December 6, 2023

Inside This Issue
  • Dec. 7-8 - U of M Board of Regents meets.
  • Awards and Recognition: Georgios Giannakis has been elected as a 2023 International Fellow for the Royal Academy of Engineering; and more.
Top News

Dec. 7-8 - U of M Board of Regents meets

During its December meetings, the Board of Regents will receive a report on research and technology commercialization efforts, including new initiatives for research growth. The Board is also expected to review the University’s annual performance and accountability report, review fall semester public safety updates, act on amendments to the Equity, Diversity, Equal Opportunity, and Affirmative Action policy, and more. Public comment is encouraged through the virtual forum. See the news release for more information.

Awards and Recognition

Georgios Giannakis has been elected as a 2023 International Fellow for the Royal Academy of Engineering; Amy Hewitt has been awarded the Association of University Centers on Disabilities George S. Jesien Distinguished Achievement Award; U in the News features highlights of University faculty and staff cited in the media.

Awards and Recognition

U-Wide News

Announcing the Research and Innovation Office

The Office of the Vice President for Research has changed its name to the Research and Innovation Office (RIO). The new name reflects the University of Minnesota’s increasing role as a global research powerhouse solving complex problems and creating innovations that positively impact people's lives.

New Minnesota earned sick and safe time program goes into effect Jan. 1

Starting Jan. 1, the University will provide all employees working in Minnesota, including student workers, paid time through the earned sick and safe time (ESST) program. Separate from current sick time programs, ESST is additional time employees can use when they are sick, to care for a sick family member, to seek assistance if they or their family member has experienced domestic abuse, or if there is a work, school, or childcare closure that prevents them from being able to work.

COVID-related emergency leave ending

The University’s emergency paid leave for COVID-19 will end on Dec. 31. Employees will have up to 30 days to retroactively request COVID leave for dates on or before the end date. After the emergency paid leave ends, eligible employees who need time off for a COVID-related illness should work with their supervisors and local HR representatives to use other existing benefits related to sick leave.

Medica to replace Fit Choices program

The Medica Fit Choices gym reimbursement program is ending on Dec. 31. Current Fit Choices program users will be able to receive a $20 reimbursement through December 2023. Medica is replacing Fit Choices with a Life Time Digital Fitness Program membership at no extra cost starting Jan. 1. Learn more about the change and other fitness options available to you.

Safety of Minors program changes

The Safety of Minors program has recently transitioned to be housed within Health, Safety and Risk Management, located in the Thompson Center for Environmental Management. Additionally, the Safety of Minors program has launched a new website, and the required Safety of Minors training via Training Hub has been updated to reflect policy changes and comprehension checks.

New study highlights COVID-19’s adaptive strategy for infection

close up graphic of COVID

Researchers have discovered a novel mechanism whereby the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, can vary its mode of infection in human cells. The researchers found that the virus can alternate between being highly infectious and avoiding detection by the immune system. This understanding is vital for grasping the virus' impact during the pandemic and for predicting its potential evolutionary developments.


Offering plant disease expertise to the public

diagnostician Jennifer Flynn at her desk

From oak wilt on a backyard tree to commercial farms, the U of M Plant Disease Clinic offers expertise to people around the region as they confront complex plant health issues and make decisions to keep their growing practices healthy and sustainable in the future.



Making MRIs accessible to all

Effrain Torres

Recent biomedical engineering graduate Efraín Torres focused his PhD research on making MRI technology more affordable and more accessible. He is now working with U of M Technology Commercialization to protect his intellectual property, explore commercialization opportunities, and launch a startup called Adialante, which offers affordable, silent, and compact MRI systems.


Research Brief: School-based mental health services can improve the well-being of children and adolescents

The mental health of young people across the U.S. is suffering: rates of anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges remain high, and suicide is the second-leading cause of death. A U of M study has found that school-based mental health services offered by some school districts can improve the well-being of children and adolescents. See additional recent Research Briefs.


Message from the Chancellor

Mary Holz-Clause

In a recent message to the campus community, U of M Crookston chancellor Mary Holz-Clause announced that the Crookston campus showed a fall enrollment increase over last year. She also shared upcoming event information and athletics accolades.



Marketing students place in the top five at national competition

Crookston marketing students sit for a photo outside

U of M Crookston marketing students placed in the top five teams at the national 2023 Sport Marketing Association Conference in Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL. This is the fifth year that the U of M Crookston has sent a team to compete at the conference and deepen students’ knowledge of the sports marketing field.



Student-athletes named to 2023 NSIC All-Academic teams

U of M Crookston has 23 student-athletes who have been named to 2023 NSIC fall All-Academic teams. Eligibility includes a GPA of 3.6 or higher for the All-Academic Team of Excellence and a GPA of 3.2 or higher for All-Academic team members.


Swenson SAILs

A student in lab goggles conducts an experiment

The Swenson College of Science and Engineering is rolling out a new program called Swenson Support for Active and Innovative Learning (SAILs) that will enable all undergraduate students to get research experience before they graduate. Watch this video overview presented by Dean Wendy Reed.



Eltink receives ACUI award

Jen Eltink

Jeni Eltink, director of the U of M Duluth Kirby Student Center, was selected to receive the 2023 Susan Maul Distinguished Service Award from the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) Region V. Eltink was recognized for her continuous work to improve the student experience and provide support to the professionals who have made student affairs their career.


Polaris and the polar night at UMD Planetarium

screenshot from animated Polaris film with polar bear and penguin looking up at moon

The Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium will host several showings of Polaris, the Space Submarine and the Mystery of the Polar Night this month, including a sensory-friendly showing on Dec. 9. This is a family-friendly program with characters using science and observation to discuss the stars and their long winter nights living at the poles. Find tickets and watch a trailer of the program.


International intern works with U of M Morris, City of Morris

Felix Luecken

U of M Morris hosted Felix Luecken, an intern from Muenster University of Applied Sciences in Muenster, Germany, on a project to develop an easy-to-read report that explains how solar PV systems were performing on city buildings.



Dec. 7 - English Senior Research Symposium

Students in this semester's English senior seminar (Writing Early Ireland) will present their research papers in a public symposium. 1-3 p.m., 105 Humanities Building.

Dec. 8 - Last day of classes

The final day of classes for the fall semester at U of M Morris is Dec. 8. Finals will be held Dec. 12-15. Spring semester classes will begin on Jan. 16.


Mayo Clinic’s $5 billion expansion is a catalyst for continued UMR growth

State and local leaders including gov Walz gather on stairs for a photo

Health care, political, business, and education leaders in Rochester gathered at Mayo Clinic on Nov. 28 for the announcement of a groundbreaking $5 billion expansion to significantly transform health care delivery and patient experience. As the UMR campus continues to grow in walkable proximity to this expansion, UMR students and graduates will see exponentially more opportunities for internships and jobs in cutting-edge medical facilities and practices.


UMR’s continued impact in downtown Rochester

U of M Rochester was recently invited to provide campus updates for the Destination Medical Center Corporation board of directors quarterly meeting. UMR continues to intersect with the Destination Medical Center economic development agency in collaboration with health care researchers and practitioners in Rochester.  

Developing transformational leaders through scholarships

Andy and Allie Good with UMR chancellor

Andy and Allie Good, longtime supporters of U of M Rochester, funded a scholarship this year after connecting with students and hearing their stories. “[UMR] students are the future of our health system, the future of our community’s growth. What better way to champion it than to support it,” says Allie. Read more about their decision to fund a scholarship to support student success while developing transformational leaders in health care and beyond.

Twin Cities

A Q&A with incoming School of Public Health Dean Melinda Pettigrew

SPH deane Melinda Pettigrew

On Jan. 3, the School of Public Health will welcome Melinda Pettigrew as its eighth dean. Professor Pettigrew’s research—at the Yale School of Public Health, where she currently serves as deputy dean—focuses on antibiotic resistance. In this Q&A, Pettigrew talks about research, leadership, her goals, and more.


U of M startup Miromatrix sells to biotech company for $91M

Researchers Holding Organs in Miromatrix Lab

Miromatrix, a startup working to engineer organs for transplant, is being acquired by United Therapeutics Corporation for $91 million. Miromatrix, which adds human cells to organs engineered from pig kidneys and livers to make them suitable for humans, was founded in 2009 based on research from the University of Minnesota and went public in 2021.


Featured events

drawing of various mushrooms

Dec. 8 - Freight and Logistics Symposium on zero-emission freight vehicles

Dec. 8 - Ian Maksin: Cello For Peace Tour

Dec. 9-10 - December Gift Market | Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Dec. 11 - Jazz Combos

Dec. 11 - The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show Starring BenDeLaCreme & Jinkx Monsoon

Dec. 13 - Artificial Intelligence and Elections

Dec. 19 - ‘The Future of Medtech from a Serial Entrepreneur’ featuring Mike Berman

Through Jan. 5 - Exhibit - Mycophobia/Mycophilia: Fungi in Sickness & in Health at the WHL

See the full Events Calendar