University of Minnesota Alumni Association

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Stories from around the U of M

Spring marks many unique celebrations by U of M groups. Here the Bangladesh Student Association (BDSA), which has 50 members, hosts a community event to promote and share Bangladeshi culture on campus and provide a sense of the rich diversity of Bengali heritage. The group is an an affiliate of the Minnesota International Students Association.
Photo credit: Caroline Yang

UMN Launches Center for Climate Literacy

The U of M recently launched a Center for Climate Literacy, housed in the College of Education and Human Development, the third largest college on the Twin Cities campus.

The Center intends to improve the understanding of climate change in K-12 classrooms through research, outreach, and design solutions, and by engaging teachers and youth in efforts to build universal climate literacy. It will be the first such effort in the U.S.

The Center focuses on helping young people develop understanding, values, and attitudes aligned with how we should live to respect our planetary home. Climate literacy is a multidisciplinary skill set that includes understanding numbers and facts, but also emotions and behavioral changes necessary to create a sustainable future.

“Climate change is not primarily a technological or political challenge,” says Marek Oziewicz, director of the Center. “It is a challenge to our imaginations and story systems.”

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Professor Inducted into National Academy of Inventors

Distinguished McKnight University Professor Jian-Ping Wang has been named a National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellow and will be inducted into the NAI at the academy’s annual meeting this month. Wang holds the Robert Hartmann Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering and serves as director of the University’s Spintronic Materials for Advanced InfoRmation Technologies (SMART) Center.

He also holds 65 patents for materials and devices used in information storage, computing, and biomedical sensing. Election to NAI Fellow status is the highest professional distinction accorded to academic inventors.

CIDRAP Receives $1 Million

The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the U of M has received grants from The Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create a Coronavirus Vaccines Research and Development (R&D) Roadmap. The work will focus on developing vaccines against betacoronaviruses, which predominantly circulate in bats and rodents and can “spill over” to human populations. 

“We know that current vaccines may not protect against future variants of SARSCoV-2, the virus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Michael T. Osterholm, University of Minnesota Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health, and director of CIDRAP. “Furthermore, we know there are hundreds of other coronaviruses circulating in natural reservoirs, such as bats. It’s only a matter of time before another coronavirus spills over into human populations. A coronavirus vaccines roadmap will provide a framework for the development of broadly protective coronavirus vaccines to ensure that we are prepared to respond to SARS-CoV-2 variants and the emergence of future coronaviruses with pandemic potential.”

Brenda Child of CLA Receives 2022 Guggenheim

Brenda Child, Northrup Professor of American Studies in the College of Liberal Arts, has received a 2022 Guggenheim Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

The Foundation selected 180 individuals from almost 2,500 applicants on the basis of outstanding achievement and exceptional promise. Since its establishment in 1925, the Foundation has granted nearly $400 million in fellowships to more than 18,000 individuals, among whom are more than 125 Nobel laureates, members of all the national academies, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Fields Medal, Turing Award, Bancroft Prize, National Book Award, and other internationally recognized honors. 

Child is a member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa in northern Minnesota. She previously served on the board of trustees of the National Museum of the American Indian-Smithsonian and was president of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. She is the author of several award-winning books and will use her fellowship to finish a new book on the history of American Indian marriage, The Marriage Blanket: Love, Violence, and the Law in Indian Country.

“I am truly honored to have received the Guggenheim Fellowship. Not just for myself, but because it acknowledges the significance of my field, which is American Indian history,” says Child. “I have always felt supported in this work at the U of M. As we say in Ojibwe, Chi-Miigwech, thank you—it is so much!”

                         Alumnus Named Israeli Ambassador

Photo credit: Ammar Awad/Reuters

Thomas Nides (B.I.S. ’83) was named U.S. ambassador to Israel in December. He is a 1983 College of Liberal Arts graduate and the former managing director and vice chair of Morgan Stanley.

Art Professor Gifts Unique Works to Mia

House at Bois Durand, 1915, by Charles Milcendeau
Photo courtesy of Minneapolis Institute of Art

A gift of more than 200 artworks from the collection of U of M Professor Gabriel P. Weisberg and his wife, Yvonne Weisberg, to the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) went on display this spring.

Gabriel Weisberg teaches courses in 19th and early 20th century European art in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA). The couple are Minneapolis-based art historians who spent more than 50 years combing flea markets, attics, and art dealers’ back rooms for drawings of Realist and Naturalist work by French and Belgian artists.

“Reflections on Reality: Drawings and Paintings from the Weisberg Collection,” is a two-part exhibition that opened in May. Works from 1830 to 1900 will be on view through February 2023; works from 1900 to 1930 will go on display March 4, 2023.

The works focus on the artistic movements of Realism and Naturalism, born at a time when artists turned their attention to workers, rural life, and local customs.

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