November 14, 2018

Vol. XLVIII No. 36

Editor: Adam Overland (


Inside This Issue

  • Features: Sowing the Seeds of Success: a new set of learning tools for Minnesota’s farmers; Bringing back the bison; Stopping the spiny water flea; Faith-based medicine; Outwitting oat rust.
  • People: The College of Science and Engineering will lead and house a new $10.3 million Center for Spintronic Materials in Advanced Information Technologies; and more.

Top News

Sowing the Seeds of Success: a new set of learning tools for Minnesota’s farmersperson in field

U of M Extension’s Jake Overgaard grew up on a farm. He knows farming, and he understands that it’s changing. He and Extension educator colleagues are using a new generation of educational tools to meet farmers where they’re at. That might include a podcast on improving disease management (to listen to while they’re driving a combine), or a YouTube video on business planning. Watch a video and learn more.

Bringing back the bisonbison

Bison were part of the oak savanna ecosystem that once covered 10 percent of Minnesota but which is now confined to a few protected reserves. At Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, bison have been reintroduced to a 210-acre enclosure that is part of a study that may provide insight into habitat restoration.

Stopping the spiny water fleaspiny water flea

A tiny invader is quietly undermining the base of the food chain for fish in Minnesota’s lakes. The spiny water flea, a crustacean now ensconced in many northern lakes, eats the smaller, native water fleas that sustain many fish. They spread by sticking to fishing gear and hitching a ride when water, gear, or boats are taken to new lakes. At the University of Minnesota Duluth, researchers are studying which types of gear collect the most spiny water fleas so that anglers and boaters will know what equipment needs particular decontamination.

Faith-based medicinegraphic art of woman in hijab

U of M researcher Rebekah Pratt and local imam Sharif Mohamed have partnered on a number of projects related to health issues in the Somali community, but in 2012, their work took on a new focus when they learned of startling statistics for breast and cervical cancer screening among local Somali women. Together, they’re testing the theory that religion can be an important asset, rather than a barrier, in promoting breast and cervical cancer screening among Somali women.

Outwitting oat rustMelania Figueroa examining oat rust

Growing oats more efficiently is vital to Minnesota farmers and to the businesses that rely on their crops. But oat rust poses a significant threat, reducing yields by as much as 40 percent and hurting the quality of the grain. Since 2015, the U of M’s Stakman-Borlaug Center for Sustainable Plant Health has led the Oat Global program. Oat Global aims to improve oat yields by bringing together growers, millers, researchers, industry associations, government officials, and others from around the world to improve breeding methods and reduce disease.


The College of Science and Engineering will lead and house a new $10.3 million Center for Spintronic Materials in Advanced Information Technologies; the U of M has received $1 million from the NSF for fundamental quantum research that will help develop materials that could someday be used in quantum computing; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media.

People >

U-Wide News

Nov. 15 - University of Minnesota Give to the Max Daystudent in maroon and gold colors

Nov. 15 is the University of Minnesota’s Give to the Max Day. Join the U of M community in showing your pride by using #UMNGive on social media, and support your favorite University cause at Your support will go further because of special one-day matches, and a gift or social media shout-out could get your cause up to $50,000 in funds.

Reserve research space now for the 2019 Minnesota State Fair

The Driven to Discover Research Facility helps recruit hundreds of research participants during 12 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 21,000 fairgoers enrolling in 2018. Funding is available for eligible cancer and pediatric studies. An online application is due Jan. 22.

Research Brief: Obesity prevention among low-income, diverse preschool-aged children and parentstwo small girls

Childhood obesity is a serious health problem and disproportionately affects children of lower income and racial/ethnic minorities. Professors Simone French and Nancy Sherwood recently published a study that makes a unique contribution to the pediatric obesity prevention research area because of its community-based interventions, focus on low-income preschool-aged children, and multi-level intervention that includes home visiting, parenting classes, community links, and pediatric primary care.

Research Brief: New strategy discovered toward possible prevention of cancers tied to two viruses

Researchers from the University of Minnesota, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the University of Toronto have discovered a possible path forward in preventing the development of cancers tied to two viruses, including the virus that causes infectious mononucleosis--more commonly known as mono or the “kissing disease”--that infects millions of people around the globe each year.


WWI Armistice Centennial Remembrance Display

The University of Minnesota Crookston will have a WWI Armistice Centennial Remembrance Display through Nov. 15, Bookstore Display Case, Sargeant Student Center. The display is open to the public.

Virtual Career Fairs for students

The Virtual Career Fair for People with Disabilities will be held online at 8 a.m., Nov. 14. The Virtual Career Fair for College Athletes will be at noon, Nov. 15. Events are an opportunity for students and alumni to interact with employers (and graduate schools) via chat sessions.

Nov. 15 - ‘We Are Water’ art workshop

Participants in the ‘We Are Water’ art workshop will have the opportunity to create canvases that represent what water means to them. Canvases will be provided along with all types of materials and paints. No charge. 5:30-7:30 p.m., Prairie Room, Sargeant Student Center.

Nov. 18 - Band and Choir Fall Music Concert

The U of M Crookston Band and Choir Fall Music Concert will be held Nov. 18, 2 p.m., Kiehle Auditorium. No charge and open to the public.


Taking aim at cancerKaija Kottke

Senior Kaija Kottke, a triple major in biochemistry, chemistry, and women’s studies, works in the lab of cancer researcher Venkatram Mereddy, where she is in charge of growing research cells and conducting trials. While at UMD, Kottke has received two Summer Undergraduate Research Project awards, which have allowed her to work with Mereddy year-round.

Nov. 15 - Celebrating Native American artistsexhibit artwork

An opening reception will be held for two exhibits beginning at 6 p.m. at the Tweed Museum of Art. “Intersections” features the work of 19 Minnesota-based Native American artists and was created by Tweed curator Karissa White. “Manifest'o” by artist Jonathan Thunder is a multimedia installation that features animated vignettes based on Anishinaabe memory.

Nov. 20 - Zenon Dance Company concertzenon dancers

Zenon Dance Company will present a concert (no charge) beginning at 7:30 p.m., Marshall Performing Arts Center. Featured dance pieces were created by Minnesota and New York choreographers. Zenon commissions 4-6 new works yearly in American modern and jazz dance genres.


Cougars’ incredible postseason comes to an endcougar volleyball members

The Cougar volleyball team made history by claiming its first Upper Midwest Athletic Conference tournament championship--and the program's first NCAA Tournament berth--with a win over Northwestern on Nov. 3. Junior Layne Herrmann became the Cougars' all-time leader in assists. The Cougars’ unprecedented postseason run ultimately took them to the second round of the NCAA DIII Tournament.


UMR student participates in Mayo Clinic Biomedical Research Program

The ongoing partnership between UMR and Mayo Clinic continues to offer tremendous benefit to students. Mayo Clinic’s Special Research Student program provides a meaningful research experience to students considering a career in biomedical research and exposes them to the educational opportunities at Mayo Clinic in the biomedical sciences. UMR student Phillip Hoffarth has participated in the program since 2017.

UMR celebrates fifth annual International Education Week

International Education Week (Nov. 12-17) is an annual celebration at UMR where faculty, staff, and students plan events and activities to highlight opportunities for global engagement and international education. It is also an opportunity for members of the campus community to share their culture and learn about other cultures represented in the campus and Rochester community.

Twin Cities

U of M opens new robotics research labsstudent in new robotics lab

Robotics research at the U of M received a big boost with the opening of new state-of-the-art robotics research labs in the Shepherd Laboratories building. The 20,000-square-foot renovation includes nine flexible robotics labs, including a two-story-high lab to accommodate research on flying robots. Other labs will provide space for research on underwater and ground robots. In addition, the renovation will include space for the University’s Solar Vehicle Project Team.

Nov. 24, 25 - Annual Indoor Marching Band Concert

Join the University of Minnesota Marching Band, directed by Betsy McCann, for performances that showcase music, tradition, and entertainment for the whole family. Fresh off its Super Bowl LII halftime appearance, the Marching Band will perform halftime favorites and more Nov. 24, 7 p.m., and Nov. 25, 2 p.m., Carlson Family Stage, Northrop. Tickets and more information.

Nov. 27 - Biology on the Pedestal with Oron Catts

Hear from artist, researcher, designer, and curator Oron Catts, whose Tissue Culture and Art Project is considered a pioneering biological art project. His talk will unpack the role played by different cultural institutions, research settings, cultural workers, popular media, and industry in their dealings with biotechnological artifacts. 7 p.m., Weisman Art Museum. Register to attend.

Nov. 29 - Powered by WIT: A History of Women in IT@UMN

Join in a look at the history of women in IT@UMN, featuring a panel discussion and facilitated conversation about the historical context of the evolution of women’s roles in the IT landscape, including key historical events, personal reflections, and changes on the horizon. Panel presentation from 2-3:30 p.m., reception to follow, 101 Walter Library. RSVP to attend.

UMTC Featured Eventswoman with stop the abuse written on palm

Nov. 14 - Student Veterans Appreciation Day
Nov. 15 - Equity and Diversity Breakfast
Nov. 15 - Elvis Costello & The Imposters
Nov. 15 - Conversations about the Heart and Art
Nov. 15 - A Conversation with Kelly Holstine, 2018 Minnesota Teacher of the Year
Nov. 20 - U of M Jazz Ensembles I & II Concert
Nov. 28 - Is it time for a new international treaty to end violence against women and girls?

Events Calendar >