May 6, 2020

Vol. L No. 18

Editor: Adam Overland (


Inside This Issue

  • May 7-8 - Board of Regents meeting.
  • CIDRAP outlines COVID-19 realities, next steps.
  • Features: When xenophobia spreads like a virus; Online learning sparks furniture design creativity; Brave new proteins; COVID-19 and cheese curds.
  • People: Five U of M faculty elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and more.

Top News

May 7-8 - Board of Regents meeting

During its May meeting, the Board of Regents will review initial operating budget recommendations for the upcoming 2020-21 fiscal year from President Joan Gabel. In response to uncertainty around the budgetary impacts of COVID-19, the operating budget for FY21 will be presented as a tiered approach. See the news release for more details. The University community and members of the public will also have an opportunity to respond to the proposed budget during a public comment period that continues through June 2. Comments can be submitted online.

CIDRAP outlines COVID-19 realities, next steps

A new report by the University's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) outlines the COVID-19 situation using past influenza pandemics as models and makes recommendations for the likelihood of a lengthy timeline to reach “herd immunity.” See key recommendations from the report.

When xenophobia spreads like a virusErika Lee

From a planned bombing of a hospital with COVID-19 patients inside to targeted physical and psychological violence against Asian Americans and other ethnic groups, hate crimes are on the rise across the United States. Professor Erika Lee, an award-winning American historian and director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota, says the rise of racism and xenophobia that we're seeing during the COVID-19 public health crisis is both old and new.

Online learning sparks furniture design creativityJosephine Howell in one of her garbage can chairs

In mid-March, when students were advised not to return to campus because of COVID-19, faculty began scrambling to figure out how to transform their teaching to an online environment. For students in College of Design instructor Tom Oliphant’s furniture design course, that meant they’d lost access to all the materials and tools usually used in creating furniture. After pivoting to Zoom, Oliphant gave the students a new challenge: wherever you are, create two chairs out of the materials you can find in your environment. The new restrictions gave rise to some whimsical and unexpected creations. Learn more and see a slideshow of their work.

Brave new proteinsrendering of a burger

Plant-based protein research continues to grow as more people adopt vegetarian, vegan, or flexitarian diets. In November 2018, Baraem Ismail, associate professor in the U of M’s Department of Food Science and Nutrition, launched the Plant Protein Innovation Center (PPIC) at the U of M, focusing on plant and alternative protein research. As the first center of its kind in the nation, PPIC brings together different departments and colleges across the U of M to fill knowledge gaps about plant protein while innovating for the future. PPIC also partners with industry.

COVID-19 and cheese curdsAlise Sjostrom

With restaurants and distributors suddenly cutting orders, cheesemaker Alise Sjostrom (B.S. ’08) and her business, Redhead Creamery, decided to promote direct delivery of cheese curds and more to customers. “And it completely exploded,” she says.


Five U of M faculty members have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Recipients of the 2020 President's Award for Outstanding Service; the College of Liberal Arts (Twin Cities) has selected the recipients of its 2020 Civitas Awards; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media.

People > 

U-Wide News

Alumni Association makes face masks to aid medical patients and their familiesa maroon and gold mask

At the request of alumni, the University of Minnesota Alumni Association has created a maroon and gold reusable cloth face mask that is being sold in its Minnesota Alumni Market. For every mask purchased, the association will donate one for use by medical patients and their families at M Health Fairview. Buy a mask or learn more about the project.

Osterholm Update: The Question of Immunity

In episode 6 of the Osterholm Update podcast, Michael Osterholm and host Chris Dall discuss the latest information on immunity following recovery from COVID-19, outbreaks among employees of food and meat processing facilities, the role of pets in the pandemic, and the public's perspective on social distancing.

For those with cancer, pandemic poses special risksperson in mask graphic

The spread of COVID-19 is scary enough for everybody, but especially for people with underlying health conditions and suppressed immune systems, such as cancer patients. See the special risks.

Parenting during COVID-19: It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Parenting is a full-time job, and breaks from school or closures in childcare, under usual circumstances, create practical and emotional challenges. But most of us have no previous experience to draw on for what it is like to parent during a pandemic. University of Minnesota Extension offers some tips.

U of M Landscape Arboretum reopens to vehicles

The University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum reopened in a limited capacity on May 1. As a key part of the University of Minnesota’s research and outreach missions, the Arboretum has been working with University leadership on a phased approach to reopening to ensure visitor and staff safety. For the first phase, Three-Mile Drive is open to vehicles only. All members and non-member visitors need pre-registered online reservations to access the grounds.

Probable Meets Possible: Bio-Inspired Futures Rooted in the Right NowA tree sketch

In this new series, the Bell Museum and College of Biological Science will host online conversations that ask University scientists in bio-based fields to talk about probable challenges we face and possible advances that could have a profound impact on the future. Upcoming conversations include Medicinal Microbes? (May 13); Water What Ifs (May 20); and Not Business as Usual (May 27).

Due May 11 - MnDRIVE Seed Grant applications

Interested in chemical and biological remediation strategies to help with environmental challenges across the state? Learn more and apply for a MnDRIVE Environment Seed Grant before the May 11 deadline.

Finals and Ramadan

Instructors may receive requests from students for accommodations related to Ramadan, which continues through May 23. Instructors who receive an accommodation request should make reasonable efforts to grant the request or to grant another accommodation that would permit the student to fulfill their academic responsibilities and observe Ramadan. The Makeup Work for Legitimate Absences policy provides useful information about accommodations due to religious observances, and information on related policies is listed on the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action website. Specific questions about providing accommodations can be directed to 612-624-9547 or

Research Brief: Vaping and edible use of marijuana growing among adolescent users

New University of Minnesota research shows fewer high school seniors in the U.S. are smoking marijuana. However, vaping and edible marijuana use are increasing. Additional recent Research Briefs include “New recycling method could make polyurethane materials sustainable.”

U of M featured virtual eventsa flower

May 7 - Community Health During COVID-19: Stress, Coping, and Well-Being

May 11 - FabLab Presents: Mending Mondays

May 16 - Online Mindfulness Meditation Retreat

May 21 - Dreaming of Somnolance: Sleep and Circadian Strategies to Promote Wellbeing


Crookston provides life-changing experience for senior softball pitcherPaige pitching a softball

It was during her second visit to Minnesota Crookston that Paige Pitlick knew that Crookston was the place for her to pursue her education and her softball dreams. Four years later, Pitlick is on the verge of graduating, with plans to attend pharmacy school at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

Crookston to host small business webinar series to prepare community businesses for recovery

The University of Minnesota Crookston, in partnership with the Northwest Minnesota Small Business Development Center and the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, will kick off a six-part webinar series focused on what the community and businesses can do to prepare for recovery. Webinars will take place on May 6, 13, 20, and 27, and June 3 and 10.


Faculty honoredUMD sign

Richard Gran, computer science; Tracy Bibelnieks, math and statistics; and Terresa Moses, art and design, are recipients of this year’s Chancellor's Research, Teaching, and Public Service awards, respectively. Dan Martin, anthropology, sociology, and criminology, received the Albert Tezla Teacher/Scholar Award. Jennifer Brady, world languages and cultures, received the Faculty Advisor Award. David Beard, English, linguistics, and writing studies, received the Graduate Faculty Advisor Award. Learn more about the recipients

Helping to build respiratorsKory jenkins

UMD’s Natural Resources Research Institute has assisted two regional companies, Cirrus Aircraft and Frost River, in building Positive Air Pressure Respirators (PAPR) for workers at local hospitals. Kory Jenkins, manager of NRRI’s lab, opened up NRRI’s Additive Manufacturing Lab and used 3D printing to create parts for some respirators. He also worked with Cirrus to improve their process for building PAPRs.


Dabbs earns Horace T. Morse AwardJulia Dabbs

Associate Professor of Art History Julia Dabbs has earned the Horace T. Morse - University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education. An art historian with an interest in public art and the work of women artists, Dabbs writes that she "teaches through art" how to understand the world.

Olson-Loy earns NASPA Pillar of the Profession awardSandra Olson Loy

Sandra Olson-Loy, vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of Minnesota Morris, has been named a 2020 Pillar of the Profession by the NASPA Foundation—one of the organization's highest honors. A senior student affairs officer at U of M Morris for two decades, Olson-Loy has devoted her career to developing a comprehensive student-life program rooted in the University's mission as a selective, rural public liberal arts college.


Research and Education SymposiumDenika Kerska

Posters from UMR's Research and Education Symposium (and a YouTube video) can be found online. UMR senior Denika Kerska says of the experience, "My experiences with research have helped me answer many questions. Presenting my research at UMR's Research and Education Symposium helped me gain more confidence in interacting with the scientific community."

A special message for UMR students

The UMR community crafted a special video message for UMR students to show their support and care.

Twin Cities

Virtual making and the new normal: A conversation with Molly SanfordMolly Sanford

When Molly Sanford accepted the position as fabrication director for the College of Design’s Fabrication Shops in March 2020, her most urgent problem was a dust collector on the fritz. Two weeks and one global pandemic later, Sanford began working to reframe the crisis as an opportunity for open-hearted collaboration, creative resourcefulness, and new beginnings.

School of Public Health and Medical School create COVID-19 info sheets and video for Hennepin County JailA guard at a jail

Anyone in America can contract COVID-19—and marginalized populations may be at the highest risk for getting the deadly illness. One group in particular is intentionally out of sight, and consequently, often overlooked: People in jail. To protect inmates in Minneapolis, officials at the Hennepin County Jail recently reached out to a team from the U of M School of Public Health and Medical School for help in creating COVID-19 educational videos and fact sheets for people who are locked up, scared, and lacking even the most basic information on the pandemic.

Spotlight: Professor Jeffrey SchottJeff Schott working on a boat

Minnesotans love their weekend activities, especially in the spring, summer, and fall. When the weather gets warmer, we like to get outdoors with family and friends and do many of the things Minnesota is famous for: hiking, fishing, bike riding, or going “up north” to the cabin, just to name a few. But since 2010, weekends for chemical engineering professor Jeffrey Schott have meant something quite different: working on a century-old steamboat on Lake Minnetonka.

A fresh way of developing new educational toolsSashank Varma and Bodong Chen

The College of Education and Human Development’s (CEHD) new Learning Informatics Lab lies at the crossroads of computation and interdisciplinary collaboration. CEHD’s new lab is designed to bring together researchers from across disciplines to use learning informatics to find solutions to some of the most challenging issues in education today.

U of M linguistics and Ojibwe language major awarded national Udall Scholarship

The Morris and Stewart Udall Foundation has named University of Minnesota Twin Cities junior Dustin Morrow among its 55 Udall Scholars for 2020. Udall Scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate academic excellence, integrity, leadership, and commitment to public service related to conservation of the environment or Native American affairs.

Three undergraduates awarded Boren Scholarships for foreign study

Three University of Minnesota students have been selected by the National Security Education Program as winners of competitive Boren Awards to support the study of languages and cultures critical to U.S. interests. The program aims to strengthen U.S. economic competitiveness and enhance international cooperation and security by providing students with scholarships to support long-term, immersive study in critical regions of the world. Recipients include Clara Bartnik, Juliet Paulson, and Anna Sherman.

Meeting a medical artifact: Glass eyesa selection of glass eyes

Students in Dominique Tobbell’s Technology and Medicine in Modern America class had a unique opportunity to place contemporary issues in medicine and health care in their historical context, like College of Biological Sciences student Sarah Copeland's research on artificial eyes.

U of M Les Bolstad Golf Course reopens

The U of M Les Bolstad Golf Course opened on May 1, with modified procedures allowing for contact-free golf to ensure the health and safety of golfers and staff. Online tee times and payment are now available. Both the driving range and clubhouse remain closed under Governor Walz’s executive order.