June 17, 2020

Vol. L No. 23

Editor: Adam Overland (brief@umn.edu)


Inside This Issue

  • Board of Regents June meeting highlights.
  • Features: Law students flock to aid George Floyd protesters, advocate for change; Students step up to produce masks for hospitals; And then it happened.
  • People: The U of M ranks 17th in the world among universities granted U.S. patents in 2019; and more.

Top News

Board of Regents June meeting highlights

At its June meeting, the Board of Regents approved recommendations for in-person instruction and other on-campus experiences this fall. Each campus will review its academic calendar for the coming year in an effort to end all in-person instruction by Thanksgiving. Regents also approved President Gabel’s recommended operating budget for fiscal year 2021, which includes a schedule of furloughs and temporary pay reductions for many employees across the system. The Board also approved the President's recommended capital improvement budget, approved a systemwide strategic plan, and received an update on undergraduate enrollment. Regents will meet next July 8-10.

Law students flock to aid George Floyd protesters, advocate for changeJessica Bontemps holding black lives matter sign

When Professor Perry Moriearty put a call out for Minnesota Law students and recent graduates to help individuals arrested protesting the tragic killing of George Floyd, she had no idea that, only four hours later, she’d have 100-plus volunteers register for training. Here are some of their stories.

Students step up to produce masks for hospitalsStudents making masks

The scarcity of N95 masks to protect hospital workers from COVID-19 has occupied headlines since the outbreak of the pandemic. After U of M faculty worked together to create two facemask designs, nearly 60 undergraduate and graduate student volunteers across the U of M stepped up to produce them for hospitals.

And then it happenedMike Osterholm

For nearly 30 years, the U of M's Michael Osterholm has been warning anyone who would listen about the risks of a worldwide pandemic. Osterholm has deep knowledge of infectious diseases, a long track record of being ahead of the curve in understanding their impact, and a decided knack for distilling complex situations into comprehensible terms. Along the way, Osterholm has also raised visibility for the University of Minnesota as a source of credible, reliable information at the heart of a global pandemic.


The University of Minnesota ranks 17th in the world among universities granted U.S. patents in 2019; the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs has announced the recipients of this year’s Faculty Interactive Research Program grants; Stephanie Terezakis has been named a 2020-21 fellow for the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program for Women; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media.

People >

U-Wide News

Now systemwide - Join the Diversity Community of Practice

The U of M Diversity Community of Practice (DCoP) is a grassroots community of faculty and staff from collegiate and administrative units that started on the Twin Cities campus. Its purpose is to develop and leverage personal, professional, and technical expertise, effectively creating innovative strategies that ensure successful implementation of equity and diversity goals at the University of Minnesota. Systemwide faculty and staff are invited to join monthly meetings via Zoom.

‘Stolen Breaths,’ a commentary on the death of George Floyd and the health of Black Americans

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published “Stolen Breaths,” a commentary on the state of Black American health from School of Public Health associate professor Rachel Hardeman, Medical School adjunct assistant professor Eduardo Medina, and pediatrician Rhea Boyd. The commentary lays bare the threats to the health and well-being of Black Americans.

2020 Minnesota Futures to advance research on Chronic Wasting Disease

The Minnesota Futures Grant Program is offered annually by the Office of the Vice President for Research to promote research that incorporates new, cross-disciplinary ideas and develops projects to a point where they become competitive for outside funding. This year’s Minnesota Futures award supports a multidisciplinary team of researchers working to better understand the ecology and transmission of chronic wasting disease, a deadly infectious disease that affects deer and other cervids (such as elk and moose).

UMF announces a new website for industry engagement

The University of Minnesota Foundation (UMF) has developed the Industry Engagement website to offer a single location where businesses can learn about ways to engage with the University of Minnesota and access University resources. The website offers information about partnering in four main areas: technology and innovation; talent development; executive and employee engagement; and visibility and branding. The site also includes news updates and case studies.

Researchers study cancer care for patients in the context of COVID-19

Cancer patients have been faced with double the danger during COVID-19 due to a compromised immune system. University of Minnesota Medical School researchers have conducted studies for cancer patients regarding their mental health, well-being, and cancer care.

‘Underappreciated’ stars lay a claim to our cosmic ancestry

U of M researchers and colleagues at Arizona State University and elsewhere have simulated, using advanced computer codes, several possible life cycles for a common type of white dwarf and compared their results with telescopic observations. They found these stars able to generate conditions that lead them to explode as supernovae and seed space with the germs of new stars, planets, and life.

New Teaching with Writing virtual short-course

A new virtual short-course, Teaching with Writing Online, takes place over the course of one week and is organized into three modules. The course is designed to support University faculty and other instructors in developing online instructional activities and practices appropriate for fully or partially online courses. Register and learn more.

Teaching and Learning with Technology webinars

Faculty, instructors, and teaching assistants are invited to register for 60-minute webinars on topics to support teaching through alternative methods. Sessions are offered by Academic Support Services and the Center for Educational Innovation. See topics and register for any or all at no charge.

Change to anti-virus software on Mac devices

On June 17, the Office of Information Technology is making a change to the configuration of SentinelOne, the anti-virus software for centrally supported Mac devices. OIT is moving from detect mode to protection mode to provide further security measures for University-owned and managed devices. No action is required by this change, but OIT strongly recommends reading the change details and ensuring that your notifications are turned on for SentinelOne.

Research Brief: New plant gene editing approach improves speed, scalability, and heritability

Breeding plants for specific characteristics goes back thousands of years. For most of that time, the process has been slow and tied to the agricultural cycle. A recent study outlines a new approach that may significantly speed the development of new plant varieties by skipping tissue culture and boosting heritability. Additional recent Research Briefs include “Metals history of the Laurentian Great Lakes.”

U of M featured virtual eventssun and planets

June 17 - Trust Issues: Communicating research during a pandemic
June 17 - Webinar: An Introduction to Mindfulness
June 22 - Out of this World, part II
June 24 - Conquering the Virtual Interview
June 25 - Summer Webinar Series: Covid-19 and Incarcerated Populations


Minnesota Mondays

Youth and families don’t have to let being at home stop them from exploring and discovering. Minnesota Mondays are hands-on, brief sessions about soil, pollinators, gardening, and more. The next event is June 22.


Kids and screen timeAaron Boyson

Associate Professor Aaron Boyson, Department of Communication, discusses how parents can review their children’s screen time and what type of consumption choices are better for the brain. Active consumption, such as video games, requires more thinking than passive consumption. Instrumental media use has an “offline” application, such as watching a PBS cooking show in order to cook the meal later for dinner, while ritualistic media use is watching for watching's sake.

Social networking and health education for African American menhands folded

A study led by the U of M, including Glenn Simmons, Jr., assistant professor, Medical School, Duluth Campus, and Olihe Okoro, assistant professor, Department of Pharmacy Practice and Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, Duluth, looks at how social networking could provide better access to health education for African American men. Simmons and Okoro received a grant from the National Institutes of Health.


Cougar Athletics Hall of Fame inductees

The University of Minnesota Morris has announced that it will induct one individual player/coach and one team into the Cougar Athletics Hall of Fame in 2020. The Cougars 2020 Athletics Hall of Fame inductees are athlete/instructor/coach Larry Edlund '71 (baseball, football) and the 1970 baseball team.


UMR alumna shares the realities of being Black

Victoria Ajaiy tells young people, including herself, that it is time to come together, strategize, and move effectively. She writes recently in the Rochester Post-Bulletin, "We have the power to change who represents us and who writes our story from here on."

Twin Cities

Ways to contribute to community healing

The Office for Equity and Diversity has created a list of resources to help our communities and each other cope, learn, and recover in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd. These include resources for personal well-being, community organizations that need support, Black history at the University of Minnesota, and educational resources, including a list of books on race, anti-racism, and anti-Blackness. Additionally, the Office for Public Engagement is compiling a list of organized ways to donate, volunteer, and contribute to community healing.

Yoga practice common among young adults who have experienced trauma

Health experts and yoga practitioners know that the practice of yoga can bring relaxation to the body and peace to the mind. A new study from the School of Public Health recently examined how frequently young adults practice yoga and discovered that people who’ve experienced potentially traumatic life events are equally or more likely than their peers to take part in the activity.

Dentistry grad looks ahead to serving as US Navy dentistBoren and her family

Carmen Boren entered dental school knowing more than most about what to expect. Having worked as a dental hygienist for 11 years, she had seen firsthand the expanded role dentists can play in their patients’ lives. It was five years, three states, and two more children later before Boren completed the prerequisites and was accepted into dental school. Boren graduated in May and is moving with her family to Camp Pendleton, where she will complete an advanced education specialty in general dentistry while serving as a US Navy dentist.