July 17, 2019

Vol. XLIX No. 23

Editor: Adam Overland (brief@umn.edu)


Inside This Issue

Summer publication: Brief will publish next on Aug. 14. Weekly publication resumes Aug. 28.

  • Joan Gabel takes office.
  • Board of Regents July meeting highlights.
  • Features: White House endorses U of M–led kidney care effort; CSE recent grad creates autonomous robot for farms; Fostering food justice; The cornerstone of health and wellness.
  • People: Three faculty have received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers; and more.

Top News

Joan Gabel takes officeJoan Gabel

Joan T.A. Gabel took office on July 1 as the 17th president of the University of Minnesota. President Gabel presides over the U of M system, which includes five campuses, nearly 67,000 students, and more than 27,000 faculty and staff across every Minnesota county. Gabel’s inauguration will take place Sept. 20.

Board of Regents July meeting highlights

During the July Board of Regents meeting, President Joan Gabel shared her perspective on the unique opportunities and promising future she sees for the University in what were her first remarks before Regents since taking office. Also at the meeting, Regents granted President Gabel the authority to establish and convene the Advisory Council on Rare Diseases, known as “The Chloe Barnes Advisory Council on Rare Diseases.” Additionally, Regents received the annual report from the University of Minnesota Alumni Association and heard an overview presentation on NCAA compliance.

White House endorses U of M led kidney care effortMark Rosenberg and Alex Azar

Mark Rosenberg, Medical School vice dean for education and academic affairs and president of the American Society of Nephrology, is leading efforts to improve care for those with kidney disease. On July 10, Rosenberg was among the nearly 500 people who witnessed President Donald Trump sign the Executive Order on Advancing American Kidney Health, which marks one of the biggest policy transformations for advancing kidney health in nearly 50 years.

CSE recent grad creates autonomous robot for farmsJack Kilian with robot

Minnesota turkey farmers may be getting a different kind of farmhand if Jack Kilian gets his way. The recent electrical engineering master's degree graduate and former scholarship recipient has designed Poultry Patrol, an autonomous robot designed to save farmers time and muscle inside their poultry barns. Read more and watch a video.

Fostering food justiceTC food justice students

In the U.S., nearly 15 percent of the population is food insecure at some point in their lives, yet 30 percent of the food in America goes to waste every year. In 2016, then Master of Public Health students Samantha Friedrichsen, Kelzee Tibbetts, Eva Weingartl, Hannah Volkman, and Mike Kosiak founded Twin Cities Food Justice, a growing volunteer organization that “rescues” produce from small grocery stores and farmers markets that would otherwise be thrown out and delivers it to organizations that work with food insecure communities.

The cornerstone of health and wellnessJulie Churchill and cat patient

Julie Churchill was destined to become a veterinarian. “I liked to help any critter in need,” Churchill says. “My parents couldn’t use their bathtub for a month because I had a turtle with a broken shell in there.” Today, Churchill, a veterinary nutritionist and associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, is a trusted source of knowledge for the pet owners in her clinical practice, students at the College of Veterinary Medicine, and, increasingly, veterinarians across the country. She’s a leading authority in a specialty that’s only existed since 1988.


Three Twin Cities faculty have received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers; Frances Vavrus has been named to the "Wise Head Panel"—judges of the MacArthur Foundation’s “100&Change” grant competition; Michael Westerhaus has been selected as a 2019 Macy Faculty Scholar by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation; the CEHD-based Open Textbook Network has received a National Leadership Grant for Libraries from the Institute of Museum and Library Services; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media.

People >

U-Wide News

New University of Minnesota System website

The University has launched a system website, system.umn.edu. The website is one tactic to achieve the systemwide strategic framework goal to improve systemwide communications. The purpose of the site is to convey the strength of the University as a system and to accentuate each campus's unique attributes.

Windows 10 version upgrade

Windows 10 version 1709 will reach its end of service in April 2020. In advance of this, OIT will be upgrading all Windows 10 operating systems on managed devices to version 1809. This upgrade is currently opt-in but will be mandatory for all users beginning on Aug. 15. Upgrade your device now.

Nomination materials for 2019-20 Distinguished Teaching Awards

Nomination materials are now available for two Distinguished Teaching awards: the Horace T. Morse - University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education, and the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education. These awards recognize and reward teachers’ commitment to quality education at the University of Minnesota. Award recipients become members of the University of Minnesota’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers. Nominations are due by noon, Jan. 8; check with your college or campus for internal deadlines, which are earlier.

Talking Spacesuits with U of M

July 20 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Brad Holschuh, an assistant professor and co-director of the U of M's Wearable Tech Lab in the College of Design, answers questions about modern-day advances to the spacesuit, and how he expects the technology to continue to evolve in the future.

Sept. 12 - Minnesota Symposium on Addiction Neuroscience

Register for the Minnesota Symposium on Addiction Neuroscience, sponsored by the U of M’s Medical Discovery Team on Addiction. The daylong conference will bring together basic scientists, clinician-scientists, and others to discuss the latest, most exciting brain science on addiction. The deadline to register for the early-bird discount and submit a poster abstract is Aug. 1.

Research Brief: Cigarettes marketed as “natural” and “organic” are loaded with nicotine and toxicants

New U of M research shows that levels of toxic and cancer-causing chemicals in Natural American Spirit cigarettes are generally similar to those found in other commercial cigarette brands, and that tobacco and smoke of Natural American Spirit cigarettes contain higher levels of nicotine than those typically present in other brands. Additional recent Research Briefs include “Partnering with a pharmacist may decrease burnout among primary care providers,” “Physicians receiving industry money are more likely to prescribe brand-name drugs,” and “Male crickets losing ability to sing, despite reproductive advantage of singing.”


Student profile: Jacoby McConkeyJacoby McConkey

For Crookston senior Jacoby McConkey, being in the greenhouse and working with plants is where he feels at ease. McConkey, majoring in horticulture with an emphasis on production horticulture, has always enjoyed working with plants and seeing how plants make people happy.

Chancellor's Letter - July 2019

Crookston Chancellor Mary Holz-Clause offers congratulations to the Crookston School District for developing a comprehensive and inclusive strategic plan, as well as advice and more in her July letter to the campus community.


Beneath Lake SuperiorJay Austin

Led by Professor Jay Austin of the Large Lakes Observatory, UMD students and researchers deployed equipment 100 feet below Lake Superior’s surface to gather data on currents, temperature, and surface meteorology. Students and faculty will analyze the data, gathered over three months, to learn more about convective processes in the lake. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation.

July 19 - Science on DeckBlue Heron boat

Assistant Professor Katherine Schreiner, chemistry and biochemistry and the Large Lakes Observatory, will give a talk entitled "Microplastics in Lake Superior: Their Source and Fate" aboard the research vessel Blue Heron, which will be docked near the Great Lakes Aquarium, 353 Harbor Drive, Duluth. Boat tours begin at noon and the talk starts at 3 p.m. This no-charge event ends at 4 p.m.

Aug. 19 - The 24 Hour Musicals24 hour musical poster

UMD’s School of Fine Arts, in partnership with Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, will present The 24 Hour Musicals, featuring four short original musicals created within one 24-hour time period and performed live that evening. The cast includes UMD alumni Cat Brindisi-Darrow and Kasano Mwanza. Proceeds benefit Chanhassen Dinner Theatres and the UMD Department of Theatre Scholarship Fund. 7:30 p.m., Chanhassen Dinner Theatres.


Writing her history: Michelle BrownleeMichelle Brownlee working on art

Michelle Brownlee ’18, Turtle Mountain Ojibwe, is the youngest collections assistant in the Field Museum’s Anthropology Department. The Morris graduate is putting her liberal arts education to work on indigenous representation at the museum. Brownlee says undergraduate research helped her land an internship at the Field Museum and, later, a full-time job.

Cougar Athletics Hall of Famecougar sports logo

This year the Cougar Athletics Hall of Fame welcomes Erika Bailey-Johnson '99 (volleyball), Tom Beyer '81 (wrestling), Jenna Maki Swenson '05 (volleyball), and the 1994 and '95 men's tennis teams. They will all be celebrated during Homecoming Weekend, Sept. 20-21.

New vocal ensemble debuts

Ensemble Intersection, west central Minnesota's newest vocal ensemble, debuts July 19 in a concert at the University of Minnesota Morris. Founded by Bradley Miller, director of choral activities, the highly selective, semi-professional ensemble includes a cross section of professional, regional, and University voices.


Closing the achievement gap

In a time of stubborn performance gaps between white students and students of color, and between rich and poor, the University of Minnesota Rochester may offer a script for how to ensure that students from different backgrounds graduate at similar rates, reports The Washington Post in a feature on the innovative campus.

Twin Cities

Power to the studentsAbby Diekmann and Nick Pahl

It’s hard to imagine campus life without the Energy Management team. They’re the folks who make and distribute our chilled water, steam, and electricity. If mapping out water and steam tunnels doesn’t sound like fun, you haven’t talked to Abby Diekmann, an intern with the University’s Energy Management team who has spent a lot of time 70 feet below the University. Now a junior mechanical engineering major, Diekmann started working with Energy Management last year. “Every project that I’ve worked on here ... I feel like I'm making a difference,” she says.

Organics-recycling program implementation

In response to a 2017 University Senate resolution and in order to push the University’s recycling rate past 50 percent, an organics-recycling program is being implemented across the Twin Cities campus. More than 60 buildings have already adopted the program. As part of the program, faculty and staff bring their waste to a central station to boost recycling participation and accommodate daily servicing of organics.

July 20 - U of M Day at Valleyfair

The inaugural U of M Day at Valleyfair includes discounted admission, a U of M fanny pack, face painting, Goldy Gopher, special shows, and more. Parking is available for pre-purchase for a discounted rate as well. A portion of each package goes to support the University of Minnesota Alumni Association.

July 20 - Apollo 11 anniversarymoon landing

The Bell Museum continues its yearlong celebration, Year of Apollo: The Moon and Beyond, with a full day of space-themed activities to mark the 50th anniversary date of the Apollo moon landing. Space-themed programming will run throughout the day, including the Cosmic 5K Fundraiser & Kids Space Dash, a new Bell Original planetarium production, NASA Lunar Sample Disks and Mission Artifacts, and more.

Aug. 22 - The Four Horsemen of the Economic Revolution

A half-century ago, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota forged a unique partnership that sparked an intellectual revolution. At the forefront of this was a group of young professors who came to be known as the “Four Horsemen” of Minnesota Economics: Ed Prescott, Tom Sargent, Chris Sims, and Neil Wallace. The Four Horsemen have gone on to become some of Minnesota’s most accomplished economists. This conversation will explore how their research can help address today’s most pressing economic policy challenges. 5 p.m. panel discussion, 6:30 p.m. reception; Ted Mann Concert Hall.

UMTC Featured Eventsfresh veggies

July 17 - The Mae Simpson Band
July 19 - Summer Orchestra Concert
July 22 - Story Maps 101: Visual Storytelling with Maps
July 27 - Food & Mood Workshop
Aug. 6 - LGBTQIA Identities and Communities
Aug. 7 - Minnesota International Piano Camp: Opening Concert
Aug. 8 - 2019 State Government Innovation Awards
Aug. 14 - Introduction to Reproducible Data Science with R

Events Calendar