U-Spatial Prize Highlights Thought-Provoking Data Maps

Digital world map

Crop species diversity map courtesy of Peder Engstrom

Maps bring information to life, adding dimension to numbers and statistics to draw out the stories contained within them.

A University of Minnesota research center recently recognized undergraduate and graduate students from across disciplines for their inventive, thought-provoking maps. U-Spatial, which supports spatial research as part of the Office of the Vice President for Research’s Research Computing unit, selected nine submissions out of 50 as winners of its 2017 Mapping Prize.

“Maps don’t just show us where to go—they have the potential to transform our ways of seeing and understanding our world,” said Len Kne, associate director of U-Spatial. “The annual Mapping Prize encourages students at the University to make provocative and innovative maps about subjects that interest them.” Continue reading

MnDRIVE: Innovation drives Minnesota forward

MnDRIVE advances the University of Minnesota’s research strengths through state investment to solve Minnesota’s greatest challenges.

During the current legislative session, the University will request funding from the state Legislature to expand MnDRIVE — or Minnesota’s Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy — into four new research areas: fighting cancer, strengthening communities, cleaning water and advancing data.

Check out the video below to learn about highlights from current MnDRIVE research and to find out more about the program’s proposed expansion.

Studying the heart, hands-on

Usually, saying a heart is beating out of its chest is just an expression.

For researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Visible Heart Laboratory, however, that phrase has become more literal. One of the lab’s main features is a living, beating pig heart that has been removed from its original body for researchers to better study how it functions. The lab is led by Paul Iaizzo, Ph.D., professor of surgery with the U’s Medical School, and supported by Medtronic Inc. Its research ranges from cellular and tissue studies to those involving whole bodily organs.

Brian Herman, Ph.D., the U’s vice president for research, recently visited the lab to learn more about the work of Iaizzo and his team. Here is a glimpse into the visit:

Picturing research: Historical labs and equipment

Tate Laboratory of Physics

Over the years, the Tate Laboratory of Physics has been remodeled and improved to meet the University of Minnesota’s research and education needs. Left: Construction workers add a new addition to Tate in 1951. Right: Today, Tate is being remodeled to improve lab space, lecture halls and interior accessibility.

A new Plant Growth Research Facility. A Chemistry and Advanced Materials Science Building. Renovations for research and learning spaces in iconic Pillsbury Hall. These are a few of the building projects highlighted in the University of Minnesota’s recent capital request to the Minnesota Legislature.

If funded, these projects will be the latest additions to a long history of cutting-edge research infrastructure at the U of M. In the course of the University’s 165-year history, researchers have used a wide range of laboratories and research equipment in fields ranging from aerospace engineering to disease prevention to advance knowledge and make discoveries that improve our health and quality of life.

In the gallery below, Inquiry takes a walk back through the research spaces of yore to highlight a small slice of the specialized equipment and laboratories that helped University researchers push forward in their fields of study. Continue reading

Scarce resources for research tough on young scientists

Brian Herman, University of Minnesota vice president for research, cites chronic underfunding of biomedical research as the root cause of a disturbing new trend. Many new graduates are turning to industry jobs rather than pursuing careers in research, largely due to decreased federal support and a increasingly competitive finding environment, especially for younger scientists.

Many new graduates hoping for a career in bioimedical research are finding that the wait for a lab of their own at a university is longer than ever – if it happens at all. It’s a situation leading many to opt for a career in industry instead, where advanced degrees are welcome and well-paid.

Read VP Herman’s full commentary in The Washington Post’s Grade Point blog.

The wide reach of university research

Twitter word cloud

From new technology to better medical practices, university research contributes to nearly every aspect of society.

In June, Inquiry set out to explore just how important research is by posing the question, Why university research? The Twitter community responded with hundreds of examples demonstrating how universities’ scientific and technological advances have addressed global challenges and improved the well-being of society.

The word cloud above pulled the most talked-about research subjects from those tweets to show a small sample of the multitude of subjects that benefit from university research.
Continue reading

Map: Research around the world

The U of M is dedicated to broadening our understanding of the world as well as discovering solutions to its greatest challenges. The U is the ninth most active public research university in the United States, with $849 million in annual research expenditures, and our renowned researchers are not only conducting their work in the U.S. but across the globe as well. The map below shows just how much of the world they covered in 2013—84 nations (not including the U.S.) on all seven continents.

UMN Research Locations 2013

[Click the map to enlarge]

Source: International Travel for Research Purpose as registered with the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance, January – December 2013.

Startups at a glance

The University of Minnesota has been making great strides in startups since 2006—launching 15 companies in the last fiscal year alone. Here’s a quick look at other startup data including investment capital raised, industry areas and locations.

UMN Startup Infographic: Companies Launched, Capital raised, Industry areas, Company Locations[Click graphic to enlarge]

Startup ex machina

Photos by Andria Waclawski

Learning from failure

Startups are not smaller versions of large companies. They do not unfold in accordance with master plans. The ones that ultimately succeed go quickly from failure to failure, all the while adapting, iterating on, and improving their initial ideas as they continually learn from customers. — Steve Blank, entrepreneur and founder of the Lean Startup movement

 

Video: Why university research?

University research drives scientific and technological advances that address critical global challenges and improve the health and well-being of society. Listen to three University of Minnesota researchers tell us what inspires them to do research and how their work is making a difference on our campuses and around the world.

 

Help us spread the word!

1. Share this video via your social and professional networks.

2. Tell us your research story. Join the conversation on Twitter with #whyuniversityresearch.

Example Tweets

 

Poll: Why do research?

University research cuts across all disciplines and areas of scholarship and has broad impact on our communities and our world. We’d like to hear what you think is the greatest benefit of university research. (Please note: all responses are anonymous.)