October 6, 2021

Inside This Issue
  • Board of Regents meets Oct. 7-8.
  • Features: Saving oaks: Remote sensing could detect invasive fungus earlier; Globalization, the bane of traditional languages and skills.
  • Awards and Recognition: The University of Minnesota will host a new Midwest consortium dedicated to actionable climate science; and more.
Top News

Board of Regents meets Oct. 7-8

During its October meeting, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents will discuss what U of M health science researchers accomplished last year and what the future holds for this work at one of America’s leading research universities. The Board is also expected to receive an update on the system strategic enrollment plan, act on the President’s recommended six-year capital plan and 2022 state capital request, discuss the University’s budget model, begin a series of discussions on diversity, equity, and inclusion work on each of the University’s five campuses, and more. See the news release for more details.

Saving oaks: Remote sensing could detect invasive fungus earlier

Red oak tree

Cleaner air, carbon sequestration, habitat for wildlife, erosion prevention—the list of environmental benefits an oak tree boasts may surprise some. For a portion of these trees, however, a pressing threat looms. Oak wilt, a disease caused by an invasive species of fungus, kills hundreds of thousands of red oak trees in the upper Midwest every year. Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Distinguished McKnight University Professor of ecology, evolution, and behavior, aims to develop a faster and more accurate way to detect oak wilt early on in its infection of a tree


Globalization, the bane of traditional languages and skills

Indigenous people in Papua New Guinea

Even in the world’s most linguistically diverse nation, indigenous languages and skills are yielding to the march of urbanization, a cash economy, road networks, and higher education that are part and parcel of globalization. The island nation of Papua New Guinea is home to more than 9 million people speaking about 840 languages—12 percent of the world’s approximately 7,000 languages. But a new study has found that a sizable gap in indigenous language fluency has opened up between teenage students and their parents


Awards and Recognition

The University of Minnesota will host a new Midwest consortium dedicated to actionable climate science; Pamela Flash has been recognized as a Distinguished Fellow of the Association for Writing Across the Curriculum; Tadd Johnson was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Native American Finance Officers Association; Karen Monsen has been named the 2021 recipient of the American Medical Informatics Association’s Virginia K. Saba Informatics Award; Ben Winchester has received the rural Research Renewal Prize, a national award sponsored by Oklahoma State University; U in the News features highlights of U faculty and staff cited in the media. 

Awards and Recognition

U-Wide News

Mental health resources for employees (and students)

World Mental Health Day is Oct. 10. The U of M offers resources that can help faculty, staff, and students manage life changes, anxiety, depression, and more. Students can find tips and tools through YOU at UMN, a new digital platform to connect students to online tools and campus resources designed to support their health and wellbeing goals. Faculty and staff can find free or University medical plan-covered resources on the Office of Human Resources' Mental Health Resources page.

Teaching with Technology professional development events

U of M faculty and instructors are invited to attend upcoming online events designed to introduce and support using technology tools for teaching. Enroll in Digital Sparks, which through a series of lightning-fast (five-minute) presentations will showcase social and collaborative tools. Enroll in Use Canvas to Teach More Efficiently to learn where some efficiencies can be gained with online strategies and tools.  

Duo Mobile App update

The Duo Mobile App, used to verify your identity when you access some University systems, is scheduled to get an update in October. Those who use the mobile app will notice a new look and feel and additional feature changes. Learn what to expect.  

Now accepting proposals: 2021 IonE Mini Grant

The Institute on the Environment (IonE) is accepting applications through Oct. 24 for its fall 2021 Mini Grant RFP. IonE Mini Grants are designed to support and spark collaborative and interdisciplinary projects across the University of Minnesota System that address environmental or sustainability issues. These grants of up to $3,000 may be used for a range of research, leadership, education, storytelling, and outreach activities. Email [email protected] for more information.

Wanted: Orphan papers for the Journal of Opinions, Ideas and Essays

Do you have a favorite article you’ve written, or would like to write, but haven’t found a place for publication? Sponsored by the University of Minnesota Retirees Association, the online Journal of Opinions, Ideas & Essays (JOIE) is soliciting articles for 2021.

Prescribed blood thinners can help reduce hospitalizations related to COVID-19

The NIH has reported that many individuals with COVID-19 develop abnormal blood clots from high inflammation, which can lead to serious health complications and mortality. A U of M Medical School-led study has found that having a protocol to use blood thinners for COVID-19 patients reduces patient COVID-19 mortality by almost half.

CIDRAP releases influenza vaccines R&D roadmap to improve flu vaccines

The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) has released an Influenza Vaccines Research and Development Roadmap to accelerate the development of improved seasonal influenza vaccines and the generation of broadly protective or universal influenza vaccines that could mitigate the impact of future influenza pandemics. The roadmap offers a powerful opportunity to leverage revolutionary advances in vaccine science and technology to better protect against influenza.

Sexual minority identity impacts career trajectory among medical students

Despite advances in civil rights, the LGBTQ+ population continues to suffer from unique disparities among both patients and healthcare providers. A new U of M Medical School study shows that sexual minorities are underrepresented in undergraduate medical training and in certain medical specialties

Graduate student leads study examining social behavior through the lens of the brain’s opioid system

Carlee Toddes and her dog

A recent study conducted by Carlee Toddes, a graduate student in the lab of Patrick Rothwell, an assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience, discovers the importance of the brain’s opioids in the expression of social behavior. Their findings help provide support for individuals with social impairments.



Research Brief: People use Facebook as an emergency communication system during pandemic

The webpages of Facebook are a seemingly endless source of news, connection, and entertainment for billions of people. A new study from the School of Public Health also finds that the social networking platform functioned as a kind of informal emergency broadcast system for people seeking critical information and support during the pandemic. Additional recent Research Briefs include “Induced flaws in quantum materials could enhance superconducting properties" and "Schizophrenia diagnosis rises among Black nursing home residents following start of Medicare initiative."

Equity and diversity faculty development workshops

The Office for Equity and Diversity's Institute for Diversity, Equity, and Advocacy (IDEA) is hosting two systemwide National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity virtual workshops. Re-Thinking Mentoring: How to Build Communities of Inclusion, Support, and Accountability will take place Oct. 13. Writing Your Next Chapter: How to Find Your Mojo at Mid-Career will take place Oct. 26. No charge, but registration is required.  

Oct. 19 - Making sense of healthcare insurance options

This workshop for retirees and those about to retire (register), sponsored by the University of Minnesota Retirees Association (UMRA) and the Office of Human Resources, will help you learn what you need to know to evaluate your options as you prepare for open enrollment. See this and other upcoming UMRA programs.

Oct. 26 - Al Gore to inaugurate Swain Climate Policy Series

Former vice president and climate activist Al Gore will be the inaugural speaker in the new “Advancing Climate Solutions. Now. Swain Climate Policy Series,” presented by the Humphrey School in partnership with the Institute on the Environment. In conversation with IonE executive director Jessica Hellmann, Gore will discuss the challenges facing the world in addressing the widespread impact of climate change. No charge, but registration is required.

U of M featured virtual events

Jenell Trigg

Oct. 7 - Therapeutic Approaches for Healthy Aging

Oct. 15 - Virtual Star Party: Countdown to Launch, James Webb Space Telescope

Oct. 20 - Professional Development Webinar: Lead Like an Ally

Oct. 20 - AfroSoul: Dreams of Freedom, Racial Reconciliation, and Healing Justice featuring Andrew Williams

Oct. 26 - 36th Annual Silha Lecture: The First Amendment and Diversity: A Marketplace Failure? 

Oct. 28 - How Money Flows at the U of M

Oct. 28 - Exploring the Intersections of Leadership, Equity, Inclusion, & YOU

See the full Events Calendar


Chamber Agriculture Committee visits U of M Crookston

Members of the Grand Forks/East Grand Forks Agriculture Committee were recently on campus touring the University Teaching and Outreach Center, the Charles H. Casey Equine Arena, the horticulture hoop house, and agronomy labs. During the tour our guests learned a bit more about a recent donation of 62 cubic yards of wild rice knuckles and hulls that will replace wood shavings for bedding in Crookston’s equine program.

Maroon and Gold Fridays are back

Show your maroon and gold spirit and represent the Golden Eagles by wearing campus colors during Maroon and Gold Fridays. Participants can enter into a drawing to win a $150 grand prize office party pack.


College of Education and Human Service Professions honors 2020 distinguished alumni

Yusef Abdullah

The College of Education and Human Service Professions is honoring four of its graduates with the 2020 distinguished alumni award. The four honorees represent the Department of Education, Department of Psychology, Department of Applied Human Sciences, and the Department of Social Work. Their work includes school administration, social advocacy, filmmaking, and more.


Cultural diversity in music education

Jian-Jun Chen-Edmund and students

Jian-Jun Chen-Edmund, assistant professor of music education, and David Edmund, associate professor and chair of music education, will present “Establishing Solidarity Through Music: Social, Cultural, and Educational Values in a Caribbean Community” during the 2021 Cultural Diversity in Music Education conference. This project was made possible through their collaboration with the Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra in the U.S. Virgin Islands.


Grants fund new partnership to explore renewable energy storage

Morris wind tower and solar installation

U of M Morris is embarking on a new partnership with Otter Tail Power Company and Open Access Technology International to explore a large-scale energy storage project in Morris. The campus has received two grants to fund this work from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust. The grants, totaling over $2.65 million, will support installation, demonstration, and research activities connected to a new energy storage project. The grants will be used to explore novel battery solutions—like flow batteries—which can be used as an alternative to Li-ion batteries.


Olson presents at Mayo Clinic and Karolinska Institute annual meeting

Rachel Olson

UMR’s interdisciplinary Center for Learning Innovation drives educational innovation with a faculty research focus on student learning and development. UMR faculty member Rachel Olson recently presented her research, “Inspiring undergraduate learning through research: Building young scientists’ skills through provision of mentorship and real-world research,” at the 2021 Mayo Clinic and Karolinska Institute annual meeting.


Communicate for a Change: Revitalizing Conversations for Higher Education

Book cover of Communicate for a change

Johns Hopkins University Press has released Communicate for a Change: Revitalizing Conversations for Higher Education, written by UMR chancellor Lori Carrell and University of Pennsylvania professor Robert Zemsky. Featured conversation partners include U of M president Joan Gabel, Georgetown’s Randall Bass, UMR student Nevaeh Nez, and others. 

Twin Cities

Donate to the Community Fund Drive

Graphic representation of community members doing tasks

The Community Fund Drive kicked off Oct. 1 and will run through the end of the month. This year’s goal is to have 20 percent participation from faculty and staff and give $1.2 million to the community. Employees can give to one or more federation partners or to a specific charity of their choosing. You can also give to your favorite University cause through the U of M Foundation. Join in this important tradition to support organizations that improve our community.


Campus bus service survey

Parking & Transportation Services is looking for feedback on the campus bus service. Fill out this confidential survey and learn more at Parking & Transportation Services. Responses will be accepted until Oct. 29. 

Meet Community Engagement Liaison Nick Juarez

Nick Juarez

The University of Minnesota Twin Cities has a number of initiatives in place to keep the campus and surrounding communities safe, and you can now add to that the new role of community engagement liaison held by Nick Juarez, who joined the U of M’s Department of Public Safety in August.


Fad or future? Examining the post-pandemic outlook for remote work and transportation

The COVID-19 pandemic drove a massive shift to working from home, dramatically reducing the number of vehicles on our nation’s roadways. Even now, the remote work trend is presenting major challenges and opportunities for both employers and employees while simultaneously reshaping transportation. Center for Transportation Studies experts highlight these trends and how telecommuting could shape the future of transportation.

A closer look at oak savanna restoration

Lauren Nelson

Students in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences can access a range of hands-on undergraduate research experiences in the field. This video features Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management student Lauren Nelson as she talks about her role on an oak savanna restoration research project at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. 


Seek out collaboration: An interview with alumnus Juan Andrés Rujana

Models wearing Epimonia clothing

According to the UN, there were more than 82 million forcibly displaced people in the world at the end of 2020—nearly half of them children. Refugee-founded fashion label Epimonía was founded in 2018 to bring awareness to the issue. In this interview, College of Design graduate Juan Andrés Rujana talks about his work with Epimonía and how his experiences in the product design program have affected his career.

Boynton Health flu clinics

Getting a flu shot early this fall is important to reduce your risk of the flu, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Flu clinics are ongoing through Nov. 18.