March 3, 2021

Inside This Issue
  • Features: Can’t stop Brock; Med students study overlooked issues of health equity.
  • Awards and Recognition: 2020-21 recipients of the John Tate Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising; and more.
Top News

Can’t stop Brock

Brock and his doctor

Shortly after he was born in March 2013, Brock Groh was diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a genetic disorder that affects about one in 17,000 children. Five years later, he developed cerebral ALD, a life-threatening form of the disease, and underwent a life-saving bone marrow transplant at M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. Now, Brock and his parents have created a nonprofit to find new treatments for the rare, progressive disease.

Med students study overlooked issues of health equity

Sylvia Blomstrand

The first step in rooting out societal inequities is to shine a light on them. Thanks to grants from the Minnesota Medical Association, U of M medical students Sylvia Blomstrand and Arman Shahriar have turned their beacons on disparities in, respectively, health care for deaf patients and financing of medical school.


Awards and Recognition

2020-21 recipients of the John Tate Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising; the U of M School of Public Health received a $5 million gift from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota to establish the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity; the U of M School of Nursing has ranked 12th in NIH funding to schools of nursing, first in the Big Ten; M Health Fairview Clinic - Smiley's and Community-University Health Care Center have been recognized as Age-Friendly Health System participants; the Mapping Prejudice team has won the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information’s 2021 Freedom of Information Award; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media. Awards and Recognition

U-Wide News

Board of Regents public forum regarding police use of body cameras

The Board of Regents will take public comment on the pending implementation of the use of portable audio/video recorders (also called body worn cameras) by University police. Draft policies for the Duluth, Morris, and Twin Cities campuses will be posted on the Board of Regents website on March 5. Those who wish to speak at the public forum must sign up online. Additionally, written comments may be submitted online. The meeting will take place via livestream on March 12, 8-9 a.m.

March 16 - Your Employee Assistance Program

One in four people will struggle with mental health at some point in their lives. Many are in crisis right now due to the pandemic and a troubled economy. The University offers employees the option for confidential and free counseling through Sand Creek. Register for this webinar and learn more about the resources, coping strategies, and tools that Sand Creek offers to benefits-eligible University employees and their families. Noon-1 p.m. Email any questions you would like answered in advance to [email protected]

Institute on the Environment call for new affiliates 

Interact with fellow environmental leaders through the Institute on the Environment’s (IonE) affiliate program. IonE is currently accepting applications for early-career faculty, visiting scholars, sustainability educators, and established interdisciplinary scholars and professionals. Faculty and staff from across the University of Minnesota System are welcome to apply. All applications require at least one letter of nomination/support from a current affiliate—due March 31.

Medical School researchers develop two new rapid COVID-19 diagnostic tests

University of Minnesota Medical School researchers have developed two new rapid diagnostic tests for COVID-19—one to detect COVID-19 variants and one to help differentiate with other illnesses that have COVID-19-like symptoms. The findings were recently published in the journal Bioengineering

Moving the dial: The future of health care is rooted in community

Roli Dwivedi, chief clinical officer at Community-University Health Care Center, is leading the Disparities in COVID Response Task Force, a University-wide collaboration with Minnesota health departments, local and regional health care systems, and communities to increase COVID testing and vaccinations in diverse communities. 

U of M pioneers turf grass seed industry in northern Minnesota

turfgrass example

Many Minnesotans may not know that approximately 55,000 acres of grass seed farms are thriving in the northernmost part of the state. These farms also contribute about $270 million to Minnesota’s rural economy annually. The grass seed industry—which has grown exponentially since the 1950s when the University released a variety called “Park” Kentucky bluegrass—provides hundreds of jobs in northwest Minnesota and thousands of jobs across the United States. Read about the University’s pioneering work in turf grass seed production.

Researchers analyze cocaine-induced adaptations in the medial prefrontal cortex

Researchers from the Wickman Lab are studying how drugs of abuse trigger neuroadaptations within the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), a key component of the brain's “reward system.” Since behavioral implications of a well-documented adaptation in mPFC still remain unknown, the researchers sought to better understand how it might shape behaviors relevant to addiction. 

Three ways to prepare for the next pandemic

Amy Karger shares the successes and challenges of the last year and discusses three ways that fellow academic research laboratories can prepare to serve their state for the next pandemic or outbreak

U of M featured virtual events

two kids in front of Bell woolly mammoth

March 4 - Support the U Day 

March 5 - National Book Award-winning poet Nikky Finney: Poetry Reading and Discussion

March 9 - Repatriation of Mimbres Belongings

March 9 - Where Does the GOP Go from Here? 

March 10 - NISO Webinar: Building Trust: Credibility of Content

March 12 - Bell Museum opening

March 17 - Petri Dish 

March 18 - Mapping Prejudice: A reckoning with structural racism in the Twin Cities 


Anundson's role in athletics at Black Hills State was paved at Crookston

Anundson with wife and 3 children

Brock Anundson earned his bachelor of science degree in sport and recreation management with a minor in coaching from the University of Minnesota Crookston in 2005. He followed that up with a master of business administration from the University of Colorado in 2011. In 2015, he joined Black Hills State University as the assistant director of athletics – internal operations and events. 

International student finds one-on-one attention and leadership growth at Crookston

Independence was something taught to Jianglong Huang by his parents during his childhood in Guangzhou, China. They always wanted Jianglong to learn different languages and embrace different cultures from a young age. So, when one of his classmates at an international high school recommended U of M Crookston, he jumped at the opportunity. 


Greater MN Care

Two medical professionals examine paperwork

Josie Syverson, a UMD and U of M Medical School Duluth campus alumna, is a family practice doctor in her hometown of Benson, MN. She values rural health care so much, she’s helping to train the next generation of physicians. “I’ve seen it on multiple occasions where a student isn’t even from that community but after having that experience of their internship in that rural community, they choose to go back there,” says Syverson.

Alternative binders for iron

binding pellet samples

Demand is rising for a purer iron product to meet the need for steel making in electric arc furnaces. A suitable binder is key for making quality pellets without increasing costs. Binders hold iron pellets together so they don’t disintegrate during shipment to steel mills. The Natural Resources Research Institute is testing alternative binders from naturally derived and synthetic chemicals. A bonus is that alternative binders don’t contain the impurities found in traditional binders. 


Black History Month message

Chancellor Michelle Behr recently shared a message with the campus community regarding Black History Month. Chancellor Behr discussed the celebration’s history as well as steps taken by the campus community to challenge systemic racism. 


UMR Career Pathways: Business and Leadership of Health Care

Holly Goelz

UMR's innovative degree programs and integrated curriculum provide students with a foundational undergraduate education. Discover how Holly Goelz navigated UMR’s many health career pathway opportunities while developing personal communication skills and self-preservation through her individually planned capstone to prepare herself for a career in operating room sales. Learn more about UMR's Pathways.

Higher Education's Big Rethink

Chancellor Lori Carrell is featured in Higher Education’s Big Rethink, a signature initiative of Georgetown University’s Master’s Program in Learning, Design, and Technology. The publication explores the impact of the unprecedented events of 2020 and the potential for transformation in higher education, and features a wide variety of higher education leaders, including Chancellor Carrell.

Twin Cities

Now open: Humanities Without Walls Grand Research Challenge grants 

The newest round of Humanities Without Walls Grand Research Challenge grants (grants of $150,000 available) are now open. The theme this year is reciprocity and redistribution. The Institute for Advanced Study will have seed grants (due Apr. 12) of $2,500 to begin planning for the larger application. Grand challenge applications are due Nov. 15. An information session will take place March 5, 2-3:30 p.m. Note: PIs for this project must be on the Twin Cities campus, but collaboration across campuses is encouraged. 

Randolph produces valuable research and builds community engagement

Anita Randolph

Anita Randolph, director of the community engagement and education core for the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain (MIDB), produces valuable scientific research while simultaneously representing the MIDB to local communities. Her comfort within both realms is an asset to a research group that must manage a lot of moving parts to be successful.


An insider's guide to the Galápagos

a giant Galapagos turtle with students

Professor Randy Moore has led more than 200 College of Biological Science students to Galápagos over the course of the past decade. Moore just published his third book about the islands, which includes new insights into the history, scandals, mysteries, operations, and conservation challenges in Galápagos. Read a Q&A with Moore.


Just the facts

The tagline of Aman Imani's A New Normal blog reads "I want you to know these things. Sincerely, a scientist." He started the science-focused blog in 2018 with a simple goal of creating engaging content on important topics accessible to a broad audience. In a world of misinformation and conspiracy theories, he continues to use his background and knowledge in science to try to break through the online clutter with verifiable data

More research needed on how food insecurity affects parent feeding practices

Faculty Katherine Arlinghaus and Melissa Laska say experiences with food insecurity can influence the behaviors and practices parents use to feed their children—and have long-term consequences for everyone. They recently outlined the need for more food insecurity research that looks specifically at how it’s intertwined with parent feeding practices in a paper published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Putting American Jewish World online

After a successful crowdfunding campaign, the American Jewish World newspaper is being digitized by the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives at the U of M Libraries. The move will make it available online for people across the Midwest and around the world.