December 6, 2017

Vol. XLVII No. 40

Editor: Adam Overland (


Inside This Issue

Notice: Brief will not be published on Dec. 20, Dec. 27, and Jan. 3. The weekly schedule resumes Jan. 10.

  • Features: Why autism strikes mostly boys; Protecting rights, fighting terrorism; From Alaska to Amazonia: first global maps of traits that drive vegetation growth; Researchers develop graphene nano ‘tweezers.’
  • People: 3M has invested $26 million in the University’s Driven campaign, which spans a 10-year period, including a new $8 million commitment; and more.

Top News

Why autism strikes mostly boyspuzzle pieces graphic

Why does autism strike four times as many boys as girls? The answer may lie in specific biological shielding mechanisms that operate in girls, but not boys, even when both sexes have the same genetic defects associated with the disorder. That conclusion leapt from the data in a study led by U of M researcher Nicola Grissom. The study opens a door to understanding and one day better treating the disorder.

Learn more about the research >

Protecting rights, fighting terrorismFionnuala Ni Aolain

“Never has the struggle for individual and collective rights been more important and the challenges we face so real and pressing,” says U of M Law School professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin. In June, Ní Aoláin became the first woman ever appointed U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism. In her new position, Ní Aoláin is charged with identifying and promoting counterterrorism measures that respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Learn more about Ní Aoláin's work >

From Alaska to Amazonia: first global maps of traits that drive vegetation growthrainforest tree

Detailed global maps of key traits in higher plants have been made available for the first time, thanks to work led by researchers from the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. The maps show surprisingly large local variation in trait values that could significantly impact future carbon cycle calculations produced by Earth System models.

Researchers develop graphene nano ‘tweezers’graphene model representation

Researchers from the U of M College of Science and Engineering have found yet another remarkable use for the wonder material graphene--tiny electronic “tweezers” that can grab biomolecules floating in water with incredible efficiency. This capability could lead to a revolutionary handheld disease diagnostic system that could be run on a smart phone.


3M has invested $26 million in the University’s Driven campaign, which spans a 10-year period, including a new $8 million commitment; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media.

People >

U-Wide News

Administrative policy update

The compliance burden is decreased along with the number of University officials required to file financial disclosures in the latest version of the Institutional Conflict of Interest policy. Signage standards and approval requirements for corporate and individual signage on University buildings and other significant assets are covered in Signage on University Buildings and Other Significant Assets.

The policies are available for review and comment >

Phishing attempts at the U of M

If you take a few seconds to give a closer look to suspicious emails, it may help you to identify them as potential scams. Visit to learn how to report possible phishing attempts, to see recent examples of phishing emails, and to discover next steps.


Dec. 7 - Thursday Commons

The next Thursday Commons will include fall research presentations by UMC faculty, staff, and students. Noon, Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center.

Dec. 7-8 - Poinsettia sale

The annual poinsettia sale, featuring plants grown by the Commercial Fall Crops class, will be held in the Northern Lights Lounge, Sargeant Student Center.

Dec. 7 - Radon information booth

Associate Professor Katy Chapman and a group of her students will host an information booth about radon levels in local soil samples. 3-6 p.m., Hugo's grocery store, 1310 University Avenue, Crookston.

Dec. 9 - Jingle Jazz Concert

The UMC Jazz Band will offer its annual Jingle Jazz Concert featuring all holiday jazz music with student and faculty soloists. 7:30 p.m., Kiehle Auditorium.


Athletics’ impactBulldog logo

A recent study produced by UMD’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research reveals that UMD Athletics creates more than 250 jobs and brings nearly $26 million in total economic output to the region’s economy. UMD Athletics contributes to the economy through its own operational spending, from visiting sports teams, and through tourism generated by visiting fans.

Dec. 7 - Freedom of speech lecturejane Kirtley

Professor Jane Kirtley will present “Making the News or Faking the News? The State of the First Amendment in 2017.” Kirtley is the Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law at the U of M Twin Cities’ Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication. No charge and open to the public. 5-7:30 p.m., 90 Bohannon Hall.

Dec. 9 - Pepperkakebyengingerbread house

UMD art education students will help visitors make crafts at “Pepperkakebyen: The Gingerbread City.” The art education majors have taught Nordic crafts to over 150 elementary students in the Duluth area, and in the process incorporated lessons on Nordic culture, art history, customs, and language. 1-5 p.m., Duluth Nordic Center.

All decked outinterior of Glensheen

“A Glensheen Christmas” runs through Jan. 7. The 27,000-square-foot mansion is decorated for the holidays with over 25 Christmas trees, hundreds of feet of garland, and 25 little elves hidden throughout the house. New this year is the Candlelight Christmas Tour on Fridays and Saturdays from 7 to 10 p.m. as well as the entire week of Christmas. The estate is closed Dec. 24-25.

Find tickets >


Ireland dig leads to documentaryJimmy Schryver dig site

Associate Professor Jimmy Schryver recently joined a team of archaeologists and undergrads at a groundbreaking archaeological dig of a Gaelic Irish ringfort in County Roscommon, Ireland. The resulting documentary reveals how their discovery could dramatically change what is known about medieval Ireland.

Martin Luther King Jr. speech competitionboard with posted speech ideas

To prepare for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, the Office of Community Engagement has challenged local high-school students to think critically about the contributions that Martin Luther King Jr. made and what he might be working on were he alive today. Area students in grades 7-12 are invited to respond in any original, creative written- or spoken-word format (essay, poem, speech, song, etc.).


Higher Education Innovation SummitStephen Lehmkuhle

Former UMR chancellor Stephen Lehmkuhle has been named as a keynote speaker for the Higher Education Innovation Summit being held June 6-8. Having served as UMR chancellor since its founding 10 years ago, Lehmkuhle is widely credited with creating the campus from scratch and helping further establish the U of M in southeastern Minnesota.

Learn more and register for the summit >

Dec. 12 - UMR Connects: Women Entrepreneurs Around the World

Join Dianne H.B. Welsh at the next UMR Connects as she shares her findings from one of the largest studies ever conducted on successful women entrepreneurs around the world. Welsh is a recognized scholar in family business, international entrepreneurship, women-owned businesses, direct selling, and franchising. 7 p.m., 417 University Square.

Twin Cities

Community Fund Drive sets record

The Community Fund Drive, the University’s annual charitable giving campaign, raised $1.45 million--its highest total ever--for nonprofits in the community during the monthlong campaign in October. Nearly 30 percent of employees contributed and hundreds volunteered to support the campaign by asking others to give, holding an event, or raising awareness.

TRIO program faculty mentors sought

The TRIO McNair Scholars program is recruiting faculty mentors for its summer 2018 cohort. The program gives first-generation and low-income or underrepresented undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct research with faculty and prepare for graduate school.

Complete a brief questionnaire for more information >

Dec. 6 - Workshop to expand your retirement savings

Faculty and staff can save more for retirement through voluntary retirement savings plans in addition to the primary retirement plans offered by the University. You can invest pre-tax dollars through payroll deduction in the Optional Retirement Plan and the Section 457 Deferred Compensation Plan. Register to learn more about the plans and your investment options. 2:30 p.m., 210 Donhowe Building.

Dec. 8 - Canada’s Approach to Immigration, Citizenship, and Refugee Resettlement

Appointed as minister of immigration, refugees, and citizenship by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in January 2017, Ahmed Hussen oversees all elements of Canada’s immigration, humanitarian resettlement, visa, temporary foreign worker, and citizenship policies. He will discuss Canada’s approach to these policies, as well as Canada’s government priorities. Noon-1 p.m., Humphrey Forum, Humphrey School.

Register and learn more >

Dec. 14 - Teaching with Canvas workshop

Learn more about using Canvas by exploring principles and practices for creating a student-centered and sustainable course site. Participants will have the opportunity to work with their own course material during activities in this hands-on workshop, or work with a provided practice site. 1-4:30 p.m., 420B Bruininks Hall.

Register and learn more >

Toys for Tots donations

Toys for Tots donations will be accepted until Dec. 14 at U of M locations, including the U of M Police Department lobby, the Coffman Union information desk, the St. Paul Student Center, and the University Office Plaza lobby. Call 612-877-0306 with any questions.

UofM Secure WiFi network to be retired at the end of December

The UofM Secure WiFi network will be retired at the end of December, and eduroam is now the preferred secure WiFi network for the University of Minnesota. Please change your default or preferred University WiFi network to eduroam. To connect, choose eduroam from your WiFi settings or network preferences and login using your full University email address and password.

UMTC Featured Eventscoffee cup

Dec. 6 - Managing the paper load: An interactive workshop
Dec. 7 - IAS Thursdays: Not Yet with Jodi Byrd
Dec. 8 - Coffee Conversations: Debating Digital Humanities
Dec. 8 - Design U's Winter Open House
Dec. 10 - West African Music Ensemble Concert
Dec. 11 - Mechanical Engineering Robot Show
Dec. 13 - 200 Years After Austen: "Celebrating Jane"

Events Calendar >