March 18, 2020

Vol. L No. 11

Editor: Adam Overland (


Inside This Issue

  • Board of Regents March meeting highlights.
  • Features: Move into the stream; Home again.
  • People: Keith A. Mays has been named interim dean of the School of Dentistry; and more.

Top News

Board of Regents March meeting highlights

At its March meeting held at the University of Minnesota Duluth, the Board of Regents heard from Michael Osterholm, director of the University’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, about the biology of COVID-19, how the virus spreads, and how existing data can be used to develop community responses to COVID-19 concerns. Jill DeBoer, director of the University’s Health Emergency Response Office, also shared details about the University’s health emergency preparedness and response on all of its campuses. Regents also participated in hands-on science demonstrations with engineering faculty, approved the sale of public radio station KUMD, and received the report of the student representatives. See the news release for more details.

Move into the streamCynthia scott

At 59, former Minnesota Alumni magazine editor Cynthia Scott started her journey toward becoming a Zen Buddhist priest. Like many people, says Scott, she began practicing Zen earnestly in the wake of profound loss—the death of her wife, Cathy, who died in 2007, before same-sex marriage was legal. “I have posthumously bestowed upon us the status of wives since I think 25 years of committed relationship qualifies,” says Scott. Scott says that she and Cathy lived with the ups and downs of her cancer for 12 years, and when she died, she was lost.

Home againMelissa Wray

In 2018, U of M alumna Melissa Wray began shuttling back and forth between Minneapolis, where she had lived for a dozen years, and her hometown of Caledonia, MN. She spent her trips there meeting with bankers and filling out paperwork in order to purchase an old Presbyterian church vacated in the 1970s. Today she’s the founder of Mainspring, which has turned that abandoned church into a place for culture, community, and creativity.


Keith A. Mays has been named interim dean of the School of Dentistry; Lucinda Johnson has been named a fellow of the Society for Freshwater Science; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media.

People >

U-Wide News

COVID-19 academic planning

To mitigate the risk of COVID-19, all coursework on all campuses will be delivered online from March 18 (Crookston and Morris will resume classes March 23) through the end of the semester. Online tools within the Canvas Learning management system provide options for continuing instruction and can facilitate online teaching and learning. The Keep Teaching website can assist instructors in moving course materials and learning activities online. Local academic technology professionals in your college, campus, or unit are available to help, as is central IT. Additional guidance can be found at the academic planning FAQ. Workplace guidance for employees, including teleworking/working remotely guidelines, are available at Workplace Guidance for COVID-19. Please continue to refer to the Safe Campus site for the latest COVID-19 information or reach out to with questions.

COVID-19 - Guidance for the research community

The University has created a webpage dedicated to providing key and timely information regarding COVID-19 Guidance for the Research Community. The page will be updated as circumstances evolve, from federal agencies and from University research-related units such as Sponsored Projects Administration and the Institutional Review Board.

Creating one of Minnesota’s first fully integrated medical-dental clinics

Medical professionals in Minnesota are paving the way for a new nationwide healthcare integration for patients. A team, including Erin Westfall, assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, is redefining whole-person health by including oral care in their regular healthcare practices—two medical needs historically kept separate. Westfall pioneered this effort, introducing Mankato to one of Minnesota’s first integrated medical-dental clinics.

U of M faculty member saves wrestler’s life

Mark Berg, an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, credits his 18 years as a rural physician for training him to handle a medical emergency that threatened the life of a state high school tournament wrestling competitor. The young man collapsed after his semifinal match and was without a pulse.

U of M first to prove new method to grow human blood vessels

A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School recently proved the ability to grow human-derived blood vessels in a pig—a novel approach that has the potential for providing unlimited human vessels for transplant purposes.

Apr. 2 - Webinar: Domestic Violence 101

Learn about the eight warning signs of a potentially unhealthy or abusive relationship and review resources that can help you or someone else in need as part of this domestic violence webinar, presented by the U of M Alumni Association.

May 18-June 5 - Summer Public Health Institute

The Summer Public Health Institute offers courses for students and practicing professionals in public health and related fields. Participants can build or expand their professional expertise, learn best practices, broaden career options, network with other professionals, or explore a new area of interest.

Research Brief: Researchers take a new approach to understanding a major source of Minnesota moose decline

New research shows that where a moose spends time in the spring has the strongest connection to whether the moose becomes infected with the parasite known as brain worm. Understanding the risks of brain worm to moose is important because the population has experienced a large decline in recent decades.


A background in agriculture leads to a career in agronomyOlivia Mickelson

Growing up on her family farm instilled a strong love for agriculture in Olivia Mickelson, Frazee, MN. Her background ultimately influenced her to pursue a degree in agronomy at the University of Minnesota Crookston. Mickelson’s decision was also influenced by her visits to the Crookston campus in high school for FFA competitions.


3M Frontline interns nameda 3m intern

Six students from the Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) have been selected to take part in the 3M Frontline Sales Initiative program. This intensive summer program gives students internship experience in sales and business. At the end of the program, students could be offered full-time positions. LSBE is one of only 14 universities offering the 3M Frontline program.

Widening perspectivesstudents in Croatia

Three students participating in UMD’s International Student Teaching program in Croatia are not only gaining valuable teaching time in classrooms. They are also immersing themselves in a different culture, feeling a bit of culture shock, and learning that there is more than one way to do things—all experiences they will draw upon when they have classrooms of their own.


The value of a liberal arts educationMargaret Hayes

A diverse, well-rounded education can open the doors to many opportunities that future employers will appreciate. Margaret Hayes '18 is no exception to finding success with a diversified education. Hayes graduated from Morris with a BA in French and medieval studies and a minor in English. Today she works at Concorde International, a small engineering firm that designs parts and accessories for the powersports industry.


Pathways featured student: Nolan MeyerNolan Meyer

Alumnus Nolan Meyer is a third-year PhD candidate at Mayo Clinic working in the technical development of magnetic resonance imaging. On a daily basis, he works with world-renowned Mayo Clinic physicists, engineers, and radiologists to develop algorithms that generate medical images. Learn more about the Emerging Health Technologies path.

Twin Cities

Vollbrecht awarded Churchill ScholarshipMacy Vollbrecht

Macy Vollbrecht, a senior majoring in genetics, cell biology and development in the College of Biological Sciences, has been named a Churchill Scholar by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States. The scholarship, worth approximately $60,000, will allow Vollbrecht to spend the 2020-21 academic year at Churchill College of the University of Cambridge.

A community vision of health

Kenya’s Mfangano Island lies to the east of Lake Victoria, one of Africa’s great lakes. Many of its 26,000 residents are descendants of the Abakunta people and speak Suba, an endangered language. Through an explorers grant supported by National Geographic, the Mfangano Community Health Field Station—a community-rooted enterprise launched in collaboration with the U of M Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility—is embarking on an oral history project to preserve the Suba language and culture.

Call for grant proposals: Partnership for Affordable Content

Faculty and instructors on the U of M Twin Cities campus are eligible to apply for a competitive grant to work with University Libraries to find and implement affordable, high-quality content options for your courses. The deadline for applications is Apr. 3.

New professional development certificate in leadership

A new Leadership Essentials Certificate from the College of Continuing and Professional Studies will instill confidence and credibility to help you excel in any field. This 48-hour program is for those currently in a leadership position or who want to advance into a leadership role. U of M staff receive a 50 percent discount on professional development courses.

UMTC Featured Events

Most in-person events have been canceled. Please refer to the U of M Events Calendar for current event information.