Ever look up into the sky and wonder what distant worlds are like? Galaxy Nurseries, a new project at the University of Minnesota, invites you to help researchers discover thousands of young galaxies across the universe and, in doing so, learn more about our own.
The project is a sign of just how far research methods have come in the field of citizen science—where volunteers across the world contribute to scientific data collection and analysis. Galaxy Nurseries, which went live on Wednesday, was the 100th project to launch on the Zooniverse, the largest and most widely-used online citizen science platform, which has connected hundreds of thousands of volunteers to active research projects since it formed in 2009.
Lucy Fortson, Ph.D., one of the cofounders of the Zooniverse and the associate head of physics and astronomy in the U’s College of Science and Engineering, said including the public in scientific research opens new opportunities in research across a wide range of disciplines. Continue reading
The dwindling population of bees, spread of cancer inside the body, and sexual assault on campus—these typically unrelated subjects have something in common: University of Minnesota researchers are working to find new ways to prevent them.
The Minnesota Futures Grant Program recently awarded a total of $495,281 to support three research proposals focused on improving human and environmental health through prevention. Minnesota Futures is an internal funding opportunity offered by the U’s Office of the Vice President for Research that promotes novel research to advance new ideas that cross disciplinary boundaries.
The three projects, highlighted below and selected from a group of 15 submitted proposals, will bring experts together to explore new ways to tackle challenges in health and the environment. Continue reading
The Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry and Scholarship Program (GIA) provides grants to support scholarly and artistic activities of faculty and their graduate students to foster excellence throughout the University.
This year’s spring competition awarded 53 grants in a range of fields across 16 colleges and 45 departments on the Duluth, Morris and Twin Cities campuses. A total of $1,679,331 was awarded with an average award amount of $31,685.
GIA projects represent the breadth and depth of University research in all disciplines and fields. While any full time tenured or tenure track faculty member can apply, GIA plays an especially important role in providing new assistant professors with seed money for research that will most likely lead to external funding to help jump start their careers.
Grant-in-Aid is one of several internal funding programs administered by the Office of the Vice President for Research. In the past five years, more than $36 million has been awarded through these programs to advance disciplinary and interdisciplinary initiatives and guide research infrastructure planning activities.
Indirect research costs do more than keep the lights on in labs. These necessary parts of federally funded research projects help maintain high-tech equipment, provide data storage, support administrative staff, and even cover the disposal of hazardous waste.
As noted in a New York Times article, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price recently called into question the value of funding indirect costs on grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health, the world’s largest public funder of biomedical research. Price said paring back such funding could bring significant financial savings to the federal government next year.
Federal grants’ support of indirect research costs, often called “F&A” (facilities and administrative), plays an important role in helping universities recover a portion of the administrative and infrastructure expenses that come along with research across all academic fields. F&A helps make research spaces safe, keeps lab equipment running properly, and ensures projects comply with laws and regulations. Continue reading
When the Trump administration released its federal budget proposal last month, the plan’s significant cuts to research funding jolted the research community.
In a recently published op-ed, the University of Minnesota’s Interim Vice President for Research Allen Levine, Ph.D., warned of the devastating affect such cuts could have—not just for public research universities, but for US discovery and innovation across the board. Levine wrote in MinnPost that following the path laid out in the Presidential Budget Request would cut short potential discoveries, economic growth opportunities, and improvements to our quality of life.
The budget proposal includes cuts in medical, humanities, arts, energy, and environmental research. U of M researchers rely on resources distributed by nearly every federal agency that supports research—their funding made up 60 percent of the $788 million the U received last year. Continue reading
By Deirdre Manion-Fischer
Tamirat Ali spent last summer growing fungi in Jonathan Schilling’s lab at the University of Minnesota. He was studying ways to mitigate climate change by measuring the ability of fungi to capture methane. The technique, called biofiltration, relies on fungi to capture pollutants and bacteria to degrade them. While other research has focused on optimizing bacterial degradation, Schilling and Ali suspected they could find a more efficient fungus to optimize methane capture.
Over the course of the summer, Ali injected methane into glass vials containing tiny blocks of wood inoculated with fungi. Twenty-four hours later, he measured the decrease in methane. One type of white-rot fungus (Ganoderma lucidum) used in traditional Chinese medicine worked better at capturing methane than the species widely used in bioremediation (Pleurotus ostreatus). His success earned him a competitive travel award to attend the Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference where he presented his results in Washington D.C. earlier this month.
In 1987, a new research center opened at the University of Minnesota that would begin a decades-long mission to catalyze innovation in all facets of transportation, from traffic flow and safety to pavements and bridges.
This year, the Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) celebrates its 30th anniversary, capping three decades of developing new tools to help agencies across the US improve transportation systems and provide objective data to inform elected officials on matters of transportation policy.
Over that time, many transportation research projects at the University have served as prime examples of how U of M research meets the practical needs of Minnesotans, in the Twin Cities area and throughout Minnesota, said Laurie McGinnis, CTS director. Continue reading
A participant asks a panel of experts a question during the “Research Partners with Community Members” workshop, part of the U’s inaugural Research Ethics Day.
Across the U.S., researchers conducting studies that involve human participants must make decisions that advance scientific progress without sacrificing the welfare or freedom of their participants.
Earlier this month, University of Minnesota researchers came together with experts from across the nation to explore a range of ethics questions related to adults, adolescents and children participating in research. For example, past studies have found some research participants do not fully understand that they are signing up for research instead of routine clinical care.
Through a series of workshops and training sessions hosted by the U’s Human Research Protection Program with support from the Office of the Vice President for Research, attendees learned practical skills to help them navigate issues of informed consent while ensuring a high level of ethical conduct. Continue reading
Researchers at the University of Minnesota will soon come together with their counterparts from across Latin America to improve animal, human and environmental health through collaborative research.
This international network, launched through a two-year International Capacity Building grant from the U’s Office of the Vice President for Research and matched by endowed chair funds from the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety, will serve as the framework for forming new research projects around subjects that can benefit both the U.S. and Latin America. The International Capacity Building funding provides for a project manager to support the development of grants and provide administrative assistance for research projects that focus on promoting aquaculture (farming fish or shellfish for food), supporting livestock health, curbing zoonotic (animal-to-human) diseases and preserving ecosystems, as well as addressing the issues that lie where these four areas intersect.
The transdisciplinary effort will bring together U of M researchers from the colleges of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; Public Health; and Veterinary Medicine, as well as the corresponding experts from these fields in Central and South American research institutions.
Suppose a flute player and a bass player are playing a tune where they must hit notes simultaneously. A new University of Minnesota study suggests that if a high flute note comes a tad earlier than its bass counterpart, the audience probably won’t notice. But if the bass note comes early, they will.
Also, the ability to detect a lack of synchrony between a low note and a high note had nothing to do with whether either note came on the beat; all that mattered was the order in which the notes were played.
The study revealed quirks in how humans process and perceive musical sounds that have evolutionary significance. And because it concerns how the inner ear and brain work together, it could aid in the design of better hearing aids or cochlear implants.
“These surprising results have given us more insight into the complex interactions that occur between the ear and brain when we perceive sound,” says Andrew Oxenham, a psychology professor and study author.
Allen Levine, Ph.D., has more than a passing familiarity with the University of Minnesota’s research enterprise — in one capacity or another, he has been connected to the U for more than 45 years.
Levine, a professor in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition and adjunct in the Department of Psychiatry, began his role as the U’s new interim vice president for research this week. He previously served as vice provost for faculty and academic affairs, as well as dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. As head of the Office of the Vice President for Research, Levine will oversee the University’s $900 million research enterprise across all its campuses and facilities, including the administration of sponsored projects, research compliance and regulatory offices, and offices dedicated to economic development and technology commercialization.
“In my new position, I look forward to keeping the University’s research enterprise moving forward and preparing the office for its next permanent director,” he said. “Since arriving, I have found the staff at OVPR to be knowledgeable and well suited to the important work they do for the U.” Continue reading
Tiger at night, caught in a camera trap in Nepal. Photo credit: David Smith.
Few tiger biologists venture into dens to photograph and collect data on cubs. But University of Minnesota tiger researcher David Smith has done it twice, once with the mother just 200 yards away.
Using radio and GPS collars, Smith has tracked tigers for 40 years with one goal in mind: to achieve larger and more secure tiger populations by keeping their prey abundant and their habitat connected rather than patchy. This matters because top predators are critical to ecosystem health.
So are Smith’s graduate students. Most come from Nepal, Thailand, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Taiwan or the Philippines. Degrees completed, they return home and mobilize local people for conservation efforts.