May 29, 2019

Vol. XLIX No. 20

Editor: Adam Overland (


Inside This Issue

Summer publication: Brief will publish on June 12 and 26, July 17, and Aug. 14. Weekly publication resumes Aug. 28.

  • Features: Brain explorers; Faces of immigration; Eric Kaler’s eight great years; Unscrambling the aurora.
  • People: Richard James has received a 2019 Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Defense; and more.

Top News

Brain explorersbrain illustration

With support from the Wallin Neuroscience Discovery Fund, University of Minnesota researchers are pursuing promising ideas and unraveling the mysteries of how our brains work. In nine years, the fund has supported more than 30 innovative projects and helped make the U of M a national leader in brain research while creating a culture where scientists are encouraged to work together to pursue their most far-fetched ideas.

Faces of immigrationsketch of immigrants taking pledge

Members of the University community are making their own contributions to the national conversation on immigration--whether they’re studying refugees’ health, creating art about the meaning of “home,” or funding or receiving scholarships specifically for immigrants. Here are some of their stories.

Eric Kaler’s eight great yearssketch of eric kaler

The U of M’s 16th president steps down at the end of June, with plans to spend the next year promoting the $4 billion Driven campaign, then joining the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science faculty. Here, Kaler looks back on what he’s most proud of and what he’s accomplished.

Unscrambling the auroraaurora borealis

A team led by John Dombeck, a researcher in the U of M’s Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics, has taken a giant step toward understanding the genesis of solar storms, which could help in limiting the damage they cause.


Richard James has received a 2019 Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Defense; Midwest Campus Compact has selected three U of M faculty and staff as 2019-20 Midwest Engaged Scholars; Recipients of the CLA Interdisciplinary Collaborative Workshop Award; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media. People

U-Wide News

Emergency Travel Assistance services

Emergency medical and travel assistance services and political and natural disaster evacuation coverage are available through the UPlan and a partnership with Redpoint. From 100 miles away from your home to international destinations, you and your family are eligible for assistance in your travels, including worldwide medical and dental referrals, transportation coordination and assistance, evacuation assistance if a disaster strikes, and more.

Becoming a Master Gardener

After retiring from careers abroad, Scott and Jo Sindelar moved back to Minnesota, where Scott Sindelar is beginning his first year as a University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener volunteer. Each year, 2,400 Extension Master Gardeners volunteer across Minnesota. Read about the steps to becoming an Extension Master Gardener.

What’s your heart age?

You know your age, but what about your heart age? The two numbers might not be the same, says University of Minnesota Health cardiologist Stephen Battista. Take an online assessment to determine your own heart age, and see what Battista says about heart health.

June 1-2 - MyU and PeopleSoft outage

MyU and all University of Minnesota PeopleSoft systems (CS, EFS, HR, and IH) will be unavailable on Saturday, June 1, and Sunday, June 2, for updates to PeopleSoft. The IT System Status page will have the latest information on system availability. Access to Canvas ( and University email ( will not be affected. After the update, it is recommended you clear your cache before logging in.

June 5 - CTS Spring Luncheon: Current Landscape and Future Vision of Shared Mobility

This year’s Center for Transportation Studies spring luncheon (register) will feature Caroline Samponaro, longtime bike and pedestrian advocate and leader of micromobility policy at Lyft. Samponaro will touch on the lessons from her own professional journey and dive into Lyft’s new role as the largest bikeshare operator in America. Her presentation will also explore what’s changing and what’s working across the larger shared mobility industry, as well as issues such as safe streets and transportation equity. 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Graduate Hotel, Minneapolis.

June 13 - Webinar: Think and Act Strategically

The ability to execute strategy separates successful organizations from their competitors and gives a career advantage to those able to think and act strategically. This webinar (register) will explore how strategic plans are created and executed to accomplish an organization’s goals. Webinar presenter Dick DeBlieck instructs project management and leadership courses for the University of Minnesota and specializes in management and organizational development. Noon-1 p.m.

MnDRIVE: Industrial Partnership Bioremediation Seed Grants

MnDRIVE Environment invites proposals for Industrial Partnership Bioremediation Seed Grants. The program seeks to improve bioremediation/biodegradation strategies and their industrial applications through improved understanding, augmentation, or alteration of microorganisms or microbial communities. Faculty research may include basic and applied components; preference will be given to translational research using microorganisms in environmental cleanup. Only new projects will be considered and seed grant funds may not be used to support existing studies. Applications should emphasize relevance to Minnesota’s industry and environment. Deadline is June 20.

July 30-31 - Embedding Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Principles into Curricula

This multidisciplinary symposium provides faculty with infant and early childhood mental health core concepts, tools, and exercises that participants can immediately embed in coursework. The program will also assist new practitioners in building the capacity to meet the unique relational and developmental needs of very young children, their families, and caregivers. St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN.

Now accepting applications: Collaborative Online International Learning program

The Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) program is now accepting applications for its 2019-20 faculty program. COIL promotes international learning opportunities for University of Minnesota students. Participants receive support to establish and/or strengthen an international partnership and develop a COIL module for their course. In this video, U of M faculty discuss how such a course can enliven a classroom through global connections.

Research Brief: Negative personal experiences add meaning to life

While many people say they appreciate positive experiences more than negative ones, there is a hidden benefit of negative experiences. While someone involved in a negative situation might not enjoy it, a recent study from the University of Minnesota and Stanford University indicates that a negative experience can provide meaning for the individual. Additional recent Research Briefs include “Protecting rare species can benefit human life” and “Park-and-ride transit gives suburban commuters higher access to jobs.”


Call attends workshop on conservationchris call

He wants a career in natural resources, but Chris Call, a soon-to-be senior in natural resources, knew he needed more experience. He got that opportunity when he was accepted as the only student from Minnesota to the Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow workshop, which focuses on hunting education, its history, and its place in the conservation field.

Crookston Pickleball Association supports student-athletes

The Crookston Pickleball Association has been able to utilize the Crookston Wellness Center on Tuesday evenings and Sunday afternoons during the past academic year. The association approached the campus about the possibility of using the facility due to the sport's growing popularity and an increase in club members. Recently, the association presented a check to the Wellness Center to support athletics.


Faculty promotionsUMD sign

The Board of Regents approved the promotions of 11 faculty members to full professor. They are Edward Downs, Pat Farrell, Hairong Feng, David Gore, Joseph Staats, and David Syring from the College of Liberal Arts; Xin Liang from the Labovitz School of Business and Economics; and Don Branstrator, Karen Gran, Brian Hinderliter, and Jennifer Liang from the Swenson College of Science and Engineering. Ten faculty were promoted to associate professor and two received indefinite tenure.

Honored for excellenceKate Elgayeva

Labovitz School of Business and Economics assistant professor Kate Elgayeva, organizational behavior, received a fellowship for excellence in teaching from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and Course Hero. The fellowship includes a $20,000 grant to support teaching, research, and conference participation.

Research in motionJacub Kluver

Exercise science major and psychology minor Jacob Kluver created a project to help his track teammates improve their mindset before a race. As a result, eight individuals set lifetime bests. With this research, Kluver is getting a jump-start on the career he envisions--working with athletes to help them improve their physical performance. Watch a video about his experience.


Her path to serviceJamie Polahn

Jamie Polahn ’19 moved with her mother to the United States from Liberia not long after the second Liberian Civil War began. Soon after they arrived, Polahn’s mother began to pursue a degree in nursing. Inspired by her mother's journey, Polahn is ready to follow her own public-health path.

Berberi receives President's Award for Outstanding Service

Tammy Berberi, associate professor of French and interim director of Equity, Diversity and Intercultural Programs, earned the University of Minnesota President's Award for Outstanding Service. Berberi stands out for bringing world languages and connections to the Morris community (and for doing it with a smile).


UMR Commencement CeremonyUMR students graduating

On May 18, 85 students graduated at UMR’s commencement ceremony. Xavier Prat-Resina, a chemistry professor at UMR’s Center for Learning Innovation, delivered the keynote, while graduates Shanna Sexton and Elisabeth Pearson were student speakers. Distinguished guests included Michael Silber, dean of Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences; Steven Sviggum, University of Minnesota Regent; and Sue Simon, nurse manager at Mayo Clinic’s Generose 1 West and President’s Partner awardee, who served as the grand marshal.

UMR hosts 9th annual Research and Education Symposium

Earlier this month, University of Minnesota Rochester hosted its 9th annual Research and Education Symposium. Students had the opportunity to present their posters and participate in oral presentations. Additionally, several UMR alumni participated in a panel focused on the importance of research and finding potential research opportunities.

Twin Cities

June 3 - Faculty/staff sneak peek of Pieces of the Puzzle

This theatrical production (RSVP) is performed annually for all incoming first-year students during New Student Orientation by student leaders in the office of Orientation & Transition Experiences. Through both humorous and serious portrayals, the issues addressed will include mental health, dating and healthy relationships, microaggressions, binge drinking, peer pressure, stress, and sexual assault. 3:30-4:45 p.m., Coffman Theater.

June 4 - Female Tastemakers: Women of Wine

This course explores a variety of wines created by some of the most famous women in winemaking. Participants will learn about wine and winemakers’ histories, cultures, and geographies, as well as wine label interpretation and the ins and outs of tasting.

Northrop's Music on the Plaza returns June 12person singing at mic

Music on the Plaza, Northrop’s popular summer concert series, returns to campus in June with a mix of new bands and returning favorites. A campus tradition since the 1950s, the series features Minnesota bands with a worldwide variety of styles. Concerts run from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays beginning June 12 through early August on the Northrop Plaza. Audiences are invited to bring a lunch, find a seat, and dance along to the sounds of local musicians. In case of inclement weather, check for notification of a revised location or cancellation.

June 13 - Powered by WIT: Stories from the Archives

Join Women in Technology (WIT) colleagues as they share their research from the University Archives on the history of women's contributions to information technology and STEM at the University of Minnesota. Please bring your own lunch. Coffee and dessert will be provided. Noon-1:30 p.m., 110 Anderson Hall.

UMTC Featured EventsDominick Argento

May 31 - John Prine
June 13 - Deductive Logic: The Best Stories of Sherlock Holmes
June 14 - Programming & Pizza June - Research Consultations Served with a Slice
June 15 - Take it to Science Court: Brainstorm for the Next Controversial Case
June 18 - Dominick Argento Memorial Concert
June 29 - U of M Day at the Minnesota United

Events Calendar >