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COMPUTER SCIENCE ASSISTANT PROFESSORS RECEIVE HIGHEST HONOR
GROUND SQUIRREL SLEEP PATTERNS MAY HOLD SECRETS
NEW UMD RESEARCH CENTER TO FOCUS ON TRANSPORTATION
GREAT LAKES BASIN TO GET CHECK-UP
Computer Science Assistant
Professors Receive Highest Honor
Ted Pederson and Hudson Turner
UMD faculty members from the Department of Computer Science have been
recognized for their creative research and dedication. Assistant Professors
Hudson Turner and Ted Pederson have been awarded the Early Career
Development Award, the highest honor given to young faculty
by the National Science Foundation. This award recognizes faculty
members most likely to become academic leaders of the 21st century.
Both professors are breaking new ground in their field by developing
computer programs to solve real-life problems. Turner is focusing
on the area of artificial intelligence and is creating a computer
program that will map out a series of actions in order to reach a
set goal. Pederson is leading the way in developing a computer program
that can distinguish between the various meanings of words in different
Aside from adding to the field of computer programming, these two
young professors continue to improve research and learning at UMD.
Turners research is responsible for the addition of a new graduate
level mathematics course and the enhancement of the current artificial
intelligence course, while Pederson heads a summer internship program
that allows students from underrepresented groups to participate in
Squirrel Sleep Patterns May Hold Secrets
Watching a ground squirrel sleep
may not seem like a captivating past time, however UMD biochemist
Matt Andrews believes that their sleep patterns may lead to medical
advances for humans.
During hibernation, these little guys have the ability to put their
bodies into stasis, the slowing or stopping of organ functions, for
up to 6 months. During this time, they use only 2% of their total
oxygen intake and their heart rate drops from 300 beats per minute
to only three.
Discovering the secret behind their ability to do this could lead
to better treatment, or even prevention, of strokes and improved organ
Andrews is studying the genes linked to hibernation, genes that humans
have as well. However, humans either dont use these genes, or
use them in a different way.
One positive effect of these genes is that they produce a substance
called pancreatic lipase in the squirrels hearts. This substance
allows them to burn fat at a very low body temperature so that they
may preserve their carbohydrate stores. This aids to overall brain
health, a discovery that could impact stroke research.
Studying the squirrels genetics may also lead to improved preservation
of organ transplants. The squirrels genes have the ability to
produce a protective agent that would extend the life of the organs
and allow for them to be distributed to more distant locations. With
further research, scientists could someday trigger human genes to
produce these positive effects of hibernation as well.
Andrews, along with fellow UMD biochemist Lester Drewes, is scheduled
to become co-director of Duluths University of Minnesota Biomedical
UMD Research Center to Focus of Transportaion
Transportation in the 21st century is developing rapidly, and in order
to stay ahead of these advancements, a transportation study center
will be established at UMD.
The Northland Advanced Transportation Systems Research Laboratories
(NATSRL) has been designed to study winter transportation systems
and the transportation needs in cities of small urban areas.
NATSRL is a research and education collaboration of the University
of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies and its Intelligent
Transportation Systems Institute, the Minnesota Department of Transportation
(MnDOT) and the UMD College of Science and Engineering. The center
will receive $3.7 million over four years from federal transportation
funds, MnDOT, and the University of Minnesota to support the studies.
NATSRL will be staffed by UMD faculty. UMD graduate and undergraduate
students and students from the Fond du Lac Tribal Community College
will be involved in projects at the Center as well. NATSRL will study
a variety of topics, including those specific to the Northland. The
three main areas of focus will be advanced sensor research, transportation
data research, and education and outreach programs in transportation.
Great Lakes Basin
to Get Checkup
Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) and Minnesota Sea Grant
are participating in a $6 million research project that will offer a
comprehensive checkup on the health of the U.S. part of the Great Lakes.
The research grant, awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
is the largest ecological grant ever awarded by the EPAs Science
to Achieve Results research program, and the largest ever received by
The four-year project, headed by NRRIs Gerald Niemi, will identify,
evaluate, and recommend a portfolio of environmental indicators to measure
the condition of the Great Lakes. These assessment tools will help maintain
the lakes integrity and long-term sustainability. Like medical
doctors who start with vital signs and then move on to specific diagnostic
tests, the 27 scientists involved will closely examine the health of
the Great Lakes.
Just as the human body has many different systems that must work together,
so does the environment. The Great Lakes Basin, home to 36 million residents,
contains approximately 18 percent of the worlds surface fresh
water. What happens in one system, wetlands, for instance, can affect
other systems such as the fishery or water chemistry. Environmental
indicators are biological, chemical or physical attributes of an ecosystem
that can be measured and monitored to provide insight on the study areas
condition. For example, mayflies (Hexagenia) are indicators of good
water quality in the Great Lakes. They were abundant before the 1950s,
when industrial and urban development negatively impacted mayflies.
Recently, mayfly populations have increased due to pollution control
efforts, especially in the Lake Erie area where their numbers are actually
a nuisance, causing slippery roads and brownouts when they sometimes
interfere with power transformers.
In addition to researchers at NRRI and Sea Grant, the project will include
experts from seven other universities. Scientists from the EPAs
Mid-Continent Ecology Division in Duluth and research station in Grosse
Ile, Michigan, are also major cooperators.
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