There are literally thousands of opportunities to enhance your college experience and prepare for a successful future. A new website geared toward helping you get involved in the U of M and Twin Cities communities is Engage! This is a website where you can find activites in a specific area of interest. From A to Z there is something for everyone! There are also links for student employment, community outreach, research, and even internships. All the tools you need to enhance your experience and prepare you for success are right at your fingertips. Take some time to look and see what activites you can find that interest you!
The school year is coming to an end, but before it's over, I'd like to share with you one of my favorite classes of the semester-- American Popular Culture and Politics: 1940 to the Present. I took this American Studies course to satisfy some of my liberal education requirements: the 4-credit course fulfills the 'Civic Life and Ethics' and 'Historical Perspectives' themes, and is also a writing intensive requirement. I was thrilled to find a class that fulfilled three requirements and was also very interesting.
In this class, we study the history of America beginning with World War II. This is done through reading approximately 50 pages each week, as well as viewing a film each week that is related to the topic we're discussing. Through experiencing the popular culture itself and listening to a lecture about the historical context, we are able to see how history has changed the way Americans think and act, and how it has affected what we are exposed to on a daily basis. Some of the films we've watched include Gran Torino, Thelma and Louise, Rambo, and Fight Club. Through this class, I've learned a great deal of new information about important topics in American history, such as the baby boom, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, consumer culture, the aftermath of 9/11, and many more.
I find the workload very reasonable for an upper-level, writing intensive class (but perhaps that is because I like it so much!). The course culminates in a 10-12 page term paper discussing the themes of the class, a popular culture item of your choice, and how it relates to a domestic or international issue in the history of America. We meet for lecture twice a week, as well as discussion once a week. There are four quizzes and final. The quizzes consist of short essays related to the themes and popular culture items of the class, and the final is a take-home essay. This may sound like a lot of writing, but the content is interesting, and you don't realize how much you have learned until you look back on what you have accomplished. The work is enjoyable!
I have looked forward to attending this class each week throughout this semester and I highly recommend it!
The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities was recently awarded three grants, each worth approximately one million dollars, to research the biofuels production process along with co-products that can help enhance the value of the bio-based economy. These grants were awarded by the U.S. Department Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) which targets the development of regional systems for the sustainable production of bioenergy and bio-based products. Here is a quick overview of the three projects:
• A study of how diversified bioenergy cropping systems -- perennial crops such as grasses and woody plants -- can improve biological control of pests such as the soybean aphid. The project, led by agronomy and plant genetics associate professor Gregg Johnson, is intended to help provide more information for decision-makers about biomass cropping systems design, placement and influence on the surrounding landscape.
• An examination of how useful thermoplastics can be created from lignin, an important co-product from the conversion of biomass to biofuels. Professor Simo Sarkanen of the bioproducts and biosystems engineering department estimates that by 2030, biofuel production using lignocellulose will generate large quantities (more than 200 million tons per year) of lignin, which can be used for new kinds of polymers and plastics. An important focus of the work will be the development of effective plasticizers for these new materials.
• Research on how solid residues of bioenergy production could be utilized to generate nanofiber intermediates, binderless films and adhesives, converting a would-be waste residue into value-added co-products. The project is led by William Tze, an assistant professor in the bioproducts and biosystems engineering department.
William Tze was actually my academic adviser for my sophomore, junior, and senior year. It was wonderful to have an adviser who was an actual professor from the department to help me choose the classes that would best fit my career goals and interests! In addition, you can get involved in research that is happening in CFANS through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program!
Hi eveyone! Meet Linell Grzesik, a current student in the College of Biological Sciences. Linell is senior studying biology.
Photo of Linell working in her research lab
Hometown: Rhinelander, WI
Year in School: Senior
What other colleges and universities did you consider attending? Primarily the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Why did you choose the U of M? I thought the campus was very pretty and I could really see myself living here. I also really liked my admissions counselor (Leah Brus, former CBS admissions counselor) because she contacted me a lot, answered all of my questions, really seemed to care, and didn't make me feel like number. Another big reason I chose the U of M is the amazing College of Biological Sciences that allowed me to be part of a smaller college in a larger University that specifically adhered to my interests. If I went to school elsewhere, I think I would have missed out on this friendly, supportive and interactive environment that I have experience in CBS at the U of M.
What has been the biggest surprise about attending college at the U of M? Two things come to mind: 1. I can't walk across campus and NOT run into someone I know enough to say hello. 2. There are so many things to do here!!! Campus events, exploring Uptown and Downtown, Lake Calhoun, volunteering, etc.
What student groups, clubs, or organizations are you currently involved in?
I am the president of Minnesota Medical Leaders and a member of the CBS Dean's Scholar's Program (I mentor students). I also work in a biochemistry lab, participate in directed research in a physiology and integrative biology lab, and am a the student group relations chair on the CBS Student Board. Finally, I volunteer at Common Bond Communities as an adult tutor.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota's Fisheries and Wildlife Department have been researching the health benefits that 1,500 miles of migration has on the monarch population. Their study has shown that the migration actually helps to rid the monarch butterflies of parasites. This implies that disruptions to migrations, whether by habitat loss, loss of nectar plants along the migration route, climate change, or other factors, can reduce the fitness of monarchs, other migrating insects, and even vertebrates.
"We've shown that migration provides an opportunity to escape from habitats that might build up levels of diseases, and also to cull out susceptible individuals," says Karen Oberhauser, a University of Minnesota Monarch researcher.
Check out the UMNews article for more details on monarch butterfly research at the U of M.