November 13, 2019

Vol. XLIX No. 36

Editor: Adam Overland (


Inside This Issue

  • Features: Sisterhood of science; Small-town heroes; Mission Control’s go-to gal.
  • People: Researchers receive $3.2 million grant to study treatments for severe obesity in adolescents; and more.

Top News

Sisterhood of scienceLaura Irvine with a basketball shooting robot

Being female in male-dominated science and engineering programs can be lonely at times. Here’s what the University of Minnesota is doing to attract more women and girls.

Small-town heroesFelicia Galvin

The U of M Morris’ Center for Small Towns has been matching students with Minnesota community groups for 25 years. Towns with populations of 5,000 or fewer have access to the talent and resources at the U of M Morris, while students get an opportunity to apply their classroom learning to solve real-world problems and strengthen their connections to rural Minnesota.

Mission Control’s go-to galHeather MacDonald with an astronaut

College of Science and Engineering alumna Heather McDonald is the first female chief engineer for the International Space Station. Her job is to keep the station running smoothly, making sure that every piece of hardware and software meets NASA requirements and that everything works together as an integrated system.


Researchers receive $3.2 million grant to study treatments for severe obesity in adolescents; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media.


U-Wide News

Nov. 14 - Give to the Max DayGive to max day poster

Join colleagues and the U-wide community in showing your U of M pride during the University of Minnesota’s Give to the Max Day by using #UMNGive on social media and supporting your favorite University cause at Your support will go even further because of special one-day matches, and a gift or social media shout-out could earn up to $50,000 in bonus funds for U of M causes.

Project identifies Minnesota’s uninsured to help them obtain coverage

In 2018, the University of Minnesota School of Public Health launched a study to identify and characterize communities in Minnesota with high rates of people lacking health insurance. One year later, the project has released the data profiling the uninsured in communities across the state, as well as an interactive Excel workbook and clickable map that state policymakers and organizations who help people obtain coverage can use to learn more about them.

Den boxes provide nesting sites for fishersa forest fisher outside a den box

Over the past 20 years, the fisher population in Minnesota has declined by 50 percent. After extensive surveying of more than 10,000 northern Minnesota trees, researchers found that less than two percent were large enough for fishers to use. Researchers have launched a pilot study to evaluate the success of artificial den boxes, which could make up for the lack of big, old cavity trees, which are the fishers’ preferred habitat.

MnTAP intern program: Solutions for Minnesota businesses

The U of M’s Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) has published its 2019 Solutions report highlighting the results from its summer internship program. This year MnTAP interns identified environmental and process improvements that could save Minnesota companies 96 million gallons of water, 3.5 million pounds of waste, and $2.4 million annually.

Master Naturalists help conserve native species

In Minnesota, more than 1,700 Master Naturalists—trained by U of M Extension—volunteer at over 150 organizations. Certification requires 40 hours of training on Minnesota’s unique ecological areas, called biomes. Naturalists perform at least 40 hours of service each year, making a difference by volunteering for nonprofits, state agencies, nature centers, and University research programs. They also bring their new knowledge to their jobs and communities.

Reserve research space now at the 2020 Minnesota State Fair

The Driven to Discover Research Facility helps recruit hundreds of research participants within days at the Minnesota State Fair. The facility is open to U of M faculty, staff, or student investigators for on-the-spot research or for studies conducted elsewhere. The building annually attracts 60,000 visitors, with over 25,000 fairgoers enrolling in studies in 2019. Funding is available through OVPR and for eligible cancer studies. An online application is due Jan. 21.

Consortium Research Award funding available

The Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences provides funding to U of M graduate and professional students for research projects at the intersection of science and society. $35,000 is available with a maximum individual award of $7,000. The application deadline is Feb. 10. Learn more and apply.

Talking holiday stress management with U of M

For many, the winter holiday season—filled with gift-buying, travel, and entertaining—is the most stressful time of year. Mary Jo Kreitzer talks about why the holidays are stressful, and ways to prevent and manage stress.

Research Brief: Conscientiousness is top personality predictor of positive career and work-related outcomes

A U of M study has found that conscientiousness—a family of personality traits that combines being disciplined, focused, tenacious, organized, and responsible—is the personality trait that best predicts work-related success across the board in life. Additional recent Research Briefs include “Origin of deadly wheat pathogen revealed,” “Biosimilar drugs can reduce costs but still face challenges in the U.S.,” and “How exposure to influenza affects birth and infant health outcomes.”


Student feature: Senior Jacqueline BurkeJacqueline Burke

Jacqueline Burke's journey to Crookston started as a young girl full of energy who, as she recalls, was a bit of troublemaker. Though her parents tried to interest her in ballet and swimming and a whole host of other activities, it was finally soccer that caught on as her first love.

Nov. 20 - From Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day, Let's Discover Why

Join in a conversation with Courtney Davis Souvannasacd, the moving force behind the first Indigenous Peoples Day celebration in Grand Forks, ND. Noon-1 p.m., Prairie Room, Sargeant Student Center.


Learning outdoorsLeslie Bucar

Environmental education graduate student Leslie Bucar’s work at Stowe Elementary in Gary–New Duluth has transformed how students and teachers interact with the outdoors. Bucar established recess clubs where students can try activities such as fort building or snowshoeing. For lessons, teachers can utilize two trails that Bucar marked. Even community members have gotten involved, volunteering their time to teach gardening.

Building a better braceletKatelyn France wearing her bracelet

German and biochemistry major Katelyn France has designed an inexpensive medical ID bracelet that provides more information than a $200 one she saw advertised when she was in high school. That item offered only four lines of text. France’s bracelet incorporates a QR code that can be read by any smartphone and links to medical information stored online. Currently a sophomore, France plans to market her bracelet once she graduates.

Inspiring youth toward careers in medicineJacob tolar with young students

Over 40 young people from Nett Lake Elementary School recently visited the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth campus. Nett Lake Elementary is located within the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa community. Their visit, which is part of the elementary school’s regular science curriculum, is one touch point in a larger outreach effort that hopes to encourage a lifelong love of science and inspire young people, especially American Indian youth, toward careers in medicine.


Talking ‘NaNoWriMo’ with U of MJosh Johnson

It’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo): For 30 days, aspiring writers around the world come together in an online community, each hoping to write 50,000 words by the end of the month. Joshua Johnson, Morris assistant professor of English and director of the Writing Center, talks about NaNoWriMo and shares his advice for aspiring writers.

Engaging young minds with agriculture

The West Central Research and Outreach Center will offer a groundbreaking, hands-on learning experience for undergraduate students at the U of M Morris and in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences this spring. Diversity of Agricultural Production Systems will demonstrate the wide variety of agricultural production systems and opportunities for fulfilling, well-paying careers in agriculture-related disciplines.


My UMR with Jenn HookeJenn Hooke

Jenn Hooke, a student success coach, advises students around academic planning and support, career decision-making, and more from their start at UMR to graduation. She also helps them navigate life when things don't go as planned. Hooke loves the culture of care and working with innovative and collaborative colleagues who are committed to helping students succeed.

Career Pathways: Business and Leadership of Health Care

The management of health care delivery, including hospitals, public health departments, and health care systems is an increasingly specialized role that demands a blend of health sciences knowledge with leadership and entrepreneurial skills. UMR's innovative degree programs and integrated curriculum provide students with a foundational undergraduate education.

Twin Cities

M is for veteransDavid on poster that says M is for veterans

The U of M has a diverse community of military veterans among its students, faculty, and staff. To support their dedication and service, a new campaign features photos and stories of student and employee veterans while highlighting other social identities that are significant in their veteran and U of M story.

TRIO McNair faculty mentors sought

The TRIO McNair Scholars program is recruiting students and faculty mentors for its summer 2020 cohort. The program gives first-generation and income-eligible or underrepresented undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct research and prepare for graduate school. Faculty are also encouraged to help identify undergraduate students to participate. Interested faculty can complete a short survey or email for more information.

Behind the scenes at The Raptor Center

Wildlife rehabilitation involves caring for sick and injured wild animals, including birds such as eagles, hawks, and owls. Veterinarians at The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota care for 1,000 injured birds of prey a year. Watch this behind-the-scenes video to see how a veterinarian rehabilitates birds that are brought to the center.

Cooking up better health in North Minneapolis

On a Wednesday night in North Minneapolis, teenage boys are busy chopping bell peppers and broccoli to top a veggie-packed pizza. They’re in the teaching kitchen at the Robert R. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center, led by U of M Extension’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, which focuses on the Twin Cities metro area.

Nov. 19 - Tribute to Toni Morrison

University professors Zenzele Isoke and Terrion Williamson and professor emeritus John Wright, as well as writers Taiyon Coleman and Chaun Webster, will share their thoughts about the late Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison. University students will read excerpts from Morrison's work. 4 p.m., 120 Elmer L. Andersen Library.

Dec. 5 - Headliners: Beyond Extinction: On Nature’s Value, Biodiversity Trends, and Causes for Hope

Hosted by LearningLife in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies, join Kate Brauman, a coordinating lead author for the United Nations Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, as she discusses its prediction of “one million species at risk of extinction.” Brauman is a lead scientist of the Global Water Initiative at the U of M’s Institute on the Environment. 7-8:30 p.m., Continuing Education and Conference Center, Saint Paul. Tickets and more information.

Dec. 10 - ‘Policing in Minneapolis: Northside Voices’ community forum

The public is invited to this community forum on the past, present, and future of policing in North Minneapolis. The event will build off a University of Minnesota research project that examines how neighborhood residents in North Minneapolis understand policing in the wake of the Movement for Black Lives and related local organizing. 5:30 p.m., Urban Research And Outreach-Engagement Center, 2001 Plymouth Ave N.

UMTC Featured Eventsmarching band person on stage

Nov. 13 - Petri Dish: Putting a Price on Biodiversity
Nov. 14 - Resisting Violence and the Journey of Reconciliation: Lessons from Rwanda
Nov. 15 - Larry Diamond: Saving Our Democracy, Presented by FairVote Minnesota
Nov. 16 - University Opera presents Peter Brook's Carmen's Tragedy
Nov. 16 - Women in Data Science Symposium
Nov. 20 - Nuclear Weapons and Our World Today
Nov. 21 - Landscape Architecture in the National Wildlife Refuge System
Nov. 23 & 24 - 58th Annual Marching Band Indoor Concert

Events Calendar