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March 31, 2006

Arboretum Public Policy Program

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, part of the U of M’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, has launched a new public policy program designed to explore key environmental issues. Mary Vidas, public policy manager at the Arboretum, says the goal is to help all types of people, from a university horticulturalist, to a city planner, to a mother of three connect on these issues.

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Posted by jfalk at 8:20 PM

March 30, 2006

Ready-to-Assemble Housing

Researchers at the U of M Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) have developed a new concept in ready-to-assemble housing. Pat Donahue, director of NRRI’s Market Oriented Wood Technology Program, says the concept could provide a quick, affordable option for providing everything from disaster relief dwellings to starter houses and lakeside cabins and homes.

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Posted by jfalk at 6:37 PM

March 29, 2006

Neverwinter Nights

Journalism students at the U of M are using a new tool to strengthen their fact-finding skills: the fantasy computer game Neverwinter Nights. According to Nora Paul, director of the university’s Institute for New Media Studies, the players tackle sources and gather information, rather than slay monsters and gather treasures.

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Posted by jfalk at 6:35 PM

March 28, 2006

Affordable Housing

In an era of escalating real estate values, a strong commitment to affordable housing enables metropolitan areas to strengthen their communities and revitalize urban centers. Ann Forsyth, director of the U of M’s Metropolitan Design Center, says there are four main ways to create affordable housing options.

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Posted by jfalk at 7:38 PM

March 27, 2006

Master Naturalist

A joint effort between the University of Minnesota Extension Service and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has resulted in a new volunteer program aimed at educating people about the state’s natural resources and conservation efforts. Amy Rager, a regional Extension educator in natural resources, says the program is open to anyone who wants to study the outdoors and help make a difference.

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Posted by jfalk at 4:14 PM

March 24, 2006

My Health Planner

The University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality and Healing and Twin Cities Public Television have created My Health Planner, a free online resource that provides interactive tools for planning and tracking one’s health. Mary Jo Kreitzer, director of the Center for Spirituality, says focusing on lifestyle and behavior change is essential to improving health and reducing costs.

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Posted by jfalk at 7:15 PM

March 23, 2006

Music and Math

Elementary school-age students at Whittier International Arts School in Minneapolis posted a noticeable improvement in math test scores this year. Why? U of M researcher Carol Freeman says participation in music lessons may have played an important role in boosting the students’ mathematical reasoning skills.

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Posted by jfalk at 6:30 PM

March 22, 2006

Go North! Online Learning

U of M explorers and educators are currently braving 50-below-zero temperatures during their 700-mile journey across the Alaskan Arctic to connect K-12 students from around the world with environmental issues. “Go North! Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 2006? delivers an online curriculum centered on oil exploration and the search for renewable resources. Aaron Doering, assistant professor of learning technologies in the College of Education and Human Development and the program’s education director, says Go North! provides an engaging online vehicle for students to learn from real-world experiences.

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Posted by jfalk at 12:12 PM

March 21, 2006

Bed Bugs

Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite. That old adage might be coming back in style. Stephen Kells, assistant professor of Entomology at the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences, says bed bugs or “nest parasites? are increasing in number and researchers expect a seasonal increase this summer with warmer temperatures and higher humidity.

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Posted by jfalk at 6:04 PM

March 20, 2006

Small Store Success Strategies

Small business owners from around the state are receiving critical advice on how to survive in the shadow of big box retailers from experts with the U of M Extension Service. Extension educator Bruce Schwartau says the workshops were driven by independent business owners asking for solutions.

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Posted by jfalk at 6:01 PM

March 17, 2006

Oat Hulls

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency last month approved the U of M’s request to burn biomass – specifically oat hulls – at its Twin Cities campus steam plant. Jerome Malmquist, the university’s director of energy management, says the burning of oat hulls can save the university millions in heating costs and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, while also reducing environmentally harmful green house gas emissions.

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Posted by jfalk at 11:14 AM

March 16, 2006

Studying Abroad

An international educational experience adds value and excitement to many U of M students’ undergraduate years. Brian Atwood, dean of the university’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, says studying abroad provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a globalized economy, while also gaining understanding of the dangers of a post-9/11 world.

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Posted by jfalk at 11:07 AM

March 15, 2006

Front-End Blind Spots

Most drivers habitually check their blind spots. But new research from the University of Minnesota shows that two major blind spots in the front of the car may be the cause of serious accidents, particularly on wide-open rural intersections. Curtis Hammond, a researcher at the U of M who studies the way people drive, says many drivers are completely unaware of these front-end blind spots.

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Posted by jfalk at 11:04 AM

March 14, 2006

Human Trafficking Watch

An increase in sex and labor trafficking in Minnesota has prompted the formation of the Minnesota Human Trafficking Watch, a group of organizations and individuals that includes the University of Minnesota’s Deborah E. Powell Center for Women's Health. The newly formed organization will coordinate training, conduct public education and outreach, and provide comprehensive services to victims of trafficking in Minnesota, says Lauren Gilchrist, outreach coordinator for the Powell Center.

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Posted by jfalk at 11:02 AM

March 13, 2006

Earth Land Surface Transformation

News reports abound that the world’s climate is changing and that forests and many animal species are disappearing at an alarming rate. Steven Manson, a U of M professor of geography, is taking a closer look at the phenomenon. Data he is gathering not only document but also suggest reasons for the transformation of our environment.

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Posted by jfalk at 10:59 AM

March 9, 2006

Disabled Student Cultural Center

Students with disabilities needn’t look far for services and activities that meet their needs and interests at the University of Minnesota. In fact, they have a student-run campus organization looking out for them – the Disabled Student Cultural Center. John Lukanen, the center’s co-director, says the center is committed to creating a community for disabled individuals and disability supporters.

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Posted by jfalk at 7:39 PM

March 8, 2006

Meaning in Life

Mike Steger, a psychology professor at the University of Minnesota, is trying to answer a fundamental question of human psychology. What factors foster well-being and reduce psychological distress in people’s lives? Steger says meaning plays an important role in how we feel about our lives.

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Posted by jfalk at 7:36 PM

March 7, 2006

Colorectal Cancer Treatment

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 55,000 people will die this year in the United States from colorectal cancer. Still, the death rate has declined over the last 15 years, due, at least in part, to increased awareness and cancer screening. In fact, Dr. Robert Madoff, a University of Minnesota cancer surgeon, says that screenings are the best prevention.

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Posted by jfalk at 7:32 PM

March 6, 2006

Children and Lying

Adults are known to tell a white lie every once in a while. But what about children? Marti Erickson, director of the Harris Programs at the University of Minnesota, says it’s perfectly normal for children at the preschool age to tell lies as they are just developing the ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality. It does become reason for concern as kids reach school age.

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Posted by jfalk at 7:50 AM

March 3, 2006

Crookston Inaugural Dinner

Today is the inauguration of the fourth chancellor of the University of Minnesota, Crookston, Dr. Charles Casey. And local foods have taken center stage as a key part of the celebration. Why local foods? Dr. Casey and his wife, Barbara Muesing, have roots in rural Minnesota. After a 27-year career in rural veterinary medicine, Casey made a special request that local producers be a part of the celebration on inauguration day.

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Posted by jfalk at 5:30 PM

March 2, 2006

Solar Energy in Nicaragua

Imagine wanting to read a book at night and not having electricity to power a light bulb. When U of M electrical engineering student Patrick Delaney visited a remote mountainous region of Nicaragua, he found people frustrated by their lack of electricity to provide light for nighttime activities such as reading and cooking. Back in Minnesota, Delaney and other engineering students are now in the process of developing a reasonably priced solar lantern. He came upon the idea by coincidence.

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Posted by jfalk at 5:28 PM

March 1, 2006

Hibernation and Humans

Mammals such as the gopher are known to spend the winter in hibernation. Matthew Andrews, a molecular biologist at the U of M Duluth, is part of growing group of researchers who are investigating whether it’s possible to put living organs or whole patients into a similar state as seen in mammals during hibernation. Their findings could benefit transplant recipients, trauma survivors and surgical patients.

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Posted by jfalk at 5:26 PM