Page 1



TAKING AIM AT CANCER Fighting cancer in new ways >>

ALSO INSIDE: Immigrant alumni build economy >> Boosting CSE student diversity >>


What makes the University of Minnesota so special?


have spent more than four decades at the University of Minnesota and during that time, many people have wondered why I’ve stayed so long. They often ask “What makes the University of Minnesota so special?” My answer is quite simple—great location, great partners, and great people. The University of Minnesota is one of only a handful of research universities located in a high-tech urban area with more than 17 nearby Fortune 500 companies, yet we are in the midst of the agricultural industry. This means we are uniquely positioned to play a major role in the economic development of the State of Minnesota and beyond. For example, we are working to expand our expertise in robotics to improve precision agriculture. Our expertise and world-class research centers in medical devices, new materials, 3D printing, and nanotechnology, also make our college a vital partner with the medical devices and health care industry.

Our partnerships with industry and entities within the University also make us strong. Our unique college structure of combining science and engineering together automatically leads to interdisciplinary research that can help local and national industry partners. Our scientists, mathematicians, and engineers are exploring everything from the outer reaches of space to the inner workings of cells. Our faculty are also leaders in the data and computational sciences needed in this complex, digital world.

majority of my life here, and it is the support of my colleagues and the great research that makes this place so special. Our faculty are award-winning educators, in addition to being worldclass researchers. We also continue to attract the best and brightest new students who are the most prepared in our college’s history. And, of course, our great alumni, donors, and corporate supporters play a critical role in our current and future success.

Partnerships with one of the country’s top medical schools (literally across the street) has led to technical innovations such as the pacemaker and, more recently, 3D visualization and technology that assisted with the first successful surgery to separate conjoined twins connected at the heart.

As we begin the public phase of a major University-wide fundraising campaign this year, I feel we are well-positioned to build upon our successes into the future and continue to show why the University of Minnesota is so special.

Most importantly, it is the people that make our University and college so great. For me, the Twin Cities and this University are “home.” I’ve spent the

Editor’s Note: In January 2018, Samuel Mukasa stepped down as dean of the College of Science and Engineering. Executive Vice President and Provost Karen Hanson named Mos Kaveh as interim dean. Kaveh has more than 40 years of experience at the University of Minnesota as a faculty member, department head, and most recently as associate dean for research and planning. A search for the new dean is expected to begin in the coming months.

Points of Pride 2

1 We are

one of only five

universities in the nation with schools of

engineering, human and veterinary medicine, law, and agriculture on one campus.





We are the

More than 75 percent

public research university in the nation, with

stay in Minnesota

In fiscal year 2017, University of Minnesota research helped launch a record

8th most active

more than $880 million in research expenditures.

of CSE undergraduate alumni and about

85 percent stay in the Midwest after graduation.

18 startup companies. 11 of them

were based on research from the College of Science and Engineering.


INVENTING TOMORROW Winter 2018 • Vol. 43, No. 1

ADMINISTRATION Interim Dean Mostafa Kaveh Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs Paul Strykowski Associate Dean, Academic Affairs Christopher Cramer

EDITORIAL STAFF Communications Director Rhonda Zurn Managing Editor Silva Young Contributors Richard G. Anderson Maja Beckstrom Greg Breining Eve Daniels Olivia Hultgren Susan Maas Scott Streble Designer Sara Specht Printing University Printing Services © 2018 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. Inventing Tomorrow is published by the College of Science and Engineering communications team twice a year for alumni and friends of the college. The publication is available in alternative formats for those visually impaired by calling 612-624-8257. Email: U.S. Mail Inventing Tomorrow College of Science and Engineering 105 Walter Library 117 Pleasant Street SE Minneapolis, MN 55455 Phone: 612-624-8257 Fax: 612-624-2841 Web: ADDRESS CHANGE? Send us your new address to keep receiving Inventing Tomorrow. Printed on recycled paper

On the cover: Efie Kokkoli, professor of chemical engineering and materials science, works on DNA nanotechnology to target brain tumors.

TECH DIGEST / 4 FEATURES Taking aim at cancer / 6


CSE researchers are engineering new ways to treat cancer.

Land of opportunity / 14

Leaving their homelands behind, CSE alumni who immigrated to the United States experience opportunity and success.

Setting a place at the table / 22

3M’s Diversity Scholarships are helping to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups in CSE.



For more than two decades the Institute for Rock Magnetism has drawn researchers from across the globe to study a fundamental force of nature.

22 34

Join us on social media Facebook:

Twitter: @UMNCSE




Instagram: UMNCSE

We’re online! The College of Science and Engineering’s Inventing Tomorrow publication is available electronically. To view an interactive online version of the current Inventing Tomorrow or to see past issues, visit our archives at:

Photo by: Scott Streble W INT E R 2 0 1 8


3D-printed bionic skin for robots CSE researchers have developed a revolutionary process for 3D printing stretchable electronic sensory devices that could give robots the ability to feel their environment. The discovery is also a major step forward in printing electronics on real human skin. To learn more, visit:

Illustration: Jeff Chase


Discovery could transform plastics and rubber industries A research team led by the University of Minnesota has invented a process to make butadiene from renewable sources like trees, grasses, and corn. Butadiene is used in manufacturing synthetic rubber and plastics. To learn more, visit:

Sea turtle to get 3D-printed exoshell

A cool new method for cryopreservation Researchers from the University of Minnesota and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute have successfully found a way to preserve and warm zebrafish embryos using gold nanotechnology and lasers. The results could have implications for human health and wildlife conservation. To learn more, visit:



Engineering students are designing a 3D-printed exoshell for a green sea turtle at SEA LIFE Aquarium at the Mall of America. The turtle was injured off the coast of Florida in 2009. Using dimensions from a CT scan, the team will create a 3D model that will attach to her injured shell, allowing her to swim better. To learn more, visit:

Earth scientists study clean water and equitable communities Three CSE researchers are part of a team that has received a Grand Challenges research award for their work on using wild rice as a flagship for assuring clean water and equitable communities. Their project uses wild rice to study environmental preservation and indigenous resource sovereignty. To learn more, visit:

U of M ranks sixth in nation for technology transfer

Jaw fracture device invented at U gets FDA approval A new, non-invasive device to support jaw fracture recovery that was developed in the University’s Medical Devices Center Innovation Fellows Program has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To learn more, visit:

U of M awarded grant to improve city life The University has been awarded a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a project to advance access, wellbeing, health, and sustainability in cities. The project will focus on multiple “smart” infrastructure sectors—water, energy, food, shelter, transportation, and waste management—that converge in cities. To learn more, visit:

Scientists make first detection of gravitational waves from neutron stars

According to a recent research report from the Milken Institute, a nonprofit think tank based in California, the University of Minnesota was ranked sixth among U.S. public research institutions for technology commercialization, and second among the Big Ten. To learn more, visit:

New blood vessel replacements one step closer to human trials University researchers have created a new lab-grown blood vessel replacement, made of biological materials that could be used as an “off the shelf” graft for kidney dialysis patients. The vessels could be adapted for use as coronary and peripheral bypass blood vessels and tubular heart valves. To learn more, visit:

Energy-collecting windows are nearing reality Thanks to high-tech silicon nanoparticles that are embedded into luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs), researchers at the University of Minnesota are bringing the dream of windows that can efficiently collect solar energy one step closer to reality. To learn more, visit:

For the first time, scientists, including University astrophysicists, have directly detected gravitational waves—ripples in space and time—in addition to light from the spectacular collision of two neutron stars. The discovery was made using the U.S.-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), the Europebased Virgo detector, and about 70 ground- and space-based observatories. To learn more, visit:

W INT E R 2 0 1 8




at Cancer

CSE researchers are engineering new ways to treat cancer



ngineers have long played a role in fighting cancer. They have developed imaging technologies to detect tumors, electron microscopes to see the disease at a cellular or microscopic level, and the software necessary to analyze the genetics that may lie at the root of various cancers.

“That’s exactly right. It is relatively new,” said David Odde, a professor of biomedical engineering, who is leading an effort at the University of Minnesota to understand the physics underlying the movement of cancer cells and progression of the disease—specifically applying engineering principals to characterizing cancer.

But more recently, engineers have taken a more central role in fighting the disease—using engineering principles to understand the mechanics of tumors, and building components of drug therapy that might treat cancer.

“In terms of treating, it’s basically been drugs, and drugs have been developed without modeling or engineering playing an important role in the process,” Odde said. “It’s really been done by biologists and chemists.” As engineers move to the actual discovery process, “that is very exciting to me,” he added.


As though to underline the point, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently awarded the University of Minnesota an $8.2 million grant from the NCI’s Physical Sciences in Oncology Initiative, which brings cancer biologists and oncologists together with mathematicians, chemists, and engineers to investigate how cancer cells move and spread throughout the body. With the grant, the University joins a network of nine other U.S. research institutions collaborating on a physics-based approach to cancer research. “Now we have a chance to actually use those engineering principals to understand how cells behave,” said

David Odde, professor of biomedical engineering, and Paolo Provenzano, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, are developing a simulator that will predict the way cancer cells move and migrate throughout the body.

David Largaespada, a professor in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development and Department of Pediatrics at the Masonic Cancer Center. Largaespada, with Odde, is one of the directors of the research. “Engineers and mathematicians add a formal mathematical description of the things that we see when we look through a microscope—as an example, literally measuring the stickiness that cells have for other cells, and the force that the cells generate as they go along in their environment,” Largaespada said. “They have the ability to help measure those things and then

describe how the forces can change over time as the cells move around. Then we can write an equation that describes these phenomena, which are controlled by proteins and molecules that we can manipulate using genetics. That’s what the engineers bring.”

trials network. MnDRIVE is a partnership between the University and the state aimed at advancing Minnesota’s economy by backing University research that aligns with the state’s areas of strength and competitive advantages.

In addition to the NCI Physical Sciences in Oncology grant, thanks to the success of the University’s MnDRIVE (Minnesota Discovery, Research, and InnoVation) initiative, the Minnesota Legislature recently authorized $8 million over two years to expand cancer research through a newly created statewide cancer clinical

“With geographical access to worldclass hospitals and partnerships with global med-tech corporations, the University of Minnesota is at the hub of innovative research,” said Allen Levine, University vice president for research. "Because we have a medical school that’s located across the street from a school of engineering, and

W INT E R 2 0 1 8


Read how four College of Science and Engineering (CSE) researchers are using their engineering skills in collaboration with experts from multiple disciplines across the University to find new ways of treating cancer.

DAVID ODDE AND PAOLO PROVENZANO: Predicting cancer cell movement Engineers in many fields develop mathematical models to simulate real-world events or predict future conditions. Two familiar examples are models to forecast tomorrow’s weather, and flight simulators to mimic the response of an airplane to the actions of a pilot at the controls. Now, two researchers in the College of Science and Engineering, who are also members of the Masonic Cancer Center, are using an $8.2 million Physical Sciences Oncology Center grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop a mathematical simulator. The simulator will be used to predict the movement of cancer through the human body, based on the physical characteristics of cancer cells and their surrounding microenvironment. David Odde, professor of biomedical engineering, calls it a “cell migration simulator.” The work will focus on tumors of the brain and pancreas, two especially lethal kinds of cancer. But the principals of what they learn should apply to other cancers as well.



In theory, you’d be able to turn different ‘knobs’ ... you will be able to predict or tune how the cell would move and migrate.

“We found that we get kind of surprising behaviors from a model for cell migration that allows us to predict cell behaviors in sometimes not-intuitive ways,” Odde said. “That I think will lead us to better strategies for treating cancer patients.” “In theory, you’d be able to turn different ‘knobs’—change the environment around the cell, change the levels of certain proteins within the cell, change the rate at which cells are sampling their environment,” said Photo: courtesy David Odde

because we, as an institution, have encouraged work across the disciplines, our researchers have an environment that helps foster new discoveries."

A brain cancer cell generates traction forces to move much like a car with a motor that generates force and a clutch that transfers that force to structures that grip the tissue along which they move. In this image, those forces are indicated by arrows. The larger arrows and warmer colors represent higher forces.


Paolo Provenzano, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, who is Odde’s colleague on the project. “As a consequence, you will be able to predict or tune how the cell would move and migrate.”

The simulator will be based on the physics of the cancer cells and their immediate environment—real mechanical stuff like the force generation by the cell and the resistance offered by the environment. The model, like models for everything from golf simulators to climate models, will be continually compared to results in real life and tweaked accordingly. The researchers hope to tailor the model to individual patients, depending on the genetics of the patient and the cellular behavior of the tumor. Cancer patients at University clinics are being asked if they are willing to donate tissue samples for the research. “So then we put some of these cancer cells into some of these environments to see how they behave and we can link that to patient data,” Provenzano said. In their research, Odde is looking at behaviors and forces inside tumor cells. Provenzano is examining the exterior of the cells and the immedi-

Watch video:

ate environment—what he calls “the cell-environment interface.” If the tumor were a car, “we kind of target the tires,” said Provenzano. “But then we also target the road.” “Those physical properties really dictate how the disease behaves—whether a tumor grows, stalls, metastasizes, or switches back and forth between behaviors,” Provenzano explains. “We now know what dictates those decisions is largely this environment around the cell as a function of underlying genetics.” Cancer cells are able to move using “muscles” called molecular myosin motors. Provenzano describes the movement as resembling an octopus pushing through small openings. “Cells send out protrusions. They can push. They create these adhesions, they pull,” he said. “There are times

they ball up and squeeze through spaces. There are times they lay flat like a person crawling on their elbows across the floor, and they switch through these phenotypes as necessary to navigate complex environments.” The cells seem to move along well-established paths, which might be vulnerable to drugs. “Some of our recent work has shown one of the best ways to stop cancer cell movement might be to blow up the ‘highways’ where these cells travel,” Provenzano said. Cancer cells also rely on their microenvironment as a barrier to drugs. “Tumors are good at creating physical barriers to that process. A huge part of what we’re trying to learn about is how to overcome that physical barrier,” Provenzano said. According to Odde, the greatest value of the simulator would be predict-

ing which treatments, such as drug therapy, are most likely to be effective, and which are likely to be ineffective or even harmful. “Without a model to guide that clinical strategy, we’re going to miss great opportunities,” he said.

EFIE KOKKOLI: Tiny technology treats big disease Cancer researchers have been intrigued recently by the promise of

By the Numbers


Amount spent on cancer medicines worldwide in 2015


Cost for cancer care in the U.S. in 2010



Projected cost of cancer care in the U.S. by 2020


39.6% Percentage of men and women who will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes

#1 Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide.

Amount spent on cancer research in the U.S. since 1971

Source: National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health

W INT E R 2 0 1 8


Efie Kokkoli, professor of chemical engineering and materials science, is the lead researcher on a state-funded MnDRIVE Transdisciplinary Research Program to use breakthrough DNA nanotechnology to treat brain tumors.

manufacturing nontoxic DNA nanoparticles a fraction the size of a human cell as vehicles to carry drugs into cancer cells. But constructing nanoparticles of the right size and shape with an affinity for cancer cells is tricky, especially to reach a brain tumor. Nanoparticles that are too large won’t cross the blood-brain barrier, the semipermeable membrane that separates circulating blood from extracellular fluid in the brain. Some shapes of nanoparticles are less effective than others in latching onto cancer cells. A commonly used method of constructing nanoparticles, known as “DNA origami,” requires specialized software, hundreds of single-stranded DNS (ssDNA) sequences, precise control of temperature, and specific ions in the solution in which they’re



made. Some nanoparticles tend to fall apart in the bloodstream before they can reach the cancer cells.

in the bloodstream. They bind and enter cancer cells but don’t seem to enter healthy cells.

Efie Kokkoli, a professor of chemical engineering and materials science, is the lead researcher on a state-funded Minnesota Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy (MnDRIVE) Transdisciplinary Research Program to use breakthrough DNA nanotechnology to engineer and evaluate materials that address a major health challenge. The team of researchers, spanning many academic disciplines, has set out to use single-stranded DNA as DNA nanotubes to target and treat brain tumors. She recently developed a method of forming self-assembling nano-sized DNA tubes that are easy to make and stable

The ssDNA-amphiphiles are ssDNA sequences that love water, and are conjugated to a tail that hates water. In water, these molecules self-assemble into a sphere. Kokkoli discovered that by inserting a polycarbon “spacer” of 12 carbon atoms or more into the sequence, Watch video:

drugs into cancer cells—and only cancer cells.

Nanotubes have proven more effective than spheres in crossing the blood-brain barrier.

the amphiphiles form a tube about 30 nanometers across and about 150 nanometers long. (A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.) The size and tube shape make all the difference. Compared with other nanoparticles, the skinny tubes more easily cross the blood-brain barrier when injected into mice with brain tumors. They ranged from two to 20 times as effective as spherical nanoparticles at crossing the blood-brain barrier of mice with brain tumors. The tubes also have much greater affinity for cancer cells than spheres. The tubes “bind and internalize,” Kokkoli said. Yet the nanotubes don’t seem to enter healthy cells. Working on mice with brain tumors, Kokkoli said, “we see that the nanotubes are retained only on the side of the brain that has the tumor, not on the healthy side.” So far, Kokkoli doesn’t know why. “All we can say now is that one shape works and the other shape doesn’t work at all,” she said. Whatever the reason, the affinity of the ssDNA nanotubes for cancer cells is a promising step in fighting the disease. By packing cancer-fighting molecules into the nanotubes, researchers may have an effective vehicle for delivering

The next step will be to pick candidate drugs, pack them into the tubes, and test the “therapeutic payloads” in the lab and then in animals. “It has to be demonstrated that you can also do the therapy,” Kokkoli said. “The logical question is whether this works with other cancer types—not just brain cancer. We don’t know,” Kokkoli said. “We need to test them on a wider range of cancer cells.”

CHAD MYERS: Exploring genetic connections in breast cancer About 30,000 human genes, made up of about 3 billion base pairs, encode proteins to build cells and enable them to function. Researchers

But these mutations explain only perhaps a third of “what we know to be inheritable,” said Chad Myers, associate professor of computer science and engineering. Myers and a team of researchers believe much is happening behind the scenes. From his work in yeast cells, Myers knows that certain combinations of two mutations, neither of which alone is damaging, may cause harmful or even lethal effects. Analyzing the correlation between breast cancer and thousands of mutations is tough. But looking for correlations with thousands of genes in combination is astronomically more complicated. By developing a unique computational method to do just that, a team led by Myers recently became one of two grand prize winners in the National Cancer Institute’s “Up for a

When we do identify a genetic basis, pathways that contribute to the cancer, those are potential targets for drugs.

rely on a process called a genome-wide association study, or GWAS, to troll through the tremendous data sets that represent human genomes to find associations with traits such as risk for disease. These kinds of studies have implicated more than 90 common mutations among these genes as factors in breast cancer.


Challenge (U4C) Breast Cancer Challenge Award” offered in partnership with the nonprofit research organization Sage Bionetworks. Myers gives Ph.D. student Wen Wang much credit for leading the analysis. Also key was Carol Lange, a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology, who, like Myers,

W INT E R 2 0 1 8


The U4C competition invited teams across many disciplines in academia and industry to use new approaches in finding genetic variants or combinations of genes associated with breast cancer to develop new hypotheses about how the disease begins and progresses and how it might be treated. “Basically, to encourage innovative approaches to more fully explain the genetic basis of breast cancer,” Myers said. As part of the contest, the National Cancer Institute provided five genetic data sets, ranging from several hundred patients to a couple of thousand, from European, Chinese, and Japanese populations. The sets included breast cancer patients and a corresponding cancer-free group matched by age, ethnicity, and other factors. The data was “a big deal,” said Myers. “Even though it’s public data, it’s often hard to get your hands on.” Watch video:

Photo: courtesy Chad Myers

is a member of the Masonic Cancer Center. “We really wanted to team up with someone who works on breast cancer every day and understands the details of the biology behind it,” Myers said.

Genetic interaction maps, like the one above, provide a computer model to show how the functions of different genes in a yeast cell connect.

Myers hypothesized that mutations combine to create a risk for breast cancer. “A single change at one locus won’t produce breast cancer, but combined with a mutation at a different specific site, now all of a sudden you’re at risk for breast cancer,” he said. Myers’ work on these combinations, known as genetic “contractions,” in yeast, allowed his team to anticipate the pathways where such contractions might appear in humans. “They are rare, but when they happen, they happen in very specific structures,” he said. As one of the U4C award winners, Myer’s team was invited to expand on their work for the journal PLOS Genetics. For the paper, they looked for genetic interactions in all three ethnic groups. “It gives us more confidence that they are real, because you can see it in completely different ethnic backgrounds,” he said.



Realizing that identifiable combinations of mutations are causing cancer advances both basic science and clinical medicine. “When you understand the genetic basis of a disease, it helps you understand the mechanism on which that disease develops,” Myers said. “When we do identify a genetic basis, pathways that contribute to the cancer, those are potential targets for drugs. That’s 10 years down the road. That’s a long road. This is just the start of it.”

Chad Myers, associate professor of computer science and engineering, has developed a unique computational method to analyze the correlation between breast cancer and genetic variants.

W INT E R 2 0 1 8



Land of


OPPORTUNITY Leaving their homelands behind, CSE alumni who immigrated to the United States experience opportunity and success


hen Tu Chen (MetalEng M.S. ’64, Ph.D. ’67, ChemE Ph.D. ’67) left Taiwan to study at the University of Minnesota, he thought he would get his doctorate, earn some money in the United States and return to the island a rich man. “But once you get here, you have a taste of freedom,” Chen said. “I decided I wanted to live in this country. I knew I would have opportunity here, and I would have a chance to make a contribution.” Chen became a pioneering researcher in computer memory storage and founded Komag Inc., a major manufacturer of disks for hard disk drives—a contribution indeed.



At a time when the percentage of immigrants in the United States has reached a historic high, there is lively debate about their role in the economy. Do foreign-born workers take jobs from native-born Americans or do they grow the economic pie so everyone has a bigger slice? Do immigrants drain public resources or build public coffers? The answers are as complex and varied as immigrants themselves. But consider that while immigrants make up about 15 percent of the workforce, they accounted for a quarter of entrepreneurs between 1995-2008, according to recent research by the Harvard Business Review. Foreign-born researchers also are responsible for

one quarter of the patents filed in the United States. Just as Chen launched his career, legislation in 1965 abolished the national origins quotas and opened the way to a surge in immigration that changed the landscape of the United States. Immigrants now number more than 43 million and comprise 14 percent of the overall population, almost triple the rate in 1965. Minnesota has proportionally fewer immigrants—about 8 percent—but the state’s foreign-born population has increased faster than the national average in part due to its record of refugee resettlement. New Minnesotans range from highly educated immigrants from India, nearly half of

These newest Americans will build on the hard work of previous newcomers. Three University of Minnesota science and engineering graduates from the 1960s share their stories. They left home for various reasons at different ages, but shared the drive to make a contribution and the talent to spot opportunity.

Photo: Natalie Lodico

whom hold advanced degrees, to refugees from the war in Somalia, 40 percent of whom never finished high school. A recent report, commissioned by the Committee on Minnesota Workforce and Immigrants and the University of Minnesota Office of the Vice President for Research, concluded that to sustain the economy, the state will need to attract even more immigrants and better educate and train those clustered in lowwage work.

Ieva Ogriņť Hartwell (Chem ’63), a Latvian refugee after World War II, came to the United States in the early 1950s and built a successful career in information technology.

W INT E R 2 0 1 8


Photos: courtesy Ieva Ogriņš Hartwell

“There was quite a bit of resentment about so many World War II refugees,” said Hartwell, who is sympathetic to today’s refugees. “People worried about immigrants taking jobs and taking scholarships.”

Hartwell from left: as an 8-year-old refugee, at her high school graduation, and today.

IEVA OGRIŅŠ HARTWELL: Displaced by World War II Sometimes immigrants carry perspectives that allow them to see possibilities others don’t. As a girl from Latvia, Ieva Ogriņš Hartwell (Chem ’63), never questioned her interest in math and science. In 1963, just after graduating with distinction from the University of Minnesota, she spent a summer abstracting fluorocarbon research reports at 3M in a program for top students on their way to graduate school. She was the only woman among more than 100 men. “In Europe in general—not just Latvia—women went into the sciences,” Hartwell said. “Think of Marie Curie! I don’t know what it was about U.S. culture as it developed that women were discouraged from those fields, but I never felt that science was closed to me. And my mother encouraged me.” Hartwell’s mother, a pharmacist widowed in World War II, was part of the exodus of educated professionals who fled Latvia in 1944 after the



Soviet occupation. After spending five years in camps for displaced people in Germany, eight-year-old Hartwell came to the United States with her mother, older brother, and grandmother. They were among the 40,000 Latvians who were allowed to immigrate to the United States between 1949 and 1951. They stayed briefly with distant cousins in St. Paul, Minn. while Hartwell’s mother found work. (Her mother later got a chemist job at General Mills and her uncle, Egolfs Bakuzis, earned a Ph.D. in forestry at the University of Minnesota, where he became a professor). Hartwell excelled in high school and graduated tied for first in her class with another Latvian girl. Even so, her school counselor refused to submit her application to what was then the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology, saying, “They don’t want girls.” Hartwell persevered and received two scholarships, which she stretched to cover tuition by living at home and working summers.

Hartwell earned a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry in 1969 from the University of Illinois, where she met her husband, another Ph.D. chemist. When he landed a job at Indiana University Bloomington, nepotism rules prohibited hiring her. “I thought maybe I could get a post-doc in another department. They said ‘no,’ but that I could take the typing test, because as a faculty wife, I could only get a job as a secretary.’’ This roadblock ultimately steered her toward a career in information technology. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had just created a center at Indiana to facilitate technology transfer by sharing its vast databases with the public. This was decades before the Internet allowed researchers to pull up the full texts of scientific articles at their desk, and computerized searches were complex and cumbersome. Hartwell was hired to help scientists comb through scholarly articles for the information relevant to their work. She stayed in information technology as the field grew, through raising two sons and following her husband’s job—first to Massachusetts and then to Midland, Mich. She has supported CSE through contributions to the Akerman Memorial and Robert C. Brasted funds since 1980.

A sequence of some very good luck and fortunate circumstances had led me to the University of Minnesota. It felt like this was my destiny.

Hartwell worked 20 years as a consultant and then 11 years as a product engineer for Dialog, an online information service that licensed hundreds of databases. Her chemistry background allowed her to handle chemistry, engineering, and patent databases, writing more than 100 user manuals and ensuring that programmers created the features that made user searches deliver precise and relevant results. “Anybody can do an Internet search and get five million answers,” she said. “But five million answers aren’t what you want. You want the 10 that really answer your question, or even the one.”

TU CHEN: A series of fortunate events The vast amount of information computers can now retrieve would not be possible without a place to store it all. For that storage, thank Tu Chen, a pioneer in the evolution of thin film magnetic media. “Storage is so important,” said Chen, who spent a career finding ways to cram ever more data into smaller spaces on a hard drive disk. “Do you know where that data comes from when you search on Google? It comes from a Google server farm, and it’s


free for you because we were able to make such cheap storage. People don’t understand what a struggle it was in the 1970s and 1980s to make it happen.” Chen was born in 1935 in Taiwan when the island was still occupied by the Japanese. He graduated from college with a degree in metallurgy but was unable to find a job in his field because he was not a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party. “We were secondary citizens,” he said. With few prospects, Chen followed the advice of a visiting Fulbright scholar and applied to graduate programs in the United States, including the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Minnesota. When he arrived in California by plane in 1961, he was disappointed in the army-barrack aesthetic of Berkeley’s lab. He bought a Greyhound bus ticket to Minneapolis, where he showed up at another Taiwanese student’s apartment with $27 in his pocket. “A sequence of some very good luck and fortunate circumstances had led me to the University of Minnesota,” Chen wrote in a memoir. “It felt like this was my destiny.”

The University of Minnesota, at the time, was one of a handful of institutions in the United States with materials science research programs dedicated to electronic device applications. For the next six years, Chen worked with professor John M. Sivertsen, a leading researcher in magnetic materials. Sivertsen arranged for Chen to get a job while still working on his master’s degree so that in 1963, Chen could bring his wife from Taiwan along with their two-year-old son whom he had never seen. His expertise in magnetic materials couldn’t have come at a better time. In 1971, Chen joined Xerox’s famed Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in Palo Alto, Calif. to work on creating what was then a revolutionary idea—a personal computer priced for the average office worker. Chen’s task was to develop better versions of the magnetic disk that records and stores data. When Xerox later abandoned its computer project, Chen left with his research to found Komag in 1983 across the bay in Milpitas, Calif. “There were 20 companies trying to make disks for disk drive companies but nothing worked,” Chen said. “And if the drive companies don’t have a disk that works, they can’t sell a computer. So, everyone was desperate for a high-density, reliable disk.” Komag was the first to deliver. They manufactured an "Oreo cookie" of highly engineered layers: an aluminum disk was coated with a plated film of nickel-phosphorus, covered

W INT E R 2 0 1 8


Photos: courtesy Tu Chen

by a film of magnetic cobalt-platinum alloy applied in a vacuum by a custom sputtering machine shipped from Japan, topped with a diamond-hard coating of carbon and finally sprayed with a secret lubricant that Chen first tested using his wife’s perfume atomizer. It was the first durable alternative to iron oxide disks and it paved the way for subsequent leaps in technology. The same restless ambition that led Chen to leave Taiwan and work long hours in the lab drove him to build Komag into a multi-million dollar business with overseas plants. Chen used some of his earnings to establish the Tu and Pi-Fang Chen Scholarship for the College of Science and Engineering. When Chen retired in 2000, the company had nearly 6,000 employees. In 2007 it was sold to Western Digital.

Tu Chen (MetalEng M.S. ’64, Ph.D. ’67, ChemE Ph.D. ’67) left Taiwan in 1961, arrived in Minneapolis with $27 in his pocket, and built Komag Inc., the world’s leading manufacturer of magnetic thin-film disks for computer hard drives.

ZSOLT RUMY: Fleeing the Soviet government Zsolt Rumy (ChemE ’66) was 14 when his family fled Hungary. The destruction of World War II had plunged the country into poverty. During the subsequent decade of Soviet rule, Rumy’s father, a university graduate with an agriculture degree, was imprisoned. When the revolution of 1956 failed to topple the pro-Soviet government, his parents fled with 200,000 other refugees. “Then you come here to the United States and everybody’s happy and everybody is enthusiastic and open, and it’s a whole different world,” said Rumy, whose family was settled by

Left to right: Tu Chen over the years.



By the Numbers




Percent of the U.S. population who were born in another country

Number of immigrants living in Minnesota as of 2014

Percent of foreign-born Minnesota residents in the workforce

Source: Committee on Minnesota Workforce and Immigrants, “Immigrants and Minnesota’s Workforce” January 2017 report

Catholic Charities in Minneapolis. “It was a new life for me. Freedom! Americans don’t understand how great it is.” Rumy seized his new life with the enthusiasm of a teenager. He had been on a rigorous college-track in Hungary, so he breezed through math and science at his public Minneapolis high school and quickly mastered English. “I did quite well and I didn’t study at all,” he said. That changed when he enrolled at University of Minnesota’s top ranked chemical engineering program. His grades plummeted. He looked at his fraternity brothers taking business classes. “I talked to my dad and said ‘I’m thinking about quitting engineering and going to business school,’” he recalled. “That would have been

1963 or ’64. He told me if the Russians take over the United States and it becomes communist like Hungary, then the business school guys won’t have a job, but engineers will still be needed.” Rumy buckled down and stuck with chemical engineering. After graduating, he worked two-year stints at Monsanto, W.R. Grace, and General Electric. “But my personality and corporate life just didn’t match,” he reflected. “I was a little more outspoken and ambitious.” In 1975 he struck out on his own and founded Zoltek Companies Inc. in St. Louis, Mo., where he and his wife still live. He sold Monsanto pollution control equipment and other product lines until 1988, when Zoltek bought a specialty carbon fiber manufacturing plant in Massachusetts.

“And the rest is history,” he said. “Going into it, there wasn’t a grand plan. But once I got into it I saw the possibilities and really changed the whole carbon fiber industry.” Carbon fiber is five times as strong as steel and 10 percent of the weight, Rumy said. In the late 1980s, it was expensive and only used in the aerospace industry. By getting the price down, Zoltek was able to create new markets in a wide range of commercial uses, including automobile parts, golf clubs, and lighter, longer, and stronger wind turbine blades. Like many immigrants, Rumy facilitated the exchange of business and technology with his home country, purchasing a fiber plant in post-communist Hungary, which he helped turn into what he calls “a world-class facility and probably one the best examples of privatization in Hungary.”

W INT E R 2 0 1 8


Photo: courtesy Zsolt Rumy

Zsolt Rumy (ChemE ’66) was 14 when his family fled Hungary. After earning his degree, he worked for Monsanto, W. R. Grace, and General Electric before founding Zoltek Companies Inc., the third largest carbon fiber maker in the world.

When Zoltek was sold in 2014 for $584 million, the publicly traded company was the third-ranked carbon fiber maker in the world. Rumy used some money from the sale of his stock to establish an undergraduate exchange program between the University of Minnesota and Budapest University of Technology and



Economics. He also funds research and scholarships in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. Rumy wants students to learn some of what was so valuable to him in his career, the cross-cultural perspective that is the birthright of every immigrant.

“It gives them an understanding of another society and country, and another way of life," he said. “Being able to understand people really helps in conducting business. It’s very good for everybody.”



ecent chemical engineering graduate Anthony Tabet (ChemE ’17) was just 7 years old when his family immigrated to Minnesota in 2001 from Lebanon. The family was poor, and he learned early in life that working hard was the key to success. His parents continually stressed the importance of education. By the time he entered high school, he was taking college courses at the University of Minnesota as a PSEO (post-secondary option) student. After graduation, he officially entered the University of Minnesota where he fell in love with chemistry and chemical engineering. As a junior, Tabet acquired a research position working under Department of Chemistry Associate Professor Aaron Massari where he began studying alternative energy and fossil fuels. “He was the best mentor anyone could ever have,” Tabet said. “Investing a lot of time, energy, and money into me, he convinced me that this is what I should do.” In 2016, Tabet received a prestigious Astronaut Scholarship Foundation award, which funds up

to $10,000 for a year of undergraduate study for students who pursue research-oriented careers in mathematics, engineering, and the natural and applied sciences. He received additional support from CSE, including the Lee S. Whitson and the Vahhaji Family scholarships, among others.

Photo: Richard G. Anderson

From Lebanon to Cambridge

The next chapter In January 2017, Tabet received the prestigious Churchill Scholarship, which granted him nearly $60,000 to attend Churchill College at the University of Cambridge in England. Tabet was one of only 15 undergraduate seniors from institutions across the United States to receive the highly selective award. At Cambridge, Tabet is spending a year working toward his master’s degree in chemistry and researching brain cancer therapeutics. His interest in biomedical therapy stems from two friends and mentors who were diagnosed with brain cancer, and he is determined to make scientific contributions in fighting the disease. Eventually, Tabet plans to earn a Ph.D. at MIT and become a professor. He intends to continue his research on biomedical therapeutics and brain cancer.

Anthony Tabet (ChemE ’17) grew up in a poor immigrant family. By studying hard, he earned his degree and received a prestigious Churchill Scholarship.

“I’ve always strived to do the best I could in school,” Tabet said. “I tried reaching for the stars, but never had the resources early in life to see myself in that position. At the University of Minnesota, you don’t have to come from a wealthy background to prosper. Everything you need is here to achieve success.”

W INT E R 2 0 1 8




e c a l P a g n i t Set

at the

3M’s Diversity Scholarship is helping to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups in CSE he College of Science and Engineering’s quest to attract more of the brightest, most talented students from underrepresented backgrounds has gotten a big boost thanks to a relatively new scholarship created by St. Paul-based 3M. For the third consecutive year, CSE has awarded several 3M Diversity Scholarships to outstanding, STEM-inclined high school graduates making the University of Minnesota a more compelling choice for



those applicants. The $10,000-peryear scholarships—that’s $40,000 total per recipient over a four-year undergraduate career—make attending the University dramatically more affordable for hardworking students with academic promise. The scholarship gives the University an edge in landing stellar students of color who might otherwise choose Ivy League or other prestigious institutions, said Dorothy Cheng, CSE scholarship coordinator.

Emma Grant, a computer engineering student, is thankful for the support she receives from 3M. The self-proclaimed math nerd shares her love of the subject by tutoring others in CSE.

W INT E R 2 0 1 8


“Students from underrepresented groups with the academic background to be admitted to CSE have a lot of options. This scholarship helps us to recruit more of those students,” she said.

I enjoy teaching. I enjoy math, and I want to help others enjoy it. I want them to know that there are people who actually like math! EMMA GRANT

The Diversity Scholarship doesn’t just benefit the students themselves, and make for richer, more dynamic classrooms and labs within CSE, explained Cheng. It also benefits Minnesota industry by cultivating more desirable engineers, researchers, developers, programmers, and other professionals.

and Energy Business Group. “3M, and the world we live in, depend on future generations of science and engineering experts who can bring different perspectives and new ways of thinking to innovate, create, and solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.”

“We want to increase diversity— diversity of experiences, diversity in thought, diversity of background— because we know teams that are more diverse have more ideas, they have better ideas, and they’re ultimately more profitable in industry,” Cheng explained. Currently, just 16.8 percent of CSE students are people of color, she said, but the 3M scholarships are helping to increase that number.

Students from underrepresented groups who qualify for admission to CSE are evaluated for a 3M Diversity Scholarship. “There’s no separate scholarship application,” Cheng explained.

“3M uses science and technology to improve lives. These scholarships provide opportunities for diverse


students with a passion and talent for science to pursue a university education, regardless of background and financial resources,” said Ashish Khandpur (ChemE Ph.D. ’95), 3M’s executive vice president, Electronics


For many students leaning toward the University, or even strongly considering it, the Diversity Scholarship has tipped the balance, Cheng said. She shares a recent story about the delight of phoning one top-notch CSE applicant, a first-generation college student who had initially been offered a smaller scholarship but was

still struggling to figure out how to finance his college education. “After a few Diversity Scholarship winners declined our offer, I was able to call him to tell him we could offer a larger scholarship. I said, ‘We can give you $10,000 a year.’ His mom started crying, they were so happy,” Cheng recalls. “It was a pretty dramatic phone call.” He started his freshman year this past fall. In 2015-16, the first year of the program, 10 students were awarded the 3M scholarship. That year, it was only open to students pursuing majors in chemistry, chemical engineering, and mechanical engineering. Realizing that many students change majors after their first year, 3M has opened it up to all qualifying applicants regardless of their major. “It’s better that they decided not to limit it,” Cheng said. “You just have to be interested in studying science and engineering.” In its second year, the program increased to support 20 students, and this year 3M awarded 31 scholarships. 3M continues to expand the number of Diversity Scholarship recipients annually. Over the next five years, 60 incoming students— 12 each year—will receive 3M scholarships. “The most important factor for an incoming freshman is finances,” Cheng said. “This is a really nice way to encourage exceptional students to choose CSE.”

The following stories illustrate how the 3M Diversity Scholarship helped three students of color choose to attend the University of Minnesota.


mma Grant: Selfproclaimed math nerd

When Emma Grant visited Ramsey Middle School in south Minneapolis a few months ago, to serve as a math tutor as part of the Honors Experience requirements in the University Honors Program, students asked her if she was being paid. “I said ‘no,’” Grant laughs, “So they asked me, why was I doing this? I said ‘I enjoy teaching. I enjoy math, and I want to help others enjoy it. I want young people to know that there are people who actually like math!’”

The Watertown, Minn., sophomore and self-proclaimed math nerd is thrilled that 3M opened the Diversity Scholarship to all CSE majors after initially limiting it to three majors. “That made me really happy,” Grant said, because while she started out thinking she might want to study chemical engineering, she switched to computer engineering a few months later. Grant has enjoyed science and math for “as far back as I can remember,” so much so that in fifth grade, her teacher recommended she skip a grade in math. (Grant is still in touch with that teacher and several others.) She feels lucky to have grown up with supportive parents— her mother is a veterinarian and her father works in banking—and encouraging teachers, whose influ-

ence superseded lingering societal pressures that discourage many girls from pursuing STEM subjects. Grant recalls being prompted to take a computer programming class her senior year of high school by a friend who hated the class. “She described it to me and I immediately thought, ‘that actually sounds really cool!’” She’s thankful to have spent her freshman year in one of the University’s Living Learning communities, sharing a dorm room with an electrical engineering student from Malaysia. “I think it’s awesome we have these Living Learning Communities, where you’re around a lot of other students who are in the same classes. It’s nice to be able to talk with them and do homework with them,” Grant said. This past fall, she

By the Numbers

>32 Average ACT score of incoming freshmen 3M Diversity Scholars for 2017-18


Total amount 3M has committed to the 3M Diversity Scholars program beginning in 2015 through 2018

62% Increase in number of students of color entering CSE as freshmen over the last five years

W INT E R 2 0 1 8


Avery Loya, who is studying chemical engineering, says his 3M scholarship has made all the difference and he hopes to be able to give back to the community and the college in the future.

shared an apartment with the same roommate. Grant said that the Diversity Scholarship lifted an enormous financial weight from her family’s shoulders, and freed her to fully dedicate herself to academic excellence. She receives additional support from the Presidential Scholarship and the University Honors Program Scholarship. Grant also loves the fact that the University is fairly close to home, yet



feels in many ways like it's in its own universe. “My dad is extra happy because he works in the Twin Cities now and then. So he’s able to swing by sometimes,” Grant said, joking that he’d probably come even more often if she let him. She looks forward to seeing the number of women of color in CSE and computer engineering continue to grow. Rhonda Franklin, professor of electrical and computer engineering, has been a great role model

for her. “I really admire her, the example she has set, and what I can potentially achieve,” she said. “I know it’s harder for some kids, who don’t have as much support as others. There are a lot of barriers. The 3M scholarship has definitely helped me on my journey toward the beginning of my future. I’m honored to have been a recipient,” she said.


very Loya: Aspiring chemical engineer

Born and bred in Minneapolis, Avery Loya moved to southern California with his mom as a teen and graduated from high school in Long Beach. The warmth and beauty of the Golden State exerted a powerful allure as the aspiring chemical engineer began his college application process. He still felt like Minnesota was home. He felt CSE’s reputation was world class. “And the chemical engineering faculty is outstanding,” Loya said. “These are people who are doing really cutting-edge work.” Add to that the fact that the 3M Diversity Scholarship promised to ease his financial burden by $40,000, and the right choice became a lot clearer. “That definitely affirmed my decision,” Loya said. “This scholarship has been a huge help in my life.” Loya speaks with pride and admiration for his single mom, who after working as a waitress for much of his childhood went to school and earned a nursing degree. Her encouragement and her emphasis on education has bolstered his drive and persistence every step of the way. “Because she hadn’t been able to go to college when she was young, she advised, ‘You must view this as an investment. The most important thing is that you can get an education so you can have opportunities I didn’t,’” Loya said.

I want to be able to give back to the college and to the community, and not be in crippling debt. This scholarship really makes all the difference. AVERY LOYA

Loya has embraced life in CSE with energy and enthusiasm. Last spring, as a member of the organizing committee, he helped to plan and execute CSE Week, an annual weeklong collection of events celebrating the College of Science and Engineering. The experience deepened his appreciation of the academic community to which he belongs. “I did a lot of reaching out to student groups and coordinating with them to curate various events,” Loya said. “And I was present at almost every event. It was a lot of fun with interesting demos and a really great celebration of the college. It’s definitely the most exciting thing that happens in CSE all year.” In addition to his studies and involvement with CSE, Loya volunteers with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and with a vegetarian advocacy group, Compassionate Action for Animals, as well as working at a Thai restaurant. This past summer he worked for Environment Minnesota, a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization. Loya feels more confident than ever that he’s in the right place. “There’s

a really good vibe within CSE,” Loya said. “It’s pretty tight, and we support each other. CSE specifically makes a deliberate effort to be inclusive.” There are many minority-focused student groups that add to the sense of community, he says and despite the academic rigor, “we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”

Loya believes what goes around comes around, and someday he’d like to pay forward the support he’s received from 3M, as well as from the U Promise and Frederick McKinley Jones scholarships. “It’s huge. I want to be able to give back to the college and to the community, and not be in crippling debt. This scholarship really makes all the difference.”


evin Dykes: Ecologically minded researcher

Devin Dykes, a CSE sophomore, was a leader in high school before he entered the University of Minnesota. Along with some of his high school classmates, he would visit elementary schools to chat with kids from underrepresented groups about the value of education.

W INT E R 2 0 1 8


Devin Dykes, a chemical engineering student, is grateful for his 3M scholarship. He hopes in the future to make a positive impact on the environment by developing and working with “green� materials.



There’s always a tendency to think of STEM as very objective, and to think of the arts as creative. The arts help my intuition in STEM classes, which helps me look at things in new ways. DEVIN DYKES

“We’d talk about the different opportunities that can open up for them. It was nice to help instill in them the idea that if you work hard, if you do really well in school, you can do anything you choose,” Dykes said. He would know. Dykes, who also was a standout on his high school football team and volunteered with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, graduated with honors, earned admission to CSE, won a 3M Diversity Scholarship, and is now studying chemical engineering. He dreams of a future career in chemical engineering, where he can make a positive impact on the environment by developing and working with “green” materials. As an undergraduate researcher, the ecologically minded Dykes worked in the University’s Center for Sustainable Polymers as part of the Hillmyer Research Group. “We take polymers that are currently used now, but not necessarily biodegradable or bio friendly, and try to find commercial replacements for them,” Dykes said. “I want to make sure we don’t have these products continually going into landfills.”

He’s also involved in the North Star STEM Alliance—as well as a recipient of a North Star Scholarship—a partnership of Minnesota colleges, universities, and community groups aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented minority students receiving STEM degrees in Minnesota. “If you look around a lecture hall of 300 students in physics, I’m one of only a few students of color,” Dykes said. “I was underrepresented in my former school—Roseville High School—so it’s what I’m used to, which is why it’s important to me to promote students who are underrepresented in STEM.” Although he grew up in a family of professionals, his dad was a first-generation college student. Dykes wants kids without middle-class stability or family support to know that STEM careers are possible for them, too. “That’s one of my career goals,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

left. He dipped into studio arts his senior year of high school and found that he loved it. He’s considering earning a minor in fine arts. “There’s always a tendency to think of STEM as very objective, and to think of the arts as creative. That’s true to a degree, but I think having a foot in both really helps,” Dykes explains. “The arts help my intuition in STEM classes, which helps me look at things in new ways.” Last summer, Dykes participated in a full-time research fellowship through the Heisig Endowment and the Gleysteen Scholarship Fund in Chemistry. He will present the fruits of his research as a continuation of his project with the Hillmyer group. Dykes is thrilled to be at the University of Minnesota, and he’s grateful to 3M for the Diversity Scholarship. “I’m really happy. $40,000 is a lot of money, and right now my parents have three kids in college,” he said. “This relieves some of the burden on them and on me. It also adds to all the reasons I can share with students of why they should work hard—because there are good people in the world who are willing to help you out if you do.”

In the past couple of years, Dykes, whose older brother is a photographer, has enjoyed nurturing the right side of his brain along with the

W INT E R 2 0 1 8


Curiosity Drives Progress

KIM DOCKTER Senior Director of External Relations






Curious. Eager to learn. Driven to make progress on some of the most pressing challenges facing our world today. All are apt descriptions of the students, faculty, and alumni who comprise the College of Science and Engineering. These are the individuals who understand what begins as a question can be fueled by passion, ultimately leading to innovative science, engineering advancements, and new technologies. Throughout the years, adventurous and generous CSE alumni and friends have provided substantial private support to help the College and its people drive progress. Your support helped us to exceed our last campaign goal of $150 million a year early in 2015. Now, CSE has joined Driven: The University of Minnesota Campaign, a system-wide effort to raise $4 billion in unprecedented private support for Minnesota’s land-grant university by June 2021. With the generosity of more than 10,000 CSE supporters who have already given $193.4 million, we are poised to meet the $250 million college goal with the continued help of friends like you. With your continuing partnership, CSE will carry on its transformative work and renew its promise of impact to Minnesota, the nation, and the world.

Your gifts will: Ensure that a diverse and talented group of students will be able to study at CSE, regardless of their financial circumstances, by providing them with sufficient financial support. Guarantee that our students and faculty have the resources and facilities to explore solutions for improved human and environmental health, sustainable infrastructure and energy systems, cyber security, and more. Transform the educational experience of our students by providing them with real-world experiences that develop their global fluency and entrepreneurial ability. Develop a workforce pipeline of scientists and engineers through expanded and sustained K-12 outreach. With your philanthropic commitment, you will assure that students of today and tomorrow will be able to lead, innovate, and create as you and those who came before you did. Now, we invite you to contribute to our shared vision of a world made better by science and engineering. Together, we are driven to educate outstanding scientists and engineers who will learn to solve the pressing problems of the future by working sideby-side with faculty who are finding solutions to the most intractable challenges we face today. Every gift, in any amount, in support of any purpose, will count toward the success of our campaign. To learn how you can participate, please contact Kim Dockter, Senior Director of External Relations at or at 612-626-9385.

Trang Bui Cottage Grove, Minn. • Boston Scientific Scholarship recipient In her heart, Trang Bui knew the key to a better life was getting a college education. But her Asian culture of placing family obligations before individual pursuits turned a typical four-year journey into 17 years.

Photo: Silva Young

What Drives Your Curiosity?

Life has not been easy for the recent electrical engineering graduate who came to the United States at the age of 17. Born in 1983, Bui grew up in Vietnam during a time when the country was still rebuilding after the war. The war had been difficult for her family. Her grandfather had been killed; two of her uncles experience post traumatic stress syndrome; and the government took most of what they owned. Still, Bui’s grandmother hoped for a better life and immigrated to the U.S. where she worked three jobs to earn enough money to bring over her remaining family members. Bui and her family arrived in 2000. She spoke no English when she began her first day at Eastview High School in Apple Valley, Minn. “I didn’t know anything. I didn’t have any friends,” Bui said. “There were girls who spoke Vietnamese and helped with paperwork and getting me situated. Yet, it was very difficult.”

...Finally, I could go to school full time and finish my degree. TRANG BUI

After graduation, she enrolled at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn. But soon her sister, who was born with a heart defect, needed surgery. So Bui dropped out. “Our family needed money,” She said. “We didn’t have any health insurance. At the time, I believed it was more important for me to help my family rather than spend money on school.”

She found work as a cashier, eventually moving to a better position with Unisys Corporation where she worked as a clerk until 2006. Then Bui’s sister learned she needed a pacemaker, which meant another surgery and someone who could accompany her to doctor appointments. To help her sister, Bui started as a nail salon technician, which provided more flexibility in her work life. “There I met a lot of people, and I also learned most of my English,” Bui said. “One customer encouraged me to go back to school, so I took her advice and enrolled in St. Paul College.”

With scholarship support from Boston Scientific, Trang Bui (EE ’17) earned her electrical engineering degree despite numerous setbacks over 17 years.

Bui hoped to earn a nursing degree. Her chemistry professor suggested she might be better suited for engineering after seeing her aptitude for math and science. However, the college didn’t have engineering—so she transferred to Century College in White Bear Lake, Minn. There she completed her liberal arts requirements and other prerequisites before applying to CSE. “When I came to the U in 2013, they gave me the Boston Scientific Scholarship,” Bui said. “I was so excited because, finally, I could go to school full time and finish a degree.” She had decided to pursue electrical engineering. Unfortunately, there would be more setbacks. Her mother was laid off from her job, and eight months later, her father suffered a heart attack. “I was so stressed and depressed,” Bui said. “Our family was in really bad financial shape.” Still she kept her focus, regularly talking to her advisor and taking advantage of student support services. Finally, she graduated this past spring—four years later—during which her father also had a stroke, she got married, and she got pregnant. Her son was born two days before her last final, which she completed. In June, she started work as an electrical engineer for Cain Thomas Associates Inc., a consulting firm in White Bear Lake, Minn. “It hasn't been a smooth road,” Bui said. “Yet, I'm thankful for the financial support and encouragement I received and being the first in my family to graduate from college. I will be able to tell my children some day, ‘I made it, despite all the setbacks.’”

W INT E R 2 0 1 8


Do you ever wonder what you’re missing?

Students find new ways to address food security

More and more we use email to deliver up-to-date information, event notices, the CSE Alumni Enewsletter, and more. Stay connected to the college by ensuring we have the most recent email address and contact information for you.

Thanks to a Land O’Lakes fellowship, mechanical engineering students Rachel Anderson and Audrey Sebastian experienced working with one of the nation’s premier agribusiness and food companies to help solve the world’s food security crises, giving them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Anderson and Sebastian were two of only 11 university students chosen from the Midwest to participate in the Land O’Lakes Global Food Challenge Emerging Leaders for Food Security fellowship.

Update your contact information by visiting

Robotics research at U gets $10 million boost “Robotics research is important in so many areas of our lives, including health care, agriculture, the environment, and the automotive industry. These new labs will improve and expand our research, and we hope we can bring even more federal and private research funding into the state,” said Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos, computer science and engineering professor.

Last summer, the 11 students interned at company headquarters working on projects to improve food security and agriculture. They also traveled to Land O’Lakes’ international development project locations, including Tanzania, South Africa, and rural cooperatives across America. In Africa, the students met with local community farmers, exchanged ideas, and learned about agriculture challenges, and sustainability. “As a Land O’Lakes Global Food Challenge Emerging Leader this past year, I’ve learned the importance of understanding the intricacies of a problem before trying to help,” Sebastian said. “When we don’t, we may end up doing more harm than good.”


“Engineering wasn’t going to cut it for me if I didn’t find a way to help people,” Anderson said. “When I learned about the opportunity to work for a company that was already working around the world to solve current and future issues in agriculture, I felt compelled to be a part of this mission.”


Minnesota is closer to becoming a leader in robotics thanks to a $10 million private donation that will be used to expand research for a wide range of robots, including ground, water, and aerial. The funds are for a 20,000square-foot renovation that will turn two floors of Shepherd Laboratories into nine flexible robotics labs and workspace.

Work will begin this winter on the Gemini-Huntley Robotics Research Laboratory. In addition to the $10 million, the University will use about $2 million in state funding designated for robotics research through the University’s Minnesota Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy (MnDRIVE) initiative.

Upcoming Events Curiosity Drives Progress Lecture Series

Reunion 2018

Three lectures will feature CSE faculty members presenting fast-paced, 12-15 minute research talks focusing on the grand challenges of our changing state, nation, and world. March 22, 2018 – Advancing human health June 12, 2018 – Enhancing safety and security September 2018 – Enabling technologies Learn more at

Class of 1968 50-Year Reunion • May 10-11, 2018 Learn more at


Golden Medallion Society Reunion • May 10, 2018 Join CSE alumni (formerly Institute of Technology) who are celebrating 50 years or more since their graduation for an all-day reunion. Learn more at

External Relations Team

Driven to volunteer Whether you give a few hours or a few years, your time and talent can make a huge impact on the College of Science and Engineering. Two alumni who were driven to make a difference for the college recently received the University of Minnesota Alumni Service Award: Jim Rutzick (ME ’66)

Robert DeMaster (Chem Ph.D. ’70) DeMaster’s volunteerism has positively impacted the student experience. Since 2015, he has been a leader on the Chemistry External Advisory Board where he offers advice on academics, programs, and strategic issues. He has also helped to promote the chemistry department and provided financial support. As a member of the CSE Campaign Committee, DeMaster played a key role in helping the college reach and exceed its previous campaign goal of $150 million, raising a total of $176 million. He has provided the college with generous financial support—including a named fellowship—and will continue his volunteer service on the CSE Campaign Committee during the Driven fundraising campaign, which launched last fall.

CSE has been the beneficiary of Rutzick’s passionate and dedicated involvement with the college. As a co-founder of the Mechanical Engineering Alumni Network, he has worked to foster mutually beneficial relationships among ME faculty and alumni by connecting more than 1,400 alumni to the college. Rutzick was a member of the Class of 1966 50-Year Reunion planning committee and spent considerable time connecting with classmates, encouraging them to attend. He also gave the welcome address on behalf of the committee. Rutzick has also been an active member of the CSE Campaign Committee since 2012, and has been instrumental in helping the college meet its fundraising goals.

Centers renamed to honor Earl E. Bakken’s innovative spirit Recognizing his support of the University and his field-shaping legacy, two health-focused interdisciplinary centers have been renamed in honor of CSE alumnus, Earl E. Bakken (EE ’48)—the Earl E. Bakken Medical Devices Center and the Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing. Bakken began his career repairing electronic medical equipment for the University

of Minnesota hospitals. Seeing a niche for such services, he founded Medtronic, Inc. in 1949. Today, the company is a global leader in medical technology, services and solutions, employing more than 85,000 people. Over his career, Bakken worked closely with University of Minnesota scientists, engineers, and health care providers on medical innovations. But, it was his pioneering work in the 1950s with C. Walton Lillehei, a University of Minnesota heart surgeon, on the first wearable, external, battery-powered,

transistorized pacemaker for which he is most renowned. “Renaming these centers is our way of honoring the spirit of discovery and innovation that Earl Bakken has instilled in everyone he has encountered through his work at the University,” said Eric Kaler, president of the University of Minnesota. “He has been an inspiration to our faculty, staff, and students and his efforts have helped us become leaders in finding new ways to promote health and healing in the communities we serve.”

Kim Dockter Senior Director of External Relations 612-626-9385 Courtney Billing Sr External Relations Officer 612-626-9501 Jennifer Clarke Sr External Relations Officer 612-626-9354 Krista Gallagher Colt Stewardship Director and Campaign Manager 612-626-8822 Anastacia Quinn Davis Sr External Relations Officer 612-625-4509 Raechelle Drakeford Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations 612-626-6874 Sue Eaton Annual Giving and Development Services Coordinator 612-624-4294 Joelle Larson Director of Alumni Relations 612-626-1802 Mary Mahto External Relations Assistant 612-626-7637 Megan Orr External Relations Special Events Director 612-625-3767 Kathy Peters-Martell Sr External Relations Officer 612-626-8282 Emily Strand External Relations Officer 612-625-6798 Shannon Weiher Sr External Relations Officer 612-624-5543 Shannon Wolkerstorfer Sr External Relations Officer 612-626-6035


To support a project you’ve read about in Inventing Tomorrow or to make a gift for any purpose, please contact a development officer directly or call 800-587-3884 for more information.

W INT E R 2 0 1 8



Written by SILVA YOUNG

For more than two decades, the Institute for Rock Magnetism has drawn researchers from across the globe to study a fundamental force of nature

Old rocks and sediments contain secrets,” said Joshua Feinberg, professor of earth sciences and associate director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Rock Magnetism (IRM). “Going back more than a billion years, they contain a record of what was happening to Earth’s magnetic field when the rock was formed.”

For Feinberg, unlocking the clues held in rocks and sediments is what drives his passion for understanding the past to predict the future. “From the direction and strength of Earth’s magnetic field held in a simple rock sample, we can learn how continents drifted across the planet, how climate has changed since the last glacial period, how often we can expect a flood to occur, and more,” he said. “They hold a very detailed record that can help scientists more accurately contrast ancient and modern patterns.” For more than 27 years, the IRM has provided hundreds of University of Minnesota faculty and visiting researchers with access



to state-of-the-art facilities and technical expertise for studying the magnetic properties of natural materials. “Researchers from all over the world, representing an enormous range of disciplines, have come here,” said Bruce Moskowitz, professor of earth sciences and director of the IRM. “One week it may be to study meteorites. Two weeks later, we might be onto archaeological sites. Then it can be tectonics and how the Earth’s plates are moving over time. It’s a really great place to work because new projects and challenges come in all the time.”

Minnesota needs more rock magnetism The IRM began as the brainchild of Subir Banerjee, professor emeritus of earth sciences. He envisioned an interdisciplinary

workspace where scientists in earth science could come together to study magnetic materials. Through the National Science Foundation’s Science and Technology Centers program, Banerjee submitted a proposal for funding. “This was 1988, and surprisingly, the proposal made it into the final round,” Moskowitz said. “When the review panel came for a site visit, which included Governor Rudy Perpich of Minnesota, he argued that ‘Minnesota must have more rock magnetism!’” Unfortunately, the proposal was turned down, but thanks to the W. M. Keck Foundation and the NSF’s Earth Science Division, a proposal for a more modest facility was funded. “So we opened in fall 1990, and we’ve been here ever since,” Moskowitz said.

The people who come here have measured everything from termites to Martian meteorites. BRUCE MOSKOWITZ

There are other rock magnetism labs at other universities. But, what makes the University of Minnesota IRM distinctive is its unique and comprehensive array of instrumentation typically not found in earth science laboratories. It’s also designed as an open facility that draws visiting researchers from the earth sciences and other disciplines across the globe through various fellowship programs—from graduate students to senior faculty. Visiting research fellows come to the IRM to use the facility for 10 days, solely to focus on a particular aspect of a project. Before being accepted, they must put together a short project proposal. Preference is given to projects relating magnetism to geological or environmental studies, or to fundamental physical studies relevant to the magnetism of Earth materials. An external committee reviews each of the proposals and selects about 14 fellows each year. Over the past 27 years, more than 400 fellowships have been awarded to students, post-docs, and senior researchers representing 157 institutions in the U.S. and 30 countries. “The people who come here have measured everything from termites to Martian meteorites,” said Moskowitz. “A third of our visitors may not have much of a background in magnetism, but they see that a magnetic approach may be something that is useful for their studies. Our goal is to teach and provide our visitors with the skills and data to advance their research. Everyone in the IRM strives to help our visitors conduct the best research possible. It’s also a wonderful networking opportunity for our graduate students and post-docs.” From issues surrounding climate change to atmospheric dust, research at the IRM

Top left: 1994 photo of original IRM staff. Bottom left: resident researchers in 2008. Right: Feinberg (left) and Moskowitz (right), working with a visiting grad student.

has been applied to a variety of problems. Feinberg uses mineral magnetism to address questions in both archaeology and geoscience. His research on the magnetic properties of layered stalagmites in caves in central China could shed light on flood forecasting and climate modeling. Moskowitz, whose recent work centers on environmental magnetism, focuses on understanding the flux of magnetic particles and dust in the atmosphere, which can accelerate rates of snowpack melting, fertilize marine phytoplankton, and impact public health. In Utah and Colorado, much of the ground and drinking water comes from melted snow. “If there are more dust particles in the snowpack, which absorbs solar energy at a higher rate, the snow melts faster. You end up losing more snowpack during certain times of the year than you would otherwise,” he said. “It’s important to distinguish where the dust came from by measuring the magnetic mineralogy.”

New home for IRM

ly housed mostly in Pillsbury Hall. The space, which is located on the second floor, was designed by the IRM in collaboration with the architects. Featuring an open-concept floor plan, the new space includes a magnetic shielded laboratory; two separate sound and vibration-proof rooms; and a fully equipped clean sample preparation room. Staff, faculty, and visiting fellow offices are located adjacent to the lab. Additionally, a general-purpose room for rock cutting, drilling, and crushing—that's shared with the geology department—is located in the basement of John T. Tate Hall. “The new facility allows us to be more collaborative,” said Moskowitz. “There is opportunity for people to walk down the hall and say, ‘Hey, can I take a look at this?’ The cross-fertilization of ideas will be wonderful. Even hanging out with the astronomers will be good if any of them are dealing with meteorites or planetary dust particles.”

In August, the IRM moved from its home in Shepherd Laboratories on the University’s East Bank to the newly renovated John T. Tate Hall, along with the Department of Earth Sciences, which was previous-

W INT E R 2 0 1 8


University of Minnesota 105 Walter Library 117 Pleasant Street SE Minneapolis, MN 55455

Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage P A I D Twin Cities, MN Permit No. 90155

Join our networks! @UMNCSE


Curiosity Drives Progress Wanted: the innovative and the generous. Learn more:

Inventing Tomorrow Winter 2018  
Inventing Tomorrow Winter 2018  

In this issue, researchers at the College of Science and Engineering develop new ways to treat cancer; alumni leave their homelands for care...