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Awards, appointments, and other news

Compiled by Adam Overland




February 26

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


IonE Director Jonathan Foley Receives Heinz Award in the Environment

Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, today was named recipient of the Heinz Award in the Environment, given to honor the memory of the late U.S. Senator John Heinz. Foley was cited for his role as an important voice on the study of complex environmental systems, and as a pioneer in understanding global ecosystems, land use, and the environmental implications of modern agriculture.

The award adds to a growing list of University of Minnesota faculty conducting environmental research that have received major international recognition over the past few years, including ecologist David Tilman (Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences), plant ecologist Peter Reich (BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Ecology and Conservation Biology) and entomologist Marla Spivak (MacArthur Fellowship), among others. Numerous environmental faculty at the University of Minnesota have also been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences in recent years, including Sarah Hobbie (ecologist), Steve Polasky (environmental economist) and David Tilman (ecologist) along with fellow colleagues from other disciplines at the University of Minnesota. Together these awards and honors add to the University of Minnesota’s stature as one of the world’s leading centers of excellence for environmental teaching and research.

Seaquist named ADA President of Medicine and Science

Professor of Medicine and Endocrinologist Elizabeth Seaquist was recently named President of Medicine and Science of the American Diabetes Association. Seaquist spoke with the Minnesota Daily about her new role and current research endeavors.

Seaquist is a clinical investigator interested in hypoglycemia and the complications of diabetes. Her research focuses on the effect of diabetes on brain metabolism, structure, and function. She has been NIH funded for more than 15 years and was awarded a Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award by the American Diabetes Association in 2009. Dr. Seaquist also directs the University of Minnesota sites for the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) Trial and the Glycemia Reduction Approaches in Diabetes: A Comparative Effectiveness Study (GRADE) Study. She is principal investigator on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) training grant for fellows in endocrinology and diabetes at the University of Minnesota, and holds the Pennock Family Chair in Diabetes Research. She has an active clinical practice and is board certified in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism.

Cicchetti honored by Association for Psychological Science

Dante Cicchetti, William Harris Professor of Child Development and Psychiatry and McKnight Presidential Chair, has been selected for a 2014 James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award from the Association for Psychological Science (APS) for his lifetime contributions to the field of applied psychological science.

Cicchetti’s accomplishments are described in an article in the February APS Observer. The article singles out Cicchetti’s research as having had far reaching impact on developmental theory as well as on science, policy, and practice in many domains of development. Cicchetti will deliver his award address at the 26th APS Annual Convention, May 22–25, San Francisco.

Humboldt Research Award

Professor Sergey Germanovich Bobkov has been elected the recipient of a Humboldt Research Award.

The award is conferred in recognition of lifetime achievements in research. In addition, the award winners are invited to carry out research projects of their own choice in cooperation with specialist colleagues in Germany.

Institute on the Environment Resident Fellows

The Institute on the Environment has named its 2014 resident fellows. Fellows maintain their appointment in their own departments, but receive additional funding to pursue environment-related projects that cross disciplinary boundaries. The fellowships also help accelerate professional and leadership development.

2014 resident fellows and their plans for their fellowships:

Jonee Kulman Brigham, College of Design – expand arts-integrated environmental education to high school students as co-investigators and active agents of authentic research and service projects, such as creating a public educational website about water infrastructure in their area.

Erik Thorson Brown, Large Lakes Observatory, University of Minnesota Duluth – integrate our growing understanding of the limnology of Lake Malawi into a broader view of food sustainability as well as expand the scope of the work of LLO to include more applied research.

Valentine Cadieux, College of Liberal Arts – create a platform for building continuity and capacity around publicly engaged teaching and research on food and society at the University.

Matteo Convertino, School of Public Health – identify common epidemiological, social and environmental processes that are physically and functionally responsible for the occurrence of communicable and non-communicable syndemics in socio-ecological systems.

Tian He, College of Science and Engineering – conduct environmental crowd-sensing data in a Chinese metropolitan area, collected for environmental application from roving taxicabs.

Kathryn Milun, College of Sociology and Anthropology, UMD – develop a business plan and demonstration project to take advantage of a new Minnesota law that enables communities to purchase solar power from solar arrays owned by investors or co-ops.

Robert Sterner, College of Biological Sciences – develop the first community-level anaerobic digestion system in the country for use in converting organic solid waste to heat, electricity and compost in a St. Louis Park neighborhood.

John Tate Award recipients

The John Tate Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising is named in honor of John Tate, Professor of Physics and first Dean of University College (1930-41). The Tate Award serves to recognize and reward high-quality advising at the University of Minnesota. It calls attention to the contributions academic advising and career services make in helping students formulate and achieve intellectual, career, and personal goals. By recognizing professionals for their outstanding commitment to students, the Tate Award celebrates the role that academic advising and career services play in the University’s educational mission.

The awards will be presented at a luncheon during the John Tate Advising Conference on March 13, 12:30 p.m. The event will be at the McNamara Alumni Center.

The recipients of the 2013-2014 John Tate Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising:

Kyle Dukart, associate academic adviser, Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Kathleen Hansen, professor and director of undergraduate studies, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Karen Moon, senior academic adviser, Individualized Degrees, College of Continuing Education, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Heather Nagle, assistant director and career counselor, Career and Internship Services (St. Paul), Office of Student Affairs, University of Minnesota Twin Cities


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

U professor takes a contrary view on affordable housing development
A law professor at the U of M, Myron Orfield has become famous for asking pointed questions: Is St. Paul building too much affordable housing along the Central Corridor? Is Minneapolis doing the same along transit routes across the river? Orfield and Edward Goetz, a professor of urban planning at the U's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, are quoted. Pioneer Press.

Prof's food design class really cooks
U of M Professor Barry Kudrowitz makes serious fun out of the connection between our stomachs and our eyes. Minnesota Monthly.

Good Question: Why Is WhatsApp Worth $19 Billion?
Facebook announced it would buy WhatsApp, a popular European app that brings in some revenue from a nominal $1 charge. So, why are companies that don’t make money worth billions of dollars? Akol Gupta, an information systems economist with the U's Carlson School of Management, comments. WCCO TV.

Support for the U is critical for state's economy
Board of Regents Chair Richard Beeson comments on the importance of the legislature investing in Minnesota and the U of M. Star Tribune.

U returns rights to students
Before Friday, University of Minnesota students didn’t own the rights to the work they created in classes. The University’s Board of Regents approved the policy change at its monthly meeting in response to faculty and student requests over the years. Brian Herman, University vice president for research and Jay Schrankler, executive of the Office for Technology Commercialization, comment. The Minnesota Daily.

Good Question: Why can't pharmacies sell medical marijuana?
Fifty-one percent of Minnesotans favor legalizing medical marijuana. Already, 20 other states allow it, but patients must buy it through shops and dispensaries. So, why can’t pharmacies sell medical marijuana? Ilo Leppik, a professor of pharmacy and neurology at the U of M, comments. WCCO TV.

Students train while helping shelter pets
A new clinic focuses on curbing overpopulation by teaching sterilization surgery to University veterinary students. Jonna Swanson, an assistant shelter medicine professor, comments. The Minnesota Daily.

U presence strong in Peace Corps
The University of Minnesota is a leader in producing Peace Corps volunteers. It’s tied for fifth in the nation for its number of graduate alumni volunteers and 10th for undergraduates — up 10 spots from last year. Learning Abroad Center Director Martha Johnson comments. The Minnesota Daily.


February 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.


Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowships

Two University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering faculty members have been awarded Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowships. Jake Bailey, assistant professor of earth sciences, and Kai-Wen Lan, assistant professor of mathematics, are among this year’s winners.

The highly competitive award honors U.S. and Canadian early-career scientists whose achievements identify them as rising stars of the next generation of scientific leaders. Each winner will receive a grant of $50,000 over a two-year period to further research in their area of expertise.

Jake Bailey, assistant professor of earth sciences

Recognized for his research in geobiology, Bailey investigates the interaction of microbes and minerals in oceanic and terrestrial environments, in part to understand the co-evolution of life and lithosphere (rocks and minerals) throughout geologic time. His research involves the use of molecular biology techniques and morphological analysis of modern and ancient microbes to understand the co-evolution of biological and geochemical systems, such may occur in the generation of phosphorous deposits.

Kai-Wen Lan, assistant professor of mathematics

Lan was recognized for his research on algebraic number theory and geometry, and combined applications (such as error-correcting codes) have been indispensable in modern daily life (involving, for example, telecommunication and data storage). His research focuses on a uniform construction of good compactifications over integers for a large class of Shimura varieties, which supplied the logical foundation for several exciting recent developments in algebraic number theory.

Awarded annually since 1955, Sloan Research Fellowships are given to early-career scientists and scholars who are conducting pioneering research in eight scientific and technical fields—chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, evolutionary and computational molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences, and physics.

Candidates are nominated by their fellow scientists, and winning fellows are selected by an independent panel of senior scholars on the basis of a candidate’s independent research accomplishments, creativity, and potential to become a leader in his or her field.

40 Most Outstanding B-School Profs Under 40

Marketing Professors Kathleen Vohs and Vladas Griskevicius have been selected by Poets&Quants as two of the "40 Most Outstanding B-School Profs Under 40 in the World." To compile its list, Poets & Quants polled business school administration, faculty, students, and alumni for their top picks.

Poets&Quants said these professors "are influencers in their fields while having a meaningful impact on their students' lives. And arguably all of them are just getting started. If their previous successes are any indication, these top profs will be shaping business education and MBA futures for years to come."

Both Vohs and Griskevicius have extensive backgrounds in psychology and have found success applying these principles to business research.

Vohs, the Land O' Lakes Professor of Excellence in Marketing, studies consumer behavior and self-regulation, among other topics. She has published more than 150 scholarly articles and co-edited eight books. She was invited to write articles for Science and The New York Times and occasionally blogs for The Huffington Post and Scientific American.

Griskevicius, whose expertise lies in green marketing and the evolutionary roots of modern consumer behavior, has received numerous research awards and is the author of The Rational Animal: How Evolution Made Us Smarter Than We Think."

American Psychopathological Association award

Irving Gottesman will receive the Joseph Zubin Award from the American Psychopathological Association, granted to psychologists who "have made seminal contributions to psychopathology research."

Gottesman is a senior fellow, Department of Psychology and [ret.] Bernstein Professor in Adult Psychiatry. He entered the U of M in 1956 as a graduate student in the child clinical psychology-training program. Upon graduation in 1960, he was appointed as Lecturer in the Departments of Social Relations and of Psychology at Harvard University. He returned to the U of M in 1966 as founder of the Behavior Genetics Training Program in the Departments of Psychology and Zoology.

He has previously received the Gold Medal for Life Achievement in the Science of Psychology from the American Psychological Association.

Minnesota Court of Appeals finalist

Tracy Smith, deputy general counsel for the U, has been named as one of four candidates for two at-large vacancies on the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Prior to her position at the U, she was an assistant Minnesota attorney general and a judicial clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Smith currently volunteers as an English teacher at the Neighborhood House in St. Paul and is active in school and youth activities at Lake Harriet Community School and the Southwest Activities Council in Minneapolis. The governor will make final appointments to the court in several weeks.


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

University of Minnesota bets new dean will reinvigorate Medical School
When Brooks Jackson arrives Monday as the new dean of the University of Minnesota Medical School, the Johns Hopkins pathologist will tap a reservoir of optimism that he’s the right person to lead the U back into the top echelon of American academic health and research institutions. Star Tribune.

U of M Health says it all
University of Minnesota Health was announced Friday as the umbrella name for a partnership that consists of the university’s academic medical center; Fairview Health Services, which manages hospital care on site; and the University of Minnesota Physicians. Carolyn Wilson, president of University of Minnesota Medical Center, is quoted. Star Tribune.

Bee groups buzz a Home Depot in protest of pesticide sales
Scientists and pollinator advocacy groups say neonicotinoid pesticides are partly responsible for declining bee populations worldwide. Vera Krischik, a University of Minnesota entomologist, comments on pesticide effects on bees. Star Tribune.

Imagine: A world where nobody owns their own car
If connected vehicle technology becomes mandatory in American cars, as the DOT recently suggested, the most obvious benefit would be safety. In that sense, a world without car crashes may just be the first step to a world without car-ownership. U of M transport scholar David Levinson comments. The Atlantic Cities.

Not every great philanthropist is a household name
Alongside names like Mark Zuckerberg and George Soros is a relative unknown named Millicent Atkins, who left some $37 million to three institutions. Jane Godfrey, director of trusts and estates at the U of M Foundation, comments on the recipient of a surprise bequest from Atkins. NPR.

January insurance sign-ups meet monthly goal
While states are having varying success getting people to sign up, January marked the first time since new health insurance markets opened last fall that a national monthly enrollment target was met. Lynn Blewett, U of M School of Public Health, shares her perspective. ABC News.

Design students reach for the stars
Five U of M seniors were chosen for a competition to design space wear. Lucy Dunne, associate design professor and mentor to the students, comments. The Minnesota Daily.

Fermilab's neutrino detector sees its first particles
NOvA will let physicists learn more about neutrinos, subparticles that are abundant in the universe, but difficult to detect and study. Neutrinos don't tend to interact with matter, which is why scientists are able to send them between Illinois and Minnesota underground. The detector in Ash River, Minnesota, is operated by the U of M. Popular Science.


February 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.


Ned Mohan elected to National Academy of Engineering

Ned Mohan, a long-time professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Science and Engineering, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Election to the academy is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Only 67 new members nationwide and 11 foreign associates received the honor this year.

Mohan received the honor for contributions to the integration of electronics into power systems and to innovations in power engineering education with the goal of making our nation's power grid cleaner, smarter, and more reliable.

In 2010, Mohan headed up a $4.18 million project to revitalize electrical power engineering education by establishing a nationwide consortium of universities to meet immediate and near-future workforce needs for the nation's efforts to improve the nation's power grid.

Mohan, who has been a faculty member at the University of Minnesota since 1975, has focused his research on applying the promise of power electronics to power systems in facilitating grid-integration of renewables such as wind and solar. He has done this through several research grants, graduating 35 Ph.D. students to date and maintaining a large research group currently consisting of 12 Ph.D. students in various stages of graduation.

Mohan received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1967 from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India. He received a master's degree in electrical engineering in 1969 from the University of New Brunswick, Canada. He also received a master's degree in nuclear engineering in 1972 and Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1973 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Genetics Society of America award

CBS Associate Dean Robin Wright is one of five scientists to receive a 2014 Genetics Society of America award. She received the Elizabeth W. Jones Award for Excellence in Education, which recognizes significant and sustained impact in genetics education.

Wright is a Professor in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, and Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on work for exploring the genetics, molecular and cellular biology, and physiology of cold adaptation in yeast. Consistent with her philosophy of linking research and education, Wright includes undergraduate students in all of her research. For more information, see Genetics Society award (PDF).

APTR Duncan Clark Award

Jasjit Ahluwalia has been selected as the recipient of the APTR Duncan Clark Award by the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research for 2014. The award is the most prestigious recognition offered by APTR and is presented to a senior-level person with a distinguished record of achievement in the areas of teaching, research, and advocacy in the field of prevention and public health. The award is named after Duncan W. Clark, a founding member of the association. Ahluwalia will be honored at the APTR Annual Meeting on March 20-21 in Washington, DC.

Thomas J. R. Hughes Young Investigator Award

Associate Professor Ryan Elliott (aerospace engineering and mechanics) has been awarded the 2014 Thomas J. R. Hughes Young Investigator Award from the Applied Mechanics Division of ASME. The award recognizes special achievements in Applied Mechanics for researchers under the age of 40. Elliott received this award for pioneering work in the area of atomistic simulations of shape memory alloys using modern bifurcation theory and stability to quantify the thermally and stress-induced martensitic transformations in shape memory alloys.

AFOSR Young Investigator Research Program

Assistant Professor John Gunnar Carlsson (industrial and systems engineering) has been selected by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) to receive a grant through the 2014 Young Investigator Research Program (YIP). This year AFOSR received 234 proposals in major research areas of interest to the Air Force. Grants were awarded to 42 scientists and engineers from 32 research institutions. Carlsson's research proposal entitled, "Allocating Geographic Resources Optimally," focuses on the development of new algorithms for a wide variety of geographic optimization problems, such as facility location, backbone network design, and vehicle routing.


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

Housing programs concentrate poverty in a few metro locations, report finds
In a report release today, Myron Orfield and his colleagues at the U of M Law School's Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity purport to show how state and metro housing authorities have used — or perhaps misused — federal housing money to systematically concentrate impoverished racial minorities in just a few locations. MinnPost.

Lake Superior nearing ice-over
Ice has overtaken a great swath of Lake Superior's surface, edging it toward its first complete ice-over since 1996 and worrying the shipping industry. Jay Austin, an associate professor with the Large Lakes Observatory at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Star Tribune.

Campus beat: U prof calls for an end to a frenzy of letters
U of M English professor Julie Schumacher comments on letters of recommendation. Star Tribune.

A focus on homelessness will pay off for state
U of M psychology professor Ann Masten is quoted in this editorial on homelessness. Star Tribune.

Frigid winter much colder than in recent years
MPR's Cathy Wurzer spoke with University of Minnesota Climatologist Mark Seeley about how cold this winter has been so far, and he answers a question about whether the cold has killed off agricultural pests. MPR.

Be prepared to perform CPR in an emergency
February is Heart Disease Awareness month. Every year, 1,300 Minnesotans have a heart attack, and of that number, only 200 survive. Demetris Yannopoulos, associate professor of medicine at the U of M, comments. WCCO TV.

Good Question: What Did We Do With Our Time Before Facebook?
For people who use social media a lot, it can be hard to remember what it was like before Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. So that had us wondering: What did we used do with all of that time? Seth Lewis, a professor of digital media at the U of M, weighs in. WCCO TV.

Companies test drive U technology
The University is expanding its Minnesota Innovation Partnerships, which launched in 2011, to offer a Try and Buy program aimed at helping existing University technologies get more exposure. Rick Huebsch, associate director for the Office for Technology Commercialization, comments. The Minnesota Daily.

UMN restricts access to some buildings
The U of M is shortening the number of hours the public can access seven buildings and may expand it to the entire university if the plan goes well. University spokesman Tim Busse comments. Pioneer Press.


February 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.


$9.5M grant to launch sickle cell disease research

A new $9.5 million dollar grant awarded to researchers at the University of Minnesota is poised to launch an innovative effort designed to tackle pain associated with sickle cell disease. The grant is provided by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute within the National Institutes of Health.

The five-year, multi-disciplinary project will be led by Kalpna Gupta, co-leader of the Tumor Microenvironment Program in the Masonic Cancer Center and co-leader of the Molecular and Cellular Engineering Program in the Institute for Engineering in Medicine, University of Minnesota. Gupta is also an associate professor in the Division of Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation within the University's Department of Medicine. Co-principal investigators are Bin He, Robert Hebbel, and Donald Simone, from the University of Minnesota, and Donald Abrams of the University of California, San Francisco.

For both researchers and patient advocacy groups, this latest grant is an important recognition of the importance of sickle cell disease, an inherited lifelong disease. Sickle cell disease is characterized by red blood cells morphing into an abnormal shape, leading to a variety of complications such as stroke and renal failure, as well as chronic pain and ulcers.

Currently treatment options for severe pain in sickle cell patients are limited to opioids. These medications are moderately effective but often pose the threat of addiction or increased tolerance.

A portion of the grant will support young researchers of all levels as they begin their efforts investigating sickle cell disease. The project will support contributors as young as high school students, to help develop their interest in battling this disease and bettering the lives of patients.

Valspar donates $1 million for new lab

The University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering announced today that it will receive a gift of $1 million over five years from Minneapolis-based Valspar Corporation, provided through the Valspar Foundation. This gift will be used to provide high-tech equipment for the University's new undergraduate laboratory, an essential component of modern education and research in materials science.

The new Valspar Materials Science and Engineering Lab will be located in the Gore Annex of Amundson Hall at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. Construction will be completed in summer this year and students will begin benefitting from the new lab when classes begin in fall, with full completion in early 2015. The lab will include testing equipment that characterizes the mechanical performance of materials, electron microscopes that image at the nanoscale, and other equipment that can measure magnetic, electrical and optical properties.

The gift announcement comes as Valspar completes a major expansion of its Minneapolis R&D facility. With completion scheduled for this spring, the Valspar Applied Science and Technology Center will enable the current campus to accommodate up to 135 additional researchers and technologists.

The University of Minnesota's materials science and engineering program has seen tremendous growth in demand as a wide range of companies, from oil companies to computer chip manufacturers, to medical device companies, begin recognizing this emerging field as critical to their success. In just the last few decades the number of materials science and engineering students at the University of Minnesota has increased four-fold.

IAS receives Mellon Foundation grant

The Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota is part of a consortium of humanities institutes that has received a three million dollar grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation for a collaborative project called Humanities without Walls. By leveraging the strengths of multiple distinctive campuses, the initiative aims to create new avenues for collaborative research, teaching, and the production of scholarship in the humanities, forging and sustaining areas of inquiry that cannot be created or maintained without cross-institutional cooperation.

The grant will make possible two initiatives. One supports the development of summer workshops for pre-doctoral students in the humanities who intend to pursue careers outside the academy. A second initiative will fund cross-institutional teams of faculty and graduate students pursuing research that focuses on a grand challenge: The Global Midwest. This is intended to stimulate collaborative research that rethinks and reveals the Midwest as a key site—both now and in the past—in shaping global economies and cultures. The IAS will award $30,000 to seed projects that could develop into larger collaborative proposals. For more information about those opportunities, see Funding Opportunity: The Global Midwest.

Profs. Monahan and Wolf Elected to the American Law Institute

Law School Professors Amy Monahan and Susan Wolf have been elected to the American Law Institute (ALI), the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize and improve the law. The ALI drafts, discusses, revises and publishes Restatements of the Law, model statutes and principles of law that are enormously influential in the courts and legislatures, as well as in legal scholarship and education. The institute's elected membership of lawyers, judges and law professors is limited to 3,000. The total membership of more than 4,300 includes ex officio members, honorary members and life members (those elected members who have attained more than 25 years of service). Twenty-two University of Minnesota Law School faculty are members of the ALI.

NSF Faculty Early Career Development Award

Assistant Professor Mo Li receives a five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award to support his research on integrated photonics.


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

U of M targets financial aid to low-income students
University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler recently announced a new four-year initiative to improve keeping low-income students in college. Four U of M students comment. Spokesman Recorder.

Paleofantasy, silent crickets, and Marlene Zuk
Author and U of M evolutionary biologist Marlene Zuk talks human evolution, rapid evolution in crickets, and book writing. Wired.

Good Question 'Reply all': Snow, Super Bowl ads & lake ice
Is there a point where lake ice doesn't get any thicker? Anders Noren, curator with the U of M Limnological Research Center, weighs in. WCCO TV.

Great Lakes have most ice in decades, thanks to bitter winter
This winter's frigid temperatures have produced the largest amount of ice cover on the Great Lakes in at least 25 years. Jay Austin, of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, comments. Pioneer Press.

Pain and progress
Is it possible to make a nonaddictive opioid painkiller? The research of Philip Portoghese, U of M College of Pharmacy, is cited. The Scientist Magazine.

Executions do not bring closure to victims' families
According to a new study, executions do not heal the victims' families. Researchers from the U of M and from the University of Texas at Austin conducted the survey. U of M's Mark Umbreit weighs in on the findings. CBS Houston.

Opinion: Atlanta's total lack of preparedness
David Levinson, professor in the U of M Department of Civil Engineering, weighs in on Atlanta's response to its recent weather. CNN.com.

Analysis: Twin Cities has narrow income gap compared to U.S. metros
The Twin Cities metro area has one of the narrowest divides between the haves and the have-nots compared to peers in the U.S. Jay Coggins, associate professor at the U of M's Department of Applied Economics, comments. Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Magazine.

Humphrey Public Affairs panel agrees: King's Dream remains a dream, not our reality
The 1964 Civil Rights Act became law 50 years ago, and the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs this year is hosting a series of events to commemorate the historic legislation. Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice Chair Dr. Samuel Myers weighs in. Spokesman Recorder.

A river runs through us: Why the Mississippi is crucial to MSP's future
Move over Prince, Garrison Keillor, Joe Mauer and the Pillsbury Doughboy. Make room for our real local star, the mighty Mississippi. U of M College of Design Dean Tom Fisher weighs in on the importance of Minnesota's great river. MinnPost.

What will shout-out from Obama deliver for Punch Pizza?
A Minnesota-based pizza chain got the kind of exposure money can't buy. Punch Pizza was in the spotlight Tuesday night during President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. Dave Hopkins, managing director at the Carlson School of Management at the U of M, comments on the impact this shout-out will have for the company. Bring Me the News.

When will medical marijuana be legal in Minnesota?
An unlikely coalition stands poised to fight for legalization of the natural remedy in the Minnesota. George Weiblen, U of M associate professor in the department of Plant Biology, weighs in. City Pages.

Why Mexico is losing millions of migrating Monarch butterflies
The stunning and little-understood annual migration of millions of Monarch butterflies to spend the winter in Mexico is in danger of disappearing, experts said Wednesday, after numbers dropped to their lowest level since record keeping began in 1993. Karen Oberhauser, a professor at the University of Minnesota, comments. NBC News.

A lot of luck: How teen survived parachuting accident
When Texas teen Mackenzie Wethington survived a parachuting accident Saturday, her father Joe called the 16-year-old "a miracle." James Kakalios, professor in the school of Physics and Astronomy at the U of M, weighs in on the physics associated with this accident. TODAY.