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Awards, appointments, and other news

Compiled by Adam Overland

September 25

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

University Recognized for Improving Graduation Rates

The University of Minnesota has been chosen as one of two finalists for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities' first-ever "Most Visible Progress National Degree Completion Trailblazer Award." The APLU designed this award to recognize universities that are, through conscientious attention and concerted educational efforts, successfully retaining and graduating students. APLU wants to promote the efforts of these schools as models for other institutions to follow. This video was produced at the request of APLU to show at the November 2013 award ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Amy Kircher to lead U of M food safety center

The National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD), a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence at the University of Minnesota, has named Amy Kircher director.

Kircher has been appointed director of the NCFPD after serving as acting director for the last six months.

The national center's mission to ensure the resiliency and reliability of the food system is one that resonates with both the public at large and the private sector.

As director, Kircher will lead the NCFPD's research, education and outreach efforts focused on addressing the vulnerability of the food system from intentional or catastrophic contamination. During her tenure, Kircher will seek to transition the center's research and technology to the private sector to protect the food system as well as create a network of global capabilities.

Kircher has previously led public health and preparedness efforts as an epidemiologist for the U.S. Northern Command and operations support roles in both Hurricane Katrina and H1N1 disasters. Past awards have included a Department of Defense (DOD) Joint Civilian Service Commendation Medal and a DOD Joint Civilian Service Achievement Medal. She concurrently serves as an assistant professor in the U of M College of Veterinary Medicine and adjunct faculty in the U of M School of Public Health, and holds a doctorate in public health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Lynne Borden receives $3.49 million grant

Department of Family Social Science department head and professor Dr. Lynne Borden received a $3.49 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The grant is part of USDA-NIFA's Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Program and provides funds for the Professional Development and Technical Assistance portions of the CYFAR program. Borden, the project's principal investigator, developed the grant as a partnership with Penn State University professor Daniel Perkins.

The grant will further support the success of the CYFAR initiative as it serves 26,000 youth through projects funded across multiple states and territories.

UMTC signs agreement with Teach for America

To ensure Minnesota's P-12 students have the best-prepared classroom teachers, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Teach for America (TFA) have agreed to create the first-ever alternative teacher training program for corps members under the Minnesota Alternative Teacher Licensure law.

Annually, a minimum of 40 TFA corps members will participate in eight weeks of localized training through the University instead of participating in one of TFA's national five-week summer institutes. Training will include rigorous, initial preparation coursework and ongoing credit-based coursework and learning experiences during corps members' two-year commitment to TFA.

The University retains the authority for instructional design, content and evaluation of the program, as well as the determination of candidate admission (subsequent to TFA's rigorous recruitment and selection process), degree clearance and recommendation for licensure, according to the agreement. Once developed, the program—which is scheduled to begin in summer 2014—will be submitted for approval to the Minnesota Board of Teaching.

The program will be a new pathway to teaching, added to the University's current, comprehensive preparation programs for individuals who choose teaching as a career.

TFA, a nonprofit organization established in 1990, recruits high-achieving college graduates and professionals to teach in some of the most challenging educational settings. Selection of applicants is highly competitive: 14 percent are accepted into TFA programs nationwide. Corps members are required to make a minimum two-year teaching commitment. TFA-Twin Cities was established in 2009, and since then 220 of its corps members have been hired by 100 Minnesota schools, including Minneapolis Public Schools.

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

Dr. Ted Labuza on slime, bombs and rot
Ted Labuza, food safety scientist at the U of M, talks food rot. Scientific American Blog Network.

University Libraries promote reading for pleasure
While the majority of U of M library collections support academic research, staff members are trying to appeal to the casual reader with more accessible popular literature. Library assistant and exhibit co-creator Becky Adamski comments. Minnesota Daily.

Minnesota retains one of nation's lowest uninsured rates
Minnesota's rate of residents lacking health insurance stood at 8.7 percent during the two-year period that ended last year—basically flat compared with the rate during the previous two-year period, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. Lynn Blewett, U of M School of Public Health, comments. Pioneer Press.

University base pay below average
U of M faculty and staff members are paid less than average market wages but are compensated with employee benefits, according to the Office of Human Resources. OHR Vice President Kathy Brown comments. Minnesota Daily.

Good Question: When is the best time to get the flu shot?
For years, the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health have recommended people get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available, which is generally the middle to end of September. Michael Osterholm, U of M School of Public Health, talks about the ideal time to get a flu shot. WCCO TV.

Minnesota legislature likely to raise minimum wage
Eric Ostermeier, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota, comments on the politics associated with raising the minimum wage. Washington Post.

How to edit a cow? U scientist tinkers with livestock genetics
A University of Minnesota genomics scientist is hard at work to sell a new way to change the genetics of livestock. Lead researcher and U of M genomics scientist Scott Fahrenkrug comments. MPR.

Artery severed by hockey blade, doctor skates to rescue
Dan Gruenstein, U of M Medical School, talks about a hockey player who was struck in the neck by another player's skate, severing an artery. KARE 11.

Pregnant and paranoid: Excess testing ruins bliss
Katy Kozhimannil, U of M School of Public Health, comments on preventative tests and insurance. Daily Herald.

September 18

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

NIH grant awarded for HIV research

Researchers from the University of Minnesota's Program in HIV Medicine have been awarded a $5.7 million grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to test a new treatment approach in the fight against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

In clinical trials supported by the latest grant, University researchers will employ an FDA-approved drug with anti-fibrotic and anti-inflammatory properties to reverse the inflammatory damage caused by HIV replication in lymphatic tissues in an attempt to restore the population of immune cells (CD4 cells) that are essential for normal immune responses.

If successful, the trials could point to a new adjunctive therapy for HIV that could improve immune function and lead to a functional cure for the disease. The approach could also help protect HIV infected people from diseases associated with ongoing inflammation like heart attacks, blood clots and cancer.

Collaborators in this project will include Daniel Douek and Richard Koup of the Vaccine Research Center at the NIH.

Grant will support research at Cedar Creek

Two federal agencies have awarded a $2 million grant for a multi-institutional research effort centered at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. Jeannine Cavender-Bares is principal investigator for the project, called "Linking remotely sensed optical diversity to genetic, phylogenetic and functional diversity to predict ecosystem processes."

Sarah Hobbie, Peter Reich, and Rebecca Montgomery (CFANS Department of Forestry) are co-PIs. Participants will include CBS graduate students and researchers from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Funding agencies are the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Funding begins May 2014. Learn more.

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

U study finds linking obesity to military readiness broadens support for child-health policies
A new study led by U of M health-policy researcher Sarah Gollust suggests that conservatives can be persuaded that government policies are needed to tackle the problem of childhood obesity if the issue is framed in a way that resonates with their core values, particularly their belief in the need for a strong military. MinnPost.

U community speaks out against Syria intervention
As global leaders continue to weigh action in Syria, U of M professors and students are adding their voices to the debate. U of M professors Ron Krebs, Ragui Assaad and Sarah Parkinson took part in a roundtable discussion. Minnesota Daily.

U investigates sudden slew of bee deaths
Thousands of Minneapolis honey bees began dying off late last week due to apparent pesticide poisoning. The U of M Bee Lab and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture are conducting tests to verify whether pesticides were the actual cause. Becky Masterman, co-coordinator of the University's Bee Squad, comments. Minnesota Daily.

University receives grant for marine energy research, workforce development in NYC
A $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation will allow the U of M's St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL) to launch a new collaborative project to advance research, innovation and training in marine and hydrokinetic technology. Fotis Sotiropoulos, the project leader and director of the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, comments. Renewable Energy World.

New hires bring new expertise to CBS
The College of Biological Sciences used a new approach called cluster hiring to identify the areas of research the college needed more expertise in. Joining the college this year are assistant professors Ran Blekhman and Yue Chen. Minnesota Daily.

September 11

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

CBS Dean Bob Elde to retire

Robert Elde, dean of the College of Biological Sciences since 1995, has announced his decision to retire at the end of June 2014, after a 37-year University career.

Dean Elde, currently the University's longest-serving dean, is a visionary leader and scientist who has led innovative reform in biological sciences research and education. Among many accomplishments, he has strengthened departments, dramatically increased the number and quality of undergraduate applications, improved funding for graduate programs, led planning for new buildings (the Molecular and Cellular Biology Building, the Cargill Building for Microbial and Plant Genomics, and others), and improved the college's Cedar Creek and Lake Itasca field stations.

As a leader at a time of explosive change in biosciences and technology, Dean Elde has built valuable relationships with government and industry, helping to make the University a public leader in biotechnology and renewable energy. He founded University Enterprise Laboratories, a privately funded biotech incubator; he also launched both Biodale and the University's Initiative for Renewable Energy, the latter credited with leveraging nearly $100 million in renewable energy research support to the state.

Elde, who joined the University faculty in 1977, is the J. B. Johnston Land Grant Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Neuroscience.

A 1969 honors graduate of North Park College in Chicago, Dean Elde received his Ph.D. in anatomy from the University of Minnesota in 1974 and in 1996 was awarded an honorary Doctor of Medicine degree from Sweden's Karolinska Institute.

Jacobson named fellow of ACCP

Pamala Jacobson, College of Pharmacy, has been awarded Fellow status by the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, which recognizes and rewards the highest levels of excellence in the practice and science of clinical pharmacy.

Kaufman elected to Board of Cornea Society

Stephen Kaufman has been elected to the Board of the Cornea Society.

The society, founded in 1975, fosters the exchange of information about the cornea and anterior segment of the eye through scientific meetings, communications, and a quality scientific journal and newsletter. It is an international organization dedicated to the advancement of knowledge about the cornea and external eye and serves as the collective voice of corneal specialists globally and with governmental agencies domestically.

Frank Sorauf passes away

Political science scholar, administrator, and art collector Frank Sorauf, former dean of the College of Liberal Arts, died Sept. 5.

In recognition of his many contributions, the University named him a Regents Professor in 1991. He served as chair of the Department of Political Science from 1966–69, and as dean of CLA from 1973–78. He served as dean during a time of significant change, reallocation, and reorganization. He was a vigorous supporter of the college's language requirement. He saw languages "at the essence of our nature as human beings and our abilities to communicate" and form the basis of logic and knowledge. Under his deanship, graduation was decentralized to create a smaller, more intimate ceremony. As a result, Sorauf was the first dean of CLA to shake hands with graduates.

Sorauf was a pathbreaking scholar of political science throughout his career. He was an early leader of the behavioral movement in political science, which sought to move beyond legal formalism to a more realistic view of how politics actually works. His two primary research areas were campaign finance and the courts.

Sorauf was a devoted collector and scholar of Southwestern pottery, and pieces from his collection can be seen at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Weisman Art Museum. He served on the board of the Minnesota Opera in the 1980s and on the Minneapolis Library Board in the '60s. A man of parts, he was a fine pianist and even played semi-professional baseball in his youth.

A memorial event is being planned for a later date. For more information, see Frank Sorauf.

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

Top 5 myths about 'Obamacare' that refuse to die
MPR breaks down the most persistent myths concerning the Affordable Care Act. U of M political science professor Larry Jacobs comments. MPR.

U Of M doctors use super glue in 2 rare child brain surgeries
Bharathi Jagadeesan and Andrew Grande, Medical School, share the story of how they used super glue to stem the bleeding in the brain of a 2-year-old that resulted from dural sinus malformation. WCCO TV.

MNsure unveils costs of health plans
Uninsured Minnesotans in the Twin Cities can expect to pay as little as $91 a month for health care coverage bought through MNsure, the state's new online marketplace. Jean Abraham, U of M School of Public Health, said the rates released today are lower than she expected. Minnesota Public Radio.

Using human cells, U professor is building parts to repair the circulatory system
In a lab at the U, a persistent professor is using human cells to engineer arteries and heart valves. U of M professor Robert Tranquillo is profiled. Star Tribune.

Game, sex and match
Sportswomen are beginning to score more commercial goals - but they still have a lot of ground to make up. Mary Jo Kane, a U of M sport sociologist, comments. The Economist.

Rolling up our sleeves to take on the achievement gap
Dr. Katrice Albert, vice president for Equity and Diversity at the U of M, discusses how the U is working to close the achievement gap. Spokesman Recorder.

Justice achieved in Guatemala, thanks to the Minnesota Protocol
Barbara Frey (human rights program) and Kathryn Sikkink (political science) are quoted in this article about the development of guidelines to conduct investigations into genocides and atrocities around the world. Pioneer Press.

The most complex map ever drawn?
Some of the nation's top scientists got together at the U of M recently as part of an effort to outline one of the most ambitious medical research projects in history: mapping the connections of the human brain. Kamil Ugurbil, U of M Medical School, is mentioned. Star Tribune.

The 'bee beard': It's enough to give you hives
Fairgoers watched as apiary scientist Gary Reuter, from the University of Minnesota's Bee Lab, used students to demonstrate how bees can cluster to form "beards" around a queen. Pioneer Press.

Your kitchen spices can often harbor salmonella
Spice may be nice, but spices also can carry very bad bugs. Theodore LaBuza, a professor of food safety at the U of M, comments. OPB News.

U divided on Obama proposal
President Barack Obama's recent proposal for the future of higher education has drawn mixed reviews nationally and at the University of Minnesota. Bob McMaster, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, comments. Minnesota Daily.

Poverty shown to damage decision-making
Just being broke, in and of itself, damages people's abilities to make good decisions in a way roughly equivalent to losing 13 IQ points, or constantly losing a night's sleep, suggests a report out Thursday based on decision-making experiments. U of M psychologist Kathleen Vohs comments. USA Today.

Good Question: What bug's creating all the late summer buzz?
University of Minnesota Extension entomologist Jeff Hahn talks with Heather Brown, answering a "Good Question" about cicadas. WCCO TV.