April 8, 2020

Vol. L No. 14

Editor: Adam Overland (brief@umn.edu)


Inside This Issue

  • New COVID-19 stories website.
  • Features: U researchers orchestrate state’s fastest on-site testing for COVID-19; Researchers design respirator mask prototypes from filter technology; Choline connection; Medical School and NASA research bone loss.
  • People: Campus Public Health Officer Rapid Response Grant recipients; and more.

Top News

New COVID-19 stories websitebulls eye overlaying world map

A new COVID-19 website aggregates the collective response of the U of M System to COVID-19. Unlike the Safe Campus site, which provides operational updates, the new site features much of the work that U of M researchers, staff, and students are doing in response to the pandemic. A social media aspect of the page further highlights #UMNproud stories.

U researchers orchestrate state’s fastest on-site testing for COVID-19researcher in lab testing

The U of M Medical School has transformed two research buildings to create the state’s fourth on-site testing facility, now with the state's fastest turnaround results. It is located in two buildings in the Biomedical Discovery District on the north side of the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis: the Microbiology Research Facility and the Cancer and Cardiovascular Research Building.

Researchers design respirator mask prototypes from filter technologyLinsey Griffin models a mask

The need for N95 masks has skyrocketed in recent weeks in response to COVID-19. To address this challenge, an interdisciplinary research team at the University of Minnesota has designed two respirator mask prototypes from donated filter material by Cummins and bendable components from Bedford Industries.

Choline connectionyoung child Kailei

ShawnMarie Prevost’s 6-year-old daughter, Kailei, is affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Kailei also was born addicted to opioids and spent almost two months in the neonatal intensive care unit before ShawnMarie and Shane Prevost, her adoptive parents, brought her home. Exposures like these so early in a child’s life can have lasting and significant effects on the developing brain. A U of M study is exploring whether a drinkable nutrient can improve memory and attention for kids affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

Medical School and NASA research bone lossastronaut in space

Patients with metabolic osteoporosis, patients on bed rest, or astronauts after spaceflight all experience the troubling symptoms of bone loss. Experts from the University of Minnesota Medical School and NASA have partnered on a mission to seek new avenues for the treatment of bone loss: the OsteoOmics Project. The experiment launched on a rocket on Feb. 9 to the International Space Station.


Campus Public Health Officer Rapid Response Grant recipients; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media.

People > 

U-Wide News

New: University COVID Action Network

Many U of M researchers, staff, and students, while not engaged in medical work, have the capacity to support front-line medical staff with research, analysis, and idea generation. U of M faculty have created a systemwide University COVID Action Network (U-CAN), where you can sign up, identify your talents (login required), and be called upon as needed.

Virtual health care options

Faculty and staff systemwide have in-network access to a number of virtual care options. Virtual healthcare providers can diagnose and treat common ailments, send prescriptions, and give advice. Mental health resources, including therapy, psychiatry, and licensed counselors, can also be accessed virtually. View a chart of virtual care options (PDF).

New and updated administrative policies

A new administrative policy, Major Events, supports the University’s commitment to free speech and the robust exchange of ideas while ensuring campus safety and responsibly utilizing our resources. Per the revised administrative policy, Course Enrollment Limits and Cancellation, courses where the minimum enrollment has not been met must be canceled no later than the first class of the course. Comments are welcome on these policies, which are currently under a 30-day review.

Work-from-home ergonomics information

Feeling uncomfortable or experiencing pain while working at home? Check out the University Health and Safety (UHS) Work-from-Home Ergonomics fact sheet for information and tips on how to make your home office more comfortable and better for your body. Online ergonomic evaluations are now available. Visit the UHS website for more information.

U of M themed Zoom backgrounds for Zoom users

University Relations has developed a selection of branded virtual Zoom backgrounds for people to use. Users need to install the latest operating system to display the virtual backgrounds.

Emergency access to millions of Libraries books

The HathiTrust Digital Library has opened emergency access to millions of in-copyright books to member schools, including U of M System libraries, while library buildings are closed. For the Twin Cities campus, about half of the Libraries’ print collection is digitized and available through HathiTrust. Each U of M campus has temporary access to its digitized books in HathiTrust.

M Simulation pivots to online delivery to meet critical clinical training needs

During a worldwide pandemic, the critical role of the University’s M Simulation team in preparing the future healthcare workforce is more vital than ever. In a rapid COVID-19 response, the team has mobilized to deliver its healthcare simulation online.

Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives funding for COVID-19-related research

The Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives (HFHL) Institute invites research proposals that support increased food safety and the resilience of food supply chains during disruptions such as global pandemics like COVID-19. Email HFHL@umn.edu for more information. Additionally, the deadline for HFHL’s University Faculty Research Grant Program has been extended, with letters of intent now due May 15; full proposals are due June 29.

Apr. 17-May 26 - Online Course Design Seminar

Registration is now open for the spring 2020 Online Course Design Seminar. This five-module seminar is open to all faculty, instructors, postdocs, and graduate students who teach. The seminar is designed so that participants can move through with a cohort, access the content at their own pace, or just dip in periodically for resources and ideas.

Apr. 18-19 - MyU and other technology system updates

MyU and related online services such as APAS and Grad Planner will be unavailable while the University performs system updates the weekend of Apr. 18-19. Service is expected to be restored on Sunday afternoon, Apr. 19. You can still access Canvas courses through canvas.umn.edu and University email at mail.umn.edu. Contact Technology Help with any questions.

Call for nominations: Internationalization awards

Nominations are being accepted for two University-wide awards that recognize commitment to internationalization by faculty, staff, and alumni. The Award for Global Engagement is given to faculty and staff members in recognition of outstanding contributions to global education and international programs at the University or in their field or discipline. The Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals is for international alumni, former students, and friends of the University who have distinguished themselves in their post-university work. Nominations are due May 11.

Featured U of M virtual eventspeople running outside

Weekly online series: Learning virtually, leading actively: Resources for community leaders
Apr. 9 - Conversation with US Senator Amy Klobuchar
Apr. 13 - What does the media get right—and wrong—in covering critical environmental issues?
Apr. 14 - Webinar: Managing the personal toll of COVID-19
Apr. 15 - Webinar: Pathways to Resilience During Times of Change
Apr. 16 - Communicating Science to Reduce Health Disparities in a World of Communication Inequalities
Starting Apr. 16 - Webinar Series: Adapt and Thrive in Changing Times
May 3 - Virtual Bud Break 5K for the Arboretum (register by Apr. 16 for a t-shirt)


Student feature: Hanna RuckheimHanna Ruckheim

What do wise words from a high school agriculture education teacher, growing up with an agriculture background, and attending the University of Minnesota Crookston all have in common? For Hanna Ruckheim, it was the combination of these three things that inspired her to become an ag education teacher.


Rare and Remarkableold building on Duluth campus

This year, UMD is celebrating its 125th anniversary. All semester, Cheryl Reitan, associate director in University Marketing and Public Relations (UMPR), and Ellie Mercil, a history and writing studies double major and UMPR communication assistant, are writing a series of articles that highlight some of the people, events, and milestones that make up UMD’s history.

History in real timechalk on a sidewalk saying wash your hands

UMD Archives & Special Collections at the Kathryn A. Martin Library is requesting items that document people’s experiences during the COVID-19 crisis in northeastern Minnesota. Archivists are asking people in this region to submit photographs, videos, recordings, social media posts, journals, and more to The Northeastern Minnesota COVID-19 Community Archives Project as a way to preserve the stories for future generations.

Art exhibit moves onlinea russian artwork of people mingling

When UMD’s Tweed Museum of Art was forced to close its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alison Aune, professor of art education, and Alexis Pogorelskin, history department faculty emerita, created a slideshow to share “Art in Conflict,” curated by Masha Zavialova of The Museum of Russian Art. The exhibit consists of art that illustrates conflicting artistic and political perspectives prevalent during the Soviet Union’s final decades.


Christensen named Fulbright finalistMara Christensen

Mara Christensen ’20, Two Harbors, MN, is a Fulbright U.S. Student Program finalist. An elementary education major, Christensen was chosen to spend a year in South Korea. Christensen is the campus’s second Fulbright finalist this year. Her success speaks to the power and value of a U of M Morris education on the global stage.

Fueling sustainable energy and agriculture

A partnership between the University of Minnesota Morris and the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) is putting wind energy in a bottle. Researchers at WCROC are using wind produced on the Morris campus to create low-carbon anhydrous ammonia to fuel corn production, cutting costs and fossil fuel consumption.


Business of Leadership and Health Care pathwayBre Veerkamp

UMR's innovative degree programs and integrated curriculum provide students with a foundational undergraduate education. Discover how Bre Veerkamp navigated her time at Rochester and learn more about the Business of Leadership and Health Care pathway.

My UMR with Alison BoscoAli Bosco

Learn more about UMR faculty and staff by checking out "My UMR," an occasional feature from the University's Marketing and Communications office. The latest My UMR features Alison Bosco, One Stop counselor.

Twin Cities

Goldwater Scholars namedAditya Shekhar and Henry Twiss

Two juniors at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Aditya Shekhar and Henry Twiss, have been recognized as Goldwater Scholars by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. Shekhar and Twiss will receive scholarships worth up to $7,500 for their senior years. This prestigious, competitive scholarship is awarded annually to outstanding sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research-oriented careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering.

Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education services continue virtually

While the Aurora Center’s physical office is closed through May 4, staff are still available virtually during business hours. Reach staff via email at aurora@umn.edu, or by phone at 612-626-2929. Additionally, Aurora's 24 Hour Helpline remains operational at 612-626-9111. Note: In accordance with University guidelines around COVID-19, Aurora will not be facilitating workshops before May 4.

Statistics support for University researchers

The Institute for Research on Statistics and its Applications is accepting applications for its 2020 Summer Statistical Collaboration Program. Researchers involved in this program receive expertise from graduate students at the School of Statistics. Collaborations typically run 10 hours per week for 8 weeks, depending on the specific needs of the project. No funding is required.

Can social media help people be happier, healthier, and well informed during COVID-19?

School of Public Health researcher Jude Mikal is examining whether social media can be leveraged by users to exchange helpful information and resources, and provide beneficial socio-emotional support during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study is being funded by the Campus Public Health Officer Rapid Response Grant program

Apr. 21 - Leveraging Our Community-Engaged Research: Policy Change and Community Development

As the current health crisis is likely to intensify existing inequalities, it's more important than ever to use proven and tested community-engaged tools for positive change. Sponsored by the University's Office for Public Engagement, this live group conversation (register) will explore the pathways for utilizing research to create change. 3:30 p.m.

Events Calendar

Due to an increase in submissions to Brief and the nature of virtual events, the UMTC Featured Events section has been temporarily renamed “Featured U of M virtual events” and relocated to the U-Wide News section.

Events Calendar >