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Hi everyone! Below is link for part 2 of the Dia de los Muertos event that I attended on campus. The overall theme for the event was social movements, then and now. The event was hosted by three organizations: Casa Sol Living Learning Community, the Chicano Studies department, and La Raza Student Cultural Center. Each of these organizations created an altar with a specific theme in honor of the event. This video highlights the altar created by La Raza Student Cultural Center.


Enjoy, and stay tuned for part 3!

Earlier this month, College of Biological Sciences undergraduate students traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, to compete with students from universities all over the world in the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition. Occuring annually at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), this year's competition attracted 130 teams from 25 countries for a total of more than 2,000 students. Teams were challenged to design, build, and test a biological system that could operate within a cell.

According to the University of Minnesota's iGEM team's webpage, the team researched how to build protein-based micro-compartments in E coli bacteria that could be used as nanobioreactors to carry out metabolic functions or synthetic reactions. The team hopes to use further imaging experiments to demonstrate and model the formation for these structured microcompartments inside a micro-organism. For their efforts, the U of M team won a gold medal for the "Best New BioBrick Part, Natural." Read more about the project here.

The iGEM project is only one example of the exciting research being conducted in the College of Biological Sciences. Throughout the University of Minnnesota, research is a very important part of our community. As an undergraduate, there are lots of ways you can get involved with research--beginning with your first semester on campus. Students can do research for credit, as a job, or by volunteering. To learn more about research opportunities, visit the College of Biological Sciences Student Services Research webpage.

Every Friday, the Department of Astronomy holds free public viewings with their HUGE telescope. Each week there is a presentation about a different topic by astronomy graduate students. When there are clear skies, the large green dome on top of the Tate Lab of Physics Building on Northrop Mall opens up and you can look out the historic telescope kept there.  You can even take small telescopes out onto the roof!

I recently got to visit the astronomy lab on top of the Tate Lab of Physics building with some College of Science and Engineering Ambassadors.  Here are some of our ambassadors posing with the historic telescope!

CSEAmb telescope.jpg

Though I like to picture astronomy being done with telescopes like this, unfortunately they're not used anymore.  All telescopes used by astronomers today utilize mirrors instead of lenses. That means that this telescope has one part that is truly irreplacable: the 10-inch glass lens. These lenses are not manufactured anymore, so if it cracks or breaks the telescope will never again be operational.

The skies were cloudy when we visited the lab, but we still got to walk around on the roof of Tate. There was an amazing view of Northrop Mall! It was hard to get a good photo of the Mall at night, but our ambassadors were enjoying their first trip to the Tate rooftop!

CSEAmb roof of Tate.jpg

We were a little disappointed that we didn't get to see stars, but the astronomy department made up for it. They have 3D computer simulations of planets in orbit and light and dark matter to educate visitors. An astronomy graduate student started up the computer and showed us the simulations. To see them in 3-D we had to wear polarized glasses...and we looked pretty slick!

CSEAmb 3D glasses.jpgThis was a really fun experience, and I certainly learned a lot about astronomy. These visits are free to the public every Friday while classes are in session. Even on cloudy nights, you can check out the telescope and hear a presentation from our astronomy department. If you're in the area for a campus visit, I highly recommend attending the free public viewings

The U of M has recently teamed up with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to help increase food security and to fight global hunger. The FAO is excited to take advantage of the dozens of programs already established at the U of M in food and agriculture. The goal of this partnership will be to find a way to feed the world with a global population that is growing exponentially. Within the next 40 years the population of the world is expected to grow by about 2.2 billion people. Many steps will have to be taken for us to continue to fight hunger with such a boom in the world population.

Some steps that will be taken include controlling wheat rust which is damaging wheat crops in Africa and Asia, enhancing distance education through e-learning, protecting our food supply through the U of M's National Center for Food Protection and Defense, and by increasing environmental stewardship through efficient farming practices. Some of these efficient farming practices will include farming with less water which will help to ensure the safety of our watersheds, and by better utilizing our agricultural byproducts.

This new partnership between the U of M and the FAO will open many doors for U of M students to get involved in research. Every one of the steps that I explained above will be an opportunity for students to get a hands on-learning experience while also helping to stop world hunger. This is a very exciting time here at the University of Minnesota, and this partnership is a great example of the solution-driven science that takes place every day here in in the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences. Check out the UMNews website to learn more about our new partnership with FAO.

Our very own Goldy Gopher competed in two mascot competitions recently. To those familiar with Goldy, this comes as no surprise. Our favorite furry friend appears at over 500 outings a year, entertains young and old with his humorous nature, and fires up the crowd during athletic events! Capital One selected Goldy Gopher and 16 other NCAA mascots to compete in the challenge based on the interaction with fans, creativity, enthusiasm, and some other criteria. Each mascot selected received $5,000 for use in scholarships and funding.

Goldy also is competing with mascots across the country in the 2011 Universal Cheerleaders Association College Mascot National Championships. The mascots had to create videos showcasing the following talents:

  • Character development
  • Game situations
  • Crowd involvement
  • Cheer/Dance/Band integration
  • Community Service
  • School activities (non-sporting)
  • Overall impression

 He created this video and tied for first place!  


Goldy will be competeing in Orlando in January at the National Championship. We love Goldy and hope he wins!

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