September 18, 2019

Vol. XLIX No. 28

Editor: Adam Overland (


Inside This Issue

  • Board of Regents September meeting highlights.
  • Features: Super fly; New normal; Trillions of dimensions.
  • People: Makeda Zulu-Gillespie has been named executive director of the University's Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center; and more.

Top News

Board of Regents September meeting highlights

During its September meeting, the U of M Board of Regents reviewed a proposal to purchase Shriners Hospital in Minneapolis and learned more about how the University would use the property. Regents also heard from President Joan Gabel, who provided more detail about how her administration will further develop a systemwide strategic plan, a process that began in 2016. The Board also recognized three new Regents Professors, heard the first in a series of updates on the University’s health sciences strategy, and learned about a record-breaking fundraising year.

Super flyfruit fly

Inside the lab of Nam Chul Kim is one of the most powerful tools in the history of human health research, known as Drosophila. But you might know it by another name: the fruit fly. For more than 100 years, the tiny fly has helped scientists understand the underpinnings of health and disease, shedding light on topics as diverse as genetic inheritance, cancer progression, brain development, infertility, immunity, and sleep. Today, Kim is using it to illuminate the mechanisms that cause devastating neurodegenerative conditions like ALS and dementia.

New normalBrooklyn Vaith celebrates as a cancer free kid

Backed by University of Minnesota resources and a generation of research, childhood cancer survivors are often thriving decades after treatment. University of Minnesota Health physicians use an integrated, comprehensive, and tailored approach to help cancer survivors stay healthy throughout their lives.

Trillions of dimensionsSnigdhansu Chatterjee

Human perception is notoriously feeble. We can see two dimensions, like a painting, fairly well; and with effort we can see three dimensions—the way we perceive ourselves. Beyond that, most of us are at a loss. Which is why statistical research of “big data,” like Snigdhansu Chatterjee studies, is so useful. As director of the Institute for Research on Statistics and its Applications, he and other researchers have been looking for patterns within seemingly impenetrable problems. The story is part of the College of Liberal Arts (Twin Cities) 150th anniversary magazine feature "Eternal Questions. New Answers."


Makeda Zulu-Gillespie has been named executive director of the University's Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media. People.

U-Wide News

Sept. 20 - President Gabel inauguration scheduleJoan Gabel

Joan T.A. Gabel will be inaugurated as the 17th president of the University of Minnesota on Sept. 20. Visit the inauguration website to find out how you can participate in person or livestream the event, and sign the guest book to welcome President Gabel to the University of Minnesota. The formal installation ceremony will be livestreamed at 9 a.m., with Gabel delivering her inaugural address at 11 a.m.

McKnight Land-Grant and Distinguished McKnight Professorship nominations for 2020

Nomination instructions for the 2020 McKnight Land-Grant Professorships and Distinguished McKnight University Professorships are now available. McKnight Land-Grant nominations are due Nov. 13; Distinguished McKnight nominations are due Jan. 29.

Nomination materials available for 2019-20 Distinguished Teaching Awards

Nomination materials for the Horace T. Morse - University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education, as well as the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education, are now available. These awards recognize and reward University of Minnesota teachers’ commitment to quality education. Award recipients become members of the U of M Academy of Distinguished Teachers. Nominations are due by noon, Jan. 8; check with your college or campus for internal deadlines, which are earlier.

Opening Sept. 21 - ‘Wicked Plants’Wicked Plants exhibit poster graphic

Inspired by author Amy Stewart’s best-selling book Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother and other Botanical Atrocities, this fun-filled, family-friendly traveling exhibit gives visitors a safe, hands-on experience with some of the world’s most diabolical botanicals. The exhibit is packed with plants that stink, burn, and even kill, but “Wicked Plants” uncovers their threats using a blend of history, science, and storytelling. On Sept. 26 meet Stewart, who will deliver a lecture and book-signing from 7 to 9 p.m., Bell Museum.

Research Brief: Few online firearm listings require or conduct background checks

Individuals who hold federal firearms licenses are required by federal law to run a background check on buyers. However, the same requirement does not apply to private sellers. A new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and several other institutions explored firearm listings on, an online marketplace for private firearm sales. The research shows that online firearms sales represent a huge potential loophole, says study co-lead Ashley Hernandez, a PhD candidate at the U of M School of Public Health.


Crookston ranked among top public regional colleges

The University of Minnesota Crookston is at the top of the latest rankings from U.S. News & World Report. In the category “Midwest Top Public Regional Colleges for 2020,” the U of M Crookston ranked number one.

Contest to celebrate life and work of Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance in India inspired civil rights movements around the world. Now, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of his birth, the University of Minnesota Crookston is calling for students to participate in an essay, poetry, and/or art contest.


Underdogs at apogeestudents launching a rocket in desert

Competing against teams that were fully funded by their countries, Bulldog Rocketry, with its small budget, was forced to be creative. This summer, UMD videographer David Cowardin spent time with the team at the International Rocket Engineering Competition in Las Cruces, NM, as the students worked to launch a retrievable rocket 30,000 feet into the sky.

Sept. 24 - Visual Culture Lecture SeriesMartin Berger

Martin Berger will present “Civil Rights Photography and the Politics of Race” as part of the Visual Culture Lecture Series. Berger is the author of three books, including Freedom Now! Forgotten Photographs of the Civil Rights Struggle. He is the provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 6-7 p.m., 80 Montague Hall.

At the theatrespelling bee play poster

UMD Theatre assistant professor Jenna Soleo-Shanks directs The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. This award-winning musical comedy follows six adolescent contestants as they each attempt to spell their way to v-i-c-t-o-r-y. Oct. 3-5 and 9-12, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 6, 2 p.m., Marshall Performing Arts Center.


Sept. 20-22 - Morris Homecoming ’19students celebrating homecoming

The U of M Morris invites alumni, students, faculty, staff, and community members to join in this year's Homecoming celebration. Homecoming events include Cougar athletics, alumni reunions, music performances, and more.

Morris makes Top-10 list 21 years in a rowUMM building

U.S. News & World Report has again named the University of Minnesota Morris one of the nation's Top Public Liberal Arts Colleges. This is the 21st consecutive year in which Morris has been included in the annual college ranking.


Sept. 19 - Grand Opening of One Discovery SquareOne Discovery Square bldg

Destination Medical Center will host the grand opening of the state-of-the-art One Discovery Square building. UMR students and faculty have been working in the labs, classrooms, and collaborative space in One Discovery Square since the beginning of the semester. UMR will join co-tenants Mayo Clinic, Boston Scientific, Epic, WuXi Diagnostics, and Philips for an afternoon celebration of a building dedicated to health sciences innovation. UMR students benefit from regular interactions with health science professionals who work in the building.

College Raptor lauds UMR

The University of Minnesota Rochester has been selected as a 2020 Hidden Gem (city and Midwest categories) in a recent announcement by College Raptor, a leading college planning platform that helps families discover college matches driven by AI algorithms to find the best colleges at the best price.

Twin Cities

Apply for a campus climate micro-grant

Campus Climate Micro-Grants offer an opportunity for members of the Twin Cities campus community to be awarded funding for new or existing projects to advance campus climate. President Joan Gabel is sponsoring and providing funding for the micro-grants for this academic year. Faculty, staff, and students on the Twin Cities campus are welcome to apply. The application deadline is Oct. 25.

Campus Club fall membership drive

Join the Campus Club during its annual fall membership drive and receive a 60 percent discount on first-year dues. Additional discounts are available, including for corporate memberships. Sign up online or stop by the Campus Club, 4th floor, Coffman Union.

Spotlight Series: Perspectives On Environmental Justice

The Institute for Advanced Study, Northrop, and the University Honors Program recently announced a new collaborative Spotlight Series. The 2019-20 focus is on environmental justice and features six different events offering perspectives from campus leaders, artists, policymakers, and donors. The series kicks off Sept. 19 with a presentation by Fayola Jacobs, "Grasping at the Root: Intersectionality and Environmental Justice."

Sept. 19 - Technically Speaking: The Digital Revolution and the State

U.K. venture capitalist and economist William Janeway will join in a discussion on the positive and negative consequences of the "Digital Revolution." The seminar will focus on the disruption resulting from transformational technologies, as well as the sociopolitical and economic consequences around the world, and what Janeway calls "a much-needed Green Revolution" to succeed it. No charge, but registration is required. 6 p.m., McNamara Alumni Center.

Sept. 25 - 2019 Supplier Showcase

All faculty and staff are invited to attend the U Market Supplier Showcase. U Market suppliers will be on hand to discuss their products. The event will also include games, prizes, and a free boxed lunch. 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Great Hall, Coffman Union.

Oct. 7 - The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma

A lecture and discussion will feature world-recognized authority on post-traumatic stress and acclaimed mind-body medicine pioneer James Gordon. He will present the first comprehensive, evidence-based program for reversing the psychological and biological damage caused by trauma. 4 p.m., Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey School.

Oct. 17 - 56th James Ford Bell Lecture

Paul Freedman, Chester D. Tripp Professor of History, Yale University, will present the 2019 James Ford Bell Lecture, "Poverty and Prestige: Food and Social Status in Pre-Modern Europe." 7 p.m., Elmer L. Andersen Library. No charge, but reservations are requested.

Oct. 22 - Wellbeing lecture featuring Richard Piacentini

Regenerative Thinking in the Age of the Anthropocene: Making the Connection between People, Plants, Health and Planet” will explore how a regenerative way of thinking can reestablish the indelible bonds that connect everyone and everything on the planet. 6:30-8 p.m., Bell Museum.

UMTC Featured Eventsarab art

Sept. 19 - Interrogating Secularism: Race and Religion in Arab Transnational Art and Literature

Sept. 20 - Reimagining the History of Climate Science

Sept. 23 - Mapping 101: Introduction to Spatial Analysis using ArcGIS Online

Sept. 23 - Implicit Bias in Search and Selection Processes

Sept. 24 - The Victorious US Women's Soccer Team and the Fading Gender Divide

Oct. 1 - 2019 IT@UMN Fall Fair (rescheduled)

Events Calendar