November 3, 2021

Inside This Issue

Notice: Brief will publish on Thursday, Nov. 18, instead of its scheduled publication day of Nov. 17. Brief will not publish on Nov. 24. 

  • U of M establishes nation-leading tuition assistance program for Native American students.
  • Features: Native Voices and Visions; Startup scales eco-friendly ingredients; Getting to the root of health disparities in kidney disease.
  • Awards and Recognition: The Medical School and the College of Biological Sciences have received $8.5M to expand work studying non-dividing cells that increase with age; and more.
Top News

U of M establishes nation-leading tuition assistance program for Native American students

silhouette of head with sun shining through

The University of Minnesota announced a significant expansion of Native American student tuition support, a new initiative that will be among the nation’s most comprehensive free and reduced tuition programs for Native American students. Starting in fall 2022, the University will provide free or reduced tuition on any of its campuses to first-year undergraduate students and Tribal college transfer students who are also enrolled citizens in one of the state’s 11 federally recognized Tribal Nations. 

Native Voices and Visions

Joe Bendickson

A “Native Voices and Visions” feature highlights the incredible accomplishments of six individuals who are a part of our Native American community. Learn more about Mary Owen, a physician dedicated to increasing the number of Native American and Indigenous healthcare professionals; Korina Barry, an alum who is building Indigenous power through the all-Indigenous organization NDN Collective; and Šišókaduta Joe Bendickson, an instructor helping to preserve the Dakota language for future generations.


Startup scales eco-friendly ingredients for cleaning, personal care

Paul Dauenhauer and Chris Krumm

In 2015, researchers in Paul Dauenhauer’s laboratory were exploring new technologies for using biomass to make the same chemical building blocks needed to manufacture plastics, rubber, detergents, and more that are normally derived from fossil fuels. In the process, they discovered something exciting. One of the plant-based compounds did more than replace its petroleum-based counterpart; it actually worked better. This ultimately led to the startup company Sironix Renewables.


Getting to the root of health disparities in kidney disease

Doctor consulting patient

Across the United States, 15 percent of adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease. This widespread disease doesn’t take an even toll, however. Kidney failure is up to 3.4 times greater in various racial and ethnic minorities. Through the Advancing Kidney Health through Optimal Medication Management initiative, researchers are developing modules that can both train pharmacists and provide tools to educate patients to increase the safe and effective use of medications to treat the disease. 


Awards and Recognition

The U of M Medical School and the College of Biological Sciences have received $8.5M to expand on their work studying non-dividing cells that increase with age; Rachel Hardeman has been named to the Advisory Committee to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media.

Awards and Recognition

U-Wide News

Meet your students where they are

Half of all University of Minnesota students use the Canvas Student App to access their courses from mobile devices. Instructors can learn about which course materials and activities are suited for mobile. Register for Meet your students where they are: Design your Canvas course to be mobile-friendly, an exploratory session that will provide instructors with the student perspective of course materials and activities. 

Resilience ahead of the holiday season

According to a recent study, 73 percent of people experience stress that impacts their mental health. As the holiday season approaches, Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing instructor Mariann Johnson recommends taking a step back to appreciate our resilience and grace during the next few months and beyond

Nov. 11 - Native American Heritage Month: Virtual conversation with President Joan Gabel and Karen Diver

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month and join in a conversation between President Joan Gabel and Karen Diver, the U of M’s first senior advisor to the president for Native American affairs. Find out what Diver hopes to accomplish in her new role—one of only a few such positions in higher education across the country—and learn how the University and Native American communities and Tribal Nations are working together to build meaningful partnerships. Noon-1 p.m.

15 things to do in November at the U of M Landscape Arboretum

Watch the changing colors of the seasons, explore the Winter Lights display or an art exhibit, pick up new cooking or crafting skills, or just go for a hike at the Arboretum. See 15 things to do in November at the Arb

U of M featured virtual events

Book cover of Sparked

Nov. 3 - Silent and deadly, yet preventable: Stroke prevention, disparities, and links to COVID-19

Nov. 5 - Sparked: George Floyd, Racism, and the Progressive Illusion 

Nov. 8 - Building Interdisciplinary Collaborations for Population Dynamics COVID Research

Nov. 9 - The stress of ambiguous loss in a time of pandemic and change

Nov. 9 - What does it mean to be a global campus? 

Nov. 9 - TRUTH Project: decolonization and community-engaged scholarship with Tadd Johnson 

Nov. 15 - Quie & Peterson Global Health Lecture: While Our Attention Was on COVID: Spillover Effects from a Pandemic

See the full Events Calendar


Nov. 3 - Torch & Shield Award Banquet

The Torch & Shield Award recognizes individuals who have provided leadership and who have aided in the development of the University of Minnesota Crookston, Northwest Research and Outreach Center, and Extension. It is the highest award an individual can receive from the campus. The banquet begins at 5:30 p.m., Kiehle Auditorium. Learn more and see this year’s recipients.

Crookston student Olander named recipient of FFA award

Ben Olander

Sophomore Ben Olander, Staples, MN, has been named a recipient of a 2021 Agricultural Proficiency Award during the 94th National FFA Convention & Expo. Agricultural Proficiency Awards honor students who have developed specialized skills that they can apply toward their future careers. Olander received the award in the category of Agricultural Mechanics Design and Fabrication—Entrepreneurship/Placement. Learn more about Ben Olander.


Student turned diplomat

Erin Cain

Erin Cain completed an internship with the U.S. State Department in summer 2021. Cain, majoring in political science and philosophy with a minor in German studies, worked virtually with the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt, Germany. “I think the state department made me more interested in how problems are expressed globally,” she says.


Video: Treyvon Cahalan, UMD Football

Treyvon Cahalan

As the center for UMD Football, Treyvon Cahalan is in the trenches making line calls. In the classroom, he’s pursuing a degree in marketing while looking ahead to an MBA. Although he describes himself as “a quieter, shyer guy,” he’s not afraid to communicate on the field. Watch this video about Treyvon Cahalan.

Collaboration between UMD and area schools provides needed teacher training

Students playing soccer with kids

UMD students in the Developmental Adapted Physical Education (DAPE) minor will fill a growing need for physical education teachers who are trained to teach children with special needs. Under Professor Daehyung Lee, DAPE minors have been working with area students as part of a practicum class. “This partnership is making the DAPE program really special—and I believe also very sustainable,” says Lee. 


Nov. 4-6 - Theatre Discipline presents The Wolves

The University of Minnesota Morris Theatre Discipline will present the critically acclaimed play The Wolves. A slice-of-life play written by Sarah DeLappe, which was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, The Wolves explores the undeniable power of friendship, community, power, politics, individuality, and loss among nine teenage girls on a soccer team.

Nov. 6 - Teach-In: Impacts and History of Native American Boarding Schools

Black and white photo of Morris boarding school

Before there was a University of Minnesota presence in Morris, the site housed an American Indian boarding school first run by the Sisters of Mercy community of the Catholic Church and later operated directly by the U.S. government. The campus was transferred to the State of Minnesota in 1909, with the stipulation that at successor educational institutions, American Indian students be admitted on terms of equality with other students and attend “free of charge for tuition,” a policy still honored. Learn more about this history at this Teach-In. Presentations will be available at 109 Imholte Hall and via Zoom.


Personal experiences push UMR student to pursue a career in medicine

Paul Koak

Pal Koak, a third-year student at the University of Minnesota Rochester, is a testament to the values of patience and determination as well as the resilience of the human spirit. Koak is now using his energy and passion to pursue a health sciences degree with the goal of one day becoming a physician-scientist. Read more at Med City Beat.


In pursuit of inclusive pedagogies and equitable participation in STEM classrooms

UMR’s interdisciplinary Center for Learning Innovation drives educational innovation with a faculty research focus on student learning and development. UMR associate professor Kelsey Metzger’s recently completed “Warming up the cold call: In pursuit of inclusive pedagogies and equitable participation in STEM classrooms” is soon to be published in American Biology Teacher. 

Twin Cities

Understanding the developing brain

Saonli Basu and Mark Fiecas

School of Public Health biostatistics faculty members Saonli Basu and Mark Fiecas are co-leading the data analytics core at the newly opened Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain. In this Q&A, Basu and Fiecas talk about how their combined expertise in the statistical and computational tools that handle big data got them involved in the institute and their own quest to head off mental health struggles in adolescents.


Mapping out the life and ideas of a champion of the humanities

Edward Said (pronounced “Sah-EED”) played many roles during his eventful life. To Timothy Brennan, professor of cultural studies and comparative literature in the College of Liberal Arts, the late intellectual’s greatest accomplishment was in promoting the humanities and demonstrating the value of academic experts to societal discussions. Earlier this year, Brennan published the first comprehensive biography of Said: Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said

Rooted in research

petri dishes with samples

It turns out, the way emerald ash borer (EAB) manages to kill trees is just as complicated as the labyrinthine markings the beetle leaves behind. Nickolas Rajtar—a PhD student in the lab of Robert Blanchette, a professor in the Department of Plant Pathology—is unsnarling the twisty-turny mess of EAB by taking a closer look at the fungal communities that trail behind the pest


New guidance will help designers create safe, effective bike facilities

Many cities across the U.S. are rapidly adding separated bike lanes (SBLs) to their transportation networks. The popularity of these specialized pathways has increased because of their many benefits: reducing crash risk, increasing safety and comfort, and encouraging more people to use bicycles as transportation. Despite the growing demand for SBLs, current design guidance was incomplete. In a recent research project, U of M researchers filled gaps in SBL design guidance

Students further community connection education

Aditi Kulkarni and Prasanna Vankina

Aditi Kulkarni and Prasanna Vankina, second-year medical students, created an orientation module centered around the history, culture, and geography of the Twin Cities for first-year medical students at the University. 


Nov. 12 - Learn about lactation resources at the U

Wondering how to support the lactation needs of your employees, colleagues, or students? Returning to work or school after having a baby? Join in this webinar to learn about lactation resources on campus. Hosted by the Lactation Advocacy Committee, the Student Parent Help Center, and the Women’s Center. Noon-12:45 p.m.

Nov. 16 - Kusske Lecture & Dialogue Series: Frank Gehry

Internationally acclaimed architect Frank Gehry will be the inaugural speaker in the College of Design’s new Kusske Lecture & Dialogue Series. Gehry is widely regarded as one of the most influential architects of our time. No charge and open to the public. 7 p.m., McNamara Alumni Center. 

Nov. 17 exhibit opening - ‘Documenting a Reckoning: The Murder of George Floyd’

photo of person in crowd holding hand up in solidarity

The death of George Floyd at the knee of a police officer brought demonstrations and protests that swept the Twin Cities and the world. It inspired photojournalists and other photographers to create images with lasting impact. This exhibit brings 54 of those images together to help create a broader sense of the influence of these events on our lives, as documented by professional, community, and student photographers representing diverse viewpoints. 5-7:30 p.m., Elmer Andersen Library.


Nov. 17 - Panel: Using Rubrics to Drive Writing Instruction

Well-designed rubrics make performance expectations explicit and demonstrate what instructors value when it comes to student writing. This panel brings together faculty who have used rubrics and grading sheets to inform their instruction and to develop activities to help students meet the learning goals of their courses. Noon-1:30 p.m., 530A Bruininks Hall.