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November 30, 2011
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Christiana Kapsner | UMD Public Relations Assistant | 218 726-8830 |

UMD Research Featured by National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) video series, Science Nation, is featuring UMD faculty work to document the Chippewa language and the training of indigenous scholars, research conducted by Mary Hermes while working as an associate professor at UMD.

With fewer than 300 speakers of Southeastern Ojibwe, Hermes' work has become a highly regarded resource for a growing Ojibwe language revitalization effort. Hermes has been documenting Chippewa (Ojibwe) conversation and other non-narrative speech genres. Transcribing the conversations has allowed for indigenous scholars to experience speaking strategies that had not been previously studied or articulated.

During the research stage, Hermes recorded conversations and created archives that became an integral part of the production of a digital teaching tool. A non-profit production group, Grassroots Indigenous Multimedia, helped create the digital language learning materials based on the recorded, documented conversations.

The Science Nation video about Hermes' work, "New Home Movies Resurrect Endangered American Indian Language," emphasizes the digital component of the Ojibwe research while illustrating that the project is not solely for the American Indian community. The video can be viewed on the NSF website at Science Nation: Mary Hermes

"There are 10,000 years of human evolution and knowledge in that language," said Hermes in the video. "The research and multimedia tools strengthen networks between communities and institutions while training emerging second language speakers in Ojibwe."

Hermes is currently associate and visiting professor for curriculum and instruction at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus for the 2011-12 academic year.

The video on Hermes' work is the third installment of the NSF focus on UMD research. Other UMD faculty work included Geological Sciences Professor John Goodge's wintery trek across Antarctica in search of answers about global warming and to create a more concise map of the frozen region; and Cindy Hale's "Great Lakes Worm Watch," focusing on the destructive behavior of earthworms and the preservation of Minnesota's forests.

A fourth and final NSF Science Nation feature will highlight the work of Large Lakes Observatory (LLO) scientists Steve Colman, professor of geological sciences and LLO director; Jay Austin, associate professor of physics; Tom Johnson, Regents Professor of geological sciences; and Doug Ricketts, Marine Superintendent and adjunct assistant professor of geological sciences. LLO is constantly discovering new and important research about large lakes, from microbes and other forms of life to large-scale reactions to climate change. LLO's work is to better understand the biology, chemistry, physics, and geology of these bodies of water in order to preserve and protect them.

Additional NSF Science Nation Videos

In October 2011, NSF Science Nation featured UMD Geological Sciences professor, John Goodge. The film is available for viewing on the NSF website at Science Nation: John Goodge

During the winter of 2010-2011, Goodge led a four-person team across Antarctica hoping to expand the material knowledge of the ice cap. The team traveled over 1500 kilometers, gathering and testing rock samples. The field team focused on revealing the patterns of climate change, the future of the ice cap, and what this could potentially mean for the global environment.

In 2005, Goodge made a tremendous discovery when a rock sample revealed unusual characteristics that helped confirm the theory that Antarctica neighbored Australia and North America over 1 billion years ago. Rock samples from the expedition built a stronger picture of the supercontinent buried beneath miles of ice. Specialized geophysical tools allowed the field team to "see through" the ice to determine it's geological composition.

The team traveled via snowmobile, helicopter, and fixed-wing aircraft to cover over 1500 kilometers. Good rock exposure is visible along coastal areas and in the Transantarctic Mountains, but most of the geology is uncertain. Only 2% of the geology is exposed for direct observation, the other 98% is covered by the polar ice cap.

The 24-hour sunlight and sustained winds in an excess of 30 mph were a challenge for the field team. Elevations in the mountains reach about 14,000 ft, and base elevation of the polar ice cap is about 6,000 ft.

Professor Goodge's field team came from three different continents: the United States (John Goodge—UMD Professor; Jeff Vervoort—MS in Geology from UMD; and Dylan Taylor—mountain guide from Boulder Colorado), Australia (Mark Fanning—geochronologist from Canberra), and South Africa (Tanya Dreyer—PhD student).

Funding for the expedition was provided by the National Science Foundation.

Marsha Walton, the producer of the Science Nation series, chose to visit UMD in July 2011 in order to interview university researchers, and to record the filming of four research projects that included the Great Lakes Worm Watch, the Large Lakes Observatory, Documenting the Chippewa Language, Training Indigenous Scholars, and John Goodge's work, the Age and Composition of the East Antarctic Shield.

The Great Lakes Worm Watch was also featured on NSF Science Nation in September 2011. UMD's Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) scientist, Cindy Hale, began her research in 2000 and created the Minnesota Worm watch soon after. In 2005, she received two years of NSF funding of $74,982 and expanded the project into Great Lakes Worm Watch. Since night-crawlers and angle-worms are an invasive species from Europe, the impact of earthworms is evident when there is a lack of understory plants in forests and wooded areas. Hale's research has focused on the destructive behavior of earthworms, and she has extended her findings by educating people about earthworms, and how to preserve the areas of Minnesota's forests that have not been invaded.

The Science Nation film, "Invasion of the Earthworms," is available at Science Nation: Cindy Hale

UMD currently has 31 National Science Foundation projects and dozens of other research projects funded by outside sources. UMD ranks as the university with the second largest amount of research funding in the state of Minnesota.

NSF has produced almost 100 Science Nation media stories.

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