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On West Bank, between the Carlson School of Management and the Rarig Center, a small garden lays brimming with tomato trellises, native perennials, kale, and scattered pollinator beds. It’s there thanks to a small cohort of students looking for a place where faculty, staff, students, and community members can gather on the more metropolitan side of campus to have meaningful interactions with a core theme of healthy food and the environment. With the help of the Living Laboratory initiative, an IonE grant, and Professor Tom Michaels advising, these students created the West Bank Community Garden (WBCG).

Sitting on either side of the main entrance to Alderman Hall this summer were two small wooden boxes brimming with salad greens. These little boxes are the current iteration of a project initially developed by Professor Tom Michaels in 2011, and worked on by many undergraduates since then, called hydroponic salad tables. The tables offer a way for people with little to no land to grow their own salad greens.

For years, the number of active golf players has been declining, and golf courses around the country have been shutting down. People aren’t as interested in golf as they once were. Golf courses are “Golf is in the midst of significant change,” says Professor Brian Horgan. “We have an industry that is in need of change, a golf course that is in need of renovation, and a university that’s ready to make a difference. This all gives us a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a major impact on golf.” The Science of (the) Green® initiative aims to renovate the Les Bolstad Golf Course, just across the street from the St. Paul Campus, to make it a working model for the industry that will pave the way for a new kind of interaction with golf personally, communally, and generationally.

As Moriah Maternoski (B.S. Food Systems ‘16) started to talk about all the work that she had to do as a Markhart Scholar last spring — scheduling, emailing, grant writing, evaluating and more — her eyes lit up. It’s a feeling shared with the other eight students involved in the inaugural year of the Markhart Scholars Program, a competitive scholarship opportunity that enables students to build a network around community engagement, food security, and sustainable agriculture.

Clark completed an M.S. and Ph.D. in plant breeding and genetics at the U of M under Professor Jim Luby. He has studied native grass species for use as low input turf, apple fruit quality traits, apple scab resistance and grape diseases.

Most undergraduate students expect their research to have a small impact on their field. However, students enrolled in a new experiential learning class, HORT 4601 — Aquaponics: Integrated fish and plant food systems — are already making strides in aquaponics. In this annual spring semester course, led by several instructors including Horticultural Science Professor Neil Anderson, students designed research projects that address real problems posed by industry professionals.

For alumna Stacey Noble (B.S. Horticulture ’11) there is no typical workday. Her home base is in Chicago, but about half of her time is spent traveling. Where to? At the beginning of May she flew out for a conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. However, as a Burpee home gardens program representative for Ball Horticultural Company, her work spans the western U.S., Midwest and Great Lakes — which adds up to roughly half the country.

A spring drive through Minnesota leaves travelers looking at barren dirt fields over rolling hills. Come October, all that remains of the lush summer greenery is broken brown cornstalks and burning wheat fields. In the future that image could change. The Forever Green Initiative aims to make the state green from snowmelt to snowfall through funding a collective of researchers and graduate student working in sustainable agriculture.

As a native of the Twin Cities metro, undergraduate Lauren Innes (B.S. Food Systems ’17) had little interest in agriculture or food systems when she started as a pre-nursing student at the University. Yet, all it took was a class project about Urban Oasis and founder Tracy Sides to completely change her focus. After switching to a major in food systems, her new interest led her to join the University of Minnesota chapter of the Real Food Challenge.

In a world where Google can teach anyone about the aerodynamics of a golf ball or 5 million strangers can see the same Facebook post, it’s hard to imagine that scientists often struggle to process and share their data. Thanks to a fellowship from the University of Minnesota Informatics Institute, Associate Professor Adrian Hegeman is working to create a software platform called Galaxy-M to address this issue in the field of metabolomics.

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Have a Story?

We’re always looking for new stories to include in our alumni newsletter. If you’re a current member of the department or an alumnus and you’re doing something interesting, tell us about it by emailing Thomas Roselyn at troselyn@umn.edu.