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Awards, appointments, and other news

Compiled by Adam Overland




January 29

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


McKnight Land Grant 2014-16

The Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost has announced that eight faculty members have been named as the 2014-2016 McKnight Land-Grant Professors. The goal of this program is to advance the careers of new assistant professors at a crucial point in their professional lives. The Professorship includes a research grant of $25,000 in each of the two years of the award, to be used for expenditures related to the recipient’s research/scholarly work.

2014-16 Awardees:

David J. Flannigan, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, CSE

Sarah Gollust, Division of Health Policy and Management, Public Health

Christophe Lenglet, Radiology, Medical School

Pamela Lutsey, Epidemiology & Community Health, Public Health

Francis Shen, Law, Law School

James Van de Ven, Mechanical Engineering, CSE

Shannon Drysdale Walsh, Political Science, UMD

Travis Workman, Asian Languages and Literatures, CLA

For more information about the award and prior winners, see McKnight Land-Grant Professors.

Imagine Fund grant awards

Provost Karen Hanson has announced the 2014-15 faculty recipients of the Imagine Fund individual research grants.

Imagine Fund grant programs support projects in the arts, humanities, and design at the University of Minnesota. The programs are supported by a generous grant from the McKnight Foundation, from new internal reallocations from the University of Minnesota Graduate School and the Office of the Vice President for Research, and from the creation of the chair through the Permanent University Fund. Learn more about the Imagine Fund.

Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

Tamara Moore of the STEM Education Center will be awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Moore is currently the principal investigator of an $8 million grant awarded by the National Science Foundation titled EngrTEAMS: Engineering to Transform the Education of Analysis, Measurement, and Science in a Team-Based Targeted Mathematics-Science Partnership.

The Presidential Early Career Awards embody the high priority the Obama Administration places on producing outstanding scientists and engineers to advance the Nation's goals, tackle grand challenges, and contribute to the American economy.

CLA Mellon Grant for Premodern Studies

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the College of Liberal Arts a $600,000 start-up grant to develop the conceptual and programmatic foundations for a new Consortium for the Study of the Premodern World.

The consortium will create a new confederation of the many existing premodern studies constituencies at the University and establish a new synergistic mission to promote integrated, multidisciplinary research and teaching in global premodern studies. The consortium will also pioneer a new approach to graduate education by working to combine graduate training in established humanities and social sciences disciplines with an integrated, multidisciplinary graduate program in global premodern studies.

J.B. Shank (history and Center for Early Modern History) served as principal investigator on the proposal, with Andrew Scheil (English and Center for Medieval Studies) and Marguerite Ragnow (James Ford Bell Library) as co-investigators.


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

Western scientists look to Chinese medicine for fresh leads
Some scientists say traditional remedies might help them crack diseases like cancer. Some notable successes include a treatment for a form of leukemia and an anti-malaria medicine that has become the gold standard. But there are more misses than hits. Edward Greeno, associate professor of medicine at the U of M, comments. NPR.

New study: High-quality preschool for poor kids under 3 would eliminate achievement gap
Talk about your cost-benefit analysis: A newly published study co-authored by a University of Minnesota labor economist predicts that providing full-time, high-quality preschool to impoverished children under the age of 3 could entirely eliminate the achievement gap. Aaron Sojourner, a professor of labor economics at the U’s Carlson School of Management and one of the study’s authors, comments. MinnPost.

MNsure leaders face big decisions, bleak projections
MNsure leaders now face some big — and expensive — decisions, after hearing a blunt assessment of the health exchange's continuing operational problems and bleak projections about its enrollment and finances. Steve Parente, U of M Biomedical Health Informatics, comments. MinnPost.

Breaking down Buffet's Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge
Billionaire Warren Buffett will pay anyone who picks a perfect NCAA bracket $1 billion. Brad Carlin, U of M School of Public Health, weighs in. KARE 11.

Heaps of repairs are needed at the U and MnSCU
Star Tribune columnist Lori Sturdevant argues that Gov. Dayton's recommended bonding bill is "...not enough to catch up after a dozen years of bonding parsimony at the Capitol. [And] not enough to satisfy Minnesota’s ambition to make its public higher-education systems magnets for talent from around the world. Jason Rohloff, special assistant for government relations, is quoted. Rohloff, and Board of Regents Chair Richard Beeson, also spoke to the Minnesota Daily. Star Tribune.

U of M students welcome Obama's campaign against campus sexual violence
A presidential push to combat sexual assaults on college campuses nationwide was welcome news Wednesday at the University of Minnesota. Katie Eichele, director of the Aurora Center at the U, comments. Star Tribune.

Kaler unveils retention plan
U of M President Eric Kaler unveiled a plan at the White House last week to improve first-year retention rates of low-income University students. Bob McMaster, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, shares more about Retaining all Our Students. Minnesota Daily.


January 22

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


IAS Faculty Fellows

The IAS announces its 2014-15 Faculty Fellows. Eleven fellows from ten departments in four colleges on three campuses will be residential faculty fellows in 2014-15.

Each year up to twelve University of Minnesota faculty members are selected as Residential Fellows. Fellows are released from all teaching obligations during the tenure of their fellowships and are in residence at IAS offices in University Park Plaza, where they can benefit from the community of scholars and share their work across disciplines.

Secretary of the Interior appoints Jean O'Brien

Professor Jean O'Brien (history and American Indian studies) has been selected by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to serve as the Secretary's appointee to the Board of Trustees for the Cobell Education scholarship fund. The five-member board oversees the scholarship fund that was authorized by the Cobell Settlement to provide financial assistance to Native American students wishing to pursue post-secondary education and training.

In announcing the appointment, Secretary Jewell said of Jean and co-appointee Pamela Agoyo of the University of New Mexico, "... their accomplishments have opened the doors of higher education to all American Indians and Alaska Natives. Their experience and expertise will be exceptionally valuable to the Board of Trustees, as the scholarship fund helps students across Indian Country access the higher education they need to succeed in today's world."

U partners to form national data network

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) recently approved $93.5 million to support clinical research data networks that together will form an ambitious new resource known as PCORnet, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network. One of the 29 data networks supported by the grant is the Greater Plains Collaborative (GPC), a new network of 10 leading medical centers that includes the University of Minnesota's Academic Health Center. The collaborative group—which features eight Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) institutions, including the U of M—will receive a to-be-determined amount of PCORI funding.


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

U of M President at White House meeting for low income students
President Obama met on Thursday with over 140 college presidents from across the nation to discuss ways of helping lower-income students enroll in college. U of M President Eric Kaler talks about the meeting and the U's new initiative, Retaining all Our Students. Star Tribune.

Primary care shortage raises profile of nurses with advanced degrees
A Twin Cities foundation will invest $10 million in a University of Minnesota program that develops highly trained nurses. Mary Chesney, director of U of M's Doctor of Nursing Practice program, comments. MPR.

Lou Nanne talks with the Star Tribune
Lou Nanne, chairman of the University of Minnesota's $190 million athletics fundraising campaign, talks with the Star Tribune's Dennis Brackin about the campaign and why it's important for all Minnesotans to contribute. Star Tribune.

Professor mocks English courses at U of M
It's no secret that some people in academia are feeling a bit glum about careers in the humanities these days. U of M English Department Chair Ellen Messer-Davidow responds to an Ohio State English professor's critique of the U's English course offerings. Star Tribune.

New U of M apple: Combo between Honeycrisp and Arkansas apple
It's one of only three apple breeding programs in the country, and it's produced some of the most popular apples out there, like the Honeycrisp. Now, the University of Minnesota has another red, round, fruit that will debut soon. U of M apple breeder David Bedford comments. KSTP TV.

Creativity fills today's taco
The taco no longer contains solely traditional fillings. Lately chefs are using it as their own private canvas and the results are surprising and very appealing. Jeffrey Pilcher, a history professor at the U of M, comments. Chicago Sun Times.

Researchers, lawmakers see growing interest in protecting bees
In recent years, bees have become victims of a perfect storm and two Minnesota state agencies are working on ways to make the environment healthier for bees. The issue is likely to be a hot topic during the upcoming Legislative session. U of M bee expert Marla Spivak comments. MPR.

Polar Vortex drives Great Lakes to highest ice cover in 20 years
There are many benefits from increased ice cover on the Great Lakes. Jay Austin, associate professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth's Large Lakes Observatory, comments. MPR.

Why winter roads need a low-salt diet
More than 22 million tons of road salt used nationwide each year don't just disappear after the snow melts. And evidence is growing that the salt concentration of streams, lakes and groundwater is steadily increasing. Larry Baker of the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center comments. Mashable.

Food firms scramble to embrace latest fads
In the packaged food industry, there are no fads, only opportunities. George John, associate dean of the Carlson School of Management at the U of M, weighs in. Star Tribune.

Use of tanning beds by teen girls worries state health officials
Use of tanning beds by teen girls worries state health officials. DeAnn Lazovich, School of Public Health and Masonic Cancer Center, comments. Star Tribune.


January 15

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


John Coleman named CLA dean

Dr. John Coleman has been named the new dean of the College of Liberal Arts (CLA), effective July 31, pending Board of Regents approval in February.

Coleman comes to Minnesota from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he has served as the chair of the Political Science Department since 2007, a department he's been part of for more than 20 years. He was also chair of the College of Letters and Science (L&S) curriculum committee and the L&S representative to the campus's education innovation initiative, which provides leadership and coordination for the campus's efforts to integrate new instructional methods, techniques and non-traditional degree programs into the curriculum. Prior to his time at UW – Madison, Coleman held positions at the University of Texas at Austin and the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.

A Massachusetts native, Coleman earned his BA, summa cum laude, in Government and History from Clark University and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

As dean of CLA, Coleman will provide leadership and administrative oversight for the University's largest college and will collaborate with faculty, staff and students to advance the mission of the college.

Raymond Duvall will remain in his role as interim dean until Coleman begins.

Kathleen Schmidlkofer name UMF president and CEO

Twin Cities business executive and community leader Kathleen Schmidlkofer was selected today by the trustees of the University of Minnesota Foundation to be the next president and chief executive officer. A graduate of the University's Carlson School of Management, Schmidlkofer comes to the foundation from GREATER MSP, a private nonprofit organization dedicated to providing public and private sector leadership, coordination and engagement to grow the economy of the 16-county Minneapolis-Saint Paul region. She was executive vice president and a founding leader of the organization.

Schmidlkofer has extensive private-sector experience. Prior to her roles with GREATER MSP, she held a variety of increasingly responsible finance roles over a 25-year career at General Mills. Her most recent assignments were vice president of finance for the Meals and Yoplait divisions and for the Canadian subsidiary in Toronto. Leading into her role at GREATER MSP, Kathy served as a loaned executive for the Itasca Project, a CEO-led civic organization where the focus was the job growth initiative in the Twin Cities region.

A longtime community volunteer, Kathy is past chair and continues to serve on the board of Tubman, a Twin Cities nonprofit that promotes violence-free communities, families, and relationships. She is on the board of the Saint Paul Foundation and a member of the Minnesota Women's Economic Roundtable.

A certified public accountant, Kathy received her Bachelor of Arts degree in business from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her Master's in Business Administration from the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management.

Schmidlkofer will join the foundation on March 3. She will take the place of interim president and CEO, Becky Malkerson. As announced last spring, Malkerson will continue to lead the development team as executive vice president and chief advancement officer.

Elizabeth Seaquist named President of Medicine and Science of American Diabetes Association

University of Minnesota professor of medicine and endocrinologist Elizabeth Seaquist was recently named President of Medicine and Science on the Board of Directors for the American Diabetes Association, the nation's largest voluntary health organization leading the fight to Stop Diabetes®.

Seaquist has been a member of the American Diabetes Association since 1987 and has served at the national level on the Research Policy Committee, the Research Grant Review Committee and the Scientific Sessions Meeting Planning Committee. She currently serves on the editorial board for Diabetes Care. At the local level, she served a two-year term as co-chair of the American Diabetes Association EXPO in her home city of Minneapolis and leads a successful Tour de Cure team.

Seaquist is a clinical investigator interested in the complications of diabetes. She was awarded a Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award by the American Diabetes Association in 2009. Her research focuses on the effect of diabetes on brain metabolism, structure, and function.

Kathleen Vohs awarded Anneliese Maier Research Award

Kathleen Vohs has been awarded one of eight Anneliese Maier Research Awards given by the Alexander von Homboldt Foundation. The award includes €250,000 to fund research collaboration between humanities and social science scholars in Germany and candidates from other countries.

Vohs was nominated by a social psychologist colleague at the University of Heidelberg with whom she will study priority fields of self-regulation and behavioral regulation.

She is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, where she is collaborating with Roy Baumeister to further develop a model of self-control as a limited resource.

Shakeer Abdullah named assistant VP for Equity and Diversity

Shakeer Abdullah was recently appointed as Assistant Vice President for Equity and Diversity. Abdullah previously held a faculty appointment at Columbus State University and served as director of Auburn University's Multicultural Center. As assistant vice president, Abdullah will provide leadership and oversight of the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, the Women's Center and the GLBTA Programs Office, as well as Equity and Diversity's relationships with outstate campuses and external diverse communities.


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

Snowy owls showing up in high numbers
Julia Ponder, College of Veterinary Medicine, talks about snowy owls showing up in high numbers. Star Tribune.

Twinned cities now following different paths
Duluth, Minn., and Superior, Wis., are so close physically and culturally that they are known as the Twin Ports. But much began to change when Minnesota government went all Democratic and Wisconsin all Republican. Lawrence R. Jacobs, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota, comments. New York Times.

Why does 30 degrees feel warmer now than two months ago?
Vincent Barnett, U of M Medical School, helps answer the question: Why does 30 degrees feel warmer now than two months ago? KARE 11.

Clingy kids: Is there a cure?
University of Minnesota attachment researcher Alan Sroufe explains that clingy behavior is natural and even evolutionary. Slate Magazine.

5 ways you'll be seduced into buying more this year
Joan Meyers-Levy, a professor of marketing at the U of M's Carlson School of Management, explains how the flooring of your favorite store influences your buying habits. Huffington Post.

Sanford Health invests big in genetic testing
Sanford Health is making a major bet on genetic testing in primary patient care, despite uncertainties about the reliability of some tests and whether they actually help people improve their health. Kristin Niendorf, U of M Medical School, weighs in. Star Tribune.

Kava may help prevent lung cancer in smokers say university researchers
Researchers at the U of M and Texas Tech University recently studied the effects of a special preparation of the kava root on lung cancer in mice. Rick Kingston, a clinical professor of pharmacy at the U of M, weighs in on the findings. Yahoo! News.

20 online dating cliches - and what they really mean
William Doherty, professor of family social science at the U of M, weighs in on the true meaning behind some online dating cliches. BBC.


January 8

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


U of M establishes Informatics Institute

In order to play a leadership role in shaping informatics and advancing data analytics to enhance its research competitiveness and capacity, the University of Minnesota today announced that it has established the University of Minnesota Informatics Institute (UMII).

As an institute reporting to the Office of the Vice President for Research, the UMII will build on existing infrastructure to design a comprehensive informatics research and education environment to support ongoing research and facilitate new and breakthrough discoveries across disciplines, and accelerate solutions that have a profound impact on society.

The UMII will support and specifically address research done through the MnDRIVE areas of research. The Institute will be led by Claudia Neuhauser, who recently served as the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Student Development at the University of Minnesota Rochester.

For more information, see UMII.

U named to NIH-driven effort to reduce the impact of stroke

The University of Minnesota has been named one of 25 institutions that will lead a nationwide network of regional stroke centers as part of a new, NIH-driven effort to reduce the impact of stroke across the United States.

Within the new program, the 25 primary sites will work with nearby satellite facilities, capitalize on teams of researchers representing every medical specialty needed for stroke care and will address the three prongs of stroke research: prevention, treatment and recovery.

The 25 centers are strategically placed in every region of the country. The University of Minnesota was selected because it has a great reputation of academic excellence, dedication to research and advancement of medical knowledge.

The University of Minnesota stroke center site’s goal is to advance therapies and care available for patients with cerebrovascular disease. Conducting clinical research to test potential therapies is an important step in testing the value of new ideas, drugs or devices coming from basic research, or finding new use for existing ones.

USDA awards grant for education tools for organic farmers

University of Minnesota researchers will use a $718,225 grant to create new interactive online educational tools to help the state's organic farmers and those who are considering transitioning from conventional to organic farming.

The U of M's grant is one of five awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Craig Sheaffer, a professor in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, is the lead investigator on the project along with fellow faculty members Jeffrey Gunsolus, John Lamb and Thomas Michaels.

Mini Grants to Fund Research on Bees, Bears and More

Identifying the causes of bee colony collapse, employing unmanned aircraft to track black bears in Minnesota and other projects will share $46,000 from the latest round of IonE Mini Grant awards.

IonE Mini Grants are designed to encourage collaboration among faculty, staff and students across University of Minnesota disciplines, units and campuses on environmental themes. Along with up to $3,000 in funding, each recipient is provided space for meetings, workshops and conferences and some administrative support for a year.

Institute of Experimental Medicine honorary member

Microbiology Professor Emeritus P. Patrick Cleary has been elected an honorary member of the Institute of Experimental Medicine (also known as the Pavlov Institute), which opened in 1880 in St Petersburg ,Russia. The institute is one of many that make up the Russian Academy of Sciences. Notable past honorary members include Louis Pasteur, Robert Koch and Joseph Lister. Cleary received the award on Dec. 19.


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

Local grape growers brace for possible damage
Not exactly good weather for grapevines, eh? Well, it could be worse. U of M Enology Project manager Katie Cook explains. Star Tribune.

It's blue Monday and we're not talking about the weather
The holidays are over, and everyone is back to work, having been off in some cases for weeks. It's a stressful time of year, according to S. Charles Schulz, professor and chair of the U of M Department of Psychology. WCCO TV.

Look for less, not more, traffic in the future
U of M civil engineering professor and Center for Transportation Studies researcher David Levinson talks about a reversal of a traffic trend that has lasted through most of the lifetimes of every living American. Washington Examiner.

Vitamin E slows decline of some Alzheimer's patients in study
High doses of vitamin E may help people with Alzheimer’s disease maintain the ability to perform routine daily tasks, a new study finds, even though it does not slow cognitive decline. Maurice Dysken, U of M Medical School, is quoted. New York Times (blog).

Should you divorce your family after the holidays?
Splitting from a bad spouse is accepted but a stigma remains about cutting out a damaging sibling or parent. How do you decide to let one go? Bill Doherty, a professor in the department of Family Social Science at the U of M, weighs in. The Daily Beast.

Mapping the Earth's polar regions
One of biggest steps taken towards supplying better maps of the Polar Regions has been recently completed by the Polar Geospatial Center (PGC). The center, located at the U of M, has released and made available a series of web-based applications. PGC’s director Paul Morin comments. Antarctic Sun.

Extreme cold may wipe out high percentage Emerald Ash Borer larvae
Here's one resident who may welcome the extreme cold wave headed for Minnesota. Your local Ash tree. University of Minnesota forestry expert Lee Frelich explains. MPR.

'U' shows off highly attractive new $8M toy
The U of M just got a cool new toy, thanks to an $8 million grant from the Institute of Health. It’s a giant magnet — the biggest of its kind, weighing in at 110 tons, but the weight of information it could gather is much greater. Professor Kamil Ugurbil comments. WCCO TV.

Can achievement gap be closed by diversifying state's teachers?
Data from the Minnesota Department of Education show that from 2001 to 2012, the number of minority students in metro-area schools grew by nearly 55,000. Deborah Dillon, U of M associate dean for professional, graduate and international programs, comments. Pioneer Press.