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Selected pieces from the Glenn C. Nelson Collection were displayed in UMD’s Tweed Museum of Art in fall 2010. The show, entitled “Form & Surface,” contained Nelson’s own work, the work of former students, and pieces that he acquired in his travels. It served as a tribute to Nelson who passed away in April 2010 at the age of 96.

“The Glenn Nelson Collection marks a very important period in the development of ceramic arts. Nelson was a promoter of the idea that sculptural form and modern design were key within the purview of the fine art of clay. His collection bears evidence of his vision and was assembled to show the open possibilities of the art form, particularly by artists of the 1960s through 1980s from around the world,” said Ken Bloom, director of the Tweed Museum of Art.

When one notes that many pieces date from the 1950s, it becomes obvious that these works were revolutionary in their time, catapulting into the forefront a whole new way of imaging and creating ceramic pieces. Nelson came to UMD in 1956 to establish the ceramics program for the UMD Art Department and, until his retirement in 1975, he taught hundreds of students, inspiring them with his love of ceramics

and as a result, established UMD and Duluth as a mecca for ceramic education and production.



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The inauguration of Lendley C. (Lynn) Black as the ninth chancellor of the University of Minnesota Duluth will take place on Friday, March 4, 2011.

The Inauguration Ceremony will be held in the Romano Gymnasium at 2 pm, and a Campus Reception will follow. The public is invited to these events and many others held throughout the week.

For information see the web page at



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Five accomplished UMD graduates were inducted into the Swenson College of Science and Engineering Academy of Science and Engineering in October 2010.

Dr. Stephen Brand received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Geology from UMD in 1971, then went on to earn his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. After receiving his Ph.D., Brand chose to pursue a career in the energy industry. Joining ConocoPhillips as an exploration geologist in 1976, Brand is now the senior vice president of technology and has been involved in research and development, exploration, business development, operations, and strategic planning in terms of petroleum, natural gas, and alternative energy resources.

Keith Erickson became a member of the first graduating class in Computer Engineering at UMD in 1987. After a short stint working for a Defense contractor in Southern California, Erickson returned to Duluth in 1990 to found Saturn Systems - a software engineering and IT consulting firm.

Kurt Heikkila came to UMD as a graduate student in 1977, where he chose to pursue his thesis research with Professor Tom Bydalek in analytical electrochemistry. He earned an M.S. in Chemistry in 1979 and remained at UMD to work on the disinfection chemistry of chlorine. While working at various companies, Heikkila developed nearly 50 patents and publications dealing primarily with the composition and application of composites.

Lt. Gen. Samuel Helland graduated from UMD in 1973 and then from Marine Officer Candidate School where he was selected to attend Navy pilot training. Over the next 27 years, Helland held various command positions in all levels, culminating as Commanding General, U.S. Marine Forces Central Command. He credits the solid science and math background he developed at UMD for his fruitful career as both an independent operator in Special Forces and especially as a Naval aviator — completing post maintenance check flights, flying military aircraft off ships, conducting missions, and being a flight instructor.

Bruce Warren graduated from UMD with a B.A. in Zoology in 1949. Warren completed stints in China and the Pacific with the Marines in WWII and was later chief of the USAF Aerospace Medicine Weightlessness Section. His work with weightlessness led him to become an aerospace research flight surgeon, earn board certification in aerospace medicine, and conduct research he called “more fun than work.” As commander of the USAF Epidemiology Laboratory in San Antonio, he became involved in the early studies of drug addiction in Vietnam veterans and the relatively high rate of attrition among Air Force recruits, which led him to return to school to become a psychiatric medical doctor.

Photo: Chancellor Lendley Black, Kurt Heikkila, Stephen Brand, Keith Erickson, Bruce Warren, Sam Helland, Dean James R. Reihl


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The UMD Department of Mathematics and Statistics was host to the Sixth Annual International Workshop on Graph Labelings on Oct. 20-22, 2010. The workshop had guest lecturers from across four continents, including the countries of India, Australia, Canada, U.S., and Indonesia. UMD was the first American university to host this workshop.

Graph labeling is a mathematical discipline of graph theory closely related to the field of computer science. It concerns the assignment of values, usually represented by integers, to the edges and/or vertices of a graph. The intended purpose is to meet certain conditions within the graph.

UMD Mathematics and Statistics Professor Dalibor Froncek was part of the program organizing committee for the workshop. “We were very pleased with the turnout,” he said. “We had more people come than we expected from all different countries, and many are leaders in the field.”

UMD alumna Leah Tollefson also contributed to the workshop. “It’s great to be exposed to different and brilliant people from all cultures,” Tollefson said. “This workshop helped me realize that we are not that different. Many of the speakers live halfway across the world, but are looking at the same math problems as us. It’s really humbling.”

The field of graph labeling is a rapidly expanding field with contributors from all over the world. Many of the published papers come from India and China, but UMD has two leading scholars: Dalibor Froncek and Joseph Gallian. “We are very proud that UMD is the first American university to host this workshop,” Froncek said. “It just shows the strength of our department and our university.”


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Lake Effect, one of UMD’s two vocal jazz ensembles, had the opportunity to perform at the 29th World Symposium of the International Society of Music Education in Beijing, China in summer 2010.

Tina Thielen-Gaffey, assistant professor in the Department of Music, is the director of Lake Effect. She submitted an audition tape, and they were chosen from hundreds of applicants to perform at the Symposium. They represented one of 22 performance countries at this convention of over 5,000 worldwide delegates from 65 countries. They were one of 10 American ensembles.

Lake Effect raised funds, selling 1,000 copies of their first CD in only four months and receiving a few grants. Adam Petroski, Lake Effect member and vocal music education major, thought that Lake Effect’s performances made an impact on the audience members. “I believe that our music inspired a lot of people,” Petroski said. “Our genre is different than what the people on the other side of the world are used to hearing. We showed them how fun and exciting vocal jazz music can be.”

“If UMD was looking for the best of the best to represent the university, they found it in this group of performers,” Thielen-Gaffey said. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these students, and it is fantastic to have the support of the university.


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UMD’s Continuing Education (CE) now offers a certificate program in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). This new program is a three-course series and is offered online. The series, designed to be completed in one year, may be taken as an undergraduate certificate or as a graduate certificate. UMD’s FASD certification is the only program of its kind in Minnesota, and because it is offered online, it is easily accessible to anyone across the nation.

Trudie Hughes, associate professor, College of Education and Human Service Professions, coordinates UMD’s FASD certificate program. “The program is mainly geared for teachers who need training in working with children and young people with FASD,” she said. Hughes also pointed out that this program is valuable for service providers and professionals such as speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists who want to expand their knowledge and expertise in the area of FASD.

The program stresses methodologies. “Students will gain strategies for teaching children with FASD. They will learn to identify a child’s strengths and key into their abilities,” Hughes stated. There will be opportunities for certificate program students to work in a classroom setting to put what they have learned into practice. They will also be able to communicate online with other students taking the program. “They can share what they tried in class and how it worked for them,” Hughes said. Instructors maintain office hours for students who wish to contact them with questions or concerns.

Information about UMD’s certificate programs is available on the Continuing Education website at



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A new telescope named “RoboDome” has been added to UMD’s life science repertoire, and it appears to be a helpful supplement to the life science courses offered by the university.

Utilizing sophisticated robotics, RoboDome may be operated from numerous places across campus, including the planetarium, where it has been used to display remarkably fresh footage during public shows.

RoboDome supplies images to an uplinked computer as fast as they can be filtered. The amount of time this takes depends on what type of object RoboDome is photographing; if it is a remarkably bright or large object, such as the moon, the image will be filtered and processed almost instantly, providing a feed as constant as a video.

When imaging more difficult queries, such as far off galaxies or dim, distant stars, it takes a longer time to filter, but still produces amazing pictures of inky darkness punctuated by purple and pink gas clouds.

RoboDome is far more than a fancy telescope for entertainment and beautiful images, however. It allows students who use it a far more streamlined and high-tech approach to observational astronomy, and reduces the down time of locating objects in the cosmos with its advanced suite of software.

RoboDome is capable of honing in on any object in its database of countless cosmic features. At the click of a button, an observer of the galaxy could track any object, all from the comfort of a computer on campus.



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The Geographic Information Science (GIS) program has expanded at UMD. A minor in GIS is now being offered for undergraduates. In addition, a GIS certificate is being offered through the office of Continuing Education.

At its core, GIS is the collection, management, analysis, and representation of spatial data. That description may sound a bit dry, but through its application, GIS is dynamic and impactful. Last year, Olaf Kuhlke, associate professor and head of UMD’s Geography Department, and students from his Urban Ecology class used GIS in a project to measure light levels throughout Duluth.

Students went out at night and measured light using Lux meters. They then transferred the data onto maps showing where street lighting was too bright, resulting in light pollution, and where street lighting could be improved. Taking that further, they could overlay crime statistics onto the maps to see if there is a correlation between crime and low-lit areas.

Kuhlke believes that the GIS minor will be popular with UMD students majoring in a variety of disciplines. In addition to being used in environmental studies, geology, and biology, “GIS is used in business for retail site selection and planning,” he noted. In political science, GIS can be used to track voting trends in neighborhoods, cities, states, or regions. In urban planning, it can be used to assess traffic flow and vehicular accidents.

Kuhlke also stated that GIS is one of the fastest growing industries. A recent UMD graduate who had a strong proficiency in GIS was hired by the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, a branch of the CIA, to interpret satellite data. “GIS is an exciting employment field with high wages,” he said.

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Last modified on 01/21/11 04:40 PM
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