September 23, 2020

Vol. L No. 34

Editor: Adam Overland (


Inside This Issue

  • Features: An ethical roadmap for breakthrough MRI technology; A ‘grape’ debut.
  • People: A coalition led by the U of M has received a $10 million grant to scale the research, production, and commercialization of Kernza; and more.

Top News

An ethical roadmap for breakthrough MRI technologyMRI abstract of face

Imagine getting a brain scan without ever having to go to a lab. Michael Garwood, Malcolm B. Hanson Professor of Radiology, and his colleagues at the U of M’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research are working to make it a reality. They’re developing a low cost, portable, cloud-connected MRI machine that could accelerate research into brain injuries and mental disorders.

A ‘grape’ debutperson in mask looking at wine grapes

This season, for the first time, wines made from the U of M’s newest cold-hardy grape, Itasca, are available to consumers. Itasca was identified in 2009 and released in 2017 for licensed nurseries to sell. The grape is the latest in a series of cold-hardy varieties developed by the U of M that have led to a budding wine industry in Minnesota and other northern climates.


A multi-state coalition led by the U of M has received a five-year, $10 million grant from the USDA to scale the research, production, awareness, and commercialization of Kernza; U in the News features highlights of U of M faculty and staff cited in the media.

People >

U-Wide News

U of M R&D expenditures set record

University of Minnesota research and development (R&D) expenditures exceeded $1 billion for the first time in FY2019, and external research awards in FY2020 to U of M researchers remained strong, even with interruptions created by COVID-19. The University also released technology commercialization statistics and rankings that reflect its national leadership in bringing researchers’ inventions to market, including numerous innovations in the fight against COVID-19.

Administrative policy update

The latest version of the Undergraduate Student Employment policy is now available for review and comment. Changes include a narrowing of the scope to undergraduate student employment, clarification that only undergraduate students are eligible for undergraduate student work, and elimination of out-of-date processes.

Office renaming - Data Access and Privacy

The office of Records Information Management has been renamed Data Access and Privacy (DAP) to better reflect the broad scope of the office. DAP will respond to data requests, improve data practices compliance, and promote improved records management throughout the University of Minnesota System.

Seeing the impactPraveen Aggarwal

Praveen Aggarwal has seen firsthand how stressful it is for students who carry financial burdens. “I want my giving to directly support and encourage these students as they work their way through college,” says Aggarwal, associate dean and Morse-Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor of Marketing at the University of Minnesota Duluth and a member of the systemwide Faculty Staff Campaign Advisory Committee. Watch a short video featuring Aggarwal.

Study: Do genetics offer protection, create vulnerability to COVID-19?

Christen Ebens, Department of Pediatrics, and Meghan Rothenberger, Department of Medicine, co-lead the U of M site for an international study collecting samples from some of COVID-19’s most unexpected, yet sickest, patients. The research will determine if genetics plays a role in who falls ill with the disease.

Assessing broadband access for COVID-era learning

The internet has become an essential learning resource during the pandemic, but students’ access to it has failed to follow suit, especially in rural areas. Associate Professor Soumya Sen’s research explores how business, policy, and logistical factors can align to make high-speed internet accessible not just to students, but to people in all aspects of life.

Lunch conversations on supporting international students

This brown bag series centers on supporting multilingual and international students in learning spaces to create a campus with more equitable learning opportunities. After each session, you’ll leave with steps you can immediately implement in your teaching (no course overhaul needed). Events take place Oct. 2, Oct. 22, and Nov. 12.

Keep canning season safe

September is National Food Safety Month and the end of gardening season in Minnesota. Questions abound this time of year, like: Why didn't my lid seal? How do I keep my peaches from floating? U of M Extension has a troubleshooting guide for home gardeners looking to safely can, pickle, and preserve their bounty for the months ahead.

U of M featured virtual eventsscarecrow made from a broom

Through Oct. 31 - Scarecrows in the Gardens

Sept. 24 - Panel: Health, Disability and Aging

Sept. 28 - Teaching In-Person Idea Exchange

Sept. 30 - Increase Flexibility with Asynchronous Teaching Strategies

Sept. 29 - Pankake Poetry Reading with Wang Ping

Sept. 30 - Design in a Post Pandemic World: Pandemic and the Parks

Oct. 2 - First Fridays: Collies and Toucans and Bugs, Oh My

Oct. 3 - Global Health Day 2020: The Future of Global Research Training


U.S. News ranks Crookston first among Midwest Public Regional Collegescampus scene

U of M Crookston has been ranked one of the best in the latest rankings from U.S. News & World Report, released in early September. In the category Midwest Top Public Regional Colleges for 2020, the U of M Crookston ranks number one. The campus has ranked in the top four for 24 consecutive years.


Informed by traditional Indigenous knowledgetwo people overlooking a lake

A $1,077,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is helping U of M scholars explore an alternative methodology for environmental problem-solving through the Environmental Stewardship, Place, and Community Initiative. The U of M Duluth portion of this project, led by Associate Professor Roxanne Gould and Assistant Professor Wendy Smythe, is prioritizing the protection of the Lake Superior watershed, with its extensive network of 200 tributaries.

Providing the tools to succeedTsutomu Shimotori with a course lab package

Assistant Professor Tsutomu Shimotori, chemical engineering, wanted to ensure that all of his students had what they needed for distance learning. So he put together a package of materials required for experiments and mailed one package to each of his 19 students. Shimotori says, "We shouldn't assume that students have the same resources that their professors do. Our responsibility is to provide hands-on learning."

UMD Theatre heads outdoorsHenry V poster

Shakespeare's Henry V, adapted and directed by Professor Tom Isbell, will be performed outdoors in Ordean Court, at 5 p.m., on Sept. 24, 25, 26, 27, and 30, and Oct. 1, 2, and 3. The Department of Theatre is asking cast, crew, and patrons to all wear masks. There is no charge for the performances, but space is limited, so registration is required.


U of M Morris ranked one of the nation's 10 best public liberal arts collegesUMM building

U.S. News & World Report has again named U of M Morris one of the nation's 10 best public liberal arts colleges (7th). This is the campus's 22nd consecutive appearance in the annual college ranking.

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage MonthDaniel Arzola and Jenny Lorenzo

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, U of M Morris is offering a series of programs and events. These include an interactive art workshop with queer artist and activist Daniel Arzola (Sept. 30), The First Rainbow Coalition film screening (Oct. 8), and a performance by Cuban-American comedian Jenny Lorenzo (Oct. 16). RSVP and learn more.


UMR selected as a 2021 Best College in the Plains by College Raptor

College Raptor, a platform that helps families discover college matches, recently recognized the University of Minnesota Rochester as 17th among its Top 25 Best Colleges in the Plains. Says Chancellor Carrell, “Ranking systems vary in the criteria they use, but regardless of any recognition formula what we’re most proud of year after year is our students’ success, the learning innovations that support that success, and the equity of educational attainment.”

Summer Bridge 2020 multicultural cooking experienceSummer bridge students on a hammock

UMR’s virtual Summer Bridge program serves as the first connection among Living Learning Community (LLC) students as they transition from high school to college. The “sense of belonging” variable is critical to students’ successful completion of college. For LLC students, successful completion of their undergraduate degree begins with creative endeavors designed to foster belonging, like sharing cultural identities through their Bridge 2020 Cooking Experience.

Twin Cities

Couple returns to Minnesota to make an impact in medicineDamien Fair and Rahel Nardos

Married faculty duo Rahel Nardos and Damien Fair are joining the University of Minnesota Medical School in different fields. Fair serves as co-director of the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain, while Nardos is an associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health and serves as a urogynecologist and director for Global Women's Health at the Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility.

New Sezzle Scholarship focuses support on underrepresented students

The University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering (CSE) announced a new four-year collaboration with Minneapolis-headquartered digital payment solution Sezzle. A $124,000 donation from Sezzle will fund a full four-year scholarship to a CSE undergraduate student.

Nguyen creates distance public health course for people in prison

Associate Professor Ruby Nguyen has created an introductory public health course for the Minnesota state prison system. The course will teach incarcerated residents how to understand today’s public health issues, and it aims to open a door to future careers in the field.

Crowd-sourced textbook developed by U of M students

What happens when your assignment asks your class to compile a textbook from open access materials? Something pretty good, says psychology professor Cheryl Olman. Olman teamed up with the U of M Libraries to make the project happen.

Celebrate Goldy's birthdayGoldy leaning on statue of self

Goldy was "born" on Sept. 23, 1940. Help celebrate the beloved mascot’s 80th birthday with a week of virtual events and activities and learn more about the history behind Goldy.

Sept. 29 - The Past, Present & Future of Accelerating Success for Black Children

Join iconic Minnesota educator Katie Sample in conversation with two leaders she credits for having inspired her own works: Dr. Josie Johnson and Dr. Mahmoud El-Kati. Together these three highly acclaimed community elders will reflect on Black history and identity, teacher preparation, what's needed to create and sustain equity in education, and what is missing that prevents the successful education of Black children in our schools. 5:30-7 p.m., via Zoom.

Oct. 20-22 - Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education

The University of Minnesota will be a host institution for the virtual Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education. This year's conference theme is Mobilizing for a Just Transition. All Twin Cities, faculty, staff, and students are invited to participate (no charge), made possible through support from It All Adds Up and Sustainability Education, at the Institute on the Environment.