September 28, 2022

Inside This Issue
  • Feature: An apple a day … the scientific way.
  • Awards and Recognition: The U of M has been recognized as the top employer in Minnesota in Forbes’ 2022 “America’s Best Employers by State” list; and more.
Top News

An apple a day … the scientific way

The newest U of M apple Triumph

Through the development of cold hardy and great tasting apples, the U of M apple breeding program has been sustaining Minnesota’s small but thriving commercial apple industry since the early 1900s. Get to the core of their groundbreaking, future-focused research led by Professor Jim Luby and researcher David Bedford.


Awards and Recognition

The University of Minnesota has been recognized as the top employer in Minnesota in Forbes’ 2022 “America’s Best Employers by State” list; an interdisciplinary group of researchers recently received a $2.8M National Science Foundation grant to delve into the formation and evolution of the Lake Superior basin; President Joan Gabel has accepted an invitation to serve on the Carnegie Foundation’s Classifications Institutional Roundtable; U in the News features highlights of University faculty and staff cited in the media.

Awards and Recognition

U-Wide News

Apply now: 2023-24 IAS Research and Creative Collaboratives

Applications for the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) Research and Creative Collaboratives are open. Conveners may be University faculty, students, or staff, or non-University community members; at least one convener must be a member of the University community. Budgets of up to $12,000 are available. Applications are due Oct. 10, noon.

Seeking proposals: Imagine Fund Special Events Grants

Proposals for the Imagine Fund Special Events Grants are open for events commencing late fall 2022 through fall 2023. Events must relate to the areas of the arts, humanities, or design and include a significant public engagement component. Budgets of up to $10,000 are available. Proposals are due Oct. 17, noon. 

Now accepting applications: Global Engagement Grants

The Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility is requesting proposals for Global Engagement Grants for projects in health that may blend work in education, research, or capacity-building. Open Call Global Engagement Grants ($1,500 to $15,000) and National Resource Center for Refugees, Immigrants, and Migrants Community Engagement Grants (up to $40,000 each) are available. Grants are open to University faculty, staff, and students; apply by Oct. 31.  

Research Brief: Octopuses prefer certain arms when hunting and adjust tactics to prey

Octopus movements can look awkward and seemingly unplanned at times. A new study investigated whether octopuses prefer certain arms over others when hunting. A better understanding of how they use their arms has implications for bioinspired robot design. Additional recent Research Briefs include “Study suggests walnuts are bridge to better health as we age.” 

Internationalizing the Curriculum and Campus webinar series

Register for a series of webinars and workshops for faculty and instructional staff interested in exploring ways to engage students to increase their international, intercultural, and global skills. Participants will learn teaching activities and approaches to support global learning for all students and explore strategies applicable to every course, whether online or in-person. 

Nov. 2 - Leading University Engagement with Faith Communities

While faith communities often provide the anchor for many community-based initiatives, there is an uneasy relationship between these communities and secular colleges and universities. This webinar will explore the challenges and opportunities for working across diverse faith communities in ways that align with institutional missions and promote the common good. 12:30 to 1 p.m., via Zoom. Learn more about the Engagement Academy for University Leaders.


U of M Crookston hosts flag raising ceremony

About half a dozen people raise various flags in a raising ceremony

The University of Minnesota Crookston recently held a flag raising ceremony with White Earth Nation and Leech Lake Nation to commemorate partnerships with the tribal nations. During the ceremony, the Maanomin Singers drummed and performed a variety of songs, and remarks were shared by White Earth Tribal Council members and Chancellor Mary Holz-Clause. 


Campus carpenter turns craft into works of art

Vern Shafer at a table he made from bleachers

University of Minnesota Crookston’s maintenance carpenter, Vern Shafer, has a knack for repurposing things, and after seven years on campus, he’s still turning heads with his projects. Among his most popular pieces of art are wood tables he created using the former bleachers of Lysaker Gymnasium. 


New adaptation of Main Street premiere

Black and white photo of an old main street town with dirt roads

Tom Isbell’s new adaptation of the play Main Street is based on the novel by Sinclair Lewis. Performances will be held Sept. 30-Oct. 1 and Oct. 5-8, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 2 and 8, 2 p.m., Marshall Performing Arts Center. This world premiere focuses on the character Carol Kennicott and her relationship with the residents of a small Minnesota town. 


Duluth Poets Laureate reading series

illustration of mushrooms with backdrop of reeds

Six Poets Laureate and six area poets will read at three events sponsored by the University of Minnesota Imagine Fund, the Martin Library, and the Department of English, Linguistics, and Writing Studies. Oct. 5, 12, and 19, 6-8 p.m., UMD Martin Library. 


‘Office Hours’ with Amanda Grusz

Amanda Grusz

In this episode of “Office Hours,” UMD speaks with Amanda Grusz, Department of Biology and director of the Olga Lakela Herbarium at UMD. A new fern species was recently named in Grusz’s honor: Myriopteris grusziae Windham and Pryer. It was formally recognized in the current issue of Systematic Botany, the journal of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists. 


Walbran finishes where his grandmother started

Black and white photo of Mary Vogel Kowles

When Joe Walbran ’22 walked across the stage during the commencement ceremonies at the University of Minnesota Morris this past spring, he was part of a 62-year-old legacy stretching all the way back to the very first days of the college. Walbran’s grandmother, Mary Vogel Kowles, was the first student to enroll at U of M Morris. 


Oct. 6-8 - Prairie Gate Literary Festival

Illustration of flowers growing from pages of open book reading "Prairie Gate Literary Festival"

This year’s annual Prairie Gate Literary Festival will be focused on Native North American and Indigenous culture as seen through first peoples writing. See the full schedule of events



Oct. 7-9 - Homecoming 2022

students taking photos with cheerleaders and celebrating

Highlights of homecoming 2022 will include the Cougar Hall of Fame and Distinguished Alumni Award Banquet, the 50th anniversary of student-run radio station KUMM, and the annual residence hall tug-o-war contest. See the schedule of homecoming events.


UMR collaborates with Mayo's new Office for Academic Partnerships

The Rochester campus will collaborate with Mayo Clinic’s new Office for Academic Partnerships. The office is designed to coordinate academic partnership activities, including connections with UMR for talent development and career pathways with a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. UMR has 60 distinct partnerships with Mayo Clinic, including NXT GEN MED, Invest In Success Scholars, a variety of work study and internship opportunities, and more.

Twin Cities

Changing healthcare one neighbor at a time

David Haynes posing near the Goldy statue on the East Bank

The social determinants of health—the conditions in which a person lives, learns, works, and plays—account for 80 percent of health outcomes, but they’re almost never used in medical care. Assistant Professor David Haynes is dedicated to changing that. The health geographer is creating a mobile app that better connects patients to social services near them, while integrating key information about a patient’s social determinants of health into their electronic health record.


Elevating the growth of strawberries

Kate Fessler standing behind strawberry plants

As Kate Fessler works toward completing a master of science degree in applied plant sciences, she's evaluating a tabletop strawberry system that has been widely adopted in Europe and Canada. Fessler, who grew up outside Detroit on her family’s small fiber farm, says her father instilled in her a love of plants from an early age. In this Q&A, Fessler talks about how tabletop strawberries could extend the growing season in Minnesota for the much-loved fruit.


Lions and tigers and bear fare, oh my!

Mike Maslanka carrying a bundle of branches

As senior nutritionist at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C., Mike Maslanka (MS ’97) attends daily to the unique dietary needs of nearly 1,800 animals across 360 species, ranging from small amphibians to Asian elephants. Maslanka credits his graduate experience at the U of M with preparing him for his job.


The island of her dreams

Jo Anne Van Tilburg on a dig

When Jo Anne Van Tilburg was a child, her teacher asked students to choose an intriguing place from a classroom library of books and journals as part of a class project. Van Tilburg (BA ’65) chose Easter Island, a little-known land mass off the coast of Chile. Today, Van Tilburg is an archaeologist and the director and principal investigator of the Easter Island Statues Project, which studies the stone guardians called moai by the island’s inhabitants.

Celebrate your Gopher pride during Homecoming

Two students wearing U of M branded sweatshirts

It’s Homecoming week at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Celebrate your Gopher pride with U of M apparel from the University Bookstore: from hoodies and t-shirts to hats and polos, there's something for every Gopher and every season.


Writing-Enriched Curriculum Program informational lunches

In advance of its Dec. 22 application deadline for undergraduate departments to apply for the next cohort of the Writing Across the Curriculum program, the University's Writing-Enriched Curriculum program (WEC) is sponsoring two informational lunches (Oct. 13 and Nov. 10). Representatives (faculty members and/or administrators) from departments are encouraged to RSVP in advance.

UMTC featured events

Exterior of Weisman Art Museum

Sept. 28 - Baldwin, Buckley, and the Debate over Race in America 

Sept. 29 - Stories from the Field - Public Health Seminar 

Oct. 1 - Collectors Day at the Bell Museum 

Oct. 4 - MnDRIVE Environment Listening Session

Oct. 6 - Mondale Dialogues: How to Strengthen American Democracy, with Senator Amy Klobuchar

Oct 12 - Making moves: Should we help plants and animals migrate? 

Oct. 12 - Webinar: Navigating Conflict

Oct. 12 - Primary Care 3.0 - Healthcare as a consumer product

Oct. 13 - Kuehnast Lecture: The Case for Cautious Climate Hope 
Oct. 13 - Samuel Russell Endowed Lecture featuring art history talks

See the full events calendar