June 9, 2021

Inside This Issue

Brief summer schedule: Brief will publish on June 23; July 14 and 28; and Aug. 11 and 25. Weekly publication will resume Sept. 8.

  • Board of Regents meets June 10-11. 
  • Features: U of M geologists discover first-ever Minnesota meteor crash site; Proposing a ‘ReToast’ to less food waste.
  • Awards and Recognition: Ruth Shaw has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences; and more.
Top News

Board of Regents meets June 10-11

The Board of Regents will review President Joan Gabel’s recommended operating budget for the coming fiscal year at its June meeting. Regents will examine a collection of incremental shifts proposed to address the challenges unique to this budget. The Board is also expected to discuss strategic planning with Duluth campus leaders, receive an update on systemwide undergraduate enrollment, and act on Gabel’s recommended FY22 capital improvement budget. See the news release for more details

U of M geologists discover first-ever Minnesota meteor crash site

fractured grains of sand indicative of meteor strike

There are fewer than 200 confirmed meteorite craters in the world, carefully documented on a digital map by the Planetary and Space Science Centre at the University of New Brunswick. Hopefully, an area near the Twin Cities will soon be on that map. Researchers with the U of M’s Minnesota Geological Survey have identified an underground crater from a meteorite impact in Inver Grove Heights. 


Proposing a ‘ReToast’ to less food waste

retoast cookies that look like toast

Four food science and nutrition students made it their mission to tackle food waste. Their work led to the development of ReToast, a cookie in the shape of miniature toast that's made with 30 percent ingredients from waste products. The team’s innovative use of ingredients from bread and beer brewing waste enabled ReToast to win first place at the American Society of Baking Product Development Competition, a major sustainability achievement. 


Awards and Recognition

Ruth Shaw has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences; OVPR has announced recipients of the 2021 Minnesota Futures Awards; a Medical School team has received $1.5 million to launch the nation’s first ivermectin COVID-19 treatment clinical trial; a $1.3 million NSF grant will allow researchers to better understand the composition of colored plant nectars; the Memory Keepers Medical Discovery Team has received a $1 million NSF grant to examine successful aging among Alaska Native elders; the Genomics Center has received $750,000 from the CDC to conduct genome sequencing on COVID-19 samples; Rahel Ghebre and Leslie Morse have been named fellows of the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program; William Robiner has been honored with the Toy Caldwell-Colbert Award for Distinguished Educator in Clinical Psychology; Stephen Wiesner has received the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science Theriot Award; University Libraries has received a $108,000 grant for the Minnesota Landscapes project; a U of M/Hennepin County partnership has received an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties; the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education has provided a key contribution to a future of nursing report; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media. Awards and Recognition

U-Wide News

Regents invite comments on proposed operating budget

At its June 10 meeting, the Board of Regents will review President Gabel’s recommended FY 2022 annual operating budget. Regents welcome feedback from the University community on the proposed budget through written comments or participation at a public forum on June 11. Regents will hold a special meeting on June 29 to consider final passage of the budget. An online feedback form has been established to gather input from the University community and the public.  

2021-22 Flexible Spending Account opportunities

Due to federal relief opportunities that affect Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), the University is extending an opportunity to faculty and staff to change FSA elections, spend FSA money, and reimburse with FSA accounts. During June 2021, change a 2021 Flexible Spending Account (dependent care or health care) election without a family status change or qualified life event, or create a new account and use that money on a go-forward basis. Learn more and get the forms

UMN Cloud Services now available

UMN Cloud Services are now available for faculty, researchers, staff, and departments. If you are currently using or would like to explore using public cloud web and computing services such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services, enroll in UMN Cloud Services. Take advantage of U of M negotiated pricing and educational discounts, legal protection, account management, security policy compliance guidance, and more. 

New digital accessibility course

The Digital Accessibility Badging Program workshop, Digital Accessibility: Create Accessible Canvas Course Sites, is open for enrollment. This workshop is intended for instructors and staff members who provide any kind of online instruction through Canvas. Participants will learn how to apply accessibility concepts to content, interactions, and assessments in an online course site. Learn more at the Accessible U website.

Instructors’ reflections and recommendations for future instruction: April 2021 Instructor Focus Group Report

Instructors reflected on teaching during the pandemic and offered advice for future instruction during recent focus groups. See a report of their insights and resources you can use to put their recommendations into practice

International travel restriction ends

The restriction on University-purpose international travel ended on June 1. Remember that University policy requires all students, staff, and faculty traveling for University purposes to register their travel. Travelers are also responsible for researching and abiding by all applicable public health guidelines in place at their destination. Students traveling to areas with a Level 3 or 4 travel advisory must also apply for approval to travel. 

Polymer ‘wafers’ placed under the tongue could deliver vaccines of the future

a polymer wafer

A team of researchers, led by University of Minnesota associate professor Chun Wang, have engineered a polymer “wafer” that, when placed under the tongue, can effectively deliver and preserve protein-based vaccines for diseases. The research could open the door for vaccines that can be more easily produced and distributed to communities around the world


Killer flies, ignoring gravity’s help, conduct powerful aerial strike to catch prey

Researchers have found that to reach their next meal, tiny killer flies (Coenosia attenuata) sometimes dive bomb their prey, reaching accelerations that surpass those of diving falcons—and more than three times what would be provided by gravity alone. This research may have implications for the further development and design of small machines, such as drones to monitor the atmosphere. 

Researchers find as planet warms, the world's lakes are losing oxygen rapidly

Oxygen levels in the world’s temperate freshwater lakes are declining at rates faster than in the oceans, according to new research from the University of Minnesota and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. It’s a trend the researchers found is largely driven by climate change and land use, threatening freshwater biodiversity and the quality of drinking water. 

Grassland biodiversity emerges as key factor in climate crisis

A trio of University of Minnesota scientists has found that the degree of biodiversity in the world’s grasslands is vital to their ability to continue functioning as carbon “sinks” as global carbon dioxide levels rise. Grasslands cover about a fifth of the world's land surface and play a critical role in the global carbon cycle. 

Talking pet anxiety with U of M

woman with dog on lap at laptop

Anxiety at being left home alone can be real for many pets, particularly dogs. Kristi Flynn, an assistant professor at the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, and Dana Emerson, a certified training partner at the Veterinary Medical Center, offer advice on how owners can help decrease their pet’s anxiety during the transition back to the office. See additional recent “Talking with U of M” features.


Extension resource introduces 57 plants for pollinator-friendly landscapes

If you're planning pollinator-friendly features for your yard or garden, visit the University of Minnesota Extension's new “Trees and shrubs for pollinators” webpage to find tree, shrub, and vine recommendations, along with plant descriptions, growing conditions, and photos.

June webinars help you take control of your finances

LSS Financial, the University’s official financial counseling provider, offers free webinars for building financial skills and shrinking debt and loans. Coming in June: Financial Stress Busters (June 15) and Scam-Proof Your Finances (June 22). For more details and other events, see the Office of Human Resources’ Events and Workshops webpage

June 16 - Webinar for supervisors: Managing Flexible Teams

The pandemic has shown us that work is not about where we go but about what we do, followed by how, when, and where we do it. The University has provided preliminary guidelines for its “Work. With Flexibility.” approach and supervisors are uniquely positioned to support this flexible work culture by determining the types of flexibility suitable for their teams. Learn more about the supervisor’s role in the Managing Flexible Teams webinar (register). Noon-1 p.m.

U of M featured events

people doing yoga outside

June 9 - The Power of Art: Creating Public Space for Racial Justice 

June 10 - Grow North: A conversation with David Swinghamer, former CEO of Shake Shack and industry advisor

June 10 - It takes trust! Partnering with communities to increase COVID-19 vaccination

June 17 - Health Care Innovation from COVID-19

June 17 - Social Somatics: The Alchemy of Returning to Embodied Campus Co-existence 

June 19 - Summer Solstice Yoga Retreat at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum 

June 21 UROC Community Day/The Art of Transformation

See the full Events Calendar


Crookston partners to help White Earth fight food shortages amidst pandemic

cart of plants unloaded from truck

The University of Minnesota Crookston announced its greenhouse grew 1,845 starter plants for White Earth Tribal and Community College and Community Extension Service's community garden program. The program, which developed amid food shortages due to the pandemic, serves more than 30 multi-generational families and the community at large on White Earth Nation. Its goal is to help the community grow their own food, and ultimately strengthen food security on White Earth.

Crookston alum finds her niche

Amanda Crook

Crookston alum Amanda Crook’s current role in agronomic research for The Little Potato Company aligns perfectly with the University of Minnesota Crookston, where she was able to cultivate a passion for agronomy and agricultural business and steer her career trajectory. 



Ag Academy: Passion to Career coming to Crookston in June

This summer, Minnesota 4-H and FFA will co-host a series of day camps for Minnesota youth. Ag Academy: Passion to Career is for fifth to eighth graders. The camps will be held on the University of Minnesota Crookston campus on June 22, 23, and 24.


Faculty promotions

Duluth campus aerial shot

The Board of Regents recently approved the promotions of seven faculty members. They are Ryuta Nakajima, Michael Pfau, and Paula Derdiger from the College of Liberal Arts; and Fred Davis, Benjamin Dymond, Brock Hedegaard, and Kathryn Schofield from Swenson College of Science and Engineering. Two faculty members were promoted to full professor, and five to associate professor.


Expanding student research opportunities

Marzell Gray

UMD’s Undergraduate Underrepresented Research Program, led by Assistant Professor Marzell Gray, is expanding research opportunities in public health. This year, students from underrepresented communities researched chronic kidney disease, pandemic waste management, and the role of the arts in health. “The growth we saw from all of them was really something—from writing to being able to speak about the content and information they are passionate about,” says Gray.


June 15 - Bon voyage reception celebrating Chancellor Behr

graphic reading "adventure awaits"

Join in a campus bon voyage reception celebrating the tenure of Michelle Behr upon her retirement as chancellor of the University of Minnesota Morris. 2-4 p.m., Campus Mall. Brief remarks are planned at 2:45 p.m. Stop by as you are able to wish chancellor Behr a happy retirement.


Young leaders talk climate

young people on zoom call

The Emerging Environmental Leaders program connects young adults in Minnesota with state agency leaders on Minnesota's most pressing environmental issues. Alumni Sydney Bauer ’19 and Sam Rosemark ’21 recently participated in Young Leaders Talk Climate—an interactive event that explored young people’s perspectives on climate change—how it is impacting their current realities and how our actions today will shape their futures.


Resilience, well-being, and mental health

Breann Ahlman

UMR's innovative degree programs and integrated curriculum provide students with a foundational undergraduate education. Discover how Breann Ahlman navigated her time at UMR to prepare herself for a position with a private practice to provide community mental health treatment. Learn more about the Resilience, Well-being and Mental Health Pathway.


Petzold achieves tenure at UMR

Andy Petzold

Andrew Petzold started his career as a student-based faculty member and moved into a tenure track position, reaching tenure in 2021. Today, he’s a faculty member of the Center for Learning Innovation, where his research focuses on student learning and development. 



Faculty members give talk on integrating anti-oppressive pedagogies

Advancing UMR toward a vision of transforming higher education, UMR faculty members Angie Mejia, Kristin Osiecki, and Yuko Taniguchi recently shared best practices around modest gains and potential barriers when delivering or integrating anti-oppressive pedagogies in classrooms and curricular offerings. The talk was titled “An Act of Midwifery: Birthing an Anti-oppression Curriculum Geared Towards Undergraduates in the Health Sciences.”

Twin Cities

Collaboration with Cisco explores frontier of data technologies

abstract graphic representing data

A new collaboration between University of Minnesota researchers and Cisco Systems seeks to advance cutting-edge technologies that transform the way people access, manage, and protect data. Cisco has funded six projects at the University and plans to fund more in the near future. The projects span the subjects of technology for health care, ethics in artificial intelligence, and edge computing.


YMCA Early Childhood Learning Center

Priority registration is available through June for University of Minnesota faculty, staff, and students. The center is located on the University of Minnesota campus at 326 16th Avenue SE. Get more information at 952-582-8286 or ymcamn.org/eclc

ElevateMeD Scholarship enables Abdi to pursue global health research

Hodan Abdi

Hodan Abdi, a third-year University of Minnesota Medical School student, had her sights set on being a doctor while growing up in East Africa. Now, with the support of an ElevateMeD scholarship, she’s planning to do just that. The scholarship program provides funding to develop physician leaders from underrepresented backgrounds with the goal of closing the gap in healthcare disparities.


The U of M STEM experience packed in a box

While many K-12 students will not be coming to the University of Minnesota for in-person STEM camps this summer, a U of M team has found a way to bring the Twin Cities campus to them. Through “Camp-in-a-box,” students can learn about earth and environmental sciences in their backyards and neighborhoods.

July 22 - Characterization Facility virtual open house

Attend this event (register) to learn more about research techniques and instruments at the University's multi-user, shared facility for materials research, spanning from nanotechnology to biology and medicine. A general session will be followed by breakout rooms with scientists. 10 a.m.