2010-2011 PDGR Abstracts


Fourteen awards of up to $3,500 each were made in early 2010 for work during the 2010-2011 academic year. On February 26th, a committee appointed by Vice President Tim Mulcahy met to review applications for the second cycle of Professional Development Grants for Retirees. The committee consisted entirely of retirees, several from UMRA and others from the larger university community. After a spirited discussion the committee recommended 14 proposals for funding. Vice President Timothy Mulcahy agreed with the committee’s recommendations and sent letters of congratulations to the grant recipients in early March. Two awards went to colleagues from the Duluth and Morris campuses.  Of the remaining twelve awards, three went to retirees from the College of Liberal Arts, two from the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources, two from the Institute of Technology, two from the Medical School, and one each from the College of Biological Sciences, the College of Education and Human Development, and Academic Administration. Committee members were pleased with the quality of the 25 proposals. 


Neil Anderson, Professor Emeritus—Department of Plant Pathology; College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences; Twin Cities Campus, “The Bronze Leaf Disease”

In retirement, Dr. M.E. Ostry, USDA, asked me to work on the etiology of the bronze leaf disease of hybrid poplars. I found three fungi associated with diseased leaves. Epicoccum nigrum was isolated from symptomatic leaves and stems and in culture produces a pigment identical to the bronze leaf symptoms of aspen leaves. I also found an ascospore state (Apioplagiostoma populi) and an imperfect fungus (Discula sp.) on overwintered diseased leaves. A graduate student, Jason Smith, studied the infection of aspen leaves by A.populi ascospores and bronze leaf symptoms (E. nigrum and A. populi) spore stages were produced. He also grafted diseased stems (E. nigrum is in discolored cambium tissue) and showed the fungus was systemic and moved into the healthy stems and produced bronze leaf symptoms (E. nigrum) and eventually ascospores (A. populi) developed. Our problem: A. populi is fastidious and cannot be grown in culture. I do not know if A.populi and E. nigrum are one species or two. The relationship of the Discula sp. to A. populi is also unknown (probably spermatia). These relationships should be cleared up by comparing the sequences of the ITS region of the rDNA operon of each species. Plant disease control can begin only when the pathogens are known.

Morris Eaton, Professor Emeritus—School of Statistics; College of Liberal Arts; Twin Cities Campus, “Probability Matching and the Right Haar Prior”

In the world of statistics, there has been a long running debate regarding two different modes of statistical inference—those based on frequentist ideas, due in large part to R.A. Fisher, and Bayesian notions of inference. The reconciliation of frequentist inferences and Bayesian methods of inference has been an active area of statistical research for years. The purpose of the proposed research is to expand what is known concerning the exact equality of frequentist and Bayesian inferences that are based on CONFIDENCE SETS. These are subsets of an underlying sample space and are assigned a frequentist probability (F.P.) that is dependent upon an assumed probability model. With some additional assumptions, one can also compute a Bayesian posterior probability (B.P.) for a confidence set. When F.P. and B.P. are equal, for all data sets and all elements of the statistical model, then EXACT PROBABILITY MATCHING has occurred. The proposed research is to expand the class of examples where probability matching is realized, and thus to reconcile frequentist and Bayesian inferences based on confidence sets.

Eville Gorham, Regents Professor Emeritus—Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior; College of Biological Sciences; Twin Cities Campus, “The Alexandria Project: Recording Collected Works for Global Access”

Computing capacity has increased so relentlessly for decade after remarkable decade that the Library of Alexandria’s ancient charge of organizing and cataloging all human knowledge is drawing within reach. Global access is ready to make that knowledge available to all. Large-scale private enterprises are aiming at this goal, but universities must also assert a major role. Universities are one of the chief sources of knowledge and therefore have direct access to this information. University faculties also know what of their information must be collected and preserved. This project will help retired faculty contribute actively to preserving the world’s knowledge by providing them a framework for them to catalog, annotate, index, and submit their collected works. Narrative material, supporting data, and images will be addressed.

Russell Hobbie, Professor Emeritus—School of Physics and Astronomy; Institute of Techonology; Twin Cities Campus, “Redefining the Introductory Course in Physics”

A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences describes the ideal curriculum for students going into research in the biological sciences. Another report by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute discusses the preparation of pre-med students. Both reports recommend topics in the introductory physics course which are not usually taught. I identified many of these topics in the 1970s, when I audited the first two years of medical school courses at the University of Minnesota. I wrote several articles recommending changes in the introductory course, but they were pretty much ignored. I have just been invited to give a paper at the summer meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers. Because of these reports, there is renewed interest in modifying the introductory course, and I hope that this time my suggestions will be heard. I seek travel funds to attend that meeting.

James Howard, Professor Emeritus—Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics; The Medical School; Twin Cities Campus, “Evaluation of Dynamic Protein-Protein Interactions During Nitrogenase Catalytic Cycle”

Nitrogen fixation—N2 reduction to ammonia—is catalyzed by a two component enzyme, nitrogenase, requiring ATP and electron transfer. During catalysis, the two components form transient complexes in which the ATP hydrolysis and electron transfer occur. In collaboration with Doug Rees at Cal Tech, we have determined the three dimensional structures of the individual protein components and several complexes. These structures have revealed a mosaic of docking sites in the complexes. I propose to evaluate the putative docking sites in nitrogenase from diverse species whose protein structures are unknown. Using the known structures as a guide, amino acid substitutions will be analyzed for co-variant residues in the partner protein docking motif. Methods to be used are computational and molecular model building using established structure coordinates and protein sequence data bases. Request is for new computer and graphics hardware. 

Joyce Kramer, Professor Emeritus—Department of Sociology-Anthropology; College of Liberal Arts; Duluth Campus, “Lucien Fontenelle and the American Fur Trade, 1800-1840”

I am writing a history of the American fur trade focusing on Lucien Fontenelle and his family, 1800-1840. My research to date has been limited principally to published sources. The requested funding would be used for travel to search archives for unpublished documents that would shed more light on the life and times of Lucien Fontenelle. The most important of these archives are the Missouri Historical Society and the Jesuit Archives in Saint Louis; the Nebraska State Historical Society and the Sarpy County Historical Society in Nebraska; the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka; and the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. This biography is not typical in that it offers an American Indian scholar’s perspective on the fur trade, and it analytically places Lucien Fontenelle and his family within the economic, political, social, and physical environments in which they lived.

Alan Lathrop, Professor Emeritus--University Libraries; Twin Cities Campus, “The Practice of Medicine in the United States War in the China-Burma-India Theater”

The end product of this project is completion of a monograph on the practice of medicine in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater of World War II. This grant will assist in funding research trips to the National Archives; U.S. Army Heritage Collection, Carlyle Barracks, Pennsylvania; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; American Field Service, New York City; and Hoover Institution, Stanford University. The monograph will look at combat medical practice as experienced by Captain John Grindlay, U.S. Army Medical Corps, whose unpublished diary is the basis for the book. It will be supplemented by numerous primary and secondary sources by men and women who served as medical personnel and soldiers who were treated for battlefield injuries and the effects of tropical diseases. The practice of medicine in the CBI has not been extensively written about from the American viewpoint and this book will fill an important gap in the literature.

Roger McCannon, Director Emeritus—Center for Small Towns; Morris Campus, “University of Minnesota, Morris, Outreach in Small Towns”

Local community and economic development projects in small towns throughout western Minnesota have benefited from UMM’s Center for Small Towns. Since retiring as the Director of the Center, I have continued my professional activities through a successful U.S. HUD community partnership grant with the city of Morris. Building off that project, I am now coordinating a county-wide development project sponsored by the Stevens County Board of Commissioners. Funds provided by this grant will cover travel to the annual U.S. HUD’s Office of University Partnerships National Conference and allow me to present a paper showing that investments in the University of Minnesota can successfully leverage other resources and have long-term outreach benefits for small towns.

J. Ernesto Molina, Professor Emeritus—Department of Surgery; Medical School; Twin Cities Campus, “Thoracic Outlet Syndromes”

The project entails writing a textbook covering all aspects of thoracic outlet syndrome, including the neurogenic-arterial type of syndrome, the venous type in its two aspects, the acute obstruction of the subclavian veins called Paget-Schroetter syndrome, which is an emergency condition, and also the treatment of the chronic obstruction of the veins that occurred months or years earlier.

Richard W. Ojakangas, Professor Emeritus—Department of Geological Sciences; College of Science and Engineering; Duluth Campus, “Ancient (2.7 Billion Year Old) Glaciation in Southern India: An Uncommon ‘Mega-Event’ of Possible Value in Intracontinental and Intercontinental Correlations”

I would like to return to southern India to continue a geological investigation of possible ancient glacial deposits that two Indian colleagues and I began in November, 2009. If we can verify that these rocks, about 2,700 Ma (million years old), provide convincing evidence of a glacial origin, this would be one of just a few places on Earth with evidence for such ancient glaciation. Besides providing evidence for climate change, this study has the potential to help correlate several schist belts on the Dharwar craton, which are erosional remnants of metasedimentary rocks. The primary evidence of ancient glaciations in the rock record is the association of diamictite (unsorted sediment containing boulders down to fine clay-sized material) with “dropstone units” (large stones in fine-grained, sedimentary layers). We have observed this association in two main areas and will scrutinize these and several other areas.

Deon Stuthman, Professor Emeritus—Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics; College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources; Twin Cities Campus, “A New Paradigm for Oat Crown Rust Breeding”

During the last 15 years, our program has focused on combining different multiple rust resistance genes, some with only intermediate levels of protection, into a single plant genotype. We have done so to broaden the base of resistance with the goal of eliminating, or at least reducing, the rate of single gene defeat. When successful, we will have matched the complexity of the rust virulence patterns with plant resistance gene patterns, thereby achieving equilibrium between the two and thus reducing disruptive changes in the pathogen populations. We now have progeny from certain crosses that appear to have the desired level of genetic complexity to create the desired equilibrium. The next step is to test these progeny in multiple locations with differing rust populations to ascertain the universality of the protection. We will also test the selected progeny with rust isolates collected from production fields in our region of production.

James Tracy, Professor Emeritus—Department of History, College of Liberal Arts, Twin Cities Campus, “Venice, Dubrovnik, and the Ottoman Empire: War and Trade in Dalmatia, ca. 1540-1580”

During the mid-16th century, Venice needed Ottoman approval to trade with Syria and Egypt, but conflict between Venetian and Ottoman warships was never far from open war. Thus Dubrovnik used its status as an Ottoman tributary to become the principle conduit of trade with Ottoman Europe. Yet the two republics were not just rivals, for the Dalmatian territories of both were threatened by Ottoman expansion. For a book-length project, I have used the letters of (Holy Roman) Imperial and Venetian ambassadors at the Sublime Porte (Ottoman Court), and am now working through similar documents (on CD) from the Drzhava Arhiv Dubrovacka. In July I will participate in a seminar on financial history in Venice. The article I have in mind—a stepping-stone to the book—would be facilitated if I can stay a bit longer in Venice, to identify further material in the Archivio di Stato (related to Dalmatia) for putting on a CD.

Judith Lang Zaimont, Professor Emeritus—School of Music; College of Liberal Arts; Twin Cities Campus, “Composer Residency and Premier in the School of Music’s Wind/Bands Program”

University Wind Ensembles and Bands have proven to be the most hospitable home for new notes and living composers over the last 35 years. Since 2002 I have devoted significant attention to composing for these groups, and the U’s Winds Ensemble/Bands Program intends me to be “Featured Composer” for Spring 2011 at the School of Music, anchored by a one week Composer Residency culminating in the Great Lakes regional/Minnesota state premier of a new half-hour Concerto for Piano and Wind Orchestra , co-commissioned by Professor Craig Kirchhoff and the U of M symphonic wind ensemble. Coordinating with American Composers Forum, the residency will include campus-based activities (e.g., lectures, master classes for Conducting, Composition, and Piano divisions), and outreach to the community via visits to two or more area schools (based upon my piece commissioned for ACF’s BandQuest series). The semester equally features the Concert Band, directed by Professor Jerry Luckhardt, performing my Israeli Rhapsody, and additional recital performance(s) of several wind-centered chamber works.

William Zimmerman, Professor Emeritus—School of Physics and Astronomy; Institute of Technology; Twin Cities Campus, “The Effect of an Intense Electric Field on the Lambda Transition of Liquid Helium”

The proposed project involves an experimental search for the effects of an intense electric field on superfluid liquid helium near the lambda transition. The primary effect of such a field should be small increases in the density and pressure within the liquid. With sufficient temperature resolution, the possibility arises of using such a field to create a region of normal fluid in thermal equilibrium with the superfluid, with possible application to the creation of a weak link between two bodies of superfluid. More speculative is the possible observation of an anisotropy in the superfluid resulting from the very small electric dipole-dipole interactions between helium atoms induced by the field. The initial experiment will use the onset of second sound in the superfluid near the lambda transition as a sensitive detector of electric field effects in porous-membrane transducers.