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Happenings at The School of Graduate Studies at the University of North Dakota

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Dr Debra R. Rolison to give 2013 Abbott Chemistry Lecture

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The University of North Dakota’s Department of Chemistry is hosting its annual Abbott Chemistry Lecture this week. Dr. Debra Rolison of the US Naval Research Laboratory is giving a public presentation on Thursday evening, followed by a lunch time presentation on Friday in the department. Details follow for the Thursday lecture and you can find more details on the department’s website.


Creating Change in Scientific Institutions through Subversion, Revolution (Title IX!), and Climate Change

The slow crawl at which research-intensive universities diversify their faculty is a national disgrace in that they actively recruit for students that reflect the face of America. Similar difficulties are apparent among the scientific staff of national/federal laboratories. But how can one person change the world of science? Subvert the standard operating procedure. Create a microclimate that shows―over time―how new patterns of operation and inclusiveness yield productive, innovative science. Use the scientific capital and street credentials accrued over time, thanks to the humane microclimate and research productivity of one’s team, to challenge the status quo with reasoned and bold arguments for change. Remember the importance of uppity behavior and applying “tipping point” mechanisms to move beyond initial reactions of dismissal to―over time―accepted inevitability (such as greeted my audacious suggestion in March 2000 to withhold federal funds from non-diversified chemistry departments through application of Title IX). Ask the leaders of our S&T institutions the following: how good can American science, engineering, mathematics, and technology (STEM) be when we are missing more than two-thirds of the talent? Learn to demand that our world of science be one that truly relishes the talent innate to all of humanity for science and discovery.

Dr. Rolison heads the Advanced Electrochemical Materials section at the NRL, where her research focuses on multifunctional nanoarchitectures for such rate‑critical applications as catalysis, energy storage and conversion, and sensors. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at the University of Utah (2000–present). She was a Faculty Scholar at Florida Atlantic University (1972–1975) and received a Ph.D. in Chemistry (UNC–CH, 1980).

Dr. Rolison is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Women in Science, the Materials Research Society (Inaugural Class), and the American Chemical Society and received the 2011 ACS Award in the Chemistry of Materials, the 2011 Hillebrand Prize of the Chemical Society of Washington, and the 2012 C.N. Reilley Award of the Society for Electroanalytical Chemistry. Her editorial advisory board service includes Analytical Chemistry, Langmuir, Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry, Advanced Energy Materials, Nano Letters, the Encyclopedia of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, and Annual Review in Analytical Chemistry.

When not otherwise bringing the importance of nothing and disorder to materials chemistry, Rolison writes and lectures widely on issues affecting women (and men!) in science, including proposing Title IX assessments of science and engineering departments. She is the author of over 200 articles and holds 24 patents.

Dr Rolison’s talk is Thursday, April 25th at 7pm in Abbott Hall 101. All are welcome and a reception will follow. 


Written by School of Graduate Studies

April 24, 2013 at 8:29 am

Four University of North Dakota graduate students recognized for distinguished contributions.

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UND’s School of Graduate Studies will recognize four graduates for their research and scholarship at the annual Distinguished Dissertation, Thesis and Creative Exhibition Awards on Friday, May 3 at the Chester Fritz Library.

The culmination of a graduate degree results in a dissertation, thesis or creative project and is the student’s opportunity to synthesize the body of knowledge with which they have worked closely for several years. It may also, in the case of a dissertation, demonstrate the contribution of new knowledge to the field of study.

The School of Graduate Studies recognizes the outstanding work for students who graduated the previous academic year. Academic departments nominate their best graduates, and a committee of emeritus faculty reviews the nominations for award selection.

Ghanaian native, Patrick Awotwe, receives this year’s Creative Exhibition Award. Awotwe’s Master of Fine Arts exhibition, Adinkra the Messenger, reflected aspects of his own cultural heritage through the use of metals and fibers in Jewelry design. He used Ghanaian traditional symbols to convey social, political, religious and historical issues that have impacted his country.

The first of two Distinguished Thesis Awards is presented to John C. Degenstein who earned a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering for his thesis, Lewis Acid Co-Catalyzed Dilute Sulfuric Acid Pretreatment and Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Lignocellulosic Biomass.

Also receiving a Distinguished Thesis Award is Eric Netterlund who explored the fast changing world of social networking platforms and how fan culture can drive fundraising for non-profit organizations and political campaigns. Eric graduated with a Master of Arts in Communication.

The Distinguished Dissertation Award will be presented to Dr Blake McCann in a separate award ceremony when he visits UND in the Fall. Dr McCann received his PhD in Biology for his work on the genetic relationships of wild pigs in the United States.

The 2013 Distinguished Dissertation, Thesis and Creative Awards will be held in the East Asia Room of the Chester Fritz Library at 10am on 3 May. All are welcome to attend.

Written by School of Graduate Studies

April 23, 2013 at 10:57 am

Showcasing our Graduate Research and Scholarship March 5 & 6

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Please join us on Tuesday March 5 and Wednesday March 6 for the 12th annual Scholarly Forum. Graduate Students and Faculty will showcase their research and creative scholarship at UND’s only campus-wide conference.

Please come and support your peers and colleagues, and learn about the outstanding research on our campus!

You can view all of the abstracts for each session here.

Here are some of the highlights for this year’s event:

Tuesday, March 5

Dr Mark AskelsonDean’s Lecture presentation
Dr Mark Askelson, Atmospheric Sciences at noon in the Lecture Bowl. Click here to read his abstract for Unmanned Aircraft: From Potential to Reality and here to read our interview.

If you are unable to join us in the Lecture Bowl, you can view Dr Askelson’s presentation live here.

Tuesday Sessions include Small Spacecraft interdisciplinary project OpenOrbiter, Criminal Justice, Earth, Space and Flight, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and panel sessions for Teaching and Learning, English and Communication and Public Discourse among others. See the full session list for Tuesday.


 Wednesday March 6

Dr Timothy PaschDean’s Lecture presentation
Dr Timothy Pasch, Communication Program at noon in the Lecture Bowl. Click here to read his abstract for The Evolution of the Scholarly Journal: Digital Convergence and Broader Impacts or click here to read our interview.

If you are unable to join us in the Lecture Bowl, you can view Dr Pasch’s presentation live here.

Wednesday Sessions include Biology, Phi Alpha Theta/History, Social Work, Mechanical and Civil Engineering as well as a panel session hosted by the Graduate Student Association. See the full session list for Wednesday.

Wednesday 2pm – 4pmPoster Session in the Ballroom will showcase more than 100 research posters

Click here to see photos from past events.

Written by School of Graduate Studies

March 4, 2013 at 1:09 pm

#ScholarlyForum13, March 5 & 6 on the UND campus

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The 2013 Scholarly Forum will be held in the Memorial Union next week, and is set to be one of the busiest yet. I thought I would share some facts and figures about this year’s event.

  • 12th annual conference showcasing graduate student and faculty research at UND
  • 2 Dean’s Lecture Series presentations, Dr Mark Askelson and Dr Timothy Pasch
  • 27 sessions
  • 106 oral presentations and panels
  • 105 posters
  • Participants and contributors from every college and school at the University of North Dakota

For details on sessions for each day, and to learn more about the 2013 Scholarly Forum visit http://graduateschool.und.edu/learn-more/scholarly-forum.cfm

For the first time, we will be live streaming the Dean’s Lectures. If you are not able to join us at the Lecture Bowl, you can log in here to view Dr Askelson’s talk, and log in here to view Dr Pasch’s talk.


Graduate School scholarly forum

Written by School of Graduate Studies

February 26, 2013 at 7:58 am

Grad Student Association to host panel at Scholarly Forum.

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Graduate Student Association will host a panel on “Success Tips in Graduate School.” The panelists will represent a diversity of departments as well as Masters and PhD programs at the University of North Dakota.

The following questions will be discussed:

  • How can you make the most of the graduate courses during your program?
  • What are the best practices in writing a thesis or dissertation?
  • What are the ways to balance personal and professional life?

Bring your questions and best practices to share with other graduate during the Q & A questions and learn more about our organization and what it can do for you as a graduate student.

The panel is scheduled for Wednesday March 6th at 10.10am in the River Valley Room. All are welcome.

Written by School of Graduate Studies

February 25, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Posted in around campus, Events

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Unmanned Aircraft: From Potential to Reality

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I had the privilege of speaking with Dr Mark Askelson, Atmospheric Sciences, ahead of his Dean’s Lecture for the Scholarly Forum. Each year, the School of Graduate Studies highlights the outstanding research of two faculty members during our annual research showcase. I spoke with Dr Askelson about his research and the Unmanned Aircraft project he’s involved with.

The Dean’s Lecture Series presentation is Tuesday, March 5 at 12 noon in the Lecture Bowl on the UND campus. Read more about the presentation here.

You grew up not too far from here?

Yes, I’m from Detroit Lakes, MN and did my undergraduate here at UND earning two degrees, one in Mathematics and one in Atmospheric Sciences. Then I went to graduate school at the University of Oklahoma and returned to UND as faculty.

When you came to UND as an undergraduate did you know what you wanted to do?

I did. In high school I realized I had an interest in the weather and I also had strengths in physics and mathematics, both of which are important tools for working on problems associated with the weather. And I think I also realized that we didn’t have it all figured out – that meteorology is a very live science.  This is where my interests and skills intersected, so I decided to pursue atmospheric sciences.

I also really enjoyed mathematics and entertained the idea of becoming an actuary at one time, so my math degree had a statistical concentration.

I suppose growing up in this region exposed you to a lot of weather activity?

Right, and I remember as a kid hearing these forecasts of large snowfalls and then they wouldn’t pan out, so I would wonder what was going on there and why it was so far off. It turns out that the storm path could be slightly different but that could be the difference between 12 inches of snow versus none. And that got my curiosity going

You also research mesoscale meteorology?

Yes, what that refers to is phenomena of a particular size. So what you see on your nightly news’ weather forecast, these tend to be large scale, ie: thousand kilometer-wide events. Mesoscale tends to be smaller than that, such as thunderstorms. These can range from a small tornado to multi-thunderstorm complexes. These phenomena can be really complex because of all the things that interact and the physics involved but that’s what makes it fun – it’s the tough problem that needs solving.

Your research interests include surface transportation weather.

Yes! Leon Osborne, who I took classes from years ago when I was a student here, has in many ways helped to put that field on the map.  But there remain all of these research problems that we struggle with like precipitation – for instance exactly where it snowed. So, for example, if you look at local radars it never snows in International Falls – apparently it is a tropical paradise (that gets can get bitterly cold). What’s happening is that the radars are overshooting the snow because precipitation systems that produce snow tend to be not as deep as summertime rain producers. Radar beams tend to climb away from the ground – what’s happening is the beams fall away but the ground is falling away faster the further you get from the radar itself. So you might think that the solution is available because we have lots of radars, but the truth is that our radars are too far apart leaving these big holes, making the estimates of where and how hard it is snowing more difficult.

There are a couple of ways you might use this advances in this area, for instance: traveler information systems. UND is the birthplace of the 511 system that has become a really popular conduit of information for travelers. One way to use that information is to find out what the weather and travel conditions are like.

Another way is to use that information for maintenance engineers who work for the Department of Transportation who have to take care of the roads. There’s a big difference between 5 inches and 1 inch of snow, and how they might treat the roads, whether salting or plowing, and so knowing where and how much it snowed is a big deal to them. It’s a challenging problem and one that I’m working on right now for a project.

Can you talk about your involvement with Unmanned Aircraft?

About 6 or 7 years ago we had an opportunity to get involved with the Air Force on Unmanned Aircraft issues and there was interest in using ground-based radars to identify aircraft in the area and to provide that information to someone who is flying an unmanned aircraft. The big challenge with unmanned aircraft is that by definition, by design, they are fundamentally different from manned aircraft. So one of the huge challenges is, if you are flying an aircraft, at all times, regardless of weather conditions, you are required to look out the window to see any other aircraft and avoid them. But without a human on board an unmanned aircraft, you physically can’t do that. So we need to come up with another way to do that, and using ground-based radars is one way. And since ground based radars is one of my research areas in meteorology, that’s how I became involved.

The talk you are preparing for the Dean’s Lecture Series looks at the social benefits and other applications of Unmanned Aircraft.

Right, I’m often asked why I work in this area since it not down the center of my research from the standpoint of meteorology and I am trying to figure out what’s going on in the atmosphere. I’m trying to work this problem so we can use unmanned aircraft to collect measurements to help me answer some of the questions I have about what is going on in the atmosphere. I study things like tornado genesis – why do some storms make tornados and others don’t when in many ways they might look similar – so there are some really great things it can do for me from a research standpoint.

In addition, there are some tremendous social benefits that can be gained from a broader use of unmanned aircraft.

There are potential drawbacks, too, from the issue of privacy which has a lot of people upset, and rightfully so. One of the great things about UA is that they are so good at collecting ISR (Intelligent Surveillance and Reconnaissance) data – so if you lose someone in the woods you can put up a UA and it can fly for 24 hours in search mode. But because it is so good at that type of thing, you could enable people to use it for bad things too. So we have to be intelligent about it, and the University (of North Dakota) is playing an important role in this issue with an oversight committee and then we can reap all the benefits – all the good things it can do. There’s tremendous potential for economic development with the business opportunities, too.

It was exciting to read about the positive impacts that this technology can have and UND is really at the cutting edge of much of this development.

Yeah, it’s a really big deal, and one of the great benefits of this project has been the partnerships we’ve been able to develop.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced with the execution of this project? 

That’s a good question. From a technical standpoint, we’ve been able to do all the things we’ve wanted to do. We’re very lucky – we have a partnership that is very functional. One of the key elements to a successful partnership is that you have to have partners that are in it for the right reasons, the same goal, and you have to want to help one another achieve that goal together. Collectively, it’s not about any one of the partners doing something special, but it’s about all of you doing something special. And that’s what we have both with our internal and external partners. That being said, some of the biggest challenges can be political – being careful not to step on anyone’s toes.

Secondly, performing our tests and developing equipment is not cheap. It costs money to fly planes, do all of the testing and development, and it’s tough economic times, so that’s a challenge as well, for all of the partners to get enough resources to accomplish what we want to accomplish. But I think we are doing fairly well. It’s funny how you might set out to solve a technical problem but some of the biggest challenges you run into are fiscal or political.

But we’re extremely fortunate. The partnership has been incredible.

It’s fun to reflect on the various disciplines and partnerships over the past six or so years that have brought us to this point. Where do you think we’ll be in the next ten years?

You talk to people who might say UA need to be integrated into the national airspace “immediately”, and while I don’t disagree – it would be great! –the problems are challenging enough and the FAA by design is very cautious. So it will take a little bit of time, but it will happen, and when it does we’re going to be able to do some great things. I don’t think that in ten years our jetliners will be unmanned – you want that pilot up front, so I don’t know when or if we’ll ever cross that boundary.

What would say are some of the highlights of your academic research?

One of the highlights is the partnerships we have. I really do enjoy that aspect of it. I don’t know that relative to this project I’ll ever have another project that looks like that. But regardless it’s not often you get a chance to work on a problem with that much significance, with that kind of a team that has been brought together with those kinds of resources. So it is an exciting time.

But to be honest, as a researcher, a highlight could be a relatively small problem that you have solved that no one else has done before and it turns out to be a very cool thing. People have asked me why I go storm chasing and certainly it’s awesome to watch some of the things the atmosphere does, but you also learn by observing. And we want to understand why we’re getting these tornados, what processes are leading to these. And by learning about it, you hope to get to a better understanding, better forecasting, and better warnings that have a positive impact on people—that’s what it’s all about.


Dr Timothy Pasch is also presenting for the Dean’s Lecture Series. His presentation: The Evolution of the Scholarly Journal: Digital Convergence and Broader Impacts is in the Lecture Bowl at noon on March 6th. Read our interview here.

Written by School of Graduate Studies

February 15, 2013 at 8:37 am

Posted in people, research

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Visit the Faculty Teaching Showcase on February 20

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Faculty, instructors, and GTAs are invited to attend the Faculty Teaching Showcase to learn how other faculty use online techniques and tools for teaching classes. Visit with faculty about how they use technologies in both online and on-ground classrooms. Attend this event to:

* View 20 exhibits of current courses and online technologies
* Visit with these instructors about technology in their on-ground or online courses:

  • Aaron Ley, Political Science & Public Administration
  • Brenda Kallio, Educational Leadership
  • Desiree Tandee, Nutrition & Dietetics
  • Dheeshana Jayasundara, Social Work
  • Gary Towne, Music
  • Harold Dabel, Languages
  • Jeremiah Neubert, Mechanical Engineering
  • John Bridewell, Aviation
  • Kimberly Cowden, Indian Studies
  • Kristen Votava, Teaching & Learning

Click this link for more details: http://und.edu/academics/cilt/_files/docs/showcase-faculty-3-13.pdf

Visit the Showcase between noon to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 20 in the Memorial Union, River Valley Room. To reserve a complimentary lunch, visit http://und.edu/academics/cilt/workshops/workshops.cfm, send an e-mail to shae.samuelson@und.edu or call 777-2129. Please make reservations by Friday noon, February 15th.

–Co-sponsored by the Senate Continuing Education Committee and Center for Instructional & Learning Technologies.

Written by School of Graduate Studies

February 14, 2013 at 8:06 am