December 22, 2021

Inside This Issue

Notice: Brief will not publish on Dec. 29 and Jan. 5

  • Board of Regents December meeting highlights.
  • U of M celebrates GREATER MSP Partnership proposal to create bioinnovation ecosystem.
  •  Awards and Recognition: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the University of Minnesota a $615,000 grant for Mapping Prejudice; and more.
Top News

Board of Regents December meeting highlights

At its December meeting, the Board of Regents heard the annual report on the U of M’s research enterprise, which topped $1 billion in annual externally sponsored research awards for the first time in its history. Regents also approved the Twin Cities campus plan and the President’s recommended supplemental state budget request, discussed proposals related to MPact 2025, and reviewed the University’s annual performance and accountability report. More details of the meeting can be found in the news release

U of M celebrates GREATER MSP Partnership proposal to create bioinnovation ecosystem

Twin Cities campus aerial shot

The University of Minnesota has a key role in the GREATER MSP Partnership proposal that has been selected as one of the 60 finalists for grants funded by the $1 billion federal “Build Back Better Regional Challenge.” The GREATER MSP Partnership involves more than 50 partner organizations and seeks to accelerate job growth and racial equity by growing Minnesota’s bioinnovation sector. Learn more about the role the University expects to play if selected for the proposal.


Awards and Recognition

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the University of Minnesota a $615,000 grant for Mapping Prejudice; Ned Mohan has been awarded the 2022 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers James H. Mulligan, Jr. Education Medal; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media.

Awards and Recognition

U-Wide News

Administrative Policy update

The new administrative policy Discrimination articulates the University's prohibition on discrimination and provides procedures that will be used when responding to concerns of discrimination. Uniform standards for COVID-19 vaccination and testing that apply broadly across the University community are covered in the COVID-19 Vaccination and Safety Protocol Requirements for University Employees and Student Workers policy. Comments are welcome during a 30-day review.

Nominations for U of M Equity and Diversity Awards now open

Nominations are now open for the systemwide Josie R. Johnson Human Rights and Social Justice Award and the Outstanding Unit Award for Equity and Diversity. The Josie R. Johnson Award honors U of M faculty, staff, and students who exemplify Johnson’s commitment to creating respectful and inclusive living, learning, and working environments. The Outstanding Unit Award honors exemplary campuses, colleges, departments, or units that demonstrate leadership in equity and diversity work. Nominations for both awards are due Feb. 1.

Applications open for Undergraduate Scholarly Excellence in Equity & Diversity Award

The Office for Equity and Diversity is now accepting applications for the systemwide 2021-22 Scholarly Excellence in Equity & Diversity (SEED) Award. This award honors underrepresented undergraduate students who are doing outstanding work to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of Minnesota and in the community. Undergraduate SEED Awards range from $3,000 to $5,000. The application deadline is Feb. 1. Learn more at

Canvas courses for the new semester

After the new year, Academic Technology Support Services is offering webinars designed to help instructors get ready for the new semester. Enroll in “Canvas Essentials,” “Canvas Gradebook: Set Up,” and “Tune up your course site with the Start of Semester Checklist.”

Secure U: Top cybersecurity tips for vacations

The holiday season is upon us, which means it’s prime time for cybercriminals to take advantage of the millions of people traveling through all modes of transportation over the next few months. Learn how to stay cyber savvy and safe this holiday season.

Google extends deadline to migrate Google Sites

Google recently announced that it is extending the deadline to migrate classic Google Sites to new Google Sites to June 30, 2022 (from Nov. 30, 2021). Starting July 1, any remaining classic Sites will be automatically archived and replaced with a draft in the new Sites experience for site owners to review and publish. This change applies to all system campus domains.

New public neuroimaging dataset provides deep sampling of individual human brains

Researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School have published an extensive dataset that uses cutting-edge, high-field fMRI technology to probe how humans perceive, interpret, and memorize naturalistic photographs. The Natural Scenes Dataset joins a growing body of big-data neuroimaging resources that are providing researchers with opportunities to develop deeper insights in cognitive and computational neuroscience.

Talking holiday mental health and wellbeing with U of M

The holiday season, filled with entertaining, travel, and gift-buying, is a stressful time for many. More than 44 percent of people report an increase in stress during the winter holiday season. Mary Jo Kreitzer, director of the Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota, talks about why the holidays are stressful, and ways to prevent and manage stress

Research Brief: Step forward in quest to develop living construction materials and beyond

Some engineered living materials can combine the strength of run-of-the-mill building materials with the responsiveness of living systems. Critical early research from the University of Minnesota sheds new light on this exciting advancement, which shows promise beyond building materials, including biomedical applications.

UMN Headlines: December 2021

Graphic reading Discovery never stops

The December installment of the "UMN Headlines" video series shares highlights from around the University of Minnesota System, including COVID-19 research, the establishment of a nation-leading tuition assistance program for Native American students, grants for renewable energy storage as well as Parkinson’s and brain stimulation research, the opening of the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain, snapshots of extraordinary year-end achievements, and more. See past episodes here.


Jan. 12 - Virtual workshop: Managing Data and Research Materials

Keep your research organized by learning data management skills. This workshop is designed for new researchers and graduate students from all system campuses who will be managing a research project for the first time. Participants will learn foundational data management tips, useful for all research disciplines. Learn more and register for the workshop.

March 3-4 - Keeping Our Faculty Symposium registration and call for presentations

Registration is now open for the virtual Keeping Our Faculty of Color and Indigenous Faculty Symposium. The symposium will feature a keynote presentation and conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson, along with a Presidents’ Panel, networking events, and other acclaimed speakers. Proposals for presentation abstracts are being accepted until Jan. 14. Learn more at

U of M featured virtual events

Jan. 3-May 23 - Mindful Mondays: Spring sessions
Jan. 10-14 - Integrating Multimodal Communication into Your Classes
Jan. 12 - Book club conversation with Richard Leider: Who Do You Want To Be When You Grow Old? The Path of Purposeful Aging
Jan. 12 - Webinar: Build Better Connections through Emotional Intelligence
Jan. 13-14 - University of Minnesota Day of Data
Jan. 14 - Trauma Across Generations: The Impact on the African American Community

See the full Events Calendar


2021 U of M Crookston Torch & Shield award recipients

Jason Brantner, The Frank W. Veden Charitable Trust, and Lyle Westrom were recently honored at the annual Torch & Shield recognition. The Torch & Shield Recognition is an evening dedicated to honoring individuals and organizations who have provided leadership and who have aided in the development of the University of Minnesota Crookston, the Northwest Research and Outreach Center, and Extension.


Providing Advanced Clinical Training (PACT) to bridge a gap in services

Lindsey Lee

UMD’s Department of Social Work was awarded a $900,000 grant to train social workers to meet the growing mental health needs of children and youth. The funding will support training stipends for up to 48 Master of Social Work students over the next four years. PACT student Lindsey Lee is putting her training into practice at Amberwing, an outpatient treatment program for children and youth.


Stories from the Past: The Rare and Remarkable

Old Main building historical photo

Stories from the Past: The Rare and Remarkable is a new publication that celebrates the University of Minnesota Duluth's 125th anniversary. Essays spanning 13 decades tell the stories of some of the thousands of people who built UMD, from early leadership to groundbreaking research. Any proceeds from sales of the book will benefit student scholarships.


Southern flying squirrels are climate migrants

flying squirrel

Scientists at the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) are starting to document the expanding range of the southern flying squirrel. The warming climate is allowing the southern flying squirrel to expand northward. The researchers hope to discover where each species lives in Minnesota, how quickly their range is expanding, and if their different eating habits are impacting the forest ecosystem. Read more about the work here.


Computer science students win regional competition

U of M Morris took first place in the 2021 Digi-Key Electronics Collegiate Computing Competition, winning $5,000 for the U of M Morris computer science discipline and $300 for each team member. The competition offers computer science students the opportunity to practice working in teams, which helps prepare them to enter a workforce where collaboration is key.


‘The Power of Mentorship’

Cassie Kersten and Ryan Colburn

The UMR Alumni Mentorship Program was key to helping Ryan Colburn, a junior health sciences student, refocus his career path. Colburn was paired with Cassie Kersten '16, a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program alumna currently working as a senior consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton. Read “The Power of Mentorship” in UMR's alumni magazine, The Kettle.


Beyond the Nest podcast

Graphic reading episode 4 Your journey is unique

In the latest episode of the Beyond the Nest alumni podcast, Senior Student Success Coach Jenn Hooke chats with 2017 graduate Nitya Chandiramani. The two discuss Chandiramani’s path to UMR, the role of mentorship in the student experience, and life on the business side of health care. Beyond the Nest is distributed via Apple, Google, Spotify, and Podbean.

Twin Cities

Colombia changes laws on domestic violence with help from Humphrey School researchers

Greta and Margaret

Colombia enacted a new law in August of 2021 to better protect women from intimate partner violence, due in large part to the work of two researchers at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs—Associate Professor Greta Friedemann-Sánchez and alumna Margaret Grieve (MPA '16). Learn more about their work to change the system.


Twin Cities campus reaches 51 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

The University of Minnesota Twin Cities reduced greenhouse gas emissions 51 percent since 2008, one year ahead of the scheduled date for reaching the goal of a 50 percent emissions reduction established in the 2011 Climate Action Plan. The achievement was a community effort that would not have been possible without students, faculty, staff, alumni, and others.