January 29, 2020

Vol. L No. 4

Editor: Adam Overland (brief@umn.edu)


Inside This Issue

  • Features: An emergency avalanche jacket from Minnesota? You bet; Researchers advance non-opioid solutions for chronic pain; Networking for humans.
  • People: Georgios Giannakis has been named a National Academy of Inventors Fellow; and more.

Top News

An emergency avalanche jacket from Minnesota? You bet.avalanche jacket protogype

College of Design students in the apparel design program captured first place in a national competition, creating an emergency avalanche transceiver garment that could boost an emergency beacon’s signal for backcountry winter sport use.

Researchers advance non-opioid solutions for chronic paintire track in snow

For nearly 20 years, Carolyn Fairbanks and George Wilcox have been looking for non-opioid alternatives to treat pain. They recently received a $4.5 million grant from the Department of Defense to continue their research. The team is working toward a future where opioid addiction is no longer a public health crisis, and where all people with pain receive appropriate and safe care.

Networking for humansdrawing of person at computer

Almost every discussion of the ills afflicting American society laments the downside of technological dependency and the social fragmentation it has wrought. Lana Yarosh, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (Twin Cities), focuses on “embodied interaction” in social computing with the goal of building systems that forge stronger bonds among people.


Georgios Giannakis has been named a National Academy of Inventors Fellow and will be inducted into the academy; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media. 

People >

U-Wide News

Helping students navigate mental health concerns

Taking care of the mental health needs of medical students is an important focus of the University of Minnesota Medical School. Several programs have recently begun to support the mental health needs of students, including a new role—the first in Medical School history and among the first across the country—that provides short-term support to students who need help dealing with mental health concerns and refers them to further resources or care.

Alumni Association Career Month events

The Minnesota labor market remains tight, which is leading many professionals to consider their opportunities for career growth and transition. The University of Minnesota Alumni Association’s second annual career month features webinars, workshops, Facebook Live discussions, and networking events in the Twin Cities, across the U.S., and around the world. Events continue throughout February.

February Teaching with Technology webinars

Enroll in academic technology support webinars to keep up to date on teaching-with-technology topics. February webinar topics include the new features in Canvas Gradebook, choosing accessible content, and online peer review with engaging and balanced assessments.

Windows 10 version update

OIT will be updating all Windows 10 operating systems on managed devices to version 1909. This update is currently opt-in and will be mandatory for all users starting Feb. 27. Update your device now.

New accessibility checker in Canvas

The University’s teaching and learning community now has access to a tool that can help create a more inclusive and equitable learning experience in Canvas. The Universal Design Online [content] Inspection Tool (UDoIT) can scan Canvas course sites to identify and help correct accessibility issues. Learn how to access and use UDoIT.

March 5 - Partnering With Minnesota conference

Join University of Minnesota faculty, staff, students, and community partners from around the state at the Office for Public Engagement's biennial systemwide conference. Partnering with Minnesota: Connecting the University with Urban, Suburban, and Rural Communities through Public Engagement will examine the role of public engagement in addressing challenging issues in Minnesota and beyond. 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Coffman Union.

Talking retirement anxiety with U of M

While the idea of retirement can be daunting, research shows the majority of retirees experience consistent or improved life satisfaction across their transition into retirement. Kelli Howard, lecturer in the College of Education and Human Development, answers questions about how those entering retirement can reduce the anxiety associated with this life change.

Research Brief: Examining the skills most necessary for success in today’s workplace

The transition from college to the workforce can be challenging; however, a new University of Minnesota study shows how higher education institutions can more adequately prepare students for life after school. While technical and subject matter expertise are important, researchers found that critical thinking and communication skills are some of the most valued by employers.


Feb. 1 - Justin Knebel Memorial Ice Fishing Tournament

All proceeds from this tournament go to the Justin Knebel Endowed Scholarship for UMC student-athletes. The event is a fun, family-style ice-fishing derby. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Zippel Bay Resort.

Feb. 6 - Washington Post reporter to speak

Christopher Ingraham, a data reporter for the Washington Post, will speak at the University of Minnesota Crookston. In 2015, Ingraham wrote an article in which he called Minnesota’s Red Lake County “the absolute worst place to live in America.” He later moved with his family to Red Lake Falls. Ingraham’s story has been widely publicized and is the subject of his recent book, If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home By Now. 12:30 p.m., Bede Ballroom. No charge and open to the public.


New Tweed directorAnja Chavez

Anja Chávez has joined the Tweed Museum of Art as its new director. Most recently, Chávez was director of university museums for Colgate University. She previously worked as a curator at Syracuse University, Wellesley College, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and Fitchburg Art Museum. Chávez earned her PhD in art history from the University of Bonn, Germany.

Reducing opioid overdose deathsBrenna Greenfield

Brenna Greenfield, an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Biobehavioral Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth campus, has collaborated with the White Earth Nation to develop culturally sensitive approaches to reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths. In recent years, the drug overdose death rate among Minnesota American Indians is five to six times higher than Minnesota’s average overdose death rate.

Students launch educational campaignStudents explaining Nic free campaign

Public health majors designed “Nic Free at UMD” to share information with peers about the risks of vaping and e-cigarettes. While UMD is a tobacco-free campus, the students believe peer-to-peer education is the most effective way to instruct classmates about the dangers of using these products off campus. Associate Professor Amy Versnik Nowak, Department of Applied Human Sciences, guided the students as they created their campaign.


Philosophy students compete in ethics bowlEthics bowl team

The Competitive Ethics Defense Team recently competed at the California Regional Ethics Bowl at Arizona State University. Alex Boyd '21, Vinny Fontana III '21, and Ya-Sokee Yang '20 spent weeks preparing for the competition, studying the ethical and legal implications of case studies, formulating their positions, and anticipating objections.

Fulbright semifinalists

Five U of M Morris students are Fulbright semifinalists: Sarah Severson ’20, chemistry/English (study/research, Spain); Mara Christensen ’20, elementary education (English teaching assistant, Korea); Trina Vue ’20, English (English teaching assistant, Thailand); Anika Paulson ’20, psychology (English teaching assistant, Germany); and Mia King ’19, biology/psychology/Spanish, (Public Health English teaching assistant, Spain). Final awards will be announced later this spring.


Funding granted for UMR/community program

Angie Mejia, assistant professor for civic engagement, and Kim Sin, network and media specialist, have received funding of their grant proposal for The Village Community Garden and Learning Center: Building Cross-Cultural Community Resilience through Increased Fresh-Food Access and Citizenship.

My UMR with Asmita KC

Student Activities and Residence Life Coordinator Asmita KC encourages students she works with to join clubs and start their own organizations. She works to organize activities catered to students’ well-being and success on campus.

Twin Cities

No-cost tax preparation for U of M community

The Volunteer Tax Assistance Program, a student-run service organization, prepares tax returns at no charge for University of Minnesota faculty, staff, and students who have unadjusted gross income of less than $54,000. The program is fast, safe, and IRS certified. Learn more and schedule an appointment.

Register for Cooking for Wellness classes

Build community with your friends and colleagues while cooking and eating delicious food through Cooking for Wellness classes, offered through the Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute. Courses include 2-Hour Basics, which teaches foundational techniques, and Getting Creative, which focuses on developing an intuitive sense for creating delicious food without recipes. University faculty and staff are eligible to receive Wellbeing Points.

Retiring soon? Explore the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Keep your brain healthy by joining the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. The institute offers over 300 noncredit courses, 27 interest groups, numerous social events, and travel opportunities designed for retirees. Membership of $240 per year includes unlimited courses. New-membership discounts are available for certain groups. Spring course registration is now open, and courses begin March 23.

President's Student Leadership and Service Award nominations

Nominations are open for the 2020 President’s Student Leadership and Service Award. The award honors the accomplishments of outstanding students for their leadership and service contributions to the U of M and the community. All Twin Cities faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to nominate current students for the award. Nominations close Feb. 3.

Apply for Faculty Research Sprints

Faculty Research Sprints, May 18-21, offer faculty the opportunity to partner with a team of expert librarians on a specific project, or component of a broader project. Eligibility is limited to tenured, tenure-track, or clinical faculty members at the U of M. Applications are due Feb. 21. Information sessions will take place at four library locations on Feb. 7, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Feb. 7 - MAC 2020: Poke for a Pint Blood Driveblood drive graphic

As part of the 20th anniversary of the McNamara Alumni Center, the University community is invited to participate in a blood drive in partnership with the Red Cross. 8 a.m.-2 p.m., Memorial Hall. Reserve a time to donate with the sponsor code MAC20 at redcrossblood.org. Walk-ups are welcome.

Tony Diggs Excellence Award nominations

In honor of Tony Diggs, former director of the Student Activities Office, the Tony Diggs Excellence Awards recognize student group achievements from the 2019 calendar year. Nominate a student group or student group adviser that stands out in the campus community. Nominations close Feb. 7.

Feb. 18 - This Free North: Black History at the University of Minnesota

This Free North is a documentary produced by TPT and the University of Minnesota to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the African American Studies program. The film explores achievements and obstacles in Black history on the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus and reflects on the people and events that led to the creation of the African American Studies program. No charge and open to the public, but tickets are required. 6 p.m., Carlson Family Stage, Northrop.

Feb. 28 - Rare Disease Day

Rare Disease Day strives to raise awareness among the general public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives. Attendees will have an opportunity to network and learn about how the U of M is leading the way in rare disease research and treatment. The keynote, "The Rare Disease Treatment Approval Process: Balancing Gold Standard Evidence with Patient-Centered Flexibility,” will be given by speaker Sarah Wicks. Register (no charge) or submit an abstract for the poster session. 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., McNamara Alumni Center.

March 11-12 - UROC guided tour/lunch for faculty, researchers

The University's Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) offers a unique setting, as well as a scholarly support system, for University faculty and researchers looking to connect their work with North Minneapolis residents in authentic partnerships. Learn how UROC could be the perfect fit for an engaged research project at one of two special tour/lunch events.

UMTC Featured Eventsfood on shelf

Feb. 1-March 1 - Spring Flower Show at the Arboretum
Feb. 1-Apr. 26 - Amplified: The Exhibition
Feb. 3 - STEP Seminar: Food Insecurity on Campus
Feb. 4 - Retirement Transition Seminar
Feb. 6 - IAS Thursdays | Biocolonialism
Feb. 9 - Mindfulness Meditation Retreat

Events Calendar