April 22, 2020

Vol. L No. 16

Editor: Adam Overland (brief@umn.edu)


Inside This Issue

  • Board of Regents sets direction for post-COVID-19 planning.
  • Features: Portable virus detection device on its way; Modeling COVID-19 for Minnesota; Computing COVID-19; New COVID-19 test increases daily testing volume; FDA authorizes U of M’s first-of-its-kind, low-cost ventilator; University of Minnesota launches COVID-19 antibody test.
  • People: 2020 McKnight Presidential Fellows and Distinguished McKnight University Professors; and more.

Top News

Board of Regents sets direction for post-COVID-19 planning to address budget and other challenges

The Board of Regents met via videoconference on Apr. 21, approving a set of guiding principles for how the University will continue to respond to the many challenges presented by COVID-19. The principles will also guide administrative working groups focused on mission delivery and on budget, HR, and operations. As one step toward developing the University’s FY21 budget, the Board approved Gabel’s request to freeze tuition for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students during the next school year, with some exceptions. President Gabel said she intends to recommend a balanced operating budget, based on a scenario where the University returns to more regular operations by the start of the fall semester. See the news release for full details.

Portable virus detection device on its wayportable diagnostic rendering

University of Minnesota scientists have designed a portable, low-cost handheld device to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, in blood and respiratory material and deliver results in as little as 10 minutes. Through a smartphone interface, the technology platform can also send test results to health professionals, hospitals, and government agencies, allowing for more timely decisions about the care of individuals and providing up-to-date epidemiological data.

Modeling COVID-19 for Minnesotacitizens modeling on grid drawing

An interdisciplinary team based at the U of M's School of Public Health (SPH) custom created the mathematical models being used by the State of Minnesota to inform COVID-19 responses. SPH associate professor Eva Enns is co-leading the eight-member interdisciplinary team that developed the models, along with her colleague Shalini Kulasingam.

Computing COVID-19Shashi Shekhar

Spatial computing could play a key role in mitigating the impact of COVID-19. Distinguished McKnight University Professor Shashi Shekhar is advocating for a system in which medical information and location data from smartphones work together. Location data could allow health officials to monitor the disease—and our response to it.

New COVID-19 test increases daily testing volumelab testing

After establishing the state’s fastest on-site COVID-19 testing facility, it took University of Minnesota researchers only a couple more weeks to refine and expand the laboratory-developed procedure that tests for COVID-19, increasing testing volume to more than 300 tests per day. The team says their findings can act as a blueprint that helps mitigate the impact of the nation’s testing-supply shortage.

FDA authorizes U of M’s first-of-its-kind, low-cost ventilatorCoventor ventilator

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the production and use of a low-cost ventilator first conceived by a team of University of Minnesota researchers and an alumnus. Known as the Coventor, this ventilator is the first of its kind authorized for use under the FDA's Emergency Use Authorization for the COVID-19 outbreak.


Announcing the 2020 McKnight Presidential Fellows and Distinguished McKnight University Professors; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media.

People >

U-Wide News

University of Minnesota launches COVID-19 antibody test

The lab of Marc Jenkins, Regents and Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the Medical School and director of the Center for Immunology, has developed a COVID-19 antibody test that will be available first to frontline health care workers in M Health Fairview’s Bethesda Hospital. Fang Li, an associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, was among the first to publish a peer-reviewed article in Nature detailing the underlying structure of COVID-19. On March 21, Li provided protein material to the Jenkins Lab, and work began.

Generate and share creative solutions for experiential instruction online

Initiated by Executive Vice President and Provost Rachel Croson and convened by Center for Educational Innovation staff, a series of discussions will bring together faculty, instructors, and TAs systemwide to share ideas, problem-solve together, and provide support. Ideas and effective practices that are generated will be documented and shared broadly across the U of M System.

Apr. 23 - Meetings of the University/Faculty Senates

The University and Faculty Senates will hold concurrent meetings live on YouTube, 2:30-5 p.m. The docket includes an extended President's Report and Q&A touching on important subjects such as proposed updates to the Board of Regents policy Namings, as well as the University's response to COVID-19.

New course: Securely Working from Home

Working from home may be new to many of us. Register for the new Securely Working from Home course for short videos on creating a cyber secure home, social engineering, passwords, and protecting your kids online, plus a PDF featuring five top tips for securely working from home.

COVID-19 preparedness and response study

A new School of Public of Health study is exploring how social distancing is practiced during the COVID-19 pandemic by analyzing key factors that may affect how much people adhere to the guidelines. The study, led by Assistant Professor Gillian Tarr and Associate Professor Marizen Ramirez, aims to understand how preparedness, stressors, and other factors affect compliance to social distancing guidelines. The study is currently recruiting families in Minnesota with children under 18.

Nationwide study finds big differences in effects of congestion on access to jobs by car

Annual nationwide data from the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota revealed significant differences among major U.S. cities in how well they are coping with congestion. According to the study, the Minneapolis–St. Paul metro area ranked sixth in terms of job accessibility but 28th in the reduction in job access due to congestion. Minneapolis–St. Paul this year edged above the much-larger Houston, which ranks seventh and has a million more jobs.

Extension horse specialist gets video help from her daughtersKrishona Martinson and her kids and horse

Making videos about caring for horses is nothing new for Krishona Martinson. As an equine specialist for U of M Extension, she usually has access to video equipment, the University’s Leatherdale Equine Center’s horses and pasture, and graduate students to help her. During COVID-19, she has none of that. Fortunately, she lives on a farm with two teenagers. She’s been recording short how-to videos for colleagues in need of animal handling course material, but not without both humor and challenges.

Zoom backgrounds from U Libraries and the Bell Museummammoth and Goldy

The Bell Museum has developed a selection of virtual Zoom backgrounds, with everything from a woolly mammoth to giant beavers and even the moon. University Libraries has also created Zoom backgrounds, with numerous images from library collections and the Archives and Special Collections department.

SPH documentary premiere and follow-up webinar

A School of Public Health (SPH) documentary in partnership with TPT will premier Apr. 26, at 8 a.m. on TPT2 and 7 p.m. on MNChannel. Our Invisible Guardians will feature SPH faculty, students, and community members, and tell the story of public health and the many people who work behind the scenes to improve health for all. A companion webinar, No Longer Invisible: Public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, will take place Apr. 28, 1 p.m.

U of M featured virtual events

Apr. 23 - Talking to Children About COVID-19
Apr. 23 - Democrats and Republicans Don't Just Disagree - They Hate Each Other
Apr. 24 - UMAA Career Lightning Talk: Job Search Strategies
Apr. 24 - COVID-19 Health Policy Briefing
Apr. 29 - Conversation with Paul Gazelka
Apr. 29 - Purpose in Times of Uncertainty
Apr. 30 - Managing Change and Stress in Unpredictable Times
Apr. 30 - Best Practices in Health Sciences Education 2020


Crookston junior Shiozawa presented 2020 Mestenhauser AwardKimie Shiozawa

Junior Kimie Shiozawa was recently presented with the Josef Mestenhauser Student Award for Excellence in Campus Internationalization for her contributions to international education at the University of Minnesota Crookston. Shiozawa is actively involved in promoting inclusivity and building community for students from around the world.


Rochford named Fulbright scholarLinda Rochford

Associate Professor Linda Rochford, Department of Marketing in the Labovitz School of Business and Economics, has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar award to Ireland. Rochford will conduct research for her project "Overcoming Barriers and Borders to Innovation." She will also assist in developing a study-abroad curriculum focused on innovation at Letterkenny Institute of Technology in County Donegal.

Monitoring ballast waterballast water from ship

Euan Reavie, senior research associate at UMD’s Natural Resources Research Institute, is part of a team working to ensure that ballast water monitoring tools are effective. After conducting workshops with developers of ballast water monitoring tools, the team created a website and guidebook, Indicative Technologies for Ballast in the Great Lakes, designed to provide standard resources for those involved in Great Lakes shipping.


2020 Community Engagement Award recipients

The University of Minnesota Morris has announced the 2020 winners of its Community Engagement Awards: Amanda Hansmann '20, Kari Adams '03, and Willie's Supervalu. From organizing volunteers to empowering children to bringing people together, Community Engagement Award recipients make a big difference on campus and in the Morris community.

Peters and alum appear on Compass

Associate professor of psychology Heather Peters and Teresa Peterson ’91 appeared on Pioneer Public Television’s Compass in an episode devoted to wellbeing in the time of COVID-19. The researchers and Dakota Wicohan discussed their Wicozani instrument, which can be used to measure and support overall wellness in Native communities.

New issue of Profile magazine available onlineProfile mag cover

The latest issue of Profile, a publication for alumni, friends, and parents of the University of Minnesota Morris, is now available online. Titled “A model for regional resilience,” the issue explores how the U of M Morris is optimizing local resources to make Greater Minnesota a more sustainable, resilient place.


Capstone presentations

2020 graduates of UMR's Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program will present their Capstones the week of Apr. 27. Their Capstone presentations have an individualized theme that aligns with each student's personal and professional goals. View the schedule here.

Wright-Peterson publishes second bookGinny with her book

Vice Chancellor for Finance and Campus Resources Ginny Wright-Peterson's second book, A Women's War, Too: Women at Work During WWII, was released the week of Apr. 6, published by the Minnesota Historical Society. Wright-Peterson's first book, Women of Mayo Clinic: The Founding Generation, was displayed on Governor Walz's bookshelf during his press conference on Apr. 3.

Beaker Award winners

UMR held its annual celebration in recognition of students and student groups who have upheld the UMR Student Learning and Development Outcomes. Beaker Award winners: Difference Maker Award: African Cultural Club; G.R.I.T Award: Hannah Rydel; S.A.G.E Award: Denika Kerska; and Student Leader Award: Mason Schlief.

Twin Cities

U of M student wins Jeopardy!Nibir and Alex Trebec

Chemical engineering sophomore Nibir Sarma took first place and a prize of $100,000 in the 2020 Jeopardy! College Championship. Sarma watched his first episode of Jeopardy! the night before auditioning to be a contestant on the popular game show. Little did he know that he would soon be on the podium.

U of M student awarded NOAA Hollings Scholarship

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has selected Jessica Jurcek, a sophomore in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) majoring in Environmental Sciences Policy and Management and Journalism, to receive an Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship. The Hollings Scholarships award 110 college sophomores up to $9,500 a year for their junior and senior years and a paid internship at a NOAA facility during the summer in between.

Vital connections

U of M Libraries is providing critical research support for U health sciences and business faculty. In this period of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers don’t have months to spare while peer-reviewed publications move from submission to publication. With the help of U of M librarians, they instead can access gray literature related to the coronavirus.