replacing the founding director, Marie Johnson, who left to pursue other opportunities. Paul will begin his duties as Innovation Fellows Program director on August 15.

Paul joined the research and development group at St. Jude Medical’s Daig Division in 2002. In his nine years at St. Jude Medical, he was instrumental in driving innovation and creating minimally invasive catheter-based technology platforms for diagnosis and treatment of atrial fibrillation. Most recently he has worked in St. Jude Medical’s Atrial Fibrillation Division.

As director of the Medical Devices Center Innovation Fellows Program, Paul will lead the intensive year-long, full immersion educational and intellectual property development program for medical devices sponsored by the University’s College of Science and Engineering and the Academic Health Center. The program uses a cross-disciplinary team with a combination of degrees in engineering, medicine and biosciences works with faculty, medical professionals and industry collaborators to develop and test ideas for new medical devices with the goal of improving health care worldwide.

Since the Innovation Fellows Program launched in fall 2008, the fellows have filed invention disclosures on more than 30 new medical devices concepts, launched two start-up companies and licensed one technology. The third fellows team will complete its work at the end of August and will add to these numbers.

Paul received his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and M.S. degree in civil engineering from the University of Minnesota. Additionally, he received an M.S. in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India, and B.S. in mechanical engineering from the Regional Institute of Technology, Jamshedpur, India. Paul also has a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul.

For more information, see Medical Devices Center or the full news release.

Veterinary Public Health Residency Program
Tim Goldsmith and Larissa Minicucci will serve as co-directors of the Veterinary Public Health Residency Program at the University of Minnesota.

The Veterinary Public Health Residency Program (VPH Residency Program) is a two-year program during which veterinarians gain specialized clinical training in veterinary public health practice. From its beginning in 2002, the VPH Residency Program strived to become the premier experiential veterinary public health training program in the U.S., and formal recognition for the residency program has been received from the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. To date, 19 veterinarians have completed the residency program and have gone on to pursue careers in public veterinary practice including positions in federal and state governments, academia, professional veterinary and agricultural organizations.

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

State budget cuts out help for immigrant doctors to regain profession
A state-funded program that helps immigrant doctors qualify to practice in Minnesota has become a casualty of the state budget agreement… In 2010, the Legislature gave the University of Minnesota $150,000 to set up an intensive, seven-month training program that would help the doctors meet the qualifications for a U.S. residency program. Minnesota Public Radio.

An Economist for Nature Calculates the Need for More Protection
Dawn is breaking over this remote upland region, where neat rows of coffee plants cover many of the hillsides… “Currently, there is no price for most of the ecosystem services we care about, like clean air and clean water,” said Stephen Polasky, professor of ecological/environmental economics at the University of Minnesota. New York Times.

U prof on economy: Hang on!
University of Minnesota Economics Professor Varadarajan Chari has some advice for Minnesotans who watched stocks plunge on Thursday. "Hang tight! It is okay!" Chari said outside the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank headquarters where he is a consultant. KARE-TV.

Erectile dysfunction? Try losing weight
Viagra gets the job done, but it's a quick fix. For many men, weaning themselves off the little blue pill and finding a longer-lasting solution to their sexual dysfunction may require hitting the gym and putting down the doughnuts… "You talk all the prevention you want," says Kevin Billups, an associate professor of urology at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis. CNN.

Women farmers taking root
Call it the lure of the land. But a growing number of Minnesota farms are now run by women… In fact, women now comprise roughly 60 percent of students at the U's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. Star Tribune.

Court quashes stem-cell lawsuit
Was the case a fluke or a forewarning? Now that a federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit that sought to halt US government funding of research using human embryonic stem cells, scientists who depend on that support are left wondering whether the battle is truly over, or is merely moving on to a different arena… "Things have changed permanently. It's not just going to go back to the way it was—not immediately," says Meri Firpo, who researches stem-cell therapies at the University of Minnesota Stem Cell Institute in Minneapolis. Nature.

Kane takes on media portrayal of female athletes
Mary Jo Kane, Kinesiology professor and director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, is a featured columnist in a special issue of The Nation magazine devoted to the role and impact of sports in U.S. culture. In this month's issue, titled "Views from Left Field," Kane's column presents a compelling critique of sport media related to the portrayal of female athletes and the notion of "sex sells," complete with a slide show illustrating her arguments. Kane's analysis is based on a research study she conducted with her advisee, Heather Maxwell (Ph.D. '09), and published in the Journal of Sport Management in May 2011. The Nation

New tick-borne bacterium found in Minnesota and Wisconsin
A new tick-borne bacterium that can cause illness in humans has been discovered in Minnesota and Wisconsin, according to a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Researchers, including those from the Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Department of Health, have identified the new bacterium in more than 25 people in Minnesota and Wisconsin. MinnPost.

Gout on the Rise as Americans Gain Weight
The "disease of kings" has now reached the masses. In the past half century the prevalence of gout in the general U.S. population has more than doubled. Once thought of only for the privileged few who had the means to overindulge in food and drink, gout now afflicts more than eight million American adults… Daniel Mueller, a physician at the University of Minnesota Medical School who treats patients with gout, notes that especially in older adults, the condition can often be mistaken for other joint problems. Scientific American.

In Midwest, Flutters May Be Far Fewer
As recently as a decade ago, farms in the Midwest were commonly marred — at least as a farmer would view it — by unruly patches of milkweed amid the neat rows of emerging corn or soybeans… But two other researchers, Karen Oberhauser of the University of Minnesota and John Pleasants of Iowa State, cite other evidence for a decline: the number of monarch eggs in the fields of the Midwest. New York Times.