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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
Major: Biology
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.

Monarch butterflies.jpgCheck out the UMNews article for more details on monarch butterfly research at the U of M.

The College of Liberal Arts (CLA) offers courses in more than 30 languages, ranging from Arabic to Swahili. We also have the nation's largest study abroad program that offers more than 300 opportunities in more than 60 different countries. These opportunities are a great way for students to immerse themselves in a language and culture abroad. Students also have support from advisers to pursue national and international scholarships to continue their studies abroad.

Eleven students at the University of Minnesota were recently awarded scholarships from the U.S. State Department to pursue their studies of "critical need" languages. Through the Critical Language Scholars Program, students get the opportunity to study one of the chosen critical needs languages in a country where the language is spoken.

Students from accross the country compete for one of the 575 scholarships that are awarded annually, and eight students from the College of Liberal Arts were awarded one these competitive scholarships. They include four undergraduate students and four graduate students:

Tyler Conklin - Turkish in Turkey
Brianna Crowley - Turkish in Turkey
Susan Metzger - Russian in Russia
Kelly Heitz - Arabic in Jordan

Graduate Students
Greta Bliss - Arabic in Jordan
Michelle Baroody - Arabic in Egypt
Dustin Chacon - Bangla/Bengali in Bangladesh
Stephanie Rozman - Hindi in India

After completing one of these programs, students are expected to continue to study the language beyond their study abroad experience and into their future professions. The Critical Language Scholarship is one of many scholarship opportunities available to students at the University of Minnesota. To learn about more opportunities, click here.

The best desicion I made as a first-year student was to rush Alpha Kappa Psi, a professional business fraternity. In today's competitive business world, I am lucky to have gained so many connections through this organization (in my first year of school!). In addition, I am making so many great friends and having a blast being part of such an amazing group of students. Because I recieved a housing scholarship from the generous Alpha Kappa Psi Scholarship Fund, I currently live in the chapter's house in Dinkytown. The chapter house is the site of much of the professional development, community service, academic achievement, and social engagement which makes up the four pillars of AKPsi.

Professional Development

It is important that the members of Alpha Kappa Psi succeed in business. The majority of the members are students of the Carlson School of Management, but membership is open to all students. The fraternity provides direction toward achievment in the business world. AKPsi teaches resume writing, interview skills, professional dress and demeanor, business correspondence, and networking strategies, and the experiences of our distiguished alumni are passed down to younger members. Our alumni network not only provides mentorship and internship opportunities, but has led us to our excellent relationship with Minneapolis companies. Saphire Consulting, our own student consulting group, provides even more professional advancement to the members of AKPsi. Through this, and other opportunities such as site visits at major companies, I am confident to say that AKPsi is helping me prepare to succeed in life after graduation.

Community Service

As part of AKPsi's foundation or principals, we strive to participate in at least one community service project every month. Our most recent act of community service, a Date Auction, helped raise approximately $2,700 for Relay for Life. The volunteerism we provide is fun, because we participate together, and all members are eager to lend a helping hand in the community. Some other example of annual activites include The United Way's Family Fun Night, the Como Zoo's 'Zoo Boo,' and Carlson Goes to Work, which helps entreprenuers get a start on their business. It feels good to be a part of an organization that contributes to making the Twin Cities area an even better place to live and work.

Academic Achievement

The chapter house provides tools to help its members succeed in their schoolwork. It is very important that the members of AKPsi hold themselves to high standards of academics. Therefore, the study-friendly environment promotes everyone to reach their goals. We have our own computer lab with free printing and wireless Internet. Older members are always willing to help, tutor, or even lend textbooks to younger members in introductory courses. Also, AKPsi members hold many postions throughout other student organizations, and the knowledge base grows with every individual's accomplishment.

Social Events and Networking

Last but certainly not least, Alpha Kappa Psi is fun! The incredible friendships that are developed here will change my life forever. We have many social events through such as homecoming, a winter retreat, and a spring formal. Other social gatherings happen every single day, and there is never a lack of smart, enthusiastic people to spend time with.

My experience has led me to encourage anyone who is interested in business to rush AKPsi, or at least learn more about the organization on the Alpha Kappa Psi website!

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