News

Mice used in research labs live in controlled environments with sheltered immune systems. In a recent study, MSI PIs and their research groups and colleagues show that mice that are exposed to a more unhygienic environment, by being housed with “dirty” pet-store mice, have immune systems that are more like those of humans. This has implications for research, by making mouse models more applicable to humans.
The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) has awarded two projects with funding under the Minnesota Futures Grant Program. Both projects are headed by MSI Principal Investigators. MSI PIs are indicated in bold below. Complete descriptions of the projects can be found on the Inquiry blog.
The U was recognized by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) for its contributions to the study of microbiomes. The OSTP announced the National Microbiome Initiative, in which the U is a participant, on May 13. An article appears on the U’s Discover blog. A number MSI Principal Investigators are involved in microbiome research. MSI has featured this research:
The Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota has launched a new online database of plants and animals in their collection. The Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas contains information about over 16,000 species from Minnesota and around the world. The web portal is open to the public as well as to researchers and educators. MSI staff members Tom Prather and Michael Milligan provided database development and programming expertise for this project.
Professor Shashi Shekhar, an MSI PI from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, has been recognized by the Springer Publishing Company for his paper, “From GPS and virtual globes to spatial computing – 2020.” It was selected as one of the top articles published in 2015 that “address the world’s most pressing challenges.” The article was published in the journal GeoInformatica in Octobe
MSI PI Dan Knights (assistant professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering; Biotechnology Institute) is a co-author on a recent study by researchers at the U of M and Nantes University Hospital in France that found that gut bacteria may be predictors of the risk of infection following chemotherapy.
Associate Professor Sharon Jansa, an MSI PI from the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, has received the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) Stanley Dagley-Samuel Kirkwood Undergraduate Education Award. This annual award recognizes a CBS faculty member for exceptional contributions to undergraduate education.
Professor David Blank, an MSI Principal Investigator from the Department of Chemistry, is one of the 2016 recipients of the University of Minnesota President’s Award for Outstanding Service. This award is presented to University faculty members who go beyond their regular duties to provide exceptional service to the U.
MSI PI Theresa Reineke, a professor in the Department of Chemistry, has been elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). She is being recognized for her work in the design and discovery of synthetic polymers for drug and gene delivery. She uses MSI resources for this research. She was inducted into the College of Fellows during the AIMBE Annual Meeting on April 4, 2016. An article about Professor Reineke appears on the chemistry department website. 
Professor Tim LaPara, an MSI PI in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering, is featured in a recent profile of the University of Minnesota’s Driven to Discover campaign. Professor LaPara is developing a way to destroy antibiotic-resistant genetic material by treating wastewater with higher temperatures. An article appears on the Driven to Discover website.
On April 26, 2016, MSI held the seventh annual Research Exhibition. This event is a judged poster session with posters from MSI users. Posters compete in one of two categories: Biological and Medical Sciences or Physical Sciences and Engineering. Winners receive travel awards, with a Grand Prize winner and two finalists in each category. This year, the two Grand Prize winners each received a $1,500 travel award and the four Finalists received $1,000 travel awards.
On Wednesday, May 4, 2016, from 8:00am – 4:00pm CST, MSI staff will perform scheduled maintenance and upgrades to the network and various systems. Maintenance during this period will impact the following systems:
The Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) in association with Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (UPC) will hold the seventh edition of the Programming and tUning Massively Parallel Systems summer school (PUMPS) this summer. PUMPS is aimed at enriching the skills of researchers, graduate students and teachers with cutting-edge technique and hands-on experience in developing applications for many-core processors with massively parallel computing resources like GPU accelerators.
The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) is soliciting proposals for computer time for biomolecular simulations on Anton, designed by D.E. Shaw Research (DESRES). A next-generation Anton machine (Anton 2) will be installed in Fall 2016, replacing the original Anton system that is currently in production use at PSC (Anton 1). This Anton 2 system will be approximately 4 times faster than Anton 1 and nearly 100 times faster than the previous state of the art.
PepsiCo has recently begun to use the U’s bioinformatics research resources, including the University of Minnesota Genomics Center (UMGC) and MSI, to help them with crop research and development. PepsiCo’s scientists are using MSI’s bioinformatics hardware and software to process genomics data generated by the UMGC. PepsiCo researchers can use MSI’s resources from their locations in St. Paul or New York state. Also, since the datasets generated for this research are huge, data transfer can be a problem.
The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) has published a list of patents that have been awarded to University researchers during the past few months. Several MSI Principal Investigators, shown below, are on this list. The complete list can be found on the OVPR’s Inquiry blog, "Patent roll call, spring 2016." 
In a recent paper that appeared in The American Naturalist, MSI PI Allison Shaw, an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, and her colleague Sandra Binning in Switzerland described a mathematical model that allowed the researchers to vary costs and benefits of various factors. These included migration, parasites, lifespan, reproduction rate, and others.
The University of Minnesota’s GroupLens Lab has received wide attention recently for a paper about how people can interpret various emoji differently. An article about the research was posted to the lab’s blog. The GroupLens Lab uses MSI for research into recommender systems and social computing. Some of the media outlets that have featured this paper include:
MSI users can now sign up for the Globus file-transfer system. It uses an easy, convenient web interface that allows users to transfer data between computer systems. It typically has much faster data-transfer speeds than other methods. Complete instructions for signing up for Globus and how to use it can be found in the MSI FAQ. This is an MSI BETA service, so it is still being tested.  
The University of Minnesota is part of a $317 million grant to develop next-generation “smart” fabrics and fibers. Dozens of academic and industry partners are involved in this project. MSI PI David Pui, a professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Center for Filtration Research, is one of the lead project researchers at the U.