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Awards, appointments, and other news

Compiled by Adam Overland




December 19

To submit U of M staff or faculty for consideration in People, contact the Brief editor. For more information, see award & appointment submission guidelines.


National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships

Regents Professor Elaine Tyler May (American studies) and Associate Professor David Chang (history) are two of the three Minnesotans awarded National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars for 2013-14. Tyler May's is for her project, "The American Quest for Security." Chang was selected for his project, "Native Hawaiian Perspectives on Imperialism, Colonialism, and Nationalism in the 19th Century." The award amounts are $50,400 each.

2012-13 Internationalizing Teaching and Learning Cohort

The U of M Internationalizing Teaching and Learning Cohort Program engages faculty in significant course design or redesign by participating in a multidisciplinary cohort of their peers. The program engages faculty in professional development aimed at internationalizing the curriculum. It is sponsored in partnership with the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance, the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Instructional Development Service (UMD), International Student and Scholar Services (UMTC), and the Office of Information Technology.

Newly selected faculty members in the 2012-13 Internationalizing Teaching and Learning Cohort Program include:

Courtney Bergman, Brian Dingmann, and Matt Simmons (Crookston)

Njoki Kamau (Duluth)

Sarah Buchanan, Rebecca Dean, and Brook Miller (Morris)

Jim Ford (Rochester)

Betsy David and Louis Porter (Twin Cities)

For more information, see new cohort.

$720,000 grant to study Earth-surface systems

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that it will award the U a $720,000 grant to lead an international, multi-university virtual institute for the study of Earth-surface systems, with a special emphasis on watersheds and deltas.

Linked Institutions for Future Earth (LIFE) is a new collaborative network of leading international research institutions, facilities, and field sites working together on research related to predicting and understanding the impacts of climatic and human stresses on the landscape. LIFE seeks to produce research that informs policymakers and practitioners, while cultivating effective researcher exchange and mentoring, and generating innovative international public engagement toward landscape sustainability.

The project is funded through NSF's Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI), a mechanism to advance scientific understanding and excellence through the collaboration of scientists, engineers and educators across continents, cultures and disciplines.

Faculty members from the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL) in the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering, including Efi Foufoula-Georgiou (civil engineering), Chris Paola (earth sciences) and Vaughan Voller (civil engineering), will serve as the lead researchers of the project. Foufoula-Georgiou is also a resident fellow of the University's Institute on the Environment.

For more information, see the news release.

School of Dentistry and 3M collaboration receive award

The American Dental Education Association Gies Foundation (ADEAGies) has awarded the Minnesota Dental Research Center for Biomaterials and Biomechanics (MDRCBB) a 2013 William J. Gies Awards for Vision, Innovation, and Achievement for Outstanding Vision - Public or Private Partner.

MDRCBB is a unique public-private collaboration between the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry and 3M with over 30 years of presence and productivity. Open to other companies interested in the advancement of state-of-the-art research and development in biomaterials and biomechanics, the MDRCBB is a leader in assessing the anticipated performance of new dental materials and appliances using clinically relevant simulation and measurement technology.

The Gies Awards honor individuals and organizations exemplifying dedication to the highest standards of vision, innovation, and achievement in dental education, research, and leadership.



U in the News: A selection of U faculty and staff in the news as appearing daily in Today's News.

U of M freshman retention rate at all-time high
The percentage of Twin Cities undergraduate freshmen who stay for a second year is at an all-time high, says the University of Minnesota. At his annual undergraduate update for the Board of Regents, Vice Provost Robert McMaster said last year's Twin Cities freshman class retained 91 percent of its students into the second year. MPR.

The rigor of creativity
Thomas Fisher, professor and dean of the U of M's College of Design, says that [people] have not been allowed, or allowed themselves, to use the creativity that they and just about everyone else is born with. Fisher's commentary is part of the on-going Huffington Post series "TED Weekends," which curates conversation around a selected TEDTalk. Huffington Post.

Stop the (holiday) music
Christmas tunes can have a particularly potent [spending] effect, said Joe Redden, an assistant professor of marketing and logistics management at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. "We know that inducing a positive mood generally makes people more likely to spend," he said. Star Tribune.

Turning higher education on its head
Education models are turning inside out. First came the concept of the 'flipped classroom' in schools: pupils completing course material ahead of lessons to free up time with their teachers and apply the knowledge they have just learned. Now a related philosophy is developing in higher education. Can we also flip academics – or even academia itself? One academic who is embracing the need for a shakeup in the way individuals and their institutions see their role in higher education is Tom Fisher, professor and dean of the college of design at the University of Minnesota. The Guardian.

U of M medical school strategic plan sought
The University of Minnesota's Academic Health Center needs a clearer vision of its future to shake off a "malaise" that has plagued it, said an outside review committee. ...In a report the U released publicly Monday, Dec. 17, the three-member committee offered few specific prescriptions but stressed the need for the AHC community to rally around a common vision. [U of M President Eric Kaler responded by charging Medical School Dean Aaron Friedman with appointing a faculty-led group to produce a strategic plan by next summer. Pioneer Press.

Homeless Chihuahua gets life-saving surgery, ready for adoption
Seymor, a homeless chihuahua, has patent ductus arteriosus – PDA for short – and it's a congenital defect, one of the most common ones in dogs. It's something that can be surgically corrected, said Rebecca Cervenec, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota. WCCO-TV.

U studies: Reading boosts homeless students
Children who are homeless or moving from home to home face longer odds when it comes to succeeding in school, but studies from the University of Minnesota have identified two key ways to help them overcome the obstacles of their living situations. U of M researcher Ann Masten said it was important to confirm the link between executive function and academic success for homeless children, because researchers can now develop shelter preschool programs that focus on boosting those skill. Star Tribune.

Fecal transplant offers rare hope against deadly colon disease
In an experimental treatment that may be the only way they can save some people who have contracted a dangerous colon infection, out of desperation some Minnesota doctors are transplanting donated human feces into their patients' colons. Doctors say fecal transplants could allow patients to more quickly develop their own natural defenses against clostridium difficile, an infection that kills 14,000 people in the United States each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Alexander Khoruts, of the U of M Medical School, shares more. MPR.

Minnesota endangered species list expanding
Minnesota's beleaguered moose would be one of 67 animals added to the state's official troubled species lists under a proposal announced Monday by the Department of Natural Resources. ...The species of concern status for moose won't limit whether hunting seasons can continue. That would happen if they move to threatened or endangered status. But the move still makes sense, said Ron Moen, a wildlife biologist studying moose at the Natural Resources Research Institute of the University of Minnesota Duluth. Duluth News Tribune.


December 12

To submit U of M staff or faculty for consideration in People, contact the Brief editor. For more information, see award & appointment submission guidelines.


Katrice Albert named VP for Equity and Diversity

Albert 300Katrice AlbertUniversity of Minnesota President Eric Kaler has announced that Dr. Katrice Albert will be the University's new vice president for Equity and Diversity, effective June 28, pending approval by the Board of Regents.

Albert comes from Louisiana State University (LSU), where she has served since 2005 as the institution's chief diversity officer. In that role, she developed and implemented strategic initiatives and policies aimed at cultivating a campus environment that embraces individual difference, sustains inclusion and enhances institutional access and equity.

As a member of the senior leadership group, Albert will lead the U's access, equity, and diverse multicultural resources and programs, and play an important role in advancing excellence at the University of Minnesota. She will also work collaboratively with diverse Minnesota communities and uphold educational and employment equity as core values of the University.

Albert holds a Ph.D. in counseling psychology. Her teaching experience includes serving as an adjunct professor in LSU's College of Education, where she taught a graduate course on multicultural counseling. She also wrote, presented, and consulted on issues of cultural competence, corporate social responsibility, educational and workforce diversity, gender and dynamics of power, the complexities of diverse populations, educational access, community university partnerships, and the application of psychological knowledge to ethnic minorities and other underserved populations.

Albert has also demonstrated a strong commitment to and engagement in her local community, and has been the recipient of several women's leadership awards, including being recognized by the National Diversity Council as one of Louisiana's Most Powerful and Influential Women in 2010. For more information, see the news release.

Jane Davidson honored by American Society of Mechanical Engineers

Jane Davidson, professor of mechanical engineering, director of the Solar Energy Laboratory, and Ronald L. and Janet A. Christenson chair of renewable energy at the University of Minnesota, has been honored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) with the Frank Kreith Energy Award. Davidson was recognized for significant research on solar systems for residential buildings and solar thermo chemical cycles to produce fuels; for contributions as an exemplary educator in renewable energy; and for shaping solar energy research and policies at the national and international level.

The award was established in 2005 to honor an individual for significant contributions to a secure energy future with particular emphasis on innovations in conservation and/or renewable energy.

Davidson's current areas of research include solar systems for residential buildings and solar thermo-chemical cycles to produce fuels. In 2011, she and her colleagues inaugurated the first indoor concentrating solar simulator in the United States; it is used to test prototype solar reactors. In the conduct of her research, she has been the major advisor of 26 doctoral and 49 master's degree students.

In addition, Davidson recently served on the National Research Council's America's Energy Future Renewable Electricity Panel, Governor Tim Pawlenty's Clean Energy Technology Task Force, and ASME's Global Climate Change Task Force. She also served as an elected member of the boards of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation.

Davidson has published more than 250 scientific papers, including over 105 articles in archival journals, and six book chapters. She has lectured worldwide in diverse venues, and has briefed Congress and state legislatures on energy issues.

For more information, see Davidson ASME award.

Josie Johnson recognized with Humanitarian Service Award

Josie Johnson 165Josie JohnsonGovernor Mark Dayton Proclaimed Dec. 2–8 as Human Rights Week in Minnesota, and as part of the week's celebrations, Josie Johnson was honored with the Humanitarian Service Award. Johnson, a former U of M Regent and administrator, was recognized for her outstanding character, commitment to equity, social justice, and human dignity. In 1997, the U of M established the Josie R. Johnson Award honoring her lifelong contributions to human rights and social justice. The award honors University of Minnesota faculty, staff, and students who, through their principles and practices, exemplify Johnson's standard of excellence in creating respectful and inclusive living, learning, and working environments. Learn more.



U in the News: A selection of U faculty and staff in the news as appearing daily in Today's News.

It's ice dam season, and a little preparation goes a long way
As winter approaches, Richard Stone of the University of Minnesota Extension can drive through a neighborhood and predict who's likely to get ice dams when the snow falls. Pioneer Press.

U of M plans two venture capital funds
The University of Minnesota wants to create two venture capital funds to invest in startups that are trying to take university-created technology to market. Jay Schrankler, executive director of the U's Office for Technology Commercialization and John Merritt, spokesman for the Office of the Vice President for Research, discuss plans for the funds. Star Tribune.

A breakthrough against leukemia using altered T-cells
An experimental altered immune cells treatment at the University of Pennsylvania beat a young girl's leukemia. John Wagner, Medical School, called the results "phenomenal." New York Times.

Free online classes put colleges to a new test
As massive online open courses (or MOOC's) continue to grow, colleges and universities in Minnesota, including the U of M, are forced to confront tricky questions about their own cost and credits. U of M Provost Karen Hanson and digital learning methods administrator and chemistry professor Christopher Cramer offer insight. Star Tribune.

From student aid to research, fiscal cliff's effects on the U would be huge
U of M Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter talks with MinnPost education reporter Beth Hawkins about how the U will fare if the nation goes over the so-called fiscal cliff. MinnPost.

Counting bites may help to lose weight
Using a computer to count bites helped people with low self-control become satiated at rates similar to people with high self-control, U.S. researchers say. Joe Redden, an assistant professor of marketing in the Carlson School of Management of the University of Minnesota and an expert on then topic of satiation, says satiation occurs when people repeatedly consume something, but tend to like it less.UPI.

Kaler reveals launch of seed fund and national venture fund
University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler told an audience of healthcare entrepreneurs and investors today that the University will launch two funds next year: a $20 million seed fund and $50 million national venture fund, pending approval from the university's Board of Regents. He was speaking at the Mid America Healthcare Venture Forum in Minneapolis. Twin Cities Business Journal.

How close are we to an AIDS-free generation? U of M professor weighs in
There has certainly been enormous progress in curbing the spread of HIV and reducing the number of deaths from the cancers and infections associated with advanced, untreated HIV disease known as AIDS. Yet there still remains extreme risks, as many don't know they are infected because they haven't been tested. Simon Rosser, professor and director of the HIV/STI Intervention and Prevention Studies Program at the U of M's School of Public Health, adds insight. The Atlantic.


December 5

To submit U of M staff or faculty for consideration in People, contact the Brief editor. For more information, see award & appointment submission guidelines.


Seven named 2012 AAAS Fellows

Seven faculty at the University of Minnesota have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers, and recognizes scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

U of M newly elected AAAS Fellows represent three colleges and were chosen in four AAAS sections:

R. Lawrence Edwards, professor, Department of Earth Sciences, College of Science and Engineering

Elected in the Section on Geology and Geography for landmark contributions to the field of quaternary geochronology and paleoclimatology, particularly for developing high-precision 230Th dating and calibration of the radiocarbon chronology.

Kenneth Heller, professor, School of Physics and Astronomy, College of Science and Engineering

Elected in the Section on Physics for distinguished contributions to the field of experimental high energy physics for investigations of spin dependent strong interactions and neutrinos, and to physics education research in the field of teaching problem-solving in college level introductory physics.

James Kakalios, professor, School of Physics and Astronomy, College of Science and Engineering

Elected in the Section on Physics for distinguished contributions to the field of condensed matter and materials physics, particularly for experimental studies of amorphous semiconductors, and for innovative efforts in science communication.

David Kohlstedt, professor, Department of Earth Sciences, College of Science and Engineering

Elected in the Section on Geology and Geography for distinguished contributions to the fields of experimental high-temperature rock mechanics and the physical chemistry of Earth materials.

Carston Wagner, Endowed Chair in Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy; director, Chemical Biology Initiative

Elected in the Section on Pharmaceutical Sciences for distinguished contributions to the field of drug design and delivery, particularly for the design and development of nucleotide prodrugs and chemically assembled protein nanostructures.

Renata Wentzcovitch, professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, College of Science and Engineering

Elected as in the Section on Physics for pioneering contributions to theory and simulations of materials at high pressures and temperatures and applications of interdisciplinary impacts in geophysics.

Robin Wright, associate dean, College of Biological Sciences; and professor, Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development

Elected in the Section on Biological Sciences for significant contributions in the area of academic administration and education, specifically for contributing to national education discussions, and for research in yeast molecular biology.

For more information, see the news release

$4.5 million NSF grant to study low-carbon, sustainable cities

The University of Minnesota announced today that it has received a four-year, $4.5 million Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to design, compare and contrast the development of sustainable and healthy cities in the U.S. and Asia. The grant will explore the specific transformations needed to achieve low-carbon, resource-efficient and healthy city goals in the United States, China and India.

The University of Minnesota is the lead institution for the grant, which includes researchers from Yale University, Georgia Institute of Technology, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Colorado–Denver and the National Academy of Engineering. Professor Anu Ramaswami, the Charles M. Denny, Jr., Chair for Science, Technology and Public Policy at the University’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, will serve as lead researcher on the project.

The research team will draw on expertise in engineering, environmental sciences, social sciences and public health to provide a road map for sustainable development for different types of cities worldwide. In addition to examining how best to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, researches will address economic development, water scarcity, environmental pollution, climate change and public health issues.

The international research will focus on Asian cities in transition—rapidly industrializing cities with populations of less than one million that are expected to dominate future urbanization—and compare their development to that of megacities (populations of more than 10 million) and smaller service economy cities in the United States.

For more information, see the news release.

$1.8 million energy-efficiency research grant

The U has been awarded a $1.8 million grant for research that could improve efficiencies in fuel and plastics production.

The grant, from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) is to develop revolutionary membrane technology that will enable energy-efficient separations in the chemical, petrochemical, water, fossil fuel, and renewable energy industries. When fully implemented, the technology could reduce U.S. energy consumption by as much as three percent.

The University of Minnesota’s award is specifically aimed at improving efficiencies of industrial processes. The grant money is intended to bridge the gap between academic research and commercial application.

Michael Tsapatsis, a professor of chemical engineering and materials science in the University’s College of Science and Engineering, is the lead researcher on the grant. The other members of the research team are chemical engineering and materials science professors Chris Macosko and Prodromos Daoutidis.

A significant fraction of total energy consumption (approximately 30 percent for the U.S.) is attributed to manufacturing and a major component of this amount is due to energy used in separation and purification processes—as high as six percent of the total U.S. energy consumption.

Tsapatsis and his team published research last year about their discovery of a means for developing free-standing, ultra-thin zeolite nanosheets that as thin films can speed up the filtration process and require less energy. Science magazine named the research as one of the biggest breakthroughs of 2011.

For more information, see the news release

Gottesman wins University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award

Professor Irv Gottesman (psychology) received the 2013 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Psychology—a $100,000 cash prize. Working with researcher James Shields, Gottesman developed a model accounting for the genetic and environmental factors that can affect the risk of developing schizophrenia over time—defying prevailing scientific beliefs that only heredity or environment alone can account for the condition. For more information, see Gottesman.

DeBruin named director, Center for Bioethics

Debra DeBruin has accepted a three-year appointment as director of the Center for Bioethics after serving as interim co-director. She has built a reputation as a collaborative leader who will be able to move the Center down a path to fulfill its goals and mission. She will serve as a leading voice addressing complex issues facing health care and the life sciences.
Ben Johnson to leave Northrop

Ben Johnson, Director of Northrop Concerts and Lectures at the University of Minnesota, has accepted a new position in Los Angeles as the Director of Programs for the United States Artists Foundation. In this position, Johnson will administer the prestigious USA Fellows program, which awards major $50,000 grants annually to 50 artists who work in film, theater, dance, music, design, visual arts, literature, and American craft. For more information, see Ben Johnson



U in the News: A selection of U faculty and staff in the news as appearing daily in Today's News.

Generation Next launches to help enable 'cradle to career' success
A capacity crowd—including virtually anyone involved in education policy hereabouts—gathered at the University of Minnesota’s McNamara Alumni Center on Thursday to celebrate the launch of possibly the most ambitious effort ever to close the academic achievement gap in Twin Cities schools. Top executives from the university, Minnesota’s corporate community, school districts and other major players took to the stage to introduce Generation Next, a community-wide effort to get everyone pulling for the "cradle-to-career" success of every child. MinnPost.

Design professor & toy lover Barry Kudrowitz talks toys, creativity, and why play matters
Barry Kudrowitz, assistant professor of product design at the U of MN, was on WTIP's The Roadhouse just in time for the holiday toy season. Barry designs everything from word games to roller coasters, and he believes play is important at every age. WTIP.

Sasha McHale's death brings attention to little-understood autoimmune disease

The tragic death this week of 23-year-old Alexandra "Sasha" McHale has brought public attention to a serious yet little-understood autoimmune disease: lupus. ...To learn more about this common and mysterious disease, MinnPost talked with Emily Gillespie, an immunologist, lupus researcher and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota. MinnPost.

Help for overscheduled teens?

Between school, sports and part-time jobs, many of today's teenagers have schedules that leave little breathing room. Some schools are trying to ease the pressure without sacrificing students' competitive edge. Bill Doherty, professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota comments on this trend. Star Tribune.

Researchers think American cities are becoming more alike in wild life

One of America’s hottest cities [Phoenix] and one of its coldest [Minneapolis] may have more in common than you would guess. ...Researchers from the University of Minnesota surveyed 137 yards in Minneapolis and St. Paul, looking at the plants that grew there spontaneously, and found that the yards held more exotic species than rural areas outside the city. New York Times.

Ask Dr. Hallberg: Early cancer detection outpaces cancer differentiation

A new report found routine mammograms have led more than one million women to receive unnecessary breast cancer treatment. ...Dr. Jon Hallberg, MPR's medical analyst and medical director at the Mill City Clinic, discussed the report with MPR's Tom Crann this week. MPR.

Crossing the Line Between 'Immigrant' and 'American'

Louis Mendoza
(Chicano-Latino studies) participated in a "Room for Debate" segment on immigration and assimilation. American Studies Ph.D. Jason Ruiz also contributed. New York Times