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Awards, appointments, and other news

Compiled by Adam Overland




June 25

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


Ann Masten named Regents Professor

Professor Ann Masten has been named Regents Professor, the highest honor the University of Minnesota bestows on faculty.

Established in 1965 by the Board of Regents, the Regents Professorship recognizes faculty who have made unique contributions to the quality of the University of Minnesota through exceptional accomplishments in teaching, research and scholarship or creative work, and contributions to the public good.

Masten, the Irving B. Harris Professor in Child Development, a Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Institute of Child Development, College of Education and Human Development, is a world-renowned scholar in the study of resilience in children facing trauma and adversity.

Masten received a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1982. Her record in research, teaching, and service is exceptional. Masten's research pursues a broad range of topics including practical and pressing issues in schooling, risk and resilience, and behavioral pediatrics. Her 20-year longitudinal study of child development, Project Competence, has provided the field with original constructs and concepts that are now used widely by psychologists, educators, and social workers to guide work with those facing risks to successful development.

A prolific scholar, Masten has influenced science through her many publications in some of the most prestigious journals in her field. She has received grants for her principal lines of research by many different NIH Institutes, the National Science Foundation, and several private foundations.

Masten is also the recipient of several teaching awards including the Horace T. Morse Alumni Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education.

She is a past President of the Society for Research in Child Development, the leading international developmental science organization, and a past-president of the developmental division of the American Psychological Association. Currently, she serves on the U.S. National Academies' Board of Children, Youth, and Families.

In 2013, she was awarded the prestigious Urie Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contributions to Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society from the American Psychological Association, and named co-chair of the new Forum on Investing in Young Children Globally by the Institute of Medicine and the Irving B. Harris Professorship in Child Development.

The Regents Professorship program provides a stipend of $50,000 annually, with $20,000 dedicated to a salary augmentation and $30,000 dedicated to a discretionary research fund.

$12 million grant for energy research

The University of Minnesota announced today that it has been awarded a $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to lead an Energy Frontier Research Center aimed at accelerating scientific breakthroughs in energy research. The University of Minnesota's center is one of only 32 innovative energy research projects nationwide chosen from a highly competitive field of 200 proposals.

The University's new Inorganometallic Catalyst Design Center, headed by College of Science and Engineering Chemistry Professor Laura Gagliardi, will receive $3 million each year for the next four years. The center will focus on the discovery of a new class of energy-science-relevant catalytic materials for energy- and atom-efficient conversion of shale-gas components.

Gagliardi is known as one of the top theoretical chemists in the world for her research on developing theories that help scientists understand the fundamental behavior of matter.

In addition to Gagliardi who will serve as director, the following professors from the University of Minnesota will be involved in the center: Chris Cramer, Connie Lu, Lee Penn, Andreas Stein, Don Truhlar. These faculty members are all leaders in theoretical chemistry and inorganic chemistry, two fields in which the University of Minnesota excels.

National Science Foundation I-Corps Site award

The University has received a National Science Foundation I-Corps Site award, a grant aimed at helping science and engineering students and faculty to identify the commercial potential of their discoveries and test those ideas in the marketplace. The University of Minnesota will join a select group of only 14 other I-Corps sites across the country, including MIT, Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The $300,000, three-year NSF grant will support expansion of the University's Minnesota Innovation Corps (MIN-Corps), including support for MIN-Corps' STARTUP course, an intensive course in which students test business model assumptions and receive recurring feedback from instructors and mentors. The grant will also fund seed grants for student entrepreneurs and their teams to explore the commercial potential of promising ideas. Micro grants of about $3,000 will be available for up to 30 teams per year. Teams include an entrepreneurial lead (student), an academic lead (faculty member) and an industry mentor.

Patent roll call

The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) has recognized U of M faculty who have recently acquired patents for their discoveries.

The patenting process is an important milestone for intellectual property as it transitions from university lab to real-world application.

For more information, see the list of U of M faculty and colleagues who recently acquired patents for their discoveries.

Duvall receives Distinguished Scholar award

College of Liberal Arts interim dean Raymond Duvall, a professor in the Department of Political Science, will receive the International Studies Association's Distinguished Scholar award. He is being recognized for his many contributions toward the development of international theory through both scholarship and mentorship.

The ISA is an interdisciplinary society composed of 6,500 scholars from all the social sciences and many of the humanities whose work focuses on international studies of all types.

Gayle Woodruff wins NAFSA leadership award

Gayle Woodruff, systemwide director for Curriculum and Campus Internationalization at the University of Minnesota, was awarded the Marita Houlihan Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Field of International Education by NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The Marita Houlihan Award "recognizes an individual who has displayed imaginative activity, outstanding enterprise, and creative contributions to the field of international education through research, writing, or program development".

Woodruff was recognized for her leadership in founding the University of Minnesota's Internationalizing the Curriculum and Campus initiative, which includes the Mestenhauser Legacy Initiative, the Internationalizing the Curriculum and Campus Conference, and the Internationalizing Teaching and Learning Faculty Cohort Program. She was a leader in the University of Minnesota's Curriculum Integration of Study Abroad initiative, which has received extensive national attention. She has also published on a wide range of topics related to internationalizing higher education.

Antarctic accolades

The U.S. Geological Survey has named an Antarctic mountain Mt. Sinha in honor of the pioneering research of adjunct professor Akhouri Sinha.

Sinha, Department of Urology and Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, did pioneering research in Antarctica in 1972 and 1974, making discoveries that are relevant today as that continent is swept up in climate change and faces other threats.

More recently, Sinha research has focused on taking a fresh look at metastasis of cancer.

CTS wins AMX Innovation Award

Classroom Technical Services (CTS), a unit within Academic Support Resources, has received a $25,000 AMX Innovation Award for innovative collaboration practices in higher education for its design of the College of Pharmacy's Active Learning and Interactive Video Environment (A.L.I.V.E.). 

The new classroom represents a significant pedagogical change for the Doctorate of Pharmacy program in the U of M College of Pharmacy. Rather than traditional “sage on the stage” instruction, A.L.I.V.E promotes student created knowledge, with instructors able to direct, coach, and expand student learning while providing a bridge between the Duluth and Twin Cities campuses. Learn more about the project (PDF).

The AMX Innovation Awards is an exclusive awards program designed to recognize innovative higher education institutions for their use of technology in improving the campus experience. The awards were established by AMX and the University Business Leadership Institute to recognize members of the AMX Education Alliance for transforming education through innovative accomplishments and practices.

Interdisciplinary Graduate Group funding awards

Nine current interdisciplinary graduate groups have been awarded funding through a spring 2014 competition sponsored by the Graduate School.

Michael Goh to join Office for Equity and Diversity

Michael Goh will join the Office for Equity and Diversity (OED) as its associate vice provost July 1.

In addition to remaining active in his department and college, Goh will direct OED's Institute for Diversity, Equity, and Advocacy; collaborate with academic departments and schools to support and enhance faculty diversity; and create a community of scholars whose work relates to equity, diversity and social justice.


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

Happy feet? Emperor penguins are more than willing to relocate
A new study challenges the long-held notion that emperor penguins return to the same location each year for breeding. University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering researcher Michelle LaRue, the study's lead author, comments. NBC News.

This urban research university is also an economic powerhouse
Resources for entrepreneurs and industry partnerships have made it easier than ever for University of Minnesota inventions to hit the market. U of M engineering professor Jian-Ping Wang comments on the Office for Technology Commercialization. National Journal.

New findings on timing and range of maternal mental illness
Studies are revealing a more complex view of maternal mental illness, including that what is known as postpartum depression often begins during pregnancy. U of M School of Public Health's Katy Kozhimannil comments on her study's findings. The New York Times.

Homework but no home: Colleges struggle to help homeless students
College can be a hard course for anyone, but it's doubly difficult for homeless students - an estimated 2,500 in Minnesota - who must grapple with school and find a place to sleep each night. U of M College of Education and Human Development's Jarrett Gupton comments. MPR.

95% of Minnesotans now have health insurance
The percentage of uninsured Minnesotans has dropped to the lowest level in state history, and the second-lowest level in the nation, following the end of enrollments under the Affordable Care Act. U of M State Health Access Data Assistance Center's Julie Sonier comments on her findings. Star Tribune.

The difficult reintegration of American POW Bowe Bergdahl
Prisoners returning from Vietnam had a support system that the soldier released by the Taliban lacks. U of M psychology professor Brian Engdahl comments. National Journal.

U of M biologist studies road salt's effect on butterflies, other wildlife
Minnesotans know the sand and salt used to clear the roads in the winter is helpful to drivers. U of M biologist Emilie Snell-Rood discusses her study's findings on the effect on animals and wildlife. WCCO TV.


June 11

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


Gilbert named IonE interim director

Lewis Gilbert, IonE's current managing director and chief operating officer, has been appointed as interim director. Gilbert joined IonE in 2011, bringing with him extensive experience in academic entrepreneurship and in the design, implementation and management of complex interdisciplinary activities in large research universities. Among other accomplishments, Gilbert was one of the key architects in the creation of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

IonE director Jonathan Foley will be departing the University of Minnesota Aug. 15 to take a new position with the California Academy of Sciences. Gilbert will assume leadership of IonE Aug. 15.

The Office of the Vice President for Research has appointed a committee to lead a broad, consultative process that will result in a set of recommendations and a strategy for IonE going forward. Once the committee has made its recommendations, a search committee will be established to develop the profile and search process for the director position. The vice president for research hopes to have the new management structure in place by next summer.

Ellen Anderson to head new Energy Transition Lab

The University of Minnesota is launching the Energy Transition Lab with former state senator Ellen Anderson, senior advisor on energy and environment to Governor Dayton, as its inaugural executive director.

A strategic initiative of the University's Institute on the Environment with funding from the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Energy Transition Lab will bring together leaders in government, business and nonprofit organizations to develop new energy policy pathways, institutions and regulations. As executive director, Anderson will work with the lab's faculty director, Law School professor Hari Osofsky, to build collaborations, establish and monitor projects, and develop the lab into a focal point for innovative solutions.

The Energy Transition Lab will focus on four core strategies: boosting energy efficiency; increasing use of clean, renewable energy sources; improving systems that move energy to where it's needed; and advancing energy and environmental justice.

The lab will address these by taking on projects in partnership with community leaders, moving from problem to tangible solution through consultations, research, public meetings, and outreach initiatives. An annual conference will bring together business, public policy and thought leaders to report on progress and identify next steps—which could include other high-impact activities. Specific products will include policy reports, legislative testimony, model legislation and regulations, as well as valuable learning opportunities for students, who will participate in shaping solutions through class activities and capstone projects. Public events will build awareness of the energy transition and of the lab's activities.

The Energy Transition Lab aims to become the "go-to" place for experts and leaders beyond the University to work with University faculty, students and staff toward solutions to energy challenges.

McKnight Artist Fellowships

The McKnight Foundation recently announced eight recipients of the 2014/15 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Visual Artists. Recipients include U of M Department of Art Professors Lamar Peterson and Tetsuya Yamada.

Designed to identify and support outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists, the McKnight Artist Fellowships for Visual Artists provide recipients with $25,000 stipends, public recognition, professional encouragement from national visiting critics, an individual artist book, and an opportunity to participate in a speaker series. The fellowships are funded by a generous grant from The McKnight Foundation and administered by MCAD.

The 2014 McKnight fellows were selected from a group of 271 applicants by a panel of arts professionals of varying backgrounds whose careers intersect with the visual arts in different ways.


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

The people who can't not run
For a community of runners, never taking a day off becomes a fixture of existence. U of M Department of Family Medicine and Community Health's William Roberts comments. The Atlantic.

Obesity research confirms long-term weight loss almost impossible
There's a disturbing truth that is emerging from the science of obesity. After years of study, it's becoming apparent that it's nearly impossible to permanently lose weight. U of M psychology professor Traci Mann comments. Yahoo.

Rats shown to feel regret over bad decisions
Rats experience regret when their actions make them miss out on better food options, a study has found. It is the first time regret has been identified in mammals other than humans. U of M Department of Neuroscience's David Redish comments. BBC.

Here's what happens to the mind after 5 years of captivity
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has a lot of healing to do after five years of captivity. U of M Brain Sciences Center's Brian Engdahl comments. TIME.

Minnesota moose researchers hopeful they've found solution to abandonment of newborn moose
Wildlife biologists trying to find answers about northeastern Minnesota's declining moose population were dismayed at how many mothers would abandon their calves shortly after researchers attached GPS tracking collars to the newborns. U of M Duluth Natural Resources Research Institute's Ron Moen comments. Star Tribune.

New administrator to address student life
In an effort to ensure the University is an inclusive place, the Office for Student Affairs is adding a new administrative position this fall to focus solely on making all types of people feel comfortable on campus. U of M Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Danita Brown Young comments. The Minnesota Daily.

Therapy dog visits patients at the 'U', helps with recovery
Patients at one Twin Cities hospital are getting treatment from an unexpected visitor. Sonja, a Bernese mountain dog mix, makes the rounds at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. U of M Medical School's Rafael Andrade comments on the value of his dog's presence. WCCO TV.

Can appealing to stone age brains help save the environment?
Along with the ever-growing body of overwhelming evidence that climate change is both real and human-driven is another growing body of evidence that seeks to explain why scientists' warnings are falling on increasingly deaf ears. U of M Carlson School of Management's Vladas Griskevicius comments. Huffington Post.

Therapeutic benefits of music being used to treat Alzheimer's, addiction, and depression
New techniques using music therapy show promise in treating Alzheimer's, addiction, anxiety and depression. U of M director of music therapy Michael Silverman's study is cited. The Globe and Mail.

Animal social justice: Equality in bonobos, chimps, monkeys, lions, baboons
Looking at species other than our own shows that inequality may not be inevitable. These animals provide glimpses of how humans got the way we are and what our potential may be for equality. U of M College of Biological Sciences' Craig Packer comments. Slate Magazine.

Can storytelling impact climate change? The U of M aims to find out
How can storytelling impact climate change? Can shifting the way we talk about the environment actually make a difference in how we take care of it? U of M Institute on the Environment's Todd Reubold comments. Star Tribune.

For workers, less flexible companies
While more employers say they are offering flexible work arrangements — like working from home, starting and ending the days a bit earlier or later — they are still typically offered only to certain employees, and are often informally negotiated with a sympathetic manager, workplace experts say. U of M sociology professor Erin Kelly comments. The New York Times.

US bees die a bit less but still need feeding up
Last winter was a little kinder than usual to America's honeybees, but they are still in decline. Good food could help them, though. College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences' Marla Spivak comments. New Scientist.