May 20, 2020

Vol. L No. 20

Editor: Adam Overland (


Inside This Issue

Notice: Brief will not publish on May 27.

  • May 20 - Town hall with President Gabel.
  • Features: A closer look at mental health; Lab closed, they push forward; Domestic violence risk grows during pandemic.
  • People: Robert Clarke has been named executive director of the Hormel Institute; and more.

Top News

May 20 - Town hall with President Gabel

President Joan Gabel will host a virtual town hall on YouTube at 1 p.m. with U of M chancellors and senior leaders about the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including discussion of the Sunrise Plan, planning for the fall semester, the recommended fiscal year 2021 budget as recently presented to the Board of Regents, and more. Submit questions online.

A closer look at mental healthtop of mind logo

Top of Mind is a new podcast series highlighting the issue of mental health at the University of Minnesota. Interviews with students, staff, and faculty address trends in student mental health and the programs and services offered to students. Episode 1 takes a broad look at trends in student mental health, contributors to stress and anxiety, and some of the many programs and services offered to students at the University of Minnesota.

Lab closed, they push forwardKate Adamala on her steps

In her lab on the Twin Cities campus, U of M biochemist Kate Adamala’s research group has been building synthetic cells from scratch. In mid-March, when Adamala’s lab was forced to shut down for COVID-19 precautions, her group’s grand vision was put on pause—but not on pause.

Domestic violence risk grows during pandemicapartment complex

As Minnesotans stay home to reduce exposure to the coronavirus, two U of M researchers see a different risk cropping up. “This is the perfect storm for sexual and domestic violence, unfortunately,” says Ruby Nguyen, associate professor in the School of Public Health. Nguyen and College of Education and Human Development associate professor Lynette Renner are investigating how best to provide sexual and intimate partner/domestic violence services in Minnesota during an unprecedented time when the need for them is rising, but resources are dwindling.


Robert Clarke has been named executive director of the Hormel Institute; Maria Hordinsky was recently elected to the American Academy of Dermatology’s Board of Directors; radiology resident Ali Salavati was selected for the 2020 Marc Tetalman, MD, Memorial Award; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media.

People > 

U-Wide News

Scholarly Excellence in Equity & Diversity (SEED) Award applications sought

The Office for Equity and Diversity is now accepting applications for the systemwide 2020 Scholarly Excellence in Equity & Diversity (SEED) Award. The award honors underrepresented undergraduate students who are doing outstanding work to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of Minnesota and in the community. Faculty and staff are asked to encourage juniors and seniors to apply. SEED Awards range from $3,000 to $5,000. The application deadline is June 30.

Adventures in plant evolution with Bell curator of plants Ya YangYa Yang at a microscope

Ya Yang hiked to a glacier in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Lightning cracked in the distance. Yang and her collaborators found the plant they were looking for, pulled it from the icy water, roots and all. They recorded the plant, hurried to the truck, and placed the specimen in a liquid nitrogen tank. As Yang can confirm, collecting plants can be quite the adventure.

Researchers study radiation resistance in brain cancer cellsGlioblastoma rendering

Radiation is a key component of the standard-of-care treatment for the deadly brain cancer glioblastoma; however, the treatment is rarely curative. While the growth of glioblastoma cells is often stalled by radiation, tumor growth inevitably resumes in nearly all treated patients. A new discovery by U of M researchers reveals that glioblastoma acquires radiation resistance by jettisoning exosomal microRNAs. Their work could provide a pathway forward for how to defeat this deadly cancer.

Research Brief: A new approach to averting inflammation caused by COVID-19

Severe COVID-19 illness can result in excessive inflammation throughout the body, including the lungs, heart, and brain. University of Minnesota Twin Cities student Molly Gilligan recently published an article in the journal Cancer & Metastasis Reviews that studied the human body’s robust inflammatory response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is now recognized as a hallmark symptom.

U of M featured virtual eventsballot and postal stamp

May 21 - Sleep and Wellbeing Webinar
May 24 - Virtual Yoga with the Arboretum
May 27 - Probable Meets Possible: Not Business as Usual
May 28 - Finding a Job in a World of Remote Work
May 28 - Vote-by-Mail: What States Are Doing, What States Should Be Doing
May 28 - The U.S. and China: Five Realities Beneath the Sound and Fury
June 5 - From the White House to U: Interpreting News about the Labor Market


Rockensock pursues passion for trap shootingBeth Rockensock and teammates

Trap shooting is one of the fastest growing sports both nationally and in Minnesota. In 2019, the USA College Clay Target League launched with nine teams competing in two conferences. The league has already grown to 31 teams representing 21 states. Beth Rockensock, a native of Menahga, MN, was one of the inaugural members of the first trap shooting team for the Golden Eagles.

Crookston celebrates student awards with a week of social media features

Crookston recently celebrated all University of Minnesota Crookston student award recipients on its social media platforms and announced four recipients of the Outstanding Student Achievement Award. The award is in recognition for honors, leadership, campus involvement, and community service.

May 20 - Webinar: Reopening your business

Join this conversation and discuss with area experts the resources available in sustaining a business. Experts will cover healthy coping skills and self-care strategies you can practice to reduce stress and anxiety. 12:15 p.m. The event is part of the “Community and Business” weekly virtual series.


The politics of global healthJeremy Youde

Jeremy Youde, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, saw his first health crisis as an undergraduate studying abroad in Zimbabwe in the late 1990s when HIV/AIDS was the threat. Discussing the global dynamics of COVID-19, Youde says, “Governments have to respond to health issues that cross borders. This virus is like a forest fire. It's difficult to get cooperation in the best of circumstances, when we're talking about economic policy and trade relationships. But when we are talking about health, it can become that much more complicated.”

Faculty promotions 2020UMD marquee

The Board of Regents recently approved the promotions of eight faculty members to full professor. They are Charles Fountaine and Rick LaCaille from the College of Education and Human Service Professions; David Beard, Rebecca de Souza, Jennifer Gomez Menjivar, and William Salmon from the College of Liberal Arts; and Arshia Khan and Erin Sheets from the Swenson College of Science and Engineering. Twenty-one faculty were promoted to associate professor with indefinite tenure.

People and the environmenta tree

The first group of students in the Master of Tribal Resource & Environmental Stewardship (MTRES) program are graduating. Students in MTRES develop knowledge and skills for natural resources careers that help them respond to the needs and aspirations of the community in which they work. UMD faculty met with tribal natural resource managers in Minnesota to get their input as the program was being developed.


Artistic expressionAndie Jones

U of M Morris 2020 graduate Andie Jones has been creating art her entire life. “I’m interested in how art helps me relate to other people and how I can encourage them to relate to me,” says the psychology major and Fond du Lac American Indian Scholarship recipient.


2020 graduate serves on front lines in COVID-19 fightBesima Majetic

University of Minnesota Rochester alumna and Distinguished Capstone Award winner Besima Majetic is facing COVID-19 head on. A phlebotomist employed by Mayo Clinic, Majetic shares her story of the pandemic and her UMR experience.

Public Policy and Global Health PathwayAudra Gaikowski

UMR's innovative degree programs and integrated curriculum provide students with a foundational undergraduate education. Discover how Audra Gaikowski navigated her time at UMR and learn more about the Public Policy and Global Health Pathway.

Twin Cities

CSE students design gowns for healthcare workersAnna Karos in student designed gown

Just a few weeks ago, M Health Fairview contacted College of Science and Engineering professor Steven Saliterman asking for help designing disposable gowns for health workers. Saliterman assembled 18 of his biomedical engineering students. Within two weeks, they had created a safe, functional gown design that could be rapidly manufactured for use in Minnesota hospitals. Now, local companies Red Fox Innovations and Polar Plastics are rapidly producing the gowns—at a rate of 5,000 to 10,000 per day—and shipping them to M Health Fairview clinics.

A celebration of graduates

University of Minnesota faculty recently shared their congratulations to the Class of 2020. Multiple faculty offered uplifting (and entertaining) messages in a special video created for the graduates.

Summer session library support for courses and students

U of M Libraries has online resources, services, and support for summer session course delivery. Librarians can help faculty and instructors customize course materials, purchase e-books for a class, and meet with you or your class via Zoom.

Map illustrates happiness ratings for streets in Twin Cities metroHappiness map

When people travel, they may be happy—or not—depending on the mode they use, trip duration, and other factors. A team of U researchers has created an interactive map that illustrates differences in travelers’ happiness ratings on streets and roads in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metro area.

Anderson Labs lends a hand to fight COVID-19student made face shields

Even with most labs and makerspaces on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus closed, the University community has banded together to combat COVID-19. That includes students and staff at the College of Science and Engineering’s Anderson Student Innovation Labs, who recently volunteered their time to manufacture more than 300 face shields and around 250 face mask filters for health workers across Minnesota.

Public book landings

A May 20 discussion of the book Because of Winn-Dixie is one example of how teachers, media specialists, and everyday people around the state are finding helpful resources through Minitex and other U of M Libraries resources as they remain home to stem the spread of COVID-19.