March 11, 2015

Vol. XLV No. 10

Editor: Adam Overland (


Inside This Issue

  • State Relations Update.
  • Feature: Research supercharges rice; Researchers call for expanding role in rebuilding Somalia; New ‘wonder material’ for optical communication.
  • People: Professor Massoud Amin has been named Thought Leader of the Year by Energy Thought Summit; and more.

Top News

State Relations update

On March 3, the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee heard a bill that would invest $120.7 million in the University: $65.2 million in research,$25.5 million in the proposed Healthy Minnesota initiative, and $30 million in the Medical School. President Kaler testified in support of the legislation and presented an overview of the U’s 2016-17 budget request. Additionally, on March 4 the legislature elected five Board of Regents members.

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Research supercharges rice

Harvesting rice

A consortium of researchers from 12 laboratories across 8 countries has successfully tweaked the genetic code of rice in the first step toward creating a species that can grow higher yields without any additional water. MIT Technology Review recently recognized the accomplishment as one of its 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2015. Among the researchers was Daniel Voytas, director of the U’s Center for Genome Engineering.

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Researchers call for expanding role in rebuilding Somalia

Busy footpath in Somalia

With an estimated 30,000 Somali refugees living in Minnesota, the Twin Cities has the largest Somali population outside of Africa—many with a strong interest in returning. But as Somalia continues to rebuild after a prolonged civil war that began in the early 1990s, new research from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs illustrates the need for better infrastructure in that country. Researchers recommend the U.S. government shift its work from peacekeeping to rebuilding in ways that will help grow Somalia’s economy.

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New ‘wonder material’ for optical communication

Computer rendered image of the material

In a new study, U of M researchers used an ultrathin black phosphorus film—just 20 layers of atoms—to demonstrate high-speed data communication on nanoscale optical circuits. The devices showed vast improvement in efficiency over comparable devices using the earlier “wonder material” graphene.

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Professor Massoud Amin has been named Thought Leader of the Year by Energy Thought Summit; professor and Frank A. Donaldson Chair in Operations Management Chris Nachtsheim has received the Brumbaugh Award; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media.

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U-Wide News

Extension to host Climate Change Adaptation events across Minnesota

Mark Seeley

Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships will host a series of five climate change adaptation events in Greater Minnesota, featuring Extension Climatologist Mark Seeley. The first, "Farmers Lead the Way," for the Southwest Minnesota agricultural community, will be held March 16, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., SW Research and Outreach Center, Lamberton, MN.

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Use The Upgrade Readiness Checklist

The approaching upgrade of the University's PeopleSoft HR, finance, and student systems will affect nearly everyone U-wide. Changes involving time and absence approvals and reporting will move online; teaching, advising, and faculty resources will be located in the new MyU; UMReports, UMAnalytics, and PeopleSoft Reports will be consolidated in the Reporting Center; and more. To ensure your department or unit is prepared for The Upgrade and the systems interruption scheduled for Apr. 10-20, view The Upgrade Readiness Checklist (PDF).

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New research career development opportunities for junior faculty

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute is accepting applications for three programs that help U of M junior investigators build independent research careers. Programs provide a comprehensive career development infrastructure that supports awardees via funding, mentorship, exclusive seminars, individualized development plans, and ongoing support. Applications are due May 14.

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Drupal @ UMN

March 3 marked one year in the life of Drupal as the University of Minnesota's website content management system. More than 70 Drupal sites are now live, with another 100 under development.

Learn more about Drupal >


March 17 - River Watch Forum

The 20th annual River Watch Forum will include more than 200 students from over 25 schools throughout the Red River Basin presenting posters highlighting their watershed research and education activities. 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center.

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UMC spring break

Spring break is scheduled March 16-20. No classes will meet during this time, but campus offices will remain open.

Join Weight Watchers at Work

All faculty, staff, students, and community members are welcome to join UMC's Weight Watchers at Work program. The group meets Wednesdays, 116 Kiehle, with confidential weigh-ins from 11:30 a.m. to noon, followed by a noon-12:30 p.m. meeting.

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New LGBTQ minor

Rainbow over UMD campus

UMD will offer an LGBTQ minor beginning in fall 2015. Assistant Professor George Hoagland and faculty members in UMD’s Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies spent two years developing the minor. The program will explore the history, politics, and cultures of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex identities and perspectives.

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LSBE team earns first place

LSBE building

Students from the Labovitz School of Business and Economics’ Financial Markets program earned first place in the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute’s annual Research Challenge in Minneapolis. Teams conducted an extensive financial analysis of Graco, Inc. In April, UMD and more than 60 teams from universities in North and South America will compete in the Americas Regional in Atlanta.

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Detestable Madness

Detestable Madness

Using modern dance, pop music, and puppetry, Detestable Madness is based on the thousand-year-old plays of Hrotsvit of Gandersheim and explores themes of strength, struggle, and sacrifice. Adapted by director Jenna Soleo-Shanks and the cast, the work runs March 12-14 and 24-28 at 7:30 p.m. and March 29 at 2 p.m. in the Dudley Experimental Theatre.

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UMD to host Shakespeare’s First Folio exhibition in 2016


UMD will be the state’s host site for “First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare,” an exhibition of the Shakespeare First Folio that will travel throughout the United States in 2016. Thirty-five letters of support, from Duluth Mayor Don Ness to Alan Sparhawk of the indie rock band Low, helped to make UMD’s application a success. Touring dates will be announced in April.

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The Morris model

Wind turbine

UMM was recently featured on Twin Cities Public Television's "Integrated Energy Solutions." The campus’s cutting-edge research and innovations provide an exciting example of future-focused energy for other communities in Minnesota.

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Arbor Day Foundation honors UMM

Students planting a tree

UMM has earned 2014 Tree Campus USA recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation. The campus was honored for its commitment to effective urban forest management. Tree Campus USA honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals.

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Student work in Morrison Gallery

Juried Student Exhibition 2015

Artwork by UMM studio art students will be on display during the annual Juried Student Art Exhibition in the Morrison Gallery. This year’s show features a comprehensive assortment of media, with an emphasis on ceramic works. March 19-Apr. 1. An opening reception will be held March 19.

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March 24 - Orange is the New Black author event

Piper Kerman

UMM will host Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison. Kerman will relate the true stories behind one of the most talked-about TV series in recent years and discuss the pressing need for criminal justice reform.

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June 2-4 - Rural Arts and Culture Summit

This year’s Rural Arts and Culture (RAC) Summit theme, “From the Ground Up: Cultivating Creative People and Places,” will highlight the important role of art and culture in shaping the rural narrative. The RAC Summit is a joint project of UMM’s Center for Small Towns and Springboard for the Arts.

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Future Campus In Sight

As the future of the University of Minnesota Rochester continues to unfold, University leaders are looking at ways to make the future a reality by getting feedback from leaders in both the public and private sectors.

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Is collaborative learning fair for everyone?

Students working together

One of the foundations of the unique curriculum at the University of Minnesota Rochester (UMR) is collaborative learning. But this type of teamwork isn't something most people naturally know how to do.

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Twin Cities

March 12 - Japanese linguistics lecture

TE-kei setsu koobun no keishiki to imi will be presented in Japanese by Professor Takashi Masuoka (Kobe City University of Foreign Studies), 4:35-6 p.m., 119 Folwell Hall. Japanese snacks will be served.

Learn more >

March 18 - Work-life balance workshop

Merra Young, Center for Spirituality and Healing, will present effective ways mindfulness skills can help transform workplace stress and support life-work balance. RSVP to (lunch provided). Noon-1 p.m., 420 STSS.

March 28 - Bell Museum Sensory-Friendly Saturday Mornings

Bell Sensory-Friendly Saturday Mornings

The Bell Museum is hosting its first Sensory-Friendly Saturday Mornings event, designed for families with children who have sensory sensitivities. 8-10 a.m.

Learn more >

Apr. 7 - 2015 Doctoral Research Showcase

Eighty-five recipients of prestigious doctoral fellowships will present their work in a casual and conversational environment from noon to 2 p.m., Great Hall, Coffman Union. Presentations will encompass a wide range of topics, including disability and living arrangements in later life, the behavioral responses of moose to climate change, the effects of green tea extract on biomarkers of breast cancer risk, the impact of same-sex marriage on LGBT health; and the design of a new telescope that sees gravity.

View a list of this year's participants >

Apr. 8-10 - The Once and Future River: Imagining the Mississippi in an Era of Climate Change

This John E. Sawyer Spring Symposium brings scholars from the humanities and social sciences into conversation with experts from the realm of river policy and management to explore the river as both a cultural and a physical entity. Individual sessions will address numerous ways of defining the spatial and conceptual scope of the river, the ways artistic expression shapes—and is shaped by—the physical landscape, and what “resilience” and “sustainability” might mean for the river in the future.

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April 17-18 - Nature 3.x - Where is Nature Now?

Tall grass

Nature 3.x will showcase professional and academic work by artists, designers, and others from a variety of disciplines, including the sciences and humanities, to catalyze new dialogue concerning the shifting definition of nature in the 21st century. Kate Orff will present the keynote Friday evening; presenters on Saturday include Andrew Blackwell, Emma Marris, Works Progress, Buster Simpson, and Koert vanMensvoort.

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May 1 - Minnesota Twins U of M Night

Twins hat colored maroon and gold

A special U of M night with the Minnesota Twins includes a limited edition Maroon & Gold Twins Cap with a ticket purchase. The night will also include a special appearance by Goldy Gopher, a first pitch by President Kaler, a distinguished alum raising the Twins Territory Flag, and the opportunity to watch U alums Paul Molitor and Glen Perkins in action.

Learn more >

UMTC Featured Events

Hemp leaves

Events Calendar >