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Awards, appointments, and other news

Compiled by Adam Overland




November 27

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


'Breathing lung' transplant performed

A team of University of Minnesota cardiothoracic transplant experts have performed the Midwest's first "breathing lung" transplant, an innovative surgical approach that utilizes technology capable of keeping donated lungs warm and breathing during transportation, keeping them healthier prior to transplant.

The double-lung procedure led by Gabriel Loor, assistant professor in the Medical School's Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, was performed in the last week at University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview. The patient, a 51-year-old man from Minnesota, had been suffering from emphysema. He is currently doing well in his recovery.

During traditional transplants donated lungs are removed, placed on ice for transportation and thawed at the transplantation site. In a breathing lung transplant, a TransMedics Organ Care System is used to pump blood and oxygen through donated lungs to keep them breathing during transport, essentially simulating conditions of the human body. At the same time, the machine allows for continuous monitoring of the organ, giving surgeons information about quality and how the lungs are faring in transit. In a sense, the lungs are virtually alive until they reach their recipient.

The Breathing Lung device is currently part of two major clinical trials in the United States, INSPIRE and EXPAND. The University of Minnesota is involved with both trials and the staff has undergone rigorous training to utilize the technology.

The University of Minnesota recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the University's solid organ transplant program. In particular, the awarded $1.5 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study responses of plant microbial communities to global environmental changes and to determine the potential role of microbes in plant productivity, knowledge that is needed to feed the world's growing human population. The award is one of 10 new macrosystems biology grants announced by the NSF. The goal of the program is to better detect, understand and predict the effects of climate and land-use change on organisms and ecosystems at regional to continental scales.

Gillick receives pediatric hemiparesis grants

Bernadette Gillick, assistant professor in the Program in Physical Therapy, has received two grants to support research in pediatric hemiparesis. Gillick was awarded a KL2 Scholars Grant ($386,000) from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and a $100,000 research grant from the Cerebral Palsy International Research Foundation. Both grants will support Gillick's research in "Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation and Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy in Pediatric Hemiparesis."

Gillick's Pediatric Neuromodulation Research Laboratory is devoted to investigation of the use of non-invasive brain stimulation in children with cerebral palsy and to the translation of that work into the rehabilitation health care community.

2013 Rossiter Prize

The History of Science Society (HSS) has awarded the Margaret W. Rossiter Prize for the History of Women in Science to Sally Gregory Kohlstedt for her book, Teaching Children Science: Hands-On Nature Study in North America, 1890-1930 (University of Chicago Press, 2010). Kohlstedt is a professor in and director of the History of Science and Technology Program, as well as acting vice provost and dean of graduate education.

NSF grant to study the genetics of adaptation

The National Science Foundation has awarded Ruth Shaw (EEB) $700,000 to research and establish a basis for predicting rates of ongoing genetic adaptation in plants. Beyond their fundamental importance, adaptation rates are important in the context of rapidly changing climate. This research will inform policy and efforts directed toward conservation of natural populations. Additionally, the project will help develop scientific capability for the future by engaging students and postdoctoral researchers.

U of M IT admin overhead efforts recognized

IT manager Andy Wattenhofer has been featured in Oracle Magazine for his efforts to consolidate databases and reduce administrative overhead at the U of M.

The article details work begun two years, which has become a model for organizations looking to reduce administrative overhead through database consolidation.

Wattenhofer's team developed a way of providing faster, more flexible, and more efficient database services to University departments.

U of M Goes From Silver to Gold In Its Support of Bicyclists

The University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus was awarded the Gold designation award as a Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) by the League of American Bicyclists last week.

The Gold BFU award, one of only four awarded nationwide, recognizes the University of Minnesota's commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.

The UMTC campus is the third largest traffic generator in Minnesota. The U of M's Parking and Transportation Services department is committed to establishing, maintaining and improving a comprehensive transportation system that reduces congestion, eases accessibility and enhances a friendly university community.


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

Will work for health insurance: The 'Job Lock' conundrum
Chasing dreams, or what an economist might call 'the mobility of labor,' is a good thing: you want people to be able to work for any company, or start their own enterprise. Some say the Affordable Care Act encourages this freedom. Julie Sonier, U o fM School of Public Health, comments. New Hampshire Public Radio.

Right vs. Left in the Midwest
The New York Times published an op-ed by Political Science Professor Larry Jacobs, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, in which Jacobs analyzes Minnesota and Wisconsin's contrasting political agendas--modern progressivism and the new right. New York Times.

Impatient with NIH, cancer researcher turns to crowdfunding
Daniel Saltzman, surgeon-in-chief at Amplatz Children's Hospital and an associate professor at the University of Minnesota, has teamed up with an entrepreneur in the television industry and Twin Cities advertising and public relations professionals to make an unusual direct appeal to the public [to fund potentially promising cancer research.] In the process, he's helping to bring so-called crowdsourcing to the field of medical research. Star Tribune.

Corn farmers brace for lower fuel demand
Talk about bad timing. Corn prices were at three-year lows when the Obama administration on Nov. 15 proposed cutting the corn-ethanol fuel mandate for the first time. Despite corn growers' angst, agricultural economists say they don't expect a big fallout on corn prices. Douglas Tiffany, an agricultural business management educator at U of M Extension, comments. Star Tribune.

Rural revival bucks dire forecasts
University of Minnesota Extension researcher Ben Winchester is featured in the Star Tribune's look at the revitalization of rural Minnesota. Star Tribune.

The quest to end the flu
The methods used to make flu vaccines are slow and sometimes unreliable, and new viruses threaten to outrun them. Can researchers find a way to stay ahead? Michael Osterholm, U of M School of Public Health, comments. The Atlantic.

Raptor Center plans facelift
Patrick Redig and Julia Ponder, U of M College of Veterinary Medicine, discuss The Raptor Center's pending expansion. The Minnesota Daily.

Kaler talks crime, research, new mayor
The Minnesota Daily sat down with University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler for its monthly Kickin' it with Kaler interview Friday afternoon. Kaler discussed going on a ride-along with University police, Minneapolis' recent elections and an inspirational piranha in his office. Minnesota Daily.

HIV protein might affect synaptic connections and neurocognitive ability
The University of Minnesota said an HIV protein shed by infected brain cells might alter synaptic connections between nerve cell networks, according to research published on Friday in the Journal of Neuroscience. Nicholas Hargus, U of M Medical School, is quoted. Vaccine News Daily.


November 20

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


Jay Brooks Jackson named Med School dean and VP for health sciences

Jay Brooks Jackson has been named the new Medical School dean and vice president for health sciences, effective Feb. 17, 2014, and pending approval by the Board of Regents on Dec. 13.

Jackson comes from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he has served as director of pathology for 12 years. Under Jackson, the school's pathology department rose from fifth to first nationwide in NIH funding, with nearly $50 million in annual NIH awards. The department also became one of the most diverse in terms of gender and underrepresented minorities at all levels, and obtained more than $60 million in donations for education and research.

An internationally recognized researcher in HIV diagnostics, prevention and treatment, Jackson and his colleagues revolutionized HIV prevention in developing countries and published approximately 200 peer-reviewed papers about HIV prevention and treatment research conducted in the United States, Uganda and China. He is also the principal investigator of the $500 million NIH-funded International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials Network. Jackson’s work resulted in new drug development and a project to prevent neonatal HIV transmission. The method has saved thousands of infants from starting life with HIV infection.

Jackson has also taught a course to every medical student at Johns Hopkins since 1997; and he's an active clinician. He is also a proven university leader, having served on many medical school, hospital, and institutional committees, including chairing the school's promotion and tenure committee for 10 years.

Jackson is a dedicated alum of the U of M Medical School's pathology residency and served as a junior faculty member at the University of Minnesota Medical School at the start of his career.

For more information, see the news release.

GAPSA 2013 Outstanding Adviser Awards

The Grad & Professional Student Association (GAPSA) presented five faculty members with 2013 Outstanding Adviser Awards.

2013 Outstanding Advising Award Winners:

Jake Bailey, Earth Sciences

Kathleen Call, Health Policy and Management

Brad Greiman, Agricultural Education

Pamala Jacobson, Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology

Donald Truhlar, Chemistry 

UMTC first in world to install ultrafast electron microscope

The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities will be the first in the world to install a new FEI Tecnai™ Femto ultrafast electron microscope (UEM) that will be used to examine the dynamics of materials at the atomic and molecular scale over time spans measured in femtoseconds (one millionth of a billionth of a second). Researchers expect that the technology will enable them to conduct fundamental research on the structure and dynamics of matter that could lead to new solutions in energy, medicine, and digital technologies.

The new Tecnai™ Femto UEM, produced by FEI Company, is the first system to commercialize the patented ultrafast electron microscopy technology pioneered by Nobel laureate Professor Ahmed Zewail at the California Institute of Technology. The equipment will be installed later this month in the University of Minnesota Shepherd Laboratories and then moved to the Gore Annex of Amundson Hall when construction is completed next year.

Unlike an optical microscope that uses light to form images, an electron microscope uses a high-energy beam of electrons to create an image of the specimen. It is capable of much higher magnifications and has a greater resolving power than a light microscope, allowing it to see much smaller objects in finer detail. The newly developed UEM combines these high magnifications with the added ability to watch matter change and evolve in real time on very fast time scales.

The arrival of the Tecnai™ Femto UEM comes on the heels of the installation of another electron microscope at the University of Minnesota. The FEI Titan™ G2 60-300 aberration-corrected analytical scanning and transmission electron microscope was installed in Shepherd Laboratories earlier this year.


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

When belts tighten, U saves space
The University is renovating old spaces to utilize every square foot and maximize costs [in light of decreased state funding.] Monique MacKenzie, the University’s departmental director of capital planning and project management; College of Veterinary Medicine Chief Financial and Operations Officer Paula Buchner; and Kelly Valusek, communications coordinator for the STEM Education Center, comment. Minnesota Daily.

U buildings brace for winter chill
Facilities Management employees prepare University of Minnesota buildings for winter every year, but they are limited by funding. Rob Tunell, associate director for Facilities Management’s St. Paul district, comments. Minnesota Daily.

A worldwide footprint
The University of Minnesota owns a mansion on the shore of Lake Superior, apartments in Birmingham, UK, and forests on a Chippewa reservation. Across the state, country and world, the University owns more than 28,000 acres of land and receives the financial benefit of about 56,500 acres of land. It engages in more than 1,400 leases and easements. And each of these properties is bought and used in a unique way. Director of Real Estate Susan Carlson Weinberg and others comment. Minnesota Daily.

Good Question: Do we need to rake?
Every fall, we have to do something with the leaves that cover our yards. That's so the grass can freeze, we prevent snow mold and make sure little critters can't destroy our lawns. Sam Bauer, the turf grass specialist at the U of M Extension, comments. WCCO TV.

3D printers in every public school? That's a Minn. company's plan
College of Design Dean Tom Fisher showcases the 3D printers at the DigiFabLab, which he says has the "potential to lead to our third industrial revolution." A Minn. company is working to put a 3D printer in every public school. WCCO-TV.

U breaks ground with pet program
If there’s one thing students miss when they go off to college, it’s … their pets. That’s the theory behind a new program for stressed-out students at the University of Minnesota...The program, known as PAWS (“Pet Away Worry and Stress”), debuted Wednesday to a packed house at the U’s Boynton Health Service. Program coordinator Tanya Bailey and Boynton's Director of Public Health and Communication Dave Golden comment. Star Tribune.

CEHD decreases textbook costs by giving out iPads
After three years of testing out iPads in University of Minnesota freshmen classes, the College of Education and Human Development has found surprising new ways to save students money. CEHD information technology director Dave Ernst comments. Minnesota Daily.

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum grows by 78 acres
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen has grown by 78 acres. The U of M bought the Lake Tamarack property in Carver County to restore and protect the watershed. Peter Moe, director of operations and research at the Arboretum, comments. Pioneer Press.

Fewer students seek advanced degrees at U of M
Fewer people are going to graduate school at the University of Minnesota; a slide that echoes national trends but worries some local scholars. Scott Lanyon, a professor in the College of Biological Sciences and head of the U’s Special Committee on Graduate Education, comments. Star Tribune.

High corn prices from ethanol boom help spur corn's northward move in Minnesota - at a cost
Corn is marching northward in Minnesota, spurred in part by higher prices from the ethanol boom and by new varieties that mature before the frost sets in. Dan Svedarsky, director of the Center for Sustainability at the University of Minnesota-Crookston, comments. Star Tribune.

After crime wave, University of Minnesota pledges to do more
In reaction to a 'rash of recent robberies and other crimes' on or near the U of M's Minneapolis campus, President Eric Kaler said he would enhance campus security with added cameras and patrols and rethink public access to some buildings. KSTP talks with UMPD Chief Greg Hestness. Star Tribune.

Building flexibility into the way we work
U of M Sociology Professors Erin Kelly and Phyllis Moen discuss the findings of their research into the way people work. The commentary is part of Stanford University's Redesigning, Redefining Work summit. Huffington Post.


November 13

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


Hormone-free birth control research contract

University of Minnesota researchers will investigate pharmaceutical alternatives to existing hormone-based birth control under a new $8.3 million contract from the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The primary goal of the five-year research contract is to develop new non-hormonal male and female birth control drug targets while expanding on existing targets.

To that end, the contract will support a team of researchers within the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy and Institute for Therapeutics Discovery & Development (ITDD), and collaborators at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. The team will work to further birth control research conducted at the University of Minnesota, University of Kansas, and elsewhere.

Gunda Georg, professor and head of the College of Pharmacy’s Department of Medicinal Chemistry, is at the forefront of developing a non-hormonal pharmaceutical solution to stop sperm from ever reaching maturity. Georg, the principal investigator for the latest NICHD contract, is also collaborating with her colleagues on a non-hormonal birth control pill for women.

This latest contract follows a $4.7 million grant for birth control research awarded to the U of M earlier this year.

NIH awards $3.2 million to center for population research

The National Institutes of Health has awarded $3.2 million to the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Population Center for a multi-year project to expand the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series. The project will add demographic and geographic data on the entire U.S. population from 1790 to 1930, more than 600 million persons, to the IPUMS, quadrupling the quantity of U.S. census microdata available for scientific research.

Engdahl named Anderson Chair in PTSD Research

Brian Engdahl, a professor of neuroscience, cognitive science, and psychology at the Brain Sciences Center at the University of Minnesota and psychologist and clinician investigator at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, has been appointed the Anderson Chair in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Research at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

The Anderson Chair helps understand and heal the psychological scars that often haunt veterans as they return home from service. The $2 million gift honors the late William Lewis Anderson, a combat medic who died trying to save a wounded soldier on the battlefield in World War II.

Engdahl has served veterans for more than 30 years at the Brain Sciences Center and Minneapolis VA Medical Center and is working on numerous research initiatives to assess and treat veterans with serious disabilities, including PTSD.

With Apostolos Georgopoulos and his colleagues at the Brain Sciences Center, Engdahl has recently helped discover that a special kind of brain scan can identify, with 95 percent accuracy, veterans with PTSD. Because this appears to be the first objective marker of a mental disorder, the findings should help develop better kinds of PTSD treatment, encourage more people who suffer from it to seek help, and reduce the stigma associated with PTSD and other mental disorders.

Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has awarded national recognition to nine individuals and one medical school for their outstanding contributions to academic medicine.

Deborah Powell was awarded the Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education by the association. Powell is dean emerita and professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at the Medical School. She has spent her career of more than 40 years championing competency-based medical education.

U named Innovation and Economic Prosperity University

The University of Minnesota has been named one of 16 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities by the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU).

The designation honors universities committed to working with public and private sector partners to support economic development through innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, and talent, workforce, and community development. For more information, see Engagement.

U ranks in top 20 for international students and study abroad

The annual "Open Doors" report on international students and study abroad, released Monday by the Institute of International Education (IIE), shows that the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus continues to rank in the top 20 in both categories.

The Twin Cities campus maintained its third-place ranking in the nation among doctorate-granting institutions in the number of students who participated in an education experience abroad in 2011-12, with 2,508 students. This year’s report moves the University to the top of the Big 10 schools in study abroad participation.

In addition, the U ranks 16th among doctorate-granting institutions with 6,178 international students in 2012-13, down from 14th place despite an increase of 571 students. (Study abroad statistics are reported one year behind international student statistics.)


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

Fossil of copulating insects identified as oldest on record
Researchers say the oldest fossil of two insects copulating -- in this case, froghoppers killed in a volcanic eruption 165 million years ago -- was identified in what is now Northeastern China. Marlene Zuk, an evolutionary biologist at the U of M, comments. New York Times.

How will U of M change with the times? A chat with Pres. Eric Kaler
President Eric Kaler offered some thoughts about the challenges facing the U as it embarks on a yearlong process to develop a new strategic plan for the Twin Cities campus. Star Tribune.

MSA wants more rides home
In response to the recent violent crimes on and around the U of M campus, the Minnesota Student Association wants to expand a popular service aimed at getting students home safely. Dave Golden, Boynton director of public health and communications, comments. Minnesota Daily.

Lead bullets poisoning Minnesota's raptors
Hunters across the state have been waiting for this weekend as deer season starts. And as Minnesotans load up to head out, Patrick Redig, College of Veterinary Medicine, is making a plea. WCCO TV.

UMR Chancellor says university is right on track
U of M Rochester Chancellor Stephen Lehmkuhle delivered his State of the UMR Campus speech this week, noting the youngest U of M campus is doing quite well and students are thriving after graduation. Rochester Post Bulletin.

Climate changed
U of M Extension climatologist and CFANS professor Mark Seeley comments on how we must adapt to new weather patterns. Star Tribune.

To get around town, some cities take a step back in time
In 2001, Portland, Ore., was the first to develop a new kind of streetcar system. But some wonder whether it's the best way to spend limited transit dollars. David Levinson, who teaches transportation engineering and economics at the U of M, comments. NPR.

Scientists solve major piece in the origin of biological complexity
Researchers led by U of M College of Biological Sciences postdoctoral fellow William Ratcliff and associate professor Michael Travisano evolve multicellular algae in the lab and discover why it is better to go it alone during reproduction. Australasian Science Magazine.

University to combine myU and One Stop into central site next fall
The U of M is set to replace its myU portal for students, faculty and staff on all campuses by next fall. The new portal will combine parts of One Stop and the current version of myU into one centralized system. Project director Susan Geller and Santiago Fernandez-Gimenez, ESUP assistant program director, comment. Minnesota Daily.

Education professor develops Web-based system to help children learn to read
A Penn State professor has been key in the ongoing design of a Web-based learning analytics system that will help improve children's literacy. U of M professors Charles Miller and Susan Rose are co-authors of the recently published "Handbook of Design in Educational Technology." Phys.org.

Research shows women having babies later in life
The Centers for Disease Control says one in five women now wait until they're 35 or older to have their first child. Mark Demario, U of M Medical School, discusses research showing women are having babies later in life. KARE 11.


November 6

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


Rybak to teach at Humphrey and College of Design

Outgoing Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak will become a distinguished visiting practitioner, with a joint appointment at both the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the College of Design.

Rybak will teach one course this spring, titled Mayor 101, in which he will explore the political, administrative, design and bureaucratic challenges of running one of the largest and most dynamic cities in the United States. The course will be open to both undergraduate and graduate students.

Under the auspices of the Humphrey School and the College of Design, Rybak will also plan and host a conference for faculty, students, and civic and policy leaders, focusing on the key challenges facing urban areas in the United States. He will teach two additional courses, one in fall 2014 and one in spring 2015.

Rybak has served as Minneapolis mayor since 2001. He is expected to teach at the University through June 2015 and his appointment is supported by private funds provided by gifts to the University. For more information, see the news release.

U librarian receives MLA President's Award

Kirsten Clark has been awarded the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) President's Award. The award is presented in recognition of significant and major contributions of members to the work of the Minnesota Library Association.

Clark received the award in recognition of her dedication to the Intellectual Freedom Committee as chair, service as Member-at-Large, and leadership in redesigning the MLA logo.


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

Changes and challenges at the top of the world
Aaron Doering, an associate professor in learning technologies at the U of M discusses how cultural change is affecting the Arctic, as local languages and cultures risk melting into an increasingly interconnected, internationalized world. Star Tribune.

How iPad study cut text costs at U
U of M researchers are starting to discover some surprising benefits of offering iPads to incoming CEHD freshman. David Ernst, the college's chief information officer, comments. Star Tribune.

Farm bill can make it easier to get food where it's needed
Brian Atwood, former dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and current dean, Eric Schwartz, comment on the implications of the U.S. farm bill. Star Tribune.

The Rational Animal: How Evolution Made Us Smarter Than We Think
Behavioral economists investigate the irrational side of human decision making in the book "The Rational Animal: The Rational Animal: How Evolution Made Us Smarter Than We Think." U of M Professor Vlad Griskevicius comments on the evolutionary reasons for humans' seemingly dim-witted choices. Nerd Wallet.

What's behind the ambitious goals of U of M athletics?
The personalities, philosophy, and numbers behind the goals and aggressive new culture of U of M sports, where "the sky's the limit." Athletic Director Norwood Teague comments. Twin Cities Business.

Insurance shoppers find MNsure prices, choices vary widely by area
Despite the promises of choice and affordability offered by the federal health care overhaul, many Minnesotans outside the Twin Cities area aren't seeing much of either. Roger Feldman, U of M School of Public Health, discusses insurance shoppers finding MNsure prices and choices to vary widely by area. Star Tribune.

Twin Cities leaf sweep on, despite late fall
A late spring is blamed for leaves clinging to branches longer, but cities say sweeps need to start now to beat snow. Chris Buyarski, a U of M scientist, explains why there could be a two week delay in leaf fall. Star Tribune.

Good Question: Why does the U.S. spy on its allies?
Eric Schwartz, dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the U of M, explains why the U.S. has good reason to spy on its allies. WCCO TV.

Who We Are In What We Wear
Professor of English Paula Rabinowitz was interviewed in September by Portland radio station KBOO about her Habits of Being series with the University of Minnesota Press (edited with Cristina Giorcelli): the "Who We Are In What We Wear" segment. KBOO.